John Jenkins.

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

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suggestions, however plausible, of a doubtful expediency ; whilst he


uniformly exhibited a straightforwardness of purpose in the
firm assertion of what he believed to be right, and to which he
clung with a resoluteness not easily if ever shaken. He might be\
mistaken in some of his plans, but he was never other than sincere/

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pholding them. Stable in his friendships, of a genial tempera-
ment, and ever ready by his counsal and his means to help all who
sought his aid, he might sometimes be deceived by those who
abused his confidence, yet in high principle and generous sentiment
he showed the true nobility of his nature, the disinterestedness of
his friendship, and the reality of his sterling worth.

A perspicuous and graceful writer, with a naturally vigorous
intellect and of a philosophic turn ; having a mind well stored
with the acquirements of early study, and thoroughly embued with
the importance and magnitude of the great themes to which the
efforts of the pulpit are devoted ; and with a heart quietly and un-
ostentatiously responding to their influence, he to jk high rank as an
intelligent and instructive expounder of God's Word, to which hon-
ourable and responsible work so many years of his life have been

Though not usually demonstrative in his piety he was never-
theless true to his religious convictions, and clear in his apprehen-
sions of divine truth ; and his latter end, as testified to by those
who were privileged to witness the gradually closing scene of his
long and honoured life, was distinguished by a peculiar firmness
of faith, and trustful dependeno 3 on the Saviour, to whom he looked
with unshaken confidence in the prospect of dissolution.

I have been expounding to you this day some of the features of
a true Christian as set forth in the text, and the character of " the


way" by which he walks in tho pilgrimage of life, with as much
clearness as my own apprehension of them enabled me, and with
such fulness as the present opportunity has afforded ; but I point
you also to the record of the like truth as written in the history of
a departed believer, whose aim was to walk in that way, humbly
and unostentatiously serving the Lord. He had passed the three
score years and ten usually allotted to man, and the way for him
was therefore not a " short" one. Whether, and to what extent, amid
the dark shadows of bereavements which passed over his dwelling,
and other trials that skirt the path of life, it may have been to him,
not the " e:wy way,'' nor the way that was free from perplexities,
we cannot fully tell. But the way, we trust, it has been for him
to the "city of habitation." " Behold the upright, for the latter
end of that man is peace."

From many quarters, and in varied forms, admonitions are per-
petually coining to persuade us of the benefits of walking in " the
right way" as strangers an 1 pilgrims on the earth thus conse-
crating to G-od's service the talents, whether the two, or the ten, He
has given us to " ocaupy," we may make the journey of life a pil-
grimage to the better land. Give heed then, to the lessons of true
wisdom ; walk in her ways as defined by Christ Himself, and
exemplified in His own holy life ; cherish that tru3 hope which rests
on this Rock of Ages, as set forth in the great charter of our faith,
and commended to us by the life and death of the good and true
of our fellow-men ; so that over your completed life there may at
length fall to be written in the language of truth an epitaph, em-
bodying the sentiment of the text: " He was led forth by the righ
way that he might go to a city of habitation."


la accordance with ecclesiastioal custom the members of the
Presbytery of Montreal, who attended Dr. Mathieson's funeral met
in the vestry of St. Paul's Church, immadiately after the inter-
lent. The Rev. Donald Ross,, B.D., acting as Moderator: when
the Rev. John Jenkins, D.D., was appointed to preach to the
congregation of St. Andrew's, on the following Sabbath, and also
to act as moderator of the Kirk Session, until the next meeting of
the Presbytery.

The funeral sermon that now follows, was accordingly preached
by Dr. Jenkins, on the 20th of February^ j gg&jn. the. Hall of the
Normal School, in Belmont street, where the congregation of St.
Andrew's have worshipped since the destruction of their Church by



thian S XV, 51.

