Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 42 > Page 47 - Presbyterianism in Old Cape Breton

Page 47 - Presbyterianism in Old Cape Breton

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1986/6/1 (303 reads)

Spirit was working mightily in many an anxious heart then present? As I looked out from the tent upon that congregation, I could not help contrast? ing with these noble Highlanders of Broadcove, who will rise up in the judgment and condemn us, many of those wretched apologies for Christians found in so many of our congregations, who seated on crimson cushions yawn and frown and count the pas? sage of time by the second hand of their watches, if the preacher exceeds by five minutes the fash? ionable half hour, no matter how fraught with the fire of scripture truth or how well delivered the sermon may be." But I must not forget to mention that there were sheep of another fold in attendance at these open air gatherings. There was the horse trader with the persuasive tongue arid the pleasing manners. His eyes were never off the equine quadruped, nor were his thoughts off the owner. And there was the wooing swain with his oiled hair, white paper col? lar, and grain leather boots--his pockets full of conversation candy, and his umbrella enticingly o- pen to shelter from the burning rays of the sun, or from the pelting rain, the object of his devo? tion, 'ery many of the marriages could be traced to affections first aroused at these great meet? ings: so the announcement of the Sacrament season was the signal for the introduction of fashion and the donning of style. No Easter hat or bonnet in those days: everything new appeared at the Sacra? ment. Needless to say, the display of this varie? gated plumage was not conducive to the firm estab? lishment of the great objects of the occasion. And then it was natural to expect that the majority of the younger people would be attracted more by a de? sire for conviviality than for the exercise of so? briety and solemnity. The young men sometimes caused disturbances, and made inroads on the sanctity of the observances that have somewhat reflected on the propriety of the custom, and have been strongly urged against the continuance of the open air ordinance. The brook was a favorite rendezvous at which it is feared that sometimes more than water was drunk; and here also frequently coquette and flirt inno? cently met for a We can help develop your business in Rielimond County Richmond County Development Corporation P.O. Box 658 Louisdale, N.S. BOE IVO (902) 345-2432 1) loans, loan guarantees or equity investment; 2) locating other sources of re? quired financing; 3) market research and analysis; 4) feasibility studies; 5) business counselling, ad? vice and information. r'c Richmond Coanty Development Corporation common purpose. But the vigi? lance of the elders was always a sufficient safe? guard against improper conduct. I have already made a passing reference to the religious leaders whom Rev. Malcolm Campbell has denominated the "Cape Breton Worthies." As in? dividuals they were men who would attract atten? tion in any gathering of people, being physically well-proportioned, with an intelligent and be? nignant cast of countenance that won confidence and favor on the instant. They were all born orators, of a pedagogical turn of mind, and deeply impregnated with the seed of spirituality. With seemingly prophetic vision they peered into the Unseen, and in glowing language they declared their findings. From my early boyhood I have a vivid recollection of one or two of these men as seen at the great religious festivals mentioned above, and of the sense of adoration that over? whelmed me as one succeeded the other in throw? ing the multitude into ecstatic raptures. Old ladies occupying the space of honor in close proximity to the "Tabernacle" or "Tent" swayed rhythmically backwards and forwards, their hands clasped tightly over the white handkerchief that was frequently used to wipe away the ever-recur? ring tears which betokened the strong emotions roused by the telling recital of the great Sac? rifice on Calvary. Old grey-headed men, with their silver locks occasionally streaming to the 'gentle summer breeze, fixed their eyes steadfastly 'on the ground and occasionally gave vent to their mental perturbation in loud ejaculations signify? ing assent to, and satisfaction with, the senti? ments expressed. Besides discharging this impressive duty as spec? ial speakers at the renowned religious feasts, an? other important work, with far-reaching effects, was performed by them in their capacity as "Cate- chists." As such they visited eyery school dis? trict, and minutely examined the children in the "Shorter Catechism" in English while, at night, the parents were subjected to a like scrutiny in Gaelic. This examination, conducted viva voce twice a year in the schoolhouse of the community, was always regarded as a notable event, and one that demanded, as a prerequisite, an assiduous at? tention to the exact language of the text; for to receive encomiums from the Catechist for a letter- perfect recital of the Catechism was something that every boy and girl looked forward to with much anxiety, and when bestowed it was received with much pride. These godly men have gone to their rest: but be? fore doing so they left 'their impress on men and women in Cape Breton wh# are now alas! rapidly passing away themselves to the Great Beyond. Both by precept and by example they steadfastly incul? cated the principles of correct living throughout the communities that recognized their authority. They began to work shortly after the arrival of the immigrants in the early part of the 19th cen? tury, many years before ordained ministers were settled in the country. The first Presbyterian clergymen to assume pastoral duties in,the Island hailed with unspeakable joy the benefit of associ? ation in church work with these men. Always modest? ly assuming, as they were bound to do, secondary position in all spiritual affairs, they were of in? calculable value to the minister in helping to dis- Cor. George/Townsend Fresh & Delicious Donuts & Coffee 24 HOURS A DAY 7 DAYS A WEEK SYDNEY eng ' Q WliSter Dovtut*' Eastern Hobbies &Craf; ts Good Selection of Yams, Including Patons Beehive, Jaeger, Lopi * Knitting Accessories Grumbacher Oil Painting Supplies Craft Supplies * Wedding & Anniversary Supplies Stamped Goods * Handcrafted Gift Items Renwick Place, 17 Commercial St. Glace Bay 849-5152 3471 Plummer Ave. New Waterford 862-8867 (47)
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