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tionate and fond characterize feelings; kind is an epithet applied to outward actions, as well as inward feelings; a disposition is affectionate or fond; a behaviour is kind. A person is affectionate, who has the object of his regard strongly in his mind, who participates in his pleasures and in his pains, and is pleased with his society. A person is kind, who expresses a tender sentiment, or does any service in a pleasant manner. Relatives should be affectionate to each other; we should be kind to all who stand in need of our kindness." Kindness, then, appears to be an affectionate behaviour. This is what the apostle means, when he admonishes us to "be kindly affectioned one to another."
Let us view the kind man in contrast with some other characters.
He is opposed to the rigid, severe, and censorious person, who will make no allowance for the infirmities or inexperience of others; but judges harshly, reproves sternly, and speaks severely of all who do not come up to his standard. Kindness, on the contrary, makes all reasonable allowances, frames the best excuses it can, consistently with truth and holiness; speaks of the offender in a way of mitigation, and to him in a way of compassion; does not publish nor exaggerate his faults, and endeavours to find out some redeeming qualities to set off against his failings.
A kind man is opposed to a proud and overbearing one. The latter is ever seeking an opportunity to display his superiority, and make you feel your inferiority; and cares not how much your feelings are hurt by this offensive exhibition of his
consequence. Kindness, if conscious, as it sometimes must be, of its superiority, takes care that those who are below it shall not feel a painful sense of their inferiority. Without removing the distinctions of social life, or sacrificing its dignity, it will conceal as much as possible, its pre-eminence, or unite it with such affability as shall render it by no means unpleasant.
Kindness is opposed to coldness and selfishness of disposition. There are persons who, though neither cruel, nor injurious, nor really hard-hearted, are yet so cold, and distant, and retiring, and repulsive, that they can neither be approached nor moved. They look upon the scenes around them with the fixed and beamless eye, the chillness and quiescence, of the statue, for they have no interest in the concerns of the world. But kindness is the visible expression of a feeling and merciful heart; it is the goings forth of a tender and susceptible mind; it claims kindred with the human race; it is all ear to listen-all heart to feel-all eye to examine and to weep-all hand and foot to relieve; it invites the sufferer with kind words, and sends him not empty
Kindness is opposed to a vain and ostentatious liberality. Some will be charitable, if they may have spectators of their good deeds, who shall go and proclaim their alms: thus the weaknesses of human nature often come in the place of duty, and supply the want of principle, though certainly without any advantage to their possessor. They spoil the action by their mode of performing it; for they will, in the most indelicate manner, make the object
of their bounty feel a painful sense of obligation: they will state the exact amount, almost in pecuniary value, of the favours they have conferred; and then go away and give such publicity to their doings, that the beneficiary is almost everywhere sure to hear of what has been done for him.
Kindness will, on the other hand, conceal, as much as possible, that it is actually conferring a favour; will do every thing to cause it to descend lightly upon the spirit of the recipient; and would, if circumstances allowed, gladly extend relief from behind a veil which hides the giver, and does every thing to prevent the sense of obligation from being either painful or oppressive.
Kindness is opposed to the benevolence of partiality, prejudice, and caprice. There are not a few who are lavish in their fondness towards persons of their own party, or upon those who happen to be their favourites for the time; but for any beyond their own circle of partizans, or of their select friends, they have none of the charities of life-their benevolent regards are purely sectarian, or absolutely capricious. But kindness is a clear perennial spring, rising up from a heart replete with universal philanthropy, holding on its way, unimpeded by prejudices or partialities, and distributing its benefits alike upon all that it meets with in its course.
Having thus contrasted kindness with some characteristics to which it is opposed, let us now consider the manner in which it acts..
It expresses itself in words that are calculated to please. As not only our words, but the tones of our voice, are indicative of our thoughts and feelings, it
is of consequence for us to be careful, both in what we say, and how we say it. Half of the quarrels which disturb the peace of society arise from unkind words, and not a few from unkind tones. We should sedulously avoid a sour, morose, chiding mode of speech, and adopt a soothing, conciliatory, and affectionate style of address. A surly tone is calculated to wound or offend, and love, which carries the law of kindness upon its lips, will, consequently, avoid it. A snappish, petulant, scolding address, is in the highest degree repulsive and dissonant in the intercourse of society. We may not have, it is true, the music of sound in our speech, but it is our own fault if we have not the music of love. We need not employ grimace, fawning, sycophancy, hollow and unmeaning compliment, but we may be courteous, and affectionate; and we ought to "let our speech be seasoned with salt, that it may minister grace to the hearers." Every word, and every modulation of the voice, that is likely to offend, should be studiously avoided, and will be avoided by kindness, which extends, also, to actions. It is anxious not to give offence by any thing which it does: it is most delicately tender in reference to the feelings of its object, and would not unnecessarily crush the wing of an insect, much less inflict a wound upon a rational mind. There are persons who, in a spirit of selfish independence, care not whom they please, or whom they offend; but love is as anxious not to offend, as it is solicitous about its own gratification: its neighbour's comfort is as dear to it as his own: it calculates, deliberates, weighs the tendency of actions, and, when by incau
tion, or pure misfortune, it has, occasioned distress, it hastens, by every practicable means, to heal the wound.
Kindness not only abstains from actual injury, but it is active in conferring benefits-watches for an opportunity to please is ever ready to afford its assistance when appealed to, and is not satisfied, unless it can do something to increase the general stock of comfort. It accommodates itself to their habits, partialities, or prejudices; adapts itself, in things indifferent and lawful, to their modes of acting, and does not wantonly oppose their predilections, when such resistance would occasion them distress. A stiff, uncomplying behaviour, which consults nothing but its own humour, and which will not sacrifice the least punctilio of its own habits, to give pleasure, has not a particle of beneficence about it. Such an individual is like a person in a crowd, who will walk with his arms stretched out, or with annoying weapons in his hand.
It extends, of course, to little things, as well as to great ones. The happiness or misery of life does not consist so much in the transport of joy, or the anguish of affliction, as in feelings of an inferior kind-which, though less violent, are more frequent than those strong emotions.. Hence it is, in our power to make others miserable in life; not, perhaps, by deeds of cruelty or injustice, which we dare not, or cannot commit, as by indulging in unaccommodating dispositions towards them-by vexing them with acts of unkindness, which will neither blast our reputation, nor put in peril our property, liberty, or life: and it is also in our power to make them happy,