Page images
PDF
EPUB

more of a private nature, being held in to make ends meet, provided they the house of a minister. The Lord's have no large families; but they are Supper is administered four times in unable to purchase books, and therethe year, viz., on the three chief fes- fore a library for their common use, tivals of the Christian church, and in which would also be of benefit to the October at the end of harvest. A so- schoolmasters, who as well as the called “examination” takes place for ministers understand German, is much the preparation of the Lord's Supper to be desired. on the Sunday afternoon, previous to 6. The church and state live in its being celebrated, in which the harmony, neither of them encroachminister puts questions to the grown- ing on the prerogatives of the other,' up youth on the chief doctrines of as a minister writes me, and the conChristianity, and particularly on the nexion between them is very slight. Lord's Supper. Private baptism takes At the commencement of the year, a place only when the infants are sickly, sworn officer of the government reads and the Lord's Supper is administered in every church a proclamation adto the sick in their own houses. There monishing the ministers to live and is a consistory of from three to six preach according to the word of God members in every commune, which and the Helvetian Confession, and is presided over by the minister. It counselling the people to attend regumeets regularly before the celebration larly divine service, to keep the Sabof the Lord's Supper, and inquires bath holy, to lead a moral and reliinto the moral and religious state of gious life, &c. the parish. It cites before them those “ The schools in Bregaglia are who live in enmity with one another, closely connected with the church, or lead an immoral life, and admo- and superintended by the ministers nishes the impenitent and those who who give the religious instruction. will not be reconciled, and excludes The scholars frequent the schools up such from partaking of the Lord's to the time of their confirmation. Of Supper. Every parishioner has also late years an improvement has taken the right to cite before the consistory, place in the schools ; but still much and may be cited for refusing to return remains to be done, as many of the a salutation, resentful behaviour, in- children are only able to read with sults, family disputes, immorality, &c. difficulty, and cannot write. A better The church discipline is not owing to payment of the schoolmasters, who any laws existing on the point, but to are very badly off, is much to be deits continued observance since the sired; without this no proper persons Reformation, and its necessity as a are to be obtained, as, with the exprotection against the inroads of Po- ception of only two schools—-viz., pery.

A sermon is those of Soglio and Castasegnagenerally held on the occasion of a there are no good schoolmasters; the funeral. The ministers are much res- others being German Swiss, who have pected by the people, and are usually only an imperfect knowledge of the styled Schur Reverendo.'

Italian language. The poor parish “ The income of the minister of of Casaccia has no school-house, as Casaccia is £24; of Vicosoprano, £30; well as no house for a minister. The of Stampa, £34; of Bondo, £34; and of number of scholars at the close of the Castasegna, £27. Bondo and Soglio last year in the six schools of Brepossess church property, and in the gaglia was 253. There is a very great other parishes the ministers are paid by want of proper school books. a rate, the poor paying as much as the “Of old customs still existing, I rich. The ministers often receive have been informed only of the ringpresents of meat, butter, fruit, &c. ing of the church bells on the last Casaccia and Castasegna are the worst night of the year, which is called off, chiefly on account of the small burying the old year,” and that the number of the inhabitants ; but the youth go on the night of New Year's ministers of the other parishes, ex- day about the villages singing spiritual cept Vicosoprano and the two just songs. named, are able, by strict frugality, “The chief employment of the

JANUARY 1847.

*

C

people is agriculture and cattle breeding. Manufactories are unknown. Many emigrate, and remain for several years away, chiefly in Italy, Germany, France, and Poland, where they usually follow the business of confectioners.”

- The number of the citizens of the valley who are Romanists, does not exceed twelve, who renounced Protestantism while resident in foreign parts, and of whom few reside in the valley.

