Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Pierre Abelard, aka Abailard or Abaelard or Habalaarz

French Scholastic Philosopher, Theologian and Logician

"The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth."

"O what their joy and their glory must be, Those endless Sabbaths the blessed ones see! crowns for the valiant, for weary ones rest: God shall be all, and in all ever blest. Truly Jerusalem name we that shore, vision of peace that brings hope evermore; wish and fulfillment shall severed be ne'er, nor the thing prayed for come short of the prayer. There, where no trouble distraction can bring, we the sweet anthems of Zion shall sing, while for thy grace, Lord, their voices of praise thy blessed people eternally raise. Now, in the meantime, with hearts raised on high, we for that country must yearn and must sigh, seeking Jerusalem, dear native land, through the long exile on Babylon's strand. Low before him with our praises we fall, of whom, and in whom, and through whom are all; of whom, the Father; and in whom, the Son; through whom, the Spirit, with both ever one."

"Against the disease of writing one must take special precautions, since it is a dangerous and contagious disease."

"Often the hearts of men and women are stirred, as likewise they are soothed in their sorrows, more by example than by words. And therefore, because I too have known some consolation from speech had with one who was a witness thereof, am I now minded to write of the sufferings which have sprung out of my misfortunes, for the eyes of one who, though absent, is of himself ever a consoler. This I do so that, in comparing your sorrows with mine, you may discover that yours are in truth nought, or at the most but of small account, and so shall you come to bear them more easily."

"The first key to wisdom is defined, of course, as assiduous and frequent questioning."

"The purpose and cause of the incarnation was that He might illuminate the world by His wisdom and excite it to the love of Himself."

"Under the pretext of study we spent our hours in the happiness of love, and learning held out to us the secret opportunities that our passion craved. Our speech was more of love than of the books which lay open before us; our kisses far outnumbered our reasoned words."

"We call the intention good which is right in itself, but the action is good, not because it contains within it some good, but because it issues from a good intention. The same act may be done by the same man at different times. According to the diversity of his intention, however, this act may be at one time good, at another bad."

"Alone thou goest forth, o lord, in sacrifice to die; is this thy sorrow naught to us who pass unheeding by? Our sins, not thine, thou bearest, Lord; make us thy sorrow feel, till through our pity and our shame love answers love's appeal. This is earth's darkest hour, but thou dost light and life restore; then let all praise be given thee who livest evermore. Grant us with thee to suffer pain that, as we share this hour, Thy cross may bring us to thy joy and resurrection power."

"As though mindful of the wife of Lot, who looked back from behind him, thou deliveredst me first to the sacred garments and monastic profession before thou gavest thyself to God. And for that in this one thing thou shouldst have had little trust in me I vehemently grieved and was ashamed. For I (God [knows]) would without hesitation precede or follow thee to the Vulcanian fires according to thy word. For not with me was my heart, but with thee. But now, more than ever, if it be not with thee, it is nowhere. For without thee it cannot anywhere exist."

"Constant and frequent questioning is the first key to wisdom ? For through doubting we are led to inquire, and by inquiry we perceive the truth."

"By doubting we are led to question, by questioning we arrive at the truth."

"Are you not moved to tears and bitter compassion, when you behold the only Son of God seized by the most impious, dragged away, mocked, scourged, buffeted, spit upon, crowned with thorns, hung upon the infamous cross between two thieves, finally in such a horrible and execrable manner suffering death, for your salvation and that of the world?"

"Everyone wishes to be saved, but few will use those means which religion prescribes."

"God knows I never sought anything in you except yourself. I wanted simply you, nothing of yours."

"For this is the first key to wisdom, assiduous and frequent questioning... By doubting we come to inquiry; by inquiry we perceive the truth."

"I preferred the weapons of dialectic to all the other teachings of philosophy, and armed with these, I chose the conflicts of disputation rather than the trophies of war."

"If the name of wife appears more sacred and more valid, sweeter to me is ever the word friend, or, if thou be not ashamed, concubine ... And thou thyself wert not wholly unmindful of that ... [as in the narrative of thy misfortunes] thou hast not disdained to set forth sundry reasons by which I tried to dissuade thee from our marriage, from an ill-starred bed; but wert silent as to many, in which I preferred love to wedlock, freedom to a bond. I call God to witness, if Augustus, ruling over the whole world, were to deem me worthy of the honor of marriage, and to confirm the whole world to me, to be ruled by me forever, dearer to me and of greater dignity would it seem to be called thy concubine than his empress."

"How mighty are the Sabbaths, how mighty and how deep, that the high courts of heaven to everlasting keep."

"It is not by being richer or more powerful that a man becomes better; one is a matter of fortune, the other of virtue. Nor should she deem herself other than venal who weds a rich man rather than a poor, and desires more things in her husband than himself. Assuredly, whomsoever this concupiscence leads into marriage deserves payment rather than affection."

"If the portraits of our absent friends are pleasant to us, which renew our memory of them and relieve our regret for their absence by a false and empty consolation, how much more pleasant are letters which bring us the written characters of the absent friend."

"Let me have a faithful account of all that concerns you; I would know everything, be it ever so unfortunate. Perhaps by mingling my sighs with yours I may make your sufferings less, for it is said that all sorrows divided are made lighter."

"In fact we say that an intention is good, that is, right in itself, but that an action does not bear any good in itself but proceeds from a good intention. Whence when the same thing is done by the same man at different times, by the diversity of his intention, however, his action is now said to be good, now bad."

"O how great and glorious are those Sabbaths which the heavenly court for ever celebrates!"

"Nothing can be believed unless it is first understood; and that for any one to preach to others that which either he has not understood nor they have understood is absurd."

"It is by doubting that we come to investigate, and by investigating that we recognize the truth."

"Oh, what their joy and their glory must be, those endless Sabbaths the blessed ones see; crowns for the valiant, for weary ones rest: god shall be all, and in all ever blest. Truly Jerusalem name we that shore, vision of peace that brings hope evermore; wish and fulfilment shall severed be ne'er, nor the thing prayed for come short of the prayer. There, where no trouble distraction can bring, we the sweet anthems of Zion shall sing, while for thy grace, lord, their voices of praise thy blessed people eternally raise. Now, in the meantime, with hearts raised on high, we for that country must yearn and must sigh, seeking Jerusalem, dear native land, through the long exile on Babylon's strand. Low before him with our praises we fall, of whom, and in whom, and through whom are all; of whom, the father; and in whom, the son; through whom, the spirit, with both ever one."

"Our kisses far outnumbered our reasoned words."

"The key to wisdom is this - constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth."

"Strive now to unite in yourself all the virtues of these different examples. Have the purity of virgins, the austerity of anchorites, the zeal of pastors and bishops, and the constancy of martyrs."

"Would that thy love, beloved, had less trust in me, that it might be more anxious!"

"The Son of God took our nature, and in it took upon himself to teach us by both word and example even to the point of death, thus binding us to himself through love."

"The men who abandon themselves to the passions of this miserable life, are compared in Scripture to beasts."