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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Fénelon
 
        To pray,  *  *  *  is to desire; but it is to desire what God would have us desire.
He who desires not from the bottom of his heart, offers a deceitful prayer.
  1
  A cross borne in simplicity, without the interference of self-love to augment it, is only half a cross. Suffering in this simplicity of love, we are not only happy in spite of the cross, but because of it; for love is pleased in suffering for the Well Beloved, and the cross which forms us into His image is a consoling bond of love.  2
  A good discourse is that from which one can take nothing without taking the life.  3
  Accustom yourself gradually to carry prayer into all your daily occupations. Speak, move, work, in peace, as if you were, in prayer, as indeed you ought to be. Do everything without excitement, by the spirit of grace.  4
  As the reflections of our pride upon our defects are bitter, disheartening, and vexatious, so the return of the soul towards God is peaceful and sustained by confidence. You will find by experience how much more your progress will be aided by this simple, peaceful turning towards God, than by all your chagrin and spite at the faults that exist in you.  5
  Be content with doing calmly the little which depends upon yourself, and let all else be to you as if it were not.  6
  Before putting yourself in peril, it is necessary to foresee and fear it; but when one is there, nothing remains but to despise it.  7
  Beware of fatiguing them by ill-judged exactness. If virtue offer itself to a child under a melancholy and constrained aspect, if liberty and license present themselves under an agreeable form, all is lost, your labor is in vain.  8
  Can we be unsafe where God has placed us, and where He watches over us as a parent a child that he loves?  9
  Children are very nice observers, and they will often perceive your slightest defects. In general, those who govern children forgive nothing in them, but everything in themselves.  10
  Commit yourself then to God! He will be your guide. He Himself will travel with you, as we are told He did with the Israelites, to bring them step by step across the desert to the promised land. Ah! what will be your blessedness, if you will but surrender yourself into the hands of God, permitting Him to do whatever He will, not according to your desires, but according to His own good pleasure?  11
  Crosses are of no use to us but inasmuch as we yield ourselves up to them and forget ourselves.  12
  Despondency is not a state of humility; on the contrary, it is the vexation and despair of a cowardly pride—nothing is worse; whether we stumble or whether we fall, we must only think of rising again and going on in our course.  13
  Faith is letting down our nets into the transparent deeps at the Divine command, not knowing what we shall draw.  14
  God has not chosen to save us without crosses; as He has not seen fit to create men at once in the full vigor of manhood, but has suffered them to grow up by degrees amid all the perils and weaknesses of youth.  15
  God never makes us sensible of our weakness except to give us of His strength.  16
  God works in a mysterious way in grace as well as in nature, concealing His operations under an imperceptible succession of events, and thus keeps us always in the darkness of faith.  17
  God’s treasury where He keeps His children’s gifts will be like many a mother’s store of relics of her children, full of things of no value to others, but precious in His eyes for the love’s sake that was in them.  18
  God, who is liberal in all his other gifts, shows us, by the wise economy of His providence, how circumspect we ought to be in the management of our time, for He never gives us two moments together.  19
  Good taste rejects excessive nicety.  20
 
 
  He who prays without confidence cannot hope that his prayers will be granted.  21
  How desirable is this simplicity! who will give it to me? I will quit all else; it is the pearl of great price.  22
  How different the peace of God from that of the world! It calms the passions, preserves the purity of conscience, is inseparable from righteousness, unites us to God and strengthens us against temptations. The peace of the soul consists in an absolute resignation to the will of God.  23
  How does our will become sanctified? By conforming itself unreservedly to that of God.  24
  I am not in the least surprised that your impression of death becomes more lively, in proportion as age and infirmity bring it nearer. God makes use of this rough trial to undeceive us in respect to our courage, to make us feel our weakness, and to keep us in all humility in His hands.  25
  I believe that we are conforming to the divine order and the will of Providence when we are doing even indifferent things that belong to our condition.  26
  I had often heard Mentor say, that the voluptuous were never brave, and I now found by experience that it was true: for the Cyprians whose jollity had been so extravagant and tumultuous, now sunk under a sense of their danger and wept like women. I heard nothing but the screams of terror and the wailings of hopeless distress. Some lamented the loss of pleasures that were never to return; but none had presence of mind either to undertake or direct the navigation of the menaced vessel.  27
