John Jenkins.

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

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woald have been for ever held in the bondage of the grave. But
for Christ, Paganism would have been right; silence and gloom,
unbroken and impenetrable, would have brooded over every
human grave. But for Christ, the glories of the resurrection
morn would never dawn upon the \vorld ; the grave would remain
for ever closed ; the caverns of the sea would for ever hold fast their
dead. But for Christ, the saints would never walk forth from their
graves in the robes of immortality, and the universe would never


witness the glorious spectacle of a redeemed world shouting victory
over death.

How much owe we to Christ ! Have we peace ? He is its
author. Are we holy ? His blood has cleansed us. Have we hope ?
Christ is in us the hope of glory. Are we sustained in our
bereavements ? It is because our friends whom we have buried
out of our sight " sleep in Jesus."

I come to you to-day with a solemn message. I am commis-
sioned by the Presbytery to proclaim this Charge vacant. Already
are you called to take steps to fill the place of him who for more
than three and forty years presided over your interests as a congre-
gation, and ministered to you the Word of Life. There will be
other ministers of St. Andrew's Church ; there will never be buried
a minister of this congregation, who will have more earnestly
thought and worked for his people than he whose funeral we
attended on Thursday. To the very last his heart was here, going out
in affection for his people, anxiously desiring the future prosperity
of the church for whose interests he so long laboured and so suc-
cessfully. There were in him resources of power, intellectual and
moral, not often found in the ministry; or this church would not
be what it is, to day, in numbers, in liberality, in influence, in
true power. It is not pretended that he was always right ! Who is
always right? But it is claimed that he was always conscientious
and that he ever sought, so far as he was able to apprehend, the
best interests of St. Andrew's Church. That he was a grateful
minister, feeling to an almost distressing keenness the kindnesses
which he occasionally received from his flock, none can doubt. The


sympathy extended to him in the overwhelming sorrow which befel
him eighteen months ago was so deeply felt as to be utterly inex-
pressible; and the graceful token of respect for him, and for her
whom he mourned, which some of you evinced in the erection of
that beautiful memorial destroyed by the calamity of the 24th of
October, lodged itself in his heart with undying gratitude. I
shall read to you the sentences which he penned in regard to this
ubject, and which he clearly purposed sending to those who had
thus contributed to his sad joy. These, his words, shall be my last
words to you to-day. They are found in an unfinished note, penned,
evidently, under deep emotion an emotion so deep as that he was
unable to finish it. It would seem, indeed, to have been written
in a reverie of overwhelming grief mixed with gratitude :

MONTREAL, 4th Nov., 1867.

My D : Language is inadequate to express my gratitude for

your kindness in raising a memorial window in remembrance of my
dear Janet Ewing Mathieson. I can only thank you, which I do
from the very bottom of my heart.

The frail memorial, like her lovely life, has passed away ; teach-
ing us not to fix our affections on any earthly blessings, but to
fix them on the things that are above. M ay the Divine Spirit affix
on our hearts the truth so impressively taught.

Your sympathetic memorial took me somewhat by surprise. My
emotions were too deep. I could not look on it without unmanly
weakness. From the glance I gave to it, it appeared to me very
beautiful. When they somewhat subside, I hope to contemplate it
with composure.




Preached by Dr. Mathieson,

Different Occasions.

THE writers of discourses for the pulpit are, of all men, the most
subject to interruptions in their literary labours, and it cannot be
expected that they will be always equally successful in style and
matter. In proportion to the number of sermons from which a
selection is required to be made is the difficulty of fixing upon
such as may be esteemed the best, or the most suitable for pub-
lication. In the present instance, the amount of time and labour
that would be required in making a judicious choice are such as
quite preclude the attempt. It is therefore proper to state that the
following sermons are offered to the public chiefly on account of
the historical interest which is supposed to attach to them, rather
than from their intrinsic literary merits though, at the same time,
they afford evidence of careful preparation and of high mental

The first strmon preached by Dr. Mathieson in Montreal, the
last sermon preached by him before the Synod, and, the last, to
the Congregation of St. Andrew's, will, it is confidently hoped, be
accepted as a pleasing souvenir of their author, and a suitable
accompaniment to these memoirs.




III. 1.

My Christian Brethren and Friends Having,with the customary
solemnities, been invested with the pastoral charge of this congre-
gation, I this day enter on the public performance of the very
important duties of that office duties deriving their importance
at once from the authoritative sanction of Almighty God, whose
ambassador to you, with the overtures of peace and reconciliation,
I profess to be, and also, from the intimate connexion which the
discharge of these duties has with the happiness or misery of your
undying souls ; for the faithful minister of His Word is always unto
God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved and in
them that perish ; to the one he is the savour of death unto death,
and to the other the savour of life unto life.

(*) This was the first sermon preached by Dr. Mathieson in St. An-
drew's Church, Montreal on the last Sabbath of 1826. It was delivered
by him again on the last Sabbath of 1869, a very short time before the
close of his ministerial labours.


The arduous and difficult nature of the duties of the ministerial
office bears a relative proportion to their supreme importance.
This, in part, arises from the nature of the office itself, the great
end and aim of which is the recovery of fallen and degraded men
to their original purity and happiness ; the enlightening of their
understandings who are spiritually blind ; the communication of
truth to the minds of those who are dead in trespasses and sins;
the production of principles which will bring forth fruit unto
everlasting life in the souls of them who are at utter enmity
with God, and habitually addicted to all that is impure and unholy.

In attempting to realize these great ends of the Christian minis-
try, it is obvious, from the nature of the employment, that difficul-
ties and discouragements of no ordinary magnitude stand in the
way. There is a levity and carelessness of disposition, and an
indifference to whatsoever is of a spiritual nature, that are charac-
teristics of human apostacy, which too often oppose themselves, at
the very threshold, to the reception of the Gospel. Should the
faithful minister of Christ succeed in breaking down this formid'
able barrier, and awakening in the minds of His people a just sense
of their danger, still he will find that the unrenewed principles of
humanity will disqualify him from willingly accepting the plan
which God, in His wisdom, devised, and by His Almighty power
wrought out for the salvation of sinners, and which in the Gospel
of His Son is so clearly revealed. His pride refuses to be humbled,
and will not tolerate the communication of truths which fasten the
charge of guilt and depravity on the conscience. His selfishness
and vanity will but little dispose him to rely with humble confi-
dence for salvation on His merits alone whom God hath set forth


to be the only propitiation for sin, and few indeed will be found
who sit so loose to the world and its pleasures as to make those
self-sacrifices which the Gospel requires, and unreluctantly
forego the gratifications of sense for enjoyments that are pure and
spiritual, and which can only be discerned by the eye of an enlight-
ened and discriminating faith.

Thus opposed to the prejudices and passions of men, the truths
of the Gospel will be regarded with aversion, or rojected with
disdain by many, while its ministers, instead of being welcomed
with joy, as the harbingers of happiness and peace, will be tra-
duced as messengers of evil tidings, and propagators of a dark and
gloomy superstition, adapted only to abridge the number of our
social enjoyments and give a fan-bidding aspect to all the pleasures
of life. And should the minister of Christ be the honoured instru-
ment of awakening the minds of those committed to his charge to
a just sense of the danger of their condition, and instructing them
in the knowledge of those truths that are intimately connected
with their salvation, still he will find that here his labours end not.
His strenuous and persevering efforts will still be necessary to
convert their speculative knowledge into active principles. This,
unquestionably, is the work of a higher agent than man, a work
which only Omnipotence can effect, still, as God chooses to work
by means, and as He hath set apart an order of men expressly for
the purpose of carrying forward His designs with respect to our
fallen race, not to avail ourselves of the means which arc of His
appointment means which He hath put within our reach, and pro-
mised to bless, would be as derogatory to His honour as it would

