ON THE NATURE OF FRIENDSHIP
THE THIRD LOVE, CALLED FRIENDSHIP OR COMPANIONSHIP, consists of wanting permissible and honest things from one another, just as Cicero tells us in his book “On Friendship.” Such friendship has its foundation in a righteous and charitable unification of the aims of life when two persons enjoy talking and living and being one with the other. Such a love comes from three sources. The first is when a man only desires and hopes to obtain some advantage from his friend. Such a friendship , or love, is a false love and can not justly be called friendship or love, but rather a mercenary striving for gain, as is well expressed by Cicero in his book “On the Nature of God.”
The second is when a man wishes well for his friend without thinking of his own welfare. And this is perfect love.
The third is when one wants to share with the other, and this is good friendship and good love. The test of this true and good love lies in three main things. The first is to love one’s friend with a pure heart and to do what one thinks will bring him pleasure. The second is to avoid doing what one thinks will displease him or will be detrimental to him. Friends are made and kept three ways. First, by honoring them in their presence. Second, by saying good of them in their absence. Third, by serving them in their needs. On this subject Solomon says: “Nothing can be compared to a faithful friend.” Ovid says: “You will find many friends in prosperity. But in adversity you will find yourself alone.” Four things are better old than new: wine, fish, oil, but above all an old friend.
Aristotle says: “The older the ree the more it needs support.” And similarly, the older the man the more need he has of a friend, for there can be no good when one is alone. In the opinion of certain moral philosophers happiness is nothing but love and friendship for others. This is true if we speak of the moral happiness in this life and do not refer to the eternal happiness which is naught except God. This is what Cicero wanted to say in his book “On Friendship” when he quoted the saying of that great master Archita of Tarentino who said that if a man were to go to heaven and were to behold the beauty of the sun and of the moon and of the stars and all the other beauties of heaven and of earth and of the whole universe, and then were to return to earth—all this joy would be nothing for him unless he had someone to whom he could relate it and with whom he could discuss it as though with himself. It would even be a bitter grief for him. Plato and Seneca both say: “Before loving someone, test him. And having tested him, love him with good heart.” And note also: a good man is corrupted by bad company, while a bad man becomes righteous in good company and rids himself of his infamy by keeping company with one better than himself.
He loved me well;
so well he could but die
To show he loved me better
than his life; he lost it
for me. —JOHN DRYDEN
There are few subjects which have been more written upon, and less understood, than that of friendship. To follow the dictates of some, this virtue, instead of being the assuager of pain, becomes the source of every inconvenience. Such speculatists, by expecting too much from friendship, dissolve the connection, and by drawing the bands too closely, at length break them. —OLIVER GOLDSMITH
Church of the Science of God
La Jolla, California 92038-3131
© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993