EDWARDS, Tryon Quotes
(1809-1894), American theologian and editor—great-grandson of Jonathan Edwards and father of Tryon Edwards
Abuse of any one generally shows that he has marked traits of character. The stupid and indifferent are passed by in silence.
Accuracy of statement is one of the first elements of truth; inaccuracy is a near kin to falsehood.
The agrarian would divide all the property in the community equally among its members. —But if so divided today, industry on the one hand, and idleness on the other, would make it unequal on the morrow.—There is no agrarianism in the providence of God.
Age does not depend upon years, but upon temperament and health.—Some men are born old, and some never grow so.
High aims form high characters, and great objects bring out great minds.
Anecdotes are sometimes the best vehicles of truth, and if striking and appropriate are often more impressive and powerful than argument.
He who can suppress a moment's anger may prevent a day of sorrow.
Anxiety is the rust of life, destroying its brightness and weakening its power.—A childlike and abiding trust in Providence is its best preventive and remedy.
Appreciation, whether of nature, or books, or art, or men, depends very much on temperament.—What is beauty or genius or greatness to one, is far from being so to another.
Prejudices are rarely overcome by argument; not being founded in reason they cannot be destroyed by logic.
True art is reverent imitation of God.
No one can contemplate the great facts of astronomy without feeling his own littleness and the wonderful sweep of the power and providence of God.
The leaves in autumn do not change color from the blighting touch of frost, but from the process of natural decay.—They fall when the fruit is ripened, and their work is done.—And their splendid coloring is but their graceful and beautiful surrender of life when they have finished their summer offering of service to God and man. And one of the great lessons the fall of the leaf teaches, is this: Do your work well, and then be ready to depart when God shall call.
The philosophers, as Varro tells us. counted up three hundred and twenty answers to the question, "What is the supreme good?" How needful, then, is a divine revelation, to make plain what is the true end of our being.
Bad books are like intoxicating drinks; they furnish neither nourishment, nor medicine.—Both improperly excite; the one the mind; the other the body.—The desire for each increases by being fed.—Both ruin; one the intellect; the other the health; and together, the soul.—The safeguard against each is the same—total abstinence from all that intoxicates either mind or body.
Few men are more to be shunned than those who have time, but know not how to improve it, and so spend it in wasting the time of their neighbors, talking forever though they have nothing to say.
Have something to say; say it, and stop when you've done.
Never be so brief as to become obscure.
Whoever in prayer can say, "Our Father," acknowledges and should feel the brotherhood of the whole race of mankind.
Most of our censure of others is only oblique praise of self, uttered to show the wisdom and superiority of the speaker.—It has all the invidiousness of self-praise, and all the ill-desert of falsehood.
Our censure of our fellowmen, which we are prone to think a proof of our superior wisdom, is too often only the evidence of the conceit that would magnify self, or of the malignity or envy that would detract from others.
Give work rather than alms to the poor. The former drives out indolence, the latter industry.
Of nineteen out of twenty things in children, take no special notice; but if, as to the twentieth, you give a direction or command, see that you are obeyed.
Between two evils, choose neither; between two goods, choose both.
No true civilization can be expected permanently to continue which is not based on the great principles of Christianity.
Commerce has made all winds her messengers; all climes her tributaries; all people her servants.
Common sense is, of all kinds, the most uncommon.—It implies good judgment, sound discretion, and true and practical wisdom applied to common life.
A deserved and discriminating compliment is often one of the strongest encouragements and incentives to the diffident and self-distrustful.
Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another,—too often ending in the loss of both.
Conscience is merely our own judgment of the right or wrong of our actions, and so can never be a safe guide unless enlightened by the word of God.
We never do evil so thoroughly and heartily as when led to it by an honest but perverted, because mistaken, conscience.
Quiet and sincere sympathy is often the most welcome and efficient consolation to the afflicted.—Said a wise man to one in deep sorrow, "I did not come to comfort you; God only can do that; but I did come to say how deeply and tenderly I feel for you in your affliction."
Constancy to truth and principle may sometimes lead to what the world calls inconstancy in conduct.
Contemplation is to knowledge, what digestion is to food—the way to get life out of it.
Most controversies would soon be ended, if those engaged in them would first accurately define their terms, and then adhere to their definitions.
Conversion is but the first step in the divine life.—As long as we live we should more and more be turning from all that is evil, and to all that is good.
Credulity is belief on slight evidence, with no evidence, or against evidence. In this sense it is the infidel, not the believer, who is credulous. "The simple," says Solomon, "believeth every word."
This world is the land of the dying; the next is the land of the living.
Death has nothing terrible which life has not made so. A faithful Christian life in this world is the best preparation for the next.
Deference is the instinctive respect which we pay to the great and good.— The unconscious acknowledgment of the superiority or excellence of others.
A large part of the discussions of disputants come from the want of accurate definition.—Let one define his terms and then stick to the definition, and half the differences in philosophy and theology would come to an end, and be seen to have no real foundation.
Where duty is plain delay is both foolish and hazardous; where it is not, delay may be both wisdom and safety.
Men sometimes affect to deny the depravity of our race; but it is as clearly taught in the lawyers' office and in courts of justice, as in the Bible itself.—Every prison, and fetter, and scaffold, and bolt, and bar, and chain is evidence that man believes in the depravity of man.
Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.
Deviation from either truth or duty is a downward path, and none can say where the descent will end.—"He that despiseth small things shall fall by little and little."
The devil has at least one good quality, that he will flee if we resist him.—Though cowardly in him, it is safety for us.
Doctrine is the necessary foundation of duty; if the theory is not correct, the practice cannot be right,—Tell me what a man believes, and I will tell you what he will do.
'Doubt, indulged and cherished, is in danger of becoming denial; but if honest, and bent on thorough investigation, it may soon lead to full establishment in the truth.
Duty performed gives clearness and firmness to faith, and faith thus strengthened through duty becomes the more assured and satisfying to the soul.
Duty performed is a moral tonic; if neglected, the tone and strength of both mind and heart are weakened, and the spiritual health undermined.
Early instruction in truth will best keep out error. Some one has well said, "Fill the bushel with wheat, and you may defy the devil to fill it with tares."
The great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers, rather than fill it with the accumulations of others.
Emotion which does not lepd to and flow out in right action is not only useless, but it weakens character, and becomes an excuse for neglect of effort.
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.
In its influence on the soul, error has been compared to a magnet concealed near the ship's compass.—As in the latter case, the more favorable the winds, and the greater the diligence and skill in working the ship, the more rapidly will it be speeded on in a wrong course; and so in the former, the greater the struggle for safety, the more speedy the progress to ruin.
The first evil choice or act is linked to the second; and each one to the one that follows, both by the tendency of our evil nature and by the power of habit, which holds us as by a destiny.—As Lessing says, "Let the devil catch you but by a single hair, and you are his forever."
Some persons are exaggerators by temperament.—They do not mean untruth, but their feelings are strong, and their imaginations vivid, so that their statements are largely discounted by those of calm judgment and cooler temperament.—They do not realize that "we always weaken what we exaggerate."
People never improve unless they look to some standard or example higher and better than themselves.
The hunger and thirst of immortality is upon the human soul, filling it with aspirations and desires for higher and better things than the world can give.—We can never be fully satisfied but in God.
Fables, like parables, are more ancient than formal arguments and are often the most effective means of presenting and impressing both truth and duty.
Features are the visible expression of the soul.—the outward manifestation of the feeling and character within.
Facts are God's arguments; we should be careful never to misunderstand or pervert them.
Science has sometimes been said to be opposed to faith, and inconsistent with it.—But all science, in fact, rests on a basis of faith, for it assumes the permanence and uniformity of natural laws—a thing which can never be demonstrated.
All things are ordered by God, but his providence takes in our free agency, as well as his own sovereignty.
Fiction is not falsehood, as some seem to think;—It is rather the fanciful and dramatic grouping of real traits around imaginary scenes or characters.—It may give false views of men or things, or it may, in the hands of a master, more truthfully portray life than sober history itself.
