248 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MAN.
“Need holy deeds and holier hopes offend,
On lower heights, the distant gazing crowd,
Who, following on, deny their forward friend,
Refusing still to speak his praise aloud,
Though now he sleeps in peace, unheeding sun or cloud.”
n person tall, erect and broad-chested, with head
firmly set upon the shoulders, and incapable of
drooping, Duncan Matheson was the picture of man
liness, self-reliance, and valour. The leading fea
tures of his countenance indicated, if we may believe phy
siognomy, the keenest discernment of human character,—
a faculty he possessed in the highest degree. His eye,
clear and penetrating, softened with his rising emotions
until the glistening tear revealed the genuine tenderness of
his heart. His nostrils, wide and prominent, visibly
dilated with the enthusiasm of the moment, — like the
nostrils of the war-horse at the blast of the trumpet or the
din of battle. Although rigidly temperate in his habits, he
was exuberantly happy, jovial, and free; his countenance
beamed with good cheer, while from a storehouse of mother-
wit and quaintest humour, his ready tongue was continually
bringing forth the rarest oddities and drollest fancies. His
powerful voice, clear, sonorous, and trumpet-like, seemed
created on purpose to rise above the noise of the elements,
the din of camps, and the hubbub of the marketplace;
and yet it possessed a compass, a pathos, and a cadence,
which he could modulate with the precision of a bar of
music. His intellect was shrewd, masculine, and practical.
His heart was a well of sympathy and kindliest feeling.
His will was prompt, resolute, and daring. In a word, his
soul was a stronghold of restless forces of enthusiasm,
vehemence, and heroic ardours, which in their lofty conse
cration were often impatient of the ordinary limits of con
The earnest evangelist 249
His Christian character fitted closely to his natural man.
The religion of some men suggests the idea of ill-fitting
garments, as if they had put on somebody else’s clothes.
Not so our honest evangelist. His religious character, even
in its eccentricities, was a natural and consistent whole : it
was simply the man himself, inspired, possessed, and swayed
by one great and holy passion. His armour fitted him well;
so well, indeed, that he slept in it; and helmet or sword he
never laid aside till from his encounter with the last enemy
he was carried home victorious on his own shield.
His character was so sharply defined at all points as to
render him curiously unique. In himself he combined the
strongest good sense and the rarest eccentricity; a purpose
of life most spiritual wrought out with abounding flesh and
blood; most disinterested love strangely yoked to overwhelm
ing self-assertion; deepest-toned gravity and the broadest
humour; the most laborious earnestness and the most jubi
lant light-heartedness; the loftiest ends and the lowliest
means. Now he is preaching a sermon full of apostolic
majesty and grace, and anon you find him ringing a hand
bell, like a common crier, through the streets of a country
village, and inviting the inhabitants to a revival meeting.
At one hour he is issuing his “ Herald of Mercy” with all
the dignity of a royal proclamation, and next hour he is
seen competing with a twopenny show in a fair for the ears
of the rabble.
There he stands, a man of the people, yet towering above
them; the enemy of all that is unrighteous and unreal; the
friend of all that is genuine and true; the unequivocal wit
ness of Jesus Christ; the soul’s advocate at the world’s bar,
the stern cross-examiner of hypocrites ; a man standing at
the parting of the ways, and, without respect of persons,
saying to every passer-by, “ This road leads to heaven, and
that to hell.” He was in truth the herald of the Invisible
running on before, and shouting lustily, “ The King is
coming! the Judge is at the door! Prepare to meet thy
Duncan Matheson was a fine specimen of the character
that is mainly composed of seemingly antagonistic or inhar
monious qualities. He was both the lion and the lamb.
Such was his courage and such his kindness, such his
250 “REALITY IS THE GREAT THING.”
strength and such his tenderness, such the comings and
goings of the genial and the severe, such and so sudden
the changes from battle to peace and from play to work,
and such the rare measures and minglings of the man
and the child in him, that he might be likened to one
of his own native mountains, bold, rugged, and stern, yet
with a soft gleam of sunshine, covering birch and boulder,
corry and cliff, with ceaseless alternations of fairy-like light
There was in him a fine blending of the natural and the
spiritual elements of the thoroughly Christian character. In
some good men the natural life is too much dissociated
from the spiritual life. Between these two there is a thorn
hedge, and religion in such a case seems to lie in the pain
ful efforts to pass from the one field to the other. The
things of this life are on one line of rails, and the things of
the other world on another line. When they are busy with
Present world Train, the other World-toco me Train is stand
ing still; and again, when the latter is set in motion, it can
go neither fast nor far, lest the luggage should be left
behind. In Duncan Matheson the two trains were one,
and moved upon the same line of rails, though with this
one distinction—life was life and baggage baggage. In fact,
in him the natural man and the spiritual man were in as
close alliance as the right foot and the left. Some good
people go into the necessary affairs and innocent joys of
life, as if they were a bar to spiritual progress, and an un
avoidable snare ; but the more healthy soul knows they
are a test of true spirituality, means of grace, and steps to
heaven. In the subject of this memoir there was no trace
of mawkishness or sickly pietism. His laughter was as free
and innocent as his tears.
Straightforwardness and sterling honesty were among his
leading characteristics. Everything cowardly and crooked
his soul hated. He was the enemy of every sham. In this
he was a representative man; for it may be said with truth
that he represented downrightness in character and reality in
religion. Truly did he say on his deathbed, “ Reality is the
great thing : I have always sought reality.” Himself sound
in the faith, he hated dead orthodoxy with a perfect hatred.
The “living dog” of an earnest though faulty revivalism
NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS.
was in his opinion better than the “dead lion” of a heart
less orthodoxy. Truth no doubt is truth; but the letter
killeth : it is the Spirit that giveth life. Water is water;
but better surely is a cupful from the living well than a
pitcherful from the stagnant pond. Dead orthodoxy is but
the maker of decent graveclothes for dead souls. At best
the teacher of lifeless doctrine is but the master tailor of
Pharisaism. Some men worship the truth of God instead
of the God of truth. Dead orthodoxy is the worship of
truth, and is the most subtle of all kinds of idolatry. “ All
truth is precious,” they say. Yea; and so is life; but there
is a difference between the life of a man and the life of a
dog. All money is valuable; but who does not see the
difference between a penny and a pound ? Our evangelist
was grieved to see men splitting hairs while souls were
perishing. Are the disciples nodding and sleeping while the
cause of Christ is bleeding at every pore? Are men piously
wagging their heads because the Lord‘s work is nailed to a
cross ? Alas! it is even so.
In his love of reality he was blind to the mere accidentals
of life, such as names, titles, riches, purple and fine linen.
