I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.
It is one of the severest tests of friendship to tell your friend his faults. So to love a man that you cannot bear to see a stain upon him, and to speak painful truth through loving words, that is friendship.
Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.
All human affairs follow nature's great analogue, the growth of vegetation. There are three periods of growth in every plant. The first, and slowest, is the invisible growth by the root; the second and much accelerated is the visible growth by the stem; but when root and stem have gathered their forces, there comes the third period, in which the plant quickly flashes into blossom and rushes into fruit.
If a man meets with injustice, it is not required that he shall not be roused to meet it; but if he is angry after he has had time to think upon it, that is sinful. The flame is not wring, but the coals are.
Indeed, unless a man can link his written thoughts with the everlasting wants of men, so that they shall draw more from them as wells, there is no more immortality to the thoughts and feelings of the soul than to the muscles and bones.
The gravest events dawn with no more noise than the morning star makes in rising. All great developments complete themselves in the world and modestly wait in silence, praising themselves never, and announcing themselves not at all. We must be sensitive, and sensible, if we would see the beginnings and endings of great things. That is our part.
Sink the Bible to the bottom of the ocean, and still man's obligations to God would be unchanged. He would have the same path to tread, only his lamp and guide would be gone; the same voyage to make, but his chart and compass would be overboard!
Speak of the appetite for drink; or of a bon-vivant's relish for dinner! What are these mere animal throes and ragings compared with those fantasies of taste, of those yearning of the imagination, of those insatiable appetites of intellect, which bewilder a student in a great bookseller's temptation-hall.
Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.
October is nature's funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming - October than May. Every green thin loves to die in bright colors.
If anyone, then, asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him - it means just what Concord and Lexington meant; what Bunker Hill meant; which was, in short, the rising up of a valiant young people against an old tyranny to establish the most momentous doctrine that the world had ever known - the right of men to their own selves and to their liberties.
If you attempt to beat a man down and to get his goods for less than a fair price, you are attempting to commit burglary, as much as though you broke into his shop to take the things without paying for them.
Caution and conservatism are expected of old age; but when the young men of a nation are possessed of such a spirit, when they are afraid of the noise and strife caused by the applications of the truth, heaven save the land! Its funeral bell has already rung.
The cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man, and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light, mousing for vermin, and never seeing noble game.
It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren, stoney street, to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun.
An oyster, that marvel of delicacy, that concentration of sapid excellence, that mouthful bwefore all other mouthfuls, who first had faith to believe it, and courage to execute? The exterior is not persuasive.
A good digestion is as truly obligatory as a good conscience; pure blood is as truly a part of mankind as a pure faith; and a well ordered skin is the first condition of that cleanliness which is next to Godliness.
The morbid states of health, the irritableness of disposition arising from unstrung nerves, the impatience, the crossness, the fault-finding of men, who, full of morbid influences, are unhappy themselves, and throw the cloud of their troubles like a dark shadow upon others, teach us what eminent duty there is in health.
There are joys which long to be ours. God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away.
Men do not avail themselves of the riches of God's grace. They love to nurse their cares, and seem as uneasy without some fret as an old friar would be without his hair girdle. They are commanded to cast their cares upon the Lord, but even when they attempt it, they do not fail to catch them up again, and think it meritorious to walk burdened.
A dull axe never loves grindstones, but a keen workman does; and he puts his tool on them in order that it may be sharp. And men do not like grinding; but they are dull for the purposes which God designs to work out with them, and therefore He is grinding them.
A cup of coffee - real coffee - home-browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfect!
There is an ugly kind of forgiveness in this world,--a kind of hedgehog forgiveness, shot out like quills. Men take one who has offended, and set him down before the blowpipe of their indignation, and scorch him, and burn his fault into him; and when they have kneaded him sufficiently with their fiery fists, then--they forgive him.
Our yearnings are homesicknesses for heaven; our sighings are for God, just as children that cry themselves asleep away from home, and sob in their slumber, know not that they sob for their parents. The soul's inarticulate moanings are the affections yearning for the Infinite, and having no one to tell them what it is that ails them.
Our days are a kaleidoscope. Every instant a change takes place in the contents. New harmonies, new contrasts, new combinations of every sort. Nothing ever happens twice alike. The most familiar people stand each moment in some new relation to each other, to their work, to surrounding objects. The most tranquil house, with the most serene inhabitants, living upon the utmost regularity of system, is yet exemplifying infinite diversities.
As flowers carry dewdrops, trembling on the edges of the petals, and ready to fall at the first waft of wind or brush of bird, so the heart should carry its beaded words of thanksgiving; and at the first breath of heavenly flavor, let down the shower, perfumed with the heart's gratitude.
Like the cellar-growing vine is the Christian who lives in the darkness and bondage of fear. But let him go forth, with the liberty of God, into the light of love, and he will be like the plant in the field, healthy, robust, and joyful.
Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. We should live for the future, and yet should find our life in the fidelities of the present; the last is only the method of the first.
It is not what we read, but what we remember, that makes us learned. It is not what we intend, but what we do that makes us useful. It is not a few faint wishes, but a life long struggle, that makes us valiant.
When a man's pride is subdued it's like the sides of Mount Aetna. It was terrible during the eruption, but when that is over and the lava is turned into soil, there are vineyards and olive trees which grow up to the top.
Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others are plain, honest and upright, like the broad faced sunflower and the hollyhock.
The continuance and frequent fits of anger produce in the soul a propensity to be angry; which oftentimes ends in choler, bitterness, and moronity, when the mid becomes ulcerated, peevish, and querulous, and is wounded by the least occurrence.
