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


December 25

NOR war, or battle’s sound
Was heard the world around:
The idle spear and shield were high up hung.
The hooked chariot stood
Unstain’d with hostile blood,
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng,
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they knew their sov’reign Lord was by.
John Milton

CHRISTMAS is Emmanuel: God, God Himself with us, and not merely His gifts; with us though sin is in us, yea, because it is in us, cleansing us from its stains by the fires of His love and purity. God is with us, not to extinguish us, but to make us realize ourselves, to save us from being daunted and overcome by things; God is with us, enlarging our world by making us new “creatures,” and thereby He finds for us more and more in the world that has affinity with us, more and more potencies that we can use. With the sons of God it is always Christmas and the dawning of the newest of the years.
John Clifford

WE celebrate this incident of the Birth of Jesus in our churches. Poets sing of it. Painters illustrate it. But do we recall it when we meet the beggar in the streets, or pass the hovel with its patched windows, leaking roof, and smoky walls?
William E. Channing

December 23

THE Future hides in it
Gladness and sorrow;
We press still thorow,
Nought that abides in it
Daunting us,—onward.

And solemn before us,
Veiled, the dark Portal;
Goal of all mortal:—
Stars silent rest o’er us,
Graves under us silent!
Johann W. von Goethe

LIFE is a fragment, a moment between two eternities, influenced by all that has preceded, and to influence all that follows. The only way to illumine it is by extent of view.
William E. Channing

THE whole of this life, and all things which those usest in this life, ought to be to thee as an inn to a traveller, not as a house to dwell in.
St. Augustine

I AM not afraid of the future. We have not, as the chosen people of old had, the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night to lead us through the wilderness of human passion and human error, but He who vouchsafed the cloud and the fire has not left us forsaken.
John Bright

December 13

AND fierce though the fiends may fight.
And long though the angels hide,
I know that truth and right
Have the universe on their side;
And that somewhere beyond the stars,
Is a love that is better than fate;
When the night unlocks her bars,
I shall see Him—and I will wait.
Washington Gladden

AS well might you attempt to build upon the restless sea, or to steer by shooting stars, or keep time by the leaves dancing in the wind, as shape a mind or train a character amid a scene whose courses were unsteady and where action was a lottery.
James Martineau

THERE is no stability of power, no steadfast peace but in immovable principles of right; no true royalty but in the rule of our own spirits; no real freedom but in unbounded disinterested love; and no fulness of joy but in being alive to that Infinite Presence, Majesty, Goodness, in which we live and move and have our being.
William E. Channing

WE who interpret things heavenly by things earthly must not hope to juggle with them for our pleasures, and can look to no absolution of evil acts.
George Meredith


December 8

MAY I reach
That purest heaven, be to other souls
The cup of strength in some great agony,
Enkindle generous ardour, feed pure love,
Beget the smiles that have no cruelty,
Be the sweet presence of a good diffused,
And in diffusion ever more intense.
So shall I join the choir invisible,
Whose music is the gladness of the world.
George Eliot

IF we cannot live at once and alone with Him, we may at least live with those who have lived with Him; and find, in our admiring love for their purity, their truth, their goodness, an intercession with His pity on our behalf. To study the lives, to meditate the sorrows, to commune with the thoughts, of the great and holy men and women of this rich world, is a sacred discipline which deserves at least to rank as the forecourt of the temple of true worship, and may train the tastes, ere we pass the very gate of heaven.
James Martineau

THE Influence of the Good and Holy on the present world is thus not limited to their living in it. When are they so lovely, so winning, so powerful to guide and quicken, as after death 1ms withdrawn them from us? Then we feel that the seal is set upon what was made Perfect in their souls. No more can they be sullied by contact with the earth. They take their place like stars in a region of purity and peace.
William E. Channing

December 4

THOU art as much His care, as if beside
Nor man nor angel lived in heaven or earth;
Thus sunbeams pour alike their glorious tide
To light up worlds, or wake an insect’s mirth.
John Keble

IF our merits be above our stations, if our intrinsical value be greater than what we go for, or our value than our valuation, and if we stand higher in God’s than in the Censor’s Book; it may make some equitable balance in the inequalities of this World, and there may be no such vast Chasm or Gulph between disparities as common measures determine. The Divine Eye looks upon high and low differently from that of men.
Sir Thomas Browne

