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The two mites cast into the treasury by the poor widow o’erbalanced all the gifts of those who gave of their abundance; and a cup of cold water may carry with it more of true charity, more of the spirit of the Prince of Peace, than the largesse of the proudest plutocrat.

During the Civil War a grizzly old Yankee sergeant and a young Confederate soldier, both badly wounded, lay near each other between the lines, while above their prostrate forms the fierce flood of metal swept back and forth, a whistling, screaming hurricane of death. The sergeant had lain long unconscious, and he awoke racked with fever and perishing with thirst. Do any of you know the horror of that thirst which gunshot wounds, abetted by a blazing summer sun and the stifling fumes of powder- smoke, produce? It is the concentrated agony of hell. Thirst will break the courage of the bravest. Even great Caesar, upon whose imperial brow fear was afraid to sit, cried for drink “like a sick girl.” The sergeant found his canteen almost empty,–just a few spoonfuls left,–drops more precious to him than all the gold of Ophir, than all the pearls of Ind. He was lifting the canteen to his parched lips when his neighbor begged to share it. He glanced at the gray uniform and hesitated. The Confederate was but a boy and in his breast there stood a broken bayonet. The sergeant crawled over to him amid the plunging shot and shell.

“‘Tain’t much, Johnny, an’ I’m dry as a mackerel; but I’ll whack up.”

He divided the precious drops with rigid impartiality and gave the young Confederate his portion. Then he raised the canteen to his own lips, but again he hesitated. The landscape swam before his eyes, the pounding of the great guns fell but faintly upon his ear, the Angel of Death had set his seal upon the bronzed brow. He handed the canteen to his companion untasted.

“Take the rest of it, Johnny; I kinder guess I won’t miss it long.”

Yet we imagine we are wonderfully charitable if we give a few dollars from our abundance to feed the starving, or send our cast clothing to the Relief Society! Charity is not a virtue you can measure in money. Its abiding place is not in the vest pocket. Its home is the heart, and not the little 2 X 4 dog-kennel heart either. It only takes up its abode where there is a mighty temple in which to circulate itself and make grand music that rolls and reverberates through all eternity–a temple flooded with God’s own sunshine and peopled with beautiful thoughts and noble aspirations–a temple whose spires pierce the highest Heaven and whose foundations are broad and deep as humanity. Such is the home of Charity, queen of all the virtues. Hear St. Paul:

“Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” Now do you comprehend what charity really is? It is toleration, it is kindness, it is humanity, it is truth, it is the spirit of God made manifest in man. He that gives liberally to the poor, to the church, to education, to the campaign fund, yet says to his brother, “Thou fool,” because he’s followed off after a different political folly, or differs from him on the doctrine of transubstantiation, is not staggering about under a load of charity calculated to give him flat feet. The supreme test of a charitable mind is toleration for the opinions of others,–an admission that perchance we do not know it quite all. It is much easier to give a $5 bill to a beggar than to forgive a brother who rides his pitiless logic over our prejudices. The religious world has contributed countless millions to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but has never forgiven Tom Paine for brushing the Bible contemptuously aside and looking