George MacDonald as collected by C.S. Lewis: Quote List

An Anthology: 365 MacDonald Quotes/Readings as selected by Lewis

The following list is a collection of all the quotes I personally found useful and meaningful in my life. I will over time – as I have done and am doing with other books – add commentary relevant to each quote so that I can better process my thoughts on the matter. In doing that, I hope you my friend can benefit as well.

In recording this rather large collection of quotes I owe a considerable amount to this Russian site, which has saved me from typing out all of these quotes.

A quick note on the formatting below.  Rather than page numbers, as the book is already broken into selections I utilized those numbers instead as it’s easy to find the citation in the book as well as the MacDonald source (located in the back of the book per selection).

[ 4 ] The Beginning of Wisdom – Commentary: Graduations of Infinite Progress
How should the Hebrews be other than terrified at that which was opposed to all they knew of themselves, beings judging it good to honor a golden calf? Such as they were, they did well to be afraid. … Fear is nobler than sensuality. Fear is better than no God, better than a god made with hands. … The worship of fear is true, although very low: and though not acceptable to God in itself, for only the worship of spirit and of truth is acceptable to Him, yet even in his sight it is precious. For He regards men not as they are merely, but as they shall be; not as they shall be merely, but as they are now growing, or capable of growing, toward that image after which He made them that they might grow to it. Therefore a thousand stages, each in itself all but valueless, are of inestimable worth as the necessary and connected gradations of an infinite progress. A condition which of declension would indicate a devil, may of growth indicate a saint.

[ 5 ] The Unawakened
Can it be any comfort to them to be told that God loves them so that He will burn them clean? . . . They do not want to be clean, and they cannot bear to be tortured.

[ 10 ] The Word
But herein is the Bible itself greatly wronged. It nowhere lays claim to be regarded as the Word, the Way, the Truth. The Bible leads us to Jesus, the inexhaustible, the ever unfolding Revelation of God. It is Christ “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” not the Bible, save as leading to Him.

[ 11 ] I Knew a Child
I knew a child who believed she had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, because she had, in her toilette, made an improper use of a pin. Dare not to rebuke me for adducing the diseased fancy of a child in a weighty matter of theology. “Despise not one of these little ones.” Would the theologians were as near the truth in such matters as the children. Diseased fancy! The child knew, and was conscious that she knew, that she was doing wrong because she had been forbidden. There was rational ground for her fear. . . . He would not have told her she was silly, and “never to mind.” Child as she was, might He not have said to her, “I do not condemn thee: and go and sin no more”?

[12] Spiritual Murder
It may be an infinitely less evil to murder a man than to refuse to forgive him. The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart’s choice. It is spiritual murder, the worst, to hate, to brood over the feeling that excludes, that, in our microcosm, kills the image, the idea of the hated.

[ 13 ] Impossibilities
No man who will not forgive his neighbor, can believe that God is willing, yea wanting, to forgive him…. If God said, “I forgive you” to a man who hated his brother, and if (as impossible) that voice of forgiveness should reach the man, what would it mean to him? How much would the man interpret it? Would it not mean to him “You may go on hating. I do not mind it. You have had great provocation and are justified in your hate”? No doubt God takes what wrong there is, and what provocation there is, into the account: but the more provocation, the more excuse that can be urged for the hate, the more reason, if possible, that the hater should be delivered from the hell of his hate. . . . The man would think, not that God loved the sinner, but that he forgave the sin, which God never does [i.e. What is usually called “forgiving the sin” means forgiving the sinner and destroying the sin]. Every sin meets with its due fate-inexorable expulsion from the paradise of God’s Humanity. He loves the sinner so much that He cannot forgive him in any other way than by banishing from his bosom the demon that possesses him.

[ 14 ] Truth is Truth
Truth is truth, whether from the lips of Jesus or Balaam.

[ 15 ] The White Stone (Revelations 2:17) – Commentary: Ambition and Who We Really Are
The giving of the white stone with the new name is the communication of what God thinks about the man to the man. It is the divine judgment, the solemn holy doom of the righteous man, the “Come, thou blessed,” spoken to the individual. . . . The true name is one which expresses the character, the nature, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol -his soul’s picture, in a word-the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is. … It is only when the man has become his name that God gives him the stone with the name upon it, for then first can he understand what his name signifies. It is the blossom, the perfection, the completeness, that determines the name: and God foresees that from the first because He made it so: but the tree of the soul, before its blossom comes, cannot understand what blossom it is to bear and could not know what the word meant, which, in representing its own unarrived completeness, named itself. Such a name cannot be given until the man is the name. God’s name for a man must be the expression of His own idea of the man, that being whom He had in His thought when he began to make the child, and whom He kept in His thought through the long process of creation that went to realize the idea. To tell the name is to seal the success-to say “In thee also I am well pleased.”

[ 16 ] Personality – Commentary: Ambition and Who We Really Are
The name is one “which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Not only then has each man his individual relation to God, but each man has his peculiar relation to God. He is to God a peculiar being, made after his own fashion, and that of no one else. Hence he can worship God as no man else can worship Him.

[ 18 ] The Secrets in God – Commentary: Ambition and Who We Really Are
There is a chamber also (O God, humble and accept my speech)-a chamber in God Himself, into which none can enter but the one, the individual, the peculiar man-out of which chamber that man has to bring revelation and strength for his brethren. This is that for which he was made-to reveal the secret things of the Father.

[ 20 ] No Comparing – Commentary: Ambition and Who We Really Are
Here there is no room for ambition. Ambition is the desire to be above one’s neighbor; and here there is no possibility of comparison with one’s neighbor: no one knows what the white stone contains except the man who receives it…. Relative worth is not only unknown -to the children of the Kingdom it is unknowable.

[ 23 ] Caverns and Films
If God sees that heart corroded with the rust of cares, riddled into caverns and films by the worms of ambition and greed, then your heart is as God sees it, for God sees things as they are. And one day you will be compelled to see, nay, to feel your heart as God sees it.

