Theodore Parker

Theodore
Parker
1810
1860

American Unitarian Theologian, Transcendentalist and Reforming Minister

Author Quotes

Gratitude is a nice touch of beauty added last of all to the countenance, giving a classic beauty, an angelic loveliness, to the character.

Let us do our duty in our shop or our kitchen; in the market, the street, the office, the school, the home, just as faithfully as if we stood in the front rank of some great battle, and knew that victory for mankind depended on our bravery, strength, and skill. - When we do that, the humblest of us will be serving in that great army which achieves the welfare of the world.

The Bible goes equally to the cottage of the peasant, and the palace of the king. - It is woven into literature, and colors the talk of the street. - The bark of the merchant cannot sail without it; and no ship of war goes to the conflict but it is there. - It enters men's closets; directs their conduct, and mingles in all the grief and cheerfulness of life.

Want and wealth equally harden the human heart, as frost and fire are both alien to the human flesh. - Famine and gluttony alike drive away nature from the heart of man.

Gratitude is one of the rarest of virtues.

Let your pleasures be taken as Daniel took his prayer, with his windows open-pleasures which need not cause a single blush on an ingenuous cheek.

The dust goes to its place, and man to his own. - It is then I feel my immortality. - I look through the grave into heaven. - I ask no miracle, no proof, no reasoning, for me. - I ask no risen dust to teach me immortality. - I am conscious of eternal life.

We are a rebellious nation. Our whole history is treason; our blood was attained before we were born; our creeds were infidelity to the mother church; our constitution treason to our fatherland.

A democracy,—that is a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people; 1 of course, a government of the principles of eternal justice, the unchanging law of God; for shortness’ sake I will call it the idea of Freedom.

Greatness is its own torment.

Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice. Things refuse to be mismanaged long.

The facts of man's history do not fully represent the faculties of his nature as the history of matter represents the qualities of matter. Man, though finite, is indefinitely progressive, continually unfolding the qualities of his nature; his history, therefore, is not the whole book of man, but only the portion thereof which has been opened and publicly read. So the history of man never completely represents his nature; and a law derived merely from the facts of observation by no means describes the normal rule of action which belongs to his nature. The laws of matter are known to us because they are kept; there the ideal and actual are the same; but man has in his nature a rule of conduct higher than what he has come up to, — an ideal of nature which shames his actual of history. Observation and reflection only give us the actual of morals; conscience, by gradual and successive intuition, presents us the ideal of morals.

Wealth and want equally harden the human heart, as frost and fire are both alien to the human flesh. Famine and gluttony alike drive nature away from the heart of man.

A life merely of pleasure, or chiefly of pleasure, is always a poor and worthless life, not worth the living; always unsatisfactory in its course, always miserable in its end.

Humanity is the sin of God.

Magnificent promises are always to be suspected.

The great man has more of human nature than other men organized in him.

What sad faces one always sees in the asylum for orphans! - It is more fatal to neglect the heart than the head.

A nation's welfare depends on its ability to master the world; that on its power of work; and that on its power of thought.

I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight, I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.

Man is the highest product of his own history. The discoverer finds nothing so grand or tall as himself, nothing so valuable to him. The greatest star is at the small end of the telescope, the star that is looking, not looked after nor looked at.

The greatest star is that at the little end of the telescope,—the star that is looking, not looked after, nor looked at.

When I am a baby, in my undeveloped moral state, I do not love justice, nor conform to it; when I am sick, and have not complete control over this republic of nerves and muscles, I fail of justice, and heed it not; when I am stung with beastly rage, blinded by passion, or over attracted from my proper sphere of affection, another man briefly possessing me, I may not love the absolute and eternal right, private capillary attraction conflicting with the universal gravitation. But in my maturity, in my cool and personal hours, when I am most myself, and the accidents of my bodily temperament and local surroundings are controlled by the substance of my manhood, then I love justice with a firm, unwavering love. That is the natural fealty of my conscience to its liege-lord. Then I love justice, not for its consequences for bodily gain, but for itself, for the moral truth and loveliness thereof. Then if justice crown me I am glad, not merely with my personal feeling, because it is I who wear the crown, but because it is the crown of justice. If justice discrown and bind me down to infamy, I still am glad with all my moral sense, and joy in the universal justice, though I suffer with the private smart. Though all that is merely selfish and personal of me revolts, still what is noblest, what I hold in common with mankind and in common with God, bids me be glad if justice is done upon me; to me or upon me, I know it is justice still, and though my private injustice be my foe, the justice of the universe is still my friend. God, acting in this universal mode of moral force, acts for me, and the prospect of future suffering has no terror.

All men desire to be immortal.

I recommend no sour ascetic life. I believe not only in the thorns on the rosebush, but in the roses which the thorns defend. Asceticism is the child of sensuality and superstition. She is the secret mother of many a secret sin. God, when he made man's body, did not give us a fibre too much, nor a passion too many.

Author Picture
First Name
Theodore
Last Name
Parker
Birth Date
1810
Death Date
1860
Bio

American Unitarian Theologian, Transcendentalist and Reforming Minister