The Preaching Tours and Missionary Labours of George Muller - LightNovelOnl.com
You're reading novel online at LightNovelOnl.com. Please use the follow button to get notifications about your favorite novels and its latest chapters so you can come back anytime and won't miss anything.
On the morning of the 21st, at half past 10, we left by rail for Lyons, France; and, after a journey of 130 miles, reached our destination in the afternoon at half past 4. Exactly opposite the windows of the hotel to which we went, on a very high hill, called La Fourviere, the other side of the river, stood the Church of Notre Dame, with a gilded statue of the Virgin, 20 feet high, standing on its cupola, with arms outstretched; for Lyons is considered by the Papists to be under the protection of Mary, and as especially--"Consacree a la sainte vierge."
Soon after our arrival, a German pastor called, and gave us an interesting account of his labours at Lyons during the preceding 27 years. This large, beautiful city, the second in France, is a stronghold of Popery; and, when he first arrived, no Protestant services could be held there; but after a terrible struggle to obtain _some_ religious liberty, through the influence of the British ambassador, permission to hold Protestant meetings was at last granted by the Government, _provided_ the preaching should always be in German, and never in French. For the Protestants to derive any benefit, however, from this permission, was _extremely_ difficult, on account of the furious opposition of the Romish priests, "who (said he) if they had been able to do so, would gladly have burned me at the stake;" but now, as their animosity is somewhat less fierce, French and German Protestant services are regularly held. The population of Lyons--about 350,000--is divided (this pastor further stated) into two classes, one half of whom consists of bigoted Papists, and the other of Infidels and Rationalists. There is, however, a _very_ small Protestant community in this city, amongst whom a few real Christians are to be found.
On Nov. 22nd, Mr. Muller preached at the Chapelle Evangelique, Rue de la Lanterne, in English, with translation into French by Monsieur Monod.
Many assembled to hear him; the presence and power of the Holy Spirit were felt; and it was a happy meeting. On the morning of Sunday (the 24th), he preached at the German Church--a small, insignificant building in a neighbouring street; and in the afternoon held another meeting at the Chapelle Evangelique, where, considering the character of the population, the congregation was very large. Before our departure, we went to the top of La Fourviere to see the prospect from the summit, which embraces the whole town and the surrounding neighbourhood for many miles. "Lyons, which is the chief manufacturing city of France, is situated at the junction of the rivers Saone and Rhone, the former of which is crossed by nine bridges, the latter by eight. It contains upwards of 10,000 establishments for the manufacture of silk, which employ 120,000 looms, support 140,000 persons, and produce annually a supply of goods valued at nearly four hundred millions of francs."
On Nov. 25th, at the Chapelle Evangelique, my husband preached for the last time at Lyons. The next morning we rose at 5; at a quarter before 7, left for Marseilles, and, after travelling for many miles through the Valley of the Rhone, reached our destination at half past 3. On the 27th, Mr. Muller preached at the Temple Evangelique, an "eglise nationale," where the congregation was large, and included several pastors and members of the Consitory. The service did not begin until half past 8. On the following evening he preached again at the Temple; addressed the children of Miss Renger's school in French on the afternoon of the 30th; and, on the evening of that day, and the afternoon of Dec. 1st, preached again in German at Le Temple. On the evening of the 1st he gave a farewell address, in English, at the Temple Evangelique, and on Monday morning, Dec. 2nd, we left for Nismes by express at 10.45.
As this town is a "Protestant centre," my husband preached that evening at the Chapelle Wesleyenne to a crowded audience; and the following afternoon a Christian gentleman conducted us through the town, to point out the Roman antiquities for which Nismes is famous. The principal building, the Amphitheatre--erected as long ago as from A.D. 138 to 160--is a very remarkable ruin. It is in the form of a vast oval or elipse, and contains tiers of stone seats one above the other, rising around it to a considerable height. In the central area, conflicts between gladiators, and combats between condemned criminals and wild beasts, formerly took place; and here many persecuted disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were torn in pieces by lions and other savage animals that were let loose upon them. The caverns, where prisoners were confined, and some dens in which the wild beasts were shut up, are still in existence. This Amphitheatre is 400 feet long, 303 wide, and 64 high, and was large enough to seat 25,000 people. When all its antecedents are remembered, a fearful interest attaches to the place.
During our short stay at Nismes, Mr. Muller held other meetings, which were conducted at the Chapelle Wesleyenne, the Eglise Libre, and at the house of a Christian gentleman residing in the town. Before our departure, we visited some rocks and stone quarries, about two miles distant, where, during a persecution of the Protestants in the reign of Louis XIV., the little Church of Christ at Nismes used to assemble for religious worship, because its members were not permitted to hold meetings in the town.
