William Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa

Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa

English Theologian, Philosopher

Author Quotes

Whatever improvement we make in ourselves, we are thereby sure to meliorate our future condition.

Whilst politicians are disputing about monarchies, aristocracies, and republics, Christianity is alike applicable, useful, and friendly to them all.

God has been pleased to prescribe limits to his power and to work out his ends within these limits.

One great cause of our insensibility to the goodness of our Creator is the very extensiveness of His bounty.

The slave-trade is inimical to every improvement in the morals and civil condition of the Africans.

Health and sickness, enjoyment and suffering, riches and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, power and subjection, liberty and bondage, civilization and barbarity, have all their offices and duties: all serve for the formation of character.

One very common error misleads the opinion of mankind, that authority is pleasant, and submission painful. In the general course of human affairs the very reverse of this is nearer to the truth. - Command is anxiety; obedience is ease.

The West Indian slave is placed for life in subjection to a dominion and system of laws the most merciless and tyrannical that ever were tolerated upon the face of the earth.

How many bitter thoughts does the innocent man avoid! Serenity and cheerfulness are his portion. Hope is continually pouring its balm into his soul. His heart is at rest, whilst others are goaded and tortured by the stings of a wounded conscience, the remonstrances and risings up of principles which they cannot forget; perpetually teased by returning temptations, perpetually lamenting defeated resolutions.

Pain itself is not without its alleviations. It is seldom both violent and long-continued; and its pauses and intermissions become positive pleasures. It has the power of shedding a satisfaction over intervals of ease, which few enjoyments exceed.

The wisdom of man hath not devised a happier institution than that of juries, or one founded in a juster knowledge of human life or of human capacity.

I seem, for my own part, to see the benevolence of the Deity more clearly in the pleasures of very young children than in anything else in the world.

Positive virtues are of all others the severest and most sublime.

The wisdom of the Deity, as testified in the works of creation, surpasses all idea we have of wisdom drawn from the highest intellectual operations of the highest of intelligent beings with whom we are acquainted; and (which is of the chief importance to us), whatever be its compass or extent, which it is evidently impossible that we should be able to determine, it must be adequate to the conduct of that order of things under which we live.

A law presupposes an agent; this is only the mode according to which an agent proceeds; it implies a power, for it is the order according to which that power acts. Without this agent, without this power, which are both distinct from itself, the law does nothing, is nothing.

I should wish to act, no doubt, in every instance as I pleased; but I reflect that the rest also of mankind would then do the same; to which state of universal independence and self-direction I should meet with so many checks and obstacles to my own will, from the opposition and interference of other men’s, that not only my happiness but my liberty would be less than whilst the whole community were subject to the domination of equal laws. The boasted liberty of a state of nature exists only in a state of solitude. In every kind and degree of union and intercourse with his species it is possible that the liberty of the individual may be augmented by the very laws which restrain it; because he may gain more from the limitation of other men’s freedom than he suffers from the diminution of his own.

Prayer, with our Lord, was a refuge from the storm; almost every word He uttered during that last tremendous scene was prayer; prayer the most earnest, the most urgent, repeated, continued, proceeding from the recesses of the soul, private, solitary; prayer for deliverance, prayer for strength; above everything prayer for resignation.

The wise prove, and the foolish confess, by their conduct, that a life of employment is the only life worth leading.

A lie is a breach of promise: for whoever seriously addresses his discourse to another tacitly promises to speak the truth, because he knows that truth is expected.

In a numerous collection of our Saviour’s apophthegms there is not to be found one example of sophistry or of false subtilty, or of anything approaching thereunto.

Property communicates a charm to whatever is the object of it. It is the first of our abstract ideas: it cleaves to us the closest and the longest. It endears to the child its plaything, to the peasant his cottage, to the landholder his estate. It supplies the place of prospect and scenery. Instead of coveting the beauty of distant situations, it teaches every man to find it in his own. It gives boldness and grandeur to plains and fens, tinge and colouring to clays and fallows.

There are habits, not only of drinking, swearing, and lying, but of every modification of action, speech, and thought. Man is a bundle of habits; in a word, there is not a quality or function, either of body or mind, which does not feel the influence of this great law of animated nature.

All anger is not sinful, because some degree of it, and on some occasions, is inevitable. - But it becomes sinful and contradicts the rule of Scripture when it is conceived upon slight and inadequate provocation, and when it continues long.

In all things preserve integrity, and the consciousness of thine own uprightness will alleviate the toil of business, soften the hardness of ill-success and disappointment, and give thee an humble confidence before God when the ingratitude of men, or the iniquity of the times may rob thee of other reward.

The art in which the secret of human happiness in a great measure consists, is to set the habits in such a manner that every change may be a change for the better. The habits themselves are much the same; for whatever is made habitual becomes smooth, and easy, and nearly indifferent. The return to an old habit is likewise easy, whatever the habit be. Therefore the advantage is with those habits which allow of an indulgence in the deviation from them.

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Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa
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English Theologian, Philosopher