[ 26 ] Command That These Stones Be Made Bread
The Father said, That is a stone. The Son would not say, That is a loaf. No one creative Fiat shall contradict another. The Father and the Son are of one mind. The Lord could hunger, could starve, but would not change into another thing what His Father had made one thing. There was no such change in the feeding of the multitudes. The fish and the bread were fish and bread before. . . . There was in these miracles, and I think in all, only a hastening of appearances: the doing of that in a day, which may ordinarily take a thousand years, for with God time is not what it is with us. He makes it… Nor does it render the process one whit more miraculous. Indeed, the wonder of the growing corn is to me greater than the wonder of feeding the thousands. It is easier to understand the creative power going forth at once- immediately-than through the countless, the lovely, the seemingly forsaken wonders of the cornfield.

[ 29 ] Presumption
“If ye have faith and doubt not, if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed and cast into the sea, it shall be done.” Good people . . . have been tempted to tempt the Lord their God upon the strength of this saying. . . . Happily for such, the assurance to which they would give the name of faith generally fails them in time. Faith is that which, knowing the Lord’s will, goes and does it; or, not knowing it, stands and waits… But to put God to the question in any other way than by saying, “What wilt thou have me to do?” is an attempt to compel God to declare Himself, or to hasten His work. . . . The man is therein dissociating himself from God so far that, instead of acting by the divine will from within, he acts in God’s face, as it were, to see what He will do. Man’s first business is, “What does God want me to do?”, not “What will God do if I do so and so?”

[ 30 ] The Knowledge of God
To say Thou art God, without knowing what the Thou means-of what use is it? God is a name only, except we know God.

[ 37 ] The Use of Dryness
God does not, by the instant gift of His Spirit, make us always feel right, desire good, love purity, aspire after Him and His Will. Therefore either He will not, or He cannot. If He will not, it must be because it would not be well to do so. If He cannot, then He would not if He could; else a better condition than God’s is conceivable to the mind of God. . . .The truth is this: He wants to make us in His own image, choosing the good, refusing the evil. How should He effect this if He were always moving us from within, as He does at divine intervals, toward the beauty of holiness? . . . For God made our individuality as well as, and a greater marvel than, our dependence; made our apartness from Himself, that freedom should bind us divinely dearer to Himself, with a new and inscrutable marvel of love; for the Godhead is still at the root, is the making root of our individuality, and the freer the man, the stronger the bond that binds him to Him who made his freedom.

[ 39 ] Troubled Soul
Troubled soul, thou are not bound to feel but thou art bound to arise. God loves thee whether thou feelest or not. Thou canst not love when thou wilt, but thou art bound to fight the hatred in thee to the last. Try not to feel good when thou art not good, but cry to Him who is good. He changes not because thou changest. Nay, He has an especial tenderness of love toward thee for that thou art in the dark and hast no light, and His heart is glad when thou doest arise and say, “I will go to my Father.” . . . Fold the arms of thy faith, and wait in the quietness until light goes up in thy darkness. For the arms of thy Faith I say, but not of thy Action: bethink thee of something that thou oughtest to do, and, go to do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the preparing of a meal, or a visit to a friend. Heed not thy feeling: Do thy work.

[ 40 ] Dangerous Moment
Am I going to do a good deed? Then, of all times- Father into thy hands: lest the enemy should have me now.

[ 41 ] It Is Finished
… when the agony of death was over, when the storm of the world died away behind His retiring spirit, and He entered the regions where there is only life, and therefore all that is not music is silence…

[ 42 ] Members of One Another
We shall never be able, I say, to rest in the bosom of the Father, till the fatherhood is fully revealed to us in the love of the brothers. For He cannot be our Father, save as He is their Father; and if we do not see Him and feel Him as their Father, we cannot know Him as ours.

[ 43 ] Originality
Our Lord never thought of being original.

[ 44 ] The Moral Law
Of what use then is the Law? To lead us to Christ, the Truth-to waken in our minds a sense of what our deepest nature, the presence, namely, of God in us, requires of us-to let us know, in part by failure, that the purest efforts of will of which we are capable cannot lift us up even to the abstaining from wrong to our neighbor.

[ 49 ] The Same
The love of our neighbor is the only door out of the dungeon of self, where we mope and mow, striking sparks, and rubbing phosphorescences out of the walls, and blowing our own breath in our own nostrils, instead of issuing to the fair sunlight of God, the sweet winds of the universe.

[ 50 ] What Cannot Be Loved
But how can we love a man or a woman who … is mean, unlovely, carping, uncertain, self-righteous, self-seeking, and self-admiring?-who can even sneer, the most inhuman of human faults, far worse in its essence than mere murder? These things cannot be loved. The best man hates them most; the worst man cannot love them. But are these the man? . . . Lies there not
within the man and the woman a divine element of brotherhood, of sisterhood, a something lovely and lovable- slowly fading, it may be-dying away under the fierce heat of vile passions, or the yet more fearful cold of sepulchral selfishness, but there? … It is the very presence of this fading humanity that makes it possible for us to hate. If it were an animal only, and not a
man or a woman, that did us hurt, we should not hate: we should only kill.

[ 51 ] Love and Justice
Man is not made for justice from his fellow, but for love, which is greater than justice, and by including supersedes justice. Mere justice is an impossibility, a fiction of analysis…. Justice to be justice must be much more than justice. Love is the law of our condition, without which we can no more render justice than a man can keep a straight line, walking in the dark.

[ 53 ] Goodness
The Father was all in all to the Son, and the Son no more thought of His own goodness than an honest man thinks of his honesty. When the good man sees goodness, he thinks of his own evil: Jesus had no evil to think of, but neither does He think of His goodness: He delights in His Father’s. “Why callest thou Me good?”

[ 55 ] Easy to Please and Hard to Satisfy
That no keeping but a perfect one will satisfy God, I hold with all my heart and strength; but that there is none else He cares for, is one of the lies of the enemy. What father is not pleased with the first tottering attempt of his little one to walk? What father would be satisfied with anything but the manly step of the full-grown son!

[ 56 ] The Moral Law
The immediate end of the commandments never was that men should succeed in obeying them, but that, finding they could not do that which yet must be done, finding the more they tried the more was required of them, they should be driven to the source of life and law-of their life and His law-to seek from Him such reinforcement of life as should make the fulfillment of the law as possible, yea, as natural, as necessary.

[ 57 ] Bondage
A man is in bondage to whatever he cannot part with that is less than himself.

