Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”

“It is one of the severest tests of friendship to tell your friend his faults. So to love a man that you cannot bear to see a stain upon him, and to speak painful truth through loving words, that is friendship.”

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”

“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.”

“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note – torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.”

“Faith is spiritualized imagination.”

“God asks no man whether he will accept life. That is not the choice. You must take it. The only choice is how.”

“If a man cannot be a Christian in the place where he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere.”

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

“It is not what we read, but what we remember that makes us learned. It is not what we intend but what we do that makes us useful. And, it is not a few faint wishes but a lifelong struggle that makes us valiant.”

“Love is the river of life in the world.”

“God pardons like a mother, who kisses the offense into everlasting forgiveness.”

“I don’t like these cold, precise, perfect people, who, in order not to speak wrong, never speak at all, and in order not to do wrong, never do anything”

“The ability to convert ideas to things is the secret of outward success.”

“What a mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin.”

“Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry.”

“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.”

“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.”

“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.”

“We sleep, but the loom of life never stops, and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up in the morning.”

“The dog was created specially for children. He is a god of frolic.”

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”

“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself.”

“Love cannot endure indifference. It needs to be wanted. Like a lamp, it needs to be fed out of the oil of another’s heart, or its flame burns low.”

“No man is sane who does not know how to be insane on the proper occasions.”

“The test of Christian character should be that a man is a joy-bearing agent to the world”

“The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy.”

“All men are tempted. There is no man that lives that can’t be broken down, provided it is the right temptation, put in the right spot.”

“The worst thing in the world, next to anarchy, is government”

“The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others”

“Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.”

“We should so live and labor in our times that what came to us as seed may go to the next generation as blossom, and what came to us as blossom may go to them as fruit. This expresses the true spirit in the love of mankind.”

“Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they are going to catch you in next.”

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”

“No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy today, mix good cheer with friends today enjoy it and bless God for it.”

“Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.”

“Clothes and manners do not make the man; but, when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.”

“A man that does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good”

“It is not the going out of port, but the coming in, that determines the success of a voyage.”

“Laughter is day, and sobriety is night; a smile is the twilight that hovers gently between both, more bewitching than either.”

“The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next”

“Flowers are the sweetest things that God ever made and forgot to put a soul into”

“Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength.”

“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.”

“A library is but the soul’s burying ground. It is a land of shadows.”

“Now comes the mystery. (His last words)”

“Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men and animals. Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock.”

“Affliction comes to us, not to make us sad but sober; not to make us sorry but wise.”

“He who is false to present duty breaks a thread in the loom, and will find the flaw when he may have forgotten its cause.”

“Take all the robes of all the good judges that have ever lived on the face of the earth, and they would not be large enough to cover the iniquity of one corrupt judge”

“True obedience is true freedom.”

“We never know the love of our parents for us till we have become parents.”

“The real democratic idea is, not that every man shall be on a level with every other, but that every one shall have liberty, without hindrance, to be what God made him.”

“In things pertaining to enthusiasm, no man is sane who does not know how to be insane on proper occasions.”

“No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has.”

“There are joys which long to be ours. God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away.”

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.”

“The Bible is God’s chart for you to steer by, to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where the harbor is, and how to reach it without running on rocks or bars.”

“There is tonic in the things that men do not love to hear. Free speech is to a great people what the winds are to oceans … and where free speech is stopped miasma is bred, and death comes fast.”

“Defeat is a school in which truth always grows strong.”

“Good-humor makes all things tolerable.”

“A book is good company. It is full of conversation without loquacity. It comes to your longing with full instruction, but pursues you never.”

“Sink the Bible to the bottom of the sea, and man’s obligation to God would be unchanged. He would have the same path to tread, only his lamp and his guide would be gone; he would have the same voyage to make, only his compass and chart would be overboard.”

“Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.”

“A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.”

“Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.”

“Selfishness is that detestable vice which no one will forgive in others, and no one is without in himself.”

“He is greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.”

