Scotland's History, Legends, Wildlife and Hunting Practices...because the past lives in us and guides our footsteps.



URING the last years of his active life our evan­
gelist prosecuted his work with unflagging zeal. He
never rested save when he slept. He was often weary;
but the more he was spent in the service of Jesus,
the more he loved the work. Indecision never brought him

N 2

18o                    HIS MANNER OF LIVING

to a standstill. The silken cords of sloth never detained
him. Every minute was an opportunity, and every opportu­
nity was seized with an almost stern promptitude. Through
the grace given him he could say, “ I do not know that ten
minutes of my life ever pass without thinking of the salva­
tion of souls.” His motto was,

thy hand
findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work,
nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither
thou goest.” Often, when exhausted and sick, did he say,
“Ah, I know the deep meaning of those words, ‘There
remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God;’” and the
hope of that rest roused him, weary and ill though he was,
to fresh efforts in the work of the Lord. Let us see how
he spent his days.

The first part of the morning was given to prayer and
reading the Word. Thus he refreshed his own spirit, and
found a portion for others. To Christians he happened to
meet he was wont to say, “Here is a sweet morsel for you,—
I have been rolling it like candy-sugar in my mouth all the
day.” The portions of scripture in which he found comfort
were sometimes such as would not readily occur to others.
For example, he would say, “ I cannot tell you how much
comfort I have found in this word, ‘ If the righteous
scarcely be saved.’ I find it so hard for me to be saved that
I often fear I will never get into the kingdom; but then
when I read that those who are saved are saved with
difficulty, with just such a struggle as I have, I feel en­

In the earlier years of his course he spent part of the
morning in sketching or writing fully out his sermons and
addresses. A specimen of his outlines may be given:—

“But Peter followed Him afar off.” (Matt. xxvi. 58.)

I. Point out those that follow Christ afar off. 1. Those
who have some love, but grace is weak. 2. Those who
are ashamed to confess Christ before men. 3. Those who
walk inconsistently. 4. Those who do not heartily promote
Christ’s cause.

II. The causes of following Christ afar off. 1. Weakness



of faith. 2. Fear of man. 3. Attachment to earthly things.
4. Self-confidence.

III. The sin and danger of following Christ afar off. 1.
It is not honourable. 2. It is not reasonable. 3. It is not
comfortable. 4. It is not safe.

Part of his time was daily occupied in letter-writing. A
benighted soul needs direction, a young convert needs
warning, a persecuted Christian needs encouragement, a
backslider needs healing, a poor saint needs money, a fel-
low-labourer needs succour: short, incisive, business-like
notes winged with light are quickly on their way. In one
letter he pleads the case of a neglected and poverty-stricken
sufferer whom he has discovered in some out ­of­ the ­way
hovel. In another he offers to find means for building a
bridge over a highland stream far away in the north, and
as he urges the prosecution of the work with the greatest
earnestness, you would fancy, if you did not know the man,
that the erection was a matter of pecuniary interest to him,
instead of being, as it was, an affair of pure benevolence.
In all his letters he seems to breathe the air of eternity.
“Oh, hownear eternity seems!“ is his constant exclamation.
Death, judgment, heaven, and hell are realities never lost
sight of; and in the fore­front of every epistle, however
brief, stands the name of the Master, too dear to be ever
forgotten by the fond disciple,—Jesus Christ, Saviour of
sinners. It is not too much to say that by his letters, so
prompt, wise, affectionate, full of the Spirit and of eternity,
he was instrumental in conveying light and comfort to

His publications, and the circulation of books and tracts,
formed part of his daily care and work, both at home and
in his evangelistic journeys. Whenever or wherever you
met him, you found him bringing out or putting into circu­
lation some fresh tract or book. He studied the signs of
the times. None knew better than he the tastes of his
countrymen and the wants of the day. For instance, he
brought out a cheap edition of Hoge’s “ Blind Bartimeus,"
and got it circulated in many thousands during the wide­
spread awakening of 1859-61. He took the pains, and
risk too, of getting it translated into Gaelic; and “Blind
Bartimeus” was sent up many a highland glen, and into


many a sequestered nook, to tell of Him who openeth the
eyes of the blind, and saith in his love to every needy child
of man, “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?”
His edition of Brooks’ “Cabinet of Choice Jewels” was
seasonable and useful. For example, it was instrumental
in the conversion of a young man who is now a zealous
Sabbath-school teacher and elder in the Free Church. At
one time we find him printing and circulating 300,000
tracts ringing with the genuine truth of the gospel. Of
this kind of literature, in fact, he circulated whole tons. He
procured the translation into Gaelic of many little books
which were gratuitously distributed, or sold at a merely nomi­
nal price.

To bring the gospel before the eyes of careless men he
frequently devised new methods. For instance, immense
placards with “The Two Roads” described, being the sub­
stance of a discourse on the wide and strait gates, met
your eye everywhere in town and country. I have seen it
on the wall of a populous town in the strange company of
quack advertisements and theatre bills, and have heard one
passer-by say to another, “ Stop, Jim, here’s a new style o’t.”
They stopped, and read the old gospel in a new style. I
have seen it hanging up in a saw­mill in the corner of a
dense wood in a wild highland glen, where all who trafficked
in timber read its sharp, soul­piercing truths amidst the dust
and noise. It found its way into the ploughman’s bothy.
“What are you doing ?" said one to a couple of ploughmen

in F------shire, who, with hoe in hand, were scraping the

walls of their bothy. “Ou, sir,” was the reply, “were just
scrapin’ aff the deevil’s sangs, and we’re gaun to put up
Christ’s in their place.” At this juncture the foreman
making his appearance angrily forbade their proceeding
further in the ornamentation of the walls, but the men
stoutly made reply, “ ’Deed, you never said a word again’
oor swearin’ and singin’ coorse sangs, and surely you’ll nae
hinner’s frae worshippin’ and praisin’ God! Na, na; we’ll
dae naething o’ the sort as stop. We’ll hae doon the deevil’s
sangs, and put up Christ’s.” “The Two Roads,” with sundry
hymns and spiritual songs were then pasted in the most
conspicuous places.

