S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Bishop Joseph Butler
Virtue is not a mushroom that springeth up of itself in one night, when we are asleep or regard it not; but a delicate plant, that groweth slowly and tenderly, needing much pains to cultivate it, much care to guide it, much time to mature it. Neither is vice a spirit that will be conjured away with a charm, slain by a single blow, or despatched by one stab. Who, then, will be so foolish as to leave the eradicating of vice, and the planting in of virtue in its place, to a few years or weeks? Yet he who procrastinates his repentance and amendment grossly does so: with his eyes open, he abridges the time allotted for the longest and most important work he has to perform: he is a fool.
The government of the tongue, considered as a subject of itself, relates chiefly to conversation; to that kind of discourse which usually fills up the time spent in friendly meetings and visits of civility. And the danger is, lest persons entertain themselves and others at the expense of their wisdom and their virtue, and to the injury or offence of their neighbour. If they will observe and keep clear of these, they may be as free, and easy, and unreserved, as they can desire.
If there be an analogy or likeness between that system of things and dispensation of Providence which revelation informs us of, and that system of things and dispensation of Providence which experience, together with reason, informs us of, that is, the known course of nature; this is a presumption that they have both the same author and cause, at least so far as to answer the objections against the formers being from God, drawn from anything which is analogical or similar to what it is in the latter, which is acknowledged to be from him.
It should seem that a due concern about our own interest or happiness, and a reasonable endeavour to secure and promote it, which is, I think, very much the meaning of the word prudence, in our language; it should seem that this is virtue, and the contrary behaviour faulty and blameable; since, in the calmest way of reflection, we approve of the first, and condemn the other conduct, both in ourselves and others.