Wednesday, February 04, 2009

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

George Matheson said that his hymn 'O Love that Wilt not let me Go' would never have become as popular as it did without the tune 'St. Margaret' that was written for it by Dr, Pearce. But there is more to it than that. The hymn speaks to all of us as Christians. We all suffer, we all have our disappointments, and indeed we all find that we are in the rain and have only the promise of God that 'Morn willl tearless be'. Many a suffering Christian has been comforted, as we have by some of the Psalms, that we are not alone in how we feel in trouble. In life and in death 'O Love that Wilt not Let me Go' has been a minister of God. We who have doubted as Matheson, who have suffered in body, mind and soul, have found in Gorge Matheson a fellow-sufferer, and he has made us rejoice in the God who painted the rainbow as a pledge of His faithfulness. Great hymns belong to the whole Church, and this hymn has been prized the world over. It is not a silly, sentimental ditty, but a hymn of faith in suffering.

George Mathson had been relatively happy at Innellan for fifteen years. The same suffering that gave rise to the hymn made him a sympathetic pastor who was always helpful to his suffering people, and who shared in sorrow and in joy with them. Christ, we read in Hebrews, was 'made perfect though suffering' in His place as our High Priest and the 'Captain of our salvation'. He is the perfect pastor, and if He had to suffer to fit Him for the work, how much more will His servants? This is a huge challenge to us - or it ought to be. After fifteen years there, in the summer of 1883, George Matheson was summoned to his Parish Church to receive a gift of love from his congregation. Under him ministry the church had gone from being a chapel of ease to a Parish Church, and the people had been helped and comforted. A special serice was held in which the congregation expressed their love for their minister, and their gratefulness for all that they had received from his hands. Those who labour in the Word and in doctrine are worthy of honour for the work' sake. Most will never be known as Matheson was, but all should be the subject of heart-felt thanks to God.
Next time, God willing, we shall see Matheson wrestling with the challenge of Scientific Naturalism.



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