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- God's Answers - 10/28 -
fear, it appears, is here entertained either of milk being stolen or of fruit being missed from the abundant spoils on either side the road.
"At Trenton, beautifully situated near the head of the bay, a boy rushed out at the welcome sight of his friend, and farther on more greetings of love and gratitude awaited her. The farm we this day visited was one of more importance than the last. Four hundred acres of ground surrounded a well-built house, two stories high, and covering much ground. In such a dwelling a handsome piano is seldom missing, and here stood one in the inner drawing-room. Luxuries that could be purchased for money were not wanting, but labourers were not so easily procured, and the contrast between the interior of the house and the rough approach to it was most remarkable.
"So much must necessarily be done with so few hands, that time for a flower-garden, or even the making of a neat footpath, cannot be found. The mistress of the house looked sadly worn and wearied from want of help in her indoor labours.
"Within easy reach of this house stood a much smaller one, built by the owner of the farm for himself and his wife to retire to whenever their eldest son should choose a bride and undertake the farm. This I have seen elsewhere in Canada and have also known the heir of the property to go out for the day helping at another farm, where no labourer could be found in the neighbourhood. No contrast could be greater to one coming from the sight of the constant distress in the crowded East of London,--distress arising from want of work, food, light, air, and room to live and breathe in, and the comfort here beheld and experienced through the abundance of all; the pure fresh air, the sight of 'God's blessings growing out of our mother earth,' the ground ready to bestow so rich a return for all the labour bestowed on it, and the only want that of the human hands--the hands that, in our own land, are to be had so easily, that human beings are expected to work like machines, and human frames are used as though made of brass or iron."
Miss Macpherson was not permitted to remain many days quietly at Belleville. The call came for her to go farther into Western Canada, and this eventually resulted in the establishing of the Home at Galt. The journey is thus described in her own words:--
"Believing that our gift was to pioneer, we left our dear friends embosomed at Marchmont among the bursting maple trees in loveliest spring-time. At early dawn on May 23rd we started, with a party of twenty of our boys of different ages, for Woodstock and Embro, a district of country where thousands of Scotch families have settled, and where there has been a wave of blessing from the Lord, through the faithful preaching of evangelists in the past year. Therefore we longed to 'spy' the land, not so much to gain an increase of dollars or more cultivated land for our boys, but our object was to find hearts that had been awakened to newness of life; and we trusted that with such our children would be nourished by the sincere milk of the Word, and grow thereby into godly men and faithful witnesses of the Lord Jesus."
"At the close of a long and hot day's travel, we reached Woodstock; and though a single telegram had been the only announcement of our expected arrival, warm hearts greeted us. Next day the boys were gazed at, admired, wished for, questioned, and _feted_, until we began to fear lest they should be spoiled by seeing the great demand for them, and the eagerness with which they were sought after, being considered, as they term them, 'smart boys.' With ourselves it was a day of much prayer for the needed wisdom. And in the afternoon, (being the Queen's birthday, and kept by loyal Canadians as a complete holiday), the dear boys went off with us through shady groves for a walk. We went into a cemetery, and read together from our penny Gospels the 9th of St. John. But here we were found out, and invited to one of the loveliest country-seats we had ever seen. It had been an old Indian settlement, and from its groves we had a view of the distant woodlands clothed in richest foliage. On a beautiful lawn, the old Scotchman, with tearful tenderness, fed our dear boys with unaccustomed dainties, and jugs full of new milk."
"In the evening a Scotchman arrived from a still more western district, Arkona, deputed by his neighbours to come for seven more boys. We could, however, only spare him five. The boy he took from us last year had behaved so well, that the demand had increased. Then came those painful leave-takings; and to see great boys of sixteen and seventeen sobbing, was no easy work for my clinging heart; but He who scattered His disciples, and went Himself by lonely pathways, knew our need, even at this time."
"Next day we went farther inland, nine miles beyond the railroad, to Embro. There we found 'democrats,' each with a pair of horses, for the boys and luggage, in which they went off in high glee, under the care of a good man of my own name; and for myself and friend, a Highlander long frae the hills of our native land, had sent a carriage and pair of splendid spirited horses."
"Our party of boys had by this time considerably decreased; and had they been hundreds instead of ones, of similarly trained boys, there would have been no difficulty in distributing them into good homes."
"Canada is just now in a most prosperous state. Farmers' sons do not remain at home, but either, enter professions or stores, or go farther West to colonise. Hence the need of further help, which is met by our boys, who take their place, beginning with the A B C of farm-work, or, as Canadians express it, 'choring round.'
"This new district was very pleasing to a Scotch eye--hill and dale, rich woods, substantial farmhouses, richly cultivated orchards, beautiful with blossom; picturesque views of gushing rivers in wild gorges, with grand old monarchs of the forest telling the tales of years gone by, ere the emigrant's axe had laid their companions low."
"We reached a lovely village, and were warmly welcomed by 'Macs' of every name, reminding one of childhood's summers spent in the Highlands of old Scotia. Here we were at home; the sweet assurance of a Saviour's love shone in the faces that now surrounded us; we were on the trail of an evangelist, and Jesus 'lifted-up' had been beheld, making faces beam with thankfulness to Him who had given Himself for them."
"The kind McAuley, who had opened his house and heart in expectation of the whole twenty boys from London, had himself been overwhelmed with love-offerings in the shape of food the good neighbours had sent in, vying with each other in showing kindness to the orphan and the stranger.
"Ah! what a power and privilege is granted to us women, in that we are permitted to arise and second the work of the evangelist by showing our faith by our works, and giving to the Christians in this land of plenty and _no_ poverty objects upon which to work out their love! Words fail to depict the extreme tenderness and delicate attention shown to us, for Jesus' sake, during the forty-eight hours we spent in the midst of this kindred people.
"In the evening the old Scotch kirk was filled to the door, and after the singing of some sweet hymns and several heart-breathings of prayer, we spoke of the dealings of the Lord in this mission among the children of our million-peopled city. Whilst doing this, it was difficult to realise that we were not at home, among the dear brothers and sisters who are wont to meet with us for prayer at the Home of Industry.
"The thank-offering to the Lord at the close was spontaneous, also the supply of food sent in by the farmers, and which was sufficient for a hundred children. It seemed almost more than my poor heart could bear when I called to mind the starving multitudes gathered in, and ravenously devouring the morsel of bread dealt out to them in London. It made me long that the Christian women of our land would rise up in some great national movement, and help many thousands of our oppressed families to come out to this land of plenty, where millions of acres are crying for labour. It is no romance nor ideal of a heated brain, but a plain, practical way of showing our Christianity, this bearing the burdens of many a sinking, crushed-down family.
"The much-dreaded Canadian winter is really the most enjoyable period of the whole year, and when it is over one hears of nothing but sorrow that 'winter's noo awa.'"
Miss Macpherson had intended returning to England in October, but was delayed for a time by many calls for service. From Montreal she writes:--
"Strike another note of praise for the answer to the many prayers of our Glasgow fellow-labourers. A friend in Scotland has been stirred up to give 2000 pounds in order to build an Emigration Refuge in that city, that homeless lads may be trained for Canada. Let us unite in asking that ere long similar Homes may be opened in Edinburgh and Liverpool, where poor and oppressed orphans abound. Before returning to you, we trust that corresponding Homes on this side will be in course of preparation, one in the East and another in the West, so that when the 150 young emigrants arrive at Quebec, fifty can proceed at once to each Home for distribution.
"We leave Marchmont accompanied in our mission carriage by two boys; and these two have histories which contain a lesson for all boys. Their antecedents in England were much the same--orphanage, want of caretakers, misery. One is still self-willed, having no mercy on himself, a runaway from the home in which we had placed him, and was brought to us a second time by the police as homeless. We are now taking him back to his master to hear all about the grievances, and find out that they arose from his determination not to go to school. A boy that does not value the opportunities afforded him, but prefers growing up in ignorance, must suffer for it sooner or later. May all boys who read this determine to apply themselves to every lesson heartily; each difficulty overcome will render it more easy to master the next.
"The other boy was one of the first hundred; he arrived by train from Toronto at midnight, and rang us up, expecting admittance, for he felt that he was coming home to see his friends, his master having given him a holiday. This boy, though utterly alone in the world, snatched by us from a life in London stables, stands there, at fourteen, a self-reliant little man, with his purpose in life clearly defined. He is not many minutes in the house before he discloses the joy it is to come home, and tells us how he has as good a suit of Sunday-clothes to put on as any gentleman.
"Next morning he sits during Bible-lesson in the schoolroom side by side with the ne'er-do-weel. Both are received for Jesus' sake, the one in his poverty and self-will, the other in his good suit and self-complacency, but both still wanting the 'one thing needful' to fit them for the home and mansions on high. Whilst endeavouring to explain how Jesus had loved them, and wrought out a righteousness for them, and was as willing to receive them as we had been, and that He had a large and loving heart, and cared for the many hundreds still
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