275) Proverbs of William Penn

William Penn (1644-1718) was a leading figure of the English Quakers and founder of the American colony of Pennsylvania.  He was a tireless writer who expounded his theories on religious tolerance and the Quaker ideals in books, essays, and pamphlets written throughout the course of his life.  Involved in the politics of England and the colonies, Penn traveled back and forth between both places, often embroiled in the controversies of the day.

The wisdom of nations lies in their proverbs, which are brief and pithy.  Collect and learn them– they are notable measures of directions for human life; you have much in little; they save time in speaking; and upon occasion may be the fullest and safest answer.

Sense shines with a double luster when it is set in humility.  An able, yet humble, man is a jewel worth a kingdom.

Rarely promise, but, constantly perform.

Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.

The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves. 

Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them; and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too.  Governments depend upon men, rather than men upon governments.  Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad; if it be ill, they will cure it.  But, if men be bad, let the government be ever so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn.

They have a right to censure that have a heart to help.

We are very apt to be full of ourselves, instead of Him that made what we so much value; yet but for Him, we have no reason to value ourselves.  For we have nothing that we can call our own, not even ourselves; for we are all but tenants and at His will, of ourselves, and of this world that we live upon.

There is nothing of which we are apt to be so lavish as of time, and about which we ought to be more solicitous, since without it we can do nothing in this world.  Time is what we want most, but what, alas! we use worst.

If we would amend the world we should mend ourselves; and teach our children to be, not what we are, but what they should be.

Believe nothing against another but on good authority; and never report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to some other to conceal it.

If a civil word or two will render a man happy, he must be a wretch indeed who will not give them to him.  Such a disposition is like lighting another man’s candle by one’s own, which loses none of its brilliancy by what the other gains.

The true end of life is to know the life that never ends.


Job 22:17-18a  —  They said to God, ‘Leave us alone!  What can the Almighty do to us?’  Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things…

Psalm 66:20  —  Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

Romans 14:7-9  —  For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.  If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.  So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.  For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 


We thank you, Lord, for all the friendliness and kindness of others, by which the path of life has been made easier for us; for the love of our nearest and dearest, which makes music in our souls, even in hours of sadness.  And we thank you, Lord, that even our difficulties, trials, and failures are used by your Spirit as warnings of love, needful for our soul’s health.  May all our thankfulness to you lead us to strive daily to be more worthy of your good Spirit, and of your gift, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  –author unknown