Reference > Quotations > C.N. Douglas, comp. > Forty Thousand Quotations > Primary Author Index
C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
  A great many men—some comparatively small men now—if put in the right position, would be Luthers and Columbuses.  1
  A man can no more be a Christian without facing evil and conquering it than he can be a soldier without going to battle, facing the cannon’s mouth, and encountering the enemy in the field.  2
  A man cannot practise sin and be a good citizen. Burke says very truly: “Whatever disunites man from God disunites man from man.”  3
  A man’s love for his native land lies deeper than any logical expression, among those pulses of the heart which vibrate to the sanctities of home, and to the thoughts which leap up from his father’s graves.  4
  A thousand wheels of labor are turned by dear affections, and kept in motion by self-sacrificing endurance; and the crowds that pour forth in the morning and return at night are daily processions of love and duty.  5
  A true man never frets about his place in the world, but just slides into it by the gravitation of his nature, and swings there as easily as a star.  6
  All evil, in fact the very existence of evil, is inexplicable until we refer to the paternity of God. It hangs a huge blot in the universe until the orb of divine love rises behind it. In that apposition we detect its meaning. It appears to us but a finite shadow as it passes across the disk of infinite light.  7
  All natural results are spontaneous. The diamond sparkles without effort, and the flowers open impulsively beneath the summer rain. And true religion is a spontaneous thing,—as natural as it is to weep, to love, or to rejoice.  8
  All nature is a vast symbolism; every material fact has sheathed within it a spiritual truth.  9
  Always the idea of unbroken quiet broods around the grave. It is a port where the storms of life never beat, and the forms that have been tossed on its chafing waves lie quiet forevermore. There the child nestles as peacefully as ever it lay in its mother’s arms, and the workman’s hands lie still by his side, and the thinker’s brain is pillowed in silent mystery, and the poor girl’s broken heart is steeped in a balm that extracts its secret woe, and is in the keeping of a charity that covers all blame.  10
  An aged Christian, with the snow of time on his head, may remind us that those points of earth are whitest which are nearest heaven.  11
  As for environments, the kingliest being ever born in the flesh lay in a manger.  12
  At the bottom of a good deal of the bravery that appears in the world there lurks a miserable cowardice. Men will face powder and steel because they cannot face public opinion.  13
  Bigotry dwarfs the soul by shutting out the truth.  14
  Certainly, truth should be strenuous and bold; but the strongest things are not always the noisiest, as any one may see who compares scolding with logic.  15
  Christianity has made martyrdom sublime, and sorrow triumphant.  16
  Conscience is its own readiest accuser.  17
  Consider and act with reference to the true ends of existence. This world is but the vestibule of an immortal life. Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.  18
  Courage is always greatest when blended with meekness; intellectual ability is most admirable when it sparkles in the setting of a modest self-distrust; and never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.  19
  Death is not an end, but a transition crisis. All the forms of decay are but masks of regeneration—the secret alembics of vitality.  20
  Death makes a beautiful appeal to charity. When we look upon the dead form, so composed and still, the kindness and the love that are in us all come forth.  21
  Do not ask if a man has been through college. Ask if a college has been through him; if he is a walking university.  22
  Each thing lives according to its kind; the heart by love, the intellect by truth, the higher nature of man by intimate communion with God.  23
  Earth has scarcely an acre that does not remind us of actions that have long preceded our own, and its clustering tombstones loom up like reefs of the eternal shore, to show us where so many human barks have struck and gone down.  24
  Events are only the shells of ideas; and often it is the fluent thought of ages that is crystallized in a moment by the stroke of a pen or the point of a bayonet.  25
  Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.  26
  Gaiety is often the reckless ripple over depths of despair.  27
  Heaven never defaults. The wicked are sure of their wages, sooner or later.  28
  Hill and valley, seas and constellations, are but stereotypes of divine ideas appealing to and answered by the living soul of man.  29
  Home is the seminary of all other institutions.  30
  Honor to the idealists, whether philosophers or poets. They have improved us by mingling with our daily pursuits great and transcendent conceptions. They have thrown around our sensual life the grandeur of a better, and drawn us up from contacts with the temporal and the selfish to communion with beauty and truth and goodness.  31
  How often a new affection makes a new man! The sordid, cowering soul turns heroic. The frivolous girl becomes the steadfast martyr of patience and ministration, transfigured by deathless love. The career of bounding impulses turns into an anthem of sacred deeds.  32
  I should not like to preach to a congregation who all believed as I believe, I would as lief preach to a basket of eggs in their smooth compactness and oval formality.  33
  I will tell you where there is power: where the dew lies upon the hills, and the rain has moistened the roots of the various plants; where the sunshine pours steadily; where the brook runs babbling along, there is a beneficent power.  34
