And when one calmly thinks the thing thoughtfully through, the clearer does it become that such friendship can exist only between the two that God made and meant for each other,—a man and a woman joined together by the same hand that made them. The greatest possibilities of friendship can be realised only between a man and a woman because the elements that go to make the strongest, fullest friendship are found here in full measure, and only here. And further because, as we shall find a little later in this series of talks, the finest fruitage of friendship is possible only between two such.
It is fairly fascinating to see how fully this law of likes and differences, which underlies all friendship, is found fully developed and illustrated here, and only here. This comes out simply and clearly as we note the likes and differences between man and woman.
But first of all certain unnatural differences between the two should be noticed, and noticed keenly. It is both remarkable and pathetic to mark the striking fact that woman peculiarly has been the victim of ignorance and prejudice and evil passions for long centuries. It is as though the spirit of evil, knowing well her remarkable power, has aimed its heaviest batteries at her. As a result her character and dominant characteristics have been radically affected. Jesus' marvellous influence is nowhere seen more than in the change that has come in woman's condition since He was here. Where He is least known, her condition is lowest; where best known, highest. Yet even in Christian lands much of the old-time influence still clings.
These unnatural differences may be put thus: Woman is more swayed by her feelings. She is said to reach conclusions, not by logical mental processes, but rather by a sort of intuition, by which is usually meant a sort of lower though keen perception, rather than by the higher thoughtful consideration. Then woman's mind is taken up more with the little details of things, with no apparent power or disposition to grasp the larger outlines of a question, and see it in its proportions.
These are some of the things in which woman is commonly thought of as being different from man, and indeed inferior to him. And in large measure much of all this is true. But it should be keenly remembered that these are unnatural differences, due to the long-time slavery to which she has been subjected, and still is so largely. It is striking that these same things just as sharply characterise the classes of men who have been held down as woman has been. These unnatural differences should be laid aside now, than we may see clearly the true differences as God planned them for the making of life's friendship.
The natural differences between man and woman bring out the natural likenesses between the two. They are really differences in likenesses; the differences in texture of the same fabric; such differences in likes, such diversity in unity, as work together for the perfect condition in which friendship can do its full work.
First of all, there is the physical difference. He is built for strength; she, not for strength, but altogether for the most delicate and difficult task entrusted to human hands. He is larger, as he needs to be for work; she, smaller, for her task needs the strength of fineness rather than the mere brute strength. His greater strength is a natural guard and protection for her more difficult task. Here are physical likenesses and differences that mutually attract, and that work perfectly together for love's union in life's tasks. It is a bit of the horrid irony of sin's influence that, so largely, the burdens requiring physical strength have been thrust upon woman. Even in Christian lands she is still made largely the household drudge.
Then there is the mental difference; woman is naturally subtler and keener and swifter in her mental processes. Man is slower and bulkier. Though the centuries of slavery have made us slow in discovering, and slower yet in acknowledging this; and, of course, many have not, and won't do either. But the finer physical texture of her brain points to the difference. The difference and likeness here not only attract each other, but taken together make the complete human mentality.
A third difference is in the sphere of action of each. Man is meant for leadership; woman for guidance and inspiration and co-operation in his leadership. All men are not leaders, even in a small way. And woman has often revealed rare leadership, especially in emergencies, when no philosopher's lantern could disclose even a scraggly scrap of a man. But these are exceptions on both sides. The two together make the perfect action of life; he, with his rugged strength, and larger-grained fibre in the lead; she, with her gentle pervasiveness, by his side, a bit in the shadow, making and moulding him, as he in turn makes and moulds the events and actions of life.
Then there is the difference, so difficult of definition, told by the words "masculine" and "feminine." It runs through the other differences, but is something yet more. Practically that word "masculine" means strength, and the word "feminine" means the heart qualities; it might be said, the soft qualities, in the fine, strong meaning of "soft." Fineness as contrasted with strength is the essential meaning of "feminine"; and is revealed in the softness of woman's flesh, the gentle rounding of her smaller face, the finer texture of her body and brain, the subtler processes of her thinking, and the dominant tenderness of her heart. Strength as contrasted with fineness is the essential meaning of "masculine," and is shown in his larger build, his harder muscles, his larger grain, and in both his mental and emotional processes.
These are some of the likenesses and differences that mutually blending and interacting make up the full human being, and that furnish the ideal condition for friendship's sweet, strong life.