Short pithy quotes from Henry Ward Beecher

(1813 – 1887)

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

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No man can tell if 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.

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If a man cannot be a Christian in the place where he is—then he cannot be a Christian anywhere. "Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him." 1 Corinthians 7:20

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"I can forgive, but I cannot forget!" This 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 again.

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The true secret of giving advice
is, after you have honestly given it—to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right.

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I never knew an early-rising, hard-working, prudent man, careful of his earnings, and strictly honest—who complained of bad luck. There is always work, and tools to work with—for those who will.

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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 the rocks!

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We are always in the forge, or on the anvil.
By trials, God is shaping us for nobler things.
No physician ever weighed out medicine to his patients with half so much care and exactness, as God weighs out to us every trial.
Not one grain too much does He ever permit to be put in the scale!

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The troubles and worries of life may be as stumbling blocks in our way—or we may make them stepping-stones to a nobler character and to Heaven. Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.

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The thankful heart will find, in every hour—some heavenly blessings.

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

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No man is more cheated, than the selfish man.

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Adversity, if for no other reason, is of benefit—since it is sure to bring a season of sober reflection. People see clearer at such times. Storms purify the atmosphere.

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It is not what we read, but what we remember—which makes us learned.
It is not what we intend, but what we do—which makes us useful.
It is not a few faint wishes, but a life long struggle—which makes us valiant.

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Beauty is God's trademark in creation.

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God washes the eyes by tears—until they can behold the invisible land where tears shall come no more!

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Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul!

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Affliction comes to us all:
  not to make us sad—but sober;
  not to make us sorry—but to make us wise;
  not to impoverish us—but to enrich us!

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Be a hard master to yourself—and be lenient to everybody else.

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The moment an affliction can be patiently handled—it is disarmed of its poison, though not of its pain.

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

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The Bible is like a telescope. If a man looks through his telescope—then he sees worlds beyond! But, if he looks at his telescope, then he does not see anything but that.

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Christianity works—while infidelity talks. She feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, visits and cheers the sick, and seeks the lost—while infidelity abuses her and babbles nonsense and profanity.

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A library of holy books is not a luxury—but one of the necessities of the Christian life.

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What a mother sings to the cradle—goes all the way down to the coffin!

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

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Genius unexerted, is no more genius—than a bushel of acorns is a forest of oaks!

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A man's true estate of power and riches is in himself. It is not in his dwelling or position or bank account—but in his own essential character.

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Conceited men, by an overweening pride—relieve others from the duty of respecting them at all.

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For fidelity, devotion, and love—many a two-legged animal is below the dog. Happy would it be for thousands of people, if they could stand at last before the Judgment Seat and say: I have loved as truly and have lived as decently as my dog!

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There is no man that lives—who does not need to be drilled, disciplined and developed into something higher and nobler and better than he is by nature.

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In the family, happiness is in the proportion in which each is serving the others, seeking one another's good, and bearing one another's burdens.

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There are more quarrels smothered by just shutting your mouth, and holding it shut—than by all the wisdom in the world!

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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. To speak painful truth through loving words—that is friendship.

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

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Hold yourself responsible to a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never make excuses.

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Blessed are the happiness makers. Blessed are they who know how to shine on one's gloom, with their cheer.

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Greatness lies not in being strong—but in the right use of strength.
He is the greatest, whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.

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People may talk about the equality of the sexes! They are not equal.
The silent smile of a sensible, loving woman, will vanquish ten men.

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Whatever is almost true—is quite false. The most dangerous of errors, because being so near truth—are more likely to lead astray.

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It is not work that kills men—it is worry. Worry is rust upon the blade!

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

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There is a power in the human mind, to see things as they might be.

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Very few men acquire wealth, in such a manner as to receive pleasure from it.

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

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A dull axe never loves grindstones, but a keen workman does; and he puts his tool on them in order that it may be sharp. In the same way, men do not like grinding; but they are dull for the purposes which God designs to work out with them, and therefore He is grinding them.

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We never know how much one loves us—until we know how much he is willing to endure and suffer for us. It is the suffering element which measures love. The characters that are great must, of necessity—be characters that shall be willing, patient and strong to endure for others.

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You are only sure of today—do not let yourself be cheated out of it.

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When a man sells eleven ounces for twelve—he makes a compact with the devil, and sells his soul for the value of an ounce!

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It is not what we gather up, but what we give up—which makes us rich.

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What a pity flowers can utter no sound! A singing rose, a whispering violet, a murmuring honeysuckle—oh, what a rare and exquisite miracle would these be!

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We are but a point, a single comma—and God is the literature of eternity!

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Nobody ever sees truth—except in fragments.

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If a man can have only one kind of sense—let him have common sense!

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It is not the going out of port, but the coming into port—which determines the success of a voyage.

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The things that hurt us, teach us.

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Repentance begins instantly—but reformation often requires a sphere of years.

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

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

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

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The mother's heart, is the child's schoolroom.

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The cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man—and never fails to see a bad one. He is a human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light—mousing for vermin, and never seeing noble game!

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Your greatest pleasure, is that which rebounds from hearts which you have made glad.

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Life would be a perpetual flea hunt—if a man were obliged to hunt down all the innuendoes, untruths, and insinuations and misrepresentations which are uttered against him.

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He is the happiest man, who is engaged in a business which tasks the most faculties of his mind.

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Hope is sweet-minded and sweet-eyed.
It draws pictures—it weaves imaginations—it fills the future with delight.

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The head learns new things—but the heart forever practices old experiences.

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Sorrow makes men sincere.

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A man without ambition—is worse than dough that has no yeast in it to raise it.

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

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

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Were one to ask me in which direction I think man strongest—I would say, his capacity to hate.

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The commerce of the world is conducted by the strong—and usually it operates against the weak.

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Our days are a kaleidoscope. Every instant a change takes place in the contents. New harmonies, new contrasts, new combinations of every sort. Nothing ever happens twice alike. The most familiar people stand each moment in some new relation to each other, to their work, to surrounding objects. The most tranquil house, with the most serene inhabitants, living upon the utmost regularity of system—is yet exemplifying infinite diversities.

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

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A baby is nothing but a bundle of possibilities.

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A reputation for good judgment, for fair dealing, for truth, and for rectitude—is itself a fortune.

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Mirth is God's medicine! Everybody ought to bathe in it.

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Our best successes—often comes after our greatest disappointments.

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It is not fitting for a man to pray cream—and live skim milk.

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Of all man's works of art—a cathedral is greatest.
Yet a vast and majestic tree—is greater than that!

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

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To array a man's will against his sickness, is the supreme art of medicine.

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The first hour of the morning, is the rudder of the day.

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Every artist dips his brush in his own soul—and paints his own nature into his pictures.

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Too much looking backward—is bad for progress. "One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 3:13-14

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The basest, most contemptible kind of praise—is that which first speaks well of a man, and then qualifies it with a BUT.

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Blessed be the man whose work drives him. Something must drive men—and if it is wholesome industry, they have no time for a thousand torments and temptations.

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

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There is no slave out of Heaven, like a loving woman.
And of all loving women, there is no such slave as a mother.

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There are many persons of combative tendencies, who read the Bible for ammunition. And if a man does not believe as they do, they look upon him as an enemy, and let fly the Bible at him to demolish him. Such men turn the word of God into a vast arsenal, filled with all manner of weapons, offensive and defensive!

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A person can no more make money suddenly and largely, and be unharmed by it—than one could suddenly grow from a child's stature to an adult's, without harm.

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When the crumbs are swept from our table, we think it generous to let the dogs eat them; as if that were charity, which permits others to have what we cannot keep.

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God puts the excess of hope in one man—in order that it may be a medicine to the man who is despondent.

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Diligence is the price of success of any sort.

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A crafty man, robs no one half as much as himself.

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The beginning, is the promise of the end.

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No cradle for an emperor's child, was ever prepared with so much magnificence—as this world has been made for man. But it is only his cradle.

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Spreading Christianity abroad—is sometimes an excuse for not having it at home.

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Our life is but a new form of the way men have lived from the beginning.

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Let parents who hate their offspring—rear them to hate labor, and to inherit riches. And before long they will be stung by every vice, racked by its poison, and damned by its penalty!

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Truth is everlasting, but our ideas of truth are not.
Theology is but our ideas of truth, classified and arranged.

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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.

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Flattery is praise insincerely given—for a selfish purpose.

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Watch lest prosperity destroys generosity!

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The happiness of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going—and going that way himself.

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Every man should keep a fair-sized cemetery, in which to bury the faults of his friends!
The noble man is one who always finds excuses for others, but never excuses himself.

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There are a hundred men hacking at the branches of sin—to every one who is striking at the roots of sin!

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

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Happiness is not the end of life—character is!

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If there is a hard job to be done, I always ask the busiest men in my church to take it on—and it gets done!

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For the Christian, living is death—and dying is life.
On this side of the grave we are exiles—on that side, we are citizens.
On this side, we are orphans—on that side, we are children.
On this side, we are captives—on that side, we are freemen.
On this side, we are unknown—on that side, we are manifested and proclaimed as the sons of God!

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Sink the Bible to the bottom of the ocean—and still man's obligations to God would be unchanged.
He would have the same path to tread—only his lamp and guide would be gone.
He would have the same voyage to make—but his chart and compass would be overboard!