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least certain, that Great Britain, and all those nations, would flourish more, did their sovereigns and ministers adopt such enlarged and benevolent sentiments towards each other.
15.–The Measures and Offices of friendship.
JEREMY TAYLOR. (JEREMY TAYLOR, Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore,—one of the greatest of the great Divines of the Church of England,—was the son of a barber at Cambridge. He was born in 1613. He says him. self that he was “ solely grounded in grammar and mathematics by his father.” In his thirteenth year he was admitted a sizar of Caius Col. lege, Cambridge. By a sizar was then understood a poor student, who performed humble offices in the college. Out of this rank have come some of the most eminent of our scholars. Very early he obtained the patronage of Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury: who placed him at All Souls' College, Oxford, and nominated him, by a stretch of authority, Fellow of that College. In 1637 he was appointed to the Rectory of Uppingham; but his living was sqeuestrated in the Civil Wars. For some years he suffered poverty and imprisonment; he kept a school; he was a dependant upon private bounty. But he laboured unremittingly; he preached and he published. Upon the Restoration, in 1660, he was nominated by the king to his Irish Bishopric. Here he resided for seven years, discharging his duties with the most exemplary industry, and endeavouring to win all men to his fold by unremitting love. His period of prosperity was not of long duration. He died of a fever in 1667, in his fifty-fifth year. The character of Taylor's writings which was given by his successor, Dr. Rust, in his funeral sermon, is not an exaggeration :-They “will be famous to all succeeding generations for their greatness of wit, and profoundness of judgment, and richness of fancy, and clearness of expression, and copiousness of invention, and general usefulness to all the purposes of a Christian.” Reginald Heber, the admirable Bishop of Calcutta, has prefixed an excellent biography of Jeremy Taylor to the valuable edition of his works in 15 vols. There is also a complete edition, sold at a moderate price, in three large volumes, printed by Mr. Childs, of Bungay.]
You first enquire, how far a dear and perfect friendship is authorized by the principles of Christianity ?
To this, I answer; that the word “friendship” in the sense we commonly mean by it, is not so much as named in the New Testament; and our religion takes no notice of it. You think it strange; but read on before you spend so much as the beginning of a passion or a wonder upon it. There is mention of " friendship with the world,” and it is said to be “enmity with God;" but the word is nowhere else named, or to any other purpose, in all the New Testament. It speaks of friends often; but by friends are meant our acquaintance, or our kindred, the relatives of our family, or our fortune, or our sect; something of society, or something of kindness, there is in it; a tenderness of appellation and civility, a relation made by gifts, or by duty, by services and subjection ; and I think I have reason to be confident, that the word “friend” (speaking of human intercourse) is no otherwise used in the Gospels, or Epistles, or Acts of the Apostles : and the reason of it is, the word friend is of a large signification; and means all relations and societies, and whatsoever is not enemy. But by friendships, I suppose you mean the greatest love, and the greatest usefulness, and the most open communication, and the noblest sufferings, and the most exemplar faithfulness, and the severest truth, and the heartiest counsel, and the greatest union of minds, of which brave men and women are capable. But then I must tell you that Christianity hath new christened it, and calls this charity. The Christian knows no enemy he hath; that is, though persons may be injurious to him, and unworthy in themselves, yet he knows none whom he is not first bound to forgive, which is indeed to make them on his part to be no enemies, that is, to make that the word enemy shall not be perfectly contrary to friend, it shall not be a relative term, and signify something on each hand, a relative and a correlation; and then he knows none whom he is not bound to love and pray for, to treat kindly and justly, liberally and obligingly. Christian charity is friendship to all the world; and when friendships were the noblest things in the world, charity was little, like the sun drawn in at a chink, or his beams drawn into the centre of a burning-glass; but Christian charity is friendship expanded like the face of the sun when it mounts above the eastern hills: and I was strangely pleased when I saw something of this in Cicero; for I have been so pushed at by herds and flocks of people that follow anybody that whistles to them, or drives them to pasture, that I am grown afraid of any truth that seems chargeable with singularity: but therefore I say, glad I was when I saw Lælius in Cicero discourse thus :-"Amicitia ex infinitate generis humani quam conciliavit ipsa natura, contracta res est, et adducta in angustum; ut omnis charitas, aut inter duos, aut inter paucos jungeretur.” Nature hath made friendships and societies, relations and endearments; and by something or other we relate to all the world; there is enough in every man that is willing to make him become our friend; but when men contract friendships, they inclose the commons; and what nature intended should be every man's, we make proper to two or three. Friendship is like rivers, and the strand of seas, and the air,-common to all the world; but tyrants, and evil customs, wars and want of love, have made them proper and peculiar. But when Christianity came to renew our nature, and to restore our laws, and to increase her privileges, and to make her aptness to become religion, then it was declared that our friendships were to be as universal as our conversation; that is, actual to all with whom we converse, and potentially extended unto those with whom we did not. For he who was to treat his enemies with forgiveness and prayers, and love and beneficence, was indeed to have no enemies, and to have all friends.
