Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Theologian
Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Theologian
Write your name in kindness, love and mercy on the hearts of the thousands you come in contact with year by year, and you will never be forgotten.
Even in the fiercest uproar of our stormy passions, conscience, though in her softest whispers, gives to the supremacy of rectitude the voice of an undying testimony.
Only three things are truly necessary in order to make life happy: the blessing of God, the benefit of books, and the benevolence of friends.
With the magnificence of eternity before us, let time, with all its fluctuations, dwindle into its own littleness.
Every man is a missionary, now and forever, for good or for evil, whether he intends or designs it or not. He may be a blot, radiating his dark influence outward to the very circumference of society; or he may be a blessing, spreading benediction over the length and breadth of the world: but a blank he cannot be. There are no moral blanks; there are no neutral characters. We are either the sower that sows and corrupts, or the light that splendidly illuminates, and the salt that silently operates; but being dead or alive, every man speaks.
His eye is upon every hour of my existence. His spirit is intimately present with every thought of my heart. His inspiration gives birth to every purpose within me. His hand impresses a direction on every footstep of my goings. Every breath I inhale is drawn by an energy which God deals out to me.
Since the spirit of Lord Bacon’s philosophy began to be rightly understood, the science of external nature has advanced with a rapidity unexampled in the history of all former ages. The great axiom of his philosophy is so simple in its nature, and so undeniable in its evidence, that it is astonishing how philosophers were so late in acknowledging it, or in being directed by its authority. It is more than two thousand years since the phenomena of external nature were objects of liberal curiosity to speculative and intelligent men: yet two centuries have scarcely elapsed since the true path of investigation has been rightly pursued and steadily persevered in; since the evidence of experience has been received as paramount to every other evidence; or, in other words, since philosophers have agreed, that the only way to learn the magnitude of an object is to measure it, the only way to learn its tangible properties is to touch it, and the only way to learn its visible properties is to look at it.
I find successful exertion is a powerful means of exhilaration, which discharges itself in good humor upon others.
Tell us, ye men who are so jealous of right and of honor, who take sudden fire at every insult, and suffer the slightest imagination of another’s contempt, or another’s unfairness, to chase from your bosom every feeling of complacency; ye men whom every fancied affront puts in such a turbulence of emotion, and in whom every fancied infringement stirs up the quick and the resentful appetite for justice, how will you stand the rigorous application of that test by which the forgiven of God are ascertained, even that the spirit of forgiveness is in them, and by which it will be pronounced whether you are, indeed, the children of the Highest, and perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect?
I have no sympathy whatever with those who would grudge our workmen and our common people the very highest acquisitions which their taste, or their time, or their inclinations, would lead them to realize; for next to the salvation of their souls, I certainly say that the object of my fondest aspirations is the moral and intellectual, and, as a sure consequence of this, the economical, advancement of the working classes,—the one object which of all others in the wide range of political speculation is the one which should be the dearest to the heart of every philanthropist and every patriot.
That balancing moment at which pleasure would allure, and conscience is urging us to refrain, may be regarded as the point of departure or divergency whence one or other of the two processes (towards evil, or towards good) take their commencement. Each of them consists in a particular succession of ideas, with their attendant feelings; and whichever of them may happen to be described once has, by the law of suggestion, the greater chance, in the same circumstances, of being described over again. Should the mind dwell on an object of allurement, and the considerations of principle not be entertained, it will pass inward from the first incitement to the final and guilty indulgence by a series of stepping-stones, each of which will present itself more readily in future, and with less chance of arrest or interruption by the suggestions of conscience than before.
In like manner did the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, surrounded as he is with the splendours of a wide and everlasting monarchy, turn him to our humble habitation; and the footsteps of God manifest in the flesh have been on the narrow spot of ground we occupy; and small though our mansion be amid the orbs and the systems of immensity, hither hath the King of glory bent his mysterious way, and entered the tabernacle of men, and in the disguise of a servant did he sojourn for years under the roof which canopies our obscure and solitary world.
That even among the most hackneyed and most hardened of malefactors there is still about them a softer part which will give way to the demonstrations of tenderness; that this one ingredient of a better character is still found to survive the dissipation of all the others, that, fallen as a brother may be from the moralities which at one time adorned him, the manifested good will of his fellow-man still carries a charm and an influence along with it; and that, therefore, there lies in this an operation which, as no poverty can vitiate, so no depravity can extinguish.
Infidelity is one of those coinages, — a mass of base money that won't pass current with any heart that loves truly, or any head that thinks correctly. And infidels are poor sad creatures; they carry about them a load of dejection and desolation, not the less heavy that it is invisible. It is the fearful blindness of the soul.
The beauty of holiness has done more, and will do more, to regenerate the world and bring in everlasting righteousness than all the other agencies put together.
It is not scholarship alone, but scholarship impregnated with religion, that tells on the great mass of society. We have no faith in the efficacy of mechanic's institutes, or even of primary and elementary schools, for building up a virtuous and well-conditioned peasantry, so long as they stand dissevered from the lessons of Christian piety.
The brute animals have all the same sensations of pain as human beings, and consequently endure as much pain when their body is hurt; but in their case the cruelty of torment is greater, because they have no mind to bear them up against their sufferings, and no hope to look forward to when enduring the last extreme pain. Their happiness consists entirely in present enjoyment.
Man should trust in God as if God did all, and yet labor as earnestly as if he himself did all.
The law of habit when enlisted on the side of righteousness not only strengthens and makes sure our resistance to vice, but facilitates the most arduous performances of virtue. The man whose thoughts, with the purposes and doings to which they lead, are at the bidding of conscience, will, by frequent repetition, at length describe the same track almost spontaneously,—even as in physical education, things laboriously learnt at the first come to be done at last without the feeling of an effort. And so in moral education every new achievement of principle smooths the way to future achievements of the same kind; and the precious fruit or purchase of each moral virtue is to set us on higher and firmer vantage-ground for the conquests of principle in all time coming.
The only popularity worth aspiring after is a peaceful popularity—the popularity of the heart—the popularity that is won in the bosom of families and at the side of death-beds. There is another, a high and a far-sounding popularity, which is indeed a most worthless article, felt by all who have it most to be greatly more oppressive than gratifying,—a popularity of stare, and pressure, and animal heat, and a whole tribe of other annoyances which it brings around the person of its unfortunate victim,—a popularity which rifles home of its sweets, and by elevating a man above his fellows places him in a region of desolation, where the intimacies of human fellowship are unfelt, and where he stands a conspicuous mark for the shafts of malice, and envy, and detraction,—a popularity which, with its head among storms, and its feet on the treacherous quicksands, has nothing to lull the agonies of its tottering existence but the hosannahs of a drivelling generation.
A man's needs are few. The simpler the life, therefore, the better. Indeed, only three things are truly necessary in order to make life happy: the blessing of God, the benefit of books, and the benevolence of friends.
Music is the language of praise; and one of the most essential preparations for eternity is delight in praising God; a higher acquirement, I do think, than even delight and devotedness in prayer.