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 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


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

November 23

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,
But vaster.
Alfred Tennyson

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.
Thomas Carlyle

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.
John Ruskin

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.
Max Muller

November 20

HE fought his doubts and gather’d strength:
He would not make his judgment blind,
He faced the spectres of the mind
And laid them. Thus he came at length

To find a stronger faith his own;
And Power was with him in the night,
Which makes the darkness and the light,
And dwells not in the light alone.
Alfred Tennyson

ANY man, not the man who has most means of knowing, who has the subtlest brains, or sits under the most orthodox preacher, or has his library fullest of most orthodox books,—but the man who strives to know, who takes God at His word, and sets himself to dig up the heavenly mystery, roots and all, before sunset, and the night come, when no man can work.
John Ruskin

RELIGION makes invulnerable and invincible. Earth can only be conquered in the name of heaven. All good things are given over and above to him who desires but righteousness. To be disinterested is to be strong, and the world is at the feet of him whom it cannot tempt. Why ? Because spirit is lord of matter, and the world belongs to God. “Be of good cheer,” said a heavenly voice, “I have overcome the world.”
Henri F. Amiel

October 29

ANY man that walks the mead,
In bud or blade, or bloom may find
According as his humours lead,
A meaning suited to his mind.
Alfred Tennyson

THE true standard of the arts is in every man’s power; and an easy observation of the most common, sometimes of the meanest, things in nature, will give the truest lights, where the greatest sagacity and industry, that slights such observation, must leave us in the dark, or, what is worse, amuse and mislead us by false lights.
Edmund Burke

NO most gifted eye can exhaust the significance of any object. In the commonest human face there lies more than Raphael will take away with him.
Thomas Carlyle

IT is the treating of the commonplace with the feeling of the sublime that gives to art its true power.
Jean F. Millet

October 9

LIFE is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And heated hot with burning fears,
And dipt in baths of hissing tears,
And battered with the shocks of doom
To shape and use.
Alfred Tennyson

LIFE, like war, is a series of mistakes, and he is not the best Christian nor the best general who makes the fewest false steps. Poor mediocrity may secure that! but he is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. Forget mistakes; organize victory out of mistakes.
Frederick W. Robertson

NEITHER let mistakes nor wrong directions discourage thee. There is precious instruction to be got by finding we were wrong.
Thomas Carlyle

CHARITY is a common duty. The dedication of a man’s life and whole mind to a cause, there’s heroism.
George Meredith

October 5

WE have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from Thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Alfred Tennyson

REASON itself, in all its applications, must take the greatest for granted, in order to learn the least. You cannot refer the smallest object to its place, cannot trace the summer cloud or shooting star, without believing an immensity around its track. You cannot fix the date of the most trivial incident, without assuming an eternity in which it lies.
James Martineau

I HAD rather be instrumental in the communication of light and knowledge to the meanest believer, than to have the clearest success against prejudiced disputers.
John Owen

TAKE as many to heaven with you as ye are able to draw. The more ye draw with you, ye shall be the welcomer yourself.
Samuel Rutherford

September 27

DOUBT no longer that the Highest is the wisest
and the best,
Let not all that saddens Nature blight thy hope or
break thy rest,
Quail not at the fiery mountain, at the shipwreck,
or the rolling
Thunder, or the rending earthquake, or the famine
or the pest!
Alfred Tennyson

WHAT art thou afraid of? Wherefore, like a coward, dost thou for ever pip and whimper, and go cowering and trembling? Despicable biped! What is the sum-total of the worst that lies before thee? Death? Well, Death; and say the pangs of Tophet too, and all that the Devil and Man may, will, or can do against thee! Hast thou not a heart; canst thou not suffer whatso it be; and, as a Child of Freedom, though outcast, trample Tophet itself under thy feet, while it consumes thee? Let it come, then; I will meet it and defy it!
Thomas Carlyle

WHAT have I gained, that I no longer immolate a bull to Jove, or to Neptune, or a mouse to Hecate; that I do not tremble before the Eumenides, or the Catholic Purgatory, or the Calvinistic Judgment-day,—if I quake at opinion, the public opinion, as we call it; or at the threat of assault, or contumely, or bad neighbours, or poverty, or mutilation, or at the rumour of revolution, or of murder? If I quake, what matters it what I quake at?
Ralph Waldo Emerson

August 29

THO’ sin too oft, when smitten by Thy rod,
Rail at “Blind Fate” with many a vain “Alas!”
From sin thro’ sorrow into Thee we pass
By that same path our true forefathers trod;
And let not Reason fail me, nor the sod
Draw from my death Thy living flower and grass,
Before I learn that Love, which is, and was.
My Father, and my Brother, and my God!
Steel me with patience! soften me with grief!
Let blow the trumpet strongly while I pray,
Till this embattled wall of unbelief,
My prison, not my fortress, fall away!
Then, if Thou wiliest, let my day be brief,
So Thou wilt strike Thy glory thro’ the day.
Alfred Tennyson

FOR no man did ever heartily pray against his sin in the midst of a temptation to it, if he did in any sense or degree listen to the temptation; for to pray against a sin, is to have desires contrary to it, and that cannot consist with any love or any kindness to it.
Jeremy Taylor

AND somewhat on this wise also it happens in the affections of the soul; certain traces and scars are left in it, in which if a man do not wholly eradicate, when he hath been again scourged on the same place, it shall make no longer scars, but sores.

THE giving way to the law of sin in the least is the giving strength to it. To let it alone is to let it grow; not to conquer it is to be conquered by it.
John Owen