If a boy is not trained to endure and to bear trouble, he will grow up a girl; and a boy that is a girl has all a girl's weakness without any of her regal qualities. A woman made out of a woman is God's noblest work; a woman made out of a man is His meanest.
A thoughtful mind, when it sees a Nation's flag, sees not the flag only, but the Nation itself; and whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the Government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the Nation that sets it forth.
Our flag means all that our fathers meant in the Revolutionary War. It means all that the Declaration of Independence meant. It means justice. It means liberty. It means happiness.... Every color means liberty. Every thread means liberty. Every star and stripe means liberty.
Some of God's noblest sons, I think, will be selected from those that know how to take wealth, with all its temptations, and maintain godliness therewith. It is hard to be a saint standing in a golden niche.
This world is not a platform where you will hear Thalberg-piano-playing. It is a piano manufactory, where are dust and shavings and boards, and saws and files and rasps and sandpapers. The perfect instrument and the music will be hereafter.
We know much of a writer by his style. An open and imperious disposition is shown in short sentences, direct and energetic. A secretive and proud mind is cold and obscure in style. An affectionate and imaginative nature pours out luxuriantly, and blossoms all over with ornament.
I used to think the Lord's Prayer was a short prayer; but as I live longer, and see more of life, I begin to believe there is no such thing as getting through it. If a man, in praying that prayer, were to be stopped by every word until he had thoroughly prayed it, it would take him a lifetime.
Do not be troubled because you have not great virtues. God made a million spears of grass where He made one tree. The earth is fringed and carpeted, not with forests, but with grasses. Only have enough of little virtues and common fidelities, and you need not mourn because you are neither a hero or a saint.
The clearest window that ever was fashioned if it is barred by spiders' webs, and hung over with carcasses of insects, so that the sunlight has forgotten to find its way through, of what use can it be? Now, the Church is God's window; and if it is so obscured by errors that its light is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Our children that die young are like those spring bulbs which have their flowers prepared beforehand, and leave nothing to do but to break ground, and blossom, and pass away. Thank God for spring flowers among men, as well as among the grasses of the field.
What if the leaves were to fall a-weeping, and say, "It will be so painful for us to be pulled from our stalks, when autumn comes?" Foolish fear! Summer goes, and autumn succeeds. The glory of death is upon the leaves; and the gentlest breeze that blows takes them softly and silently from the bough, and they float slowly down, like fiery sparks, upon the moss.
If any man is rich and powerful he comes under the law of God by which the higher branches must take the burnings of the sun, and shade those that are lower; by which the tall trees must protect the weak plants beneath them.
Earthly love is a brief and penurious stream, which only flows in spring, with a long summer drought. The change from a burning desert, treeless, springless, drear, to green fields and blooming orchards in June, is slight in comparison with that from the desert of this world's affection to the garden of God, where there is perpetual, tropical luxuriance of blessed love.
Heaven answers with us the same purpose that the tuning-fork does with musicians. Our affections, the whole orchestra of them, are apt to get below the concert-pitch; and we take heaven to tune our hearts by.
As long as society is absolutely divided as milk is, the cream being at the top and the impoverished milk at the bottom, so long will society be unbalanced, and liable to be thrown into convulsions out of which will spring wars. A circulation throughout keeps it in health.
Are they dead that yet speak louder than we can speak, and a more universal language? Are they dead that yet act? Are they dead that yet move upon society and inspire the people with nobler motives and more heroic patriotism?
A lie is a very short wick in a very small lamp. The oil of reputation is very soon sucked up and gone. And just as soon as a man is known to lie, he is like a two-foot pump in a hundred-foot well. He cannot touch bottom at all.
A love of flowers would beget early rising, industry, habits of close observation, and of reading. It would incline the mind to notice natural phenomena, and to reason upon them. It would occupy the mind with pure thoughts, and inspire a sweet and gentle enthusiasm; maintain simplicity of taste; and ... unfold in the heart an enlarged, unstraightened, ardent piety.
A man is a fool who sits looking backward from himself in the past. Ah, what shallow, vain conceit there is in man! Forget the things that are behind. That is not where you live. Your roots are not there. They are in the present; and you should reach up into the other life.
A week filled up with selfishness, and the Sabbath stuffed full of religious exercises, will make a good Pharisee, but a poor Christian. There are many persons who think Sunday is a sponge with which to wipe out the sins of the week. Now, God's altar stands from Sunday to Sunday, and the seventh day is no more for religion than any other. It is for rest. The whole seven are for religion, and one of them for rest.
Affliction comes to the believer not to make him sad, but sober; not to make him sorry, but wise. Even as the plow enriches the field so that the seed is multiplied a thousandfold, so affliction should magnify our joy and increase our spiritual harvest.
Affliction comes to us all, not to make us sad, but sober; not to make us sorry, but to make us wise; not to make us despondent, but by its darkness to refresh us as the night refreshes the day; not to impoverish, but to enrich us
All higher motives, ideals, conceptions, sentiments in a man are of no account if they do not come forward to strengthen him for the better discharge of the duties which devolve upon him in the ordinary affairs of life.
All things in the natural world symboliZe God, yet none of them speak of him but in broken and imperfect words. High above all he sits, sublimer than mountains, grander than storms, sweeter than blossoms and tender fruits, nobler than lords, truer than parents, more loving than lovers. His feet tread the lowest places of the earth; but his head is above all glory, and everywhere he is supreme.
Amid the discords of this life, it is blessed to think of heaven, where God draws after him an everlasting train of music; for all thoughts are harmonious and all feelings vocal, and so there is round about his feet eternal melody.
