James Freeman Clarke

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He who believes in goodness has the essence of all faith. He is a man "of cheerful yesterdays and confident to-morrows."

James Freeman Clarke (April 4, 1810June 8, 1888) was an American theologian and author.


  • A politician … is a man who thinks of the next election; while the statesman thinks of the next generation.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • Let us not torment each other because we are not all alike, but believe that God knew best what He was doing in making us so different. So will the best harmony come out of seeming discords, the best affection out of differences, the best life out of struggle, and the best work will be done when each does his own work, and lets every one else do and be what God made him for.
    • P. 106.
  • We must be something in order to do something, but we must also do something in order to be something. The best rule, I think, is this: If we find it hard to do good, then let us try to be good. If, on the other hand, we find it hard to be good, then let us try to do good. Being leads to doing, doing leads to being. Yet below both as their common root is faith, — faith in God, in man, in ourselves, in the eternal superiority of right over wrong, truth over error, good over evil, love over all selfishness and all sin.
    • P. 121.
  • Submission to duty and God gives the highest energy. He, who has done the greatest work on earth, said that He came down from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him, Whoever allies himself with God is armed with all the forces of the invisible world.
    • P. 202.
  • He who believes in goodness has the essence of all faith. He is a man "of cheerful yesterdays and confident to-morrows."
    • P. 287.
  • As the days of spring arouse all nature to a green and growing vitality, so when hope enters the soul it makes all things new. It insures the progress which it predicts. Rooted in faith, growing up into love; these make the three immortal graces of the gospel, whose intertwined arms and concurrent voices shed joy and peace over our human life.
    • P. 328.
  • One of the best things in the gospel of Jesus is the stress it lays on small things. It ascribes more value to quality than to quantity; it teaches that God does not ask how much we do, but how we do it.
    • P. 387.
  • What produced this divine serenity, subject to no moods, clouded by no depression, this perpetual Sunday of the heart? It was not merely good nature, not the accident of a happy organization. It was deeper than that. It was the perfect poise resulting from a Christian experience. It was the habit of looking to God in love and to man in love.
    • P. 477.
  • Take thy self-denials gaily and cheerfully, and let the sunshine of thy gladness fall on dark things and bright alike, like the sunshine of the Almighty.
    • P. 534.
  • If we desire to do what will please God, and what will help men, we presently find ourselves taken out of our narrow habits of thought and action; we f1nd new elements of our nature called into activity; we are no longer running along a narrow track of selfish habit.
    • P. 536.
  • He who never looks up to a living God, to a heavenly presence, loses the power of perceiving that presence, and the universe slowly turns into a dead machine, clashing and grinding on, without purpose or end. If the light within us be darkness, how great is that darkness!
    • P. 563.
  • Progress, in the sense of acquisition, is something; but progress in the sense of being, is a great deal more. To grow higher, deeper, wider, as the years go on; to conquer difficulties, and acquire more and more power; to feel all one's faculties unfolding, and truth descending into the soul, — this makes life worth living.
    • P. 565.
  • The modern Christian does not retire into a cell to pray, but goes about doing good. He thus avoids the risk of narrowness, which attends the man who desires only to do the " nearest duty." But there is a danger here also,— that of shallowness. The man who is always giving, never receiving; always helping others, and never feeding his own soul, is in danger of becoming empty.
    • P. 566.
  • In the spirit of faith let us begin each day, and we shall be sure to "redeem the time" which it brings to us, by changing it into something definite and eternal. There is a deep meaning in this phrase of the apostle, to redeem time. We redeem time, and do not merely use it. We transform it into eternity by living it aright.
    • P. 583.
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