Tuesday, August 10, 2010


You may have heard me complain, on my blog or off, about the amount of driving I do.  I grumble especially about being so far from church.  We are about twenty-five miles from church, which means a half-hour's drive each way, or two hours per Sabbath spent on the road.

So, I was humbled the other day when I read about a woman in Scotland, many years ago, who walked thirty miles, one way, to church.  Here is her story:
To one, at least, the Sabbath journey was nearly thirty miles...Leaving home about midnight on Saturday, she walked across the hills regularly in summer and often in winter...After the service on Sabbath she returned to her home, and was ready to join in the labour of the farm next morning.  On that condition alone would her father allow her to come to Killearnan [where services were held], being more anxious about the state of his croft than about the salvation of himself and of his family.
Now I've often thought that it would be nice to be able to walk to church, as a nice walk does wonders for clearing my mind and helping me to focus.  But my idea of a "nice walk" would be two or three miles, not thirty.

Another quote from the same book:
On Sabbath, they all meet in the house of God.  The Lord himself is in the midst of them; the word is rightly divided; hungry souls are fed with "the finest of the wheat;" some of "the whole" are wounded; and some of the wounded ones are healed.  The public service over, the people return to their homes; and by the way, they form into companies around some of the Lord's people, who are speaking of the sermon, and bringing again, before themselves and others, the precious lessons which it furnished. In the evening, district meetings are held...After prayer and praise, and the reading of a portion of Scripture, a certain number of the questions of the Shorter Catechism are asked and answered, and notes of the sermons heard during the day are repeated.  Time is allowed for family duties, and in many a household the incense of prayer and praise ascends from the family altar to God.  Such was an ordinary Ross-shire Sabbath in the good days of the Fathers.
The book, of course, is The Days of the Fathers in Ross-shire by Rev. John Kennedy.  You can read it online here.  I saw the second quote above on Mr. Myers' blog  and was inspired to hunt through our bookcases until I had found our own tattered volume of the book (printed in 1885).  It was excellent.

I had just finished reading a similar book which was also excellent (perhaps even better), Ministers and Men of the Far North by Rev. Alex Auld.  It is out of print, I'm afraid, though you might be able to get a copy through Mr. Reynolds' used book store, and you can read it online here.

I'm currently reading John G. Paton, Missionary to the New Hebrides, which I think I can safely recommend even though I'm only about halfway through it. :)  It's also available online, here.  Google Books is awesome.  Though I prefer to read from a real, live book rather than a screen, I do appreciate the fact that I can use Google Books to search within a book (it's how I re-located the two quotes above).

I like old biographies like the ones I've listed here.  Another one I'd like to read is The Life of John Kennedy, written by Rev. Alex Auld.  Do you have any others to recommend?


  1. These days of Sabbath holiness are long gone from Scotland, and we are the poorer for it.

    Half an hour each way doesn't sound too much to me, but it does depend on what we are used to. (as well as the age and stage of children and whether your car has air con!)

    I grew up living next door to the church, moved to where I could walk in 20 mins (though we usually drove; sometimes my parents let us walk home)

    I then moved to University where I could walk in 20 - 25 mins (and it almost always seemed to rain, I have many memories of arriving soaking and miserable. We didn't have the option of a lift, all students walked.

    In London, other than the couple of years we lived 100 yards from the FP Church, it's always been a long drive, an hour each way is normal for many FP Londoners (and for some it is a lot longer)

    It would be great to see times when there will be a sound scriptural church near enough for any of us to walk to - and to walk home in the fellowship you describe above.

    But I don't mean to despise a day of small things - we have many blessings that previous generations didn't, such as internet friendships, and online sermons.

    I've been reading quite a lot lately too, will send you a list when I get a chance.

    What books do you read to/with your children?

  2. Have you read the life of Hudson Taylor, by Mr and Mrs Howard Taylor? There's 2 volumes of it and it's every bit as fascinating as John Paton's book. I love reading and could probably recommend another 101 books, but I better not!

  3. No, I haven't read it, Naomi! I have a short volume about him that's labeled an "autobiography" though I think it's drawn from lectures he gave, and not an official autobiography. I liked it very much, so I will have to look into the longer one you describe. :)

  4. Oh, and please feel free to recommend more books if you feel so inclined, Naomi. :)

  5. Robert Murray M'Cheyne's biography by Andrew Bonar is well worth reading as is the, out of print, booklet of Jessie Thain's diary. Jessie Thain is reputed to have been engaged to Robert Murry M'Cheyne.
    A completely different book is "Thousand miles of miracle in China" by A Glover. This is the account of how a missionary with his pregnant wife, two young children and an older lady missionary escaped from the Boxer revolution. I read this as a teenager and thought it was "OK" but then again as an adult and couldn't put it down-missed a fair amount of sleep to finish it!
    Sorry, I should have said, at the beginning, that I found your blog, ultimately, via Henrietta's. I've really enjoyed the psalm singing.

  6. Hi Sarah Elisabeth, nice to meet you, and thanks for the book recommendations. :) I'm always happy to meet people who like psalm singing. :)

  7. "soboty" are covered galleries (or just deep roof overhangs) on the outside of a church where folk who lived farthest from church, and had to walk up the previous day to make it in time for Sunday morning, could spend the night.


    A psalm-fan passing through from Cath's blog.


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