George MacDonald was a prolific and talented writer of the 19th century. He was well-loved by many of his literary contemporaries and would serve as an inspiration to C.S. Lewis, Madeline L’Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesterton, and Oswald Chambers. Those who read John Eldredge’s books will find a fair sprinkling of MacDonald therein as well.
Still, his writings are sadly under-read these days and this site is an attempt to rectify that situation. MacDonald’s works have become obscure for several reasons. One being the use of archaic language, another is the arcane references to poetic and literary works which are no longer familiar to us.
My endeavor is to modernize his writings, while making as few adjustments as possible. Bringing the archaic and arcane language and grammar to contemporary form and providing annotations explaining arcane references within his works.
I have thus far completed this process on Unspoken Sermons – The First, Second, and Third Series. I also have several of his more powerful fictional works on the slate and intend to perform the same with his excellent poetic work Diary of an Old Soul.
I am making these contemporary, annotated works available via Amazon in eBook form for $2.99/ea. – the minimum price Amazon would allow me to assign to the books. I have not included DRM on any of the ebooks.
Finding eBooks on Amazon
As I work through each volume I publish them, but it is not my intent to leave them as such but to revise them with future editions (which will be a free upgrade for existing owners) which will further refine language and grammar and add or revise the explanatory annotations. I would welcome feedback on where and how I may improve these volumes.
The Fans and Critics
- “I know hardly any other writer who seems to be closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ Himself!” – C.S. Lewis.
- “My own debt to this book is almost as great as one man can owe to another: and nearly all serious inquirers to whom I have introduced it acknowledge that it has given them great help—sometimes indispensable help toward the very acceptance of the Christian faith.”
- “I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him.”
- “…a grievous experience I had when some of George MacDonald’s sermons were published in 1976 (Creation in Christ). I had relished three of MacDonald’s novels and the Anthology compiled by C.S. Lewis. Then I read this sentence, and the budding friendship collapsed: ‘From all copies of Jonathan Edwards portrait of God, however faded by time, however softened by the use of less glaring pigments, I turn with loathing’ (Creation in Christ, P. 81). I was-stunned. George MacDonald loathed my God!” – John Piper.
- “…it is a striking indication of the trend and shallowness of the modern reading public that George MacDonald’s books have been so neglected.” – Oswald Chambers, Christian Discipline Vol. 1 (1934).
- “…in a certain rather special sense I for one can really testify to a book that has made a difference to my whole existence, which helped me to see things in a certain way from the start; a vision of things which even so real a revolution as a change of religious allegiance has substantially only crowned and confirmed. Of all the stories I have read…it remains the most real, the most realistic, in the exact sense of the phrase the most like life. It is called The Princess and the Goblin, and is by George MacDonald…” – G.K. Chesterton.
- Other Fans: W.H. Auden, Madeleine L’Engle, John Eldredge, J.R.R. Tolkien.
In addition to those who were fans or critics, there are many who have been influenced by him…whether they were fans per say, I cannot say.
- Elisabeth Elliot.
- Robert Louis Stevenson.
- Lady Byron.
- John Bunyan (The Pilgrim’s Progress, Grace Abounding).
- Dante Alighieri (The Divine Comedy).
- F.D. Maurice.
- Jacob Boehem.
- Lewis Carroll.
- Charles Kingsley.
- Matthew Arnold.
- Henry Crabb Robinson.
- John Ruskin.
I hope these quotations provide some insight into why MacDonald’s works deserve a fresh reading today.
Unspoken Sermons Series I
Chapter 1: The Child in the Midst
- “Nothing is required of man that is not first in God. It is because God is perfect that we are required to be perfect.”
- “What, then, is the connection between the second and third? How does he who receives the Son receive the Father? Because the Son is as the Father; and he whose heart can perceive the essential in Christ, has the essence of the Father–that is, sees and holds to it by that recognition, and is one therewith by recognition and worship.”
- “As soon as even service is done for the honor and not for the service-sake, the doer is that moment outside the kingdom.”
- “…the truth carries its own conviction to him who is able to receive it.”
- “He has not two thoughts about us. With him all is simplicity of purpose and meaning and effort and end–namely, that we should be as he is, think the same thoughts, mean the same things, possess the same blessedness.”
- “Brothers, have you found our king? There he is, kissing little children and saying they are like God. There he is at table with the head of a fisherman lying on his bosom, and somewhat heavy at heart that even he, the beloved disciple, cannot yet understand him well.”
- “Our longing desires can no more exhaust the fullness of the treasures of the Godhead, than our imagination can touch their measure.”
- “Life is no series of chances with a few providences sprinkled between to keep up a justly failing belief, but one providence of God; and the man will not live long before life itself will remind him, it may be in agony of soul, of that which he has forgotten. When he prays for comfort, the answer may come in dismay and terror and the turning aside of the Father’s countenance; for love itself will, for love’s sake, turn the countenance away from that which is not lovely; and he will have to read, written upon the dark wall of his imprisoned conscience, the words, awful and glorious, Our God is a consuming fire.”
Chapter 2: The Consuming Fire
- “It is not love that grants a blessing unwillingly; still less is it love that answers a prayer to the wrong and hurt of him who prays.”
- “Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make lovelier, that it may love more; it strives for perfection, even that itself may be perfected–not in itself, but in the object. As it was love that first created humanity, so even human love, in proportion to its divinity, will go on creating the beautiful for its own outpouring.”
