Request a Resource
From www.taylor.edu - Taylor University, integrating faith and learning

George MacDonald - Quotations

The source of each citation is indicated by a letter-number code following each excerpt. The letter represents the corresponding book from the key below. The number is the book's page number.

Christianity

  1. "What is Christianity, then?"
    "God in Christ, and Christ in man." (TW, 78)
  2. Jesus Christ is the only likeness of the living Father. (SIII, 44)
  3. Jesus alone knows the Father and can reveal Him. (SG, 153)
  4. The one use of the Bible is to make us look at Jesus, that through Him we might know His Father and our Father, His God and our God. Till we thus know Him, let us hold the Bible dear as the moon of our darkness, by which we travel towards the east; not dear as the sun whence her light cometh, and towards which we haste, that, walking in the sum Himself, we may no more need the mirror that reflects His absent brightness. (SI, 55)
  5. I believe that there is nothing good for me or for any man but God, and more and more of God, and that alone through knowing Christ can we come nigh to Him. (SIII, 154)
  6. I believe in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, my elder brother, my Lord and Master; I believe that He has a right to my absolute obedience whereinsoever I know or shall come to know His will; that to obey Him is to ascent the pinnacle of my being; that not to obey Him would be to deny Him. (SIII, 153)
  7. I believe that He died that I might die like Him - die to any ruling power in me but the will of God - live ready to be nailed to the cross as He was, if God will it. (SIII, 153)
  8. I believe that He is my Saviour from myself, and from all that has come of loving myself, from all that God does not love, and would not have me love - all that is not worth loving; that He died that the justice, the mercy of God, might have its way with me, making me just as God is just, merciful as He is merciful, perfect as my Father in Heaven is perfect. (SIII, 153)
  9. I believe and pray that He will give me what punishment I need to set me right, or keep me from going wrong. I believe that He died to deliver me from all meanness, all pretence, all falseness, all unfairness, all poverty of spirit, all cowardice, all fear, all anxiety, all forms of self-love, all trust or hope in possession; to make me merry as a child, the child of our Father in heaven, loving nothing but what is lovely, desiring nothing I should be ashamed to let the universe of God see me desire. (SIII, 153-54)
  10. The light of our life, our sole, eternal, and infinite joy is simply God - God - God - nothing but God, and all His creatures in Him. (SIII, 221)

Nature

  1. To the man of God, all nature will be but changeful reflections of the face of God. (DO, 256)
  2. Whether indeed the heavenly bodies teach [us the nature of God], or whether we should read divinity worthy of the name in them at all, without the human revelation which healed men, I doubt much. That divinity is there - Yes: that we could read it there without having seen the face of the Son of Man first, I think - No. . . . power and order, although of God, and preparing the way for Him, are not His revealers unto men. No doubt King David compares the perfection of God's law to the glory of the heavens, but he did not learn that perfection from the heavens, but from the law itself, revealed in his own heart through the life-teaching of God. When he had learned it he saw that the heavens were like it. (EA, 279)

Salvation

  1. The reality of Christ's nature is not to be proved. He must be beheld. (DO, 206)
  2. . . . to hold a thing with the intellect, is not to believe it. A man's real belief is that which he lives by . . .  (SII, 239)
  3. (Some good advice is given to Thomas.)
    Take then your New Testament as if you had never seen it before, and read - to find out. if in Him [Jesus] you fail to meet God, then you go to your consciousness of the race, your metaphysics, your Plato, your Spinoza. Till then this point remains: there was a Man who said He knew Him, and that if you would give heed to Him you too should know Him. The record left of Him is indeed scanty, yet enough to disclose what manner of Man He was - His principles, His way of looking at things, His thoughts of His Father and His brethren and the relations between them, of man's business in life, his destiny, and his hopes. (TW, 90)
  4. Until we love the Lord so as to do what He tells us, we have no right to have an opinion about what one of those men [writers of the N.T. epistles] meant, for all they wrote about is about things beyond us. The simplest woman who tries not to judge her neighbor or not to be anxious for the morrow, will better know what is best to know than the best-read bishop without that one simple outgoing of his highest nature in the effort to do the will of Him who thus spoke. (AN, 128)
  5. "A thousand foolish doctrines may be unquestioned in the mind and never interfere with the growth or bliss of him who lives in active subordination of his life to the law of life: obedience will in time exorcise them, like many another worse devil." (MM, 24)
  6. "The only way to learn the rules of anything practical is to begin to do the thing. We have enough knowledge in us . . . to begin anything requested of us. The sole way to deal with the profoundest mystery . . . is to begin to do some duty revealed by (it). . . .
        "Yes, Yes! But how is one to know what is true my dear? There are so many differing claims to the quality!"
         "I have been told and believe it with all my heart," replied Hester, "that the only way to know what is true is to do what is true."
        "But you must know what is true before you can begin to do what is true."
        "Everybody knows something that is true to do - that is, something he ought to lose no time in setting about. The true thing is the thing that must not be let alone but done. It is much easier to know what is true to do than what is true to think. But those who do the one will come to know the other - and none else, I believe." (WW, 129, 373)
  7. (While meditating on God's Word, a minister wonders how he can understand some of its difficult sayings.)
        With this, yet another saying dawned upon him: If any man will do His Will, He shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
        He went into his closet and shut to the door: came out again, and went straight to visit a certain grievous old woman. (TW, 149-50)
  8. Whosoever . . . will do the will of God - not understand it, not care about it, not theorize it, but do it - is a son of God. (GW, 126-27)
  9. Oh the folly of any mind that would explain God before obeying Him! that would map out the character of God, instead of crying, Lord what wouldst Thou have me do? (SIII, 115)
  10. Our business is not to think correctly, but live truly; then first will there be a possibility of our thinking correctly. One chief cause of the amount of unbelief in the world is, that those who have seen something of the glory of Christ, set themselves to theorize concerning Him rather than to obey Him. (SIII, 135)
  11.  . . . our business is not to speculate what we would do in other circumstances, but to perform the duty of the moment, the one true preparation for the duty to come. (EA, 227)
  12. I believe that to him who obeys, and thus opens the doors of his heart to receive the eternal gift, God gives the Spirit of His Son, the Spirit of Himself, to be in him, and lead him to the understanding of all truth; that the true disciple shall thus always know what he ought to do, though not necessarily what another ought to do; that the Spirit of the Father and the Son enlightens by teaching righteousness. (SIII, 155)

