Goodness and virtue make men know and love, believe and delight in their immortality. When the soul is purged and enlightened by true sanctity, it is more capable of those divine irradiations, whereby it feels itself in conjunction with God. It knows that almighty Love, by which it lives, is stronger than death.
Blessedness is not the reward of virtue, but is virtue itself; nor do we rejoice in it because we restrain our lusts, but, on the contrary, it is because we rejoice in it that we are able to restrain our lusts.
The highest good of the mind is the knowledge of God, and the highest virtue of the mind is to know God.
The mind's highest good is the knowledge of God, and the mind's highest virtue is to know God.
To act absolutely in conformity with virtue is nothing but acting according to the laws of our own proper nature. But only in so far as we understand do we act. Therefore, to act in conformity with virtue is nothing but acting, living, and preserving our being as reason directs, and doing so from the ground of seeking our own profit.
True virtue is life under the direction of reason.
As for my labors, if they can but wear one impertinence out of human life, destroy a single vice, or give a morning’s cheerfulness to an honest mind - in short, if the world can be but one virtue the better, or in any degree less vicious, or receive from then the smallest addition to their innocent diversions - I shall not think my pains, or indeed my life, to have been spent in vain.
The great foundation of civil virtue is self-denial.
More people are flattered into virtue than bullied out of vice.
What, what is virtue but repose of mind?
The principle of self-interest rightly understood produces no great acts of self-sacrificed, but it suggest daily small acts of self-denial. By itself it cannot suffice to make a man virtuous; but it disciplines a number of person sin habits of regularity, temperance, moderation, foresight, self-command; and if it does not lead men straight to virtue by the will, it gradually draws them in that direction by their habits. If the principle of interest rightly understood were to sway the whole moral world, extraordinary virtues would doubtless be more rare; but I think that gross depravity would then also be less common. The principle of interest rightly understood perhaps prevents men from rising far above the level of mankind, but a great number of other men, who were falling far below it, are caught and restrained by it.
The principle of self-interest rightly understood produces no great acts of self-sacrifice, but it suggests daily small acts of self-denial. By itself it cannot suffice to make a an virtuous; but it disciplines a number of persons in habits of regularity, temperance, moderation, foresight, self-command; and, if it does not lead men straight to virtue by the will, it gradually draws them in that direction by their habits. Observe some few individuals, they are lowered by it; survey mankind, it is raised.
All man’s efforts, all his impulses to life, are only efforts to increase freedom. Wealth and poverty, fame and obscurity, power and subordination, strength and weakness, health and disease, culture and ignorance, work and leisure, repletion and hunger, virtue and vice, are only greater or lesser degrees of freedom.
If virtue were its own reward, it would no longer be a human quality, but supernatural.
To have no virtue or no vice is equally without precedent.
Vice foments war; it is virtue which actually fights. If there were no virtue, we would live in peace forever.
Every virtue gives a man a degree of felicity in some kind: honesty gives a man a good report; justice, estimation; prudence, respect; courtesy and liberality, affection; temperance gives health; fortitude, a quiet mind, not to be moved by any adversity.
It is by what we ourselves have done, and not by what others have done for us, that we shall be remembered after ages. It is by thought that has aroused the intellect from its slumbers, which has given luster to virtue and dignity to truth, or by those examples which have inflamed the soul with the love of goodness.
When any person of really eminent virtue becomes the object of envy, the clamor and abuse by which he is assailed is but the sign and accompaniment of his success in doing service to the public. And if he is truly a wise man, he will take no more notice of it than the moon does of the howling of the dogs. Her only answer to them is to shine on.
True courage is not the brutal force of vulgar heroes, but the firm resolve of virtue and reason.