- “It is the nature of God, so terribly pure that it destroys all that is not pure as fire, which demands like purity in our worship. He will have purity. It is not that the fire will burn us if we do not worship thus; but that the fire will burn us until we worship thus; yes, will go on burning within us after all that is foreign to it has yielded to its force, no longer with pain and consuming, but as the highest consciousness of life, the presence of God.”
- “Yes, the fear of God will cause a man to flee, not from him, but from himself; not from him, but to him, the Father of himself, in terror lest he should do Him wrong or his neighbor wrong.”
- “No revelation can be other than partial. If for true revelation a man must be told all the truth, then farewell to revelation; yes, farewell to the sonship. For what revelation, other than a partial, can the highest spiritual condition receive of the infinite God? But it is not therefore untrue because it is partial.”
- “Relative to a lower condition of the receiver, a more partial revelation might be truer than that would be which constituted a fuller revelation to one in a higher condition; for the former might reveal much to him, the latter might reveal nothing.”
- “The true revelation rouses the desire to know more by the truth of its incompleteness.”
- “Fear is nobler than sensuality. Fear is better than no God, better than a god made with hands. In that fear lay deep hidden the sense of the infinite. The worship of fear is true, although very low; and though not acceptable to God in itself, for only the worship of spirit and of truth is acceptable to him, yet even in his sight it is precious. For he regards men not merely as they are, but as they will be; not as they will be merely, but as they are now growing, or capable of growing, towards that image after which he made them that they might grow to it.”
- “He is against sin: in so far as, and while, they and sin are one, he is against them—against their desires, their aims, their fears, and their hopes; and thus he is altogether and always for them.”
- “For, when we say that God is Love, do we teach men that their fear of him is groundless? No. As much as they fear will come upon them, possibly far more. But there is something beyond their fear,–a divine fate which they cannot withstand, because it works along with the human individuality which the divine individuality has created in them. The wrath will consume what they call themselves; so that the selves God made will appear, coming out with tenfold consciousness of being, and bringing with them all that made the blessedness of the life the men tried to lead without God. They will know that now first are they fully themselves.”
- “The man who loves God, and is not yet pure, courts the burning of God. Nor is it always torture. The fire shows itself sometimes only as light–still it will be fire of purifying. The consuming fire is just the original, the active form of Purity,–that which makes pure, that which is indeed Love, the creative energy of God.”
Chapter 3: The Higher Faith
- “Questions imply answers. He has put the questions in my heart; he holds the answers in his. I will seek them from him. I will wait, but not till I have knocked. I will be patient, but not till I have asked. I will seek until I find. He has something for me. My prayer will go up unto the God of my life.”
Chapter 4: It Will Not Be Forgiven
- “Whatever belonging to the region of thought and feeling is uttered in words, is of necessity uttered imperfectly.”
- “With vivid flashes of life and truth his words invade our darkness, rousing us with sharp stings of light to will our awaking, to arise from the dead and cry for the light which he can give, not in the lightning of words only, but in indwelling presence and power.”
- “To men who are not simple, simple words are the most inexplicable of riddles.”
- “If we are bound to search after what our Lord means–and he speaks that we may understand–we are at least equally bound to refuse any interpretation which seems to us unlike him, unworthy of him. He himself says, “Why do you not of your own selves judge what is right?””
- “To accept that as the will of our Lord which to us is inconsistent with what we have learned to worship in him already, is to introduce discord into that harmony whose end is to unite our hearts, and make them whole.”
- “I cannot admit for a moment that there is anything in the Bible too mysterious to be looked into; for the Bible is a revelation, an unveiling. True, into many things uttered there I can see only a little way. But that little way is the way of life; for the depth of their mystery is God.”
- “Christ is God’s Forgiveness.”
- “A passing-by of the offence might spring from a poor human kindness, but never from divine love. It would not be remission. Forgiveness can never be indifference. Forgiveness is love towards the unlovely.”
- “God is forgiving us every day–sending from between him and us our sins and their fogs and darkness. Witness the shining of his sun and the falling of his rain, the filling of their hearts with food and gladness, that he loves them that love him not. When some sin that we have committed has clouded all our horizon, and hidden him from our eyes, he, forgiving us, before we are, and that we may be, forgiven, sweeps away a path for this his forgiveness to reach our hearts, that it may by causing our repentance destroy the wrong, and make us able even to forgive ourselves. For some are too proud to forgive themselves, till the forgiveness of God has had its way with them, has drowned their pride in the tears of repentance, and made their heart come again like the heart of a little child.”
- “God’s love is the prime mover, ever seeking to perfect his forgiveness, which latter needs the human condition for its consummation. The love is perfect, working out the forgiveness. God loves where he cannot yet forgive–where forgiveness in the full sense is as yet simply impossible, because no contact of hearts is possible, because that which lies between has not even begun to yield to the rough broom of his holy destruction.”
- “It may be an infinitely less evil to murder a man than to refuse to forgive him. The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart’s choice.”
- “No man who will not forgive his neighbor, can believe that God is willing, yes, wanting to forgive him, can believe that the dove of God’s peace is hovering over a chaotic heart, willing to alight, but finding no rest for the sole of its foot.”
Chapter 5. The New Name.
- “A mystical mind is one which, having perceived that the highest expression the truth admits, lies in the symbolism of nature and the human customs that result from human necessities, prosecutes thought about truth so embodied by dealing with the symbols themselves after logical forms.”
