Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

David Swing, aka Professor Swing

American Professor and Presbyterian Pastor in Chicago

"Ethics is the science of human duty. Arithmetic tells man how to count his money; ethics how he should acquire it, whether by honesty or fraud. Geography is a map of the world; ethics is a beautiful map of duty. This ethics is not Christianity, it is not even religion; but it is the sister of religion, because the path of duty is in full harmony, as to quality and direction, with the path of God."

"This perpetual industry amid external pursuits, also diverts the mind from the study of mysteries, to the acceptance and en joyment of facts, and hence the public mind turns away from predestination and reprobation and absolutism, not simply be cause it has developed a consciousness of freedom, but also because in the long association with facts, it has lost love for the study of the incomprehensible, in both religion and philosophy. In this casting off of old garments, it no more cheerfully throws away the inconceivable of Christianity, than tne incon ceivable of Kant and Spinoza. In thisabandonment,there is no charge of falsehood cast upon the old mysteries ; they may or may not be true ; there is only a passing them by as not being in the line of the current wish or taste, raiment for a past age, perhaps for a future, but not acceptable in the present. "

"The words soul and spirit are sprinkled over the pages of the Bible as thickly as leaves upon the ground in autumn. There is no evident difference in the signification of the two words."

"Beyond the grand divisions, mind and soul, it is difficult to pass. And these two continents are not marked out by definite coast lines and separated by great neutral oceans, but rather lie contiguous, like the two tints of a flower, with a beautiful mid dle ground, where the spectator loses power to announce which color is more vivid. But for our purpose we do not need a definite mapping out of mind and soul, intellect and spirit, knowledge and charac ter ; we need only the general truth, that man possesses a cer tain soul-life, that can grow and can rise and fall like the waves of the deep. "

"The decoration and enlargement of the heart are the direct end of truth, and, without this result, knowledge is not power, but is treasure buried and forgotten like the fabled gold of Capt. Kidd by some unknown sea."

"Knowledge is said to be power. It is indeed power, for the soul converts it into all manner of action joy, charity, worship, love, eloquence. As the rich earth drinks in simply watev and light and heat, and then sends forth all manner of fruit and blossoms, so the soul receives the facts of the intellect, and makes them the basis of a vast creation, varied as that which came from the Almighty. "

"Truth in itself is cold, but in the design of the Creator its white treasures falling as softly as snow, and falling through many centuries, daily dissolve and transform the spirit beneath into a never-fading paradise. "

"The human soul is such a world. The truths of to-day, of yesterday, of the whole past are settling down upon it a golden rain from the hand of God, making the glorious wrappings of time and of the great futurity. Thus the dark facts of earth, its slavery, its suffering, its sickness, its calamities, its burned up cities, its solemn cemeteries of the dead, all may be trans formed into human spirit and make the soul come to heaven at last rich in its tenderness and love. The earthly knowledge is made into never dying power. Bulwer says, " Oh how much greater is the soul of one man than the vicissitudes of the whole globe !" And elsewhere he says, " Not in the knowledge of tnings without, but in the perfection of the soul within, lies the true empire of man." "

"The great pursuit of the wisest, and best men that have ever lived has been to help onward, and upwards the morals of the people. By common consent the names of Socrates, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Penn, George Fox, are the grandest of names."

"Spirituality is one of the highest stages of civilization, and therefore comes latest in the course of human development. Material associations are the first, hence man first makes up his language and his pantheon of gods out of the solid sub stances that surround him. The first man was of the earth, earthy; the second man was the Lord from heaven. That is first which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual. And as man has borne the image of the earthy, so shall he bear the image of the heavenly. The first Adam was made a living soul ; the second Adam a quickening spirit. In this great transition from the material to the spiritual, years are consumed in the life of the most earnest individual, and in the advance of society in this path a thousand years count only a little. The most sincere heart escapes from ma terialism so slowly, and so slowly resolves itself and its God into a quickening spirit, that an infinitely long existence would seem to be foreshadowed in this leisurely evolution. To that which grows slowly we attribute long time. The glacier and the accumulating shore of the sea, and the vast oaks of the Pacific slope ask us to allow them long periods in which to have developed their peculiar plan. So the slowness of human unfolding asks us to grant to the individual and to society a vast field called immortality. Instead of drawing only sadness from this tedious march we also find in it an assurance that there are many years beyond. "

"As the depth of mystery is only felt by the most civilized and advanced soul, and is a cloud of which a savage knows nothing, it may be inferred, that it comes not as a penalty of culture, but as a delicate hand to lead it to a still better being. The solemn question of Hamlet, " To be, or not to be," surpasses the books of the school-house in shaping the spirit of man. The willow and cypress, that mourn over the tombs of our dead, impress our hearts the more deeply, because the wind that sighs through them, and the somber shades they cast, help us to pass over into the unknown world. Thus, by fact, and by the wandering shadow of fact, the soul of man is perpetual ly fed. They are the only manna that falls for it, in this wilderness march. "

"The world will, sooner or later, be compelled to go to the Divine presence not to human presence for its new heart. Mankind has not holiness enough to entice any heart from its sins has not love enough to persuade, nor power enough to alarm. It is the conception of an ever-present God ; it is the sublime divinity of Jesus ; it is communion with these charac ters ; it is a belief in the infinite love, and power, and justice, and in the all-pervading presence of Deity, that can give to this world noble, converted hearts, and can bear earth along toward the new birth the new genius of human life."

"There is no vanity away from man. The sea gives us her music without egotism. The rainbow spreads out her gorgeous lines without boasting. The nightingale sings her notes her self unseen among the wild thorn, in the silent night. The floral world in June fills the air with perfume, and the sight with her indescribable tints, but without any ostentation. Man alone has vanity ; not because man alone has soul for this would be to degrade soul below the standard of dumb life , but be cause man alone has wandered from the divine path. This wan dering has been aided and abetted by his blindness to yester day, and by living only in the proud thrones and crowns and. glories of to-morrow. Vanity draws its chief nutriment from the future. This is, perhaps, the reason why nearly all of us pass through a vain period in early years. Fortunate is the heart that did not, in early life, pass through a score of years of personal greatness."

"Yesterday contains all the battlefields in which freedom was gradually wrought out from many threads all dipped in blood. Yesterday contains the experiment and the failure of all despotisms. Yesterday con tains the onset and defeat of every form of sin and vice. Yesterday holds the ashes of all beauty, and of all life except that of the soul with God. Yesterday is full of past usefulness and of its ways and means, full of tears and their causes and cures. In that shadowy domain there stands the cross, and there is the Saviour dying for the vast myriads of a race. God has not without reason thrown such an immense history behind His children of to-day. It must be that out of the world that has been there is always flowing down to those who are living a stream of wisdom and character that bears onward to a sacred destiny. "

"Divine Spirit never creates a perfect man, but sets him going with the permission to become perfect. The plan of God is that of perpetual assistance. He fills the earth with ores, with coals, with the power to produce harvests of grass, fruits and grains, and then endows man with an expansive faculty, such that he can develop the world and himself. The world, as God gave it to His children, is one of opportunities and outfits, and not of completed things. Inspiration would therefore assume the form of a help rather than of a full occupation of the human intellect and feelings, and would no more be a perfect unfolding of God's whole character than the wild Indian is an expression of God's perfect ideal of the creature man. "