To be good, we must do good; and by doing good we take a sure means of being good, as the use and exercise of the muscles increase their power.
We weep over the graves of infants and the little ones taken from us by death; but an early grave may be the shortest way to heaven.
Any act often repeated soon forms a habit; and habit allowed, steadily gains in strength.—At first it may be but as the spider's web, easily broken through, but if not resisted it soon binds us with chains of steel.
Happiness is like manna; it is to be gathered in grains, and enjoyed every day. It will not keep; it cannot be accumulated; nor have we got to go out of ourselves or into remote places to gather it, since it has rained down from Heaven, at our very doors.
A sound mind in a sound body; if the former be the glory of the latter, the latter is indispensable to the former.
Hell is truth seen too late—duty-neglected in its season.
Let your holidays be associated with great public events, and they may be the life of patriotism as well as a source of relaxation and personal employment.
A holy life is not an ascetic, or gloomy, or solitary life, but a life regulated by divine truth and faithful in Christian duty.—It is living above the world while we are still in it.
True humility is not an abject, groveling, self-despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us.
We never reach our ideals, whether of mental or moral improvement, but the thought of them shows us our deficiencies, and spurs us on to higher and better things.
The first impulse of conscience is apt to be right; the first impulse of appetite or passion is generally wrong.—We should be faithful to the former, but suspicious of the latter.
There are many times and circumstances in life when "Our strength is, to sit still."
There is often as much independence in not being led, as in not being driven.
Indolence is the dry rot of even a good mind and a good character; the practical uselessness of both.—It is the waste of what might be a happy and useful life.
Mere knowledge is comparatively worthless unless digested into practical wisdom and common sense as applied to the affairs of life.
If you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others.
Laws which are in advance of public sentiment are generally but a dead letter.
Law is often spoken of as uncertain; but the uncertainty is not so much in the law as in the evidence.
The laws of nature are but the ways in which the great almighty lawgiver operates; they have no efficiency except as channels of his will; rightly understood they cannot but be seen to agree with his written word.
Liberality was formerly called honesty, as if to imply that unless we are liberal we are not honest, either toward God or man.
My books are my tools, and the greater their variety and perfection the greater the help to my literary work.
The most we can get out of life is its discipline for ourselves, and its usefulness for others.
Looks are more expressive and reliable than words; they have a language which all understand, and language itself is to be interpreted by the look as well as tone with which it is uttered.
Of all our losses, those delay doth cause, are most and heaviest.—By it oft we lose the richest treasures, knowledge, wealth, and power, and oft, alas! the never dying soul.—The calls of God and duty we intend to hear, at some convenient season, which to us may never come.—And thus we madly waste probation, forfeit heaven, and heedless sink to endless death.
The insane, for the most part, reason correctly, but from false principles, while they do not perceive that their premises are incorrect.
The study of mathematics cultivates the reason; that of the languages, at the same time, the reason and the taste. The former gives grasp and power to the mind; the latter both power and flexibility. The former, by itself, would prepare us for a state of certainties, which nowhere exists; the latter, for a state of probabilities, which is that of common life. Each, by itself, does but an imperfect work: in the union of both, is the best discipline for the mind, and the best mental training for the world as it is.
The secret of a good memory is attention, and attention to a subject depends upon our interest in it.—We rarely forget that which has made a deep impression on our minds.
There is nothing so elastic as the human mind. Like imprisoned steam, the more it is pressed the more it rises to resist the pressure. The more we are obliged to do the more we are able to accomplish.
The word "miser," so often used as expressive of one who is grossly covetous and saving, in its origin signifies one that is miserable, the very etymology of the word thus indicating the necessary unhappiness of the miser spirit.
Some of the best lessons we ever learn we learn from our mistakes and failures.—The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future.
To possess money is very well; it may be a most valuable servant; to be possessed by it, is to be possessed by a devil, and one of the meanest and worst kind of devils.
Piety and morality are but the same spirit differently manifested.—Piety is religion with its face toward God; morality is religion with its face toward the world.
