Theodore Parker


American Unitarian Theologian, Transcendentalist and Reforming Minister

Author Quotes

Disappointment is often the salt of life.

Justice is the idea of God; the ideal of men; the rule of conduct writ in the nature of mankind.

Politics is the science of urgencies.

There is what I call the American idea. I so name it, because it seems to me to lie at the basis of all our truly original, distinctive, and American institutions. It is itself a complex idea, composed of three subordinate and more simple ideas, namely: The idea that all men have unalienable rights; that in respect thereof, all men are created equal; and that government is to be established and sustained for the purpose of giving every man an opportunity for the enjoyment and development of all these unalienable rights. This idea demands, as the proximate organization thereof, a democracy, that is, a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people; of course, a government after the principles of eternal justice, the unchanging law of God; for shortness' sake, I will call it the idea of Freedom.

Every man has at times in his mind the Ideal of what he should be, but is not. This ideal may be high and complete, or it may be quite low and insufficient; yet in all men, that really seek to improve, it is better than the actual character. Perhaps no one is satisfied with himself, so that he never wishes to be wiser, better, and more holy. Man never falls so low, that he can see nothing higher than himself.

Justice is the keynote of the world, and all else is ever out of tune.

Remorse is the pain of sin.

There never was a great institution or a great man that did not, sooner or later, receive the reverence of mankind.

Every rose is an autograph from the hand of God on his world about us. - He has inscribed his thoughts in these marvelous hieroglyphics which sense and science have, these many thousand years, been seeking to understand.

Kodak sells film, but they don't advertise film. They advertise memories.

Self-denial is indispensable to a strong character, and the loftiest kind thereof comes only of a religious stock - from consciousness of obligation and dependence on God.

Thought convinces; feeling persuades. - If imagination furnishes the fact with wings, feeling is the great, stout muscle which plies them, and lifts him from the ground. - Thought sees beauty; emotion feels it.

Everything gives way to money, and money gives way to nothing, neither to man nor to God.

Let others laugh when you sacrifice desire to duty, if they will. You have time and eternity to rejoice in.

Silence is a figure of speech, unanswerable, short, cold, but terribly severe.

Truth stood on one side and Ease on the other; it has often been so.

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.

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American Unitarian Theologian, Transcendentalist and Reforming Minister