An ambition which has conscience in it will always be a laborious and faithful engineer, and will build the road, and bridge the chasms between itself and eminent success by the most faithful and minute performances of duty.
Any law that takes hold of a mans daily life cannot prevail in a community, unless the vast majority of the community are actively in favor of it. The laws that are the most operative are the laws which protect life.
Any man can work when every stroke of his hands brings down the fruit rattling from the tree ... but to labor in season and out of season, under every discouragement... that requires a heroism which is transcendent.
As plants take hold, not for the sake of staying, but only that they may climb higher, so it is with men. By every part of our nature we clasp things above us, one after another, not for the sake of remaining where we take hold, but that we may go higher.
As ships meet at sea a moment together, when words of greeting must be spoken, and then away upon the deep, so men meet in this world; and I think we should cross no man's path without hailing him, and if he needs giving him supplies.
As the cream abandons the milk from which it took its life, and rises to the top and rides there, so men, because they are richer than those around about them, separate themselves, and all mankind below them they regard as skim milk.
As the imagination is set to look into the invisible and immaterial, it seems to attract something of their vitality; and though it can give nothing to the body to redeem it from years, it can give to the soul that freshness of youth in old age which is even more beautiful than youth in the young.
Astronomers have built telescopes which can show myriads of stars unseen before; but when a man looks through a tear in his own eye, that is a lens which opens reaches into the unknown, and reveals orbs which no telescope, however skilfully constructed, could do.
Badgered, snubbed and scolded on the one hand; petted, flattered and indulged on the other-it is astonishing how many children work their way up to an honest manhood in spite of parents and friends. Human nature has an element of great toughness in it.
Before men we stand as opaque bee-hives. They can see the thoughts go in and out of us; but what work they do inside of a man they cannot tell. Before God we are as glass bee-hives, and all that our thoughts are doing within us he perfectly sees and understands.
Boys have their soft and gentle moods too. You would suppose by the morning racket that nothing could be more foreign to their nature than romance and vague sadness. . . . But boys have hours of great sinking and sadness, when kindness and fondness are peculiarly needful to them.
Brethren, we are all sailing home; and by and by, when we are not thinking of it, some shadowy thing (men call it death), at midnight, will pass by, and will call us by name, and will say, "I have a message for you from home; God wants you; heaven waits for you.
Business men are to be pitied who do not recognize the fact that the largest side of their secular business is benevolence. ... No man ever manages a legitimate business in this life without doing indirectly far more for other men than he is trying to do for himself.
But there have been human hearts, constituted just like ours, for six thousand years. The same stars rise and set upon this globe that rose upon the plains of Shinar or along the Egyptian Nile and the same sorrows rise and set in every age.
Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven. By these tendrils we clasp it and climb thitherward. And why do we think that we are separated from them? We never half knew them, nor in this world could.
Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it. and the love of knowledge, in a young mind, is almost a warrant against the inferior excitement of passions and vices.
Christianity works while infidelity talks. She feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, visits and cheers the sick, and seeks the lost, while infidelity abuses her and babbles nonsense and profanity. 'By their fruits ye shall know them.'
Do not be afraid because the, community teems with excitement. Silence and death are dreadful. The rush of life, the vigor of earnest men, the conflict of realities, invigorate, cleanse, and establish the truth.
Education is the knowledge of how to use the whole of oneself. Many men use but one or two faculties out of the score with which they are endowed. A man is educated who knows how to make a tool of every faculty, how to open it, how to keep it sharp, and how to apply it to all practical purposes.
Every city should make the common school so rich, so large, so ample, so beautiful in its endowments, and so fruitful in its results, that a private school will not be able to live under the drip of it.
Every green thing loves to die in bright colors. The vegetable cohorts march glowing out of the year in flaming dresses, as if to leave this earth were a triumph and not a sadness. It is never nature that is sad, but only we, that dare not look back on the past, and that have not its prophecy of the future in our bosoms.
Every man should use his intellect, not as he uses his lamp in the study, only for his own seeing, but as the lighthouse uses its lamps, that those afar off on the seas may see the shining, and learn their way.
For fidelity, devotion, love, many a two-legged animal is below the dog and the horse. Happy would it be for thousands of people if they could stand at last before the Judgment Seat and say, I have loved as truly and have lived as decently as my dog, and yet we call them only brutes.
Go on your knees before God. Bring all your idols; bring self-will, and pride, and every evil lust before Him, and give them up. Devote yourself, heart and soul, to His will; and see if you do not "know of the doctrine.
God does not refuse to make himself known to man. He only will not do it by the symbolism of matter. He comes to us at once by the most natural course. We are in a transient state; our bodies are accidental, and God comes to us by that which is higher and truer--the intuitions of the soul.
God has intended the great to be great and the little to be little ... The trade unions, under the European system, destroy liberty ... I do not mean to say that a dollar a day is enough to support a workingman ... not enough to support a man and five children if he insists on smoking and drinking beer. But the man who cannot live on bread and water is not fit to live! A family may live on good bread and water in the morning, water and bread at midday, and good bread and water at night!
God planted fear in the soul as truly as he planted hope and courage. It is a kind of bell or gong, which rings the mind into quick life and avoidance on the approach of danger. It is the soul's signal for rallying.
God washes the eyes by tears until they can behold the invisible land where tears shall come no more. O love! O affliction! ye are the guides that show us the way through the great airy space where our loved ones walked; and, as hounds easily follow the scent before the dew be risen, so God teaches us, while yet our sorrow is wet, to follow on and find our dear ones in heaven.
