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does not call upon them to denude themselves and be reave themselves of all that is in their heart, and consign them to the agonizing void of unclaimed feeling and unoccupied affection—a state the most abhorrent to their nature; but he bids them transfer these feelings and affections to something that will suit them better-something that time cannot consume, nor circumstances change, nor wrong deprive them of.
How rich are they who listen to his counsel, it needs but little reflection to perceive. Infidelity itself has often been made to confess how beautiful is the believer's vision--how exquisite, if real, his prospect; and often, if we mistake not, does the chooser of this world's good, his treasury empty, and not knowing wherewith to fill it, cast an eye of envy on the enthusiast, as he thinks him, whose credulity supplies him with a store so inexhaustible. Ever before his eyes, even to the very borders of the grave, and the clearer as he approaches there, he has the spectacle of a brilliant and boundless future-secure as it is brilliant, and durable as it is boundless. His
eye there, his choice there, his heart there, whatever good may offer itself to him by the way, is grateful as the cheer of hospitality to the traveller who is journeying to a distant home whatever evil may be in his portion, is in the comparison but a small matter-painful, but not of consequence, provided it endanger not his bosom's hope.
To those who will not heed the Preacher's admonition, because they like the treasures of earth better than the treasures of heaven, it can only be said, that the choice is their own and the fault is their own, and the complaints they make are altogether unreasonable. They know what the world is, and what its pleasures are, and what its possessions are, and in what sort of security they are vested; and yet, when the moth comes in, and the rust, comes in, and the thief leaves the coffer empty, they bewail their fortunes and reproach their fate, as if the perishable treasure were not of their own choosing, and the place of deposit of their own preferring. Things are proposed to them that do not decay, and cannot be purloined, but they like the other better.
THE LISTENER.-No. XXIX. My readers may, I fear, become weary of a subject that has loitered unsuccessfully through three or four papers, with no better result than that of proving, what might scarcely need a proof, that a great many people talk of what they do not understand, or reproach others with the wrong themselves unwittingly commit. Lest this should be, I propose, like other narrators, to tack a moral to my tale, by way of conclusion, and so abandon it. My object was not, as may have seemed, to prove every body in the wrong—but rather to exhibit the various modes of inconsistency, that, perceiving it and applying it, each one may correct their own. Some have said to us, why expose the faults and inconsistencies of those whose principles are good, and bring on religion the reproach of all the inconsistencies of those who profess it? Let the shame be to the creature and the glory to the Creator--what is good in us is his, what is evil is our own. But if it be true that these things exist, and that they are inconsistencies, shall we say—shall we leave it to others to say for us, that what in the careless and the earthly-minded we should condemn as faults,
in those who profess more seriousness and devotion we can gloss over and disown? It was said of one of old, that it was easier to believe that drunkenness was not a vice, than that he should be guilty of one.
Far be from Christianity the adoption of such a heathenish principle. Rather say the spot is the blacker for the brightness of the surface on which it is seen the stain the darker for the purity of the garment it pollutes : it seems so, and it
If we are ashamed of it, as well indeed we may, let us efface it, clean it, wipe it out-but not deny that
it is there, or that it is what it seems. Christians think not themselves, they think not each other sinless creatures-should they desire to pass their alloy upon the world as pure and proven gold? But they say it is for the honour of religion, 'not their own, that they are so tenacious of the exposure of their faults. We are glad if it is so—but we would rather have this pious tenaciousness exercised in correcting the evils than in glossing over them, in lamenting than in denying them. So much by the way, in reply to some remarks that have been made to us.
