Phillips Brooks

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For greatness after all, in spite of its name, appears to be not so much a certain size as a certain quality in human lives. It may be present in lives whose range is very small.

Phillips Brooks (December 13, 1835January 23, 1893) was a noted United States clergyman and author, who briefly served as Bishop of Massachusetts in the Episcopal Church during the early 1890s.

Quotes[edit]

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.
He labored so to make the world pure that He never even had to try to be pure Himself.
Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.
  • For greatness after all, in spite of its name, appears to be not so much a certain size as a certain quality in human lives. 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
  • Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.
    • As quoted in Primary Education (1916) by Elizabeth Peabody, p. 190


Misattributed[edit]

  • How prudently most men creep into nameless graves, while now and then one or two forget themselves into immortality.

Quotes about Brooks[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]

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