John Jenkins.

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

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mansions of glory where Jehovah has fixed his throne. We come

into His immediate presence, we behold all His excellence and



hold friendly and affectionate intercourse with Him. Thus seeing
Him as He is, we become more intimately acquainted with His
nature and attributes, with the r. quirements of His law, and assimi"
lated to Him who is the express image of His person, and in our
nature has revealed the Father unto us. And when our thoughts
return to the necessary cares and duties of this world, like richly
freighted vessels from a distant land, they will return fraught with
the spirit that pervades every bosom in heaven with love to God
and love to all mankind. Like the influence of the example of
those with whom we associate, we may not at once perceive the
efficacy of prayer, yet it will always be attended with similar effects,
and, more especially, if our supplications have been that His Word
may have free course and be glorified. Indeed we can hardly ima-
gine that they who have bent before the throne of grace, and earn-
estly implored a blessing on the labours of their pastor, will retire
from the services of the sanctuary without being better members
of society, better prepared for the duties of life, and better fitted for
the kingdom of heaven. The voice, the manner, the matter of the
preacher's discourse may not be to their taste, but they go not to
find fault, but to profit by his instructions ; their humility will lead
then to consider whether much of what they dislike may not be
attributable to their own ignorance or vitiated taste ; while candour
will constrain them to acknowledge that even from the most com-
monplace di-course much might be gathered, and, if appreciated
as it ought to be, would largely contribute to their spiritual edifica-
tion and improvement, and, much more than they who had neglected
the means and opportunities they possessed could reasonably hope
to" receive. The infinite importance of the respective duties of


pastor and people will beget a mutual sympathy, which will, in
him, be manifested by intense earnestness in feeding the flock of
Christ, and in approving himself faithful in the trust reposed in
him by the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of souls; and, in them, by
an anxious desire to grow in grace and in likeness to Christ, under
the ministrations of His Word.

The simple habits and incidents of pastoral life have often been
employed by the moralist to give point to his lessons and interest
to his tale. I know no moral picture half so lovely, nor half so
interesting, as that of the faithful Christian shepherd and his
flock journeying through this dark, rugged, and dangerous world
to the land of uprightness. Peacefully they proceed, fervently
imploring heaven's blessings on each other, and lending each
other mutual comfort and aid ; he, carrying the lambs in his
bosom, carefully removing every obstruction from the path, and
gently freeing from the briars and thorns those that are
entangled by the way ; they, listening to the voice, of the
shepherd and following his steps as he goeth before them.
This is no ideal picture. It is one that may be realized over
the broad expanse of the world by the united faith-fraught
prayers of pastor and people. Coma, auspicious day I for then,
indeed, would the tabernacle of God bo with men, and the reign
of heaven commence, which the sure word of prophecy teaches us
to expect, when the light of the Gospel shall illumine every land,
and the dark and dreary regions of superstition and error shall
rejoice and blossom as the rose.

Perhaps I may be indulged if I take this opportunity of
referring to a topic, somewhat in connection with what we have said,


but perhaps more personal than ought to proceed from the pulpit ;
but, if the observations which I am about to make may, in any
degree, contribute to draw more closely the bonds which unite ua
together, and stir us up to the exercise of mutual forbearance and
charity, I shall neither think they are mis-timed nor that they
degrade the sanctity of the place where I now stand. It may be
said that, if I conceive it to be the duty of a pastor to remove, .
in so far as he is able, every obstruction that stands in the way
of the spiritual edification of his flock, and well knowing that
a general prejudice exists against discourses being read from the
pulpit, to act consistently with my opinion, I should endeavour to
mandate my discourses and avoid casting a stumbling-block in the
path of the ht Iting. This, lam now unable to do. The time
taken in mandating a discourse I would consider more profitably
employed, both for myself and the people I instruct, in acquiring
a more extensive knowledge of Scripture truths, and', in so far as
lies in my power, in composing clear, well-connected and interesting
discourses, and I am persuaded, from the enlightened and liberal
sentiments which my hitherto limited intercourse has led me to
believe you entertain, that those who differ from me in opinion will
bear with my deficiencies. Yet, I hesitate not to declare, and this
confidence rises to assurance, if you yield yourselves frequently and
fervently to the duty enjoined in the text, and which I humbly crave
on my own behalf, as well as on behalf of all the preachers of
Christ's glorious Gospel that this you will do. Brethren, I
beseech you, pray for us. Pray for us, I beseech you, by all that
is interesting and beautiful in the spectacle of a company of
dependent mortals bending in prayer before the throne of their


Almighty Father and Friend for things agreeable to hia will ; by
all that is ennobling in the service ; by all that personal satisfaction
which is felt from the consciousness of the honour and dignity
conferred in being permitted to approach into the presence of Him
before whom angels veil their faces with their wings, as unworthy
to look on His uncreated glory. Pray for us, by all that pure and
exalted delight which the benevolent he'art experiences in the
exercise of charity and love. We think it a mark of friendship,
and we take a noble pride in recommending one in whom we have
an interest to one by whose patronage and support he may rise to
honour and distinction in the business of life. But who is greater
than the Eternal Ruler of the universe the Father and the Friend
of the good and what greater honour can we have than being
permitted to commit those whom we love to His protection and
care. Pray for us, I beseech you, by the salutary effects which
this act of worship will have on your own tempers and dispositions,
and by the close and intimate connection which subsists between
it and the salvation of your own souls. Time is fast fleeting
onward, and bears with it on its wings the most momentous conse-
quences. By its shortness and uncertainty, and all that is awful
in the contemplation of death, judgment and eternity, I beseech
you, pray for us. It is now called to-day with you. Mutability
and vicissitude are stamped on everything earthly ; and the
lessons which this fact is silently pouring into the ear forcibly
remind us of the necessity of being up and doing. Another
period by which the lapse of time is marked will soon draw to a
close. The shadows of a few more evenings shall fall and the
dawn of a few more mornings will lighten the world, and the


present year will be numbered with the ages that are past and
gone. But who can say that he will see the end of the coming
year ? Those who to-day are blooming in beauty, and in the buoy-
ancy of health may calculate on a long life, may, ere to-morrow,
be cut down as a flower of the field, and in a few days their bodies
may be crumbling into dust. Such considerations should have, at
all times, a powerful effect on minds capable of serious reflection.
From these considerations permit me to urge you to the necessity
of working out your salvation with fear and trembling, while time
and opportunities are mercifully given you. From these consider-
ations let me urge you to be frequent suppliants at the throne of
grace, pleading that God would give you that living faith for it
is his gift that, in answer to your prayers, will bring down plen-
tifully the richest of heaven's blessings on your souls, and on the
souls of all those with whom you are connected by any tie. Let
these exhortations sink into your minds, and m ly these precious
fruits be exhibited in your conduct. And, thou Almighty hearer
and answerer of prayer, while I crave the prayers of this people for
a blessing on the Gospel of salvation, which I am sent to preach
unto them, and that grace may be given me, that in all my ways
I may glorify Thee, and finish with acceptance the work Thou hast
given me to do, hear Thou, in heaven, and grant an answer to their
prayers in peace, and bless abundantly the preaching of Thy holy
Word, that it may haye free course on the earth and be glorified !
And to THEE, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God, be all the
glory. Amen.




EARTH. Gen. I, 27, 28.

