December 21

ALL souls that struggle and aspire,
All hearts of prayer by Thee are lit;
And, dim or clear, Thy tongues of fire
On dusty tribes and twilight centuries sit.
John G. Whittier

RELIGION is not a system of doctrines, an observance of modes, a heat of affections, a form of words, a spirit of censoriousness. Religion is not a hear-say, a presumption, a supposition; is not a customary pretension and profession; is not an affectation of any mode; is not a piety of particular fancy, consisting in some pathetic devotions, vehement expressions, bodily severities, affected anomalies and aversions from the innocent usages of others; but consisteth in a profound humility and an universal charity.
Benjamin Whichcote

UNLESS men can prove that we have not the Spirit of God, that we do not savingly believe in Jesus Christ, that we do not sincerely love all the saints, His Body, and every member of it, they cannot disprove our interest in the Catholic Church. Whilst I know this one thing, that whereas I was blind, now I see, I shall not certainly be moved with the disputes of men that would persuade me I do not belong to the Catholic Church, because I do not follow this or that or any party of men in the world. . . .
John Owen


December 20

THINK truly, and thy thoughts
Shall the world’s famine feed:
Speak truly, and each word of thine
Shall be a fruitful seed:
Live truly, and thy life shall be
A great and noble creed.
Horatius Bonar

TO get good, is animal; to do good, is human; to be good, is divine. The true use of a man’s possessions is to help his work: and the best end of all his work, is to show us what he is.
James Martineau

IT is not what he has, nor even what he does, which directly expresses the worth of a man, but what he is.

Henri F. Amiel

TRUE religion, that is practical, active, living religion, has little or nothing to do with logical or metaphysical quibbles. Practical religion is life, is a new life, a life in the sight of God, and it springs from what may truly be called a new birth.
Max Müller

December 19

FLOWER o’ the broom!
Take away love, and our earth is a tomb!
Robert Browning

THE whole necessary morality is kindness; and it should spring, of itself, from the one fundamental doctrine, Faith. If you are sure that God, in the long run, means kindness by you, you should be happy; and if happy, surely you should be kind.
Robert Louis Stevenson

LOVE is the hardest Lesson in Christianity; but, for that reason, it should be most our care to learn it. Difficilia quæ Pulchra.
William Penn

IT is only by removing ourselves from charity that we withdraw ourselves from God.
Blaise Pascal

NO heart is pure that is not passionate; no virtue safe that is not enthusiastic.
Sir J. R. Seeley

December 18

SOME murmur, when their sky is clear
And wholly bright to view,
If one small speck of dark appear
In their great heaven of blue.
And some with thankful love are filled,
If but one streak of light,
One ray of God’s good mercy gild
The darkness of their night.
Archbishop Trench

WHEN life ceases to be a promise it does not cease to be a task; its true name ever is Trial.
Henri F. Amiel

THE bottom of a pit or well gives the best prospect of the heavenly luminaries, and the soul in its deepest humiliations hath for the most part the clearer view of things within the veil.
John Owen

BE thou therefore of such courage and so patient in hope, that when comfort is withdrawn, thou mayest prepare thy heart to suffer even greater things: and do not justify thyself, as though thou oughtest not to suffer these afflictions.
Thomas à Kempis

December 17

THE sun set, but set not his hope:
Stars rose; his faith was earlier up:
Fixed on the enormous galaxy,
Deeper and older seemed his eye;
And matched his sufferance sublime
The taciturnity of time.
He spoke, and words more soft than rain
Brought the Age of Gold again:
His action won such reverence sweet
As hid all measure of the feat.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

NOW see what a Christian is, drawn by the hand of Christ. He is a man on whose clear and open brow God has set the stamp of truth: one whose very eye beams bright with honour; in whose very look and bearing you may see freedom, manliness, veracity: a brave man. . . . Young men! if you have been deterred from religion by its apparent feebleness and narrowness, Remember—It is a manly thing to be a Christian.
Frederick W. Robertson

NO sublimer spectacle do I know on earth than the faculties of a grand and passionate nature, as in a Socrates or a Paul, falling into stillness before the face of God, and by the awful light of His countenance turned from a stormy nobleness into a loving and working power.
James Martineau

December 16

GIVE me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon;
My scrip of joy, immortal diet;
My bottle of salvation;
My gown of glory, hope’s true gage,
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.
Sir Walter Raleigh

WE should all endeavour and labour for a calmer spirit, that we may the better serve God in praying to Him and praising Him; and serve one another in love, that we may be fitted to do and receive good; that we may make our passage to heaven more easy and cheerful, without drooping and hanging the wing. So much as we are quiet and cheerful upon good ground, so much we live, and are, as it were, in heaven.
Richard Sibbes

BLESS me in this life with but peace of my conscience, command of my affections, the love of Thy self and my dearest friends, and I shall be happy enough to pity Caesar.
Sir Thomas Browne

WE complain of the want of many things – we want votes, we want liberty, we want amusement, we want money. Which of us feels or knows that he wants peace?
John Ruskin

December 15

TIS, finally, the Man, who, lifted high,
Conspicuous object in a Nation’s eye,
Or left unthought-of in obscurity,—
Plays, in the many games of life, that one
Where what he most doth value must be won:

*  *  *

Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
Looks forward, persevering to the last,
From well to better, daily self-surpast . . .
This is the happy Warrior; This is He
Whom every Man in arms should wish to be.
William Wordsworth

HE alone is worthy of the appellation who either does great things, or teaches how they may be done, or describes them with a suitable majesty when they have been done; but those only are great things which tend to render life more happy, which increase the innocent enjoyments and comforts of existence, or which pave the way to a state of future bliss more permanent and more pure.
John Milton

GREATNESS of mind is not shown by admitting small things, but by making small things great under its influence. He who can take no interest in what is small, will take false interest in what is great.
John Ruskin

December 14

YET I doubt not thro’ the ages one increasing
purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widen’d with the
process of the suns.
Alfred Tennyson

A HIGHER civilization, by which I understand neither superior clothes, nor better houses, nor richer wines, nor even more destructive gunpowder, but a nobler system of ideas and aspirations possessing a community, must commence, where alone ideas and aspirations can have a beginning, in somebody’s mind.
James Martineau

YE seek to perform a work of regeneration, and,—since without this all political organization is fruitless—of moral personal amelioration; and you hope to accomplish it by banishing every religious idea from your work! Politics merely accept man as he is, in his actual position and character; define his tendencies, and regulate his action in harmony with them. The religious idea alone has power to transform both.
Joseph Mazzini

December 13

AND fierce though the fiends may fight.
And long though the angels hide,
I know that truth and right
Have the universe on their side;
And that somewhere beyond the stars,
Is a love that is better than fate;
When the night unlocks her bars,
I shall see Him—and I will wait.
Washington Gladden

AS well might you attempt to build upon the restless sea, or to steer by shooting stars, or keep time by the leaves dancing in the wind, as shape a mind or train a character amid a scene whose courses were unsteady and where action was a lottery.
James Martineau

THERE is no stability of power, no steadfast peace but in immovable principles of right; no true royalty but in the rule of our own spirits; no real freedom but in unbounded disinterested love; and no fulness of joy but in being alive to that Infinite Presence, Majesty, Goodness, in which we live and move and have our being.
William E. Channing

WE who interpret things heavenly by things earthly must not hope to juggle with them for our pleasures, and can look to no absolution of evil acts.
George Meredith


December 12

THOU who hast borne all burdens, bear our load,
Bear Thou our load, whatever load it be,
Our guilt, our shame, our helpless misery,
Bear Thou, who only canst, O God, my God;
Seek us and find us, for we cannot Thee.
Christina Rossetti

WORSE than the viper’s tooth is the punishment of no longer striving after goodness, or aspiring after the life of God. Just as the man cannot see through the glass on which he breathes, sin darkens the windows of the soul. You cannot look out even to know the glories of the fair world from which your soul excludes itself. There is no punishment equal to the punishment of being base. To sink from sin to sin, from infamy to infamy, that is the fearful retribution which is executed in the spiritual world. You are safe, go where you will, from the viper; as safe as if you were the holiest of God’s children. The fang is in your soul.
Frederick W. Robertson

NOTHING can work me damage except myself; the harm that I sustain I carry about with me, and never am a real sufferer but by my own fault.
St. Bernard