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presence" of some of them " was weak" " and their speeca con-
temptible," yet He selected such imperfect earthly vessels for the
conveyance of the messages of His love, and He claimed for them in
the exercise of their holy duties the same honour and respect that
should be shewn to Himself. " He that despiseth you despiseth
Me, and he that despiseth Me, despiseth him that sent Me."

Brethren, if we would bear in mind these solemn words of our
Lord there would be surely less disrespect shewn to the messen-
gers whom He sends, and less indifference to the tidings which they
bring. Surely if we felt that we were condemned sinners, and hell
was yawning to receive us, our cry would be, " what shall we do
to be saved " Instead of seeking to have our ears tingled, and
our tastes gratified, we would earnestly seek to have our hearts
affected, and would listen with the most intense interest to every
illustration, and to every exposition of that scheme of mercy and
grace by which the sinner is sanctified and saved. Our earnest desire
would be to have the life-giving truths of God's Word dwelling
richly in our hearts. It would not be for the streams of worldly
delight we would thirst, but for water from the wells of salvation ;
and we would drink of them deeply, wn.tlier presented to us in an
earthen cup or in a golden chalice.



250 SERMONS BY DR. MATHIESON.

But what is the reception that men generally give to the mes-
sengers of Chrht ? Is it with the " enticing words of man's wisdom/'
or in the unadorned simplicity of truth that they desire to have
the Gospel preached unto them ? There is no disguising the fact,
unless the Messenger of God come with all the artificial graces of
oratory, and a voice in modulated tones to captivate the ear, he
will not meet respect due to his sacred office. What is the reception
they give to the divine message itself? Do they who hope to be saved
by the faith of the Gospel cherish its truths in their own hearts
and endeavour to have them extended and established in the world?
"The foxes lave holes," said our blessed Lord ; "the foxes have holes,
and the birds of the air have, nests, but the Son of man hath not
whereto lay his head." Like its homeless Author, Christianity still
seems to want shelter and a resting place in the woi Id. What has been
done for teaching and making disciples of all nations of the earth?
This is the mission of kingdoms as well as inuividuals r but what
provision has the most favoured kingdom made for the mainte-
nance of the public worship of God, and publishing the knowledge
of salvation throughout the world ? Apart from political consi-
derations, absolutely nothing. As a fiscal arrangement, as a cheap
state police, the preaching of the Gospel is sanctioned, and in some
states publicly supported in some measure. The tendency of Chris-
tianity as a national institution is to promote the pcac3 and pros-
perity of society, to empty the prisons by preventing crimes, to
diminish pauperism by promoting industry, to establish intern a
peace by inculcating contentment and the practice of good morals,
and to effect these important purposes, in some places, a little has
been given, but stiutcdly and grudgingly. But, in relation to



SERMON III. 251

men's higher and immortal destinies, what have nations done for
the establishment of Christianity on the earth ? 0, cry out some,
with affected earnestness, " the kingdom of Christ is not of this
world ;" it has no connection with its policy or pursuits. A national
religion corrupts the streams of divine truth. A national church
letters the free spir it of Christianity, encroaches on the civil liber-
ties and religious privileges of the people. The work of evange-
lizing the world has been committed to the saints. The duty is
Fours. We perform the commandment of the Lord. Ah! "What
meaneth, then, this bleating of the ?heep in mine ears,and this lowing
of oxen that I hear?" If it is the duty of one and all of Christ's
followers to devote themselves and all that they have unto Him ; if
this dedication of themselves be a free and voluntary self-sacrifice,
what mean, then, those blatant appeals from platforms and
pulpits to the generosity of " the Christian people." What mean
those bellowings and boastings of what has been reserved
from luxurious pleasures as sacrifices unto the Lord ? After all
the noise and pious prattle that has been made, what are these
sacrifices ? crumbs from the table ! paltry clippings of garments !
the sweepings of fraudulent gains perfumed ostentatiously with
the odour of charity ! ! Has there been a sacrifice of spiritual pride?
of sectarian animosity ? of Pharisaic arrogance ? Has there been a
willing obedience to the'' exceeding broad commandment of Chris-
tian love" which is better than all sacrifices. Brethren, calmly and
candidly, contemplating the state of Christianity in the world and
the efforts that have been made to extend the boundaries of Christ's
Kingdom, can we affirm that either Christian nations or Christian
men have done their duty ? Has even the Church been faithful to



252 SKUMOXS IiV DR. MATIIIESON.

the trust committed to it ? Wo are obliged to confess that, like its
unnoticed and neglected Author, Christianity still sleeps as in H
manger; that it is still confined as with swaddling clothes, and
is b3numb!id by the chilly wintry blasts that whistle around it.

