John Jenkins.

Life of the Rev. Alex. Mathieson, D.D. / with a funeral sermon by John Jenkins online

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country or prevented by indisposition from attending.

But while the Doctor gave much time and thought and valuable
assistance to the general business of the Church, it was in a special
manner as the minister of St. Andrew's Church, that he desired,
above all else, his services to be known and appreciated. Of his
preaching before his own congregation we need not say more than
that it was able, earnest, practical, and scriptural, and that it was
a faithful reflection of the doctrines of the Westminster Confession.



He delighted to set forth the unity of the Divine procedure in the
government of the universe, not distinguishing Providence from
Grace, as though they were separate domains, but recognizing
Kedemption as an integral part of the comprehensive control
exercised by the Creator over all his works. He dwelt also with
special emphasis upon the necessity of personal regeneration by
the Divine Spirit. Time and space would fail us to speak of his
ministrations by the bedsides of the sick and the dying. The
paternal regard that he had for the poor of his parish bordered
almost on romance. How he visited them in their humble abodes I
How he sat down at the end of every year with one or more of his
elders and rigidly scrutinized the demands of every claimant upon
the bounty of the session ! How much discrimination he observed
in dispensing the charities which the accumulated Church collec-
tions, added to the gifts of private friends, had placed at his
disposal !

But perhaps the noblest trait of his disposition, one liable to
mis-interpretation, was that which irresistibly prompted him to
sympathize with the misfortunes of the unfortunate. Whether it
was the case of one unjustly stigmatized by an unfeeling world, or
whether it was that of a weak brother who had yielded to tempta-
tion, no appeal was ever made to him for aid or comfort in vain.
To stand by a friend in need ; to shield him from obloquy ; to
relieve him from present want ; to defend him, if he could ; to
mitigate, if it were possible, a deserved punishment ; to bring up
again such an one to a position of usefulness and respectability,
that was the highest gratification which he could propose to himself.
It was not that he connived at the fault ; but, against the principle


of keeping a man down who had inadvertently fallen, he invariably

For about ten years preceding his death, the rheumatic attacks
to which he had been occasionally subject, became more frequent
and severe. An asthmatic affection, with which he had also been
sometimes troubled, grew upon him with advancing years. More
recently, having suffered at invervals from irregular action of the
heart, it became necessary for him to intrust his late worthy and
able assistant and successor, Mr. Paton, with the burden of the
pastoral work. It was not, however, till the dispensation of the
communion in October last, upon which occasion he preached and
presided, that the state of his health became a matter of solicitude
to his friends. He was advised by his medical attendant to abstain
altogether from pulpit duties, and although he did so for a time,
he yielded to the strong desire which he had to preach to his con-
gregation on the last Sabbath of the year, the same sermon that he
preached that day forty-three years before his first Sabbath in

The last occasion on which he preached was on Sabbath, the
23rd of January, three weeks before his death, when he spoke for
fifty-five minutes from the text. " It was winter. "

The effort was too much for him. He felt seriously unwell the
next day, and for several days after, but he rallied sufficiently to
take a short drive on the following Thursday. On Friday, the
28th, " the old Doctor " was seen in the streets of Montreal for
the last time. A little group of friends gathered round his sleigh
at the Post Office, where he had halted to mail his last letters for
Scotland. Few were the words spoken, but the ominous looks of


one and another told that the pale ensign of death was seen to be
stealing over his forehead. The picture then imprinted on memory
was not that of a noble ship wrecked on a foreign strand, but,
rather, of a dismantled man of war, riding quietly at anchor, in safe
moorings the last round of ammunition expended, the battlefought
and won the colours still nailed to the mast awaiting orders to be
refitted. And as he took leave of us, and directed his course by the
old familiar way, imagination overheard the parting soliloquy, ^-
Farewell crowded thoroughfare ! Farewell city of palaces ! Fare-
well dear old St. Andrew's Church, beautiful in thy ruins ! Fare-
well to wealth, pomp, fashion : to ambition, applause and fame !
To earth farewell ! " I have a building of God, an house not made
with hands, eternal in the heavens. "

