Two Bold Men
By George Matheson
“When they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
These two men drew one quality from the same source; they had both become bold from living with Jesus. Yet it was not the same kind of boldness. Peter and John were both courageous; yet the courage of Peter was as unlike the courage of John as the sun is unlike the moon. When Christ gives the same quality to two men He does not thereby make them the same man. The light which shines on the wall comes from the same source as the light which shines on the river; but no one would mistake the light on the river for the light on the wall. Even so, no one would mistake the courage of Peter for the courage of John. They are not only different; they are in some sense opposite. Peter has the courage that strikes; John has the courage that waits. Peter is a force of action; John is a force of bearing. Peter draws the sword; John lies on the bosom. Peter crosses the sea to meet Jesus; John tarries till the Lord comes. Peter goes into the sepulchre where the body of Jesus has lain; John merely looks in–keeps the image of sorrow in his heart.
Christ needs each of these types. There are times when His kingdom requires the courage of the hand–the power of actual contact with danger. There are times when it needs the courage of the heart–the power to wait when nothing can be done, and to keep the spirit up when the hand must be let down. Life has both its Galilee and its Patmos–its place for work and its place for waiting; and for both it requires courage.
George Matheson, who died in 1906, was a great devotional preacher and his books blessed many. He had very poor vision when only a child and then early in childhood became blind. Congregations were hesitant to call him as pastor, but when one did it was a blessing and almost an immediate success. The man had power with God. His public prayers in the congregation often brought strong men to tears. The man spent hours in study and meditation on the Scriptures. He had to memorize his text and it was said he never missed a line. His sister was his great helper. George never married. In fact, he said he had never been in love. Look at what he wrote about this song:
My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan [Argyleshire, Scotland] on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high. Note: It is not often you get to read the words of a song that seemed to the author as though the song was dictated to him and it was written within about 5 minutes. Divine? You decide.
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
George Matheson FRSE was a Scottish minister and hymn writer. Wikipedia
Born: March 27, 1842, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Died: August 28, 1906
Education: University of Glasgow
Words: George Matheson, in the Church of Scotland magazine Life and Work,
Music: St. Margaret (Peace), Albert L. Peace, 1884 (MIDI, score). Alternate tunes:
Hampstead (Davies), H. Walford Davies, in In hoc Signo, 1915, number 31 (MIDI, score)
Wyke, Leslie H. Heward (1897-1943) (MIDI, score). Heward is said have written the tune while a choir boy at Manchester Cathedral.