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.

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.

There is such a thing as a peculiar word or phrase cleaving, as it were, to the memory of the writer or speaker, and presenting itself to his utterance at every turn. When we observe this, we call it a cant word or a cant phrase.

Amongst the causes assigned for the continuance and diffusion of the same moral sentiments amongst mankind, may be mentioned imitation. The efficacy of this principle is more observable in children; indeed, if there be anything in them which deserves the name of an instinct, it is their propensity to imitation. Now, there is nothing which children imitate or apply more readily than expressions of affection and aversion, of approbation, hatred, resentment, and the like; and when these passions and expressions are once connected, which they soon will be by the same association which unites words with their ideas, the passion will follow the expression, and attach upon the object to which the child has been accustomed to apply the epithet.

In the species with which we are best acquainted, namely, our own, I am far, even as an observer of human life, from thinking that youth is its happiest season, much less the only happy one.

The characteristic symptom of human madness is the rising up in the mind of images not distinguishable by the patient from impressions on the senses.

There must be chance in the midst of design; by which we mean, that events which are not designed necessarily arise from the pursuit of events which are designed.

An eloquent historian, beside his more direct, and therefore fairer, attacks upon the credibility of evangelic story, has contrived to weave into his narration one continued sneer upon the cause of Christianity, and upon the character and writings of its ancient patrons. Who can refute a sneer?

It is not the rigor, but the inexpediency, of laws and acts of authority, which makes them tyrannical.

The common course of things is in favor of happiness. - Happiness is the rule, misery the exception. - Were the order reversed, our attention would be called to examples of health and competency, instead of disease and want.

There's a certain amount of disorder that has to be reorganized.

An instinct is a propensity prior to experience and independent of instruction.

It is willful deceit that makes a lie. A man may act a lie, as by pointing his finger in a wrong direction when a traveler inquires of him his road.

The fair way of conducting a dispute is to exhibit, one by one, the arguments of your opponent, and, with each argument, the precise and specific answer you are able to make to it.

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Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa
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English Theologian, Philosopher