I HAVE gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke:
I, a work of God’s hand for that purpose, received in my brain
And pronounced on the rest of His hand work— returned Him again
His creation’s approval or censure: I spoke as I saw:
I report, as a man may of God’s work—all’s love, yet all’s law.
THE wise and good man, having investigated all these things, will submit his own mind to Him that governeth the whole, even as good citizens to the laws of their State.
LET not Fortune, which hath no name in Scripture, have any in thy Divinity. Let Providence, not Chance, have the honour of thy acknowledgments, and be thy Oedipus in Contingencies.
Sir Thomas Browne
SERVE God before the world; let Him not go
Until thou hast a blessing; then resigne
The whole unto Etim; and remember who
Prevailed by wrestling ere the sun did shine.
Pour oyl upon the stones, weep for thy sin,
Then journey on, and have an eie to heav’n.
CAN you then declare to us in what manner you have taken thought for your soul? For it is not likely that a wise man like yourself, and one of repute in the State, would overlook the best thing you possess, and use no diligence or design about it; but leave it neglected and perishing? Surely not.
THOU dost excite us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless till it find rest in Thee.
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.
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.
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.
THOU judgest us: Thy purity
Doth all our lusts condemn;
The love that draws us nearer Thee
Is hot with wrath of them.
John G. Whittier
UNHAPPY man! Thou bearest about with thee a God, and knowest it not! Thinkest thou I speak of some God of gold and silver, and external to thee? Nay, but in thyself thou dost bear him, and seest not that thou defilest him with thine impure thoughts and filthy deeds. In the presence even of an image of God thou hadst not dared to do one of those things which thou dost. But in the presence of God himself within thee, who seeth and heareth all things, thou art not ashamed of the things thou dost both desire and do. O thou unwitting of thine own nature, and subject to the wrath of God!
AND let no man be deceived as if the contagions of the soul were less than those of the body; they are yet greater; they convey more direful diseases; they sink deeper, and creep on more unsuspectedly.
HURT not your conscience with any known sin.
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.
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.
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.
FEAR death?—to feel the fog in my throat,
The mist in my face,
When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
I am nearing the place,
The power of the night, the press of the storm,
The post of the foe;
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
Yet the strong man must go:
For the journey is done, and the summit attained,
And the barriers fall,
Though a battle’s to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
The reward of it all.
FOR neither in war nor yet at law ought I or any man to use every way of escaping death. Often in battle there can be no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death; and in other dangers there are other ways of escaping death, if a man is willing to say and do anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not to avoid death, but to avoid unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death.
Socrates (to those who had condemned him to death)
MEN are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and ideas which they form about them. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our idea that death is terrible.
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
THE friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel,
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade.
ONLY be admonished by what you already see, not to strike leagues of friendship with cheap persons, where no friendship can be. Our impatience betrays us into rash and foolish alliances which no God attends.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
FOR where else is friendship than where faith is, where piety is, where there is an interchange of virtue, and none of other things than that?
WITHOUT Me friendship hath no strength, no continuance; neither is that love true and pure, which is not knit by Me.
Thomas A Kempis
IF thou but suffer God to guide thee,
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days;
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love,
Builds on the Rock that nought can move.
WE would commend a faith that even seems audacious, like that of the sturdy Covenanter, Robert Bruce, who requested as he was dying that his finger might be placed on one of God’s strong promises, as though to challenge the Judge of all with it as he should enter His presence.
EVERY promise of God hath this consideration tacitly annexed to it—“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
FOR everywhere belief is mighty, belief is invincible.