be altogether to deny our dependence on Him. Regarding the



Christian ministry as an instrument in God's hands for advancing
Christ's kingdom in the world, and building up from the ruins
of humanity a holy and spiritual temple in which the Most lliuh
God willcondeecend to dwell, unquestionably, it is the most impor-
tant occupation in which a man can be employed, demanding
uncompromising fidelity, and unwearied devotedness, until the
image of God, after which man was created, again beautify and bless
every individual committed to his charge. how anxiously must he
tend the germ of divine truth implanted in the soul, lest the deceit-
fulness of sin, and the secret insinuations of the spirits of darkness
(for we wrestle not only with flesh and blood, but with principalities
and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual
wickedness in high places) should wither it in the bud, before the
early dawning of conviction grow into that elevated piety, which
the darkness of guilt cannot obscure nor the temptations of the
world ever shake. How diligently must he watch the progr>
the divine life in the soul, lest the cares and vanities of life should
stifle it in its origin and tempt to repose the hopes of salvation
on the transient feelings of love or devotion which casual circum-
stances, or a scrupulous observance of the formalities of religion,
awaken instead of unqualifiedly surrendering every thought and
feeling, every word and action to the sei vice of God. How fre-
quently and earnestly must he expostulate with sinners on the folly
of their ways, and again and again entreat them, by all that is
tender and encouraging in mercy, and by all that is awful in the
consideration of death, judgment and eternity, to crucify the world
with its lusts, and be reconciled unto God. With what delicate
taste and discriminating judgment must he convey his instructions,


so as to suit the capacities, the character and circumstances of
each individual, teaching the rich and powerful to 03 humbly and
charitable, the poor and oppressed to be patient and resigned to
the dispensations of Providence ; repressing the voice of the mur-
murer, checking the spirit of the arrogant, consoling the afflicted,
and comforting the penitent, without infusing the elements of false
peace into his soul ; rousing the careless and obdurate, and yet so
as not to break the bruised reed, nor inflame the wounds of the
contrite spirit ; bearing home to theconsciences of all men the con-
victions of sin, and yet avoiding even the appearance of personality ;
in a word, approving himself unto God a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

How carefully, also, must he qualify himself for the performance
of his duties, by devoting many an hour to the exhausting exercise
of intense thought, and to acquaint himself with the general dictates
of inspiration, that he may not speak in God's name what He hath
not spoken, but plant " wholly a right seed : " How patiently must
he.cultivate those dispositions and habits, which will make his per-
sonal conduct a practical illustration of the doctrines he teaches.
How carefully must he strive to elevate his principles and purify
his motives, that he may neither be seduced by the applause of the
world, and become vain, ostentatious, or indolentnor be tempted to
despond when he finds his affection and love repaid with contempt,
and when a seemingly impenetrable ignorance and insensibility resist
his efforts to instruct or improve those committed to his care. Amidst
the weariness and mental distractions which these labours entail
often will he envy the condition of the sons of bodily toil, who,
when the day's hard task is done, can quietly resign themselves to


the sweets of oblivious repose, and the protection of that gracious
Being who watches over them continually, and loads them with His
loving-kindness and tender mercies.

When we contemplate the great purposes to be served by the
Christian ministry, and the difficulties and discouragements that
stand opposed to its success, well may the servants of Christ tremble,
and, in the consciousness of their own weakness, exclaim with the
Apostle, " Who is sufficient for these things ! "