He was watchful against the spread of error. Of all he



ever published it would be difficult to find a sentence that
could be fairly construed to mean error, or be held as likely
to mislead a soul. Every little book had its mission; every
tract was a messenger sent in the name of God. One was
to awaken and alarm; another was to warn and reprove
a third was to persuade and win; a fourth summoned to
decision; a fifth was fitted to comfort and sanctify ; and
all were sent forth in the name of Christ to seek and save
the lost. Taking into account the quality and quantity of
the seed, the breadth of deeply-furrowed soil that was sown
in those days, when God‘s great ploughshare was running
sharply through the fallow ground and virgin soil of Scot­
land amidst sweet April-like alternations of sunshine and
shower that then gladdened our happy land, it may be safely
affirmed that the fruits could have been neither few nor small.

All the profits of the publishing business went to the
gratuitous circulation of the particular tract or book then in
hand. Although the entire burden lay on himself, his ad­
mirable business capacity and methodic habits enabled him
to keep his accounts with perfect accuracy, and thus amidst
a multitude of affairs to avoid confusion, if not also loss.
It was but a subordinate part of his evangelistic work. The
risk, indeed, was considerable, and the labour immense; but
he sought no recompence save the reward that shines afar,
and shines only to the clear eye of faith.

A portion of the day was invariably spent in visiting the
sick, the aged, and the friendless. For this kind of work
he possessed a peculiar fitness, and in it he found a peculiar
joy. “ You will miss your friend Mr. Matheson,” I said to
a Christian couple of feeble health and straitened circum­
stances. “‘Deed, sir,” was the reply, “we’ll miss him sair.
He had a gey traffic wi’ us, an’ he was aye sae cheery.
An’ mair than that, his hand was aye as ready wi’ his ain
siller as his tongue was wi’ God’s promises. Mony a time
he cam’ in an’ got’s greetin’, an’ he was sure to leave’s
laughin’. He’s past the mournin’ noo; he’s weel hame, an’
we a’ maun try an’ win hame tae. But ’deed, sir, we’ll miss
him sair.” Into many a garret and cellar he carried the
sunshine of an unclouded cheerfulness. His divinity was
always served out with much humanity. Rare humours of
fancy mingled with his spiritual sayings, and seemed no

184                                  GOOD ADVICE.

more out of place than children playing under the shadow
of a great cathedral, or birds singing in a churchyard. As
playful winds, seemingly of little use in nature, precede the
genial rain, so his drolleries prepared the way for those
tender touches of the deeper heart that call forth tears.
Heavenly thoughts arrayed in symbols of the earth imparted
interest to his talk. His conversation—proverbial, quaint,
suggestive, always genial and often powerful—was scarcely
less useful than his preaching.

To a timid young Christian he said, “ Be what God meant
you to be—a man.” To one whom he deemed unpractical
he said, “ Be real.” To a flighty one, “ The Lord will clip
your wings some day.” To a newly-married couple, “ Mind
this: A man canna grow in grace unless his wife let him.”
To students preparing for the ministry, “ Lads, tak’ a guid
grip o’ God; an advice which some of them appear to
have laid to heart. To warn them against the deadening
effect of classical studies he said, “ Mind, Christ was cru­
cified between Greek and Latin.” To a student who seemed

to him to be in danger of intellectual pride he said, “ W------,

intellect is the rock you‘ll split on." If that student, now in
a high position in the church, has not made shipwreck, his
safety may be in measure due to the advice of his outspoken

friend. To a preacher who had crochets he said, “ B------,

preach Christ?" To one who was becoming a separatist:
“ You are doing the very thing Satan desires. If he cannot
destroy a child of God, he will cripple him and destroy his
usefulness.” To a Baptist disposed to make too much of
the water he said, “ Labour to bring sinners to the blood”

To a Christian complaining of coldness: “ You are cold
because you are going away from the fire : keep nearer
Christ” To young converts he would often say, “Keep
about Christ’s hand.” “Few Christians shine; be you a
shining one.” “ If you wish to get far ben in heaven, keep
near Christ on earth.” “ You’ll aye get what you go in for,”
was his homely way of stating an important principle of the
divine administration.

To a desponding believer he said, “ What would you sell
your hope for?” “ I would not sell my hope for worlds,”
was the reply. “Well, then,” said he, “you are very rich,
and need not droop. “Oh, but I am so dead!“ said



another. “ I never heard the dead complain in that way,”
was his reply.

A lady, an earnest Christian worker, whose creed is
summed up in these three articles, “ I believe in heaven, I
believe in hell, and I believe in the third chapter of the
gospel according to John,” said to him one day, “ Ah, Mr.
Matheson, I have lost my peace and my hope; I fear I am
going to perish.” His reply was characteristic : “ What!
you perish? I tell you, woman, if you went to hell, the
devil would say, ‘What is that woman doing here, aye
speaking aboot her Christ ? Put her out, put her out, put
her out !’" Curiously enough, that reply brought a relief to
her mind which much reading, prayer, and conference with
ministers and other godly friends had failed to supply.

To young religious professors he said, with much feeling
and solemnity, “I often fear lest I turn out at the judgment
day to be nothing but a hypocrite.” That was his way of
warning them, and in some cases I know it took effect.
More than one of those young Christians, awe-stricken,
went home to search and abase themselves before God, and
so were saved from the perils of self-confidence, if not also
from delusions that ruin the soul. The fear of being a hypo­
crite, I firmly believe, was the only fear Duncan Matheson
ever knew.