2ndly. ' It was winter." This was the se isou ; says the Evangelist,
somewhat emphatically, "when Jesus walked in Solomon's porch, in
all probability to shelter Himself from the inclemency of the
weather, as well as indirectly to give the Jews another proof that
He was the Messiah.

In all the sinless infirmities of humanity Jesus participated; lie
submitted to hunger and cold and fatigue in the execution of the
work given Him to do. In the porch, or covered way of the Temple
named after the Son of David, did Christ, his Son in a far higher
and spiritual sense, seek to shelter Himself from the merciless
blast; but cold and cutting as it was, it was not so keen as the
storms which the malice of his enemies, caused to fall on his
unsheltered head.

It is painful to think that this storm continues to rage with
unabated fury. We speak not now of those who openly blaspheme
His holy name, and with demoniacal fury attempt to subvert His
heavenly religion, we speak of those who profess to honour
Him, but who in their deeds deny Him. As sincere inquirers
after truth, the Jews came round about Him, asking Him to
tell them plainly if He were the Christ. This seems to be a
reasonable and a candid request ; but their hearts were full of
prejudices and animosity against Him, which no testimony could
subdue. Had He told them plainly that He was the Messiah, we
know from the subsequent context what would have happened.



SERMON III. 253

He told them, as plainly as the state of their own hearts would per-
mit the truth to be revealed, consistently with the natural accom-
plishment of His purposes, that all power in heaven and in earth
was H is, that life and death were in His hands, and He accompanied
these declarations with such proofs of His veracity as were sufficient
to convince reasonable men ; but they believed Him not. His
humble birth and His obscure condition did not correspond with
their notions of the Messiah. And when He asserted, in express
terms, His divine origin and heavenly power, they accused Him of
blasphemy, and would have stoned Him to death had lie not
" escaped out of their hand."

How similar is the conduct of many professed followers after
truth in these days, to that of the Jews. They come to the Bible
with the ostensible question, tell us plainly, is Jesus of Nazareth
the Christ but their judgment is already formed. They believe
that he is merely a man, it may be a good man, qualified to instruct
mankind how they may enter into the kingdom of heaven. To
every Scripture testimony to these facts they yield their assent, but
when, in very explicit terms, the Bible affirms that Jesus has power
in Himself to Jay down His life, and to take it again when it
speaks of his death as an atonement for sin, and ascribes an effi"
cacy to His blood that is more precious than all created objects'
when it testifies that salvation is God's work entirely, and refers
to the manifestations of God in nature and in providence as a proof
that its revelations are true ; when it speaks of the utterly help-
less state of all mankind, and that none but Jehovah can save
them ; when it ascribes the incommunicable attributes of Jehovah
to Jesus, and asserts His being one with the Father, in terms which



254 SERMONS 13 Y DR. MATIIIKSON.

no sophistry can mystify, and no ingenuity can subvert, they arc
driven to denounce the views, which an honest, unbiassed mind
would take of these statements, as blasphemous, or to have recourse
to unbelief. These sufficiently plaint estituonies of the Bible are all
so irreconcilable with their pre-conceptions of the nature of God,
and the laws of his moral government, that they will not believe
then;. Our Lord tells us why : '* Ye believe not" said lie to the
Jews, " because ye are not of my sheep. My sheep hear My voice'
and they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life." They, like
the Jews, have formed a scheme of salvation, more in accordance
with what they think to be right and philosophical. They are wedded
to their own notions. It is not with the spirit of candid inquirers
that they approach the Scriptures. Instead of listening to their
testimony, as that testimony would be received by simple-minded
and candid men, they listen to the suggestions of their own reason-
ing faculties, and follow the counsels of their own hearts. Though
they know but few of the ways of Jehovah and cannot comprehend
the full thunder of His power, yet they would concentrate in their
own narrow minds all knowledge of His nature and attributes, and
denounce as blasphemous everything that would controvert their
own limited views of His incomprehensible nature, and unfathom-
able purposes.