So that to your question, “how far a dear and perfect friendship is authorized by the principles of Christianity,” the answer is ready and easy: it is warranted to extend to all mankind; and the more we love, the better we are; and the greater our friendships are, the dearer we are to God. Let them be as dear, and let them be as perfect, and let them be as many as you can; there is no danger in it; only where the restraint begins, there begins our imperfection. It is not ill that you entertain brave friendships and worthy societies; it were well if you could love and if you could benefit all mankind; for I conceive that is the sum of all friendship.
I confess this is not to be expected of us in this world; but, as all our graces here are but imperfect, that is, at the best they are but tendencies to glory, so our friendships are imperfect too, and but beginnings of a celestial friendship by which we shall love every one as much as they can be loved. But then so we must here in our proportion; and indeed that is it that can make the difference; we must be friends to all, that is, apt to do good, loving them really, and doing to them all the benefits which we can, and which they are capable of. The friendship is equal to all the world, and of itself hath no differ.
ence; but is differenced only by accidents, and by the capacity or incapacity of them that receive it.
Nature and religion are the bands of friendships; excellency and usefulness are its great endearments : society and neighbourhood, that is, the possibilities and the circumstances of converse, are the determinations and actualities of it. Now when men either are unnatural or irreligious, they will not be friends : when they are neither excellent nor useful, they are not worthy to be friends; when they are strangers or unknown, they cannot be friends actually and practically; but yet, as any man hath any thing of the good, contrary to those evils,
so he can have and must have his share of friendship. . For thus the sun is the eye of the world; and he is indifferent to
the negro, or the cold Russian, to them that dwell under the line, and them that stand near the tropics, the scalded Indian, or the poor boy that shakes at the foot of the Riphean hills. But the fluxures of the heaven and the earth, the conveniency of abode, and the approaches to the north or south respectively, change the emanations of his beams; not that they do not pass always from him, but that they are not equally received below, but by periods and changes, by little inlets and reflections, they receive what they can. And some have only a dark day and a long night from him, snows and white cattle, a miserable life, and a perpetual harvest of catarrhs and consumptions, apoplexies and dead palsies. But some have splendid fires and aromatic spices, rich wines and well digested fruits, great wit and great courage; because they dwell in his eye, and look in his face, and are the courtiers of the sun, and wait upon him in his chambers of the east. Just so is it in friendships; some are worthy, and some are necessary; some dwell hard by, and are fitted for converse; nature joins some to us, and religion combines us with others; society and accidents, parity of fortune, and equal dispositions, do actuate our friendships : which of themselves and in their prime disposition, are prepared for all mankind according as any one can receive them. We see this best exemplified by two instances and expressions of friend. ships and charity: viz., alms and prayers; every one that needs relief is equally the object of our charity ; but though to all mankind in equal needs we ought to be alike in charity, yet we signify this severally and by limits and distinct measures: the poor man that is near me, he whom I meet, he whom I love, he whom I fancy, he who did me benefit, he who relates to my family, he rather than another ; because my expressions, being finite and narrow, and cannot extend to all in equal significations, must be appropriate to those whose circumstances best fit me: and yet even to all I give my alms, to all the world that needs them; I pray for all mankind, I am grieved at every sad story I hear; I am troubled when I hear of a pretty bride murdered in her bridechamber by an ambitious and enraged rival; I shed a tear when I am told that a brave king was misunderstood, then slandered, then imprisoned, and then put to death by evil men; and I can never read the story of the Parisian massacre, or the Sicilian vespers, but my blood curdles, and I am disordered by two or three affections. A good man is a friend to all the world; and he is not truly charitable that does not wish well, and do good to all mankind in what he can. But though we must pray for all men, yet we say special litanies for brave kings and holy prelates, and the wise guides of souls, for our brethren and relations, our wives and children.
The effect of this consideration is, that the universal friendship of which I speak must be limited, because we are so. In those things where we stand next to immensity and infinity, as in good wishes and prayers, and a readiness to benefit all mankind, in these our friendships must not be limited; but in other things which pass under our hand and eye, our voices and our material exchanges; our hands can reach no further but to our arm's end, and our voices can but sound till the next air be quiet, and therefore they can have intercourse but within the sphere of their own activity; our needs and our conversations are served by a few, and they cannot reach at all; where they can, they must, but where it is impossible, it cannot be necessary. It must therefore follow, that our friendships to mankind may admit variety as does our conversation; and as by nature we are made sociable to all, so we are friendly: but as all cannot actually be of our society, so neither can all be admitted to a special, actual friendship. Of some intercourses all men are capable, but not of all; men can pray for one another, and abstain from doing injuries to all the world, and be desirous to do all mankind good, and love all men : now this friendship we must pay to all, because we can; but if we can do no more to all, we must show our readiness to do more good to all, by actually doing more good to all them to whom we can.