Title Image - Quotes by Author Henry Ward Beecher

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Wikipedia Summary for Henry Ward Beecher

Henry Ward Beecher (June 24, 1813 – March 8, 1887) was an American Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, and speaker, known for his support of the abolition of slavery, his emphasis on God's love, and his 1875 adultery trial. His rhetorical focus on Christ's love has influenced mainstream Christianity to this day.

Henry Ward Beecher was the son of Lyman Beecher, a Calvinist minister who became one of the best-known evangelists of his era. Several of his brothers and sisters became well-known educators and activists, most notably Harriet Beecher Stowe, who achieved worldwide fame with her abolitionist novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Henry Ward Beecher graduated from Amherst College in 1834 and Lane Theological Seminary in 1837 before serving as a minister in Indianapolis and Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

In 1847, Beecher became the first pastor of the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. He soon acquired fame on the lecture circuit for his novel oratorical style in which he employed humor, dialect, and slang. Over the course of his ministry, he developed a theology emphasizing God's love above all else. He also grew interested in social reform, particularly the abolitionist movement. In the years leading up to the Civil War, he raised money to purchase slaves from captivity and to send rifles—nicknamed "Beecher's Bibles"—to abolitionists fighting in Kansas. He toured Europe during the Civil War, speaking in support of the Union.

After the war, Beecher supported social reform causes such as women's suffrage and temperance. He also championed Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, stating that it was not incompatible with Christian beliefs. He was widely rumored to be an adulterer, and in 1872 the Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly published a story about his affair with Elizabeth Richards Tilton, the wife of his friend and former co-worker Theodore Tilton. In 1874, Tilton filed charges for "criminal conversation" against Beecher. The subsequent trial resulted in a hung jury and was one of the most widely reported trials of the century.

Beecher's long career in the public spotlight led biographer Debby Applegate to call her biography of him The Most Famous Man in America.

photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

To the great tree-loving fraternity we belong. We love trees with universal and unfeigned love, and all things that do grow under them or around them - the whole leaf and root tribe.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

What we call wisdom is the result of all the wisdom of past ages. Our best institutions are like young trees growing upon the roots of the old trunks that have crumbled away.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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No town can fail of beauty, though its walks were gutters and its houses hovels, if venerable trees make magnificent colonnades along its streets.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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Of all man's works of art, a cathedral is greatest. A vast and majestic tree is greater than that.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

To the great tree-loving fraternity we belong. We love trees with universal and unfeigned love, and all things that do grow under them or around them - the whole leaf and root tribe.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Rain, whose soft architectural hands have power to cut stones, and chisel to shapes of grandeur the very mountains.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

There is no such thing as preaching patience into people, unless the sermon is so long that they have to practise it while they hear.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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The body is like a piano, and happiness is like music. It is needful to have the instrument in good order.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

We should not judge people by their peak of excellence, but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

The monkey is an organized Sarcasm upon the human race.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

If a man cannot be a Christian in the place he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

You never know till you try to reach them how accessible men are; but you must approach each man by the right door.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

A man's ledger does not tell what he is, or what he is worth. Count what is in man, not what is on him, if you would know what he is worth whether rich or poor.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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People may excite in themselves a glow of compassion, not by toasting their feet at the fire, and saying: Lord, teach me compassion, but by going and seeking an object that requires compassion.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

The dog was created specially for children. He is the god of frolic.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Words are pegs to hang ideas on.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

A thoughtful mind, when it sees a Nation's flag, sees not the flag only, but the Nation itself.

--Henry Ward Beecher

Longer Version:

A thoughtful mind, when it sees a nation's flag, sees not the flag only, but the nation itself; and whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the nation that sets it forth.


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The mischiefs of anarchy have been equaled by the mischiefs of government.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

One's best success comes after their greatest disappointments.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Flowers may beckon towards us, but they speak toward heaven and God.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

The newspaper is a greater treasure to the people than uncounted millions of gold.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

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

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page.

--Henry Ward Beecher

Longer Version:

Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstance; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and past.




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A man that does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

May we be satisfied with nothing that shall not have in it something of immortality.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Laws and institutions, like clocks, must occasionally be cleaned, wound up, and set to true time.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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A lie is a very short wick in a very small lamp. The oil of reputation is very soon sucked up and gone. And just as soon as a man is known to lie, he is like a two-foot pump in a hundred-foot well. He cannot touch bottom at all.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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A lie always needs a truth for a handle to it.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Watch lest prosperity destroy generosity.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

A babe is nothing but a bundle of possibilities.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Involved sentences, crooked, circuitous, and parenthetical, no matter how musically they may be balanced, are prejudicial to a facile understanding of the truth.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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There is not a single heart but has its moments of longing.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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Someone calls biography the home aspect of history.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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Conceited men often seem a harmless kind of men, who, by an overweening self-respect, relieve others from the duty of respecting them at all.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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No man is such a conqueror, as the one that has defeated himself.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

