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Rev. JOHN M. MASON.
The subject of this memoir is son of the late Rev. John Mason, a native of Mid-Calder, in the county of Linlithgow, North Britain ; who was early dedicated to the ministry, among the Body of seceders from the church of Scotland, known by the name of Anti-burghers. After completing his education at the University, he went to Abernethy, and studied Theology under that eminent divine, the Rev. Mr. Moncrieff, of Culfargie, then their stated Professor; and there he also officiated, for some time, as Tutor of Philosophy, along with that excellent man. Application having been made by some members of that communion, resident in the city of New York, to the proper Church Court in Scotland, for a minister to be settled among them, Mr. Mason was selected by his brethren (not altogether with his own approbation) as the most proper person to undertake such a charge. Among the most urgent for his acceptance was the late Rev. Mr. Adam Gibb, of Edinburgh, a divine not more eminent for his talents as a preacher, than for other qualifications necessary in the leader of a party, one of the most numerous and respectable which the church of Scotland has forced from her communion. Mr. M. more than twenty years ago took a very active part in completing a union between three religious denominations in America, all of Scots origin, Burghers, Antiburghers, and Cameronians. He was, indeed, from his predilection for peace, a prime mover of the scheme; and, after various meetings between the Ministers and Representatives of the sea veral parties, they were united in one body, under the name of “ the Associate Reformed Synod;" which seems rather awkwardly to preserve distinctions which they professedly and really buried.
Upon arriving in the city of New York, Mr. M. found the interests of religion in a declining state, and therefore he entered upon his ministry resolving to endeavour its revival. Accordingly, besides the stated labours of the Sabbath, he instituted three diets for catechising, namely, one for the unmarried men, another for the single
women, both of which were held in his own house; and a third for the public examination of the children in the meeting; all of which were made eminently useful; so that; from few which composed the church at its beginning, their numbers soon encreased; and many of other communions joined as members, while Mr. M. did not prove their right to Christian fellowship chiefly by their knowledge of the peculiarities of the Secession, but by their love to Christ. This was his touchstone, and should alone be that of every Christian minister. In this manner he made full proof of his ministry, while many were daily added to the church. In consequence of the great increase of members and occasional hearers, the meeting was found too small to contain them; accordingly it was pulled down, and the present one, of which his son is minister, erected in its place.
Mr. M. married the daughter of a respectable Dutch merchant, and one of the aldermen of New York; by whom he had other children, besides the subject of the present memoir. The Rev.John M. Mason, after completing his studies at one of the colleges of the United States, and obtaining a greater share of literature than falls to the lot of many who, from want of the means, or a capa
city to recieve what is provided for them, are without this excellent helpmate in the most important of all employments, was sent to the University of Edinburgh; where he attended the lectures of those professors more immediately connected with the study of theology, by all of whom he was respected as a scholar and a Christian. Among these, the Rev. Dr. Andrew Hunter, Professor of Divinity, shewed him singular marks of attention. In Scotland it is required of every student of divinity to attend the Theological Lectures at the public hall of the University four years, and during that time to deliver the following discourses, viz. a Lecture, a Homily, an Exegesis, an Exercise and addition, and a Popular Sermon; and to accustom the students to public speaking and critical investigation, one or inore of them are called upon to canvas the merits of each discourse. Mr. Mason was frequently appointed to this task; nor did he on any occasion disappoint their hopes, although many had reason to fear the issue. A believer from experience in the doctrines of salvation, he felt indignant at any atteinpts to lessen their importance; so that not only the openly erroneous had reason to dread his reproof, but even those who professed to believe the truth, and had so dressed up error in her garb, that they flattered themselves it might escape detection. However, the covering was too thin for his keen eye not to penetrate: he would instantly strip off the borrowed finery, and discover the nakedness of error to an astonished assembly; while the object of his censure blushed with conscious shame. He knew so well all the bearings one doctrine of grace has with another, the nicety with which every stone in the spiritual building is laid, that with the line and plummet of his mind's eye, the least deformity was soon perceived, and as readily adjusted. Blest with a retentive memory, added to the clearest judgment, he was well calculated for criticism; and they were ever convinced of the justice of his remarks, who did not approve the sentiments which called them forth. In these exercises he was ably supported by his fellow students and intimate companions, the Rev. Mr. Ewing, of Glasgow, Mr. Innes late minister of Stirling, (now of Dundee,) Mr. Dick, author of the Essay on the Inspiration of the Scriptures, and others.