O JOY that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
PROSPERITY is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. Certainly, virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant, when they are incensed, or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice; but adversity doth best discover virtue.
ONLY they, it may be, have the right to deem themselves safe to whose arms there come to weep those whose eyes are heavy with tears. And, indeed, there are not a few in this world whose inner smile we can only behold when our eyes have been cleansed by the tears that lay bare the mysterious sources of vision; and then only do we begin to detect the presence of happiness that springs not from the favour or gleam of an hour, but from widest acceptance of life. Here, as in much beside, desire and necessity quicken our senses. The hungry bee will discover the honey, be it hid never so deep in the cavern; and the soul that mourns will spy out the joy that lies hidden in its retreat, or in most impenetrable silence.
HE who intermits
The appointed task and duties of the day
Untunes full oft the pleasures of the day;
Checking the finer spirits that refuse
To flow, when purposes are lightly changed.
IT is astonishing how all of us are generally cumbered up with the thousand and one hindrances and duties which are not such, bar which nevertheless wind us about with their spider threads and fetter the movement of our wings. It is the lack of order which makes us slaves; the confusion of to-day discounts the freedom of to-morrow.
Henri F. Amiel
THINK not thy time is short in this world since the world itself is not long. The created world is but a small parenthesis in Eternity, and a short interposition for a time between such a state of duration, as was before it and may be after it.
Sir Thomas Browne
IT is not larger time that we want, so much as the more capacious soul to flow through every pore of the little which we have.
DEAR Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our feverish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives, Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
John G. Whittier
MAKE a man perceive worth, and in its reflection he sees his own relative unworth, and worships thereupon inevitably, not with stiff courtesy, but rejoicingly, passionately, and, best of all restfully: for the inner capacity of awe and love is infinite in man; and only in finding these, can we find peace.
TO see all things in God: to make of one’s own life a journey towards the ideal; to live with gratitude, with devoutness, with gentleness and courage; this was the splendid aim of Marcus Aurelius. And if you add to it the humility which kneels, and the charity which gives, you have the whole wisdom of the children of God, the immortal joy which is the heritage of the true Christian.
Henri F. Amiel
O GOD, O Kinsman loved, but not enough,
O Man, with eyes majestic after death,
Whose feet have toiled along our pathways rough.
Whose lips drawn human breath.
Come, lest this heart should, cold and cast away,
Die ere the Guest adored she entertain,
Lest eyes which never saw Thine earthly day
Should miss Thy heavenly reign.
O TRUTH who art Eternity! And Love who art Truth! And Eternity who art Love! Thou art my God, and to Thee do I sigh night and day. When I first knew Thee, Thou liftedst me up, that I might see there was somewhat for me to see, and that I was not yet such as to see. And Thou streaming forth Thy beams of light upon me most strongly, didst beat back the weakness of my sight, and I trembled with love and awe: and I perceived myself to be far off from Thee in the region of unlikeness.
LOVE is its own perennial fount of strength. The strength of love is a proof not of the worthiness of the object, but of the largeness of the soul which loves. Love descends, not ascends. The might of a river depends not on the quality of the soil through which it passes, but on the inexhaustibleness and depth of the spring from which it proceeds. A parent loves the child more than the child loves the parent; and partly because the parent’s heart is larger, not because the child is worthier.
Frederick W. Robertson
BACK, then, complainer; loath thy life no more,
Nor deem thyself upon a desert shore,
Because the rocks the nearer prospect close.
Yet in fallen Israel are there hearts and eyes
That day by day in prayer like thine arise:
Thou know’st them not, but their Creator knows
SO, then, Elijah’s life had been no failure, after all. Seven thousand at least in Israel had been braced and encouraged by his example, and silently blessed him, perhaps, for the courage which they felt. In God’s world, for those who are in earnest there is no failure. No work truly done, no word earnestly spoken, no sacrifice freely made, was ever made in vain.
Frederick W. Robertson
FOR this reason often call to mind the more heavy sufferings of others, that so thou mayest the easier bear thine own very small troubles. And if they seem unto thee not very small, then beware lest thy impatience be the cause.
Thomas a Kempis
STERN daughter of the Voice of God!
O Duty! if that name thou love
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring, and reprove;
Thou, who art victory and law
When empty terrors overawe;
From vain temptations dost set free;
And calm’st the weary strife of frail humanity!
NO duties need to jostle one another, I mean constantly. Especial occasions must be determined according to especial circumstances. But if in anything we take more upon us than we have time well to perform it in, without robbing God of that which is due to Him and our own souls, this God calls not unto, this He blesseth us not in.
OUR true opportunities come but once; they are sufficient but not redundant; we have time enough for the longest duty, but not for the shortest sin.
WHAT is your duty? The claims of the day.
Johann W. von Goethe
CAN it be true, the grace he is declaring?
Oh, let us trust him, for his words are fair!
Man, what is this, and why art thou despairing?
God shall forgive thee all but thy despair.
F. W. H. Myers
IT is the nature of wisdom to despise nothing; indeed, in this world there is perhaps only one thing truly contemptible, and that thing is contempt itself.
CONTEMPT from those about us is hard to bear, but God helps the poor wretch who contemns himself.
BY despising himself too much a man comes to be worthy of his own contempt.
Henri F. Amiel
THERE is surely a piece of Divinity in us, something that was before the Elements, and owes no homage unto the Sun. Nature tells me I am the image of God, as well as Scripture: he that understands not thus much, hath not his introduction or first lesson, and is yet to begin the Alphabet of man.
Sir Thomas Browne
LET knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,
DOES not every true man feel that he is himself made higher by doing reverence to what is really above him? No nobler or more blessed feeling dwells in man’s heart.
THUS all real joy and power of progress in humanity depends on finding something to reverence, and all the baseness and misery of humanity begin in a habit of disdain.
WONDER, no doubt, arises from ignorance, but from a peculiar kind of ignorance, from what might be called a fertile ignorance; an ignorance which, if we look back at the history of most of our sciences, will be found to have been the mother of all human knowledge.
BUT love, as Nature loves, the lonely Poor!
Search, for their worth, some gentle heart wrong-proof,
Meek, patient, kind,—and, were its trials fewer,
Belike less happy.—Stand no more aloof!
HE that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord: there is more Rhetoric in that one sentence than in a Library of sermons; and, indeed, if those sentences were understood by the Reader, with the same Emphasis as they are delivered by the Author, we needed not those volumes of instructions, but might be honest by an Epitome.
Sir Thomas Browne
THERE is no true potency, remember, but that of help; nor true ambition, but ambition to save.
AND though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
FREE men freely work.
Whoever fears God, fears to sit at ease.
Elizabeth B. Browning
NOTHING is so unendurable to men as to be entirely at rest, without desires, without business, without amusement, without study. He then feels his nothingness, his loneliness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his powerlessness, his emptiness.
WE are not sent into this world to do anything into which we cannot put our hearts. We have certain work to do for our bread, and that is to be done strenuously, other work to do for our delight, and that is to be done heartily, neither is to be done by halves or shifts, but with a will, and what is not worth this effort is not to be done at all.
ALL men if they work not as in a Great Task master’s eye, will work wrong, work unhappily for themselves and you.