Happy is the man who has that in his soul which acts upon the dejected as April airs upon violet roots. Gifts from the hand are silver and gold, but the heart gives that which neither silver nor gold can buy. To be full of goodness, full of cheerfulness, full of sympathy, full of helpful hope, causes a man to carry blessings of which he is himself as unconscious as a lamp is of its own shining. Such a one moves on human life as stars move on dark seas to bewildered mariners; as the sun wheels, bringing all the seasons with him from the south.
I have great hope of a wicked man, slender hope of a mean one. A wicked man may be converted and become a prominent saint. A mean man ought to be converted six or seven times, one right after the other, to give him a fair start and put him on an equality with a bold, wicked man.
I have known men who thought the object of conversion was to cleanse them as a garment is cleansed, and that when they are converted they were to be hung up in the Lord's wardrobe, the door of which was to be shut, so that no dust could get at them. A coat that is not used the moths eat; and a Christian who is hung up so that he shall not be tempted, the moths eat him; and they have poor food at that.
I know it is more agreeable to walk upon carpets than to lie upon dungeon floors, I know it is pleasant to have all the comforts and luxuries of civilization; but he who cares only for these things is worth no more than a butterfly, contented and thoughtless, upon a morning flower; and who ever thought of rearing a tombstone to a last summer's butterfly?
I read for three things; first, to know what the world has done the last twenty-four hours, and is about to do today; second, for the knowledge that I specially want in my work; and third, for what will bring my mind into a proper mood.
I received a letter from a lad asking me for an easy berth. To this I replied: You cannot be an editor; do not try the law; do not think of the ministry; let alone all ships and merchandise; abhor politics; don't practice medicine; be not a farmer or a soldier or a sailor; don't study, don't think. None of these are easy. O, my son, you have come into a hard world. I know of only one easy place in it, and that is the grave!
I think half the troubles for which men go slouching in prayer to God are caused by their intolerable pride. Many of our cares are but a morbid way of looking at our privileges. We let our blessings get mouldy, and then call them curses.
I would much rather fight pride than vanity, because pride has a stand-up way of fighting. You know where it is. It throws its black shadow on you, and you are not at a loss where to strike. But vanity is that delusive, that insectiferous, that multiplied feeling, and men that fight vanities are like men that fight midges and butterflies. It is easier to chase them than to hit them.
I would rather speak the truth to ten men than blandishments and lying to a million. Try it, ye who think there is nothing in it! Try what it is to speak with God behind you, to speak so as to be only the arrow in the bow which the Almighty draws.
If God but cares for our inward and eternal life, if by all the experiences of this life He is reducing it and preparing for its disclosure, nothing can befall us but prosperity. Every sorrow shall be but the setting of some luminous jewel of joy. Our very morning shall be but the enamel around the diamond; our very hardships but the metallic rim that holds the opal, glancing with strange interior fires.
If one asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him: It means all that the Constitution of our people, organizing for justice, for liberty, and for happiness, meant. Our flag carries American ideas, American history and American feelings. This American flag was the safeguard of liberty. It was an ordinance of liberty by the people, for the people. That it meant, that it means, and, by the blessing of God, that it shall mean to the end of time!
If one should give me a dish of sand, and tell me there were particles of iron in it, I might look for them with my eyes, and search for them with my clumsy fingers, and be unable to detect them; but let me take a magnet and sweep through it, and how would it draw to itself the almost invisible particles by the mere power of attraction. The unthankful heart, like my finger in the sand, discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day, and as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some Heavenly blessings...
In regard to the great mass of men, anything that breaks the realm of fear is not salutary, but dangerous; because it takes off one of the hoops that hold the barrel together in which the evil spirits are confined.
It is a view of God that compensates every thing else, and enables the soul to rest in His bosom. How, when the child in the night screams with terror, hearing sounds that it knows not of, is that child comforted and put to rest? Is it by a philosophical explanation that the sounds were made by the rats in the partition? Is it by imparting entomological knowledge? No; it is by the mother taking the child in her lap, and singing sweetly to it, and rocking it. And the child thinks nothing of the explanation, but only of the mother.
It is defeat that turns bone to flint; it is defeat that turns gristle to muscle; it is defeat that makes men invincible. Do not then be afraid of defeat. You are never so near to victory as when defeated in a good cause.
It is not desirable that we should live as in the constant atmosphere and presence of death; that would unfit us for life; but it is well for us, now and then, to talk with death as friend talketh with friend, and to bathe in the strange seas, and to anticipate the experiences of that land to which it will lead us. These forethinkings are meant, not to make us discontented with life, but to bring us back with more strength, and a nobler purpose in living.
It is not work that kills men; it is worry. Work is healthy; you can hard put more upon a man than he can bear. Worry is rust upon the blade. It is not the revolution that destroys the machinery, but the friction.
It is often said it is no matter what a man believes if he is only sincere. This is true of all minor truths, and false of all truths whose nature it is to fashion a man's life. It will make no difference in a man's harvest whether he thinks turnips have more saccharine matter than potatoes--whether corn is better than wheat. But let the man sincerely believe that seed planted without ploughing is as good as with, that January is as favorable for seed sowing as April, and that cockle seed will produce as good a harvest as wheat, and will it make no difference?
It is sometimes of God's mercy that men in the eager pursuit of worldly aggrandizement are baffled; for they are very like a train going down an inclined plane - putting on the brake is not pleasant, but it keeps the car on the track and from ruin.