But it is not by the blasting influence of speculative opinions j
inconsistent with the plain and simple statements of God's Word
that men corrupt and destroy the genuine fruits of the Gospel ; by
their practical indifference to the doctrines of Christianity, there is
more real harm done, than by open hostility. " If ye love Me," said
Jesus, " ye will keep My commandments.'' If obedience be the test



SERMON III. 255

and measure of love for Jesus, few, I fear, can free themselves from
the reproach of treating Him disrespectfully, as the unfeeling Jews
did. Which of His commandments have been faithfully kept ? Who,
with corresponding zeal, have striven to advance those great pur-
poses which He came into this wintry world to accomplish ? Have
we ourselves done nothing to retard His religion, or excite against
it the withering scorn of the scoffer ? Have we never, by our indif-
ference to the all-important truths of salvation, confirmed others in
sin or encouraged them to pursue the path that leads to destruc-
tion ? I fear, brethren, even when we drop the tear ~ef mor-
bid sympathy over the memorials of His sufferings, were we faith-
fully to remember how we have discharged our incumbent Christian
duties, we could not adduce our fidelity to His commandments, as
an evidence of our love to Jesus. Our hearts are often as cold as
the winter's snow to all that tends to advance His kingdom, and
the tenour of our conduct is as injurious to vital godliness as the
bitter blasts from the frozen north are to the early flowers of the
spring.

Srdly. Our thoughts are directed by our text to the circum-
stances which distinguished the season when Jesus walked in Solo-
mon's porch. " It was at Jerusalem, the feast of dedication, and it
was winter."

The feast of dedication was not of divine appointment, it was insti
tuted long posterior to the giving of the Law, probably by Judas
Macabeus, and afterwards confirmed by the supreme counsel of the
nation. It was designed to commemorate the recovery of Jeru-
salem from the heathen, and the purification of the Temple from
the gross profanation of it by the impious Antiochus. Either out



256 SERMOX BY L>R. MATIIIE30N.

of revenge or cruel policy, that tyrant, after quelling an. insurrec-
tion in Jerusalem, slew 40,000 Jews in one day, and sold as many
more for slaves. Not contented with this, he profaned the Temple
in a way most abhorrent to the religious feelings of the Jews. He
intruded himself into the " Holy of Holies," into which it was
unlawful for any one but the High Priest to enter, and only law-
ful for him, once a year, when he entered with the blood of atone-
ment. To pollute the sacred edifice, to the utmost degree, he
caused swine to be sacrificed on the altars of God, and water in
which the flesh of these unclean animals had been boiled to be
sprinkled on every part of the building, that it might be rendered
utterly unfit for the worship of the living God.

After it had lain three years in defilement, it was recovered by
the Jews and purified with many sacrifices and lustrations, and
dedicated anew to the worship of God. It was to commemorate
the purification of the Temple that the feast of dedication was
instituted. The Jews celebrated it with great pomp, as a resusci-
tation of their political being, and, as it were, life from the dead,
and Our Lord sanctioned it with His presence.

But, brethren, the defilement of the symbolical temple was not
more complete than the pollution of the human soul by .sin. The
soul is the spiritual temple of God, which at its creation was
honoured with the divine presence, and which He hath promised to
fill with His glory ; but before the Spirit of God can dwell in the
soul of man it must be purified, raised from desolation, and
consecrated to the service of Jehovah. Like the material temple, it
must be sanctified by sacrifice and lustrations, by the sacrifice of
Him who " came to put away sin" by offering Himself unto God



SERMON III. 257

for us, and by sprinkling the soul with His blood, which "clean-
seth it from dead works to serve the living God."