- “Not only then has each man his individual relation to God, but each man has his peculiar relation to God. He is to God a peculiar being, made after his own fashion, and that of no one else; for when he is perfected he will receive the new name which no one else can understand. Hence he can worship God as no man else can worship him,–can understand God as no man else can understand him. This or that man may understand God more, may understand God better than he, but no other man can understand God as he understands him.”
- “But here there is no room for ambition. Ambition is the desire to be above one’s neighbor; and here there is no possibility of comparison with one’s neighbor: no one knows what the white stone contains except the man who receives it. Here is room for endless aspiration towards the unseen ideal; none for ambition. Ambition would only be higher than others; aspiration would be high. Relative worth is not only unknown–to the children of the kingdom it is unknowable.”
- “Gone then will be all anxiety as to what his neighbor may think about him. It is enough that God thinks about him. To be something to God—is not that praise enough? To be a thing that God cares for and would have complete for himself, because it is worth caring for–is not that life enough?”
- “Yes, there will be danger–danger as everywhere; but he gives more grace.”
Chapter 6. The Heart with the Treasure
- “To understand the words of our Lord is the business of life. For it is the main road to the understanding of The Word himself. And to receive him is to receive the Father, and so to have Life in ourselves. And Life, the higher, the deeper, the simpler, the original, is the business of life.”
- “But it is so complete, so imaginatively comprehensive, so immediately operative on the conscience through its poetic suggestiveness, that when it is once understood, there is nothing more to be said, but everything to be done.”
- “If God sees that heart corroded with the rust of cares, riddled into caverns and films by the worms of ambition and greed, then your heart is as God sees it, for God sees things as they are. And one day you will be compelled to see, more than that, to feel your heart as God sees it; and to know that the cankered thing which you have within you, a prey to the vilest of diseases, is indeed the center of your being, your very heart.”
Chapter 7. The Temptation in the Wilderness
- “Our Lord spoke then this parable unto them, and so conveyed more of the truth with regard to his temptation in the wilderness, than could have been conveyed by any other form in which the truth he wanted to give them might have been embodied.”
- “The modifying influences of the human channels may be essential to God’s revealing mode. It is only by seeing them first from afar that we learn the laws of the heavens.”
- “He lives because God is true; and he is able to know that he lives because he knows, having once understood the word, that God is truth. He believes in the God of former vision, lives by that word therefore, when all is dark and there is no vision.”
- “Faith is that which, knowing the Lord’s will, goes and does it; or, not knowing it, stands and waits, content in ignorance as in knowledge, because God wills; neither pressing into the hidden future, nor careless of the knowledge which opens the path of action. It is its noblest exercise to act with uncertainty of the result, when the duty itself is certain, or even when a course seems with strong probability to be duty.”
- “Except for the loving help they gave the distressed, revealing him to their hearts as the Redeemer from evil, I doubt if he would have wrought a single miracle. I do not think he cared much about them. Certainly, as regarded the onlookers, he did not expect much to result from those mighty deeds. A mere marvel is soon forgotten, and long before it is forgotten, many minds have begun to doubt the senses, their own even, which communicated it. Inward sight alone can convince of truth; signs and wonders never.”
Chapter 9. The Eloi
- “It is with the holiest fear that we should approach the terrible fact of the sufferings of our Lord. Let no one think that those were less because he was more. The more delicate the nature, the more alive to all that is lovely and true, lawful and right, the more does it feel the antagonism of pain, the inroad of death upon life; the more dreadful is that breach of the harmony of things whose sound is torture. He felt more than man could feel, because he had a larger feeling. He was even therefore worn out sooner than another man would have been.”
- “Never had it been so with him before. Never before had he been unable to see God beside him. Yet never was God nearer him than now. For never was Jesus more divine. He could not see, could not feel him near; and yet it is ‘My God’ that he cries.”
- “The cry comes not out of happiness, out of peace, out of hope. Not even out of suffering comes that cry. It was a cry in desolation, but it came out of Faith. It is the last voice of Truth, speaking when it can but cry. The divine horror of that moment is unfathomable by human soul. It was blackness of darkness. And yet he would believe. Yet he would hold fast. God was his God yet. ‘My God’– and in the cry came forth the Victory, and all was over soon.”
- “In the sickness of this agony, the Will of Jesus arises perfect at last; and of itself, unsupported now, declares–a naked consciousness of misery hung in the waste darkness of the universe–declares for God, in defiance of pain, of death, of apathy, of self, of negation, of the blackness within and around it; calls aloud upon the vanished God.”
- “We are and remain such creeping Christians, because we look at ourselves and not at Christ; because we gaze at the marks of our own soiled feet, and the trail of our own defiled garments, instead of up at the snows of purity, whither the soul of Christ had climbed.”
- “It is easy in pain, so long as it does not pass certain undefinable bounds, to hope in God for deliverance, or pray for strength to endure. But what is to be done when all feeling is gone? When a man does not know whether he believes or not, whether he loves or not? When art, poetry, religion are nothing to him, so swallowed up is he in pain, or mental depression, or disappointment, or temptation, or he knows not what? It seems to him then that God does not care for him, and certainly he does not care for God. If he is still humble, he thinks that he is so bad that God cannot care for him. And he then believes for the time that God loves us only because and when and while we love him; instead of believing that God loves us always because he is our God, and that we live only by his love. Or he does not believe in a God at all, which is better.”
- “God does not, by the instant gift of his Spirit, make us always feel right, desire good, love purity, aspire after him and his will. Therefore either he will not, or he cannot. If he will not, it must be because it would not be well to do so. If he cannot, then he would not if he could; else a better condition than God’s is conceivable to the mind of God–a condition in which he could save the creatures whom he has made, better than he can save them. The truth is this: He wants to make us in his own image, choosing the good, refusing the evil.”
