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Title: Friendship
Author: Black, Hugh
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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FRIENDSHIP

_By_ HUGH BLACK



_With an Introductory Note by_

W. ROBERTSON NICOLL, D.D.



Chicago--New York--Toronto

FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY

London--Edinburgh



Copyright, 1898, 1903, by

FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY



To MY FRIEND

HECTOR MUNRO FERGUSON

AND TO MANY OTHER FRIENDS WHO HAVE MADE LIFE RICH



_Equidem, ex omnibus rebus, quas mihi aut Fortuna aut Natura tribuit,
nihil habeo quod cum amicitia Scipionis possum, comparare._

CICERO.



  _Intreat me not to leave thee,
  And to return from following after thee:
  For whither thou guest, I will go;
  And where thou lodgest, I will lodge;
  Thy people shall be my people,
  And thy God my God:
  Where thou diest, will I die,
  And there will I be buried:
  The Lord do so to me, and more also,
  If aught but death part thee and me._

  BOOK OF RUTH.



APPRECIATION

BY SIR WM. ROBERTSON NICOLL, D.D.

Mr. Hugh Black's wise and charming little book on Friendship is full of
good things winningly expressed, and, though very simply written, is
the result of real thought and experience.  Mr. Black's is the art that
conceals art.  For young men, especially, this volume will be a golden
possession, and it can hardly fail to affect their after lives.  Mr.
Black says well that the subject of friendship is less thought of among
us now than it was in the old world.  Marriage has come to mean
infinitely more.  Communion with God in Christ has become to multitudes
the primal fact of life.  Nevertheless the need for friendship
remains.--"British Weekly."



_Friendship is to be valued for what there is in it, not for what can
be gotten out of it.  When two people appreciate each other because
each has found the other convenient to have around, they are not
friends, they are simply acquaintances with a business understanding.
To seek friendship for its utility is as futile as to seek the end of a
rainbow for its bag of gold.  A true friend is always useful in the
highest sense; but we should beware of thinking of our friends as
brother members of a mutual-benefit association, with its periodical
demands and threats of suspension for non-payment of dues._

TRUMBULL.



Contents


I

THE MIRACLE OF FRIENDSHIP


II

THE CULTURE OF FRIENDSHIP


III

THE FRUITS OF FRIENDSHIP


IV

THE CHOICE OF FRIENDSHIP


V

THE ECLIPSE OF FRIENDSHIP


VI

THE WRECK OF FRIENDSHIP


VII

THE RENEWING OF FRIENDSHIP


VIII

THE LIMITS OF FRIENDSHIP


IX

THE HIGHER FRIENDSHIP



The Miracle of Friendship


  But, far away from these, another sort
  Of lovers linkëd in true heart's consent;
  Which lovëd not as these for like intent,
  But on chaste virtue grounded their desire,
  Far from all fraud or feignëd blandishment;
  Which, in their spirits kindling zealous fire,
  Brave thoughts and noble deeds did evermore aspire.

  Such were great Hercules and Hylas dear,
  True Jonathan and David trusty tried;
  Stout Theseus and Pirithöus his fere;
  Pylades and Orestes by his side;
  Mild Titus and Gesippus without pride;
  Damon and Pythias, whom death could not sever;
  All these, and all that ever had been tied
  In bands of friendship, there did live forever;
  Whose lives although decay'd, yet loves decayëd never.

  SPENSER, The Faerie Queene.



The Miracle of Friendship

The idea, so common in the ancient writers, is not all a poetic
conceit, that the soul of a man is only a fragment of a larger whole,
and goes out in search of other souls in which it will find its true
completion.  We walk among worlds unrealized, until we have learned the
secret of love.  We know this, and in our sincerest moments admit this,
even though we are seeking to fill up our lives with other ambitions
and other hopes.

It is more than a dream of youth that there may be here a satisfaction
of the heart, without which, and in comparison with which, all worldly
success is failure.  In spite of the selfishness which seems to blight
all life, our hearts tell us that there is possible a nobler
relationship of disinterestedness and devotion.  Friendship in its
accepted sense is not the highest of the different grades in that
relationship, but it has its place in the kingdom of love, and through
it we bring ourselves into training for a still larger love.  The
natural man may be self-absorbed and self-centred, but in a truer sense
it is natural for him to give up self and link his life on to others.
Hence the joy with which he makes the great discovery, that he is
something to another and another is everything to him.  It is the
higher-natural for which he has hitherto existed.  It is a miracle, but
it happens.

The cynic may speak of the now obsolete sentiment of friendship, and he
can find much to justify his cynicism.  Indeed, on the first blush, if
we look at the relative place the subject holds in ancient as compared
with modern literature, we might say that friendship is a sentiment
that is rapidly becoming obsolete.  In Pagan writers friendship takes a
much larger place than it now receives.  The subject bulks largely in
the works of Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Cicero.  And among modern
writers it gets most importance in the writings of the more
Pagan-spirited, such as Montaigne.  In all the ancient systems of
philosophy, friendship was treated as an integral part of the system.
To the Stoic it was a blessed occasion for the display of nobility and
the native virtues of the human mind.  To the Epicurean it was the most
refined of the pleasures which made life worth living.  In the
Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle makes it the culminating point, and out
of ten books gives two to the discussion of Friendship.  He makes it
even the link of connection between his treatise on Ethics and his
companion treatise on Politics.  It is to him both the perfection of
the individual life, and the bond that holds states together.
Friendship is not only a beautiful and noble thing for a man, but the
realization of it is also the ideal for the state; for if citizens be
friends, then justice, which is the great concern of all organized
societies, is more than secured.  Friendship is thus made the flower of
Ethics, and the root of Politics.

Plato also makes friendship the ideal of the state, where all have
common interests and mutual confidence.  And apart from its place of
prominence in systems of thought, perhaps a finer list of beautiful
sayings about friendship could be culled from ancient writers than from
modern.  Classical mythology also is full of instances of great
friendship, which almost assumed the place of a religion itself.

It is not easy to explain why its part in Christian ethics is so small
in comparison.  The change is due to an enlarging of the thought and
life of man.  Modern ideals are wider and more impersonal, just as the
modern conception of the state is wider.  The Christian ideal of love
even for enemies has swallowed up the narrower ideal of philosophic
friendship.  Then possibly also the instinct finds satisfaction
elsewhere in the modern man.  For example, marriage, in more cases now
than ever before, supplies the need of friendship.  Men and women are
nearer in intellectual pursuits and in common tastes than they have
ever been, and can be in a truer sense companions.  And the deepest
explanation of all is that the heart of man receives a religious
satisfaction impossible before.  Spiritual communion makes a man less
dependent on human intercourse.  When the heaven is as brass and makes
no sign, men are thrown back on themselves to eke out their small
stores of love.

At the same time friendship is not an obsolete sentiment.  It is as
true now as in Aristotle's time that no one would care to live without
friends, though he had all other good things.  It is still necessary to
our life in its largest sense.  The danger of sneering at friendship is
that it may be discarded or neglected, not in the interests of a more
spiritual affection, but to minister to a debased cynical
self-indulgence.  There is possible to-day, as ever, a generous
friendship which forgets self.  The history of the heart-life of man
proves this.  What records we have of such in the literature of every
country!  Peradventure for a good man men have even dared to die.
Mankind has been glorified by countless silent heroisms, by unselfish
service, and sacrificing love.  Christ, who always took the highest
ground in His estimate of men and never once put man's capacity for the
noble on a low level, made the high-water mark of human friendship the
standard of His own great action, "Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends."  This high-water mark
has often been reached.  Men have given themselves to each other, with
nothing to gain, with no self-interest to serve, and with no keeping
back part of the price.  It is false to history to base life on
selfishness, to leave out of the list of human motives the highest of
all.  The miracle of friendship has been too often enacted on this dull
earth of ours, to suffer us to doubt either its possibility or its
wondrous beauty.

The classic instance of David and Jonathan represents the typical
friendship.  They met, and at the meeting knew each other to be nearer
than kindred.  By subtle elective affinity they felt that they belonged
to each other.  Out of all the chaos of the time and the disorder of
their lives, there arose for these two souls a new and beautiful world,
where there reigned peace, and love, and sweet content.  It was the
miracle of the death of self.  Jonathan forgot his pride, and David his
ambition.  It was as the smile of God which changed the world to them.
One of them it saved from the temptations of a squalid court, and the
other from the sourness of an exile's life.  Jonathan's princely soul
had no room for envy or jealousy.  David's frank nature rose to meet
the magnanimity of his friend.

In the kingdom of love there was no disparity between the king's son
and the shepherd boy.  Such a gift as each gave and received is not to
be bought or sold.  It was the fruit of the innate nobility of both: it
softened and tempered a very trying time for both.  Jonathan withstood
his father's anger to shield his friend: David was patient with Saul
for his son's sake.  They agreed to be true to each other in their
difficult position.  Close and tender must have been the bond, which
had such fruit in princely generosity and mutual loyalty of soul.
Fitting was the beautiful lament, when David's heart was bereaved at
tragic Gilboa, "I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very
pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing
the love of women."  Love is always wonderful, a new creation, fair and
fresh to every loving soul.  It is the miracle of spring to the cold
dull earth.

When Montaigne wrote his essay on Friendship, he could do little but
tell the story of his friend.  The essay continually reverts to this,
with joy that he had been privileged to have such a friend, with sorrow
at his loss.  It is a chapter of his heart.  There was an element of
necessity about it, as there is about all the great things of life.  He
could not account for it.  It came to him without effort or choice.  It
was a miracle, but it happened.  "If a man should importune me to give
a reason why I loved him, I can only answer, because it was he, because
it was I."  It was as some secret appointment of heaven.  They were
both grown men when they first met, and death separated them soon.  "If
I should compare all my life with the four years I had the happiness to
enjoy the sweet society of this excellent man, it is nothing but smoke;
an obscure and tedious night from the day that I lost him.  I have led
a sorrowful and languishing life ever since.  I was so accustomed to be
always his second in all places and in all interests, that methinks I
am now no more than half a man, and have but half a being."  We would
hardly expect such passion of love and regret from the easy-going,
genial, garrulous essayist.

The joy that comes from a true communion of heart with another is
perhaps one of the purest and greatest in the world, but its function
is not exhausted by merely giving pleasure.  Though we may not be
conscious of it, there is a deeper purpose in it, an education in the
highest arts of living.  We may be enticed by the pleasure it affords,
but its greatest good is got by the way.  Even intellectually it means
the opening of a door into the mystery of life.  Only love
_understands_ after all.  It gives insight.  We cannot truly know
anything without sympathy, without getting out of self and entering
into others.  A man cannot be a true naturalist, and observe the ways
of birds and insects accurately, unless he can watch long and lovingly.
We can never know children, unless we love them.  Many of the chambers
of the house of life are forever locked to us, until love gives us the
key.

To learn to love all kinds of nobleness gives insight into the true
significance of things, and gives a standard to settle their relative
importance.  An uninterested spectator sees nothing; or, what is worse,
sees wrongly.  Most of our mean estimates of human nature in modern
literature, and our false realisms in art, and our stupid pessimisms in
philosophy, are due to an unintelligent reading of surface facts.  Men
set out to note and collate impressions, and make perhaps a scientific
study of slumdom, without genuine interest in the lives they see, and
therefore without true insight into them.  They miss the inwardness,
which love alone can supply.  If we look without love we can only see
the outside, the mere form and expression of the subject studied.  Only
with tender compassion and loving sympathy can we see the beauty even
in the eye dull with weeping and in the fixed face pale with care.  We
will often see noble patience shining through them, and loyalty to
duty, and virtues and graces unsuspected by others.

The divine meaning of a true friendship is that it is often the first
unveiling of the secret of love.  It is not an end in itself, but has
most of its worth in what it leads to, the priceless gift of seeing
with the heart rather than with the eyes.  To love one soul for its
beauty and grace and truth is to open the way to appreciate all
beautiful and true and gracious souls, and to recognize spiritual
beauty wherever it is seen.

The possibility at least of friendship must be a faith with us.  The
cynical attitude is an offence.  It is possible to find in the world
true-hearted, leal, and faithful dealing between man and man.  To doubt
this is to doubt the divine in life.  Faith in man is essential to
faith in God.  In spite of all deceptions and disillusionments, in
spite of all the sham fellowships, in spite of the flagrant cases of
self-interest and callous cruelty, we must keep clear and bright our
faith in the possibilities of our nature.  The man who hardens his
heart because he has been imposed on has no real belief in virtue, and
with suitable circumstances could become the deceiver instead of the
deceived.  The great miracle of friendship with its infinite wonder and
beauty may be denied to us, and yet we may believe in it.  To believe
that it is possible is enough, even though in its superbest form it has
never come to us.  To possess it, is to have one of the world's
sweetest gifts.

Aristotle defines friendship as one soul abiding in two bodies.  There
is no explaining such a relationship, but there is no denying it.  It
has not deserted the world since Aristotle's time.  Some of our modern
poets have sung of it with as brave a faith as ever poet of old.  What
splendid monuments to friendship we possess in Milton's _Lycidas_ and
Tennyson's _In Memoriam_!  In both there is the recognition of the
spiritual power of it, as well as the joy and comfort it brought.  The
grief is tempered by an awed wonder and a glad memory.

The finest feature of Rudyard Kipling's work and it is a constant
feature of it, is the comradeship between commonplace soldiers of no
high moral or spiritual attainment, and yet it is the strongest force
in their lives, and on occasion makes heroes of them.  We feel that
their faithfulness to each other is almost the only point at which
their souls are reached.  The threefold cord of his soldiers, vulgar in
mind and common in thought as they are, is a cord which we feel is not
easily broken, and it is their friendship and loyalty to each other
which save them from utter vulgarity.

In Walt Whitman there is the same insight into the force of friendship
in ordinary life, with added wonder at the miracle of it.  He is the
poet of comrades, and sings the song of companionship more than any
other theme.  He ever comes back to the lifelong love of comrades.  The
mystery and the beauty of it impressed him.

  O tan-faced prairie-boy,
  Before you came to camp came many a welcome gift,
  Praises and presents came and nourishing food,
      till at last among the recruits
  _You_ came, taciturn, with nothing to give--we
      but looked on each other,
  When lo! more than all the gifts of the world you gave me.

After all, in spite of the vulgar materialism of our day, we do feel
that the spiritual side of life is the most important, and brings the
only true joy.  And friendship in its essence is spiritual.  It is the
free, spontaneous outflow of the heart, and is a gift from the great
Giver.

Friends are born, not made.  At least it is so with the higher sort.
The marriage of souls is a heavenly mystery, which we cannot explain,
and which we need not try to explain.  The method by which it is
brought about differs very much, and depends largely on temperament.
Some friendships grow, and ripen slowly and steadily with the years.
We cannot tell where they began, or how.  They have become part of our
lives, and we just accept them with sweet content and glad confidence.
We have discovered that somehow we are rested, and inspired, by a
certain companionship; that we understand and are understood easily.

Or it may come like love at first sight, by the thrill of elective
affinity.  This latter is the more uncertain, and needs to be tested
and corrected by the trial of the years that follow.  It has to be
found out whether it is really spiritual kinship, or mere emotional
impulse.  It is a matter of temper and character.  A naturally reserved
person finds it hard to open his heart, even when his instinct prompts
him; while a sociable, responsive nature is easily companionable.  It
is not always this quick attachment, however, which wears best, and
that is the reason why youthful friendships have the character of being
so fickle.  They are due to a natural instinctive delight in society.
Most young people find it easy to be agreeable, and are ready to place
themselves under new influences.

But whatever be the method by which a true friendship is formed,
whether the growth of time or the birth of sudden sympathy, there
seems, on looking back, to have been an element of necessity.  It is a
sort of predestined spiritual relationship.  We speak of a man meeting
his fate, and we speak truly.  When we look back we see it to be like
destiny; life converged to life, and there was no getting out of it
even if we wished it.  It is not that we made a choice, but that the
choice made us.  If it has come gradually, we waken to the presence of
the force which has been in our lives, and has come into them never
hasting but never resting, till now we know it to be an eternal
possession.  Or, as we are going about other business, never dreaming
of the thing which occurs, the unexpected happens; on the road a light
shines on us, and life is never the same again.

In one of its aspects, faith is the recognition of the inevitableness
of providence; and when it is understood and accepted, it brings a
great consoling power into the life.  We feel that we are in the hands
of a Love that orders our ways, and the knowledge means serenity and
peace.  The fatality of friendship is gratefully accepted, as the
fatality of birth.  To the faith which sees love in all creation, all
life becomes harmony, and all sorts of loving relationships among men
seem to be part of the natural order of the world.  Indeed, such
miracles are only to be looked for, and if absent from the life of man
would make it hard to believe in the love of God.

The world thinks we idealize our friend, and tells us that love is
proverbially blind.  Not so: it is only love that sees, and thus can
"win the secret of a weed's plain heart."  We only see what dull eyes
never see at all.  If we wonder what another man sees in his friend, it
should be the wonder of humility, not the supercilious wonder of pride.
He sees something which we are not permitted to witness.  Beneath and
amongst what looks only like worthless slag, there may glitter the pure
gold of a fair character.  That anybody in the world should be got to
love us, and to see in us not what colder eyes see, not even what we
are but what we may be, should of itself make us humble and gentle in
our criticism of others' friendships.  Our friends see the best in us,
and by that very fact call forth the best from us.

The great difficulty in this whole subject is that the relationship of
friendship should so often be one-sided.  It seems strange that there
should be so much unrequited affection in the world.  It seems almost
impossible to get a completely balanced union.  One gives so much more,
and has to be content to get so much less.  One of the most humiliating
things in life is when another seems to offer his friendship lavishly,
and we are unable to respond.  So much love seems to go a-begging.  So
few attachments seem complete.  So much affection seems unrequited.

But are we sure it is unrequited?  The difficulty is caused by our
common selfish standards.  Most people, if they had their choice, would
prefer to be loved rather than to love, if only one of the alternatives
were permitted.  That springs from the root of selfishness in human
nature, which makes us think that possession brings happiness.  But the
glory of life is to love, not to be loved; to give, not to get; to
serve, not to be served.  It may not be our fault that we cannot
respond to the offer of friendship or love, but it is our misfortune.
The secret is revealed to the other, and hid from us.  The gain is to
the other, and the loss is to us.  The miracle is the love, and to the
lover comes the wonder of it, and the joy.



The Culture of Friendship


How were Friendship possible?  In mutual devotedness to the Good and
True: otherwise impossible, except as Armed Neutrality, or hollow
Commercial League.  A man, be the Heavens ever praised, is sufficient
for himself; yet were ten men, united in Love, capable of being and of
doing what ten thousand singly would fail in.  Infinite is the help man
can yield to man.

CARLYLE, Sartor Resartus.



The Culture of Friendship

The Book of Proverbs might almost be called a treatise on Friendship,
so full is it of advice about the sort of person a young man should
consort with, and the sort of person he should avoid.  It is full of
shrewd, and prudent, and wise, sometimes almost worldly-wise, counsel.
It is caustic in its satire about false friends, and about the way in
which friendships are broken.  "The rich hath many friends," with an
easily understood implication concerning their quality.  "Every man is
a friend to him that giveth gifts," is its sarcastic comment on the
ordinary motives of mean men.  Its picture of the plausible, fickle,
lip-praising, and time-serving man, who blesseth his friend with a loud
voice, rising early in the morning, is a delicate piece of satire.  The
fragile connections among men, as easily broken as mended pottery, get
illustration in the mischief-maker who loves to divide men.  "A
whisperer separateth chief friends."  There is keen irony here over the
quality of ordinary friendship, as well as condemnation of the
tale-bearer and his sordid soul.