Without straining the analogies of nature beyond due bounds,
does not the winter, with its softly falling snow, suggest lessons
of spiritual purity and divine activity, analogous to what both
reason and Scripture tell us must pass upon the soul of man, before
it can be restored to the divine favour ? As winter approaches, the
earth gradually assumes a deadlier aspect, a more sombre hue ;
yet still there is vegetable life and matured beauty. Many of the
autumn's flowers are in bloom ; the meadows are still greeji, and
the tinted leaves still adorn the woods. It is winter : they droop
and die. The first nipping frost strips the flowers of their
beauty and sweeps the leaves in rustling showers to the ground.
The earth is cold and dead : incapable of sustaining life : rugged and
unsightly. The fleecy snow descends, how soft and beautiful !
almost imperceptible, like the breath of the Spirit, wrapping, as in
a winding sheet of transparent whiteness, the wan face of dying
nature, and clothing in robes of purity the memorials of decay.
White robes are given to every one of them, and it is said : " Ye
shall rest yet for a little season." They disappear from the earth, but
it is to burst forth again in renewed and resplendent brightness.

" What are these that are arrayed in white robes, and whence
came they ?" " These are they that have come out of great tribula-
tion, and have washed their robes and made them white and clean
in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne
of God and the Lamb, and serve Him day and night in His
Temple."

The heavenly purity of the saints of God is not perfected till

HH

r



258 SERMONS BY DR. MATHIESON.

the winter of temptation and trouble is over and gone. It is out
of great tribulation they pass into glory. When the storms and
tempests of life are past, purified from sin, they shall enter into
the joy of their Lord. Like the flowers of the field in the winter's
storms, every earthly virtue shall perish amidst the trials of faith ;
all selfishness shall wither; the soul shall be clothed with the
robe of the Redeemer's righteousness. But though all that is
earthy shall die, the seeds of spiritual life, that were matured amidst
corruption and decay, shall survive, and through the life-giving
power of Christ's dedth shall again be called into activity. They
will arise in the image of God, after which they were originally
created.

This renewing of the whole man must be begun on earth, though
it will only be completed when the winter of death is past, and the
genial mildness of eternal spring shall be diffused over the wide
sphere of spiritualized humanity. Then, the bodies that are sown
in corruption shall be raised in incorruption. But it is here the
seeds of life must be deposited in the heart. The Spirit, like the
breath of spring, will cause them to germinate ami spring up, and
bear their appropriate fruits.

To this spiritual cultivation we must here devote ourselves ; we
must open our hearts to the reception of the principles of holiness
and truth, and wait in faith till the Spirit of God evolve them in
beauty.

Among the many important lessons which the winter teaches,
we are impressively admonished of the necessity of attending imme-
diately to the duty of dedicating ourselves to the Lord. The heaven-
appointed means are within our reach. They must be applied.



SERMON III. 259

They can only be made effectual through the influences of the Holy
Spirit. The Spirit will be given to them who ask for it, and, through
faith, will impart a divine efficacy to the blood of atonement.

The Temple, desolate and polluted, without sacrifice, without
songs of praise, the bleak winds of winter whistling through its
deserted porches, and gloomy sky throwing a deeper shade of melan-
choly into its courts, empty, where the people of the living God did
congregate. The polluting worship of devils, staining its desecrated
walls, presented not to the Jew a more saddening spectacle than
the unrenewed, unsanctified soul of man to one who is alive to a
sense of his condition in the sight of God. Brethren,in the specta-
cle described in that passage of which our text forms a part, we
have before us an objective representation of the purification of the
soul of man, the living temple of the living God, and the divine
glory with which it shall be filled.

Who is He that walks in that Porch of the material Temple, dis-
tinguished for its superior beauty, that is associated with the most
glorious period of Jewish history, and is a pledge of the fulfil-
ment of the promise, that the Lord " the Desire of all nations shall
suddenly come into His Temple, even the messenger of the
covenant?" It is Jesus of Nazaret.li> lowly and meek, with nothin-
attractive but His divine purity and benevolence! Who are these
that throng around Him ? They are the children of Abraham, who
profess to seek the promised Messiah. Jesus tells them that He
is He whom they seek, and He refers them to His works in proof of
His veracity works which none but God could accomplish. He is
the Son of David, according to the flesh, and the lineal heir to the
throne of Israel. But surely, a greater than either David or

J,



260 SERMONS BY DR. MATIIIESON.

Solomon is here. The once desecrated Temple was purified by
sacrifice and lustrations, and is now blessed with His presence, who
came into the world, as He tells them whom He addressed, to
purify, by the sacrifice He was about to offer, the spiritual temple
of God, and dedicate it anew to His glory. His work was to
sanctify and save all who believed in Him, and give unto them
eternal life. As the desecrated gold and silver of the material
Temple was purified by making it to pass through the fire, and the
polluted garments of the priests, by being thoroughly washed, so,
by the fiery test to which their faith was exposed, and by washing
them from sin in His own blood, He would thoroughly cleanse alt
who believed in Him, and fit them for offering unto Gol holy and
acceptable sacrifices. He would sit, as His Prophet said concerning
Him, as a refiner of silver, " and will purely purge away their
dross and take away all their tin."