- “God gives us room to be; does not oppress us with his will; “stands away from us,” that we may act from ourselves, that we may exercise the pure will for good. Do not, therefore, imagine me to mean that we can do anything of ourselves without God. If we choose the right at last, it is all God’s doing, and only the more his that it is ours, only in a far more marvelous way his than if he had kept us filled with all holy impulses precluding the need of choice.”
- “Troubled soul, you are not bound to feel, but you are bound to arise. God loves you whether you feel or not. You cannot love when you will, but you are bound to fight the hatred in you to the last. Try not to feel good when you are not good, but cry to Him who is good. He changes not because you change.”
- “Say to him: ‘My God, I am very dull and low and hard; but you are wise and high and tender, and you are my God. I am your child. Forsake me not.’ Then fold the arms of your faith, and wait in quietness until light goes up in your darkness. Fold the arms of your Faith I say, but not of your Action: think yourself of something that you ought to do, and go and do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the preparing of a meal, or a visit to a friend. Heed not your feelings: Do your work.”
- “As God lives by his own will, and we live in him, so has he given to us power to will in ourselves. How much better should we not fare if, finding that we are standing with our heads bowed away from the good, finding that we have no feeble inclination to seek the source of our life, we should yet will upwards toward God, rousing that essence of life in us, which he has given us from his own heart, to call again upon him who is our Life, who can fill the emptiest heart, rouse the deadest conscience, quicken the dullest feeling, and strengthen the feeblest will!”
Chapter 10. The Hands of the Father.
- “Now should inward sonship and the spirit of glad sacrifice be born in the hearts of men; for the divine obedience was perfected by suffering. He had been among his brethren what he would have his brethren be. He had done for them what he would have them do for God and for each other. God was henceforth inside and beneath them, as well as around and above them, suffering with them and for them, giving them all he had, his very life-being, his essence of existence, what best he loved, what best he was. He had been among them, their God-brother. And the mighty story ends with a cry.”
- “Every highest human act is just a giving back to God of that which he first gave to us.”
- “When we are least worthy, then, most tempted, hardest, unkindest, let us yet commend our spirits into his hands. Where else dare we send them?”
Chapter 11. Love Your Neighbor.
- “I am certain that it is impossible to keep the law towards one’s neighbor except one loves him. The law itself is infinite, reaching to such delicacies of action, that the man who tries most will be the man most aware of defeat. We are not made for law, but for love. Love is law, because it is infinitely more than law. It is of an altogether higher region than law–is, in fact, the creator of law.”
- “Of what use then is the law? To lead us to Christ, the Truth,–to waken in our minds a sense of what our deepest nature, the presence, namely, of God in us, requires of us,–to let us know, in part by failure, that the purest effort of will of which we are capable cannot lift us up even to the abstaining from wrong to our neighbor.”
- “As he cannot keep the law without first rising into the love of his neighbor, so he cannot love his neighbor without first rising higher still. The whole system of the universe works upon this law—the driving of things upward towards the center. The man who will love his neighbor can do so by no immediately operative exercise of the will. It is the man fulfilled of God from whom he came and by whom he is, who alone can as himself love his neighbor who came from God too and is by God too.”
- “The love that enlarges not its borders, that is not ever spreading and including, and deepening, will contract, shrivel, decay, die.”
- “This love of our neighbor is the only door out of the dungeon of self, where we mope and cut down, striking sparks, and rubbing phosphorescence out of the walls, and blowing our own breath in our own nostrils, instead of issuing to the fair sunlight of God, the sweet winds of the universe.”
Chapter 12. Love Your Enemies
- “But how can we love a man or a woman who is cruel and unjust to us? Who sears with contempt, or cuts off with wrong every tendril we would put forth to embrace? Who is mean, unlovely, carping, uncertain, self-righteous, self-seeking, and self-admiring? Who can even sneer, the most inhuman of human faults, far worse in its essence than mere murder?….These things cannot be loved. The best man hates them most; the worst man cannot love them. But are these the man? Does a woman bear that form in virtue of these? Lies there not within the man and the woman a divine element of brotherhood, of sisterhood, a something lovely and lovable,–slowly fading, it may be,–dying away under the fierce heat of vile passions, or the yet more fearful cold of sepulchral selfishness–but there?”
- “We hate the man just because we are prevented from loving him. We push over the verge of the creation–we damn—just because we cannot embrace. For to embrace is the necessity of our deepest being. That foiled, we hate. Instead of admonishing ourselves that there is our enchained brother, that there lies our enchanted, disfigured, scarce recognizable sister, captive of the devil, to break, how much sooner, from their bonds, that we love them!–we recoil into the hate which would fix them there; and the dearly lovable reality of them we sacrifice to the outer falsehood of Satan’s incantations, thus leaving them to perish. No, we do more, we murder them to get rid of them, and that is we hate them.”
- “But many things which we see most vividly and certainly are more truly expressed by using a right figure, than by attempting to give them a clear outline of logical expression. My figure means a truth.”
- “That person, with the evil thing cast out of him, will be yet more the person, for he will be his real self. The thing that now makes you dislike him is separable from him, is therefore not he, makes himself so much less himself, for it is working death in him. Now he is in danger of ceasing to be a person at all. When he is clothed and in his right mind, he will be a person indeed. You could not then go on hating him. Begin to love him now, and help him into the loveliness which is his. Do not hate him although you can. The personality, I say, though clouded, besmeared, defiled with the wrong, lies deeper than the wrong…”
- “Justice to be justice must be much more than justice. Love is the law of our condition, without which we can no more render justice than a man can keep a straight line walking in the dark.”
