Among the Ruins

We were now treading that illustrious Island, which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish, if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses; whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona!

The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by James Boswell; Tuesday, 19th October 1773: Inchkenneth, Icolmkill (Iona).

Witnessed

The certainty of the Christian faith ultimately rests on the fact that the human word of the apostles and bishops is the divine Word of salvation, not produced but rather witnessed by the human mediator (cf. 1 Thess 2:13).

Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, By What Authority?, First Things, 16 January 2018.

A Strange Form of Schism

Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan.

It is not only a risk of schism, but a certain kind of schism already exists in the Church. … We are witnessing today a strange form of schism. Externally, numerous ecclesiastics safeguard formal unity with the pope, at times for the good of their own career or out of a kind of papolatry. And at the same time they have broken their ties with Christ, the Truth, and with Christ, the true head of the Church. On the other hand there are ecclesiastics who are denounced as schismatics despite the fact they live in canonical peace with the pope and remain faithful to Christ, the Truth by assiduously promoting His Gospel of Truth. It is evident that those who are internally the true schismatics, in relation to Christ, make use of calumnies for the sole purpose of silencing the voice of Truth, by absurdly projecting their own state of internal schism on those ecclesiastics who, regardless of praise of rebuke, defend the divine truths. In fact, as Sacred Scripture says, the word of Divine Truth is not bound. Even if a number of high-ranking officials in the Church today temporarily obscure the truth of the doctrine of marriage and its perennial discipline, this doctrine and discipline will always remain unchangeable in the Church because the Church is not a human foundation, but a divine one.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider.

A Plaintive Harvest

THE CLEARANCE SONG.

From Lochourn to Glenfinnan the gray mountains ranging,
Naught falls on the eye but the changed and the changing;
From the hut by the lochside, the farm by the river,
Macdonalds and Cameron pass—and for ever.

The flocks of one stranger the long glens are roaming,
Where a hundred bien homesteads smoked bonny at gloaming.
Our wee crofts run wild wi’ the bracken and heather,
And our gables stand ruinous, bare to the weather.

To the green mountain shealings went up in old summers
From farm-town and clachan how mony blithe comers!
Though green the hill pastures lie, cloudless the heaven,
No milker is singing there, morning or even.

Where high Mam-clach-ard by the ballach is breasted,
Ye may see the gray cairns where old funerals rested,
They who built them have long in their green graves been sleeping,
And their sons gone to exile, or willing or weeping.

The chiefs, whom for ages our claymores defended,
Whom landless and exiled our fathers befriended,
From their homes drive their clansmen, when famine is sorest,
Cast out to make room for the deer of the forest.

Yet on far fields of fame, when the red ranks were reeling,
Who prest to the van like the men from the shealing?
Ye were fain in your need Highland broadswords to borrow,
Where, where are they now, should the foe come to-morrow?

Alas for the day of the mournful Culloden!
The clans from that hour down to dust have been trodden,
They were leal to their Prince, when red wrath was pursuing.
And have reaped in return but oppression and ruin.

It’s plaintive in harvest, when lambs are a-spaining,
To hear the hills loud with ewe-mothers complaining—
Ah! sadder that cry comes from mainland and islands,
The sons of the Gael have no home in the Highlands.

— John Campbell Shairp.

Briery Church, Prince Edward County

Virginia Historical Highway Marker F75, Old Briery Church.

OLD BRIERY CHURCH

Just to the north stands Briery Church, organized in 1755 following the missionary work of Presbyterian minister Samuel Davies. The first church was built about 1760 and was replaced in 1824. The present gothic revival church was built about 1855 to designs of Robert Lewis Dabney.

Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission, 1971

Briery Church (credit: Virginia Department of Historic Resources).

Briery Church is a one-story, board-and-batten-covered frame structure built on a T-shaped plan. Emphasizing the vertical lines of the church are the steep gable roof, with overhanging eaves, the three cross gables on the south front, and the simple finials on each gable end. All the openings are in the form of lancet arches, the windows having diamond panes and the four entrances on the west, south, and east fronts being sheltered by small gable canopy porches with barge boarding in the form of simple curving strips of wood. The building rests on a masonry foundation (probably brick) covered with stucco.

Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
View of pulpit, Briery Church.

On the interior, plain pews on either side of a central aisle face the pulpit from each of the three wings of the ‘T.’ The long pine pulpit has lancet-arched recessed panels with a row of pendants hanging from the top. The pine ceiling begins at the eaves line and follows the interior pitch of the roof up for several feet before curving into a horizontal level which combines with the vertical pine uprights at the corners and the ‘ribs’ to create the effect of vaulting.

View of sanctuary, Briery Church.
View of nave, Briery Church.

Organized in 1755 following the missionary work of the ‘New Light’ evangelist Samuel Davies, the first church was erected about 1760, probably following the issuance of permission to worship by the Prince Edward County Court to the Briery congregation. The original meeting house was replaced in 1824, and the third and present Briery Church on the site was constructed circa 1855. This Gothic Revival church was designed by the noted theologian, Rev. Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898), a professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary, then a part of Hampden-Sydney College, and author of a biography of ‘Stonewall’ Jackson for whom Major Dabney had served as Chief of Staff in 1862. Dabney was also the architect for three other churches, Tinkling Spring Church in Augusta County, Farmville Presbyterian Church, and College Church at Hampden-Sydney, all of which are constructed of brick and are in the Greek Revival style, making Briery Church all the more unusual.

Briery Church remains today as a symbol of the perseverance of Presbyterianism in Virginia and houses a congregation formed over two hundred years ago. It is significant as an architectural composition utilizing the vertical lines of the board and batten walls with the picturesque exaggeration of the roofline. Placed in its forest setting of tall pines, this small white structure expresses the essence of mid-19th Century romanticism.

Loading
Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit
Google MapsGet Directions

Scarecrow of the Nations

Thus will be consummated that destiny to which so many gloomy prognostics point as the allotment of the North American continent: to be the accursed field for the final illustration of the harvest of perdition, grown from the seeding of the dragon’s teeth of infidel Radicalism. God gave the people of this land great and magnificent blessings, and opportunities and responsibilities. They might and should have made it the glory of all lands. But they have betrayed their trust: they have abused every gift: above all have they insulted him by flaunting in his face an impudent, atheistic, God-defying theory of pretended human rights and human perfectibility which attempts to deny man’s subordination, his dependence, his fall and native depravity, his need of divine grace. It invites mankind to adopt material civilization and sensual advantage as their divinity. It assumes to be able to perfect man’s condition by its political, literary, and mechanical skill, despising that Gospel of Christ which is man’s only adequate remedy. It crowns its impiety by laying its defiling hands upon the very forms of that Christianity, while with the mock affection of a Judas it attempts to make it a captive to the sordid ends of Mammon and sense. Must not God be avenged on such a nation as this? His vengeance will be to give them the fruit of their own hands, and let them be filled with their own devices. He will set apart this fair land by a sort of dread consecration to the purpose of giving a lesson concerning this godless philosophy, so impressive as to instruct and warn all future generations. As the dull and pestilential waves of the Dead Sea have been to every subsequent age the memento of the sin of Sodom, so the dreary tides of anarchy and barbarism which will overwhelm the boastful devices of infidel democracy will be the caution of all future legislators. And thus “women’s rights” will assist America “to fulfil her great mission,” that of being the “scarecrow” of the nations.

Robert Lewis Dabney, The Southern Magazine, 1871.

The Shadow of Radicalism

Robert Lewis Dabney.

It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights, will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent, Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity, and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it he salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious, for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always—when about to enter a protest—very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent rôle of resistance. The only practical purpose which it now subserves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy from having nothing to whip. No doubt, after a few years, when women’s suffrage shall have become an accomplished fact, conservatism will tacitly admit it into its creed, and thenceforward plume itself upon its wise firmness in opposing with similar weapons the extreme of baby suffrage; and when that too shall have been won, it will be heard declaring that the integrity of the American Constitution requires at least the refusal of suffrage to asses. There it will assume, with great dignity, its final position.

Robert Lewis Dabney, The Southern Magazine, 1871.