The present is the time for these fierce trials of faith, the time
of purification, and for dedicating ourselves to the service of the
Lord. The time is short to us all for the performance of these
indispensable duties. It will be soon ended ; but if we are not
sanctified by the blood and Spirit of Christ, and fitted for glory
before the winter of death come upon us, we must perish. Like the
green herb, before the deadly blasts of the wintry storm, our hopes
shall be strewed in the dust, never to be revived by a returning
spring, but buried in the desolations of an eternal winter.

The reflections to which the winter gives rise are in beautiful
harmony with the spirit of reformation which the children of God
are called to cultivate, and the hopes of a blessed immortality which
they will delight to cherish. Brethren, let these reflections lead



SEKMON III. 261

you to begin and follow out with firm purpose, a more active course
of faith and duty ; strive, by those means by which God has pro-
mised to communicate the sanctifying power of His Spirit, to have
your conduct purified from those stains of sin which a conscien-
tious inspection of your past lives will reveal. There is not
one among us all, who, on looking back, can say there is nothino- in
his conduct he would wish to amend, nothing that he has left un-
done, nothing that he would desire to alter. Wherefore, brethren,
let us humbly repair to the throne of grace, through the new and living
way opened up to us, to implore grace to purify us from all
ungodliness, and to help us to devote ourselves unreservedly and
for ever to the service of God.

There are many other important and instructive reflections sug-
gested by the words <; and it was winter" which we have not had time
to touch upon. We have confined ourselves to those chiefly su<>-
gested by the circumstances connected with the text ; with Divine
permission we may at another time take up some of them, and
endeavour to draw from them those lessons of encouragement and
hope which they are so fitted to teach.

May God bless what has now been said in accordance with His
will and conducive to His glory. May the emphatic expression
" and it was winter" remind us of the coldness and neglect of men
to their own eternal interests, of the love and sufferings of the
Redeemer, and teach us to die daily to sin, and dedicate ourselves
unto God holy and living sacrifices, " which is your reasonable
service. "

Now to the King Eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only wise
God, be all glory and praise. AMEN.



CONCLUDING TRIBUTE.

AT a public breakfast given in Montreal, on the 4th of June,
1870, to the Synod of the Church of Scotland in Canada, the
absence of the venerable minister of St. Andrew's Church was felt
by all present. In his reply on behalf of the City Clergy, Dr.
Jenkins feelingly alluded to his departed brother, on whom would
undoubtedly have devolved the duty of acknowledging the honour,
done to the Synod had the entertainment been given a year before,
while Dr. Cook of Quebec expressed his affectionate remembrance
of his deceased friend in these terms,

" One thing it is impossible to refrain from remarking, the
absence from among us of that noble form, which even amidst the
frailties of declining years, and under the pressure of domestic
calamity, imparted a certain dignity and respectability to all our
ecclesiasticaLjissemblages, connected as it was, with an indepen-
dent judgment, with consistent principle, and with a genial and
loving nature, cast in the true Scottish mould, and cherishing such
persistent and unwavering attachment to his country and his
country's church, that it might be truly said of him in the words
of the Psalm, " their very dust to him was dear." I am not now
to pronounce an unqualified eulogium on Dr. Mathieson. No man
is altogether without faults and failings. But, take him all in all,
it will be long before the citizens of Montreal or the members of
the Synod of Canada, look on his like again. It is well known
that I often differed from him in church matters. There were
others of the brethren, with whom in regard of these, I sympathized
more. But he was my first friend among the ministers of Canada,


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Online LibraryJohn JenkinsLife of the Rev. Alex. Mathieson, D.D. / with a funeral sermon by John Jenkins → online text (page 17 of 18)