Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Maltbie Babcock, fully Maltbie Davenport Babcock

American Presbyterian Clergyman and Moralistic Writer

"Although there is nothing so bad for conscience as trifling, there is nothing so good for conscience as trifles. Its certain discipline and development are related to the smallest things. Conscience, like gravitation, takes hold of atoms. Nothing is morally indifferent. Conscience must reign in manners as well as morals, in amusements as well as work. He only who is “faithful in that which is least” is dependable in all the world."

"“Take heed how ye hear” is a genuine monition touching happy relations - a real injunction under the law of love. Let us not think it applies only to the way we hear sermons. How do you listen to the conversation of your friends? With half-parted lips ready to break in with your own opinions? With the wandering eye of one evidently uninterested? Is this the love that helps another to be his best? Do you like to be well listened to? Mind, then, the give and take of love, and be a good listener, and for truth’s sake as well as love’s."

"Business is religion, and religion is business. The man who does not make a business of religion has a religious life of no force, and the man who does not make a religion of his business has a business life of no character."

"How good it would be if we could learn to be rigorous in judgment of ourselves, and gentle in our judgment of our neighbors! In remedying defects, kindness works best with others, sternness with ourselves. It is easy to make allowances for our faults, but dangerous; hard to make allowances for others’ faults, but wise."

"Many men fail to realize that joy is distinctly moral. It is a fruit of the spiritual life. We have no more right to pray for joy, if we are not doing the things that Jesus said would bring it, than we would have to ask interest in a savings bank in which we had never deposited money. Joy does not happen. It is a flower that springs from roots. It is the inevitable results of certain lines followed and laws obeyed, and so a matter of character."

"Have you ever had your day suddenly turn sunshiny because of a cheerful word? Have you ever wondered if this could be the same world because someone had been unexpectedly kind to you? You can make today the same for somebody. It is only a question of a little imagination, a little time and trouble. Think now, "What can I do today to make someone happy?""

"No one is discontented who employs and enjoys to the utmost what he has. It is high philosophy to say, we can have just what we like, if we like what we have; but this much at least can be done, and this is contentment, to have the most and best in life, by making the most and best of what we have."

"Is not this steadfastness to mark, to make, the character of our lives? Is it not God’s will that we should press steadily on to our goal in obedience to Him, in channels of His choosing, whether in sunshine or shadow, in the cheer of spring or in the chill of winter, neither detained by pleasure nor deterred by pain?"

"Opportunities do not come with their values stamped upon them. Every one must be challenged. A day dawns, quite like other days; in it a single hour comes, quite like other hours; but in that day and in that hour the chance of a lifetime faces us. To face every opportunity of life thoughtfully and ask its meaning bravely and earnestly, is the only way to meet the supreme opportunities when they come, whether open-faced or disguised."

"Our business in life is not to get ahead of other people, but to get ahead of ourselves. To break our own record, to outstrip our yesterdays by todays, to bear our trials more beautifully than we ever dreamed we could, to whip the tempter inside and out as we never whipped him before, to give as we have never given, to do our work with more force and a finer finish than ever, - this is the true idea, - to get ahead of ourselves... to play a better game of life."

"Present suffering is not enjoyable, but life would be worth little without it."

"The root of honesty is an honest intention, the distinct and deliberate purpose to be true, to handle facts as they are, and not as we wish them to be. Facts lend themselves to manipulation. Many a butcher’s hand is worth more than its weight in gold. What we want things to be, we come to see them to be; and the tailor pulls the coat and the truth into a perfect fit from his point of view."

"Perfect sympathy cannot spring from the imagination. Only they who have suffered can really sympathize."

"Death is a great preacher of deathlessness. The protest of the soul against death, its reversion, its revulsion, is a high instinct of life. Dissatisfaction in his world who satisfieth the desire of every living thing has a grip on the future. As far as this goes, he has the least assurance of immortality who can be best satisfied with eating and drinking and “things”’ he has the surest hope of ongoings and far distances who does not live by brad alone, whose eye is looking over the shoulder of things, whose ear hears mighty waters rolling ever more, who has “hopes naught can satisfy below.” The limits of which death makes us aware, make us aware of life’s limitlessness. The wing cage knows it was meant for an ampler ether and diviner air."

"Contentment is not satisfaction. It is the grateful, faithful, fruitful use of what we have, little, or much. It is to take the cup of Providence, and call upon the name of the Lord. What the cup contains is its contents. To get all there is in the cup is the act and art of contentment. Not to drink because one has but half a cup, or because one does not like its flavor, or because some one else has silver to one's own glass, is to lose the contents; and that is the penalty, if not the meaning of discontent. No one is discontented who employs and enjoys to the utmost what he has. It is high philosophy to say, we can have just what we like, if we like what we have; but this much at least can be done, and this is contentment,--to have the most and best in life, by making the most and best of what we have."

