Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Ellery Channing

American Unitarian Clergy

"A religion giving dark views of God, and infusing superstitious fear of innocent enjoyment, instead of aiding sober habits, will, by making men abject and sad, impair their moral force and prepare them for intemperance as a refuge from depression or despair."

"All that a man does outwardly is but the expression and completion of his inward thought. To work effectually, he must think clearly; to act nobly, he must think nobly. Intellectual force is a principal element of the soul’s life, and should be proposed by every man as the principal end of his being."

"Be true to your own highest convictions."

"All virtue lies in individual action, in inward energy, in self-determination."

"Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict."

"Each of us is meant to have a character all our own, to be what no other can exactly be, and do what no other can exactly do."

"Error is discipline through which we advance."

"Every human being has a work to carry on within, duties to perform abroad, influences to exert, which are peculiarly his, and which no conscience but his own can teach."

"Contempt of all outward things that come in competition with duty fulfills the ideal of human greatness. It is sanctioned by conscience, that universal and eternal lawgiver, whose chief principle is, that everything must be yielded up for right."

"Every human being is intended to have a character of his own; to be what no other is, and to do what no other can do."

"Every man is a volume, if you know how to read him."

"Every mind was made for growth, for knowledge; and its nature is sinned against when it is doomed to ignorance."

"Faith is love taking the form of aspiration."

"Fiction is no longer a mere amusement; but transcendent genius, accommodating itself to the character of the age, has seized upon this province of literature, and turned fiction from a toy into a mighty engine."

"Home - the nursery of the Infinite."

"Home is the chief school of human virtues."

"I see nothing worth living for but the divine virtue which endures and surrenders all things for truth, duty, and mankind."

"In general, we do well to let an opponent’s motives alone. We are seldom just to them. Our own motives on such occasions are often worse than those we assail."

"Love is the life of the soul. It is the harmony of the universe."

"Men are never very wise and select in the exercise of a new power."

"Mistake, error, is the discipline through which we advance."

"No evil is intolerable but a guilty conscience."

"No man should part with his own individuality and become that of another."

"Peace is the fairest form of happiness."

"Reading furnishes the mind only with the materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours."

"Sincerity, truth, faithfulness, come into the very essence of friendship."

"That some of the indigent among us die of scanty food is undoubtedly true; but vastly more in this community die from eating too much than from eating too little."

"The domestic relations precede, and in our present existence are worth more than all our other social ties. They give the first throb to the heart, and unseal the deep fountains of its love. Home is the chief school of human virtue. Its responsibilities, joys, sorrows, smiles, tears, hopes, and solicitudes form the chief interest of human life."

"The great duty of God’s children is to love one another. This duty on earth takes the name and form of the law of humanity. We are to recognize all men as brethren, no matter where born, or under what sky, or institution or religion they may live. Every man belongs to the race, and owes a duty to mankind... Men cannot, by combining themselves into narrower or larger societies, sever the sacred, blessed bond which joins them to their kind... The law of humanity must reign; over the assertion of all human rights."

"The great hope of society is in individual character."

"The greatest man is he who chooses the right with invincible resolution, who resists the sorest temptations from within and without, who bears the heaviest burdens cheerfully, who is calmest in storms and most fearless under menace and frowns, whose reliance on truth, on virtue, on God, is most unfaltering. I believe this greatness to be most common among the multitude, whose names are never heard."

"The greatest truths (thoughts) are wronged if not linked with beauty, and they win their way most surely and deeply into the soul, when arranged in this their natural and fit attire."

"The idea of God is the idea of our own spiritual natures enlarged to infinity."

"The more discussion the better, if passion and personality be eschewed; and discussion, even if stormy, often winnows truth from error - a good never to be expected in an uninquiring age."

"The only freedom worth possessing is that which gives enlargement to a people’s energy, intellect and virtues."

"The only freedom worth possessing is that which gives enlargement to a people's energy, intellect and virtues... Progress, the growth of intelligence and power, is the end and boon of liberty; and, without this, a people may have the name, but want the substance and spirit of freedom."

"The sense of duty is the fountain of human rights. In other words, the same inward principle which teaches the former bears witness to the latter Duties and rights must stand and fall together."

"The world is governed much more by opinion than by laws. It is not the judgment of courts, but the moral judgment of individuals and masses of men, which is the chief wall of defence around property and life. With the progress of society, this power of opinion is taking the place of arms."

"There are seasons, in human affairs, when new depths seem to be broken up in the soul, when new wants are unfolded in multitudes, and a new and undefined good is thirsted for. There are periods when to dare, is the highest wisdom."

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony."

"True love is the parent of a noble humility."

"War will never yield but to the principles of universal justice and love."

"We cannot enjoy a friend here. If we are to meet it is beyond the grave. How much of our soul a friend takes with him! We half die in him."

"We never know a greater character until something congenial to it has grown up within ourselves."

"What blessedness it is to dwell amidst this transparent air, which the eye can pierce without limit, amidst these floods of pure, soft, cheering light, under this immeasurable arch of heaven, and in sight of these countless stars! An infinite universe is each moment opened to our view. And this universe is the sing and symbol of Infinite Power, Intelligence, Purity, Bliss, and Love."

"A man in earnest finds means, or if he cannot find, creates it."

"All that man does outwardly is but the expression and completion of his inward thought. To work effectually, he must think clearly; to act nobly, he must think nobly. Intellectual force is a principal element of the soul's life, and should be proposed by every man as the principal end of his being."

"Every man is a volume, if you know how to read them."

"Everything here, but the soul of man, is a passing shadow. The only enduring substance is within. When shall we awake to the sublime greatness, the perils, the accountableness, and the glorious destines of the immortal soul?"

"Faith is love taking the form of aspirations."