Dark Ages, Past & Present

By Rev. H.J. Williams, Rector of Kinross, N.B.

From the little town of Kinross, lying on the bare flats of mother earth, with the hills of the Lomonds and the Ochills lying round about it like watchful guardians, we catch beautiful gleams of sunlight as the radiance sinks into the West, and can easily understand how poets have loved the inspirations of Nature and the mountains of Holiness. The lights of God lie ever before us, beckoning the children of men to climb the stairway towards a higher and purer civilization.

We have our monuments – one a pillar at Gainey Bridge, dear to the United Presbyterians as marking the beginning of their secession from the main body of Presbyterians – another in the centre of the town, our old Market Cross, and hanging on it the iron collar – a relic of punishment and of the barbarism of a past age, yet an age in which the people considered themselves civilised, and Christianized.

Will the day come when on some hill in our neighbourhood, or in the market place, on a memorial stone, some implement of the slaughtermen’s trade will be hung up to remind posterity of an iron age of heartlessness and selfishness, past and gone?

It seems to many an impossible dream, this general awakening of men, to take in the cruel wrong wrought upon the defenceless and non-human races by our daily habit of unnatural food and all its concomitant evils. But yet when we think of the advance in thought and in social customs, made by Christian nations in the last 2,000 years, we may expect greater things, and even an advance into an age of kindness and real Christianity.

The great movement in this direction already initiated, will steadily make progress, and people long accustomed to sit in the shadow of cruel practices, will relinquish them, and bury the past under decent apologies for their forefathers. We may truly say, the nearer the shambles, the farther from real civilisation. The culture and the refinement – such as it is – of the many who would shudder to look at a slaughter-house or see even the hens killed for the table – is purchased by the degradation of a class of people set apart to pursue without ceasing the horrible trade of slaughtering.

Science, and the practical test of thousands who live as abstainers from flesh food, prove that the whole system of flesh-eating is unnecessary. Contrary to Christian morality in its highest sense, surely it must be, as it inflicts unnecessary pain and death on our fellow-creatures.

We defy the doctors or scientists to assert upon their honour, that they believe the human race could not live without flesh.

We maintain, as Christians, that there is a high and noble morality and life to be aimed at, and this is not self-pleasing, nor palate-pleasing, nor blindly following customs, nor is it a mistaken and superstitious fear lest we injure our bodily life – but it is a following in the way of Christ’s teaching concerning Mercy, Benevolence, and Rightness of living. This is the passion, or enthusiasm which will bring peace and love to reign on earth. Herein lies the dynamic force which shall make a new Heaven and a new earth.

From The Herald of the Golden Age of January 1897

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