C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.
Stern daughter of the voice of God!
Duties are ours; events are God’s.
Duty is the demand of the hour.
Simple duty hath no place for fear.
Who escapes a duty avoids a gain.
Consult duty, not events.
Man cannot choose his duties.
New occasions teach new duties.
Men must be either the slaves of duty, or the slaves of force.
The reward of one duty is the power to fulfill another.
Do the duty which lies nearest to thee.
Fear is not a lasting teacher of duty.
God never imposes a duty without thee time to do it.
Every subject’s duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul is his own.
Life is of little value unless it be consecrated by duty.
Perish discretion when it interferes with duty.
The sense of duty pursues us ever.
Thanks to the gods; my boy has done his duty.
England expects every man to do his duty.
Not liberty but duty is the condition of existence.
There is no moment without some duty.
We have an intuitive sense of our duty.
The doing of things from duty is but a stage on the road to the kingdom of truth and love.
There are not good things enough in life to indemnify us for the neglect of a single duty.
None should expect to prosper who go out of the way of duty.
There is nothing in the universe I fear but that I shall not know all my duty, or shall fail to do it.
Knowledge is the hill which few may hope to climb; duty is the path that all may tread.
Knowledge of our duties is the most useful part of philosophy.
The most fruitful and elevating influence I have ever seemed to meet has been my impression of obligation to God.
The latest gospel in this world is, know thy work and do it.
Duty only frowns when you flee from it; follow it, and it smiles upon you.
Let us not run out of the path of duty, lest we run into the way of danger.
He who can at all times sacrifice pleasure to duty approaches sublimity.
Never anything can be amiss, when simpleness and duty tender it.
As birds are made to fly and rivers to run, so the soul to follow duty.
Every duty we omit obscures some truth we should have known.
To what gulfs a single deviation from the track of human duties leads!
Every mission constitutes a pledge of duty.
Do well the duty that lies before you.
In doing what we ought we deserve no praise, because it is our duty.
Men love to hear of their power, but have an extreme disrelish to be told their duty.
Whether your time calls you to live or die, do both like a prince.
Every one regards his duty as a troublesome master from whom he would like to be free.
The true way to render ourselves happy is to love our duty and find in it our pleasure.
You will always find those who think they know your duty better than you know it.
Duty grows everywhere—like children, like grass.
Nothing is properly one’s duty but what is also one’s interest.
Every duty, even the least duty, involves the whole principle of obedience.
Thy sum of duty let two words contain—… be humble and be just.
It is thy duty oftentimes to do what thou wouldst not; thy duty, too, to leave undone that thou wouldst do.
There is no evil which we cannot face or fly from but the consciousness of duty disregarded.
The last pleasure in life is the sense of discharging our duty.
In common things the law of sacrifice takes the form of positive duty.
Our grand business is, not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.
A nation, as an individual, has duties to fulfill appointed by God and His moral law.
Duty—the command of heaven, the eldest voice of God.
Duty, especially out of the domain of love, is the veriest slavery in the world.
They do well, or do their duty, who with alacrity do what they ought.
Our duty is to be useful, not according to our desires but according to our powers.
I am not aware that payment, or even favors, however gracious, bind any man’s soul and conscience in questions of highest morality and highest importance.
When any duty is to be done, it is fortunate for you if you feel like doing it; but, if you do not feel like it, that is no reason for not doing it.
Brethren, life is passing; youth goes, strength decays. But duty performed, work done for God—this abides forever, this alone is imperishable.
Man is saved by love and duty, and by the hope that springs from duty, or rather from the moral facts of consciousness, as a flower springs from the soil.
The pleasure a man of honor enjoys in the consciousness of having performed his duty is a reward he pays himself for all his pains.
I have learned that to do one’s next duty is to take a step toward all that is worth possessing.
Only when the voice of duty is silent, or when it has already spoken, may we allowably think of the consequences of a particular action.
A deliberate rejection of duty prescribed by already recognized truth cannot but destroy, or at least impair most seriously the clearness of our mental vision.
Duty is what goes most against the grain, because in doing that we do only what we are strictly obliged to, and are seldom much praised for it.
Let men of all ranks, whether they are successful or unsuccessful, whether they triumph or not—let them do their duty, and rest satisfied.
The constant duty of every man to his fellows is to ascertain his own powers and special gifts, and to strengthen them for the help of others.
Stern duties need not speak sternly. He who stood firm before the thunder worshipped the “still small voice.”
It is one of the worst of errors to suppose that there is any other path of safety except that of duty.
Whatever our place allotted to us by Providence, that for us is the post of honor and duty. God estimates us, not by the position we are in, but by the way in which we fill it.
Let no guilty man escape, if it can be avoided. No personal consideration should stand in the way of performing a public duty.
Duty does not consist in suffering everything, but in suffering everything for duty. Sometimes, indeed, it is our duty not to suffer.
Do your duty, and don’t swerve from it. Do that which you conscience tells you to be right, and leave the consequences to God.
Duty is one and invariable: it requires no impossibilities, nor can it ever be disregarded with impunity.
Let men laugh when you sacrifice desire to duty, if they will. You have time and eternity to rejoice in.
I see nothing worth living for but the divine virtue which endures and surrenders all things for truth, duty, and mankind.
Be content with doing calmly the little which depends upon yourself, and let all else be to you as if it were not.
Can man or woman choose duties? No more than they can choose their birthplace, or their father and mother.
All duties are matter of conscience, with this restriction that a superior obligation suspends the force of an inferior one.
Duty speaks with the lawful authority of many voices; pleasure has no strength except in the longing desire of the hungry unit.
Of an accountable creature, duty is the concern of every moment, since he is every moment pleasing or displeasing God.
I think myself obliged, whatever my private apprehensions may be of the success, to do my duty, and leave events to their Disposer.
The thing which must be, must be for the best; God helps us do our duty and not shrink.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
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.
Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
Never to tire, never to grow cold; to be patient, sympathetic, tender; to look for the budding flower and the opening heart; to hope always; like God, to love always—this is duty.
The gospel chargeth us with piety towards God, and justice and charity to men, and temperance and chastity in reference to ourselves.
If doing what ought to be done be made the first business, and success a secondary consideration—is not this the way to exalt virtue?
Man owes two solemn debts—one to society, and one to nature. It is only when he pays the second that he covers the first.
I hate to see a thing done by halves; if it be right, do it boldly; if it be wrong, leave it undone.
Duty, though set about by thorns, may still be made a staff supporting even while it tortures. Cast it away, and, like the prophet’s wand, it changes to a snake.
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.
It is not the profession of religion which creates the obligation for the performance of duty; for that existed before any such profession was made. The profession of religion only recognizes the obligation.
Duties are ours; events are God’s. This removes an infinite burden from the shoulders of a miserable, tempted, dying creature. On this consideration only, can he securely lay down his head, and close his eyes.
When faith and hope fail, as they do sometimes, we must trust charity, which is love in action. We must speculate no more on our duty, but simply do it. When we have done it, however blindly, perhaps heaven will show us the reason why.
If the duties before us be not noble, let us ennoble them by doing them in a noble spirit; we become reconciled to life if we live in the spirit of Him who reconciled the life of God with the lowly duties of servants.
Do to-day’s duty, fight to-day’s temptation; and do not weaken and distract yourself by looking forward to things which you cannot see, and could not understand if you saw them.
Every mission constitutes a pledge of duty. Every man is bound to consecrate his every faculty to its fulfillment. He will derive his rule of action from the profound conviction of that duty.
There is little pleasure in the world that is true and sincere besides the pleasure of doing our duty and doing good. I am sure no other is comparable to this.
The path of duty lies in what is near, and men seek for it in what is remote; the work of duty lies in what is easy, and men seek for it in what is difficult.
However dear you hold your patrimony, your honor, or even your life, you should be willing to sacrifice all to duty, if you are called upon to do so.
Duty reaches down the ages in its effects, and into eternity; and when the man goes about it resolutely, it seems to me now as though his footsteps were echoing beyond the stars, though only heard faintly in the atmosphere of this world.
A judge’s duty is to grant justice, but his practice is to delay it; even those judges who know their duty adhere to the general practice.
It is a happy thing for us that this is really all we have to concern ourselves about—what to do next. No man can do the second thing. He can do the first.
Thus is man made equal to every event. He can face danger for the right. A poor, tender, painful body, he can run into flame or bullets or pestilence, with duty for his guide.
Every man has obligations which belong to his station. Duties extend beyond obligations, and direct the affections, desires, and intentions, as well as the actions.
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.
Whoso neglects a thing which he suspects he ought to do, because it seems to him too small a thing, is deceiving himself; it is not too little, but too great for him, that he doeth it not.
The sense of duty is the fountain of human rights. In other words, the same inward principle which teaches the former bears witness to the latter. Duties and rights must stand and fall together.
In all ordinary cases we see intuitively at first view what is our duty, what is the honest part. In these cases doubt and deliberation is of itself dishonesty; as it was in Balaam’s case upon the second message.
Be not diverted from your duty by any idle reflections the silly world may make upon you, for their censures are not in your power, and consequently should not be any part of your concern.
Let a man begin in earnest with “I ought,” and he will end, by God’s grace, if he persevere, with “I will.” Let him force himself to abound in all small offices of kindliness, attention, affectionateness, and all these for God’s sake. By and by he will feel them become the habit of his soul.
