"I Have Fought the Good Fight"

On the evening of July 19th last [1943], John T. Mawson, the beloved Editor of this Magazine, drew his last breath, and "absent from the body" was "present with the Lord." For a number of years he had suffered more or less from asthma, and on a number of occasions the attack rose to such a pitch of intensity as to endanger his life. He was carried through them however until this last attack which, lasting exactly a week, brought his pilgrimage and service to a close. Our readers may like to know that though in bodily infirmity, owing to the virulence of these attacks added to the weight of years, yet he was enabled to speak twice on the Lord's Day, eight days before his departure; once to a group of believers on Luke 19, the nobleman going into a far country and leaving his servants with the instruction, "Occupy till I come;" and then again in the evening preaching the Gospel from Luke 7. With these two messages his service closed.

Commencing to preach the Gospel when very young he was granted a period of service which extended to a little over 50 years, and he was used to the conversion of many. Possessing a pastor's heart as well as the gift of an evangelist, at the beginning of 1909 he started this Magazine, in collaboration with another servant of God, H.D.R.Jameson, who however did not long survive, and from 1912 he carried on the work alone. By this means, and by his other published writings, he has been used much to help those who have through grace believed. He kept the faith, and his course is now run. We believe too that it may truly be said that he fought the good fight. The story of God's people has been disfigured by many strivings and contentions that have been by no means good, but from that type of fighting he was singularly free, for he was marked, as we can testify, very largely by the spirit enjoined in a Timothy 2:24 — "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient."

Those who have known him longest are most ready to speak of him in similar terms. Here are three extracts: —

"Perhaps I am able to go back in memory as far as or farther than, most to the early days of our beloved brother, J.T.Mawson, for we were together in Gospel campaigns (mostly in tents) in Canada, the U.S.A. and Jamaica from 1894 on. What struck me from the very beginning of his ministry was his emphasis on God's grace. If I have an ever deepening sense of His wonderful grace, I owe it, I truly believe, to the early impressions I received from the one who was for so long my beloved and valued partner in the Lord's service, The touching way in which be often referred to the Lord Himself, even the way be used to pronounce the name Jesus has left an ineffaceable mark upon my memory."

Again, another says,

"We had hoped that our beloved brother, J.T.Mawson, would have been spared for further service, but the Lord has thought otherwise. We rejoice for his sake, for no more will he be faced with these terrible asthmatic attacks. After many years of strenuous service he has reached the end of his pilgrim journey. He will be remembered as the earnest evangelist whom God used mightily in the Gospel. Many of his children in the faith will read these lines, and thank God they ever heard his faithful messages used to their eternal blessing. He also united the gift of a pastor with that of an evangelist, and his ministry ever exalted Christ, calling for an answer on the part of his hearers that they should be indeed the epistles of Christ known and read of all men. Not only with voice but also with pen he sought the salvation of sinners and the edification of saints. Volume after volume has come from his pen. The end of this year would have completed his thirty-fifth year of service in editing the well-known monthly magazine Scripture Truth, which owed its origin to his desire to feed the flock of God. It has gone all over the world, and helped many lonely workers in the mission fields.

"Perhaps what struck the writer more than anything else was the way in which dear John Mawson ripened in the things of God as life advanced and sufferings dogged his footsteps. Especially when there was opposition against him in certain quarters he took it so much like his Master, never hitting back, never complaining. God moulded and fashioned him in such sort that he was the unconscious instrument in God's hand of showing us what the Christ-like spirit is in times of adversity. We shall miss him sorely, but the example he has left behind will lead us to follow more earnestly in the same steps. His whole spirit would turn our eyes from himself to the Lord whom he loved and served in his spirit."

And yet again, another,

"It was with mixed feelings that on Monday evening, July 19th, at 10.30 we received a telephone message telling us that an hour and a half earlier our beloved Editor had fallen asleep.

"We could not but sorrow at the passing of one who had so devotedly served the Lord for so many years; on the other hand we could only rejoice that his much suffering for so long a time was ended and that he was at home with the Lord.

"For well nigh fifty years we had known him, and only a few weeks before his home call we had been together speaking of the things of the Lord.

"Nothing would have been more repugnant to him than anything suggestive of praise, but we can say, he loved the Lord; he loved the saints; and he loved His service in the glad tidings.

"Now he rests from his labours and his works do follow him. To his devoted wife and to his daughters our hearts go out in sincere sympathy. The representative company that assembled in the quiet little cemetery at Pitlochry was evidence of the widespread esteem in which our brother was held.

"Now there comes a loud call to our young brethren, not necessarily to step out in public service, but each just in the sphere in which the Lord has been pleased to place him, and in happy fellowship with the company to which the Lord has called him, to serve Him with reverence and with godly fear.

"Thus may the home-going of our brother be used by the Lord for the stirring up of us all to increased devotedness; more diligent service; and greater desire to be here for His glory till we see Him face to face, for His dear Name's sake."

The present writer is a fourth who had known and esteemed him for nearly, if not quite, fifty years. In heartily endorsing what the others have said, he bears thankful witness to the grace and help received through him, and thanks God for the privilege of having known him.

On the first page of the first issue, for January 1909, its character was declared; Here is a reprint of what there appeared: —

"The title of our magazine will be sufficient evidence that we wholeheartedly accept the Scriptures as given by inspiration of God, and as such we hold that they have authority to bind the conscience, and are the final court of appeal in every question of doctrine and conduct.

"They are replete with comfort for the saints of God, and are all-sufficient for correction and instruction in the way of righteousness; so that by them the man of God may be throughly furnished unto every good work.

"The Scriptures will always be prized by the children of God, not only because they come from God, but because they speak of Christ, and indeed it is only as this is seen, and Christ is loved, that they are understood.

"We shall endeavour, as time and space permit, to draw out from the Scriptures the things concerning Christ, believing that the surest way of preservation from the seductive movements, doctrines, and spirits that abound, is occupation with that which is good; for who is he that shall harm you if ye be followers of that which is good.'

"All good is centred in, and flows from Christ; and it is as He is paramount in the lives of His people, that they are happy themselves and useful to others.

"Then Christianity becomes a reality — no longer visionary, but practical; no longer mere doctrine for the mind (important as that is), but power in the life.

"We have a link — an imperishable link — with all those who love this living Lord and Saviour in sincerity and truth. In His Name we greet you.

"May we seek earnestly to build ourselves up in our most holy faith, to pray in the Holy Ghost, and to keep ourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

"Now unto Him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen."