Jeremy Taylor.

The whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 11) online

. (page 31 of 50)
Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 11) → online text (page 31 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


unless by my death I save a brave man, or become the
price of a great thing;" that is, I will die for a prince, for
the republic, or to save an army, as David exposed himself
to combat with the Philistine for the redemption of the
host of Israel : and in this sense, that is true, " Prsestat ut
pereat unus quam unitas, Better that one perish than a
multitude." 2. A man dies bravely when he gives his tem-
poral life to save the soul of any single person in the Christ-
ian world. It is a worthy exchange, and the glorification of
that love by which Christ gave his life for every soul. Thus
he that reproves an erring prince wisely and necessarily, he
that affirms a fundamental truth, or stands up for the glory
of the Divine attributes, though he die for it, becomes a wor-
thy sacrifice. 3. These are duty, but it may be heroic and
full of Christian bravery, to give my life to rescue a noble
and a brave friend, though I myself be as worthy a man as
he ; because the preference of him is an act of humility in
me, and of friendship towards him ; humility and charity
making a pious difference, where art and nature have made
all equal.

Some have fancied other measures of treating our friends.
One sort of men say that we are to expect that our friends
should value us as we value ourselves : which, if it were to
be admitted, will require that we make no friendships with a
proud man ; and so far indeed were well ; but then this pro-



OFFICES OF FRIENDSHIP. 317

portion does exclude some humble men who are most to be
valued, and the rather because they undervalue themselves.

Others say, that a friend is to value his friend as much
as his friend values him ; but neither is this well nor safe, wise
or sufficient ; for it makes friendship a mere bargain, and is
something like the country weddings in some places where
I have been; where the bridegroom and the bride must meet
in the half way, and if they fail a step, they retire and break
the match: it is not good to make a reckoning in friendship;
that is merchandise, or it may be gratitude, but not noble
friendship ; in which each part strives to outdo the other in
significations of an excellent love : and amongst true friends
there is no fear of losing any thing.

But that which amongst the old philosophers comes
nearest to the right, is that we love our friends as we love
ourselves. If they had meant it as our blessed Saviour did,
of that general friendship by which we are to love all man-
kind, it had been perfect and well; or if they had meant it
of the inward affection, or of outward justice; but because
they meant it of the most excellent friendships, and of the
outward significations of it, it cannot be sufficient : for a
friend may and must sometimes do more for his friend than
he would do for himself. Some men will perish before they
will beg or petition for themselves to some certain persons ;
but they account it noble to do it for their friend, and they
will want rather than their friend shall want ; and they will
be more earnest in praise or dispraise respectively for their
friend than for themselves. And indeed I account that one of
the greatest demonstrations of real friendship is, that a friend
can really endeavour to have his friend advanced in honour,
in reputation, in the opinion of wit or learning, before
himself.

Aurum, et opes, et rura frequens donabit amicus:

Qui velit ingenio cedere, rarus erit.
Sed tibi tantus inest veteris respectus ainici,

Carior ut mea sit quiim tua fama tibi."

Lands, gold, and trifles, many give or lend,
But he that stoops in fame, is a rare friend;
In friendship's orb tbou art the brightest star,
Before thy fame mine thou preferrest far.

But then be pleased to think that therefore I so highly

Martial, lib. viii. ep. 18.



318 THE MEASURES AND

value this signification of friendship, because I so highly
value humility. Humility and charity are the two greatest
graces in the world ; and these are the greatest ingredients,
which constitute friendship and express it.

But there needs no other measure of friendship, but that
it may be as great as you can express it ; beyond death it
cannot go, to death it may, when the cause is reasonable and
just, charitable and religious: and yet if there be any thing
greater than to suffer death (and pain and shame to some
are more insufferable), a true and noble friendship shrinks
not at the greatest trials.

