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You shall not turn away the needy, but shall share everything with your brother, and shall not say that it is your own, for if you are sharers in the imperishable, how much more in the things which perish? ~ Didache
It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property. ~ Oscar Wilde
In charity there is no excess. ~ Francis Bacon
Charity, by which God and neighbor are loved, is the most perfect friendship. ~ Thomas Aquinas
When faith and hope fail, as they do sometimes, we must try charity, which is love in action. ~ Dinah Craik
Charity itself fulfills the law.
And who can sever love from charity? ~ William Shakespeare
Charity literally translated from the original means love, the love that understands, that does not merely share the wealth of the giver, but in true sympathy and wisdom helps men to help themselves. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Charity is a term which referrs to the quality or virtue of unlimited love and kindness, and the practice of benevolent giving and caring.

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  • Charity, by which God and neighbor are loved, is the most perfect friendship.
  • It must be said that charity can, in no way, exist along with mortal sin.


  • "But whom do I treat unjustly," you say, "by keeping what is my own?" Tell me, what is your own? What did you bring into this life? From where did you receive it? It is as if someone were to take the first seat in the theater, then bar everyone else from attending, so that one person alone enjoys what is offered for the benefit of all in common — this is what the rich do. They seize common goods before others have the opportunity, then claim them as their own by right of preemption. For if we all took only what was necessary to satisfy our own needs, giving the rest to those who lack, no one would be rich, no one would be poor, and no one would be in need.
    • Basil of Caesarea, Homily 6, “I Shall Tear Down My Barns,” C. P. Schroeder, trans., in Saint Basil on Social Justice (2009), p. 69
  • Who are the greedy? Those who are not satisfied with what suffices for their own needs. Who are the robbers? Those who take for themselves what rightfully belongs to everyone. And you, are you not greedy? Are you not a robber? The things you received in trust as a stewardship, have you not appropriated them for yourself? Is not the person who strips another of clothing called a thief? And those who do not clothe the naked when they have the power to do so, should they not be called the same? The bread you are holding back is for the hungry, the clothes you keep put away are for the naked, the shoes that are rotting away with disuse are for those who have none, the silver you keep buried in the earth is for the needy. You are thus guilty of injustice toward as many as you might have aided, and did not.
    • Basil of Caesarea, Homily 6, “I Shall Tear Down My Barns,” C. P. Schroeder, trans., in Saint Basil on Social Justice (2009), p. 70
  • O proud philanthropist, your hope is vain
    To get by giving what you lost by gain.
    • Ambrose Bierce, "Epigrams" in The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8 (1911), p. 349.
  • Th' Almighty said, 'Let there be light,' Effulgent rays appearing. Dispell'd the gloom, the glory bright To this new world was cheering... Another light, so clear and bright, In mystic rays then shone; From east to west it spread so fast, That, Faith and Hope unfurl'd, We hail with joy sweet Charity, The darling of the world.
    • J. Bisset, "Song XXX" in William Preston's Illustrations of Masonry (1804)
  • There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
    The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
  • Only great souls know the grandeur there is in charity.
  • He is rich who hath enough to be charitable; and it is hard to be so poor that a noble mind may not find a way to this piece of goodness.
  • Charity begins at home, is the voice of the world.
  • Certainly it is a heaven upon earth to have a man's mind to move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.


The beginning of love of money is the pretext of almsgiving, and the end of it is hatred of the poor. So long as he is collecting he is charitable, but when the money is in hand he tightens his hold. ~ Johannes Climacus
  • When a member of our physical body is diseased and the whole body has to labor to restore it to health, we do not despise this diseased member or hold it under obligation because it needs all this assistance.
    • John Calvin, Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life (1551), § 7.2, p. 39.
  • Do you wish to honor the Body of the Savior? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honor it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold. He who said, “This is my body,” and made it so by his word, is the same that said, “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. As you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.” Honor him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls.
  • When faith and hope fail, as they do sometimes, we must try charity, which is love in action. We must speculate no more on our duty, but simply do it. When we have done it, however blindly, perhaps Heaven will show us why.
  • The beginning of love of money is the pretext of almsgiving, and the end of it is hatred of the poor. So long as he is collecting he is charitable, but when the money is in hand he tightens his hold.
    • Johannes Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, as translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Holy Transfiguration Monastery: 1959), § 16:8.


