صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

S

THE WALDENSES IN 1866.

BY THE REV. A. H. R. HEBDEN, EAST FARLEIGH.

(Continued from p. 395.)

EPTEMBER 18th.-We left La Torre about 7 A.M., and a three hours' walk, for the most part up hill, brought us to the vicarage of Prarustin, which, together with the church of that parish, is situated at a hamlet called San Bartholomeo. The name of the parish, Prarustin, in Italian signifies a burnt field, indicating the heat and drought which prevail here in the summer. In consequence of its climate, this parish is particularly suited for the growth of the vine. Vineyards will flourish where other crops would fail from the drought. Accordingly, the mountain slopes of Prarustin, facing towards the plain of Piedmont, are entirely covered with vineyards. We had intended to continue our journey as far as Perosa, but the vicar of Prarustin, Mr. Parrender, invited us to spend the day at his house, and continue our walk to Perosa on the morrow. We accepted his kind offer of hospitality, and very much enjoyed the day at San Bartholomeo. In the afternoon he took us for a walk through some vineyards in the neighbourhood of San Secondo, where the owners, his parishioners, asked us to taste the different kinds of grapes, and gave us permission to eat as many as we pleased. Mr. Parrender was supplied with an abundance of fruit by his parishioners, who were bringing him presents every day. The sides of the mountains here command very extensive views across the plain of Piedmont. The houses at Turin can be seen, thirty miles off. Immediately below are the towns of Pinerolo and San Secondo ; farther to the south, Cavour and Saluzzo.

The little town of San Secondo was garrisoned, during the war following the massacres of 1655, by 800 Irish Papists. The Vaudois took it by assault, and put the whole garrison to the sword. The wretches had massacred their wives and children, and committed such horrible barbarities that they gave them no quarter.

There is a Vaudois church at Pinerolo, and a congregation of 300, about one-third of whom were formerly Roman Catholics, the rest emigrants from the valleys. The work of evangelization, we were told, is more slow and difficult in those parts of Italy immediately adjoining the valleys, than in more distant parts. At Pinerolo there was in former days a kidnapping institution, -a convent of monks, whose business was to steal the children of the Waldenses, and bring them up Papists. The bishop of Pinerolo lately tried to hinder the building of a new church at Perero, in the valley of St. Martin, and somehow obtained an order from the government to stop the building. However, after a delay of twenty months, the prohibition was cancelled, and the building proceeded with. The church, when we saw it, was completed, and the 10th of October last fixed for the opening services.

The commune of Roccapiatta, containing 300 people, is a part of Mr. Parrender's parish, and has a chapel of ease, in which service is held once a month. This commune is the upper part of the parish, and is entirely Protestant. In the whole parish there are very few Romanists. Mr. Parrender has a congregation of about 600 on Sabbaths at the parish church at San Bartholomeo. His is a laborious parish. He has fatiguing walks about the mountains, which in the winter are sometimes dangerous as well as fatiguing. On winter days, when he has to go a long distance through the snow, his wife sometimes watches anxiously for his return, fearful, if he has been away many hours, that he may have met with some accident. Mr. Parrender and others of his brethren in the ministry, whose acquaintance we made during our short tour, appeared to be men both of real piety, and also of superior talent. Roccapiatta, being higher up on the mountains than San Bartholomeo, is not always accessible in winter, and the stated service once a month in the chapel of ease cannot be held there with perfect regularity.

September 19th.-We took leave of our kind friends, Mr. and Mrs. Parrender, and continued our journey. The vicar accompanied us as far as the bounds of his parish, and the greater part of the way to San Germano. It is a descent of an hour and a half. We were shown a mill in the little valley, between San Bartholomeo and Roccapiatta, where, two years ago, the people were buried under snow for three weeks. No assistance could be rendered them, and the miller's wife died of hunger.

At San Germano we dined at an inn called Albergo di cheval d'oro, where Mr. Parrender authorized us to make use of his name with the landlady. They gave us an excellent dinner at moderate cost. We called on the minister, Mr. Bonjour. He is an old man, and was preparing to remove to Pinerolo. The charge of a mountain parish is too arduous for him at his advanced age. We tried to find out a doctor at San Germano who is a great botanist, and acquainted with all the flora of the Alps, but he was not at home.

