Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sabbath Desecration: Rambling Recollections of My School & School Days – Part D

Article IV written by Alexander Gunn was printed in the Northern Ensign on 14 October 1880 – Part D

Sabbath Desecration

“One wonders at people being so silly as to lend the least countenance to such a superstition, but that was not all that was questionable about this superstitious practice.”

“There was a great deal of Sabbath desecration connected with it. Being, as I have said, practiced on a Monday morning, the people generally arrived on the ground late on Sunday evening, when very unseemly conduct was carried on by the mixed multitude who assembled there from every quarter of the country. We hear of the curious scenes enacted at the so called Holy Wells in Ireland, and yet with all our boasted superior enlightenment we are, or were till recently, not one whit better than our Irish neighbours.” 

Holy Well in Ireland

A pattern was a religious festival held near some holy place for example a mountain, well or a lake after which, it was said, the pilgrims indulged in excess and debauchery.
The sense of ‘very unseemly conduct’ that Gunn refers to above is captured in this picture of a crowd at a Holy Well in Ireland.
Source: Holy Wells of Ireland

My Comments:

Sabbath Police?

Exodus chapter 20 verses 8-11

A Native of Badbea sounds a bit like the ‘Sabbath police’ but observation of a rest day was strictly kept by Highlands Christians, based on the fourth commandment.

The Shorter catechism (which the children learned in school) says:

What does the Fourth Commandment require?

 “The Fourth Commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in His Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to Himself” (Shorter Catechism, Ans. 58). 

Sabbath at Badbea

Alexander Gunn tells how the Sabbath was managed at Badbea:

'We were most religiously trained. On Saturday night there was strict preparation for the Sabbath. Everything that could be done that night, was done, so as to leave nothing to do on the Sabbath but the real works of necessity and mercy. The water barrel was filled up to the brim. The peat neuk was replenished, and the peats for Sunday's use were broken, ready to be laid on the fire. The hearth was cleared of superfluous ashes, the floor swept clean, and everything tidied up. The very potatoes were washed and put in the pot, ready to be hung on the crook. The day began and ended with family worship - not only on Sundays, but on week days as well.’

‘John Badbea's was situated in the centre of the village, and on Saturday night the house was put in order for the Sabbath, forms being set all round the kitchen for the adult portion of the audience, and an inner circle of seats made upon peats, for us juveniles. All attended these meetings except those required for household duties or for the herding of cattle." 

"The good man commenced the service by the singing of a Psalm; then a prayer. Methinks I see the tall figure of the good man as he stands, holding the top rail of his chair as he bends over it and pours out his soul in humble but fervent supplications to Him who is the hearer and answerer of prayer. The prayer over - and it was not unduly lengthened - a chapter was read and a few words of comment made upon it."  

"The chapter was translated from the English into Gaelic, as he could not read a Gaelic book except the Gaelic Psalm book. He then read a sermon, either Samuel Rutherford's or Boston's, translating all the while. The meeting lasted about two hours. There was also a meeting at night of about the same duration, when we had to repeat the Shorter Catechism."

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