AND such is our God. He is the God of All, and yet He is my God. At the same moment He pervades heaven and earth, takes charge of the sustenance, progress, and growing happiness of the unbounded creation, and He is present with me, as intent upon my character, actions, wants, trials, joys, and hopes, as if I were the sole object of His love.
William E. Channing

December 2

LET all men know, that all men move
Under a canopy of love,
As broad as the blue sky above;
That doubt and trouble, fear and pain,
And anguish, all are shadows vain;
That death itself shall not remain.
Archbishop Trench

BY natural faith I mean the assumption that a Divine Perfection is the everlasting basis of all things, that infinite Thought and Holiness are and ever must be at the helm of affairs, and that the universe is but the phenomenon for expressing God’s eternal reality.
James Martineau

LET us adore Him for the streams of bounty which flow unceasingly from the fountains of His life, to all His countless creatures. But, on the other hand, beware lest in thus enlarging your view of the Infinite One, you lose your hold of the correlative truth—that though all beings of all worlds are His care, though His mind thus embraces the universe, He is yet as mindful of you, as if that universe were blotted out, and you alone survived to receive the plenitude of His care.
William E. Channing

December 1

FOR Mankind are one in spirit, and an instinct bears along,
Round the earth’s electric circle, the swift flash of right and wrong;
Whether conscious or unconscious, yet Humanity’s vast frame
Through its ocean-sundered fibres feels the gush of joy or shame;—
In the gain or loss of one race all the rest have equal claim.
James Russell Lowell

THE great duty of God’s children is to love one another. This duty on earth takes the name and form of the law of humanity. We are to recognize all men as brethren, no matter where born, or under what sky, or institution, or religion, they may live. Every man belongs to the race, and owes a duty to mankind. Every nation belongs to the family of nations, and is to desire the good of all. Nations are to love one another. . . . Men cannot vote this out of the universal acclamation. . . . Men cannot, by combining themselves into narrower or larger societies, sever the sacred, blessed bond which joins them to their kind. . . . The law of humanity must reign over the assertion of all human rights.
William E. Channing

THEY who pretend to teach you morality while limiting your duties to those you owe to your family or to your country, do but teach you a more or less enlarged egotism.
Joseph Mazzini

November 16

THEY know the Almighty’s power,
Who, wakened by the rushing midnight shower,
Watch for the fitful breeze
To howl and chafe amid the bending trees,
Watch for the still white gleam,
To bathe the landscape in a fiery stream;
Touching the tremulous eye with sense of light
Too rapid and too pure for all but angel sight.
John Keble

WISDOM is omnipresent. Everywhere it comes to meet us. It shines in the sun. It irradiates the heavens. It whispers through all sounds of nature. It beams resplendent from the characters of good and wise men, and more brightly still in our own souls. Our teachers are thus all around and within, above and beneath. Divine wisdom is not shut up within any book. It is not heard from pulpits alone. It has better preachers than all ministers. And one great aim of the true minister is to help his hearers to understand wiser teachers than himself, and to open their ears to more harmonious voices.
William E. Channing

THE Finger of God hath left an inscription upon all His works, not graphical or composed by Letters, but of their several forms, constitutions, parts, and operations, which, aptly joyned together, do make one word that doth express their natures.
Sir Thomas Browne

October 31

O LORD, in me there lieth nought
But to Thy search revealbd lies;
For when I sit
Thou markest it,
No less Thou notest when I rise;
The closest closet of my thought
Hath open windows to Thine eyes.
Sir Philip Sydney

NEVER fear that your wants are forgotten, because the boundless Creation sends up a cry to its common Father, and He has an infinite Family for whom to provide. Never think that your characters are objects of little interest, because innumerable orders of beings of higher attainments and virtues attract the regards of this munificent King. Were you His only creature alive, He could not think of you more constantly and tenderly, or be more displeased with your resistance to duty, or feel more joy in your fidelity to right, than He does now.
William E. Channing

SHOULD we not invariably act in this life as though the God whom our heart desires with its highest desire were watching our every action?
Maurice Maeterlinck