But although unnumbered difficulties attend the discharge of the
functions of the ministry, yet there are many incidents which banish
despondency and throw a bright ray of hope over the darkest hour
of trial. Bad as the world is, and unconcerned as men generally
are about their eternal' welfare, the ambassador for Christ will
meet with many whose greatest wish is to obtain that salvation-
which he is commissioned to proclaim, and whose chief happiness
is to listen, in the spirit of meekness and docility, to his instructions ;
whose strenuous exertions will be employed to promote sincere
obedience to the precepts he inculcates, and will manifest their
gratitude by cultivating that spirity of charity which is the bond
of perfectness, and, which, like precious incense on the altar, will
diffuse a hallowed influence around. Such considerations will com-
municate a joy to his soul, which will more than compensate for
many an hour of toil and trouble. At the same time the reflection
that his success depends not on his own skill or strength, but upon
the power of God and the wisdom of God, will banish all distrust
arising from the consciousness of his own weakness. He feels, in
every difficulty,strongin the Lord, and that, through Christ strength"
ening him, he can do all things ; hence, brethren, in the work of


the ministry, we ought never to view the difficulties to be sur-
mounted in connection with the weakness of the instrument which
God hath chosen to accomplish His purposes, except in so far as
such a view is calculated to increase our reverence for the ordinances
through which He communicates the influences of His Spirit, and
to stir us -up to make a proper use of them.

But though it be to God, and to him alone, we must look for success,
still, the assistance which He vouchsafes to impart, by no means
supersedes the necessity of exerting, to the uttermost, our own
powers and faculties, and He only bestows His favours in the way
of His own appointment. Now, in His Word, we are repeatedly
assured, that the conditions on which He is pleased to grant Ilig
aid, are, that we ask for it, and cherish it. " Ask and it shall be
given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened
unto you." " Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I
do. '' I know no subject of meditation more appropriate to the
circumstances in which we are this d:iy assembled, than the request
Paul made to the Thessalonian Church, in the words of our text :
" Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free
course and be glorified, even as it is with you." When we consider
the direct effect which this exalted act of devotion has in procuring
for us the blessings which we need, or its indirect influence in pro-
ducing those affections and feelings which dispose us to receive reli-
gious instruction with profit, we will be impressed with the conviction
that the request which Paul makes in the text, it is our duty to
comply with, no less from motives of personal advantage, than the
instincts of humanity : " Brethren, pray for us, that the word of
the Lord may have free course and be glorified."


That we may more forcibly apply the text to our o\vn c.ise, lot
us briefly inquire in what way the word of the Lord had free
course and was glorified among the Thessalonians. Nor is this an
inquiry of little importance, for, undoubtedly, in whatever respects
it had free course and was glorified among them, in the same res-
pects and in the same way, in so far as our respective circumstances
coincide, it will have free course and be glorified among us.

We are informed by accurate chronologers that Christianity
was planted at Thessalonica by Paul about the 50th year of the
Christian era. The success of his ministry appears at first to have
been very great, for, in his first Epistle, he says " his coming
unto them was not in vain." That the Gospel had come unto
them, not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost,
and iu much assurance, and he thanked God without ceasing,
because that when they had received the Word of God, which they
had heard of him, they received it not as the word of man, but, as it
is in truth, the Word of God. He also tells thorn that he remem-
bers their work of faith and labour of love ; that it was known at
Macedonia and Achaia, that they had become followers of the Lord ;
that they had turned from idols to serve the living God, and to
wait for His Son from heaven ; that their faith grew exceedingly ;
that the charity of every one of them all towards each other abound-
dcd; that they had faith and patience in all the persecutions they
endured ; that, as touching brotherly love, there was no need that
he should write unto them, as they were taught of God to love one
another; that they did so and edified and comforted one another.
From these passages you will perceive, how the Word of the Lord
had free course and was glorified among the Thessaloniaus, and