[ 58 ] The Rich Young Man (Matthew 19: 16-22)
It was time . . . that he should refuse, that he should know what manner of spirit he was of, and meet the confusions of soul, the sad searchings of heart that must follow. A time comes to every man when he must obey, or make such refusal-and know it. . . . The time will come, God only knows its hour, when he will see the nature of his deed, with the knowledge that he was dimly seeing it so even when he did it: the alternative had been put before him.

[ 59 ] Law and Spirit
The commandments can never be kept while there is a strife to keep them: the man is overwhelmed in the weight of their broken pieces. It needs a clean heart to have pure hands, all the power of a live soul to keep the law-a power of life, not of struggle; the strength of love, not the effort of duty.

[ 60 ] Our Nonage
The number of fools not yet acknowledging the first condition of manhood nowise alters the fact that he who has begun to recognize duty and acknowledge the facts of his being, is but a tottering child on the path of life. He is on the path: he is as wise as at the time he can be; the Father’s arms are stretched out to receive him; but he is not therefore a wonderful being; not therefore a model of wisdom; not at all the admirable creature his largely remaining folly would, in his worst moments (that is, when he feels best) persuade him to think himself; he is just one of God’s poor creatures.

[ 61 ] Knowledge
Had he done as the Master told him, he would soon have come to understand. Obedience is the opener of eyes.

[ 70 ] The Utility of Death
Wherein then lies the service of Death? … In this: it is not the fetters that gall, but the fetters that soothe, which eat into the soul. In this way is the loss of things … a motioning, hardly toward, yet in favor of, deliverance. It may seem to a man the first of his slavery when it is in truth the beginning of his freedom. Never soul was set free without being made to feel its slavery.

[ 71 ] Not the Rich Only
But it is not the rich man only who is under the dominion of things; they too are slaves who, having no money, are unhappy from the lack of it.

[ 76 ] Not the Rich Only
If it be things that slay you, what matter whether things you have, or things you have not?

[ 78 ] The Sacred Present
The care that is filling your mind at this moment, or but waiting till you lay the book aside to leap upon you -that need which is no need, is a demon sucking at the spring of your life. “No; mine is a reasonable care- an unavoidable care, indeed.” Is it something you have to do this very moment? “No.” Then you are allowing it to usurp the place of something that is required of you this moment. “There is nothing required of me at this moment.” Nay but there is-the greatest thing that can be required of man. “Pray, what is it?” Trust in the living God…. “I do trust Him in spiritual matters.” Everything is an affair of the spirit.

[ 83 ] Cares
With every haunting trouble then, great or small, the loss of thousands or the lack of a shilling, go to God…. If your trouble is such that you cannot appeal to Him, the more need you should appeal to him!

[ 88 ] Prayer
Shall I not tell Him my troubles-how He, even He, has troubled me by making me?-how unfit I am to be that which I am?-that my being is not to me a good thing yet?-that I need a law that shall account to me for it in righteousness-reveal to me how I am to make it a good-how I am to be* a. good and not an evil?

[ 97 ] Divine Freedom
What stupidity of perfection would that be which left no margin about God’s work, no room for change of plan upon change of fact-yea, even the mighty change that.. . now at length His child is praying! … I may move my arm as I please: shall God be unable so to move His?

[ 98 ] Providence
If His machine interfered with His answering the prayer of a single child, He would sweep it from Him- not to bring back chaos but to make room for His child.. .. We must remember that God is not occupied with a grand toy of worlds and suns and planets, of attractions and repulsions, of agglomerations and crystallizations, of forces and waves; that these but constitute a portion of His workshops and tools for the bringing out of righteous men and women to fill His house of love withal

[ 99 ] The Miracles of Our Lord
In all His miracles Jesus did only in miniature what His Father does ever in the great. Poor, indeed, was the making of the wine in the … pots of stone, compared with its making in the lovely growth of the vine with its clusters of swelling grapes-the live roots gathering from the earth the water that had to be borne in pitchers and poured into the great vases; but
it is precious as the interpreter of the same, even in its being the outcome of Our Lord’s sympathy with ordinary human rejoicing.

[ 100 ] They Have No Wine (John 2:3)
At the prayer of His mother, He made room in His plans for the thing she desired. It was not His wish then to work a miracle, but if His mother wished it, He would. He did for His mother what for His own part He would rather have left alone. Not always did He do as His mother would have Him; but this was a case in which He could do so, for it would interfere nowise with the will of His Father. . . . The Son, then, could change His intent and spoil nothing: so, I say, can the Father; for the Son does nothing but what He sees the Father do.

[ IO3 ] They Say It Does Them Good
There are those even who, not believing in any ear to hear, any heart to answer, will yet pray. They say it does them good; they pray to nothing at all, but they get spiritual benefit. I will not contradict their testimony. So needful is prayer to the soul that the mere attitude of it may encourage a good mood. Verily to pray to that which is not, is in logic a folly: yet the good that, they say, comes of it, may rebuke the worse folly of their unbelief, for it indicates that prayer is natural, and how could it be natural if inconsistent with the very mode of our being?

[ 104 ] Perfected Prayer
And there is a communion with God that asks for nothing, yet asks for everything. . . . He who seeks the Father more than anything He can give, is likely to have what he asks, for he is not likely to ask amiss.

[ 105 ] Corrective Granting
Even such as ask amiss may sometimes have their prayers answered. The Father will never give the child a stone that asks for bread; but I am not sure that He will never give the child a stone that asks for a stone. If the Father says, “My child, that is a stone; it is no bread,” and the child answer, “I am sure it is bread; I want it,” may it not be well that he should try his “bread”?

[ 106 ] Why We Must Wait
Perhaps, indeed, the better the gift we pray for, the more time is necessary for its arrival. To give us the spiritual gift we desire, God may have to begin far back in our spirit, in regions unknown to us, and do much work that we can be aware of only in the results; for our consciousness is to the extent of our being but as the flame of the volcano to the world-gulf whence it issues; in the gulf of our unknown being God works behind our consciousness. With His holy influence, with His own presence (the one thing for which most earnestly we cry) He may be approaching our consciousness from behind, coming forward through regions of our darkness into our light, long before we begin to be aware that He is answering our request-has answered it, and is visiting His child.

