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This post from last year bears repeating.

A Biblical Stand in a Biblical Way

masonJMThe Rev. John Mitchell Mason [1770-1829] was an Associate Reformed pastor who served for many years in New York City. He was born in New York City on March 19, 1770, and was the son of the Rev. John Mason, D.D., who had emigrated to this country in 1761 to take the pastoral charge of the Cedar Street Presbyterian Church in the New York City. John Mason proved to be a faithful pastor and remained in that pulpit until his death in 1792. William Sprague notes that “one of the noblest tributes which a son ever paid to the memory of a father, is to be found in the Address which Dr. Mason (the son) delivered before the Presbytery, relative to the resignation of his pastoral charge;—a tribute which no one can read without feeling a sentiment of veneration for the parent, and of admiration for the intellectual greatness and filial sensibilities of the son.” [perhaps we can relate some of that Address on another occasion.]

Educated at home and prepared for college by his father, John displayed a brilliant intellect and graduated from Columbia College at the age of 19. More importantly, John had come to faith in Christ at an early age, God having blessed the faithful efforts of his parents. “His mind was imbued with a knowledge of the great truths of the Gospel, as soon as its faculties were sufficiently developed to admit of comprehending them; and these truths seem to have become very early, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, the commanding principles of his conduct.”

Stopping on that last note, we relate the following anecdote, in evidence of the point, that the character of a child, established early, often remains fixed through a lifetime. This story was originally published in The Evangelical Guardian in 1846, and it is told by the editor of that magazine, as he relates an account of his travels in New York City that year:—

On Sabbath evening before leaving the city, I paid a visit, in company with Mr. McLaren, to old Katherine Ferguson, a colored woman who became a member of Dr. Mason’s Church about 40 years ago. She is a remarkable woman. The most of what she made by keeping a confectioner’s shop (enough to have placed her now in independent circumstances) she spent in feeding, clothing, and educating destitute colored children. She is warmly attached to the Associate Reformed Church, and remembers Dr. Mason, and the ‘days of old.’ with peculiar delight. Two young persons, members of Mr. McLaren’s congregation, were in her house, being there, as I understood, to read the Bible, and converse with her. This would not fail to make on a mind at all accustomed to sober reflection, a favorable impression as to their piety.—One object of my visit, was to obtain from her lips an account of an occurrence which I had sometimes heard related. Her statement was as follows:

“After Dr. Mason commenced preaching in Murray Street, some ‘gay ladies’ from Pearl Street, said to him: ‘Doctor it will not do for those colored people (Katherine and a male relative of hers who had made a profession of religion) to sit at the same table with the white communicants.—They should be at a Table by themselves at the last.’ The Dr. simply replied, that he would think of it. When the day for the communion came round, and the people were about to take their seats at the Lord’s table, the Doctor came down from the pulpit, and taking the two colored persons by the hands, he said,’This is my brother, this is my sister. He that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister and mother. In Christ Jesus, there is neither Greek, nor Jew,—Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free,’ and then led them forward to the table and set them down ‘first of all.’ “

This was the result of the Doctor’s reflection on the subject, and it settled the question forever.

[excerpted from The Evangelical Guardian, vol. IV, no. 6 (November 1846): 285.]

Words to Live By:
Sin creeps into the Church in myriad ways. We are after all still in this sinful flesh. But racism has no place in the Church. It is at heart a way in which we put ourselves on a pedestal, thinking ourselves better than others. It is, if you will, a form of self-deification, with pride at its root, and as such, becomes a particularly destructive sin. The best stand against such sin, perhaps the only true stand against it, is to peaceably, lovingly demonstrate the objective truth of Scripture, as Dr. Mason did, by living in obedience to the Scriptures.

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism…For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all…For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:11013, NASB)

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Only A Presbyterian For A Short While.

It was on this day, January 20, 1812, that the Rev. John Nelson Abeel died. John was born in New York City in 1768, the son of Colonel James Abeel. He attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and graduated there in 1787. Remaining at Princeton, he served as a tutor for two years, and then briefly began to study Law before deciding to pursue a call to the ministry. He studied theology privately, receiving guidance from both Dr. John Witherspoon, then president of the College, and Dr. John H. Livingston, a Dutch Reformed pastor.

In 1793, while serving as librarian at Princeton, Abeel found time to manage studies at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary and was licensed to preach by the Classis of New York. Beginning his years of ministry in Philadelphia in 1794, he served in a yoked assistant pastor role, serving concurrently at both the Arch Street and Old Pine Presbyterian churches. His time there was brief and in 1795 Rev. Abeel accepted a call to serve the Collegiate Dutch Reformed Church in New York City, and he continued in that pulpit until his death. It is also noted that Harvard University conferred the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree upon Reverend Abeel in 1804. Placing a high esteem on education, Rev. Abeel also served as a Trustee for both Columbia College and for Queen’s College (Rutger’s).

The Rev. Dr. Samuel Miller was also serving as a pastor in New York City in the 1790’s, and he knew Abeel well. Upon Rev. Abeel’s death, Miller provided a worthy tribute to a departed brother, and this portion of his eulogy is particularly noteworthy:

But the greatest glory of his character, as a Minister of the Gospel, was his ardent and eminent piety. This was uniform, prominent, and habitual. In every situation, public or private; in the pulpit or the prayer meeting; in the chamber of disease or the social circle; it was manifest that he walked with God, and that his great concern was to lead souls to Christ, and to minister to the spiritual good of all. His religion was personal, cordial, and practical; not merely official. It was evident to all who conversed with him, or who listened to his conversation, that his great object was, like his Master, to “go about doing good.”

Words to Live By:
Isn’t that what we want for all our pastors, and for ourselves as well? To exhibit an ardent and eminent piety, that it would be evident that we walk with God, and that our great concern would be to see others come to a saving faith in Christ Jesus our Lord?

For Further Study:
Two archival collections were located for Rev. Abeel. The Presbyterian Historical Society has preserved a small collection of a few sermons, and the New Jersey Historical Society has a slightly larger collection of items concerning both Rev. Abeel and his son Gustavus. The New York Public Library has preserved a portrait of Rev. Abeel, which can be viewed here. Information on Rev. Abeel’s grave site can be viewed here.

Note: Our Through the Scriptures and Through the Standards sections have now been replaced by RSS feeds which appear at the top of right-hand column.

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