It is the color which love wears, and cheerfulness, and joy--these three. It is the light in the window of the face by which the heart signifies to father, husband, or friend that it is at home and waiting.
It is the end of art to inoculate men with the love of nature. But those who have a psssion for nature in the natural way, need no pictures nor gallereies. Spring is their designer, and the whole year their artist.
It is the triumph of civilization that at last communities have obtained such a mastery over natural laws that they drive and control them. The winds, the water, electricity, all aliens that in their wild form were dangerous, are now controlled by human will, and are made useful servants.
It is the very wantonness of folly for a man to search out the frets and burdens of his calling and give his mind every day to a consideration of them. They belong to human life. They are inevitable. Brooding only gives them strength.
It is trial that proves one thing weak and another strong. A house built on the sand is in fair weather just as good as if builded on a rock. A cobweb is as good as the mightiest cable when there is no strain upon it.
It was the German schoolhouse which destroyed Napoleon III. France, since then, is making monster cannon and drilling soldiers still, but she is also building schoolhouses. As long as war is possible, anything that makes better soldiers people want.
Love is not a possession but a growth. The heart is a lamp with just oil enough to burn for an hour, and if there be no oil to put in again its light will go out. God's grace is the oil that fills the lamp of love.
Love is the river of life in this world. Think not that ye know it who stand at the little tinkling rill, the first small fountain. Not until you have gone through the rocky gorges, and not lost the stream; not until you nave gone through the meadow, and the stream has widened and deepened until fleets could ride on its bosom; not until beyond the meadow you have come to the unfathomable ocean, and poured your treasures into its depths--not until then can you know what love is.
Loving is like music. Some instruments can go up two octaves, some four, and some all the way from black thunder to sharp lightning. As some of them are susceptible only of melody, so some hearts can sing but one song of love, while others will fun in a full choral harmony.
Many men are mere warehouses full of merchandise--the head, the heart, are stuffed with goods. . . . There are apartments in their souls which were once tenanted by taste, and love, and joy, and worship, but they are all deserted now, and the rooms are filled with earthy and material things.
Many men want wealth,--not a competence alone, but a live-story competence. Everything subserves this; and religion they would like as a sort of lightning-rod to their houses, to ward off by and by the bolts of Divine wrath.
Many will say, "I can find God without the help of the Bible, or church, or minister." Very well. Do so if you can. The Ferry Company would feel no jealousy of a man who should prefer to swim to New York. Let him do so if he is able, and we will talk about it on the other shore; but probably trying to swim would be the thing that would bring him quickest to the boat. So God would have no jealousy of a man's going to heaven without the aid of the Bible, or church, or minister; but let him try to do so, and it will be the surest way to bring him back to them for assistance.
May we feel after Thee; still calling out in the darkness, as children waking in the night call "Father," so may we call out for God; and, at times, even if we do not hear Thy voice, may there be the form of a hand resting upon us, and that shall be enough; for we shall take hold of it, though it be in the dark, and it shall guide us to the growing light; for the day shall come, and the release and triumph.
Men strengthen each other in their faults. Those who are alike associate together, repeat the things which all believe, defend and stimulate their common faults of disposition, and each one receives from the others a reflection of his own egotism.
Men think God is destroying them because he is tuning them. The violinist screws up the key till the tense cord sounds the concert pitch; but it is not to break it, but to use it tunefully, that he stretches the string upon the musical rack.
Men will imitate and admire his unmoved firmness, his inflexible conscience for the right; and yet his gentleness, as tender as a woman's, his moderation of spirit, which not all the heat of party could inflame, nor all the jars and disturbances of this country shake out of its place: I swear you to an emulation of his justice, his moderation, and his mercy.
Miracles are like candles lit up until the sun rises, and then blown out. Therefore, I am amused when I hear sects and churches talk about having evidence of Divine authority because they have miracles. Miracles in our time are like candles in the street at midday. We do not want miracles. They are to teach men how to find out truths themselves; and after they have learned this, they no more need them than a well man needs a staff, or a grown-up child needs a walking-stool.
Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. Grim care, moroseness, anxiety,--all this rust of life, ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth. It is better than emery. Every man ought to rub himself with it. A man without mirth is like a wagon without springs, in which one is caused disagreeably to jolt by every pebble over which it runs.
Mirthfulness is in the mind, and you cannot get it out. It is the blessed spirit that God has set in the mind to dust it, to enliven its dark places, and to drive asceticism, like a foul fiend, out at the back door. It is just as good, in its place, as conscience or veneration. Praying can no more be made a substitute for smiling than smiling can for praying.
No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy the sunlight today, mix good cheer with friends today, enjoy it and bless God for it. Do not look back on happiness -- or dream of it in the future. You are only sure of today; do not let yourself be cheated out of it.
Not thine the sorrow, but ours, sainted soul! Thou hast indeed entered into the promised land, while we are yet on the march. To us remain the rocking of the deep, the storm upon the land, days of duty and nights of watching; but thou are sphered high above all darkness and fear, beyond all sorrow and weariness. Rest, oh, weary heart!
Now, men think, with regard to their conduct, that, if they were to lift themselves up gigantically and commit some crashing sin, they should never be able to hold up their heads; but they will harbor in their souls little sins, which are piercing and eating them away to inevitable ruin.
O Lord God, we pray that we may be inspired to nobleness of life in the least things. May we dignify all our daily life. May we set such a sacredness upon every part of our life, that nothing shall be trivial, nothing unimportant, and nothing dull, in the daily round.
O never harm the dreaming world, the world of green, the world of leaves, but let its million palms unfold the adoration of the trees Of all man's works of art, a cathedral is greatest. A vast and majestic tree is greater than that.
