Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Hence is the ground for the immutability of God. As he is incapable of changing his resolves, because of his infinite wisdom, so he is incapable of being forced to any change, because of his infinite power. Being almighty, he can be no more changed from power to weakness, than, being all-wise, he can be changed from wisdom to folly, or, being omniscient, from knowledge to ignorance. He cannot be altered in his purposes, because of his wisdom; nor in the manner and method of his actions, because of his infinite strength. Men, indeed, when their designs are laid deepest and their purposes stand firmest, yet are forced to stand still, or change the manner of the execution of their resolves, by reason of some outward accidents that obstruct them in their course; for, having not wisdom to foresee future hindrances, they have not power to prevent them, or strength to remove them, when they unexpectedly interpose themselves between their desire and performance; but no created power has strength enough to be a bar against God. By the same act of his will that he resolves a thing, he can puff away any impediments that seem to rise up against him. He that wants no means to effect his purposes cannot be checked by anything that riseth up to stand in his way; heaven, earth, sea, the deepest places are too weak to resist his will." - Stephen Charnock

"Man in the first instant of the use of reason, finds natural principles within himself; directing and choosing them, he finds a distinction between good and evil; how could this be if there were not some rule in him to try and distinguish good and evil? If there were not such a law and rule in man, he could not sin; for where there is no law there is no transgression. If man were a law to himself, and his own will his law, there could be no such thing as evil; whatsoever he willed would be good and agreeable to the law, and no action could be accounted sinful; the worst act would be as commendable as the best. Everything at man’s appointment would be good or evil. If there were no such law, how should men that are naturally inclined to evil disapprove of that which is unlovely, and approve of that good which they practice not? No man but inwardly thinks well of that which is good, while he neglects it; and thinks ill of that which is evil, while he commits it. Those that are vicious, do praise those that practice the contrary virtues. Those that are evil would seem to be good, and those that are blameworthy yet will rebuke evil in others. This is really to distinguish between good and evil; whence doth this arise, by what rule do we measure this, but by some innate principle?" - Stephen Charnock

"Order is an effect of reason and counsel; this reason and counsel must have its residence in some being before this order was fixed: the things ordered are always distinct from that reason and counsel whereby they are ordered, and also after it, as the effect is after the cause. No man begins a piece of work but he hath the model of it in his own mind; no man builds a house, or makes a watch, but he hath the idea or copy of it in his own head. This beautiful world bespeaks an idea of it, or a model: since there is such a magnificent wisdom in the make of each creature, and the proportion of one creature to another, this model must be before the world, as the pattern is always before the thing that is wrought by it. This, therefore, must be in some intelligent and wise agent, and this is God." - Stephen Charnock

"When I am a baby, in my undeveloped moral state, I do not love justice, nor conform to it; when I am sick, and have not complete control over this republic of nerves and muscles, I fail of justice, and heed it not; when I am stung with beastly rage, blinded by passion, or over attracted from my proper sphere of affection, another man briefly possessing me, I may not love the absolute and eternal right, private capillary attraction conflicting with the universal gravitation. But in my maturity, in my cool and personal hours, when I am most myself, and the accidents of my bodily temperament and local surroundings are controlled by the substance of my manhood, then I love justice with a firm, unwavering love. That is the natural fealty of my conscience to its liege-lord. Then I love justice, not for its consequences for bodily gain, but for itself, for the moral truth and loveliness thereof. Then if justice crown me I am glad, not merely with my personal feeling, because it is I who wear the crown, but because it is the crown of justice. If justice discrown and bind me down to infamy, I still am glad with all my moral sense, and joy in the universal justice, though I suffer with the private smart. Though all that is merely selfish and personal of me revolts, still what is noblest, what I hold in common with mankind and in common with God, bids me be glad if justice is done upon me; to me or upon me, I know it is justice still, and though my private injustice be my foe, the justice of the universe is still my friend. God, acting in this universal mode of moral force, acts for me, and the prospect of future suffering has no terror." - Theodore Parker

"Officiousness would seem to be, in fact, a well-meaning presumption in word or deed." - Theophrastus NULL

"Stupidity may be defined as mental slowness in speech and action." - Theophrastus NULL

"How many threadbare souls are to be found under silken cloaks and gowns!" - Thomas Brooks

"Prayer crowns God with the honor and glory that are due to his name, and God crowns prayer with assurance and comfort. Usually, the most praying souls are the most assured souls." - Thomas Brooks

"The catholic principle of republicanism is that every people may establish what form of government they please and change it as they please, the will of the nation being the only thing essential." - Thomas Jefferson

