March 26

PRAYER is the burthen of a sigh;
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.
James Montgomery

“FOR everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” But neither days, nor hours, nor seasons, did ever come amiss to faithful prayer. Short passes, quick ejections, concise forms and remembrances, holy breathings, prayers like little posies, may be sent forth without number on every occasion, and God will note them in His book. But all that have a care to walk with God, fill their vessels more largely as soon as they rise, before they begin the work of the day, and before they lie down again at night: which is to observe what the Lord appointed in the Levitical ministry, a morning and an evening lamb to be laid upon the altar. So with them that are not stark irreligious, prayer is the key to open the day, and the bolt to shut in the night.
Jeremy Taylor

A LITTLE lifting up of the heart suffices; a little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship, though upon a march, and sword in hand, are prayers, which, however short, are nevertheless very acceptable to God; and far from lessening a soldiers courage in occasions of danger, they best serve to fortify it.
Brother Lawrence


March 9

GREAT is the facile conqueror;
Yet haply he, who, wounded sore,
Breathless, unhorsed, all covered o’er
With blood and sweat,
Sinks foiled, but fighting evermore,
Is greater yet.
William Watson

EVERY chain is a ray of light, and every prison is a palace, and every loss is the purchase of a kingdom, and every affront in the cause of God is an eternal honour, and every day of sorrow is a thousand years of comfort, multiplied with a never-ceasing numeration; days without night, joys without sorrow, sanctity without sin, charity without stain, possession without fear, society without envying, communication of joys without lessening; and they shall dwell in a blessed country, where an enemy never entered, and from whence a friend never went away.
Jeremy Taylor

THE martyr cannot be dishonoured. Every lash inflicted is a tongue of fame; every prison, a more illustrious abode; every burned book or house enlightens the world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side. Hours of sanity and consideration are always arriving to communities, as to individals, when the truth is seen, and the martyrs are justified.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

February 27

WHAT man is he, that boasts of fleshly might
And vaine assurance of mortality,
Which, all so soone as it doth come to fight
Against spirituall foes, yields by and by,
Or from the fielde most cowardly doth fly!
Ne let the man ascribe it to his skill,
That thorough grace hath gained victory:
If any strength we have, it is to ill,
But all the good is God’s, both power and eke will.
Edmund Spenser

DO not those of us, who have been mercifully prevented from damning ourselves before the whole world, who have succeeded and triumphed — do we not know, know as we know hardly anything else, that our success and our triumph were due to superiority in strength by just a grain, no more, of our better self over the raging rebellion beneath it? It was just a tremble of the tongue in the balance; it might have gone this way, or it might have gone the other, but by God’s grace it was this way settled — God’s grace, as surely, in some form of words, everybody must acknowledge it to have been.
Mark Rutherford

THE very privative blessings, the blessings of immunity, safeguard, and integrity which we all enjoy, deserve a thanksgiving of a whole life.
Jeremy Taylor

January 23

WISH not, dear friends, my pain away—
Wish me a wise and thankful heart,
With God, in all my griefs, to stay,
Nor from His loved correction start.
John Keble

ALL is well as long as the sun shines and the fair breath of heaven gently wafts into our own purposes. But if you will try the excellency and feel the work of faith, place the man in a persecution; let him ride in a storm; let his bones be broken with sorrow and his eyelids be loosened with sickness; let his bread be dipped in tears and all the daughters of music be brought low; let God commence a quarrel against him, and be bitter in the accents of His anger or His discipline: then God tries your faith. Can you, then, trust His goodness, and believe Him to be a Father, when you groan under His rod? Can you rely upon all the strange propositions of Scripture, and be content to perish if they be not true? Can you receive comfort in the discourses of death and heaven, of immortality and the resurrection, of the death of Christ, and conforming to His sufferings?
Jeremy Taylor

TO have suffered, nay, to suffer, sets a keen edge on what remains of the agreeable. This is a great truth, and has to be learned in the fire.
Robert Louis Stevenson

November 6

THOU that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart:
See how Thy beggar works on Thee
By art:

He makes Thy gifts occasion more,
And says, if he in this be crost,
All Thou hast given him heretofore
Is lost.