Oftentimes great and open temptations are the most harmless because they come with banners flying and bands playing and all the munitions of war in full view, so that we know we are in the midst of enemies that mean us damage, and we get ready to meet and resist them. Our peculiar dangers are those that surprise us and work treachery in our fort.
Oh, ye infidel philosophers, teach me how to find joy in sorrow, strength in weakness, and light in darkest days; how to bear buffeting and scorn; how to welcome death, and to pass through it into the sphere of life, and this not for me only, but for the whole world that groans and travails in pain; and till you can do this, speak not to me of a better revelation than the Bible.
Ordinarily rivers run small at the beginning, grow broader and broader as they proceed, and become widest and deepest at the point, where they enter the sea. It is such rivers that the Christian's life is like. But the life of the mere worldly man is like those rivers in Southern Africa, which, proceeding from mountain freshets, are broad and deep at the beginning, and grow narrower and more shallow as they advance. They waster themselves by soaking into the sands, and at last they die out entirely. The farther they run the less there is of them.
Prayer covers the whole of man's life. There is no thought, feeling, yearning, or desire, however low, trifling, or vulgar we may deem it, which if it affects our real interest or happiness, we may not lay before God and be sure of sympathy.
Prayer is often an argument of laziness: "Lord, my temper gives me a vast deal of inconvenience, and it would be a great task for me to correct it; and wilt thou be pleased to correct it for me, that I may get along easier?" If prayer was answered under such circumstances, independent of action of natural laws, it would be paying a premium on indolence.
So we fall asleep in Jesus. We have played long enough at the games of life, and at last we feel the approach of death. We are tired out, and we lay our heads back on the bosom of Christ, and quietly fall asleep.
Socially we are woven into the fabric of society, where every man is like one thread in a piece of cloth. No single thread has a right to say, "I will stay here no longer," and draw out. No man has a right to make a hole in the well-woven fabric of society.
Some men will not shave on Sunday, and yet they spend all the week in shaving their fellow-men; and many folks think it very wicked to black their boots on Sunday morning, yet they do not hesitate to black their neighbor's reputation on week-days.
Some people think black is the color of heaven, and that the more they can make their faces look like midnight, the more evidence they have of grace. But God, who made the sun and the flowers, never sent me to proclaim to you such a lie as that.
The aster has not wasted spring and summer because it has not blossomed. It has been all the time preparing for what is to follow, and in autumn it is the glory of the field, and only the frost lays it low. So there are many people who must live forty or fifty years, and have the crude sap of their natural dispositions changed and sweetened before the blossoming time can come; but their lives have not been wasted.
The beginnings of moral enterprises in this world are never to be measured by any apparent growth. ... At length comes the sudden ripeness and the full success, and he who is called in at the final moment deems this success his own. He is but the reaper and not the labourer. Other men sowed and tilled and he but enters into their labours.
The best stock a man can invest in, is the stock of a farm; the best shares are plow shares; and the best banks are the fertile banks of a rural stream; the more these are broken the better dividends they pay.
The common schools are the stomachs of the country in which all people that come to us are assimilated within a generation. When a lion eats an ox, the lion does not become an ox but the ox becomes a lion.
The conditions of city life may be made healthy, so far as the physical constitution is concerned; but there is connected with the business of the city so much competition, so much rivalry, so much necessity for industry, that I think it is a perpetual, chronic, wholesale violation of natural law. There are ten men that can succeed in the country, where there is one that can succeed in the city.
The deeper men go into life, the deeper is their conviction that this life is not all. It is an unfinished symphony. A day may round out an insect's life, and a bird or a beast needs no tomorrow. Not so with him who knows that he is related to God and has felt the power of an endless life.
The first merit of pictures is the effect they produce on the mind; and the first step of a sensible man should be to receive involuntary impressions from them. Pleasure and inspiration first; analysis, afterward.
The great men of earth are the shadow men, who, having lived and died, now live again and forever through their undying thoughts. Thus living, though their footfalls are heard no more, their voices are louder than the thunder, and unceasing as the flow of tides or air.
The little troubles and worries of life may be as stumbling blocks in our way, or we may make them stepping-stones to a nobler character and to Heaven. Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.
The man who perceives life only with his eye, his ear, his hand, and his tongue, is but little higher than the ox or an intelligent dog; but he who has imagination sees things around and above him, as the angels see them.
The methods by which men have met and conquered trouble, or been slain by it, are the same in every age. Some have floated on the sea, and trouble carried them on its surface as the sea carries cork. Some have sunk at once to the bottom as foundering ships sink. Some have run away from their own thoughts. Some have coiled themselves up into a stoical indifference. Some have braved the trouble, and defied it. Some have carried it as a tree does a wound, until by new wood it can overgrow and cover the old gash.
The natural term of an apple-pie is but twelve hours. It reaches its highest state about one hour after it comes from the oven, and just before its natural heat has quite departed. But every hour afterward is a declension. And after it is one day old, it is thence-forward but the ghastly corpse of apple-pie.
The pie should be eaten "while it is yet florescent, white or creamy yellow, with the merest drip of candied juice along the edges, (as if the flavor were so good to itself that its own lips watered!) of a mild and modest warmth, the sugar suggesting jelly, yet not jellied, the morsels of apple neither dissolved nor yet in original substance, but hanging as it were in a trance between the spirit and the flesh of applehood...then, O blessed man, favored by all the divinities! eat, give thanks, and go forth, 'in apple-pie order!'"