He had no idea of the uneducated lay-preacher affecting
to be the fine gentleman or the clergyman. Meeting two
young lay-evangelists, he said, “ So you have become grand
gentlemen,” glancing at the same time at their new and
finely­ polished walking-canes. “Away with these showy
things, and be like your Master.” To another he said,

“L------, when did you become a minister?” “I am not a

minister,” was the reply. “ Well then,” said he, “ put away
your white necktie, and just be what you are, no more, no
less.” Then thrusting a piece of gold into the young
evangelist’s hand, he said in his kindliest tone, “This is to
help to pay your expenses. I am not able to preach, and
I must be doing something for Jesus.” These are little
matters, but they serve to show with what godly jealousy
he watched over his younger brethren, and how keen was
his eye to discern the first step of pilgrims into Bye-path

186                 PREACHERS AND PREACHING.

In a certain place where evangelistic meetings were being
held, the lay-preachers, among whom was Mr. Matheson,
were sumptuously entertained at the house of a Christiar
gentleman. After dinner they went to the meeting, not
without some difference of opinion as to the best method
of conducting the services of the evening. “ The Spirit is
grieved; He is not here at all, I feel it,” said one of the
younger, with a whine which somewhat contrasted with his
previous unbounded enjoyment of the luxuries of the table.
“ Nonsense,” replied Matheson, who hated all whining and
morbid spirituality; “nothing of the sort. You have just
eaten too much dinner, and you feel heavy.”

He had learned how to abound and how to suffer want;
and he once said, “ I have observed during all those years
of evangelistic labour, that invariably when I have enjoyed
most blessing in the work, I have suffered the greatest hard­
ships ; and, on the other hand, when I have been dined,
and feasted, and carried shoulder high, there has been little
good done.” He who is to be instrumental in gathering
in the elect of God must taste of Gethsemane and Calvary.
Christ’s tools are tempered in a hot furnace and sharpened
on a hard grindstone. Luxury and ease are bad oils for the
chariot wheels of the gospel.

Speaking of the encouragement given by the Master to
a young evangelist who was rejoicing in his first success,
Matheson said, “ The Lord gives these young soldiers vic­
tory without a wound; but when we are leaving a place we
get a shot in the back to keep us humble and remind us that
the glory belongs to Him.” He was very tolerant of the
faults of young converts. “ The Lord winks at their blun­
ders and foibles because they don’t know better,” he would
say. “ Let them sing away; God Himself will teach them
other tunes.”

“There is no use in your coming here,” it was said to
him in a certain place; “for the people won’t come out to
hear the ministers themselves.” “Well then,” was his reply,
“ if they will not come out to hear broadcloth, I will put on
fustian.” He was right.

Of pointless and unfaithful preaching, however pleasant
to the ear or agreeable to the intellectual taste, he always
said, “It is just Nero fiddling when Rome is burning.”



“ That was an excellent discourse,” said he one day, after
hearing a sermon, “ but the meshes were too wide, and the
fish would all get through.” On hearing a certain preacher
praised as being a fine speaker, he said, “ Ay, but has he
teeth?” He often quoted a saying of the celebrated divine,
Dr. John Owen, to the effect that no preacher was ever
successful who had not a certain “tartness,” pungent power,
in dealing with the conscience. Of those preachers who
by a skilful management of the voice make pretence of
emotion, and as it were weep to order, he said, “ They mimic
the Holy Ghost: what presumption !“ To a minister he
said, “Preach hell. Few ministers preach it, and few
people believe in it; but it is a great reality” “Some good
preachers,” he said, “ are much too long in their discourses.
They put me in mind of a man who, after driving a nail
home, keeps hammering at its head till he has broken it
and spoilt his own work.” He had no patience with igno­
lay-preachers, and often said to the young men, “Lads,
sink the shaft deeper.” On one occasion a man, imagining
he had a gift, requested permission to address Mr. Mathe-
son’s meeting. This granted, the result was a sad display
of ignorance, whereupon our evangelist, tapping him on the
shoulder, stopped him, saying, “ That’ll do, John,” quaintly
and significantly adding, “ Man, don’t you know the Shorter
Catechism is a splendid book for learners ? I would advise
you to study it a good while before you speak in public”

He was a good deal tried by the fickleness of friends,
and he would often say of such as were not likely to stand
in the day of trial, “ He is nae to ride the water wi’,”
adding, “ I expect to have no more than two or three
genuine friends when I come to die.” Once, when he was
fiercely assailed for the gospel‘s sake, a man addressed him
in terms of warmest friendship, saying, “Mr. Matheson, I
will stand your friend.” Matheson, casting a penetrating
glance at his new patron took his measure, and replied,
“Aye, aye. You will stand by me when I am right; but
will you stand by me when I am wrong ? When I am right
I don’t need my friends: I can stand on my own feet then.
It’s when I am down that I need my friends. Man, will
you help me when I am in the mire ?"

“When I preached at W------," he was wont to tell by



way of illustrating a weak point in the friendship of some,
“and gave away my books gratuitously, the people were
my warm friends, and used to shake my hand very cordially;
but when I stood at a corner with a clothes-basket full of
books which I offered at half-price, the good people did
not recognise me. In fact they had suddenly become star-
gazers, and passed by without once seeing me.”

