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sters and the usual inhabitants of the sea shall be gathered together, and make fearful noises to distract mankind: the birds shall mourn and change their songs into threnes and sad accents: rivers of fire shall rise from the east to west, and the stars shall be rent into threads of light, and scatter like the beards of comets; then shall be fearful earthquakes, and the rocks shall rend in pieces, the trees shall distil blood, and the mountains and fairest structures shall return into their primitive dust; the wild beasts shall leave their dens, and come into the companies of men, so that you shall hardly tell how to call them, herds of men, or congregations of beasts; then shall the graves open, and give up their dead, and those which are alive in nature and dead in fear, shall be forced from the rocks whither they went to hide them, and from caverns of the earth, where they would fain have been concealed; because their retirements are dismantled, and their rocks are broken into wider ruptures, and admit a strange light into their secret bowels; and the men being forced abroad into the theatre of mighty horrors, shall run up and down distracted, and at their wits end.
“The earth shall tremble, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, the rocks shall rend, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. The heavens shall be rolled up like a parchment, the earth shall be burned with fire, the hills shall be like wax, for there shall go
a fire before him, and a mighty tempest shall be stirred round about him."*
ON FRIENDSHIP AND GENERAL
In a Discourse of the Nature, Offices, and Measures of Friendship, with rules of conducting it: in a Letter to the most ingenious and excellent Mrs. Catharine Philips, inquiring, 'how far a dear and perfect friendship is authorized by the principles of Christianity.'
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.
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
* From Sermon entitled "Christ's Advent to Judgment:" which is the first in his Collection of Sermons.
pleased when I saw something of this in Cicero; for I have been so pushed at by herds and flocks of people that follow any body 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 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 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 difference; but is differenced only by accidents, and by the capacity or incapacity of them that receive it.
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 aromatick 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 friendship 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