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of a campaign in which he was cessible, was graciously pleased to soon afterwards engaged, contri- listen to his supplications, and to buted to invigorate his constitution, lead him
for mercy to the cross of and prepare him for labours of a very Christ. From this period the Bible different, and infinitely more im was Neff's constant companion, portant character. Notwithstand- which he soon recognized as the ing the arduous and perilous na- only book calculated to make man ture of this employment, he still wise unto salvation. found leisure to devote himself A mind constituted like Neff's to the acquisition of useful in- could not remain inactive. Hitherto formation.His professional en he had lived solely for himself. He gagements induced him to learn was now made the subject of new mathematics. He likewise made feelings and desires; and, from this considerable proficiency in natural period, resolved to consecrate the philosophy, a science for which he residue of his days to the glory of had always displayed a strong par. God in disseminating the great tiality. Possessing great acuteness, truths of the Gospel. He immea retentive memory, and a remark- diately visited the villages in the able facility in the acquisition of neighbourhood of Geneva, where knowledge, he pursued his studies he had many relations, reading with eagerness and pleasure. and explaining the word of God About this period an event took in their houses.
His engaging place which may justly be termed manners, his unaffected piety, and a crisis in his moral history, and his illustrations of Scripture, alwhich determined the future course most always drawn from the inciof his life. The spirit of observa- dents and dangers of his recent tion and reflection which was so campaign, rendered him a welcome predominant a feature in his mental guest to all. Full of zeal, he decharacter, was rendered subser: voted himself with ardour to the vient by the Holy Spirit, in creat cause in which he was ing a deep and solemn examina- gaged. Often was he seen climbtion into the motives by which he ing the steepest part of Mount had hitherto been actuated. He Jura to visit a poor shepherd, a was constrained to acknowledge native of the vallies of Piedmont, that even his best actions had ori- in whom, through an exterior, rough ginated in selfishness, and that his and unpolished, he had discovered life had been an uninterrupted some slight glimpses of the incourse of rebellion against his fluence of religion.
he Creator, whose first and funda- visited a prisoner, confined in the mental law is, “ Thou shalt love castle of Lausanne, and was hapthe Lord thy God with all thy pily instrumental in bringing him heart, and thy neighbour as thy- to a knowledge of Christ. self.” Overwhelmed with a sense Neff commenced his public miof guilt, his anguish of mind be- nistry at Grenoble, and afterwards came extreme, which was aug- removed to Mens in the departmented by his unbelief, and igno- ment of Isere, where his preaching rance of the way of salvation. In was signally useful. It was not this agony of spirit he had recourse merely to the open and profligate to prayer for guidance and relief; sinner that his labours were blessed, and God, who had, in this signal but others also, whose lives and manner produced conviction upon moral conduct were exemplary, his mind, and who is always ac- feeling that since.“ all have sin
ned,” all are brought under con to the sick less assiduous. He aldemnation, were led to experi- ways manifested the most tender ence their need of pardon and sympathy in their circumstances, regeneration. A desire to partici- and besides ministering to the pate in the devotional exercises of consolation of the mind, his knowreligion became extensively mani. ledge of botany frequently enabled fest. Domestic worship was esta- bim to prescribe medicine for the blished in numerous families, and alleviation of their bodily suffer: public prayer meetings were held ings. in different houses. One of the In 1823, Neff was solicited to latter was formed at the house of become pastor of the Higher Alps. a man who, until then, had been an He perceived that to sustain the habitual drunkard. These meet- office of Christian pastor in such ings at first were thinly attended, a region, must necessarily involve but in a few weeks it became dif a sacrifice of all the comforts and ficult to accommodate all who endearments of society; and that it were anxious to be admitted. Their would require the most strenuous services were conducted with order and unremitting exertions to dispel and simplicity. First a hymn was the ignorance, and remove the presung, and then a portion of the judices of a race of uncivilized holy Scriptures was read; after- mountaineers. A prospect, however, wards one of the assembly would so varied as that of the mountains, offer, en patois, a few modest re- and which promised to open such flections, and another close the a sphere of extensive usefulness, meeting with an extemporaneous accorded well with his ardent and prayer. Neff feared no fatigue in enterprizing spirit. Accordingly prosecuting the duties of his sacred he was led to accept the invitaand solemn office. He preached tion, and removed to the scene of several times a day, always vary- his future arduous and successful ing his discourse, and when his labours. friends intreated him to be careful To the churches of Queras and of his health, he would observe, Fressiniere, which were now con“ How can I fold my arms and fided to him, are attached five ex. sink into repose, when I see around tensive parishes, composed of nume such an extensive field of la
