IN countless upward-striving waves
The moon-drawn tide-wave strives;
In thousand far-transplanted grafts
The parent fruit survives;
So, in the new-born millions,
The perfect Adam lives.
Not less are summer mornings dear
To every child they wake,
And each with novel life his sphere
Fills for his proper sake.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
GOD appoints to every one of His creatures a separate mission, and if they discharge it honourably, if they quit themselves like men, and faithfully follow the light which is in them, withdrawing from it all cold and quenching influence, there will assuredly come of it such burning as, in its appointed mode and measure, shall shine before men, and be of service constant and holy. Degrees infinite of lustre there must always be, but the weakest among us has a gift, however seemingly trivial, which is peculiar to him, and which, worthily used, will be a gift also to his race for ever.
OUR duty is to be useful, not according to our desires but according to our powers.
Henri F. Amiel
SMALL service is true service while it lasts:
Of humblest Friends, bright creature! Scorn not one;
The Daisy, by the shadow that it casts,
Protects the lingering dew-drop from the Sun.
IF there is any one point which, in six thousand years of thinking about right and wrong, wise and good men have agreed upon, or successively by experience discovered, it is that God dislikes idle and cruel people more than any others:—that His first order is, “Work while you have light;” and His second, “Be merciful while you have mercy.”
TO be honest, to be kind—to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not to be embittered, to keep a few friends, but these without capitulation—above all, on the same grim conditions, to keep friends with himself—here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy.
Robert Louis Stevenson
INTO the truth of things—
Out of their falseness rise, and reach thou, and remain!
FOR myself, I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of Truth; … as being gifted by nature with desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and as being a man that neither affects what is new nor admires what is old, and that hates every kind of imposture. So I thought my nature had a kind of familiarity and relationship with Truth.
IT is wondrous how the truer we become, the more unerringly we know the ring of truth, discern whether a man be true or not, and can fasten at once upon the rising lie in word and look and dissembling act.
Frederick W. Robertson
WHERESOEVER the search after truth begins, there life begins. Wheresoever that search ceases, there life ceases.
BUT, above all, the victory is most sure
For him, who, seeking faith by virtue, strives
To yield entire obedience to the Law
Of Conscience; Conscience reverenced and obeyed,
As God’s most intimate presence in the soul,
And His most perfect image in the world.
“BUT this poor miserable Me! Is this, then, all the book I have got to read about God in?” Yes, truly so. No other book, nor fragment of book, than that, will you ever find;—no velvet-bound missal, nor frankincensed manuscript;— nothing in the clouds above, nor in the earth beneath. That flesh-bound volume is the only revelation that is, that was, or that can be. In that is the image of God painted; in that is the law of God written; in that is the promise of God revealed. Know thyself; for through thyself only thou canst know God.
THE greatest thing of the world is for a man to know how to be his own.
Michael E. Montaigne
AH, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
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.
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.
THAT day of wrath, that dreadful day
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
What power shall be the sinner’s stay?
How shall we meet that dreadful day?
When, shriveling like a parched scroll,
The flaming heavens together roll;
When louder yet, and yet more dread
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead.
Thomas of Celano
EVERY day is a day of judgment—every day is a Dies Iræ, and writes its irrevocable verdict in the flame of its West. Think you that judgment waits till the doors of the grave are opened? It waits at the doors of your houses—it waits at the corners of your streets; we are in the midst of judgment—the insects that we crush are our judges, the moments we fret away are our judges—the elements that feed us, judge, as they minister—and the pleasures that deceive us, judge, as they indulge. Let us, for our lives, do the work of Men while we bear the form of them, if indeed those lives are not as a vapour, and do not vanish away.
THE world is full of Judgment Days, and into every assembly that a man enters, in every action he attempts, he is gauged and stamped.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
LORD of all being! throned afar,
Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Centre and soul of every sphere,
Yet to each loving heart how near!
Oliver Wendell Holmes
AMONG the children of God, there is always that fearful and bowed apprehension of His Majesty, and that sacred dread of all offence to Him which is called the Fear of God; yet of real and essential fear there is not any, but clinging of confidence to Him as their Rock, Fortress, and Deliverer; and perfect love and casting out of fear; so that it is not possible that, while the mind is rightly bent on Him, there should be dread of anything earthly or supernatural; and the more dreadful seems the height of His Majesty, the less fear they feel that dwell in the shadow of it. “Of whom shall I be afraid?”
GOD accounts a flight to the strong tower of His name to be the most excellent valour.
DROP Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress;
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
John G. Whittier
AN imperturbable demeanour comes from perfect patience. Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.
Robert Louis Stevenson
CERTAINLY at present, and perhaps through all your life, your teachers are wisest when they make you content in quiet virtue, and that literature and art are best for you which point out, in common life, and in familiar things, the objects for hopeful labour, and for humble love.
OH, Day, if I squander a wavelet of thee,
A mite of my twelve hours’ treasure,
The least of thy gazes or glances,
(Be they grants thou art bound to or gifts above measure)
One of thy choices or one of thy chances,
(Be they tasks God imposed thee or freaks at thy pleasure)
—My Day, if I squander such labour or leisure,
Then shame fall on Asolo, mischief on me!
DO not act as if you had ten thousand years to throw away. Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something, while you live and it is in your power.
THERE are no chagrins so venomous as the chagrins of the idle; there are no pangs so sickening as the satieties of pleasure. Nay, the bitterest and most enduring sorrow may be borne through the burden and heat of the day bravely to the due time of death by a true worker.
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.
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.
O place, however beautiful, can be perfectly beautiful till the light from the lamp of self sacrifice falls upon it.