YET, sometimes, when I feel my heart
Most weak and life most burdensome,
I lift mine eyes up to the hills
From whence my help shall come;
Yea, sometimes still I lift my heart
To th’ archangelic trumpet-burst,
When all deep secrets shall be shown,
And many last be first.
LEARN to distrust the suggestions of lower and more earthly hours, and scatter the fears of the slothful, unawakened heart. If we treat the very “light that is in us as darkness, how great is that darkness!” Be it ours to doubt the glooms, and not the glory of our souls; to lie low beneath the blinding cloud, and simply cry, “Lord, that I may receive my sight!” and rise up to prophesy, only when the heavens are opened, and the divinest scope of things is clear; to court, and not to shun, the bursts of holy suspicion that break through the crust of habit and the films of care, and accept them as a glance from the eye of the Infinite,—the “witness of His Spirit with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
SINCE the Stars of Heaven do differ in Glory; O since it hath pleased the Almighty hand to honour the North Pole with Lights above the South; since there are some Stars so bright, that they can hardly be looked on, some so dim that they can scarce be seen, and vast numbers not to be seen at all even by Artificial Eyes; read thou the Earth in Heaven, and things below from above.
Sir Thomas Browne
LORD, grant us calm, if calm can set forth Thee;
Or tempest, if a tempest set Thee forth;
Wind from the east, or west, or south, or north,
Or congelation of a silent sea,
With stillness of each tremulous aspen tree.
Still let fruit fall, or hang upon a tree;
Still let the east and west, the south and north,
Curb in their winds, or plough a thundering sea;
Still let the earth abide to set thee forth,
Or vanish like a smoke to set forth Thee.
A MIND which withstands all the powers of the outward universe, all the pains which fire and sword and storm can inflict, rather than swerve from uprightness, is nobler than the universe.
William E. Channing
ENJOY the blessings of this day if God sends them; and the evils bear patiently and sweetly. For this day only is ours; we are dead to yesterday, and we are not born to to-morrow.
NOT from a vain or shallow thought
His awful Jove young Phidias brought;
Never from lips of cunning fell
The thrilling Delphic oracle;
Out from the heart of nature rolled
The burdens of the Bible old;
The litanies of nature came,
Like the volcano’s tongue of flame,
Up from the burning core below,—
The canticles of love and woe:
The hand that rounded Peter’s dome
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome,
Wrought in a sad sincerity;
Himself from God he could not free;
He builded better than he knew;—
The conscious stone to beauty grew.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
IF a man be gracious and courteous to strangers it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them. If he be compassionate towards the affliction of others it shows that his heart is like the noble tree that is wounded itself when it gives the balm. If he easily pardons and remits offences it shows that his mind is planted above injuries, so that he cannot be shot. If he be thankful for small benefits it shows that he weighs men’s minds, and not their trash. But, above all, if he have St. Paul’s perfection, that he would wish to be an anathema from Christ, for the salvation of his brethren, it shows much of a divine nature, and a kind of conformity with Christ Himself.
The best men, doing their best,
Know peradventure least of what they do:
Men usefullest i’ the world are simply used;
The nails that hold the wood must pierce it first,
And He alone who wields the hammer sees
The work advanced by the earliest blow.
Elizabeth B. Browning
ONE thing we cannot fail to notice; that a return to simple, undisguised affections,— to natural and veracious speech,—to earnest and inartificial life,—has characterized every great and noble period, and all morally powerful and venerable men.
THE unremitting retention of simple and high sentiments in obscure duties is hardening the character to that temper which will work with honour, if need be, in the tumult, or on the scaffold.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
ONE never mounts so high as when one knows not whither one is going.
BE it not mine to steal the cultured flower
From any garden of the rich and great,
Nor seek with care, through many a weary hour,
Some novel form of wonder to create.
Enough for me the leafy woods to rove,
And gather simple cups of morning dew,
Or, in the fields and meadows that I love,
Find beauty in their bells of every hue.
Thus round my cottage floats a fragrant air,
And though the rustic plot be humbly laid,
Yet, like the lilies gladly growing there,
I have not toil’d, but take what God has made.