Some time since, the ruins of the most picturesque church I ever beheld, was purchased by a person of the valley, and there is good reason to believe, at the instigation of a citizen of Bregaglia, who enjoys a high office at one of the Italian courts, and is one of the few Romanists of this part. The ruins are no more to be seen, but in their place a fine church is now erected, and which is finished with the exception of some interior fittings. It is situated in the midst of the valley, at a part where it is so narrow that a subterraneous passage has been cut through, and above is the church, which can be seen from one end of Bregaglia to the other. Prior to the Reformation, it was a noted place of pilgrimage, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. A few days before my visit to this part, twelve priests came over the frontier from Italy to view it, and during the previous six months, scarcely a day passed in which several persons did not come from Lombardy to admire a building of which the like is not to be seen in this part, and on which no expense has been spared. This church has been built under the pretence of its serving as a family burial-place, but as it will soon be completely finished, the real object will, before long, be manifest. The inhabitants of the valley watch with the greatest attention all the proceedings taken respecting it, and are determined to resist the encroachments of Popery, against which they will no doubt have, before long, to contend.

“ If the question asked be whether the moral state of the people of Bregaglia is in relative proportion to their attachment to Protestantism, the question must be answered in the affirma

tive, for although many men who have been in foreign parts bring back into their paternal villages not only gold and silver, but open infidelity, indifference to spiritual things, and frivolity of behaviour, yet this leaven has not been able, in any great degree, to change the manners and views of the inhabitants. The public opinion of the valley is a healthy one, and whoever is guilty of an immoral action is sure to meet condemnation. The people are very industrious, frugal, cleanly, and generous in their actions. The rich as well as the poor are not ashamed to labour, and females who have been in foreign parts, on their return to their native valley, put the basket on their back again, and work in the fields. There are no beggars, and such as are poor and require assistance, receive friendly aid in a private manner.

“A still more important question is the state of vital religion in this part. I deeply regret to say that I can give no very encouraging account of it, and that the opposition of the people in this part to Popery has, till now, been more from the remembrance of what their ancestors have suffered, than from regarding it as opposed to the word of God. I could say that I believe there is as much here as in most parts of Switzerland and Germany; but this would not be satisfactory for persons acquainted with the religious state of these countries. That there are some excellent persons in this part I do not doubt, as I stopped two nights at the house of such a one, an elderly lady, the descendant of Hercules of Soglio. She is a decidedly evangelical person, and the interest she takes, as far as her means allow her, in the welfare of the people is such, that she is called, the mother of the valley.' One decidedly good feature is, that a minister who would preach Rationalism, would not be tolerated for any length of time, and that sucb are called “carbonari,' or 'francomuratore’ (freemasons), whereas, on the contrary, evangelical preachers are esteemed; but there is at the same time too much cold orthodoxy prevalent.