Attention is our first duty whenever we want to know what is our second duty. There is no such cause of confusion and worry about what we ought to do, and how to do it, as our unwillingness to hear what God would tell us on that very point.
The great object of the Christian is duty; his predominant desire to obey God. When he can please the world consistently with these, he will do so; otherwise it is enough for him that God commands, and enough for them that he cannot disobey.
Go to your duty, every man, and trust yourself to Christ; for He will give you all supply just as fast as you need it. You will have just as much power as you believe you can have. Be a Christian; throw yourself upon God’s work; and get the ability you want in it.
Let him who gropes painfully in darkness or uncertain light, and prays vehemently that the dawn may ripen into day, lay this precept well to heart: “Do the duty which lies nearest to thee,” which thou knowest to be a duty! Thy second duty will already have become clearer.
Submission to duty and God gives the highest energy. He, who has done the greatest work on earth, said that He came down from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him. Whoever allies himself with God is armed with all the forces of the invisible world.
Christian obligation cannot be made to accord with a law of expediency. The Christian’s maxims are, “Do right because you are bound to do right.” “Do right though the heavens fall.” There is a world of difference between “You had better” and “You are bound to.”
Do daily and hourly your duty; do it patiently and thoroughly. Do it as it presents itself; do it at the moment, and let it be its own reward. Never mind whether it is known and acknowledged or not, but do not fail to do it.
We are apt to mistake our vocation by looking out of the way for occasions to exercise great and rare virtues, and by stepping over the ordinary ones that lie directly in the road before us.
Reverence the highest, have patience with the lowest. Let this day’s performance of the meanest duty be thy religion. Are the stars too distant, pick up the pebble that lies at thy feet and from it learn the all.
The people of this country have shown by the highest proofs human nature can give that wherever the path of duty and honor may lead, however steep and rugged it may be, they are ready to walk in it.
Duty itself is supreme delight when love is the inducement and labor. By such a principle the ignorant are enlightened, the hard-hearted softened, the disobedient reformed, and the faithful encouraged.
The idea of duty—that recognition of something to be lived for beyond the mere satisfaction of self—is to the moral life what the addition of a great central ganglion is to animal life.
There is generally no such thing as duty to the people who do it. They simply take life as it comes, meeting, not shirking its demands, whether pleasant or unpleasant; and that is pretty much all there is of it.
Those who do it always would as soon think of being conceited of eating their dinner as of doing their duty. What honest boy would pride himself on not picking a pocket? A thief who was trying to reform would.
High hearts are never long without hearing some new call, some distant clarion of God, even in their dreams; and soon they are observed to break up the camp of ease, and start on some fresh march of faithful service.
There is no mean work save that which is sordidly selfish; there is no irreligious work save that which is morally wrong; while in every sphere of life “the post of honor is the post of duty.”
We require from buildings, as from men, two kinds of goodness; first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it; which last is itself another form of duty.
The consideration that human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected will always continue to prompt me to promote the progress of the former by inculcating the practice of the latter.
Commonplace though it may appear, this doing of one’s duty embodies the highest ideal of life and character. There may be nothing heroic about it; but the common lot of men is not heroic.
Duty is a power which rises with us in the morning, and goes to rest with us at night. It is coextensive with the action of our intelligence. It is the shadow which cleaves to us, go where we will, and which only leaves us when we leave the light of life.
No man living in deliberate violation of his duty, in willful disobedience to God’s commands, as taught by conscience, can possibly make progress in acquaintance with the Supreme Being. Vain are all acts of worship in church or in secret, vain are religious reading and conversation, without this instant fidelity.
Men should soon make up their minds to be forgotten, and look about them, or within them, for some higher motive in what they do than the approbation of men, which is fame, namely, their duty; that they should be constantly and quietly at work, each in his sphere, regardless of effects, and leaving their fame to take care of itself.
Both love of mankind, and respect for their rights are duties; the former however is only a conditional, the latter an unconditional, purely imperative duty, which he must be perfectly certain not to have transgressed who would give himself up to the secret emotions arising from benevolence.
Speak, Lord, our souls are hushed to hear what Thou hast to say to us. Great is the stake, overwhelming may be the risks—most glorious are the opportunities. Speak, Lord, and show us what our duty is—how high, how difficult, yet how happy, how blessed—show us what our duty is, and, O great God and Father, give us strength to do it.
No man’s spirits were ever hurt by doing his duty; on the contrary, one good action, one temptation resisted and overcome, one sacrifice of desire or interest, purely for conscience’ sake, will prove a cordial for weak and low spirits, far beyond what either indulgence or diversion or company can do for them.