On Dec. 7th we left Nismes for Montpellier, where Mr. Muller preached three times at the Eglise Reformee Independente, attended a prayer meeting, where he gave an address, and held a conversational meeting at the house of a Christian lady. In this town, just in front of our hotel, was a piece of ground--now a large public garden--where, about the year 1720, pastors were hung, simply because they were Protestants. Other servants of Christ, after their arms and legs had been broken with a bar of iron, were left to suffer excruciating pain, until a final blow on the chest--given as a "coup de grace"--terminated their agonies. "We have been more persecuted" (said a gentleman who related these particulars--a descendant of the Huguenots) "than any other race of human beings under Heaven." How faint a conception have Christians of the present day, who live in the comfortable, easy circumstances to which most of us are accustomed, of the tribulation endured by disciples of the Lord Jesus, in years long gone by, and even as recently as the last century! The Christians of Montpellier were able to relate numberless instances of the most infamous and wanton cruelty, practised upon the Huguenots, before, during, and after the reign of Louis XIV.
On Dec. 12th, we rose at 5, left Montpellier by rail at 7 o'clock, and went through Cette to Narbonne, from which place--after changing trains--we proceeded on our journey; and at 2 o'clock reached Perpignan, the chief town of the Pyrenees Orientales, at no great distance from the Spanish frontier. The climate of Perpignan is generally mild, and in summer is very hot; but just then wintry winds were sweeping over the snow-covered heights of the Pyrenees, which made the atmosphere unusually cold. This town is overlooked by a strong Citadel, and contains several houses built in the Spanish style. Mont Canigou, 9,140 feet high, is in the distance. The next morning, at 10 o'clock, we left Perpignan, and our journey was continued. For many miles long ranges of the Pyrenees were on our right; and on the left, the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean, were occasionally so close, that a stone might have been thrown into them from the railway carriage; and after travelling _through_ the mountains, by means of numerous tunnels, we--for the first time--found ourselves in Spain. At Portbou, on the frontier, the usual Custom House examination took place, and afterwards, as we advanced into the country, the costumes of the people and the style of the buildings became more and more Spanish in appearance. Here, as in the South of France, there were vines and olive trees innumerable, and aloes, either singly or in hedges, were growing wild in the fields or by the roadside. As the train stopped at nearly every station, our progress was but slow; but at half past 8 we arrived at Barcelona, where two brethren were kindly waiting to receive, and to conduct us to the Fonda Las Cuatro Nationes. There we took possession of two small front rooms at the top of the house, with a south aspect and stone floors. The sitting-room contained an open fireplace, in which we occasionally had small fires, made of the dried roots of olive trees; but the weather being generally mild and genial, they were not often needed. The street below our rooms--one of the leading thoroughfares of Barcelona--was crowded day and night.
The following morning a party of English friends, labouring in Spain, called and welcomed us to the country most affectionately. On Sunday morning, Dec. 15th, we attended a meeting for the breaking of bread, held at a schoolroom in Calle San Gabriel, Gracia, where, at the commencement of the service, a poor blind brother prayed, some portions of Scripture were read by one of the brethren, and afterwards Mr. Muller spoke for half an hour, with translation into Spanish by Mr. Payne. The breaking of bread followed, a hymn was sung, and the meeting was closed with prayer. We then shook hands with our Spanish brethren and sisters, and, amongst them, with the blind man just referred to, who, pointing upwards with his finger, said in Spanish, "We shall all speak one language _there_." Whilst talking his face was lighted up with smiles, and he made us understand that he rejoiced greatly at our visit. He was very poorly clothed, but a friend remarked, "He is rich in faith, and has been a noble witness for Christ by reading the Scriptures aloud, in raised type, in the streets and public walks of Barcelona."
On the evening of that day, Mr. Muller preached, with Spanish interpretation, at another large schoolroom in the city. On the following Tuesday afternoon, at the house of a Wesleyan minister, he held a meeting for English Christian Workers in Spain, and addressed the party there assembled, with reference to their labours, for upwards of an hour. Conversation respecting the Lord's work in that dark Popish land, was freely entered into afterwards, and the meeting was of so profitable a character, that, though it had lasted two hours and a half, no one was willing to leave, until a promise had been given that another should be held the following afternoon. The next day, accordingly, all met again at the same time and place, and continued for two hours and a half together. On Thursday morning, Dec. 19th, we accompanied Mr. Payne to visit four of the Spanish Day Schools, which are entirely supported by the funds of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. They are in Barcelonetta (or little Barcelona), a poor part of the city, where, on the first floor of one of the houses, we found two schools (one of big, and the other of little boys) assembled. One master, a converted Spaniard, was present; but the other, in consequence of indisposition, was unable to attend that day. The boys were all quiet and orderly in their behaviour; and, after the younger ones from the other schoolroom had come in, Mr. Muller--with the help of Mr. Payne as a translator--began speaking to them as follows:--"My dear children, I love you all very much, and pray for you every day. I long from my inmost soul to meet every one of you in Heaven; but, in order that you may go to that happy place, as poor, lost, guilty sinners, you must put your trust in the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who was punished in our room and stead; for His blood _alone_ can cleanse us from our sins."
