Quotations for December, 1999
Wednesday, December 1, 1999
Commemoration of Charles de Foucauld, Hermit, Servant of the Poor, 1916
If faith is the gaze of the heart at God, and if this gaze is but the raising of the inward eyes to meet the all-seeing eyes of God, then it follows that it is one of the easiest things possible to do.
... A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Pursuit of God , Christian Publications, 1982, p. 87
(see the book; see also John 8:28,29; more at Faith, God, Heart, Sight)
Thursday, December 2, 1999
This insensibility of ours is a bad symptom. For one thing, it implies that we have no spiritual ambition, else we should not be satisfied with such poor lives; that we cannot have thought out the fact of Jesus Christ, and how immeasurably He has raised the standard. Will you hang your wretched daubs beside the works of Titian and Michelangelo and not be shamed by the enormous contrast, stand back and say, with a satisfied smirk, “That is pretty good, you know!” And can you live face to face with Jesus Christ, and be content with what you are?
... A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), From the Edge of the Crowd, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1924, p. 31
(see the book; see also Ps. 119:75; Hos. 8:1; Phil. 4:11-13; Heb. 12:3-8; more at Ambition, Attitudes, Christ, Contentment, Jesus, Satisfaction, Spiritual life, Work)
Friday, December 3, 1999
Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Missionary, 1552
There is a curious betrayal of the popular estimate of this world and the world to come, in the honour paid to those who cast away life in battle, or sap it slowly in the pursuit of wealth or honours, and the contempt expressed for those who compromise life on behalf of souls, for which Christ died. Whenever, by exertion in any unselfish cause, health is broken, or fortune impaired, or influential friends estranged, the follower of Christ is called an enthusiast, a fanatic, or even more plainly a man of unsettled mind. He may be comforted by remembering that Jesus was said to be beside Himself when teaching and healing left Him not leisure even to eat.
... G. A. Chadwick (1840-1923), The Gospel According to St. Mark, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1891, p. 91-92
(see the book; see also Matt. 8:17; Mark 3:20-27; 1 Cor. 1:23-28; more at Comfort, Health, Honor, Jesus, Life, World)
Saturday, December 4, 1999
Commemoration of Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community, 1637
To me there is a much more frightening ignorance in our modern world than the “ignorance of the heathen.” I am referring to the almost total ignorance of the content and implication of the Christian Faith shown by many “clever” people today. Frankly, I find it horrifying to discover that men who are experts in their own line, in astronomy, genetics, or nuclear physics, for example, have no adult knowledge of what the Church of Christ stands for, and a complete blank ignorance of what the Church is achieving today. It is the more horrifying because people who rightly respect the expert for his knowledge in his own field have no idea that he has not carefully examined and reluctantly discarded Christianity; but in all probability he has never studied it at all!
... J. B. Phillips (1906-1982), The Church Under the Cross, London: Macmillan, 1956, p. xii
(see the book; see also Rom. 15:20,21; more at Education)
Sunday, December 5, 1999
O God of earth and altar,Bow down and hear our cry;Our earthly rulers falter,Our people drift and die;The walls of gold entomb us,The swords of scorn divide;Take not Thy thunder from us,But take away our pride. From all that terror teaches,From lies of tongue and pen;From all the easy speechesThat comfort cruel men,From sale and profanationOf honor and the sword;,From sleep and from damnation,Deliver us, good Lord. Tie in a living tetherThe prince and priest and thrall,Bind all our lives together,Smite us and save us all;In ire and exultationAflame with faith, and free,Lift up a living nation,A single sword to Thee.
... Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936),  The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, v. X, Ignatius Press, 1994, p. 141
(see the book; see also Ps. 34:6-7; more at Prayers)
Monday, December 6, 1999
Feast of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326
He that is alive may know that he was born, though he know neither the place where nor the time when he was so; and so may he that is spiritually alive, and hath ground of evidence that he is so, that he was born again, though he know neither when, nor where, nor how. And this case is usual in persons of quiet natural tempers, who have had the advantage of education under means of light and grace. God ofttimes, in such persons, begins and carries on the work of his grace insensibly, so that they come to good growth and maturity before they know that they are alive.
