William Ellery Channing (April 07, 1780 - October 02, 1842)
Born: 7th April, 1780
Died: 2nd October, 1842
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Writer
Region: Newport, Rhode Island, Bennington, Vermont
Notable works: Transcendentalism

William Ellery Channing Facts

Biography

William Ellery Channing, (born April 7, 1780, Newport, R.I.--died Oct. 2, 1842, Bennington, Vt., U.S.), U.S. author and moralist, Congregationalist and, later, Unitarian clergyman. Known as the "apostle of Unitarianism," Channing was a leading figure in the development of New England Transcendentalism and of organized attempts in the U.S. to eliminate slavery, drunkenness, poverty, and war.

He studied theology in Newport and at Harvard and soon became a successful preacher in various churches in the Boston area. From June 1, 1803, until his death he was minister of the Federal Street Church, Boston. Preferring to avoid abstruse points of doctrine, he preached morality, charity, and Christian responsibilities. He became a popular speaker on ceremonial occasions and reached an even larger audience by writing for liberal Boston periodicals, one of which was The Christian Disciple (from 1824 called The Christian Examiner). In 1815 he was attacked by the orthodox Calvinist periodical The Panoplist, whose editor, Jedidiah Morse, denounced the Boston clergy as "Unitarian" rather than Christian. During the next five years Channing issued several defenses of his position, especially "Unitarian Christianity," a sermon delivered at an ordination in Baltimore in 1819.

Reluctantly accepting the label of Unitarianism, Channing described his faith as "a rational and amiable system, against which no man's understanding, or conscience, or charity, or piety revolts." Although he did not wish to found a denomination, believing that a Unitarian orthodoxy would be just as oppressive as any other, he formed (1820) a conference of liberal Congregational ministers, later (May 1825) reorganized as the American Unitarian Association.

Channing sympathized with the beliefs of several social and educational reform movements but did not believe that society could be improved by collective action. He denied that government--the only legitimate function of which was, in his view, the essentially negative one of maintaining public order--could advance the moral sensibility of the human race.

In his time, Channing's reputation as a man of letters was based on several long essay-reviews, among the first of their kind in the U.S. One took John Milton's "Treatise on Christian Doctrine" as a starting point; another, Sir Walter Scott's biography of Napoleon I, in whose career Channing saw the great social danger of taking prominent soldiers for heroes. Most of his manuscripts were destroyed by fire.