This cynical attitude is so common that we hardly expect such a shrewd
book to speak heartily of the possibilities of human friendship.  Its
object rather is to put youth on its guard against the dangers and
pitfalls of social life.  It gives sound commercial advice about
avoiding becoming surety for a friend.  It warms [Transcriber's note:
warns?] against the tricks, and cheats, and bad faith, which swarmed in
the streets of a city then, as they do still.  It laughs, a little
bitterly, at the thought that friendship can be as common as the eager,
generous heart of youth imagines.  It almost sneers at the gullibility
of men in this whole matter.  "He that maketh many friends doeth it to
his own destruction."

And yet there is no book, even in classical literature, which so exalts
the idea of friendship, and is so anxious to have it truly valued, and
carefully kept.  The worldly-wise warnings are after all in the
interests of true friendship.  To condemn hypocrisy is not, as is so
often imagined, to condemn religion.  To spurn the spurious is not to
reject the true.  A sneer at folly may be only a covert argument for
wisdom.  Satire is negative truth.  The unfortunate thing is that most
men, who begin with the prudential worldly-wise philosophy, end there.
They never get past the sneer.  Not so this wise book.  In spite of its
insight into the weakness of man, in spite of its frank denunciation of
the common masquerade of friendship, it speaks of the true kind in
words of beauty that have never been surpassed in all the many
appraisements of this subject.  "A friend loveth at all times, and is a
brother born for adversity.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend.
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, so doth the sweetness of a
man's friend by hearty counsel.  Thine own friend and thy father's
friend forsake not."  These are not the words of a cynic, who has lost
faith in man.

True, this golden friendship is not a common thing to be picked up in
the street.  It would not be worth much if it were.  Like wisdom it
must be sought for as for hid treasures, and to keep it demands care
and thought.  To think that every goose is a swan, that every new
comrade is the man of your own heart, is to have a very shallow heart.
Every casual acquaintance is not a hero.  There are pearls of the
heart, which cannot be thrown to swine.  Till we learn what a sacred
thing a true friendship is, it is futile to speak of the culture of
friendship.  The man who wears his heart on his sleeve cannot wonder if
daws peck at it.  There ought to be a sanctuary, to which few receive
admittance.  It is great innocence, or great folly, and in this
connection the terms are almost synonymous, to open our arms to
everybody to whom we are introduced.  The Book of Proverbs, as a manual
on friendship, gives as shrewd and caustic warnings as are needed, but
it does not go to the other extreme, and say that all men are liars,
that there are no truth and faithfulness to be found.  To say so is to
speak in haste.  There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,
says this wisest of books.  There is possible such a blessed
relationship, a state of love and trust and generous comradehood, where
a man feels safe to be himself, because he knows that he will not
easily be misunderstood.

The word friendship has been abased by applying it to low and unworthy
uses, and so there is plenty of copy still to be got from life by the
cynic and the satirist.  The sacred name of friend has been bandied
about till it runs the risk of losing its true meaning.  Rossetti's
versicle finds its point in life--

  "Was it a friend or foe that spread these lies?"
  "Nay, who but infants question in such wise?
  'T was one of my most intimate enemies."

It is useless to speak of cultivating the great gift of friendship
unless we make clear to ourselves what we mean by a friend.  We make
connections and acquaintances, and call them friends.  We have few
friendships, because we are not willing to pay the price of friendship.

If we think it is not worth the price, that is another matter, and is
quite an intelligible position, but we must not use the word in
different senses, and then rail at fate because there is no miracle of
beauty and joy about our sort of friendship.  Like all other spiritual
blessings it comes to all of us at some time or other, and like them is
often let slip.  We have the opportunities, but we do not make use of
them.  Most men make friends easily enough: few keep them.  They do not
give the subject the care, and thought, and trouble, it requires and
deserves.  We want the pleasure of society, without the duty.  We would
like to get the good of our friends, without burdening ourselves with
any responsibility about keeping them friends.  The commonest mistake
we make is that we spread our intercourse over a mass, and have no
depth of heart left.  We lament that we have no stanch and faithful
friend, when we have really not expended the love which produces such.
We want to reap where we have not sown, the fatuousness of which we
should see as soon as it is mentioned.  "She that asks her dear five
hundred friends" (as Cowper satirically describes a well-known type)
cannot expect the exclusive affection, which she has not given.

The secret of friendship is just the secret of all spiritual blessing.
The way to get is to give.  The selfish in the end can never get
anything but selfishness.  The hard find hardness everywhere.  As you
mete, it is meted out to you.

Some men have a genius for friendship.  That is because they are open
and responsive, and unselfish.  They truly make the most of life; for
apart from their special joys, even intellect is sharpened by the
development of the affections.  No material success in life is
comparable to success in friendship.  We really do ourselves harm by
our selfish standards.  There is an old Latin proverb,[1] expressing
the worldly view, which says that it is not possible for a man to love
and at the same time to be wise.  This is only true when wisdom is made
equal to prudence and selfishness, and when love is made the same.
Rather it is never given to a man to be wise in the true and noble
sense, until he is carried out of himself in the purifying passion of
love, or the generosity of friendship.  The self-centred being cannot
keep friends, even when he makes them; his selfish sensitiveness is
always in the way, like a diseased nerve ready to be irritated.

The culture of friendship is a duty, as every gift represents a
responsibility.  It is also a necessity; for without watchful care it
can no more remain with us than can any other gift.  Without culture it
is at best only a potentiality.  We may let it slip, or we can use it
to bless our lives.  The miracle of friendship, which came at first
with its infinite wonder and beauty, wears off, and the glory fades
into the light of common day.  The early charm passes, and the soul
forgets the first exaltation.  We are always in danger of mistaking the
common for the commonplace.  We must not look upon it merely as the
great luxury of life, or it will cease to be even that.  It begins with
emotion, but if it is to remain it must become a habit.  Habit is fixed
when an accustomed thing is organized into life; and, whatever be the
genesis of friendship, it must become a habit, or it is in danger of
passing away as other impressions have done before.

Friendship needs delicate handling.  We can ruin it by stupid
blundering at the very birth, and we can kill it by neglect.  It is not
every flower that has vitality enough to grow in stony ground.  Lack of
reticence, which is only the outward sign of lack of reverence, is
responsible for the death of many a fair friendship.  Worse still, it
is often blighted at the very beginning by the insatiable desire for
piquancy in talk, which can forget the sacredness of confidence.  "An
acquaintance grilled, scored, devilled, and served with mustard and
cayenne pepper, excites the appetite; whereas a slice of old friend
with currant jelly is but a sickly, unrelishing meat." [2]  Nothing is
given to the man who is not worthy to possess it, and the shallow heart
can never know the joy of a friendship, for the keeping of which he is
not able to fulfil the essential conditions.  Here also it is true that
from the man that hath not, is taken away even that which he hath.

The method for the culture of friendship finds its best and briefest
summary in the Golden Rule.  To do to, and for, your friend what you
would have him do to, and for, you, is a simple compendium of the whole
duty of friendship.  The very first principle of friendship is that it
is a mutual thing, as among spiritual equals, and therefore it claims
reciprocity, mutual confidence and faithfulness.  There must be
sympathy to keep in touch with each other, but sympathy needs to be
constantly exercised.  It is a channel of communication, which has to
be kept open, or it will soon be clogged and closed.

The practice of sympathy may mean the cultivation of similar tastes,
though that will almost naturally follow from the fellowship.  But to
cultivate similar tastes does not imply either absorption of one of the
partners, or the identity of both.  Rather, part of the charm of the
intercourse lies in the difference, which exists in the midst of
agreement.  What is essential is that there should be a real desire and
a genuine effort to understand each other.  It is well worth while
taking pains to preserve a relationship so full of blessing to both.

Here, as in all connections among men, there is also ample scope for
patience.  When we think of our own need for the constant exercise of
this virtue, we will admit its necessity for others.  After the first
flush of communion has passed, we must see in a friend things which
detract from his worth, and perhaps things which irritate us.  This is
only to say that no man is perfect.  With tact, and tenderness and
patience, it may be given us to help to remove what may be flaws in a
fine character, and in any case it is foolish to forget the great
virtues of our friend in fretful irritation at a few blemishes.  We can
keep the first ideal in our memory, even if we know that it is not yet
an actual fact.  We must not let our intercourse be coarsened, but must
keep it sweet and delicate, that it may remain a refuge from the coarse
world, a sanctuary where we leave criticism outside, and can breathe
freely.

_Trust_ is the first requisite for making a friend.  How can we be
anything but alone, if our attitude to men is one of armed neutrality,
if we are suspicious, and assertive, and querulous, and over-cautious
in our advances?  Suspicion kills friendship.  There must be some
magnanimity and openness of mind, before a friendship can be formed.
We must be willing to give ourselves freely and unreservedly.

Some find it easier than others to make advances, because they are
naturally more trustful.  A beginning has to be made somehow, and if we
are moved to enter into personal association with another, we must not
be too cautious in displaying our feeling.  If we stand off in cold
reserve, the ice, which trembled to thawing, is gripped again by the
black hand of frost.  There may be a golden moment which has been lost
through a foolish reserve.  We are so afraid of giving ourselves away
cheaply--and it is a proper enough feeling, the value of which we learn
through sad experience--but on the whole perhaps the warm nature, which
acts on impulse, is of a higher type, than the over-cautious nature,
ever on the watch lest it commit itself.  We can do nothing with each
other, we cannot even do business with each other, without a certain
amount of trust.  Much more necessary is it in the beginning of a
deeper intercourse.

And if trust is the first requisite for making a friend, _faithfulness_
is the first requisite for keeping him.  The way to have a friend is to
be a friend.  Faithfulness is the fruit of trust.  We must be ready to
lay hold of every opportunity which occurs of serving our friend.  Life
is made up to most of us of little things, and many a friendship
withers through sheer neglect.  Hearts are alienated, because each is
waiting for some great occasion for displaying affection.  The great
spiritual value of friendship lies in the opportunities it affords for
service, and if these are neglected it is only to be expected that the
gift should be taken from us.  Friendship, which begins with sentiment,
will not live and thrive on sentiment.  There must be loyalty, which
finds expression in service.  It is not the greatness of the help, or
the intrinsic value of the gift, which gives it its worth, but the
evidence it is of love and thoughtfulness.

Attention to detail is the secret of success in every sphere of life,
and little kindnesses, little acts of considerateness, little
appreciations, little confidences, are all that most of us are called
on to perform, but they are all that are needed to keep a friendship
sweet.  Such thoughtfulness keeps our sentiment in evidence to both
parties.  If we never show our kind feeling, what guarantee has our
friend, or even ourself, that it exists?  Faithfulness in deed is the
outward result of constancy of soul, which is the rarest, and the
greatest, of virtues.  If there has come to us the miracle of
friendship, if there is a soul to which our soul has been drawn, it is
surely worth while being loyal and true.  Through the little occasions
for helpfulness, we are training for the great trial, if it should ever
come, when the fabric of friendship will be tested to the very
foundation.  The culture of friendship, and its abiding worth, never
found nobler expression than in the beautiful proverb,[3] "A friend
loveth at all times, and is a brother born for adversity."

Most men do not deserve such a gift from heaven.  They look upon it as
a convenience, and accept the privilege of love without the
responsibility of it.  They even use their friends for their own
selfish purposes, and so never have true friends.  Some men shed
friends at every step they rise in the social scale.  It is mean and
contemptible to merely use men, so long as they further one's personal
interests.  But there is a nemesis on such heartlessness.  To such can
never come the ecstasy and comfort of mutual trust.  This worldly
policy can never truly succeed.  It stands to reason that they cannot
have brothers born for adversity, and cannot count on the joy of the
love that loveth at all times; for they do not possess the quality
which secures it.  To act on the worldly policy, to treat a friend as
if he might become an enemy, is of course to be friendless.  To
sacrifice a tried and trusted friend for any personal advantage of gain
or position, is to deprive our own heart of the capacity for friendship.

The passion for novelty will sometimes lead a man to act like this.
Some shallow minds are ever afflicted by a craving for new experiences.
They sit very loosely to the past.  They are the easy victims of the
untried, and yearn perpetually for novel sensations.  In this matter of
friendship they are ready to forsake the old for the new.  They are
always finding a swan in every goose they meet.  They have their reward
in a widowed heart.  Says Shakespeare in his great manner,--

  The friends thou hast and their adoption tried
  Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel,
  But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
  Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade.


The culture of friendship must pass into the consecration of
friendship, if it is to reach its goal.  It is a natural evolution.
Friendship cannot be permanent unless it becomes spiritual.  There must
be fellowship in the deepest things of the soul, community in the
highest thoughts, sympathy with the best endeavors.  We are bartering
the priceless boon, if we are looking on friendship merely as a luxury,
and not as a spiritual opportunity.  It is, or can be, an occasion for
growing in grace, for learning love, for training the heart to patience
and faith, for knowing the joy of humble service.  We are throwing away
our chance, if we are not striving to be an inspiring and healthful
environment to our friend.  We are called to be our best to our friend,
that he may be his best to us, bringing out what is highest and deepest
in the nature of both.

The culture of friendship is one of the approved instruments of culture
of the heart, without which a man has not truly come into his kingdom.
It is often only the beginning, but through tender and careful culture
it may be an education for the larger life of love.  It broadens out in
ever-widening circles, from the particular to the general, and from the
general to the universal--from the individual to the social, and from
the social to God.  The test of religion is ultimately a very simple
one.  If we do not love those whom we have seen, we cannot love those
whom we have not seen.  All our sentiment about people at a distance,
and our heart-stirrings for the distressed and oppressed, and our
prayers for the heathen, are pointless and fraudulent, if we are
neglecting the occasions for service lying to our hand.  If we do not
love our brethren here, how can we love our brethren elsewhere, except
as a pious sentimentality?  And if we do not love those we have seen,
how can we love God whom we have not seen?

This is the highest function of friendship, and is the reason why it
needs thoughtful culture.  We should be led to God by the joy of our
lives as well as by the sorrow, by the light as well as by the
darkness, by human intercourse as well as by human loneliness.  He is
the Giver of every good gift.  We wound His heart of love, when we sin
against love.  The more we know of Christ's spirit, and the more we
think of the meaning of God's fathomless grace, the more will we be
convinced that the way to please the Father and to follow the Son is to
cultivate the graces of kindliness and gentleness and tenderness, to
give ourselves to the culture of the heart.  Not in the ecclesiastical
arena, not in polemic for a creed, not in self-assertion and
disputings, do we please our Master best, but in the simple service of
love.  To seek the good of men is to seek the glory of God.  They are
not two things, but one and the same.  To be a strong hand in the dark
to another in the time of need, to be a cup of strength to a human soul
in a crisis of weakness, is to know the glory of life.  To be a true
friend, saving his faith in man, and making him believe in the
existence of love, is to save his faith in God.  And such service is
possible for all.  We need not wait for the great occasion and for the
exceptional opportunity.  We can never be without our chance, if we are
ready to keep the miracle of love green in our hearts by humble service.

  The primal duties shine aloft like stars.
  The charities that soothe and heal and bless,
  Are scattered at the feet of man like flowers.



[1] _Non simul cuiquam conceditur, amare et sapere_.

[2] Thackeray, _Roundabout Papers_.

[3] Proverbs xvii. 17, R. V. margin.



The Fruits of Friendship


Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their
labor.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to
him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him
up.  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a
threefold cord is not quickly broken.--ECCLESIASTES.


  O friend, my bosom said,
  Through thee alone the sky is arched,
  Through thee the rose is red,
  All things through thee take nobler form
  And look beyond the earth,
  And is the mill-round of our fate,
  A sun-path in thy worth.
  Me too thy nobleness has taught
  To master my despair;
  The fountains of my hidden life
  Are through thy friendship fair.

  EMERSON.



The Fruits of Friendship

In our utilitarian age things are judged by their practical value.  Men
ask of everything, What is its use?  Nothing is held to be outside
criticism, neither the law because of its authority, nor religion
because of its sacredness.  Every relationship in life also has been
questioned, and is asked to show the reason of its existence.  Even
some relationships like marriage, for long held to be above question,
are put into the crucible.

On the whole it is a good spirit, though it can be abused and carried
to an absurd extreme.  Criticism is inevitable, and ought to be
welcomed, provided we are careful about the true standard to apply.
When we judge a thing by its use, we must not have a narrow view of
what utility is.  Usefulness to man is not confined to mere material
values.  The common standards of the market-place cannot be applied to
the whole of life.  The things which cannot be bought cannot be sold,
and the keenest valuator would be puzzled to put a price on some of
these unmarketable wares.

When we seek to show what are the fruits of friendship, we may be said
to put ourselves in line with the critical spirit of our age.  But even
if it were proven that a man could make more of his life materially by
himself, if he gave no hostages to fortune, it would not follow that it
is well to disentangle oneself from the common human bonds; for our
_caveat_ would here apply, that utility is larger than mere material
gain.

But even from this point of view friendship justifies itself.  Two are
better than one; for they have a good reward for their labor.  The
principle of association in business is now accepted universally.  It
is found even to pay, to share work and profit.  Most of the world's
business is done by companies, or partnerships, or associated endeavor
of some kind.  And the closer the intimacy between the men so engaged,
the intimacy of common desires and common purposes, and mutual respect
and confidence, and, if possible, friendship, the better chance there
is for success.  Two are better than one from the point of view even of
the reward of each, and a threefold cord is not quickly broken, when a
single strand would snap.

When men first learned, even in its most rudimentary sense, that union
is strength, the dawn of civilization began.  For offence and for
defence, the principle of association early proved itself the fittest
for survival.  The future is always with Isaac, not with Ishmael--with
Jacob, not with Esau.  In everything this is seen, in the struggle of
races, or trade, or ideas.  Even as a religious method to make an
impact on the world, it is true.  John of the Desert touched here a
life, and there a life; Jesus of Nazareth, seeking disciples, founding
a society, moved the world to its heart.

It is not necessary to labor this point, that two are better than one,
to a commercial age like ours, which, whatever it does not know, at
least knows its arithmetic.  We would say that it is self-evident, that
by the law of addition it is double, and by the law of multiplication
twice the number.  But it is not so exact as that, nor so self-evident.
When we are dealing with men, our ready-reckoner rules do not work out
correctly.  In this region one and one are not always two.  They are
sometimes more than two, and sometimes less than two.  Union of all
kinds, which may be strength, may be weakness.  It was not till Gideon
weeded out his army, once and twice, that he was promised victory.  The
fruits of friendship may be corrupting, and unspeakably evil to the
life.  The reward of the labor of two may be less than that of one.
The boy pulling a barrow is lucky if he get another boy to shove
behind, but if the boy behind not only ceases to shove, but sits on the
barrow, the last end is worse than the first.  A threefold cord with
two of the strands rotten is worse than a single sound strand, for it
deceives into putting too much weight on it.

In social economics it is evident that society is not merely the sum of
the units that compose it.  Two are better than one, not merely because
the force is doubled.  It may even be said that two are better than
two.  Two together mean more than two added singly; for a new element
is introduced which increases the power of each individually.  When the
man Friday came into the life of Robinson Crusoe, he brought with him a
great deal more than his own individual value, which with his lower
civilization would not be very much.  But to Robinson Crusoe he
represented society, and all the possibilities of social polity.  It
meant also the satisfaction of the social instincts, the play of the
affections, and made Crusoe a different man.  The two living together
were more than the two living on different desert islands.

The truth of this strange contradiction of the multiplication table is
seen in the relationship of friends.  Each gives to the other, and each
receives, and the fruit of the intercourse is more than either in
himself possesses.  Every individual relationship has contact with a
universal.  To reach out to the fuller life of love is a divine
enchantment, because it leads to more than itself, and is the open door
into the mystery of life.  We feel ourselves united to the race and no
longer isolated units, but in the sweep of the great social forces
which mould mankind.  Every bond which binds man to man is a new
argument for the permanence of life itself, and gives a new insight
into its meaning.  Love is the pledge and the promise of the future.

