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good was the object, and benevolence the motive. Her name was written in every record of humanity, and sounded on every tongue, and engraven, doubtless, in many a grateful heart: but we did not like her, because she was not, as we said, altogether consistent. While engaged so much abroad, domestic piety was overlooked; while hurried up and down in perpetual activity of benevolence, private devotion must be neglected ; there could be no time for reading or reflection; the religion of the closet was of more avail than all this bustle, and more consistent with the genuine spirit of the Gospel.
A fourth friend we had of an opposite character. She was never to be found taking part in the institutions of benevolence, or joining in public exertions for the propagation of truth. She was not known as the instructor of the ignorant, or the comforter of the afflicted; she was not known to belong to institutions or societies; she was very seldom heard to speak upon religion, and was very seldom seen in religious society. In private only might her piety be detected; in the peace and holiness that reigned in her family; the devotion that seemed to have its favourite dwelling in her closet; the silent study of the truth; the firm abiding by its precepts, the regulation of her temper by its laws; the tone, in short, of her whole feelings, habits, and desires, perceived, though untold, betrayed rather than exhibited. It was necessary to know her intimately to perceive all this: we knew it, but it did not please us. If she was pious in heart, and devoted in private, why did she not come forward? Why did she not join with others of like feelings, and do as they do? It was not consistent that one who really loved the truth, should be supinely indifferent about its propagation: one who really feels must talk and act, must be anxious to impart what she knows, and disclose what she enjoys: a barren and unproductive faith, so difficult to discover, and so fruitless, could not be consistent with Christianity.
There was a fifth, whom birth and circumstances had accustomed to all the elegancies and luxuries of life. A refined mind, a cultivated taste, and deli. cate habits, all conspired to make these things valuable and needful to her; and it was evident they were valued and enjoyed. She was nice in her dress, expensive in her establishment, stylish in the arrangements of her household. Here we condemned at once: so much indulgence and display, and care for things exterior, was not consistent with humility, self-denial, and renunciation of the world.
A sixth, who, in a station of equal elevation, and with equal means, was neglectful of appearances, homely in her habits, indifferent to the distinctions of society, whether from inclination, or from conscientious self-abasement, received from us no kinder judgment. It was not consistent in people of rank to look like housemaids, to live like peasants, to contravene the arrangements of Providence, by levelling the distinctions of rank and circumstance.
These, and such as these, are but instances of our ample success, in finding all our neighbours guilty of inconsistency. After all our talk about Consistency, and the want of Consistency, and the beauty of Consistency, where was the idea the word had stood for? Within me, and around me, I began to search for it. In my own mind, I could find nothing like an idea upon the subject. I had applied the word so indiscriminately to such a heterogeneous
multitude of things, from the careless dropping of an unweighed word, to the crime of grossest malignity, it was impossible for any one definition, or any one idea, to comprehend the whole. Around me--alas! in reiterating the charge of inconsistency on others, had we not amply proved it in ourselves?
My readers may, I fear, become weary of a subject that has loitered unsuccessfully through three or four chapters, 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 under. stand, 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, 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
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 be should be considered guilty of a crime, who indulged
in drunkenness. Far be from Christianity the adoption of so heathenish a 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 is so. 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 deny 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 them over; in lamenting, than in denying them.
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 mean? The sinner'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 more sensual. He, whose perverted judgment and corrupted taste prefers the