826) Wisdom from Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Samuel Johnson was a British author, linguist, and lexicographer.  He produced the first major dictionary of the English language.  He is regarded by many as the greatest man of letters in English history.

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A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he know the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.

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Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.

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The fountain of contentment must spring up in the mind, and he who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he proposes to remove.

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God Himself does not propose to judge a man until his life is over.  Why should you and I?

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He who praises everybody praises nobody.

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The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

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It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than to never trust.

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You raise your voice when you should reinforce your argument.

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He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything.

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That we must all die, we always knew; I wish I had remembered it sooner.

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Boswell:  “There are, I am afraid, many people who have no religion at all.”

Seward:  “And sensible people, too.”

Johnson:  “Why, Sir, not sensible in that respect.  There must be either a natural or moral stupidity, if one lives in a total neglect of so very important a concern.”

Life of Johnson by James Boswell

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The great task of him who conducts his life by the precepts of religion is to make the future predominate over the present.

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We shall all by degrees certainly be old; and therefore we ought to inquire what provision can be made against that time of distress? what happiness can be stored up against the winter of life? and how we may pass our latter years with serenity and cheerfulness?…  Faith is the only proper and adequate relief of decaying man.  He that grows old without religious hopes, as he declines into imbecility, and feels pains and sorrows incessantly crowding upon him, falls into a gulf of bottomless misery, in which every reflection must plunge him deeper.

Rambler #69 (November 13, 1750)

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It may be observed in general that the future is purchased by the present.  It is not possible to secure distant or permanent happiness but by the forbearance of some immediate gratification.  This is so evidently true with regard to the whole of our existence that all precepts of theology have no other tendency than to enforce a life of faith; a life regulated not by our senses but by our belief; a life in which pleasures are to be refused for fear of invisible punishments, and calamities are to be  endured in hope of rewards that shall be obtained in another state.

Rambler #178 (November 30, 1751)

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We entangle ourselves in business and immerse ourselves in luxury, until the darkness of old age begins to invade us, and disease and anxiety obstruct our way.  We then look back upon our lives with horror, with sorrow, with repentance; and wish that we had not forsaken the ways of virtue…  Happy are they who shall learn not to despair, but shall remember, that though the day is past, and their strength is wasted, there yet remains one effort to be made; that reformation is never hopeless, nor sincere endeavors ever unassisted; that the wanderer may at length return after all his errors, and that he who implores strength and courage from above shall find danger and difficulty give way before him.

Rambler #65 (October 30, 1750)

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Matthew 7:1-2a  —  (Jesus said), “Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.”

Psalm 53:1a  —  The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

Psalm 10:4  —  In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

Philippians 4:11b-12  —  I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Psalm 90:12  —  Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

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O God, Giver and Preserver of all life, by whose power I was created, and by whose providence I am sustained, look down upon me with tenderness and mercy.  Grant that I may not have been created to be finally destroyed, and that my life may not be preserved only to add wickedness to wickedness.  But may I so repent of my sins, and so order my life to come, that when I shall be called hence, I may die in peace and in thy favor; and be received into thine everlasting kingdom through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thine only Son, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

–Samuel Johnson