On hearing one tell with apparent self-complacency of a
Christian who had fallen, he said with a tenderness of feel­
ing that made the reproof all the more telling, “Ah, it’s
him the day, an’ me the morn.” When shown a calum­
nious statement made against him in a newspaper, he said
joyfully, “ Man, I do like a little dirt cast upon me for the
dear Master’s sake. I think Gabriel would shake hands
with me and say, ‘I never had such an honour.’” “Suffer­
ing persecution for righteousness’ sake,” he would say, “ is
far better than a hundred dying testimonies of those who

never did or suffered anything for Jesus.” “ Mrs.------died

without giving any testimony,” said one of whom he stood
in doubt. “What of that?” was his reply; “you had the
testimony of her Christian life for forty years. If that be
not enough to convince you, then hear my dying testimony
just now:

“‘I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all;
But Jesus Christ is my All in all.’

Do you believe that?”

He knew how to make a ploughshare of an enemy’s
sword. “This is no time for preaching,” said one angrily
to him in a market. “ Look here, friend,” he replied, “ you
believe in the Word of God ?“ Yes.” “ Well,” said Mathe-
son, “it is written, ‘Be instant in season and out of season.’
You say this is out of season. Well, we are just doing as
we are commanded: we are preaching out of season.”
“These are men of strong passions,” was the sneering re­
mark of another in reference to our evangelist and his
fellow-labourers. “Thank God,” said Matheson, “we are
men of strong passions. He has made us of strong passions
that we may be strong in his service.” Nothing gave him
greater pain than a blow dealt by a fellow-Christian. “ An
offended child of God gives the keenest blow,” he used to
say; “ he knows a Christian’s tenderest part.” Yet even in

WITHOUT MONEY.                           189

this case he had his answer ready, “ Now, just lay your
finger on the commandment I have broken, and I will thank
you. Which of the ten is it?”

In one place, where for awhile he discharged the duties
of a pastor, some who were sick complained that he had
not paid them a visit. “ Did you send for the doctor?” he
asked. “Yes.” “Why, then, did you not send for me? Is
it because you care more for your body than your soul ? “

Another in similar circumstances said, “ You might have
missed me out of church.” “ You are mistaken,” was his
reply. “ I go to the house of God as a worshipper and a
preacher, not as a detective”

When the managers of a congregation among whom he
had laboured with every token of success for some time in­
timated to him that his services would be no longer required,
as they could secure a preacher for ten shillings a week, he
said, “Do you think you will get the worth of your money?”
To this sarcastic question no answer was given. “Do as
you have a mind,” he went on to say; “but I have a little
money at present, and can preach for nothing. God is
blessing my labours here, and I dare not leave the place.
I will take a hall, and preach there.” On hearing all this,
the congregation rallied around him. He was requested to
remain, and his meetings were more crowded than ever.

His reproofs were often so sweetened with humour that
no offence was given. Seeing several persons coming into
a meeting too late, he said, “ In the north a minister ob­
serving that a certain woman, though lame and scarcely able
to walk, was always first at church, asked her how she
managed to come so early. ‘Sir,’ she replied, ‘the hert
gangs first, and the feet follow.’ " Those who come late, or
for some insufficient reason never come at all, have been
well named “the devil’s cripples.” Matheson did not spare
such, and sometimes asked if any one knew how they always
grow lame every seventh day.

One day a gentleman called on him, and enquired if he
knew a preacher who could suitably occupy a vacant pulpit
in a certain large city. After some conversation, in which
the evangelist endeavoured to ascertain his visitor’s ideal of
a good minister, Matheson said, “By the bye, do you know
Mr.------, a preacher somewhere in your neighbourhood?



How would he do with you?” “I know him,” was the
reply. “We have heard him preach repeatedly, but he
would not do with us at all.” “Why so?” “Oh, he
preaches damnation and frightens everybody. This is not
the time of day for that sort of thing. He would never do,
sir.” At this point the evangelist brought down his fist upon
the table with a tremendous blow, and as if addressing the
absent preacher, exclaimed with his loudest voice, “ Bravo!

M------, bravo! my old friend. Thank God, you are still

alive, and faithfully warning sinners of their danger.” Mathe-
son’s visitor was astounded, and remembering he had an
engagement at that moment, took up his hat and bade the
evangelist good morning. In this way he stood by his
friends, and this too he did at all hazards, as the following
instance will show. A minister preaching in a market being
assailed by a man under the influence of drink, Mr. Mathe-
son interposed, and drawing himself up to his full height
said, “ If you strike this man of God it must be through my
body.” At the sight of so formidable a barrier, the drunk­
ard quailed and slunk away.

In the course of his itineracy he once found himself in a
strange, out­of­the­way region, without a friend, without
lodging, and without means. It was drawing towards night,
and he knew not where to go. Seeing a boy crossing a
field, he called to him, and said, “Are there any godly
people here about?” “Na, na,” replied the lad, “there is
nae sic fouk in this pairish.” “Are there any believers?”
asked the evangelist. “Bleevers!” exclaimed the boy; “I
never heerd o’ sic things.” “Any religious people, then?”
“ I dinna ken ony o’ that kind; I doot they dinna come
this road at a’." “ Well then,” said the missionary, making
a last attempt, “ are there any who keep family worship ? “
“ Family worship,” replied the lad, with a bewildered look;
“fat’s that?” The boy, having taken his last stare at the
curious stranger, was about to go. Matheson was at his
wits’ end, when a happy thought struck him. “Stop !" he
cried; “are there any hypocrites hereabout?” “Ou, aye,”
replied the youth, brightening into intelligence; “ the fouk

say that------’s wife is the greatest hypocrite in athe pai-

rish.” “ Where is her house ?" “ Yonner by,” said the lad,
pointing to a house about a mile distant. Having rewarded

IN THE PARISH,                                191

his guide with a penny, the last he had, he made his way to
the dwelling of “ the greatest hypocrite in the parish,” and
knocked at the door as the shades of night were falling.
The door was opened by a tidy, cheerful, middle-aged
matron, to whom the stranger thus addressed himself: “Will
you receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, and you’ll
not lose your reward?” She smiled, and bade him wel­
come. The hospitalities of that Christian home were heaped
upon him, and he spent a delightful evening in fellowship.
In this way a lasting friendship began, and, what was better,
a door of usefulness was opened to him.

