Sunday, December 9, 2012

Do All The Good You Can

Although widely ascribed to John Wesley as his "Rule for Living" or "Rule of Conduct," and sung to the composition by Fanny Crosby, the following lines do not actually appear in the writings of John Wesley:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

Words and wisdom to similar effect do, however, appear in Richard Baxter, A Christian Directory (1673) in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Vol. 1, p. 231 (also cited in William Gearing (English Puritan, c. 1625-c. 1690), The Sacred Diary; or, Select Meditations For Every Part of the Day and the Employments Thereof (1679), p. v, and ascribed to "the judgment of a reverend divine"):

And as these five things are presupposed, so these following are contained in our redeeming time. 1. To see that we cast none of it away in vain; but use every minute of it as a most precious thing, and spend it wholly in the way of duty. 2. That we be not only doing good, but doing the best good we are able and have a call to do. 3. That we do not only the best things, but do them in the best manner, and in the greatest measure, and do as much good as possibly we can. 4. That we watch for special opportunities. 5. That we presently take them when they fall, and improve them when we take them. 6. That we part with all that is to be parted with, to save our time. 7. That we forecast the preventing of impediments, the removal of our clogs, and the obtaining of all helps to expedition in duty. This is the true redeeming of our time.

Vincent Van Gogh, The Good Samaritan:

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