  • You shall not turn away the needy, but shall share everything with your brother, and shall not say that it is your own, for if you are sharers in the imperishable, how much more in the things which perish?


  • The demon of avarice, it seems to me, is extraordinarily complex and is baffling in his deceits. Often, when frustrated by the strictness of our renunciation, he immediately pretends to be a steward and a lover of the poor; he urges us to prepare a welcome for strangers who have not yet arrived or to send provisions for absent brethren. He makes us mentally visit prisons in the city and ransom those on sale as slaves. He suggests that we should attach ourselves to wealthy women, and advises us to be obsequious to others who have a full purse. And so, after deceiving the soul, little by little he engulfs it in avaricious thoughts and then hands it over to the demon of self-esteem.


  • Charity and treating begin at home.
    • John Fletcher, Wit without Money (c. 1614; published 1639), scene 2.
  • Let them learn first to show pity at home.
    • John Fletcher, Wit without Money (c. 1614; published 1639), scene 2. Marston—Histrio-Matrix. 3. 165


  • I don't believe in charity; I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it's humiliating. It goes from top to bottom.
    Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other.
    I have a lot to learn from other people.
    • Eduardo Galeano, David Barsamian (2004) Louder Than Bombs: Interviews from The Progressive Magazine. p. 146
  • It is an affirmative command to give tzedaka to the poor of Israel. ... Anyone who sees a poor man begging alms and turns away his glance from him and does not give him tzedaka transgresses a negative command, as it is said, "You shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand to your needy brother" (Deuteronomy 15:7).
    • Shlomo Ganzfried as translated by George Horowith in The Spirit of the Jewish Law (New York: 1953)
  • Careless their merits or their faults to scan,
    His pity gave ere charity began.
  • No farther seek his merits to disclose,
    Or draw his frailties from their dread abode
    (There they alike in trembling hope repose),
    The bosom of his Father and his God.
    • Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1750), Epitaph.


  • Charity is a calm, severe duty; it must be intellectual, to be advantageous. It is a strange mistake that it should ever be considered a merit; its fulfilment is only what we owe to each other, and is a debt never paid to its full extent.
  • There is no charitable purpose which is not a benevolent purpose.
    • Lord Langdale, M.R., Kendall v. Granger (1842), 5 Beav. 302; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 26.
  • The very poor constitute the last sure recourse of the hungry tramp. The very poor can always be depended upon. They never turn away the hungry. Time and again, all over the United States, have I been refused food by the big house on the hill; and always have I received food from the little shack down by the creek or marsh, with its broken windows stuffed with rags and its tired-faced mother broken with labor. Oh, you charity-mongers! Go to the poor and learn, for the poor alone are the charitable. They neither give nor withhold from their excess. They have no excess. They give, and they withhold never, from what they need for themselves, and very often from what they cruelly need for themselves. A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog when you are just as hungry as the dog.
  • Give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.


  • We are obligated to be more scrupulous in fulfilling the commandment of charity than any other positive commandment because charity is the sign of a righteous man.
    • Maimonides, as quoted in A Maimonides Reader (1972) by Isadore Twersky, p. 135
  • The Gita ... explains the basis for the Hindu principle of charity as Narayana-seva, i.e., serving God by serving one's fellow human... This is also the basis for Gandhi's concept of ahimsa. Krishna asserts that generosity (dana) and compassion (daya) are qualities that arise 'from me alone'.
  • Charity is really self-interest masquerading under the form of altruism.


