Virtue

We hate virtue when it is safe; when removed from our sight we diligently seek it.

When you cannot be just through virtue, be so through pride.

‘Tis one thing to know virtue, and another to conform the will to it.

Among the other excellencies of man, this is one, that he can form the image of perfection much beyond what he has experience of in himself, and is not limited in his conception of wisdom and virtue.

Morality is determined by sentiment. It defines virtue to be whatever mental action or quality gives to a spectator the pleasing sentiment of approbation; and vice the contrary.

The distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceiv’d by reason.

The end of all moral speculations is to teach us our duty; and, by proper representations of deformity of vice, and beauty of virtue, beget correspondent habits, and engage us to avoid the one and embrace the other. But is this ever to be expected from inferences and conclusions of the understanding, which of themselves have no hold of the affections, or set in motion the active powers of men? They discover truths: but where the truths which they discover are indifferent, and beget no desire or aversion, they can have no influence on conduct and behavior.

Vanity is so closely allied to virtue and to love the fame of laudable actions approaches so near the love of laudable actions for their own sake, that these passions are more capable of mixture than any other kinds of affection; and it is almost impossible to have the latter without some degree of the former.

Vice and virtue, therefore, may be compar’d to sounds, colours, heat and cold, which, according to modern philosophy, are not qualities in objects, but perceptions in the mind: and this discovery in morals, like that other in physics, is to be regarded as a considerable advancement of the speculative sciences; tho’, like that too it has little or no influence on practice.

Where is the reward of virtue? and what recompense has nature provided for such important sacrifices as those of life and fortune, which we must often make to it? O sons of earth! Are ye ignorant of the value of this celestial mistress? And do ye meanly inquire for her portion, when ye observe her genuine beauty?

The aim and purpose of human life is the unitive knowledge of God. Among the indispensable means to that end is right conduct, and by the degree and kind of virtue achieved, the degree of liberating knowledge may be assessed and its quality evaluated. In a word, the tree is known by its fruits; God is not mocked.

The relationship between moral action and spiritual knowledge is circular, as it were, and reciprocal. Selfless behavior makes possible an accession of knowledge, and the accession of knowledge makes possible the performance of further and more genuinely selfless actions, which in their turn enhance the agent’s capacity for knowing... A man undertakes right action (which includes, of course, right consciousness and right meditation), and this enables him to catch a glimpse of the Self that underlies his separate individuality. Having seen his own self as the Self, he becomes selfless (and therefore acts selflessly) and in virtue of selflessness he is to be conceived as unconditioned.

We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue leaves its ever-so-little scar.

Even virtue itself, all perfect as it is, requires to be inspirited by passion; for duties are but coldly performed, which are but philosophically fulfilled.

Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

I agree that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents.

Without virtue happiness cannot be.

Courage is a quality so necessary for maintaining virtue that it always respected, even when it is associated with vice.

Every man prefers virtue, when there is not some strong incitement to transgress its precepts.