Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine


Past and Present
The Rev. Thomas Madden


Thirty-five years ago, was one of the ablest and ripest ministers of our Canadian Zion. It was on a chilly day in the fall of 1825, that the writer first saw him. It was-in the pulpit of the u Old Framed Meeting House,” in the town of York, on the Saturday afternoon of a quarterly meeting. The writer had left his work promptly at the hour of meeting, and repaired to the house of God. None of the congregation had yet arrived; but on turning his eyes to the pulpit, he observed it occupied by a portly elderly stranger, whom he naturally and rightly judged to be the newly appointed Presiding Elder. He had crossed the lake in one of the sailing packets that then plied between Niagara and York, and finding it was the hour of meeting, had, with the promptitude that characterized him, gone straight to the chapel, without calling on any of the friendsy. and planted himself at his post; No sooner had the writer risen up from his knees, after performing his devotions on entering the house, than the stern looking stranger who occupied the pulpit, said with a firm and decided voice, “Boy, make a fire in the stove.” This done, the people began to drop in, and as soon as there were enough to “raise a sing," the minister began the service. The whole is as well remembered as if it were yesterday. The prayer was earnest, confident, and short. And the sermon was as short proportionately, not perhaps occupying thirty minutes in delivery. But he said more in those thirty minutes, than many of your wordy, declamatory, showy sort of preachers could say in two hours. The sermon was methodical, clear, concise, and truly profitable. We all felt quickened and blessed. The text was, “Grow in grace!” —-just three words. But we had no occasion to say, “ What are these among so many?” for “we had enough and to spare.” In the prayer meeting at night—the good old Saturday night quarterly meeting prayer meeting of other days—he was with us in life and power; but both in that and in the love feast the following morning, (bless the memory of the early love feasts!) in his attempts to innovate on some of our desultory habits, we had an inkling of the love of order, and rigid notions of discipline, which we afterwards found to distinguish the man.

These were much displayed in the management of a camp meeting, which in those days was no sinecure, all may be well assured; and which was not then meagerly attended. The writer had the happiness of attending two where Mr. Madden presided. Every one had to work, and to work by rule. The Presiding Elder always opened them himself, by an appropriate opening sermon. Each of these sermons is well remembered. The text on one occasion was, “Lord help me!” and on the other, “Quench not the Spirit.” The compact, energetic, direct character of the man, and his preaching, was seen in the very choice of his texts. These were attributes for which he was disliked by all those who hated restraint, who^ unhappily are a numerous class; but for which he was truly respected by all who had sense enough to appreciate his worth. As it is likely some of this generation would wish to know more about him, I shall append to this little sketch the obituary notice of Mr. Madden, published in the Minutes for 1834.

“Thomas Madden was born in Cambridge, N. Y., in 1780. In 1789 his father and family emigrated to Ernest-town, Upper Canada. In the 17th year of his age he visited his friends in Cambridge, where, under the preaching of the Word, he was awakened, and soon after brought to the saving knowledge of the truth, and under its influence he returned to Canada, happy in mind and deeply pious. For several years he exercised his gifts as an Exhorter, and afterwards as a Local Preacher, till the year 1802, when he was admitted on trial at the New York Conference. After two years in the travelling connexion, he was ordained at the New-York Conference, by Bishop Asbury, first as Deacon, and at the same Conference a few days after, was admitted to Elder’s orders. This was in view of his returning to Canada as a Missionary.

“Brother Madden has travelled very extensively through this country, having been appointed to the following Circuits and Stations : Long Point„ Niagara, Oswegochie, Montreal, Ottawa, Augusta j Bay Quinte, Ilallowell, Belleville, Smith’s Creek, the Niagara District, Rideau, and Elizabethtown. And, beside these, he travelled the Charlotte and Brandon Circuits, in the State of New-York. He has spent 31 years as an Itinerant Preacher. Our junior preachers will form an idea of the toils of iheir elder brethren, when they know that the Oswegochie Circuit once embraced what are now the Elizabethtown, Augusta, Matilda, and Rideau, including all the country between Gananoque and Cornwall, and extending-, north as far as the Rideau and the township oft Mountain...

“To perform this, Brother Madden travelled 340 miles, and filled about 30 appointments every four weeks. In these labours he spent a useful life, ‘ and died in Christian triumph at his own house in Augusta, the 22nd May, 1834.

“As a Preacher of the Gospel, Brother Madden was considered a sound divine. On various subjects which he discussed, he showed a clear and discriminating judgment; and was admired for the promptitude and firmness of his proceedings, whether in his pastoral charge or the deliberations of the Conference. These important qualities rendered him peculiarly useful to the Church, and secured the respect and esteem of his brethren.

“During a protracted illness of more than a year, Brother Madden was a severe sufferer; but he endured his affliction with much patience; he often spoke of it as providential, and was greatly supported by the consolations of the Holy Spirit. These were given by his Saviour with increasing measure as he drew near the close of life. In some instances he was Bo enraptured with divine things, that he was constrained to praise and glorify God with a loud voice. His last efforts were to deliver a solemn charge to his family, which he did with great composure, and took an affectionate leave of his wife and children, one by one, soon after which he expired.”

He had a daughter, the precious and now sainted Hester, married to ono of our ministers; and his only son is also a herald of the Cross, in oonnexion with his father’s Church. The remains of this servant of the Lord rest, along with many other worthies of Canadian Methodism, in the interesting old grave yard in the front of Augusta, about four miles above Prescott, which may be easily identified from the deck of a steamboat, as you pass down the St. Lawrence, by the spire of the tiny church, which peeps from among the beautiful pines with which the spot is shaded.

“O may I triumph so,
When all my warfare’s past;
And dying find my latest foe,
Under my feet at last!”


Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast