December 31

THE moving finger writes; and having writ.
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a word of it.
Omar Khayyám

CAST forth thy Act, thy Word, into the ever-living, ever-working Universe; it is a seed grain that cannot die; unnoticed to-day (says one), it will be found flourishing as a Banyan-grove (perhaps, alas, as a Hemlock-forest!) after a thousand years.
Thomas Carlyle

UNDER no circumstances, whether of pain, or grief, or disappointment, or irreparable mistake, can it be true that there is not something to be done, as well as something to be suffered. And thus it is that the spirit of Christianity draws over our life, not a leaden cloud of remorse and despondency, but a sky—not perhaps of radiant, but yet—of most serene and chastened manly hope. There is a Past which is gone for ever. But there is a Future which is still our own.
Frederick W. Robertson


December 30

IF stately passions in me burn,
And one chance look to Thee should turn,
I drink out of an humbler urn
A lowlier pleasure:
The homely sympathy that heeds
The common life our nature breeds;
A wisdom fitted to the needs
Of hearts at leisure.
William Wordsworth

AS for the pleasures of this life, and outward Business, let that be upon the bye. Be above all these things, by Faith in Christ, and then you shall have the true use and comfort of them — and not otherwise.

Oliver Cromwell

BEAR not too slack reins upon Pleasure, nor let complexion or contagion betray thee unto the exorbitancy of Delight. Make Pleasure thy Recreation or intermissive Relaxation, not thy Diana, Life and Profession.
Sir Thomas Browne

FOR thou art not come into this world to choose out its pleasanter places, but to dwell in those where thou wast born, and whereof thou wast appointed to be a citizen.

LOVE not Pleasure; love God. This is the Everlasting Yea, wherein all contradiction is solved; wherein whoso walks and works, it is well with him.
Thomas Carlyle

December 29

THERE’S not a crime
But takes its proper change out still in crime.
If once rung on the counters of the world:
Let sinners look to it.
Elizabeth B. Browning

YOU cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. “No man had ever a point of pride that was not injurious to him,” said Burke. The exclusive in fashionable life does not see that he excludes himself from enjoyment, in the attempt to appropriate it. The exclusionist in religion does not see that he shuts the door of heaven on himself, in striving to shut out others. Treat men as pawns and ninepins, and you shall suffer as well as they. If you leave out their heart, you shall lose your own.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

SAY what men will of the heartlessness of Trade, it is nothing compared with the heartlessness of Fashion. Say what they will of the atheism of Science, it is nothing to the atheism of that round of Pleasure in which many a heart lives: dead while it lives.
Frederick W. Robertson

December 28

HE forgot his own soul for others,
Himself to his neighbours lending,
And found the Lord in his suffering brothers,
And not in the clouds descending.
John G. Whittier

EVERY act done in Christ receives its exact and appropriate reward. They that are meek shall inherit the earth. They that are pure shall see God. They that suffer shall reign with Him. They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever. They that receive a righteous man in the name of a righteous man— that is, because he is a righteous man—shall receive a righteous man’s reward. Even the cup of cold water, given in the name of Christ, shall not lose its reward.
Frederick W. Robertson

I DO not now refer to the consequences of conduct in a future life; but to a certain perpetual and indestructible influence it must have upon this world. It is a mistake to suppose that any service rendered to mankind, any interesting relations of human life, any exhibition of moral greatness, even any peculiar condition of society, can ever be lost; their form only disappears; their value still remains, and their office is everlastingly performed.
James Martineau

December 27

FOR want of me the world’s course will nor fail; 
When all its work is done, the lie shall rot;
The truth is great and shall prevail,
When none cares whether it prevail or not.
Coventry Patmore

“TRUTH!” I cried, “though the Heavens crush me for following her: no Falsehood! though a whole celestial Lubberland were the price of Apostacy.”
Thomas Carlyle

TRUTH which only doth judge itself teachetd that the inquiry of truth (which is the love-making or wooing of it), the knowledge of truth (which is the presence of it), and the belief of truth (which is the enjoying of it) is the sovereign good of human nature.
Francis Bacon

NOWADAYS, truth is so obscure and falsehood is so established, that unless we love truth we are unable to recognize it.
Blaise Pascal

December 26

IN vain shall waves of incense drift
The vaulted nave around,
In vain the minster turret lift
Its brazen weights of sound.

The heart must ring Thy Christmas bells,
Thy inward altars raise;
Its faith and hope Thy canticles,
And its obedience praise!
John G. Whittier

EVIL consists in living for self— that is to say, for one’s own vanity, pride, sensuality, or even health. Righteousness consists in willingly accepting one’s lot, in submitting to and espousing the destiny assigned to us, in willing what God commands, in renouncing what He forbids us, in consenting to what He takes from us or refuses us.
Henri F. Amiel

YES! it is here and nowhere else that the essence of religion lies; not ecclesiastical order, not theological soundness, not even morality and purity of life, but love and loyalty to Christ.
John Caird

LOVE taketh up no malign elements; its spirit prompteth it to cover in mercy all things that ought not to be exposed, to believe all of good that can be believed, to hope all things that a good God makes possible, and to endure all things that the hope may be made good.
John Thom

December 25

NOR war, or battle’s sound
Was heard the world around:
The idle spear and shield were high up hung.
The hooked chariot stood
Unstain’d with hostile blood,
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng,
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they knew their sov’reign Lord was by.
John Milton

CHRISTMAS is Emmanuel: God, God Himself with us, and not merely His gifts; with us though sin is in us, yea, because it is in us, cleansing us from its stains by the fires of His love and purity. God is with us, not to extinguish us, but to make us realize ourselves, to save us from being daunted and overcome by things; God is with us, enlarging our world by making us new “creatures,” and thereby He finds for us more and more in the world that has affinity with us, more and more potencies that we can use. With the sons of God it is always Christmas and the dawning of the newest of the years.
John Clifford

WE celebrate this incident of the Birth of Jesus in our churches. Poets sing of it. Painters illustrate it. But do we recall it when we meet the beggar in the streets, or pass the hovel with its patched windows, leaking roof, and smoky walls?
William E. Channing

December 24

THE time draws near the birth of Christ;
The moon is hid, the night is still;
A single church below the hill
Is pealing, folded in the mist.
Alfred Tennyson

TWO thousand years ago there was One here on this earth who lived the grandest life that ever has been lived yet,—a life that every thinking man, with deeper or shallower meaning, has agreed to call divine. I read little respecting His rights or His claims of rights, but I have read a great deal respecting His duties. Every act He did He called a duty. I read very little in that life respecting His rights, but I hear a vast deal respecting His wrongs,—wrongs infinite, wrongs borne with a majestic, Godlike silence. His reward? His reward was the reward that God gives to all His true and noble ones,—to be cast out in His day and generation, and a life-conferring death at last. These were His rights.
Frederick W. Robertson

AN eternal glory has been shed upon the human race by the love Christ bore to it.
Sir J. R. Seeley

December 23

THE Future hides in it
Gladness and sorrow;
We press still thorow,
Nought that abides in it
Daunting us,—onward.

And solemn before us,
Veiled, the dark Portal;
Goal of all mortal:—
Stars silent rest o’er us,
Graves under us silent!
Johann W. von Goethe

LIFE is a fragment, a moment between two eternities, influenced by all that has preceded, and to influence all that follows. The only way to illumine it is by extent of view.
William E. Channing

THE whole of this life, and all things which those usest in this life, ought to be to thee as an inn to a traveller, not as a house to dwell in.
St. Augustine

I AM not afraid of the future. We have not, as the chosen people of old had, the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night to lead us through the wilderness of human passion and human error, but He who vouchsafed the cloud and the fire has not left us forsaken.
John Bright

December 22

IT is the little rift within the lute,
That by-and-by will make the music mute,
And ever-widening, slowly silence all.
Alfred Tennyson

THE greatest evils in life have had their rise from somewhat which was thought of too little importance to be attended to.
Bishop Butler

IT is sometimes a very trifle, whence a great temptation arises. And whilst I am thinking myself tolerably safe, and when I least expect it, I sometimes find myself almost entirely overcome by a slight breath.
Thomas A Kempis

THE only advice even now, which I can give to those who comprehend the bitter pangs of such self-degradation as passion brings, is to watch the first risings of the storm, and to say “Beware; be watchful,” at the least indication of a tempest.
Mark Rutherford