Friendship is unselfish love between two hearts. It is the highest born, and longest lasting, and finest woven of any tie that binds human hearts together. It is highest born, for its birth-place is the heart of God, where every bit of love known among men was born. It is longest lasted, because it is so strong. It won't break. It never does break. It can't break. It never yet has been broken. You might as well think of the unseen bands of Orion breaking, or, higher up, of a quarrel breaking out between God and His Son. For friendship is a bit of God's own self even as His Son is. It is longest lasted simply because there is no end to it.
And it is the finest woven. No such bit of loom work was ever done. Its strands have been picked out with greatest care by the Master Loomsman. They have been intertwined by the same skilled hand that wove the bands that hold the earth true and steady to the sun; and that wove the ties that bind a mother's heart to her child. The finely spun threads are so deftly and rhythmically tangled that they withstand all attempts at breaking. The mark of that loom and of that Weaver are upon every bit of this wondrous fabric wherever found.
Friendship is not a native of any one land. It is native to all lands. Wherever there is a human heart there is its native heath. There it may be found growing both sturdy and fine. Though it often plays the part of a pilgrim seeking a home, it is never a foreigner nor a stranger. For wherever it is found there is a human heart; and wherever there is a human heart there is the heart of God; and wherever these two hearts are friendship is, and is at home.
Like God, it is no respecter of persons, nor of circumstances. It will not despise the king because of the gilt of his trappings; nor the cottager because of the bareness of his floor, or the spareness of his fare. Into the human heart, regardless of the outer side, it comes to gladden and grace, to arouse and inspire. Neither wealth nor luxury nor mere mental culture can successfully woo it; and neither poverty nor sickness nor slander can hinder its coming and staying, but may become a spur to call out its fineness and fragrance all the more. This is true, even though it is also true that it is one of the rare occurrences to find friendship growing its fullest and finest fruit.
Friendship has inspired the poet's pen to its sweetest, choicest lines. It has brought out the best of heart and brain in the discussions of the philosopher's porch in olden time. It has done more to enrich and refine the letters carried by post and messenger than any other influence. It has been the mainspring of action back of every great worthy deed ever done. The building of nations, the courageous fighting of battles, the winning of victories, the penning of literature classed as classic—every noble achievement of man's hand has been due to its subtle touch upon his heart.
And if any one is disposed to question this in regard to some person or event that he calls to mind, let him thoughtfully sift down and through to the roots, and he will find the warm fertilizing presence of friendship there, however hidden below the surface, or tangled with other things above. Even Napoleon, who towers so high in the realm of mere achievement, and who has been so generally dubbed as utterly heartless in the sweep of his terrible ambition, came strongly under its influence more than once. It may well be doubted if his great genius would have had the marvellous success that came to him had it not been for the subtle power and winsome tact of his real friend Josephine.
Friendship has the daring courage of the man defending his home; the clinging tenacity of the mountain goat on the dizzy heights of the far cliff; the soft tenderness of a mother with her new-born babe; the rare judgment of a wise woman in her gentle-voiced counselling; the unfailing faithfulness of the heavenly Father in His dealing with sinful men; the unflinching steadiness of the skilled surgeon swiftly plunging his blade into the living flesh; and the finegrained strength of the Son of God as He climbed the Calvary steep.