To enjoy temporal blessings with thankfulness, but without dependence, is an art which God only can teach, but till learned, we are neither safe nor happy. –
He who really desires to see things as they are, & to judge righteous judgment, is in the high road to perfection. –
Friends often injure those they love; by fostering, instead of opposing their failings. –
It is a great proof of human depravity that almost every accession of wealth & of power, instead of producing a more diffusive benevolence, only extends the circumference of self-gratification.
Infinite wisdom hath so ordained, that most of our duties bring a portion of enjoyment with them, but those which are done simply as unto God without any regard to that enjoyment, are most acceptable in his sight, & are reviewed with most satisfaction. –
The mind incapable of gratitude must be new modified before it can enter heaven.
Those who have learned to bear the imperfections of others, & continually to combat their own, are in the first class in the school of wisdom.
To connive at evil is to encourage it, this those do, who oblige not their housholds [sic] strictly to obey orders.
Usurped authority is seldom exercised with advantage, either to the ruler, or the ruled.
It may be questioned which blinds the judgment most compleatly, undue partiality, or ^unjust^ prejudice.
How many are anxious for power, how few solicitous to employ well the measure they possess, to the greatest possible advantage!
The opinions which do not tend to give right perceptions of human duty, are not religious, but delusion.
What degree of error, or of inconsistency, may be compatible with justifying faith, no finite mind can determine, but the less a man has of either, the more will he be capacitated for the pure enjoyment above.
Can any-thing be more inconsistent, than to condemn bitterness, with bitterness?
There is not a more decisive proof of littleness of mind, than an incapacity to enjoy, or to admire, superior excellence.
There may be strong sense, clear comprehension of theological truths, firm adherence to a sect, or party, without any great enlargement of mind; this must be the result of acute observation, & deep reflection. –
If people would exact more from themselves & expect less from others all would do better, & all would be happier. –
In many cases, it is not so much what is said, as, who says it. –
Excellence may lavish all its treasures in vain, unless a perception of its value, be given from above.
Few persons are capable of forming a correct, unbiased judgment, & without that, opinion is of little value.
Unreasonable expectations are the source of disappointed hopes.
The real christian often enjoys a nobler kind of happiness, a higher degree of sanctification in sickness than in health, because the illusions of life then lose their influence & the soul feels ^itself^ more connected with eternity, than with time: hence the necessity, & advantage of affliction; “who without pain’s advice would e’er be good?”
Those persons need not fear to rank with the worst, who have taught themselves to bear with the imperfections of the best.
Thoughtlessness & slovenliness are companions seldom seperated [sic].
The two great points in education are, to subdue self-will, & to induce habits of reflection.
The natural heart is a temple full of idols, “A den of thieves,” & till the omnipotent Saviour comes, & whips them out, there they will remain.
Few people seem awake to the good they might do, the sorrows they might dimi soothe, the evils they might diminish. Let such look over the catalogue of negligences, & omissions, if they want cause of humiliation.
Public censure sometimes effects [sic] what private reproof would not do, & if caution & circumspection could be learned in no other way, they may not be bought too dearly.
None know what expedients are within reach till necessity urges the discovery, & the application.
Who shall say what portion of the inquietudes of life arise from the violation of little engagements?
There are minds resembling comets, brilliant & beautiful, but their course is so erratic that you never know whither they are wandering, or where they will stop.
Those who have suffered from undeserved censure, will be cautious how they condemn.
We are a long time learning, that we live in a world, where we can neither take liberties, nor ask favours, with impunity.
One of the greatest blessings of a fallen state is, that men are impelled to action by necessity.
Young’s maxim, “Lifes cares are comforts,” may seem to some a paradox, but if there was less anxiety, would there not be more turbulence?
Book-prayer, is seldom heart prayer.
Excellence may be measured, by a capacity to appreciate excellence.
It is hazardous to over persuade; dangerous to be over-persuaded.
Nineteen times out of twenty the real motive, is not the given one; this deception it is, which helps to keep up the masquerade of life.
If pride be the native, original sin, the first-born of every human mind, how ought parents to labour to check it, in all its forms, & degrees.
Happy they who see the fit & the proper, the wise, & the best, in the moment of action; the wisdom of the many, comes too late.
If it be not an epithet too high for fallen man, he is great in proportion as he can forgive.
He who would be truly noble, must often breathe the prayer of the royal penitent, “Create in me a clean heart, & renew a right spirit within me.”
One of the most agreable [sic] circumstances in life, is to be surprized by unexpected excellencies.
They who act from integrity & uprightness, have a satisfaction which the greatest, & the mightiest, uninfluenced by such motives, can never comprehend.
To cherish talent without principle, is to sharpen an instrument for purposes of mischief.
Most persons would rather forego a civility, than be reminded of any infirmity which might occasion it.
It is a high attainment never to speak unnecessarily of the negligences, or imperfections of others.
Character is constantly developing itself, in the minute as well as the great; integrity & uprightness can meet every exigence; but the speciousness that only aims at seeming, breaks down at every turn.
Human depravity is as real under all worldly speciousness, as when exhibited in the grossest vice; what more hateful in the sight of God than pride, what more abominable to man than ingratitude, & where is the unrenewed heart, ^in^ which these do not reign?
Who dare measure his christianity by the real pleasure he takes, in all its self-denying duties?
The purest style in composition, is least liable to different meanings.
We may sometimes see our own failings glaringly exhibited in the conduct of others, it is happy when this view, leads to detection & opposition.
It requires considerable elevation of mind for a man to say, “I was wrong”: meanness would rather writhe under its errors, than acknowledge them.
In retracing those circumstances which we honestly term accidents & misfortunes, we shall generally find something for which to blame ourselves.
It is not the real advantages which fortune affords, but appearances, which yield to pride & vanity their principal gratification.
Gratitude is proportioned to nobleness of character; ingratitude to meanness, & baseness.
The little civilities & ceremonies of life, are good or evil in proportion to the actuating motive.
As there is a physical likeness running in families from generation to generation, so is there also a moral one, & he who would not sink himself, or wish his children to degenerate, must not connect himself with a family of a lower moral order than his own.
Could all the opportunities of gaining wisdom, or of doing good, with which most have been favoured, be enumerated, what a charge of omission would be brought against each!
Arrogance & confidence, are most unpromising traits in young ministers; they may have been with Gamalial [sic] but it is to be feared they have been little with Jesus.
Are not the most deeply spiritual persons, least tenacious about names, sects, & forms? They remember one who said, “They who are not against us, are for us.”
The family is to the real Christian an epitome of the world, & he will there find enough to put his principles & his graces to the test.
They who pay no attention to the voice of God in his providences, will derive little ^advantage^ from that of his word.
It is not so much what is done, as what is intended to be done, that constitutes character.
It seems pity but young persons could really feel, that they must become estimable, in order to be esteemed.
Unless we have to deal with very noble minds, an inconvenience is preferable to an obligation.
Interrogatory is sometimes as happy a mode of conveying instruction, as it is of administering reproof.
The selfish & ungrateful may be loaded with benefits, till they fancy all that is done for them, is due to them: are any pained by this, let them recollect their own conduct towards “The father of mercies”!
The character that increases in value, in proportion to intimate acquaintance, can scarcely be over-valued.
Brilliant talents sometimes throw a lustre round base hearts, but in the end such persons find, that they have deceived themselves, more than they have imposed on others.
Ardent desire is generally paid back in poignant regret.
Scorn is the offspring of pride & meanness.
To act generously without expecting return, or acknowledgment, is noble.
The art of making people pleased with you, is to make them pleased with themselves. Where it can be done without the least violation of truth & integrity, it is well, but it would be a dangerous experiment with the young, who have generally too high an opinion of self.
Advice unsolicited is seldom valued.
A sound judgment is one of the rarest qualities possessed by human beings; why is it not more cultivated, in a world where it is so much wanted?
Can any-thing be more astonishing than the boundless mercy of God, when we consider the millions of benefits that are bestowed, without exciting one grateful thought of the donor!
Concerning the character that is developing itself, in petty meannesses & artifices, hope may take its flight.
If genuine politeness consists in never giving pain unnecessarily, & in studying the accommodation, & convenience of others rather than our own, how very rare a quality is it!
A deep feeling of the responsibility attached to power, will prove the only safe regulator of its movements.
Little minds foster their prejudices, great ones labour to be delivered from them.
Who can touch the boundary of that circle where individual influence ceases to act? How important then in all its minutiae is human action!
The sanctity properly appertaining to those who minister in holy things, ought never to be laid aside; the man should merge in the minister.
So powerful is selfishness that there are persons who condemn what they would invite to, it if suited their self-convenience.
How painful is it to see the dashing dogmatizing character, making its way, while the gentle & the refined, are constrained to shrink within themselves.
It is one of the worst consequences of wealth, that it generally becomes the aliment of pride.
Young people often fancy they are in love with each other, when it is only themselves they love, & what they want is, some one to flatter self-love.
What a gracious provision of providence is sleep; depraved as mankind are, if they were not chained down in a torpid state during one third of their existence, how incalculably would the mass of crimes & miseries be increased!
We often fancy ourselves clever whilst amongst the ignorant & the foolish; get amongst the wise, & learn[ed] what a fool thou art.
Some one said Chalmers was writing on political economy; – Should Moses come down from Pisgah, to make bricks in Egypt?
What we have no power over, we ought to have no anxiety about.
The affection of woman, is valued just in proportion to the difficulty with which it is obtained.
Lean not on those who are hunting about for creature solace, if they have not stability sufficient to sustain themselves, how are they to support you?
Is not a perpetual simper an indication of insincerity?
If they who are eager to get pleasure, were half as solicitous to give it, they would not so often be disappointed.
Examine the motives of most marriages & it will be no longer matter of wonder, that they are so often unhappy.
Those who are too proud to consult others in matters of moment, will generally be left to feel their own fallibility.
Goodness may be abused & counsel disregarded, but where is the being whom it becomes to be inexorable?
We must act in order to know how to act, for we detect our own deficiencies more in action, than in reflection.
Half our hopes owe their ardour, to delusion & deception.
In a world like this, it is a great misfortune for persons to be so situated as to imagine they are at liberty to ^follow^ their own whims & fancies.
One of the first things we have to learn on entering the world is, to hear, & bear the truth.
It is not to erudition, but to earnestness, that preaching owes its efficacy.
We are not sufficiently aware of the influence of the minutiae of conduct, till a long tissue of small causes ends in some great effect, which we never anticipated.
One of the greatest misfortunes of a fallen being, is to be surrounded by persons, none of whom dare to say, “don’t do that.”
There are persons who are indebted to almost overwhelming obstacles for the energy which has enabled them to elevate themselves above their contemporaries.
We are not aware how much we are indebted to past disappointments, till we find that they have taught us to bear present ones, with indifference.
The sincerity of our prayers may be suspected, if, when social, they be more fervent, than when alone.
Few things are more painful than to see people fostering the failings which it ought to be the business of life to cure.
Firmness, confidence, consciousness of right, will enable a man to face a den of Lions, or a fiery furnace.
A mind rightly tuned may turn every occurrence to advantage; an old writer says. “A good man may walk up & down the world as in a garden of spices, & suck a divine sweetness out of every flower.”
There are persons who humour their own failings, just as weak mothers do those of their children, till they become almost unbearable to themselves, & others.
Every defect in duty involves incalculable loss.
A person is great in proportion as he can think, & act more nobly than others.
There appears to be incorrigibly bad propensities in some families which descend from generation to generation; how cautious shd we be in forming voluntary connections.
Adoring wives, generally meet, or make, negligent husbands.
Next to the greatness of overcoming a prejudice, is that of not acting under its influence.
Have we not some glimmering how all things are to work for good, by finding that our mistakes lead to greater watchfulness, & circumspection & our sins drive us to humiliation & prayer?
How absurd to expect docility & submission in young persons, when as children, they have never been disciplined to it.
There is no just perception of excellence but as it is given from above; the Son of God was despised, & rejected of men!
What matter of astonishment would ^it^ be, to see a senator choose the office of a scavenger! Why will the priests of the most high God, descend to dabble in the politics of the day? He who said, “My kingdom is not of this world, said also, “Let the dead bury the dead.[”]
Deduct all that is impure or improper from the motives of human action, & to what do you reduce human excellence? Hence the necessity of that prayer for all, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Zeal may be powerful but unless it be enkindled by love, it will not be permanent.
Jesus Christ went about doing good, he had Almighty power to effect the good he willed; in proportion as we can depend on the same power, our feeble efforts may be blest, but every attempt in our own wisdom, or strength, fosters pride, & enhances guilt.
Do not persons in general who do what is right, act more from expedience, than from the pure love of good?
Every species of self-indulgence seems to weaken the mind & deteriorate the character.
What is the use of noble principles & wise sentiments, unless they are brought to bear on all the minutiae of life!
There can be no controversy about that most sublime, & yet most simple of all aphorisms, “Whatsoever ye would that men shd do to you, do ye to them likewise,” & yet how rare the characters who make ^the exemplification of^ it their aim!
Let any one mark the effect of speaking evil of others on his own mind, & he will surely have a sufficient inducement to obey the divine injunction, “Speak not evil one of another.”
If we knew our own faults more thoroughly, we should endure those of others more forbearingly.
It is not the truly great, who are captious & fastidious, but those who want to be thought so.
If parents are assiduous to give every thing but grace, he who only can grant that, will not withhold it.
The abolition of slavery will remain a monument of what perseverance & importunity will effect, even against the mightiest potentates, & powers.
Those who retrace their own peculiar trials, & examine their own peculiar faults, will find that the former are exactly leveled against the latter.
Luxurious indulgence tends to harden against all spiritual perceptions, & affections, as well as to blunt the feelings of humanity; he who “fared sumptuously every day,” cared nothing for the sufferings of his dying neighbor.
Half our errors arise from ignorance (& that ignorance is often willful) we extol, & we condemn, without examining what sufficient grace there is for commendation, or blame. He who could not err said, “Judge nothing before the time.”
There seems as much difference between a knowledge of religion & the enjoyment of it as between reading the description of a country & travelling through it.
We must expect to suffer either in, or for, whatever we inordinately desire.
No one ought to think himself at liberty to give pain unnecessarily.
Every degree of advance before the spirit of the world, is a step towards happiness.
The christians danger seems principally to lie, in his not being aware of danger.
Wrong headedness ^often^ originates in wrong heartedness.
What a stimulous [sic] ought it to be to endeavor to excel, when we all want excellence to look to, & lean upon.
Pride may make us weary of our corruptions, & ashamed of our imperfections, where there is neither repentance, nor humility.
Every one wants to reign; the driver of a stage coach, is as proud of his dominion over ostlers, & horses, as a prince over people, & provinces.
They who are living in known sin, & they who are not fighting against all sin, are the universal enemies of their species.
If superiors slight, aim at superior excellencies, & make the loss theirs.
A spirit of domination tends to annihilate all delicacy of feeling & all tenderness of conscience.
Extreme selfishness seems to forget that those around them, can have any other aims & ends, than to minister to their gratification.
Young persons care little for the good opinion of others, till they are made to feel by bitter experience that, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”
The english wish for more brilliant skies, more unclouded suns, but do they recollect, that they owe, the scent of their flowers to the humidity of the atmosphere, & the songs of their birds to the temperance of their climate.
Were persons fully aware of the responsibility attached to power, we should have fewer usurpers both in public & private.
Superiors do not love officiousness, they like distance, & difference.
There are persons capable of great & good things, if those around them, were great, or good enough, to draw them forth.
If there be a malignant, potent being, bent on the ruin of man, “Going to and fro in the earth, & walking up & down in it,” who is sufficiently awake to the influence of ^such^ a power, or sufficiently on their guard against it?
Civilities are practiced, & intimacies maintained, merely because people dare not tell each other of their faults.
The countenance is degraded, in proportion as the heart is depraved.
Vulgar modes of thinking, & feeling, are ill concealed by fashionable dress, women must go to other shops than those of the milliner & the tire-woman, in order to learn refinement.
Kindnesses & obligations, afford pleasure to those who confer them, in proportion as the sense of their value is awakened.
There is not anything the natural heart hates so much, as what is most insisted on in the gospel – Humility.
Where there is no gratitude to God, it is in vain to expect it towards a fellow-creature.
Let young persons who want knowledge learn to know, their total want of judgment.
Is it not a constant demonstration of the fall, that the human countenance once “divine,” now more frequently excites painful, than pleasurable, feelings?
That education is very defective which allows in young people, flippant censures of others.
There are sometimes dawnings of celestial excellence, but there is still so much “dross, wood, hay & stubble,[”] that the long process of severe affliction, seems necessary to bring [us] back to the first love.
Prosperity is a severer test to the human character than adversity.
“Pure religion, & undefiled,” must proceed from love to God, but amidst all the speciousness of human action, how seldom is this the motive!
Person respectably brought up, are much more in danger from sins of omission, than of commission.
Those who would succeed in asking benefits, should apply to men when they have well dined, to women when well dressed.
We talk much of faith, what is it, but such a realizing of eternal things, as renders them more influential than things present?
“One sinner destroyeth much good,” & one sin may occasion ten thousand.
Is not the Mosaic injunction with respect to the Canaanites equally binding on the people of God with regard to the world? “Ye shall not walk in the manner of the nations which I cast out before you?”
He who marries a woman for her fortune, & makes her life miserable, plays the fiend before he goes to his own place.
There is a sort of smiling liveliness, which sometimes passes for good-temper, but it is rather the result of constitutional hilarity than of systematic kindness.
A frequent propensity to weep is rather an evidence of physical weakness, than of extreme tenderness.
Pride labours to conceal imperfection, humility to subdue it.
Whatever is done from a pure motive must be effective, though perhaps not in the way we might wish.
The reason why the best accomplish so little is because they rely too much on their own wisdom & power, & not sufficiently on Him who worketh all in all.
One of the first effects of divine grace, is to teach human duty.
Would it not be well if we could act as if there was no need of divine assistance, & pray as if there was no need of human action?
Closely to connect ourselves with persons of moral inferiority, is to ask them to assist us in sinking in the scale of being.
If the malignity of human nature ought to be controuled, every propensity to laugh at mischief, should be checked, as soon as it appears.
Dreams indicate the state of mind, we do not only imagine circumstances & events, but are conscious of the thoughts, & feelings, originating, & resulting from them; whoever attentively considers these, may discover somewhat of the state of his heart, & of his most prominent faults because he may perceive his motives, & few are those who will find occasion to say, “Behold I am vile.”
Who can with pleasure leave a favorite occupation, to perform a benevolent action?
There are some notable bustlers who fancy they are good managers, but they have only hands to get, not heads to save: the secret of true economy is to make the most, & the best of every thing.
Every outward distinction, which is not accompanied by a proportionate inward elevation, is a misfortune, rather than an advantage.
Were persons to reflect on the responsibility which attaches to all that is ^voluntary^ in action how earnestly would they implore, “That wisdom which cometh from above.”
It is gross self-interest which induces most of what is decent & orderly in the world, take that away, & you will see the man-fiend.
Do not people like mimickry because the failings of other seem a sort of apology for their own?
Elevated characters love the country & its accompaniment, contemplation; little minds prefer towns, & their vile chit-chat.
Insensibility to moral advantages is one of the strongest proofs of innate debasement.
To rise in society without vanity, is one of the surest proofs of true elevation.
Why should we find fault & why should we complain? It is but transforming the dew-drops to rain.
Nothing can be more obvious, than that no one can impart, what he doth not possess: there is only one who is Holy, & Happy, doth He not say, “In me ye shall have peace”?
Is not to get the steady aim to do right, the highest attainment of dependence, & mortality?
To be delivered from finding fault, seems one of the grandest of human elevations.
People seem desirous to see any-thing, rather than their own duties!
Self-love & confidence in young persons blinds them to the advantages they might derive from the wisdom & experience of their seniors.
Is not the loss of peace under unendurable circumstances, greater than what any circumstances ought to occasion?
Prone art thou to accuse another
Thy neighbor, friend, companion, brother,
Beware thou erring elf,
Thy actions, & thy motives try,
By conscience’s scrutinizing eye
And then suspect – thyself.
Is not our censure of others often accompanied with more of malignity than real hatred of sin?
The whole bible is the voucher for God’s effectiveness, & man’s nothingness.
Public duties are salutary, when they make us more sedulous in the practice of private ones.
Is it not a fraud of the worst kind, in proportion as mind is above metal, for persons to undertake to teach, what they do not understand?
The more our sufferings are borne in silence, & consecrated to God, the more beneficial they are to ourselves, & probably the more acceptable to him.
That solitude which does not terminate in extreme selfishness, must be very wisely managed.
There is something revolting to the human mind, to dismiss young persons, often imperfectly informed & superficially educated, from the fraternal home, to go amongst total strangers as governesses! Is there nothing in the elevation of the british character to remedy this evil?
Marriages, where importunity has triumphed over dislike, seldom answer.
To vanquish impatience, is to conquer a degrading tyrant.
The man who has conquered the obstacle that prevented, or opposed his wishes, has more need of caution on the summit of his ambition, than on the road to it.
The censurer beholds the mote of sin
But never has dis[c]erned the beam within.
The victim of one unhallowed passion often subjects its connections to unnumbered miseries, while itself escapes with little (comparatively) of suffering here, being soon called to its own place.
Pride is too blind to perceive how it is often the greatest barrier to its own interest.
Much as people in general shrink from solitude, God can make it so pleasant to his own, that they do not wish to be interrupted.
The desire to be thought amiable may lead to much that is plausible in public, while there is much of meanness, & baseness in private.
Unerring wisdom hath ta[u]ght us, that there are some devils which cannot be cast out but by prayer, & fasting; eminent Christians have conquered prevailing sins, by these means only.
Is it not one of the most difficult things to inform people they do wrong, without doing wrong ourselves.
There is a bluntness which mars even sincerity itself, will mankind never feel that divine injunction, “Be pityful [sic], be courteous.”
A wise friend says, “What are our infirmities, but nature’s first & last lesson, to be kind.
Pride leads to self-sufficiency, self-sufficiency to a variety of errors, thus sin engenders itself, & we cherish our own murderer.
Principle is more character than conduct, where the act is not accomplished for want of means, the non-performance may be more acceptable, than the splendid atchievement [sic] from wrong motives.
Persons are not aware, how they foster than own love of vanity, & show, which they encourage it in their children.
It is seldom worth while to be pained, by what was purposely intended, to give pain.
If there was half the desire to obtain moral greatness that there is to obtain riches, how would the world rise in real grandeur!
Low, vulgar modes of thinking, feeling, & actions, may be white-washed, but cannot be eradicated.
The jealousies of narrow minds not seldom create the evils they deprecate.
Where a sense of duty becomes a passion, & a desire to do right, the habitual aim, the human character assumes its best tone. The influence is like that of perpetual sunshine, all within its reach are benefited.
The exercise of moral superiority amidst those who not only cannot comprehend, but who really dislike it, is one of the most difficult trials of life.
Were the people of God faithful, mercies & probably miracles would not be wanting in their favor.
Retelling (unnecessarily) the injuries we receive from others, seems a sort of vengeance, & an encroachment on the prerogative of Him who hath said, “Vengeance is mine.”!
On the back cover page (inside) in Coltman's hand: “True religion has its deep seat in the heart, & it loves the secrecy of its home; but it dares not hide itself in it. It has a labour of love to perform in a ruined world. Into that world it goes, & strives to leave all it can reach there holier & happier than it finds them.”
Text: Elizabeth Coltman, Maxims. MSS, Osborn d516, Bienecke Library, Yale University.