“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”

“The world’s battlefields have been in the heart chiefly; more heroism has been displayed in the household and the closet, than on the most memorable battlefields in history.”

“It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren, stony street, to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun.”

“There are many persons who look on Sunday as a sponge to wipe out the sins of the week”

“Affliction comes to all not to make us sad, but sober; not to make us sorry, but wise; not to make us despondent, but its darkness to refresh us, as the night refreshes the day; not to impoverish, but to enrich us, as the plow enriches the field.”

“Ones best success comes after their greatest disappointments.”

“A man ought to carry himself in the world as an orange tree would if it could walk up and down in the garden, swinging perfume from every little censer it holds up to the air.”

“To array a man’s will against his sickness is the supreme art of medicine.”

“Tears are often the telescope by which men see far into heaven.”

“Victories that are easy are cheap. Those only are worth having which come as the result of hard fighting.”

“We are always on the anvil; by trials God is shaping us for higher things.”

“Laugh at your friends, and if your friends are sore; So much the better, you may laugh the more.”

“You never know till you try to reach them how accessible men are; but you must approach each man by the right door.”

“Every young man would do well to remember that all successful business stands on the foundation of morality.”

“Books are not men and yet they stay alive.”

“The blossom cannot tell what becomes of its odor; and no man can tell what becomes of his influence.”

“Anxiety in human life is what squeaking and grinding are in machinery that is not oiled. In life, trust is the oil.”

“Of all earthly music that which reaches farthest into heaven is the beating of a truly loving heart.”

“The real man is one who always finds excuses for others, but never excuses himself.”

“Every charitable act is a stepping stone toward heaven.”

“Work is not the curse, but drudgery is.”

“That is true culture which helps us to work for the social betterment of all.”

“Ignorance is the womb of monsters.”

“Sorrow makes men sincere.”

“Fear secretes acids; but love and trust are sweet juices.”

“Precise knowledge is the only true knowledge, and he who does not teach exactly, does not teach at all.”

“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”

“What we call wisdom is the result of all the wisdom of past ages. Our best institutions are like young trees growing upon the roots of the old trunks that have crumbled away.”

“Next to ingratitude, the most painful thing to bear is gratitude.”

“Pushing any truth out very far, you are met by a counter-truth.”

“Suffering is part of the divine idea.”

“A man’s character is the reality of himself; his reputation, the opinion others have formed about him; character resides in him, reputation in other people; that is the substance, this is the shadow.”

“The advertisements in a newspaper are more full knowledge in respect to what is going on in a state or community than the editorial columns are.”

“There are three schoolmasters for everybody that will employ them – the senses, intelligent companions, and books.”

“Whatever is only almost true is quite false, and among the most dangerous of errors, because being so near truth, it is the more likely to lead astray.”

“There can be no high civilization where there is not ample leisure.”

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?”

“In this world, full often, our joys are only the tender shadows which our sorrows cast.”

“Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.”

“It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.”

“You cannot sift out the poor from the community. The poor are indispensable to the rich.”

“He who hunts for flowers will finds flowers; and he who loves weeds will find weeds.”

“When young men are beginning life, the most important period, it is often said, is that in which their habits are formed. That is a very important period. But the period in which the ideas of the young are formed and adopted is more important still.”

“We are not to make the ideas of contentment and aspiration quarrel, for God made them fast friends. A man may aspire, and yet be quite content until it is time to raise; and both flying and resting are but parts of one contentment. The very fruit of the gospel is aspiration. It is to the heart what spring is to the earth, making every root, and bud, and bough desire to be more.”

“Half the spiritual difficulties that men and women suffer arise from a morbid state of health.”

“Doctrine is nothing but the skin of truth set up and stuffed.”

“Men are like trees: each one must put forth the leaf that is created in him.”

“In the ordinary business of life, industry can do anything which genius can do, and very many things which it cannot.”

“Every charitable act is a stepping stone towards heaven.”

