« AnteriorContinuar »
mind; and on many occasions during the forty-six years he was a leader they encouraged and stimulated him to perseverance in his work. In that sphere of labour he has done good service. He was the right sort of man for the work; for he not only led the class well when it met, but he paid attention conscientiously to the absent members, and in that way promoted the constant growth of his class, I wish the same thing could be said of all our leaders. I have not been able to ascertain when Mr. Jackson became society steward : it seems to be out of everybody's recollection. As to his Circuit steward. ship, I remember that when I was in this Circuit before, twentythree years ago, he told me he had been steward then some thirty-five or thirty-six years, and that will give a term of service extending over nearly sixty years, and leads to the conclusion that he must have been appointed soon after the formation of the Circuit in 1814. It may be doubted whether the whole history of Methodism can furnish another instance of so protracted a service in that office, and especially in connection with a fifty-three years' superintendency in the school.
His great humility and modesty led him to account himself as “less than the least of all saints.” He never had the spirit of vain glory; but he had learned to be meek and lowly in heart. In his last days these qualities expressed themselves with more than usual emphasis. In a letter to his brother during an attack of severe illness a few months before his death he bemoaned the unprofitableness of his life, and said he seemed to have done hardly anything. To another relative he remarked only a few weeks before he died that all his members made more progress in the Divine life than he.
In the month of March, 1871, the friends connected with Lord Street school resolved to celebrate the jubilee of Mr. Jackson. A large and most enthusiastic tea-meeting was held, and an illuminated address was presented to him. Many old scholars and teachers attended that meeting to testify their profound affection for a man who had done so much for them. He stood forth that night as a hero who had well earned the honour with which he was crowned ; yet in his humility he felt that his friends were overrating his work. Bat they did well to pay the homage of affectionate esteem to one who had set so worthy an example of patient continuance in toil for half a century. Would God there were very many to copy that example!
He was getting near the end. And as men get older they get a clearer view of all they should have been, and of all they should have done. In view of eternity life and its work assume an aspect of importance which is rarely realised before! Blessed man. His one anxiety was to glorify God by doing His will with the best of bis powers. For many years he had been feeble and ailing, and in the early part
of this year grave symptoms appeared. His breathing was difficult and his movements laboured. On Thursday, the 13th of August, be had a violent attack of diarrhoea.. On Friday he had very little consciousness. I saw him at noon and reminded him that Christ, His Saviour, was with him, and would be so to the end. He feebly said, “ I trust to that,” and dozed off into unconsciousness. So he lingered till half-past twelve on Saturday morning, the 15th, when God gave him a happy release from all his sufferings 'and an abundant entrance into heaven. He was in the eightieth year of
In the death of Mr. Jackson the Connexion has lost the last of its original Lay Guardian Representatives appointed in 1846. Of him it could be said as of very few,“When the ear heard him then it blessed him, and when the eye saw him it gave witness to him, because he delivered the poor that cried and the fatherless and him that had no helper : the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon him, and he caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.” Many of the poor and helpless miss him. His sympathy with those suffering was very keen, and his hand was always open to relieve them as far -as he had the power. But his generosity was easily imposed upon. by designing people, and since his death abundant evidence has been given that some of his occasional pensioners were rank impostors who never deserved his pity.
Mr. Jackson was, a consistent and sound Liberal in politics, and while he never took much part publicly he always used his influence to further the interests of his party. He had no crochets on which to found a schism-by which to weaken and defeat the movements of his political friends, and put into power those who would never move hand or foot to carry out the objects be sought to achieve. He was a staunch and earnest disciple of Liberalism because he was .convinced that it offered the only means by which the community at large could become prosperous and free.
On the Municipal Act being put into operation in Macclesfield in 1835, Mr. Jackson : was elected to represent No. 5 Ward in the Town Council, with which he has been almost continuously connected ever since. In 1843 he was elected to represent No. 4 Ward, and continued to fulfil the duties till, after twenty-five years faithful service, on the 9th of November, 1868, he was elected an alderman. That his labours had not passed altogether unnoticed was proved by the fact that he was chosen Mayor in 1863, and re-elected the following year, and that his name was added to the commission of the peace for the borough in 1859.
At his funeral, on Wednesday, August 19th, our spacious chapel was filled with mourners. The attendance of the Mayor and Corporation, the borough magistrates, and an immense crowd of his
townspeople testified to the profound respect in which he was held. The Rev. W. N. Hall read the Psalm, the writer read the lesson and gave a short address, and the Rev. J. F. Goodall offered prayer. The services in the chapel and at the grave side were gone through with difficulty because of the deep and almost ungovernable emotion of the people. We have lost a true friend whose wise counsel and generous help were always ready. Far beyond our own church this loss is felt. For many years he has supported one of the Chinese students at Tientsin. And now he has gone we can only pray God to raise up many more to work as he did.
May many who mourn his loss catch his spirit. His death was improved by the writer on Sunday evening, September 13th from Proverbs iv., 18: “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more upto the perfect day."
