" The memory of the just is blessed." Happy are they who comprehend how sinful mortal man may be just with God—who, in taking up the happy boast " He is near that justifieth, who shall condemn me ?" can discern as their sole claim to this glorious immunity, the justifying righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, in virtue of which their iniquity is forgiven, and their sin is covered: their persons are accepted, and their souls are saved.
I knew an aged man, who lived through many long years in the delighted contemplation of this mystery; who realized in its fullest extent the application thereof to himself; who, taught daily to comprehend more of the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, had a well-spring of love flowing from the depths of his renewed heart, towards every child of Adam. When I saw him last, he was green and nourishing; in the seventy-sixth year of his pilgrimage—aye, and blossoming too, in all the rich, vigorous life that distinguishes my beautiful LatjristinĄs, now spreading its wide arms over the border, and supplying the vacant places of many withered flowers. Very lately, I asked of a dear friend, from the remote corner where this aged servant of God had been stationed, how our valued brother was prospering? The reply was startling, because unexpected: it elicited some tears, but they were not those of grief,— ' Six months ago, he departed to his Lord'.
I have been a sad egotist throughout these papers ; and much am I tempted to mix a deal of self in this. But with such a subject before me, I must forbear; only stating, that it was the privilege of this gracious old man to water the good seed, sown by another beloved hand, in the heart of my brother : that it was his to remove all my doubts and fears on the subject: and that the most trying event of my whole life became the means of bringing me acquainted with one whose conversation was more peculiarly in heaven, and his spirit more tinged with the joy of him who knows the blessed ness of his future mansion, than that of almost any one whom I have met with.
The sphere of his labour was in a remote part of Ireland. And here I must beg my reader to remark something which I find it very difficult to establish, that I am not a native of Ireland. English by birth and education, and doubly English by deeply-rooted prejudice, I first visited Ireland, long after my habits and tastes had become fixed, with a most inveterate determination not to like it —in plain terms, to hate the country, and to despise the people. This resolution, by no means a singular one I fear, I was enabled by hard struggling to maintain, for nearly a whole day; but every particle of frost-work melted at last beneath the fervent beams of that warm and smiling welcome, which will win its way to the heart of every one who has a heart to be reached. Subsequently, the glorious and far brighter beams of divine truth burst upon my view, beneath the sky of that beloved island; and there my spiritual infancy was cradled, there the hand of Christian brotherhood was stretched forth, to uphold and to guide my tottering steps in the new and narrow path ; there I was built up on this most holy faith, and taught to wield, however feebly, the weapons that are not carnal. I left the country, as an exile leaves his home ; T pined and drooped, and still does my heart yearn towards its beloved shores. But I am no otherwise Irish; and I have said so much, because the frequent recurrence to scenes and subjects connected with that country, in these periodical pages, might appear to be the natural effect of patriotic feeling, in one born on its green carpet. In me, it is the offspring, not only of deep and grateful love, but of a most solemn conviction that we are verily guilty, in a henious degree, concerning our brethren in that most interesting portion of the British dominions.
It was, as I have said, in a remote corner of the emerald isle, that the Lord planted, this nourishing tree of righteousness, within the sanctuary of His church. He was indeed, a faithful pastor, burning with zeal, overflowing with love, and singularly gifted for the peculiar work to which he was called. There was an exuberance of animal spirits, a fund of rich humour, a perpetual flashing of original wit, that would perhaps have been unsuitable to his high and holy office, and which, therefore, the Lord might have seen fit to subdue, had he not been stationed where such qualifications exactly fitted him to win the attention of those around, and so to lead them to give audience, even where they had been instructed to repel, with brutal force, every attempt to fill their ears with sound doctrine. Of all characters, I. know none more disgusting than a clerical buffoon : but far from the slightest approximation to such an anomaly was our dear brother S. Even the sparkles of his wit were bright with fire from the altar of God, and the quaint expressions that extorted a smile from every hearer, were never culled for effect:—it was the natural eloquence of a mind full of noble simplicity, and venting the abundance of its treasures too eagerly to pause over the medium by which they were conveyed. To set forth Christ crucified, as the alone and all-sufficient refuge for sinners, was the single object of his life ; and to effect it he cared not how homely, how strangely unique, or how clasically elegant, was the language or the metaphor employed. Intimately acquainted with the vernacular tongue of the native Irish, it was the ruling desire of his heart to see it adopted, and cherished, and consecrated to the service of God, by his fellow-labourers. In the month of April, 1830, this aged Christian first, as he expressed it, stepped off the edge of his own green carpet, to accompany a deputation to London for this very purpose. He appeared on the platform in Free-masons' Hall, and in a strain of original humour, combined with deep pathos, he placed us, as it wTere, in the very midst of his desolate countrymen, pourtraying the waywardness of their minds, and the destitution of their souls, in language the most thrilling. Then, by a sudden transition, he led all our awakened sympathies into a scene close by: he showed us that portion of poor Irish outcasts congregated in the heart of our metropolis; and, clasping his hands, with almost a cry of passionate appeal, 'give but one bread-shop for my starving people ! open but one room, in wretched St. Giles,' where they may find the food of life in their own language ! You English Christians, rich in your many privileges, will you let the starving souls of my countrymen cry against you at the day of judgment ? One little bread-shop—give us but that, and thousands unborn shall call you blessed !'