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that distress. As a token of warm thanks, the Corporation of Philadelphia tendered a piece of silver plate to each of the Sisters for acceptance; but they refused it, not only as contrary to their rules, but with a reply worthy alike of Christianity and the cause in which they were engaged: "If their exertions," said they, "have been useful to their suffering fellow-beings, and satisfactory to the public authorities, they deem it a sufficient reward, and indeed the only one which would be consistent with their vocation to receive." All this conduct is the pure spirit of the law of kindness. And it has gone farther in softening the opposition of the Protestants to the Catholics, than though an inquisition had been built in each State, with full power to destroy all dissenters. For it gained the admiration and approbation of the reflecting in all denominations, and proved that the Sisters of Charity were actuated by the benevolence of Christ.
The following beautiful lines, entitled "The Sisters of Charity," have a very appropriate application to this portion of my theme. Who the author of them is, I know not-they originally appeared in a public newspaper.
"She knelt beside his couch. Her fair, slight hands, Were clasped upon her breast; and from her lips, Her spirit's prayer broke murmuringly. Her eyes, Large, dark and trembling in their liquid light,
Were turned to heaven in tears; and through her frame
The pestilence had smitten him; and he,
Grew black and blasted; and where smiles had brightened,
His frame, knotted and writhed, lay an unsightly lump,
Rose, with her prayers, to heaven-one look she gave--
Ye who dare peril on the tented field,
The instances which have been introduced, present this great fact, that the law of kindness
was uniformly successful and beautiful in operation, and never failed to brighten its pathway with blessings. Yet the individuals who exerted it, were members of different denominations of professing Christians. Howard was a moderate Calvinist; Fenelon and the Sisters of Charity were Catholics; Oberlin and Reese were Uuiversalists. Yet with one uniform law of kindness of the same spirit both in precept and practice, they achieved the most splendid results. The prisoner was melted and subdued; the respect and protection of contending armies were gained; semi-barbarous people were changed into civilized inhabitants; the sick and dying were cheered; the admiration of opposing sects was won. For the individuals who thus sublimely illustrated the law of kindness, are valued, and their memories are warmly cherished by all classes, though they belonged to sects widely sundered from each other in creeds and ecclesiastical government. So true is it, that the spirit of Christ and the power of benevolence are not confined to one sect or gathered up in one creed, but are manifested by all those whose hearts have been watered by the dews of the heavenly truth, "love your enemies," irrespective of the denomination to which they severally belong.
Can any individual, in view of these facts,
doubt the efficacy of the divine precept, "overcome evil with good?" Can they deliberately affirm that the strong arm of revenge is the best conqueror of evil?-that retaliation is the surest mode of overcoming an enemy ?-that opposition should be crushed by the iron power of force? Can it be declared that kindness is without influence ?-that the voice of love will not reach and soften the soul long under the dominion of violence ?—that it will not subdue the stubbornness of bigotry? So far is this from being the fact-so sanguine do I feel in the power of kindness—that I am almost convinced, that there never yet was an instance in which kindness has been fairly exercised, but that it has subdued the enmity opposed to it. Its first effort may not succeed, any more than one rain can reclaim the burning desert-but let it repeatedly shed the dew of its holy influence upon the revengeful soul, and it will soon become beautiful with every flower of tenderness. An individual can no more oppose kindness which is continually and steadily manifesting itself towards him, than he can fan the flame of violent anger in his soul, when the most pure and charming music is flooding his senses with its rich volumes. He will as certainly submit to its winning power, as the compass-needle yields to the influence of magnetism. It is not in human
nature to withstand a long course of kindness. Pride and stubbornness may, for a time, stay the tide of better feelings, like the waters of the stream pent up by gathering masses of ice; but they will accumulate and increase, until they break down pride and stubbornness, and cause the repentant to exclaim like one of old, "thou knowest that I love thee." Let any person put the question to his or her soul, whether, under any circumstances, they could deliberately resist continued kindness ?—and a voice of the affection will answer, that good is omnipotent in overcoming evil. If the angry and revengeful person would only govern his passions, and light the lamp of affection in his heart, that it might stream out in his features and actions, he would soon discover a wide difference in his communion with the world. The gentle would no longer avoid him; friends would not approach him with a frown; the weak would no longer meet him with dread; children would no longer shrink from him with fear; he would find that his kindness wins all by his smile, giving them confidence and securing their friendship. Verily I say to you, that kindness is mightier than the conqueror; for the conqueror subdues only the body-KINDNESS SUBDUES THE SOUL.