Whether Charity is Friendship
We proceed to the first article thus:
1. It seems that charity is not friendship. As the philosopher says in 8 Ethics 5, nothing is so characteristic of friendship as to live with a friend. But charity in man is toward God and the angels, |whose dwelling is not with flesh| according to Dan.2:11. It follows that charity is not friendship.
2. Again, it is said in 8 Ethics 2 that there is no friendship where there is no return of affection. Now charity is extended even to enemies, according to Matt.5:44: |Love your enemies.| It follows that charity is not friendship.
3. Again, the philosopher says that there are three kinds of friendship, founded on the pleasant, on the useful, and on the good (8 Ethics 3). Now charity is not a friendship founded on the useful, or on the pleasant. As Hieronymus says in his letter to Paulinus, |it is a true friendship, sealed by the bond of Christ, in which men are united not by any commonplace usefulness, nor merely by bodily presence, nor yet by any subtle and soothing flattery, but by the fear of God and the study of the sacred Scriptures.| But neither is it a friendship founded on goodness, since friendship of this kind obtains only between the virtuous, as the philosopher says in 8 Ethics 4, whereas by charity we love even sinners. It follows that charity is not friendship.
On the other hand: it is said in John 15:15: |Henceforth I call you not servants . . . but I have called you friends.| Now this was said to them by reason of charity, and not otherwise. Charity is therefore friendship.
I answer: as the philosopher says in 8 Ethics 2 and 3, it is not every love that has the character of friendship, but only the love which includes benevolence, by which we love someone so as to will some good for him. When we do not will good for the things we love, but seek their good for ourselves, as we do when we love wine, or a horse, or something of the kind, this is not the love of friendship, but a kind of concupiscence. It would indeed be ridiculous to say that one had friendship with wine, or with a horse. But benevolence is not enough for friendship. Friendship requires mutual love, because a friend is the friend of a friend, and such mutual goodwill is founded on communion. Now man has communion with God, since God communicates his beatitude to us, and this communion is bound to be the foundation of a certain friendship. Of this communion I Cor.1:9 says: |God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son.| The love which is founded on this communion is charity. It is apparent, then, that charity is a friendship of man with God.
On the first point: the life of man is twofold. We have no communication or conversation with God or the angels through the outward life, which we live according to our sensible and corporeal nature. But we converse both with God and with the angels through the spiritual life of the mind, even in our present imperfect state. Thus Phil.3:20 says that |our conversation is in heaven,| and Rev.22:3-4 says tnat this conversation will be made perfect in heaven, when |his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face.| Charity is imperfect in this life, but will be made perfect in heaven.
On the second point: there are two ways in which friendship is extended to another. To one's friend only, it is extended to another for his own sake. But it is also extended to another for the sake of a different person. For his friend's sake a man may love all who belong to his friend, whether they be sons or slaves, or connected with him in any way. Love for a friend may indeed be so great that we love those who belong to him even though they should offend us or hate us. It is in this way that the friendship of charity extends even to enemies. The friendship of charity is first of all towards God, and we love them out of charity towards God.
On the third point: only one who is virtuous can be the principal friend to whom friendship based on goodness is extended. But those who belong to him are looked upon with love, even when they are not virtuous. Charity extends in this way to sinners, although it is especially a friendship founded on goodness. Through charity we love sinners for God's sake.