"The tests of life are to make, not break us. Trouble may demolish man's business but build up his character. There blow at the outer man may be the greatest blessing to the inner man. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is that we shall lose if we flinch or rebel."

"Lord, let me make this rule to think of life as school, and try my best to stand each test, and do my work and nothing shirk. Should someone else outshine this dullard head of mine, should I be sad? I will be glad. To do my best is Thy behest. Some day the bell will sound, some day my heart will bound, as that with a shout, that school is out and lessons done, I homeward run."

"Life is what we are alive to. It is not length, but breadth. To be alive only to appetite, pleasure, pride, money-making, and not to goodness and kindness, purity and love, history, poetry, music, flowers, stars, God and eternal hopes, it is to be all but dead."

"It is the “where I am” that makes heaven. The life after death might become through its very endlessness a burden to our spirits, if it were not to be filled wit the infinite variety and freshness of God’s love. Some have shrunk from its very infinitude, because they have not realized what God’s love can make of it. Human love helps us to understand this. When we have come to love any one with all our power of affection, then there is no monotony or weariness in the days and hours we spend with them."

"Present suffering is not enjoyable, but life would be worth little without it... Though the aspect of suffering is hard, the prospect is hopeful, and the retrospect will start a song, if we are “the called according to his purpose,” in suffering."

"Remember to think of your departed mother always as living, just away in another room of our Father’s house."

"Property is a divine trust. Things are tools, not prizes. Life is not for self-indulgence, but for self-devotion. When instead of saying, “The world owes me a living,” men shall say, “I owe the world a life,” then the kingdom will come in power. We owe everything to God but our sins... So live, that when thy summons comes to give an account of thy stewardship, it may be done with joy, and not with grief!"

"Salvation is the only real success... God’s holiness is expressed in His love. Therefore love is wholeness, and to love is to fulfill - to fill full - God’s law, and be right all round. Learn then to love God and your brother and all things great and small. Life is our “chance of learning love.”"

"Spirituality is best manifested on the ground, not in the air. Rapturous day-dreams, flights of heavenly fancy, longings to see the Invisible, are less expensive and less expressive than the plain doing of duty... Spirituality is seeing God in common things, and showing God in common tasks."

"The only test of possession is use."

"Don’t let the good things of life rob you of the best things."

"Dying is easy work compared with living. Dying is a moment’s transition; living a transaction of years."

"One of the commonest mistakes and one of the costliest thinking that success is due to some genius, some magic - something or other which we do not possess. Success is generally due to holding one, and failure to letting go. You decide to learn a language, study music, take a course of reading, train yourself physically. Will it be success or failure? It depends upon how much pluck and perseverance that word “decide” contains. The decision that nothing can overrule, the grip that nothing can detach will bring success."

"The tests of life are to make, not break us. Trouble may demolish a man’s business but build his character. The blow at the outward man may be the greatest blessing to the inner man. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is what we shall lose if we flinch or rebel."

"Salvation is not putting a man into Heaven, but putting Heaven into a man."

"Be on the lookout for mercies. The more we look for them, the more of them we will see.... Better to loose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings to counting your troubles."

"Although there is nothing so bad for conscience as trifling, there is nothing so good for conscience as trifles. Its certain discipline and development are related to the smallest things. Conscience, like gravitation, takes hold of atoms. Nothing is morally indifferent. Conscience must reign in manners as well as morals, in amusements as well as work. He only who is "faithful in that which is least" is dependable in all the world."

"Failure will hurt but not hinder us. Disillusion will pain but not dishearten us. Sorrows will shake us but not break us. Hope will set the music ringing and quicken our lagging pace. We need hope for living far more than for dying. Dying is easy work compared with living. Dying is a moment's transition; living, a transaction of years. It is the length of the rope that puts the sag in it. Hope tightens the cords and tunes up the heart-strings. Work well, then; suffer patiently, rejoicing in hope. God knows all, and yet is the God of Hope. And when we have hoped to the end here, He will give us something to look forward to, for all eternity. For "hope abideth.""

"How good it would be if we could learn to be rigorous in judgment of ourselves, and gentle in our judgment of our neighbors! In remedying defects, kindness works best with others, sternness with ourselves. It is easy to make allowances for our faults, but dangerous; hard to make allowances for others' faults, but wise."