Besides this cosmic and perhaps somewhat shadowy benefit, there are
many practical fruits of friendship to the individual.  These may be
classified and subdivided almost endlessly, and indeed in every special
friendship the fruits of it will differ according to the character and
closeness of the tie, and according to the particular gifts of each of
the partners.  One man can give to his friend some quality of sympathy,
or some kind of help, or can supply some social need which is lacking
in his character or circumstances.  Perhaps it is not possible to get a
better division of the subject than the three noble fruits of
friendship which Bacon enumerates--peace in the affections, support of
the judgment, and aid in all actions and occasions.


First of all there is the _satisfaction of the heart_.  We cannot live
a self-centred life, without feeling that we are missing the true glory
of life.  We were made for social intercourse, if only that the highest
qualities of our nature might have an opportunity for development.  The
joy, which a true friendship gives, reveals the existence of the want
of it, perhaps previously unfelt.  It is a sin against ourselves to let
our affections wither.  This sense of incompleteness is an argument in
favor of its possible satisfaction; our need is an argument for its
fulfilment.  Our hearts demand love, as truly as our bodies demand
food.  We cannot live among men, suspicious, and careful of our own
interests, and fighting for our own hand, without doing dishonor and
hurt to our own nature.  To be for ourselves puts the whole world
against us.  To harden our heart hardens the heart of the universe.

We need sympathy, and therefore we crave for friendship.  Even the most
perfect of the sons of men felt this need of intercourse of the heart.
Christ, in one aspect the most self-contained of men, showed this human
longing all through His life.  He ever desired opportunities for
enlargement of heart--in His disciples, in an inner circle within the
circle, in the household of Bethany.  "Will ye also go away?" He asked
in the crisis of His career.  "Could ye not watch with Me one hour?" He
sighed in His great agony.  He was perfectly human, and therefore felt
the lack of friendship.  The higher our relationships with each other
are, the closer is the intercourse demanded.  Highest of all in the
things of the soul, we feel that the true Christian life cannot be
lived in the desert, but must be a life among men, and this because it
is a life of joy as well as of service.  We feel that, for the founding
of our life and the completion of our powers, we need intercourse with
our kind.  Stunted affections dwarf the whole man.  We live by
admiration, hope, and love, and these can be developed only in the
social life.

The sweetest and most stable pleasures also are never selfish.  They
are derived from fellowship, from common tastes, and mutual sympathy.
Sympathy is not a quality merely needed in adversity.  It is needed as
much when the sun shines.  Indeed, it is more easily obtained in
adversity than in prosperity.  It is comparatively easy to sympathize
with a friend's _failure_, when we are not so true-hearted about his
success.  When a man is down in his luck, he can be sure of at least a
certain amount of good-fellowship to which he can appeal.  It is
difficult to keep a little touch of malice, or envy, out of
congratulations.  It is sometimes easier to weep with those who weep,
than to rejoice with those who rejoice.  This difficulty is felt not
with people above us, or with little connection with us, but with our
equals.  When a friend succeeds, there may be a certain regret which
has not always an evil root, but is due to a fear that he is getting
beyond our reach, passing out of our sphere, and perhaps will not need
or desire our friendship so much as before.  It is a dangerous feeling
to give way to, but up to a certain point is natural and legitimate.  A
perfect friendship would not have room for such grudging sympathy, but
would rejoice more for the other's success than for his own.  The
envious, jealous man never can be a friend.  His mean spirit of
detraction and insinuating ill-will kills friendship at its birth.
Plutarch records a witty remark about Plistarchus, who was told that a
notorious railer had spoken well of him.  "I'll lay my life," said he,
"somebody has told him I am dead, for he can speak well of no man
living."

For true satisfaction of the heart, there must be a fount of sympathy
from which to draw in all the vicissitudes of life.  Sorrow asks for
sympathy, aches to let its griefs be known and shared by a kindred
spirit.  To find such, is to dispel the loneliness from life.  To have
a heart which we can trust, and into which we can pour our griefs and
our doubts and our fears, is already to take the edge from grief, and
the sting from doubt, and the shade from fear.

Joy also demands that its joy should be shared.  The man who has found
his sheep that was lost calls together his neighbors, and bids them
rejoice with him because he has found the sheep that was lost.  Joy is
more social than grief.  Some forms of grief desire only to creep away
into solitude like a wounded beast to its lair, to suffer alone and to
die alone.  But joy finds its counterpart in the sunshine and the
flowers and the birds and the little children, and enters easily into
all the movements of life.  Sympathy will respond to a friend's
gladness, as well as vibrate to his grief.  A simple generous
friendship will thus add to the joy, and will divide the sorrow.

The religious life, in spite of all the unnatural experiments of
monasticism and all its kindred ascetic forms, is preëminently a life
of friendship.  It is individual in its root, and social in its fruits.
It is when two or three are gathered together that religion becomes a
fact for the world.  The joy of religion will not be hid and buried in
a man's own heart.  "Come, see a man that told me all that ever I did,"
is the natural outcome of the first wonder and the first faith.  It
spreads from soul to soul by the impact of soul on soul, from the
original impact of the great soul of God.

Christ's ideal is the ideal of a Kingdom, men banded together in a
common cause, under common laws, serving the same purpose of love.  It
is meant to take effect upon man in all his social relationships, in
the home, in the city, in the state.  Its greatest triumphs have been
made through friendship, and it in turn has ennobled and sanctified the
bond.  The growth of the Kingdom depends on the sanctified working of
the natural ties among men.  It was so at the very start; John the
Baptist pointed out the Christ to John the future Apostle and to
Andrew; Andrew findeth his own brother Simon Peter; Philip findeth
Nathanael; and so society through its network of relations took into
its heart the new message.  The man who has been healed must go and
tell those who are at home, must declare it to his friends, and seek
that they also should share in his great discovery.

The very existence of the Church as a body of believers is due to this
necessity of our nature, which demands opportunity for the interchange
of Christian sentiment.  The deeper the feeling, the greater is the joy
of sharing it with another.  There is a strange felicity, a wondrous
enchantment, which comes from true intimacy of heart, and close
communion of soul, and the result is more than mere fleeting joy.  When
it is shared in the deepest thoughts and highest aspirations, when it
is built on a common faith, and lives by a common hope, it brings
perfect peace.  No friendship has done its work until it reaches the
supremest satisfaction of spiritual communion.

Besides this satisfaction of the heart, friendship also gives
_satisfaction of the mind_.  Most men have a certain natural diffidence
in coming to conclusions and forming opinions for themselves.  We
rarely feel confident, until we have secured the agreement of others in
whom we trust.  There is always a personal equation in all our
judgments, so that we feel that they require to be amended by
comparison with those of others.  Doctors ask for a consultation, when
a case becomes critical.  We all realize the advantage of taking
counsel.  To ask for advice is a benefit, whether we follow the advice
or no.  Indeed, the best benefit often comes from the opportunity of
testing our own opinion and finding it valid.  Sometimes the very
statement of the case is enough to prove it one thing or the other.  An
advantage is reaped from a sympathetic listener, even although our
friend be unable to elucidate the matter by his special sagacity or
experience.  Friends in counsel gain much intellectually.  They acquire
something approaching to a standard of judgment, and are enabled to
classify opinions, and to make up the mind more accurately and
securely.  Through talking a subject over with another, one gets fresh
side-lights into it, new avenues open up, and the whole question
becomes larger and richer.  Bacon says, "Friendship maketh daylight in
the understanding, out of darkness and confusion of thoughts: neither
is this to be understood only of faithful counsel, which a man
receiveth from his friend; but before you come to that, certain it is,
that whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and
understanding do clarify and break up in the communicating and
discoursing with another; he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he
marshalleth them more orderly; he seeth how they look when they are
turned into words; finally he waxeth wiser than himself; and that more
by an hour's discourse than by a day's meditation."

We must have been struck with the brilliancy of our own conversation
and the profundity of our own thoughts, when we shared them with one,
with whom we were in sympathy at the time.  The brilliancy was not
ours; it was the reflex action which was the result of the communion.
That is why the effect of different people upon us is different, one
making us creep into our shell and making us unable almost to utter a
word; another through some strange magnetism enlarging the bounds of
our whole being and drawing the best out of us.  The true insight after
all is love.  It clarifies the intellect, and opens the eyes to much
that was obscure.

Besides the subjective influence, there may be the great gain of honest
counsel.  A faithful friend can be trusted not to speak merely soft
words of flattery.  It is often the spectator who sees most of the
game, and, if the spectator is at the same time keenly interested in
us, he can have a more unbiased opinion than we can possibly have.  He
may have to say that which may wound our self-esteem; he may have to
speak for correction rather than for commendation; but "Faithful are
the wounds of a friend."  The flatterer will take good care not to
offend our susceptibilities by too many shocks of wholesome
truth-telling; but a friend will seek our good, even if he must say the
thing we hate to hear at the time.

This does not mean that a friend should always be what is called
plain-spoken.  Many take advantage of what they call a true interest in
our welfare, in order to rub gall into our wounds.  The man who boasts
of his frankness and of his hatred of flattery, is usually not
frank--but only brutal.  A true friend will never needlessly hurt, but
also will never let slip occasions through cowardice.  To speak the
truth in love takes off the edge of unpleasantness, which so often is
found in truth-speaking.  And however the wound may smart, in the end
we are thankful for the faithfulness which caused it.  "Let the
righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it
shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head."

In our relations with each other, there is usually more advantage to be
reaped from friendly encouragement, than from friendly correction.
True criticism does not consist, as so many critics seem to think, in
depreciation, but in appreciation; in putting oneself sympathetically
in another's position, and seeking to value the real worth of his work.
There are more lives spoiled by undue harshness, than by undue
gentleness.  More good work is lost from want of appreciation than from
too much of it; and certainly it is not the function of friendship to
do the critic's work.  Unless carefully repressed, such a spirit
becomes censorious, or, worse still, spiteful, and has often been the
means of losing a friend.  It is possible to be kind, without giving
crooked counsel, or oily flattery; and it is possible to be true,
without magnifying faults, and indulging in cruel rebukes.


Besides the joy of friendship, and its aid in matters of counsel, a
third of its noble fruits is the direct _help_ it can give us in the
difficulties of life.  It gives strength to the character.  It sobers
and steadies through the responsibility for each other which it means.
When men face the world together, and are ready to stand shoulder to
shoulder, the sense of comradeship makes each strong.  This help may
not often be called into play, but just to know that it is there if
needed is a great comfort, to know that if one fall the other will lift
him up.  The very word friendship suggests kindly help and aid in
distress.  Shakespeare applies the word in _King Lear_ to an inanimate
thing with this meaning of helpfulness,--

  Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;
  Some _friendship_ will it lend you 'gainst the tempest.

Sentiment does not amount to much, if it is not an inspiring force to
lead to gentle and to generous deeds, when there is need.  The fight is
not so hard, when we know that we are not alone, but that there are
some who think of us, and pray for us, and would gladly help us if they
get the opportunity.

Comradeship is one of the finest facts, and one of the strongest forces
in life.  A mere strong man, however capable, and however singly
successful, is of little account by himself.  There is no glamour of
romance in his career.  The kingdom of Romance belongs to David, not to
Samson--to David, with his eager, impetuous, affectionate nature, for
whom three men went in the jeopardy of life to bring him a drink of
water; and all for love of him.  It is not the self-centred,
self-contained hero, who lays hold of us; it is ever the comradeship of
heroes.  Dumas' Three Musketeers (and the Gascon who made a greater
fourth), with their oath, "Each for all, and all for each," inherit
that kingdom of Romance, with all that ever have been tied in bands of
love.

Robertson of Brighton in one of his letters tells how a friend of his
had, through cowardice or carelessness, missed an opportunity of
putting him right on a point with which he was charged, and so left him
defenceless against a slander.  With his native sweetness of soul, he
contents himself with the exclamation, "How rare it is to have a friend
who will defend you thoroughly and boldly!"  Yet that is just one of
the loyal things a friend can do, sometimes when it would be impossible
for a man himself to do himself justice with others.  Some things,
needful to be said or done under certain circumstances, cannot be
undertaken without indelicacy by the person concerned, and the keen
instinct of a friend should tell him that he is needed.  A little
thoughtfulness would often suggest things that could be done for our
friends, that would make them feel that the tie which binds us to them
is a real one.  That man is rich indeed, who possesses thoughtful,
tactful friends, with whom he feels safe when present, and in whose
hands his honor is secure when absent.  If there be no loyalty, there
can be no great friendship.  Most of our friendships lack the
distinction of greatness, because we are not ready for little acts of
service.  Without these our love dwindles down to a mere sentiment, and
ceases to be the inspiring force for good to both lives, which it was
at the beginning.

The aid we may receive from friendship may be of an even more powerful,
because of a more subtle, nature than material help.  It may be a
safeguard against temptation.  The recollection of a friend whom we
admire is a great force to save us from evil, and to prompt us to good.
The thought of his sorrow in any moral break-down of ours will often
nerve us to stand firm.  What would my friend think of me, if I did
this, or consented to this meanness?  Could I look him in the face
again, and meet the calm pure gaze of his eye?  Would it not be a blot
on our friendship, and draw a veil over our intercourse?  No friendship
is worth the name which does not elevate, and does not help to nobility
of conduct and to strength of character.  It should give a new zest to
duty, and a new inspiration to all that is good.

Influence is the greatest of all human gifts, and we all have it in
some measure.  There are some to whom we are something, if not
everything.  There are some, who are grappled to us with hoops of
steel.  There are some, over whom we have ascendency, or at least to
whom we have access, who have opened the gates of the City of Mansoul
to us, some we can sway with a word, a touch, a look.  It must always
be a solemn thing for a man to ask what he has done with this dread
power of influence.  For what has our friend to be indebted to us--for
good or for evil?  Have we put on his armor, and sent him out with
courage and strength to the battle?  Or have we dragged him down from
the heights to which he once aspired?  We are face to face here with
the tragic possibilities of human intercourse.  In all friendship we
open the gates of the city, and those who have entered must be either
allies in the fight, or treacherous foes.

All the fruits of friendship, be they blessed or baneful, spring from
this root of influence, and influence in the long run is the impress of
our real character on other lives.  Influence cannot rise above the
level of our lives.  The result of our friendship on others will
ultimately be conditioned by the sort of persons we are.  It adds a
very sacred responsibility to life.  Here, as in other regions, a good
tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil
fruit.



The Choice of Friendship


If thou findest a good man, rise up early in the morning to go to him,
and let thy feet wear the steps of his door.

THE APOCRYPHAL BOOK OF ECCLESIASTICUS.


  Whereof the man, that with me trod
  This planet, was a noble type,
  Appearing ere the times were ripe,
  That friend of mine who lives with God.

  TENNYSON.



The Choice of Friendship

Our responsibility for our friendships is not confined to making sure
that our influence over others is for good.  We have also a duty to
ourselves.  As we possess the gift of influence over others, so we in
turn are affected by every life which touches ours.  Influence is like
an atmosphere exhaled by each separate personality.  Some men seem
neutral and colorless, with no atmosphere to speak of.  Some have a bad
atmosphere, like the rank poisonous odor of noxious weeds, breeding
malaria.  If our moral sense were only keen and true, we would
instinctively know them, as some children do, and dread their company.
Others have a good atmosphere; we can breathe there in safety, and have
a joyful sense of security.  With some of these it is a local delicate
environment, sweet, suggestive, like the aroma of wild violets: we have
to look, and sometimes to stoop, to get into its range.  With some it
is like a pine forest, or a eucalyptus grove of warmer climes, which
perfumes a whole country side.  It is well to know such, Christ's
little ones and Christ's great ones.  They put oxygen into the moral
atmosphere, and we breathe more freely for it.  They give us new
insight, and fresh courage, and purer faith, and by the impulse of
their example inspire us to nobler life.

There is nothing so important as the choice of friendship; for it both
reflects character and affects it.  A man is known by the company he
keeps.  This is an infallible test; for his thoughts, and desires, and
ambitions, and loves are revealed here.  He gravitates naturally to his
congenial sphere.  And it affects character; for it is the atmosphere
he breathes.  It enters his blood and makes the circuit of his veins.
"All love assimilates to what it loves."  A man is moulded into
likeness of the lives that come nearest him.  It is at the point of the
emotions that he is most impressionable.  The material surroundings,
the outside lot of a man, affects him, but after all that is mostly on
the outside; for the higher functions of life may be served in almost
any external circumstances.  But the environment of other lives, the
communion of other souls, are far more potent facts.  The nearer people
are to each other, and the less disguise there is in their
relationship, the more invariably will the law of spiritual environment
act.

It seems a tragedy that people, who see each other as they are, become
like each other; and often it is a tragedy.  But the law carries as
much hope in it as despair.  If through it evil works havoc, through it
also good persists.  If we are hindered by the weakness of our
associates, we are often helped by their goodness and sweetness.
Contact with a strong nature inspires us with strength.  Some one once
asked Kingsley what was the secret of his strong joyous life, and he
answered, "I had a friend."  If every evil man is a centre of
contagion, every good man is a centre of healing.  He provides an
environment in which others can see God.  Goodness creates an
atmosphere for other souls to be good.  It is a priestly garment that
has virtue even for the finger that touches it.  The earth has its
salt, and the world has its light, in the sweet souls, and winsome
lives, and Christ-like characters to be found in it.  The choice of
friends is therefore one of the most serious affairs in life, just
because a man becomes moulden into the likeness of what he loves in his
friend.

From the purely selfish standard, every fresh tie we form means giving
a new hostage to fortune, and adding a new risk to our happiness.
Apart from any moral evil, every intimacy is a danger of another blow
to the heart.  But if we desire fulness of life, we cannot help
ourselves.  A man may make many a friendship to his own hurt, but the
isolated life is a greater danger still.  _Societas est mater
discordiarum_, which Scott in his humorous pathetic account of the
law-suits of Peter Peebles _versus_ Plainstanes in "Redgauntlet,"
translates, Partnership oft makes pleaship.  Every relationship means
risk, but we must take the risk; for while nearly all our sorrows come
from our connection with others, nearly all our joys have the same
source.  We cannot help ourselves; for it is part of the great
discipline of life.  Rather, we need knowledge, and care, and
forethought to enable us to make the best use of the necessities of our
nature.  And foremost of these for importance is our choice of friends.

We may err on the one side by being too cautious, and too exclusive in
our attachments.  We may be supercilious, and disdainful in our
estimate of men.  Contempt always blinds the eyes.  Every man is
vulnerable somewhere, if only like Achilles in the heel.  The true
secret of insight is not contempt, but sympathy.  Such disdain usually
means putting all the eggs into one basket, when a smash spells ruin.

The other extreme is the attitude, which easily makes many friends,
without much consideration of quality.  We know the type of man, who is
friendly with everybody, and a friend of none.  He is Hail fellow well
met! with every passing stranger, a boon companion of every wayfarer.
He takes up with every sort of casual comrade, and seeks to be on good
terms with everybody.  He makes what is called, with a little contempt,
good company, and is a favorite on all light occasions.  His affections
spread themselves out over a large expanse.  He is easily consoled for
a loss, and easily attracted by a new attachment.  And as he deals, so
is he dealt with.  Many like him; few quite trust him.  He makes many
friends, and is not particular about their quality.  The law of
spiritual environment plays upon him with its relentless force.  He
gives himself away too cheaply, and opens himself to all sorts of
influence.  He is constantly laying himself in the way of temptation.
His mind takes on the opinions of his set: his character assimilates
itself to the forces that act on it.  The evil example of some of his
intimates gradually breaks down the barriers of past training and
teaching.  The desire to please a crowd means that principle is let
slip, and conscience ceases to be the standard of action.  His very
friends are not true friends, being mostly of the fair-weather quality.