After this there cxm3 two week? of great bodily weakness and
severe suffering, of mortal conflict with tho last enemy ; two weeks
during which lovo ani friendship, kindred and acquaintance waited
upon him with tendarest regard, and during which he daily received,
with inexpressible satisfaction, the consolations of religion at the
hands of a brother minister. Then came " the messenger of Peace
that calls the soul to Heaven. "

The funeral took place from his late residence in City Council-
lors-street, on the Thursday following, when a large concourse
assembled within and without the dwelling. Soon after the
appointed hour the funeral cortege wis formed and proceeded to
St Paul's, which had been placed at the disposal of the Trustees
of St. Andrew's Church. The order of procession was as follows :
The hearse, with four ministers and four elders, as pall-bearers,


walking on either side. There immediately followed the hearse?
Dr. Mathieson's two sons and the oumerous connections of the
family. Then came the Moderator and the Clerk of Synod
dressed in their robes, followed by the clergy of the Presbytery of
Montreal, and by a number of the clergy of other denominations.
After these, the elders of other congregations, members cf St.
Andrew's congregation, the St. Andrew's Society, and a large
representation of all classes of the community. On arriving at
the Church, the coffin, literally covered with exquisite flowers, was
placed in front of the pulpit, which, together with the screen of
the choir, was appropriately draped in black cloth, giving to the
whole scene a very solemn and impressive effect. Every part of
the capacious and beautiful structure was filled, and amongst the
many that were observed to be present was the venerable minister
of Cornwall, the Reverend Dr. Urquhart, who is t,he only clerical
contemporary of the deceased now living. The ministers of the
Montreal Presbytery present were Dr. Muir, Dr. Jenkins, Messrs.
Simpson, McDonald, Sym, Patterson, Masson, Thomas Fraser,
Joshua Fraser, Donald Ross, B.D., Campbell, Burr, and Black J
Queen's College was represented by the very Rev. Principal
Snodgrass and Professor McKerras ; Toronto Presbytery, by the
Rev. Kenneth McLennan; and that of Quebec by the Rev. Mr.
Tanner of Sherbrooke. Among the ministers of other denomina-
tions present were noticed Dr. De Sola, the Jewish Rabbi, the
Ifev. John Cordner, Rev. Canon Bancroft-, Canon Balch, Dr.
Taylor, Dr. Wilkes, Mr. Ellegood, Mr. Dumoulin, Mr. Carmichael
and Mr. Gibson, together with several others whose names we did
not learn.



The services were conducted in a very impressive manner by
the Rev. Dr. Jenkins. After repeating the Lord's prayer, four
verses of the 53rd paraphrase were sung, commencing with the
lines :

"Take comfort,. Christians, when your friends

In Jesus fall asleep :
Their better being never ends ;

Why then dejected weep ?"

These. verses were sung to the plaintive tune of " Comfort."
The last line, " Why then dejected weep ?" being repeated at the
end of each verse, produced an effect very touching and in perfect
harmony with the occasion. The singing was led by the organist
and choir of St. Andrew's congregation. Suitable portions of
Scripture from both the Testaments having been read, an eloquent
and appropriate funeral address was delivered by the presiding
minister, in substance as follows :



I mights well shrink from undertaking the solemn task which
falls to me to day, and lay upon others this sad service of love and
regard for the venerable man whose remains we are bearing to the
tomb ; the more, because there are here ministers who have known
him during nearly the whole course of his official career. The
position which I hold in the Church, however, and the daily
intercourse which I have enjoyed with our departed brother during
the last three weeks, have led to my being pressed into a service,
which, I may say, could be performed by no one who entertains a
deeper reverence than I do for his noble, upright character.



This is not the occasion for presenting a detailed history of the
life and work of the late minister of St. Andrew's Church, or for
sketching the features, intellectual and moral, which so strongly
characterized him. This is an office which will be discharged by
others, I trust, at a more fitting time. To day, rather let us seize
upon the few thoughts which these solemn scenes suggest, and
make such personal application of them as may tend to our comfort
and improvement. Let us see whether we cannot become better
ministers, better Christians, better men, by the part we take in
this burial.

