S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Christianity bears all the marks of a divine original: it came down from heaven, and its gracious purpose is to carry us up thither. Its author is God; it was foretold by the beginning from prophecies, which grew clearer and brighter as they approached the period of their accomplishment. It was confirmed by miracles, which continued till the religion they illustrated was established. It was ratified by the blood of its author; its doctrines are pure, sublime, consistent; its precepts just and holy; its worship is spiritual; its service reasonable, and rendered practicable by the offers of divine aid to human weakness. It is sanctioned by the promise of eternal happiness to the faithful, and the threat of everlasting misery to the disobedient. It had no collusion with power, for power sought to crush it; it could not be in any league with the world, for it set out by declaring itself the enemy of the world; it reprobated its maxims, it showed the vanity of its glories, the danger of its riches, the emptiness of its pleasures. This religion does not consist in external conformity to practices which, though right in themselves, may be adopted from human motives, and to answer secular purposes; it is not a religion of forms, and modes, and decencies; it is being transformed into the image of God; it is being like-minded with Christ; it is considering Him as our sanctification, as well as our redemption; it is endeavouring to live to Him here, that we may live with Him hereafter.
Life is not entirely made up of great evils or heavy trials, but the perpetual recurrence of petty evils and small trials in the ordinary and appointed exercise of the Christian graces. To bear with the failings of those about uswith their infirmities, their bad judgment, their ill-breeding, their perverse tempers; to endure neglect when we feel we deserved attention, and ingratitude when we expected thanks; to bear with the company of disagreeable people whom Providence has placed in our way, and whom He has perhaps provided or purposed for the trial of our virtue; these are best exercises of patience and self denial, and the better because not chosen by ourselves. To beat with vexation in business, with disappointment in our expectations, with interruptions of our retirement, with folly, intrusion, disturbance,in short, with whatever opposes our will, contradicts our humour,this habitual acquiescence appears to be more of the essence of self-denial than any little rigours of our own imposing. These constant, inevitable, but inferior evils, properly improved, furnish a good moral discipline, and might, in the days of ignorance, have superseded pilgrimage and penance.
Sensibility appears to me to be neither good nor evil in itself, but in its application. Under the influence of Christian principle it makes saints and martyrs; ill directed, or uncontrolled, it is a snare, and the source of every temptation; besides, as people cannot get it if it is not given them, to descant on it seems to me as idle as to recommend people to have black eyes or fair complexions.
My retirement was now become solitude: the former is, I believe, the best state for the mind of man, the latter almost the worst. In complete solitude, the eye wants objects, the heart wants attachments, the understanding wants reciprocation. The character loses its tenderness when it has nothing to love, its firmness when it has none to strengthen it, its sweetness when it has nothing to soothe it, its patience when it meets no contradiction, its humility when it is surrounded by dependants, and its delicacy in the conversations of the uninformed.
Do not indulge romantic ideas of superhuman excellence. Remember that the fairest creature is a fallen creature. Yet let not your standard be low. If it be absurd to expect perfection, it is not unreasonable to expect consistency. Do not suffer yourself to be caught by a shining quality, till you know it is not counteracted by the opposite defect. Be not taken in by strictness in one point, till you are assured there is no laxity in others. In character, as in architecture, proportion is beauty. The education of the present race of females is not very favourable to domestic happiness.