The writings, spiritual vision, and legacy of George MacDonald & Michael Phillips

The writings, spiritual vision, and legacy of George MacDonald & Michael Phillips


The Legacy:
Who is George MacDonald?

Michael Phillips
Who is Michael Phillips?

George MacDonald's Writings:
A Historical 19th Century Bibliography of His Published Works

George MacDonald’s Writings: “The New Classics”

Michael Phillips’ Writings: A 20th and 21st Century Bibliography of His Published Works

Leben: The MacDonald/Phillips Magazine
Availability and Ordering Information
“Dear Michael Phillips…”: Responses From Readers
“Dear George MacDonald…”: Responses From Readers
From the Heart of George MacDonald: A Selection of Quotations

George MacDonald’s Scotland

George MacDonald’s Faith in Historical Perspective
Quotes From the Heart of George MacDonald

A Selection of Quotations

Wisdom To Live By From George MacDonald
Part I
God's Being and Character-
The Work of the Father

GOD HIMSELF is man's birthplace. God is the self that makes the soul able to say, I too, am.

GOD IS simply and altogether our friend, our Father.

THE HIGHEST CREATION of which man is capable is to will the will of the Father.

HE WHO will not let us out until we have paid the uttermost farthing, rejoices over the offer of the first golden grain in payment. Easy to please is he-hard indeed to satisfy.

THERE ARE GOOD THINGS God must delay giving. God must first make his child fit to receive and fit to have.

THE FIRST OF ALL TRUTHS, which a lifetime of church-going and Bible-reading will fail to disclose, is that for life to be a good thing and worth living, a man must be the child of a perfect Father and know him.

GOD IS SO TRUE and good and strong and beautiful! The God of mountain lands and snowdrops, of woman's beauty and man's strength-the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

GOD IS OUR FATHER, but we are not yet his children. Because we are his children, we must become his sons and daughters. Nothing else will satisfy him, or us, until we become one with our Father.

GOD'S LOVE is higher than his omnipotence.

GOD WILL NOT CONQUER EVIL by crushing it under-foot-any god of man's idea could do that-but by conquest of heart over heart, of life over life, of life over death, of love over all.

GOD LOVES, yea, is love. Therefore hell itself must be subservient to that love and must be an embodiment of it.

EVERY ATTRIBUTE of God must be infinite as himself. He cannot be sometimes merciful, but not always merciful. He cannot be just, but not always just. Mercy belongs to him, and needs no contrivance of theologic chicanery to justify it.

GOD CHOOSES to be good, otherwise he would not be God: man must choose to be good, otherwise he cannot be the son of God.

FATHERHOOD is the last height of the human stair whence our understanding can see God afar off.

GOD'S LOVE is ever in front of his forgiveness. God's love is the prime mover, ever seeking to perfect his forgiveness.

LET A MAN THINK AND CARE ever so little about God, he does not therefore exist without God. God is here with him, upholding, warming, delighting, teaching him-making life a good thing to him. God gives him himself, though the man knows it not.

THINK, BROTHERS, think, sisters, we walk in the air of an eternal fatherhood.

EVERY UPLIFTING of the heart is a looking up to The Father.

THE SPIRIT OF GOD lies all about the spirit of man like a mighty sea, ready to rush in at the smallest chink in the walls that shut him out from his own.

WHEN SOULS HAVE BEEN ILL-TAUGHT about God, the true God will not let them gaze too long upon the Moloch which men have set up to represent Him. He will turn away their minds from that which men call Him, and fill them with some of his own lovely thoughts or works, such as may by degrees prepare the way for a vision of the Father.

IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING that God should have his way with you, then, in the name of God, be miserable--until your misery drive you to the arms of the Father.


These and more than 1300 quotes-arranged topically as: The work of the Father, the work of the Son, God's revelation in nature, Practical faith, Spiritual proverbs, and Life observations-are found in Wisdom To Live By, a new anthology of quotes by George MacDonald. Order information in Availability and Ordering Information.

Wisdom To Live By From George MacDonald
Part II
The Person and Life of Jesus-

   The Work of the Son

AS CHRIST is the blossom of humanity, so the blossom of every man is the Christ perfected in him.

BROTHERS, SISTERS, have you found our King? There he is, kissing little children and saying they are like God.

JESUS ROSE at once to the height of his being, set himself down on the throne of his nature, in the act of subjecting himself to the will of the Father as his only good, the only reason for his existence.

JESUS MADE HIMSELF what he is by deathing himself into the will of the eternal Father-thus plunging into the fountain of his own life, the everlasting Fatherhood, and taking the Godhead of the Son.

I KNOW OF NO OTHER WAY of knowing that there is a God but that which reveals what he is-and that way is Jesus Christ as he revealed himself on earth, and as he is revealed afresh to every heart that seeks to know the truth about him.

GOD IS JUST LIKE JESUS, only greater yet, for Jesus said so.

TO OBEY JESUS is to ascend to the pinnacle of my being.

SADLY, there are those who would have us love Christ for protecting us from God, instead of leading us to God-the one home of safety. They imagine justice and love dwelling in eternal opposition in the bosom of eternal unity.

THE BOND OF THE UNIVERSE, the chain that holds it together, the one active unity, the harmony of things, is the devotion of the Son to the Father. It is the life of the universe.

ANY BELIEF IN JESUS CHRIST-however small-is far better than any amount of belief about him.

OUR LORD was, is, and ever shall be divinely childlike. Childhood belongs to the divine nature.

MANY RELIGIOUS TEACHERS have not taught Christ, but taught 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 could understand. They have presumed to explain a Christ whom years and years of obedience could alone have made them able to comprehend.         

TO FOLLOW JESUS is to be learning of him, to think his thoughts, to use his judgments, to see things as he sees them, to feel things as he feels them, to be of the same heart, soul, and mind, as he is.

 "I AND THE FATHER ARE ONE," is the center-truth of the universe. And the encircling truth is, "That they also may be one in us."

TO UNDERSTAND the words of our Lord is the business of life. For it is the main road to the understanding of the Word himself.

THE LORD KNOWS what men need; they know only what they want. They want happiness without the cost. They want ease. He knows they need purity.

THE LOVE OF THE SON takes action, it creates, in self-abjuration, in the death of self as motive.

WHEN A MAN OR WOMAN truly and perfectly says with Jesus, and as Jesus said it, "Thy will be done," he closes the everlasting life-circle. The life of the Father and the Son flow through him; he is part of the divine organism. Then is the prayer of the Lord in him fulfilled.

Wisdom To Live By From George MacDonald
Part III

God's Revelation In Nature

EVERYTHING IS because God thinks it into being.

GOD IS NOT A GOD that hides himself, but a God who made all that he might reveal himself.       

WHAT CAN BE THE PRINCIPLE which, in the boldest, most lawless, fantastically chaotic, apparently capricious work of nature, always keeps it beautiful? The beauty of holiness must be at the heart of it somehow.

IN ALL GOD'S WORKS the laws of beauty are wrought out in vanishing portrayals, in birth and death. In these there is no hoarding, but an everfresh creating, and eternal flow of life from the heart of God.

NATURE'S SO-CALLED LAWS are the waving of God's garments, waving so because he is thinking and loving and walking inside them.

WHEREVER IN ANYTHING that God has made, in the glory of it, be it sky or flower or human face, we see the glory of God, there a true imagination is beholding a truth of God.

BECAUSE GOD IS SO FREE FROM STAIN, so loving, so unselfish, so good, so altogether what he wants us to be, so holy, therefore all his works declare him in beauty. His fingers can touch nothing but to mold it into loveliness, and even the play of his elements is in grace and tenderness of form.

IT IS THE TEMPLE OF NATURE and not the temple of the church, the things made by the hands of God and not the things made by the hands of men, that afford the truest of symbols of truth.

ALL NATURE SPEAKS, like the flower, messages from God, the Father of the universe.

EVERYWHERE IS GOD. The earth underneath us is his hand upholding us; the waters are in the hollow of it. Every spring-fountain of gladness about us is his making and his delight. He tends us and cares for us; he is close to us, breathing into our nostrils the breath of life, and breathing into our spirit thoughts that make us look up and recognize the love and care around us.

SEE THE FREEDOM OF GOD in his sunsets-never a second like one which is passed! See the freedom in his moons and skies, in the ever-changing solid earth!-  all moving by no dead law, but in the harmony of the vital law of liberty.

EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL is but a bit of love frozen.

EVERY FACT IN NATURE is a revelation of God.

ALL LOVELY SIGHTS tend to keep the soul pure, to lift the heart up to God.

THE MAN WHO, in harmony with nature, attempts the discovery of more of her meanings, is just searching out the things of God.

SOME CLOUDS RISE from stagnant bogs and pools, others from the wide, clean, large ocean. But either kind, thank God, will serve the angels to come down by.

ALL THE SNOW that fell on the black winding river vanished, as death and hell shall one day vanish in the fire of God.

THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS around us are the expressions of God's face.

THERE MUST BE TRUTH in the scent of the pinewood; someone must mean it.

THERE EXISTS A MYSTERY in the world, and in all the looks of it-a mystery because of a meaning. There is a jubilance in every sunrise, a sober sadness in every sunset. There is a whispering of strange secrets in the wind of the twilight, and an unknown bliss in the song of the lark.

