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a time did he bring this text to my mind, Laclcrdst thou any thing? I was constrained with gratitude to reply, Nothing, Lord: Christ is a most precious Master to serve! I have proved it."
During his connection with Mr. Wesley, though he in a great measure perceived the insufficiency of his own righteousness to justify him before God (for in the diary before alluded to, he expresses himself thus, "I would as soon attempt to swim by the help of a mill-stone, as to rely on my own works for salvation"); yet the doctrine which he had been taught to believe to be scriptura', that a person may be one day high in the favor of God, and the next, an object of the divine vengeance, would often make him miserable. One night returning from Mr. Wesley's chapel, under great dejection of mind, fearing he should not be faithful to gj.ace received, and so make shipwreck of faith, and finally perish; these words were immediately .suggested to his mind: "If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God, by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life." His fears instantly subsided, his conscience felt a calm, to which before it was a stranger, and his mind was made happy in the belief of the truth.
In his next interview with Mr. Wesley, he hinted at the doctrine of the saints' final perseverance; upon this Mr. Wesley asked, "Where have you been to learn that?" He related the distress of his mind, together with the cause of it, and the means by which he had been relieved. As his understanding became more enlightened, he found this connection less desirable; he was less pleased with the Society, and they were not more satisfied with him: His attendance on ministers who preached the Calvinistic doctrines soon procured his dismission.
He now became personally acquainted with the Rev. Mr. Whitefield, was particularly intimate with the Rev. Mr. Jones, Chaplain of St. Saviour's, Southwark, and had the happiness to class among his dearest friends the Rev. Mr. Romaine, for whom, to the day of his death, he ever expressed the most sincere regard, having sat for many years under his ministry.
In the religious world he was well known as an author. Many of his productions have met with general acceptance. He had been frequently solicited to exercise himself in public preaching, which he as often declined, under the impression of his not being called to glorify God in that service. Though he could never be prevailed upon to comply with the solicitations of his friends in that particular, yet his talents were not laid up in a napkin; for since his death his family have found among his papers, letters from correspondents in England, Scotland, Ireland, and America, expressing the spiritual benefits they derived from his publications.
He first appeared as a writer, in a pamphlet under the title of "Morality not Christianity; or remarks on a very extraordinary Sermon, preached at St. George's, Southwark, by the Rev. Mr. Wingfield, Curate of said parish; in a letter to that Gentleman, by a Layman of the Church of England."
In the vear 1754, he published some " Plain Queries, humbly offered to the Clergy, with an expostulatory address to the Laity of the Church of England, on the Declension of scriptural Christianity."
He wrote, in the year 1758, "Remarks and Observations on the Morality and Divinity contained in Dr. Free's Certain Articles, firofiosed to the Court of Assistants of the worshipful company of Saixers, in a letter to the Rev. Dr. Free." The motto in the title-page is, " As Free, and not using your liberty as a cloak of maliciousness," 1 Peter ii. 16. He evidences in these pieces, a knowledge of his subject, an acquaintance with the scriptures, and a concern for the glory of God» Though he much disapproved of the Armenian doctrines offrtewili, justification by .works, universal redemption, &c. yet was he no less an enemy to the licentious tenets of the Antinomians; and, at the time when Mr. Relly disturbed the peace of the church, by his unscriptural preaching, and his Treatise of Union, he nobly appeared to defend that truth, "which is according to godliness," and printed a pamphlet under this title, "Antinomian Heresy Exploded, in an Appeal to the Christian World, against the Unscriptural Doctrines, and Licentious Tenets, of Mr. James Relly, advanced in his Treatise of Union."
In a pamphlet which he published under the title, "Methodism displayed, and Enthusiasm detected; intended as an Antidote against the delusive principles and unscriptural Doctrines of a modem Set.of seducing Preachers; and as a Defence of our regular and orthodox Clergy, from their unjust reflections; addressed to the Rev. Mr. Romaine, the Rev. Mr. Jones, Sec." he might truly adopt the language of St. Paul, "I caught you with guilt." Many eagerly bought it, who afterwards heartily repented of their purchase. A gentleman passing by a bookseller's shop, caught by the title-page, went in and, bought it. In the evening, after the business of the day was over, h« put it into the hand of his son, saying, he had purchased it as an antidote against that poisonous doctrine he had lately imbibed, and insisted upon his reading it, hoping it would prevent his running afte* a set of enthusiastic preachers. The son obeyed. While reading the first and second pages, the father frequently interrupted him bjr saying, Mind that: But proceeding a little farther, he soon perceived the design of the author; and altering his language, begged he would cast it behind the fire: the son replied, "Sir, I began to read it at your request, do suffer me to finish it."
As a farther proof of the vivacity of his disposition, one day reading Mr. Wesley's Christian Library, and observing in how many places he had published the works of those who had maintained the doctrine of imputed righteousness, he immediately formed the design of making extracts, which he accordingly did, and sent them into the world, under the title of " The Scrifiture Doctrine of Imputed Righteoutness, asserted and maintained by the Rev. Mr. John Wesley, A. M. late Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford." This little piece was soon caught up. It quickly ran through the societies in London, and at length reached Ireland, where Mr. Wesley then was. One of his preachers coming to thank him for the very excellent piece he had lately published, on the doctrine of imputed righteousness, Mr. Wesley instantly started with amazement, and pronounced it a pious fraud; tut the book being produced, and the contents read, he found in the last page, that the whole was declared to be taken from his Christian Library.