“No man is such a conqueror as the man who has defeated himself.”

“Some men are like pyramids, which are very broad where they touch the ground, but grow narrow as they reach the sky.”

“It’s not the work which kills people, it’s the worry. It’s not the revolution that destroys machinery it’s the friction.”

“All words are pegs to hang ideas on.”

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.”

“Do the best you can where you are, and when that is accomplished, God will open a door for you, and a voice will call “Come up hither into a higher sphere.”

“He that would look with contempt on the pursuits of the farmer, is not worthy the name of a man.”

“Well-married, a man is winged – ill matched, he is shackled.”

“No emotion, any more than a wave, can long retain its own individual form.”

“There is nothing that makes more cowards and feeble men than public opinion.”

“Repentance is another name for aspiration.”

“Nothing dies so hard, or rallies so often, as intolerance.”

“It is not well for a man to pray, cream; and live skim milk.”

“Genius unexerted is no more genius than a bushel of acorns is a forest of oaks.”

“Laws and institutions, like clocks, must occasionally be cleaned, wound up, and set to true time.”

“Death is the dropping of the flower that the fruit may swell.”

“Mirth is the sweet wine of human life. It should be offered sparkling with zestful life unto God.”

“The moment an ill can be patiently handled, it is disarmed of its poison, though not of its pain.”

“We steal if we touch tomorrow. It is God’s.”

“Law represents the effort of man to organize society; governments, the efforts of selfishness to overthrow liberty.”

“Every man should keep a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends.”

“God appoints our graces to be nurses to other men’s weaknesses.”

“A tool is but the extension of a man’s hand, and a machine is but a complex tool. And he that invents a machine augments the power of a man and the well-being of mankind.”

“I never knew an early-rising, hard-working, prudent man, careful of his earnings, and strictly honest who complained of bad luck.”

“There is no greater crime than to stand between a man and his development; to take any law or institution and put it around him like a collar, and fasten it there, so that as he grows and enlarges, he presses against it till he suffocates and dies.”

“Our best successes often come after our greatest disappointments.”

“Liberty is the soul’s right to breathe.”

“Rain! whose soft architectural hands have power to cut stones, and chisel to shapes of grandeur the very mountains.”

“The strength of a man consists in finding out the way God is going, and going that way.”

“Living is death; dying is life. We are not what we appear to be. On this side of the grave we are exiles, on that citizens; on this side orphans, on that children.”

“You cannot forget if you would those golden kisses all over the cheeks of the meadow, queerly called dandelions.”

“It is not merely cruelty that leads men to love war, it is excitement.”

“There is no faculty of the human soul so persistent and universal as that of hatred.”

“Expedients are for the hour; principles for the ages.”

“A law is valuable not because it is law, but because there is right in it.”

“In the morning, we carry the world like Atlas; At noon, we stoop and bend beneath it; And at night, it crushes us flat to the ground.”

“Good nature is worth more than knowledge, more than money, more than honor, to the persons who posses it.”

“Riches without law are more dangerous than is poverty without law.”

“There never was a person that did anything worth doing who did not really receive more than he gave.”

“In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.”

“We are never ripe till we have been made so by suffering.”

“Do not give, as many rich men do, like a hen that lays her egg and then cackles.”

“There was never such a gigantic lie told as the fable of the Garden of Eden.”

“God’s providence is on the side of clear heads.”

“Theology is a science of mind applied to God.”

“Every one has conscience enough to hate; few have religion enough to love.”

 “The power of hiding ourselves from one another is mercifully given, for men are wild beasts, and would devour one another but for this protection.”

“Success is full of promise till a man gets it; and then it is last year’s nest from which the birds have flown.”

“Conscience is the frame of character, and love is the covering for it.”

“A church debt is the devil’s salary.”

“Of all escape mechanisms, death is the most efficient.”

“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!”

“You have come into a hard world. I know of only one easy place in it, and that is the grave.”

“Happiness is not the end of life, character is.”

