Sermon quotes on history

Maya Angelou

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.

Ambrose Bierce (For Contrast)

History, n. an account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.

The Devil’s Dictionary

Phillips Brooks

History shows that when the church uses the tools of the world’s kingdom, it becomes as ineffectual, or as tyrannical, as any other power structure. And whenever the church has intermingled with the state, the appeal of the faith suffers as well. Ironically, our respect in the world declines in proportion to how vigorously we attempt to force others to adopt our point of view.

Lord Byron

And history with all her volumes vast,

Hath but one page.

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

George Caird

Christianity appeals to history, and to history it must go.

A Commentary on the Revelation of St John the Divine. London: A&C Black.

G.K. Chesterton

People who make history know nothing about history. You can see that in the sort of history they make.

Winston Churchill

The longer you can look back, the further you can see forward.


History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.

Pro Publio Sestio

Bernard of Clairvaux

We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.

Quoted in John of Salisbury, The Metalogicon

Mason Cooley

Psychology keeps trying to vindicate human nature. History keeps undermining the effort.

City Aphorisms

Don Delillo

“When you see a thing like that, a thing that becomes a newsreel, you begin to feel you are a carrier of some solemn scrap of history.”


Benjamin Franklin

Today is Yesterday’s Pupil.

Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1751

Thomas Fuller

History maketh a young man to be old, without wrinkles or gray hairs, privileging him with the experience of age, without either the infirmities or inconveniences thereof.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living hand to mouth.

Francois Guizot

A people with no memory of its past is like a mature man who has lost all recollection of his youth.

L.P. Hartley

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

The Go-Between

Ted Hughes

Decay of libraries is like Alzheimer’s in the nation brain.

Martin Luther King Jr.

We are not makers of history. We are made by history.

C.S. Lewis

History is a story written by the finger of God.

Christian Reflections, Eerdmans Publishing, 2014, p.130.

Karl Marx

All great historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice … the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte


To comprehend modern times well, it is necessary to comprehend ancient times well.

Bill Moyers

We Americans seem to know everything about the last twenty-four hours but very little of the past sixty centuries or the last sixty years.

Malcolm Muggeridge

Precisely how a man nailed to a cross 2,000 years ago, who claimed to be the Son of God, came to signify reality, in contradiction to the sawdust men of destiny with their fraudulent wars and revolutions and liberations, is something that can be understood, but not explained. You either see it or you don’t.

Stephen Neill

In the Christian theology of history, the death of Christ is the central point of history; here all the roads of the past converge; hence all the roads of the future diverge.

The Truth of God Incarnate, ed. E.M.B. Green.

Reinhold Niebuhr

One of the most pathetic aspects of human history is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentious, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun.

Beyond Tragedy, 1937

Jaroslav Pelikan

Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost twenty centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?”

Jesus Through the Centuries, Yale University Press.

George Santayana

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

The Life of Reason

Source Unknown

History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.

H.G. Wells

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

Dallas Willard

The aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons, with himself included in that community as its prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.

N.T. Wright

History is always a matter of trying to think into the minds of people who think differently from ourselves.

Paul: A Biography

Samuel M. Zwemer

If the Cross of Christ is anything to the mind, it is surely everything – the most profound reality and the sublimest mystery. One comes to realize that literally all the wealth and glory of the gospel centres here. The Cross is the pivot as well as the centre of New Testament thought. It is the exclusive mark of the Christian faith, the symbol of Christianity and its cynosure. The more unbelievers deny its crucial character, the more do believers find in it the key to the mysteries of sin and suffering. We rediscover the apostolic emphasis on the Cross when we read the gospel with Moslems. We find that, although the offence of the Cross remains, its magnetic power is irresistible.

The Glory of the Cross, Marshall, Morgan & Scot.

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