- “No man who is even indifferent to his brother can recognize the claims which his humanity has upon him. Even the very indifference itself is an injustice.”
- “He [our neighbor] only, in the name and power of God, can kill the bad in him; we can cherish the good in him by being good to it across all the evil fog that comes between our love and his good.”
- “In the faith of this, let us love the enemy now, accepting God’s work in reversion, as it were; let us believe as seeing his yet invisible triumph, clasping and holding fast our brother, in defiance of the changeful wiles of the wicked enchantment which would persuade our eyes and hearts that he is not our brother, but some horrible thing, hateful and hating.”
- “What if we are in the wrong and do the wrong, and hate because we have injured? What then? Why, then, let us cry to God as from the throat of hell; struggle, as under the weight of a spiritual incubus; cry, as knowing the vile disease that cleaves fast unto us; cry, as possessed of an evil spirit; cry, as one buried alive, from the sepulcher of our evil consciousness, that He would take pity upon us the chief of sinners, the most wretched and vile of men, and send some help to lift us from the fearful pit and the miry clay. Nothing will help but the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, the spirit of the Father and the Brother casting out and revealing. It will be with tearing and foaming, with a terrible cry and a lying as one dead, that such a demon will go out. But what a vision will then arise in the depths of the purified soul!”
Chapter 12. The God of the Living.
- “You think about us, eternally more than we think about you.”
- “We need not only a body to convey revelation to us, but a body to reveal us to others. The thoughts, feelings, imaginations which arise in us, must have their garments of revelation whereby will be made manifest the unseen world within us to our brothers and sisters around us; else is each left in human loneliness.”
Unspoken Sermons Series II
Chapter: The Way
- “Many, alas, have looked upon his face, yet have never seen him, and have turned back; some have kept company with him for years, and denied him; but their weakness is not the measure of the patience or the resources of God.”
- “The commandments can never be kept while there is a strife to keep them: the man is overwhelmed in the weight of their broken pieces. It needs a clean heart to have pure hands, all the power of a live soul to keep the law–a power of life, not of struggle; the strength of love, not the effort of duty.”
- “Doubtless such a youth is exceptional among youths; but the number of fools not yet acknowledging the first condition of manhood nowise alters the fact that he who has begun to recognize duty, and acknowledge the facts of his being, is but a tottering child on the path of life.”
- “A time comes to every man when he must obey, or make such refusal–and know it.”
Chapter: The Hardness of the Way.
- “To make a man happy as a lark, might be to do him grievous wrong: to make a man wake, rise, look up, turn, is worth the life and death of the Son of the Eternal.”
- “He is not perfect who, deprived of every thing, would not sit down calmly content, aware of a well-being untouched; for none the less would he be possessor of all things, the child of the Eternal.”
- “I would not be misunderstood: no man can have the consciousness of God with him and not be content; I mean that no man who has not the Father so as to be eternally content in him alone, can possess a sunset or a field of grass or a mine of gold or the love of a fellow-creature according to its nature–as God would have him possess it–in the eternal way of inheriting, having, and holding.”
- “When a man begins to abstain, then first he recognizes the strength of his passion; it may be, when a man has not a thing left, he will begin to know what a necessity he had made of things; and if then he begin to contend with them, to cast out of his soul what Death has torn from his hands, then first will he know the full passion of possession, the slavery of prizing the worthless part of the precious.”
- “When a man begins to abstain, then first he recognizes the strength of his passion; it may be, when a man has not a thing left, he will begin to know what a necessity he had made of things; and if then he begin to contend with them, to cast out of his soul what Death has torn from his hands, then first will he know the full passion of possession, the slavery of prizing the worthless part of the precious.”
- “Never soul was set free without being made to feel its slavery; nothing but itself can enslave a soul, nothing without itself free it.”
Chapter: The Cause of Spiritual Stupidity.
- “They knew the number of the men each time, the number of the loaves each time, the number of the baskets of fragments they had each time taken up, but they forgot the Love that had so broken the bread that its remnants twenty times outweighed its loaves.”
- “The care of the disciples was care for the day, not for tomorrow; the word tomorrow must stand for any and every point of the future. The next hour, the next moment, is as much beyond our grasp and as much in God’s care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is just as foolish as care for tomorrow.”
- “Those claims only of tomorrow which have to be prepared today are of the duty of today; the moment which coincides with work to be done, is the moment to be minded; the next is nowhere till God has made it.”
- “The youth, not trusting in God, the source of his riches, cannot brook the word of his Son, offering him better riches, more direct from the heart of the Father. The disciples, forgetting who is lord of the harvests of the earth, cannot understand his word, because filled with the fear of a day’s hunger. He did not trust in God as having given; they did not trust in God as ready to give. We are like them when, in any trouble, we do not trust him.”
- “Distrust is atheism, and the barrier to all growth.”
- “While we who are evil would die to give our children bread to eat, we are not certain the only Good will give us anything of what we desire!”
- “The care that is filling your mind at this moment, or but waiting till you lay the book aside to leap upon you–that need which is no need, is a demon sucking at the spring of your life.”
- “Everything is an affair of the spirit. If God has a way, then that is the only way. Every little thing in which you would have your own way, has a mission for your redemption; and he will treat you as a naughty child until you take your Father’s way for yours.”
