This time, I’m offering a series of longer, connected quotes. In this section, Black has finished arguing for the limitations of human friendship. He has lamented these shortcomings, but now turns his attention to the theocentric reason for these built-in limitations to human relationships.
I find this absolutely fascinating. Although, for the record, there is more than one point in here where Black just about blatantly plagiarizes Augustine. But hey, Augustine lived before copyrights existed anyway, so whatever.
So the human heart has ever craved for a relationship, deeper and more lasting than any possible among men, undisturbed by change, unmenaced by death, unbroken by fear, unclouded by doubt. The limitations and losses of earthly friendship are meant to drive us to the higher friendship. … The sickness of heart which is the lot of all, the loneliness which not even the voice of a friend can dispel, the grief which seems to stop the pulse of life itself, find their final meaning in this compulsion toward the divine.
We have some training in the love of friends, as if only to prove to us that without love we cannot live. All our intimacies are but broken lights of the love of God. They are methods of preparation for the great communion. … There have been implanted in man an instinct, and a need, which make him discontented, till he find content in God.
The solitude of life in its ultimate issue is because we were made for a higher companionship. It is just in the innermost sanctuary, shut to every other visitant, that God meets us. We are driven to God by the needs of the heart. If the existence of God was due to a purely intellectual necessity; if we believed in him only because our reason gave warrant for the faith; it would not matter much whether he really is, and whether we really can know him. But when the instincts of our nature, and the necessities of the heart-life demand God, we are forced to believe. In moments of deep feeling, when all pretence is silenced, a man may be still able to question the existence of God, but he does not question his own need of God.