Talking one day to his fellow-passengers in a railway
train about the concerns of the soul, he was called a hypo­
crite. On this he took five shillings from his purse, and
said to his assailant in the hearing of all the rest, “I’ll give
you this if you will tell me what a hypocrite is.” The man
was silent. “ You don’t know,” continued the evangelist;
“ but I will tell you. A hypocrite is one whose deeds are
not consistent with his words and professions. Now I will
give you ten shillings if you will point out wherein my
actions are inconsistent with my profession.” There was no
reply, and Matheson proceeded to improve the advantage
thus gained by making solemn and pungent remarks with
manifest impression on all present.

His practical good sense and ready wit were always at
hand to help him. Some were objecting to receiving money
for religious purposes from unconverted persons and people
of the world. “I have no objections whatever,” was his
reply. ‘‘ God’s people spoiled the Egyptians.

Sometimes his rebukes were very striking. To a lady,
whose life was not in keeping with her light and privileges,
he one day said, “ It has cost you, madam, more trouble to
get thus far on the way to hell than it has cost many to get
to heaven.” Startled, she exclaimed, “ Explain yourself.”
“ Consider,” he replied, “ how many barriers you have
crossed; a mother‘s prayers, a father‘s godly life, the remon­
strances of conscience, heart-piercing addresses and faithful
warnings; and above them all, and in them all, the loving
arms of the Saviour. These have stood between you and
hell, but you have overleaped every barrier; you have thrust
the outstretched hand of mercy aside, that you might pursue

192                                 REVIVAL­MAD.

the way to death. Tell me, are you now at ease?” The
lady burst into tears, and requested him to pray.

“ How is it,” said another lady jestingly, “that you godly
folks have more trials than other people ?" “ Madam,” he
replied, “the godly have all their hell upon the earth, just
as you have all your heaven here; but when the redeemed
are entering on their eternal happiness, you will be begin­
ning your everlasting misery.”

“ How can you bear up amidst so many trials?” it was
asked of him. “ I will answer that question,” said he, “ in
the language of an author I was reading the other day. ‘A
child of God may be tossed by reason of corruption and
temptation on a troubled sea; but that ship shall never be
wrecked, whereof Christ is the Pilot, the scriptures the
compass, the promises the tacklings, hope the anchor, faith
the cable, the Holy Ghost the winds, and holy affections
the sails.’ No fear of our bearing up and getting through !"

He constantly endeavoured to give the conversation
everywhere a spiritual turn; and this he could do in an
easy and natural way. A Christian lady having got a sew­
ing machine, he said, “ Now I hope that, as the Lord gives
you strength, you will use it in sending missionaries to the
heathen, or in helping the Lord’s work in some way.”
Calling when very weary at a certain house, the hos­
pitable mistress prepared for him a cup of tea, with which
he was a good deal refreshed. “When I get home above,”
he said, “ I will tell Him, ‘ I was an hungered, and ye fed

On visiting friends who had removed to a larger house, he
said, “ Ay, you have got a big house, but I have a mansion
up yonder.” One asked him if he had ever been wounded
while at the Crimea. “No,” he said; “but many a time
by the enemy of souls.” On hearing of a family who were
interested in the Lord’s work, and counted by the world
revival-mad, he said, “ Oh, tell them from me to bite every
body they meet.” Just as he was parting with certain

friends at A------, the clock struck the midnight hour, on

which he said with great solemnity and power, “ The
mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my
kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the
covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that

LIVING ABOVE SELF.                           193

hath mercy on thee.” As they were about to leave the
nouse of a Christian family where they had been hospitably
entertained, his companion made some allusion to the
reward promised those who gave a disciple a cup of cold
water in the name of a disciple, on which he said in the
hearing of all, “Oh, they have the best bargin !" On a
similar occasion, as he and his two companions were going
away, he said, “You may not be aware who your guests
are : you have been entertaining three kings.” One day as
he sat in a railway train he sang a hymn, on which a fellow-
traveller said to him, “You seem a happy man.” “Yes,”
he replied, “I cannot be but happy; I am safe for time,
and safe for eternity.” This led to further conversation,
with which the gentleman was so much pleased that he

invited Mr. Matheson to K------, where he resided, to

preach the gospel there. His happiness was a powerful
and effective sermon. By word, by look, and by deed, he
was constantly testifying to the goodness of his God. “The
Lord has been very, very kind to me,” was his frequent
saying, and his cheerfulness was often more powerful to
win than words of persuasive eloquence. But he did not
overlook the other aspect of the Christian’s life. “ How
hard it is to live for eternity” he would say. “ Living above
self and for God,” he added, “ is real living for eternity.”

It was the custom of our evangelist to hold a meeting
for prayer either at noon or in the evening. This was pre­
paratory to the evangelistic service which he invariably
conducted at the close of the day. Here he refreshed his
own spirit and renewed his strength: here too the Christians
were provoked to love and good works. An open-air service
frequently preceded the meeting within doors. The singing
and praying, the loud voice and bold manner of the lay
preacher, arrested the attention of the passer-by, and many
who had never darkened a church door were thus induced
to enter the place of meeting. Scenes of violence were
not infrequent on the street, and the preacher received
many a blow. At Forfar the roughs began one night to
throw stones at the evangelist and his friends. “ The devil
is got weak now,” said Matheson, “when he’s throwin’
gravel.” Turning to his companions, he said, “ Cheer on !
the enemy is at his worst, and Christ will soon triumph.”




So it was. The tide turned; and a remarkable work of
grace followed.

