The Golden Key

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Home to the George MacDonald Society



A glory on the chamber wall!
A glory in the brain!
Triumphant floods of glory fall
On heath, and wold, and plain.

Earth lieth still in hopeless bliss;
She has, and seeks no more;
Forgets that days come after this,
Forgets the days before.

Each ripple waves a flickering fire
Of gladness, as it runs;
They laugh and flash and leap and spire,
And toss ten thousand suns.

But hark O low in the world within,
One sad aeolian tone:
"Ah! Shall we ever win
A summer of our own?"

From "Songs of the Summer Days" - Poetical works, Vol.1


2 think a thing is only to look at it in a glass; to know it as God would have us know it, and as we must know it to live, is to see it as we see love in a friend's eyes , to have it as the love the friend sees in ours.

Donal Grant



I have no desire to change the opinion of man or woman. Let everyone for me hold what he pleases. But I would do my utmost to disable such as think correct opinion essential to salvation from laying any other burden on the shoulders of true men and women than the yoke of their master; and such burden, if already oppressing any, I would gladly lift. Let the Lord himself teach them, I say. A man who has not the mind of Christ --- and no man has the mind of Christ except him who makes it his business to obey him --- cannot have correct opinions concerning chief cause of unbelief in the world is, that those who have seen something of the glory of Christ, set themselves to theorize concerning him rather than to obey him. In teaching men, they have not taught them Christ, but about Christ. More eager after credible theory than after doing the truth, they have speculated in a condition of heart in which it was impossible they should understand; they have presumed to explain a Christ whom years and years of obedience could alone have made them able to comprehend. Such, naturally, press their theories,...insisting on their thinking about Christ as they think, instead of urging them to go to Christ to be taught by him whatever he chooses to
teach them.

"Justice" - Unspoken Sermons, Third Series



...And I thought how many witnesses to the truth had knelt in those ancient pews. For as the great church is made up of numberless communities, so is the great shining orb of witness bearers made up of millions of lesser orbs. All men and women of true heart bear individual testimony to the truth of God, saying "I have trusted and found Him faithful." And the feeble light of the glowworm is yet light, pure, and good, and with a loveliness of its own."So, O Lord," I said, "let my light shine before men."
And I felt no fear of vanity in such a prayer, for I knew that the glory to come of it is to God only - "that men may glorify their Father in heaven.

Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood



Evil is hard for God himself to overcome. Yet thoroughly and altogether and triumphantly will he overcome it; and that not by crushing it underfoot --- any god of man's idea could do that! --- but by the conquest of heart over heart, of life in life, of life over death. Nothing shall be too hard for the God that fears not pain, but will deliver and make true and blessed at his own severest cost.

Weighed and Wanting



The fact that some things have become to us so much more simple that they were, and that great truths have come out of what once looked common, is ground enough for hope that such will go on to be our experience through the ages to come.

"It Shall not be Forgiven" - Unspoken Sermons, First Series



"What is there that can be done?" answered Leopold. It does seem hard that a man should be made capable doing things that he is not made capable of undoing again."

"It is indeed a terrible thought! And even the small wrong is, perhaps, too awful a thing for created being ever to set right again."

"You mean it takes God to do that?"
"I do."

"I don't see how He could ever set some things right."

"He would not be God if He could not or would not do for His creature what that creature cannot do for himself and must have done for him or lose his life."

Thomas Wingfold



Nothing better shows the invulnerability of youth's spirit and the failure of the Shorter Catechism, driven in by the tawes (whip), to spoil the boys' play --- the Scottish intrepidity being built upon the rocks of oatmeal, education and poverty.

From George Macdonald and His Wife - Greville Macdonald

Sue D


For to the untruthful mind the false can seem the true.

Thomas Wingfold, Curate



"Get up and look at yourself in the water."

He rose and looked at himself in the water, and there was not a grey hair on his head or a wrinkle on his skin.

"You have tasted of death now," said the Old Man. "Is it good?"

"It is good," said Mossy. " It is better than life."

"No," said the Old Man, "it is only more life."

"The Golden Key"



Maimed, a little help I pray;
Words suffice not for my end;
Let thy hand obey thy friend,
Say for me what I would say.

