Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 15a, 1886

Labors in Italy

Torre Pellice, Italy

April 18, 1886

Portions of this manuscript are published in 5MR 272-273.

We left Basel April 16 and arrived here safely and are all as well as usual. We were some wearied as it took us till Friday four o’clock to reach our destination. Our tickets took us by Milan, and we had the privilege of visiting the cathedral there. This is one of the greatest cathedrals in Europe. We saw some other interesting things. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 1

I spoke to the people here in Torre Pellice on Sabbath. I was so thankful for the blessing of the Lord that I felt and also those assembled felt it. We had a precious season. Today I go five miles out where Bro. A. C. Bourdeau has been laboring and speak at four o’clock. It commenced to rain soon after we arrived here and has rained ever since. The climate in Turin and Milan is much milder than in this place. There is plenty of snow on the Alps. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 2

April 22, the weather yesterday was very beautiful, but today it is cloudy again. Evening meetings are very taxing to me for I cannot sleep after speaking till midnight. Eld. Bourdeau and Bro. Bigleo went to Villar Pellice to fill the appointment given out for me. I was not able to speak, being unable to sleep after speaking at St. John’s last night. But I will speak at St. John’s again tomorrow night. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 3

The hall where they hold their meeting was packed full, and then there was a large number, from 100 to 200, who could not get in, so a Bro. Geymete preached to the crowd outdoors while Eld. A. C. Bourdeau to those inside. Thus two meetings were going on at the same time. This morning a peasant living near the hall presented Eld. A. C. B. with two quarts of shelled chestnuts as a token of her appreciation of his speaking to them. To them these are tokens of good. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 4

The people in attendance had come from the mountains where they are now taking their flocks and cattle to spend the summer. Many came miles to hear me speak last Sunday. I speak again to them next Sunday. If pleasant, I shall speak from the balcony or upper piazza outdoors, for it is impossible for the rooms to hold the people. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 5

I feel deeply for poor priest-bound Italy. We wish we had a tent here this very week, for it is the only way we can reach the people. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 6

April 23

Yesterday it was cloudy but did not rain. This morning it rains again. This morning for the first time W. C. White, Mary, and I walked out. In the afternoon we visited the Catholic church. They are celebrating the scenes of our Saviour’s death, and what silly nonsense for men and women of sense. There are tall candles lit upon the altar, then there are smaller ones burning that are gradually extinguished at a given signal one at a time. The priests are in a room just back of the auditorium room chanting, in Latin I think, prayers, while the people are kneeling upon the benches in the auditorium. This chanting continues for two hours; then the last candle is extinguished, and there is seen standing before the door a crowd of boys of all sizes with little wooden instruments in their hands with which they keep up a deafening noise; it sounds like a rattle. These boys are not allowed to come in until a given signal; then the janitor, who has kept them back with a long stick, opens the curtains and lets them enter. There is a drum in this large room; and when this commences to beat, it is a signal for the children to make all the noise they can, and all in the house help in the tumult. This is to celebrate some feature in the crucifixion, but what part of it I cannot learn definitely. Some say it is to drown the voices of the mob who are crying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” [Luke 23:21.] Eld. A. C. Bourdeau informs us that men of intelligence on a similar occasion kicked the benches, pounded the walls, and drummed on tin pans. And this they call religion. It is a relic of papacy brought with them from the darkest of the darkened ages of superstition and idolatry. The poor, deluded people deserve the pity of all who are in the light. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 7

In the evening we left here at seven o’clock to attend my appointment at St. John’s. We had a good congregation of the better class of people than the previous evening. At both of these meetings there were some who understood English, and they listened with deep interest. I was made acquainted with some of them. I had great freedom in speaking. My text was Mark [9]:35-37. The Lord blessed me with His Holy Spirit. Some spoke to me and said they were highly gratified with the discourse. A teacher in the college thanked me for the benefit he had received. I think it was right that we came here, and we shall remain till the last of next week, and perhaps longer. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 8

Sabbath I will speak here in Torre Pellice. Sunday in Villar Pellice, Tuesday in St. John’s. We cannot commence meetings till eight o’clock. We hold one hour or one and a half and then have three miles to ride home, so it is eleven before we can get to bed and one before I can let down and go to sleep. Nevertheless, I will do what I can to reach the people. I have a cold upon me now, but I shall pray and believe and work. I write some, but feel so much my want of sleep that I cannot do much. I wish I could sleep as others do, but I cannot and never expect to be able to do. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 9

Sr. Bourdeau enjoys this visit much. Sarah is not well. She will surely go as Edith did before long. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 10

I am so pleased to see the interest there is in these valleys to hear the truth, and I hope and pray that it may increase until the moral darkness shall be rolled back and heaven’s light shall shine into minds and hearts which will reflect it to others. I never feel more deeply in earnest than when I am addressing these poor souls that have no tangible faith. Light is sown for the righteous and truth for the upright in heart. Praise the Lord, dear children, that you have the truth and that your feet are standing upon the true foundation, the eternal rock, that storm and tempest cannot move you. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 11

My soul is burdened for poor, benighted Italy. I weep and pray over the matter, begging for wisdom and the power of God, that He will help the laborers here, that the truth shall triumph, and that the work shall move on against the darkness and superstition and error. We cannot appreciate the truth only in contrast with error; with the dark background, false doctrines and error, the truth shines forth clear and connected, link after link, uniting in a perfect whole; it binds all that is good and true together and connects them with heaven. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 12

Oh, what a vagueness of doctrines prevail in the so-called reform church of today whose first members sealed with their blood the clear and living faith in the truth for their time. The Reformers have ceased reforming. Men of mind, men of talent, sensible as far as everything else is concerned, are hundreds of years behind the truth which God has been in His plan unfolding. A general indefinite faith in the Bible is cherished, while they refuse new light and unfolding truth. These old forms and customs are the only religion they have. A far-back truth is all they will receive. New light, new obligations, an advance faith they will not receive and appropriate to themselves. 4LtMs, Ms 15a, 1886, par. 13