Though it may seem difficult to avoid either of these two extremes, it
will not do to refuse to choose at all, and leave things to chance.  We
drift into many of our connections with men, but the art of seamanship
is tested by sailing not by drifting.  The subject of the choice of
friendship is not advanced much by just letting them choose us.  That
is to become the victim, not the master of our circumstances.  And
while it is true that we are acted on as much as we act, and are chosen
as much as we choose, it is not permitted to any one merely to be
passive, except at great cost.

At the same time in the mystery of friendship we cannot say that we
went about with a touchstone testing all we met, till we found the ore
that would respond to our particular magnet.  It is not that we said to
ourselves, Go to, we will choose a friend, and straightway made a
distinct election to the vacant throne of our heart.  From one point of
view we were absolutely passive.  Things arranged themselves without
effort, and by some subtle affinity we learned that we had gained a
friend.  The history of every true friendship is the brief description
of Emerson, "My friends have come to me unsought; the great God gave
them to me."  There was an element of necessity in this, as in all
crises of life.

Does it therefore seem absurd and useless to speak about the choice of
friendship at all?  By no means, because the principles we set before
ourselves will determine the kind of friends we have, as truly as if
the whole initiative lay with us.  We are chosen for the same reason
for which we would choose.  To try to separate the two processes is to
make the same futile distinction, on a lower scale, so often made
between choosing God and being chosen by Him.  It is futile, because
the distinction cannot be maintained.

Besides, the value of having some definite principle by which to test
friendship is not confined to the positive attachments made.  The
necessity for a system of selection is largely due to the necessity for
rejection.  The good and great intimacies of our life will perhaps come
to us, as the wind bloweth, we cannot tell how.  But by regulating our
course wisely, we will escape from hampering our life by mistakes, and
weakening it with false connections.  We ought to be courteous, and
kind, and gentle with all, but not to all can we open the sanctuary of
our heart.

We have a graduated scale of intimacy, from introduction, and nodding
acquaintance, and speaking acquaintance, through an endless series of
kinds of intercourse to the perfect friendship.  In counting up our
gains and our resources, we cannot give them all the same value,
without deceiving ourselves.  To expect loyalty and devotion from all
alike is to court disappointment.  Most misanthropical and cynical
estimates of man are due to this mingled ignorance and conceit.  We
cannot look for undying affection from the crowd we may happen to have
entertained to dinner, or have rubbed shoulders with at business
resorts or at social gatherings.  Many men in life, as many are
depicted in literature, have played the misanthrope, because they have
discovered through adversity how many of their associates were
fair-weather friends.  In their prosperity they encouraged toadying and
sycophancy.  They liked to have hangers-on, who would flatter, and when
the east wind blows they are indignant that their circle should prefer
to avoid it.

Shakespeare's Timon of Athens is a typical misanthrope in his virtuous
indignation at the cat-like love of men for comfort.  In his prosperity
crowds of glass-faced flatterers bent before him, and were made rich in
Timon's nod.  He wasted his substance in presents and hospitality, and
bred a fine race of parasites and trencher-friends.  When he spent all
and began to be in want, no man gave unto him.  The winter shower drove
away the summer flies.  He had loved the reputation for splendid
liberality, and lavish generosity, and had sought to be a little god
among men, bestowing favors and receiving homage, all of which was only
a more subtle form of selfishness.  When the brief day of prosperity
passed, men shut their doors against the setting sun.  The smooth and
smilling crowd dropped off with a shrug, and Timon went to the other
extreme of misanthropy, declaimed against friendship, and cursed men
for their ingratitude.  But after all he got what he had paid for.  He
thought he had been buying the hearts of men, and found that he had
only bought their mouths, and tongues, and eyes.

"He that loves to be flattered is worthy of the flatterer."  For moral
value there is not much to choose between them.  Rats are said to
desert the sinking ship, which is not to be wondered at in rats.  The
choice of friendship does not mean the indiscriminate acceptance of all
who are willing to assume the name of friend.  A touch of east wind is
good, not only to weed out the false and test the true, but also to
brace a man to the stern realities of life.  When we find that some of
our intimates are dispersed by adversity, instead of raving against the
world's ingratitude like Timon, we should be glad that now we know whom
exactly we can trust.

Another common way of choosing friends, and one which also meets with
its own fitting reward, is the selfish method of valuing men according
to their usefulness to us.  To add to their credit, or reputation, some
are willing to include anybody in their list of intimates.  For
business purposes even, men will sometimes run risks, by endangering
the peace of their home and the highest interests of those they love;
they are ready to introduce into their family circle men whom they
distrust morally, because they think they can make some gain out of the
connection.

All the stupid snobbishness, and mean tuft-hunting so common, are due
to the same desire to make use of people in some way or other.  It is
an abuse of the word friendship to apply it to such social scrambling.
Of course, even tuft-hunting may be only a perverted desire after what
we think the best, a longing to get near those we consider of nobler
nature and larger mind than common associates.  It may be an
instinctive agreement with Plato's definition of the wise man, as ever
wanting to be with him who is better than himself.  But in its usual
form it becomes an unspeakable degradation, inducing servility, and
lick-spittle humility, and all the vices of the servile mind.  There
can never be true friendship without self-respect, and unless soul
meets soul free from self-seeking.  If we had higher standards for
ourselves, if we lived to God and not to men, we would also find that
in the truest sense we would live with men.  We need not go out of our
way to ingratiate ourselves with anybody.  Nothing can make up for the
loss of independence and native dignity of soul.  It is not for a man,
made in the image of God, to grovel, and demean himself before his
fellow creatures.

After all it defeats itself; for there can only be friendship _between
equals_.  This does not mean equals in what is called social position,
nor even in intellectual attainments, though these naturally have
weight, but it means equality which has a spiritual source.  Can two
walk together, except they be agreed?  Nor does it mean identity, nor
even likeness.  Indeed, for the highest unity there must be difference,
the difference of free beings, with will, and conscience, and mind
unhampered.  We often make much of our differences, forgetting that
really we differ, and _can_ differ, only because we agree.  Without
many points of contact, there could be no divergence from these.
Argument and contradiction of opinion are the outcome of difference,
and yet for argument there is needed a common basis.  We cannot even
discuss, unless we meet on some mental ground common to both
disputants.  So there may be, nay, for the highest union there must be,
a great general conformity behind the distinctions, a deep underlying
common basis beneath the unlikeness.  And for true union of hearts,
this equality must have a spiritual source.  If then there must be some
spiritual affinity, agreement in what is best and highest in each, we
can see the futility of most of the selfish attempts to make capital
out of our intercourse.  Our friends will be, because they must be, our
equals.  We can never have a nobler intimacy, until we are made fit for
it.

All connections based on selfishness, either on personal pleasure or on
usefulness, are accidental.  They are easily dissolved, because, when
the pleasure or the utility ceases, the bond ceases.  When the motive
of the friendship is removed, the friendship itself disappears.  The
perfect friendship is grounded on what is permanent, on goodness, on
character.  It is of much slower growth, since it takes some time to
really find out the truly lovable things in a life, but it is lasting,
since the foundation is stable.

The most important point, then, about the choice of friendship is that
we should know what to reject.  Countless attractions come to us on the
lower plane.  A man may be attracted by what his own conscience tells
him to be unworthy.  He may have slipped gradually into companionship
with some, whose influence is even evil.  He may have got, almost
without his own will, into a set which is deteriorating his life and
character.  He knows the fruits of his weakness, in the lowering of the
moral tone, in the slackening grip of the conscience, in the looser
flow of the blood.  He has become pliant in will, feeble in purpose,
and flaccid in character.  Every man has a duty to himself to be his
own best self, and he can never be that under the spell of evil
companionship.

Some men mix in doubtful company, and say that they have no Pharisaic
exclusiveness, and even sometimes defend themselves by Christ's
example, who received sinners and ate with them.  The comparison
borders on blasphemy.  It depends on the purpose, for which sinners are
received.  Christ never joined in their sin, but went to save them from
their sin; and wickedness could not lift its head in His presence.
Some seek to be initiated into the mysteries of iniquity, in idle or
morbid curiosity, perhaps to write a realistic book, or to see life, as
it is called.  There is often a prurient desire to explore the tracts
of sin, as if information on such subjects meant wisdom.  If men are
honest with themselves, they will admit that they join the company of
sinners, for the relish they have for the sin.  We must first obey the
moral command to come out from among them and be separate, before it is
possible for us to meet them like Christ.  Separateness of soul is the
law of holiness.  Of Christ, of whom it was said that this man
receiveth sinners, it was also said that He was separate from sinners.
The knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom, neither is the counsel of
sinners prudence.  Most young men know the temptation here referred to,
the curiosity to learn the hidden things, and to have the air of those
who know the world.

If we have gone wrong here, and have admitted into the sanctuary of our
lives influences that make for evil, we must break away from them at
all costs.  The sweeter and truer relationships of our life should arm
us for the struggle, the prayers of a mother, the sorrow of true
friends.  This is the fear, countless times, in the hearts of the folks
at home when their boy leaves them to win his way in the city, the
deadly fear lest he should fall into evil habits, and into the clutches
of evil men.  They know that there are men whose touch, whose words,
whose very look, is contamination.  To give them entrance into our
lives is to submit ourselves to the contagion of sin.

Friends should be chosen by a higher principle of selection than any
worldly one, of pleasure, or usefulness, or by weak submission to the
evil influences of our lot.  They should be chosen for character, for
goodness, for truth and trustworthiness, because they have sympathy
with us in our best thoughts and holiest aspirations, because they have
community of mind in the things of the soul.  All other connections are
fleeting and imperfect from the nature of the case.  A relationship
based on the physical withers when the first bloom fades: a
relationship founded on the intellectual is only a little more secure,
as it too is subject to caprice.  All purely earthly partnerships, like
all earthly treasures, are exposed to decay, the bite of the moth and
the stain of the rust; and they must all have an end.

A young man may get opposing advice from two equally trusted
counsellors.  One will advise him to cultivate the friendship of the
clever, because they will afterward occupy places of power in the
world: the other will advise him to cultivate the friendship of the
good, because if they do not inherit the earth, they aspire to the
heavens.  If he knows the character of the two counsellors, he will
understand why they should look upon life from such different
standpoints; and later on he will find that while some of his friends
were both clever and good, not one of the purely intellectual
friendships remains to him.  It does not afford a sufficient basis of
agreement, to stand the tear and wear of life.  The basis of friendship
must be community of soul.

The only permanent severance of heart comes through lack of a common
spiritual footing.  If one soul goes up the mountain top, and the other
stays down among the shadows, if the two have not the same high
thoughts, and pure desires, and ideals of service, they cannot remain
together except in form.  Friends need not be identical in temperament
and capacity, but they must be alike in sympathy.  An unequal yoke
becomes either an intolerable burden, or will drag one of the partners
away from the path his soul at its best would have loved to tread.

  If you loved only what were worth your love,
  Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you.

If we choose our friends in Christ, neither here, nor ever, need we
fear parting, and will have the secure joy and peace which come from
having a friend who is as one's own soul.



The Eclipse of Friendship


  For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
  Young Lycidas, and hath not left his pew.

    *      *      *      *      *      *

  Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more
  For Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead.
  Sunk though he be beneath the watery flow.
  So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,
  And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
  And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore
  Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
  So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
  Through the dear might of Him that walked the waves.

  MILTON.



The Eclipse of Friendship

As it is one of the greatest joys of life when a kindred soul is for
the first time recognized and claimed, so it is one of the bitterest
moments of life when the first rupture is made of the ties which bind
us to other lives.  Before it comes, it is hard to believe that it is
possible, if we ever think of it at all.  When it does come, it is
harder still to understand the meaning of the blow.  The miracle of
friendship seemed too fair, to carry in its bosom the menace of its
loss.  We knew, of course, that such things had been, and must be, but
we never quite realized what it would be to be the victims of the
common doom of man.

If it only came as a sudden pain, that passes after its brief spasm of
agony, it would not be so sore an affliction; but when it comes, it
comes to stay.  There remains a place in our hearts which is tender to
every touch, and it is touched so often.  We survive the shock of the
moment easier than the constant reminder of our loss.  The old familiar
face, debarred to the sense of sight, can be recalled by a stray word,
a casual sight, a chance memory.  The closer the intercourse had been,
the more things there are in our lives associated with him--things that
we did together, places that we visited together, thoughts even that we
thought together.

There seems no region of life where we can escape from the suggestions
of memory.  The sight of any little object can bring him back, with his
way of speaking, with his tricks of gesture, with all the qualities for
which we loved him, and for which we mourn him now.  If the intimacy
was due to mere physical proximity, the loss will be only a vague sense
of uneasiness through the breakdown of long-continued habit; but, if
the two lives were woven into the same web, there must be ragged edges
left, and it is a weary task to take up the threads again, and find a
new woof for the warp.  The closer the connection has been, the keener
is the loss.  It comes back to us at the sight of the many things
associated with him, and, fill up our lives with countless distractions
as we may, the shadow creeps back to darken the world.

Sometimes there is the added pain of remorse that we did not enough
appreciate the treasure we possessed.  In thoughtlessness we accepted
the gift; we had so little idea of the true value of his friendship; we
loved so little, and were so impatient:--if only we had him back again;
if only we had one more opportunity to show him how dear he was; if
only we had another chance of proving ourselves worthy.  We can hardly
forgive ourselves that we were so cold and selfish.  Self-reproach, the
regret of the unaccepted opportunity, is one of the commonest feelings
after bereavement, and it is one of the most blessed.

Still, it may become a morbid feeling.  It is a false sentimentalism
which lives in the past, and lavishes its tenderness on memory.  It is
difficult to say what is the dividing line between healthy sorrow and
morbid sentiment.  It seems a natural instinct, which makes the
bereaved care lovingly for the very grave, and which makes the mother
keep locked up the little shoes worn by the little feet, relics hid
from the vulgar eye.  The instinct has become a little more morbid,
when it has preserved the room of a dead mother, with its petty
decorations and ornaments as she left them.  Beautiful as the instinct
may be, there is nothing so dangerous as when our most natural feeling
turns morbid.

It is always a temptation, which grows stronger the longer we live, to
look back instead of forward, to bemoan the past, and thus deride the
present and distrust the future.  We must not forget our present
blessings, the love we still possess, the gracious influences that
remain, and most of all the duties that claim our strength.  The loving
women who went early in the morning to the sepulchre of the buried
Christ were met with a rebuke, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?"
They were sent back to life to find Him, and sent back to life to do
honor to His death.  Not by ointments and spices, however precious, nor
at the rock-hewn tomb, could they best remember their Lord; but out in
the world, which that morning had seemed so cold and cheerless, and in
their lives, which then had seemed not worth living.

Christianity does not condemn any natural human feeling, but it will
not let these interfere with present duty and destroy future
usefulness.  It does not send men to search for the purpose of living
in the graves of their dead hopes and pleasures.  Its disciples must
not attempt to live on the relics of even great incidents, among
crucifixes and tombs.  In the Desert, the heart must reach forward to
the Promised Land, and not back to Egypt.  The Christian faith is for
the future, because it believes in the God of the future.  The world is
not a lumber room, full of relics and remembrances, over which to
brood.  We are asked to remember the beautiful past which was ours, and
the beautiful lives which we have lost, by making the present beautiful
like it, and our lives beautiful like theirs.  It is human to think
that life has no future, if now it seems "dark with griefs and graves."
It comes like a shock to find that we must bury our sorrow, and come
into contact with the hard world again, and live our common life once
more.  The Christian learns to do it, not because he has a short
memory, but because he has a long faith.  The voice of inspiration is
heard oftener through the realities of life, than through vain regrets
and recluse dreams.  The Christian life must be in its degree something
like the Master's own life, luminous with His hope, and surrounded by a
bracing atmosphere which uplifts all who even touch its outer fringe.


The great fact of life, nevertheless, is death, and it must have a
purpose to serve and a lesson to teach.  It seems to lose something of
its impressiveness, because it is universal.  The very inevitableness
of it seems to kill thought, rather than induce it.  It is only when
the blow strikes home, that we are pulled up and forced to face the
fact.  Theoretically there is a wonderful unanimity among men,
regarding the shortness of life and the uncertainty of all human
relationships.  The last word of the wise on life has ever been its
fleetingness, its appalling changes, its unexpected surprises.  The
only certainty of life is its uncertainty--its unstable tenure, its
inevitable end.  But practically we go on as if we could lay our plans,
and mortgage time, without doubt or danger; until our feet are knocked
from under us by some sudden shock, and we realize how unstable the
equilibrium of life really is.  The lesson of life is death.

The experience would not be so tragically universal, if it had not a
good and necessary meaning.  For one thing it should sober us, and make
our lives full of serious, solemn purpose.  It should teach us to
number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.  The man, who
has no place for death in his philosophy, has not learned to live.  The
lesson of death is life.

On the whole, however, it is not our own liability to death which
oppresses us.  The fear of it to a brave man, not to speak of a man of
faith, can be overcome.  It is the fear of it _for others_ whom we
love, which is its sting.  And none of us can live very long without
knowing in our own heart's experience the reality, as well as the
terror, of death.  This too has its meaning for us, to look at life
more tenderly, and touch it more gently.  The pathos of life is only a
forced sentiment to us, if we have not felt the pity of life.  To a
sensitive soul, smarting with his own loss, the world sometimes seems
full of graves, and for a time at least makes him walk softly among men.

This is one reason why the making of new friends is so much easier in
youth than later on.  Friendship comes to youth seemingly without any
conditions, and without any fears.  There is no past to look back at,
with much regret and some sorrow.  We never look behind us, _till we
miss something_.  Youth is satisfied with the joy of present
possession.  To the young friendship comes as the glory of spring, a
very miracle of beauty, a mystery of birth: to the old it has the bloom
of autumn, beautiful still, but with the beauty of decay.  To the young
it is chiefly hope: to the old it is mostly memory.  The man who is
conscious that he has lost the best of his days, the best of his
powers, the best of his friends, naturally lives a good deal in the
past.

Such a man is prepared for further losses; he has adjusted himself to
the fact of death.  At first, we cannot believe that it can happen to
us and to our love; or, if the thought comes to us, it is an event too
far in the future to ruffle the calm surface of our heart.  And yet, it
must come; from it none can escape.  Most can remember a night of
waiting, too stricken for prayer, too numb of heart even for feeling,
vaguely expecting the blow to strike us out of the dark.  A strange
sense of the unreality of things came over us, when the black wave
submerged us and passed on.  We went out into the sunshine, and it
seemed to mock us.  We entered again among the busy ways of men, and
the roar of life beat upon our brain and heart,

  Yet in these ears, till hearing dies,
  One set slow bell will seem to toll,
  The passing of the sweetest soul
  That ever looked with human eyes.


Was it worth while to have linked our lives on to other lives, and laid
ourselves open to such desolation?  Would it not be better to go
through the world, without joining ourselves too closely to the
fleeting bonds of other loves?  Why deliberately add to our
disabilities?  But it is not a disability; rather, the great purpose of
all our living is to learn love, even though we must experience the
pains of love as well as the joys.  To cut ourselves off from this lot
of the human would be to impoverish our lives, and deprive ourselves of
the culture of the heart, which, if a man has not learned, he has
learned nothing.  Whatever the risks to our happiness, we cannot stand
out from the lot of man, without ceasing to be men in the only true
sense.

It is not easy to solve the problem of sorrow.  Indeed there is no
solution of it, unless the individual soul works out its own solution.
Most attempts at a philosophy of sorrow just end in high-sounding
words.  Explanations, which profess to cover all the ground, are as
futile as the ordinary blundering attempts at comfort, which only charm
ache with sound and patch grief with proverbs.  The sorrow of our
hearts is not appreciably lessened by argument.  Any kind of
philosophy--any wordy explanation of the problem--is at the best poor
comfort.  It is not the problem which brings the pain in the first
instance: it is the pain which brings the problem.  The heart's
bitterness is not allayed by an exposition of the doctrine of
providence.  Rachel who weeps for her children, the father whose little
daughter lies dead at home, are not to be appeased in their anguish by
a nicely-balanced system of thought.  Nor is surcease of sorrow thus
brought to the man to whom has come a bereavement, or a succession of
bereavements, which makes him feel that all the glory and joy of life,
its friendship and love and hope, have gone down into the grave, so
that he can say,

  Three dead men have I loved,
  And thou wert last of the three.


