put your trust in God, and keep your powder dry

Advice attributed to Oliver Cromwell (see quot. 1834), combining spiritual exhortation with the practical measure of making sure that one’s gunpowder is kept serviceable. The second half of the saying is often used allusively in the phrase to keep one’s powder dry.

1834 COLONEL BLACKER Oliver’s Advice in E. Hayes Ballads of Ireland (1856) I. 192 Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry.

1856 E. HAYES Ballads of Ireland (ed. 2) I. 191 Cromwell..when his troops were about crossing a river..concluded an address..with these words—‘put your trust in God; but mind to keep your powder dry.’

1908 Times Literary Supplement 6 Nov. 383 In thus keeping his powder dry the bishop acted most wisely, though he himself ascribes the happy result entirely to the observance of the other half of Cromwell’s maxim.

1979 V. CANNING Satan Sampler iv. God..created us for a better end... We must put our trust in Him and keep our powder dry.


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