The slave labors, but with no cheer-it is not the road to respectability, it will honor him with no citizens' trust, it brings no bread to his family, no grain to his garner, no leisure in after-days, no books or papers to his children. It opens no school-house door, builds no church, rears for him no factory, lays no keel, fills no bank, earns no acres. With sweat and toil and ignorance he consumes his life, to pour the earnings into channels from which he does no drink, into hands that never honor him. But perpetually rob and often torment.
The sun does not shine for a few trees, and flowers, but for the wide world's joy. The lonely pine on the mountain-top waves its sombre boughs and cries, 'Thou art my sun.' And the little meadow violet lifts its cup of blue, and whispers with its perfumed breath, 'Thou art my sun.' And the grain in a thousand fields rustles in the wind, and makes answer, 'Thou art my sun.' So God sits effulgent in heaven, not for a favored few, but for the universe of life; and there is no creature so poor or so low that he may not look up with childish confidence and say, 'My Father, Thou art mine.
Theology is but a science of applied to God. As schools change theology must necessarily change. Truth is everlasting, but our ideas of truth are not. Theology is but our ideas of truth classified and arranged.
There are apartments in the soul which have a glorious outlook; from whose windows you can see across the river of death, and into the shining city beyond; but how often are these neglected for the lower ones, which have earthward-looking windows.
There are many persons of combative tendencies, who read for ammunition, and dig out of the Bible iron for balls. They read, and they find nitre and charcoal and sulphur for powder. They read, and they find cannon. They read, and they make portholes and embrasures. And if a man does not believe as they do, they look upon him as an enemy, and let fly the Bible at him to demolish him. So men turn the word of God into a vast arsenal, filled with all manner of weapons, offensive and defensive.
There are many trials in life which do not seem to come from unwisdom or folly; they are silver arrows shot from the bow of God, and fixed inextricably in the quivering heart - they are meant to be borne - they were not meant, like snow or water, to melt as soon as they strike; but the moment an ill can be patiently borne it is disarmed of its poison, though not of its pain.
There are not anywhere else so many ways of trickery, so many false lights, so many veils, so many guises, so many illusive deceits, as are practiced in every man's conscience in respect to his motives, thoughts, feelings, conduct, and character.
There can be no barrenness in full summer. The very sand will yield something. Rocks will have mosses, and every rift will have its wind-flower, and every crevice a leaf; while from the fertile soil will be reared a gorgeous troop of growths, that will carry their life in ten thousand forms, but all with praise to God. And so it is when the soul knows its summer. Love redeems its weakness, clothes its barrenness, enriches its poverty, and makes its very desert to bud and blossom as the rose.
There have been many men who left behind them that which hundreds of years have not worn out. The earth has Socrates and Plato to this day. The world is richer yet by Moses and the old prophets than by the wisest statesmen. We are indebted to the past. We stand in the greatness of ages that are gone rather than in that of our own. But of how many of us shall it be said that, being dead, we yet speak?
There is a dew in one flower and not in another, because one opens in cup and takes it in, while the other closes itself, and the drops run off. God rains His goodness and mercy as widespread as the dew, and if we lack them, it is because we will not open our hearts to receive them.
There is a great deal more correctness of thought respecting manhood in bodily things than in moral things. For men's ideas of manhood shape themselves as the tower and spire of cathedrals do, that stand broad at the bottom, but grow tapering as they rise, and end, far up, in the finest lines, and in an evanishing point. Where they touch the ground they are most, and where they reach to the heaven they are least.
There is in youth a purity of character which, when once touched and defiled, can never be restored; a fringe more delicate than frost-work, and which, when torn and broken, can never be re-embroidered.
There is no greater crime than to stand between a man and his development; to take any law or institution and put it around him like a collar, and fasten it there, so that as he grows and enlarges, he presses against it till he suffocates and dies.
There is no liberty to men whose passions are stronger than their religious feelings; there is no liberty to men in whom ignorance predominates over knowledge; there is no liberty to men who know not how to govern themselves.
There is no such thing as preaching patience into people, unless the sermon is so long that they have to practice it while they hear. No man can learn patience except by going out into the hurlyburly world, and taking life just as it blows. Patience is but lying to, and riding out the gale.
There ought to be such an atmosphere in every Christian church that a man going there and sitting two hours should take the contagion of heaven, and carry home a fire to kindle the altar whence he came.
Thinking cannot be clear until it has had expression-we must write, or speak, or act our thoughts, or they will remain in half torpid form. Our feelings must have expression, or they will be as clouds, which, till they descend in rain, will never bring up fruit or flowers. So it is with all the inward feelings; expression gives them development-thought is the blossom; language is the opening bud; action the fruit behind it.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." I found the following quote by Goethe that can serve as a commentary on these words. "We are shaped and fashioned by what we love." "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
Thou, Everlasting Strength, hast set Thyself forth to bear our burdens. May we bear Thy cross, and bearing that; find there is nothing else to bear; and touching that cross, find that instead of taking away our strength, it adds thereto. Give us faith for darkness, for trouble, for sorrow, for bereavement, for disappointment; give us a faith that will abide though the earth itself should pass away--a faith for living, a faith for dying.
To the great tree-loving fraternity we belong. We love trees with universal and unfeigned love, and all things that do grow under them or around them - the whole leaf and root tribe. Not alone when they are in their glory, but in whatever state they are - in leaf, or rimed with frost, or powdered with snow, or crystal-sheathed in ice, or in severe outline stripped and bare against a November sky - we love them.
True politeness is the spirit of benevolence showing itself in a refined way. It is the expression of good-will and kindness. It promotes both beauty in the man who possesses it, and happiness in those who are about him. It is a religious duty, and should be a part of religious training.