  If you should take the human heart and listen to it, it would be like listening to a sea-shell; you would hear in it the hollow murmur of the infinite ocean to which it belongs, from which it draws its profoundest inspiration, and for which it yearns.  35
  Impatience dries the blood sooner than age or sorrow.  36
  Impatience never commanded success.  37
  In the history of man it has been very generally the case that when evils have grown insufferable they have touched the point of cure.  38
  In the matter of faith, we have the added weight of hope to that of reason in the convictions which we sustain relating to a future state.  39
  In this world the inclination to do things is of more importance than the mere power.  40
  Influence is exerted by every human being from the hour of birth to that of death.  41
  Into what boundless life does education admit us. Every truth gained through it expands a moment of time into illimitable being—positively enlarges our existence, and endows us with qualities which time cannot weaken or destroy.  42
  Is there anything so wretched as to look at a man of fine abilities doing nothing?  43
  It is a great thing, when our Gethsemane hours come, when the cup of bitterness is pressed to our lips, and when we pray that it may pass away, to feel that it is not fate, that it is not necessity, but divine love for good ends working upon us.  44
  It is a mistake to consider marriage merely as a scheme of happiness. It is also a bond of service. It is the most ancient form of that social ministration which God has ordained for all human beings, and which is symbolized by all the relations of nature.  45
  It is a port where the storms of life never beat, and the forms that have been tossed on its chafing waves lie quiet forevermore.  46
  It is as bad to clip conscience as to clip coin; it is as bad to give a counterfeit statement as a counterfeit bill.  47
  It is because we underrate thought, because we do not see what a great element it is in religious life, that there is so little of practical and consistent religion among us.  48
  It is difficult to believe that a true gentleman will ever become a gamester, a libertine, or a sot.  49
  It is exceedingly deleterious to withdraw the sanction of religion from amusement. If we feel that it is all injurious we should strip the earth of its flowers and blot out its pleasant sunshine.  50
  It is not enjoined upon us to forget, but we are told to forgive, our enemies.  51
  It is not the defects but the beauties which should form our criterion of judgment in all matters of art.  52
  It is the penalty of fame that a man must ever keep rising. “Get a reputation and then go to bed,” is the absurdest of all maxims, “Keep up a reputation or go to bed,” would be nearer the truth.  53
  It is the veiled angel of sorrow who plucks away one thing and another that bound us here in ease and security, and, in the vanishing of these dear objects, indicates the true home of our affections and our peace.  54
  It is those who make the least display of their sorrow who mourn the deepest.  55
  It takes something of a poet to apprehend and get into the depth, the lusciousness, the spiritual life of a great poem. And so we must be in some way like God in order that we may see God as He is.  56
  Life is a crucible. We are thrown into it and tried.  57
  Life, whether in this world or any other, is the sum of our attainment, our experience, our character. The conditions are secondary. In what other world shall we be more surely than we are here?  58
  Man gains wider dominion by his intellect than by his right arm. The mustard-seed of thought is a pregnant treasury of vast results. Like the germ in the Egyptian tombs, its vitality never perishes; and its fruit will spring up after it has been buried for long ages.  59
  Man was sent into the world to be a growing and exhaustless force. The world was spread out around him to be seized and conquered. Realms of infinite truth burst open above him, inviting him to tread those shining coasts along which Newton dropped his plummet, and Herschel sailed,—a Columbus of the skies.  60
  Morality is the vestibule of religion.  61
  Neutral men are the devil’s allies.  62
  Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares to forgive an injury.  63
  No language can express the power and beauty and heroism of a mother’s love.  64
  No more important duty can be urged upon those who are entering the great theater of life than simple loyalty to their best convictions.  65
  No piled-up wealth, no social station, no throne, reaches as high as that spiritual plane upon which every human being stands by virtue of his humanity.  66
  Not in the achievement, but in the endurance of the human soul, does it show its divine grandeur and its alliance with the infinite God.  67
  Not nations, not armies, have advanced the race; but here and there, in the course of ages, an individual has stood up and cast his shadow over the world.  68
  O, how much those men are to be valued who, in the spirit with which the widow gave up her two mites, have given up themselves! How their names sparkle! How rich their very ashes are! How they will count up in heaven!  69
  Objects close to the eye shut out much larger objects on the horizon; and splendors born only of the earth eclipse the stars. So a man sometimes covers up the entire disc of eternity with a dollar, and quenches transcendent glories with a little shining dust.  70
  Ostentation is the signal flag of hypocrisy. The charlatan is verbose and assumptive; the Pharisee is ostentatious, because he is a hypocrite. Pride is the master sin of the Devil; and the Devil is the father of lies.  71
  Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seamed with scars; martyrs have put on their coronation robes glittering with fire, and through their tears have the sorrowful first seen the gates of heaven.  72
  Profaneness is a brutal vice. He who indulges in it is no gentleman, I care not what his stamp may be in society; I care not what clothes he wears, or what culture he boasts.  73
  Public feeling now is apt to side with the persecuted, and our modern martyr is full as likely to be smothered with roses as with coals.  74
  Pure felicity is reserved for the heavenly life; it grows not in an earthly soil.  75
  Scepticism has never founded empires, established principles, or changed the world’s heart. The great doers in history have always been men of faith.  76
  Sent into the world to be a growing and exhaustless force.  77
  Setting is preliminary to brighter rising; decay is a process of advancement; death is the condition of higher and more fruitful life.  78
  Sincerity is religion personified.  79
  Some people habitually wear sadness, like a garment, and think it a becoming grace. God loves a cheerful worshipper.  80
  Some souls are ennobled and elevated by seeming misfortunes, which then become blessings in disguise.  81
  Surely you will not calculate any essential difference from mere appearances; for the light laughter that bubbles on the lip often mantles over brackish depths of sadness, and the serious look may be the sober veil that covers a divine peace. You know that the bosom can ache beneath diamond brooches; and how many blithe hearts dance under coarse wool!  82
  Swift calls discretion low prudence; it is high prudence and one of the most important elements entering into either social or political life.  83
  The angels may have wider spheres of action, may have nobler forms of duty; but right with them and with us is one and the same thing.  84
  The best answer to all objections urged against prayer is the fact that man cannot help praying; for we may be sure that that which is so spontaneous and ineradicable in human nature has its fitting objects and methods in the arrangements of a boundless Providence.  85
  The best men are not those who have waited for chances, but who have taken them,—besieged the chance, conquered the chance, and made the chance their servitor.  86
  The brightest crowns that are worn in heaven have been tried and smelted and polished and glorified through the furnace of tribulation.  87
  The child of false zeal.  88
  The child’s grief throbs against the round of its little heart as heavily as the man’s sorrow; and the one finds as much delight in his kite or dram as the other in striking the springs of enterprise or soaring on the wings of fame.  89
  The city an epitome of the social world. All the belts of civilization intersect along its avenues. It contains the products of every moral zone. It is cosmopolitan, not only in a national, but a spiritual sense.  90
  The city reveals the moral ends of being, and sets the awful problem of life. The country soothes us, refreshes us, lifts us up with religious suggestion.  91
  The conservative may clamor against reform, but he might as well clamor against the centrifugal force. He sighs for the “good old times,”—he might as well wish the oak back into the acorn.  92
  The creed of the true saint is to make the best of life, and make the most of it.  93
  The deepest life of nature is silent and obscure; so often the elements that move and mould society are the results of the sister’s counsel and the mother’s prayer.  94
  The downright fanatic is nearer to the heart of things than the cool and slippery disputant.  95
  The essence of justice is mercy. Making a child suffer for wrong-doing is merciful to the child. There is no mercy in letting the child have its own will, plunging headlong to destruction with the bits in its mouth. There is no mercy to society nor to the criminal if the wrong is not repressed and the right vindicated. We injure the culprit who comes up to take his proper doom at the bar of justice, if we do not make him feel that he has done a wrong thing. We may deliver his body from the prison, but not at the expense of justice nor to his own injury.  96
  The golden age is not in the past, but in the future; not in the origin of human experience, but in its consummate flower; not opening in Eden, but out from Gethsemane.  97
  The gospel has but a forced alliance with war. Its doctrine of human brotherhood would ring strangely between the opposed ranks. The bellowing speech of cannon and the baptism of blood mock its liturgies and sacraments. Its gentle beatitudes would hardly serve as mottoes for defiant banners, nor its list of graces as names for ships-of-the-line.  98
  The highest genius never flowers in satire, but culminates in sympathy with that which is best in human nature, and appeals to it.  99
  The individual and the race are always moving, and as we drift into new latitudes new lights open in the heaven more immediately over us.  100
  The little flower which sprung up through the hard pavement of poor Picciola’s prison was beautiful from contrast with the dreary sterility which surrounded it. So here amid rough walls, are there fresh tokens of nature. And O, the beautiful lessons which flowers teach to children, especially in the city! The child’s mind can grasp with ease the delicate suggestions of flowers.  101
  The mere leader of fashion has no genuine claim to supremacy; at least, no abiding assurance of it. He has embroidered his title upon his waistcoat, and carries his worth in his watch chain; and, if he is allowed any real precedence for this it is almost a moral swindle,—a way of obtaining goods under false pretences.  102
  The minister should preach as if he felt that although the congregation own the church, and have bought the pews, they have not bought him. His soul is worth mo more than any other man’s, but it is all he has, and he cannot be expected to sell it for a salary. The terms are by no means equal. If a parishioner does not like the preaching, he can go elsewhere and get another pew, but the preacher cannot get another soul.  103
