"There but for the grace of God, go I"
This phrase is credited to John Bradford, a preacher and martyr who lived 1510-1555. The story is that Bradford would see someone being led to the scaffold for hanging and say, "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford." In 1555, John Bradford was burned at the stake and spoke to a fellow victim "we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night."
This is all legend, and the earliest the saying appears in print is 1822, found in A Treatise on Prayer, by Edward Bickersteth as a telling of the Bradford story.
I have thought of this phrase and spoken it a few hundred times in my life. My worry is that I use the phrase much like we in the southern US say, "bless their heart." The phrase sounds nice and kind, but really carries the subtext of "they are just not intelligent enough to pour water out a bucket, with the …