[ 107 ] God’s Vengeance
“Vengeance is mine,” He says: with a right understanding of it, we might as well pray for God’s vengeance as for His forgiveness; that vengeance is, to destroy the sin -to make the sinner abjure and hate it; nor is there any satisfaction in a vengeance that seeks or effects less. The man himself must turn against himself, and so be for himself. If nothing else will do, then hellfire; if less will do, whatever brings repentance and self-repudiation, is God’s repayment. Friends, if any prayers are offered against us; if the vengeance of God be cried out for, because of some wrong you or I have done, God grant us His vengeance! Let us not think that we shall get off!

[ 108 ] The Way of Understanding
He who does that which he sees, shall understand; he who is set upon understanding rather than doing, shall go on stumbling and mistaking and speaking foolishness. … It is he that runneth that shall read, and no other. It is not intended by the Speaker of the Parables that any other should know intellectually what, known but intellectually, would be for his injury-what, knowing intellectually, he would imagine he had grasped, perhaps even appropriated. When the pilgrim of the truth comes on his journey to the region of the parable, he finds its interpretation. It is not a fruit or a jewel to be stored, but a well springing by the wayside.

[ 110 ] The Same
The former are content to have the light cast upon their way: the latter will have it in their eyes and cannot; if they had, it would blind them. For them to know more would be their worse condemnation. They are not fit to know more, more shall not be given them yet…. “You choose the dark; you shall stay in the dark till the terrors that dwell in the dark affray you, and cause you to cry out.” God puts a seal upon the will of man; that seal is either His great punishment or His mighty favor: “Ye love the darkness, abide in the darkness”: “O woman great is thy faith: be it done unto thee even as thou wilt!”

[ 115 ] Duties to an Enemy
It is a very small matter to you whether the man give you your right or not: it is life or death to you whether or not you give him his. Whether he pay you what you count his debt or no, you will be compelled to pay him all you owe him. If you owe him a pound and he you a million, you must pay him the pound whether he pay you the million or not; there is no business parallel here. If, owing you love, he gives you hate, you, owing him love, have yet to pay it.

[ 116 ] The Prison
I think I have seen from afar something of the final prison of all, the innermost cell of the debtor of the universe. … It is the vast outside; the ghastly dark beyond the gates of the city of which God is the light- where the evil dogs go ranging, silent as the dark, for there is no sound any more than sight. The time of signs is over. Every sense has (had) its signs, and they were all misused: there is no sense, no sign more-nothing now by means of which to believe. The man wakes from the final struggle of death, in absolute loneliness as in the most miserable moment of deserted childhood he never knew. Not a hint, not a shadow of anything outside his consciousness reaches him. . . . Soon misery will beget on his imagination a thousand shapes of woe, which he will not be able to rule, direct, or even distinguish from real presences.

[ 122 ] Man Glorified
Everything muse at length be subject to man, as it was to The Man. When God can do what He will with a man, the man may do what he will with the world; he may walk on the sea like his Lord; the deadliest thing will not be able to hurt him.

[ 123 ] Life in the Word
All things were made through the Word, but that which was made in the Word was life, and that life is the light of men: they who live by this light, that is live as Jesus lived, by obedience, namely, to the Father, have a share in their own making; the light becomes life in them; they are, in their lower way, alive with the life that was first born in Jesus, and through Him has been born in them-by obedience they become one with the Godhead: “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.”

[ 124 ] The Office of Christ
Never could we have known the heart of the Father, never felt it possible to love Him as sons, but for Him who cast Himself into the gulf that yawned between us. In and through Him we were foreordained to the son-ship: sonship, even had we never sinned, never could we reach without Him. We should have been little children loving the Father indeed, but children far from the son-hood that understands and adores.

[ 125 ] The Slowness of the New Creation
As the world must be redeemed in a few men to begin with, so the soul is redeemed in a few of its thoughts, and works, and ways to begin with: it takes a long time to finish the new creation of this redemption.

[ 126 ] The New Creation
When the sons of God show as they are, taking, with the character, the appearance and the place, that belong to their sonship; when the sons of God sit with the Son of God on the throne of their Father; then shall they be in potency of fact the lords of the lower creation, the bestowers of liberty and peace upon it: then shall the creation, subjected to vanity for their sakes, find its freedom in their freedom, its gladness in their sonship. The animals will glory to serve them, will joy to come to them for help. Let the heartless scoff, the unjust despise! the heart that cries Abba, Father, cries to the God of the sparrow and the oxen; nor can hope go too far in hoping what God will do for the creation that now groaneth and travaileth in pain because our higher birth is delayed.

[ 127 ] Pessimism
Low-sunk life imagines itself weary of life, but it is death, not life, it is weary of.

[ 129 ] The End
The final end of the separation is not individuality; that is but a means to it: the final end is oneness-an impossibility without it. For there can be no unity, no delight of love, no harmony, no good in being, where there is but one. Two at least are needed for oneness.

[ 130 ] Deadlock
Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best, and man will not take it.

[ 131 ] The Two Worst Heresies
The worst heresy, next to that of dividing religion and righteousness, is to divide the Father from the Son; . . . to represent the Son as doing that which the Father does not Himself do.

[ 133 ] Life and Shadow
Life is everything. Many doubtless mistake the joy of life for life itself, and, longing after the joy, languish with a thirst at once poor and inextinguishable; but even that, thirst points to the one spring. These love self, not life, and self is but the shadow of life. When it is taken for life itself, and set as the man’s center, it becomes a live death in the man, a devil he worships as his God: the worm of the death eternal he clasps to his bosom as his one joy.

[ 138 ] The Lower Forms
I trust that life in its lowest forms is on the way to thought and blessedness, is in the process of that separation, so to speak, from God, in which consists the creation of living souls.

[ 139 ] Life
He who has it not cannot believe in it: how should death believe in life, though all the birds of God are singing jubilant over the empty tomb?

[ 140 ] The Eternal Round
Obedience is the joining of the links of the eternal round. Obedience is but the other side of the creative will. Will is God’s will, obedience is man’s will; the two make one. The root life, knowing well the thousand troubles it would bring upon Him, has created, and goes on creating, other lives, that though incapable of self-being they may, by willed obedience, share in the bliss of His essential self-ordained being. If we do the will of God, eternal life is ours-no mere continuity of existence, for that in itself is worthless as hell, but a being that is one with the essential life.

