S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Shall I rage, fret, and accuse Providence of injustice? No: let me rather lament that I do not what is always right; what depends not on the fortuitous changes of this world, nor the blind sport of fortune, but remains unalterably fixed in the mind; untouched, though this shattered globe shall fall in pieces, and bury us in the ruins. Though I do lead a virtuous life, let it show me how I am, and of myself how weak; how far from an independent being; given as a sheep into the hands of the great Shepherd of all, on whom let us cast all our cares, for He careth for us.
A man is right and invincible, virtuous and on the road towards sure conquest, precisely while he joins himself to the great deep law of the world, in spite of all superficial laws, temporary appearances, profit-and-loss calculation;he is victorious while he co-operates with that great central lawnot victorious otherwise: and surely his first chance of co-operating with it, or getting into the course of it, is to know with his own soul that it isthat it is good, and alone good. This is the soul of Islam; it is properly the soul of Christianity; for Islam is definable as a confused form of Christianity: had Christianity not been, neither had it been. Christianity also commands us, before all, to be resigned to God. We are to take no counsel with flesh and blood; give ear to no vain cavils, vain sorrows and wishes; to know that we know nothing; that the worst and cruellest to our eyes is not what it seems; that we have to receive whatsoever befalls us as sent from God above, and say, It is good and wiseGod is great! Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. Islam means in its way denial of self,annihilation of self. This is yet the highest wisdom that Heaven has revealed to our earth.
True resignation, which always brings with it the confidence that unchangeable goodness will make even the disappointment of our hopes and the contradictions of life conducive to some benefit, casts a grave but tranquil light over the prospect of even a toilsome and troubled life.
We must learn to suffer what we cannot evade. Our life, like the harmony of the world, is composd of contrary things, of several notes, sweet and harsh, sharp and flat, spritely and solemn; and the musician who should only affect one of these, what would he be able to do? He must know how to make use of them all, and to mix them; and we, likewise, the goods and evils which are consubstantial with life: our being cannot subsist without this mixture, and the one are no less necessary to it than the other. To attempt to kick against natural necessity is to represent the folly of Ctesiphon, who undertook to kick with his mule.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. cvii.
And peradventure we have more cause to thank him for our loss than for our winning, for his wisdom better seeth what is good for us than we do ourselves. Therefore, I pray you be of good cheer, and take all the household with you to church, and there thank God, both for that he has given us, and for that he has taken from us, and for that he hath left us; which, if it please him, he can increase when he will, and if it please him to leave us yet less, at his pleasure be it.
A man can even here be with God, so long as he bears God within him. We should be able to see without sadness our most holy wishes fade like sunflowers, because the sun above us still forever beams, eternally makes new, and cares for all; and a man must not so much prepare himself for eternity as plant eternity in himself: eternity, serene, pure, full of depth, full of light, and of all else.