... John Owen (1616-1683), An Exposition upon Psalm CXXX , in Works of John Owen, v. VI, New York: R. Carter & Bros., 1851, p. 599
(see the book; see also Ps. 130:4; 2 Pet. 3:18; more at Providence)
Tuesday, December 7, 1999
Feast of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher, 397
It is a great mystery of divine love, that not even in Christ was exception made of the death of the body; and although He was the Lord of nature, He refused not the law of the flesh which He had taken upon Him. It is necessary for me to die; for Him it was not necessary.
... St. Ambrose of Milan (Aurelius Ambrosius) (339-397), A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, second series, v. X, Philip Schaff & Henry Wace, ed., New York: Christian Literature Company, 1896, p. 61
(see the book; see also John 10:17-18; more at Christ, Death, God, Jesus, Law, Love, Nature)
Wednesday, December 8, 1999
Nothing is so easy to men of goodwill as goodwill itself, and this is all that God requires. Every act of goodwill permanently and sensibly increases goodwill. Trifling acts of goodwill are often more efficacious in this way than great ones. A flower given in kindness and at the right time profits more, both to giver and receiver, than some vast material benefit in which the goodwill is hidden by the magnitude of the act. Some little, sensible, individual touch from the hand of our Lord may convert the heart more than the contemplation of His death for us.
... Coventry Patmore (1823-1896), The Rod, the Root, and the Flower , London: G. Bell and Sons, 1907, p. 225-226
(see the book; see also Gal. 2:10; more at Attitudes)
Thursday, December 9, 1999
There is no condition wherein man does not depend on many others, wherein he is not more obliged to follow their fancies than his own. All the commerce of life is a perpetual constraint to the laws of good breeding, and the necessity of humoring others; and besides, our own passions are the worst tyrants: if you obey them but by halves, a perpetual strife and contest exists within; and if you entirely give up yourself to them, it is horrid to think to what extremities they will lead. May God preserve us from that fatal slavery, which the mad presumption of man calls liberty! Liberty is to be found only in Him.
... François Fénelon (1651-1715), Pious Reflections for Every Day in the Month, London: H. D. Symonds, 1800, p. 82-83
(see the book; see also Gal. 5:1; more at Freedom)
Friday, December 10, 1999
Commemoration of Thomas Merton, Monk, Spiritual Writer, 1968
They renounce the world as they ought, who live in the midst of it without worldly tempers, who comply with their share in the offices of human life, without complying with the spirit that reigneth in the world.
... William Law (1686-1761), Christian Perfection , London: W. Baynes, 1807, p. 98
(see the book; see also 1 Pet. 2:19-20; more at Attitudes, Devil, Renunciation, Share, World)
Saturday, December 11, 1999
This power of being outwardly genial and inwardly austere, which is the real Christian temper, depends entirely upon the time set apart for personal religion. It is always achieved if courageously and faithfully sought; and there are no heights of love and holiness to which it cannot lead.
... Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), Concerning the Inner Life, London: Methuen, 1927, p. 31-32
(see the book; see also 1 Thess. 5:18; more at Attitudes, Courage, Discipline, Holiness, Love, Religion)
Sunday, December 12, 1999
The Church is not a tribe for the improvement in holiness of people who think it would be pleasant to be holy, a means to the integration of character for those who cannot bear their conflicts. It is a statement of the divine intention for humanity.
... Harold Loukes (1912-1980)
(see also 1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:19-22; 5:25-27; more at Church, Holiness, People, Will of God)
Monday, December 13, 1999
Feast of Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, 304
Commemoration of Samuel Johnson, Writer, Moralist, 1784
It is by affliction chiefly that the heart of man is purified, and that the thoughts are fixed on a better state. Prosperity ... has power to intoxicate the imagination, to fix the mind upon the present scene, to produce confidence and elation, and to make him who enjoys affluence and honours forget the hand by which they were bestowed. It is seldom that we are otherwise, than by affliction, awakened to a sense of our imbecility, or taught to know how little all our acquisitions can conduce to safety or to quiet; and how justly we may ascribe to the superintendence of a higher power, those blessings which in the wantonness of success we considered as the attainments of our policy and courage.
... Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), The Works of Samuel Johnson, L. L. D., v. III, New York: William Durell, 1811, p. 251-252
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 1:23-29; 2 Tim. 3:12; more at Affliction, Awakening, Blessing, Forget, Purity, Weakness)
Tuesday, December 14, 1999
Feast of John of the Cross, Mystic, Poet, Teacher, 1591
No knowledge, therefore, and no conceptions in this mortal life, can serve as proximate means of this high union of the love of God. All that the understanding may comprehend; all that the will may be satisfied with; and all that the imagination may conceive; is most unlike unto God, and most disproportionate to Him.
... St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), The Ascent of Mount Carmel, London: Thomas Baker, 1906, p. 96-97
(see the book; see also Job 37:5; John 15:9; more at God, Knowledge, Love, Mortality, Understanding)
Wednesday, December 15, 1999
If we are to accept the teaching of Jesus at all, then the only test of the reality of a man’s religion is his attitude to his fellow men. The only possible proof that a man loves God is the demonstrated fact that he loves his fellow men.
... William Barclay (1907-1978), In the Hands of God, New York: Harper & Row, 1967, Westminster Press, 1981, p. 45
(see the book; see also John 15:17; more at Attitudes, God, Instruction, Jesus, Love, Man, Proof, Religion)
Thursday, December 16, 1999
It is wrong to suppose that for Paul faith is a meritorious act on man’s part, which wins salvation, or even, in a more modern way of speech, a creative moral principle in itself. Paul does not, in fact, speak (when he is using the language strictly) of “justification by faith,” but of “justification by grace through faith,” or “on the grounds of faith.” This is not mere verbal subtlety. It means that the “righteousness of God” becomes ours, not by the assertion of the individual will as such, but by the willingness to let God work.
... C. Harold Dodd (1884-1973), The Meaning of Paul for Today, London: Swarthmore, 1920, reprint, Fount Paperbacks, 1978, p. 108
(see the book; see also 2 Thess. 2:13-14; more at Action, Faith, God, Grace, Justification, Man, Righteousness, Salvation)
Friday, December 17, 1999
Commemoration of Eglantine Jebb, Social Reformer, Founder of ‘Save the Children’, 1928
The less you feel and the more firmly you believe, the more praiseworthy is your faith and the more it will be esteemed and appreciated; for real faith is much more than a mere opinion of man. In it we have true knowledge: in truth, we lack nothing save true faith.
... Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?), Treatises and Sermons, Harper, 1958, p. 93
(see the book; see also Gal. 2:16; more at Belief, Faith, Knowledge, Truth)
Saturday, December 18, 1999
One of the heritages from history which prevents us so often from seeing the Church, with all its greatness and misery, in its true light, is the distinction between the “empirical” and the “ideal” Church. It is to such a degree an element of our thinking that we hardly notice it. It has been since the first centuries a standard view, a means to give account of the, indeed, often disappointing state and quality of Christian faith and practice in the Church as it appeared. As such it is understandable; but nevertheless it proceeds more from the counsels of worldly wisdom than from the faith-as-response by which the Church should live, and the call to incessant renewal under which the Church stands as “God’s own household,” “growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” However stubborn and refractory the stuff of ordinary reality may be—and it is—the Church, though with clear realism seeing this reality, can never permit itself to put the divine indicatives and imperatives, which are her peculiar directives and points of orientation, behind considerations which are properly speaking worldly in character.
... Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965), A Theology of the Laity, London: Lutterworth Press, 1958, p. 88
(see the book; see also Eph. 2:19-22; more at Church)
Sunday, December 19, 1999
Christ is the Word of God. It is not in certain texts written in the New Testament, valuable as they are; it is not in certain words which Jesus spoke, vast as is their preciousness; it is in the Word which Jesus is, that the great manifestation of God is made.
... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Life and letters of Phillips Brooks, v. III, Alexander V. G. Allen, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1901, p. 104
(see the book; see also John 1:1-14; more at Bible, Christ, God, Incarnation, Jesus)
Monday, December 20, 1999
The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us.
... John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, v. 8, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 555
(see the book; see also 1 Thess. 1:8; more at Apologetics, Heart, Imagination, Influence, Reason)
Tuesday, December 21, 1999
Once make up your mind never to stand waiting and hesitating when your conscience tells you what you ought to do, and you have got the key to every blessing that a sinner can reasonably hope for.
... John Keble (1792-1866), Sermons for the Christian Year, v. XI, Oxford: James Parker, 1880, p. 492
(see the book; see also 1 John 3:18-22; more at Blessing, Conscience, Hope, Obedience, Sinner)
Wednesday, December 22, 1999
[The entire Old Testament] ground-plan is the whole scheme of Messianic prophecy, from the germinal revelation in Genesis concerning the suffering, yet triumphant Seed of the Woman to the coming to His Temple of the long-absent “Angel of the Covenant” in Malachi. That hope alone explains the Book, giving meaning and consistency to its story. Was it a chimera, an hallucination? According to the prophecy of Micah, the messianic Shepherd of Israel had to be born in Bethlehem. It is unthinkable that an heir to the throne of David could be born in Bethlehem now, and be also able to prove his legitimacy by documentary evidence. The event must clearly have taken place already, or Micah is a false prophet, a raiser of false hopes, along with the other writers in the Old Testament.
... Max I. Reich (1867-1945)
(see also Gen. 3:15; Mic. 3:1; 5:2; Rom. 1:1-4; more at Angel, Bible, Israel, Prophet, Prophecy, Revelation, Seed, Temple, Woman)
Thursday, December 23, 1999
The Revelation of God is not a book or a doctrine but a living Person.
... Emil Brunner (1889-1966), The Word and the World, London: Student Christian Movement Press, 1931, p. 83
(see the book; see also Luke 2:25-32; more at Book, God, Jesus, Life, Revelation)
Friday, December 24, 1999
High o’er the lonely hills black turns to gray,Bird-song the valley fills, mists fold awayGray wakes to green again,Beauty is seen again,Gold and serene again dawneth the day. So, o’er the hills of life, stormy, forlorn,Out of the cloud and strife sunrise is born;Swift grows the light for us,Ended is night for us,Soundless and bright for us breaketh God’s morn. Hear we no beat of drums, fanfare, nor cry,When Christ the herald comes quietly nigh;Splendor He makes on earth;Color awakes on earth;Suddenly breaks on earth light from the sky. Bid then farewell to sleep: rise up and run!What though the hill be steep? Strength’s in the sun.Now you shall find at lastNight’s left behind at last,And for mankind at last, Day has begun!
... Jan Struther (1901-1953), Songs of Praise, enl. ed., Ralph Vaughan Williams, et al., ed., Oxford University Press, 1931, n. 63, p. 19
(see the book; see also John 8:12; more at Christmas)
Saturday, December 25, 1999
He has come! the Christ of God;—Left for us His glad abode;Stooping from His throne of bliss,To this darksome wilderness. He has come! the Prince of Peace;—Come to bid our sorrows cease;Come to scatter, with His light,All the darkness of our night. He, the Mighty King, has come!Making this poor world His home;Come to bear our sin’s sad load,—Son of David, Son of God. He has come whose name of graceSpeaks deliverance to our race;Left for us His glad abode,—Son of Mary, Son of God! Unto us a Child is born!Ne’er has earth beheld a mornAmong all the morns of time,Half so glorious in its prime. Unto us a Son is given!He has come from God’s own heaven;Bringing with Him, from above,Holy peace and holy love.
... Horatius Bonar (1808-1889), Hymns of Faith and Hope, first series, New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1866, p. 160-161
(see the book; more at Christmas)
Sunday, December 26, 1999
Feast of Stephen, Deacon, First Martyr
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!Let earth receive her King;Let every heart prepare him room,And heav’n and nature sing. Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns!Let men their songs employ,While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,Repeat the sounding joy. No more let sins and sorrows grow,Nor thorns infest the ground;He comes to make his blessings flowFar as the curse is found. He rules the world with truth and grace,And makes the nations proveThe glories of his righteousness,And wonders of his love.
... Isaac Watts (1674-1748), Psalms of David Imitated , in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, ed. Samuel Melanchthon Worcester, Boston: Crocker & Brewster, 1834, Ps. 98, second part, p. 200
(see the book; see also Ps. 98; more at Christmas)
Monday, December 27, 1999
Feast of John, Apostle & Evangelist
[Eternal life is] naught else than that blessed regard wherewith Thou never ceasest to behold me, yea, even the secret places of my soul. With Thee, to behold is to give life: It is unceasingly to impart sweetest love of Thee; ’tis to inflame me to love of Thee by love’s imparting, and to feed me by inflaming, and by feeding to kindle my yearning, and by kindling to make me drink of the dew of gladness, and by drinking to infuse in me a fountain of life, and by infusing to make it increase and endure.
... Nicolas of Cusa (1401-1464), The Vision of God , tr., Emma Gurney Salter, London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1928, p. 17
(see the book; see also Isa. 35:1,2; Rom. 6:22-23; Rev. 7:17; more at Providence)
Tuesday, December 28, 1999
Feast of the Holy Innocents
You will never find Jesus so precious as when the world is one vast howling wilderness. Then he is like a rose blooming in the midst of the desolation—a rock rising above the storm.
... Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843), The Life and Remains, Letters, Lectures, and Poems of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne, Andrew Alexander Bonar, New York: R. Carter, 1866, p. 253
(see the book; see also Isa. 35; more at Desolation, Hostility, Jesus, World)
Wednesday, December 29, 1999
Feast of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170
Owing to the pressure of an ever-increasing number of subjects introduced into the curriculum of a school, it is only too possible for men to be held to be educated and intelligent without ever having seriously tested their intelligence upon, say, the Book of Job, or upon the Epistle of Paul to the Romans. No doubt there are very good excuses for this lack of discipline. Many forward-thinking men will tell you that the Bible is not worth serious attention, that it is simple, trivial, and out-of-date; and so, even though you may hear the Bible read, read it yourselves, or even study it, the tension of your energy may be relaxed—subtly relaxed. But it is quite certain that a widespread relaxation of the tension of Biblical interpretation has disastrous effects. For there is no corruption that threatens a country so surely as the corruption or sentimentalizing of its religion; and there is no corruption of the Christian religion so swift as that which sets in when the Church loses its strict Biblical discipline.
... Sir Edwyn C. Hoskyns (1884-1937), We are the Pharisees, London: SPCK, 1960, p. 5
(see the book; see also Ps. 21; Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 4:22; 1 Tim. 4:13-16; 1 John 5:19; more at Education)
Thursday, December 30, 1999
The missionary work of the non-professional missionary is essentially to live his daily life in Christ, and therefore with a difference, and to be able to explain, or at least to state, the reason and cause of the difference to men who see it. His preaching is essentially private conversation, and has at the back of it facts, facts of a life which explain and illustrate and enforce his words...It is such missionary work, done consciously and deliberately as missionary, that the world needs today. Everybody, Christian and pagan alike, respects such work; and, when it is so done, men wonder, and inquire into the secret of a life which they instinctively admire and covet for themselves... The spirit which inspires love of others and efforts after their well-being, both in body and soul, they cannot but admire and covet, unless, indeed, seeing that it would reform their own lives, they dread and hate it, because they do not desire to be reformed. In either case, it works.
... Roland Allen (1869-1947), Non-Professional Missionaries, privately printed, 1929, included in The Ministry of the Spirit, David M. Paton, ed., London: World Dominion Press, 1960, p. 84
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 9:12; 2 Thess. 3:7-9; more at Mission)
Friday, December 31, 1999
Commemoration of John Wycliffe, Reformer, 1384
Christian men and women, old and young, should study well in the New Testament, for it is of full authority, and open to understanding by simple men, as to the points that are most needful to salvation. Each part of Scripture, both open and dark, teaches meekness and charity; and therefore he that keeps meekness and charity has the true understanding and perfection of all Scripture. Therefore, no simple man of wit should be afraid to study in the text of Scripture. And no cleric should be proud of the true understanding of Scripture, because understanding of Scripture without charity that keeps God’s commandments, makes a man deeper damned... and pride and covetousness of clerics is the cause of [the Church’s] blindness and heresy, and deprives them of the true understanding of Scripture.
... John Wycliffe (1320?-1384), Wycliffe: Select English Writings, AMS Press, 1976, p. 23
(see the book; see also Matt. 5:5; 1 Cor. 13:13; more at Bible)
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