Mattison, Hiram, Dd
Mattison, Hiram, D.D., a prominent divine of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was born at Norway, Herkimer County, N.Y., Feb. 8,1811. Three years afterwards his parents, who were natives of New England, removed to Oswego County, and settled near the present city of Oswego. His mother, besides rearing her own twelve children, became the foster-mother of ten others who had not homes for themselves. The first years of his early manhood were devoted to teaching, but his conversion at the age of twenty-three turned his thoughts towards the ministry, which soon after became his lifework. He entered the Black River Conference in 1836, and filled successively several of the most important appointments in that body. In 1842 and 1843 he was stationed at Watertown; in 1844 and 1845 at Rome; in 1846 he became superannuated; the next year supernumerary; the next two years he was superannuated; in 1850 he was made secretary of the Conference, and his relation changed to effective. During this and the following year he served, by appointment of the bishop, as professor in Falley Seminary. In 1852 he was elected secretary of Conference for the third time, and his relation was changed to superannuated. This same year, on account of ill- health and a tendency to pulmonary difficulties, he removed to New York City for the benefit of the sea air, and was pastor of John Street Church (left vacant by the death of Rev. W. K. Stopford), and afterwards of Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church in Thirty-fourth Street, which he organized, and under his administration the present church edifice was erected. His preaching was both popular and effective, being distinguished by great clearness of statement, force of argument, aptness of illustration, and earnestness of appeal. His sermon at the camp-meeting held near Morristown, N.J., in 1866, may be very justly pronounced one of the most eloquent and powerful discourses of modern times. Dr. Mattison labored with great zeal to secure action by the General Conference (of which he was a member in 1848, 1852, and 1856) against all slaveholding in the Church, but at length, despairing of success, he formally withdrew from the Methodist Episcopal Church, Nov. 1, 1861. He became the pastor of an Independent Methodist Church, for which a house of worship was built under his supervision in Forty-first Street. This church he continued to serve till 1865, when he returned to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was appointed to the Trinity Methodist Church in Jersey City, having been admitted a member of the Newark (N. J.) Conference, in the fellowship of which he continued till death. The last year of his life was devoted to the service of the American and Foreign Christian Union as its secretary. The fertility of his pen was amazing. Believing strongly in the power of the press for good or evil, he made free and constant use of it to aid the one and oppose the other. His publications embraced a range from the little Sunday-school card to the stately volume, all intended to aid the public movement in favor of temperance, and in opposition to slavery and Romanism. There was too much in the life and character of Dr. Mattison to admit of a summing up in the space allotted to this brief sketch. We need only say that to know him, especially to know him well, was to admire, esteem, and love him as a man, a friend, a scholar, a minister, a hero, a Christian. Bishop Thomson, in his introduction to the writer's memoir of Dr. Mattison's life (see below), thus delineates him: "Before the world he stood as the able preacher, the gifted writer, the stern controversionalist, the unsparing antagonist; but he was not without the gentler and more attractive elements of character. He was an amiable, communicative, entertaining companion, a generous friend, and loving husband and father.
'From his rough heart a babe could press Soft milk of human tpenderness.'
On all the storms of his life were rainbows, but only his intimate friends were in position to see them." His first book was A Scriptural Defence of the Doctrine of the Trinity, a small volume issued in 1843, and to which multum in parvo was peculiarly applicable. In the same year he began his publication of Tracts for the Times, which at length grew into a small but piquant monthly, called at first The Conservative, and afterwards the Primitive Christian. In 1846 he published a work on Astronomy, with large astronomical maps — a work of rare merit and popularity. Soon after he issued his Elementary Astronomy, and in 1850 edited a new and improved edition of Burrett's Geography of the Heavens, for which he is spoken of as "one of the most competent astronomers in the country." In 1853 he published his High-School Astronomy, and the same year was associated with Prof. J. B. Woodbury in bringing out a musicbook, The Lute of Zion, which, becoming widely popular, led in a short time to an enlarged edition under the title of New Lute of Zion. The next year his work on Spirit Rappings was issued, and had a large circulation. In 1856 his celebrated controversy with Dr. J. H. Perry, on the Wesleyan Doctrine of Christian Perfection, was published in successive pamphlets. Three years later he issued another tune-book, Sacred Melodies, "designed for use on all occasions of public worship;" and the same year also sent forth his Impending Crisis, a stout pamphlet of pungent facts and impassioned appeals on the slavery question. In 1864 his Minister's Pocket Manual was published, and within the next two years followed with the two most elaborate theological works of his life, Immortality of the Soul, and Resurrection of the Body, books of superior and permanent value. During 1866 he published Select Lessons from the Holy Scriptures, and his Defence of American Methodism, and in the next year a timely treatise on Popular Amusements. The year 1868, the last of his life, was perhaps the busiest, and the most prolific of results in the line of authorship. Besides editing and bringing through the press the work on Perfect Love, he wrote and published Mary Ann Smith, and a surprising number of other works on Romanism, from the tract of a few pages to the heavy pamphlet. He left an unfinished treatise on Depravity in its Relation to Entire Sanctification, and the outlines of several other theological works. His contributions to the periodical press were abundant and able. He was the author of several poems of decided merit, and among his issues from the press were various Church and Sunday-school requisites. He composed with remarkable ease and rapidity, and seldom rewrote a sentence or even a word. His busy life suddenly closed at his residence, Jersey City, N. J., in a signally triumphant death, Nov. 24,1868. See Minutes of Conferences, 1869, p. 55 sq.; also Work Here, Rest Hereafter, or the Life and Character of Rev. Hiram Mattison, D.D., by Rev. N. Vansant, with an Introduction by bishop Thomson (New York, 1870, 8vo). (N. V.)