In this respect he was colour blind : he saw the man, and
only the man, never the toggery of the man. Many men
see everything in the world except the souls of men : he
saw souls, and nothing but souls. He could see grace
shining through poverty, wrinkles, and dotage. A poor old
Christian woman, who would have been contemptible in a
poorhouse, was to him “a daughter of the King,” a princess
of the true blood royal, and an object of supreme interest
The zeal of some is like a fire on a chimney-top—more
conspicuous than useful. Of such he was wont to say,
“ Some have got into the revival into whom the revival has
not got.” But for all sorts of religion he had his practical
tests. When preaching in a certain rural parish on the day
of thanksgiving for the harvest he said, “ It is all very well
for you to come to church and say thanks ; but I will tell
you what is the thanksgiving most pleasing to God, and
without which this day‘s service is but a solemn farce. Let
the farmer who has had a good harvest go and give a boll
of meal to the poor widow in his neighbourhood : that is
252 PLAIN SPEAKING.
the thanksgiving God loves.” At the close of a meeting,
perceiving certain persons well-dowered with earthly sub
stance singing with enthusiasm Watts’s beautiful lines,
" Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my heart, my life, my all,”
he went up to them, and said, “ I see you enjoy the singing
of that hymn very much;” to which they replied in the
affirmative. “Well,” said he, “you know the Lord will
receive from us much less than the whole realm of nature,
and as I am engaged in several schemes for his glory, I am
sure you will be delighted to help me for his sake.” They
were fairly caught; but whether or not their purses sang the
same tune is another question.
Everything unmanly even in appearance he disliked.
Shortly before his death, writing to a “dear son in the faith,”
he says: “ I hope you are preaching on. Be a man in it.
Many chirp like chickens, crow like babies, and put on
the Dundee whine like ------. Be a man, D------. God
means you to be what He made you. Be sure there is
nothing holy in any acquired tone of voice. Roar out sal
vation. Get your soul steeped with the great realities of
eternity. Come in contact continually with God, heaven,
hell, sin, salvation, and so shall God own you........
Your dying father in the faith, D. M.”
When lay missionary to the late Duchess of Gordon, he
discovered that certain persons who enjoyed the lady’s
favour, and had her ear, were employing their influence to
prejudice her mind against the work of God, and that she
was being carried away by their fair speeches. Going straight
into her presence, he bluntly told her the truth. “ Madam,”
said he, “I see you are being carried away by misrepre
sentation and flattery. I must tell your Grace the plain truth.
I see you are offended. I cannot help it. Were I to keep
back the truth, or use flattering words like------, I should
be a traitor to God and my own soul, and to your Grace
also. You are angry at me; well, be it so; but remember,
your Grace, that we are both going to the judgment-seat of
Christ, and you and I will stand on the same platform there.
That is all I have to say.” Well done, and bravely done,
honest man! Your forty pounds a year—no fat living cer
tainly, but yet your earthly all—is in peril; but let it go;
what are forty pounds a year to manly self-respect, honesty,
and a good conscience? The Duchess, eminently a wise and
gracious woman, came in due course to see that honest
Duncan was right; and she thought none the less of him
that he had virtually sacrificed her favour and his own worldly
interests for the cause and truth of Christ.
Martial, chivalrous, and heroic, his spirit and character
were essentially of the soldier type. All the elements of the
soldier were strongly developed in him: his virtues were
those of the warrior, and even the grace of God in him wore
a soldierlike air. Opposition roused him; difficulties and
hardships only nerved him for greater effort; whilst failure
or defeat seemed but to develop the resources in which he
was so fertile. His Christian work was a warfare, and his
whole life in the faith a campaign. He loved to speak of
Christ as his King. Valiant, mailed, and ready for battle,
his very thoughts were marshalled, and his words went forth
like an armed host. His thoughts and images were often
borrowed from war. When his companions appeared to
shrink from the fierce ordeal of preaching in the market, he
was wont to say, “ Come, let us charge them.” In his letters
he says: “ Keep up the flag. Never ground arms. Always
advance.” Once, when the means failed of the expected
result, he said, “Never mind, I am a sinner saved; and
when I enter glory, what a regiment will meet me! and we
will shout, ‘ Victory! victory!‘“ In his preaching he loved
to speak of “ raising the standard,” “ unfurling the banner,”
“marching right forward,” “no quarter to the adversary,” and
“never sheathing the sword till the soldier’s blade is ex
changed for the victor’s palm.” His sentences often fell like
the blows of a warrior; and never did ancient Caledonian
wield broadsword with greater force than did this clansman
of Christ wield “ the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word
of God.” His manly, chivalrous, lion-like bearing often
carried the day when more timid souls would have made a
truce. No words could more exactly describe the man and
his life than those of the dying apostle : “ I have fought a
good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
And this phase of his character—his valour, his endurance,
254 AFFECTIONA TE AS WELL AS BRA VE.
his indomitable power of battle, is to my mind pictured in
perfection in the well-known verses—
“ With force of arms we nothing can;
Full sore were we down-ridden;
But for us fights the proper Man,
Whom God Himself hath bidden.
Ask ye, Who is this same ?
Christ Jesus is his name,
The Lord of Sabaoth’s Son:
He, and no other one,
Shall conquer in the battle.
“ And were this world all devils o’er,
And watching to devour us,
We lay it not to heart so sore—
Not they can overpower us.
And let the Prince of Ill
Look grim as e‘er he will,
He harms us not a whit;
For why? His doom is writ—
A word shall quickly slay him.
" God’s Word for all their craft and force
One moment will not linger,
But, spite of hell, shall have its course—
'Tis written by his finger;
And though they take our life,
Goods, honour, children, wife,
Yet is their promise small;
These things shall vanish all,
The city of God remaineth. “
His enthusiastic temperament was well ballasted by prac
tical good sense; his impulses were kept well in hand by
a great capacity for business; and the stern spirit of the
warrior was tempered by generosity, affectionateness, and
genuine kindness of heart. His affection for his mother we
have seen. “ Hundreds of times,” he says in a letter to his
sister, “ have her last words, last actions, last look, come to
my mind with a thought of the triumph over death which
she achieved; and I have often, often called to mind the
command she gave us—it was short, but oh, what a meaning
it contains ! It was ‘ Look to Jesus.’ A command big with
our welfare for time and eternity.” To such an one it is
unnecessary to say that wife and children were unspeakably
dear. His friends enjoyed his most ardent affection; and
GENEROUS AND KIND.
he was more than chivalrous, he was Christian in his treat
ment of a foe. Doing good, showing kindness, relieving
want, and lessening the sum of human misery, was to him
a feast, and although “ Eternity” was stamped on his eye
balls, he would go out of his way to lend a little material
help to the poorest thing on earth. One poor believer he
maintained until the day of her death, and many others he
ministered unto of his substance. Often did he give away
his last shilling. On principle he gave part of all he ever
received. “ I never give but I get more” was his testimony.
“It is so like God,” he would add; “He will never be in our
debt; no, not even in appearance.” Once when ill he spent
a sleepless night. As he lay tossing, he remembered that a
certain evangelist was not employed, and must be in poverty.
Next morning found him, ill as he was, on the top of the
coach, and on his way to the village where the man’s family
resided. He could not rest till he saw how matters stood.
It was as he feared. He found the wife and children of the
evangelist at the point of starvation. Slipping a pound-
note into the grateful mother’s hand—the last pound I be
lieve he had in the world—he returned home to rest.
One day meeting a student who looked sad, he enquired
if the young man was in trouble, and found that the furni
ture of his widowed mother was about to be distrained for
rent. Pulling out his purse, he said, “Here, take all I have;
and if it is not enough, let me know. Get the matter settled
at once.” His generosity to godly students scarcely knew
bounds, and when his own means failed he quietly obtained
for them liberal donations from others. As he believed not
only in the common ministry of Christians, but also in the
special ministry of an ordained pastorate as a divine insti
tution, he spared no pains or expense in aiding godly youths
while prosecuting their preparatory studies. In the work of
selecting and raising up fit men for the pastoral and mis
sionary offices few have been so successful. At one period
no less than fourteen or fifteen of his young men were pro
secuting a course of study at the University and Divinity
Hall. Whilst all of these enjoyed his affectionate care, most
of them also experienced his generosity in the most sub
He possessed an inexhaustible fund of cheerfulness and
256 HIS CHEERFULNESS AND FAITH.
good humour. No man ever created more happiness in this
way. To despondency or dulness he never succumbed. His
sorrows he kept secret: you never saw but the sunny side.
To this store of gladness nature and grace contributed equal
shares : and freely having received he freely gave. In the
exuberance of his mirth his friends sometimes thought he
would go too far; and once when gently chided, he gravely
said, “Ah, but you see I never joke with the world: it is
only with God’s children that I make merry.” That was
true enough. With the people of the world he was grave
and serious without gloom. He could not sport with men
on the brink of a precipice : with men under sentence of
death he could not make merry. The protracted and ex
treme suffering of his last illness did not diminish his cheer
fulness as it did not impair his faith. Shortly before he died,
I happened to meet him. He was struggling to support his
emaciated frame by means of crutches. The sad change
was more than I could bear : but as I drew near the brave
man shouted with a voice as jubilant as ever, “ Hulloa !
Mac, you remember the boys’ rhyme, ‘ Cripple Dick, upon
a stick.’” At the very worst he could say, “All is well.”
The joy of the Lord was his strength.
He was a man of great faith. In respect of temporal
things his trust in God was simple and strong. Although
for many years he had no stipend or salary, no stated or
certain income of any kind, and was sometimes without a
penny in the world, he seemed to be above all care. Indeed,
such was his generosity when his purse was full, and such
his cheerfulness when it was empty, that many fancied he
was possessed of great wealth. On the income-tax paper
once sent him, he wrote, “ All my income: ‘ My God shall
supply all your need according to his riches in glory by
Christ Jesus,’—fulfilled to the very letter.” When asked if
his life was insured, he said, “Yes ; my life is insured in the
office of the Sun : ‘ The Lord God is a sun and shield;
He will give grace and glory; no good thing will He with
hold from them that walk uprightly.’” When dying, he said,
with a firm and confident voice, “ I cast my five fatherless
children on the Lord.” His faith was never put to shame
whilst he lived; and it has borne abundant fruit since he
passed away. He had learnt in the experience of years to
HIS HOPEFULNESS IN THE WORK.
cast all his care upon that Father in heaven who numbers
the very hairs upon his children‘s heads.
In the matter of his salvation his faith was equally pro
nounced and firm. In the early part of his Christian life
his faith was much and variously tried by sore temptation.
On one occasion, when sitting at supper with his friends, a
strong temptation to disbelief, even in the being of a God,
seized his mind. The devil seemed to whisper in his heart,
“There is no God ! there is no God !“ He left the table
and went out into the garden. It was a bright, starry night,
He looked up to the sky, and, gazing upon the spangled
heavens, exclaimed, “ There is a God ! there is a God ! He
made all these, and He is my God.” The tempter fled,
and he returned into the house with a settled peace in his
soul; and from that time he was freed from doubt, and could
always say, “ I know whom I have believed, and am per
suaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed
unto Him against that day.”
In the work of winning souls his faith was almost un
bounded, and often rose to the sublime. He was not of
those who seem to think that the eternal love and purpose of
God in Christ will result in little or nothing, that the blood-
shedding and death of God incarnate has so scanty fruit that
we scarce dare hope to see a sinner saved, and that the gift
and work of the Holy Ghost, and the preaching of the
gospel, is the most unfortunate and hopeless business in the
world. On the contrary, firmly believing in the purpose
and love of God, and knowing that the divine sovereignty
runs upon the path of appointed means, he preached the
gospel with the most confident expectation of success.
Because Jesus has finished the work of redemption, he
knew his labour should not be in vain in the Lord.
Realising the freeness and sufficiency of grace, and the
power of the Holy Ghost in his own soul, he took the
Lord‘s command and warrant in his hand, “ Preach the
gospel to every creature,” and proclaimed the glad tidings
with the most joyful assurance of success. He believed,
and it was done to him according to his faith. Hence he
plied all sorts of means, means that many accounted
foolishness, and with amazing results. Hence, too, he
preached “ out of season,” and carried the gospel into the
258 THE SECRET OF HIS SUCCESS.
very seat of Satan; and the efforts which some reckoned
hopeless, unwarranted, and insane, were crowned with the
blessing of God in the salvation of many souls. Thus
through faith he was “ strong in the Lord, and in the power
of his might.” The right side of the ship where the great
draught of fishes is to be got, is simple, unquestioning,
childlike faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Was this then the great secret of his success in winning
souls ? I think not. Was it intellectual gifts ? No. Many
possess larger endowments of mind who are less successful.
Was it his ready utterance or force of speech ? No. Many
are more eloquent, with fewer and meaner results. Was it
the holy consistency of his life ? No. Many saintlier men
are less useful. All these things, especially his prayerful-
ness and faith, doubtless contributed to his success in the
Lord’s work; but the great secret, I firmly believe, lay in
his intense, self-denying love of souls. God always blesses love.
“ Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three ; but the
greatest of these is charity.” Faith is blessed, and hope is
blessed; but love enjoys Benjamin‘s portion of the Master’s
favour. Listen to the words of Richard Baxter : “ I confess
to my shame that I remember no one sin that my conscience
doth so much accuse and judge me for, as doing so little for
the salvation of men’s souls, and dealing no more earnestly
or fervently with them for their conversion. I confess that
when I am alone, and think of the case of poor ignorant,
worldly, earthly, unconverted sinners, that live not to God,
and set not their hearts on the life to come, my conscience
telleth me that I should go to as many of them as I can,
and tell them plainly what will become of them if they do
not turn, and beseech them with all the earnestness that I
can to come to Christ, and change their course, and make
no delay. And though I have many excuses, from other
business, and from disability and want of time, yet none of
them all do satisfy my own conscience,’ when I consider
what heaven and hell are, which will one of them be the
end of every man’s life. My conscience telleth me that I
should follow them night and day, and take no denial till
they return to God.” These words exactly express the
spirit, aim, and scope of Duncan Matheson‘s life and work.