villages, some placed bour, and so few labourers.” In nearly at the summit of snowthe most inclement weather, when clad mountains, and others scatthe snow'was knee deep, he would tered in secluded situations among walk several miles to visit his remote vallies. In summer, the parishioners. Combining temporal distance between these places is with spiritual instruction, he was considerably lessened by crossing ever ready to communicate the first the mountains, but in winter such principles of knowledge. If any of a practice is impossible, and it is his flock, whocould not read, evinced then necessary to pursue a toil. a desire to be able to peruse the some course through intricate and Holy Scriptures, he would instantly winding defiles. His new parishes become their instructor; and, with comprised a circuit of sixteen or the utmost condescension and affa- eighteen leagues in diameter, exbility, he would teach them the let- clusive of which there were about ters of the alphabet, and explain twelve hamlets scattered upon the method of forming them into distant mountains, almost entirely syllables. Nor were his attentions dependant upon his ministry, and
to which there were no means of triously cultivated, and to flee for access but by rugged paths over safety to the wildest and most rocks, and along the edges of inaccessible parts of their Alpine precipices. In fact, it is neces- refuge. A few of the most pious sary to visit these regions to form retired to the foot of the glaciers, an adequate conception of the and, about the commencement of toils and deprivations which a the 13th century, founded the waited this zealous and devoted village of Dormillouse. This man. Lest he should neglect any hamlet served as a rendezvous of his widely scattered flock, he and citadel of refuge to the remresolved to have no fixed place of nant of this scattered people. Susabode. He never reposed three pended, as it were, like the nest nights successively in the same of an eagle, on the steepest acbed, but traversed from mountain clivity of one of their loftiest hills, to mountain, visiting his parish- it remains entire to this day, a ioners.
monument alike of the cruel biFor six centuries, the vallies of gotry and oppression of the Rothe Higher Alps bave been in- mish Church, and of the futile habited by the disciples of the efforts it made, utterly to extirpate courageous Valdo, who, in these the heroic and persecuted sect of wild and savage-looking regions, the Vaudois. had sought refuge from the tyranny It was probably a scene, and a and persecutions of the Church of history like this, which inspired Rome. But fanaticism pursued the pen of the gifted authoress who them even to their mountain-fast wrote the
Neither their simplicity, their innocence, nor their poverty, could shelter them, nor even the “ For the strength of the hills we bless frightful precipices, and impend
Our God, our father's God! ing glaciers, where they had fixed Thou bast made thy children mighty, their abode. The merciless rage
By the touch of the mountain sod. of their ruthless foe pursued them Thou hast fixed our ark of refuge even bither, and the blood of these
Where the spoiler's foot ne'er trod,
For the strength of the hills we bless generous martyrs was frequently
thee, poured like a torrent through the Our God, our father's God ! dark caverns where they were wont to assemble for the worship
“ We are watchers of a beacon,
Whose lights must never die, of their God.
We are guardians of an altar There are still visible the ruins Midst the silence of the sky. of the walls and fortresses which The rocks yield founts of courage,
Struck forth as by a rod. they erected as a check to the constant inroads of their
For the strength of the hills we bless Masenemy.
thee, sacred without mercy, the Vaudois Our God, our father's God! were almost totally annihilated in France. It was only in the
" For the dark resounding heavens, Valley of Fressiniere that they for the strong pines of the forest,
Where thy still voice is heard, could make a successful stand That by thy breath are stirr'd, against their oppressors; but they For the storms on whose free pinions, were at length driven from this Thy spirit walked abroad,
For the strength of the hills we bless strong hold, and obliged to relin
thee, quish the lands they had indus
Our God, our father's God !
HYMN OF THE MOUNTAIN CHRISTIAN.
“The royal eagle darteth
with a stone, and usually baked On his quarry from the heights :
as much at a time as served them And the stag that knows no master, Seeks there his wild delights.
for the whole year. Should, howBut we for thy communion,
ever, the quantity happen to fail Have sought the mountain-sod. before the end of summer, it was For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
them to bake
customary with Our God, our father's God! cakes among the cinders after the
manner of the eastern nations. « The banner of the chieftain
They were totally ignorant of the Far, far below us waves;
use of herbs as a medicine. ForThe war-horse of the spearman Cannot reach our lofty caves;
tunate, indeed, would the sick man Thy dark clouds wrap the threshold
have been had his recovery been Of freedom's last abode;
left to the simple operations of naFor the strength of the hills we bless
ture, Neff has frequently seen thee, Our God, our father's God!