  I love my country better than my family; but I love human nature better than my country.  28
  I would have every minister of the gospel address his audience with the zeal of a friend, with the generous energy of a father, and with the exuberant affection of a mother.  29
  If the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid down at my feet in exchange for my books and my love of reading, I would spurn them all.  30
  If we had strength and faith enough to trust ourselves entirely to God, and follow Him simply wherever He should lead us, we should have no need of any great effort of mind to reach perfection.  31
  If we were faultless, we should not be so much annoyed by the defects of those with whom we associate. If we were to acknowledge honestly that we have not virtue enough to bear, patiently with our neighbor’s weaknesses, we should show our own imperfection, and this alarms our vanity.  32
  In the light of eternity we shall see what we desired would have been fatal to us, and that what we would have avoided was essential to our well-being.  33
  It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect. The more perfect we are, the more gentle and quiet we become towards the defects of others.  34
  It is this unquiet self-love that renders us so sensitive. The sick man, who sleeps ill, thinks the night long. We exaggerate, from cowardice, all the evils which we encounter; they are great, but our sensibility increases them. The true way to bear them is to yield ourselves up with confidence to God.  35
  Jesus Christ was born in a stable; He was obliged to fly into Egypt; thirty years of His life were spent in a workshop; He suffered hunger, thirst, and weariness; He was poor, despised, and miserable; He taught the doctrines of heaven, and no one would listen. The great and the wise persecuted and took Him, subjected Him to frightful torments, treated Him as a slave, and put Him to death between two malefactors, having preferred to give liberty to a robber, rather than to suffer Him to escape. Such was the life which our Lord chose; while we are horrified at any kind of humiliation, and cannot bear the slightest appearance of contempt.  36
  Let us often think of our own infirmities, and we shall become indulgent toward those of others.  37
  Let us pray God that He would root out of our hearts every thing of our own planting, and set out there, with His own hands, the tree of life, bearing all manner of fruits.  38
  Little opportunities should be improved.  39
  Never let us be discouraged with ourselves. It is not when we are conscious of our faults that we are the most wicked; on the contrary, we are less so. We see by a brighter light; and let us remember for our consolation, that we never perceive our sins till we begin to cure them.  40
  No human power can force the entrenchments of the human mind: compulsion never persuades it; only makes hypocrites.  41
  No more restless uncertainties, no more anxious desires, no more impatience at the place we are in; for it is God who has placed us there, and who holds us in his arms. Can we be unsafe where he has placed us?  42
  Nothing will make us so charitable and tender to the faults of others as by self-examination thoroughly to know our own.  43
  O Lord, I do most cheerfully commit all unto Thee.  44
  Oh! how seldom the soul is silent, in order that God may speak.  45
  On this earth all is temptation. Crosses tempt us by irritating our pride, and prosperity by flattering it. Our life is a continual combat, but one in which Jesus Christ fights for us. We must pass on unmoved, while temptations rage around us, as the traveler, overtaken by a storm, simply wraps his cloak more closely about him, and pushes on more vigorously toward his destined home.  46
  Our piety must be weak and imperfect if it do not conquer our fear of death.  47
  Pity enlarges the heart.  48
  Prayer is so necessary, and the source of so many blessings, that he who has discovered the treasure cannot be prevented from having recourse to it, whenever he has an opportunity.  49
  Real friends are our greatest joy and our greatest sorrow. It were almost to be wished that all true and faithful friends should expire on the same day.  50
  Simplicity is the straightforwardness of a soul which refuses itself any reaction with regard to itself or its deeds. This virtue differs from and surpasses sincerity. We see many people who are sincere without being simple. They do not wish to be taken for other than what they are; but they are always fearing lest they should be taken for what they are not.  51
  Sordid and infamous sensuality, the most dreadful evil that issued from the box of Pandora, corrupts every heart, and eradicates every virtue. Fly! wherefore dost thou linger? Fly, cast not one look behind thee; nor let even thy thought return to the accursed evil for a moment.  52
  Style! style, why, all writers will tell you that it is the very thing which can least of all be changed. A man’s style is nearly as much a part of him as his physiognomy, his figure, the throbbing of his pulse,—in short, as any part of his being which is at least subjected to the action of the will.  53
  Temptations are a file which rub off much of the rust of self-confidence.  54
  The best general means to insure the profitable employment of our time is to accustom ourselves to living in continual dependence upon the Spirit of God and His law, receiving, every instant, whatever He is pleased to bestow; consulting Him in every emergency requiring instant action, and having recourse to Him in our weaker moments when virtue seems to fail.  55
  The best use one can make of his mind is to distrust it.  56
  The Christian life is a long and continual tendency of our hearts toward that eternal goodness which we desire on earth. All our happiness consists in thirsting for it. Now this thirst is prayer. Ever desire to approach your Creator, and you will never cease to pray. Do not think it necessary to pronounce many words.  57
  The great point is to renounce your own wisdom by simplicity of walk, and to be ready to give up the favor, esteem, and approbation of every one, whenever the path in which God leads you passes that way.  58
  The greater our dread of crosses, the more necessary they are for us.  59
  The greatest defect of common education is, that we are in the habit of putting pleasure all on one side, and weariness on the other; all weariness in study, all pleasure in idleness.  60
  The kingdom of God which is within us consists in our willing whatever God wills, always, in everything, and without reservation; and thus His kingdom comes; for His will is then done as it is in heaven, since we will nothing but what is dictated by His sovereign pleasure.  61
  The more you say, the less people remember. The fewer the words, the greater the profit.  62
  The most essential point is lowliness.  63
  The passion of acquiring riches in order to support a vain expense corrupts the purest souls.  64
  The presence of God calms the soul, and gives it quiet and repose.  65
  The realization of God’s presence is the one sovereign remedy against temptation.  66
  The youth who, like a woman, loves to adorn his person, has renounced all claim to wisdom and to glory; glory is due to those only who dare to associate with pain, and have trampled pleasure under their feet.  67
  There are some people who think that they should be always mourning, that they should put a continual constraint upon themselves, and feel a disgust for those amusements to which they are obliged to submit. For my own part, I confess that I know not how to conform myself to these rigid notions. I prefer something more simple, which I also think would be more pleasing to God.  68
  There are two principal points of attention necessary for the preservation of this constant spirit of prayer which unites us with God; we must continually seek to cherish it, and we must avoid everything that tends to make us lose it.  69
  There is no real elevation of mind in a contempt of little things; it is, on the contrary, from too narrow views that we consider those things of little importance which have in fact such extensive consequences.  70
  This poor world, the object of so much insane attachment, we are about to leave; it is but misery, vanity, and folly; a phantom—the very fashion of which “passeth away.”  71
  Time is given us that we may take care for eternity; and eternity will not be too long to regret the loss of our time if we have misspent it.  72
  True piety hath in it nothing weak, nothing sad, nothing constrained. It enlarges the heart; it is simple, free, and attractive.  73
  True prayer is only another name for the love of God. Its excellence does not consist in the multitude of our words; for our Father knoweth what things we have need of before we ask Him. The true prayer is that of the heart, and the heart prays only for what it desires. To pray, then, is to desire—but to desire what God would have us desire.  74
  We are never less alone than when we are in the society of a single, faithful friend; never less deserted than when we are carried in the arms of the All-Powerful.  75
  We may as well tolerate all religions, since God Himself tolerates all.  76
  We must avoid fastidiousness; neatness, when it is moderate, is a virtue; but when it is carried to an extreme, it narrows the mind.  77
  We must bear our crosses; self is the greatest of them all. If we die in part every day of our lives, we shall have but little to do on the last. O how utterly will these little daily deaths destroy the power of the final dying!  78
  We must truly serve those whom we appear to command; we must bear with their imperfections, correct them with gentleness and patience, and lead them in the way to heaven.  79
  When kings interfere in matters of religion, they enslave instead of protecting it.  80
  When tempted, the shortest and surest way is to act like a little child at the breast; when we show it a frightful monster, it shrinks back and buries its face in its mother’s bosom, that it may no longer behold it.  81
  Why art thou troubled and anxious about many things? One thing is needful—to love Him and to sit attentively at His feet.  82
  Wine is the source of the greatest evils among communities. It causes diseases, quarrels, seditions, idleness, aversion to labor, and family disorders…. It is a species of poison that causes madness. It does not make a man die, but it degrades him into a brute. Men may preserve their health and vigor without wine; with wine they run the risk of ruining their health and losing their morals.  83
 
 
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