A Privy Councillor
THE Right Hon. SIR ROBERT MATHESON, P.C.,
LL.D., late Registrar-General for Ireland, thus
relates the story of his passing "from death unto life"
(John 5. 24).
In 1873, our family, visiting Scotland, went to Lanark
for the purpose of seeing the Falls of Clyde. Not having
time to go the distance from the town, we decided to visit
Lanark Old Abbey. Soon we reached the Abbey, which
stood in the centre of a large burial ground. There was a
main walk leading to the ruin, and a circular walk on
each side. My dear wife and my father took their places
on the circular walk, and proceeded, one to paint and the
other to sketch the Abbey, while my brother and I set
out to search for the graves of the martyrs. I soon got
tired of the search, and determined to rejoin my wife.
The shortest way to reach her was to cut across the grass,
but I had not taken into account the difficulties of picking
my way through the rank grass, full of small grave stones.
I nearly tripped over one of these, and finally was thrown
to the ground by another of them which was partly con-
cealed by the grass. Instantly I felt a strong desire to
see what it was which caused my fall. Most of the tomb-
stones were very small slabs with the name cut on the
rim of the stone. Only one or two letters of the Christian
name on this slab were visible, the remainder of the
inscription being covered by the grass. I lifted up the
grass, and what was my astonishment and horror to find
my own name (Mathison) and Christian name (Robert)
cut on the rim--ROBERT MATHISON.
I was not at all inclined to be superstitious, but think-
ing over the strange coincidence which had brought me
there, I could not fail to see that it was a direct message
from God to me. I felt the
letters of the inscription with
my hand, so as to make sure that it was real. Had I
heard a voice or seen a vision I would have readily as-
cribed it to a disordered state of the brain, resulting from
overwork, but here was a tangible reality, about which
there could be no question.
It presented itself to me thus: "Here lie the
remains of a
man who once bore my name. He has gone into Eternity;
you will be there soon, and then what about your soul."
I felt I was unprepared to meet God. Reliance on my
religious observances and my own righteousness vanished,
and I saw myself as a lost sinner in the presence of a Holy
God, before whom I would have shortly to stand and
give an account. I thought there was no hope for me, and
that I was in the same category as the man in the parable
to whom God said, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall
be required of thee" (Luke 12. 20).
A few nights after my return to Ireland, I was sitting
alone in our dining-room by the fire, thinking over the
wonderful thing which had happened to me, and in deep
anxiety about my soul. The Bible was lying on the
chimney-piece. I opened it listlessly at 1 John 5. 1,
when the words of verse 1 seemed to light up in a way I
never experienced before. It was the Holy Spirit illumin-
ating the page. I read the verse again and again, "Who-
soever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God[.]"
I said to myself: This verse says that if I really believe
on the Lord Jesus as the Christ, I am born of God. I will
believe on Him now, and trust Him with my whole heart
as my Saviour. Then the Devil made a last effort to keep
me in his grasp, and whispered to me: "It is all very fine
for you here in your own parlour to say you will trust
Christ, but what about to-morrow, when your friends and
companions will declare you have gone mad and turn you
into ridicule." I recognised the force of this, but, reading
on, I came to verse 4, which says, "whatsoever is born of
God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that over-
cometh the world, even our faith." I saw at once that this
supplied the answer to the suggestion of the Evil One.
I resolved to trust Christ then and there, for time and
eternity, and boldly to take my stand for Him in this world.
Many years have elapsed since that memorable night,
which altered the whole course of my life. I have passed
through many trials and many difficulties in my earthly
journey; but God has been faithful to His promise, and
has given me the victory, and soon I shall be in the
Saviour's presence to see the King in
His beauty, and to
praise and adore Him for all His wonderful love to me.
He passed to his reward on January 27, 1926.