“ You need not go there,” said one who deemed preach­
ing Christ on the occasion of ‘an execution’ of no use;
“ the devil has such power there.” “ The more need then,”
was his reply, “for his being put down.” “We won‘t protect
you,” said the police at a race­course. “ A higher arm than
yours will protect me,” was his brave but meek reply. After
a fierce assault made upon him, a Christian began to express
sympathy with him; but he said, “ Oh, what about that?
They crucified Him”

His meetings within doors were conducted in the usual
way. His addresses were characterized by great fulness and
variety. He could speak to the edifying of saints. With jubi­
lant tones and a cheery pilgrim-like air he often preached
from the text, “We are journeying unto the place of which
the Lord said, I will give it you : come thou with us, and
we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good
concerning Israel.” (Num. x. 29.) With swelling emotions,
and in sentences full of the music of his own joy, he loved
to describe the happiness of that people whose God is the
Lord. “ Yes,” he was wont to say, “ they are happy when
they look back
and remember the time when Jesus met and
drew them to Himself in wondrous love. Happy when
they look forward
and see the pillar-cloud guiding them by
a right way. Happy when they look down and reflect that
they might have been weeping and wailing in the outer
darkness instead of singing, ‘ He took me from a fearful
pit, and from the miry clay.’ And happy when they look up
and think of the exceeding and eternal weight of glory that
awaits them. Happy, indeed, is that people whose God is
the Lord.”

But his speech was mainly directed to men in their sins.
Some as they advance in their ministry preach less to sin­
ners and more to saints. The reverse was true of him.
“ They say Duncan Matheson is nae growin’; he is aye
preachin’ death and judgment,” were his own words; “but,”
he added in self-defence, “these are arrows I have often
shot, and I have found them effectual; why change them?”
“The children of God,” said he quaintly, “will waggle
through ae way or anither; but sinners are in danger every

THE KNOCK AT THE DOOR.                  195

moment, and so I keep at them.” “Lord, stamp eternity
upon my eye­balls,” was his frequent prayer. As the light
of eternity was ever growing more clear and piercing in his
soul, his heart bled with an increasing compassion for the
perishing. He was careful in discriminating between the
saved and the lost, between saint and sinner. He would no
more have assumed that all his hearers were true Christians
than that all the pebbles on the sea­shore are diamonds, or
all the birds in the hedgerows nightingales.

The almost-saved had their sad history and too probable
end set forth in the description of a noble ship crossing the
wide ocean, surviving many a storm, and then becoming a
complete and hopeless wreck at the harbour mouth. “ Near
the kingdom,” he used to say, “is not in it. You may perish
with your hand on the latch of heaven’s gate.”

To the careless, he often said, “There is a question which
none in heaven can answer, and none in hell: can you?
It is, ‘ How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salva­
tion ?’"

Many a time did the formalist and hollow professor quake
as he heard himself described in a discourse from the text,
“ I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from
the place of the holy; and they were forgotten in the city
where they had so done.” (Eccl. ix. 10.)

Powerfully and affectionately did he plead with men on
Christ‘s behalf as he spake from the touching words, “ Be­
hold, I stand at the door and knock,” using homely illustra­
tions of the truth. “ A little boy, hearing his father read
that passage aloud,” he was wont to tell, “rushed away from
the window where he was playing, and looking with won­
dering and eager eyes into his parent’s face, said feelingly,
‘ But, father, did they let Him in ?’ Friends, you have heard
the knock in some powerful sermon, some faithful warning,
or when your cheeks ran down with tears and your very
heart-strings were breaking as they lowered the little coffin
with your dear babe into that cold grave. But did you let
Him in ? Perhaps you say, ‘ I fain would, but cannot.’ A
minister once knocked at the door of a poor, aged, and
lone woman; but he received no answer. Louder, and
louder still, he knocked. At length, as he kept his ear close
to the door, he heard a feeble voice, saying, ‘Who is there?’

o 2

196                           THE SECOND BIRTH.

‘It is I, the minister,’ was the reply. ‘Ah, sir,’ said the
woman, ‘ I am lying very ill, and cannot rise to let you in;
but if you would come in, just lift the latch and open the
door for yourself.’ The good man cheerfully complied, and
went in to comfort the dying sufferer with the consolations
of the gospel. Now, my hearers, you say you cannot open
the door yourselves. I well believe you. But there is a
remedy for your helplessness : ask the Lord Jesus to open
the door for Himself and come in. And He will come in.
Believest thou this ? Some of you who once heard the knock
of Christ, hear it not now. Well do I remember being
startled and kept awake by the boom of the cannon when
I went to the Crimea. After a time, however, I grew accus­
tomed to it, and could sleep amidst the roar of the artillery.
So it is with many. Jesus knocks at your door in vain. His
knocking does not trouble you now as once it did. In vain
He pleads with you, telling you that his locks are wet with
the dews of night. He is out in the cold, dark, wet night;
but you care not He is threatening to depart and leave
you to perish; but you are too drowsy to listen or to care.
To-night He may go away for ever. The last knock will
be given. This may be the last one. What then ? oh ! what

Regeneration by the Holy Ghost formed a large and
prominent part of his teaching. He had dwelt long beneath
the awful shadow of this great mystery of grace, and he
often said, “ I have always been afraid to preach on that
text, ‘ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the king­
dom of God.’" Yet he continually and most emphatically
announced the necessity and explained the nature of the
second birth. “ Who made you a Christian?” he would ask.
“ Some are made Christians by their parents, some by their
Sabbath-school teachers, others by their ministers and pas­
tors, and many are made Christians by themselves. But
man-made Christians cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Friend, were you made a Christian by the Holy Ghost?
They get their salvation from man, not from God. The
sons of God are born ‘not of blood, nor of the will of
the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ ‘That
which is born of the flesh is flesh ; and that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee,


Ye must be born again.’” This great truth of the gospel
he proclaimed with no less skill than power, on the one
hand avoiding the danger of making it a stumbling-block
to the sincere enquirer, and on the other hand taking care
that it should not jostle responsibility out of the field, and
set men asleep on the damning excuse, “ I cannot make
myself a new creature; I must wait, and do nothing, till the
Spirit comes.”

