So it is in respect to dispositions, and in respect to character at large. Little cracks, little flaws, little featherings in them, take away their exquisiteness and beauty, and take away that fine finish which makes moral art. How many noble men there are who are diminished, who are almost wasted, in their moral influence! How many men are like the red maple! It is one of the most gorgeous trees, both in spring, blossoming, and in autumn, with its crimson foliage. But it usually stands knee-deep in swamp-water.
To get to it, you must wade or leap from bog to bog, tearing your raiment, and soiling yourself. I see a great many noble men, but they stand in a swamp of faults. They bear fruit that you would fain pluck, but there are briars and thistles and thorns all about it; and to get it you must make your way through all these hindrances.
Faults are also dangerous, in their own way, because they have insect fecundity. They are apt to swarm. And though a few of them may not do much harm, when men come to have a great many of them they will avail as much as if they were actual transgressions. It is not necessary that there should be wolves, and lions, and bears in the woods to drive hunters out of them. Black flies, mosquitoes, or gnats will drive them out, if there are enough of them. These little winged points of creation make up what they lack in individual strength by their enormous multitude. You might kill a million, and make no impression upon them. Faults oftentimes swarm and become strong and dangerous by reason of their multitude. Multitude, in such cases is equivalent to power.
This little piece really made me stop and ponder. Ouch.
Henry Ward Beecher - picture from the Internet