Isaac Barrow


English Polemical Author, Scholar, Mathematician and Christian Theologian

Author Quotes

He that loveth a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counsellor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter.

No unkindness of a brother can wholly rescind that relation, or disoblige us from the duties annexed thereto.

The Mathematics which effectually exercises, not vainly deludes or vexatiously torments studious Minds with obscure Subtilties, perplexed Difficulties, or contentious Disquisitions; which overcomes without Opposition, triumphs without Pomp, compels without Force, and rules absolutely without Loss of Liberty; which does not privately overreach a weak Faith, but openly assaults an armed Reason, obtains a total Victory, and puts on inevitable Chains; whose Words are so many Oracles, and Works as many Miracles; which blabs out nothing rashly, nor designs anything from the Purpose, but plainly demonstrates and readily performs all Things within its Verge; which obtrudes no false Shadow of Science, but the very Science itself, the Mind firmly adheres to it, as soon as possessed of it, and can never after desert it of its own Accord, or be deprived of it by any Force of others: Lastly the Mathematics, which depend upon Principles clear to the Mind, and agreeable to Experience; which draws certain Conclusions, instructs by profitable Rules, unfolds pleasant Questions; and produces wonderful Effects; which is the fruitful Parent of, I had almost said all, Arts, the 47 unshaken Foundation of Sciences, and the plentiful Fountain of Advantage to human Affairs.

Wit is proper and commendable when it enlightens the intellect by good sense, conveyed in jocular expression; when it infringes neither on religion, charity, and justice, nor on peace; when it maintains good humor, sweetens conversation, and makes the endearments of society more captivating; when it exposes what is vile and base to contempt; when it reclaims the vicious, and laughs them into virtue; when it answers what is below refutation; when it replies to obloquy; when it counterbalances the fashion of error and vice, playing off their own weapons of ridicule against them; when it adorns truth; when it follows great examples; when it is not used upon subjects, improper for it, or in a manner unbecoming, in measure intemperate, at an undue season or to a dangerous end.

I pass by that it is very culpable to be facetious in obscene and smutty matters.

No virtue is acquired in an instant, but step by step.

The mind of man is able to discern universal propositions ? by its native force, without any previous notion or applied reasoning, which method of attaining truth is by a peculiar name styled intellection.

If men are wont to play with swearing anywhere, can we expect they should be serious and strict therein at the bar or in the church.

Now as to what pertains to these Surd numbers (which, as it were by way of reproach and calumny, having no merit of their own are also styled Irrational, Irregular, and Inexplicable) they are by many denied to be numbers properly speaking, and are wont to be banished from arithmetic to another Science, (which yet is no science) viz. algebra.

The reading of books, what is it but conversing with the wisest men of all ages and all countries.

In defiance of all the torture, the might, and the malice of the world, the liberal man will ever be rich; for God's providence is his estate, God's wisdom and power his defense, God's love and favor his reward, and God's word his security.

Our hearts will be so resty or listless that hardly we shall be induced to perform it [devotion] when it is most necessary or useful for us.

The very exercise of industry immediately in itself is delightful, and hath an innate satisfaction which tempereth all annoyance, and even ingratiateth the pains going with it.

Industry hath annexed thereto the fairest fruits and the richest rewards.

Poetry is a kind of ingenious nonsense (Spence, Anecdotes

There is not in nature anything so remotely distant from God, or so extremely opposite to him, as a greedy and griping niggard.

A constant governance of our speech, according to duty and reason, is a high instance and a special argument of a thoroughly sincere and solid goodness.

Industry sweeteneth our enjoyments, and seasoneth our attainments with a delightful relish.

Slander is a complication, a comprisal and sum of all wickedness.

These Disciplines [mathematics] serve to inure and corroborate the Mind to a constant Diligence in Study; to undergo the Trouble of an attentive Meditation, and cheerfully contend with such Difficulties as lie in the Way. They wholly deliver us from a credulous Simplicity, most strongly fortify us against the Vanity of Scepticism, effectually restrain from a rash Presumption, most easily incline us to a due Assent, perfectly subject us to the Government of right Reason, and inspire us with Resolution to wrestle against the unjust Tyranny of false Prejudices. If the Fancy be unstable and fluctuating, it is to be poised by this Ballast, and steadied by this Anchor, if the Wit be blunt it is sharpened upon this Whetstone; if luxuriant it is pared by this Knife; if headstrong it is restrained by this Bridle; and if dull it is roused by this Spur. The Steps are guided by no Lamp more clearly through the dark Mazes of Nature, by no Thread more surely through the intricate Labyrinths of Philosophy, nor lastly is the Bottom of Truth sounded more happily by any other Line. I will not mention how plentiful a Stock of Knowledge the Mind is furnished from these, with what wholesome Food it is nourished, and what sincere Pleasure it enjoys. But if I speak farther, I shall neither be the only Person, nor the first, who affirms it; that while the Mind is abstracted and elevated from sensible Matter, distinctly views pure Forms, conceives the Beauty of Ideas, and investigates the Harmony of Proportions; the Manners themselves are sensibly corrected and improved, the Affections composed and rectified, the Fancy calmed and settled, and the Understanding raised and excited to more divine Contemplation. All which I might defend by Authority, and confirm by the Suffrages of the greatest Philosophers.

Alexander the Great, reflecting on his friends degenerating into sloth and luxury, told them that it was a most slavish thing to luxuriate, and a most royal thing to labor.

Infidelity, indeed, is the root of all sin; for did man heartily believe the promises to obedience, and the threats to disobedience, they could hardly be so unreasonable as to forfeit the one or incur the other.

Smiling always with a never fading serenity of countenance, and flourishing in an immortal youth.

They [mathematicians] only take those things into consideration, of which they have clear and distinct ideas, designating them by proper, adequate, and invariable names, and premising only a few axioms which are most noted and certain to investigate their affections and draw conclusions from them, and agreeably laying down a very few hypotheses, such as are in the highest degree consonant with reason and not to be denied by anyone in his right mind. In like manner they assign generations or causes easy to be understood and readily admitted by all, they preserve a most accurate order, every proposition immediately following from what is supposed and proved before, and reject all things howsoever specious and probable which cannot be inferred and deduced after the same manner.?Barrow, Isaac.

An accomplished mathematician, i.e. a most wretched orator. [Closing remark in an address, referring to himself.]

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English Polemical Author, Scholar, Mathematician and Christian Theologian