The mid-day hour was devoted to a meal as frugal as his breakfast. ' Those late dinners,' he once said, * are thieves. They steal away one's time, and energy, and usefulness. I am naturally luxurious ; and should be the laziest dog on earth, if I treated myself to a full meal at that hour.' Accordingly, when others repaired to the dinner table, D- was on foot for some expedition fraught with usefulness; most happy when, on those evenings devoted to public worship, he could win some thoughtless youth to sit with him, beneath the ministry of his beloved pastor—the pastor who had for five years been building him up on his most holy faith, while he himself drew many rich streams of spiritual thought from D-----, in the intercourse of that friendship which linked them in the closest brotherhood. Very lovely and pleasant were those kindred spirits in their lives, and in death they were scarcely divided. A few months only intervened, ere Howels followed his beloved companion, to join in his new song before the throne of the Lamb.
In his perpetual renunciation of self, there was a singular judgment, a striking discrimination in D------'s method of laying himself out for the benefit of others. To please was his delight; but never did he lose sight of that neglected rule of " pleasing his neighbour to edification." His spirits were light, and his temper joyous in the extreme.
The frank cordiality of his address bore down all the frost-work of hearts, even the most unlike his own. His manly sense won the respect of many who were blind to the more spiritual gifts ; and frequently did it pioneer his way, with such characters, when bringing forward—as he invariably did—the grand topic of christian faith and practice. Assuredly God gave him this favor in the sight of men, to render his short, but bright career more extensively useful.
And where, does my reader think, where did D-----, thus accomplished, thus fitted to shine, and to captivate, to win, and convince—especially love to exercise his gifts for his dear Master's glory ? Those who know not the metropolis of England cannot estimate the force of my reply. In the dark recesses of St. Giles'. Totally unconnected with Ireland, never having even beheld her green shores, he devoted himself to the cause of her outcast children, with a zeal and a fervency, and a perseverance, that I never understood until I saw some of those poor creatures looking down into his open grave. Then I comprehended how God had put it into his heart so to work, while yet it is called to-day, as the night was suddenly to close upon the scene of his mortality, when he should work no longer.
It is one characteristic of the heart's-ease, to spring up in corners where no other flower, perhaps, is found: to plant its flexile roots among heaps of rubbish ; to peep out from tufts of grass, and even to spread its little lovely coat of many colours on the walk of stony gravel. We wonder to see it there ; but never wish it away. And thus, go where you would, into the haunts of utter destitution, of lowest debasement of most hardened depravity, there, ever engaged in his work of mercy, you were likely to meet D-. Those natural characteristics of which I have spoken, more particularly the frank hilarity of his address, endeared him to the open-hearted Irish; and he hailed their evident partiality as a token that the Lord had willed him to work in that most desolate corner of His vineyard. But D-did nothing by fits and starts : all was, with him first planned, then executed ; and what, he once undertook, in the spirit of faith and of prayer, he never abandoned.
In one of the streets of that wretched district is a blessed institution, known by the name of St. Giles' Irish Free Schools. Suclra collection of little ragged, dirty, squalid beings as assemble in it, can hardly be paralleled in London : and here, on the very top of the unseemly heap, did this spiritual heart's-ease plant himself. No ! here the Lord planted him, and here he delighted to abide. From sabbath to sabbath he was found at his post, directing, controling, encouraging, leading the exercise of prayer and praise, as one whose soul was engaged in wrestling with God, for the wild and wayward creatures around him. I am not writing fiction : many a tear will bear witness that I am not, when this page meets the eye of those who laboured with him. Have we not seen the smile of triumphant anticipation, against hope believing in hope, while, with one hand resting on a slender pillar, and his eye taking in the whole group, he led the children in their favourite hymn—
'Jesus shall reign where'er the sun,' etc.
Oh! how did his tender and compassionate heart yearn over those little perishing creatures ! How ardently did he, on their behalf, supplicate for that display of healing power under which
'The weary find eternal rest, And all the sons of want are blest'.
That school was the dearest object of D-----'s solicitude ; it flourished under his hand—it drooped at his departure ; it is struggling on, in a precarious existence" now ; for who like D-can plead and work for it.
