Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Phillips Brooks

American Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, Author, Lyricist of "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

"A prayer, in its simplest definition, is merely a wish turned heavenward."

"Anger is self-immolation."

"Character cannot be made except by a steady, long-continued process."

"It does not take great men to do great things; it only takes consecrated men."

"It is better to inspire the heart with a noble sentiment than to teach the mind a truth of science."

"Let us beware of losing our enthusiasms. Let us ever glory in something, and strive to retain our admiration for all that would ennoble, and our interest in all that would enrich and beautify our life."

"No man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle, pure and good, without the world being the better for it, without somebody being helped an comforted by the very existence of that goodness."

"Obedience completes itself in understanding."

"Only the soul that with an overwhelming impulse and a perfect trust gives itself up forever to the life of other men, finds the delight and peace which such complete self-surrender has to give."

"The man who has begun to live more seriously within begins to live more simply without."

"A prayer in its simplest definition is merely a wish turned Godward."

"Bad will be the day for every man when he becomes absolutely contented with the life that he is living, with the thoughts that he is thinking, with the deeds that he is doing, when there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger, which he knows that he was means and made to do because he is still, in spite of it all, the child of God."

"Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there."

"Go and try to save a soul, and you will see how well it is worth saving, how capable it is of the most complete salvation. Not by pondering about it, nor by talking of it, but by saving it, you learn its preciousness."

"Heaven does not make holiness, but holiness makes heaven."

"Heaven is not to sweep our truths away, but only to turn them till we see their glory, to open them till we see their truth, and to unveil our eyes till for the first time we shall really see them."

"Let us give thanks to God upon Thanksgiving Day. Nature is beautiful and fellowmen are dear, and duty is close beside us, and God is over us and in us. We want to trust Him with a fuller trust, and so at last to come to that high life where we shall be careful for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let our request be made known unto God”; for that, and that alone, is peace."

"Much as we deplore our condition in life, nothing would make us more satisfied with it than the changing of places, for a few days, with our neighbors."

"Never fear to bring the sublimest motive to the smallest duty, and the most infinite comfort to the smallest trouble."

"No man has become to true greatness who has not felt in some degree that his life belongs to his race, and that what God gives him he gives him for mankind."

"O, do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks."

"Pray for and work for fullness of life above everything; full red blood in the body; full honesty and truth in the mind; and the fullness of a grateful love for the Saviour in your heart."

"Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but taking hold of god’s willingness."

"The best advisers, helpers and friends, always are not those who tell us how to act in special cases, but who give us, out of themselves, the ardent spirit and desire to act right, and leave us then, even through many blunders, to find out what our own form of right action is"

"The truest help we can render an afflicted man is not to take his burden from him, but to call out his best energy, that he may be able to bear the burden."

"There is no life so humble that, if it be true and genuinely human and obedient to God, it may not hope to shed some of His light. There is no life so meager that the greatest and wisest of us can afford to despise it. We cannot know at what moment it may flash forth with the life of God."

"To say, "well done" to any bit of good work is to take hold of the powers which have made the effort and strengthen them beyond our knowledge."

"While men believe in the possibilities of children being religious, they are largely failing to make them so, because they are offering them not a child's but a man's religion - men's forms of truth and men's forms of experience."

"All the mystery which surrounds life and pervades life is really one mystery. It is God. Called by His name, taken up into His being, it is filled with graciousness. It is not longer cold and hard; it is all warm and soft and palpitating. It is love. And of this personal mystery of love – of God – it is supremely true that only by reverence, only by the hiding of the eyes, can He be seen."

"An optimist is a believer I the bet, and any man who believes that anything less than the best is the ultimate purpose of God, and so the ultimate possibility of God’s children, has no business to live upon the earth."

"Bad will be the day for every man when he becomes absolutely contented with the life that he is living... when there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something greater."

"Be such a man, and live such a life, that if every man were such as you, and every life a life like yours, this earth would be God’s paradise."

"Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for power equal to your tasks."

"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle."

"Every new experience is a new opportunity of knowing God. Every new experience is like a jewel set into the texture of our life, on which God shines and makes interpretation and revelation of Himself."

"Great is the conduct of a man who lets rewards take care of themselves - come if they will or fail to come - but goes on his way, true to the truth simply because it is true, strongly loyal to the right for its pure righteousness."

"I believe that the more we think, the more we become convinced that the instinct which asks for equality is a low one, and that equality if it were completely brought out, would furnish play for the lower instincts and impulses of man."

"Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger. Pray not for crutches but for wings."

"Sad is the day for any man when he becomes absolutely satisfied with the life he is living, the thoughts that he is thinking and the deeds that he is doing; when there ceases to be forever something larger which he seeks and knows he was meant and intended to do."

"The only way to really know that God made us is to let God remake, regenerate us. The only way to be sure that God gave us our physical life is to let Him give us the spiritual life which shall declare for the physical life an adequate and worthy purpose."

"There is an absolute truth about everything; it lies behind all blunders and all partial knowledges, a calm, sure, unfound certainty, like the great sea beneath its waves, like the great sky behind its clouds. God knows it. It and the possession of it makes the eternal difference between God’s knowledge and man’s. It is a beautiful and noble faith when a man thus believes in the absolute truth, unfound, unfindable perhaps by man, and yet surely existent behind and at the heart of everything."

"To stand held only by the invisible chains of higher duty, and so standing, to let the fire creep up to the heart - that is the truer heroism."

"We may call it spirituality, enthusiasm, spontaneity, outlook, insight, - many names will do, - but what we mean by all of them is essentially the same. It is the power to see the element of eternal principles in which things live, - to see the way in which each fact and act is a true wave on the great ocean of infinity, to see all life full of the life of God, - and so to lose the sense of hardness and separateness in the things which happen and things we do."

"You can keep a faith only as you can keep a plant, by rooting it into your life and making it grow there."

"You must ask yourself first, what God is. You must see how at the very bottom of His existence, as you conceive of it, lie these two thoughts – purpose and righteousness; how absolutely impossible it is to give God any personality except as the fulfillment of these two qualities – the intelligence that plans in love, and the righteousness that lives in duty."

"Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones."

"A man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words."

"Call your opinions your creed, and you will change them every week. Make your creed simply and broadly out of the revelation of God, and you will keep it to the end."

"Dreadful will be the day when the world becomes contented, when one great universal satisfaction spreads itself over the world. Sad will be the day for every man when he becomes absolutely contented with the life that he is living, with the thoughts that he is thinking, with the deeds that he is doing, when there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger which he knows that he was meant and made to do because he is a child of God."

"I do not see how we can help thinking about God when He is so good to us all the time. Let me tell you how it seems to me that we come to know about our heavenly Father. It is from the power of love which is in our own hearts. Love is at the soul of everything. Whatever has not the power of loving must have a very dreary life indeed. We like to think that the sunshine and the winds and the trees are able to love in some way of their own, for it would make us know that they were happy if we knew that they could love. And so God who is the greatest and happiest of all beings is the most loving too. All the love that is in our hearts comes from him, as all the light which is in the flowers comes from the sun. And the more we love, the more near we are to God and His Love."