Wisdom To Live By From George MacDonald
Part IV

Practical Faith

FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST is to learn his ways by going and doing them, not trying to understand them first, or doing anything else whatever with them first than obeying them.

THE FAITH REQUIRED OF US is faith in a person, and not in the truest of statements concerning anything, even concerning him.

PRACTICALITY is the code of true faith: can something be done? If so, where is to be found the first opportunity to do it?

IF ANYONE is desirous of spreading the truth, let him apply himself to the doing of it. Not obeying the truth, he is doubly a liar who pretends to preach it.

FAITH, in its simplest, truest, mightiest form, is-to do God's will in the one thing revealing itself at the moment as duty. The faith that works miracles is an inferior faith to this-and not what the old theologians call a saving faith.

IF WE DO the will of God, eternal life is ours.

OBSERVE THE OBEDIENCE of Jesus to the Father. He did not give the commands, he obeyed them.

FRIENDS, cast your idol into the furnace. Melt your mammon down, coin him up, make God's money of him, and send him out to do God's work. Make of him cups to carry the gift of God, the water of life, through the world.

WHOEVER,  in the commonest duties that fall to him, does as the Father would have him do, bears his yoke along with Jesus; and the Father takes his help for the redemption of the world.

THE SERVICE the Lord requires is not done in any church. He will not say to you, "You never went to church: depart from me, I do not know you." But he will say, "Inasmuch as you never helped one of my Father's children, you have done nothing for me."

WE CAN LIVE in no way but that in which Jesus lived. That way is to give up our life. This is the one supreme action of life possible to us.

IT WAS NOT for our understanding, but our will, that Christ came.

HE WHO DOES that which he sees, shall understand. He who is set upon understanding rather than doing, shall go on stumbling and mistaking and speaking foolishness.

IN CHOOSING AND OBEYING the truth, a man becomes the true son of the Father of lights.

THOSE WHO LIVE as Jesus lived-by obedience to the Father- have a share in their own making.

OUR BUSINESS is not to think correctly, but to live truly. Then first will there be a possibility of our thinking correctly.

FAITH IS OBEDIENCE; theory, I know not what.

JESUS CHRIST has a right to our absolute obedience.

TO PUT OFF OBEYING him until we find a credible theory concerning him is to set aside the medicine we know it our duty to drink for the study of the various schools of therapy.

THE TRUE DISCIPLE shall always know what he ought to do, though not necessarily what another ought to do.

NO TEACHER should strive to make others think as he thinks, but to lead them to the living Truth, to the Master himself,of whom alone they can learn anything, who will make them in themselves know what is true by the very seeing of it.

TO HIM WHO OBEYS, and thus opens the doors of his heart to receive the eternal gift, God gives the Spirit of his Son, the Spirit of himself.

Wisdom To Live By From George MacDonald
Part V

Spiritual Proverbs

OBEDIENCE is the opener of eyes.

IN PROPORTION TO OUR CARE about our own well-being is our capacity diminished to understand and welcome the care of the Father.

IT IS ONLY IN GOD that the soul has room.


OBEDIENCE ALONE holds wide the door for the entrance of the spirit.

WE MUST SIMPLY OBEY the voice in our ears, and take the thing he sends.

EVERY BEGINNING IS SMALL, and every beginning is a creation.

ALL TRUE ACTION clears the spring of right feeling and lets their waters rise and flow.

DISTRUST IS ATHEISM and the barrier to all growth.

YEARS ARE CHRIST'S NAPKINS to wipe off the sin.

FEVERY TRUTH must be accompanied by some corresponding act.

THEORY MAY SPRING FROM LIFE, but never life from theory.

THERE IS NO SALVATION in correct opinions, neither is there damnation in wrong opinions.

JUSTICE REQUIRES that sin should be put an end to.

THE PATH ACROSS THE GULF that divides right from wrong is not the fire, but repentance.

TO KNOW THAT OUR FAITH IS WEAK is the first step toward its strengthening.

DOUBTS ARE THE MESSENGERS of the Living One to rouse the honest heart. They are the first knock at our door of things that are not yet, but have to be, understood.

WHEN THE WILL once begins to aspire toward godliness, it will soon find that action must precede feeling.

THE PURE EYE for an honest perspective of another's viewpoint can only accompany the loving heart.

NOTHING CAN BE KNOWN except what is true.

ANALYSIS IS GOOD, as death is good. But neither is life.

THE MOST PRECIOUS THING to a human soul is every other human soul.

POSSESSIONS ARE THINGS. And things in general are very apt to prove hostile to the better life.

