On the Right Way of Loving a Friend, 1667


(allow for some different use of terms)

Love and hate do get along well.

Fire and water stand against each other, yet are united in warmth. Love and hatred are enemies, but get along well in a divine man. I love God, and hate everything that is repugnant about me and others to God. Love itself is hateful. Why does God hate sin? Because it is contrary to His righteousness which He loves. I love you, and yet hate your vices. That, you say, is not loving from the heart. How, you say, can love and hatred be associated? Very easily. I love you, I hate that which is yours. A person and a vice are not at all the same. In separating you and that which is yours, you separate love and hate; when your sin falls, with it my hatred falls.

Few are those who join together love and hate.

Some are without hate, love you and that which is yours, see you sin, keep silent, look through their fingers, are pleased with the evil you do, do not want to offend you. Do you believe that such as these love you? Oh no. How can he love me, who sees me fall into a pit, and will not only leave me alone stuck in there, but even laughs about my misfortune? Love rescues where it can, abundantly and mostly the soul. That which is yours such a one loves, and for the sake of that which is yours he lets you go to hell.

Some are without love, hate you and that which is yours. When you sin, he is full of wrath, judges and damns you, withdraws from you, even likes to see others do the same to you. Do you think that such a one has ever loved you, right? Oh no. Love rebukes his neighbor for his good only, when—even though it was not silent about his sin nor approved of the same—it makes a fine distinction between the person and the vice, and leaves nothing untried which may serve to the improvement of its neighbor.

Augustine says: Don’t love the vices for the sake of the person, nor hate the person because of the vice, but the more you love people, the more you shall hate the vices, which has defiled the nature (and futures) of humans whom you love. I know well that I am not without defects; that is why I want to count him as my best friend, who holds up my infirmities and moves them. I know well that my friends cannot be without infirmity, so I will reprimand them when I see them sin. I want to deal with my fallen friend as the goldsmith with gold, to cleanse but not to discard it; like the doctor with the patient, making effort to heal, but not to abandon; like a father with his child, I will offer them correction, but not to reject, but to look for improvement, and if the same is there, to discard of the rod.

My love shall never be separated from hatred, nor my hatred separated from love. If you love yourself in Jesus, then it will not displease you that I do not love your sins. But if you do not love yourself to the point of desiring Change, how can you love me? Choose as your friend whom you wish. I’m not one of them.

(Heinrich Müller, 1667)


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