George Herbert

OF those who fail, I do not speak—despair should be sacred; but to those who even modestly succeed, the changes of this life bring interest; a job found, a shilling saved, a dainty earned, all these are wells of pleasure springing afresh for the successful poor, and it is not from these but from the villa-dweller, that we hear complaints of the unworthiness of life.
Robert Louis Stevenson

IT is usually not so much the greatness of our trouble as the littleness of our spirit which makes us complain.
Jeremy Taylor

INGRATITUDE is the abridgement of all baseness—a fault never found unattended with other viciousness.

Thomas Fuller

September 15

NO small profit that man earns,
Who through all he meets can steer him,
Can reject what cannot clear him,
Cling to what can truly cheer him;
Who each day more surely learns
That an impulse, from the distance
Of his deepest best existence,
To the words, “Hope, Light, Persistence,”
Strongly sets and truly burns.
Matthew Arnold

INDEED, I can see no dishonesty in not avowing a difference; and especially in these high matters, where we have all a sufficient assurance that, whoever may be in the wrong, we ourselves are not completely right. … I know right well that we are all embarked upon a troublesome world, the children of one Father, striving in many essential points to do and to become the same.
Robert Louis Stevenson

IT is not the differing opinions that is the cause of the present ruptures, but want of charity; it is not the variety of understandings, but the disunion of wills, and affections; it is not the several principles, but the several ends, that cause our miseries; our opinions commence, and are upheld, according as our turns are served, and our interests are preserved; and there is no cure for us but piety and charity.
Jeremy Taylor

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

August 21

MORE servants wait on Man
Than he’ll take notice of: in every path
He treads down that which doth befriend him
When sickness makes him pale and wan.
O mighty love! Man is one world, and hath
Another to attend him.
George Herbert

FOR in our health and clearer days, it is easy to talk of putting trust in God; we readily trust Him for life, when we are in health; for provisions, when we have fair revenues; and for deliverance, when we are newly escaped: but let us come to sit upon the margent of our grave, and let a tyrant lean hard upon our fortunes, and dwell upon our wrong; let the storm arise, and the keels toss till the cordage crack, or that all our hopes bulge under us, and descend into the hollowness of sad misfortunes; then can you believe, when you neither hear, nor see, nor feel anything but objections? This is the proper work of sickness: faith is then brought into the theatre; and so exercised, that if it abides but to the end of the contention, we may see the work of faith, which God will crown.
Jeremy Taylor

A MAN who makes progress in prosperity, by adversity learns what progress he has made. For when he has an abundance of these passing goods, he trusts not in them, but when they are withdrawn, he recognizes whether they have not taken hold of him.
St. Augustine

August 11

OH! there is never sorrow of heart
That shall lack a timely end,
If but to God we turn, and ask
Of Him to be our Friend!
William Wordsworth

HE walks as in the presence of God, that converses with Him in frequent prayer and frequent communion; that runs to Him in all his necessities; that asks counsel of Him in all his doubtings; that opens all his wants to Him; that weeps before Him for his sins; that asks remedy and support for his weakness; that fears Him as a Judge; reverences Him as a Lord; obeys Him as a Father; and loves Him as a Patron.
Jeremy Taylor

AS sure, therefore, as there is any wisdom in praying for the Spirit of God, so sure is it that we are to make that Spirit the rule of all our actions; as sure as it is our duty to look wholly unto God in our prayers, so sure is it our duty to live wholly unto God in our bodies.
William Law

July 30

LORD, grant us calm, if calm can set forth Thee;
Or tempest, if a tempest set Thee forth;
Wind from the east, or west, or south, or north,
Or congelation of a silent sea,
With stillness of each tremulous aspen tree.

Still let fruit fall, or hang upon a tree;
Still let the east and west, the south and north,
Curb in their winds, or plough a thundering sea;
Still let the earth abide to set thee forth,
Or vanish like a smoke to set forth Thee.
Christina Rossetti

A MIND which withstands all the powers of the outward universe, all the pains which fire and sword and storm can inflict, rather than swerve from uprightness, is nobler than the universe.
William E. Channing

ENJOY the blessings of this day if God sends them; and the evils bear patiently and sweetly. For this day only is ours; we are dead to yesterday, and we are not born to to-morrow.
Jeremy Taylor