alo what things ought to be the subjects of your frequent and
earnest prayers at the throne of grace. The Christians at Thessa-
lonica glorified the Word of the Lord by the readiness, humility i
and joy with which they had received it. They 3avilled ndt at its
doctrines, they rejected not its precepts, but gave a willing assent
to all its demands. The blessed fruits it produced in them were
conversion from the darkness of heathen ignorance and idolatry to
the light of the gospel and the service of the living G!od, to the
exercise of patience in all their trials, to the exceeding increase of
an enlightened faith, and a widely extended charity. Such are tho
gifts and graces essential to the character of every Christian. Pray
then, brethren, to the Giver of every good and perfect gift that He
would pour out in rich effusion, upon all the ministers of His Word,
the enlightening, strengthening, sanctifying influences of His Holy
Spirit, that they may discern what is the good and perfect and
acceptable will of God ; that they may search for and find in the
pages of inspiration the law of their own lives ; and, by a faithful
discharge of their duties, recommend the same unerring guide to
their several congregations. Pray ye, that the God and Father
of Our Lord Jesus Christ" would give, to every individual they
are commissioned to instruct, the Spirit of wisdom and reve-
lation in the knowledge of Him ; the eyes of their understanding
being enlightened that they may know what is the hope of His call-
ing, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the
saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power in them who
believe, so that they may embrace with gratitude the offered salva-
tion, and welcome with joy the glad tidings which angels announced
to the shepherds, while their anthems of glory to God in the highest


awoke the still slumbers of the night, and their hymns of praise to
God, and good-will to men, in sweetest melody, floated on the
midnight breezes o'er the plains of Bethlehem. Pray yc, that the
Gospel may came unto them, not in word only, but also in power,
and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, to Extirpate every
prejudice from the mind, to subdue every evil propensity, to withdraw
their hearts from the world's idolatry, and give the whole homage
of their affections unto Him whose inalienable prerogative is the
absolute sovereignty of the heart. Pray ye, that, they may be
endued with the faith that overcometh the world, that charity, the
bond of perfectness, maybe richly diffused over all the dwellings
of men ; giving unto all a common object of pursuit, and a recipro-
cal concern for each other's welfare which will unite them in indes-
tructible harmony. This is the true spirit of the gospel of
Christ. In proportion as it prevails the tumult and strife that
arise from a collision of- conflicting interests are hushed, and wrath
and animosity disappear.

It is consistent with the loftiest conceptions we form of an
infinitely powerful and benevolent God that He grant an answer
in peace to the prayers of unfeigned faith and humility. Explicit
declarations, that, " the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man
availcth much ; " that, " him that calleth upon God in sincerity and
truth He will hear and answer, " are scattered over every pacre of the
sacred volume, and are confirmed by the experience of good men in
all ages. You have read that when the rebellious Israelites com-
plained, andtheanger of the Lord waskindlcd against thorn, and His
fire consumed them, Moses prayed and the fire was quenched. You
have 'read that the prayers of Joshua arrested the sun in his course


until the enemies of the Lord had been destroyed ; that the prayers
of Elias reanimated the dead, sealed the windows of heaven, so that
" it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six
months;" that at his intercession it was re-opened, the rain fell, and
the earth brought forth her fruits. You have read that the prayers
of Hezekiah brought an angel from heaven to cutoff the beleaguer-
ing hosts of the Assyrians ; that Samuel and John were given in
answer to their mother's supplications, and that the venerable
Simeon ultimately obtained what had long been the object of his
holy desires, and the theme of his constant prayers. But why need
I multiply examples of a fact which, I am persuaded, you all
acknowledge ; many of you, I sincerely hope, from your personal
experience. Surely, if the prayers of holy men in times past have
been effectual in working miracles, we may reasonably expect that a
gracious answer will be* given to the requests we make for things
agreeable to the will of God. It surely is no hard or grievous con-
dition that is attached to the blessings He bestows, that we ask for
them ; while you must feel satisfied, that, in the very nature of
things, prayer is a fit means for keeping alive in pur minds a con-
stant sense of our dependence on God,and cherishing those holy affec-
tions which qualify us for the reception of the Gospel, and make
us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Can a higher
honour be bestowed on mortals than being permitted to enter the
sanctuary of God, and worship Him who is adored by angel and
archangel. In every act of true spiritual worship we leave
behind us the ignoble attachments of earth and ascend to those

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Online LibraryJohn JenkinsLife of the Rev. Alex. Mathieson, D.D. / with a funeral sermon by John Jenkins → online text (page 14 of 18)