- “Truth is one, and he who does the truth in the small thing is of the truth; he who will do it only in a great thing, who postpones the small thing near him to the great thing farther from him, is not of the truth.”
- “Am I not a fool whenever loss troubles me more than recovery would gladden?”
- “I forget that it is live things God cares about–live truths, not things set down in a book, or in a memory, or embalmed in the joy of knowledge, but things lifting up the heart, things active in an active will.”
Chapter: The Word of Jesus on Prayer.
- “…it is better to disbelieve than believe in a God unworthy.”
- “What if he knows prayer to be the thing we need first and most? What if the main object in God’s idea of prayer be the supplying of our great, our endless need–the need of himself? What if the good of all our smaller and lower needs lies in this, that they help to drive us to God?”
- “No gift unrecognized as coming from God is at its own best; therefore many things that God would gladly give us, things even that we need because we are, must wait until we ask for them, that we may know whence they come: when in all gifts we find him, then in him we shall find all things.”
Chapter: Man’s Difficulty Concerning Prayer
- “If but for himself, God might well desire no change, but he is God for the sake of his growing creatures; all his making and doing is for them, and change is the necessity of their very existence.”
- “You see, in praying for another we pray for ourselves–for the relief of the needs of our love; it is not prayer for another alone”
Chapter: The Last Farthing
- “The greatest obscuration of the words of the Lord, as of all true teachers, comes from those who give themselves to interpret rather than do them.”
- “A love unpaid you, a justice undone you, a praise withheld from you, a judgment passed on you without judgment, will not absolve you of the debt of a love unpaid, a justice not done, a praise withheld, a false judgment passed: these uttermost farthings–not to speak of such debts as the world itself counts grievous wrongs–you must pay him, whether he pay you or not.”
- “What Jesus did, was what the Father is always doing; the suffering he endured was that of the Father from the foundation of the world, reaching its climax in the person of his Son.”
Chapter: The Voice of Job
- “Had Job been Calvinist or Lutheran, the book of Job would have been very different. His perplexity would then have been–how God being just, could require of a man more than he could do, and punish him as if his sin were that of a perfect being who chose to do the evil of which he knew all the enormity. For me, I will call no one Master but Christ–and from him I learn that his quarrel with us is that we will not do what we know, will not come to him that we may have life. How endlessly more powerful with men would be expostulation grounded, not on what they have done, but on what they will not do!”
- “Such words are pleasing in the ear of the father of spirits. He is not a God to accept the flattery which declares him above obligation to his creatures; a God to demand of them a righteousness different from his own; a God to deal ungenerously with his poverty-stricken children; a God to make severest demands upon his little ones!”
- “He uses language which, used by any living man, would horrify the religious of the present day, in proportion to the lack of truth in them, just as it horrified his three friends, the honest Pharisees of the time, whose religion was ‘doctrine and rebuke.'”
- “We run within the circle of what men call your wrath, and find ourselves clasped in the zone of your love!”
- “…more not God could do to fulfill his part–save indeed what he is doing still every hour, every moment, for every individual.”
- “The answer, like some of our Lord’s answers if not all of them, seems addressed to Job himself, not to his intellect; to the revealing, God-like imagination in the man, and to no logical faculty whatever.”
- “That God knows is enough for me; I will know, if I can know.”
- “To deny the existence of God may, paradoxical as the statement will at first seem to some, involve less unbelief than the smallest yielding to doubt of his goodness.”
- “Doubts are the messengers of the Living One to rouse the honest. They are the first knock at our door of things that are not yet, but have to be, understood…”
- “To know that our faith is weak is the first step towards its strengthening; to be capable of distrusting is death; to know that we are, and cry out, is to begin to live–to begin to be made such that we cannot distrust–such that God may do anything with us and we shall never doubt him.”
- “The diseased satisfaction which some minds feel in laying burdens on themselves, is a pampering, little as they may suspect it, of the most dangerous appetite of that self which they think they are mortifying. “
- “Not merely will we not love money, or trust in it, or seek it as the business of life, but, whether we have it or have it not, we must never think of it as a windfall from the tree of event or the cloud of circumstance, but as the gift of God.”
- “When young we must not mind what the world calls failure; as we grow old, we must not be vexed that we cannot remember, must not regret that we cannot do, must not be miserable because we grow weak or ill: we must not mind anything. We have to do with God who can, not with ourselves where we cannot; we have to do with the Will, with the Eternal Life of the Father of our spirits, and not with the being which we could not make, and which is his care.”
- “But we must note that, although the idea of the denial of self is an entire and absolute one, yet the thing has to be done daily: we must keep on denying.”
Chapter: The Truth in Jesus
- “…for to hold a thing with the intellect, is not to believe it.”
- “The whole secret of progress is the doing of the thing we know. There is no other way of progress in the spiritual life; no other way of progress in the understanding of that life: only as we do, can we know.”
- “If you who set yourselves to explain the theory of Christianity, had set yourselves instead to do the will of the Master, the one object for which the Gospel was preached to you, how different would now be the condition of that portion of the world with which you come into contact!”