"Memory is corrupted and ruined by a crowd of memories. If I am going to have a true memory, there are a thousand things that must first be forgotten. Memory is not fully itself when it reaches only into the past. A memory that is not alive to the present does not remember the here and now, does not remember its true identity, is not memory at all. He who remembers nothing but facts and past events, and is never brought back into the present, is a victim of amnesia." - Thomas Merton

"The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection." - Thomas Paine

"Never seek favors: I’ve never had this problem, personally speaking. However, I’ve heard of some who have. Many brethren are exceedingly kind to their minister(s) without being asked. I always feel weird and indebted when brethren do kindnesses for me. However, I always make sure they know that I’m appreciative for their generosity. I even often look for little ways to say, “Thanks.”" - Willard L. Sperry, fully Willard Learoyd Sperry

"For the unconquerable mind. We give You thanks, O God, for the harvest of knowledge, patiently gathered over long years by ongoing generations of scholars, and now laid up for the needs of humanity in our universities. For the increasing mastery of special skills, for victory over ills which people have suffered through ignorance, for confidence in the reliable order of nature, for the wisdom which long experience adds to much learning, for ever new light falling on old mysteries, as for all the joys of our part and portion in the unconquerable mind: we give thanks." - Willard L. Sperry, fully Willard Learoyd Sperry

"It was one evening at the close of a September month and a September day that two equestrians might be observed passing along one of those old and lonely Irish roads that seemed, from the nature of its construction, to have been paved by a society of antiquarians, if a person could judge from its obsolete character, and the difficulty, without risk of neck or limb, of riding a horse or driving a carriage along it. Ireland, as our English readers ought to know, has always been a country teeming with abundance - a happy land, in which want, destitution, sickness, and famine have never been felt or known, except through the mendacious misrepresentations of her enemies. The road we speak of was a proof of this; for it was evident to every observer that, in some season of superabundant food, the people, not knowing exactly how to dispose of their shilling loaves, took to paving the common roads with them, rather than they should be utterly useless. These loaves, in the course of time, underwent the process of petrifaction, but could not, nevertheless, be looked upon as wholly lost to the country. A great number of the Irish, within six of the last preceding years - that is, from ’46 to ’ 52 - took a peculiar fancy for them as food, which, we presume, caused their enemies to say that we then had hard times in Ireland. Be this as it may, it enabled the sagacious epicures who lived upon them to retire, in due course, to the delightful retreats of Skull and Skibbereen, and similar asylums, there to pass the very short remainder of their lives in health, ease, and luxury." - William Carleton

"Brave spirits are a balsam to themselves, There is a nobleness of mind that heals Wounds beyond salves." - William Cartwright

"The sea has been called deceitful and treacherous, but there lies in this trait only the character of a great natural power, which, to speak according to our own feelings, renews its strength, and, without reference to joy or sorrow, follows eternal laws which are imposed by a higher Power." - Wilhelm von Humboldt, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt

"A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive." - Walt Disney, fully Walter Elias "Walt" Disney

"Buddhism claims to be free from attachment to and affliction by phenomenal things [dharma-characters], but actually the opposite is the case. The Buddhists are afraid of the burden in the relationship between father and son and therefore escape from it... In all cases, because the relationships between ruler and minister, father and son, and husband and wife involve attachment to phenomena, they have to escape from them. With us Confucians we accept the relationship between father and son and fulfill it with humanity as it deserves." - Wang Yang-Ming or Yangming, aka Wang Shouren or Wang Shou-jen, courtesy name Bo'an

"What we do need to worry about is the possibility that we will be reduced, in the face of the enormities of our time, to silence or to mere protest." - Wendell Berry

"Mayor Madeline: The two highest functionaries of the state are the wet nurse and the school teacher." - Victor Hugo

"The advanced arithmetical machines of the future will be electrical in nature, and they will perform at 100 times present speeds, or more." - Vannevar Bush

"The favorites of fortune or of fame topple from their pedestals before our eyes without diverting us from ambition." - Vauvenargues, Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues NULL

"Man is not born crowned like the natural king of beasts, for beasts by this investiture have need to know the head they must obey." - Tommaso Campanella, baptized Giovanni Domenico Campanella

"Patience means: "If people scold me, I can bear it. If they hit me, I can take it. No matter how badly they treat me, I can endure it."" - Hsuan Hua, aka An Tzu and Tu Lun

"Errors of theory or doctrine are not so much false statements, as partial statements. - Half a truth received, while the corresponding half is unknown or rejected, is a practical falsehood." - Tryon Edwards

