Page images
PDF
EPUB

not until April, 1823, that any confluence of mountain torrents, decisive evidence of real piety flowing through Dormillouse, sugbecame apparent.

Neff had then gested to Neff the idea of disthe happiness to observe that a tributing its waters among the meadeep conviction of the vital im- dows. For a long time, he had to portance of personal religion had contend with the prejudices and become extensively diffused, and, ignorance of the proprietors of the among other places, in the poor lands. At length, however, he village of Minsas. It was impos- overcame every obstacle, and, sible to account for the rapidity under his directions, canals were with which solemn religious im- cut in various parts of the valley. pressions were now propagated In the culture of the potatoe, one throughout all the villages in the of their principal articles of food, valley, without attributing it to be likewise introduced considerathe evident express agency of the ble improvements. Holy Spirit. "An abhorrence of During the month of Novemsin, and a conviction of the ne. ber of this year, Neff opened a cessity of repentance, and the school for the more intelligent of need of the grace of God, became his youthful parishioners, espeuniversally prevalent. So sudden cially for such as were engaged in and extensive was the change, that the work of tuition, or those whom Neff himself could not refrain he was desirous of training for from astonishment. Absorbed in this purpose. He took upon himcontemplation, he exclaimed - self the entire superintendence of “ The rocks and even the glaciers their studies; and as it was neappear animated, and seem to cessary that they should return to smile in radiant joy. Even this their occupations as soon as the desolate and savage country is spring commenced, he devoted now agreeable and dear, since it fourteen or fifteen hours every has become the habitation of day to their instruction. Reading, brethren.

writing, and arithmetic, occupied Neff took advantage of these the greatest portion of their time, dispositions, and established a whilst, at stated intervals, geoBible Society at Fressiniere. The graphy and psalmody were introcommittee was composed of ten duced as recreations. To a few persons from the different villages, of his more advanced pupils he who took care that every family taught the elements of geometry in the valley should be provided and natural philosophy, sciences with a Bible.

which hitherto they had not known In the midst of these ministerial even by name. He was accuslabours, the temporal concerns of tomed to employ the most famihis parishioners occupied a large liar illustrations to make himself share in his attention. Instead comprehended. A wooden ball, of watering their meadows at revolving on an axis, on which he stated periods, they had been ac- had traced the principal circles, a customed to depend upon the few potatoes, a lighted candle, and snow for moisture; consequently, very frequently the heads of his after a mild winter, when the snow audience, were employed to explain had fallen less abundantly than the movement of the earth, and usual, their lands became dry, and the courses of the celestial bodies. vegetation languished. A con- In showing them a map of the siderable stream, caused by the world, he directed their attention

enormous

to the history and religious con- tracted sufferings would be as indition of each nation, and thus structive as that of his devoted excited a deep interest in the work and indefatigable life. At the of missions to the heathen. The commencement of April, 1829, he following winter, twelve of his became sensible that his earthly youthful pupils were actively em- pilgrimage was about to close. ployed as itinerants in the various That faith in Christ which had villages of his parish.

inspired him with zeal and deNeither his unremitting exer- votion, when in the enjoyment of tions, the uncongeniality of the health, gave him resiguation and climate, nor the many privations Christian hope, when on the bed to which he was subjected, ap- of suffering and in prospect of peared to have any influence upon death. Every breath which eshis health during the first three caped his heaving bosom, appeared years of residence among the accompanied with a prayer; and, Vaudois ; but in the summer of for many hours before his death, 1826, he experienced great de his happy spirit seemed quivering bility of stomach, occasioned upon his lips, impatient to enjoy probably by the use of improper the presence of an approving God, food, and the extreme irregularity and to enter upon his eternal reof his diet. In crossing the scat- ward. He died on the 12th April, tered masses of an

1829, at the early age of 31 years. avalanche, which had recently A few days previous to his fallen, he had the missortune to death, he received a letter from receive a severe contusion of the his mountain flock, which, from knee, which obliged him to desist the simple testimony it exhibits of from his labours for a considerable the extent and usefulness of his time. Shortly afterwards, how- labours, and the tender sentiments ever, he resumed them ; but at it breathes of gratitude for his inlength, overcome by the entreaties valuable services, will be consiof his friends, who were better dered by every sincere Christian aware of his situation than him- of more value than the most eloself, he was induced to proceed quent and pompous eulogy. to Geneva, where he arrived in a thus concludes ; very precarious state of health. “ Alas that we have been the During his residence there, he cause of your long-sufferings ! It wrote a number of religious me was for us that you underwent so ditations, which have gone through much fatigue amidst the snows in several editions, and are held in the depth of winter. Oh that we deserved estimation, not only by had been more prompt to listen to the Vaudois, but throughout Swit- you, and spared you these labours. zerland.

