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John Tillotson Quotes

An Archbishop of Canterbury (1691–1694).
(1630 - 1694)

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A good word is an easy obligation; but not to speak ill requires only our silence, which costs us nothing.

A little wit and a great deal of ill nature will furnish a man for satire; but the greatest instance and value of wit is to commend well.

A more glorious victory cannot be gained over another man, than this, that when the injury began on his part, the kindness should begin on ours.

Common swearing, if it have any serious meaning at all, argues in man a perpetual distrust of his own reputation, and is an acknowledgment that he thinks his bare word not to be worthy of credit. And it is so far from adorning and filling a man's discourse, that it makes it look swollen and bloated, and more bold and blustering than becomes persons of genteel and good breeding.

He that does not know those things which are of use and necessity for him to know, is but an ignorant man, whatever he may know besides.

If God were not a necessary being of himself, he might almost seem to be made for the use and benefit of men.

If on one side there are fair proofs, and no pretense of proof on the other, and the difficulties are more pressing on that side which is destitute of proof, I desire to know whether this be not upon the matter as satisfactory to a wise man as a demonstration.

Ignorance and inconsideration are the two great causes of the ruin of mankind.

In all the affairs of this world, so much reputation is, in reality, so much power.

In matters of great concern, and which must be done, there is no surer argument of a weak mind than irresolution - to be undetermined where the case is plain, and the necessity urgent. To be always intending to live a new life, but never to find time to set about it, this is as if a man should put off eating, drinking, and sleeping, from one day and night to another, till he is starved and destroyed.

In our pursuit of the things of this world, we usually prevent enjoyment by expectation; we anticipate our happiness, and eat out the heart and sweetness of worldly pleasures by delightful forethoughts of them; so that when we come to possess them, they do not answer the expectation, nor satisfy the desires which were raised about them, and they vanish into nothing.

Is not he imprudent, who, seeing the tide making toward him apace, will sleep till the sea overwhelms him?

It is hard to personate and act a part long; for where truth is not at the bottom nature will always be endeavoring to return, and will peep out and betray herself one time or another.

Malice and hatred are very fretting, and make our own minds sore and uneasy.

Man courts happiness in a thousand shapes; and the faster he follows it the swifter it flies from him. Almost everything promiseth happiness to us at a distance, but when we come nearer, either we fall short of it, or it falls short of our expectation; and it is hard to say which of these is the greatest disappointment. Our hopes are usually bigger than the enjoyment can satisfy; and an evil long feared, besides that it may never come, is many times more painful and troublesome than the evil itself when it comes.

Mere success is one of the worst arguments in the world of a good cause, and the most improper to satisfy conscience: and yet in the issue it is the most successful of all other arguments, and does in a very odd, but effectual, way, satisfy the consciences of a great many men, by showing them their interest.

Philosophy hath given us several plausible rules for attaining peace and tranquillity of mind, but they fall very much short of bringing men to it.

Profit or pleasure there is none in swearing, nor anything in men's natural tempers to incite them to it. For though some men pour out oaths so freely, as if they came naturally from them, yet surely no man is born of a swearing constitution.

Shame is a great restraint upon sinners at first; but that soon falls off: and when men have once lost their innocence, their modesty is not like to be long troublesome to them. For impudence comes on with vice, and grows up with it. Lesser vices do not banish all shame and modesty; but great and abominable crimes harden men's foreheads, and make them shameless. When men have the heart to do a very bad thing, they seldom want the face to bear it out.

Sincerity is like traveling on a plain, beaten road, which commonly brings a man sooner to his journey's end than by-ways, in which men often lose themselves.

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