MY Friends, It must, I think, be evident to you all that there
is an intimate connection between the condition of man, as stated
in the first of these verses, and the blessing pronounced upon him
in the second. In other words, that man's power to subdue the
earth and his dominion over the irrational tribes of creation
depend on his being created in the image of God. It is to God-
like man dominion is committed, to man created in God's own
image that authority is given. The Divine image is the title to
his power and prerogatives, his God-like nature fitted him for

* Preached before the Synod, at Hamilton, Ontario, on Sabbath, the 6th
June, 1869.



accomplishing his high destiny as lord of creation. Our text,
therefore, embodies the great constitutional law of man, and
determines the purposes of his being. He is to be " fruitful and
replenish the earth," i. e. } he is to people the fair scenes of this
sublunary world with multiplied images of intellectual life, and
moral beauty, united in one community, by the sacred ties of divine
love. He is to " subdue the earth," i. e., he is to make himself
acquainted with those subtle and tremendous forces which the
Creator has stored up in the physical world, and make them the
subjects of his God-like will.

Obedient to the fixed laws imposed on them by the Creator,
these latent forces, evolved, controlled and directed by God-like
benevolence, would minister to the wants and wishes of man, and
everywhere spread before his delighted eyes scenes of paradisaic
loveliness and peace ; but under the sway of a malevolent will in
their impetuous energy would rend the earth to its deepest
foundations and destroy every vestige of order and harmony. God-
like man, by a thorough knowledge of their organic laws, would
modify, combine and regulate these forces, so as to make them the
obedient servants of his enlightened and holy will ; would make
them the communicating medium of his authority over the irra-
tional creation, both animate and inanimate, and appropriate their
various properties to his own use ; would make them the exponents
of his will, the medium of communication with all spiritual
intelligences, with angels, yea, and with the eternal fountain of
thought, the ever living and uncreated One.

This constitutional law seems to have been re-established at
man's second birth, but with some modifications. When the earth


emerged from the purifying waters of the deluge, beautiful as the
hues of the rainbow that seal of the covenant which bound afresh
the agencies of nature to the destinies of man God blessed Noah
and his sons, and said unto them : Be fruitful, and multiply, and
replenish the earth. And the fear of you, and the dread of you,
ahull be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of
the air, and upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon
the fishes of the sea ; into thy hand are they delivered. We
may here remark that the subjection of the earth is not
expressly specified, or, in other words, the dominion of its
latent forces was not committed to man. The fear of him and
the dread of him was to be on all inferior creatures, and into his
hands they were committed, but not, as formerly, that he might
rule them with absolute sw.iy. Why was this ? Because he ia no
longer the holy and benevolent being he originally was. The
image of God is defaced in his soul. He has lost the dominion
of the physical world because he is no longer like unto God, by
reason or which likeness sovereignty over the earth had been
committed to "him. He is now unfit to hold the reins of authority,
even had they been put into his hands. The principles of his
nature are aow at variance. Intellectually he is unable to discern
what is good. Morally, he is unfit to rule. The propensions of
his nature are not now purely benevolent, nor can his intellectual,
his moral and physical powers be so fused as to produce unity of
action. What would be the result, I ask, if, in his present ungod-
like condition, he held the latent forces of nature at his command ?
What would be the result, if, with his heart teeming with every
hateful passion, he cuuld enjoin the thunders, and guide the


lightnings, and charge the powers that upheave the earth, and
make the mountain smoke, to obey, his will ? These forces in his
hands would be fearful implements of destruction. In his
instinctive and selfish struggles for dominion all that is morally
beautiful and good would have long since perished from the earth.
Man warring with man would have convulsed the universe. I [is
enlarged mental energies would have augmented and made more
formidable the implements of evil, and everything capable of
destruction would have long since sunk in the conflagration of
unholy passions.

Let us here for a moment inquire what the image of ,God in
man is that fits him for dominion over the earth and the creatures
that are therein.

There seems to be a threefold division in the nature of man,
i. e., the whole man is composed of three several parts : the soul,
or the moral and religious nature of man ; the spirit, or pure intellect
reasoning conscience; the body, the material tabernacle
in which these powers dwell, and by which visible expres-ion is
given to their unseen actings. It is understood, says a popular
writer of our day, that Paul makes allusion to this distinction of
parts when he prays for the Thessalonian Church, that " the whole
spirit, soul, and body' be preserved blameless unto the coming of
the Lord Jesus Christ." No doubt, says he, man is thus composed,
whether the division be good or bad, or whether the Apostle
alludes to it or not.