At the same time, if it be true that there is a meaning in friendship,
a spiritual discipline to educate the heart and train the life, it must
also be true that there is equally a meaning in the eclipse of
friendship.  If we have enough faith to see death to be good, we will
find out for ourselves why it is good.  It may teach us just what we
were in danger of forgetting, some omission in our lives, which was
making them shallow and poor.  It may be to one a sight into the
mystery of sin; to another a sight into the mystery of love.  To one it
comes with the lesson of patience, which is only a side of the lesson
of faith; to another it brings the message of sympathy.  As we turn the
subject toward the light, there come gleams of color from different
facets of it.

All life is an argument for death.  We cannot persist long in the
effort to live the Christian life, without feeling the need for death.
The higher the aims, and the truer the aspirations, the greater is the
burden of living, until it would become intolerable.  Sooner or later
we are forced to make the confession of Job, "I would not live alway."
To live forever in this sordidness, to have no reprieve from the doom
of sin, no truce from the struggle of sin, would be a fearful fate.

To the Christian, therefore, death cannot be looked on as evil; first,
because it is universal, and it is universal because it is
God-ordained.  In St. Peter's, at Rome, there are many tombs, in which
death is symbolized in its traditional form as a skeleton, with the
fateful hourglass and the fearful scythe.  Death is the rude reaper,
who cruelly cuts off life and all the joy of life.  But there is one in
which death is sculptured as a sweet gentle motherly woman, who takes
her wearied child home to safer and surer keeping.  It is a truer
thought than the other.  Death is a minister of God, doing His
pleasure, and doing us good.

Again, it cannot be evil because it means a fuller life, and therefore
an opportunity for fuller and further service.  Faith will not let a
man hasten the climax; for it is in the hands of love, as he himself
is.  But death is the climax of life.  For if all life is an argument
for death, then so also all death is an argument for life.

Jowett says, in one of his letters, "I cannot sympathize in all the
grounds of consolation that are sometimes offered on these melancholy
occasions, but there are two things which have always seemed to me
unchangeable: first, that the dead are in the hands of God, who can do
for them more than we can ask or have; and secondly, with respect to
ourselves, that such losses deepen our views of life, and make us feel
that we would not always be here."  These are two noble grounds of
consolation, and they are enough.

Death is the great argument for immortality.  We cannot believe that
the living, loving soul has ceased to be.  We cannot believe that all
those treasures of mind and heart are squandered in empty air.  We will
not believe it.  When once we understand the meaning of the spiritual,
we see the absolute certainty of eternal life; we need no arguments for
the persistence of being.

To appear for a little time and then vanish away, is the outward
biography of all men, a circle of smoke that breaks, a bubble on the
stream that bursts, a spark put out by a breath.

But there is another biography, a deeper and a permanent one, the
biography of the soul.  Everything that _appears_ vanishes away: that
is its fate, the fate of the everlasting hills as well as of the vapor
that caps them.  But that which does not appear, the spiritual and
unseen, which we in our folly sometimes doubt because it does not
appear, is the only reality; it is eternal and passeth not away.  The
material in nature is only the garb of the spiritual, as speech is the
clothing of thought.  With our vulgar standards we often think of the
thought as the unsubstantial and the shadowy, and the speech as the
real.  But speech dies upon the passing wind; the thought alone
remains.  We consider the sound to be the music, whereas it is only the
expression of the music, and vanishes away.  Behind the material world,
which waxes old as a garment, there is an eternal principle, the
thought of God it represents.  Above the sounds there is the music that
can never die.  Beneath our lives, which vanish away, there is a vital
thing, spirit.  We cannot locate it and put our finger on it; that is
why it is permanent.  The things we can put our finger on are the
things which appear, and therefore which fade and die.

So, death to the spiritual mind is only _eclipse_.  When there is an
eclipse of the sun it does not mean that the sun is blotted out of the
heavens: it only means that there is a temporary obstruction between it
and us.  If we wait a little, it passes.  Love cannot die.  Its forms
may change, even its objects, but its life is the life of the universe.
It is not death, but sleep: not loss, but eclipse.  The love is only
transfigured into something more ethereal and heavenly than ever
before.  Happy to have friends on earth, but happier to have friends in
heaven.

And it need not be even eclipse, except in outward form.  Communion
with the unseen can mean true correspondence with all we have loved and
lost, if only our souls were responsive.  The highest love is not
starved by the absence of its object; it rather becomes more tender and
spiritual, with more of the ideal in it.  Ordinary affection, on a
lower plane, dependent on physical attraction, or on the earthly side
of life, naturally crumbles to dust when its foundation is removed.
But love is independent of time or space, and as a matter of fact is
purified and intensified by absence.  Separation of friends is not a
physical thing.  Lives can be sundered as if divided by infinite
distance, even although materially they are near each other.  This
tragedy is often enough enacted in our midst.

The converse is also true; so that friendship does not really lose by
death: it lays up treasure in heaven, and leaves the very earth a
sacred place, made holy by happy memories.  "The ruins of Time build
mansions in Eternity," said William Blake, speaking of the death of a
loved brother, with whose spirit he never ceased to converse.  There
are people in our homes and our streets whose highest life is with the
dead.  They live in another world.  We can see in their eyes that their
hearts are not here.  It is as if they already saw the land that is
very far off.  It is only far off to our gross insensate senses.

The spiritual world is not outside this earth of ours.  It includes it
and pervades it, finding a new centre for a new circumference in every
loving soul that has eyes to see the Kingdom.  So, to hold commerce
with the dead is not a mere figure of speech.  Heaven lies about us not
only in our infancy, but all our lives.  We blind ourselves with dust,
and in our blindness lay hold feverishly of the outside of life,
mistaking the fugitive and evanescent for the truly permanent.  If we
only used our capacities we would take a more enlightened view of
death.  We would see it to be the entrance into a more radiant and a
more abundant life not only for the friend that goes first, but for the
other left behind.

Spiritual communion cannot possibly be interrupted by a physical
change.  It is because there is so little of the spiritual in our
ordinary intercourse that death means silence and an end to communion.
There is a picture of death, which, when looked at with the ordinary
perspective, seems to be a hideous skull, but when seen near at hand is
composed of flowers, with the eyes, in the seemingly empty sockets of
the skull, formed by two fair faces of children.  Death at a distance
looks horrible, the ghastly spectre of the race; but with the near
vision it is beautiful with youth and flowers, and when we look into
its eyes we look into the stirrings of life.

Love is the only permanent relationship among men, and the permanence
is not an accident of it, but is of its very essence.  When released
from the mere magnetism of sense, instead of ceasing to exist, it only
then truly comes into its largest life.  If our life were more a life
in the spirit, we would be sure that death can be at the worst but the
eclipse of friendship.  Tennyson felt this truth in his own experience,
and expressed it in noble form again and again in _In Memoriam_--

  Sweet human hand and lips and eye,
  Dear heavenly friend that canst not die;

  Strange friend, past, present, and to be;
  Loved deeplier, darklier understood;
  Behold I dream a dream of good,
  And mingle all the world with thee.

  Thy voice is on the rolling air;
  I hear thee where the waters run;
  Thou standest in the rising sun,
  And in the setting thou art fair.

It is not loss, but momentary eclipse, and the final issue is a clearer
perception of immortal love, and a deeper consciousness of eternal life.

The attitude of mind, therefore, in any such bereavement--sore as the
first stroke must be, since we are so much the creatures of habit, and
it is hard to adjust ourselves to the new relationship--cannot be an
attitude merely of resignation.  That was the extent to which the
imperfect revelation of the Old Testament brought men.  They had to
rest in their knowledge of God's faithfulness and goodness.  The limit
of their faith was, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away."  But
to resignation we can add joy.  "Not dead, but sleepeth," said the
Master of death and life to a sorrowing man.

For one thing it must mean the hallowing of memory.  The eclipse of
love makes the love fairer when the eclipse passes.  The loss of the
outward purifies the affection and softens the heart.  It brings out
into fact what was often only latent in feeling.  Memory adds a tender
glory to the past.  We only think of the virtues of the dead: we forget
their faults.  This is as it should be.  We rightly love the immortal
part of them; the fire has burned up the dross and left pure gold.  If
it is idealization, it represents that which will be, and that which
really is.

We do not ask to forget; we do not want the so-called consolations
which time brings.  Such an insult to the past, as forgetfulness would
be, means that we have not risen to the possibilities of communion of
spirit afforded us in the present.  We would rather that the wound
should be ever fresh than that the image of the dear past should fade.
It would be a loss to our best life if it would fade.  There is no
sting in such a faith.  Such remembrance as this, which keeps the heart
green, will not cumber the life.  True sentiment does not weaken, but
becomes an inspiration to make our life worthy of our love.  It can
save even a squalid lot from sordidness; for however poor we may be in
the world's goods, we are rich in happy associations in the past, and
in sweet communion in the present, and in blessed hope for the future.



The Wreck of Friendship


  They parted--ne'er to meet again!
  But never either found another
  To free the hollow heart from paining--
  They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
  Like cliffs which had been rent asunder,
  A dreary sea now rolls between;
  But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
  Shall wholly do away, I ween,
  The marks of that which once hath been.

  COLERIDGE, Christabel.



The Wreck of Friendship

The eclipse of friendship through death is not nearly so sad as the
many ways in which friendship may be wrecked.  There are worse losses
than the losses of death; and to bury a friendship is a keener grief
than to bury a friend.  The latter softens the heart and sweetens the
life, while the former hardens and embitters.  The Persian poet Hafiz
says, "Thou learnest no secret until thou knowest friendship; since to
the unloving no heavenly knowledge enters."  But so imperfect are our
human relationships, that many a man has felt that he has bought his
knowledge too dearly.  Few of us go through the world without some
scars on the heart, which even yet throb if the finger of memory touch
them.  In spite of all that has been said, and may be said in praise of
this golden friendship, it has been too often found how vain is the
help of man.  The deepest tragedies of life have been the failure of
this very relationship.

In one way or other the loss of friendship comes to all.  The shores of
life are strewn with wrecks.  The convoy which left the harbor gaily in
the sunshine cannot all expect to arrive together in the haven.  There
are the danger of storms and collisions, the separation of the night,
and even at the best, if accidents never occur, the whole company
cannot all keep up with the speed of the swiftest.

There is a certain pathos in all loss, but there is not always pain in
it, or at least it is of varied quality and extent.  Some losses are
natural and unavoidable, quite beyond our control, the result of
resistless change.  Some loss is even the necessary accompaniment of
gain.  The loss of youth with all its possessions is the gain of
manhood and womanhood.  A man must put away childish things, the speech
and understanding and thought of a child.  So the loss of some
friendship comes as a part of the natural course of things, and is
accepted without mutilating the life.

Many of our connections with people are admittedly casual and
temporary.  They exist for mutual convenience through common interest
at the time, or common purpose, or common business.  None of the
partners asks for more than the advantage each derives from the
connection.  When it comes to an end, we let slip the cable easily, and
say good-bye with a cheery wave.  With many people we meet and part in
all friendliness and good feeling, and will be glad to meet again, but
the parting does not tear our affections by the roots.  When the
business is transacted the tie is loosed, and we each go our separate
ways without much regret.

At other times there is no thought of gain, except the mutual advantage
of conversation or companionship.  We are pleasant to each other, and
enjoy the intercourse of kindred tastes.  Most of us have some pleasant
recollections of happy meetings with interesting people, perhaps on
holiday times, when we felt we would be glad to see them again if
fortune turned round the wheel again to the same place; but, though
hardly ever did it come about that an opportunity of meeting has
occurred, we do not feel that our life is much the poorer for the loss.

Also, we _grow_ out of some of our friendships.  This is to be
expected, since so many of them are formed thoughtlessly, or before we
really knew either ourselves or our friends.  They never meant very
much to us.  Most boyish friendships as a rule do not last long,
because they are not based on the qualities which wear well.  Schoolboy
comradeships are usually due to propinquity rather than to character.
They are the fruit of accident rather than of affinity of soul.  Boys
grow out of these as they grow out of their clothes.  Now and again
they suffer from growing pains, but it is more discomfort than anything
else.

It is sad to look back and realize how few of one's early
companionships remain, but it is not possible to blame either party for
the loss.  Distance, separation of interest, difference of work, all
operate to divide.  When athletics seemed the end of existence,
friendship was based on football and baseball.  But as life opens out,
other standards are set up, and a new principle of selection takes its
place.  When the world is seen to be more than a ball-ground, when it
is recognized to be a stage oh which men play many parts, a new sort of
intimacy is demanded, and it does not follow that it will be with the
same persons.  Such loss as this is the condition which accompanies the
gain of growth.

There is more chance for the permanence of friendships formed a little
later.  It must not be too long after this period, however; for, when
the generous time of youth has wholly passed, it becomes hard to make
new connections.  Men get over-burdened with cares and personal
concerns, and grow cautious about making advances.  In youth the heart
is responsive and ready to be generous, and the hand aches for the
grasp of a comrade's hand, and the mind demands fellowship in the great
thoughts that are beginning to dawn upon it.  The closest friendships
are formed early in life, just because then we are less cautious, more
open to impressions, and readier to welcome self-revelations.  After
middle life a man does not find it easy to give himself away, and keeps
a firmer hand on his feelings.  Whatever are the faults of youth, it is
unworldly in its estimates as a rule, and uncalculating in its thoughts
of the future.

The danger to such friendship is the danger of just letting it lapse.
As life spreads out before the eager feet, new interests crop up, new
relations are formed, and the old tie gets worn away, from want of
adding fresh strands to it.  We may believe the advice about not
forsaking an old friend because the new is not comparable to him, but
we can neglect it by merely letting things slip past, which if used
would be a new bond of union.

As it is easier for some temperaments to make friends, it is easier for
some dispositions to keep them.  Little faults of manner, little
occasions of thoughtlessness, or lack of the little courtesies, do more
to separate people than glaring mistakes.  There are some men so built
that it is difficult to remain on very close terms with them, there are
so many corners to knock against.  Even strength of character, if
unmodified by sweetness of disposition, adds to the difficulty of
pulling together.  Strong will can so easily develop into self-will;
decision can become dogmatism; wit, the salt of conversation, loses its
savor when it becomes ill-natured; a faculty for argument is in danger
of being mere quarrelsomeness.

The ordinary amenities of life must be preserved among friends.  We can
never feel very safe with the man whose humor tends to bitter speaking
or keen sarcasm, or with the man who flares up into hasty speech at
every or no provocation, or with the man who is argumentative and
assertive,--

  Who 'd rather on a gibbet dangle
  Than miss his dear delight to wrangle.

There are more breaches of the peace among friends through sins of
speech, than from any other cause.  We do not treat our friends with
enough respect.  We make the vulgar mistake of looking upon the common
as if it were therefore cheap in nature.  We ought rather to treat our
friend with a sort of sacred familiarity, as if we appreciated the
precious gift his friendship is.

Every change in a man's life brings a risk of letting go something of
the past, which it is a loss to part with.  A change of work, or a
change of residence, or entrance into a larger sphere, brings a certain
engrossment which leads to neglect of the richest intercourse in the
past life.  To many a man, even marriage has had a drop of bitterness
in it, because it has somehow meant the severing of old and sacred
links.  This may be due to the vulgar reason of wives' quarrels, the
result of petty jealousy; but it may be due also to pre-occupation and
a subtle form of selfishness.  The fire needs to be kept alive with
fuel.  To preserve it, there must be forethought, and care, and love
expended as before.

Friendship may lapse through the _misfortune of distance_.  Absence
does not always make the heart grow fonder.  It only does so, when the
heart is securely fixed, and when it is a heart worth fixing.  More
often the other proverb is truer, that it is out of sight out of mind.
It is so easy for a man to become self-centred, and to impoverish his
affections through sheer neglect.  Ties once close get frayed and
strained till they break, and we discover that we have said farewell to
the past.  Some kind of intercourse is needed to maintain friendship.
There is a pathos about this gradual drifting away of lives, borne from
each other, it sometimes seems, by opposing tides, as if a resistless
power separated them,

  And bade betwixt their souls to be
  The unplumbed, salt, estranging sea.


Or friendship may lapse through the _fault of silence_.  The misfortune
of distance may be overcome by love, but the fault of silence crushes
out feeling as the falling rain kills the kindling beacon.  Even the
estrangements and misunderstandings which will arise to all could not
long remain, where there is a frank and candid interchange of thought.
Hearts grow cold toward each other through neglect.  There is a
suggestive word from the old Scandinavian _Edda_, "Go often to the
house of thy friend; for weeds soon choke up the unused path."  It is
hard to overcome again the alienation caused by neglect; for there
grows up a sense of resentment and injured feeling.

Among the petty things which wreck friendships, none is so common and
so unworthy as money.  It is pitiable that it should be so.  Thackeray
speaks of the remarkable way in which a five-pound note will break up a
half-century's attachment between two brethren, and it is a common
cynical remark of the world that the way to lose a friend is to lend
him money.  There is nothing which seems to affect the mind more, and
color the very heart's blood, than money.  There seems a curse in it
sometimes, so potent is it for mischief.  Poverty, if it be too
oppressive grinding down the face, may often hurt the heart-life; but
perhaps oftener still it only reveals what true treasures there are in
the wealth of the affections.  Whereas, we know what heartburnings, and
rivalries, and envyings, are occasioned by this golden apple of
discord.  Most of the disputes which separate brethren are about the
dividing of the inheritance, and it does seem to be the case that few
friendships can survive the test of money.

  Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;
  For loan oft loses both itself and friend.

There must be something wrong with the friendship which so breaks down.
It ought to be able to stand a severer strain than that.  But the inner
reason of the failure is often that there has been a moral degeneracy
going on, and a weakening of the fibre of character on one side, or on
both sides.  The particular dispute, whether it be about money or about
anything else, is only the occasion which reveals the slackening of the
morale.  The innate delicacy and self-respect of the friend who asks
the favor may have been damaged through a series of similar
importunities, or there may have been a growing hardness of heart and
selfishness in the friend who refuses the request.  Otherwise, if two
are on terms of communion, it is hard to see why the giving or
receiving of this service should be any more unworthy than any other
help, which friends can grant to each other.  True commerce of the
heart should make all other needful commerce possible.  Communion
includes communism.  To have things in common does not seem difficult,
when there is love in common.

Friendship has also been wrecked by outside means, by the evil of
others, through the evil speaking, or the envy, or the whispering
tongues that delight in scandal.  Some mean natures rejoice in sowing
discord, carrying tales with just the slightest turn of a phrase, or
even a tone of the voice, which gives a sinister reading to an innocent
word or act.  Frankness can always prevent such from permanently
wrecking friendship.  Besides, we should judge no man, still less a
trusted friend, by a report of an incident or a hasty word.  We should
judge our friend by his record, by what we know of his character.  When
anything inconsistent with that character comes before our notice, it
is only justice to him to at least suspend judgment, and it would be
wisdom to refuse to credit it at all.

We sometimes wonder to find a friend cold and distant to us, and
perhaps we moralize on the fickleness and inconstancy of men, but the
reason may be to seek in ourselves.  We cannot expect the pleasure of
friendship without the duty, the privilege without the responsibility.
We cannot break off the threads of the web, and then, when the mood is
on us, continue it as though nothing had happened.  If such a breakage
has occurred, we must go back and patiently join the threads together
again.  Thoughtlessness has done more harm in this respect than
ill-will.  If we have lost a friend through selfish neglect, the loss
is ours, and we cannot expect to take up the story where we left off
years ago.  There is a serene impudence about the treatment some mete
out to their friends, dropping them whenever it suits, and thinking to
take them up when it happens once more to suit.  We cannot expect to
walk with another, when we have gone for miles along another way.  We
will have to go back, and catch him up again.  If the fault has been
ours, desire and shame will give our feet wings.