- “The Lord did not die to provide a man with the wretched heaven he may invent for himself, or accept invented for him by others; he died to give him life, and bring him to the heaven of the Father’s peace; the children must share in the essential bliss of the Father and the Son. “
Unspoken Sermons Series III
Chapter: The Creation in Christ
- “If God would not punish sin, or if he did it for anything but love, he would not be the father of Jesus Christ, the God who works as Jesus wrought. “
- “Let us not forget that the devotion of the Son could never have been but for the devotion of the Father, who never seeks his own glory one atom more than does the Son; who is devoted to the Son, and to all his sons and daughters, with a devotion perfect and eternal, with fathomless unselfishness.”
- “But light is not enough; light is for the sake of life. We too must have life in ourselves. We too must, like the Life himself, live. We can live in no way but that in which Jesus lived, in which life was made in him. That way is, to give up our life. This is the one supreme action of life possible to us for the making of life in ourselves. Christ did it of himself, and so became light to us, that we might be able to do it in ourselves, after him, and through his originating act.”
Chapter: The Truth
- “To be right with God is to be right with the universe; one with the power, the love, the will of the mighty Father, the cherisher of joy, the lord of laughter, whose are all glories, all hopes, who loves everything, and hates nothing but selfishness, which he will not have in his kingdom.”
- “Whoever will not do what God desires of him, is a slave whom God can compel to do it, however he may bear with him. He who, knowing this, or fearing punishment, obeys God, is still a slave, but a slave who comes within hearing of the voice of his master. There are, however, far higher than he, who yet are but slaves. Those to whom God is not all in all, are slaves. They may not commit great sins; they may be trying to do right; but so long as they serve God, as they call it, from duty, and do not know him as their father, the joy of their being, they are slaves–good slaves, but slaves.”
- “Where then are the sons? I know none, I answer, who are yet utterly and entirely sons or daughters. There may be such–God knows; I have not known them; or, knowing them, have not been myself such as to be able to recognize them.”
- “The slaves of sin rarely grumble at that slavery; it is their slavery to God they grumble at; of that alone they complain–of the painful messengers he sends to deliver them from their slavery both to sin and to himself.”
- “Could a creator make a creature whose well-being should not depend on himself? And if he could, would the creature be the greater for that? Which, the creature he made more, or the creature he made less dependent on himself, would be the greater?”
- “They desire to be free with another kind of freedom than that with which God is free; unknowing, they seek a more complete slavery.”
- “There is, in truth, no middle way between absolute harmony with the Father and the condition of slaves–submissive, or rebellious. If the latter, their very rebellion is by the strength of the Father in them. Of divine essence, they thrust their existence in the face of their essence, their own nature.”
- “Yet is their very rebellion in some sense but the rising in them of his spirit against their false notion of him–against the lies they hold concerning him.”
- “The liberty of the God that would have his creature free, is in contest with the slavery of the creature who would cut his own stem from his root that he might call it his own and love it; who rejoices in his own consciousness, instead of the life of that consciousness; who poises himself on the tottering wall of his own being, instead of the rock on which that being is built. “
- “If you say this is irreverent, I doubt if you have seen the God manifest in Jesus. But all will be well, for the little god of your poor content will starve your soul to misery, and the terror of the eternal death creeping upon you, will compel you to seek a perfect father.”
- “Christ died to save us, not from suffering, but from ourselves; not from injustice, far less from justice, but from being unjust. He died that we might live–but live as he lives, by dying as he died who died to himself that he might live unto God. If we do not die to ourselves, we cannot live to God, and he that does not live to God, is dead.”
- “What was perfect empire to the Son of God, while he might teach one human being to love his neighbor, and be good like his father!”
- “The Lord would rather wash the feet of his weary brothers, than be the one only perfect monarch that ever ruled in the world. It was empire he rejected when he ordered Satan behind him like a dog to his heel.”
- “The true king is the man who stands up a true man and speaks the truth, and will die but not lie. The robes of such a king may be rags or purple; it matters neither way. The rags are the more likely, but neither better nor worse than the robes.”
- “While his child could not see the rectitude of a thing, he would infinitely rather, even if the thing were right, have him say, God could not do that thing, than have him believe that he did it.”
- “I acknowledge no authority calling upon me to believe a thing of God, which I could not be a man and believe right in my fellow-man. I will accept no explanation of any way of God which explanation involves what I should scorn as false and unfair in a man.”
- “If it be said by any that God does a thing, and the thing seems to me unjust, then either I do not know what the thing is, or God does not do it.”
- “God may do what seems to a man not right, but it must so seem to him because God works on higher, on divine, on perfect principles, too right for a selfish, unfair, or unloving man to understand. But least of all must we accept some low notion of justice in a man, and argue that God is just in doing after that notion.”
- “Primarily, God is not bound to punish sin; he is bound to destroy sin.”
- “God does destroy sin; he is always destroying sin. In him I trust that he is destroying sin in me. He is always saving the sinner from his sins, and that is destroying sin. But vengeance on the sinner, the law of a tooth for a tooth, is not in the heart of God, neither in his hand.”
- “Not for its own sake, not as a make-up for sin, not for divine revenge–horrible word, not for any satisfaction to justice, can punishment exist. Punishment is for the sake of amendment and atonement.”
- “A man might flatter, or bribe, or coax a tyrant; but there is no refuge from the love of God; that love will, for very love, insist upon the uttermost farthing.”
- “The notion that the salvation of Jesus is a salvation from the consequences of our sins, is a false, mean, low notion. The salvation of Christ is salvation from the smallest tendency or leaning to sin.”
- “No soul is saved that would not prefer hell to sin. Jesus did not die to save us from punishment; he was called Jesus because he should save his people from their sins.”