In the month of April, 1832, a dreadful fever was raging in our unhappy Irish district; and many perished, for want of attentions which it was impossible to procure. Much was done by compassionate Christians, but few suspected the extent to which D-carried his self-devotion. It was a time of much professional business, and he could rarely leave his desk until late in the evening : when—at midnight—he has gone to the dying poor, in the cellars of St. Giles', with such supplies as he could collect; and fed them, and prayed with them, and smoothed down their wretched couches of straw and rags. Unable to meet the demands on his bounty, he nearly starved himself, to hoard up every possible supply for his famishing nurslings. The last time that he visited me, I inquired concerning a poor Irish family for whom I was interested.
'They are all in the fever,' replied D,' one sweet little boy lying dead; the father will follow next'.
' But if all are ill, who nurses them V
(Don't be uneasy ; the Lord careth for the poor. By his grace I nurse them when I can. Last night I took a supply of arrow-root, and fed them all round ; not one was able to lift a spoon—parents and children helpless alike'.
I trembled, well knowing the extreme peril to which he must be exposed; but he turned the discourse to the evident opening of the father's mind, and the happy confidence which he felt concerning the dead child : expatiating on the glories of heaven, as one whose heart wras already there. Twenty-one days afterwards the three survivors of that family, so tenderly nursed, crawled out to see their benefactor buried. He had closed the eyes of the father, wrho departed, rejoicing in the full assurance of that hope which D. had first set before him; and then he sunk under the fever, and died of it.
I saw him in his coffin : he was withered and changed by the devastating violence of that malignant fever—changed as completely, almost as rapidly, as the flower whose petals are defaced, and marred, and rolled together, nevermore to expand. Yet amidst all, there lingered an expression belonging not to the children of this world. It spoke a conflict, but it also tolaYof a victory, such as man unassisted can never achieve. I knew not until afterwards, what words had expressed the dying experience of that glorified saint. At the very last, at the threshold of immortality, he had slowly and solemnly uttered them :—'Mighty power of Christ! to give a poor sinner the victory even in death !'
Yes; though death had laid upon him a hand that might not be resisted, though every mortal energy was prostrated, and icy chains fast wrapped around his suffering body,—though crushed into the dust, and speedily to crumble beneath it, he grasped the victory, he felt it in his grasp; and the glorious truth which in its height, and length, and depth, and breadth, he had appeared remarkably to realize in his life-time, shed splendour unutterable on his dying hour.—" Nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me".
With D-, religion was altogether a substance : nothing shadowy, nothing theoretical or speculative had any place in him. He coveted clear views, that by them he might lay hold on right principles; not to gather their flowers in a showy bouquet, but to get their deepest roots fast planted in his soul. I never saw one, who seemed so totally to forget the things which were behind, while reaching forth to those which were before. The only subject on which I ever knew him to express impatience, was the slowness, as he considered it, of his growth in grace. Of this he spoke even bitterly: often taxing me with indifference to his spiritual welfare, because I did not urge him onward, when, perhaps, I was contemplating with secret dismay, the immeasurable distance at which he left us all in the race. i If you make no better progress than I do,' he once said, ' it is an awful sign of a sluggish spirit. Yet proceed warily— make sure of every step; for many in this day are running fast and far, they know not whither.' The shining heart's-ease will continue to expand throughout the year: the memory of D- will be written on every successive blossom: and I cannot promise that in some future month, if God spares me, I may not resume the subject of this chapter. When gayer flowers have enjoyed their summer day, our heart's-ease will survive many painted wrecks : and then it may come forth again, to speak of one who never spoke to me but for the glory of his God, and the spiritual welfare of his friend: who dearly loved to follow the wonderworking hand of creative power in its glorious displays throughout the visible wTorld, and to trace the beautiful analogy subsisting between the providential government without, and the rule of grace within us. He understood the privilege of giving, as it were, a tongue to every object, that all might unite in one harmonious song of praise. This formed a conspicuous tie among the many that appeared to bind the spirit of D-with that of my dumb boy, in such perfect fellowship; perfect indeed beyond what poor mortality may conceive.