[ 144 ] Divine Fire
The fire of God, which is His essential being, His love, His creative power, is a fire unlike its earthly symbol in this, that it is only at a distance it burns-that the further from Him, it burns the worse.

[ 148 ] False Want
Men who would rather receive salvation from God than God their salvation.

[ 151 ] The Same
By an infinite decomposition we should know nothing more of what a thing really is, for, the moment we decompose it, it ceases to be, and all its meaning is vanished. Infinitely more than astronomy even, which destroys nothing, can do for us, is done by the mere aspect and changes of the vault over our heads. Think for a moment what would be our idea of greatness, of God, of infinitude, of aspiration, if, instead of a blue, far withdrawn, light-spangled firmament, we were born and reared under a flat white ceiling! I would not be supposed to depreciate the labors of science, but I say its discoveries are unspeakably less precious than the merest gifts of Nature, those which, from morning to night, we take unthinking from her hands. One day, I trust, we shall be able to enter into their secrets from within them-by natural contact. . . .

[ 154 ] The Close of the Book of Job
Job had his desire: he saw the face of God-and abhorred himself in dust and ashes. He sought justification; he found self-abhorrence. . . . Two things are clearly contained in, and manifest from, this poem:- that not every man deserves for his sins to be punished everlastingly from the presence of the Lord; and that the best of men, when he sees the face of God, will know himself vile. God is just, and will never deal with the sinner as if he were capable of sinning the pure sin; yet if the best man be not delivered from himself, that self will sink him into Tophet.

[ 156 ] Self-Control
I will allow that the mere effort of will. . . may add to the man’s power over his lower nature; but in that very nature it is God who must rule and not the man, how very well he may mean. From a man’s rule of himself in smallest opposition, however devout, to the law of his being, arises the huge danger of nourishing, by the pride of self-conquest, a far worse than
even the unchained animal self-the demoniac self. True victory over self is the victory of God in the man, not of the man alone. It is not subjugation that is enough, but subjugation by God. In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably-or succeed more miserably. No portion of a man can rule another, for God, not the man, created it, and the part is greater than the whole. . . . The diseased satisfaction which some minds feel in laying burdens on themselves, is a pampering, little as they may suspect it, of the most dangerous appetite of that self which they think they are mortifying.

[ 159 ] Self
Self, I have not to consult you but Him whose idea is the soul of you, and of which as yet you are all unworthy. I have to do, not with you, but with the Source of you, by whom it is that (at) any moment you exist-the Causing of you, not the caused you. You may be my consciousness but you are not my being. … For God is more to me than my consciousness of myself. He is my life; you are only so much of it as my poor half-made being can grasp-as much of it as I can now know at once. Because I have fooled and spoiled you, treated you as if you were indeed my own self, you have dwindled yourself and have lessened me, till I am ashamed of myself. If I were to mind what you say, I should soon be sick of you; even now I am ever and anon disgusted with your paltry mean face, which I meet at every turn. No! Let me have the company of the Perfect One, not of you! Of my elder brother, the Living One! I will not make a friend of the mere shadow of my own being! Good-bye, Self! I deny you, and will do my best every day to leave you behind.

[ 167 ] The Way
Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one thing because He said, Do it, or once abstained because He said, Do not do it. It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe, in Him, if you do not do anything He tells you.

[ 172 ] Warning
Let us understand very plainly, that a being whose essence was only power would be such a negation of the divine that no righteous worship could be offered him.

[ 173 ] The Two First Persons
The response to self-existent love is self-abnegating love. The refusal of Himself is that in Jesus which corresponds to the creation in God. . . . When he died on the cross, He did that, in the wild weather of His outlying provinces, in the torture of the body of His revelation, which He had done at home in glory and gladness.

[ 179 ] Warning
“How am I to know that a thing is true?” By doing what you know to be true, and calling nothing true until you see it to be true; by shutting your mouth until the truth opens it. Are you meant to be silent? Then woe to you if you speak.

[ 181 ] How to Read the Epistles
The uncertainty lies always in the intellectual region, never in the practical. What Paul cares about is plain enough to the true heart, however far from plain to the man whose desire to understand goes ahead of his obedience.

[ 185 ] Natural Science
Human science is but the backward undoing of the tapestry-web of God’s science, works with its back to Him, and is always leaving Him-His intent, that is, His perfected work-behind it, always going farther and farther away from the point where His work culminates in revelation.

[ 188 ] Water
Is oxygen-and-hydrogen the divine idea of water? God put the two together only that man might separate and find them out? He allows His child to pull his toys to pieces: but were they made that he might pull them to pieces? He were a child not to be envied for whom his inglorious father would make toys to such an end! A school examiner might see therein the best use of a toy, but not a father! Find for us what in the constitution of the two gases makes them fit and capable to be thus honored in forming the lovely thing, and you will give us a revelation about more than water, namely about the God who made oxygen and hydrogen. There is no water in oxygen, no water in hydrogen; it comes bubbling fresh from the imagination of the living God, rushing from under the great white throne of the glacier. The very thought of it makes one gasp with an elemental joy no metaphysician can analyze. The water itself, that dances and sings, and slakes the wonderful thirst- symbol and picture of that draught for which the woman of Samaria made her prayer to Jesus-this lovely thing itself, whose very witness is a delight to every inch of the human body in its embrace-this live thing which, if I might, I would have running through my room, yea,
babbling along my table-this water is its own self its own truth, and is therein a truth of God. Let him who would know the truth of the Maker, become sorely athirst, and drink of the brook by the way-then lift up his heart-not at that moment to the Maker of oxygen and hydrogen, but to the Inventor and Mediator of thirst and water, that man might foresee a little
of what his soul might find in God.

[ 191 ] Duties
These relations are facts of man’s nature. … He is so constituted as to understand them at first more than he can love them, with the resulting advantage of having thereby the opportunity of choosing them purely because they are true: so doing he chooses to love them, and is enabled to love them in the doing, which alone can truly reveal them to him and make the loving
of them possible. Then they cease to show themselves in the form of duties and appear as they more truly are, absolute truths, essential realities, eternal delights. The man is a true man who chooses duty: he is a perfect man who at length never thinks of duty, who forgets the name of it.

[ 192 ] Why Free Will Was Permitted
One who went to the truth by mere impulse would be a holy animal, not a true man. Relations, truths, duties, are shown to the man away beyond him, that he may choose them and be a child of God, choosing righteousness like Him. Hence the whole sad victorious human tale and the glory to be revealed.