  The more we sympathize with excellence, the more we go out of the self, the more we love, the broader and deeper is our personality.  104
  The productions of the press, fast as steam can make and carry them, go abroad through all the land, silent as snowflakes, but potent as thunder. It is an additional tongue of steam and lightning, by which a man speaks his first thought, his instant argument or grievance, to millions in a day.  105
  The temptation is not here, where you are reading about it or praying about it. It is down in your shop among bales and boxes, ten-penny nails, and sand-paper.  106
  The wild bird that flies so lone and far has somewhere its nest and brood. A little fluttering heart of love impels its wings, and points its course. There is nothing so solitary as a solitary man.  107
  There are daily martyrdoms occurring of more or less self-abnegation, and of which the world knows nothing.  108
  There are interests by the sacrifice of which peace is too dearly purchased. One should never be at peace to the shame of his own soul—to the violation of his integrity or of his allegiance to God.  109
  There have been men who could play delightful music on one string of the violin, but there never was a man who could produce the harmonies of heaven in his soul by a one-stringed virtue.  110
  There is a sweet anguish springing up in our bosoms when a child’s face brightens under the shadow of the waiting angel. There is an autumnal fitness when age gives up the ghost; and when the saint dies there is a tearful victory.  111
  There is less misery in being cheated than in that kind of wisdom which perceives, or thinks it perceives, that all mankind are cheats.  112
  There is no doubt of nobility of that man who pours into life the honest vigor of his toil, over those who compose the feathery foam of fashion that sweeps along Broadway; who consider the insignia or honor to consist in wealth and indolence; and who, ignoring the family history, paint coats of arms to cover up the leather aprons of their grandfathers.  113
  There is no happiness in life, there is no misery, like that growing out of the dispositions which consecrate or desecrate a home.  114
  There is no mean work save that which is sordidly selfish; there is no irreligious work save that which is morally wrong; while in every sphere of life “the post of honor is the post of duty.”  115
  There is no tariff so injurious as that with which sectarian bigotry guards its commodities.  116
  There must be something beyond man in this world. Even on attaining to his highest possibilities, he is like a bird beating against his cage. There is something beyond, O deathless soul, like a sea-shell, moaning for the bosom of the ocean to which you belong!  117
  This is the essential evil of vice: it debases a man.  118
  This world is but the vestibule of an immortal life. Every action of out lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.  119
  Those old ages are like the landscape that shows best in purple distance, all verdant and smooth, and bathed in mellow light.  120
  Those were good old times, it may be thought, when baron and peasant feasted together. But the one could not read, and made his mark with a sword-pommel, and the other was held as dear as a favorite dog. Pure and simple times were those of our grandfathers, it may be. Possibly not so pure as we may think, however, and with a simplicity ingrained with some bigotry and a good deal of conceit.  121
  To me there is something thrilling and exalting in the thought that we are drifting forward into a splendid mystery,—into something that no mortal eye has yet sees, no intelligence has yet declared.  122
  To-morrow may never come to us. We do not live in to-morrow. We cannot find it in any of our title-deeds. The man who owns whole blocks of real estate, and great ships on the sea, does not own a single minute of to-morrow. To-morrow! It is a mysterious possibility, not yet born. It lies under the seal of midnight, behind the veil of glittering constellations.  123
  Tribulation will not hurt you unless it does—what, alas! it too often does—unless it hardens you, and makes you sour and narrow and sceptical.  124
  Truth is the root, but human sympathy is the flower of practical life.  125
  Valincourt said, when his library was destroyed by fire, “A man must have profited very little by his books who has not learned how to part with them.”  126
  We have not the innocence of Eden; but by God’s help and Christ’s example we may have the victory of Gethsemane.  127
  We may learn by practice such things upon earth as shall be of use to us in heaven. Piety, unostentatious piety, is never out of place.  128
  We move too much in platoons; we march by sections; we do not live in our vital individuality enough; we are slaves to fashion, in mind and in heart, if not to our passions and appetites.  129
  We must be in some way like God in order that we may see God as He is.  130
  What a proof of the Divine tenderness is there in the human heart itself, which is the organ and receptacle of so many sympathies! When we consider how exquisite are those conditions by which it is even made capable of so much suffering—the capabilities of a child’s heart, of a mother’s heart,—what must be the nature of Him who fashioned its depths, and strung its chords.  131
  Whatever touches the nerves of motive, whatever shifts man’s moral position, is mightier than steam or caloric or lightning.  132
  Why, man of idleness, labor has rocked you in the cradle, and nourished your pampered life; without it, the woven silk and the wool upon your back would be in the shepherd’s fold. For the meanest thing that ministers to human want, save the air of heaven, man is indebted to toil; and even the air, in God’s wise ordination, is breathed with labor.  133

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