The real source of separation is ultimately a spiritual one.  We cannot
walk with another unless we are agreed.  The lapse of friendship is
often due to this, that one has let the other travel on alone.  If one
has sought pleasure, and the other has sought truth; if one has
cumbered his life with the trivial and the petty, and the other has
filled his with high thoughts and noble aspirations; if their hearts
are on different levels, it is natural that they should now be apart.
We cannot stay behind with the camp-followers, and at the same time
fight in the van with the heroes.  If we would keep our best friends,
we must go with them in sympathy, and be able to share their thoughts.
In the letters of Dean Stanley, there is one from Jowett to Stanley,
which brings out this necessity.  "I earnestly hope that the
friendship, which commenced between us many years ago, may be a
blessing to last us through life.  I feel that if it is to be so we
must both go onward, otherwise the tear and wear of life, and the
'having travelled over each other's minds,' and a thousand accidents
will be sufficient to break it off.  I have often felt the inability to
converse with you, but never for an instant the least alienation.
There is no one who would not think me happy in having such a friend."

It is not, however, so much the equal pace of the mind which is
necessary, as the equal pace of the spirit.  We may think about a very
brilliant friend that he will outstrip us, and outgrow us.  The fear is
natural, but if there be spiritual oneness it is an unfounded fear.

  Yet oft, when sundown skirts the moor,
  An inner trouble I behold,
  A spectral doubt which makes me cold,
  That I should be thy mate no more.

But love is not dependent on intellect.  The great bond of union is not
that both parties are alike in mind, but that they are akin in soul.
Mere intellect only divides men further than the ordinary natural and
artificial distinctions that already exist.  There are endless
instances of this disuniting influence to be seen, in the contempt of
learning for ignorance, the derisive attitude which knowledge assumes
toward simplicity, the metropolitan disdain for provincial Galilee, the
_rabies theologica_ which is ever ready to declare that this people
that knoweth not the law is accursed.  It is love, not logic, which can
unite men.  Love is the one solvent to break down all barriers, and
love has other grounds for its existence than merely intellectual ones.
So that although similarity of taste is another bond and is perhaps
necessary for the perfect friendship, it is not its foundation; and if
the foundation be not undermined, there is no reason why difference of
mental power should wreck the structure.

However it happen that friends are separated, it is always sad; for the
loss of a friendship is the loss of an ideal.  Sadder than the pathos
of unmated hearts is the pathos of severed souls.  It is always a pain
to find a friend look on us with cold stranger's eyes, and to know
ourselves dead of hopes of future intimacy.  It is a pain even when we
have nothing to blame ourselves with, much more so when we feel that
ours is the fault.  It would not seem to matter very much, if it were
not such a loss to both; for friendship is one of the appointed means
of saving the life from worldliness and selfishness.  It is the
greatest education in the world; for it is education of the whole man,
of the affections as well as the intellect.  Nothing of worldly success
can make up for the want of it.  And true friendship is also a moral
preservative.  It teaches something of the joy of service, and the
beauty of sacrifice.  We cannot live an utterly useless life, if we
have to think for, and act for, another.  It keeps love in the heart,
and keeps God in the life.

The greatest and most irretrievable wreck of friendship is the result
of a moral breakdown in one of the associates.  Worse than the
separation of the grave is the desolation of the heart by
faithlessness.  More impassable than the gulf of distance with the
estranging sea, more separating than the gulf of death, is the great
gulf fixed between souls through deceit and shame.  It is as the sin of
Judas.  Said a sorrowful Psalmist, who had known this experience, "Mine
own familiar friend in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath
lifted up his heel against me."  And another Psalmist sobs out the same
lament, "It was not an enemy that reproached me, then I could have
borne it, but it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide and mine
acquaintance.  We took sweet counsel together, and walked into the
house of God in company."  The loss of a friend by any of the common
means is not so hard, as to find a friend faithless.  The trustful soul
has often been disillusioned thus.  The rod has broken in the hand that
leaned on it, and has left its red wound on the palm.  There is a
deeper wound on the heart.

The result of such a breakdown of comradeship is often bitterness, and
cynical distrust of man.  It is this experience which gives point to
the worldling's sneer, Defend me from my friends, I can defend myself
from my enemies.  We cannot wonder sometimes at the cynicism.  It is
like treason within the camp, against which no man can guard.  It is a
stab in the back, a cowardly assassination of the heart.  Treachery
like this usually means a sudden fall from the ideal for the deceived
one, and the ideal can only be recovered, if at all, by a slow and
toilsome ascent, foot by foot and step by step.

Failure of one often leads to distrust of all.  This is the terrible
responsibility of friendship.  We have more than the happiness of our
friend in our power; we, have his faith.  Most men who are cynical
about women are so, because of the inconstancy of one.  Most sneers at
friendship are, to begin with at least, the expression of individual
pain, because the man has known the shock of the lifted heel.  Distrust
works havoc on the character; for it ends in unbelief of goodness
itself.  And distrust always meets with its own likeness, and is paid
back in its own coin.  Suspicion breeds suspicion, and the conduct of
life on such principles becomes a tug-of-war in which Greek is matched
with Greek.

The social virtues, which keep the whole community together, are thus
closely allied to the supreme virtue of friendship.  Aristotle had
reason in making it the _nexus_ between his Ethics and his Politics.
Truth, good faith, honest dealing between man and man, are necessary
for any kind of intercourse, even that of business.  Men can do nothing
with each other, if they have not a certain minimum of trust.  There
have been times when there seems to be almost an epidemic of
faithlessness, when the social bond seems loosened, when men's hands
are raised against each other, when confidence is paralyzed, and people
hardly know whom to trust.

The prophet Micah, who lived in such a time, expresses this state of
distrust: "Trust ye not any friend, put ye no confidence in a familiar
friend.  A man's enemies are of his own household."  This means
anarchy, and society becomes like a bundle of sticks with the cord cut.
The cause is always a decay of religion; for law is based on morality,
and morality finds its strongest sanction in religion.  Selfishness
results in anarchy, a reversion to the Ishmaelite type of life.

The story of the French Revolution has in it some of the darkest pages
in the history of modern civilization, due to the breakdown of social
trust.  The Revolution, like Saturn, took to devouring her own
children.  Suspicion, during the reign of terror, brooded over the
heads of men, and oppressed their hearts.  The ties of blood and
fellowship seemed broken, and the sad words of Christ had their horrid
fulfilment, that the brother would deliver up the brother to death, and
the father the child, and the children rise up against the parents and
cause them to be put to death.  There are some awful possibilities in
human nature.  In Paris of these days a man had to be ever on his
guard, to watch his acts, his words, even his looks.  It meant for a
time a collapse of the whole idea of the state.  It was a panic, worse
than avowed civil war.  Friendship, of course, could have little place
in such a frightful palsy of mutual confidence, though there were, for
the honor of the race, some noble exceptions.  The wreck of friendship
through deceit is always a step toward social anarchy; for it helps to
break down trust and good faith among men.

The wreck of friendship is also a blow to religion.  Many have lost
their faith in God, because they have lost, through faithlessness,
their faith in man.  Doubt of the reality of love becomes doubt of the
reality of the spiritual life.  To be unable to see the divine in man,
is to have the eyes blinded to the divine anywhere.  Deception in the
sphere of love shakes the foundation of religion.  Its result is
atheism, not perhaps as a conscious speculative system of thought, but
as a subtle practical influence on conduct.  It corrupts the fountain
of life, and taints the whole stream.  Despair of love, if final and
complete, would be despair of God; for God is love.  Thus, the wreck of
friendship often means a temporary wreck of faith.  It ought not to be
so; but that there is a danger of it should impress us with a deeper
sense of the responsibility attached to our friendships.  Our life
follows the fortunes of our love.



The Renewing of Friendship


Perhaps we may go further, and say that friends, whose friendship has
been broken off, should not entirely forget their former intercourse;
and that just as we hold that we ought to serve friends before
strangers, so former friends have some claims upon us on the ground of
past friendship, unless extraordinary depravity were the cause of our
parting.--ARISTOTLE.



The Renewing of Friendship

It is a sentiment of the poets and romancers that love is rather helped
by quarrels.  There must be some truth in it, as we find the idea
expressed a hundred times in different forms in literature.  We find it
among the wisdom of the ancients, and it remains still as one of the
conventional properties of the dramatist, and one of the accepted
traditions of the novelist.  It is expressed in maxim and apothegm, in
play and poem.  One of our old pre-Elizabethan writers has put it in
classic form in English:--

  The falling out of faithful friends is the renewing of love.


It is the chief stock-in-trade of the writer of fiction, to depict the
misunderstandings which arise between two persons, through the sin of
one, or the folly of both, or the villainy of a third; then comes the
means by which the tangled skein is unravelled, and in the end
everything is satisfactorily explained, and the sorely-tried characters
are ushered into a happiness stronger and sweeter than ever before.
Friends quarrel, and are miserable in their state of separation; and
afterward, when the friendship is renewed, it is discovered that the
bitter dispute was only a blessing in disguise, as the renewal itself
was an exquisite pleasure, and the result has been a firmer and more
stable relationship of love and trust.

The truth in this sentiment is, of course, the evident one, that a man
often only wakens to the value of a possession when he is in danger of
losing it.  The force of a current is sometimes only noted when it is
opposed by an obstacle.  Two persons may discover, by a temporary
alienation, how much they really care for each other.  It may be that
previously they took things for granted.  Their affection had lost its
first glitter, and was accepted as a commonplace.  Through some
misunderstanding or dispute, they broke off their friendly
relationship, feeling sure that they had come to an end of their
regard.  They could never again be on the same close terms; hot words
had been spoken; taunts and reproaches had passed; eyes had flashed
fire, and they parted in anger--only to learn that their love for each
other was as real and as strong as ever.  The very difference revealed
the true union of hearts that had existed.  They had been blind to the
strength of their mutual regard, till it was so painfully brought to
their notice.  The love is renewed with a more tender sense of its
sacredness, and a more profound feeling of its strength.  The
dissensions only displayed the union; the discord drove them to a
fuller harmony.  This is a natural and common experience.

But a mistake may easily be made by confusing cause and effect.  "The
course of true love never did run smooth"--but the obstacles in the
channel do not _produce_ the swiftness and the volume of the stream;
they only _show_ them.  There may be an unsuspected depth and force for
the first time brought to light when the stream strikes a barrier, but
the barrier is merely the occasion, not the cause, of the revelation.
To mistake the one for the other, may lead to a false and stupid
policy.  Many, through this mistake, act as though dissension were of
the very nature of affection, and as if the one must necessarily react
on the other for good.  Some foolish people will sometimes even produce
disagreement for the supposed pleasure of agreeing once more, and
quarrel for the sake of making it up again.

Rather, the end of love is near at hand, when wrangling can live in its
presence.  It is not true that love is helped by quarrels, except in
the small sense already indicated.  A man may quarrel once too often
with his friend, and a brother offended, says the proverb, is harder to
be won than a strong city, and such contentions are like the bars of a
castle.  It is always a dangerous experiment to wilfully test
affection, besides being often a cruel one.  Disputing is a shock to
confidence, and without confidence friendship cannot continue.  A state
of feud, even though a temporary one, often embitters the life, and
leaves its mark on the heart.  Desolated homes and lonely lives are
witnesses of the folly of any such policy.  From the root of bitterness
there cannot possibly blossom any of the fair flowers of love.  The
surface truth of the poets' sentiment we have acknowledged and
accounted for, but it is only a surface truth.  The best of friends
will fall out, and the best of them will renew their friendship, but it
is always at a great risk, and sometimes it strains the foundations of
their esteem for each other to shaking:

  And blessings on the falling out
    That all the more endears,
  When we fall out with those we love
    And kiss again with tears!

But in any serious rupture of friendship it can only be a blessing when
it means the tears of repentance, and these are often tears of blood.
In all renewing there must be an element of repentance, and however
great the joy of having regained the old footing, there is the memory
of pain, and the presence of regret.  To cultivate contention as an
art, and to trade upon the supposed benefit of renewing friendship, is
a folly which brings its own retribution.

The disputatious person for this reason never makes a good friend.  In
friendship men look for peace, and concord, and some measure of
content.  There are enough battles to fight outside, enough jarring and
jostling in the street, enough disputing in the market-place, enough
discord in the workaday world, without having to look for contention in
the realm of the inner life also.  There, if anywhere, we ask for an
end of strife.  Friendship is the sanctuary of the heart, and the peace
of the sanctuary should brood over it.  Its chiefest glory is that the
dust and noise of contest are excluded.

It must needs be that offences come.  It is not only that the world is
full of conflict and controversy, and every man must take his share in
the fights of his time.  We are born into the battle; we are born for
the battle.  But apart from the outside strife, from which we cannot
separate ourselves, and do not desire to separate ourselves if we are
true men, the strange thing is that it looks as if it must needs be
that offences come even among brethren.  The bitterest disputes in life
are among those who are nearest each other in spirit.  We do not
quarrel with the man in the street, the man with whom we have little or
no communication.  He has not the chance, nor the power, to chafe our
soul, and ruffle our temper.  If need be, we can afford to despise, or
at least to neglect him.  It is the man of our own household, near us
in life and spirit, who runs the risk of the only serious dissensions
with us.  The man with whom we have most points of contact presents the
greatest number of places where difference can occur.  Only from
circles that touch each other can a tangent strike off from the same
point.  A man can only make enemies among his friends.  A certain
amount of opposition and enmity a man must be prepared for in this
world, unless he live a very invertebrate life.  Outside opposition
cannot embitter, for it cannot touch the soul.  But that two who have
walked as friends, one in aim and one in heart, perhaps of the same
household of faith, should stand face to face with hard brows and
gleaming eyes, should speak as foes and not as lovers of the same love,
is, in spite of the poets and romancers, the bitterest moment of life.

There are some we cannot hurt even if we would; whom all the venom of
our nature could not touch, because we mean nothing to them.  But there
are others in our power, whom we can stab with a word, and these are
our brethren, our familiar friends, our comrades at work, our close
associates, our fellow laborers in God's vineyard.  It is not the crowd
that idly jostle us in the street who can hurt us to the quick, but a
familiar friend in whom we trusted.  He has a means of ingress barred
to strangers, and can strike home as no other can.  This explains why
family quarrels, ruptures in the inner circle, Church disputes, are so
bitter.  They come so near us.  An offended brother is hard to win,
because the very closeness of the previous intimacy brings a rankling
sense of injustice and the resentment of injured love.  An injury from
the hand of a friend seems such a wanton thing; and the heart hardens
itself with the sense of wrong, and a separation ensues like the bars
of a castle.

It must needs be that offences come, but woe unto him by whom they
come.  The strife-makers find in themselves, in their barren heart and
empty life, their own appropriate curse.  The blow they strike comes
back upon themselves.  Worse than the choleric temperament is the
peevish, sullen nature.  The one usually finds a speedy repentance for
his hot and hasty mood; the other is a constant menace to friendship,
and acts like a perpetual irritant.  Its root is selfishness, and it
grows by what it feeds on.

When offences do come, we may indeed use them as opportunities for
growth in gracious ways, and thus turn them into blessings on the lives
of both.  To the offended it may be an occasion for patience and
forgiveness; to the offender, an occasion for humility and frank
confession; and to both, a renewing of love less open to offence in the
future.  There are some general counsels about the making up of
differences, though each case needs special treatment for itself, which
will easily be found if once the desire for concord be established.
Christ's recipe for a quarrel among brethren is: "If thy brother shall
trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him
alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother."

Much of our dissension is due to misunderstanding, which could be put
right by a few honest words and a little open dealing.  Human beings so
often live at cross purposes with each other, when a frank word, or a
simple confession of wrong, almost a look or a gesture, would heal the
division.  Resentment grows through brooding over a fancied slight.
Hearts harden themselves in silence, and, as time goes on, it becomes
more difficult to break through the silence.  Often there are strained
relations among men, who, at the bottom of their hearts, have sincere
respect for each other, and smouldering affection also, which only
needs a little coaxing of the spark to burst out again into a dancing
flame.  There is a terrible waste of human friendship, a waste of power
which might be used to bless all our lives, through our sinful
separations, our selfish exclusiveness, our resentful pride.  We let
the sweetest souls we have met die without acknowledging our debt to
them.  We stand aside in haughty isolation, till the open grave opens
our sealed hearts--too late.  We let the chance of reconciliation pass
till it is irrevocable.  Most can remember a tender spot in the past
somewhere, a sore place, a time when discord entered with another they
loved, and

  Each spake words of high disdain
  And insult to his heart's best brother.

And in some cases, as with the friends in Coleridge's great poem, the
parting has been eternal, and neither has ever since found another such
friend to fill the life with comfort, and free the hollow heart from
paining.

There is more evil from such a state of discord than the mere loss it
is to both; it influences the whole heart-life, creating sometimes
bitterness, sometimes universal suspicion, sometimes cynicism.  Hatred
is contagious, as love is.  They have an effect on the whole character,
and are not confined to the single incident which causes the love or
the hate.  To hate a single one of God's creatures is to harden the
heart to some extent against all.  Love is the centre of a circle,
which broadens out in ever-widening circumference.  Dante tells us in
_La Vita Nuova_ that the effect of his love for Beatrice was to open
his heart to all, and to sweeten all his life.  He speaks of the
surpassing virtue of her very salutation to him in the street.  "When
she appeared in any place, it seemed to me, by the hope of her
excellent salutation, that there was no man mine enemy any longer; and
such warmth of charity came upon me that most certainly in that moment
I would have pardoned whomsoever had done me an injury; and if any one
should then have questioned me concerning any matter, I could only have
said unto him 'Love,' with a countenance clothed in humbleness."  His
love bred sweetness in his mind, and took in everything within the
blessed sweep of its range.  Hatred also is the centre of a circle,
which has a baneful effect on the whole life.  We cannot have
bitterness or resentment in our mind without its coloring every thought
and affection.  Hate of one will affect our attitude toward all.

If, then, we possess the spirit to be reconciled with an offended or an
offending brother, there are some things which may be said about the
tactics of renewing the broken tie.  There is needed a certain tactful
considerateness.  In all such questions the grace of the act depends as
much on the _manner_ of it, as on the act itself.  The grace of the
fairest act may be hurt by a boorish blemish of manner.  Many a
graceful act is spoiled by a graceless touch, as a generous deed can be
ruined by a grudging manner.  An air of condescension will destroy the
value of the finest charity.  There is a forgiveness which is no
forgiveness--formal, constrained, from the teeth and lips outward.  It
does not come as the warm breath which has had contact with the blood
of the heart.  The highest forgiveness is so full and free, that it is
forgetfulness.  It is complete as the forgiveness of God.

If there is something in the method of the approach, there is perhaps
more in the time of it.  It ought to be chosen carefully and
considerately; for it may be that the other has not been prepared for
the renewal by thought and feeling, as the man who makes the advances
has been.  No hard and fast rule can be formulated when dealing with
such a complex and varied subject as man.  So much depends on temper
and character.  One man taken by surprise reveals his true feeling;
another, when taken off his guard, is irritated, and shuts up his heart
in a sort of instinctive self-defence.  The thoughtfulness of love will
suggest the appropriate means, but some emphasis may rightly be given
to the phrase in Christ's counsel, "between thee and him alone."  Let
there be an opportunity for a frank and private conversation.  To
appeal to an estranged friend before witnesses induces to special
pleading, making the witnesses the jury, asking for a verdict on either
side; and the result is that both are still convinced they have right
on their side, and that they have been wronged.