After publishing several small pieces for children, (A plain Sermon, recommended by the Rev. Mr. Jones; A Catechism; The History of Jesus; A Precious Testimony of Jesus, in the Experience of two Children, one ten, the other twelve Years of age), he entered upon, that work which will long live in the remembrance of those who have read it; two volumes entitled, "A Sfiiritual Treasury for the Children of God, consisting of a Meditation for each Day in the Year, upon select Texts of Scripture:" The first volume for morning, the second for evening. Never did a miser arise with greater avidity from his bed, to accumulate wealth, than he did to compose these meditations. Hence, while others were indulging themselves in sleep, ho would be up in the morning, in the depth of winter, at four o'clock, would sit in his room without a fire, and has declared, that his mind was so intent on the glorious and animating truths, on which he was writing, that he felt no cold.
While executing this work, a gentleman waited upon him on business. Instead of taking his name and address as desired, and as he thought he had done, he wrote the chapter and verse on which he had besn ir«editating, and when he came afterwards to look at the paper in order to wait upon the gentleman, he found nothing upon it but Acit the second, verse the eighth; so much was his mind absorbed in divine thingB. He has frequently mentioned the many happy seasons he enjoyed when writing his Treasury, and he lived to know that his labour was not in vain in the Lord.
As he professed himself a member of the established church, and constantly attended her worship, he felt a concern that many, who had written on the Lord's Supper, had advanced doctrines which were in direct opposition to those maintained and taught in her Artides. The Companion to the Altar may do for a self-righteous moralist; but it is a miserable guide to a mind enlightened by the Spirit of God. He therefore published a small octavo, under the title of "The Christian Communicant, or a suitable Companion to the Lord's Supper." Mr.Romaine, in his Recommendatory Preface, says, "The subject here treated of, is one of the deep things of God, of which none can write, as Mr. Mason has, unless he be in his heart alive to God; nor can any but such understand the nature of the ordinance, or be fed and nourished at it."
It might, perhaps, prove tiresome to our readers to notice the whole of his publications. The Believer's Pocket Companion met with a very favorable reception, and in a very little time ran through six editions. After the death of Mr. Toplady he became the editor of the Gospel Magazine, which he solely conducted for several years; and in this publication first appeared his notes on Bunyan's Pilgrim.
Though as a private christian and an author, Mr. Mason was distinguished from many religious characters, yet he was too sensible of the depravity of his nature, and the spirituality of God's law, not to feel and acknowledge that he was wholly indebted to the sovereignty of divine grace for whatever he enjoyed in preference to the generality of Christians; and would frequently express himself in the language of the apostle, By the grace of God I am what I am.
Having presented our readers with a striking likeness of the subject of these memoirs, and faithfully delineated the prominent features of his mind, we would not pass over unnoticed those imperfections, from which he only was entirely free, "who was holy, harmless, un-. defiled, and separate from sinners."
He was naturally very warm and hasty: and as the heat of his temper would sometimes gain an ascendancy over his judgment, in the moments of cool reflection it would produce the most serious contrition. Being frequently called to struggle with this constitutional evil, he thought, on this account, no person more competent to point out the sinfulness of yielding to passion, and the evil effects which flow from an ungovernable warmth of temper.
His mind being deeply impressed with the truth of that scripture, The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price, and his conscience feeling the smart of that godly sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation, he wrote "An affectionate Address to passionate Professors," shewing the blessedness of a meek and quiet spirit, the evil of giving way to bad tempers, and pointing out some likely means for subduing them. He begins this little tract with, "My brethren, suffer a word of exhortation from a heart that knows its own bitterness, and groans under the ruins of a sinful nature and disordered passions. Permit one, who freely owns with grief and shame, that he is naturally of a very hasty temper and passionate disposition, to address you on the evil of indulging and giving way to this. In this attempt, I humbly crave your most serious attention and affectionate regard, hoping therein mine eye is singly directed to our Lord's glory, and my heart sincerely engaged for your spiritual good, and my own. Bear with my freedom, as I assure you I desire to write from my civn sense and experience of this evil, as well as from observation of it in others. I would apply to my ovm soul all that I wrile to you; and desire to fall under every conviction myself, which I may bring against you."
Having been long named in the commission of the peace for the county of Surrey, inthc year 1783 he retired from business, and became an acting magistrate. As the evening of life was now drawing on, he thought, in this department, he might employ those hours for the public good, which otherwise might appear to himself dull, and to others useless.
About four years previous to his death, he first felt a slight stroke of the palsy. His speech for a few days was interrupted, and he complained of a pain and numbness in his. head. It then left him; but not without having, in some degree, impaired his faculties. About two years after, while performing the duty of a magistrate at Union-Hall, in the borough of Southwark, he suddenly fell from his chair, and was taken up speechless: from this shock he also recovered; but not without a greater debility of the mental powers.
On the morning of his death, he intended to walk as usual; was as perfectly in health as he had been for some time, and appeared to possess a more than common vivacity: he ran down stairs with an unusual agility; and when engaged in prayer with his family, evinced a more than common degree of fervor. About eleven o'clock in the forenoon, as he was walking in his own room, in a moment he was deprived of the use of his limbs on one side. An apothecary and physician were immediately called in; but death had received his commission. In less than two hours, his speech, which from the first had faultered, was entirely taken away; and though it would have afforded his surviving relatives the greatest pleasure, to have heard him, in his dying moments, extol that Saviour, whom having not seen he loved, and boast of that salvation from which he had derived unspeakable joys; yet that God, who orders all things after the counsel of his own will, was pleased to deny them that privilege; for at eleven o'clock in the evening of the same day, Sept. 29, 1791, in the 73d year of his age, he breathed his last.
He has left a widow, two daughters, and a son. His remains were interred in the church of St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, in which