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the present ruptures, but want of charity; it is not the variety of understandings, but the disunion of wills and affections; it is not the several principles, but the several ends that cause our miseries; our opinions commence and are upheld according as our turns are served and our interests are preserved, and there is no cure for us but piety and charity. A holy life will make our belief holy, if we consult not humanity and its imperfections in the choice of our religion, but search for truth without designs, save only of acquiring heaven, and then be as careful to preserve charity as we were to get a point of faith, I am much persuaded we should find out more truths by this means; or,
never which is the main of all), we shall be secured though we miss them, and then we are well enough.
For if it be evinced that one heaven shall hold men of several opinions, if the unity of faith be not destroyed by that which men call differing religions, and if an unity of charity be the duty of us all, even towards persons that are not persuaded of every proposition we believe, then I would fain know to what purpose are all those stirs and great noises in Christendom; those names of faction, the several names of churches not distinguished by the division of kingdoms, the church obeying the government, which was the primitive rule and canon but distinguished by names of sects and men. These are all become instruments of hatred; thence come schisms and parting of communions, and then persecutions, and then wars and rebellion, and then the dissolutions of all friendships and societies. All these mischiefs proceed not from this, that all men are not of one mind, for that is neither necessary nor possible, but that every opinion is made an article of faith, every article is a ground of a quarrel, every quarrel makes a faction, every faction is zealous, and all zeal pretends for God, and whatsoever is for God cannot be too much. We by this time are come to that pass, we think we love not God except we hate our brother, and we have not the virtue of religion
ABRAHAM AND THE FIRE-WORSHIPPER.
unless we persecute all religions but our own; for lukewarmness is so odious to God and man, that we, proceeding furiously upon these mistakes, by supposing we preserve the body, we destroy the soul of religion; or by being zealous for faith, or which is all one, for that which we mistake for faith, we are cold in charity, and so lose the reward of both.
Abraham and the Fire-Worshipper. I end with a story which I find in the Jews' books :—When Abraham sat at his tent door, according to his custom, waiting to entertain strangers, he espied an old man stooping and leaning on his staff, weary with age and travel, coming towards him, who was an hundred years of age; he received him kindly, washed his feet, provided supper, and caused him to sit down ; but observing that the old man ate and prayed not, nor begged for a blessing on his meat, asked him, why he did not worship the God of heaven? The old man told him that he worshipped the fire only, and acknowledged no other God; at which answer Abraham grew so zealously angry, that he thrust the old man out of his tent, and exposed him to all the evils of the night and an unguarded condition. When the old man was gone, God called to Abraham, and asked him where the stranger was ? he replied, I thrust him away because he did not worship Thee. God answered him, I have suffered him these hundred years, although he dishonoured me, and couldst thou not endure him one night, when he gave thee no trouble? Upon this, saith the story, Abraham fetched him back again, and gave him hospitable entertainment and wise instruction. “ Go thou and do likewise," and thy charity will be rewarded by the God of Abraham.
Friendship. By friendship I suppose you mean the greatest love, and the greatest usefulness, and the most open communication, and the noblest sufferings, and the most exemplary 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 correlative; 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 thing 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 enclose 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 bis 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 authorised 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 one 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 difference; but is differenced only by accidents, and by the capacity or incapacity of them that receive it. Nature and religion are the bands of friendship; 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 flexures 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. 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 friendship; 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 accident, parity of fortune and equal dispositions, do actuate our friendships, which of themselves, and in their prime dispositions, are prepared for all mankind, according as any one can receive them. We see this best exemplified by two instances and expressions of friendship and charity, viz. alms and prayers. Every one that needs relief is equally the