As though God had turned away from the wise, and written his decrees, not in the mind of man but in the entrails of beasts, or left them to be proclaimed by the inspiration and instinct of fools, madmen, and birds. Such is the unreason to which terror can drive mankind!
He who wishes to revenge injuries by reciprocal hatred will live in misery. But he who endeavors to drive away hatred by means of love, fights with pleasure and confidence; he resists equally one or many men, and scarcely needs at all the help of fortune. Those whom he conquers yield joyfully
everyone endeavors as much as possible to make others love what he loves, and to hate what he hates... This effort to make everyone approve what we love or hate is in truth ambition, and so we see that each person by nature desires that other persons should live according to his way of thinking...
The terms good and bad indicate no positive quality in things regarded in themselves, but are merely modes of thinking or notions, which we form from the comparison of things one with another. Thus one and the same thing can be at the same time good, bad, and indifferent. For instance, music is good for him that is melancholy, bad for him that mourns; for him that is deaf; it is neither good nor bad.
Nothing comes to pass in nature, which can be set down to a flaw therein; for nature is always the same and everywhere one and thesame in her efficiency and power of action; that is, nature's laws and ordinances whereby all things come to pass and change from one form to another, are everywhere and always; so that there should be one and the same method of understanding the nature of all things whatsoever, namely, through nature's universal laws and rules.
Better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens. They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.
Men would never be superstitious, if they could govern all their circumstances by set rules, or if they were always favoured by fortune: but being frequently driven into straits where rules are useless, and being often kept fluctuating pitiably between hope and fear by the uncertainty of fortune's greedily coveted favours, they are consequently for the most part, very prone to credulity.
After experience had taught me that all the usual surroundings of social life are vain and futile; seeing that none of the objects of my fears contained in themselves anything either good or bad, except in so far as the mind is affected by them, I finally resolved to inquire whether there might be some real good having power to communicate itself, which would affect the mind singly, to the exclusion of all else: whether, in fact, there might be anything of which the discovery and attainment would enable me to enjoy continuous, supreme, and unending happiness.
The greatest secret of monarchic rule...is to keep men deceived and to cloak in the specious name of religion the fear by which they must be checked, so that they will fight for slavery as they would for salvation, and will think it not shameful, but a most honorable achievement, to give their life and blood that one man may have a ground for boasting.