But because we are subject to favour, and flatter ourselves, it is wisdom to take the benefit of a second self, that is, a well chosen friend,
living or dead,
books I mean,
which will speak truly, without flattery, of our estates. ‘
A friend is made for the time of adversity,’ Prov. 17:17; and two are better than one, Eccl. 4:9, for, by this means, our troubles are divided, and so more easily borne. The very presence of a true-hearted friend yields often ease to our grief.
Of all friends, those that by office are to speak a word to a weary soul are most to be regarded, as speaking to us in Christ’s stead.
Oftentimes, especially in our own case, we are blinded and benighted with passion, and then the judgment of a friend is clearer. Loving friends have a threefold privilege:
1, Their advice is suitable, and fit to our present occasion, they can meet with our grievance, so cannot books so well;
2, What comes from a living friend, comes lively, as helped by his Spirit;
3, In regard of ourselves, what they say is apprehended with more ease, and less plodding and bent of mind.
There is scarce anything wherein we see God more in favour towards us, than in our friends, and their seasonable speeches, our hearts being naturally very false and willingly deceived
Richard Sibbes, The Soul’s Conflict With Itself, chapter 14