To him the conversion of sinners was everything; if souls
HIS SINGLENESS OF AIM.
were not saved all else was nothing. On a country pastor
modestly declining to occupy Rowland Hill‘s pulpit in
London, the latter said, “ Some preachers address my
people’s intellects, but some of them have no intellect, and
the fine preaching is lost on them. Some preach to the
imagination, but many have no imagination. Some preach
to the feelings, but many say they have no feelings. Come
you and preach to their souls. They all have souls, and all
will be edified.” Our evangelist preached to souls, and
grudged no pains or sacrifice for their salvation. When
offered an important situation by a gentleman who appre
ciated his fine business capacity, he though at the time
penniless declined, and afterwards said, “ What! did he
think I would give up preaching Christ for £200 a year?”
In every letter we find him constantly recurring to his
one great care, the saving of souls. In his correspondence
with Christian friends he labours to stir them up, if it be
only to distribute tracts. Speaking of his “ Herald,” he
says : “ Year after year these messengers of mercy have
been scattered through the wide world, amongst all classes,
and fruit in the conversion of souls has been the result. Last
year upwards of 400,000 were circulated, and the demand
made by earnest labourers in the Lord’s vineyard far ex
ceeded the supply. In the city of London, Glasgow, and
other great cities, the thousands issued were but as a drop
to the mighty ocean. The agency employed was very
varied, all aiming at the one thing—all seeking the salvation
of precious souls.
“ I am very anxious to send forth more than I have ever
done. Doors are open on every hand, and the need is
very great. We are bound to preach the gospel to every
creature. With the living voice we cannot, but much may
be done by the printed page. I thank you very warmly for
your kind interest in years gone by. Will you kindly help
again? It will be a service done to the Lord. I shall
freely take the labour of preparing and sending forth, if
you assist by either giving or obtaining contributions, how
To make his appeal the more stirring and effectual he
adds the following lines :—
26o HIS LOVE OF SOULS.
" SOULS are perishing before thee—
Save, save one!
It may be thy crown of glory—
Save, save one!
From the waves that would devour,
From the raging lion’s power,
From destruction‘s fiery shower—
Save, save one!
“ Who the worth of souls can measure?
Save, save one!
Who can count the priceless treasure ?
Save, save one!
Like the stars shall shine for ever,
Those who faithfully endeavour
Dying sinners to deliver—
Save, SAVE ONE!”
With characteristic faith he adds, “WHY NOT MANY?”
Whenever and wherever he saw any prospect of winning
souls, he hesitated not to make every personal sacrifice in
order to forward the good work. Once, in a certain town
where he was strongly opposed and left without any re
sources, his companion suggested that, as they were no
longer able from want of means to pay the rent of the hall
where the meetings were held, they ought to leave the place
and seek another field. “ No,” said Matheson, in a resolute
tone of voice, “ I will not give in yet. I will tell you what
I have made up my mind to do.” Taking out his watch—
a gold one—he went on to say, “This watch is very dear
to me, for it was presented to me by the Bible Society for
my services in the East; but precious though it is, on that
account I have resolved to pawn or sell it. The proceeds
will pay the rent of the hall and keep us going for another
week or two, and after that we shall see what is to be
done.” That very day, however, money was sent him from
an unexpected quarter, and the watch was spared. Several
times afterwards, as he told me himself, the watch was
devoted in the same way; but as often as he sacrificed it in
his heart did relief suddenly arise in the providence of God.
The mainspring of that invincible resolution was doubtless
a happy assurance that God was with him. This sustained
him in his labours of love, and seemed scarcely ever to be
shaken. At one of the most trying periods of his public
HIS RALLYING CRY. 261
career, when reproached beyond measure, cast out and for
saken, I wrote him in terms of sympathy, putting into verse
what I believed would be his rallying cry. In reply he said:
“Your lines have struck the true keynote to my heart.
The thought that God is with me has charmed my melan
choly away. I feel nerved for anything.”
Here are the verses :—
“TO MY FRIEND DUNCAN MATHESON IN TIME OF TROUBLE.
“When thy steps on earth are miry,
When a snare thy soul would bind,
Faith on wing shall seek her eyrie :
God is with thee,—never mind !
“Though they sevenfold heat the furnace,
Though in lion‘s den confined,
Good to thee thy God will turn this :
God is with thee,—never mind !
“Though a sea of trouble front thee,
With Egyptian host behind,
What on earth or hell shall daunt thee ?
God is with thee,—never mind !
“When dark clouds and mist descending
Dull thy soul and make thee blind,
Heavenward still thy steps be wending :
God is with thee,—never mind !
“If thy friends should all forsake thee,
And thy dearest prove unkind,
Let that only bolder make thee;
God is with thee,—never mind!
“ Should thy frame give way in weakness
(So the saints have often pined),
God thy strength is health in sickness;
God is with thee,—never mind!
“Trust not man, but Him that made thee,
Man is fickle as the wind;
Fear no evil, God thy dread be,—
God is with thee,—never mind!
“Let all creatures fierce oppose thee,
Men and devils fast combined,
Till ten thousand round shall close thee;
God is with thee,—never mind !
262 HIS SELF-SACRIF1CING LOVE.
“ God of power, and truth, and mercy,
Thee my God in Christ I find-
And I hope in death to dare say
' God is with me,—never mind.'"
In his love to souls he constantly tore himself away from
the endearments of home, the pleasures of society, and the
comforts of life. For souls he cheerfully sacrificed the
favour of the lukewarm, and incurred the hostility of the
world. To win souls he suffered hunger and thirst, heat
and cold, weariness and pain, the loss of friends and of
reputation; was willing to be counted a fool, and even a
crafty impostor; endured hatred, and scorn, and calumny;
was mobbed, and beaten, and disgraced, and cast out; and
finally fell a sacrifice to his Christ-like compassion for perish
ing men. How few in love for souls will sacrifice ease,
money, dress, dainties, society, and reputation ! Not many
Christians will in the greatness of their love sell themselves
to labour and sorrow for a lifetime. To love souls with
a wise and effectual love—a soul-winning love—involves the
vivid realising of things invisible and eternal, constant fel
lowship of the Spirit, deep and true sympathy with Christ,
strong faith in God, and an utter deadness to the ten thou
sand vanities of the world, with a greater sacrifice of self
than most Christians are found to make. Rare are the men
who can follow Jesus into a Gethsemane of agonizing prayer
and bleeding love, and drink a deadly-bitter cup on behalf
of souls. Most good men make large reserves of them
selves for their own behoof. Few will not allow a fair
margin of undevoted flesh and blood. Duncan Matheson
kept no balance at that old and overcautious banker’s,
Spare-thyself. He reserved not an inch of soul or body,
but put his all into the service, and used it with a will,
taking out of himself all he could get, even to the uttermost
farthing, and so selling his life as dearly as possible. His
strong faith looked steadily into eternity, and as he looked
the fire burned in his heart till the very heat of his zeal con
sumed him, and he died of this heroic disease—hard work
for others’ good.
