Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Robert Hall

English Baptist Minister, Bishop

"To have co-operated in any degree towards the accomplishment of that purpose of the Deity to reconcile all things to himself by reducing them to the obedience of his Son, which is the ultimate end of all his works,?to be the means of recovering though it were but an inconsiderable portion of a lapsed and degenerate race to eternal happiness, will yield a satisfaction exactly commensurate to the force of our benevolent sentiments and the degree of our loyal attachment to the supreme Potentate. The consequences involved in saving a soul from death, and hiding a multitude of sins, will be duly appreciated in that world where the worth of souls and the malignity of sin are fully understood; while to extend the triumphs of the Redeemer, by forming him in the hearts of men, will produce a transport which can only be equaled by the gratitude and love we shall feel towards the Source of all good."

"To imitate the highest examples, to do good in ways not usual to the same rank of life, to make great exertions and sacrifices in the cause of religion and with a view to eternal happiness, to determine without delay to reduce to practice whatever we applaud in theory, are modes of conduct which the world will generally condemn as romantic."

"To obliterate the sense of Deity, of moral sanctions, and of a future world,?and by these means to prepare the way for the total subversion of every institution, both social and religious, which men have been hitherto accustomed to revere,?is evidently the principal object of modern skeptics; the first sophists who have avowed an attempt to govern the world without inculcating the persuasion of a superior power."

"To place the rights of man as the basis of lawful government is not peculiar to Mr. Paine; but was done more than a century ago by men of no less eminence than Sidney and Locke. It is extremely disingenuous to impute the system to Mr. Paine as its author. His structure may be false and erroneous, but the foundation was laid by other hands."

"To say nothing of the inimitable beauties of the Bible, considered in a literary view, which are universally acknowledged, it is the book which every devout man is accustomed to consult as the oracle of God; it is the companion of his best moments, and the vehicle of his strongest consolations. Intimately associated in his mind with everything dear and valuable, its diction more powerfully excites devotional feelings than any other; and when temperately and soberly used, imparts an unction to a religious discourse which nothing else can supply."

"To that state all the pious on earth are tending. Heaven is attracting to itself whatever is congenial to its nature; is enriching itself by the spoils of the earth, and collecting within its capacious bosom whatever is pure, permanent, and divine, leaving nothing for the last fire to consume but the objects and slaves of concupiscence; while everything which grace has prepared and beautified shall be gathered and selected from the ruins of the world to adorn that eternal city "which hath no need of the sun or moon to shine in it; for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.""

"Turn a Christian society into an established church, and it is no longer a voluntary assembly for the worship of God; it is a powerful corporation, full of such sentiments and passions as usually distinguish those bodies: a dread of innovation, an attachment to abuses, a propensity to tyranny and oppression."

"Under every possible aspect in which infidelity can be viewed, it extends the dominion of sensuality; it repeals and abrogates every law by which divine revelation has, under such awful sanctions, restrained the indulgence of the passions."

"War is nothing less than a temporary repeal of the principles of virtue. It is a system out of which almost all the virtues are excluded, and in which nearly all the vices are included."

"We are inclined to think that the study of the classics is, on the whole, advantageous to public morals, by inspiring an elegance of sentiments and an elevation of soul which we should in vain seek for elsewhere."

"We are to seek wisdom and understanding only in the length of days."

"We may discover by the light of nature the existence of a Being who is possessed of all possible perfection. The works of God sufficiently display his goodness, wisdom, and power; but with respect to the application of these in any particular instance it leaves us entirely at a loss. We have no measure which we can apply to the operations of an infinite mind; and therefore, though we may be assured that the Divine Being possesses all the attributes which compose supreme excellence, it is impossible for us to say, in particular instances, what path of conduct may best consist with those perfections in their most extensive operation. Indeed, to discover not only the leading attributes of the Divine Nature, but to be acquainted beforehand with every direction they will take, would be fully to comprehend the Most High."

"We rend of a ?joy unspeakable and full of glory,? of ?a peace that passeth all understanding,? with innumerable other expressions of a similar kind, which indicate strong and vehement emotions of mind. That the great objects of Christianity, called eternity, heaven, and hell, are of sufficient magnitude to justify vivid emotions of joy, fear, and love, is indisputable, if it be allowed we have any relation to them; nor is it less certain that religion could never have any powerful influence if it did not influence through the medium of the affections. All objects which have any permanent influence influence the conduct in this way. We may possibly be first set in motion by their supposed connection with our interest; but unless they draw to themselves particular affections the pursuit soon terminates."

"We would earnestly entreat the young to remember that, by the unanimous consent of all ages, modesty, docility, and reverence to superior years, and to parents above all, have been considered as their appropriate virtues, a guard assigned by the immutable laws of God and nature on the inexperience of youth; and with respect to the second, that Christianity prohibits no pleasures that are innocent, lays no restraints that are capricious; but that the sobriety and purity which it enjoins, by strengthening the intellectual powers, and preserving the faculties of mind and body in undiminished vigor, lay the surest foundation of present peace and future eminence."

"Were any other event of far superior moment ascertained by evidence which made but a distant approach to that which attests the certainty of a life to come,?had we equal assurance that after a very limited though uncertain period we should be called to migrate into a distant land whence we were never to return,?the intelligence would fill every breast with solicitude; it would become the theme of every tongue; and we should avail ourselves with the utmost eagerness of all the means of information respecting the prospects which awaited us in that unknown country. Much of our attention would be occupied in preparing for our departure; we should cease to regard the place we now inhabit as our home, and nothing would be considered of moment but as it bore upon our future destination. How strange is it then that, with the certainty we all possess of shortly entering into another world, we avert our eyes as much as possible from the prospect; that we seldom permit it to penetrate us; and that the moment the recollection recurs we hasten to dismiss it as an unwelcome intrusion! Is it not surprising that the volume we profess to recognize as the record of immortality, and the sole depository of whatever information it is possible to obtain respecting the portion which awaits us, should be consigned to neglect, and rarely if ever consulted with the serious intention of ascertaining our future condition?"

"What a scene must a field of battle present, where thousands are left without assistance and without pity, with their wounds exposed to the piercing air, while the blood, freezing as it flows, binds them to the earth, amid the trampling of horses and the insults of an enraged foe! If they are spared by the humanity of the enemy and carried from the field, it is but a prolongation of torment. Conveyed in uneasy vehicles often to a remote distance, through roads almost impassable, they are lodged in ill-prepared receptacles for the wounded and the sick, where the variety of distress baffles all the efforts of humanity and skill, and renders it impossible to give to each the attention he demands. Far from their native home, no tender assiduities of friendship, no well-known voice, no wife, or mother, or sister, is near to soothe their sorrows, relieve their thirst, or close their eyes in death. Unhappy man! and must you be swept into the grave unnoticed and unnumbered, and no friendly tear be shed for your sufferings or mingled with your dust!"

"What can be a more pitiable object than decrepitude sinking under the accumulated load of years and of penury? Arrived at that period when the most fortunate confess they have no pleasure, how forlorn is his situation who, destitute of the means of subsistence, has survived his last child or his last friend! Solitary and neglected, without comfort and without hope, depending for everything on a kindness he has no means of conciliating, he finds himself left alone in a world to which he has ceased to belong, and is only felt in society as a burden it is impatient to shake off."

"What is friendship in virtuous minds but the concentration of benevolent emotions heightened by respect and increased by exercise on one or more objects? Friendship is not a state of feeling whose elements are specifically different from those which compose every other. The emotions we feel towards a friend are the same in kind with those we experience on other occasions; but they are more complex and more exalted. It is the general sensibility to kind and social affections, more immediately directed to one or more individuals, and in consequence of its particular direction giving birth to an order of feeling more vivid and intense than usual, which constitutes friendship."

"What may we suppose is the reason of this? Why are so many impressed and so few profited? It is unquestionably because they are not obedient to the first suggestion of conscience. What that suggestion is it may not be easy precisely to determine; but it certainly is not to make haste to efface the impression by frivolous amusement, by gay society, by entertaining reading, or even by secular employment: it is probably to meditate and pray. Let the first whisper, be what it may, of the internal monitor be listened to as an oracle, as the still small voice which Elijah heard when he wrapped his face in his mantle, recognizing it to be the voice of God. Be assured it will not mislead you; it will conduct you one step at least towards happiness and truth; and by a prompt and punctual compliance with it you will be prepared to receive ampler communications and superior light."

"What other book besides the Bible could be heard in public assemblies from year to year, with an attention that never tires, and an interest that never cloys?"

"When the inductive and experimental philosophy recommended by Bacon had, in the hands of Boyle and Newton, led to such brilliant discoveries in the investigation of matter, an attempt was soon made to transfer the same method of proceeding to the mind."

"When we mention peace, however, we mean not the stupid security of a mind that refuses to reflect, we mean a tranquility which rests upon an unshaken basis, which no anticipations, however remote, no power of reflection, however piercing or profound, no evolutions which time may disclose or eternity conceal, are capable of impairing: a peace which is founded on the oath and promise of Him who cannot lie; which, springing from the consciousness of an ineffable alliance with the Father of Spirits, makes us to share in his fulness, to become a partner with him in his eternity; a repose pure and serene as the unruffled wave which reflects the heavens from its bosom; while it is accompanied with a feeling of exultation and triumph natural to such as are conscious that ere long, having overcome, they shall possess all things."

"When, at the distance of more than half a century, Christianity was assaulted by a Woolston, a Tindal, and a Morgan, it was ably supported both by clergymen of the established church and writings among Protestant dissenters. The labors of a Clarke and a Butler were associated with those of a Doddridge, a Leland, and a Lardner, with such equal reputation and success as to make it evident that the intrinsic excellence of a religion needs not the aid of external appendages; but that, with or without a dowry, her charms are of sufficient power to fix and engage the heart."

"While human philosophy was never able to abolish idolatry in a single village, the promulgation of the gospel overthrew it in a great part (and that the most enlightened) of the world."

"While the philanthropist is devising means to militate the evils and augment the happiness of the world, a fellow-worker together with God, in exploring and giving effect to the benevolent tendencies of nature, the warrior is revolving, in the gloomy recesses of his capacious mind, plans of future devastation and ruin. Prisons crowded with captives, cities emptied of their inhabitants, fields desolate and waste, are among his proudest trophies. The fabric of his fame is cemented with tears and blood; and if his name is wafted to the ends of the earth, it is in the shrill cry of suffering humanity; in the curses and imprecations of those whom his sword has reduced to despair."

"Who can withstand the fascination and magic of his eloquence? The excursions of his genius are immense. His imperial fancy has laid all nature under tribute, and has collected riches from every scene of the creation and every walk of art. His eulogium on the Queen of France is a masterpiece of pathetic composition: so select are its images, so fraught with tenderness, and so rich with colors ?dipped in heaven,? that he who can read it without rapture may have merit as a reasoner, but must resign all pretensions to taste and sensibility. His imagination is, in truth, only too prolific: a world of itself, where he dwells in the midst of chimerical alarms, is the dupe of his own enchantments, and starts, like Prospero, at the spectres of his own creation."

"Whoever attentively peruses [Aristotle?s] Treatise?the Nicomachian Morals, I mean?will find a perpetual reference to the inward sentiments of the breast. He builds everything on the human constitution. He all along takes it for granted that there is a moral impress on the mind, to which, without looking abroad, we may safely appeal. In a word, Aristotle never lost the moralist in the accountant. He has been styled the Interpreter of Nature, and has certainly shown himself a most able commentator on the law written on the heart. For Cicero?in all his philosophical works, as well as in his Offices, where he treats more directly on these subjects, he shows the most extreme solicitude, as though he had a prophetic glance of what was to happen, to keep the moral and natural world apart, to assert the supremacy of virtue, and to recognize those sentiments and vestiges from which he educes, with the utmost elevation, the contempt of human things. How humiliating the consideration that, with superior advantages, our moral systems should be infinitely surpassed in warmth and grandeur by those of pagan times; and that the most jejune and comfortless that ever entered the mind of man, and the most abhorrent from the spirit of religion, should have ever become popular in a Christian country!"

"Whole nations are immersed. Placing religion, which is most foreign to its nature, in depending for acceptance with God on absurd penances or unmeaning ceremonies, it resigns the understanding to ignorance and the heart to insensibility. No generous sentiments, no active virtues, ever issue from superstition."

"Why, it will be said, may we not suppose the world has always continued as it is; that is, that there has been a constant succession of finite beings appearing and disappearing on the earth from all eternity? I answer, Whatever is supposed to have occasioned this constant succession, exclusive of an intelligent cause, will never account for the undeniable marks of design visible in all finite beings. Nor is the absurdity of supposing a contrivance without a contriver diminished by this imaginary succession; but rather increased, by being repealed at every step of the series."

"With all the pride that wealth is apt to inspire, how seldom are the opulent truly aware of their high destination! Placed by the Lord of all on an eminence, and intrusted with a superior portion of his goods, to them it belongs to be the dispensers of his bounty, to succor distress, to draw merit from obscurity, to behold oppression and want vanish before them, and, accompanied wherever they move with perpetual benedictions, to present an image of Him who, at the close of time, in the kingdom of the redeemed, will wipe away tears from all faces. It is surely unnecessary to remark how insipid are the pleasures of voluptuousness and ambition compared to what such a life must afford, whether we compare them with respect to the present, the review of the past, or the prospect of the future."

"With the enemies of freedom it is a usual artifice to represent the sovereignty of the people as a license to anarchy and disorder. But the tracing up of the civil power to that source will not diminish our obligation to obey; it only explains its reasons, and settles it on clear and determinate principles; it turns blind submission into rational obedience, tempers the passion for liberty with the love of order, and places mankind in a happy medium between the extremes of anarchy on the one side and oppression on the other; it is the polar star that will conduct us safely over the ocean of political debate and speculation,?the law of laws, the guide for legislators."

"Without the permanent union of the sexes there can be no permanent families: the dissolution of nuptial ties involves the dissolution of domestic society. But domestic society is the seminary of social affections, the cradle of sensibility, where the first elements are acquired of that tenderness and humanity which cement mankind together; and were they entirely extinguished the whole fabric of social institutions would be dissolved. Families are so many centres of attraction, which preserve mankind from being scattered and dissipated by the repulsive powers of selfishness. The order of nature is ever from particulars to generals. As in the operations of intellect we proceed from the contemplation of individuals to the formation of general abstractions, so in the development of the passions, in like manner, we advance from private to public affections; from the love of parents, brothers, and sisters, to those more expanded regards which embrace the immense society of human kind."

"You might have traversed the Roman empire in the zenith of its power, from the Euphrates to the Atlantic, without meeting with a single charitable asylum for the sick. Monuments of pride, of ambition, of vindictive wrath, were to be found in abundance; but not one legible record of commiseration for the poor. It was reserved for the religion whose basis is humility, and whose element is devotion, to proclaim with authority, ?Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.?"

"Your employment is that of the Son of God; it makes no great appearance before men, but it will finally arise in majesty to overshadow all created glory."