It is an easy walk of about an hour and a half from San Germano to Perosa, along the valley of Perosa. On the right bank of the river Clusone the people are Protestants, on the left bank Papists. In former times there were many Protestants on the left bank also, but persecution has succeeded in eradicating the Protestant faith from that side of the valley, which is the most fertile, as the mountain sides have a southern exposure. Perosa is a small Roman Catholic town; Pomaretto, on the opposite bank of the Clusone, a Protestant village. There is no inn at Pomaretto, so we got beds at the Albergo Nationale at Perosa.

Both at San Germano and Perosa we found that the servants at the inn did not speak French; so we were obliged always to speak to the landlord or hostess for everything we wanted, not understanding the Piedmontese.

The

On leaving Perosa next morning, we called at the vicarage at Pomaretto. Mr. Lantaret, the minister, is now moderator of the Vaudois church. He presides in the annual synod, held at La Torre, when the clergy and lay representatives of the Vaudois church assemble to deliberate upon church matters. The moderator's office is an annual one; but he generally holds it more than one year. At Mr. Lantaret's we saw Professor Revel, of the Vaudois college at Florence, who had been paying him a visit. The day before, they had been to see Mr. Jalein, minister of Villa Seca, in the valley of St. Martin, who had just lost his son by cholera at Genoa. death of young Mr. Jalein, pastor at Genoa, was considered a great loss to his church. He was a young man of great talents and piety, only twenty-seven years of age. Mr. Lantaret invited us to spend the next night at his house, on our return from Massello and La Balsille. Soon after passing Pomaretto, we had a delicious bath in the little torrent called the Germanasque, which flows through the valley of St. Martin. The Germanasque, coming from the valley of St. Martin, flows into the Clusone at Perosa. We were told that a gentleman had been drowned two years ago, whilst bathing in this stream. It is not safe to bathe in the torrents in places where there is a strong current, which will suck a person under. We came to Perero about noon, and dined there; and from there to Massello there is only a mountain track, ascending through a wild valley. After passing Perero, the valley of St. Martin divides into two small valleys; and there is a road to the left, leading to Rodoretto and Prali. We arrived at Massello about 3 P.M.; and the clergyman not being at home, the schoolmaster offered to show us La Balsille. This natural fort is at the head of the valley, about one hour's walking above Massello. Here 500 men, under Henri Arnaud, defended themselves for a year (1689) against 22,000 French and Piedmontese troops, under the Marquis d'Ombraille. We were shown grooves in the rocks, which the French general had made to bring his cannon up to La Balsille. The schoolmaster took delight in describing the exploits of his countrymen, the defenders of this stronghold. There are scarcely any Papists in these parts; and of the few there are, we did not hear a very good character, for we were told that they are drunk every Sabbath.

On our way down from the Balsille, we met the clergyman, Mr. Cardon, on his way home. We walked back with him to Massello, and he entertained us at his house for the night, and showed us the greatest kindness. Nothing could be kinder than the hospitality we met with at Italian parsonages. Mr. Cardon is one of the younger ministers. His parish is called a mountain parish, as distinguished from lower districts. The younger ministers are appointed first to a mountain parish, and, after some years' service,

[ocr errors]

are transferred to a lower district. Mr. Cardon has been six years at Massello. He was before employed for some time in evangelization in Piedmont and Liguria. The parish of Massello is not considered such an arduous post as that of Prali, in the other part of the valley of St. Martin, which is at a higher elevation. Mr. Cardon showed us, however, that a part of the path by which we passed in company with him, on our return from the Balsille, is dangerous in winter from the snow. At Prali, the minister has very arduous work to visit his sick in winter time. Very few horses or mules are kept about here; and when a new minister takes up his abode at Massello, his furniture is carried up from Perero on the backs of his parishioners. The people are too poor to keep horses or mules. They say these animals do not bring in the same kind of return to their owners as cows or goats. All labour is done by the hand. Mr. Cardon regretted that, when a forest was cut down near his village, the opportunity had not been taken to make a good road to Perero. He said it would have paid the people, by making their produce so much more valuable. The growth of wood has been diminished in some places, by clearing away the whole of a forest, instead of leaving a part,-in which case the wood ceases to grow to as great an elevation as before. The principal food of the Vaudois peasants is maize; and even when maize has been scarce, so as to become dearer than wheat, they have still preferred it, as they say it supports them for a longer time than wheat. Porridge made of maize, which we once ate for breakfast, is very nice. After the maize is reaped, it is hung up outside the houses, in large quantities, looking like bundles of carrots, and is dried by the heat of the sun. A large quantity of pumpkins are grown in the peasants' gardens; and, where the elevation is not too great, chestnuts form an important part of their produce. In some of the lower districts, where silkworms are kept, the mulberry-trees are of the greatest importance to the people; and the disease in the mulberries has been a serious loss. We saw many peasants storing up leaves to feed their cattle during the winter; they have not sufficient hay. We saw vineyards on the mountain sides, in very steep places, where it has been necessary to construct artificial terraces and walls to support them. In some places fields have been formed artificially with earth carried on the peasants' backs, to spread out on the bare rock. The upper part of the valley of St. Martin above Perero, and the Protestant side of the valley of Perosa, having a northern exposure, are too cold for vines. Mr. Cardon has a property at Prarustin, and vineyards. The wine of Piedmont is very pleasant to the taste; it contains very little alcohol, and is extremely cheap.