“ Hasten to the side of the dying evangelist ere it be
too late,’’ wrote one who knew him well, “ for the King‘s
chariot is at the door of his modest home. Wife and
HIS CHILDLIKE SIMPLICITY. 263
children have been calmly cast long ere now on the
great Provider. The cause of the Lord Jesus Christ, dearer
than they, is not so easily cast over. The arm of the dying
soldier will scarcely disentangle itself from the gospel shield.
The devil has shot his last arrow at him in vain ; and the
last cloud that rested on his brow has rolled away before
that promise : ‘ They that be wise shall shine as the sun,
and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for
ever and ever.’ Whisper your question here. The eye opens
once more ; triumph kindles it. ‘ I am going to see the
King. If death has terrors, I’ve met none of them. At least
you can say you have seen the vanquished a conqueror.
Oh that I could have served him here the fifty years out!
Saving souls has been a passion with me these two-and-
twenty years.’ The chariot has left his door, carrying him to
victory. Where the angels vail their faces ; where the elders
cast their crowns; where the song of the seraphim is hushed
at the higher notes of the redeemed; where the Mediator
pleads for his scattered people on earth in the hearing of
the great congregation safely gathered; where the river of
life yields its waters unmeasured to lips that thirst no more ;
where there is joy in the presence of the angels of God
over sinners on earth repenting; where the beatific vision
is all unhindered—there seek the freed spirit of the evange
The following estimate of his character is from the pen of
my friend Mr. Campbell, minister of North Free Church,
Aberdeen. “Mr. Matheson was quite an uncommon cha
racter, strongly pronounced in his individuality, and freely
asserting himself wherever he went. There was in him a
childlike symplicity that was very attractive, and made him
eminently true and reliable as a fellow-worker. All policy
and finesse he abhorred; himself had nothing to conceal,
and he concealed nothing; in fact, his openness and out
spokenness he carried to a degree that was decidedly eccen
tric ; but even his hardest words were never uttered in a
malicious spirit. Our brother was one who wore his heart
outside, and spoke as he thought,—spoke almost all he
thought, as if his very whispers, in spite of himself, became
* “ Who is this King of Glory?” By Mrs. Barbour, author of “The
Way Home,” &c.
204 HIS PRAYERFULNESS.
audible; and this of course was not always safe or con
venient. Connected I suppose with this childlike simplicity
was his happy, buoyant nature, his mirthfulness and hilarity.
He was the very embodiment of happiness, diffusing an
atmosphere of happiness all around him. . . . Mr. Mathe-
son was a man of a very kind and loving disposition. This
was a feature of his character—very prominent. His hand
was continually open, both to friends and strangers. It
seemed to do him good to be freely giving away money and
gifts. He was indeed a most unselfish being, and wanted
only to live in the happiness and love of others.
“ But it was as a child of God and servant of Jesus that
Mr. Matheson was chiefly to be noted and followed. He
was a man of faith who lived habitually under the power of
things unseen. He apprehended and had ever before his
mind as realities God and sin and salvation, heaven and
hell: these were to him great and influential realities. I once
heard him remark—and I believe he spoke the truth—that
never for many minutes together was the thought of the
conversion of souls out of his view. He saw very plainly
in the Word of God and in the world around him that men
in a natural condition are ready to perish and that for ever ;
and he knew, on the best of evidences, that the truth as it
is in Jesus embraced by the soul brings a divine peace and
holiness. Hence he laboured with all his might to win
souls to Christ, and not without results, such as convinced
him that the Lord was with him. His loving disposition,
being sanctified, sought nothing less for souls than their
eternal well-being, and his natural simplicity, under the con
trol of the Divine Spirit, engaged him in the most direct
and decided efforts for the realisation of his object. He
was a man of prayer, in the spirit of which all his views and
movements were baptised.
“ You have enquired about Mr. Matheson’s work and its
results in this part of the country, but I have no means in
my power of speaking with particularity on that point. For
some months he had pastoral charge of the Congregational
Church in Blackfriars Street in this city. This, however,
was a kind of sphere not exactly suited to him; he needed
a wide field in which to range; while the proclamation of
the gospel of salvation was more to his liking and abilities
than the regular routine of pastoral teaching. He evidently
felt most at home in open-air meetings, standing on a chair
or table, and casting forth that powerful, melodious voice of
his in earnest invitations and solemn appeals to the hun
dreds or thousands massed before him. I have no doubt
the great day will declare that multitudes of precious spirits
were delivered from eternal death and translated into the
kingdom of light and blessedness by the instrumentality of
our true-hearted and noble friend.”
The transparency of his character revealed its flaws. He
was outspoken to a fault; and a certain brusque forwardness
of manner sometimes gave offence. He was not so well
fitted to wear the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, as
to bear the grim array of sword and shield and coat of mail.
His was a Samson’s strength and a Samson-like warfare;
and occasionally his measures were not unlike that ancient
hero’s firebrands tied to foxes’ tails, which not only burnt
the Philistines’ corn, but also displeased his timid friends.
The young stonecutter sent by his master into the quarry
was typical of his work as an evangelist. His part was not
to polish corner-stones or carve delicate forms with a tool
as fine as a lady‘s needle, but to go down to the quarry and
do sledge-hammer work, and by executing fireblasts to rive
out of the rock solid masses to be polished and built by
other hands. But if his boisterous manners and eccentric
bluntness offended gentler natures, these very angularities
seemed to others as natural as the crooks in a crab-tree,
or the twists of a whorled shell. We need not gloss over
faults; but it is vain to pray nature to send us trees without
crooks, or shells without those curious and apparently useless
whorls. The various forces of grace as well as nature have
each its place and work. Shall the gentle dew chide the
rude thunder? or the thunder say to the dew, Weakling,
what art thou ? Wisdom is justified of all her children.
Duncan Matheson was pre-eminently a revival preacher.
In the revival of religion he rejoiced. To extend the work
and blessings of revival he laboured with all his might.
This was his mission; and no man was ever better fitted
for his peculiar calling than he was for stirring drowsy
saints, and awakening a slumbering world. Some may be
disposed to ask, What is revival ? Since the devil has his
WHAT TRUE REVIVAL IS.
counterfeits of everything gracious and divine, it may be
well to answer the question.
Listen to the Psalmist. “ Wilt Thou not revive us again,
that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalm Ixxxv. 6.)
Fresh life from God issuing in new joy in the Lord—that is
revival. Hear the voice of the church in the Song of love:
“ My Beloved spake and said unto me, Rise up, my love,
my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of
the turtle is heard in our land.” (Song ii. 10-12.) Spring-
time of the church, summer of the new creation, buddings
of grace, songs of holy joy, and the glad voice of the wel
come Saviour calling his beloved into closer fellowship and
sweeter foretastes of the better paradise—that is revival.