Rich and Poor

  1. It is imperative on us to get rid of the tyranny of things. (SII, 37)
  2. Why should the rich fare differently from other people in respect of the world to come? They do not perceive that the law is they shall fare like other people, whereas they want to fare as rich people. (SII, 22)
  3. But with God all things are possible; He can save even the rich! (L, 207)
  4. He . . . has always been rich, and accustomed to have his own way! I begin to think one punishment of making money in a wrong manner is to be prosperous in it! (WM, 339)
  5. It takes a good many disgraceful things to bring a rich man to outward disgrace. (WM, 179)
  6. It must be one of the punishments of riches that they make the sight of poverty so disagreeable! To luxury, poverty is a living reproach. (WM, 353)
  7. But it is not the rich man only who is under the dominion of things; they too are slaves who, having no money, are unhappy from the lack of it . . . (SII, 39)
  8. . . . the rich man who held his things lightly, nor let them nestle in his heart; who was a channel and no cistern; who was ever and always forsaking his money - starts, in the new world, side by side with the man who accepted, not hated, his poverty. Each will say, "I am free!" (SII, 52)
  9. But if thou art poor, then look not on thy purse when it is empty. He who desires more than God wills him to have, is also a servant of mammon, for he trusts in what God has made, and not in God Himself. He who laments what God has taken from him, he is a servant of mammon. He who for care can not pray, is a servant of mammon. (PF, 34)
  10. We are rich or poor according to what we are, not what we have. (DE, 199)

Self

  1. 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. (SII, 222)
  2. Dignity is such a delicate thing! (SI, 16)
  3. When self is first it simply makes devils of us. (DG, 668)
  4. I think humiliation is a very different condition of mind from humility. Humiliation no man can desire: it is shame and torture. Humility is the true right condition of humanity - peaceful, divine. And yet a man may gladly welcome humiliation when it comes, if he finds that with a fierce shock and rude revulsion it has turned him right round, with his face away from pride, whither he was traveling and towards humility, however far away upon the horizon's verge she may sit waiting for him. (AN, 273-74)
  5. But indeed the business of the universe is to make such a fool of you that you will know yourself for one, and so begin to be wise! (L, 26)
  6. For to be ashamed is a holy and blessed thing. Shame is a thing to shame only those who want to appear, not those who want to be ... For to be humbly ashamed is to be plunged in the cleansing bath of the truth. (SIII, 238)
  7. His pride was as strong as ever, and both helped him get over his suffering, and prevented him from getting the good of it. (MM, 392)
  8. The man who was lord of fate,
    Born in an ox's stall,
    Was great because He was much too great
    To care about greatness at all.

    Ever and only He sought
    The will of His Father good;
    Never of what was high He thought,
    But of what His Father would.

    You long to be great; you try;
    You feel yourself smaller still:
    In the name of God let ambition die;
    Let Him make you what He will.

