On Writing: "There is a tendency to condemn an author
as shallow or superficial if his writings are perfectly clear. And conversely, a
writer will sometimes gain a reputation for profundity simply because no one can
quite make out what he means."
On Faith: "Unless a man is prepared to affirm that he
knows nothing, believes nothing, and harbours no opinions, unless he is prepared
is prepared to condense all his positive belief into one solitary affirmation of
his own ignorance, he must of necessity be in some sense a man of faith."
On Doctrine: "We frequently hear men say that they do
not attach much importance to doctrine; they concentrate attention on the living
of a good life. Such sentiment only emanates from a very shallow brain. It is as
if a child should enter a garden, and seeing the gardener planting bulbs, should
say, 'I do not care for those ugly bulbs, I like the beautiful flowers.' The
living of a good life without a foundation of good doctrine is impossible, just
as it is impossible to grow flowers without roots."
On Societal Pressure: "It is always difficult to resist
fashions, whether in clothes or theology, and when we think we are quite unmoved
by the stream, it often only means we are lagging a little way behind."
On Evolution and Morality: "When a modern thinker
accepts the doctrine of evolution and repudiates revelation, how can he give us
an authoritative moral code?"
On Sin: "The depth of a man's guilt is determined, not
by reference to the degree of harm he does to other men, but by the degree of
deliberateness with which the law is violated. In other words, sins of
presumption are always worse than 'sins of infirmity.'"
On Disciplining Children: "Nothing could be more
demoralizing than for children to be taught that disobedience did not signify
[ie, count] so long as no evident harm was done. Yet how often we see parents
taking a course which will inevitably give this impression. A child is perhaps
meddling with some ornaments which should not be touched. The mother commands
him to leave them alone, and comes away. The mandate has to be repeated several
times, perhaps with threats, and it may be some kind of bribe. The child is not
punished though richly deserving. But now, on the other hand, suppose that,
without any deliberate disobedience of this nature, the child turning to come
away at the first command, chances to break one of the most precious of the
ornaments. The parent becomes a perfect fury, and the erring child is punished
with the utmost severity."
On Self Examination: "This work is necessarily an
individual matter, and herein lies the difficulty. A man is his own accuser, his
own defender, and his own judge. With the most complete facilities for knowing
the full measure of his guilt, he unites a most unjudicial bias in favor of the
accused. He perhaps possesses all the knowledge necessary to draw up an
unanswerable indictment; but his talent is mainly employed to find extenuating
circumstances. He has all the skills of a defending counsel to raise a false
issue, but lacks the impartiality of a judge to expose the pretense."
On Feigned Purity: "Close observers of mankind always
feel rather suspicious of those who make a profession of superhuman purity. When
frail human nature pretends to have grown more refined than God originally made
it, we generally find that the profession is a mere cloak to cover exceptional
depravity. Those who have been most successful in subduing the flesh have always
been the most honest in describing it."
On Intentions: "We shall not have the praise of God
simply for good thoughts which we have instantly dismissed, neither shall we be
condemned for evil thoughts, which we have instantly repudiated. But a solid
intention to perform a good work is counted for well doing, even though
circumstances should prevent the consummation; and, on the other hand, a
deliberate harbouring of evil thoughts is counted for sin, even though lack of
opportunity prevents the sinful act."
On Motives: "It is possible for even the noblest work
to be spoiled by an improper motive at the foundation. We have no right to judge
the motives of others, but it is a duty to judge our own."
On Joy: "The most genuine joy is to be found among the
servants of God, and the most complete misery and discontent is to be found
among the most thorough servants of sin."
On Suffering: "The whole history of mankind does not
constitute a fraction of eternity. The realisation of this fact helps us to see
something of God's point of view, and we can understand why that which seems
like the most awful suffering to us can be described as a 'light affliction
which endureth but for a moment.'"
On Our Thoughts: "Every deliberate act is the outcome
of deliberate thought, and it therefore follows that control of thought must be
the mainspring of every virtue right up to that bridling of the tongue which is
placed by an apostle as the supreme test of a man."
On Doubt: "To summarize the difference between ancient
and modern doubt, we may suggest that in olden time men saw superhuman beings in
every shadow, and so in time of trial they supposed that their God was only one
of many. But in modern times men seek a prosaic and ordinary explanation for
everything, and so in time of trial even [the one true] God is explained