Love's Beginning, Object, Definition, Division

Love's Beginning, Object, Definition, Division

"Love's limits are ample and great, and a spacious walk it hath, beset with thorns," and for that cause, which Scaliger reprehends in Cardan, "not lightly to be passed over." Lest I incur the same censure, I will examine all the kinds of love, his nature, beginning, difference, objects, how it is honest or dishonest, a virtue or vice, a natural passion, or a disease, his power and effects, how far it extends: of which, although something has been said in the first partition, in those sections of perturbations ( "for love and hatred are the first and most common passions, from which all the rest arise, and are attendant," as Picolomineus holds, or as Nich. Caussinus, the primum mobile of all other affections, which carry them all about them) I will now more copiously dilate, through all his parts and several branches, that so it may better appear what love is, and how it varies with the objects, how in defect, or (which is most ordinary and common) immoderate, and in excess, causeth melancholy.

Love universally taken, is defined to be a desire, as a word of more ample signification: and though Leon Hebreus, the most copious writer of this subject, in his third dialogue make no difference, yet in his first he distinguisheth them again, and defines love by desire. "Love is a voluntary affection, and desire to enjoy that which is good. Desire wisheth, love enjoys; the end of the one is the beginning of the other; that which we love is present; that which we desire is absent." "It is worth the labour," saith Plotinus, "to consider well of love, whether it be a god or a devil, or passion of the mind, or partly god, partly devil, partly passion." He concludes love to participate of all three, to arise from desire of that which is beautiful and fair, and defines it to be "an action of the mind desiring that which is good." Plato calls it the great devil, for its vehemency, and sovereignty over all other passions, and defines it an appetite, "by which we desire some good to be present." Ficinus in his comment adds the word fair to this definition. Love is a desire of enjoying that which is good and fair. Austin dilates this common definition, and will have love to be a delectation of the heart, "for something which we seek to win, or joy to have, coveting by desire, resting in joy." Scaliger exerc. 301. taxeth these former definitions, and will not have love to be defined by desire or appetite; "for when we enjoy the things we desire, there remains no more appetite:" as he defines it, "Love is an affection by which we are either united to the thing we love, or perpetuate our union;" which agrees in part with Leon Hebreus.