Draw me, on an arid plain
With hoar-headed mountains nigh,
Under a clear morning sky
Telling of a night of rain,

One thing more --- I ask too much! ---
From a brow which hope makes brave
Sweep the shadow of the grave
With a single golden touch.

excerpt from "Brother Artist!" - Poetical Works, Vol. 2 , Parables



They say that Time and Space exist not, save in our thoughts. If so, then that which has been, is, and the Past can never cease. She is mine, and I shall find her - what matters it where, or when, or how? Till then, my soul is but a moon-lighted chamber of ghosts; and I sit within, the dreariest of them all. When she enters, it will be a home of love. And I wait --- I wait.

The Portent




The Smoke

Lord, I have laid my heart upon Thy altar,
But can not get the wood to burn;
It hardly flares ere it begins to falter,
And to the dark return.

Old sap, or night-fallen dew, has damped the fuel;
In vain my breath would flame provoke;
Yet see --- at every poor attempt's renewal
To Thee ascends the smoke.

'Tis all I have- smoke, failure, foiled endeavor,
Coldness, and doubt, and palsied lack;
Such as I have I send Thee; --- perfect Giver,
Send Thou Thy lightning back.

Paul Faber



The whole secret of progress is the doing of the thing we know. There is no other way of progress in the spiritual life; no other way of progress in the understanding of that life; only as we do, can we know.

"Truth in Jesus"- Unspoken Sermons, Second Series



Oh Lord...What a labor Thou hast with us all! Shall we ever someday, be all, and quite, good like Thee? Help me. Fill me with Thy light that my work may all go to bring about the gladness of Thy kingdom --- the holy household, of us brothers and sisters, all thy children.

Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood



"But God hates sin and punishes it!"

"It would be terrible if he did not. All hatred of sin is love to the
sinner. Do you think Jesus came to deliver us from the punishment of our sins? He would not have moved a step for that. The horrible thing is being bad, and all punishment is help to deliver us from that, nor will punishment cease till we have ceased to be bad. God will have us good, and Jesus works out the will of his father. Where is the refuge of the child who fears his father? Is it in the farthest corner of the room? Is it down in the dungeon of the castle, my lady?"

"No, no!" cried lady Arctura, " --- in his father's arms!"

"There!" said Donal, and was silent.

Donal Grant



She was unnatural, was she --- inhuman?. . . Not until such condition is mine shall I be able to regard life as a god-like gift.. . Let [one] not excuse his supineness and spiritual sloth by saying to himself that a man can go too far in his search after the divine, can sell too much of what he has to buy the field of the treasure.

Sir Gibbie

Sue D


I think...of death as the first pulse of the new strength, shaking itself free from the old mouldy remnants of earth-garments, that it may begin in freedom the new life that grows out of the old. The caterpillar dies into the butterfly.

David Elginbrod



Thou art ever the same; and I rise above my small as well as my great troubles by remembering Thy peace, and Thy unchangeable Godhood to me and all Thy creatures.

Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood



The common-minded man always calls the man who thinks of righteousness before gain, who seeks to do the will of God and does not seek to make a fortune, unpractical. He WILL not see that the very essence of the practical lies in doing the right thing.'

A Rough Shaking



It always was, always will be, hard to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is hard even to believe that one must be born from above - must pass into a new and unknown consciousness. The law-faithful Jew, the ceremonial Christian, shrinks from the self-annihilation, the life of grace and truth, the upper air of heavenly delight, the all-embracing love that fills the law full and sets it aside. They cannot accept a condition of being as in itself eternal life. And hard to believe in, this life, this kingdom of God, this simplicity of absolute existence, is hard to enter. How hard? As hard as the Master of salvation could find words to express the hardness.

"The Hardness of the Way" - Unspoken Sermons, Second Series



"We thank thee that we have a father, and not a maker; that thou hast begotten us, and not moulded us as images of clay; that we have come forth of thy heart, and have not been fashioned by thy hands. It must be so. Only the heart of a father is able to create. We rejoice in it, and bless thee that we know it. We thank thee for thyself. Be what thou art -- our root and life, our beginning and end, our all in all. Come home to us. Thou livest; therefore we live. In thy light we see. Thou art -- that is all our song."

"The Castle" - Adela Cathcart



I hope it is not necessary to agree with a man in
everything before we can have a high opinion of him.

Robert Falconer



"There is this advantage in the dark. You do not see how
dangerous the way is. We take the darkness about us for the source of our difficulties . It is a great mistake. Christian would hardly have dared go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, had he not had the shield of the darkness all about him."

" Can the darkness be a shield? Is it not the evil thing?"