TO THOSE WHO POSSESS THEIR SOULS in patience come the heavenly visions.

TO THE UNTRUTHFUL MIND the false can seem to be true.

WHEREVER THERE IS ANYTHING TO LOVE, there is beauty in some form.

HALF THE MISERY IN THE WORLD comes from trying to look, instead of trying to be, what one is not.

TO FIND THE TRUTH, a man or woman must be true.

THEOLOGIANS have done more to hide the Gospel of Christ than any of its adversaries.

A CONDITION which, of declension, would indicate a devil may, of growth, indicate a saint.

IN LOW THEOLOGIES, hell is invariably the deepest truth, and the love of God is not so deep as hell.

THE BUSINESS OF LIFE is not to get as much as you can, but to do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

Wisdom To Live By From George MacDonald
Part VI

Life Observations

NO ABSTRACT TRUTH held by purest insight can make a man free. But the truth done, the truth loved, the truth lived, that is the truth that makes him free.

IN MOST DISCUSSIONS, each person has some point to maintain, and his object is to justify his own thesis and disprove his neighbor's. He may have originally adopted his thesis because of some sign of truth in it, but his mode of supporting it is generally to block up every cranny in his soul at which more truth might enter.

WISE AND PRUDENT RELIGIOUS MEN, careful to make the words of his messengers rhyme with their own conclusions, interpret the great heart of God, not by their own hearts, but by their intellects. Then, postponing the obedience that alone can give power to the understanding, they press upon men's minds their own low interpretations, instead of by their own example impressing the doing of that will upon their hearts.

THERE IS A CHILDHOOD into which we have to grow, just as there is a childhood which we must leave behind. One is a childishness from which but few of those who are counted wisest among men have freed themselves. The other is a child-likeness, which is the highest gain of humanity.

WHEN WE FORGIVE our neighbor, in flows the forgiveness of God's forgiveness to us. For God to withhold his forgiveness from the one who will not forgive his neighbor is love as well as necessity. If God said, "I forgive you," to a man who hated his brother, what would it mean to him? How would the man interpret it? Would it not meant to him, "You may go on hating. I do not mind it. You have had great provocation, and are justified in your hate." No, the hater must be delivered from the hell of his hate, that God's child should be made the loving child that he meant him to be.

MANY ARE SO BUSY understanding with their intellects that they miss the better understanding of thought of a thing that they miss the thing itself-whose possession, not its thought, is essential.

TO MANY WELL-MEANING PEOPLE with small natures, theology must be like a map-with plenty of lines in it. They cannot trust their house on the high tablelands because they cannot see the outlines bounding the land. It is not small enough for them. They cannot take it in. Such people, one would think, can hardly be satisfied with creation, seeing there is no line of division anywhere in it.

WHEN GOD DRAWS LINES, they are pure lines, without breadth and consequently invisible to mortal eyes, not walls of separation such as many Christians are fond of constructing.

ALL THE DISCIPLINE, all the pain of the world exists for the sake of this-that we may come to choose the good.

HOW MANY burdened souls are there, who have not an idea of the power that lies in God's forgiveness tocleanse their consciousness from the defilement of what they have done. Most would rather excuse than confess.

WHERE A MAN does not know that his heart hungers for God, it is because the unfaithful self, a would-be monarch, has usurped the consciousness-the carnal man, almost the demon-man, is uppermost, not the Christ-man. If ever the true cry of the heart reaches that self, it calls it childish, and tries to trample it out. It does not know that a child crying to God is mightier than a warrior armed with steel.

THE MEN WHO IMPRESS the world as the mightiest are those often who can the least-never those who can the most in their natural kingdom; generally those whose frontiers lie openest to the inroads of temptation, whose atmosphere is most subject to moody changes, who, while perhaps they possess the power to dictate laws to a nation, can utter no decree of smallest potency as to how things shall be within themselves.

WHEN PEOPLE SEEK ADVICE it is too often in the hope of finding the advisor side with their second familiar self instead of their awful first self of which they know so little.

THE GREATEST FACT OF ALL is that we are bound to obey the truth, and that to the full extent of our knowledge thereof, however little that may be. This obligation acknowledged and obeyed, the road is open to all truth-and the only road.

A MAN'S ONE CLAIM on manhood is that he can call upon God-not the God of any theology, right or wrong, but the God out of whose heart he came and in whose heart he is. This is his highest power-that which constitutes his original likeness to God.

THE TRULY WISE talk little about religion, and are not given to taking sides on doctrinal issues. When they hear people advocating or opposing the claims of this or that party in the church, they turn away with a smile such as men yield to the talk of children. They have no time, they would say, for that kind of thing. They have enough to do in trying to faithfully practice what is beyond dispute.

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