While Machiavelli himself was not above moral reproach, he was born and died a Christian and was neither depraved nor unprincipled. His attacks on the church were anticlerical rather than anti-religious, being directed against the scandalous lives of the popes and their political activities. He did compare contemporary Christianity unfavorably with the paganism of the ancients, but he criticized Christianity primarily because it had become the means to socially undesirable ends—the subjection of the many to an avaricious minority— and called for a return to some kind of original creed. While he dwelt upon the socially pragmatic value of religion he did not view it from this stand-point alone.
As the brief extracts above show, Machiavelli did not fully deserve such demonisation. The only end that justified “cunning, scheming and duplicitous” means, in Machiavelli’s view, was the maintenance of a new prince’s state. He may have condoned “expediency in preference to morality”, but only because men were “wretched creatures” who behaved despicably. The mirror for Machiavelli’s new prince reflected the imperfections of his subjects and times as much as the positive qualities of the ruler.