"It was not sufficient for the disquiet of our minds that we disputed at the end of seventeen hundred years upon the articles of our own religion, but we must likewise introduce into our quarrels those of the Chinese. This dispute, however, was not productive of any great disturbances, but it served more than any other to characterize that busy, contentious, and jarring spirit which prevails in our climates."
"Religion differs from magic in that it is not concerned with control or manipulation of the powers confronted. Rather it means submission to, trust in, and adoration of, what is apprehended as the divine nature of ultimate reality."
"René of Anjou [(1409-80)] painted a picture of his mistress's corpse as he found it eaten by worms on having it [her tomb] opened on his return from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This [is] another instance of the strange mixture of religion and gallantry in those ages."
"Science tries to answer the question: "How?" How do cells act in the body? How do you design an airplane that will fly faster than sound? How is a molecule of insulin constructed? Religion, by contrast, tries to answer the question: "Why?" Why was man created? Why ought I to tell the truth? Why must there be sorrow or pain or death? Science attempts to analyze how things and people and animals behave; it has no concern whether this behavior is good or bad, is purposeful or not. But religion is precisely the quest for such answers: whether an act is right or wrong, good or bad, and why."
"He spoke of an Indian of his acquaintance who had been with some ministers to Ktaadn, and had told him how they conducted.... I judged from this account that their every camp was a camp-meeting, and they had mistaken their route,--they should have gone to Eastham; that they wanted an opportunity to preach somewhere more than to see Ktaadn. I read of another similar party that seemed to have spent their time there singing songs of Zion. I was glad that I did not go to that mountain with such slow coaches."
"The tavern will compare favorably with the church. The church is the place where prayers and sermons are delivered, but the tavern is where they are to take effect, and if the former are good, the latter cannot be bad."
"Who ever thought of the religion of an innkeeper,--whether he was joined to the Church, partook of the sacrament, said his prayers, feared God, or the like? No doubt he has had his experiences, has felt a change, and is a firm believer in the perseverance of the saints. In this last, we suspect, does the peculiarity of his religion consist. But he keeps an inn and not a conscience. How many fragrant charities and sincere social virtues are implied in this daily offering of himself to the public! He cherishes good-will to all, and gives the wayfarer as good and honest advice to direct him on his road as the priest."
"The North, I mean the living North, was suddenly all transcendental. It went behind the human law, it went behind the apparent failure, and recognized eternal justice and glory. Commonly, men live according to a formula, and are satisfied if the order of law is observed, but in this instance they, to some extent, returned to original perceptions, and there was a slight revival of old religion. They saw that what was called order was confusion, what was called justice, injustice, and that the best was deemed the worst."
"What avails it that you are a Christian, if you are not purer than the heathen, if you deny yourself no more, if you are not more religious? I know of many systems of religion esteemed heathenish whose precepts fill the reader with shame, and provoke him to new endeavors, though it be to the performance of rites merely."
"It matters little comparatively whether the fields fill the farmer's barn. The true husbandman will cease from anxiety, as the squirrels manifest no concern whether the woods will bear chestnuts this year or not, and finish his labor with every day, relinquishing all claim to the produce of his fields, and sacrificing in his mind not only his first but his last fruits also."
"Our manners have been corrupted by communication with the saints. Our hymn-books resound with a melodious cursing of God and enduring Him forever. One would say that even the prophets and redeemers had rather consoled the fears than confirmed the hopes of man. There is nowhere recorded a simple and irrepressible satisfaction with the gift of life, any memorable praise of God."