  • What is a charitable heart? It is a heart which is burning with love for the whole creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts … for all creatures. He who has such a heart cannot see or call to mind a creature without his eyes being filled with tears by reason of the immense compassion which seizes his heart; a heart which is softened and can no longer bear to see or learn from others of any suffering, even the smallest pain being inflicted upon a creature. That is why such a man never ceases to pray for the animals … [He is] … moved by the infinite pity which reigns in the hearts of those who are becoming united with God.


  • I do not see any difference between a gift to keep in repair what is called "God's house" and a gift to keep in repair the churchyard round it, which is often called "God's acre."
    • North, J., In re Vaughan, Vaughan v. Thomas (1886), L. R. 33 C. D. 192; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 26.


  • Ὁ πλήρης ἀγάπης ἄνθρωπος μετά τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν τῆς καρδίας βλέπει τὴν εἰκόνα Κυρίου ἐν τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ.
    • The man who is full of charity sees, through the eyes of the heart, the Image of the Lord in his brother.
  • In Faith and Hope the world will disagree,
    But all mankind's concern is charity.


  • The Gods have not ordained hunger to be our death: even to the well-fed man comes death in varied shape,
    The riches of the liberal never waste away, while he who will not give finds none to comfort him,
    The man with food in store who, when the needy comes in miserable case begging for bread to eat,
    Hardens his heart against him, when of old finds not one to comfort him.

    Bounteous is he who gives unto the beggar who comes to him in want of food, and the feeble,
    Success attends him in the shout of battle. He makes a friend of him in future troubles,
    No friend is he who to his friend and comrade who comes imploring food, will offer nothing.

    Let the rich satisfy the poor implorer, and bend his eye upon a longer pathway,
    Riches come now to one, now to another, and like the wheels of cars are ever rolling,
    The foolish man wins food with fruitless labour: that food – I speak the truth – shall be his ruin,
    He feeds no trusty friend, no man to love him. All guilt is he who eats with no partaker.
  • We do not see faith, hope, and charity as unattainable ideals, but we use them as stout supports of a nation fighting the fight for freedom in a modern civilization.
    Faith — in the soundness of democracy in the midst of dictatorships.
    Hope — renewed because we know so well the progress we have made.
    Charity — in the true spirit of that grand old word. For charity literally translated from the original means love, the love that understands, that does not merely share the wealth of the giver, but in true sympathy and wisdom helps men to help themselves.
  • In a just world, there would be no possibility of 'charity'.
  • You will remember that Christ said, "Judge not lest ye be judged." That principle I do not think you would find was popular in the law courts of Christian countries. I have known in my time quite a number of judges who were very earnest Christians, and none of them felt that they were acting contrary to Christian principles in what they did. Then Christ says, "Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." That is a very good principle. ... Then there is one other maxim of Christ which I think has a great deal in it, but I do not find that it is very popular among some of our Christian friends. He says, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that which thou hast, and give to the poor." That is a very excellent maxim, but, as I say, it is not much practised. All these, I think, are good maxims, although they are a little difficult to live up to. I do not profess to live up to them myself; but then, after all, it is not quite the same thing as for a Christian.


  • Iniquum est conlapsis manum non porrigere; commune hoc ius generis humani est.
    • It is wrong not to give a hand to the fallen. This right is common to the whole human race.
      • Seneca the Elder, Controversiae , Book 1, Chapter 1, sect. 14; translation from Norman T. Pratt Seneca's Drama (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983) p. 140.
  • I believe there is no sentiment he has such faith in as that "charity begins at home"
    And his, I presume, is of that domestic sort which never stirs abroad at all.
  • For true evangelical faith...cannot lay dormant; but manifests itself in all righteousness and works of love; it...clothes the naked; feeds the hungry; consoles the afflicted; shelters the miserable; aids and consoles all the oppressed; returns good for evil; serves those that injure it; prays for those that persecute it.
  • When we buy new clothes not to keep ourselves warm but to look "well-dressed" we are not providing for any important need. We would not be sacrificing anything significant if we were to continue to wear our old clothes, and give the money to famine relief. By doing so, we would be preventing another person from starving. It follows from what I have said earlier that we ought to give money away, rather than spend it on clothes which we do not need to keep us warm. To do so is not charitable, or generous. Nor is it the kind of act which philosophers and theologians have called "supererogatory" - an act which it would be good to do, but not wrong not to do. On the contrary, we ought to give the money away, and it is wrong not to do so.
  • Christ takes on the appearance of each of the poor and assimilates Himself to all of them so that no one who believes in Him will be arrogant towards his fellow being. On the contrary, he will look on his fellow being and his neighbor as his God, regarding himself as least of all in comparison just as much with his neighbor as with his Creator, honoring his neighbor as if he were his Creator, and exhausting his all in his service, just as Christ our God poured out His blood for our salvation.