Top 35 William Ellery Channing quotes

The home is the chief school of human virtues.
Chief
Home
Human
School
Virtues
The mind, in proportion as it is cut off from free communication with nature, with revelation, with God, with itself, loses its life, just as the body droops when debarred from the air and the cheering light from heaven.
Air
Body
Cheering
Communication
Cut
Debarred
Free
God
Heaven
Itself
Just
Life
Light
Loses
Every mind was made for growth, for knowledge, and its nature is sinned against when it is doomed to ignorance.
Against
Doomed
Every
Growth
Ignorance
Knowledge
Made
Mind
Nature
It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds. In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.
Best
Books
Chiefly
Enjoy
Give
Great
Great men
Intercourse
Men
Minds
Most
Ours
Pour
Precious
Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.
Conflict
Difficulties
Discourage
Grow
Human
Human spirit
Meant
Spirit
Strong
Each of us is meant to have a character all our own, to be what no other can exactly be, and do what no other can exactly do.
Character
Each
Exactly
Meant
Other
Our
Own
Us
Fix your eyes on perfection and you make almost everything speed towards it.
Almost
Almost everything
Everything
Eyes
Fix
Make
Perfection
Speed
Towards
You
Your
Every man is a volume if you know how to read him.
Every
Every man
Him
How
Know
Man
Read
Volume
You
All noble enthusiasms pass through a feverish stage, and grow wiser and more serene.
Grow
More
Noble
Pass
Serene
Stage
Through
Wiser
God be thanked for books; they are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages.
Ages
Books
Dead
Distant
God
Heirs
Life
Make
Past
Spiritual
Spiritual life
Us
Voices
Every human being is intended to have a character of his own; to be what no others are, and to do what no other can do.
Being
Character
Every
His
Human
Human being
Intended
Other
Others
Own
Nothing which has entered into our experience is ever lost.
Entered
Ever
Experience
Lost
Nothing
Our
Which
It is far more important to me to preserve an unblemished conscience than to compass any object however great.
Any
Compass
Conscience
Far
Great
However
Important
Me
More
Object
Preserve
Than
Every human being has a work to carry on within, duties to perform abroad, influence to exert, which are peculiarly his, and which no conscience but his own can teach.
Abroad
Being
Carry
Conscience
Duties
Every
Exert
His
Human
Human being
Influence
Own
Perform
Teach
Do anything rather than give yourself to reverie.
Anything
Give
Rather
Reverie
Than
Yourself
We smile at the ignorance of the savage who cuts down the tree in order to reach its fruit; but the same blunder is made by every person who is over eager and impatient in the pursuit of pleasure.
Blunder
Cuts
Down
Eager
Every
Fruit
Ignorance
Impatient
Made
Order
Over
Person
Pleasure
Pursuit
One good anecdote is worth a volume of biography.
Biography
Good
Volume
Worth
The office of government is not to confer happiness, but to give men the opportunity to work out happiness for themselves.
Give
Government
Happiness
Men
Office
Opportunity
Out
Themselves
Work
Work out
Faith is love taking the form of aspiration.
Aspiration
Faith
Form
Love
Taking
How easy to be amiable in the midst of happiness and success.
Amiable
Easy
Happiness
How
Midst
Success
Great minds are to make others great. Their superiority is to be used, not to break the multitude to intellectual vassalage, not to establish over them a spiritual tyranny, but to rouse them from lethargy, and to aid them to judge for themselves.
Aid
Break
Establish
Great
Great minds
Intellectual
Judge
Lethargy
Make
Minds
Multitude
Others
Over
Spiritual
The world is governed by opinion.
Governed
Opinion
World
The great hope of society is in individual character.
Character
Great
Great hope
Hope
Individual
Society
Error is discipline through which we advance.
Advance
Discipline
Error
Through
Which
Life has a higher end, than to be amused.
Amused
End
Higher
Life
Than
No one should part with their individuality and become that of another.
Another
Become
Individuality
No-one
Part
Should
Undoubtedly a man is to labor to better his condition, but first to better himself.
Better
Condition
First
Himself
His
Labor
Man
Undoubtedly
Influence is to be measured, not by the extent of surface it covers, but by its kind.
Covers
Extent
Influence
Kind
Measured
Surface
It is not the quantity but the quality of knowledge which determines the mind's dignity.
Determines
Dignity
Knowledge
Mind
Quality
Quantity
Which
God is another name for human intelligence raised above all error and imperfection, and extended to all possible truth.
Above
Another
Error
Extended
God
Human
Human intelligence
Imperfection
Intelligence
Name
Possible
Raised
Truth
He who is false to the present duty breaks a thread in the loom, and you will see the effect when the weaving of a life-time is unraveled.
Breaks
Duty
Effect
False
He
Loom
Present
See
Thread
Weaving
Who
Will
You
The reveries of youth, in which so much energy is wasted, are the yearnings of a Spirit made for what it has not found but must forever seek as an Ideal.
Energy
Forever
Found
Ideal
Made
Much
Must
Reverie
Seek
So much energy
Spirit
Wasted
Which
Youth
Grandeur of character lies wholly in force of soul, that is, in the force of thought, moral principle, and love, and this may be found in the humblest condition of life.
Character
Condition
Force
Found
Grandeur
Humblest
Lies
Life
Love
May
Moral
Principle
Soul
Thought
The best books for a man are not always those which the wise recommend, but often those which meet the peculiar wants, the natural thirst of his mind, and therefore awaken interest and rivet thought.
Always
Awaken
Best
Books
His
Interest
Man
Meet
Mind
Natural
Often
Peculiar
Recommend
Therefore
No power in society, no hardship in your condition can depress you, keep you down, in knowledge, power, virtue, influence, but by your own consent.
Condition
Consent
Depress
Down
Hardship
Influence
Keep
Knowledge
Own
Power
Society
Virtue
You
Your

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