And yet there is a limit even to friendship. It must
be as great as our friend fairly needs in all things where we
are not tied up by a former duty, to God, to ourselves, or
some preobliging relative. When Pollux heard somebody
whisper a reproach against his brother Castor, he killed the
slanderer with his fist : that was a zeal which his friendship
could not warrant. " Nulla est peccati excusatio, si arnici
causa peccaveris," said Cicero ; v " No friendship can excuse
a sin :" and this the brave Romans instanced in the matter
of duty to their country. It is not lawful to fight on our
friend's part against our prince or country; and therefore w
when Caius Blosius, of Cuma, in the sedition of Gracchus,
appeared against his country, when he was taken he an-
swered, that he loved Tiberius Gracchus so dearly, that he
thought fit to follow him whithersoever he led ; and begged
pardon upon that account : they who were his judges, were
so noble, that though they knew it no fair excuse, yet for the
honour of friendship they did not directly reject his motion;
but put him to death because he did not follow, but led on
Gracchus, and brought his friend into the snare : for so they
preserved the honours of friendship on either hand, by neither
suffering it to be sullied by a foul excuse, nor yet rejected in
any fair pretence. A man may not be perjured for his friend.
I remember to have read, in the history of the Low Countries,
that Grimstone and Redhead, when Bergen-op-Zoom was
besieged by the Duke of Parma, acted for the interest of
the Queen of England's forces a notable design ; but being
suspected and put for their acquittance to take the sacrament
of the altar, they dissembled their persons and their interests,

T Wetzel, xi. 7, p. 174. Val. Max. iv. 7. 1. Helfrecht. p. 267.



OFFICES OF FRIENDSHIP. 319

their design and their religion, and did for the Queen's ser-
vice (as one wittily wrote to her) give not only their bodies
but their souls, and so deserved a reward greater than she
could pay them. I cannot say this is a thing greater than a
friendship can require, for it is not great at all, but a great
villany, which hath no name, and no order in worthy inter-
courses ; and no obligation to a friend can reach as high as
our duty to God : and he that does a base thing in zeal for
his friend, burns the golden thread that ties their hearts
together ; it is a conspiracy, but no longer friendship. And
when Cato lent his wife to Hortensius, and Socrates lent his
to a merry Greek, they could not amongst wise persons ob-
tain so much as the fame of being worthy friends ; neither
could those great names legitimate an unworthy action under
the most plausible title.

It is certain that amongst friends their estates are com-
mon ; that is, by whatsoever I can rescue my friend from
calamity, I arn to serve him, or not to call him friend ; there
is a great latitude in this, and it is to be restrained by no pru-
dence, but when there is on the other side a great necessity
neither vicious nor avoidable : a man may choose whether
he w r ill or no ; and he does not sin in not doing it, unless he
have bound himself to it : but certainly friendship is the
greatest band in the world, and if he have professed a great
friendship, he hath a very great obligation to do that and
more ; and he can noways be disobliged but by the care of
his natural relations.

I said, ' friendship is the greatest band in the world ;'
and I had reason for it, for it is all the bands that this world
hath ; and there is no society, and there is no relation, that
is worthy, but it is made so by the communications of friend-
ship, and by partaking some of its excellences. For friend-
ship is a transcendent, and signifies as much as unity can
mean ; and every consent, and every pleasure, and every
benefit, and every society, is the mother or the daughter of
friendship. Some friendships are made by nature, some by
contract, some by interest, and some by souls. And in pro-
portion to these ways of uniting, so the friendships are greater
or less virtuous, or natural, profitable or holy, or all this
together. Nature makes excellent friendships, of which we
observe something in social plants ; and growing better in



320 THE MEASURES AND

each other's neighbourhood than where they stand singly ;
and in animals it is more notorious, whose friendships
extend so far as to herd and dwell together, to play and
feed, to defend and fight for one another, and to cry in
absence, and to rejoice in one another's presence. But these
friendships have other names less noble ; they are sympathy,
or they are instinct. But if to this natural friendship there
be reason superadded, something will come in upon the stock
of reason which will ennoble it ; but because no rivers can
rise higher than fountains, reason sball draw out all the dis-
positions which are in nature and establish them into friend-
ships, but they cannot surmount the communications of
nature : nature can make no friendships greater than her
own excellences. Nature is the way of contracting necessary
friendships ; that is, by nature such friendships are contracted,
without which we cannot live, and be educated, or be well,
or be at all.