PLINY, an accomplished writer and philosopher of ancient
times, maintained the opinion that two things are impossible
to the Creator : One, The bestow ment upon mortals of endless life,
the other, The resurrection of the dead. He speaks, elsewhere,
of the resuscitation of the dead as " a childish, doting story "
^Eschylus, a disciple of the Pythagorean school, was also of opinion
that it is beyond the power of Deity to raise from death a human
body. This was the universal doctrine of ancient speculation.
We read, in the Acts of the Apostles, that, in Athens, certain
philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics encountered Paul,
crying out, " What will this babbler say ?" and, " He seemeth to be a


setter forth of strange gods?" Why this reproach ? The historian
supplies the reason : " Because he preached unto them Jesus and
the resurrection." From these sources, and from others which
might be readily named, we learn that the world by wisdom kn w
not the doctrine which is so authoritatively announced and so
strikingly illustrated in this remarkable chapter.

This doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is a doctrine of
pure revelation. The ancients needed the first sentence of the Bible
to prepare them for their researches into the laws of nature. Their
ignorance of the fact that " in the beginning GOD created the
heavens and the earth," led to their acceptance of the theory of the
eternity of matter. So, they who thought the creation of something
out of nothing impossible, were ill-prepared to admit the resurrec-
tion of corrupted, dissolved and dissipated bodies. Even the
doctrine of the immortality of the soul was held with doubt ; and
was taught, not so much because it was believed, as that it was
deemed a powerful check upon the morals of the masses. Nu-
merous proofs of this might be supplied from the Greek and Latin
classics. There were vague imaginings of immortality as the end of
this mut.ible ;md sorrowful life; but they never assumed a palpable
conception. How uncertain were the views of the old philosophers
on the subject of a future state may be seen from the avidity with
which they embraced the doctrine of the transmigration of souls,
which Pythagoras first learned from the Hindoos, and then dis-
seminated throughout Greece.

T mention these facts that you may be assisted to appreciate the
value of the Bible; especially of that portion of the Sacred Writ-
ings which constitutes the basis of Christian teaching- to appreciate


the elevation to which you are raised by your connection with
Christianity. I would you should feel how superior in true
sublimity and certainty oF teaching is the Gospal system to every
other. I confidently challenge a comparison of the clearest deliver-
ances of antiquity on this and kindred subjects, with the clear, con-
secutive, profound, eloquent and conclusive reasoning which Paul
presents to us in this chapter. There is a power in the Apostle's
language, a felicity of illustration, a transparency of instruction,
which seena to cast every other author into the shade. It is the
light of day quenching the glimmering of tiny stars I It is the
glory of the sun dissipating the clouds of uncertainty, dispelling
the darkness of error !

The obscurity which enveloped the teaching of the Old Tes-
tament on the subject of immortality and the resurrection was
partially relieved when Jesus cried out before the sepulchre of
Lazarus, " I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in
Me, tiiough he were dead yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth
and believeth in Me shall never die." Still further was this
obscurity dispelled when the Redeemer was Himself raised from the
dead by the glory of the Father.

In this chapter another, may I not say the last, step is taken.
Every difficulty is cleared away ; every doubt dissipated ; the whole
subject stated with unquestionable authority. Our Apostle has left
nothing to be added. It is as though he had exhausted the subject ;
as though, in truth, he had stretched forth his hand and snatched
away every remnant of the veil which before intercepted man's
view into the future. One truth he enunciates which was never
before disclosed a truth which, up to the moment when his pen


inscribed our text, was involved in mystery ; a truth, ignorance of
which constituted an obstinate difficulty in the investigation of the
whole subject. Granted that the bodies of the dead are to be raised ;
granted that the scattered dust of mortals shall be collected and
re-constructed into glorious bodies ; what is to become of the
millions that shall be alive at the appearing of Christ ? Shall their
bodies remain as they are ? or shall they die and their remains be
scattered over the earth for a brief time so that they may share
resurrection blessings ? Moses throws no light upon the subject ;
the prophets do not unveil the mystery ; even Christ is silent; and
we have no knowledge till Paul steps forth and says : " Behold^ I
show you a mystery : we shall not all sleep but we bhall all be
changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trump. "

I have thought that nothing could be more instructive or com-
forting to you in the solemn circumstances in which we meet than
a consideration of this great subject. You will not expect me, after
what was said on occasion of the burial of your late revered pastor, to
speak to you again of his qualities as a minister, as a Christian and
as a man. You have learned what they were by long observation, and
by the largest experience. Let me rather raise your thoughts this
morning, the thoughts especially of you who have lately been
bereaved, to that " life and immortality " which the Gospel brings to
light, and the hope of which is alone our support in the bereavements
of time; that immortal life of believers which is " hid with Christ in
God." In the light of revelation we regard our venerable and vene-
rated friend not as dead, but as asleep ; resting in Christ until he
shall awake in the morning of the resurrection. Paganism looks into


human graves despondingly, and takes a last, an eternal farewell of
those who die. Christianity commits the bodies of believers to
the grave with confidence and hope akin to those with which the
husbandman casts seed into the ground. Your late minister
sleepeth ! But ihethinks I hear the voice of Jesus whispering in our
ear the hope-giving words, " Your pastor, brother, friend shall
rise again! " The trumpet shall sound, and then the Saviour will
come to awake him out of sleep !

The text furnishes a description of what shall take place at the
sounding of the last trump, and of the triumphant scenes which
shall follow.

" The trumpet shall sound. " Elsewhere it is called " the trump
of God;" again, " the last trump." The reference is to the coming
of the Lord, when He shall descend from heaven with the voice of
the Archangel, and when ' the dead in Christ shall rise first."

There was the sound of a trumpet on Sinai at the giving of the
law ; it shook the mountain to its base, and the people did exceed-
ingly fear and quake. The voice of the last trump shall shake the
world. We infer that there will be but one blast, for it shall be
accomplished " in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye ;" be this
as it may, it shall be so deep, so loud, so thrilling^ that there shall
be no part of this vas.t earth in which it shall not be heard, no
cavern of the dead which its sound shall not enter, no sea nor ocean
the depths of which shall not be penetrated by its voice : "The
trumpet shall sound."

" And the dead shall be raised incorruptible. " This, we
have said, is a doctrine of pure revelation. The attempt has
been made to prove the future resurrection of the dead on



simply natural principles. It has been wholly unsuccessful. Con-
trariwise, an effort has been made, on the same principles, to
demonstrate its impossibility. I shall not enumerate the objections
which have been raised against the doctrine of the resurrection.
I resolve them by a reference to the Almighty, with whom all
things are possible; and by a reference also to the Word of God,
from which there is no appeal.

St. Paul, in the chapter before us, speaks of the resurrection of
the righteous dead. Respecting the wicked it is only needful for
me to say here, that they too shall rise ; but it shall be " to shame
and everlasting contempt."

The righteous dead shall be raised incorruptible. It has
been attempted to fritter away this teaching of our apostle by
the theory that the future bodies of the saints shall not be iden-
tical with those which they now have. You see at once, that to
accept such a theory would be, virtually, to abandon the doctrine
of the resurrection altogether. If the same body be not meant,
then were it a contradiction in terms to call it a resurrection. That
it will be greatly changed we learn from both the statements and the
illustrations contained in this chapter. No longer natural, it shall
be a spiritual body ; no longer earthly, it shall be a heavenly body.
But that its identity will be maintained maintained in some suffi-
cient sense, is clearly given to us as the opinion of the Apostles,
The objection to the statement of the Apostle in the text,
has been urged on the ground of the magnitude of the
miracle which a general resurrection involves. It is deemed too
stupendous for credibility. In the estimation of these objectors it
cannot be that the scattered dust of the innumerable dead shall be


