After this, we never met without a cordial greet ing; and on one occasion I saw him, when returning from a scene to me most precious. A poor Romanist who had, under the power of the gospel, declared in his own native Irish, renounced all his fearful errors, and become a simple believer in Christ, was soon afterwards called awray to ' see whom unseen he adored.' It was quite a relief to my full heart to descry old B. feebly advancing along my road : I flew to him, and told him the glad tidings, that the poor man had died most happy in his Saviour. He lifted his hands and eyes, in solemn fervour, ejaculating, ' How gracious He is ! a soul is precious :' and went on his way rejoicing, in broken phrases, with a joy so calm and beautiful that it redoubled the gladness of my heart.
But a trial was in store for old B. which had this alleviation, that every Christian in the place largely participated in his sorrow. The Pastor so dear to him and to us was about to leave a sphere of labour where God had most signally blessed his work : and I never, during the sad weeks that intervened between the announcement of this event and its occurrence, met old B. that he did not lay hold on my wrist to support him, under excessive tremor, and weep, while he uttered his lamentations. The flock over whom our pastor had presided, presented him with an elegant and costly token of their grateful affections: it was altogether spontaneous; and meant to be confined to the more affluent: but there was no resisting the tears of the poor, as they proffered their shillings or sixpences ; and old B. was among the first to lay down his offering. It was beautiful to witness the strength of his attachment; esteeming very highly in love for his work's sake the ambassador of Christ, who had delivered many a sweetly encour-ageing message to his soul: yet it was the Lord's will to permit the afflictive loss, and he strove after submission. But never, from that period, did he meet me without grasping my arm, and sorrowfully adverting to our bereavement.
But the summons came at last; and after a few days of suffering, I was told that his end drew nigh. Wishing once more to receive his patriarchal blessing, I repaired to his alms-house, accompanied by the same valued pastor,—who had never relinquished the intercourse of Christian brotherhood with this endeared member of his former flock—and also by one whose hoary head being found in the way of righteousness, wore a far brighter crowm of glory than the coronet that told of his rank among the nobles of the land. Oh, how beautiful it was to see the peer and the pauper, both of very advanced age, looking together into an eternity that was to irradiate both with light and joy ! One, sweetly sinking into the grave, like a shock of corn fully ripe for the gar ner, and the other, with a heavier weight of years, and an added weight of worldly wealth and honours to oppress him, alert, hale, vigorous, and running with patience and joy the race set before him! As the snowy locks of one drooped over the humble form of his expiring brother, what could I compare him to, but the towering acacia, bending its flowrering branches, more graceful in humility from their natural elevation; and while the lowly man, from his poor Out clean pillow looked up to the countenance of his beloved pastor, catching every sound that issued from his lips, as a gracious message from the Lord his God—then turned his dim eyes to acknowledge the gentle words of encouragement added by the unknown, but noble and venerable stranger, who cheered him with the breathings of his own spirit in the same delightful theme—what was old B. but the antitype of my purple crocus, looking forth from its unadorned resting-place through the cloudy dispensations of a winter's day, to catch the sunbeam from afar, and to prove to every beholder that, in spite of adverse seasons, or any combination of untoward circumstances, God's tender mercies are over all his works.
I received the old man's blessing, and left his peaceful abode, to ramble wide and long amid the chastened beauties of a shining winter's day. My thoughts were very sad : T knew that, notwithstanding the frequent benefactions of those around him, old B. had suffered much from poverty. His little room contained a box well stored with money, collected by him for the missionary work; but his own possessions were scanty indeed. He was not without claims of kindred, which, with his tender and loving spirit, induced a course of strict self-denial, that he might minister to the temporal wants of others. Many a little gift, both of money and clothing, only came into his possession to be immediately transferred to those who occupied his anxious thoughts. Living in an alms-house, he was rich in alms-deeds. Himself supported by charity, his charitable works to others had no bounds but those of his limited means. I knew that he often shivered in the wintry blast, after having assisted to clothe those who could not help themselves: and I felt a pang, that was only to be soothed by stedfastly looking to the inheritance upon which I knew he was soon to enter: had I known that he would be with his Lord in so few hours as actually did intervene, I should have experienced more unmingled joy.
I could not but feel greatly depressed, in comparing my own opportunities, and the use made of them, with those of the aged pauper. I longed for a portion of his self-denying zeal, in every good work: and I realized, in a peculiar manner, the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost, as manifested in the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom. In them, it shines out with a lustre not to be mistaken—they are epistles of Christ, known and read of all men. " Blessed are ye, poor," was continually in my mind; and happy it is, thought I, as I looked on my two compan ions, happy it is that the blessedness embraces the poor in spirit also—that, though not many, yet some rich, some wise, some noble are called, and made partakers of the like precious faith. External things never appeared to me so valueless, nor eternal things more important. Who would not inhabit the pauper's dwelling, subsist by labour, or on charity, through life, and owe at last a coffin and a grave to the hand of casual bounty, so that he might but I read his title clear to mansions in the skies.' Who would be trusted with wealth, or be surrounded by pleasurable allurements, calculated to steal away his heart from God ? Oh, it is a mighty power put forth by Omnipotence itself, that raises the base, and brings down the lofty to the same safe level! The work is marvellous, worthy to be had in daily and hourly remembrance, that takes away the stony heart out of our flesh, and gives us a heart of flesh. Behold a mixed multitude, in any given place, not set apart for uses decidedly sinful, or exclusively spiritual, but where the denizens of the district are thrown together, and consider the awful line of demarcation which separates them into two companies,—however in man's sight they are blended in one—distinct as heaven and hell. A full acquaintance with the private history and experience of each, would show that the operations of sovereign grace are totally irrespective of every natural or incidental distinction. It would prove, beyond controversy, that those who are lost perish by their own wilful act; while such as are saved escape the same fearful doom by an act of unsought mercy—free and as unsearchable as that which brings the crocus from the frozen ground, and bids it bloom, in vigorous life, amid the dark, cold world of leafless trees, and the torpor of suspended vegetation.