    Who does the truth, is one
    With the living Truth above;
    Be God's obedient little son,
    Let ambition die in love.
    (PII, 178)

Love

  1. "He never said, 'You must all think the same way!' But He did say 'You must all love one another, and not fight!'" (SF, 5)
  2. Surely then inasmuch as man is made in the image of God, nothing less than a love in the image of God's love, all-embracing, quietly excusing, heartily commending, can constitute the blessedness of man; a love not insensible to that which is foreign to it, but overcoming it with good.  (DO, 213-214)
    The good for which we are born into this world is, that we may learn to love ... There are people - oh, such silly people they are! - though they may sometimes be pleasing - who are always wanting people to love them. They think so much of themselves, that they want to think more; and to know that people love them makes them able to think more of themselves. They even think themselves loving because they are fond of being loved
    Such lovers are only selfish in a deeper way, and are more to blame than other selfish people; for, loving to be loved, they ought the better to know what an evil thing it is not to love; what a mean thing to accept what they are not willing to give. Even to love only those that love us, is, as the Lord has taught us, but a pinched and sneaking way of loving. (RS, 71-72)
  3. Mr. Fuller was a middle-aged man, who all his conscious years had been trying to get nearer to his brethren, moved thereto by the love he bore to the Father. The more anxious he was to come near to God, the more he felt that the high-road to God lay through the forest of humanity. And he had learned that love is not a feeling to be called up at will in the heart, but the reward as the result of an active exercise of the privileges of a neighbor. (GC, 174)
  4. Is it then reasonable to love our enemies? God does; therefore it must be the highest reason. But is it reasonable to expect that man should become capable of doing so? Yes; on one ground: that the divine energy is at work in man, to render at length man's doing divine as his nature is. For this our Lord prayed when He said: "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us." Nothing could be less likely to human judgment: our Lord knows that one day it will come. (SI, 218-19)
  5. There are tender-hearted people who virtually object to the whole scheme of creation; they would neither have force used nor pain suffered; they talk as if kindness could do everything, even where it is not felt. Millions of human beings but for suffering would never develop an atom of affection. The man who would spare due suffering is not wise. It is folly to conclude a thing ought not to be done because it hurts. There are powers to be born, creations to be perfected, sinners to be redeemed, through the ministry of pain, that could be born, perfected, redeemed, in no other way. (WM, 71-72)
  6. Everything painful was to her cruel, and softness and indulgence, moral honey and sugar and nuts to all alike, was the panacea for human ills. She could not understand that infliction might be loving kindness ... She would have taken the whole world to her infinite heart, and in unwisdom coddled it into corruption. Praised be the grandeur of the God who can endure to make and see His children suffer. Thanks be to Him for His north winds and His poverty, and His bitterness that falls upon the spirit that errs: let those who know Him, thus praise the Lord for His goodness. (ML, 158-59)
  7. LOVE IS STRENGTH
    Love alone is great in might,
    Makes the heavy burden light,
    Smooths rough ways to weary feet,
    Makes the bitter morsel sweet:
    Love alone is strength!

    Might that is not born of Love
    Is not Might born from above,
    Has its birthplace down below
    Where they neither reap nor sow;
    Love along is strength!

    Love is stronger than all force,
    Is its own eternal source;
    Might is always in decay,
    Love grows fresher every day:
    Love alone is strength!

    Little ones, no ill can chance;
    Fear ye not, but sing and dance;
    Though the high-heaved heaven should fall
    God is plenty for us all:
    God is Love and Strength!
    (PII, 130-31)

God's Love

  1. Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love's kind, must be destroyed.
        And our God is a consuming fire. (SI, 28)
  2. James Blatherwick was of such whose sluggish natures require, for the melting of their stubbornness, and their remoulding into forms of strength and beauty, such a concentration of the love of God that it becomes a consuming fire. (SF, 226)
  3. . . . how God did it, or whereby He made the soul of James Blatherwick different from what it had been - but at last it grew capable of loving, and did love: first, he yielded to love because he could not help it; then he willed to love because he could love; then, become conscious of the power, he loved the more, and so went on to love more and more. And thus did James become what he had to become - or perish.  (SF, 252-53)
  4. Sometimes a thunderbolt, as men call it, will shoot from a clear sky; and sometimes, into the midst of a peaceful family, or a yet quieter individuality, without warning of gathered storm above or slightest tremble of earthquake beneath, will fall a terrible fact, and from the moment everything is changed. That family or that life is no more what it was - probably never more can be what it was. Better it ought to be, worse it may be - which, depends upon itself. But its spiritual weather is altered. The air is thick with cloud, and cannot weep itself clear. There may come a gorgeous sunset, though. (TW, 99)
  5. Oh the summer days, with the hot sun drawing the odors from the feathery larches and the white-stemmed birches, when, getting out of water, I would lie in the warm, soft grass, where now and then the tenderest little breeze would creep over my skin, until, the sun baking me more than was pleasant, I would rouse myself with an effort, and running down to the fringe of rushes that bordered the full-brimmed river, plunge again headlong into the quiet brown water and dabble and swim till I was once more weary. For innocent animal delights I know of nothing to match those days - so warm, yet so pure-aired - so clean, so glad. I often think how God must love His little children to have invented for them such delights! For of course, if He did not love the children and delight in their pleasure He would not have invented the two and brought them together. Yes, my child, I know what you would say: "How many there are who have no such pleasures!" I grant it sorrowfully, but you must remember that God was not done with them yet; and besides, that there are more pleasures in the world than you or I know anything about. And if we had it all pleasure, I know I should not care so much about what is better, and I would rather be good than have any other pleasure in the world, and so would you, though perhaps you do not know it yet. (RB, 113-14)
  6. Sorrows are sickly things and die, while the joys are strong divine children and shall live forever. (MM, 454)