We hear of the beauty of Consistency-we repeat perpetually, because we hear it, that nothing is so beautiful as a consistent character, but what does it meap? The sinners's consistency, alas! is sin-the false heart's consistency is falsehood--the villain's consistency is villainy: but is this beautiful? It is a very common argument in the world, or rather a phrase that supplies the place of one, that it does not signify what religion a man professes, or what faith he holds, provided his conduct be consistent. Consistent with what? His errors? His perversions ? That alas ! it is but too sure to be. The man who believes there is no God, is consistent when he breaks his laws, and sets his asserted power at defiance. The man who believes that there is no eternity, is consistent when he devotes himself to the things of time and sense, and is but the more consistent as he becomes the more sensual. He whose perverted judgment and corrupted taste prefer the pleasures of sin to the peace of holiness, the interests of time to the bliss of eternity, is consistent when he takes the one and leaves the other—is consistent when he commits sin, is consistent when he defends it. The basest character on earth may be a consistent one. There cannot, therefore, be a more dangerous maxim-and I name it the rather as my young friends will hear it frequently repeated by the wise and prudent of the world. À consistent character must certainly be that, which
having chosen the object of existence, employs the powers of existence to the attainment of that object-and in each particular, having formed a purpose, to do and to be what will promote that purpose. The inconsistency of the greater number of persons arises from their having conscience enough, and moral sense enough, to perceive what their objects ought to be, and to determine their choice for good, while they have neither sense enough, nor virtue enough, to pursue it: and so the means and the end are for ever at variance, and the strangest inconsistencies are the result.
The world in general—I mean the decent and moral part of it, for the out-lawed rioter in mischief we must leave to the full credit of his consistency-confess an end and object of existence which yet they do not pursue. We thus act exactly like a traveller, who wishing to go to Greenwich, should on reading the way-post that directs him thither, turn off to the other hand, and proceed to London : of such a traveller we should say that either he could not read, or that he wanted understanding, or that he did not really desire to go to the place he professed to set out for. And so we may say in effect of all the inconsistencies of life and conduct—they arise in ignorance, mis-judgment, or dishonesty.
I will illustrate my meaning by a few examples-not of the most important, perhaps, for it is not in great matters that we make the most mistakes it is the familiar occurrences of daily life that make up
the character and conduct of persons in ordinary life. When symptoms of physical disorder are to be cured, the cause of those symptoms must be discovered and removed : so when descrepancies of conduct and inconsistency of character are to be corrected, the better way is to proceed at once to the source whence they spring-we all know by experience how difficult it is to correct bad habits—perhaps the difficulty would be lessened if, instead of attempting to cure the manifestation of the evil, we were to descend into our hearts, see whence it arises, and subdue the disposition there. The best method of correcting our own inconsistencies is to become better acquainted with our own hearts, whence all our conduct is derived. If it is the conduct of others we have to do with, whether to judge or to correct, the success of our endeavours and the justpess of our judgment mainly depend on our looking beyond the apparent inconsistency to its cause, and ascribing it to its right source. Want of information, or a bad judgment, claim very unequal censure, as well as a very different remedy, from that which is due to dishonesty of purpose.
I know a young person to whom circumstances have given considerable controul in her parents' house-she devotes time and talents to the management and education of her sisters, and says she has nothing so much at heart as their happiness and improvement. To effect this she keeps the house in perpetual contention-she makes their wishes and tastes yield in every thing to hers-she finds fault with every thing they do, complains of every thing that happens to interrupt her purposes, condemns every thing that does not exactly meet her ideas reasonable or unreasonable, nothing must take place in the family that does not exactly suit her convenience, and what does suit her convenience must be done at any rate. One of two things is the case-either she is dishonest in her purpose, and while she seems to devote her time and attention to her family, she really desires nothing but the indulgence of her own self-will, or she wants judgment to perceive that always giving herself the preference, is not the way to make others good or happy; and that the devotion of all her time, talents, and powers, to the annoying, contradicting, and molesting every one about her, is not a very consistent sort of sisterly devotion. If I were not indisposed to say any thing to any body above twenty years of age, I might just drop a hint that there are some devoted wives, and devoted mothers, and devoted mistresses, who do exactly the same thing. Did