3. But you say, that you therefore believe your friend, whose heart you cannot see, because you have proved him in your trials, and have come to know of what manner of spirit he was towards you in your dangers, wherein he deserted you not. Seemeth it therefore to you that we must wish for our own affliction, that our friend's love towards us may be proved? And shall no man be happy in most sure friends, unless he shall be unhappy through adversity? so that, forsooth, he enjoy not the tried love of the other, unless he be racked by pain and fear of his own? And how in the having of true friends can that happiness be wished for, and not rather feared, which nothing save unhappiness can put to the proof? And yet it is true that a friend may be had also in prosperity, but proved more surely in adversity. But assuredly in order to prove him, neither would you commit yourself to dangers of your own, unless you believed; and thus, when you commit yourself in order to prove, you believe before you prove. For surely, if we ought not to believe things not seen, since indeed we believe the hearts of our friends, and that, not yet surely proved; and, after we shall have proved them good by our own ills, even then we believe rather than see their good will towards us: except that so great is faith, that, not unsuitably, we judge that we see, with certain eyes of it, that which we believe, whereas we ought therefore to believe, because we cannot see.
The text seems corrupt. A ms. in Brasenose Library reads, |si non vis rebus credere.| If we read |Si non vis rebus non visis credere,| the sense will be, |For certainly if you will not have us believe things unseen, we ought not (to believe this), since| etc. c4. If this faith be taken away from human affairs, who but must observe how great disorder in them, and how fearful confusion must follow? For who will be loved by any with mutual affection, (being that the loving itself is invisible,) if what I see not, I ought not to believe? Therefore will the whole of friendship perish, in that it consists not save of mutual love. For what of it will it be able to receive from any, if nothing of it shall be believed to be shown? Further, friendship perishing, there will be preserved in the mind the bonds neither of marriages, nor of kindreds and relations; because in these also there is assuredly a friendly union of sentiment. Spouse therefore will not be able to love spouse in turn, inasmuch as each believes not the other's love, because the love itself cannot be seen. Nor will they long to have sons, who they believe not will make them a return. And if these be born and grow up, much less will the parents themselves love their own children, whose love towards themselves in those children's hearts they will not see, it being invisible; if it be not praiseworthy faith, but blameable rashness, to believe those things which are not seen. Why should I now speak of the other connections, of brothers, sisters, sons-in-law, and fathers-in-law, and of them who are joined together by any kindred or affinity, if love is uncertain, and the will suspected, that of parents by sons, and that of sons by parents, whilst due benevolence is not rendered; because neither is it thought to be due, that which is not seen in another not being thought to exist. Further, if this caution be not a mark of ability, but be hateful, wherein we believe not that we are loved, because we see not the love of them who love, and repay not them, unto whom we think not that we owe a return; to that degree are human affairs thrown into disorder, if what we see not we believe not, as to be altogether and utterly overthrown, if we believe no wills of men, which assuredly we cannot see. I omit to mention in how many things they, who find fault with us because we believe what we see not, believe report or history; or concerning places where they have not themselves been; and say not, we believe not, because we have not seen. Since if they say this, they are obliged to confess that their own parents are not surely known to them: because on this point also they have believed the accounts of others telling of it, who yet are unable to show it, because it is a thing already past; retaining themselves no sense of that time, and yet yielding assent without any doubting to others speaking of that time: and unless this be done, there must of necessity be incurred a faithless impiety towards parents, whilst we are, as it were, showing a rashness of belief in those things which we cannot see. Since therefore, if we believe not those things which we cannot see, human society itself, through concord perishing, will not stand how much more is faith to be applied to divine things, although they be not seen; failing the application of which, it is not the friendship of some men or other, but the very chiefest bond of piety that is violated, so as for the chiefest misery to follow.
|Religio,| (toward parents).