The Golden Key

Home to the George MacDonald Society

Home to the George MacDonald Society



There’s a cranny! There’s a crack!
The great sun is at its back!
Lo a mass is outward flung!
In the universe hath sprung!

See the gold upon the blue!
See the sun come blinding through!
See the far-off mountain shine
In the dazzling light divine!
Prisoned world, thy captive’s gone!
Welcome wind, and sky, and sun!

From “Death and Birth - Collected Poems 2



As the world must be redeemed in a few men to begin with, so the soul is redeemed in a few of it's thoughts, and works, and ways to begin with it takes a long time to finish the new creation of this redemption.

"Life", Unspoken Sermons , Second Series  



Suppose my child ask me what the fairy tale means, what am I to say?"

If you do not know what it means, what is easier than to say so?  If you do see a meaning in it, there it is for you to give ... A genuine work of art must mean many things; the truer its art, the more it will mean.  If my drawing, on the other hand, is so far from being a work of art that it needs 'THIS IS A HORSE' written under it, what can it matter that neither you nor your child should know what it means?  It is there not so much to convey a meaning as to wake a meaning.  If it do not even wake an interest, throw it aside.  A meaning may be there, but it is not for you.  If, again, you do not know a horse when you see it, the name written under it will not serve you much. ..."

"The Fantastic Imagination"



There was a wind on the hillside which blew like the very embodiment of living gladness.  It blew into Diamond's heart, and made him so happy that he was forced to sit down and cry.

At The Back of the North Wind



Never wait for fitter time or place to talk to Him. To wait till thou go to church or to thy closet is to make Him wait. He will listen as you walk.

"Righteousness" - Unspoken Sermons, Third Series

Caroline MacDonald’s death - 1884



There is a strange but most natural conflict of feeling in him. His faith is in truth profound, yet is he always complaining. It is but the form his faith takes in his trouble.

“The Voice of Job” Unspoken Sermons, Second Series



A man's labors must pass like the sunrises and sunsets of the world. The next thing, not the last must be his care.

Paul Faber



When I am very weary with hard thought,
 And yet the question burns and is not quenched,
My heart grows cool when to remembrance wrought
 That thou who know'st the light-born answer sought
 Know'st too the dark where the doubt lies entrenched--
 Know'st with what seemings I am sore perplexed,
 And that with thee I wait, nor needs my soul be vexed.

Diary of an Old Soul



Through their common loss and her husband's tenderness, Letty began to grow a woman.  And her growth was the more rapid that...her husband no longer desired to make her adopt his tastes, and judge with his experiences, but, as became the elder and the tried, entered into her tastes and experiences —  became, as it were, a child again with her,  that, through  the thing she was, he might help the thing she had to be.

“The Gifts of the Child Christ”



"It is not good at do everything for those you love and not give them a share in the doing.  It's not kind.  It’s making too much of yourself my child."

At the Back of the North Wind



No man can order his life, for it comes flowing over him from behind.  But if it lay before us, and we could watch its current approaching from a long distance, what could we do with it before it had reached the now?  In like wise a man thinks foolishly who imagines he could have done this and that with his own character and development if he had but known this and that in time.

Sir Gibbie



She had done her duty, and it did not need to be told that we have nothing to do with consequences, only with what is right.

Home Again



Truth is truth, whether from the lips of Jesus or Balaam.. But, in its deepest sense, the truth is a condition of heart, soul, mind, and strength towards God and towards our fellow --- not an utterance, not even a right form of words; ...

"The New Name",Unspoken Sermons, First Series

Lip Yeow


"Ah, but, dear North Wind, you don't know how nice it is to feel your arms about me.......

"...It is a thousand times better to have them and the wind together, than to have only your hair and the back of your neck and no wind at all...."

And Diamond felt as the wind seized on his hair, which his mother kept rather long, as if he too was a part of the storm, and some of its life went out from him.  But so sheltered was he by the North Wind's arm and bosom that only at times, in the fiercer onslaught of the curl-billowed eddy, did he recognize for a moment how wild was the storm in which he was carried, nestling in its very core and formative centre....

At the Back of the North Wind



Feelings are not scientific instruments for that which surrounds them; they but speak of themselves when they say, 'I am cold; I am dark.' The final perfection will be when our faith is utterly and absolutely independent of our feelings. I dare to imagine such the final victory of our Lord --- when he followed the cry of ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?' with --- 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.'"

Castle Warlock



In every forehead now I see a sky
   Catching the dawn ; I hear the wintriest breeze
   About me blow the news the Lord is nigh.
Long is the night, dark are the polar seas,
   Yet slanting suns ascend the northern hill.
    Round Spring's own steps the oozy waters freeze
But hold them not. Dreamers are sleeping still,
    But labourers, light-stung, from their slumber start:
    Faith sees the ripening ears with harvest fill<
When but green blades the clinging earth-clods part.

From “Somnium Mystici “ - Collected Poems 2



You must give yourself up to the obedience of his Son entirely and utterly, leaving your salvation to him, troubling yourself nothing about that, but ever seeking to see things as he sees them, and do things as he would have them done.