- “A man who has not the mind of Christ–and no man has the mind of Christ except him who makes it his business to obey him–cannot have correct opinions concerning him; neither, if he could, would they be of any value to him: he would be nothing the better, he would be the worse for having them.”
- “I love the light, and will not believe at the word of any man, or upon the conviction of any man, that that which seems to me darkness is in God. Where would the good news be if John said, ‘God is light, but you cannot see his light; you cannot tell, you have no notion, what light is; what God means by light, is not what you mean by light; what God calls light may be horrible darkness to you, for you are of another nature from him!'”
- “Jesus is our savior because God is our savior. He is the God of comfort and consolation. He will soothe and satisfy his children better than any mother her infant. The only thing he will not give them is–leave to stay in the dark. If a child cry, ‘I want the darkness,’ and complain that he will not give it, yet he will not give it. He gives what his child needs–often by refusing what he asks.”
- “There is no part of our nature that will not be satisfied–and that not by lessening it, but by enlarging it to embrace an ever-enlarging enough.”
- “Neither let your cowardly conscience receive any word as light because another calls it light, while it looks to you dark. Say either the thing is not what it seems, or God never said or did it.”
- “Do not try to believe anything that affects you as darkness. Even if you mistake and refuse something true thereby, you will do less wrong to Christ by such a refusal than you would by accepting as his what you can see only as darkness.”
- “There are three conceivable kinds of punishment–first, that of mere retribution, which I take to be entirely and only human–therefore, indeed, more properly inhuman, for that which is not divine is not essential to humanity, and is of evil, and an intrusion upon the human; second, that which works repentance; and third, that which refines and purifies, working for holiness.”
- “There is the degraded human anger, and the grand, noble, eternal anger. Our anger is in general degrading, because it is in general impure.”
- “There is no quenching of his love in the anger of Jesus.”
- “The man with God’s righteousness does not love a thing merely because it is right, but loves the very rightness in it. He not only loves a thought, but he loves the man in his thinking that thought; he loves the thought alive in the man.”
- “Never wait for fitter time or place to talk to him. To wait till you go to church, or to your closet, is to make him wait. He will listen as you walk in the lane or the crowded street, on the common or in the place of shining concourse.”
Chapter: The Final Unmasking
- “He gave man the power to thwart his will, that, by means of that same power, he might come at last to do his will in a higher kind and way than would otherwise have been possible to him.”
- “God sacrifices his will to man that man may become such as himself, and give all to the truth; he makes man able to do wrong, that he may choose and love righteousness.”
- “What is hypocrisy? The desire to look better than you are; the hiding of things you do, because you would not be supposed to do them, because you would be ashamed to have them known where you are known.”
- “The man who does not live in his own consciousness as in the open heavens, is a hypocrite–and for most of us the question is, are we growing less or more of such hypocrites?”
- “The judgments also of imagined superiority are hard to bear. The rich man who will screw his workmen to the lowest penny, will read his poor relation a solemn lecture on extravagance, because of some humblest little act of generosity! He takes the end of the beam sticking out of his eye to pick the sliver from the eye of his brother!”
- “The glory of the true world is, that there is nothing in it that needs to be covered, while ever and ever there will be things uncovered. Every man’s light will shine for the good and glory of his neighbor.”
- “God will be fair to you–so fair!–fair with the fairness of a father loving his own–who will have you clean, who will neither spare you any needful shame, nor leave you exposed to any that is not needful.”
- “…to many of the religious rich in that day, the great damning revelation will be their behavior to the poor to whom they thought themselves very kind. “
- “Many a man might read this and assent to it, who cages in his own bosom a carrion bird that he never knows for what it is, because there are points of difference in its plumage from that of the bird he calls by an ugly name.”
- “Except I love my neighbor as myself, I may one day betray him!”
- “What if the only thing to wake the treacherous, money-loving thief, Judas, to a knowledge of himself, was to let the thing go on to the end, and his kiss betray the Master? Judas did not hate the Master when he kissed him, but not being a true man, his very love betrayed him.”
- “For the infinitude of God can only begin and only go on to be revealed, through his infinitely differing creatures–all capable of wondering at, admiring, and loving each other, and so bound all in one in him, each to the others revealing him.”
- “Perhaps the precious things of the earth, the coal and the diamonds, the iron and clay and gold, may be said to have come from his hands; but the live things come from his heart…”
- “The ways of God go down into microscopic depths, as well as up into telescopic heights–and with more marvel, for there lie the beginnings of life: the immensities of stars and worlds all exist for the sake of less things than they.”
- “I say, then, that every one of us is something that the other is not, and therefore knows something–it may be without knowing that he knows it–which no one else knows; and that it is every one’s business, as one of the kingdom of light, and inheritor in it all, to give his portion to the rest…”
- “Children fear heaven, because of the dismal notions the unchildlike give them of it, who, without imagination, receive unquestioning what others, as void of imagination as themselves, represent concerning it.”
- “Well do I remember the pain of the prospect–no, the trouble at not being pleased with the prospect–of being made a pillar in the house of God, and going no more out!”
Unspoken Sermons Series I
- 2nd Edition: Adds 60 Scripture references, moves 2 portions of peripheral content into footnotes, adds 2 references to author’s referenced in the work, began adding DM before footnotes to separate out MacDonald’s notes from my own, added 16 explanatory footnotes, corrected issues with Higher Faith chapter’s formatting.
- 3rd Edition: I did not keep as close a record of changes – but made some grammar/formatting/spelling corrections and added 33 additional footnotes – Scripture references, explanatory notes, and so on.