For greatness after all, in spite of its name, appears to be not so much a certain size as a certain quality in humanlives. It may be present in lives whose range is very small.
Sermons (1879), p. 14.
O, do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks! Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle. But you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.
"Going up to Jerusalem", Twenty Sermons (1886), p. 330.
Life comes before literature, as the material always comes before the work. The hills are full of marble before the world blooms with statues.
Literature and Life, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
The absence of sentimentalism in Christ's relations with men is what makes His tenderness so exquisitely touching.
Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 59.
Never be afraid to bring the transcendent mysteries of our faith, Christ's life and death and resurrection, to the help of the humblest and commonest of human wants.
Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 88.
There are two ways of defending a castle; one by shutting yourself up in it, and guarding every loop-hole; the other by making it an open centre of operations from which all the surrounding country may be subdued. Is not the last the truest safety? Jesus was never guarding Himself, but always invading the lives of others with His holiness. There never was such an open life as His; and yet the force with which His character and love flowed out upon the world kept back, more strongly than any granite wall of prudent caution could have done, the world from pressing in on Him. His life was like an open stream which keeps the sea from flowing up into it by the eager force with which it flows down into the sea. He was so anxious that the world should be saved that therein was His salvation from the world. He labored so to make the world pure that He never even had to try to be pure Himself.
Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 108.
Men and women grow older in this world of ours, and as the years advance they change. Of all the changes that they undergo those of their moral natures are the most painful to watch. The boy changes into the man, and there is something lost which never seems to come back again. It is like the first glow of the morning that passes away — like the bloom on the blossom that never is restored. Your grown-up boy is wise in bad things which he used to know nothing about. His life no longer sounds with a perfectly clear ring, or shines with a perfectly white lustre. He is no longer unspotted.
The worst thing about all this staining power of the world is the way in which we come to think of it as inevitable. ... It is not true. ... Social life is lighted up with the lustre of the white, unstained robes of many a pure man or woman who walks through its very midst.
When a man comes not merely to tolerate, but to boast of the stains that the world has flung upon him; when he wears his spots as if they were jewels; when he flaunts his unscrupulousness, and his cynicism and his disbelief and his hard-heartedness in your face as the signs and badges of his superiority; when to be innocent and unsuspicious and sensitive seems to be ridiculous and weak; when it is reputable to show that we are men of the world by exhibiting the stains that the world has left upon our reputation, our conduct, and our heart, then we understand how flagrant is the danger; then we see how hard it must be to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
They say the doctors and the nurses are least likely to catch the epidemic. If you have a friend who is dishonest or impure, the surest way to save yourself from him is to try to save him.
The noblest of men and friends has left the world, — Phillips Brooks. One month ago this morning he breathed his last. He, with whom it was impossible to associate the idea of death; — was? — is so, still! — the most living man I ever knew — physically, mentally, spiritually. It is almost like taking the sun out of the sky. He was such an illumination, such a warmth, such an inspiration! And he let us all come so near him, — just as Christ does!
I felt that I knew Christ personally through him. He always spoke of Him as his dearest friend, and he always lived in perfect, loving allegiance to God in Him. Now I know him as I know Christ, — as a spirit only, and his sudden withdrawal is only an ascension to Him, in the immortal life. Shut into my sick-room, I have seen none of the gloom of the burial; I know him alive, with Christ, from the dead, forevermore. Where he is, life must be. He lived only in realities here, and he is entering into the heart of them now. "What a new splendor in heaven!" was my first thought of him, after one natural burst of sorrow. What great services he has found! How gloriously life, with its immortal opportunities, must be opening to him! He, — one week here, — the next there, — and seen no more here again. The very suddenness of his going makes the other life seem the real one, rather than this. And a man like this is the best proof God ever gives human beings of their own immortality.