In this scene, that of parents and children is the greatest,
which indeed is begun in nature, but is actuated by society
and mutual endearments. For parents love their children
because they love themselves. Children being but like
emissions of water, symbolical or indeed the same with the
fountain ; and they in their posterity see the images and
instruments of a civil immortality : but if parents and child-
ren do not live together, we see their friendships and their
loves are much abated, and supported only by fame and duty,
by customs and religion, which to nature are but artificial
pillars, and make this friendship to be complicated, and to
pass from its own kind to another. That of children to their
parents is not properly friendship, but gratitude, and interest,
and religion ; and whatever can supervene of the nature of
friendship, comes in upon another account ; upon society,
and worthiness, and choice.

This relation on either hand makes great dearnesses : but
it hath special and proper significations of it, and there is a
special duty incumbent on each other respectively. This
friendship and social relation are not equal, and there is too
much authority on one side, and too much fear on the other,
to make equal friendships ; and therefore, although this is
one of the kinds of friendship, that is of a social and relative
love and conversation ; yet in the more proper use of the



OFFICES OF FRIENDSHIP. 321

word friendship does do something which father and son do
not ; I instance in the free and open communicating counsels,
and the evenness and pleasantness of conversation ; and con-
sequently the significations of the paternal and filial love, as
they are divers in themselves and unequal, and therefore
another kind of friendship than we mean in our inquiry ; so
they are such a duty which np other friendship can annul :
because their mutual duty is bound upon them by religion
long before any other friendships can be contracted ; and
therefore having first possession must abide for ever. The
duty and love to parents must not yield to religion, much
less to any new friendships : and our parents are to be pre-
ferred before the ' corban,' and are at no hand to be laid aside
but when they engage against God : that is, in the rights
which this relation and kind of friendship challenge as its
propriety, it is supreme and cannot give place to any other
friendships ; till the father gives his right away, and God or
the laws consent to it ; as in the case of marriage, emancipa-
tion, and adoption to another family : in which cases though
love and gratitude are still obliging, yet the societies and
duties of relation are very much altered, which in the proper
and best friendships can never be at all. But then this also
is true, that the social relations of parents and children, not
having in them all the capacities of a proper friendship,
cannot challenge all the significations of it ; that is, it is no
prejudice to the duty I owe there, to pay all the dearnesses
which are due here, and to friends there are some things due
which the other cannot challenge, I mean, my secret and my
equal conversation, and the pleasures and interests of these,
and the consequents of all.

Next to this is the society and dearness of brothers and
sisters : which usually is very great amongst worthy persons ;
but if it be considered what it is in itself, it is but very little ;
there is very often a likeness of natural temper, and there is
a social life under the same roof, and they are commanded
to love one another, and they are equals in many instances,
and are endeared by conversation when it is merry and
pleasant, innocent and simple, without art and without
design. But brothers pass not into noble friendships upon
the stock of that relation : they have fair dispositions and
advantages, and are more easy and ready to ferment into the

VOL. XI. Y



322 THE MEASURES AND

greatest clearnesses, if all things else be answerable. Nature
disposes them well towards it ; but in this inquiry if we ask
what duty is passed upon a brother to a brother even for
being so, I answer, that religion, and our parents, and God,
and the laws, appoint what measures they please ; but nature
passes but very little, and friendship less ; and this we see
apparently in those brothers who live asunder, and contract
new relations, and dwell in other societies. There is no love,
no friendship, without the intercourse of conversation : friend-
ships indeed may last longer than our abode together, but
they were first contracted by it, and established by pleasure
and benefit ; and unless it be the best kind of friendship
(which that of brothers in that mere capacity is not), it dies
when it wants the proper nutriment and support : and to this
purpose is that which was spoken by Solomon;" "Better
is a neighbour that is near, than a brother that is far off:"
that is, although ordinarily brothers are first possessed of
the entries and fancies of friendship, because they are of the
first societies and conversations ; yet when that ceases and
the brother goes away, so that he does no advantage, no
benefit of intercourse ; the neighbour that dwells by me, with
whom if I converse at all, either he is my enemy, and does
and receives evil ; or if we converse in worthinesses, and
benefit, and pleasant communication, he is better in the laws
and measures of friendship than my distant brother. And it
is observable that 'brother' is indeed a word of friendship,
and charity, and of mutual endearment, and so is a title of
the bravest society : yet in all the Scripture, there are no
precepts given of any duty and comport, which brothers, that
is, the descendants of the same parents, are to have one
towards another in that capacity ; and it is not because their
nearness is such that they need none : for parents and child-
ren are nearer, and yet need tables of duty to be described;
and for brothers, certainly they need it infinitely if there be
any peculiar duty ; Cain and Abel are the great probation of
that, and you know who said,