September 21st.-We made a little détour on the way back to Perero and Pomaretto, in order to visit Maneglia. Our good friend Mr. Cardon gave us an introduction to Mr. Gonin, minister of Maneglia. We rested a while at his house, and he accompanied us a short distance on our

way towards Perero. Mr. Gonin is the only pastor in the valleys who has light duty. He has but 300 parishioners; for the inhabitants of some hamlets in this part of the valley of St. Martin are Papists. He told us that there is very great poverty in his parish. He complained of having too little work, and hopes to be appointed to the new church at Perero. We looked into this church on our way. It is a plain building, as the Vaudois churches always are, and contains accommodation for 300 persons. The parish of Villa Seca is far too extensive, and will be divided.

We received a hearty welcome at Pomaretto from the moderator, Mr. Lantaret, and his family. We had an interesting conversation with him about the Vaudois and the prospects of religion in Italy. The Vaudois pastors also take great interest in hearing about church matters in England. A circumstance Mr. Lantaret related, shows how the Vaudois were oppressed so recently as the present century. In 1837, Mr. Muston, pastor of Rodoretto, was exiled, and compelled to take refuge in France, on account of having published a history of the evangelical churches of Piedmont. 'At that time,' said Mr. Lantaret, it was not permitted to us to write, and scarcely to defend ourselves when attacked.' In speaking of the Pope and the Roman question, Mr. Lantaret argued thus: The Italians have had the benefit of the Pope residing amongst them for many centuries. It is time he should take up his residence for a while in some other country. If it is an advantage to Italy to have had his presence so long, other countries may well expect to share the benefit; and if the Pope's presence is considered an incumbrance, other countries ought to take their share of the burden. Spain might well give up to him one of the Balearic Isles, as a suitable residence.' The Vaudois have churches and congregations now at Florence, Pisa, Leghorn, Milan, Brescia, besides Turin and Genoa. They have missionaries in other places, and congregations worshipping in rooms. Mr. Lantaret said they cannot build churches everywhere, because they have not

funds to do it. Ground is very valuable, and building is very expensive, in the great cities. Pomaretto is one of the four parishes which are reckoned to the Val Perosa; the others being San Germano, Pramol, and Prarustin. The parishes of the Val San Martino are five: Villa Seca, Maneglia, Massello, Rodoretto, and Prali. Six parishes belong to Val Luzerna, viz.: San Giovanni, La Torre, Angrogna, Villaro, Bobbio, Roras. Thus the whole Vaudois territory consists of fifteen parishes. The church of Pomaretto has inscribed on the wall, besides a text of Scripture, the arms and motto of the Vaudois church, viz., a candle lighted in the midst of darkness, and the motto, Lux lucet in tenebris; or, 'The light shineth in darkness.' There is a hospital (Protestant) at Pomaretto, and a Latin school.

September 22d.-We walked back to La Torre through San Germano, and across the mountains. From the Saturday evening, when we reached La Torre, to the following Friday, when we left for Turin, it rained almost continuously. We had intended, during these days, to have explored more thoroughly the valley of Luzerna and enjoyed its fine air and scenery, to have visited again Angrogna and Roras, and made some sketches in the neighbourhood; but the weather confined us almost entirely to our hotel.

On Sabbath, September 30th, we had the pleasure of attending Mr. Meille's church at Turin, and heard him preach a most able sermon, in French, on the text: 'To obey is better than sacrifice' (1 Sam. xv. 22).

On the following day we left Turin, to return to England, retaining in our minds many pleasing memories, and not without some profitable reflections, arising out of our visit to, and intercourse with, the Israel of the Alps.' May the light which shines in darkness shine more and more unto the perfect day, that the people of Italy may be delivered from superstition and priestcraft, and may be elevated morally, socially, spiritually, through the influence of the pure gospel of Christ!

T

THE CHRISTIAN RACE.

'Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.'-HEB. XII. 1. HERE is meaning and power in the very wording of inspiration, which will amply repay the closest inspection, and yet which will constantly escape the mere surface reader. The apostle, having set before us the example of patriarchs and saints under the old dispensation, as a stimulus and encouragement, winds up with the exhortation: Therefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run with patience the race that is set before us.' There is, in the figure here used, a combination of no ordinary nature-namely, running with patience. The very fact of running implies eagerness, and a measure of excitement; and its

natural accompaniment is impatience at obstacles, or hindrances of any kind. Calmness and deliberation are qualities scarcely expected of a man engaged in a race; yet this difficult combination is the high attainment set before the Christian. He is to run, but he is to run patiently; he is to be diligent, but not impetuous; he is to be zealous, yet never eager; he is to be full of fire, yet ever calm; he is to be always abounding in the work of the Lord,' yet he is never to make haste; he is to be instant in season and out of season, yet all his things are to be done with charity. How wonderful was the life of our blessed Master, considered in this one particular! Of Him it was written: The

zeal of thine house hath even eaten me up;' and He could say of himself: My meat and my drink is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his work.' Yet, when was He ever in haste? When did any pressure of labour, or any complication of trials, find Him with a ruffled spirit? When was any amount of public service allowed to be a hindrance to private communion with his Father? When did the consciousness of the enormity of the work He had undertaken so press upon Him, as to make Him unmindful of present duty? When did He manifest any reluctance for anything, however irksome or painful, which came upon Him in the course of providence, as his Father's will? or when did He exhibit any preference as to the sphere of his labour or his external circumstances? To Him, doubtless, the exchange of communion with God for the instruction of the ignorant multitudes, or even the society of his chosen disciples, was more of an effort than the most spiritually minded of his followers can conceive. Yet, when can a movement of impatience be detected in Him, or a restless desire to be alone?

Dwelling in the bosom of the Father, incessantly occupied with the noblest and grandest projects, He is yet at liberty for every cavilling scribe, every dull disciple, every poor erring woman, and even for the little unconscious child. We shall best discover our own shortcomings by comparing ourselves with this perfect example. If we are glowing and earnest in our Lord's work, how easily does our zeal degenerate, and become tainted with some form of selfishness! How impatient we become of delay! How we chafe under the lack of sympathy on the part of our brethren, or the misconceptions which may be formed concerning ourselves! How we murmur under disappointment! Are we, on the other hand, cultivating a cautious, even-spirited frame? Then how apt we are to lose somewhat of our vigour, to abate the earnestness of our spiritual warfare! How often shall we be tempted to sacrifice purity to peace! What danger of mistaking love of our own ease for Christian patience, and indifference for charity! Surely the best Christian living will find need to turn this exhortation into prayer!

SINS LESS AND GREATER.

A GREAT many of the Mosaic precepts take up the relative guilt of certain acts; and it is only by keeping this in view that we see how, while condemning one sin, they give no countenance to another that resembles it. When they announce the penalty due to a certain sin, they do not mean that all the other sins of a like class are not to be visited with any penalty. It is an awful truth, that all sin deserves the curse; but still it is to be remembered that some sins in themselves, and by reason of aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

When God said to Israel, 'Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy' (Deut. xxiv. 14), He did not mean to intimate that they might lawfully oppress one who was not poor and needy; but merely that the oppression of the poor was the greater sin-sin not

to be tolerated.

When God said, 'Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger' (Deut. xxiv. 17), He did not mean to say that they might pervert the judgment of any who was not a stranger; but that the one was greater guilt than the other.

When God said, 'Cursed be he that maketh

the blind to wander out of the way' (Deut. xxvii. 18), He did not mean to say that they were at liberty to make anybody else wander out of the way.

When God said, 'Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly' (Deut. xxvii. 24), He did not mean to imply that they might smite their neighbours openly.

When God said, 'Thou shalt not curse the deaf' (Lev. xix. 14), He did not give them liberty to curse everybody else.

When God said, 'Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour' (Lev. xix. 13), He did not countenance their defrauding everybody else.

When God said, 'Thou shalt not take a wife to her sister, to vex her, besides the other in her lifetime' (Lev. xviii. 18), He did not intend to give liberty to take the sister after the wife's death; but merely that the one was much worse than the other; that, while the one might be tolerated, or winked at, because of the hardness of their hearts, the other could not be tolerated, but must be prohibited and punished: This is the true solution of this much contested passage. It gives no countenance at all to the unholy affinities for which some in our day contend.

« السابقةمتابعة »