" Yes, the dark that is within us ---the dark of distrust and unwillingness, but not the outside dark of mere human ignorance. Where we do not see, we are protected. Where we are most ignorant and most in danger is in those things that affect the life of God in us . There the Father is every moment watching his child. If he were not constantly pardoning and punishing our sins, what would become of us? We must learn to trust him about our faults as much as about everything else!"

Donal Grant



" ...hardly any one anywhere knows his own name! It would make many a fine gentleman stare to hear himself addressed by what is really his name!"

I held my peace, beginning to wonder what my name might be.

"What now do you fancy yours?" she went on, as if aware of my thought.

"But, pardon me, it is a matter of no consequence."

I had actually opened my mouth to answer her, when I discovered that my name was gone from me. I could not even recall the first letter of it! This was the second time I had been asked my name and could not tell it!

"Never mind," she said; "it is not wanted. Your real name, indeed, is written on your forehead, but at present it whirls about so irregularly that nobody can read it. I will do my part to steady it. Soon it will go slower, and, I hope, settle at last."




The idea of anybody ordering his common doings, not to say his oddities, by principles drawn from a source far too sacred to be practically regarded was too preposterous to have ever become even a notion to her. Henceforth, however, it was a mote to trouble her mind's eye, a mote she did not get rid of until it began to turn to a glimmer of light.

Sir Gibbie



Lord, I have spoken a poor parable,
In which I would have said thy name alone
Is the one secret lying in Truth's well,
Thy voice the hidden charm in every tone,
Thy face the heart of every flower on earth,
Its vision the one hope; for every moan
Thy love the cure ! O sharer of the birth
Of little children seated on thy knee !
O human God! I laugh with sacred mirth
To think how all the laden shall go free;
For, though the vision tarry, in healing ruth
One morn the eyes that shone in Galilee
Will dawn upon them, full of grace and truth,
And thy own love - the vivifying core
Of every love in heart of age or youth,
Of every hope that sank 'neath burden sore!

Somnium Mystici - Collected Poems II




This time the raven pointed his beak downward --- to something at the foot of a block of granite. I looked, and saw a little flower. I had never seen one like it before, and cannot utter the feeling it woke in me by its gracious, trusting form, its colour, and its odour as of a new world that was yet the old. I can only say that it suggested an anemone, was of a pale rose-hue, and had a golden heart.

"That is a prayer-flower," said the raven.

"I never saw such a flower before!" I rejoined.

"There is no other such. Not one prayer-flower is ever quite like another,"
he returned.

"How do you know it a prayer-flower?" I asked.

"By the expression of it," he answered. "More than that I cannot tell you. If you know it, you know it; if you do not, you do not."

"Could you not teach me to know a prayer-flower when I see it?" I said.

"I could not. But if I could, what better would you be? you would not know it of yourself and itself! Why know the name of a thing when the thing itself you do not know? Whose work is it but your own to open your eyes? But indeed the business of the universe is to make such a fool of you that you will know yourself for one, and so begin to be wise!"

But I did see that the flower was different from any flower I had ever seen before; therefore I knew that I must be seeing a shadow of the prayer in it; and a great awe came over me to think of the heart listening to the flower.


Lip Yeow


Now first I knew what solitude meant --- now that I gazed on one who neither saw nor heard, neither moved nor spoke. I saw now that a man alone is but a being that may become a man --- that he is but a need, and therefore a possibility. To be enough for himself, a being must be an eternal, self-existent worm! So superbly constituted, so simply complicate is man; he rises from and stands upon such a pedestal of lower physical organisms and spiritual structures, that no atmosphere will comfort or nourish his life, less divine than that offered by other souls; nowhere but in other lives can he breathe. Only by the reflex of other lives can he ripen his specialty, develop the idea of himself, the individuality that distinguishes him from every other.


Lip Yeow


Were all men alike, each would still have an individuality, secured by his personal consciousness, but there would be small reason why there should be more than two or three such; while, for the development of the differences which make a large and lofty unity possible, and which alone can make millions into a church, an endless and measureless influence and reaction are indispensable. A man to be perfect --- complete, that is, in having reached the spiritual condition of persistent and universal growth, which is the mode wherein he inherits the infinitude of his Father - must have the education of a world of fellow-men.


Lip Yeow


There is more love in the world than anything else, for instance; but the best love and the individual in whom love is supreme are the rarest of all things...

Sir Gibbie