[ 199 ] Glorious Liberty
When a man is true, if he were in hell he could not be miserable. He is right with himself because right with Him whence he came. To be right with God is to be right with the universe: one with the power, the love, the will of the mighty Father, the cherisher of joy, the Lord of laughter, whose are all glories, all hopes, who loves everything and hates nothing but selfishness.

[ 201 ] On Having One’s Own Way
The liberty of the God who would have his creatures free, is in contest with the slavery of the creature who would cut his own stem from his root that he might call it his own and love it; who rejoices in his own consciousness, instead of the life of that consciousness; who poises himself on the tottering wall of his own being, instead of the rock on which that being is built. Such a one regards his own dominion over himself- the rule of the greater by the less-as a freedom infinitely larger than the range of the universe of God’s being. If he says, “At least I have it in my own way!”, I answer, you do not know what is your way and what is not. You know nothing of whence your impulses, your desires, your tendencies, your likings come. They may spring now from some chance, as of nerves diseased; now from some roar of a wandering bodiless devil; now from some infant hate in your heart; now from the greed of lawlessness of some ancestor you would be ashamed of if you knew him; or, it may be, now from some far-piercing chord of a heavenly orchestra: the moment comes up into your consciousness, you call it your own way, and glory in it.

[ 2O2 ] The Death of Christ
Christ died to save us, not from suffering, but from ourselves; not from injustice, far less from justice, but from being unjust. He died that we might live-but live as He lives, by dying as He died who died to Himself.

[ 203 ] Hell
The one principle of hell is-“I am my own!”

[ 207 ] First Things First
Oh the folly of any mind that would explain God before obeying Him! That would map out the character of God instead of crying, Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?

[ 209 ] Salvation
The notion that the salvation of Jesus is a salvation from the consequences of our sins is a false, mean, low notion. . . . Jesus did not die to save us from punishment; He was called Jesus because He should save His people from their sins.

[ 210 ] Charity and Orthodoxy
Every man who tries to obey the Master is my brother, whether he counts me such or not, and I revere him; but dare I give quarter to what I see to be a lie because my brother believes it? The lie is not of God, whoever may hold it.

[ 211 ] Evasion
To put off obeying Him till we find a credible theory concerning Him is to set aside the potion we know it our duty to drink, for the study of the various schools of therapy.

[ 213 ] The Holy Ghost
To him who obeys, and thus opens the door of his heart to receive the eternal gift, God gives the Spirit of His Son, the Spirit of Himself, to be in him, and lead him to the understanding of all truth. . . . The true disciple shall thus always know what he ought to do, though not necessarily what another ought to do.

[ 214 ] The Sense of Sin
Sense of sin is not inspiration, though it may lie not far from the temple door. It is indeed an opener of the eyes, but upon home defilement, not upon heavenly truth.

[ 219 ] Impossibilities
“I thank thee, Lord, for forgiving me, but I prefer staying in the darkness: forgive me that too.”-“No; that cannot be. The one thing that cannot be forgiven is the sin of choosing to be evil, of refusing deliverance. It is impossible to forgive that. It would be to take part in it.”

[ 221 ] The Same
To say a man might disobey and be none the worse would be to say that no might be yes and light sometimes darkness.

[ 225 ] The Same
Paul says faith in God was counted righteousness before Moses was born. You may answer, Abraham was unjust in many things, and by no means a righteous man. True: he was not a righteous man in any complete sense. His righteousness would never have satisfied Paul; neither, you may be sure, did it satisfy Abraham. But his faith was nevertheless righteousness.

[ 228 ] The Same
It is not like some single separate act of righteousness: it is the action of the whole man, turning to good from evil-turning his back on all that is opposed to righteousness, and starting on a road on which he cannot stop, in which he must go on growing more and more righteous, discovering more and more what righteousness is, and more and more what is unrighteous in himself.

[ 231 ] The Full-Grown Christian
He does not take his joy from himself. He feels joy in himself, but it comes to him from others, not from himself-from God first, and from somebody, anybody, everybody next.. .. He could do without knowing himself, but he could not know himself and spare one of the brothers or sisters God has given him. . . . His consciousness of himself is the reflex from those about him, not the result of his own turning in of his regard upon himself. It is not the contemplation of what God had made him, it is the being what God has made him, and the contemplation of what God himself is, and what He has made his fellows, that gives him his joy.

[ 239 ] Free Will
He gave man the power to thwart His will, that, by means of that same power, he might come at last to do His will in a higher kind and way than would otherwise have been possible to him.

[ 240 ] On Idle Tongues
Let a man do right, not trouble himself about worthless opinion; the less he heeds tongues, the less difficult will he find it to love men.

[ 241 ] Do We Love Light?
Do you so love the truth and the right that you welcome, or at least submit willingly to, the idea of an exposure of what in you is yet unknown to yourself-an exposure that may redound to the glory of the truth by making you ashamed and humble? . . . Are you willing to be made glad that you were wrong when you thought others were wrong?

[ 247 ] The Slow Descent
A man may sink by such slow degrees that, long after he is a devil, he may go on being a good churchman or a good dissenter and thinking himself a good Christian.

[ 248 ] Justice and Revenge
While a satisfied justice is an unavoidable eternal event, a satisfied revenge is an eternal impossibility.

[ 250 ] From Dante
To have a share in any earthly inheritance is to diminish the share of the other inheritors. In the inheritance of the saints, that which each has goes to increase the possession of the test.

[ 251 ] What God Means by “Good”
“They are good”; that is, “They are what I mean.”

[ 254 ] Beasts
The ways of God go down into microscopic depths as well as up to telescopic heights. … So with mind; the ways of God go into the depths yet unrevealed to us: He knows His horses and dogs as we cannot know them, because we are not yet pure sons of God. When through our sonship, as Paul teaches, the redemption of these lower brothers and sisters shall have come, then we shall understand each other better. But now the Lord of Life has to look on at the willful torture of multitudes of His creatures. It must be that offenses come, but woe unto that man by whom they come! The Lord may seem not to heed, but He sees and knows.

[ 255 ] Diversity of Souls
Every one of us is something that the other is not, and therefore knows something-it may be without knowing that he knows it-which no one else knows: and … it is everyone’s business, as one of the kingdom of light and inheritor in it all, to give his portion to the rest.

