Quotes by Phillips Brooks
Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but taking hold of God’s willingness.
What is the Christian? Everywhere the man who, so far as he comprehends Jesus Christ, so far as he can get any knowledge of Him, is His servant – the man who makes Christ a teacher of his intelligence and the guide of his soul – the man who obeys Christ as far as he has been able to understand him… I would know any man as a Christian, would rejoice to know any man as a Christian, whom Jesus would recognize as a Christian; and Jesus Christ, I am sure, in these old days recognized His followers even if they came after Him with the blindest sight, with the most imperfect recognition and acknowledgment of what He was and of what He could do.
Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.
What the minister is is far more important than what he is able to do, for what he is gives force to what he does. In the long run, ministry is what we are as much as what we do.
Forgive, forget. Bear with the faults of others as you would have them bear with yours. Be patient and understanding. Life is too short to be vengeful or malicious.
If we had been told that God was coming into a man’s life…that must be something very terrible and awful. That certainly must rend and tear the life to which God comes. At least, it will separate it and make it unnatural and strange. God fills a bush with His glory, and it burns. God enters into the great mountain, and it rocks with an earthquake. When He comes to occupy a man, He must distort the humanity He occupies into some inhuman shape.
Instead of that, this new life into which God comes seems to be the most quietly, naturally human life that was ever seen upon the earth. It glides into its place like sunlight. It seems to make it evident that God and man are essentially so near together that the meeting of their natures in the life of a God-man is not strange. So always does Christ deal with His own nature, accepting His divinity as you and I accept our humanity, and letting it shine out through the envelope with which it has most subtly and mysteriously mingled, as the soul is mingled with and shines out through the body.
The religion that makes a man look sick certainly won’t cure the world!
It is for us, in whom the Christian Church is at this moment partially embodied, to declare that Christianity, that the Christian faith can do that for the world which the world needs. You say, “What can I do?” You can furnish one Christian life. You can furnish a life so faithful to every duty, so ready for every service, so determined not to commit every sin, that the great Christian Church shall be the stronger for your living in it, and the problem of the world be answered, and a certain great peace come into this poor, perplexed phase of our humanity as it sees that new revelation of what Christianity is.
Every sermon must have a solid rest in Scripture, and the pointedness which comes of a clear subject, and the conviction which belongs to well-thought argument, and the warmth that proceeds from earnest appeal.
Call your opinions your creed, and you will change them every week. Make your creed simply and broadly out of the revelation of God, and you will keep it to the end.
Self-confidence is either a petty pride in our own narrowness, or the realization of our duty and privilege as God’s children.
If man is man, and God is God, to live without prayer is not merely an awful thing; it is an infinitely foolish thing.
[Preaching is] truth mediated through personality.
A prayer in its simplest definition is merely a wish turned Godward.
The great danger facing all of us…is not that we shall make an absolute failure of life, nor that we shall fall into outright viciousness, nor that we shall be terribly unhappy, nor that we shall feel [that] life has no meaning at all – not these things. The danger is that we may fail to perceive life’s greatest meaning, fall short of its highest good, miss its deepest and most abiding happiness, be unable to tender the most needed service, be unconscious of life ablaze with the light of the Presence of God – and be content to have it so – that is the danger. That someday we may wake up and find that always we have been busy with husks and trappings of life and have really missed life itself. For life without God, to one who has known the richness and joy of life with Him, is unthinkable, impossible. That is what one prays one’s friends may be spared – satisfaction with a life that falls short of the best, that has in it no tingle or thrill that comes from a friendship with the Father.
To be a true minister to men is always to accept new happiness and new distress. The man who gives himself to other men can never be a wholly sad man; but no more can he be a man of unclouded gladness. To him shall come with every deeper consecration a before untasted joy, but in the same cup shall be mixed a sorrow that it was beyond his power to feel before.
Every true prayer has its background and its foreground. The foreground of prayer is the intense, immediate desire for a certain blessing which seems to be absolutely necessary for the soul to have; the background of prayer is the quiet, earnest desire that the will of God, whatever it may be, should be done. What a picture is the perfect prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane! In front burns the strong desire to escape death and to live; but behind there stands, calm and strong, the craving of the whole life for the doing of the will of God… Leave out the foreground, let there be no expression of the will of him who prays, and there is left a pure submission which is almost fatalism. Leave out the background, let there be no acceptance of the will of God, and the prayer is only an expression of self-will, a petulant claiming of the uncorrected choice of him who prays. Only when the two are there together, the special desire resting on the universal submission, the universal submission opening into the special desire is the picture perfect and the prayer complete.
I hear men praying everywhere for more faith, but when I listen to them carefully, and get to the real heart of their prayer, very often it is not more faith at all that they are wanting, but a change from faith to sight. Faith says not, “I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it,” but, “God sent it, and so it must be good for me.” Faith, walking in the dark with God, only prays Him to clasp its hand more closely.
The man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words.
The glory of the star, the glory of the sun – we must not lose either in the other. We must not be so full of the hope of heaven that we cannot do our work on the earth; we must not be so lost in the work of the earth that we shall not be inspired by the hope of heaven.
The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.
Do not pry for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be not miracle, but you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the riches of life which has come to you by the grace of God.
Christ is the Word of God. It is not in certain texts written in the New Testament, valuable as they are; it is not in certain words which Jesus spoke, vast as is their preciousness; it is in the Word, which Jesus is, that the great manifestation of God is made.
Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.
We will never become truly spiritual by sitting down and wishing to become so.
Courage…is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry… Courage is good everywhere, but it is necessary here. If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go and make shoes to fit them… But do not keep on all your life preaching sermons which shall say not what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say.