“The head learns new things, but the heart forever more practices old experiences.”

“A Christian is nothing but a sinful man who has put himself to school to Christ for the honest purpose of becoming better.”

“There is but one easy place in this world, and that is the grave.”

“The ignorant classes are the dangerous classes.”

“The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.”

“The most dangerous people are the ignorant.”

“Education is the knowledge of how to use the whole of oneself. Many men use but one or two faculties out of the score with which they are endowed. A man is educated who knows how to make a tool of every faculty/how to open it, how to keep it sharp, and how to apply it to all practical purposes.”

“The babe at first feeds upon the mother’s bosom, but it is always on her heart.”

“Do not be afraid of defeat. You are never so near to victory as when defeated in a good cause.”

“See that each hour’s feelings, and thoughts and actions are pure and true; then your life will be also.”

“Interest works night and day in fair weather and in foul. It gnaws at a man’s substance with invisible teeth.”

“To become an able and successful man in any profession, three things are necessary, nature, study and practice.”

“The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones.”

“If a man meets with injustice, it is not required that he shall not be roused to meet it; but if he is angry after he has had time to think upon it, that is sinful. The flame is not wrong, but the coals are.”

“Men will let you abuse them if only you will make them laugh.”

“Love, like a lamp, needs to be fed out of another’s heart, or its flame burns low.”

“Theology is but our ideas of truth classified and arranged.”

“Riches are not an end of life, but an instrument of life.”

“Private opinion is weak, but public opinion is almost omnipotent.”

“To know that one has a secret is to know half the secret itself.”

“Many would like religion as a sort of lightning rod to their houses, to ward off, by and by, the bolts of divine wrath.”

“Newspapers are the schoolmasters of the common people.”

“Poverty is very good in poems but very bad in the house; very good in maxims and sermons but very bad in practical life.”

“Sharp men, like sharp needles, break easy, though they pierce quick.”

“There is no such thing as preaching patience into people, unless the sermon is so long that they have to practice it while they hear.”

“There is not a time that you walk through the street, when if you employed your senses, you would not learn something worthwhile.”

“When a man sells 11 ounces for 12, he makes a compact with the devil, and sells himself for the value of an ounce.”

“. . . commerce dies the moment, and is sick in the degree in which men cannot trust each other.”

“Any law that takes hold of a man’s daily life cannot prevail in a community, unless the vast majority of the community are actively in favor of it. The laws that are the most operative are the laws which protect life.”

“Even a liar tells 100 truths to one lie; he has to, to make the lie good for anything.”

“I have known many an instance of a man writing a letter and forgetting to sign his name, but this is the only instance I have ever known of a man signing his name and forgetting to write the letter.”

“It is not work that kills men; it is worry. Worry is rust upon the blade.”

“Fear is a kind of bell … it is the soul’s signal for rallying.”

“Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep burning, unquenchable.”

“There is no friendship, no love, like that of the parent for the child.”

“Free speech is to a great people what winds are to oceans and malarial regions, which waft away the elements of disease and bring new elements of health; and where free speech is stopped, miasma is bred, and death comes fast.”

“A forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note, torn in two and burned up, so that it never can be shown against the man.”

“Never forget what a person says to you when they are angry.”

“Of all the music that reached farthest into heaven, it is the beating of a loving heart.”

“Laughter is not a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is the best ending for one.”

“It’s easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top.”

“Success is full of promise till one gets it, and then it seems like a nest from which the bird has flown.”

“Giving The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men.”

“Repentance may begin instantly, but reformation often requires a sphere of years.”

“All ambitions are lawful except those that climb upward on the miseries or credulities of mankind.”

“Blessed are the Happiness Makers. Blessed are they who know how to shine on one’s gloom with their cheer.”

“I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.”

“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into.”

“A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.”

“A man’s true state of power and riches is to be in himself.”

“Heaven will be inherited by every man who has heaven in his soul.”

“Expedients are for the hour, but principles are for the ages.”

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