The mortality of mankind is but a part of the process of living—a step on the way to immortality.—Dying, to the good man, is but a brief sleep, from which he wakes to a perfection and fullness of life in eternity.
To murder character is as truly a crime as to murder the body; the tongue of the slanderer is brother to the dagger of the assassin.
Mystery is but another name for our ignorance; if we were omniscient, all would be perfectly plain.
Speculate not too much on the mysteries of truth or providence.—The efort to explain everything, sometimes may endanger faith.—Many things God reserves to himself, and many are reserved for the unfoldings of the future life.
"Names," says an old maxim, "are things."—They certainly are influences.—Impressions are left and opinions are shaped by them.—Virtue is disparaged, and vice countenanced, and so encouraged by them. The mean and selfish talk of their prudence and economy; the vain and proud prate about self-respect; obstinacy is called firmness, and dissipation the enjoyment of life; seriousness is ridiculed as cant, and strict morality and integrity, as needless scrupulosity; and so men deceive themselves, and society is led to look leniently, or with indifference, on what ought to be sharply condemned.
The laws of nature are but the thoughts and agencies of God—the modes in which he works and carries out the designs of his providence and will.
Nature and revelation are alike God's books; each may have mysteries, but in each there are plain practical lessons for everyday duty.
Newspapers are the world's cyclopaedia of life; telling us everything from every quarter of the globe.—They are a universal whispering gallery for mankind, only their whispers are sometimes thunders.
Firmness is adherence to truth and duty is generally most decided when most intelligent and conscientious, and is sometimes mistaken for obstinacy by those who do not comprehend its nature and motive.
Some men are born old, and some never seem so. If we keep well and cheerful we are always young, and at last die in youth, even when years would count us old.
He that never changes his opinions, never corrects his mistakes, and will never be wiser on the morrow than he is today.
Do not despise the opinion of the world; you might as well say you do not care for the light of the sun, because you can use a candle.
Have a time and place for everything, and do everything in its time and place, and you will not only accomplish more, but have far more leisure than those who are always hurrying, as if vainly attempting to overtake time that had been lost.
Honor thy parents, those that gave thee birth, and watched in tenderness thine earliest days, and trained thee up in youth, and loved in all. Honor, obey, and love them; it shall fill their souls with holy joy, and shall bring down God's richest blessing on thee; and in days to come, thy children, if they're given, shall honor thee, and fill thy life with peace.
He that is patient will persevere; and he that perseveres will often have occasion for, as well as trial of patience.
Christianity is a philosophy of principles rather than of rules and so is fitted for universal extension and acceptance.
Whatever the place allotted to us by Providence, that for us is the post of honor and duty. God estimates us not by the position we are in, but by the way in which we fill it.
Sinful and forbidden pleasures are like poisoned bread; they may satisfy appetite for the moment, but there is death in them at the end.
If riches are, as Bacon says, the baggage (" impedimenta ") of virtue, impeding its onward progress—poverty is famine in its commissary department, starving it into weakness for the great conflict of life.
Prayer is as much the instinct of my nature as a Christian, as it is a duty enjoined by the command of God. It is my language of worship, as a man; of dependence, as a creature; of submission, as a subject; of confession, as a sinner; of thankfulness, as the recipient of mercies; of supplication, as a needy being.
The end of our prayers is often gained by an answer very different from what we expect. "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" was the question of Paul; and a large part of the answer was, "I will show him how great things he must suffer."
"Never think that God's delays are God's denials."—True prayer always receives what it asks, or something better.
God is infinitely great in himself; we should recognize it in humble adoration: always good; we should acknowledge it by grateful thanksgiving: we have constant need of his blessings; it becomes us to ask them at his hand.
Let your sermon grow out of your text, and aim only to develop and impress its thought.—Of a discourse that did not do this it was once wittily said, "If the text had the small-pox, the sermon would never catch it."
He that is possessed with a prejudice is possessed with a devil, and one of the worst kind of devils, for it shuts out the truth, and often leads to ruinous error.
The prejudiced and obstinate man does not so much hold opinions, as his opinions hold him.
Preventives of evil are far better than remedies; cheaper and easier of application, and surer in result.
