I cannot be certain not to meet with evil company, but I will be careful not to keep with evil company. I would willingly sort myself with such as should either teach or learn goodness; and if my companion cannot make me better, nor I him good, I will rather leave him ill than he shall make me worse.
There are two things necessary for a traveler to bring him to the end of his journey - a knowledge of his way, a perseverance in his walk. If he walk in a wrong way, the faster he goes the farther he is from home; if he sit still in the right way, he may know his home, but never come to it: discreet stays make speedy journeys. I will first then know my way, ere I begin my walk; the knowledge of my way is a good part of my journey.
As it is never too soon to be good, so it is never too late to amend; I will, therefore, neither neglect the time present, nor despair of the time past. If I had been sooner good, I might perhaps have been better; if I am longer bad, I shall I am sure, be worse.
It is not good to speak of evil of all whom we know bad; it is worse to judge evil of any who may prove good. To speak ill upon knowledge shows a want of charity; to speak ill upon suspicion shows a want of honesty. I will not speak so bad as I know of many; I will not speak worse than I know of any. To know evil of others and not speak it, is sometimes discretion; to speak evils of others and not know it, is always dishonesty. He may be evil himself who speaks good of others upon knowledge, but he can never be good himself who speaks evil of others upon suspicion.
Too many follow example rather than precept; but it is safer to learn rather from precept than example. Man a wise teacher does not follow his own teaching; for it is easier to say, do this, than to do it. If then I see good doctrine with an evil life, though I pity the last, I will follow the first. Good sayings belong to all; evil actions only to their authors.