If the fault of the estrangement lies with us, the burden of confession
should rest upon us also.  To go to him with sincere penitence is no
more than our duty.  Whether the result be successful or not, it will
mean a blessing for our own soul.  Humility brings its own reward; for
it brings God into the life.  Even if we have cause to suspect that the
offended brother will not receive us kindly, still such reparation as
we can make is at least the gate to reconciliation.  It may be too
late, but confession will lighten the burden on our own heart.  Our
brother may be so offended that he is harder to be won than a strong
city, but he is far more worth winning; and even if the effort be
unsuccessful, it is better than the cowardice which suffers a bloodless
defeat.

If, on the other hand, the fault was not ours, our duty is still clear.
It should be even easier to take the initiative in such a case; for
after all it is much easier to forgive than to submit to be forgiven.
To some natures it is hard to be laid under an obligation, and the
generosity of love must be shown by the offended brother.  He must show
the other his fault gently and generously, not parading his forgiveness
like a virtue, but as if the favor were on his side--as it is.  Christ
made forgiveness the test of spirituality.  If we do not know the grace
of forgiveness, we do not know how gracious life may be.  The highest
happiness is not a matter of possessions and material gains, but has
its source in a heart at peace; and thus it is that the renewing of
friendship has a spiritual result.  If we are revengeful, censorious,
judging others harshly, always putting the worst construction on a word
or an act, uncharitable, unforgiving, we certainly cannot claim kinship
with the spirit of the Lord Jesus.  St. Paul made the opposite the very
test of the spiritual man: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault,
ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness."

If we knew all, we would forgive all.  If we knew all the facts, the
things which produced the petulance, the soreness which caused the
irritation, we would be ready to pardon; for we would understand the
temptation.  If we knew all, our hearts would be full of pitiful love
even for those who have wronged us.  They have wronged themselves more
than they can possibly wrong us; they have wounded a man to their own
hurt.  To think kindly once more of a separated friend, to soften the
heart toward an offending brother, will bring the blessing of the
Peace-maker, the blessing of the Reconciler.  The way to be sure of
acting this part is to pray for him.  We cannot remain angry with
another, when we pray for him.  Offence departs, when prayer comes.
The captivity of Job was turned, when he prayed for his friends.

If we stubbornly refuse the renewing of friendship, it is an offence
against religion also.  Only love can fulfil the law of Christ.  His is
the Gospel of reconciliation, and the greater reconciliation includes
the lesser.  The friends of Christ must be friends of one another.
That ought to be accepted as an axiom.  To be reconciled to God carries
with it at least a disposition of heart, which makes it easy to be
reconciled to men also.  We have cause to suspect our religion, if it
does not make us gentle, and forbearing, and forgiving; if the love of
our Lord does not so flood our hearts as to cleanse them of all
bitterness, and spite, and wrath.  If a man is nursing anger, if he is
letting his mind become a nest of foul passions, malice, and hatred,
and evil wishing, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

If we cannot, at need, even humiliate ourselves to win our brother, it
is difficult to see where our religion comes in, especially when we
think what humiliation Christ suffered, that He might reconcile us to
God, and make us friends again with our heavenly Father, and renew our
broken love.  Whatever be our faith and works, and however correct be
our creed and conduct, if we are giving place to anger, if we are
stiffening ourselves in strife and disdain, we are none of His, who was
meek and lowly of heart.  We may come to the Sanctuary with lips full
of praises and eyes full of prayers, with devotion in our hearts and
gifts in our hand, but God will spurn our worship and despise our
gifts.  It is not a small matter, this renewing of friendship, but is
the root of religion itself, and is well made the very test of
spiritual-mindedness.  "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there
rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy
gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy
brother, and then come and offer thy gift."  Misunderstandings and
estrangements will arise, occasions will come when it seems as if not
even love and forbearance can avoid a quarrel, but surely Christ has
died in vain if His grace cannot save us from the continuance of strife.

Such renewing of love, done with this high motive, will indeed bring an
added joy, as the poets have declared.  The very pain will give zest to
the pleasure.  We will take the great gift of friendship with a new
sense of its beauty and sacredness.  We will walk more softly because
of the experience, and more than ever will tremble lest we lose it.
For days after the reconciliation, we will go about with the feeling
that the benediction of the peace-makers rests on our head and clings
round our feet.

But more than any personal joy from the renewed friendship, we will
have the smile of God on our life.  We will know that we have done what
is well pleasing in His sight.  Sweeter than the peace which comes from
being at one with men, is the peace which comes from being at one with
God.  It settles on the soul like the mist on the mountains, enveloping
and enswathing it.  It comes to our fevered life as a great calm.  Over
the broken waters there hovers the golden glory of God's eternal peace.

And more even than all that, we will have gained a new insight into the
love of the Father, and into the sacrifice of the Son.  We will
understand a little more of the mystery of the Love which became poor,
which gladly went into the wilderness to seek and to save the lost.
The cross will gain new and rich significance to us, and all the world
will be an arena in which is enacted the spectacle of God's great love.
The world is bathed in the love of God, as it is flooded by the blessed
sun.  If we are in the light and walk in love, our walk will be with
God, and His gentleness will make us great.  There is intended an ever
fuller education in the meaning, and in the life of love, until the
assurance reaches us that nothing can separate us from love.  Even
death, which sunders us from our friends, cannot permanently divide us.
In the great Home-coming and Reunion of hearts, all the veils which
obscure feeling will be torn down, and we shall know each other better,
and shall love each other better.

But every opportunity carries a penalty; every privilege brings with it
a warning.  If we will not live the life of love, if we harden our
heart against a brother offended, we will find in our need even the
great and infinite love of God shut against us, harder to be won than a
strong city, ribbed and stockaded as the bars of a castle.  To the
unforgiving there is no forgiveness.  To the hard, and relentless, and
loveless, there is no love.  To the selfish, there is no heaven.



The Limits of Friendship


If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or
the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend which is as thine own soul, entice
thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, thou shalt not
consent unto him, nor hearken unto him, but thine hand shall be first
upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people;
because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God.

DEUTERONOMY.


  Yet each will have one anguish--his own soul,
  Which perishes of cold.

MATTHEW ARNOLD.



The Limits of Friendship

Friendship, at its very best and purest, has limits.  At its beginning,
it seems to have no conditions, and to be capable  of endless
development.  In the first flush of new-born love it seems almost an
insult to question its absolute power to meet every demand made upon
it.  The exquisite joy of understanding, and being understood, is too
keen to let us believe, that there may be a terminal line, beyond which
we may not pass.  Friendship comes as a mystery, formless, undefined,
without set bounds; and it is often a sore experience to discover that
it is circumscribed, and limited like everything human.  At first to
speak of it as having qualifications was a profanation, and to find
them out came as a disillusionment.

Yet the discovery is not all a loss.  The limitless is also the vague,
and it is well to know the exact terms implied in a relationship.  Of
course we learn through experience the restrictions on all intimacy,
and if we are wise we learn to keep well within the margin; but many a
disappointment might have been saved, if we had understood the inherent
limitations of the subject.  These are the result of personality.  Each
partner is after all a distinct individual, with will, and conscience,
and life apart, with a personal responsibility which none can take from
him, and with an individual bias of mind and heart which can never be
left out of account.

As is to be expected, some of the limits of friendship are not
essential to the relation, but are due to a _defect_ in the relation,
perhaps an idiosyncrasy of character or a peculiarity of temper.  Some
of the limits are self-imposed, and arise from mistake of folly.  A
friend may be too exacting, and may make excessive demands, which
strain the bond to the breaking point.  There is often a good deal of
selfishness in the affection, which asks for absorption, and is jealous
of other interests.  Jealousy is usually the fruit, not of love, but of
self-love.  Life is bigger than any relationship, and covers more
ground.  The circles of life may intersect, and part of each be common
to the other, but there will be an area on both sides exclusive to
each; and even if it were possible for the circles to be concentric, it
could hardly be that the circumference of the two could be the same;
one would be, almost without a doubt, of larger radius than the other.
It is not identity which is the aim and the glory of friendship, but
unity in the midst of difference.  To strive at identity is to be
certain of failure, and it deserves failure; for it is the outcome of
selfishness.  A man's friend is not his property, to be claimed as his
exclusive possession.  Jealousy is an ignoble vice, because it has its
roots in egotism.  It also destroys affection, since it is an evidence
of want of trust, and trust is essential to friendship.

There are physical limits to friendship, if nothing else.  There are
material barriers to be surmounted, before human beings really get into
touch with each other, even in the slightest degree.  The bodily
organs, through which alone we can enter into communication, carry with
them their own disabilities.  The senses are at the best limited in
their range, and are ever exposed to error.  Flesh stands in the way of
a complete revelation of soul.  Human feet cannot enter past the
threshold of the soul's abode.  The very means of self-revelation is a
self-concealment.  The medium, by which alone we know, darkens, if it
does not distort, the object.  Words obscure thought, by the very
process through which alone thought is possible for us; and the fleshly
wrappings of the soul hide it, at the same time that they make it
visible.

And if there are physical limits to friendship, there are greater
mental limits.  The needs of living press on us, and drive us into
different currents of action.  Our varied experience colors all our
thought, and gives a special bias to our mind.  There is a personal
equation which must always be taken into account.  This is the charm of
intercourse, but it is also a limitation.  We do not travel over the
same ground; we meet, but we also part.  However great the sympathy, it
is not possible completely to enter into another man's mind, and look
at a subject with his eyes.  Much of our impatience with each other,
and most of our misunderstandings, are caused by this natural
limitation.  The lines along which our minds travel can at the best be
asymptotic, approaching each other indefinitely near, but never quite
coinciding.

The greatest limit of friendship, of which these other are but
indications, is the spiritual fact of the separate personality of each
human being.  This is seen most absolutely in the sphere of morals.
The ultimate standard for a man is his own individual conscience, and
neither the constraint of affection, nor the authority of numbers, can
atone for falseness there.  One of the most forceful illustrations of
this final position of all religion is to be found, in the passage of
terrific intensity from the Book of Deuteronomy, which we have
transcribed as a preface to this chapter.  The form of the passage of
course gets its coloring from the needs of the time and the temper of
the age.  The Book of Deuteronomy is so sure that the law of God is
necessary for the life of Israel, and that departure from it will mean
national ruin, that it will shrink from nothing needed to preserve the
truth.  Its warnings against being led away to idolatry are very
instant and solemn.  Every precaution must be taken; nothing must be
allowed to seduce them from their allegiance, not the most sacred ties,
nor the most solemn authority.  No measure of repression can be too
stern.  In that fierce time it was natural that apostasy should be
thought worthy of death; for apostasy from religion meant also treason
to the nation: much more those who used their influence to seduce men
to apostasy were to be condemned.  The passage is introduced by the
assertion that if even a prophet, a recognized servant of God,
attesting his prophecy with signs and wonders, should solicit them to
leave the worship of Jehovah, in spite of his sacred character, and in
spite of the seeming evidence of miracles, they must turn from him with
loathing, and his doom should be death.  And if the apostasy should
have the weight of numbers and a whole city go astray, the same doom is
theirs.  If the tenderest relationship should tempt the soul away, if a
brother, or son, or daughter, or wife, or friend, should entice to
apostasy, the same relentless judgment must be meted out.

The fact that this stern treatment is advocated in this Book, which is
full of the most tender consideration for all weak things, shows the
need of the time.  Deuteronomy has some of the most beautiful
legislation in favor of slaves and little children and birds and
domestic animals, some of it in advance of even our modern customs and
practices, permeated as these are by Christian sentiment.  And it is in
this finely sensitive Book that we find such strong assertion of the
paramount importance of individual responsibility.

The influence of a friend or near relative is bound to be great.  We
are affected on every side, and at every moment, by the environment of
other lives.  There is a spiritual affinity, which is the closest and
most powerful thing in the world, and yet in the realm of morals it has
definite limits set to it.  At the best it can only go a certain
length, and ought not to be allowed to go further than its legitimate
bounds.  The writer of Deuteronomy appreciated to the full the power
and attraction of the near human relationships.  We see this from the
way he describes them, adding an additional touch of fondness to each,
"thy brother the son of thy mother, the wife of thy bosom, thy friend
who is as thine own soul."  But it sets a limit to the place even such
tender ties should be allowed to have.  The most intimate of relatives,
the most trusted of friends, must not be permitted to abrogate the
place of conscience.  Affection may be perverted into an instrument of
evil.  There is a higher moral law than even the law of friendship.
The demands of friendship must not be allowed to interfere with the
dictates of duty.  It is not that the moral law should be blindly
obeyed, but because in obeying it we are choosing the better part for
both; for as Frederick Robertson truly says, "the man who prefers his
dearest friend to the call of duty, will soon show that he prefers
himself to his dearest friend."  Such weak giving in to the supposed
higher demand of friendship is only a form of selfishness.

Friendship is sometimes too exacting.  It asks for too much, more than
we have to give, more than we ever ought to give.  There is a tyranny
of love, making demands which can only be granted to the loss of both.
Such tyranny is a perversion of the nature of love, which is to serve,
not to rule.  It would override conscience, and break down the will.
We cannot give up our personal duty, as we cannot give up our personal
responsibility.  That is how it is possible for Christ to say that if a
man love father, or mother, or wife more than Him, he is not worthy of
Him.  No human being can take the place of God to another life; it is
an acted blasphemy to attempt it.

There is a love which is evil in its selfishness.  Its very exclusive
claim is a sign of its evil root.  The rights of the individual must
not be renounced, even for love's sake.  Human love can ask too much,
and it asks too much when it would break down the individual will and
conscience.

  The hands that love us often are the hands
  That softly close our eyes and draw us earthward.
  We give them all the largesse of our life--
  Not this, not all the world, contenteth them,
  Till we renounce our rights as living souls.

We cannot renounce our rights as living souls without losing our souls.
No man can pay the debt of life for us.  No man can take the burden of
life from us.  To no man can we hand over the reins unreservedly.  It
would be cowardice, and cowardice is sin.  The first axiom of the
spiritual life is the sacredness of the individuality of each.  We must
respect each other's personality.  Even when we have rights over other
people, these rights are strictly limited, and carry with them a
corresponding duty to respect their rights also.  The one intolerable
despotism in the world is the attempt to put a yoke on the souls of
men, and there are some forms of intimacy which approach that
despotism.  To transgress the moral bounds set to friendship is to make
the highest forms of friendship impossible; for these are only reached
when free spirits meet in the unity of the spirit.

The community of human life, of which we are learning much to-day, is a
great fact.  We are all bound up in the same bundle.  In a very true
sense we stand or fall together.  We are ever on our trial as a
society; not only materially, but even in the highest things, morally
and spiritually.  There is a social conscience, which we affect, and
which constantly affects us.  We cannot rise very much above it; to
fall much below it, is for all true purposes to cease to live.  We have
recognized social standards which test morality; we have common ties,
common duties, common responsibilities.

But with it all, in spite of the fact of the community of human life,
there is the other fact of the singleness of human life.  We have a
life, which we must live _alone_.  We can never get past the ultimate
fact of the personal responsibility of each.  We may be leaves from the
same tree of life, but no two leaves are alike.  We may be wrapped up
in the same bundle, but one bundle can contain very different things.
Each of us is colored with his own shade, separate and peculiar.  We
have our own special powers of intellect, our own special experience,
our own moral conscience, our own moral life to live.  So, while it is
true that we stand or fall together, it is also true--and it is a
deeper truth--that we stand or fall alone.

In this crowded world, with its intercourse and jostling, with its
network of relationships, with its mingled web of life, we are each
alone.  Below the surface there is a deep, and below the deep there is
a deeper depth.  In the depth of the human heart there is, and there
must be, solitude.  There is a limit to the possible communion with
another.  We never completely open up our nature to even our nearest
and dearest.  In spite of ourselves something is kept back.  Not that
we are untrue in this, and hide our inner self, but simply that we are
unable to reveal ourselves entirely.  There is a bitterness of the
heart which only the heart knoweth; there is a joy of the heart with
which no stranger can intermeddle; there is a bound beyond which even a
friend who is as our own soul becomes a stranger.  There is a Holy of
Holies, over the threshold of which no human feet can pass.  It is safe
from trespass, guarded from intrusion, and even we cannot give to
another the magic key to open the door.  In spite of all the complexity
of our social life, and the endless connections we form with others,
there is as the ultimate fact a great and almost weird solitude.  We
may fill up our hearts with human fellowship in all its grades, yet
there remains to each a distinct and separated life.

We speak vaguely of the mass of men, but the mass consists of units,
each with his own life, a thing apart.  The community of human life is
being emphasized to-day, and it is a lesson which bears and needs
repetition, the lesson of our common ties and common duties.  But at
the same time we dare not lose sight of the fact of the singleness of
human life, if for no other reason than that, otherwise we have no
moral appeal to make on behalf of those ties and duties.  In the region
of morals, in dealing with sin, we see how true this solitude is.
There may be what we can truly call social and national sins, and men
can sin together, but in its ultimate issue sin is individual.  It is a
disintegrating thing, separating a man from his fellows, and separating
him from God.  We are alone with our sin, like the Ancient Mariner with
the bodies of his messmates around him, each cursing him with his eye.
In the last issue, there is nothing in the universe but God and the
single human soul.  Men can share the sinning with us; no man can share
the sin.  "And the sin ye do by two and two, ye must pay for one by
one."  Therefore in this sphere of morals there must be limits to
friendship, even with the friend who is as our own soul.

Friendship is a very real and close thing.  It is one of the greatest
joys in life, and has noble fruits.  We can do much for each other:
there are burdens we can share: we can rejoice with those who do
rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Through sympathy and love we
are able to get out of self; and yet even here there are limits.  Our
helplessness in the presence of grief proves this fundamental
singleness of human life.  When we stand beside a friend before the
open grave, under the cloud of a great sorrow, we learn how little we
can do for him.  We can only stand speechless, and pray that the great
Comforter may come with His own divine tenderness and enter the
sanctuary of sorrow shut to feet of flesh.  Mourners have indeed been
soothed by a touch, or a look, or a prayer, which had their source in a
pitiful human heart, but it is only as a message of condolence flashed
from one world to another.  There is a burden which every man must
bear, and none can bear for him: for there is a personality which, even
if we would, we cannot unveil to human eyes.  There are feelings sacred
to the man who feels.  We have to "dree our own weird," and live our
own life, and die our own death.

In the time of desolation, when the truth of this solitude is borne in
on us, we are left to ourselves, not because our friends are unfeeling,
but simply because they are unable.  It is not their selfishness which
keeps them off, but just their frailty.  Their spirit may be willing,
but the flesh is weak.  It is the lesson of life, that there is no stay
in the arm of flesh, that even if there is no limit to human love,
there is a limit to human power.  Sooner or later, somewhere or other,
it is the experience of every son of man, as it was the experience of
the Son of Man, "Behold the hour cometh, and now is come, that ye My
friends shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave Me
alone."

Human friendship must have limits, just because it is human.  It is
subject to loss, and is often to some extent the sport of occasion.  It
lacks permanence: misunderstandings can estrange us: slander can
embitter us: death can bereave us.  We are left very much the victims
of circumstances; for like everything earthly it is open to change and
decay.  No matter how close and spiritual the intercourse, it is not
permanent, and never certain.  If nothing else, the shadow of death is
always on it.  Tennyson describes how he dreamed that he and his friend
should pass through the world together, loving and trusting each other,
and together pass out into the silence.

  Arrive at last the blessed goal,
  And He that died in Holy Land
  Would reach us out the shining hand,
  And take us as a single soul.

It was a dream at the best.  Neither to live together nor to die
together could blot out the spiritual limits of friendship.  Even in
the closest of human relations when two take each other for better for
worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, they may be
made one flesh, but never one soul.  Singleness is the ultimate fact of
human life.  "The race is run by one and one, and never by two and two."

