Wednesday, November 26, 2008

'I Climb the Rainbow Through the Rain'. George Matheson -XII

Crown Court Church of Scotland, Covent Garden, London, is the oldest Church of Scotland congregation in the English capital. Its most famous minister was Rev. John Cumming (1832-79), who was famous (perhaps infamous) for his sermons on the Book of Revelation and other prophetic passages of the Bible. His death in 1879 left the church anxious to acquire a similarly noted and gifted pastor. So they approached George Matheson, urging on him the advantages of a pastorate in the capital of the British Empire. It would be quite a change from Innellan. The whole congregation in London made the call, but Matheson declined it. it was said that one of the reasons for this was that Matheson wanted freedom to exchange pulpits with other London ministers of other denominations, and the Church at Crown Court (building pictured) had not agreed to this condition. But there were other reasons as well. Away in his remote seaside parish, Matheson could study in quiet. He was still unsure of exactly what he believed, and on one occasion, after he had given a sermon on misssions, he was urged to go to India, only to answer that he was afraid that he would himself be converted to Hiduism if he went! He would remain in Innellan for another six years before being transferred to another capital city.

So Matheson's name was to be kept before the public in articles in magazines such as The Expositor, rather than in a metropolitan pulpit. His study at Innellan became almost a factory of articles, and his secretaries, necessary since Matheson had to dictate his works, worked hard. Some of his work in the period was the sort of 'apologetics' that was produced by Hegelians, reductionist attempts to make the Bible square with Hegel and other late Victorian philosophers. Practically he put the Philosophers above the Bible, and not the other way around.

Matheson was not an anti-supernaturalist at any time. He clung to the idea of immortality, and looked forward to the day that he would see 'the King in His Glory', and would be blind no longer. It was this that would allow him, as he matured and regained faith, to come back to the Bible in the end.

In 1880 he was chosen to give the Baird Lecture for 1881. God willing, next time we shall deal with this and see how he began to write on other matters.



Blogger Jonathan Hunt said...

This story gives such colour to 'O love that wilt not let me go'!

1:12 pm  

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