William Ellery Channing

William Ellery

American Unitarian Clergy

Author Quotes

I call that mind free which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which calls no man master, which does not content itself with a passive or hereditary faith, and receives new truth as an angel for Heaven.

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

Ideas are the mightiest influence on earth. One great thought breathed in to a man may regenerate him.

The office of government is not to confer happiness, but to give men opportunity to work out happiness for themselves.

In the long run, truth is aided by nothing so much as by opposition.

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 defense around property and life. With the progress of society, this power of opinion is taking the place of arms.

It has often been observed, that those who have the most time at their disposal profit by it the least. A single hour in the day, steadily given to the study of some interesting subject, brings unexpected accumulations of knowledge.

They who have read about everything are thought to understand everything, but it is not always so; reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours. We are of the ruminating kind, and it is not enough to cram ourselves with a great load of collections - we must chew them over again.

It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds, and these invaluable means of communication are in the reach of all. In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.

Understand your antagonist before you answer him... Discussion, even if story, often winnows truth from error - a good never to be expected in an uninquiring age.

It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds.

War is the concentration of all human crimes. It turns man into a beast of prey.

It is far more important to me to preserve an unblemished conscience than to compass any object however great.

We smile at the ignorance of the savage who cuts down the tree in order to reach its fruit; but the same blunder is made by every person who is over eager and impatient in the pursuit of pleasure.

It is the mind which does the work of the world, so that the more there is of mind, the more work will be accomplished.

What distinguishes war is, not that man is slain, but that he is slain, spoiled, crushed by the cruelty, the injustice, the treachery, the murderous hand of man.

Literature is "The expression of a nation's mind in writing."

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

Nothing which has entered into our experience is ever lost.

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.

Our affections are our life. We live by them; they supply our warmth.

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

Secret study, silent thought, is, after all, the mightiest agent in human affairs.

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?

Sensuality is the grave of the soul.

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William Ellery
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American Unitarian Clergy