Fratrum quoque gratia rara est : (0. M. i. 145.)
It is not often you shall see
Two brothers live in amity.

But the Scripture, which often describes the duty of parents

* Prov. xxvii. 10.



OFFICES OF FRIENDSHIP. 323

and children, never describes the duty of brothers; except
where by brethren are meant all that part of mankind who
are tied to us by any vicinity and endearment of religion or
country, of profession and family, of contract or society, of
love and the noblest friendships: the meaning is, that though
fraternity alone be the endearment of some degrees of friend-
ship, without choice and without excellence ; yet the rela-
tion itself is not friendship, and does not naturally infer it ;
and that which is procured by it, is but limited and little ;
and though it may pass into it, as other conversations may,
yet the friendship is accidental to it, and enters upon other
accounts, as it does between strangers ; with this only differ-
ence, that brotherhood does oftentimes assist the valuation
of those excellences, for which we entertain our friendships.
Fraternity is the opportunity and preliminary disposition to
friendship, and no more. For if my brother be a fool or a
vicious person, the love to which nature and our first con-
versation dispose me, does not end in friendship, but in pity,
and fair provisions, and assistances ; which is a demonstra-
tion that brotherhood is but the inclination and address to
friendship. And though I will love a worthy brother more
than a worthy stranger, if the worthiness be equal, because
the relation is something, and being put into the scales
against an equal worthiness, must needs turn the balance,
as every grain will do in an even weight ; yet when the rela-
tion is all the worthiness that is pretended, it cannot stand
in competition with a friend : for though a friend-brother is
better than a friend-stranger, where the friend is equal, but
the brother is not ; yet a brother is not better than a friend ;
but, as Solomon's expression is, "There is a friend that is
better than a brother ;" and to be born of the same parents is
so accidental and extrinsic to a man's pleasure, or worthiness,
or spiritual advantages, that though it be very pleasing and
useful that a brother should be a friend, yet it is no great
addition to a friend that he also is a brother : there is some-
thing in it, but not much. But in short, the case is thus:

\j *

The first beginnings of friendship serve the necessities ; but
choice and worthiness are the excellences of its endearment
and its bravery ; and between a brother that is no friend,
and a friend that is no brother, there is the same difference
as between the disposition and the act or habit : a brother,



324? THE MEASURES AND

if he be worthy, is the readiest and the nearest to be a friend ;
but till he be so, he is but the twilight of the day, and but the
blossom of the fairest fruit of paradise. A brother does not
always make a friend, but a friend ever makes a brother and
more : and although nature sometimes finds the tree, yet
friendship engraves the image ; the first relation places him
in the garden, but friendship sets it in the temple, and then
only it is venerable and sacred : and so is brotherhood when
it hath the soul of friendship.