Guild House



There are powers to be born, creations to be perfected, sinners to be redeemed, through the ministry of pain, that could be born, perfected, redeemed in no other way.

What's Mine's Mine



... My greatest difficulty always is 'How do I know that my faith is of a lasting kind such as will produce fruits?'...  My error seems to be always searching for faith in place of contemplating the truths of the gospel which produce faith.  My spirit is often very confused .

from a letter to his father, November, 1845 - George Macdonald and His Wife , Greville MacDonald



... Hence a man of ordinary intellect and little imagination, may yet be so radiant in nobility as, to the true poet-heart, to be right worshipful. 

There is in the man who does the truth the radiance of life essential, eternal --- a glory infinitely beyond any that can belong to the intellect, beyond any that can ever come within its scope to be judged, proven, or denied by it.  Through experiences doubtful even to the soul in which they pass, the life may yet be flowing in.

Paul Faber, Surgeon


21 must have a heart! However profoundly hidden, it must be there! The deeper buried, the stronger and truer will it wake at last in its beautiful grave! To rouse that heart were a better gift to her than the happiest life! It would be to give her a nobler, a higher life!


Lip Yeow


Too eager I must not be to understand.
How should the work the Master goes about
Fit the vague sketch my compasses have planned?
I am His house for Him to go in and out.
He builds me now and if I cannot see<
At any time what He is doing with me,
Tis that He makes the house for me too grand.<
The house is not for me --- it is for him.
His royal thoughts require many a stair,
Many a tower, many an outlook fair,
Of which I have not thought, and need  no care.
Where I am most perplexed, it may be there
Thou mak'st a secret chamber, holy-dim,<
Where thou wilt come to help my deepest prayer.

Diary of an Old Soul



Labor is grand officer in the palace of Art; that at the root of all ease lies slow, and, for long, profitless-seeming labor, as at the root of all grace lies strength; that ease is the lovely result of forgotten toil, sunk into the spirit, and making it strong and ready; that never worthy improvisation flowed from brain of poet or musician unused to perfect his work with honest labor; that the very disappearance of toil is by the immolating hand of toil itself.  He only who bears his own burden can bear the burden of another; he only who has labored shall dwell at ease, or help others from the mire to the rock.

 Weighed and Wanting



"The only way to learn the rules of anything practical is to begin to do the thing.  We have enough knowledge in us... to begin anything requested of us.  The sole way to deal with the profoundest mystery... is to begin to do some duty revealed by (it)..."

"Yes, Yes!  But how is one to know what is true my dear?  There are so many differing claims to the quality!"

"I have been told and believe it with all my heart," replied Hester, "that the only way to know what is true is to do what is true."

"But you must know what is true before you can begin to do what is true."

"Everybody knows something that is true to do -- that is, something he ought to lose no time in setting about.  The true thing is the thing that must not be let alone but done.  It is much easier to know what is true to do than what is true to think.  But those who do the one will come to know the other -- and none else, I believe."

Weighed and Wanting



It is only in Him that the soul has room. In knowing Him is life and its gladness. The secret of your own heart you can never know; but you can know Him who knows its secret.

The Seaboard Parish



 If I cannot persuade, I would be silent.  Nor would I labour to instruct the keenest intellect; I would rather learn for myself.  To persuade the heart, the will, the action, is alone worth the full energy of a man.  His strength is first for his own, then for his neighbour's manhood.  He must first pluck out the beam out of his own eye, then the mote out of his brother's --- if indeed the mote in his brother's be more than the projection of the beam in his own.  To make a man happy as a lark, might be to do him grievous wrong.   To make a man wake, rise, look up, turn, is worth the life and death of the Son of the Eternal.

"The Hardness of the Way", Unspoken Sermons, First Series



 The birds grew silent, because their history laid hold on them, compelling them to turn their words into deeds, and keep eggs warm, and hunt for worms.

Alec Forbes



...unhappily everyone is cock-sure of his opinion till he changes it---and then he is as sure as before till he changes it again.

Home Again



The world seemed to her a grand march of resurrections --- out of every sorrow springing the joy at its heart, without which it could not have been a sorrow; out of the troubles, and evils, and sufferings, and cruelties that clouded its history, ever arising the human race, the sons of God, redeemed in Him who had been made subject to death that He might conquer Death for them and for his Father--- a succession of mighty facts, whose meanings only God can evolve, only the obedient heart behold. ...

Paul Faber, Surgeon



To trust in the strength of God in our weakness; to say , 'I am weak; so let me be; God is strong’; to seek from Him who is our life, as the natural simple cure of all that is amiss with us, power to do, and be, and live, even when we are weary , ---  this is the victory that overcometh the world

 “Life on eternal life”, Unspoken Sermons, Second Series



Each of us is a distinct flower or tree in the spiritual garden of God,--- precious, each for his own sake, in the eyes of him who is even now making us,--- each of us watered and shone upon and filled with life, for the sake of his flower, his completed being, which will blossom out of him at last to the glory and pleasure of the great gardener.

“The New Name” , Unspoken Sermons, First Series

Lip Yeow