Theodore Parker

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Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us.
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Truth stood on one side and Ease on the other; it has often been so.

Theodore Parker (August 24, 1810May 10, 1860) was a reforming American minister of the Unitarian church, an abolitionist, and a Transcendentalist.


  • Truth never yet fell dead in the streets; it has such affinity with the soul of man, the seed however broadcast will catch somewhere and produce its hundredfold.
    • A Discourse of Matters Pertaining to Religion (1842).
  • Truth stood on one side and Ease on the other; it has often been so.
    • A Discourse of Matters Pertaining to Religion (1842).
  • Man never falls so low that he can see nothing higher than himself.
    • Essay. A Lesson for the Day.
  • All men desire to be immortal.
    • A Sermon on the Immortal Life (September 20, 1846).
  • A democracy,—that is a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people; 1 of course, a government of the principles of eternal justice, the unchanging law of God; for shortness’ sake I will call it the idea of Freedom.
    • The American Idea, Speech at N. E. Anti-Slavery Convention, Boston (May 29, 1850). Compare: "The people's government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people", Daniel Webster, Second Speech on Foot's Resolution, January 26, 1830, page 321; "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth", Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863; "all power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise; that from the people and for the people all springs, and all must exist", Benjamin Disraeli, Vivian Grey (1826), Book vi, Chapter vii.


  • As society advances the standard of poverty rises.
  • Every rose is an autograph from the hand of the Almighty God on this world about us. He has inscribed His thoughts in these marvelous hieroglyphics which sense and science have been these many thousand years seeking to understand.
  • It is very sad for a man to make himself servant to a single thing; his manhood all taken out of him by the hydraulic pressure of excessive business.
  • Let others laugh when you sacrifice desire to duty, if they will. You have time and eternity to rejoice in.
  • Never violate the sacredness of your individual self-respect.
  • Outward judgment often fails, inward judgment never.
  • Politics is the science of urgencies.
  • Remorse is the pain of sin.
  • The books that help you the most are those which make you think the most.
  • Wealth and want equally harden the human heart, like frost and fire both are alien to human flesh.

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