[ 259 ] Love
It is by loving and not by being loved that one can come nearest to the soul of another.

[ 261 ] The Door into Life
But the door into life generally opens behind us, and a hand is put forth which draws us in backwards. The sole wisdom for man or boy who is haunted with the hovering of unseen wings, with the scent of unseen roses, and the subtle enticements of “melodies unheard,” is work. If he follow any of those, they will vanish. But if he work, they will come unsought.

[ 263 ] Love
Love makes everything lovely: hate concentrates itself on the one thing hated.

[ 265 ] Assimilation
All wickedness tends to destroy individuality and declining natures assimilate as they sink.

[ 273 ] Integrity
I would not favor a fiction to keep a whole world out of hell. The hell that a lie would keep any man out of is doubtless the very best place for him to go to. It is truth . . . that saves the world!

[ 274 ] Contentment
Let me, if I may, be ever welcomed to my room in winter by a glowing hearth, in summer by a vase of flowers; if I may not, let me think how nice they would be, and bury myself in my work. I do not think that the road to contentment lies in despising what we have not got. Let us acknowledge all good, all delight that the world holds, and be content without it.

[ 276 ] The Blotting Out
If He pleases to forget anything, then He can forget it. And I think that is what He does with our sins- that is, after He has got them away from us, once we are clean from them altogether. It would be a dreadful thing if He forgot them before that. . . .

[ 281 ] Criterion of a True Vision
This made it the more likely that he had seen a true vision; for instead of making common things look commonplace, as a false vision would have done, it had made common things disclose the wonderful that was in them.

[ 285 ] Nature
If the flowers were not perishable, we should cease to contemplate their beauty, either blinded by the passion for hoarding the bodies of them, or dulled by the hebetude of commonplaceness that the constant presence of them would occasion. To compare great things with small, the flowers wither, the bubbles break, the clouds and sunsets pass, for the very same holy reason (in the degree of its application to them) for which the Lord withdrew from His disciples and ascended again to His Father-that the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, the Soul of things, might come to them and abide with them, and so, the Son return, and the Father be revealed. The flower is not its loveliness, and its loveliness we must love, else we shall only treat them as flower-greedy children, who gather and gather, and fill hands and baskets from a mere desire of acquisition.

[ 287 ] Hoarding
The heart of man cannot hoard. His brain or his hand may gather into its box and hoard, but the moment the thing has passed into the box, the heart has lost it and is hungry again. If a man would have, it is the Giver he must have; . .. Therefore all that He makes must be free to come and go through the heart of His child; he can enjoy it only as it passes, can enjoy only its life, its soul, its vision, its meaning, not itself.

[ 292 ] The Birth of Persecution
Clara’s words appeared to me quite irreverent . . . but what to answer here I did not know. I almost began to dislike her; for it is often incapacity for defending the faith they love which turns men into persecutors.

[ 294 ] On Duty to Oneself
“But does a man owe nothing to himself?”-“Nothing that I know of. I am under no obligation to myself. How can I divide myself and say that the one half of me is indebted to the other? To my mind, it is a mere fiction of speech.”-“But whence, then, should such a fiction arise?”-“From the dim sense of a real obligation, I suspect-the object of which is mistaken. I suspect it really springs from our relation to the unknown God, so vaguely felt that a false form is readily accepted for its embodiment. .

[ 295 ] A Theory of Sleep
It may be said of the body in regard of sleep as well as in regard of death, “It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. . . .” No one can deny the power of the wearied body to paralyze the soul; but I have a correlate theory which I love, and which I expect to find true-that, while the body wearies the mind, it is the mind that restores vigor to the body, and then, like the man who has built him a stately palace, rejoices to dwell in it. I believe that, if there be a living, conscious love at the heart of the universe, the mind, in the quiescence of its consciousness in sleep, comes into a less disturbed contact with its origin, the heart of the creation; whence gifted with calmness and strength for itself, it grows able to impart comfort and restoration to the weary frame. The cessation of labor affords but the necessary occasion; makes it possible, as it were, for the occupant of an outlying station in the wilderness to return to his Father’s house for fresh supplies. . . . The child-soul goes home at night, and returns in the morning to the labors of the school.

[ 298 ] Immortality
To some minds the argument for immortality drawn from the apparently universal shrinking from annihilation must be ineffectual, seeing they themselves do not shrink from it. … If there is no God, annihilation is the one thing to be longed for, with all that might of longing which is the mainspring of human action. In a word, it is not immortality the human heart cries out after, but that immortal, eternal thought whose life is its life, whose wisdom is its wisdom. . . . Dissociate immortality from the living Immortality, and it is not a thing to be desired.

[ 299 ] Prayer
“O God!” I cried and that was all. But what are the prayers of the whole universe more than expansion of that one cry? It is not what God can give us, but God that we want.

[ 303 ] An Old Garden
Not one of the family had ever cared for it on the ground of its old-fashionedness; its preservation was owing merely to the fact that their gardener was blessed with a wholesome stupidity rendering him incapable of unlearning what his father, who had been gardener there before him, had had marvelous difficulty in teaching him. We do not half appreciate the benefits to the race that spring from honest dullness. The clever people are the ruin of everything.

[ 304 ] Experience
Those who gain no experience are those who shirk the King’s highway for fear of encountering the Duty seated by the roadside.

[ 305 ] Difficulties
It often seems to those in earnest about the right as if all things conspired to prevent their progress. This, of course, is but an appearance, arising in part from this, that the pilgrim must be headed back from the side-paths into which he is constantly wandering.

[ 306 ] A Hard Saying
There are those who in their very first seeking of it are nearer to the Kingdom of Heaven than many who have for years believed themselves of it. In the former there is more of the mind of Jesus, and when He calls them they recognize Him at once and go after Him; while the others examine Him from head to foot, and finding Him not sufficiently like the Jesus of their conception, turn their backs and go to church or chapel or chamber to kneel before a vague form mingled of tradition and fancy.