Hearken to the prophet: “ Then the eyes of the blind shall
be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped;
then shall the lame leap as an hart, and the tongue of the
dumb sing : for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and
streams in the desert.” (Isa. xxxv. 5, 6.) The plagues of
man’s heart and the woes of man’s life marvellously healed
by grace and truth—that is revival.
Let us come to the New Testament. Listen to the words
of Jesus : “ From the days of John the Baptist until now
the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent
take it by force.” (Matt. xi. 12.) Earnest and vehement
desire, bold and strenuous effort, self-sacrificing and soldier
like decision, resolute and victorious perseverance in seek
ing the Lord and securing salvation, like warriors mounting
the breach and capturing the citadel—that is true revival.
“ Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots
go into the kingdom of God before you : for John came
unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him
not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him; and
ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards, that ye
might believe him.” (Matt. xxi. 31, 32.) Sinners of the
worst class fleeing from the wrath to come, and finding in
Christ mercy to pardon and grace to help in the time of
need, while self-righteous professors and rationalistic mo
ralists look on with anger and contempt, and perish at the
very gate of salvation—that is the usual course of heaven
INSTANCES OF GENUINE REVIVAL. 267
sent revival. The prodigal son, returning home with peni
tential tears, his father running forth to meet him and
clasping him in his arms, the kiss of forgiveness, the servants
summoned to minister to him, the best robe, the ring, the
shoes, the fatted calf, the feast, the music, and the dance,
and the churlish elder brother coming to add his phial of
vinegar to the entertainment—the whole story presents a per
fect picture of a true revival scene.
Listen to the evangelist: “As Jesus passed forth from
thence, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the receipt
of custom : and He saith unto him, Follow Me; and he
arose and followed Him.” (Matt. ix. 9.) Jesus speaks to a
man of the world in the midst of business; by a word. He
casts the charm of an all-conquering love around Him, and
the worldling straightway becomes a heavenly-minded pilgrim
—that is revival. “ The woman saith unto Him, I know
that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is
come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I
that speak unto thee am He......The woman then left
her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith unto
the men, Come, see a man which told me all things that ever
I did; is not this the Christ ? Then they went out of the
city and came unto Him.” (John iv. 25-30.) Jesus meets
a sinful woman at a well, accidentally as men say, but
really in virtue of a pre-arrangement as ancient as the coun
sels of eternity, then and there convinces her of sin, reveals
to her his glory as Redeemer, and by a mysterious touch
of saving grace sends her away to awaken the whole city by
her simple testimony—that is genuine revival. “ And when
Jesus came to the place, He looked up, and saw him, and
said unto him, Zaccheus, Make haste, and come down; for
today I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and
came down, and received Him joyfully.” (Luke xix. 1-18.)
Christ converts a notorious sinner among the branches of a
sycamore tree, and the converted sinner immediately opens
his heart, his house, and his purse to the Lord, to the dis
ciples, and the poor: and in the name of righteousness
offers restitution fourfold for any wrong done his neighbour
—that is genuine revival. “Now when they heard this,
they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and
to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we
268 THE PRECIOUS FRUITS OF REVIVAL.
do ?.....Then they that gladly received his word were
baptized; and the same day there were added to them about
three thousand souls.” (Acts ii. 37-41.) A pardoned sinner
preaching the gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from
heaven, and multitudes are converted on the spot—that is
revival. “ For our gospel came not unto you in word only,
but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much
assurance.” (1 Thess. i. 5.) Not mere knowledge in the
head, but experience in the heart; not a gospel in the creed
merely, but in the character; not a profession only, but a
possession also; not a mere glimmer of hope struggling
through clouds of doubt and fear, but a present salvation, a
great felt reality of joy in the Holy Ghost and much assur
ance—that is characteristic of all genuine revival.
Revival is the springing up of the life of God in the soul
of man. It means sleepers awaking, wanderers returning,
saints becoming more holy, and sinners becoming saints.
It means peace to the troubled conscience, songs instead of
sobs, and thrills of holy joy instead of stings of remorse.
Were the revival of religion, pure and undefiled, to fill the
world, it would break the neck of sin, stay the ravages of
war, empty prisons, turn labour into a joy, dry up rivers of
tears, reduce the misery of mankind to a shadow, and
transform earth into a paradise. It is “ glory to God in the
highest; on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”
Of such a revival Duncan Matheson was the unwearied
advocate and successful promoter. He preached not revi
valism, but Christ the life. He preached the doctrines that
contain the germs of all true revival—the doctrines of the
cross. These doctrines he proclaimed in the way in which
they are usually most effective; he preached as one who
believed what he preached, with a holy enthusiasm of faith
and love. He preached in prayerful dependence on the
Holy Spirit, and his preaching therefore was “ in demom-
stration of the Spirit and of power.” In that sense he was
a wise and true revival preacher.
Our evangelist was a pioneer in the work of revival. Like
all pioneers he had to clear the forest, make roads across
dreary swamps, grub up thorns and briars to get at the
virgin soil, and endure hardships as a good soldier of the
advance guard. Not seldom did he encounter a hostility
that might have provoked a more patient spirit than his.
Sacred prejudices hoary with age met him at the frontier,
and challenged his right of entrance. Calumny often lied
her worst, and the lay-preacher was held a fool, a fanatic,
and a rogue by turns. That he disturbed Israel cannot be
denied; but Israel settled upon his lees needs to be dis
turbed. To go into a place where thousands lay asleep and,
as his manner was, suddenly to blow a blast that might
almost wake the dead, was abominably “out of season.”
To all, therefore, except the few who arose and trimmed
their lamps, his presence and testimony gave deadly offence.
The opposition thus encountered was met with wisdom and
firmness. When told that a certain parson threatened to
keep him out of his parish, the evangelist said, “ Go and
ask him if he has got a monopoly of saving souls.” Once
when preaching in a northern market from the text “Behold,
He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him,” a
scoffer came up and sneeringly cried out, “Ay, but when is
He coming?” The evangelist in prompt reply raised the
Bible in his hand, and looking round on the audience,
solemnly said, “Ah, friends, you see this is a wonderful
book. Eighteen hundred years ago it predicted that ‘ there
shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own
lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming ?’ I
call you to witness that the prediction is just now fulfilled.
What do you think, sirs? Is not the Bible true? ‘He
that shall come will come, and will not tarry.’” The caviller
Infidels frequently assail Christianity on the ground of
the inconsistent lives of some of its professors. Matheson
when opposed did not hesitate to use that weapon of their
own against themselves. A certain noisy sceptic, who had
scandalously failed to pay the rent of a hall where he had
been lecturing, was one day throwing out his challenges and
charges against Christians, when our Evangelist stepped up
and said, “ Ask him if he has paid the rent of the hall yet
at ------?" The effect on the lecturer may be imagined.
The balloon soaring so proudly, suddenly collapsed and fell
into the mire.