Death, in this instance, has severed many a tie. The parental
tie is severed, and the children of our friend are driven to look to
Him who " in His holy habitation " is " a Father of the father-
less." On their behalf we also cast our eye heavenward, and
upward send our prayers for their comfort, their guidance, their
salvation. The tie of friendship is broken. For who can doubt
that, during the residence of such a man for forty years in one
place, there were formed friendships of the firmest and tenderest
character. The pastoral tie is rent. How strong that tie becomes
through the growth of years you know who have^seen this vene-
rable minister go in and out among you for almost two generations.
The Presbyterial tie is sundered. We, his co-presbyters, are called
to mourn the loss of the father jjfjjux-Presbytery, the father,
indeed, of our churcn in this country. Much might we say of him
in these several relations : of his faithfulness, of his courage, of
his self-denying work when he was left almost alone in our Church
here, of his jourueyings oft, of his perils, of his anxious care of the

churches, of his faithful counsels in sickness and sorrow, of his




consideration, almost to a fault, for the failings of others, of his
tenderness in seeking to restore those who were overtaken in error
or sin, of the faithful nature of his friendships, of his generousness
to the poor, of the comforting and hope-inspiring words with which
he was ever ready to sustain the hearts of the dying. Not that we
would set him forth as faultless ! Those lips, now closed in death,
would reprove us, could they be but opened, were we for one
moment to attempt the concealment of frailties and imperfections
which our brother consciously shared with us all, and which are
the common heritage of our now fallen humanity. What we do
say is that in him whose remains lie before us, we have lost much
that was valuable to us all, whether in the Jajnily_^iiL-ihe congre-
ition, or in the Church at large, that in him^jypra qn

lities of

streagth, of firmness, of endurajice, of coujags, of self- fo*gt ful-
ness and of faith, upon the like of which we shall seldom, if ever,
Jook again. Had he lived in the days when the Covenanters laid
down their lives for theip principles, he would have been among
the first of Scottish martyrs. In these characteristics he has left
to his children, and to his brethren in Christ's 'ministry, a noble
legacy which they will do well sacredly to hold and cherish.

He is gone ! We shall sj& no more that noble form ! We shall
not again. Jiqar his voice giving utterance to those words of strength
and chasteness and beauty in which he was wont to clothe his
no less strong and chaste and beautiful thoughts. Those lips will
never again convey comfort to the sorrowful, and strength to the
dying. We bow to the will of Providence. Upon Him whose
throne is built on righteousness, we rest. " Clouds and darkness
are round about Him : righteousness and judgment are the


habitation of His Throne." We mark it as an evidence
of Divine love that our revered friend was so long spared to
us, to counsel us by his wisdom, to encourage us by his example,
.to cheer us by his friendship. And that he has died full of days
and full of honour, surrounded by affectionate children, and faithful
.relatives and friends who have watched and cared for him, with,
I may say, unexampled devotion, we accept also as a mark of the
Divine favour. But that in the midst of very great sufferings he
should have retained his faith and courage, that in the certain
prospect of dissolution he should have remained calm and unshaken,
that death should have become to him a welcome visitant, that un-
flinchingly and without even the shadow of fear he should have
cried out for release this is an evidence of Divine mercy, the
strength and depth of which I cannot find words to express.

During a ministry of three-and- thirty years, I have witnessed
many a death-bed : I never witnessed one in which Christian
faith seemed so strong and abiding, and, at the same time, so char-
acteristic. Often, very often, did our friend cry out in his petitions,
" Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly ! Into Thy hands I commend
my spirit, Thou hast redeemed me, Lord God of truth. " Then he
would dwell upon the faith of the old patriarchs and try to make
it his own ; and his it truly was simple, strong, sustaining. " The
Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, He also is become my
salvation. " But the words on which he seemed most to rest were
those of the Psalmist already quoted, " into Thy hands I commend
my spirit, Thou hast redeemed me. " Of our version of the
psalms, specially dear to him were the 23rd. 46th and HGth.
His favourite death-bed hymn was the 5th, for the reading of


which lie often called, and which I myself had the privilege of
reading to him a few hours before his death.

" The hour of my departure's come,
' I hear the voice that calls me home,
" At last, Lord, let troubles cease
" And let Thy servant die in peace."