My Lord Ambition pass’d and smiled in scorn;
I pluck’d a rose, and lo! it had no thorn.
G. J. Romanes
WE shall be made truly wise if we be made content; content, too, not only with what we can understand, but content with what we do not understand,—the habit and mind which theologians call, and rightly, faith in God.
STRUGGLING against inevitable results which he cannot control, too often man is heedless of those accessible pleasures, whose amount is by no means inconsiderable when collected together. Stretching out his hand to catch the stars, he forgets the flowers at his feet.
OUR heaven must be within ourselves,
Our home and heaven the work of faith
All thro’ this race of life which shelves
Downward to death.
So faith shall build the boundary wall,
And hope shall plant the secret bower,
That both may show magnifical
With gem and flower.
While over all a dome must spread,
And Love shall be that dome above;
And deep foundations must be laid,
And these are Love!
AND this is the great task of life also, to discern things and divide them, and say, “Outward things are not in my power; to will is in my power. Where shall I seek the Good, and where the Evil? Within me—in all that is my own.”
AND since few or none prove eminently virtuous but from some advantageous Foundations in their Temper and natural Inclinations, study thy self betimes, and early find what Nature bids thee to be, or tells thee what thou may’st be.
Sir Thomas Browne
A MAN only understands what is akin to something already existing in himself.
Henri F. Amiel
NOT labour kills us, no nor joy:
The incredulity and frown,
The interference and annoy
The small attritions wear us down.
F. B. Money-Coutts
WHO has not observed how wonderfully the mere insect cares, that are ever on the wing in the noonday heat of life, have power to sting and to annoy even the giant minds around which they sport, and to provoke them into the most unseemly war? The finest sense, the profoundest knowledge, the most unquestionable taste, often prove an unequal match for insignificant irritations; and a man whose philosophy subdues nature, and whose force of thought and purpose gives him ascendency over men, may keep, in his own temper, an unvanquished enemy at home.
BE on thy guard, not only in the matter of steady judgment and action, but also in the flatter of gentleness towards those who try to binder or otherwise trouble thee.
ALL service ranks the same with God:
If now, as formerly He trod
Paradise, His presence fills
Our earth, each only as God wills
Can work—God’s puppets best and worst,
Are we; there is no last nor first.
BUT were it the meanest underservice, if God by His secretary Conscience enjoin it, it were sad for me if I should draw back.
ANYTHING man can do may be divinely done.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
THE minds of men are often deceived in their judgments; the lovers of the world too are deceived in loving only things visible. What is a man ever the better, for being by man esteemed great? The deceitful in flattering the deceitful, the vain man in extolling the vain, the blind in commending the blind, the weak in magnifying the weak, deceiveth him; and in truth doth rather put him to shame, while he so vainly praiseth him. “For what every one is in Thy sight, that is he, and no more,” saith humble St. Francis.
Thomas A Kempis
AND so the shadows fall apart,
And so the west winds play;
And all the windows of my heart I open to the day.
John G. Whittier
HAPPINESS, at least, is not solitary; it joys to communicate; it loves others, for it depends on them for its existence; it sanctions and encourages to all delights that are not unkind in themselves; if it lived to a thousand it would not make excision of a single humorous passage; and while the self-improver dwindles towards the prig, and, if he be not of an excellent constitution, may even grow deformed into an Obermann, the very name and appearance of a happy man breathe of good nature, and help the rest of us to live.
Robert Louis Stevenson
LOOK inwards, for you have a lasting fountain of happiness at home that will always bubble up if you will but dig for it.
THOUGH nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be,
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering,
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
THE compensations of calamity are made apparent to the understanding also, after long intervals of time. A fever, a mutilation, a cruel disappointment, a loss of wealth, a loss of friends, seems at the moment unpaid loss, and unpayable. But the sure years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
NOBLE disappointment, noble self-denial, are not to be admired, not even to be pardoned, if they bring bitterness. It is one thing to enter the kingdom of Heaven maim; another to maim yourself and stay without.
Robert Louis Stevenson