But there is a case, not unfrequently occurring, where individuals who have themselves been brought to Christ, see their hope, as respects some beloved connexion, apparently cut off, by a stroke that removes its object too suddenly to give time for that investigation which his doubtful state rendered particularly desirable. Oh, how bitter is the tear that flows over the coffin of a darling friend, concerning whom, there is, alas, but a * peradventure' to lay hold on ! Yet I have found such a visitation most profitable, in leading the mind to a review of past prayers, on behalf of that object, to an anxious scrutiny of answers to those prayers, which we, in our habitual disregard of the 'day of small things,' had before overlooked ; and to the exercise of keen self-condemnation, of deep and truly humbling penitence for the wanton neglect of many an appointed means, the careless disregard of many precious opportunities which, if rightly used by us, might materially have helped forward the work. Such remorseful regret, however vain in the particular case which is for ever beyond our reach, will lead, if it be indeed a godly sorrow, to the diligent use of similar advantages, in regard to those who remain. This was a favourite topic with D., whose office it appeared to be to extract wisdom and instruction from every past occurrence, as a guide in present difficulty and a valuable store laid up for time to come.
Never did I behold a more consistent, steady zeal, than he displayed for the extension of Christ's kingdom—first, in his own heart; then in his own family, among his immediate associates, and the poor who were brought within his reach. It seemed to be his maxim, that our missionary efforts, like the widening circles of disturbed waters, should extend with gradual evenness, not only of purpose, but of operation. ' Let us,' he would say, * evangelize, as far as we can, the space immediately surrounding us ; and there will be no lack of mis sionaries to work in foreign lands.' No one listened with smiles of brighter joy than D. to the recital of achievements abroad, where the banner of the cross was born into the dominions of Paganism, and souls were won to his beloved Master
None with more prayerful fervency bade Godspeed to the departing warriors who were about to wield their spiritual sword in distant climes : none rendered them higher honour, or more triumphantly dwelt on the glories of what he firmly believed to be the crown of genuine martyrdom, when they yielded their lives beneath the pressure of their sacred burden : but he deprecated in himself, and detected in others, that excitement of feeling which too often takes the name of missionary zeal, when wrought upon by touching descriptions of spiritual darkness and moral degradation among the dwellers in far off lands, while carelessly passing the abodes of our own countrymen, as completely prostrated beneath the power of Satan, as are the savages of foreign woods. I never beheld a person so anxious to strip religion of all encumbering romance : and to bring its divine energies into unfettered action in the streets of London. And why there particularly ? Because his calling was there : because in his daily walks from one office to another, he passed through lanes and alleys, " where Satan's seat is," and being possessed of but limited means as to time and money, he considered himself bound to use them where God had seen fit to open a field.
The little Heartsease looks and breathes of blue skies, and verdant fields, and fragrance-fraught parterres ; but to me it pourtrays a different scene, bringing before me the densely peopled courts and passages of Gray's Inn Lane; the nests of vice, and dens of misery that display the corruption of our great metropolitan cancer, St. Giles'. Oh, when will those cloudy regions become bright beneath the beam of gospel truth ? When shall we take care, and provide for those of our own national household.—"When shall the gorgeous gin-palace, glittering in our own streets, move us to pitying exertion, like the distant temple of Juggernaut pourtrayed in an album—or the thousands of suicidal, of infanticidal deeds, hourly perpetrated by the wretched females of our own neighbourhood, through the unrestrained use of intoxicating drugs, touch that chord of sympathy in the bosom of Christian ladies, which vibrates to the tale of a suttee, or the description of a Hindoo babe, immolated by its heathen parents ?
April skies are lovely indeed ; but on what spectacles do they look down !—and He who dwelleth above those heavens, He beholds them too, and will require at our hands the blood of the souls of them who perish. Neither may we, if our lot, dear reader, be cast far from the scenes where D. worked while it was day to him, and where his dust now reposes, to cry, as it were, from the ground, and chide the flagging zeal of his survivors—neither may we put the lesson from us on the plea that no gin-palace rears its hateful front in our daily path. Satan has a seat in every village, a throne in every natural heart. Be it ours, as children of light, to war against the kingdom of darkness, wherever we behold its ensigns displayed ; and let our efforts go forth, wide as the glorious command, " into all the world," " unto every creature," as our means may enable us, after doing this work at our own doors—not to leave the other undone.
As in families, so in cities : as in cities, so in empires. When the day-spring begins to shine, it will brighten more and more unto the perfect day. When the tide commences its majestic approach, it will overflow, and pass on, and cover the whole earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. You cannot look up, and survey the clouds darkening over your head, you cannot look down, and see the little Heartsease smiling at your feet, without feeling conscious that a book of remembrance is before you. I would rather forego, to the last hour of my existence, the dear delights of my own sweet garden, than think that I wrote to minister a transient gratification to your idle hours, and leave you unimpressed with the awful fact, that another portion of the very little span of time appointed you to work in, has passed away—eluded your grasp for ever, while you turned over these pages—leaving you only a solemn admonition to rise up, and be doing, and redeem the moments that remain.