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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Selected Paragraphs
By Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887)
 
From ‘Beecher as a Humorist: Selections from the Published Works of Henry Ward Beecher,’ compiled by Eleanor Kirk

AN INTELLIGENT conscience is one of the greatest of luxuries. It can hardly be called a necessity, or how would the world have got along as well as it has to this day?—SERMON: ‘Conscience.’  1
 
  A man undertakes to jump across a chasm that is ten feet wide, and jumps eight feet; and a kind sympathizer says, “What is going to be done with the eight feet that he did jump?” Well, what is going to be done with it? It is one of those things which must be accomplished in whole, or it is not accomplished at all.—SERMON: ‘The True Value of Morality.’  2
 
  It is hard for a strong-willed man to bow down to a weak-willed man. It is hard for an elephant to say his prayers to an ant.—SERMON: ‘The Reward of Loving.’  3
 
  When Peter heard the cock crow, it was not the tail-feathers that crew. The crowing came from the inside of the cock. Religion is something more than the outward observances of the church.—SERMON: ‘The Battle of Benevolence.’  4
 
  I have heard men, in family prayer, confess their wickedness, and pray that God would forgive them the sins that they got from Adam; but I do not know that I ever heard a father in family prayer confess that he had a bad temper. I never heard a mother confess in family prayer that she was irritable and snappish. I never heard persons bewail those sins which are the engineers and artificers of the moral condition of the family. The angels would not know what to do with a prayer that began, “Lord, thou knowest that I am a scold.”—SERMON: ‘Peaceableness.’  5
 
  Getting up early is venerable. Since there has been a literature or a history, the habit of early rising has been recommended for health, for pleasure, and for business. The ancients are held up to us for examples. But they lived so far to the east, and so near the sun, that it was much easier for them than for us. People in Europe always get up several hours before we do; people in Asia several hours before Europeans do; and we suppose, as men go toward the sun, it gets easier and easier, until, somewhere in the Orient, probably they step out of bed involuntarily, or, like a flower blossoming, they find their bed-clothes gently opening and turning back, by the mere attraction of light.—‘EYES AND EARS.’  6
 
  There are some men who never wake up enough to swear a good oath. The man who sees the point of a joke the day after it is uttered,—because he never is known to act hastily, is he to take credit for that?—SERMON: ‘Conscience.’  7
 
  If you will only make your ideal mean enough, you can every one of you feel that you are heroic.—SERMON: ‘The Use of Ideals.’  8
 
  There is nothing more common than for men to hang one motive outside where it can be seen, and keep the others in the background to turn the machinery.—SERMON: ‘Paul and Demetrius.’  9
 
  Suppose I should go to God and say, “Lord, be pleased to give me salad,” he would point to the garden and say, “There is the place to get salad; and if you are too lazy to work for it, you may go without.”—LECTURE-ROOM TALKS: ‘Answers to Prayer.’  10
 
  God did not call you to be canary-birds in a little cage, and to hop up and down on three sticks, within a space no larger than the size of the cage. God calls you to be eagles, and to fly from sun to sun, over continents.—SERMON: ‘The Perfect Manhood.’  11
 
  Do not be a spy on yourself. A man who goes down the street thinking of himself all the time, with critical analysis, whether he is doing this, that, or any other thing,—turning himself over as if he were a goose on a spit before a fire, and basting himself with good resolutions,—is simply belittling himself.—‘LECTURES ON PREACHING.’  12
 
  Many persons boil themselves down to a kind of molasses goodness. How many there are that, like flies caught in some sweet liquid, have got out at last upon the side of the cup, and crawl along slowly, buzzing a little to clear their wings! Just such Christians I have seen, creeping up the side of churches, soul-poor, imperfect, and drabbled.—‘ALL-SIDEDNESS IN CHRISTIAN LIFE.’  13
 
  No man, then, need hunt among hair-shirts; no man need seek for blankets too short at the bottom and too short at the top; no man need resort to iron seats or cushionless chairs; no man need shut himself up in grim cells; no man need stand on the tops of towers or columns,—in order to deny himself.—SERMON: ‘Problem of Joy and Suffering in Life.’  14
 
 
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