So that if it be asked which are most to be valued,
brothers or friends ; the answer is very easy : brotherhood
is or may be one of the kinds of friendship, and from thence
only hath its value, and therefore if it be compared with a
greater friendship must give place : but then it is not to be
asked which is to be preferred, a brother or a friend, but
which is the better friend, Memnon or my brother? For if
my brother says I ought to love him best, then he ought to
love me best; y if he does, then there is a great friendship,
and he possibly is to be preferred, if he can be that friend
which he pretends to be, that is, if he be equally worthy : but
if he says, I must love him only because he is my brother,
whether he loves me or no, he is ridiculous ; and it will be a
strange relation which hath no correspondent. But suppose
it, and add this also, that I am equally his brother as he -is
mine, and then he also must love me whether I love him or
no; and if he does not, he says, I must love him though he
be my enemy; and so I must ; but I must not love my enemy,
though he be my brother, more than I love my friend ; and at
last if he does love me for being his brother, I confess that
this love deserves love again ; but then I consider, that he
loves me upon an incompetent reason : for he that loves me
only because I am his brother, loves me for that which is no
worthiness, arid I must love him as much as that comes to,
and for as little reason ; unless this be added, that he loves
me first : but whether choice and union of souls, and worthi-
ness of manners, and greatness of understanding, and use-
fulness of conversation, and the benefits of counsel, and all
those endearments which make our lives pleasant and our
persons dear, are not better and greater reasons of love and

y Ut praestem Pyladen, aliquis mibi praestet Oresten.

Hoc non fitverbis; Marce, ut ameris, ama. Mart. lib. vi. ep. 11.



OFFICES OF FRIENDSHIP. 325

clearness than to be born of the same flesh, I think, amongst
wise persons needs no great inquiry. For fraternity is but
a cognation of bodies, but friendship is a union of souls,
which are confederated by more noble ligatures. My brother,
if he be no more, shall have my hand to help him ; but unless
he be my friend too, he cannot challenge my heart : and if
his being my friend be the greater nearness, then friend is
more than brother, and I suppose no man doubts but that
David loved Jonathan far more than he loved his brother
Eliab.

One inquiry more there may be in this affair, and that is,
whether a friend may be more than a husband or wife ; to
which I answer, that it can never be reasonable or just, pru-
dent or lawful : but the reason is, because marriage is the
queen of friendships, in which there is a communication of
all that can be communicated by friendship : and it being
made sacred by vows and love, by bodies and souls, by
interest and custom, by religion and by laws, by common
counsels and common fortunes ; it is the principal in the
kind of friendship, and the measure of all the rest: and there
is no abatement to this consideration, but that there may be
some allay in this as in other lesser friendships by the inca-
pacity of the persons : if I have not chosen my friend wisely
or fortunately, he cannot be the correlative in the best union ;
but then the friend lives as the soul does after death, it is
in the state of separation, in which the soul strangely loves
the body and longs to be reunited, but the body is a useless
trunk, and can do no ministries to the soul ; which, therefore,
prays to have the body reformed and restored, and made a
brave and fit companion : so must these best friends, when
one is useless or unapt to the braveries of the princely friend-
ship, they must love ever, and pray ever, and long till the
other be perfected and made fit ; in this case there wants
only the body, but the soul is still a relative, and must be so
for ever.

A husband and a wife are the best friends, but they can-
not always signify all that to each other which their friend-
ships would ; as the sun shines not upon a valley, which sends
up a thick vapour to cover his face ; and though his beams
are eternal, yet the emission is intercepted by the intervening
cloud. But however, all friendships are but parts of this ; "a



326 THE MEASURES AND

man must leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife ;"
that is, * the dearest thing in nature is not comparable to the
dearest thing of friendship :' and I think this is argument
sufficient to prove friendship to be the greatest band in the
world ; add to this, that other friendships are part of this,
they are marriages too ; less indeed than the other, because
they cannot, must not, be all that endearment which the other
is; yet that, being the principal, is the measure of the rest,
and are all to be honoured by like dignities, and measured
by the same rules, and conducted by their portion of the
same laws. But as friendships are marriages of the soul,
and of fortunes, and interests, and counsels ; so they are
brotherhoods too: and I often think of the excellences of
friendships in the words of David, who certainly was the
best friend in the world; " Ecce quam bonum et quam
jucundum fratres habitare in unum ; It is good and it
is pleasant that brethren should live like friends;" that
is, they who are anyways relative, and who are anyways
social and confederate, should also dwell in unity and loving
society : for that is the meaning of the word brother in
Scripture ; " It was my brother Jonathan," said David ; such



Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 11) → online text (page 31 of 50)