[ 307 ] Truisms
A mere truism, is it? Yes, it is, and more is the pity; for what is a truism, as most men count truisms? What is it but a truth that ought to have been buried long ago in the lives of men-to send up forever the corn of true deeds and the wine of loving kindness-but, instead of being buried in friendly soil, is allowed to lie about, kicked hither and thither in the dry and empty garret of their brains, till they are sick of the sight and sound of it and, to be rid of the thought of it, declare it to be no living truth but only a lifeless truism? Yet in their brain that truism must rattle until they shift to its rightful quarters in their heart, where it will rattle no longer but take root and be a strength and loveliness.

[ 310 ] Silence Before the Judge
Think not about thy sin so as to make it either less or greater in thine own eyes. Bring it to Jesus and let Him show thee how vile a thing it is. And leave it to Him to judge thee, sure that He will judge thee justly; extenuating nothing, for He hath to cleanse thee utterly; and yet forgetting no smallest excuse that may cover the amazement of thy guilt or witness for thee that not with open eyes didst thou do the deed. . . . But again, I say, let it be Christ that excuseth thee. He will do it to more purpose than thou, and will not wrong thy soul by excusing thee a hair too much.

[ 311 ] Nothing So Deadening
Nothing is so deadening to the divine as an habitual dealing with the outsides of holy things.

[ 313 ] Immortality
“I cannot see what harm would come of letting us know a little-as much at least as might serve to assure us that there was more of something on the other side”-Just this; that, their fears allayed, their hopes encouraged from any lower quarter, men would (as usual) turn away from the Fountain, to the cistern of life. . . . That there are thousands who would forget God if they could but be assured of such a tolerable state of things beyond the grave as even this wherein we now live, is plainly to be anticipated from the fact that the doubts of so many in respect of religion concentrate themselves nowadays upon the question whether there is any life beyond the grave; a question which . . . does not immediately belong to religion at all. Satisfy such people, if you can, that they shall live, and what have they gained? A little comfort perhaps-but a comfort not from the highest
source, and possibly gained too soon for their well-being. Does it bring them any nearer to God than they were before? Is He filling one cranny more of their hearts in consequence?

[ 314 ] The Eternal Now
The bliss of the animals lies in this, that, on their lower level, they shadow the bliss of those-few at any moment on the earth-who do not “look before and after, and pine for what is not” but live in the holy carelessness of the eternal now.

[ 315 ] The Silences Below
Even the damned must at times become aware of what they are, and then surely a terrible though momentary hush must fall upon the forsaken regions.

[ 319 ] Holy Laughter
It is the heart that is not yet sure of its God that is afraid to laugh in His presence.

[ 321 ] Either-Or
Of all teachings that which presents a far distant God is the nearest to absurdity. Either there is none, or He is nearer to every one of us than our nearest consciousness of self.

[ 322 ] Prayer
So thinking, she began to pray to what dim, distorted reflection of God there was in her mind. They alone pray to the real God, the Maker of the heart that prays, who know His son Jesus. If our prayers were heard only in accordance with the idea of God to which we seem to ourselves to pray, how miserably would our infinite wants be met! But every honest cry, even if sent into the deaf ear of an idol, passes on to the ears of the unknown God, the heart of the unknown Father.

[ 326 ] The Mystery of Evil
Middling people are shocked at the wickedness of the wicked; Gibbie, who knew both so well, was shocked only at the wickedness of the righteous. He never came quite to understand Mr. Sclater: the inconsistent never can be understood. That only which has absolute reason in it can be understood of man. There is a bewilderment about the very nature of evil which only He who made up capable of evil that we might be good, can comprehend.

[ 328 ] Competition
No work noble or lastingly good can come of emulation any more than of greed: I think the motives are spiritually the same.

[ 329 ] Method
By obeying one learns how to obey.

[ 330 ] Prudence
Had he had more of the wisdom of the serpent … he would perhaps have known that to try too hard to make people good is one way to make them worse; that the only way to make them good is to be good-remembering well the beam and the mote; that the time for speaking comes rarely, the time for being never departs.

[ 335 ] Prayer
My prayers, my God, flow from what I am not; I think thy answers make me what I am.
Like weary waves thought follows upon thought, But the still depth beneath is all thine own,
And there thou mov’st in paths to us unknown. Out of strange strife thy peace is strangely wrought; If the lion in us pray-thou answerest the lamb.

[ 336 ] The House Is Not for Me
The house is not for me-it is for Him.
His royal thoughts require many a stair,
Many a tower, many an outlook fair
Of which I have no thought.

[ 342 ] Good
“But if a body was never to do anything but what he knew to be good, he would have to live half his time doing nothing”-“How little you must have thought! Why, you don’t seem even to know the good of the things you are constantly doing. Now don’t mistake me. I don’t mean you are good for doing them. It is a good thing to eat your breakfast, but you don’t fancy it’s very good of you to do it. The thing is good-not you. . . . There are a great many more good things than bad things to do.”

[ 348 ] Wishing
She sometimes wished she were good; but there are thousands of wandering ghosts who would be good if they might without taking trouble; the kind of goodness they desire would not be worth a life to hold it.

[350] The Root of All Rebellion
It is because we are not near enough to Thee to partake of thy liberty that we want a liberty of our own different from thine.

[ 359 ] Reminder
Complaint against God is far nearer to God than indifference about Him.

[ 360 ] The Wrong Way with Anxiety
All the morning he was busy . . . with his heart in trying to content himself beforehand with whatever fate the Lord might intend for him. As yet he was more of a Christian philosopher than a philosophical Christian. The thing most disappointing to him he would treat as the will of God for him, and try to make up his mind to it, persuading himself it was the right and
best thing-as if he knew it (to be) the will of God. He was thus working in the region of supposition and not of revealed duty: in his own imagination, and not in the will of God. . . . There is something in the very presence and actuality of a thing to make one able to bear it; but a man may weaken himself for bearing what God intends him to bear, by trying to bear what God does not intend him to bear. . . . We have no right to school ourselves to an imaginary duty. When we do not know, then what he lays upon us is not to know.

[ 361 ] Deadlock
We are often unable to tell people what they need to know, because they want to know something else.

[ 362 ] Solitude
I began to learn that it was impossible to live for oneself even, save in the presence of others-then, alas, fearfully possible. Evil was only through good; selfishness but a parasite on the tree of life.

[ 364 ] The Mystery of Evil
The darkness knows neither the light nor itself; only the light knows itself and the darkness also. None but God hates evil and understands it.


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