As the cream abandons the milk from which it took its life, and rises to the top and rides there, so men, because they are richer than those around about them, separate themselves, and all mankind below them they regard as skim milk.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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Defeat is a school in which truth always grows strong.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Men strengthen each other in their faults. Those who are alike associate together, repeat the things which all believe, defend and stimulate their common faults of disposition, and each one receives from the others a reflection of his own egotism.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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A man's true estate of power and riches is to be in himself; not in his dwelling or position or external relations, but in his own essential character.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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Education will not come of itself; it will never come unless you seek it; it will not come unless you take the first steps which lead to it; but, taking these steps, every man can acquire it.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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No emotion, any more than a wave, can long retain its own individual form.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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The best stock a man can invest in, is the stock of a farm; the best shares are plow shares; and the best banks are the fertile banks of a rural stream; the more these are broken the better dividends they pay.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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As flowers always wear their own colors and give forth their own fragrance every day alike, so should Christians maintain their character at all times and under all circumstances.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

There is tonic in the things that men do not love to hear. Free speech is to a great people what the winds are to oceans ... and where free speech is stopped miasma is bred, and death comes fast.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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There is no part of government which cannot better suffer derangement than the ballot. If you strike the ballot with disease, it is heart disease.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

A mother has, perhaps, the hardest earthly lot; and yet no mother worthy of the name ever gave herself thoroughly for her child who did not feel that, after all, she reaped what she had sown.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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The disciples found angels at the grave of Him they loved; and we should always find them too, but that our eyes are too full of tears for seeing.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Our earthly loves are but so many silver steps leading us up to the great golden love of God.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Not that which men do worthily, but that which they do successfully, is what history makes haste to record.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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Death is not an end. It is a new impulse.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

A mother is as different from anything else that God ever thought of, as can possibly be. She is a distinct and individual creation.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Reading is a dissuasion from immorality. Reading stands in the place of company.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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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.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

A law is valuable not because it is law, but because there is right in it.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

The imagination is the secret and marrow of civilization. It is the very eye of faith.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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Pain is God's midwife, that helps some virtue into existence.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Well married, a man is winged--ill-matched, he is shackled.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

When men enter into the state of marriage, they stand nearest to God.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Maple-trees are the cows of trees (spring-milked).

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Only have enough of little virtues and common fidelities, and you need not mourn because you are neither a hero nor a saint.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

No man is good for anything who has not some particle of obstinacy to use upon occasion.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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That endless book, the newspaper, is our national glory.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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If a man has come to that point where he is no content that he says; I do not want to know any more, or do any more or be any more, he is in a state in which he ought to be changed into a mummy.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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Nothing is orderly till man takes hold of it. Everything in creation lies around loose.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Nothing can compare in beauty, and wonder, and admirableness, and divinity itself, to the silent work in obscure dwellings of faithful women bringing their children to honor and virtue and piety.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

The one great poem of New England is her Sunday.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

If there's a job to be done, I always ask the busiest man in my parish to take it on and it gets done.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Flowers are sent to do God's work in unrevealed paths, and to diffuse influence by channels that we hardly suspect.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Never be grandiloquent when you want to drive home a searching truth. Don't whip with a switch that has the leaves on, if you want it to tingle.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

A man should fear when he only enjoys what good he does publicly. Is it not the publicity rather than the charity he loves? Is it not vanity, rather than benevolence, that gives such charities?

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Indifference in religion is more fatal than skepticism. There is no pulse in indifference; skepticism may have warm blood.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

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

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

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. 'By their fruits ye shall know them.'

--Henry Ward Beecher
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There is nothing that makes more cowards and feeble men than public opinion.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

No matter who reigns, the merchant reigns.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

The call to religion is not a call to be better than your fellows, but to be better than yourself. Religion is relative to the individual.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

If you have only two or three things that you can enjoy and they are things which time and decay may remove from you, what are you going to do in old age?

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Man is that name of power which rises above them all, and gives to every one the right to be that which God meant he should be.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Men judge of Christians by taking as fair samples those that lie rotten on the ground.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

All work and no plagiarism makes for dull sermons!

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

We need not fear shipwreck when God is the pilot.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Why is not a rat as good as a rabbit? Why should men eat shrimps and neglect cockroaches?

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Affliction comes to the believer not to make him sad, but sober; not to make him sorry, but wise. Even as the plow enriches the field so that the seed is multiplied a thousandfold, so affliction should magnify our joy and increase our spiritual harvest.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Adversity is the mint in which God stamps upon man his image and superscription.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

A traitor is good fruit to hang from the boughs of the tree of liberty.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Find out what your temptations are, and you will find out largely what you are yourself.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

He who is false to present duty breaks a thread in the loom, and will find the flaw when he may have forgotten its cause.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Make men large and strong and tyranny will bankrupt itself in making shackles for them.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

The cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to the light, always pursuing vermin and never hunting noble game.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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There is nothing which vanity does not desecrate.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Wherever you have seen God pass, mark that spot, and go and sit in that window again.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

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

--Henry Ward Beecher
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It is one of the worst effects of prosperity to make a man a vortex instead of a fountain; so that, instead of throwing out, he learns only to draw in.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

The world is God's workshop for making men in.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

A conservative young man has wound up his life before it was unreeled. We expect old men to be conservative but when a nation's young men are so, its funeral bell is already rung.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Every man should use his intellect, not as he uses his lamp in the study, only for his own seeing, but as the lighthouse uses its lamps, that those afar off on the seas may see the shining, and learn their way.

--Henry Ward Beecher
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There never was a liar that had not a spot in him where he could not help admiring truth.

--Henry Ward Beecher
photo of author Henry Ward Beecher with quote

Morality must always precede and accompany religion, and yet religion is much more than morality.

--Henry Ward Beecher

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