English Writer and Prelate
John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury
English Writer and Prelate
Our chief wisdom consists in knowing our follies and faults, that we may correct them. True wisdom is a thing very extraordinary. Happy are they that have it; and next to them, not the many that think they have it, but the few that are sensible of their own defects and imperfections, and know that they have it not.
Mere success is one of the worst arguments in the world of a good cause, and the most improper to satisfy conscience: and yet in the issue it is the most successful of all other arguments, and does in a very odd, but effectual, way, satisfy the consciences of a great many men, by showing them their interest.
Man counts happiness in a thousand shapes; and the faster he follows it the swifter it flies from him. Almost everything promiseth happiness to us at a distance, but when we come nearer, either we fall short of it, or it falls short of our expectation; and it is hard to say which of there is the greatest disappointment. Our hopes are usually bigger than the enjoyment can satisfy; and an evil long feared, besides that it may never come, is many times more painful and troublesome than the evil itself when it comes.
In our pursuit of the things of this world, we usually prevent enjoyment by expectation; we anticipate our happiness, and eat out the heart and sweetness of worldly pleasures by delightful forethoughts of them; so that when we come to possess them, they do not answer the expectation, or satisfy the desires which were raised about them, and they vanish into nothing.
In matters of great concern, and which must be done, there is no surer argument of a weak mind than irresolution - to be undetermined where the case is plain, and the necessity urgent. To be always intending to live a new life, but never to find time to set about it, this is as if a man should put off eating, drinking, and sleeping, from one day and night to another, till he is starved and destroyed.
To be able to bear provocation is an argument of great reason, and to forgive it of a great mind.
A good word is an easy obligation; but not to speak ill requires only our silence, which costs us nothing.
The art of using deceit and cunning grow continually weaker and less effective to the user.
Fill each day with life and heart. There is no pleasure in the world comparable to the delight and satisfaction that a good person takes in doing good.
Our belief or disbelief of a thing does not alter the nature of the thing.
If the show of any thing be good for any thing, I am sure sincerity is better; for why does any man dissemble, or seem to be that which he is not, but because he thinks it good to have such a quality as he pretends to?
Great is the advantage of patience.
They who are in the highest places, and have the most power, have the least liberty, because they are the most observed.
If people would but provide for eternity with the same solicitude and real care as they do for this life, they could not fail of heaven.
Ignorance and inconsideration are the two great causes of the ruin of mankind.
No man’s body is as strong as his appetites, but Heaven has corrected the boundlessness of his voluptuous desires by stinting his strength and contracting his capacities.
Of all parts of wisdom, the practice is the best. Socrates was esteemed the wisest man of his time because he turned his acquired knowledge into morality and aimed at goodness more than greatness.
Sincerity is to speak as we think, to do as we pretend and profess, to perform and make good what we promise, and really to be what we would seem and appear to be.
The angriest person in a controversy is the one most liable to be in the wrong.
The best people need afflictions for trial of their virtue. How can we exercise the grace of contentment, if all things succeed well; or that of forgiveness, if we have no enemies?
The covetous man heaps up riches, not to enjoy them, but to have them; and starves himself in the midst of plenty, and most unnaturally cheats and robs himself of that which is his own; and makes a hard shift, to be as poor and miserable with a great estate, as any man can be without it.
The vicious man lives at random, and acts by chance, for he that walks by no rule can carry on no settled or steady design.