" And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to prag. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias : who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two Den that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud and overshadowed them; and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone.”—Luke ix., 28-36. Of this remarkable passage in the history of our Lord two other accounts are given in the two preceding Gospels. Each of these has something peculiar to itself which marks it off from the rest ome difference in manner or variety of detail, which, while demonstrating the independence of the writers on each other, serves at the same time to make their joint narrative more ample and complete. One element there is of apparent disagreement between them. Matthew and Mark both say that it was six days after the delivery of the sayings just recorded that Jesus was transfigured, while Luke says it was about an eight days. The time, however, is really the same in both cases, and differs only in the mode of statement. It was six days, if we exclude the two on which the sayings were spoken and the transfiguration took place ; but eight, if according to Hellenistic usage we reckon them. Just as it is six days since last Sabbath, if we speak of clear days; but eight, if we count the Sabbaths themselves. Besides, Luke says, not precisely and definitely eight days, but about an eight days, a latitude of expression
which makes it easy to reconcile his words with those of the other Evangelists.
Luke further informs us that it was while Jesus was praying that he was transfigured; and, again, that the disciples were a the time heavy with sleep; both of which circumstances are omitted by Matthew and Mark. The scene gains very much in interest by the mention of these particulars, not only because they are so much additional detail, but also because they are in themselves so characteristically human as to bring the whole transaction home to us in a feeling of more intense and vivid reality. Moreover, the two being given in the same narrative, an explanation is afforded of what else must have appeared somewhat strange to us. Had we been told of the sleeping of the disciples, without also being told of the devotions of their Master, we might have supposed, unless deterred by the obvious improbability of the case, that their sleeping occurred at the very time of His transfiguration. But both circumstances being given, and given in some observable connection with each other, we are rather led to the conclusion that it was whilst Jesus was alone in prayer, as on another memorable occasion, that His disciples were overcome with sleep.
The fact of their sleeping suggests that it was night when the transfiguration took place. Fatigued by the day's work, or exhausted by the evening's walk, they were soothed into slumber by the cool mountain air, while their Lord at a distance was lost in communion with His Father. But the sleep which His prayer
could not prevent was broken by the extraordinary answer that was given to it. The mountain became as the gate of heaven. There appeared on the scene Moses and Elias talking with Jesus. A strange brightness shone through the veil of His human nature, transfiguring it to a most divine beauty. The glory thus revealed, made more resplendent no doubt by the surrounding darkness, stole silently in upon
the closed senses of the sleeping disciples, and awoke them to a dreamy consciousness of most delicious enjoyment. “Master," said Peter, ever ready to speak out his immediate thought, “it is good for us to be here : and let us make three tabernacles ; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias ; not knowing what he said.”.
On this marvellous vision let us dwell for a time, considering its main features, and objects, and lessons.
I. ITS MAIN FEATURES.—The first and most striking of these is the change visibly wrought in our Lord's person. " He was transfigured," says one Evangelist : "the fashion of his countenance was altered,” says another.
We know too little of the changes of which material forms are susceptible to enter fully into these representations. But we do know that, even apart from miraculous agency, those changes are by no means slight. Many an ordinary scene in outward nature, at one time but little interesting in its visible features, becomes at another exciting and even inspiring in its loveliness; and many an object, or group of objects, always and in every view of it, more or less grand or beautiful, is raised now and then, under specially favourable conditions from without, to a height of grandeur or beauty which seems rather to belong to another world than to this.
So the waves which break upon our island shores, though dark and turbid by day with the slime or sand over which they roll
, may often be seen at night sparkling in their crested foam with the changeful lustres of innumerable glittering gems. So have I beheld the snowclad Alps, dead and dull under a dead and dull sky, kindle and flash with rosiest light, as if heaven had just descended pon them, as one after another caught and returned the earliest or latest rays of the summer's sun. So, too, have I seen the great cataract of Niagara, now in a mood to inspire hardly any emotion but that of terror, quickly transformed to a beauty and glory which dissolved the whole being into ecstacy, as a stream of sunshine, liberated from a parting cloud, shot suddenly down upon it, and bridged the gulf into which it falls with its rainbow hues.
But no change will compare with that which the human form sometimes undergoes in moments of intense religious or intellectual excitement, especially when the features have been refined by a long continued play of spiritual forces, or ennobled by a daily familiarity with the highest objects of human thought and feeling. We all know how even the commonest sentiments and affections will, when deeply moved, alter the whole visible expression of an individual ; particularly how that eminent saintliness of character, which so few of our race are privileged to attain to, will light up the countenance with a most sweet and gentle radiance. When Moses came down from communion with God in the Mount, his face shone so that the people were afraid to come nigh him; and when Stephen stood before the Council, the elders who sat there," looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” It would hence have been no wonder if on occasions of peculiar mental exaltation, and especially during seasons of immediate intercourse with His Father, the countenance of the Saviour had kindled and glowed with a more than earthly brightness and loveliness ; the less so as His nature, free from every taint of evil, was endowed with a more than ordinary refinement and sensibility, which made it all the fitter an organ for the outward manifestation of that Spirit which was given to Him without measure.
And yet more than this, and something very different from this, must be understood by the extraordinary phenomenon we are now considering. The language of the three Evangelists who severally describe it is—“He was transfigured"; "the fashion of His countenance was altered ” ; “His face did shine as the sun”; “His clothes were white and glistering”; “Exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them.” The force of these words caunot be thought exhausted in any change that is explicable on purely natural principles. An effect so described is not accounted for on any theory of merely human manifestation from within, or even by the supposition of a Divine manifestation from without. Such a Divine manifestation there was, but there is nothing in the narrative to connect this by way of cause with the fact of the Saviour's transfiguration. A similar manifestation took place at His baptism, for then the heavens were opened above Him; but no change in His appearance spoken of in connection with it, such as that which is here set forth. Besides, no change of any kind would seem