"Our knowledge of the mental life of animals equals in the main our knowledge of their sense-powers, of the instincts or reactions performed without experience, and of their reactions which are built up by experience." -

"There is no reasoning, no process of inference or comparison; there is no thinking about things, no putting two and two together; there are no ideas - the animal does not think of the box or of the food or of the act he is to perform." -

"He possessed the six attributes of the adventurer-- a memory for names and faces, with the aptitude for altering his own; the gift of tongues; inexhaustible invention; secrecy; the talent for falling into conversation with strangers; and that freedom from conscience that springs from a contempt for the dozing rich he preyed upon." - Thornton Wilder, fully Thornton Niven Wilder

"And I, of ladies most deject and wretched, That sucked the honey of his music vows, Now see that noble and most sovereign reason Like sweet bells jangled, out of time and harsh, That unmatched form and feature of blown youth Blasted with ecstasy. Hamlet Prince of Denmark (Ophelia at III, i)" -

"Every man has a certain sphere of discretion, which he has a right to expect shall not be infringed by his neighbors. This right flows from the very nature of man. First, all men are fallible: no man can be justified in setting up his judgment as a standard for others. We have no infallible judge of controversies; each man in his own apprehension is right in his decisions; and we can find no satisfactory mode of adjusting their jarring pretensions. If everyone be desirous of imposing his sense upon others, it will at last come to be a controversy, not of reason, but of force. Secondly, even if we had an in fallible criterion, nothing would be gained, unless it were by all men recognized as such. If I were secured against the possibility of mistake, mischief and not good would accrue, from imposing my infallible truths upon my neighbor, and requiring his submission independently of any conviction I could produce in his understanding. Man is a being who can never be an object of just approbation, any further than he is independent. He must consult his own reason, draw his own conclusions and conscientiously conform himself to his ideas of propriety. Without this, he will be neither active, nor considerate, nor resolute, nor generous." - William Godwin

"Why all this strife and zeal about opinions? Death and life go on their own way, carry on their own work, and stay for no opinions... What a delusion it is therefore to grow gray-headed in balancing ancient and modern opinions; to waste the precious uncertain fire of life in critical zeal and verbal animosities; when nothing but the kindling of our working will into a faith that overcometh the world, into a steadfast hope, and ever-burning love and desire of the divine life, can hinder us from falling into eternal death." - William Law

"Although those of superior ranks are wiser than their subordinates and should be able to make the right decisions, the subordinates must not hesitate to correct their superiors, if they feel with certainty that the latter’s decisions are wrong." - Sejong the Great, aka King Sejong, family name Yi, given name Do NULL

"The day was featureless, a stock pattern day of late summer, blandly insensitive to their imprints. The yellow sun – slanting in under the blinds on full bosomed silver, hands balancing Worcester, dogs poking up wistfully from under the cloth – seemed old, used, filtering from the surplus of some happy fulfillment; while, unapproachably elsewhere, something went by without them." - Elizabeth Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

"I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference." - Ellen Goodman

"As it spoke I discerned, obscurely, a child's face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bed-clothes: still it wailed, "Let me in!", and maintained its tenacious grip, almost maddening me with fear." - Emily Brontë, fully Emily Jane Brontë, aka pseudonym Ellis Bell

"Nowhere is woman treated according to the merit of her work, but rather as a sex. It is therefore almost inevitable that she should pay for her right to exist, to keep a position in whatever line, with sex favors. Thus it is merely a question of degree whether she sells herself to one man, in or out of marriage, or to many men!... The economic and social inferiority of woman is responsible for prostitution." - Emma Goldman

"Prayer is always the solution. No matter what kind of difficulty may be facing you, no matter how complicated your problem may seem – prayer can solve it. Of course you will also take whatever practical steps seem to be indicated, and if you do not know what steps to take, prayer will show you. Prayer is constantly bringing about the seemingly impossible, and there is no conceivable problem that has not at some time been solved by prayer." - Emmet Fox

"It's political and economic factors, rather than the ease of forming associations, that primarily set the tone and vector in which social networks contribute to democratization; one would be naive to believe that such factors would always favor democracy." - Evgeny Morozov

"The marketÂ… represents only the surface of society and its significance relates to the momentary situation as it exists there and then. There is no probing into the depths of things, into the natural or social facts that lie behind them. In a sense, the market is the institutionalization of individualism and non-responsibility. Neither buyer nor seller is responsible for anything but himself." - E. F. Schumacher, fully Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher