To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties. For him who renounces everything no indemnity is possible. Such a renunciation is incompatible with man’s nature; to remove all liberty from his will is to remove all morality from his acts.
Human nature is so constructed that it gives affection most readily to those who seem least to demand it.
Real life is, to most men, a long second-best, a perpetual compromise between the ideal and the possible; but the world of pure reason knows no compromise, no practical limitations, no barrier to the creative activity embodying in splendid edifices the passionate aspiration after the perfect from which all great works springs. Remote from human passions, remote even from the pitiful facts of nature, the generations have gradually created an ordered cosmos, where pure thought can dwell as in its natural home, and where one, at least, of our nobler impulses can escape from the dreary exile of the actual world.
Every right has its responsibilities. Like the right itself, these responsibilities stem from no man-made law, but from the very nature of man and society. The security, progress and welfare of one group is measured finally in the security, progress and welfare of all mankind.
Nature does not give a man virtue: the process of becoming a good man is an art.
Vices creep into our hearts under the name of virtues... Virtue is according to nature; vices are hostile and dangerous.
Self-expression can be wrong as well as right... When self-expression is identified with irrational surrender to lower instincts, it ends by making the person a slave to those passions. Self-denial is not a renunciation of freedom; it is rather the taming of what is savage and base in our nature for what is higher and better. It is a release from imprisonment by our lusts and passions.
Taste and good-nature are universally connected.
There’s no possibility of being witty without a little ill-nature; the malice of a good thing is the barb that makes it stick.
To attain excellence in society, an assemblage of qualification is requisite: disciplined intellect, to think clearly, and to clothe thought with propriety and elegance; knowledge of human nature, to suit subject to character; true politeness, to prevent giving pain; a deep sense of morality, to preserve the dignity of speech; and a spirit of benevolence, to neutralize its asperities, and sanctify its powers.
With the gain of knowledge, connect the habit of imparting it. This increases mental wealth by putting it in circulation; and it enhances the value of our knowledge to ourselves, not only in its depth, confirmation and readiness for use, but in that acquaintance with human nature, that self-command, and that reaction of moral training upon ourselves, which are above all price.
Good character is human nature in its best form. It is moral order embodied in the individual. Men of character are not only the conscience of society, but in every well governed state they are its best motive power; for it is moral qualities which, in the main, rule the world.
Politeness is good nature regulated by good sense.
That charity alone endures which flows from a sense of duty and a hope in God. this is the charity that treads in secret those paths of misery from which all but the lowest of human wretches have fled; this is that charity which no labor can weary, no ingratitude detach, no horror disgust; that toils, that pardons, that suffers; that is seen by no man, and honored by no man, but, like the great laws of Nature, does the work of God in silence, and looks to a future and better world for its reward.
It is not for man to rest in absolute contentment. He is born to hopes and aspirations as the sparks fly upward, unless he has brutified his nature and quenched the spirit of immortality which is his portion.
The contemplation of the Divine Being, and the exercise of virtue, are in their nature so far from excluding all gladness of heart, that they are perpetual sources of it. In a word, the true spirit of religion cheers as well as composes the soul. It banishes, indeed, all levity of behavior, all vicious and dissolute mirth, but in exchange fills the mind with a perpetual serenity, uninterrupted cheerfulness, and an habitual inclination to please others as well as to be pleased in itself.
Every one endeavors as much as possible to make others love what he loves, and to hate what he hates. And so we see that each person by nature desires that other persons should live according to his way of thinking; but it every one does this, then all are a hindrance to one another, and if every one wishes to be praised or beloved by the rest, then they all hate one another.
It is... most profitable to us in life to make perfect the intellect or reason as far as possible, and in this one thing consists the highest happiness or blessedness of man; for blessedness is nothing but the peace of mind which springs from the intuitive knowledge of God, and to perfect the intellect is nothing but to understand god, together with the attributes and actions of God, which flow from the necessity of His nature. The final aim, therefore, of a man who is guided by reason, that is to say, the chief desire by which he strives to govern all his other desires, is that by which he is led adequately to conceive himself and all things which can be conceived by his intelligence.
The body cannot determine the mind to thought, neither can the mind determine the body to motion nor rest, nor to anything else, if there be anything else... That is to say, that the mind and the body are one in the same thing, conceived at one time under the attribute of thought, and at another under that of extension. For this reason, the order or concatenation of things is one, whether nature be conceived under this or under that attribute, and consequently the order of the actions and passions of our body is coincident in nature with the order of the actions and passions of the mind.
The Universe is governed by divine laws, which, unlike those of man’s making, are immutable, inviolable and an end to themselves, not instruments for the attainment of particular objects. The love of God is man’s only true good. From other passions we can free ourselves, but not from love, because for the weakness of our nature we could not subsist without the enjoyment of something that may strength us by our union with it. Only the knowledge of God will enable us to subdue the hurtful passions, This, as the source of all knowledge, is the most perfect of all; and inasmuch as all knowledge is derived from the knowledge of God, we may know god better than we know ourselves. This knowledge in time leads to the love of God, which is the soul’s union with Him. The union of the soul with God is its second birth, and therein consists man’s immortality and freedom.