S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Goodness I call the habit, and goodness of nature the inclination. This, of all virtues and dignities of mind, is the greatest, being the character of the Deity; and without it man is a busy, mischievous, wretched thing,no better than a kind of vermin. Goodness answers to the theological virtue charity, and admits no excess but error. The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall: but in charity there is no excess, neither can angel or man come in danger by it. The inclination to goodness is imprinted deeply in the nature of man; insomuch that if it issue not towards men, it will take unto other living creatures.
The parts and signs of goodness are many. If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them: if he be compassionate towards the afflictions of others, it shows that his heart is like the noble tree that is wounded itself when it gives the balm: if he easily pardons and remits offences, it shows that his mind is planted above injuries, so that he cannot be shot: if he be thankful for small benefits, it shows that he weighs mens minds, and not their trash: but, above all, if he have St. Pauls perfection, that he would wish to be an anathema from Christ for the salvation of his brethren, it shows much of a divine nature, and a kind of conformity with Christ himself.
The truly good man is jealous over himself lest the notoriety of his best actions, by blending itself with their motive, should diminish their value; the vain man performs the same actions for the sake of that notoriety. The good man quietly discharges his duty, and shuns ostentation; the vain man considers every good deed lost that is not publicly displayed. The one is intent upon realities, the other upon semblances: the one aims to be virtuous, the other to appear so.
There is that controlling worth in goodness that the will cannot but like and desire it; and, on the other side, that odious deformity in vice, that it never offers itself to the affections of mankind but under the disguise of the other.
Goodness, as that which makes men prefer their duty and their promise before their passions or their interest, and is properly the object of trust, in our language goes rather by the name of honesty: though what we call an honest man the Romans called a good man; and honesty, in their language, as well as in French, rather signifies a composition of those qualities which generally acquire honour and esteem.