Very few men acquire wealth in such a manner as to receive pleasure from it. Just as long as there is the enthusiasm of the chase they enjoy it; but when they begin to look around, and think of settling down, they find that that part by which joy enters is dead in them. They have spent their lives in heaping up colossal piles of treasure, which stand, at the end, like the pyramids in the desert sands, holding only the dust of kings.
We are not to make the ideas of contentment and aspiration quarrel, for God made them fast friends. A man may aspire, and yet be quite content until it is time to raise; and both flying and resting are but parts of one contentment. The very fruit of the gospel is aspiration. It is to the heart what spring is to the earth, making every root, and bud, and bough desire to be more.
We have the promises of God as thick as daisies in summer meadows, that death, which men most fear, shall be to us the most blessed of experiences, if we trust in him. Death is unclasping; joy, breaking out in the desert; the heart, come to its blossoming time! Do we call it dying when the bud bursts into flower?
We know that the gifts which men have do not come from the schools. If a man is a plain, literal, factual man, you can make a great deal more of him in his own line by education than without education, just as you can make a great deal more of a potato if you cultivate it than if you do not; but no cultivation in this world will ever make an apple out of a potato.
We never know how much one loves till we know how much he is willing to endure and suffer for us; and it is the suffering element that measures love. The characters that are great must, of necessity, be characters that shall be willing, patient and strong to endure for others. To hold our nature in the willing service of another is the divine idea of manhood, of the human character.
We pray for those who have ceased to pray. We pray for those that need prayer more than ever, that have fewer and fewer seasons even of thought, that grow hard with years, that are less and less troubled by sin, and that are more and more irreverent of religion. We pray for the children of Christian parents who sometimes weep at the memory of father and mother, but who never have thought of God.
We rejoice in God since he has taught us that every thing which is true in us, is but a faint expression of what is in him. And thus all our joys become to us the echo of higher joys, and our very life is as a dream of that nobler life, to which we shall awaken when we die.
We should live and labor in our time that what came to us as a seed may go to the next generation as blossom, and what came to us as blossom, may go to them as fruit. This is what we mean by progress.
What is the Bible in your house? It is not the Old Testament, it is not the New Testament, it is not the Gospel according to Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, or John; it is the Gospel according to William; it is the Gospel according to Mary; it is the Gospel according to Henry and James; it is the Gospel according to your name. You write your own Bible.
What profusion is there in His work! When trees blossom there is not a single breastpin, but a whole bosom full of gems; and of leaves they have so many suits that they can throw them away to the winds all summer long. What unnumbered cathedrals has He reared in the forest shades, vast and grand, full of curious carvings, and haunted evermore by tremulous music; and in the heavens above, how do stars seem to have flown out of His hand faster than sparks out of a mighty forge!
When our children die, we drop them into the unknown, shuddering with fear. We know that they go out from us, and we stand, and pity, and wonder. If we receive news, that a hundred thousand dollars had been left them by some one dying, we should be thrown into an ecstasy of rejoicing; but when they have gone home to God, we stand, and mourn, and pine, and wonder at the mystery of Providence.
When our cup runs over, we let others drink the drops that fall, but not a drop from within the rim, and call it charity; when the crumbs are swept from our table, we think it generous to let the dogs eat them; as if that were charity which permits others to have what we cannot keep.
When we borrow trouble, and look forward into the future and see what storms are coming, and distress ourselves before they come, as to how we shall avert them if they ever do come, we lose our proper trustfulness in God. When we torment ourselves with imaginary dangers, or trials, or reverses, we have already parted with that perfect love which casteth out fear.
When young men or women are beginning life, the most important period, it is often said, is that in which their habits are formed. That is a very important period. But the period in which the ideals of the young are formed and adopted is more important still. For the ideal with which you go forward to measure things determines the nature, so far as you are concerned, of everything you meet.
Whenever education and refinement carry us away from the common people, they are growing towards selfishness, which is the monster evil of the world. That is true cultivation which gives us sympathy with every form of human life, and enables us to work most successfully for its advancement. Refinement that carries us away from our fellow people is not God's refinement.
While a man is stringing a harp, he tries the strings, not for music, but for construction. When it is finished it shall be played for melodies. God is fashioning the human heart for future joy. He only sounds a string here and there to see how far His work has progressed.
You can imagine thistle-down so light that when you run after it your running motion would drive it away from you, and that the more you tried to catch it the faster it would fly from your grasp. And it should be with every man, that, when he is chased by troubles, they, chasing, shall raise him higher and higher.
You have seen a ship out on the bay, swinging with the tide, and seeming as if it would follow it; and yet it cannot, for down beneath the water it is anchored. So many a soul sways toward heaven, but cannot ascend thither, because it is anchored to some secret sin.
Your honors here may serve you for a time, as it were for an hour, but they will be of no use to you beyond this world. Nobody will have heard a word of your honors in the other life. Your glory, your shame, your ambitions, and all the treasures for which you push hard and sacrifice much will be like wreaths of smoke. For these things, which you mostly seek, and for which you spend your life only tarry with you while you are on this side of the flood.
Today is a goblet day. The whole heavens have been mingled with exquisite skill to a delicious flavor, and the crystal cup put to every lip. Breathing is like ethereal drinking. It is a luxury simply to exist.
You may say, "I wish to send this ball so as to kill the lion crouching yonder, ready to spring upon me. My wishes are all right, and I hope Providence will direct the ball." Providence won't. You must do it; and if you do not, you are a dead man.