It is the constant, united and harmonious action of these
several parts or principles of man's nature, and not the exclusive
exercise or predominating power of any one of them, that fits


man for dominion. Each one must occupy its own sphere of
action, and not encroach on that of the others, or rather, there
must be a perfect unity in their individual actings. There must
be goodness, wisdom and power operating as an undivided whole,
a complete and perfect fusion of these distinct principles in every
determination of the human will. It is the unity of the divine
attributes that forms the grand characteristic of the government
of God. It is the unity of the moral and intellectual principles
expressed through the material part of his nature that constitutes
the image of God after which man was created. There have
been high developments of mind in the world, wonderful mani-
festations both of skill and power, since the creation ; but, in them
all, it will be found that these principles, though they have operated
in combination, have not acted in unity. But without unity of
purpose and of action they will be inefficient elements in working
out the destinies of man. They have wanted the harmonizing,
fusing element of heavenly love. Not, indeed, wanted it entirely,
otherwise the world could not have stood, but they wanted it in
that due proportion which would have checked their irregularities,
which would have assimilated their energies and directed them
to their legitimate ends. They wanted goodness, the principle by
which the power and wisdom of the Superior Ruler of all things
is regulated and directed. They wanted that love by which He
binds all His faithful subjects in allegiance to His throne ; by which
He unites in holy brotherhood all the children of men ; by which
He elevates and sanctifies human thoughts and desires, and by an
amii/iiig economy fits the family of earth for a holy incorporation
with the great family of heaven. They all wanted, as a pervading


clement, a supreme regard to the will of God, which constitutionally
belongs to humanity, but has been so obliterated as scarcely to be
legible in any of the pursuits or actions of men.

We cannot take even a cursory glance at the great events of
the world's history without having the conviction forced home
upon us that it is not physical power, nor the might and energy
of pure intellect, nor of intellect and physical strength combined ;
it is not the ethereal dreams of imagination, nor the brilliant
conceptions of genius, nor the exquisite manipulations of art,
ministering to the refined pleasures and voluptuous indulgences of
social life, that elevates humanity, and gives it the mastery of the
world. These, indeed, are elements in the process, elements that
hitherto have been chiefly in operation, but, astonishing as the
fruits have been, no experience of the results can convince us that,
alone, they will ever replace the lost sceptre ef dominion, in the
hands of man.

And, yet, in these days, when mechanical powers and intellectual
vigour have apparently reached the culminating point of excellence,
and the world's progress is advancing with the lightning's speed
when the widening fields of knowledge have enlarged both the
views and resources of men, and oae discovery leads the way to
another of greater magnitude and importance with a rapidity that
is absolutely bewildering, and ominous of results that baffle the
human mind to conjecture ; he would indeed be a bold speculator
who would affirm that the final result will not be the highest state
of perfection, and the elevation of man to his lost throne of
dominion over the forces of nature. Already, in the vastness of his
power, ho seems to have reached almost the oaloiiaating point of