The sovereignty of God in the salvation of man, the
sinner‘s need of the Spirit‘s grace, the helplessness, folly,
and infatuated wickedness of the human heart, were truths
written as by a pen of iron and the point of a diamond
upon his innermost heart; and he always spoke as he
believed. One day a friend referred in conversation to the
errors of a low Arminianism that leaves no room and no
need for the work of the Holy Spirit or the election of

grace. Suddenly stopping, he said, “ It won‘t do, J------;

the truth is, you and I would be damned, if it were not for
election. But that grips,” he added in a decided tone, at
the same time clenching his fist. “Yes,” he continued,
“ that is true,” and suiting the action to the word, he added,
“ I know that if I had one foot in heaven, and Christ were
saying to me, ‘ Put in the other,’ I would not do it.”

Stating clearly the sinner‘s guilt and wickedness, the evil
conscience and the depraved heart, with equal clearness
and force he proclaimed the twofold remedy—the blood of
Christ and the all-powerful grace of the Holy Ghost. After
setting forth the utter ruin of man, it was his manner to
say, “Here is the sinner, and there is ‘the blood :’ the
great question is, ‘ How may these two be brought to­
gether?’ The answer is, ‘The Holy Ghost: He only can
do it.’”

The alpha and omega of all his addresses, whether to
saints or sinners, was Jesus Christ. “A full Christ for
empty sinners” was ever his cry. “This man receiveth
sinners” was a favourite text, from which he feelingly dis­
coursed of the love, pity, and tenderness of the Lord Jesus
in dealing with sinners. The Saviour whom he loved to
preach was He whose great heart gave way, like the heart
of a little child, when on the mount of Olives He burst into
tears at the sight of the doomed city. The Redeemer

I98                 MEETIN’GS WITH ENQUIRERS.

whom he proclaimed was that Holy One who bore so rare
a friendship for publicans and sinners. The Christ whom
he held up to admiration was the same who took little
babes in his arms to bless them, and received old sinners,
like Zaccheus, into the same bosom, and saved them. He
preached Jesus as able to save to the uttermost; whose
arm of grace reacheth to the lowest depth of man’s misery
and the farthest bound of man’s wickedness. It was Christ
always ; Christ more and more to the last ; it was “ Jesus
only.” His preaching was but an echo of the announcement
made by the heavenly host on that memorable night when
the plains of Bethlehem were a­glow with a softer, sweeter
light than the light of moon or stars, and all the woodland
rang with a music that ravished the shepherds’ hearts, and
woke the sheep from their gentle slumbers, as those nightin­
gales of another world—the angels—sang, “ Glory to God
in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.”

In short, Christ and Him crucified, Jesus risen and
exalted to be a Prince, a Saviour, the Lamb of God, Substi­
tute, Surety, Redeemer, the power of God and the wisdom
of God to every one that believeth—this was all his theme.
And there are tens of thousands who will recall the image
of the brave, outspoken, and genial preacher, asking with
equal point and feeling the question he never wearied ask­
ing, “What think ye of Christ?”

“ How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
" It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
‘Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest.
“Jesus! my Shepherd, Guardian, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.”

At an early period of his course as an evangelist, Mr.
Matheson was led to follow the practice of meeting with
enquirers at the close of every service. “He came to preach
at Stirling in 1858,” writes the Rev. W. Reid, editor of the
British Herald, “ when two meetings were got up for him,



and at the close those who were anxious were requested to
remain to be spoken to personally in the pews—a thing
unknown before in Scotland. We remember how shy our
dear departed friend looked when one said to him, ‘Will
you speak to those in that pew?’ He did so with some
hesitation ; he said nothing about it at the time, but years
afterwards he referred to it, and said it was the first time he
had seen or done such a thing, ‘and I thank God that it
was forced upon me, and the neck of the thing was broken,
and that I was no longer content to fire at long range, but
to come face to face with souls.’ He found it, he said, one
of the steps by which the Lord prepared him and led him
on in his work, and it was no strange thing for him ever
afterwards, as long as he lived, to come into personal con
tact with awakened souls.”

Being a true fisher of men, he not only let down the net
for a draught, but drew it up again to see if any were
caught. Some may be too hasty in searching for results ;
but even a little impatience of zeal is better than the dozing
indolence of those who, under pretence of honouring divine
sovereignty, make no enquiry, and cannot so much as tell
whether their net has enclosed minnows or monsters. The
meeting for directing enquirers was a necessity of the sud­
den and widespread awakening; and, notwithstanding its
occasional abuse or mismanagement, has served important
ends in the work of God and the salvation of souls.

Many Christians will remember with gratitude and joy
the first time they were brought face to face with a soul
grappling with the tremendous realities, sin, eternity, and
God. It forms an epoch in the life of a pastor, or of any
Christian. You feel you are in the presence of an immortal
spirit in the very crisis of its being. You see the battle,
the agony, the portentous despair of a soul wrestling with
invisible powers of overwhelming might; and you tremble
as you behold the fainting spirit toiling betwixt wisdom and
madness to roll back the rising billows of infinite sorrow
and ill. You know you are in the presence of the Divine
Worker, and you seem to feel upon your own spirit the
very breath of the Life-giver as He breathes on the dry
bones, and evokes a fairer form than Adam’s from poorer,
sadder dust than the freshly bedewed soil of Paradise.