  • To receive is bad, even for good cause; and to give is good even if there is no Heaven.
  • Wiping out the hunger of the Have-nots, is the treasury in which the Haves should deposit their wealth.
  • Love is the greatest thing that God can give us; for himself is love; and it is the greatest thing we can give to God; for it will also give ourselves and carry with it all that is ours. The apostle calls it the band of perfection; it is the old, and it is the new, and it is the great commandment, and it is all the commandments; for it is the fulfilling of the law. It does the work of all other graces without any instrument but its own immediate virtue. For as the love to sin makes a man sin against all his own reason, and all the discourses of wisdom, and all the advices of his friends, and without temptation, and without opportunity, so does the love of God; it makes a man chaste without the laborious arts of fasting and exterior disciplines, temperate in the midst of feasts, and is active enough to choose it without any intermedial appetites, and reaches at glory through the very heart of grace without any other arms but those of love. It is a grace that loves God for himself, and our neighbours for God. The consideration of God's goodness and bounty, the experience of those profitable and excellent emanations from him, may be, and most commonly are, the first motive of our love; but when we are once entered, and have tasted the goodness of God, we love the spring for its own excellency, passing from passion to reason, from thanking to adoring, from sense to spirit, from considering ourselves to an union with God: and this is the image and little representation of heaven; it is beatitude in picture, or rather the infancy and beginnings of glory.


  • There is a saying, Charity begins at home; and sometimes it is used as a squalid slogan to justify selfishness, to justify us for not bothering about people who are not near to us and dear to us. Family and friends have the first call on us; but the whole point of the saying is that it is there we begin, it is there that we learn how to love, so that, starting from there, our love may grow and grow till it gathers to itself the whole world.
    • Gerald Vann, The Two Trees (1948). London: Collins, p. 31


  • It is above all the impersonal and economically rationalized (but for this very reason ethically irrational) character of purely commercial relationships that evokes the suspicion, never clearly expressed but all the more strongly felt, of ethical religions. For every purely personal relationship of man to man, of whatever sort and even including complete enslavement, may be subjected to ethical requirements and ethically regulated. This is true because the structures of these relationships depend upon the individual wills of the participants, leaving room in such relations for manifestations of the virtue of charity. But this is not the situation in the realm of economically rationalised relationships, where personal control is exercised in inverse ratio to the degree of rational differentiation of the economic structure.
  • The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good.
    • Oscar Wilde, “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” Complete Works (New York: 1989), p. 1079, ¶ 3-4
  • It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property.
    • Oscar Wilde, “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” Complete Works (New York: 1989), p. 1079, ¶ 5


