"Evil can be got very easily and exists in quantity: the road to her is very smooth, and she lives near by. But between us and virtue the gods have placed the sweat of our brows; the road to her is long and steep, and it is rough at first; but when a man has reached the top, then she is easy to attain, although before she was hard."
"In sum, all actions and habits are to be esteemed good or evil by their causes and usefulness in reference to the commonwealth, and not by their mediocrity, nor by their being commended. For several men praise several customs, and, contrarily, what one calls vice, another calls virtue, as their present affections lead them."
"Justice is a moral virtue, merely because it has that tendency to the good of mankind, and indeed is nothing but an artificial invention to that purpose. The same may be said of allegiance, of the laws of nations, of modesty, and of good manners. All these are mere human contrivances for the interest of society."
"Several moralists have recommended it as an excellent method of becoming acquainted with our own hearts, and knowing our progress in virtue, to recollect our dreams in a morning, and examine them with the same rigour that we would our most serious and most deliberate actions."
"Riches are valuable at all times, and to all men; because they always purchase pleasures, such as men are accustomed to, and desire: Nor can any thing restrain or regulate the love of money, but a sense of honour and virtue; which, if it be not nearly equal at all times, will naturally abound most in ages of knowledge and refinement."
"I will have no Parsons around me but such as drink deep, ride to Hounds and caress the Wives and Daughters of their Parishioners. A Virtuous Parson does nothing to test or exercise the Faith of his Flock."
"The people who make wars, the people who reduce their fellows to slavery, the people who kill and torture and tell lies in the name of their sacred causes, the really evil people in a word--these are never the publicans and the sinners. No, they're the virtuous, respectable men, who have the finest feelings, the best brains, the noblest ideals."
"The fantastical idea of virtue and the public good being a sufficient security to the state against the commission of crimes, which you say you have heard insisted on by some, I assure you was never mine."
"Your Christians, whom one persecutes in vain, have something in them that surpasses the human. They lead a life of such innocence, that the heavens owe them some recognition: that they arise the stronger the more they are beaten down is hardly the result of common virtues."
"Virtuous people are simply those who have ... not been tempted sufficiently, because they live in a vegetative state, or because their purposes are so concentrated in one direction that they have not had the leisure to glance around them."