" There is great want of ministers in the Italian communes, and it is to

*

be feared it will increase. There are bookbinder of the valley. Casaccia, at present in Bregaglia only four the poorest commune, has no minisministers for the six parishes, and ter. Thus, of the four ministers, one that these are not sufficient will plainly is about leaving, another will very appear when I state, that the pastor of likely leave, a third is sickly, and the Castasegna is able to remain only one fourth unable to perform his duties. Sunday in the month in his commune. The valley of Poschiavo stands also On another, he goes to preach and in want in this respect, but not to such catechise at Casaccia, and after having an extent." travelled there and back, a distance of about twenty miles, he has again a “A young man stationed in this service in his parish. On the two part, without any pastoral charge, other Sundays he preaches at Stampa, would have many opportunities of and has a distance of twelve miles to usefulness in circulating the word of travel. He is, I am sorry to say, God, religious publications, converabout leaving this part, on account of sing with persons, &c. &c.; as he family circumstances, the small in- could visit from here Poschiavo, come he has not being sufficient to Upper Engadin, where many undersupport them, as well as from the stand Italian, and the Roman Catholic fatigue he has to undergo in his duties Italian parts of Switzerland; and as being too much for him to endure. the Grisons is the chief thoroughfare This is the more to be regretted, as for Italians from and to Italy, he he is perhaps the most decidedly would find much more than he could evangelical minister of the valley, do. Two would be better than one, and certainly the most active. More- for counsel and advice in this someover this commune is the most im- what difficult situation, where conportant of all, not merely because it is siderable prudence would be necessituated the nearest to the frontier of sary, particularly as it would be well Italy, having its church not a stone's to attempt visiting parts of the fronthrow from it, but as it is only two tiers where it is unsafe for a person leagues distant from the large Italian to travel alone. I have already retown of Chiavenna, where a number marked on the want of good schoolof Protestants live who are chiefly masters, and it would be well if someemployed in a large cotton manufac- thing could be done to give assisttory, and for the most part Swiss and ance in this respect, and as there are German, some few of whom come several months in the year in which occasionally to divine service at Casta- no school can be held, such persons segna. The minister of Soglio will could then be employed as colporprobably leave this part before long, teurs." not being able to endure the fatigues Such is the present condition of he has to undergo; for he is obliged the valley of Bregaglia. And who can to live at a considerable distance, as contemplate the former sufferings and this village is situated on a high the long maintenance of the blessed mountain, which is giving way, and Gospel on the part of the inhabitants has at present openings in various without a longing desire to stretch parts of ten feet wide, and of unseen out a helping hand to them? The depth. This has been the state of great thing wanted is faithful and Soglio for the last two years, and a zealous missionaries who, understanddreadful calamity must be expected ing their language, will go and labour before long, which will not only fall in this beautiful valley. “Why," on this village, but on the whole says Dr. Marriott, “should not young valley, as it is by far the most wealthy. men in Great Britain or Ireland, who Bondo is supplied with a minister, desire to serve God in foreign parts, but Stampo has none. The pastor of in preaching the Gospel, not decide on Vicosoprano suffers from a complaint fixing on this valley as the sphere of of the heart, and is often indisposed, their labours ? I know of no reason but he is as active as his health will that should prevent them, and which allow him. He has a large family, could not be removed. All the minisand is therefore obliged to be the ters of Bregaglia and Poschiavo, except one, are German Swiss, and have as we fill this little valley, lying at its been obliged to learn Italian, which is

very entrance, forming the highway not difficult of acquirement to one ac- to it, and speaking its language, with quainted with Latin.” And again, Bibles and tracts, and Gospel light says the Hon. B. Noel, in the pre- and knowledge, we make it imposfaces to Dr. M.'s narrative, “A sible that truth should not largely step single zealous minister, a young over the boundary, and operate to an Englishman devoted to Christ, who extent beyond what it is easy to would adopt that people as his people, imagine. and make those charming chesnut We say nothing at present of the imgroves beneath the Alps his home, portanceof such measures in connexion those interesting Protestants his flock, with the other Italian speaking Swiss would find there, when he had made Cantons. We may probably refer to the Italian language like his mother them hereafter. In the meanwhile, let tongue, a field for missionary exer- us strongly commend these interesttion of no ordinary promise. May ing and deserving people to British this tract evoke the zeal of some philanthropy. We must not let the Christian men to send such a mis- stipends of these poor ministers resionary, and animate some faithful main at £24, and £30, and £27 a-year. and devoted man to undertake the Money, too, is needed to send Bibles mission.”

and tracts, and colporteurs, and

schoolmasters, and missionaries. We But this scene of labour is worthy cannot conceive a more interesting of our succour, not only for its own and promising field of labour ; and sake, but as presenting the best pos- is there no devoted and zealous young sible access to Italy. Already the man who has obtained a sufficient Italian Testaments and tracts, which acquaintance with the Italian language, are given in London to the poor music who will step forward to spend and lads and others, have gained their be spent in its service ? Oh then, attention, and cannot be parted with blessed Lord of the harvest, be pleased

return to their own homes. to send forth more labourers into thy Interesting facts have recently come hai vist! Amen. to light with reference to the effects We have only to add, that we shall thus produced in the interior of Italy. be truly thankful to receive any conAt such a distance, however, com- tributions for the Italian Swiss Proparatively little can be done. But testants of the Grisons, or they may here we have the command of the be sent to Messrs. Nisbet, Berners very threshold of Italy. In proportion Street, Oxford Street, London,

on the

FRUITS OF INTERCESSORY PRAYER.