Willingly, even to the shedding of His illness continuing to in- our blood, would we testify our crease, he was recommended to gratitude for the unmerited and try the waters of Plombiere, whi- devoted attachment you have disther he proceeded, notwithstand- played in your unceasing efforts ing his weakness. Whilst there to promote our temporal and eterhe preached several times, and his nal welfare. But your recomsermons excited considerable in

pence is in heaven. An immortal terest; but having experienced no crown awaits you1. May the Lord relief, he at length returned to bless you, and give you consoGeneva. The history of his pro- lation under your protracted ill

It

ness. May he reward you with a have not yet obtained a settled thousand blessings from on high. pastor, but continue exemplary in We conclude with desiring an in the observance of their Christian terest in your prayers, whilst ours, duties. though feeble, shall be offered up In reviewing his scene of labour, on your behalf.

Every family, and the extraordinary change without

exception, from the Cime which had taken place in the chaof the Romans, to the foot of the racter and pursuits of its inhaInflus, salute you, many of whose bitants, none but the true disciple names you will see appended to of Christ would be found, like this letter.”

Neff, disclaiming all personal Removed from his labours in merit, and with St. Paul, exclaimthe vigour of manhood, and amid ing, “Neither is he that planteth prospects of extended usefulness, any thing, nor he that watereth; his loss has been severely felt by but God that giveth the increase.” these mountain Christiaas. They Manchester.

T. S. E.*

ON THE SCRIPTURAL APPROPRIATION OF PROPERTY. To the Editors. It has been my character of our modern churches, desire, for several years, to see that that term just means nothing, issue from the press, in one form or if it means any thing, it is rather or other, some remarks on the used to indicate non-possessors of scriptural appropriation of pro- vital Christianity than those who perty. It is an interesting subject, are the subjects of it; but I would and one in which all are concerned, say it is very little understood by the poor as well as the rich, but those who really aim at conformity one which I never remember to to the whole will of God, and dehave seen treated at large, though sire to surrender themselves and it has been occasionally touched their all to Him and his service. on in a very admirable and power- Now where are we to look for ful manner in the pulpit. It is my directions in this particular, but to purpose to put on paper a few the Bible? and are any positive thoughts, which have occurred to rules to be found in it? I think me, and for which, if not unworthy there are, and those not merely a place in your Magazine, I would inferential, but such as may be solicit admission, with the hope, called direct commands. Indeed, not of profiting others, which I so plainly are these set before us, cannot claim any pretensions to that the difficulty does not so much do, but of inducing some able in- consist in admitting their existence dividual to benefit both myself and and their imperative claims on us, others, by favouring the public with as in defining the exact line of a small treatise on the subject. duty between injunctions which at

It is not my wish or intention to first sight would appear to carry censure the conduct of any, but it us to two opposite extremes. Such, appears to me, that this matter is for example, may be the two folvery little understood by, I will lowing passages : " Lay not up for not say professors of religion, for yourselves treasures upou earth,” it is a lamentable feature in the and, “ if any provide not for his

This article has been compiled from a Memoir of M. Neff that appeared in a recent number of a French periodical,“ Le Semeur" of which, in fact, it is chiefly a translation." N. S. No. 88.

D D

for our

own, and specially for those of his of all he possessed to Melchizedek own house, he hath denied the the priest of the most high God. faith and is worse than an infidel.” This fact supplies us with informaOn the first view it would seem as tion as to the proportion of a man's if the neglect condemned by the property which he was to conseApostle, was sanctioned by his crate to God, and was no doubt Lord. But if we consider the generally acknowledged as a suitformer passage we shall see, that able portion, since Jacob, when he the word treasure includes much possessed no property but his staff, more than mere wealth; it com vows to give a tenth to the Lord prehends every earthly good we of all which he should give him. are capable of enjoying, and on The enactments of Moses conwhich even the disciples of Jesus cerning tithes were very interestare too prone to set their affections; ing and explicit, and from them Saviour

says

where our trea we shall gather what was the will sure is, there our hearts are also; of God as it respected the property so that be intended to strike at of the Jewish church. Under the the very root of worldly minded- general name of offerings may be ness; while in the latter the Apostle included every presentation at the would seem to countenance the temple. They were of two kinds. hoarding of riches, when his object Those that were ordained by the was to prevent the church's being express command of Jehovab, and burdened with the support of des- those which were made from a titute individuals, whose relatives principle purely devotional. Of were capable of maintaining them, the former, the first was a tithe of and whose industry to attain this the Israelite's whole possessions. end, he was desirous of calling He next presented his offerings of forth.