Now this love varies as its object varies, which is always good, amiable, fair, gracious, and pleasant. "All things desire that which is good," as we are taught in the Ethics, or at least that which to them seems to be good; quid enim vis mali (as Austin well infers) dic mihi? puto nihil in omnibus actionibus; thou wilt wish no harm, I suppose, no ill in all thine actions, thoughts or desires, nihil mali vis; thou wilt not have bad corn, bad soil, a naughty tree, but all good; a good servant, a good horse, a good son, a good friend, a good neighbour, a good wife. From this goodness comes beauty; from beauty, grace, and comeliness, which result as so many rays from their good parts, make us to love, and so to covet it: for were it not pleasing and gracious in our eyes, we should not seek. "No man loves" (saith Aristotle 9. mor. cap. 5.) "but he that was first delighted with comeliness and beauty." As this fair object varies, so doth our love; for as Proclus holds, Omne pulchrum amabile, every fair thing is amiable, and what we love is fair and gracious in our eyes, or at least we do so apprehend and still esteem of it. "Amiableness is the object of love, the scope and end is to obtain it, for whose sake we love, and which our mind covets to enjoy." And it seems to us especially fair and good; for good, fair, and unity, cannot be separated. Beauty shines, Plato saith, and by reason of its splendour and shining causeth admiration; and the fairer the object is, the more eagerly it is sought. For as the same Plato defines it, "Beauty is a lively, shining or glittering brightness, resulting from effused good, by ideas, seeds, reasons, shadows, stirring up our minds, that by this good they may be united and made one." Others will have beauty to be the perfection of the whole composition, "caused out of the congruous symmetry, measure, order and manner of parts, and that comeliness which proceeds from this beauty is called grace, and from thence all fair things are gracious." For grace and beauty are so wonderfully annexed, "so sweetly and gently win our souls, and strongly allure, that they confound our judgment and cannot be distinguished. Beauty and grace are like those beams and shinings that come from the glorious and divine sun," which are diverse, as they proceed from the diverse objects, to please and affect our several senses. "As the species of beauty are taken at our eyes, ears, or conceived in our inner soul," as Plato disputes at large in his Dialogue de pulchro, Phædro, Hyppias, and after many sophistical errors confuted, concludes that beauty is a grace in all things, delighting the eyes, ears, and soul itself; so that, as Valesius infers hence, whatsoever pleaseth our ears, eyes, and soul, must needs be beautiful, fair, and delightsome to us. "And nothing can more please our ears than music, or pacify our minds." Fair houses, pictures, orchards, gardens, fields, a fair hawk, a fair horse is most acceptable unto us; whatsoever pleaseth our eyes and ears, we call beautiful and fair; "Pleasure belongeth to the rest of the senses, but grace and beauty to these two alone." As the objects vary and are diverse, so they diversely affect our eyes, ears, and soul itself. Which gives occasion to some to make so many several kinds of love as there be objects. One beauty ariseth from God, of which and divine love S. Dionysius, with many fathers and neoterics, have written just volumes, De amore Dei, as they term it, many parænetical discourses; another from his creatures; there is a beauty of the body, a beauty of the soul, a beauty from virtue, formam martyrum, Austin calls it, quam videmus oculis animi, which we see with the eyes of our mind; which beauty, as Tully saith, if we could discern with these corporeal eyes, admirabili sui amores excitaret, would cause admirable affections, and ravish our souls. This other beauty which ariseth from those extreme parts, and graces which proceed from gestures, speeches, several motions, and proportions of creatures, men and women (especially from women, which made those old poets put the three graces still in Venus' company, as attending on her, and holding up her train) are infinite almost, and vary their names with their objects, as love of money, covetousness, love of beauty, lust, immoderate desire of any pleasure, concupiscence, friendship, love, goodwill, &c. and is either virtue or vice, honest, dishonest, in excess, defect, as shall be showed in his place. Heroical love, religious love, &c. which may be reduced to a twofold division, according to the principal parts which are affected, the brain and liver. Amor et amicitia, which Scaliger exercitat. 301. Valesius and Melancthon warrant out of Plato φιλειν (philein) and εραν (eran) from that speech of Pausanias belike, that makes two Veneres and two loves. "One Venus is ancient without a mother, and descended from heaven, whom we call celestial; the younger, begotten of Jupiter and Dione, whom commonly we call Venus." Ficinus, in his comment upon this place, cap. 8. following Plato, calls these two loves, two devils, or good and bad angels according to us, which are still hovering about our souls. "The one rears to heaven, the other depresseth us to hell; the one good, which stirs us up to the contemplation of that divine beauty for whose sake we perform justice and all godly offices, study philosophy, &c.; the other base, and though bad yet to be respected; for indeed both are good in their own natures: procreation of children is as necessary as that finding out of truth, but therefore called bad, because it is abused, and withdraws our souls from the speculation of that other to viler objects," so far Ficinus. S. Austin, lib. 15. de civ. Dei et sup. Psal. lxiv., hath delivered as much in effect. "Every creature is good, and may be loved well or ill:" and "Two cities make two loves, Jerusalem and Babylon, the love of God the one, the love of the world the other; of these two cities we all are citizens, as by examination of ourselves we may soon find, and of which." The one love is the root of all mischief, the other of all good. So, in his 15. cap. lib. de amor. Ecclesiæ, he will have those four cardinal virtues to be nought else but love rightly composed; in his 15. book de civ. Dei, cap. 22. he calls virtue the order of love, whom Thomas following 1. part. 2. quæst. 55. art. 1. and quæst. 56. 3. quæst. 62. art. 2. confirms as much, and amplifies in many words. Lucian, to the same purpose, hath a division of his own, "One love was born in the sea, which is as various and raging in young men's breasts as the sea itself, and causeth burning lust: the other is that golden chain which was let down from heaven, and with a divine fury ravisheth our souls, made to the image of God, and stirs us up to comprehend the innate and incorruptible beauty to which we were once created." Beroaldus hath expressed all this in an epigram of his:

"Dogmata divini memorant si vera Platonis,
Sunt geminæ Veneres, et geminatus amor.
C?lestis Venus est nullo generata parente,
Quæ casto sanctos nectit amore viros.
Altera sed Venus est totum vulgata per orbem,
Quæ divum mentes alligat, atque hominum;
Improba, seductrix, petulans," &c.

"If divine Plato's tenets they be true,
Two Veneres, two loves there be,
The one from heaven, unbegotten still,
Which knits our souls in unity.
The other famous over all the world,
Binding the hearts of gods and men;
Dishonest, wanton, and seducing she,
Rules whom she will, both where and when."

