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Henry Ward Beecher was born June 24, 1813 at Litchfield, CT He was one of the most outstanding public figures of American life and a brilliant persuasive preacher. He was regarded, in his youth, as unusually stupid by his parents, teachers, and playmates. He decided to study navigation and became a sailor, for he felt unsuited for other occupations.

A great change took place in him during his time at Mount Pleasant Classical Institute, Amherst, Massachusetts; his extraordinary vitality broke through. He became active in sports, reading omnivorously, and resolved to become a preacher. He subsequently continued his studies at Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati. Here, he revolted against Calvinism and professed independent Presbyterianism in the name of life and the beauty of nature.

Beecher was not a man of original thought; he started no movement, but he succeeded in attracting and educating Church people, and helped them to develop the power of withstanding life’s tests and conflicts. He used his sermon to advocate social reforms; he was strongly opposed to slavery despite his dislike for radical abolitionists. He taught a disbelief in hell; defended evolution, and advocated that of which he was terribly fond, the outdoor life. Beecher’s sermons often took the side of unpopular causes, and his power of persuasion were such that his sermons gained nationwide hearing and swayed popular opinion.

“Men’s best successes come after their disappointments.”

“The strength of a man consists in finding out the way God is going, and going that way.”

“If a man cannot be a Christian in the place where he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere.”

“Affliction comes to us, not to make us sad but sober; not to make us sorry but wise.”

“Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.”

“God pardons like a mother, who kisses the offense into everlasting forgiveness.”

“Keep a fair-sized cemetery in your back yard, in which to bury the faults of your friends.”

“What a mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin.”

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”

“Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.”

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