devotion, and the first-fruits of all It will be our first object to take his increase; and of the remainder, a view of the conduct of God's the principal with the increase, be people in the earliest ages of the paid yearly, another tithe to the world, and the subsequent direc- Levites. These that were obligations afforded them by Moses; and tory amounted to an annual tribute before we quit the Jewish church we of about a fifth of his possessions. shall be led to remark some splen When we consider that the did instances of such entire de- former class of tithes, provided not votedness to God, as we but rarely only for an expensive ecclesiastical meet with in modern times. The establishment, but also maintained concise account given us of the the state during the period of the Antediluvian church, affords an theocracy, we shall be convinced early proof of the origin of the that God in no way oppressed his presentation of first-fruits to the people by the requirements above Lord, in the case of Abel, who mentioned. brought the firstlings of his flock The offerings of devotion, or free an offering to the Lord. Whether will offerings, were as various as this was in cons

nsequence of an ex the circumstances of the parties, press command we

are not in- and proportioned to the amount of formed; but it appears not impro- gratitude and devotional feeling bable that it was, and it was a possessed by the offerer. They usage that was never entirely dis were also regulated by the urgency continued by members of the true of the cause which called them church of God, as we find that forth. The estimation in which Abraham subsequently gave tithes such offerings were held by the

Lord, and such only, as were vo seconded by the nobles and whole luntary, will be seen in those words, congregation, so that David had “ of every man that giveth it wil cause to bless the Lord that they lingly with his heart, ye shall take had been enabled to offer so wil. my offering," a plain indication, lingly, and he participated in the that a grudging disposition was as joy of the people on the occasion. displeasing to God under the law But splendid as was that costly as under the Gospel. Was the edifice, neither its outward lustre tabernacle to be reared ? we learn nor its sacred use could preserve it that those who were skilled in from decay, and from the outrage works, either substantial or orna of violence. The youthful Joash mental, came willingly and offered in the days of his piety beheld themselves to make all that the with sorrow its dilapidated state, Lord commanded. This indeed and made proclamation that money was a personal dedication, but not should be collected, as Moses had a less difficult sacrifice. And in this commanded, for the tabernacle we find the labour was not confined of witness; and the appeal was to the men, but that the women, joyfully and promptly answered. who were wise-bearted, spun, and The little chest for the reception brought their work which they bad of voluntary offerings was filled spun. Each brought according to day by day, and money was his ability. They that possessed gathered in abundance; and a gold, gold; they that had jewels, beautiful example is recorded of jewels; they that had stores of unsuspecting confidence and faithcurious wood, fine linen of divers ful administration, of which it colours, and skins, brought them- would be well there were more nothing necessary for the erection examples in our day: “ Moreover was wanting; and what was the they reckoned not with the men, result? When the people brought, into whose hand they delivered yet free-offerings, every morning, the money to be bestowed on they that wrought in the work de- workme n: for they dealt faithsisted, and went to Moses, saying, fully.” We have a similar record the people bring much more than in the days of Josiah, notwithenough for the service of the work standing the general prevalence of which the Lord commanded to be wickedness and idolatry. made.” Thus the people were At length the iniquities of the restrained, for the stuff they had nation were at the height, and was sufficient and too much. This called down on them the wrathful is the first instance on record of a displeasure of the Almighty. The zeal in some degree commensurate nation was invaded by the Babywith the importance of the object lonians, who carried the people capthat elicited it.

tives to Babylon, and burnt the temThe next demand of a publie ple of the Lord, and all the palaces, nature on the liberality of the peo- and demolished the walls of Jeruple of Israel, was made in the days salem. In this desolate state, things of David, when he was making remained seventy tedious years, preparation for the building of the when God stirred up the heart of magnificent temple by Solomon. In Cyrus, in fulfilment of Isaiah's this the expanded heart of the king prophecy, to give a general perled him to consecrate a large por- mission to the Jews to return to tion of his own proper good, over and their land, under the guidance of above what he had prepared for the Zerubbabel or Sheshbazzar, two boly house; and he was zealously years after which they commenced

« PreviousContinue »