them attempt to afford relief to a
patient when in the height of a « For the shadow of thy presence, fever, by administering wine or
Round our camp of rock outspread, brandy. As is usual among unFor the stern defiles of battle
civilized nations, the women lived Bearing record of our dead, For the snows and the torrents,
in a state of servitude; they were For the free hearts burial-sod;
seldom allowed to sit, and were For the strength of the hills we bless subjected to every species of con
tempt and indignity. In that part
of the valley called La Combe, The work of an evangelist upon the horizon is so bounded that the the Alps bears a striking resem sun is never seen during six months blance to that of a missionary of the year; and, on the arrival of among savages; both have to Neff, its inhabitants were so uncontend with the ignorance and accustomed to the sight of stranprejudices of uncultured barbar- gers, that even the appearance of ism, and both have to effect a a strange peasant would put them partial degree of civilization ere to flight. The young people espethey can bring into practice the cially were a long time before they first principles of Christianity, became accessible. In addition Neff found the inhabitants of his to this, the whole of the people scene of
our, but more were under the influence of every especially those of the Valley of vice which debases humanity. Fressiniere, living in a state of Drunkenness, quarrelling, and deplorable ignorance. The arts profanity were every where preof building and agriculture were valent. The enlightened and gecomparatively unknown among nuine piety which cheered and them. Many of their houses had animated their persecuted ancesno chimneys, and almost all were tors had wholly disappeared, and without windows. During the repose more fatal than persecution eight months of winter, the whole had reduced them to a state of the family were accustomed to live lowest moral degradation. among the smoke and filth of a Such was the condition of the confined cottage which was cleaned inhabitants of those regions, when out but once a-year. Their food Neff became their pastor. He
as coarse and unsuitable as perceived that his first efforts their habitations. They made their should be to promote instruction. bread from rye, coarsely pounded The length of their winters afforded
them sufficient leisure for this pur. predecessors had enjoyed. The pose; but even were they so dis- establishment of regular and ef. posed, their poverty seemed to ficient teachers was hailed with present an effectual bar to its ac. satisfaction and delight by Neff, complishment. The rocks they and the more intelligent of his painhabited were so barren and un rishioners; but it was still necesfriendly to vegetation, that not. sary that a school-house should be withstanding the simplicity of erected in each village, and partheir manners, it was hardly pos- ticularly at Dormillouse, where the sible to discover by what means pupils began rapidly to increase. they subsisted. Some meadows Hitherto it had been customary and meagre pasturages in the val- for the scholars to assemble in low lies, which, during winter, were and damp cottages, where, encovered with snow, and which, in veloped in smoke, they were liable summer, barely sufficed to support to continual interruptions. Under a few sheep and chamois; toge- these circumstances, Neff proposed ther with a few barren fields, lying to the inhabitants of Dormillouse on the edges of precipices, covered to erect a spacious school-room. with blocks of granite, and ren- His suggestion being approved, he dered every year more sterile by instantly commenced operations, the mountain torrents, and the fre- working himself with the utmost quent descent of huge avalanches, alacrity. Each family furnished composed the whole of their pos a man, and an ass to carry the sessions, the produce of wbich was materials, and in the space of a scarcely sufficient to pay the im- week the building was completed. posts which, by the culpable neg It would not be within the limits ligence of their assessors, were un of this memoir to detail the apduly proportioned to the barren- parently insurmountable difficulness and sterility of the soil. ties with which this devoted and
Relying on divine assistance, indefatigable man had to contend, Neff commenced his labours, and or to enumerate the various plans soon began to feel a kind of ro of usefulness he brought into opemantic attachment to the rugged ration, all tending to ameliorate mountains and uncouth scenery the condition and to elevate the by which he was surrounded. His moral and intellectual character first efforts were to introduce a of these isolated and ignorant better system of education. On mountaineers. A total change, his arrival he found a few school- however, in their manners and masters who were scarcely able to habits was very soon apparent. read, and whose instructions, mi- They became assiduous, and atserable as they were, were still tentive to their private and social more miserably remunerated at the duties; the women were no longer rate of two louis per annum. Du- considered as belonging to a lower ring the ensuing winter Neff him- scale of beings, and they mauifested self communicated instruction to great eagerness to procure tracts all who were willing to attend and collections of sermons to read him, and the following year he among themselves, when the eninduced a few competent school- gagements of their pastor called masters to settle at Dormillouse, him away to other villages. As Trieve, and La Combe, having pre- yet, however, there were no sympvailed
the iohabitants to raise toms of the influence of vital relithem a higher salary than their gion upon their hearts; and it was