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THE FIRST CANADIAN EXPERIENCE
Leaving seminary for
vacation, one went as customary for many in Westminster Theological Seminary,
The experience was a rich one. On the way, besides noting the incredible price of food on the train, I happened to sit next to a lady who joined in conversation. We spoke on the subject of her having visited a Unitarian church recently, and this led to an acute and sharp denunciation of the deity-beheading style of that philosophy, its contrast with the Bible and the impropriety of being mixed in any way with it, on the part of a Christian. (Cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Chapter 7, Part 4, pp. 532-560, Ch.12 A Spiritual Potpourri, All this Rot about Not Believing, and see Index, Trinity.)
Our conversation led
on to the question of where I was going, and the amazing 'coincidence' that
this was precisely where her family habitually went in their Summer Vacation,
some crossing from the West coast of the
Indeed, one day a group of young men called at the delectably hidden little church, shrouded as it was with pines, and leading on to its own little beach - where, on my arrival, the ice still could be seen quite some distance out to sea.
I was rather startled to find this unexpected audience to my organ practice, and to see them settling into their pews with such gusto and enterprise was a strange sight indeed. Perhaps they were citified emigrants from part, who had revisited for the sheer joie de vivre of old times. I walked down the aisle to meet them, and of course, they spoke French. Calling upon my studies in that tongue, I managed to communicate. They were priests in training who thought it would be interesting in this way to see the inside of a Protestant Chuch. What an opportunity! Here were young men on their way to a doomed future, because of the departure from the free grace of the gospel of the sovereign Lord, which is so simple, but so often so roughly manoeuvred into something starkly different (see SMR pp. 1032-1088H), and before long I was seeking to enlighten them.
Allowed to have an address, I wrote to show Biblically the danger of their error, but no reply was ever received. There is no reply to the Gospel, but there will be one to the Lord, at the end of the day. One's heart goes out to those misled as did Chiniquy's, for that former priest made an enormous stir when, after decades of fighting with the 'church' and his conscience, he at last exposed it and left with his large congregation, to become a Presbyterian.
On another day, a
delightful couple, down from
It was an old pump organ.
How thrilling it was to visit in this neglected area, and to revive the spirit of those who had long had but little meat, and not least to visit the homes, enquire for the youth and ask them especially NOT to join the church... and after some time to add, UNLESS they were Christians. This would soon conduct us to the question: What is a Christian ? (SMR pp. 520ff.), in turn leading to a fine Bible class, which in the end found some 17 new members of the church.
In the meantime, the bike arrived from the brother of the lady who had met me on the train: yes the 14 mile or so walking trip to town had not been forgotten (I got back in the small hours after a visit to some parishioners), and the cheery greeting from an absolute stranger who met me on the road, was soon followed by the deposition of a bicycle - just for me. How thrilling to career down the hills and move up in the then wonderful provision of 3 gears, along the rollicking coastline! Surely the Lord was then, as He always is, good, packed down and flowing over, filled with goodness and mercy, and a joy to know.