200                       HIS WISDOM AND SKILL

Wise and patient dealing with enquirers is to a well ­in­
structed believer one of the choicest means of grace.

Not many Christians, however, are qualified for this diffi­
cult work. During the period of religious awakening there
was more or less patching of old garments and filling old
bottles with new wine. The wound was sometimes too
slightly healed, and comfort was given where blows were
needed. If that old piece of legalism was abandoned,
“ Go home and read your Bible, and use the means of
grace,” which in effect is to say, “Go and work yourself
into a state of grace,” there was a rush to the opposite
extreme in a species of bribing simpler ones into saying
they believed, the great question being not answered, but
hushed up. “ Only just believe ; just believe.” Very good ;
but what am I to believe ? What is it to believe ? How
am I to believe? There is often an anchor in the deep
that binds the struggling soul to the shores of sin and
death. Not every Christian can grapple in the depths for
the mysterious hindrance that binds the awakened spirit in
unbelief. Some are gifted by the Holy Ghost for this part
of the work.

In dealing with enquirers Mr. Matheson always took care
to discriminate between those who, as he was wont to say,
“had only a scratch” and those who were deeply wounded.
To the former he would speak a word fitted to deepen con­
viction and pass on ; to the latter he never failed to preach
Christ. He also found two very different classes who spoke
the same language, both declaring they had no conviction.
One of those classes had indeed little or no conviction
of sin, and he dealt with them accordingly. The other
class were penetrated with a sense of sin, but could see
nothing in themselves but utter hardness of heart. These
often prove to be the best cases. He never failed to bring
enquirers to the Word of God and the cross of Christ.
His own experience was ever of great use in giving direc­
tion and encouragement. A full, free, and present salva­
tion in the Lord Jesus was held out to every soul. If
they were sinking in deep waters, Jesus was at hand to
help them. If they had no right conviction of sin, as
they said, they had the greater need to come at once to
Christ to receive conviction, pardon, holiness, and every

IN DEALING WITH ENQUIRERS.                201

blessing freely from Him. Christ is the good Physician,
and can deal effectually with broken hearts and unbroken
hearts, hard hearts, proud hearts, fickle hearts, and all kinds
of wicked hearts. “ I will take away the stony heart out
of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh,” is the
gracious and true word of Him who came to call not the
righteous, but sinners to repentance. “There was once,”
said our evangelist, “ a little bird chased by a hawk, and in
its extremity it took refuge in the bosom of a tender-hearted
man. There it lay, its wings and feathers quivering with
fear, and its little heart throbbing against the bosom of the
good man, whilst the hawk kept hovering over head, as if
saying, ‘ Deliver up that bird, that I may devour it.’ Now,
will that gentle, kind-hearted man take the poor little crea­
ture that puts its trust in him out of his bosom, and deliver
it up to the hawk? What think ye? Would you do it?
No; never. Well then, if you flee for refuge into the
bosom of Jesus, who came to seek and to save the lost,
do you think He will deliver you up to your deadly foe?
Never ! never! never ! "

In dealing with enquirers, his power lay not so much in
the clear, terse way in which he stated the plan of salvation,
as in his homely genial manner of applying, like a kind and
skilful physician, the balm to the wound. Not seldom,
when others reasoning out of the scriptures failed, he would
come and try his easy, off-hand method, in which there was
profound knowledge of human nature and true Christian
wisdom, without any show of either. A young man of
talent, now a devoted follower of Jesus, found himself at
the close of a meeting in deep distress. “ Downcast and
sad,” he says, “I was stealing away from Mr. Matheson,
whom I did not wish to meet. Wonderful love of Jesus !
who marks our wayward steps, and still in tenderness and
love calls after us, ‘ Come unto Me,’ I was unexpectedly
confronted by Mr. M., who introduced me to a minister.
Hesitatingly I began, in answer to kind enquiries, to state
my case, when Mr. M. laying his hand on my shoulder,
said, ‘ Oh, I know what’s wrong wi’ James. I know what
James is wanting. It was a‘ settled eighteen hundred years
ago ; but James is not satisfied with that: he would like
something more. Isn’t that it now? But that’s enough,



man. Let that suffice for you.’ In this way he held up the
finished work of Christ, and relief followed.”

Such was the manner of his life and work. It was a life
full of toil, weariness, and sorrow: it was also full of truth,
and wisdom, and goodness. It was strangely chequered.
One day we find him associated with the noblest in the
land, who do him honour as a man of original character and
apostolic virtue: next day he is out of sight in some obscure
village, where he is despised and shunned by all save a
faithful few. Now he stands up to speak by the side of the
eloquent Guthrie, the Moderator of the General Assembly
of the Free Church, who is not ashamed to acknowledge
the evangelist and to share in his work. Many days have
not elapsed when he is rejected by a little town for whose
salvation he had laboured with heroic endurance : for his
too pointed rebuke of sin he is driven forth amidst a tornado
of odium so fierce, that not one of his Christian friends has
the courage to stand up and say, “ God bless him !" But
whether honoured here or dishonoured there, feasted one
day or starved the next, he held on his way with one noble
end in view—the salvation of souls. In the midst of the
world, with its huge, overbearing materialism, its gorgeous
mammon-worship, its fascinating sensuousness, its carnal
intoxications, its choice delights of godless pleasure, he saw
nothing but souls, and spoke only of eternity. Men every­
where mad upon their idols he confronted in the name of
the invisible God. To the intoxicated worshippers of Time
he constantly presented the dread realities of eternity, de­
manding of them the sacrifice of a delicious, heart-ravishing
present, and the acceptance of Christ and everlasting life,
or the peril of heirs pains for a refusal. With unconquerable
long-suffering he thus held on his way to the end.

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