March 28

AND so I live, you see,
Go through the world, try, prove, reject,
Prefer, still struggling to effect
My welfare; happy that I can
Be crossed and thwarted as a man,
Not left in God’s contempt apart,
With ghastly smooth life, dead at heart,
Tame in earth’s paddock as her prize.
Robert Browning

THE Situation that has not its Duty, its Ideal, was never yet occupied by Man. Yes here, in this poor, miserable, hampered, despicable Actual, wherein thou even now standest, here or nowhere is thy Ideal: work it out therefrom; and working, believe, live, be free. Fool! the Ideal is in thyself, the Impediment too is in thyself thy Condition is but the stuff thou art to shape that same ideal out of: what matters whether such stuff be of this sort or that, so the Form thou give it be heroic, be poetic?
Thomas Carlyle

OF nothing may we be more sure than this; that, if we cannot sanctify our present lot, we could sanctify no other. Our heaven and our Almighty Father are there or nowhere. The obstructions of that lot are given for us to heave away by the concurrent touch of a holy spirit, and labour of strenuous will; its gloom, for us to tint with some celestial light; its mysteries are for our worship; its sorrows for our trust; its perils for our courage; its temptations for our faith.
James Martineau


March 21

GO, speed the stars of Thought
On to their shining goals;—
The sower scatters broad his seed,
The wheat thou strew’st be souls.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

BEAUTIFUL it is to understand and know that a thought did never yet die; that as thou, the originator thereof, hast gathered it and created it from the whole Past, so thou wilt transmit it to the whole Empire. It is thus that the heroic Heart, the seeing Eye of the first times, still feels and sees in us of the latest; that the Wise Man stands ever encompassed, and spiritually embraced, by a cloud of witnesses and brothers; and there is a living, literal Communion of Saints, wide as the World itself, and as the History of the World.
Thomas Carlyle

MYSTERIES of influence fall from every earnest volition, to return to us, in gladness or in weeping, after many days. No insult can we pass upon the divine but gentle dignity of duty, no quenching of God’s spirit can we allow, that will not prepare a curse for others as well as for ourselves: nor any reverence, prompt and due, in act as in thought, can we pay to the God within, that will not yield abundant blessing.
James Martineau


March 19

THEY are all gone into the world of light!
And I alone sit lingering here;
Their very memory is fair and bright,
And my sad thoughts doth clear.
Henry Vaughan

WHILE we poor wayfarers still toil, with hot and bleeding feet, along the highway and the dust of life, our companions have but mounted the divergent path, to explore the more sacred streams, and visit the diviner vales, and wander amid the everlasting Alps, of God’s upper province of creation. Death, in short, under the Christian aspect, is but God’s method of colonization; the transition from this mother-country of our race to the fairer and newer world of our emigration.
James Martineau

O ELOQUENT, just and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised: thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two narrow words, Hie jacet!

Sir Walter Raleigh

March 4

DIVINE monition Nature yields,
That not by bread alone we live,
Or what a hand of flesh can give;
That every day should leave some part
Free for a sabbath of the heart:
So shall the seventh be truly blest,
From morn to eve, with hallowed rest.
William Wordsworth

THE first creature of God, in the work of the days, was the light of the sense; the last was the light of reason; and His Sabbath work ever since is the illumination of His Spirit. First, He breathed light upon the face of the matter, or chaos; then He breathed light into the face of man; and still He breathed light into the face of His chosen.
Francis Bacon

WE are sustained then by the sympathy of the highest inspiration, when we make it our “custom” too, to illuminate in our calendar some holy day, and to raise near every cluster of our dwellings a house where “prayer is wont to be made.”
James Martineau

March 1

NOT stirring words, nor gallant deeds alone,
Plain patient work fulfilled that length of life;
Duty, not glory; service, not a throne,
Inspired his effort, set for him the strife.
Arthur H. Clough

IN every duty that God enjoins He marks out the way to Perfection; in every rebuke of conscience He warns us to turn from the way of death. By change, disappointment, affliction, bereavement, He seeks to win us from what is fugitive to the one true Eternal End. The most fallen human being is summoned by an inward voice to repent; and he should trust in God, that if he will listen to this voice, he shall be restored, strengthened, comforted, cheered with hope from the merciful Father, and raised from his degradation to an angel’s glory.
William E. Channing