collected and re-formed ; but it may be that other bodies will be
constructed from other dust. The Creator could, did, construct a
body for man, yea, an immortal body, from the dust of the earth,
impressing it with grace and beauty and even majesty ; but now that
this body has returned " to the dust as it was," He cannot
re-construct it into a body like unto Christ's glorious body ! It is
too much to suppose that the Divine Being could watch over this
dust for five or seven thousand years, and at the end of this period
re-invest it with life and beauty ! Could he care for this dust and
protect it for a day ? why not for a thousand years ? seeing that
" one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years
as one day." Narrow, imperfect must be the views of these sceptical
Christians concerning the perfections of God ! What is all time to
Him who inhabiteth eternity ? What the preservation of the dust
of millions to Him who is almighty and omnipresent? What
the care of dead bodies, as they lie entombed in the earth, to Him
who cares for fifteen hundred millions of living bodies every moment
of every year ? This corruptible shall put on incorruption ; this
mortal shall put on immortality. The dead shall hear the voice
of the Son of God ; and they that hear shall live." " All that are
in the g raves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man. " Take
these texts ; accept them in their simple meaning ; give them
a place in your intellects and your hearts. When you lay
the remains of the departed in the grave draw comfort from
the promise that from this very sepulchre the stone shall be
removed, that this very grave shall be re-opened, that this very
body shall be re-animated with life, that these ears shall hear the
last trump, these eyes, now dark and sunken, gaze with rapture on


the Son of God, the Saviour, these lips, closed and livid, shout the
noble poean, " Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ." You have laid in yonder ceme-
tery a father, a pastor, a husband, a wife, a child. Sorrow not as
those without hope. They only sleep, and are gathering new
vigour for the morning of the resurrection and the day of eternity.

Emblems of the resurrection meet you on every hand. Nature
is full of them. See that worm, it lives, it crawls, it spins its silk,
it seems to die ; the chrysalis lies in torpor ; by-and-bye it bursts
its shell, it expands its wings, and flies away with new life, invested
with a grace, a loveliness, a beauty which it did not before possess.
This is a resurrection. Will you say that it is not the same worm
which crawled at your feet, that now attracts you by its grace and
loveliness? What is morning but the resurrection of day from the
death of night ? Tiie day dies, and is buried in silence and in dark-
ness; it bursts the tomb of night, and rises in glory. Here, says
Tertullian,you have before your eyes a daily emblem of the doctrine,
a diurnal resurrection. What is winter but death? The sap, the
life of vegetation, descends into the roots and is buried in the
ground; the earth is covered with snow or crusted with frost,
and becomes one vast sepulchre ; but when spring appears, the
plants and flowers come out of their graves and rise in beauteous
life. Every seed as it falls from the tree is an emblem at once of
death and of the resurrection. It falls into the earth and rots ;
but it contains the germ of life, and in a little while sprouts and
shoots and lives again in grace and vigour.

You reply, that these facts in nature afford no proof of the
resurrection of the body. I know it. But they surely suggest both


the possibility and even probability of such a transformation. At
least there is no absurdity involved in this article of the Christian
creed, " I believe in the resurrection of the dead," natural science
being itself judge. There is point in the reproof and rejoinder of
Paul, " thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except
It die."

" This corruptible mutt put on incorruption, and this mortal must
put on immortality.'' It must, that it may beooine a fit casket for the
glorified spirit ; for how can that which is carnal, mortal and cor-
ruptible, enjoy that which is spiritual, immortal, and imperishable ?
Here you have the reason for the change which shall be wrought
in the bodies of those believers who shall be alive at the coming
of the Lord. Although they shall not die, yet shall they undergo a
transformation equivalent to that which the raised dead shall have
undergone; their bodies shall be made incorruptible, immortal,
like unto Christ's glorious body. Have we not here an incidental
proof of the identity of the resurrection of the body ? It will not be
denied that, in the case of those who remain unto the comin p of

* O

Christ, the same body shall be renewed and glorified. But you at
once give these a superiority for which you have no scriptural
warrant, if you deny the general identity of the raised and trans-
formed body. " The dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall
be changed." " This," says Paul in one of his Thessalonian
Epistles, " this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we
which remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not go before
them that are asleep, for the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven
with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and the trump of
God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are


alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the
clouds, to meet the Lord in the air : and so shall we ever be with
the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

Contemplate the triumphant scenes which shall follow the resur-
rection and transformation of the bodies of the saints.

" Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death
is swallowed up in victory." This is a quotation from one of Isaiah's
prophecies concerning Christ. You find it in the twenty-fifth
chapter : " He will swallow up death in victory t '' The expression
suggests conflict. Strong and protracted has been the conflict
between death and the saints of the Most High ! It still goes on.
But now the conflict shall be ended j and the victory shall be
Christ's and His people's. The victory shall be yours, my brethren
as in anticipation it was that of your late Minister, when with joy
and trust he cried out, as life was ebbing, " Into Thy Hands I
commend my spirit. Thou hast redeemed me, Lord God of truth."

Look at the pledges of your future conquest over death : Go to
Zarephath, into the widow's house, and see death conquered by
the effectual fervent prayer of righteous Elijah ! Go to the grave
of Elisha. and behold germs of life in the very bones of the
prophet ! Go to Ezekiel's valley of vision, and see there death
dissipated by the breath of the Spirit ! You say it is only a parable.
Yet it proves that the reality is practicable. Go toNain, and see in
the restoration of the widow's son that death is held in subjection
to the will of Jesus ! " Go to the tomb of Lazarus, and behold in
his liberation from death's prison-house the power over death of the
voice of the Son of God. Go ! Search the tomb of Christ, aud see
in that vacated sepulchre, a pledge that He will at length "swallow


up death in victory, " and that mortality shall be swallowed up
of life." Death shall be -swallowed up ! Complete shall be the
conquest. Death shall be swallowed up ! never again to appear ;
never more to exert his power or use his sting. Death shall be
swallowed up ! for Christ shall put all enemies under His feet ;
" the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." " Death and
Hades shall be cast into the lake of fire." There shall be no more
sin and no more curse, and so, " there shall be no more death."

" De-ttTi is swallowed up in victory." With what joy shall the
saints survey this conquest over their last surviving foe ! Looking
back over this world's scenes, when death Wrung out tears and
groans, and provoked many a conflict, when widows shrieked and
orphans wept , and parents mourned over the graves of the
departed ; looking back, T say, upon these scenes, and comparing
them with what shall then be,

" Wonder and joy shall till their heart,
And love command their tongue."

Can you be surprised at the exultation with which it is here
foretold the saints shall be inspired ? Can you wonder at the
defiance with which it is represented they shall insult their van-
quished foe ? Judging from his language, the idea suggested to
the Apostle's mind was that of the whole multitude of the raised
and glorified dead an immense assemblage looking down with
defiance upon the monster-foe, stingless- and disarmed, giving
utterance to a song of universal triumph. It is a lofty conception I
The whole body of the redeemed constituting one vast choir : Some
of them singing " O death, where is thy sting ? " Others of them


responding, " grave, where is thy victory ?" Some, again, chaunt-
ing, " The sting of death is sin ! " Others, taking up the chaunt and
replying, " The strength of sin is the law ! " And then, the whole
body breaking forth in one grand ecstatic chorus, " Thanks be
unto God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus
Christ." that we might be present on that great occasion !
that we might listen to the triumphant song! that we might
help to chaunt its wondrous melodies !

" Through Jesus Christ our Lord! " This is the climax of the
wondrous chorus. It is Christ who hath abolished death. He hath
banished him from his own domain the Church of the redeemed.
His blood is the price paid down as a ransom for the deliverance
from death of both the bodies and the souls of His chosen ones.
And this blood, and the atonement which it made, shall be the
chief theme in all the praises of the glorified in heaven : " Thou wast
slain and hast redeemed us unto God by Thy blood, out of every
nation and kindred and people and tongue." " Thanks be to God,
which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

But for Christ, death would have remained victor, and our bodies

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Online LibraryJohn JenkinsLife of the Rev. Alex. Mathieson, D.D. / with a funeral sermon by John Jenkins → online text (page 13 of 18)