It is an impressive truth that sometimes in the very lowest forms of duty, less than which would rank a man as a villain, there is, nevertheless, the sublimest ascent of self-sacrifice. To do less would class you as an object of eternal scorn, to do so much presumes the grandeur of heroism.
The duty of man is not a wilderness of turnpike gates, through which he is to pass by tickets from one to the other. It is plain and simple, and consists but of two points—his duty to God, which every man must feel; and, with respect to his neighbor, to do as he would be done by.
As soon as we lay ourselves entirely at His feet, we have enough light given us to guide our own steps; as the foot-soldier, who hears nothing of the councils that determine the course of the great battle he is in, hears plainly enough the word of command which he must himself obey.
The everyday cares and duties, which men call drudgery, are the weights and counterpoises of the clock of time; giving its pendulum a true vibration and its hands a regular motion; and when they cease to hang upon its wheels, the pendulum no longer swings, the hands no longer move, the clock stands still.
In the sacred fact of obligation you touch the immutable, and lay hold, as it were, on the eternities. At the very center of your being, there is a fixed element, and that of a kind or degree essentially sovereign. A standard is set up in your very thought, by which a great part of your questions are determined, and about which your otherwise random thoughts may settle into order and law.
Is there no reconciliation of some ancient quarrel, no payment of some long outstanding debt, no courtesy or love or honor to be rendered to those to whom it has long been due; no charitable, humble, kind, useful deed, by which you can promote the glory of God, or good will among men, or peace upon earth? If there be any such, I beseech you, in God’s name, in Christ’s name, go and do it.
Let us do our duty in our shop or our kitchen, the market, the street, the office, the school, the home, just as faithfully as if we stood in the front rank of some great battle, and we knew that victory for mankind depended upon our bravery, strength, and skill. When we do that the humblest of us will be serving in that great army which achieves the welfare of the world.
Take your duty, and be strong in it, as God will make you strong. The harder it is, the stronger in fact you will be. Understand, also, that the great question here is, not what you will get, but what you will become. The greatest wealth you can ever get will be in yourself. Take your burdens and troubles and losses and wrongs, if come they must and will, as your opportunity, knowing that God has girded you for greater things than these.
The moment you can make a very simple discovery, viz., that obligation to God is your privilege, and is not imposed as a burden, your experience will teach you many things—that duty is liberty, that repentance is a release from sorrow, that sacrifice is gain, that humility is dignity, that the truth from which you hide is a healing element that bathes your disordered life, and that even the penalties and terrors of God are the artillery only of protection to His realm.
The things of the world are ever rising and falling, and in perpetual change; and this change must be according to the will of God, as He has bestowed upon man neither the wisdom nor the power to enable him to check it. The great lesson in these things is, that man must strengthen himself doubly at such times to fulfill his duty and to do what is right, and must seek his happiness and inward peace from objects which cannot be taken away from him.
I cannot but take notice of the wonderful love of God to mankind, who, in order to encourage obedience to His laws, has annexed a present as well as a future reward to a good life; and has so interwoven our duty and our happiness together that, while we are discharging our obligations to the one, we are at the same time making the best provision for the other.
There is no evil that we cannot either face or fly from but the consciousness of duty disregarded. A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the wings of the morning, and dwell in the utmost parts of the seas, duty performed, or duty violated, is still with us, for our happiness or our misery. If we say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light our obligations are yet with us. We cannot escape their power, nor fly from their presence. They are with us in this life, will be with us at its close, and in that scene of inconceivable solemnity which lies yet further onward we shall still find ourselves surrounded by the consciousness of duty, to pain us wherever it has been violated, and to console us so far as God may have given us grace to perform it.
Not infrequently are Christians heard to speak of duties as crosses to be borne; and I am convinced that some among them regard their performance as a complete compliance with the law of self-denial. It is a cross to pray, to speak, to commend Christ to others, to attend church, to frequent the social meetings, and, indeed, to do anything of a distinctly religious nature. By the force of their will and with the aid of sundry admonitions they bring themselves up to the discharge of those obligations, but, on the whole, they feel that it should entitle them to a place in “the noble army of martyrs.” I am sorry to dissipate the comfortable illusion; but I am compelled to assure them that they totally misapprehend the doctrine of our Lord. He said that it was His meat and drink to do the will of His Father; and He never once refers to duty in any other way than as a delight. The cross was something distinct from it.
Feeble are we? Yes, without God we are nothing. But what, by faith, every man may be, God requires him to be. This is the only Christian idea of duty. Measure obligation by inherent ability! No, my brethren, Christian obligation has a very different measure. It is measured by the power that God will give us, measured by the gifts and possible increments of faith. And what a reckoning will it be for many of us, when Christ summons us to answer before Him under the law, not for what we are, but for what we might have been.