BLTC Press Titles


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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll


Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi


From far Formosa

by George Leslie Mackay

Excerpt:

I love my island home, but not once in all these years have I forgotten the land of my childhood or ceased to be proud

missionary service

of it. Many a time in those first friendless days, when tongues were strange and hearts were hard and the mob howled loudest in the street; many a time among cruel savages in the mountains, when their orgies rose wildest into the night; many a time alone in the awful silence of primeval forests, in solitudes never before disturbed by a white man's tread— many, many a time during these three and twenty years have I looked back from far Formosa, in fancy gazed on my Zorra home, and joined jn the morning or evening psalm. Memories of Canada were sweet to me then; and now, when I come to tell something of life in that far-off isle, the view-point I take is life in the land of my birth.

My fat".-, George MacKay, a Scottish Highlander, with his wife, Helen Sutherland, emigrated from Sutherlandshire to Canada in i t >. There had been dark days in Scotland— the dark and gloomy days of the "Sutherlandshire Clearances," when hundreds of tenant-farmers, whose fathers were born on the estate and shed their blood for its duke, were with their wives and families evicted, the wild notes of their pibroch among the hills and the solemn strains of their Gaelic psalms in the glens giving place to the bleating of the sheep and the hallo of the huntsman. Ruined cottages, deserted churches, and desecrated graves were the "gloomy memories" they carried with them from Scotland, and they crossed the sea in time to face the dark and stormy days of the Canadian rebellion. They made their home in what was then the wilds of Upper Canada, and on their farm in the township of Zorra reared their family of six children, of whom I was the youngest; and in the burying-ground beside the "old log church" their weary bodies rest.

Peace to the honored dust of those brave pioneers! They were cast in nature's sternest mold, but were men of heroic soul. Little of this world's goods did they possess. All day long their axes rang in the forests, and at night the smoke of burning log-heaps hung over their humble homes. Bat they overcame. The wilderness and the solitary place have indeed been made glad. And more. They did more than hew down forests, construct roads, erect homes, and transform sluggish swamps into fields of Crown and gold. They worshiped and served the eternal God, taught their children to read the Bible and believe it, listen to conscience and obey it, observe the Sabbath and love it, and to honor, and reverence the office of the gospel ministry. Their theology may have been narrow, but it was deep and high. -They left a heritage of truth, and their memory is still an inspiration. Their children have risen up to bless them in the gates. From the homes of the congregation that worshiped in the "old log church" at least thirty-eight young men have gone forth to be heralds of the cross in the ministry of the Presbyterian Church.

In such a home and amid such surroundings I was born on the 31St of March, 1844. That was the year of the disruption in Canada, and the Zorra congregation, with the Rev. Donald McRenzie, its minister, joined the Free Church. The type of religious life was distinctly Highland. Men believed and felt, but seldom spoke about their own deeper personal spiritual experiences. There were no Sabbath-schools or Christian Endeavor Societies in Zorra fifty years ago. Children were taught the Bible and the Shorter Catechism in the home, and on the Sabbath in the church the great doctrines of grace were preached with faithfulness and power. Men may talk slightingly to-day about that "stern old Calvinism." They would do well to pause and ask about its fruits. What other creed has so swept the whole field of life with the dread artillery of truth, and made men unflinchingly loyal to conscience and tremorless save in the presence of God? The iron of Calvinism is needed to-day in the blood of the church. It may be we heard much about sin and law in those olden days, but love and grace were not obscured. It may be the children were reticent and backward in the church, but they knew what secret sorrow for sin meant, and they found comfort at the cross. Before I reached the age of ten the ever-blessed Name was sweet and sacred in my ear. The paraphrase beginning with the words

"While humble shepherds watched their flocks
In Bethlehem's plains by night,"


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