Profanity is both an unreasonable and an unmanly sin, a violation alike of good taste and good morals; an offence against both man and God.—Some sins are productive of temporary profit or pleasure; but profaneness is productive of nothing unless it be shame on earth, and damnation in hell. It is the most gratuitous of all kinds of wickedness—a sort of pepper-corn acknowledgment of the sovereignty of the devil over those who indulge it.
True conservatism is substantial progress; it holds fast what is true and good in order to advance in both.—recast away the old is not of necessity to obtain the new.—To reject anything that is valuable, lessens the power of gaining more. That a thing is new does not of course commend; that it is old does not discredit. The test question is, "Is it true or good?"
The benefit of proverbs, or maxims, is that they separate those who act on principle from those who act on impulse; and they lead to promptness and decision in acting.—Their value depends on four things: do they embody correct principles; are they on important subjects; what is the extent, and what the ease of their application?
Sense, brevity, and point are the elements of a good proverb.
The certainty of punishment, even more than its severity, is the preventive of crime.
The object of punishment is threefold: for just retribution; for the protection of society; for the reformation of the offender.
Always have a book at hand, in the parlor, on the table, for the family; a book of condensed thought and striking anecdote, of sound maxims and truthful apothegms. It will impress on your own mind a thousand valuable suggestions, and teach your children a thousand lessons of truth and duty. Such a book is a casket of jewels for your household.
Think as well as read, and when you read. Yield not your minds to the passive impressions which others may make upon them. Hear what they have to say; but examine it, weigh it, and judge for yourselves. This will enable you to make a right use of books—to use them as helpers, not as guides to your understanding; as counselors, not as dictators of what you are to think and believe.
We should be as careful of the books we read, as of the company we keep. The dead very often have more power than the living.
The province of reason in matters of religion is the same as that of the eye in reference to the external world: not to create objects; nor to sit in judgment on the propriety of their existence, but simply to discern them just as they are.
Religion, in its purity, is not so much a pursuit as a temper; or rather it is a temper, leading to the pursuit of all that is high and holy. Its foundation is faith; its action, works; its temper, holiness; its aim, obedience to God in improvement of self and benevolence to men.
The religion of the gospel has power, immense power, over mankind; direct and indirect, positive and negative, restraining and aggressive. Civilization, law, order, morality, the family, all that elevates woman, or blesses society, or gives peace to the nations, all these are the fruits of Christianity, the full power of which, even for this world, could never be appreciated till it should be taken away.
True religion extends alike to the intellect and the heart. Intellect is in vain if it leads not to emotion, and emotion is vain if not enlightened by intellect; and both are vain if not guided by truth and leading to duty.
The religions we count false, may, for a time, have had their use; being, in their origin, faint, though misunderstood echoes of an early divine revelation, and also as Emerson says. "affirmations of the conscience, correcting the evil customs of their times."
Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the past—the best evidence of regret for them that we can offer, or the world receive.
"Resolution," says John Foster, "is omnipotent."—He that resolves upon any great and good end, has, by that very resolution, scaled the chief barrier to it.—He will find such resolution removing difficulties, searching out or making means, giving courage for despondency, and strength for weakness, and like the star to the wise men of old, ever guiding him nearer and nearer to perfection.
If we are but fixed and resolute—benton high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us "like the fabled spectreships, which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
Sin with the multitude, and your responsibility and guilt are as great and as truly personal, as if you alone had done the wrong.
The best rules of rhetoric are, to speak intelligently; speak from the heart; have something to say; say it; and stop when you've done.
Ridicule may be the evidence of wit or bitterness and may gratify a little mind, or an ungenerous temper, but it is no test of reason or truth.
To say nothing of the divine law, on mere worldly grounds it is plain that nothing is more conducive to the health, intelligence, comfort, and independence of the working classes, and to our prosperity as a people, than our Christian American Sabbath.
Hail, hallowed day, that binds a yoke on vice, gives rest to toil, proclaims God's holy truth, blesses the family, secures the state, prospers communities, nations exalts, pours life and light on earth, and points the way to heaven!
Imperfect knowledge is the parent of doubt: thorough and honest research dispels it.
It has been said that science is opposed to, and in conflict with revelation. But the history of the former shows that the greater its progress, and the more accurate its investigations and results, the more plainly it is seen not only not to clash with the latter, but in all things to confirm it. The very sciences from which objections have been brought against religion have, by their own progress, removed those objections, and in the end furnished full confirmation of the inspired Word of God.
He is one of the noblest conquerors who carries on a successful warfare against his own appetites and passions, and has them under wise and full control.
Think not rightly to examine yourself by looking only to your own inner motives and feelings, which are the hardest of all things to analyze if looked at in the abstract, and apart from outward actions. But ask, "Do I believe all that God teaches, and endeavor to do all that God commands?" For in this is the evidence of true love to him.
When a tradesman is about to weigh his goods, he first of all looks to his scales and sees that his weights are right. And so for all wise, or safe, or profitable self-examination, we are not to look to frames, or feelings, or to the conduct of others, but to God's word, which is the only true standard of decision.
The first step to improvement, whether mental, moral, or religious, is to know ourselves—our weaknesses, errors, deficiencies, and sins, that, by divine grace, we may overcome and turn from them all.
It is not true that there are no enjoyments in the ways of sin; there are, many and various.—But the great and radical defect of them all is, that they are transitory and unsubstantial, at war with reason and conscience, and always leave a sting behind. We are hungry, and they offer us bread; but it is poisoned bread. We are thirsty, and they offer us drink; but it is from deadly fountains. They may and often do satisfy us for the moment; but it is death in the end. It is only the bread of heaven and the water of life that can so satisfy that we shall hunger no more and thirst no more forever.
Sincerity is no test of truth—no evidence of correctness of conduct.—You may take poison sincerely believing it the needed medicine, but will it save your life?
The slanderer and the assassin differ only in the weapon they use; with the one it is the dagger, with the other the tongue.—The former is worse than the latter, for the last only kills the body, while the other murders the reputation and peace.
Whatever the place allotted us by providence, that is for us the post of honor and duty.—God estimates us not by the position we are in, but by the way in which we fill it.
The highest attainment, as well as enjoyment of the spiritual life, is to be able at all times and in all things to say, "Thy will be done."
Superstitions are, for the most part, but the shadows of great truths.
To rejoice in another's prosperity, is to give content to your own lot; to mitigate another's grief, is to alleviate or dispel your own.
Thoroughly to teach another is the best way to learn for yourself.
To waken interest and kindle enthusiasm is the sure way to teach easily and successfully.
Temperance is to the body what religion is to the soul, the foundation and source of health and strength and peace.
Do all that you can to stand, and then fear lest you may fall, and by the grace of God you are safe.
It was a beautiful and striking reply, given by one in affliction, who, when asked how it was that he bore it so well, replied,—"It lightens the stroke, I find, to draw near to Him who handles the rod."
Never borrow trouble. If the evil is not to come, it is useless, and so much waste; if it is to come, best keep all your strength to meet it.
Much of the glory and sublimity of truth is connected with its mystery.—To understand everything we must be as God.
Unbelief, in distinction from disbelief, is a confession of ignorance where honest inquiry might easily find the truth.—"Agnostic" is but the Greek for "ignoramus."
The highest obedience in the spiritual life is to be able always, and in all things, to say, "Not my will, but thine be done."
If we make God's will our law, then God's promise shall be our support and comfort, and we shall find every burden light, and every duty a joy.
If rich men would remember that shrouds have no pockets, they would, while living, share their wealth with their children, and give for the good of others, and so know the highest pleasure wealth can give.
Some so speak in exaggerations and superlatives that we need to make a large discount from their statements before we can come at their real meaning.
Words are both better and worse than thoughts; they express them, and add to them; they give them power for good or evil; they start them on an endless flight, for instruction and comfort and blessing, or for injury and sorrow and ruin.
All the world's ends, arrangements changes, disappointments, hopes, and fears, are without meaning, if not seen and estimated by eternity!