EACH present conviction, each secret suggestion of duty, constitutes a distinct and separate call of God, which can never be slighted without the certainty of its total departure or its fainter return.
James Martineau

February 26

AH, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
Robert Browning

WE treat God with irreverence by banishing Him from our thoughts, not by referring to His will on slight occasions. His is not the finite authority or intelligence which cannot be troubled with small things. There is nothing so small but that we may honour God by asking His guidance of it, or insult Him by taking it into our own hands; and what is true of the Deity is equally true of His revelation.
John Ruskin

TAKE away the sublime symbolism from our material existence, and let it stand only for what it can make good on its own account, and what is there to redeem it from selfishness and insignificance? The home sinks into a house, the meal into a mess, the grave into a pit; honour and veracity are appreciated chiefly as instruments of trade; purity and temperance, as necessities of health; justice, as the condition of social equilibrium; mercy, as the price of a quiet time.
James Martineau

February 21

GOD’S gift was that man should conceive of truth
And yearn to gain it, catching at mistake,
As midway help till he reach fact indeed.
Robert Browning

ALL opinions, properly so called, are stages on the road to truth. It does not follow that a man will travel any further; but if he has really considered the world and drawn a conclusion, he has travelled so far. This does not apply to formulæ got by rote, which are stages on the road to nowhere but second childhood and the grave. To have a catch-word in your mouth is not the same thing as to hold an opinion; still less is it the same thing as to have made one for yourself.
Robert Louis Stevenson

CLEAR, impartial insight requires, not that we have no preference, but that we have right preferences; not that we shut ourselves up with one faculty, but that we be free through the harmony of all.
James Martineau

February 18

DO the work that’s nearest,
Though it’s dull at whiles,
Helping, when we meet them,
Lame dogs over styles;
See in every hedgerow
Marks of angels’ feet,
Epics in each pebble
Underneath our feet.
Charles Kingsley

LET him who gropes painfully in darkness and uncertain light, and prays vehemently that dawn may ripen into day, lay this other precept well to heart, which to me was of invaluable service: “Do the duty which lies nearest thee,” which thou knowest to be a duty! Thy second duty will already have become clearer.
Thomas Carlyle

THERE are few that rove to find some ampler lot abroad, who do not first neglect the small husbandry of duty at home.
James Martineau


February 14

LORD, purge our eyes to see
Within the seed a tree,
Within the glowing egg a bird,
Within the shroud a butterfly:
Till taught by such, we see
Beyond all creatures Thee.
Christina Rossetti

THE re-building of this bridge between science and human nature is one of the greatest needs mankind. We have all to show that before go on to any visions or creations we can be tented with a planet of miracles.
G. K. Chesterton

NOW that I have no longer any sense for the transitory and perishable, the universe appears before my eyes under a transformed aspect. The dead, heavy mass which did but stop up space has vanished, and in its place there flows onward, with rushing music of mighty waves, an eternal stream of life, and power, and action, which issues from the original source of all life,—from Thy life, O Infinite One! for all life is Thy life, and only the religious eye penetrates to the realm of true Beauty.
J. G. Fichte

DEPEND upon it, it is not the want of greater miracles, but of the soul to perceive such as allowed us still, that makes us push all the sanctities into the far spaces we cannot reach.
James Martineau

February 9

TO humbler functions, awful Power!
I call Thee: I myself commend
Unto Thy guidance from this hour;
Oh, let my weakness have an end!
Give unto me, made lowly wise,
The spirit of self-sacrifice;
The confidence of reason give;
And in the light of truth thy bondman let me live.
William Wordsworth

SO is there no such measurer of the way eternal as the daily sacrifice. As its silent index comes round, the steadiness or trembling of our spirits shows how our reckoning stands with God; and when we feel not its return, save by the passage across our hearts of a clearer peace and brighter love, it is no slight indication that our course is ready to be finished, and the hour come that we should be glorified.
James Martineau

O place, however beautiful, can be perfectly beautiful till the light from the lamp of self sacrifice falls upon it.
John Ruskin