  • It is not by ruling over his neighbours, or by seeking to hold the supremacy over those that are weaker, or by being rich, and showing violence towards those that are inferior, that happiness is found; nor can any one by these things become an imitator of God. But these things do not at all constitute His majesty. On the contrary he who takes upon himself the burden of his neighbour; he who, in whatsoever respect he may be superior, is ready to benefit another who is deficient; he who, whatsoever things he has received from God, by distributing these to the needy, becomes a god to those who receive: he is an imitator of God.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 106-107.
  • In charity to all mankind, bearing no malice or ill-will to any human being, and even compassionating those who hold in bondage their fellow-men, not knowing what they do.
  • Charity is a virtue of the heart, and not of the hands.
  • The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess, neither can angel or man come in danger by it.
  • No sound ought to be heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity.
    • Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790).
  • Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
    • I Corinthians, XIII. 1.
  • Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
    • I Corinthians, XIII. 2.
  • Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.
    • I Corinthians, XIII. 4.
  • And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
    • I Corinthians, XIII. 13.
  • True Charity, a plant divinely nurs'd.
  • When your own courtyard thirsts, do not pour the water abroad.
    • Greek Proverb
  • Meek and lowly, pure and holy,
    Chief among the "blessed three."
  • In silence, * * *
    Steals on soft-handed Charity,
    Tempering her gifts, that seem so free,
    By time and place,
    Till not a woe the bleak world see,
    But finds her grace.
    • John Keble, The Christian Year, The Sunday After Ascension Day, Stanza 6.
  • He is truly great who hath a great charity.
    • Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chapter III. Dibdin's translation
  • In necessasariis, unitas; In dubiis, libertas; in omnibus, caritas.
    • In things essential, unity; in doubtful, liberty; in all things, charity.
    • Rupertus Meldenius. So attributed by Canon Farrar at Croyden Church Congress, 1877. Also attributed to Melancthon. Quoted as "A gude saying o' auld Mr. Guthrie" in A Crack aboot the Kirk, appended to Memoirs of Norman Maclood, D.D., Volume I, p. 340.
  • All crush'd and stone-cast in behaviour,
    She stood as a marble would stand,
    Then the Saviour bent down, and the Saviour
    In silence wrote on in the sand.
  • Charité bien ordonné commence par soy meme.
    • Charity well directed should begin at home.
    • Adrien de Montluc, La Comédie de Proverbes, Act III, scene 7.
  • Charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
    • I Peter, IV. 8.
  • Soft peace she brings, wherever she arrives:
    She builds our quiet, as she forms our lives:
    Lays the rough paths of peevish Nature even,
    And opens in each heart a little Heaven.
  • Our charity begins at home,
    And mostly ends where it begins.
  • Cold is thy hopeless heart, even as charity.
  • Let them learn first to show piety at home.
    • I Timothy. V. 4.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)[edit]

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Charity — gently to hear, kindly to judge.
    • Attributed to William Shakespeare, p. 46 (other sources include only the phrase "gently to hear, kindly to judge").
  • Charity, like the sun, brightens every object on which it shines.
  • Charity is that rational and constant affection, which makes us sacrifice ourselves to the human race, as if we were united with it, so as to form one individual, partaking equally in its adversity and prosperity.
  • Why should not our solemn duties, and our hastening end, render us so united, that personal contention would be impossible, in a general sympathy quickened by the breath of a forbearing and pitying charity?
  • If thou neglectest thy love to thy neighbor, in vain thou professest thy love to God; for by thy love to God, the love to thy neighbor is begotten, and by the love to thy neighbor, thy love to God is nourished.
  • A life in any sphere that is the expression and outflow of an honest, earnest, loving heart, taking counsel only of God and itself, will be certain to be a life of beneficence in the best possible direction.
  • We may not substitute charity for godliness; but there is room for the Divine love in the heart which has been touched by the human.
  • An effort made for the happiness of others lifts us above ourselves.
  • Earth has not a spectacle more glorious or more fair to show than this — love tolerating intolerance; charity covering, as with a vail, even the sin of the lack of charity.
  • There is no dearth of charity in the world in giving, but there is comparatively little exercised in thinking and speaking.
  • I have more confidence in the charity which begins in the home and diverges into a large humanity, than in the worldwide philanthropy which begins at the outside of our horizon to converge into egotism.
    • Mrs. Jameson, p. 48.
  • Nothing will make us so charitable and tender to the faults of others as by self-examination thoroughly to know our own.

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