there but for the grace of God go I



Allegedly from a mid-sixteenth-century statement by John Bradford, "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford", in reference to a group of prisoners being led to execution.


there but for the grace of God go I

  1. A recognition that others' misfortune could be one's own, if it weren't for the blessing of the Divine, or for one's luck.
  2. Man's fate is in God's hands.
  3. More generally, our fate is not entirely in our own hands.

Usage notesEdit

  • This proverb is an expression of humility; in using it, a speaker acknowledges that outside factors (such as God's grace, or his upbringing) have played a role in his success in life.
  • The adverbial phrase is often set off with commas: "There, but for the grace of God, go I."


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