THE Rev. Wm. Romaine, author of of prayer was agreed upon by several “The Life and Triumphs of Faith,” religious clergy and laity, in order to is the author of this precious epistle. humble ourselves under the mighty It is said that when Mr. Romaine hand of God, till he should be pleased first began this prayer, the names he to put a stop to the calamities of that was able to include in it did not ex- time. He did hear us, glory be to a ceed eight, in the whole kingdom; prayer-hearing God, and he turned but, before his death, they had become our supplications into praises. About so numerous, that he was obliged to that period it began to be laid very divide his prayers, and offer them up near my heart to pray earnestly and on two days, instead of one.

often for the prosperity of our Zion, “My dear brother in our precious for which I never fail to make interJesus—In the year 1756, a weekly hour cession in all my addresses to the throne of grace. But once a week, church; as he says, 'I will clothe the on Friday, I have what I call the priests in Zion with salvation, and clergy's litany. In which, after gene- then her saints shall shout aloud for ral petitions for the out-pouring of joy. For this reason we find St. the Spirit upon all the ministers of Paul in all his epistles desiring to be our church, I make mention by name prayed for: ‘Pray for us,' for grace, of those of my fellow-labourers whom for gifts, for success. He puts the God has highly honoured in making churches upon asking what their them faithful and useful in the minis- ministers wanted. Although God try. As I go over their names, re- has promised it, yet he will be encommending them to the care, and treated for it. The prayer of faith their people to the blessing of our never returns without a blessing, glorious Head, it is my custom to ask which I have remarked again and particularly for them, such things as again to the praise of Him who says, I know or hear they want. Your *Ask, and ye shall have;' and this name has been long in my list, and

has beenyou owe me many, many prayers, a

“2. A second argument very powerlawful debt, which now upon demand,

ful with me. The command given I hope you will repay me. I ask it in to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, justice due to myself. I entreat it has a promise— They shall proeper for the glory of our common Lord, that love thee.” This has been fuland for the advancement of his own filled. I have seen manifest sensible cause and kingdom,

and for your own answers to this prayer; clear displays soul's prosperity. O that I may write of the faithfulness of the promisesomething to stir you up to pray, till maker. He has vouchsafed to give you as far outstrip me herein, as to the desired mercy, not for the merit make it a point of gratitude for me to of our prayers, but for the sake of pray more and more fervently for you. His own great name. He put it into I will mention some of the motives our hearts to see what his church which moved me to this practice, and wanted, to ask the supply of Him, some of the advantages which I have and now, having received it, to ascribe found in it, and I beg of the Lord to all the glory to his grace-Worthy make them the means of inducing is the Lamb. His kindness hitherto you to join with me in this delightful is a mighty encouragement to go on, exercise of brotherly love.

and is “1. One of the first things which

“3. A motive for me to persevere, put me upon it, was the frequent use and for others to join with me. He of the hour of prayer, mentioned says, when the work is great, and the above. We are called upon in Scrip- ministers but few, 'Pray ye the Lord ture to make supplications, prayers, of the harvest that he would send intercessions, and giving of thanks forth labourers into his harvest-field.' for all men; and we are very often This was our warrant to ask, and askexhorted to pray for the household of ing in faith according to his will, we faith, and more particularly for the had confidence in him that he would ministers of it. To us, as ministers, hear and answer; and he has been as agreed together in this land to wor- good as his word; we have tried it, ship the same Lord in the same out- and found that it cannot be broken. ward establishment, to which you and I For these last eleven years we have are very closely connected,' both in

been praying for more labourers, and profession and principle, the com- every year he hath sent forth some mand should be of great force--Pray

O that he may give the word for the peace of Jerusalem. This peace that greater still may be the company depends upon the Lord's sending and of the preachers. Have we not all blessing his ambassadors of peace. the reason in the world to expect it? They are his ministers attending con- The promise stands sure-his hand is tinually for this very thing. He rai- not shortened-his love is not abated ses them up, he fits them for the ad- ----prayer has not lost its efficacy with vancement of it; he prospers them him, to engage his love and power to for the sake of the prosperity of his fulfil the promise. Doubtless more,

more.

« PreviousContinue »