James Martineau


English Unitarian Clergy

Author Quotes

The mere lapse of years is not life. To eat, to drink, and sleep; to be exposed to darkness and the light; to pace around in the mill of habit, and turn thought into an instrument of trade-this is not life. Knowledge, truth, love, beauty, goodness, faith, alone can give vitality to the mechanism of existence.

When speech is given to a soul holy and true, time, and its dome of ages, becomes as a mighty whispering-gallery, round which the imprisoned utterance runs, and reverberates forever.

Human character is never found "to enter into its glory," except through the ordeal of affliction. Its force cannot come forth without the offer of resistance nor can the grandeur of its free will declare itself, except in the battle of fierce temptation.

Heaven and God are best discerned through tears; scarcely perhaps are discerned at all without them. The constant association of prayer with the hour of bereavement and the scenes of death suffice to show this.

Grief is only the memory of widowed affections.

Either free-will is a fact, or moral judgment a delusion.

High art, high morals, high faith, are impossible among those who do not believe their own inspirations, but only court them for pleasure or profit.

Things infinite and divine… are given not so much for definition as for trust; are less the objects we think of than the very tone and color of our thought, the tension of our love, the unappeasable thirst of grief and reverence.

Depend upon it, it is not the want of greater miracles but of the soul to perceive such as are allowed us still, that makes us push all the sanctities into the far spaces we cannot reach. The devout feel that wherever God’s hand is, there is miracle.

A certain glorious sorrow must ever mingle with out life; all our actual is transcended by our possible; our visionary faculty is an overmatch for our experience; like the caged bird, we break ourselves against the bars of the finite, with a wing that quivers for the infinite.

We do not believe in immortality because we have proved it, but we forever try to prove it because we believe it.

It is a shallow mind which can see to the bottom of its own beliefs, and is conscious of nothing but what it can measure in evidence and state in words.

What science calls unity and uniformity of nature, truth calls the fidelity of God.

All the grand agencies which the progress of mankind evolves are the aggregate result of countless wills, each of which, thinking merely of its own end, and perhaps fully gaining it, is at the same time enlisted by Providence in the secret service of the world.

God is infinite; and the laws of nature, like nature itself, are finite. These methods of working, therefore, which correspond to the physical element in us, do not exhaust His agency. There is a boundless residue of disengaged energy beyond.

The first party of painted savages who raised a few huts upon the Thames did not dream of the London they were creating, or know that in the lighting the fire on their hearth they were kindling one of the great foci of Time... All the grand agencies which the progress of mankind evolves are formed in the same unconscious way. They are the aggregate results of countless single wills, each of which, thinking merely of its own end, and perhaps fully gaining it, is at the same time enlisted by Providence in the secret service of the world.

There is no surer mark of a low and unregenerate nature than this tendency of power to loudness and wantonness instead of quietness and reverence.

We should count time by heart-throbs.

The health of a community, is an almost unfailing index of its morals.

It is surprising how practical duty enriches the fancy and the heart, and action clears and deepens the affections.

Learn what a people glory in, and you may learn much of both the theory and practice of their morals.

He most lives who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best; and he whose heart beats the quickest lives the longest.

If we listen to our self-love, we shall estimate our lot less by; what it is than by what it is not; shall dwell upon its hindrances and be blind to its possibilities; and, comparing it only with imaginary lives, shall indulge in flattering dreams of what we should do if we had but power, and give if we had but wealth, and be if we had no temptations.

A soul occupied with great ideas best performs small duties.

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English Unitarian Clergy