This twofold division of love, Origen likewise follows, in his Comment on the Canticles, one from God, the other from the devil, as he holds (understanding it in the worse sense) which many others repeat and imitate. Both which (to omit all subdivisions) in excess or defect, as they are abused, or degenerate, cause melancholy in a particular kind, as shall be shown in his place. Austin, in another Tract, makes a threefold division of this love, which we may use well or ill: "God, our neighbour, and the world: God above us, our neighbour next us, the world beneath us. In the course of our desires, God hath three things, the world one, our neighbour two. Our desire to God, is either from God, with God, or to God, and ordinarily so runs. From God, when it receives from him, whence, and for which it should love him: with God, when it contradicts his will in nothing: to God, when it seeks to him, and rests itself in him. Our love to our neighbour may proceed from him, and run with him, not to him: from him, as when we rejoice of his good safety, and well doing: with him, when we desire to have him a fellow and companion of our journey in the way of the Lord: not in him, because there is no aid, hope, or confidence in man. From the world our love comes, when we begin to admire the Creator in his works, and glorify God in his creatures: with the world it should run, if, according to the mutability of all temporalities, it should be dejected in adversity, or over elevated in prosperity: to the world, if it would settle itself in its vain delights and studies." Many such partitions of love I could repeat, and subdivisions, but least (which Scaliger objects to Cardan, Exercitat. 501.) "I confound filthy burning lust with pure and divine love," I will follow that accurate division of Leon Hebreus, dial. 2. betwixt Sophia and Philo, where he speaks of natural, sensible, and rational love, and handleth each apart. Natural love or hatred, is that sympathy or antipathy which is to be seen in animate and inanimate creatures, in the four elements, metals, stones, gravia tendunt deorsum, as a stone to his centre, fire upward, and rivers to the sea. The sun, moon, and stars go still around, Amantes naturæ, debita exercere, for love of perfection. This love is manifest, I say, in inanimate creatures. How comes a loadstone to draw iron to it? jet chaff? the ground to covet showers, but for love? No creature, S. Hierom concludes, is to be found, quod non aliquid amat, no stock, no stone, that hath not some feeling of love, 'Tis more eminent in plants, herbs, and is especially observed in vegetables; as between the vine and elm a great sympathy, between the vine and the cabbage, between the vine and the olive, Virgo fugit Bromium, between the vine and bays a great antipathy, the vine loves not the bay, "nor his smell, and will kill him, if he grow near him;" the bur and the lentil cannot endure one another, the olive and the myrtle embrace each other, in roots and branches if they grow near. Read more of this in Picolomineus grad. 7. cap. 1. Crescentius lib. 5. de agric. Baptista Porta de mag. lib. 1. cap. de plant. odio et element. sym. Fracastorius de sym. et antip. of the love and hatred of planets, consult with every astrologer. Leon Hebreus gives many fabulous reasons, and moraliseth them withal.

Sensible love is that of brute beasts, of which the same Leon Hebreus dial. 2. assigns these causes. First for the pleasure they take in the act of generation, male and female love one another. Secondly, for the preservation of the species, and desire of young brood. Thirdly, for the mutual agreement, as being of the same kind: Sus sui, canis cani, bos bovi, et asinus asino pulcherrimus videtur, as Epicharmus held, and according to that adage of Diogenianus, Adsidet usque graculus apud graculum, they much delight in one another's company, Formicæ grata est formica, cicada cicadæ, and birds of a feather will gather together. Fourthly, for custom, use, and familiarity, as if a dog be trained up with a lion and a bear, contrary to their natures, they will love each other. Hawks, dogs, horses, love their masters and keepers: many stories I could relate in this kind, but see Gillius de hist. anim. lib. 3. cap. 14. those two Epistles of Lipsius, of dogs and horses, Agellius, &c. Fifthly, for bringing up, as if a bitch bring up a kid, a hen ducklings, a hedge-sparrow a cuckoo, &c.

The third kind is Amor cognitionis, as Leon calls it, rational love, Intellectivus amor, and is proper to men, on which I must insist. This appears in God, angels, men. God is love itself, the fountain of love, the disciple of love, as Plato styles him; the servant of peace, the God of love and peace; have peace with all men and God is with you.

--"Quisquis veneratur Olympum,
Ipse sibi mundum subjicit atque Deum."

"By this love" (saith Gerson) "we purchase heaven," and buy the kingdom of God. This love is either in the Trinity itself (for the Holy Ghost is the love of the Father and the Son, &c. John iii. 35, and v. 20, and xiv. 31) , or towards us his creatures, as in making the world. Amor mundum fecit, love built cities, mundi anima, invented arts, sciences, and all good things, incites us to virtue and humanity, combines and quickens; keeps peace on earth, quietness by sea, mirth in the winds and elements, expels all fear, anger, and rusticity; Circulus a bono in bonum, a round circle still from good to good; for love is the beginner and end of all our actions, the efficient and instrumental cause, as our poets in their symbols, impresses, emblems of rings, squares, &c., shadow unto us,

"Si rerum quæris fuerit quis finis et ortus,
Desine; nam causa est unica solus amor."

"If first and last of anything you wit,
Cease; love's the sole and only cause of it."

Love, saith Leo, made the world, and afterwards in redeeming of it, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son for it," John iii. 16. "Behold what love the Father hath showed on us, that we should be called the sons of God," 1 John iii. 1. Or by His sweet Providence, in protecting of it; either all in general, or His saints elect and church in particular, whom He keeps as the apple of His eye, whom He loves freely, as Hosea xiv. 5. speaks, and dearly respects, Charior est ipsis homo quam sibi. Not that we are fair, nor for any merit or grace of ours, for we are most vile and base; but out of His incomparable love and goodness, out of His Divine Nature. And this is that Homer's golden chain, which reacheth down from heaven to earth, by which every creature is annexed, and depends on his Creator. He made all, saith Moses, "and it was good;" He loves it as good.

The love of angels and living souls is mutual amongst themselves, towards us militant in the church, and all such as love God; as the sunbeams irradiate the earth from those celestial thrones, they by their well wishes reflect on us, in salute hominum promovenda alacres, et constantes administri, there is joy in heaven for every sinner that repenteth; they pray for us, are solicitous for our good, Casti genii.

"Ubi regnat charitas, suave desiderium,
Lætitiaque et amor Deo conjunctus."

Love proper to mortal men is the third member of this subdivision, and the subject of my following discourse.


Previous Next