Laughter

  1. I wonder how many Christians there are who so thoroughly believe God made them that they can laugh in God's name; who understand that God invented laughter and gave it to His children... The Lord of gladness delights in the laughter of a merry heart. (MOL, 23)
  2. The man had a redeeming sense of humor, though he did not know how to prize it, not believing it a gift of God. (SG, 15)
  3. It is the heart that is not yet sure of its God that is afraid to laugh in His presence. (SG, 152)

Sources

This collection has been compiled from the following editions of George MacDonald's works:

  • AB: At the Back of the North Wind, Akron, Ohio: Saalfield Publishing Co., 1927.
  • AF: Alec Forbes of Howglen, London: Hurst and Blackett, Publishers, n.d.
  • AN: Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood, Philadelphia: David McKay, Publisher, n.d.
  • DE: David Elginbrod, Boston: Loring, Publisher, n.d.
  • DG: Donal Grant, Boston: Lothrop Publishing Co., 1883.
  • DO: Dish of Orts, London: Edwin Dalton, 1908.
  • DS: Diary of an Old Soul, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1975.
  • E: The Elect Lady, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., Ltd., n.d.
  • EA: England's Antiphon, New York: MacMillan and Co., 1890.
  • FS: The Flight of the Shadow, San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1983.
  • GC: Guild Court, Philadelphia: David McKay, Publisher, n.d.
  • GK: The Golden Key and Other Stories, Elgin, Illinois: Scripture Union, 1979.
  • GP: Gutta Percha Willie: the Working Genius, London: Blackie and Son Limited, n.d.
  • GW: God's Word to His Children, New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1887.
  • HA: Home Again, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., Ltd., 1900.
  • HG: Hope of the Gospel, London: Ward, Lock, Bowden and Co., 1892.
  • HS: Heather and Snow, London: Chatto and Windus, 1915.
  • L: Lilith, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1981.
  • M: Malcolm, Philadelphia: David McKay, Publisher, n.d.
  • ML: The Marquis of Lossie, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., Ltd., n.d.
  • MM: Mary Marston, New York: George Routledge and Sons, Limited, n.d.
  • MOL: The Miracles of Our Lord, London: Strahan and Co., Publishers, 1870.
  • P: The Portent, San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1979.
  • PI: Poetical Works, Volume I, London: Chatto and Windus, 1911.
  • PII: Poetical Works, Volume II, London: Chatto and Windus, 1911.
  • PC: The Princess and Curdie, Elgin, Illinois: Scripture Union, 1979.
  • PF: Paul Faber, Surgeon, Philadelphia: David McKay, Publisher, n.d.
  • PG: The Princess and the Goblin, Elgin, Illinois: Scripture Union, 1979.
  • PH: Phantastes, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1981.
  • RB: Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood, Philadelphia: J.B. Lippencott Company, 1890.
  • RF: Robert Falconer, New York: George Routledge and Sons, Limited, n.d.
  • RS: A Rough Shaking, London: Blackie and Son, Limited, 1890.
  • SI: Unspoken Sermons (Series One), London: Alexander Strahan, 1867.
  • SII: Unspoken Sermons (Series Two), London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1895.
  • SIII: Unspoken Sermons (Series Three), London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1891.
  • SF: Salted with Fire, London: Hurst and Blackett, Limited, n.d.
  • SG: Sir Gibbie, London: J.M. Dent and Sons, Limited, 1911.
  • SGM: Saint George and Saint Michael, Philadelphia: David McKay, Publisher, n.d.
  • SP: The Seaboard Parish, Philadelphia: David McKay, Publisher, n.d.
  • TB: There and Back, Boston: D. Lothrop Co., 1891.
  • TW: Thomas Wingfold, Curate, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., Ltd. 1906.
  • V: The Vicar's Daughter, London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, 1881.
  • WC: Wilfred Cumbermede, Chicago: Belford, Clarke and Co., 1881.
  • WM: What's Mine's Mine, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., Ltd., 1900.
  • WW: Weighed and Wanting, Boston: D. Lothrop Co., 1893.