Knowing that scepticism is often but the desperate effort
of a heart ill at ease to find rest, his usual method of deal-
ORDER AND DISORDER.
ing with infidels and gainsayers was not so much through
the head as through the heart. His frequent question to the
caviller, accompanied with a knowing glance of the eye,
“Are you happy—tell me now, are you happy?” was found
unanswerable. For the most part, however, he avoided
controversy, and met opposition with kindness, prayer, and
the word of God.
Some opposed the revival movement and the work of the
evangelist from dread of excitement and ecclesiastical dis
order. They forgot the far greater hubbub of Pentecost,
when thousands were crying, “What must we do?” It
would have been strange if Peter and John had only
answered, “ Propriety ! propriety ! God save propriety !"
What parent would not prefer the noisy and even excessive
demonstrations of his children to the decent stillness of a
desolate home and the chamber of death? There is an
order of life and an order of death. There is an order of
lifeless form which breeds the saddest disorder; and there
are disorders of a new-born life that to the discerning eye
carry in their bosom the germs of the truest order. By
wise and gentle management the irregularities of ignorance
and indiscreet zeal may for the most part be entirely done
away with or reduced to insignificance. All things in the
house of God ought indeed to be done decently and in
order; but some of the worst disorders and errors are due
to an unwise and cruel repression of new-born life. Making
due allowance for the eccentricity of his manner, and the
impetuosity of his character, Duncan Matheson was a true
friend of order in the Lord’s house. He had no greater joy
than in co-operating with godly pastors and other office-
bearers in building up Zion’s walls, and many of his spiritual
children are pillars of the church at this day.
He was opposed by others because they feared lay
preaching would give rise to heresy. If church history
does not lie, not laymen, but learned ecclesiastics have
generally been the originators of heresy : witness, for ex
ample, apostate Rome. If a minister of the gospel dreads
the influence of Christian laymen, he underrates his office,
he mistrusts his Master, he misunderstands the time; the
testimony of the lay-preacher is often the echo of the
faithful pastor’s voice. Who would not wish to hear the
THE WORK STANDS.
wilderness resound with the thousand cheerful echoes of a
revival time ? When a religious awakening, with its excite
ments, marvels, and it may be also subversion of old
methods and ideas, takes place in a congregation or parish,
let the faithful pastor put himself at the head of the move
ment, and he will speedily find men and things falling into
rank. Every man by and by finds his own post and
work, and everything its own place and value. In point
of soundness in the faith, our lay-preacher could have given
lessons in theology to not a few, alas ! who, though or
dained teachers in the churches, are amidst the present
darkness giving no better light than the light of the wandering
Other opponents of the lay-preacher and revival work
sceptically asked the question, “Will it stand?” They
pointed to the evil mingling with the good, forgetting that
there will always be thistles among the corn, and tares
among the wheat. “ Look at these backsliders,’’ said they.
Well, what is the fact? Is any of the churches perfectly
pure ? Why, in the churches where the quietest modes and
most judicious means are employed without any revival
demonstration, a portion of the communicants invariably
become worldly-minded, ungodly, and even immoral or
profane. The Apostolic Church itself was not free from
impurity. Even under the ministry of our Lord, many dis
ciples went back, and walked no more with Him. Are we
wiser than the Lord Jesus or his apostles? Backsliding
is an evil greatly to be deplored : yet it may be a sign of
good. It may indicate the existence of a standard beneath
which men may sink. In certain religious communities, in
which revival is tabooed, backsliding is simply impossible :
a soldier of straw never deserts : a man up to his neck in
mud can never fall. Thousands that were converted during
the revival period are now walking with God, and are in
every sphere of human activity adorning their profession by
holy and useful lives.
In summing up the results of so useful a life we can
scarcely avoid asking the question, Why did it seem good
to the divine Worker to use a layman in so marked a way
in the conversion of sinners ? Without presuming to pene-
trate the mysteries of the sovereignty of God, a few thoughts
may be here suggested by way of an answer.
I. Perhaps in this way the Lord Jesus is calling the
attention of his church to her lay-talent, which has too long
lain neglected. Now that she begins to be alive to her duty
on this head, our gifted laymen may be found occupying
a not less useful, though perhaps a less prominent, place
in the work of the Lord than they did in the recent re
II. In this way the Lord seems to be rousing his church
to the prosecution of her evangelistic mission in the world.
She has erred and failed in ceasing to acknowledge and
employ the order of evangelists, as well as pastors and
teachers. If she will not send forth evangelists in a regular,
constitutional way, her divine Head will send them forth in
a way fitted to humble her and to stir her up to jealousy.
The peculiar function of the pastor is to conserve, to edify,
to defend. The work of the evangelist is aggression and
extension. A policy of mere self-preservation must prove
selfish and fatal. To live and prosper the church of Christ
must be aggressive.
III. Is it not made to appear by the remarkable gifts and
fruitful labours of the lay-preacher that not man, but the
Lord,—not the church, but her divine Head,—can raise up
true and efficient preachers of the gospel? Does not the
life of such an one illustrate and vindicate the gracious
sovereignty of the Holy Spirit, who distributes his gifts as
seems good to Himself? The church of God has no more
important question to settle than this, the training of her
ministers, unless it be the question, how to get the right men
to be trained. The best method of tempering the sword is
an important matter : not less so is the procuring of the
genuine metal to be tempered.
IV. Is not the extraordinary usefulness of the layman
fitted to humble those ministers who are apt to pride them
selves on their learning and office ; and to stir up such of
them as are prone to care more about polishing sermons
than winning souls, who pillow their heads upon the heads
of their own discourses, and go to sleep upon neatness, fine
taste, and theological precision ?
V. Is it not also made plain that salvation is of the
A DEBTOR TO GRACE. 273
Lord? It is “not by might, nor by power, but by my
Spirit, saith the Lord.” When Goliath fell, not by the
sword of a trained warrior of Israel’s host, but by a smooth
stone from the sling of the Bethlehem shepherd lad, the
victory was manifestly of God. So things that are not are
chosen of God to bring to nought things that are; that no
flesh should glory in his presence. (1 Cor. i. 25-31.)
VI. To encourage the right-hearted servants of Jesus
Christ, is it not made as clear as noonday that faith, and
zeal, and love, will always be honoured with blessing and
In the life and labours of this man we see the power and
beauty of the grace of God. Grace it was that followed
him from a child, and called him a youth into the fellow
ship of the saints. Grace finding him a man by nature
made him a man of God, a faithful witness of the truth, a
valiant soldier of the cross, a lover of good men and souls,
an unbeneficed Dean of the Chapel Royal of Feeing-Mar-
kets, unmitred Archbishop of Open-air, and above all, the
faithful Apostle of Christian reality and thoroughness. Grace
it was that burned and shone in him—a golden candlestick
of the true temple—and inspiring him with a very fury of
holy ardour to save lost men, made him—unlearned, un
licensed, and unordained though he was—a more successful
winner of souls than a whole Presbytery of mere sermon-
makers, or a diocese of prayer-readers. Grace it was that
taught him to preach Christ with the water in his eyes to
ten thousand, and not less earnestly to a single soul; to
make no difference betwixt great and small, to see only in
each an eternal destiny trembling in the balance, and to
drop tears as freely for the daughter of poverty and vice
as for the fine lady in her silks and in her sins. Truly it
was the power of God that wrought mightily in him, in
labours at home and abroad; on land and sea; by night and
by day; in strength and in sickness; in hunger and in thirst;
in honour and dishonour; in peaceful gatherings and amidst
tumultuous scenes; in cottage homes and on fields of blood;
amidst the hubbub of a Scotch fair and the babel of the
oriental bazaar; amongst roughs and lawless men ; among
soldiers and sailors; amongst infidels, and Turks, and Jews,
and Papists; on the decks of ships; in camps and noisy
ALL THE GLORY TO GOD.
tents; in the bivouac and the trench; in abodes of misery
and death; in hospitals among the diseased, the plague-
stricken, and the dying; amidst perils of every kind ; in
affliction and sorrow; in scorn and rejection of men; in re
proach, and calumny, and sufferings too truly apostolic : for
he was even a fool for Christ’s sake and as the offscouring
of all things. Surely, it was the power of Christ that made
him a matter of fact Christian, bearing as he did bear no
mere modern sham cross, no mere painted and decorated
chip of comfortable and self-sparing profession, but a huge
beam of reality with flesh-piercing nails of painful sacri
fice, crushing him, as it crushed his Master, into an early
Beyond question it was Christ in him that enabled him to
rejoice with irrepressible joy amidst his many trials and tri
bulations, and in his very weakness to triumph over the
gates of hell, being faithful to his latest breath. In fine, as
it was grace that inspired the holy self-consecration and the
solemn vow as, in the solitude of the burial-place and the
silence of night, he knelt upon his uncle‘s grave, where the
struggling moonbeams revealed the prophet’s words upon
the tombstone, and a still more silvery light, such as never
was on land or sea, photographed the divine saying upon
the shrine of his innermost heart to be the motto and the
motive of a lifetime; so it was grace, most rich and free, that
answered his prayer to the full, and strengthened him to
sustain the high resolve with martyr-like endurance through
out the long and noble service of two-and-twenty years, till
the spirit of the soul-winner wore out all that was mortal of
the man, and he went to realise the full meaning of the
prophet’s words, where “ they that be wise shine as the fir
mament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the
stars for ever and ever.” “Whatsoever things,’’ therefore,
in this man’s life “are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, what
soever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good re
port ; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,
think on these things;” and to the God of all grace be all
Now, Christian reader, is there no lesson for you here?
A PARTING WORD. 275
If you have been stirred, or cheered, or strengthened, give
God the praise, and use every fresh ray of light to finish
your day‘s work on earth, and prosecute your soul‘s journey
in its perilous chariot of flesh to its awful close. Yield to
your Saviour an undivided heart; love Him with a holy
tenderness and a childlike simplicity; serve Him with a
wise enthusiasm and a meek abandonment of self-will; lay
out your all for his glory, and die daily for his sake; be as
thorough in your wisdom as the world is in its madness;
and go your way to heaven as manfully as most men go
their way to hell. Remember, basking in the light is not
shining. Few Christians shine. Clouds of earthliness and
tempestuous darkness of the flesh obscure their brightness,
and their light is too dim to guide a wanderer in the world’s
night, or rule another’s destiny for eternal good. Be you a
shining one. Dwell under the face of God. Even the dust
sparkles and is resplendent in the sun. If the stars make
night beautiful, it is because they revolve in day : they shine
in the night because they are not of it. Too many conceal
their lights beneath the “bushel’’ of carnal policy and the
fear of man. “ Let your light so shine that men, beholding
your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Righteous in the righteous One, hold fast that unity, even
as Christ‘s body cleaves to his Godhead, and knows no
divorce. Ever receive Jesus in his constant love. Be true
to the pure impulses of his Spirit. Live in the clear rays of
his truth, and give full credit to his dark sayings till the day
dawn. Frequent the well-springs of his grace, draw freely
from his fulness, and see that you give no offence by an
unbelieving stint of prayer. Meekly bear the sharp chills of
adversity till the rough manners of his providence shall
melt into the summer dews of heaven, when the mask of
present mystery shall vanish in the glory of his face, and
He shall lay aside once for all the guises of his love, and
you shall misinterpret his heart’s intent no more for ever.
Reader, if you are not in Christ, ponder, I pray you, “the
path of your feet.” As we part, I will leave the Scottish
evangelist at his old post, with his hand pointing you to the
way of life. You remember the words of the Lord Jesus
in which He describes the wide and strait gates (Matt. vii.
276 A FINGER-POST.
13, 14), and by a few master-strokes portrays the characters,
ways, and eternal destinies of the two classes of men, the
saved and the lost. This was our evangelist’s great burden,
and never did he preach on the broad and narrow ways, as
we heard him tell, without seeing fruit. The substance of
that discourse, so marvellously owned of God, he printed
in a conspicuous form, which he held up everywhere to
catch the eye of travellers to the judgment-seat. Here
then, as we mark the last footprint of this faithful servant of
the Lord, let us erect his finger-post of
THE TWO ROADS.
Its gate is wide.... Matt. vii. 13.
Its way is dark .... Prov. ii. 13.
Its paths are false.. Prov. xiv. 12.
It is crowded by those
who forsake God. Isaiah i. 4.
who do iniquity.. Isaiah lix. 3.
who serve the devil. John viii. 44.
It leads to Misery .. Rom. ii. 9.
Death .. Rom. vi. 21.
Judgment. Matt. xii. 36.
Its end is hell,
where there shall
be wailing and
gnashing of teeth. Matt. xiii. 42.
Its gate is strait .. Matt. vii. 14.
Its way is light.... John viii. 12.
Its paths are truth.. Ps. xxv. 10.
It is trod by those
who forsake sin.. 1Pe.iii. 10,11.
who do the will of
God ........Matt. vii. 21.
who serve the Lord
Christ........Col. iii. 24.
It leads to Happiness Ps. lxiv. 10.
Life ......Matt. vii. 14.
EternalGlory. I Peter v. 10.
Its end is heaven,
where there is ful
ness of joy and
pleasures for ever
more.......... Ps. xvi. 11.
Mark! On this side you have
And on this side you find
Along which of these roads are you hastening ? for in one
or the other you most certainly are. Are you in the way to
God and Heaven ? or Satan and Hell ? A mistake, if
continued to the end, will be fatal. “ For what shall it profit
a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own
soul?” (Mark viii. 36.)
Jesus Christ says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life;
no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John xiv. 6.)
“ He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” (John vi.
47.) “ Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”
(John vi. 37.) “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners
to repentance.” (Mark ii. 17.) “The Son of Man is come
to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke xix. 10.)
Where will you spend eternity?
“For God and eternity.”
LONDON: MORGAN AND SCOTT,
12, PATERNOSTEB BUILDINGS.
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