If. _ _ >J,


his high destinies. Even now, he flies over the earth with the
speed of the winds. " Fire and vapour of smoke," waft him over
the seas. " He sends the lightnings that they may go," and
obedient to His command, they say " here are we." He hath
measured the heavens ; and weighed the worlds that career through
unbounded space ! By the application of His skill, He has ascer-
tained the component parts of many substances, and the laws
which give to each, its particular form, and weight, and colour :
and with a sovereign hand He presses them all into His service
Look at the steam engine, what a mastery of mind over matter
does not only its nicely moulded form, but also its complicated
and accurately adjusted movements, display ! Look at the gallant
ship, in the face of the angry winds and boisterous waves, careering
over pathless waters, guided in her course by a knowledge of the
magnetic attractions of a needle; and impelled by the application,
of a simple mechanical power ! Look at the earth returning in
richest abundance of fruits and flowers, the labour and fertilizing
properties which a knowledge of its component parts enables the
skillful agriculturist to supply ? Is it now deemed incredible that
the whole earth and sea shall be girdled with a line of intelligence ;
or that any undertaking, however stupendous, can defy the powers
of man ? We recently spoke with hopeful confidence of spanning
the broad St. Lawrence with an iron pathway, on which self-
impelling vehicles would rush alont* with marvellous velocity.
That is not now a doubtful problem. It is an accomplished
fact ! And man, in the consciousness of his skill, smiles at the
idea of the enraged river, heaving its icy mountains with a
mightier force than that of the thunder-bolt at the light and


beautiful structure, that seems to smile defiance to its power. The
accelerated progress of knowledge verifies the maxim that "know-
ledge is power." But what limitation can we assign to that power
in relation to human agency ? It would be vain to conjecture !
Most of the tremendous forces, that man, with sovereign power,
now presses into his service, are but of recent discovery; and
their attributes are but in the process of development. Although
they have "been operating since the birth of time, yet, they are but
as yesterday to man. But what great things, even in the infancy
of his acquaintance with them, have they enabled man to achieve ?
When these, and all the other forces of nature, perhaps some of
them still undiscovered, shall be fully developed when man him-
self shall be thoroughly permeated with divine goodness, comprising
in that term every moral attribute ; when he shall have all his
powers, mental and physical, perfected, and harmoniously attuned,
and it shall be a necessary law of his being, to modify, combine,
control, and direct the mighty agencies of nature to the most
beneficent moral purposes, then shall the earthly destinies of man
be accomplished, and the will of God shall become the sole law of
sanctified humanity. But until this renovation is effected, assu-
redly we need not expect that the Eternal King will commit to
man, as his vice-regent, the unlimited command of the latent forces
of nature.

These elements, to be effective of any thing truly great and good,
must be regulated and controled by a God-like will. Physical
strength and intellectual power may be employed to a bad as well
as a good purpose. Like a sword in the hand of a madman, high
intellectual power, in the possession of a godless man, would be a


fearful and destructive implement. Was there a universal diffu-
sion of knowledge; were the highest attainments in the mechanical
arts reached by every man ; were men intellectually and physi-
cally equal, those distinctions of rank observable amongst us,
and which seem essential to the very existence of society now,
would be unknown, and every man would do that which ia right
in his own eyes. But would there be peace and plenty ?
Would there be prosperity and happiness ? Would, there be
those cherished feelings and affections which belong to families ?
No ! We fearlessly affirm that there would be universal anarchy,
and a disorganization of society, more complete than occurred in
the world before the flood ! and destruction more awful. A
licentious spirit of self-government, of which we now see the
incipient evils, would pervade individual minds. Each one would
struggle for sovereignty ! Each one would be his own ruler. Each
one would be a god, a god unto himself, a god over all others.
Each one, impelled by the laws of his constitution, would aim at
universal sway. Increased mental energies, and enlarged physical
powers, would be sources of more tremendous evils than have yet
fallen upon man, and in the fierce contests for dominion, the
human race would be extirpated from the earth.

Man is not yet prepared for his original birth-right of dominion.
He is not prepared for living with his race in unity, equality, and
fraternity, and this is indeed a condition of his being in a state
of perfection. The process is going forward that will effectuate it.
But intellect and physical strength, as we have said, are not the
sole formative principles. They are indeed the mightiest instru-
ments now at work ; but were they mightier -than they are, they


f *


would be incapable of giving effect to the great constitutional law
of man. God-like benevolence is just as essential a part of that

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Online LibraryJohn JenkinsLife of the Rev. Alex. Mathieson, D.D. / with a funeral sermon by John Jenkins → online text (page 15 of 18)