In religion, in the deepest things of the spirit, these limits we have
been considering are perhaps felt most of all.  With even a friend who
is as one's own soul, we cannot seek to make a spiritual impression,
without realizing the constraint of his separate individuality.  We
cannot break through the barriers of another's distinct existence.  If
we have ever sought to lead to a higher life another whom we love, we
must have been made to feel that it does not all rest with us, that he
is a free moral being, and that only by voluntarily yielding his heart
and will and life to the King, can he enter the Kingdom.  We are forced
to respect his personality.  We may watch and pray and speak, but we
cannot save.  There is almost a sort of spiritual indecency in
unveiling the naked soul, in attempting to invade the personality of
another life.  There is sometimes a spiritual vivisection which some
attempt in the name of religion, which is immoral.  Only holier eyes
than ours, only more reverent hands than ours, can deal with the spirit
of a man.  He is a separate individual, with all the rights of an
individual.  We may have many points of contact with him, the contact
of mind on mind, and heart on heart; we may even have rights over him,
the rights of love; but he can at will insulate his life from ours.
Here also, as elsewhere when we go deep enough into life, it is God and
the single human soul.

The lesson of all true living in every sphere is to learn our own
limitations.  It is the first lesson in art, to work within the
essential limitations of the particular art.  But in dealing with other
lives it is perhaps the hardest of all lessons, to learn, and submit
to, our limitations.  It is the crowning grace of faith, when we are
willing to submit, and to leave those we love in the hands of God, as
we leave ourselves.  Nowhere else is the limit of friendship so deeply
cut as here in the things of the spirit.

  No man can save his brother's soul,
    Nor pay his brother's debt.


Human friendship has limits because of the real greatness of man.  We
are too big to be quite comprehended by another.  There is always
something in us left unexplained, and unexplored.  We do not even know
ourselves, much less can another hope to probe into the recesses of our
being.  Friendship has a limit, because of the infinite element in the
soul.  It is hard to kick against the pricks, but they are meant to
drive us toward the true end of living.  It is hard to be brought up by
a limit along any line of life, but it is designed to send us to a
deeper and richer development of our life.  Man's limitation is God's
occasion.  Only God can fully satisfy the hungry heart of man.



The Higher Friendship


Love Him, and keep Him for thy Friend, who, when all go away, will not
forsake thee, nor suffer thee to perish at the last.

THOMAS À KEMPIS.



        Hush, I pray you!
  What if this friend happen to be--God!

BROWNING.



The Higher Friendship

Life is an education in love.  There are grades and steps in it,
occasions of varying opportunity for the discipline of love.  It comes
to us at many points, trying us at different levels, that it may get
entrance somehow, and so make our lives not altogether a failure.  When
we give up our selfishness and isolation, even in the most rudimentary
degree, a beginning is made with us that is designed to carry us far,
if we but follow the leading of our hearts.  There is an ideal toward
which all our experience points.  If it were not so, life would be a
hopeless enigma, and the world a meaningless farce.  There must be a
spiritual function intended, a design to build up strong and true moral
character, to develop sweet and holy life, otherwise history is a
despair, and experience a hopeless riddle.  All truly great human life
has been lived with a spiritual outlook, and on a high level.  Men have
felt instinctively that there is no justification for all the pain, and
strife, and failure, and sorrow of the world, if these do not serve a
higher purpose than mere existence.  Even our tenderest relationships
need some more authoritative warrant than is to be found in themselves,
even in the joy and hope they bring.  That joy cannot be meant as an
empty lure to keep life on the earth.

And spiritual man has also discovered that the very breakdown of human
ties leads out to a larger and more permanent love.  It is sooner or
later found that the most perfect love cannot utterly satisfy the heart
of man.  All our human intercourse, blessed and helpful as it may be,
must be necessarily fragmentary and partial.  A man must discover that
there is an infinite in him, which only the infinite can match and
supply.  It is no disparagement of human friendship to admit this.  It
remains a blessed fact that it is possible to meet devotion, which
makes us both humble and proud; humble at the sight of its noble
sacrifice, proud with a glad pride at its wondrous beauty.  Man is
capable of the highest heights of love.  But man can never take the
place of God, and without God life is shorn of its glory and divested
of its meaning.

So the human heart has ever craved for a relationship, deeper and more
lasting than any possible among men, undisturbed by change, unmenaced
by death, unbroken by fear, unclouded by doubt.  The limitations and
losses of earthly friendship are meant to drive us to the higher
friendship.  Life is an education in love, but the education is not
complete till we learn the love of the eternal.  Ordinary friendship
has done its work when the limits of friendship are reached, when
through the discipline of love we are led into a larger love, when a
door is opened out to a higher life.  The sickness of heart which is
the lot of all, the loneliness which not even the voice of a friend can
dispel, the grief which seems to stop the pulse of life itself, find
their final meaning in this compulsion toward the divine.  We are
sometimes driven out not knowing whither we go, not knowing the purpose
of it; only knowing through sheer necessity that here we have no
abiding city, or home, or life, or love; and seeking a city, a home, a
life, a love, that hath foundations.

We have some training in the love of friends, as if only to prove to us
that without love we cannot live.  All our intimacies are but broken
lights of the love of God.  They are methods of preparation for the
great communion.  In so far even that our earthly friendships are helps
to life, it is because they are shot through with the spiritual, and
they prepare us by their very deficiencies for something more
permanent.  There have been implanted in man an instinct, and a need,
which make him discontented, till he find content in God.  If at any
time we are forced to cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils,
it is that we may reach out to the infinite Father, unchanging, the
same yesterday, to-day, and forever.  This is the clamant, imperious
need of man.

The solitude of life in its ultimate issue is because we were made for
a higher companionship.  It is just in the innermost sanctuary, shut to
every other visitant, that God meets us.  We are driven to God by the
needs of the heart.  If the existence of God was due to a purely
intellectual necessity; if we believed in Him only because our reason
gave warrant for the faith; it would not matter much whether He really
is, and whether we really can know Him.  But when the instincts of our
nature, and the necessities of the heart-life demand God, we are forced
to believe.  In moments of deep feeling, when all pretence is silenced,
a man may be still able to question the _existence_ of God, but he does
not question his own _need_ of God.  Man, to remain man, must believe
in the possibility of this relationship with the divine.  There is a
love which passeth the love of women, passeth the love of comrades,
passeth all earthly love, the love of God to the weary, starved heart
of man.

To believe in this great fact does not detract from human friendship,
but really gives it worth and glory.  It is because of this, that all
love has a place in the life of man.  All our worships, and
friendships, and loves, come from God, and are but reflections of the
divine tenderness.  All that is beautiful, and lovely and pure, and of
good repute, finds its appropriate setting in God; for it was made by
God.  He made it for Himself.  He made man with instincts, and
aspirations, and heart-hunger, and divine unrest, that He might give
them full satisfaction in Himself.  He claims everything, but He gives
everything.  Our human relationships are sanctified and glorified by
the spiritual union.  He gives us back our kinships, and friendships,
with a new light on them, an added tenderness, transfiguring our common
ties and intimacies, flooding them with a supernal joy.  We part from
men to meet with God, that we may be able to meet men again on a higher
platform.  But the love of God is the end and design of all other
loves.  If the flowers and leaves fade, it is that the time of ripe
fruit is at hand.  If these adornments are taken from the tree of life,
it is to make room for the supreme fruitage.  Without the love of God
all other love would be but deception, luring men on to the awful
disillusionment.  We were born for the love of God; if we do not find
it, it were better for us if we had never been born.  We may have
tasted of all the joys the world can offer, have known success and the
gains of success, been blessed with the sweetest friendships and the
fiercest loves; but if we have not found this the chief end of life, we
have missed our chance, and can only have at the last a desolated life.

But if through the joy or through the sorrow of life, through love or
the want of it, through the gaining of friends or the loss of them, we
have been led to dower our lives with the friendship of God, we are
possessed of the incorruptible, and undefiled, and that passeth not
away.  The man who has it has attained the secret cheaply, though it
had to be purchased with his heart's blood, with the loss of his dream
of blessedness.  When the fabric of life crumbled to its native dust,
and he rose out of its wreck, the vision of the eternal love came with
the thrill of a great revelation.  It was the entrance into the
mystery, and the wonder of it awed him, and the joy of it inspired him,
and he awakened to the fact that never again could he be _alone_ to all
eternity.

Communion with God is the great fact of life.  All our forms of
worship, all our ceremonies and symbols of religion, find their meaning
here.  There is, it is true, an ethic of religion, certain moral
teachings valuable for life: there are truths of religion to be laid
hold of by the reason: there are the consolations of religion to
comfort the heart: but the root of all religion is this mystical union,
a communion with the Unseen, a friendship with God open to man.
Religion is not an acceptance of a creed, or a burden of commandments,
but a personal secret of the soul, to be attained each man for himself.
It is the experience of the nearness of God, the mysterious contact
with the divine, and the consciousness that we stand in a special
individual relationship with Him.  The first state of exaltation, when
the knowledge burst upon the soul, cannot, of course, last; but its
effect remains in inward peace, and outward impulse toward nobler life.

Men of all ages have known this close relationship.  The possibility of
it is the glory of life: the fact of it is the romance of history, and
the true reading of history.  All devout men that have ever lived have
lived in the light of this communion.  All religious experience has had
this in common, that somehow the soul is so possessed by God, that
doubt of His existence ceases; and the task of life becomes to keep
step with Him, so that there may be correspondence between the outer
and the inner conditions of life.  Men have known this communion in
such a degree that they have been called pre-eminently the Friends of
God, but something of the experience which underlies the term is true
of the pious of all generations.

To us, in our place in history, communion with God comes through Jesus
Christ.  It is an ineffable mystery, but it is still a fact of
experience.  Only through Jesus do we know God, His interest in us, His
desire for us, His purpose with us.  He not only shows us in His own
example the blessedness of a life in fellowship with the Father, but He
makes it possible for us.  United to Jesus, we know ourselves united to
God.  The power of Jesus is not limited to the historical impression
made by His life.  It entered the world as history; it lives in the
world as spiritual fact to-day.  Luther's experience is the experience
of all believers, "To me it is not simply an old story of an event that
happened once; for it is a gift, a bestowing, that endures forever."
We offer Christ the submission of our hearts, and the obedience of our
lives; and He offers us His abiding presence.  We take Him as our
Master; and He takes us as His friends.  "I call you no longer
servants," He said to His disciples, "but I have called you friends."
The servant knoweth not what his Master doeth, his only duty is to
obey; a friend is admitted to confidence, and though he may do the same
thing as a servant, he does not do it any longer unreasoningly, but,
having been taken into counsel, he knows why he is doing it.  This was
Christ's method with His disciples, not to apportion to each his task,
but to show them His great purpose for the world, and to ask for their
service and devotion to carry it out.

The distinction is not that a servant pleases his master, and a friend
pleases himself.  It is that our Lord takes us up into a relationship
of love with Himself, and we go out into life inspired with His spirit
to work His work.  It begins with the self-surrender of love; and love,
not fear nor favor, becomes the motive.  To feel thus the touch of God
on our lives changes the world.  Its fruits are joy, and peace, and
confidence that all the events of life are suffused, not only with
meaning, but with a meaning of love.  The higher friendship brings a
satisfaction of the heart, and a joy commensurate to the love.  Its
reward is itself, the sweet, enthralling relationship, not any
adventitious gain it promises, either in the present, or for the
future.  Even if there were no physical, or moral, rewards and
punishments in the world, we would still love and serve Christ _for His
own sake_.  The soul that is bound by this personal attachment to Jesus
has a life in the eternal, which transfigures the life in time with a
great joy.

We can see at once that to be the friend of God will mean peace also.
It has brought peace over the troubled lives of all His friends
throughout the ages.  Every man who enters into the covenant, knows the
world to be a spiritual arena, in which the love of God manifests
itself.  He walks no longer on a sodden earth and under a gray sky; for
he knows that, though all men misunderstand him, he is understood, and
followed with loving sympathy, in heaven.  It was this confidence in
God as a real and near friend, which gave to Abraham's life such
distinction, and the calm repose which made his character so
impressive.  Strong in the sense of God's friendship, he lived above
the world, prodigal of present possessions, because sure of the future,
waiting securely in the hope of the great salvation.  He walked with
God in sweet unaffected piety, and serene faith, letting his character
ripen in the sunshine, and living out his life as unto God not unto
men.  To know the love of God does not mean the impoverishing of our
lives, by robbing them of their other sweet relations.  Rather, it
means the enriching of these, by revealing their true beauty and
purpose.  Sometimes we are brought nearer God through our friends, if
not through their influence or the joy of their love, then through the
discipline which comes from their very limitations and from their loss.
But oftener the experience has been that, through our union with the
Friend of friends, we are led into richer and fuller intercourse with
our fellows.  The nearer we get to the centre of the circle, the nearer
we get to each other.  To be joined together in Christ is the only
permanent union, deeper than the tie of blood, higher than the bond of
kin, closer than the most sacred earthly relationship.  Spiritual
kinship is the great nexus to unite men.  "Who are My brethren?" asked
Jesus, and for answer pointed to His disciples, and added, "Whosoever
shall do the will of My Father in heaven the same is My mother and
sister and brother."

We ought to make more of our Christian friendships, the communion of
the saints, the fellowship of believers.  "They that feared God spake
often one with another," said the prophet Malachi in one of the darkest
hours of the church.  What mutual comfort, and renewed hope, they would
get from, and give to, each other!  Faith can be increased, and love
stimulated, and enthusiasm revived by intercourse.  The supreme
friendship with Christ therefore will not take from us any of our
treasured intimacies, unless they are evil.  It will increase the
number of them, and the true force of them.  It will link us on to all
who love the same Lord in sincerity and truth.  It will open our heart
to the world of men that Jesus loved and gave His life to save.

This friendship with the Lord knows no fear of loss; neither life, nor
death, nor things present, nor things to come can separate us.  It is
joy and strength in the present, and it lights up the future with a
great hope.  We are not much concerned about speculations regarding the
future; for we know that we are in the hands of our Lover.  All that we
care to assert of the future is, that Christ will in an ever fuller
degree be the environment of all Christian souls, and the effect of
that constant environment will fulfil the aspiration of the apostle,
"We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."  Communion
produces likeness.  This even now is the test of our friendship with
the Lord.  Are we assimilating His mind, His way of looking at things,
His judgments, His spirit?  Is the Christ-conscience being developed in
us?  Have we an increasing interest in the things which interest Him,
an increasing love of the things that He loves, an increasing desire to
serve the purposes He has at heart?  "Ye are My friends if ye do
whatsoever I command you," is the test by which we can try ourselves.

Fellowship with Him, being much in His company, thinking of Him,
seeking to please Him, will produce likeness, and bring us together on
more intimate terms.  For, as love leads to the desire for fuller
fellowship; so fellowship leads to a deeper love.  Even if sometimes we
almost doubt whether we are really in this blessed covenant of
friendship, our policy is to go on loving Him, serving Him, striving to
please Him; and we will yet receive the assurance, which will bring
peace; He will not disappoint us at the last.  It is worth all the care
and effort we can give, to have and to keep Him for our friend who will
be a lasting possession, whose life enters into the very fibre of our
life, and whose love makes us certain of God.

We ought to use our faith in this friendship to bless our lives.  To
have an earthly friend, whom we trust and reverence, can be to us a
source of strength, keeping us from evil, making us ashamed of evil.
The dearer the friend and the more spiritual the friendship, the keener
will be this feeling, and the more needful does it seem to keep the
garments clean.  It must reach its height of intensity and of moral
effectiveness in the case of friendship with God.  There can be no
motive on earth so powerful.  If we could only have such a friendship,
we see at once what an influence it might have over our life.  We can
appreciate more than the joy, and peace, and comfort of it; we can feel
the power of it.  To know ourselves ever before a living, loving
Presence, having a constant sense of Christ abiding in us, taking Him
with us into the marketplace, into our business and our pleasure, to
have Him as our familiar friend in joy and sorrow, in gain and loss, in
success and failure, must, in accordance with all psychological law, be
a source of strength, lifting life to a higher level of thought, and
feeling, and action.  Supposing it were true and possible, it would
naturally be the strongest force in the world, the most effective
motive that could be devised: it would affect the whole moral outlook,
and make some things easy now deemed impossible, and make some things
impossible now to our shame too easy.  Supposing this covenant with God
were true, and we knew ourselves to have such a Lover of our soul, it
would, as a matter of course, give us deeper and more serious views of
human life, and yet take away from us the burden and the unrest of life.

Unless history be a lie, and experience a delusion, it _is_ true.  The
world is vocal with a chorus of witness to the truth of it.  From all
sorts and conditions of men comes the testimony to its reality--from
the old, who look forward to this Friend to make their bed in dying;
from the young, who know His aid in the fiery furnace of temptation;
from the strong, in the burden of the day and the dust of the battle,
who know the rest of His love even in the sore labor; from the weak,
who are mastered by His gracious pity, and inspired by His power to
suffer and to bear.  Christ's work on earth was to make the friendship
of God possible to all.  It seems too good to be true, too wondrous a
condescension on His part, but its reality has been tested, and
attested, by generations of believers.  This covenant of friendship is
open to us, to be ours in life, and in death, and past the gates of
death.

The human means of communication is prayer, though we limit it sadly.
Prayer is not an act of worship merely, the bending of the knee on set
occasions, and offering petitions in need.  It is an attitude of soul,
opening the life on the Godward side, and keeping free communication
with the world of spirit.  And so, it is possible to pray always, and
to keep our friendship ever green and sweet: and God comes back upon
the life, as dew upon the thirsty ground.  There is an interchange of
feeling, a responsiveness of love, a thrill of mutual friendship.

  You must love Him, ere to you
  He shall seem worthy of your love.

The great appeal of the Christian faith is to Christian experience.
Loving Christ is its own justification, as every loving heart knows.
Life evidences itself: the existence of light is its own proof.  The
power of Christ on the heart needs no other argument than itself.  Men
only doubt when the life has died out, and the light has waned, and
flickered, and spent itself.  It is when there is no sign of the spirit
in our midst, no token of forces beyond the normal and the usual, that
we can deny the spirit.  It is when faith is not in evidence that we
can dispute faith.  It is when love is dead that we can question love.
The Christian faith is not a creed, but a life; not a proposition, but
a passion.  Love is its own witness to the soul that loves: communion
is its own attestation to the spirit that lives in the fellowship.  The
man who lives with Jesus knows Him to be a Lover that cleaves closer
than a brother, a Friend that loveth at all times, and a Brother born
for adversity.

It does not follow that there is an end of the question, so far as we
are concerned, if we say that we at least do not know that friendship,
and cannot love Him.  Some even say it with a wistful longing, "Oh,
that I knew where I might find Him."  It is true that love cannot be
forced, that it cannot be made to order, that we cannot love because we
ought, or even because we want.  But we can bring ourselves into the
presence of the lovable.  We can enter into Friendship through the door
of Discipleship; we can learn love through service; and the day will
come to us also when the Master's word will be true, "I call you no
longer servant, but I call you friend."  His love will take possession
of us, till all else seems as hatred in comparison.  "All lovers blush
when ye stand beside Christ," says Samuel Rutherford; "woe unto all
love but the love of Christ.  Shame forevermore be upon all glory but
the glory of Christ; hunger forevermore be upon all heaven but Christ.
I cry death, death be upon all manner of life but the life of Christ."

To be called _friends_ by our Master, to know Him as the Lover of our
souls, to give Him entrance to our hearts, is to learn the meaning of
living, and to experience the ecstasy of living.  The Higher Friendship
is bestowed without money and without price, and is open to every heart
responsive to God's great love.

  'T is only heaven that is given away,
  'T is God alone may be had for the asking.





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