If you ask me in what faith he died, I could not give you a
truer formula than the 3rd verse of this hymn :

" Not in mine innocence I trust

" I boiv before Thee in the dust,

" And through my Saviour's blood alone

" I look for mercy at Thy Throne. "

I could tell you a great deal more of what our friend thought
and said and believed, but it is not needful.

Why do I say aught at all ? Because I feel it right that you
should know how your minister died. Right that you should be
told that the truths which he so often spoke to you from the pulpit,
and at the sick-bed, sufficed to sustain Him in the trying hour;
gave him victory eter doubt, over fear, over death itself.

And now we bear away to its last resting place this noble and
once majestic form ! Corruptible, it shall put on incorruption ;
mortal, it shall put on immortality; sown in weakness, it shall be
raised in power ; sown in corruption it shall be raised in incorrup-
tion ; sown a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual body ; even
In that day when the trumpet of the Archangel shall sound, and
shall summon from their graves the righteous dead. Then shall
be brought to pass the saying that is written " Death is swallowed
Up in victory ! "



Prayer was then offered for the bereaved family, for the cor.gre-
gregation, for the ministry and eldership, and for the whole Catholic
Church , after which the congregation joined in singing the 3rd
and 5th verses of the fifth Hymn, and received the Apostolic

A large number of the members of St. Andrew's Church availed
themselves of the opportunity afforded them to take a last look at
the placid features of their late minister, while the doleful, deep-
sounding notes of the " Dead March in Saul " were pealed forth
from the great organ.

A greater mark of funeral respect has seldom been paid to a
citizen of Montreal. Taken as a whole it was a grand spectacle,
and the ceremony was of a most impressive character. On leaving
the church the procession reformed and proceeded to Mount Royal
Cemetery, in one of the vaults of which was deposited all that is
mortal of one concerning whom it may be said, as of the great


At a meeting of St. Andrew's congregation, held on the 24th
February, 1870, the following minute in reference to their late
minister, was unanimously adopted :

" The congregation of St. Artdrew's Church think it becoming
in them to express the very high estimation in which they held
their late much lamented pastor, the Rev. Alexander Mathieson,
D.D., and to recognize his great services to the Church, and to
the cause of religion in Canada, as well as to the congregation in
particular ; also, to bear testimony to his pre-eminent virtues,


dignity of character, large hearted benevolence, geniality of dis-
position, true nobility of nature, joined with simple piety and a
pure life, which so endeared him to nil, and, more especially, to
the congregation over which he so long presided, and to whom he
dispensed the Bread of Life."

A minute of similar import to the foregoing, was also adopted
by the Kirk Session "of St. Andrew's Church, at their first meet-
ing, after the death of " their late Moderator, Pastor, and Friend."

The entire press of Canada joined in the general tribute of
respect that was paid to the memory of Dr. Mathieson, on the
announcement of his decease, thus affording a gratifying and con-
vincing proof that his many noble qualities of head and heart were
duly appreciated by his fellow subjects of all creeds and denomina-
tions, of all nationalities and shades of politics. We have only
room for the concluding passage of an article occuppying two
columns of the Montreal Berald, in which particular allusion is
made to his connection with the St. Andrew's S >ciety of Montreal.
" Of Dr. Mathieson it may be said that he was a universal
favourite with all he came in contact, being much beloved by his
flock, who looked to him as their Father. To all he was affable
and courteous, the poor being special objects of his care ; and, as
he said on his retirement from office in the St. Andrew's Society,
in the fall of 1869, his aim was not to foster pauperism, but to
give the applicants for aid, first, work, and then assistance. His
connection with the St. Andrew's Society was from the date of its
foundation in 1835, when he was elected its first chaplain. On
the 30th November, 1836, he preached the first annual sermon,



and, in 1868, he preached his last sermon in connection with it,
from the words, " walk about Zion," &c. His discourses were
peculiarly appropriate to the occasions on which they were
delivered, and so touching were some of his allusions to the
" land of the mountain and the flood," and her glorious Institu-
tions, that his hearers were visibly affected. The Reverend Doctor
was twenty-five times elected chaplain of this Benevolent Society,
and was always regular in attendance at the committee meetings,
and ever ready to assist them in their labours of love.

Photography has preserved for us some admirable and

portraits of the late venerable minister of St. Andrew's Church.
But it is worthy of consideration whether or not a substantial and^
enduring^ monument should be erected to the memory_of^o__worthy j
a citizen of Montreal as Dr. Mathieson was. Along-side of the
Anglican Cathedral, an elaborate and costly monument is in course
of construction to commemorate the services to his Church, during
eighteen years, of the late excellent Bishop of Montreal. If what
we have said, and what others have said, who were less likely than
we to be biassed in their estimate of Dr. Mathieson's character and
services be true, the Presbyterians of Montreal would do honour
to themselves in placing^ along-side of St, Andrew's Church, a
statue of its late minister, who was for a much longer period the
recognized head and representative of Presbyterianism in the city.
Whatever expense might be incurred in carrying out such a
proposal would be cheerfully shared by all the congregations of
the Church.



Extract frnnuLSglDloP prfinnhfid in St. A.nrlrnmV PhnrMij Toronto,

byjtbe Rev. Dr. Barclay, nn Pa-ili^ PPJ" t f i ) " He led them

forth by the right way that they might go to a city of habi-


It is unspeakably precious and consoling, amid earthly separations,
to think that the completed journey of a true Christian life is but
the arrival at the end of " the right way " which leads to " the
city of habitation." There are households amongst us where such
testimony has but recently been borne to the value of religion as
a guide through that way, to the rest on high. Valuable^ are the
lessons which thus come whether from high or from humble
homes loud_tLe_alls thus uttered, strong itae-Luducements thus
presented to us all, to be " followers of those who are now inherit-
ing the promises."

In thus reviewing the text, in the admonitions it lifts, my
thoughts turn with saddened interest to an old and much-valued
friend, recently departed, whose prominent position in the Church,
during a lengthened ministerial life, entitles him to public notice
from any of her pulpits; and over whose unexpected decease I desire
here to give expression to my own heartfelt sympathies, in the
regret I feel at the separation from us of one so worthy of all
honour, whose face we shall not again behold in this land of living
men. I refer to the late Rev. Dr. Mathieson of Montreal, whose
mune has been so lon<j; artrf intjjnalply associated with the history
of the Church of Scotland in this land, and whose many noble
qualities secured for him the respect and regard of a large circle
of friends, who highly appreciated his worth, and will long cherish

his memory.



Of a commanding prp.apnp.p and dignified deportment, unselfish ,
and free from all that savoured of a mean or sordid nature pos
sessing warm sympathies, and of a generous disposition, with
great kindness of hegrt he was peculiarly fitted to occupy a posi-
tion of prnmjpongft among his fellow-men, whilst he enjoyed in
large measure, the esteem of those who were privileged to associate
with him.

Coming to this country previous to the organization of the Synod
he has thus been connected with our Church, in active minis_
terial service, for nearly half a century. Occupying as he did a
leading place in our Communion, as the minister of one of the
most important of our congregations his first and only minis-
terial charge ; Jlffrd by his tutenjts, by his weigVt of character,
and by his indomitable erife^y and steadfastness of purpose, to
take a lead ing part in the Church's counsels and in conducting
its public affairs ; warmly attached to the Church of Scotland and
desirous of imitating, or emulating, all that was praiseworthy in
the venerable Paren t, by a close adherence to its model in organi-
sing .infL^^naQJiff^fing ft1ir flhnrfh in this land, his influence was

felt in the leading emergencies in its history. He has left his
j> uiipp>as_on many of its acts, and had at?n<{jhare in the shaping
of its policy and in. the direction of its affairs; whilst in all that
concerned the welfare of the Church he took the deepest interest,
and devoted thereto no small portion of his time and energy.

To the consideration of all questions affecting the position and
public interests of the Church he brought a sound judgment and
thoroughly hojie^tjcoivvictions, which he never abandoned for the

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Online LibraryJohn JenkinsLife of the Rev. Alex. Mathieson, D.D. / with a funeral sermon by John Jenkins → online text (page 12 of 18)