After preaching the gospel further to them, he related a few particulars about the Orphan boys on Ashley Down, and mentioned that _some_ of them, about the same age as those he was addressing, were true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, who, at an early age, had been led to trust in Him wholly as their Saviour. It was most interesting to look upon these poor Spanish children--gathered out from the mass of popery and infidelity around--and to know that they were brought habitually under Christian influence and teaching. There were about 150 of them, and their parents were all either Papists or Infidels. Two schools for girls, under the same roof, downstairs, were close at hand. The room for the elder girls was large, but it was below the level of the street, and a short flight of five steps led down to it. When the children were seated, Mr. Muller spoke to them from a low platform; afterwards they sang a hymn, and then a pretty little girl, about six years old, with black hair and very bright dark eyes, was mounted on a form, when she repeated the 128th Psalm in Spanish with great ease, and apparently without missing a word. Another followed with the 24th Psalm, and then an older girl, of about 13, repeated a long Spanish poem, referring to the love of Christ, His death, etc., in a firm, clear voice, without the slightest hesitation or inaccuracy. She could have gone on with a great deal more; and the other children, too, were ready with portions of Scripture and with hymns; but our time did not allow us to hear any further recitation. Close to the large room was a smaller one, devoted to a school for Infant Girls; an interesting company of _little_ children, who understood the Catalan dialect only. Mr. Payne's Spanish had therefore to be translated into Catalan by the governess, a second interpretation, and in this way they were told that the kind gentleman from England, who was speaking, loved them, cared for them, and was glad to see their bright, merry, little faces. We gave them a text also, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin," to carry home to their parents. Thus ended our visit to these schools, a work so blessed and important, that we hope, by prayer, long to hold up the hands of those who are engaged in it. In the afternoon, at the house of the Wesleyan minister, Mr. Muller held a third meeting for Christian Workers, and on the evening of that day preached at the Wesleyan Church.
The next morning, at 10 o'clock, we visited two more of the schools, supported by the funds of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, and went first to the boys who were on the ground floor. They first of all sang a hymn; and, after Mr. Muller had addressed them, answered several questions asked by the master, and repeated portions of Scripture with great ease and readiness. The girls' school upstairs was next visited, where we inspected the children's writing, and their needlework. They excel in penmanship; and articles of needlework, beautifully made by them, were on sale for their own benefit. This room contained also a small but interesting school of Infant Girls. In the evening my husband preached again at the Wesleyan Chapel, and, on Dec. 21st, we inspected the San Gabriel schools, where two sheets of texts in ornamental writing, beautifully executed, one from the boys and the other from the girls, were presented to us. We visited a small school of Infant Girls also conducted at the same place. This visit closed our inspection of the ten Barcelona day-schools, supported entirely by the funds of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, which were all in a most satisfactory condition.
In the afternoon we walked up Mont Juich, which overlooks the Mediterranean and the whole of Barcelona and the neighbourhood. This city is situated in a beautiful and highly-cultivated country, and is the capital of Catalonia. It is a place of great trade, carrying on various manufactures, and has some fine squares and promenades; but the streets, generally speaking, are narrow, with very high houses that exclude the air and sunshine.
On Sunday morning, Dec. 22nd, Mr. Muller gave an address at a meeting for the breaking of bread, held in the upper schoolroom, in Calle Fernandina; and in the evening preached in German at a Chapel belonging to Mr. A. Luis Empaytaz, who translated for him. On the evening of the 23rd, he preached at the English Episcopal Church, but the congregation was very small; for in the whole of Barcelona there were not more than about 120 English persons altogether. On the afternoon of the 24th he attended a meeting for prayer and exhortation at the house of the Wesleyan minister, and gave an address again to Christian Workers; preached in the evening at the Fernandina schoolroom, and, on the morning of Christmas Day, held a meeting at the Chapel belonging to Mr.
Empaytaz, where he preached in German, without translation. On the afternoon of that day, at a tea-meeting at the San Gabriel schoolroom, Gracia, he gave an address; and afterwards a letter in Spanish, from many of the pupils then present (who formerly attended the schools of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution), was read, thanking him for his visit to Barcelona, and expressing their grateful acknowledgments for the education they had received. Some of these young men were studying at the University of Barcelona, and others were engaged elsewhere in various useful occupations. A translation of this letter into German was then handed in, and soon after 7 the meeting was brought to a close.
On Dec. 28th we rose at 5, and at half past 6 were accompanied to the station by several Christian friends, who kindly came to take leave of us before our departure for Saragossa. At 7 o'clock we left Barcelona, and travelled with two Spaniards, to each of whom we gave a Spanish Gospel and some tracts, which were thankfully accepted, and read with great attention. At 2 o'clock the passengers alighted to dine, at Lerida; but we walked up and down the platform and gave away some tracts, when in a moment a crowd of third-class passengers surrounded us, who all pressed forward, eagerly desiring to obtain tracts or gospels for themselves. The few we had were distributed immediately; but so anxious were the applicants to obtain one _each_, that they followed us to the railway carriage and lingered about the door. In a few minutes other tracts were found and handed out, but, fearing to attract attention and that our actions might be watched by Romish priests, we held up our empty hands to show that we had nothing more to give. The poor people were loth, however, to depart, and waited until the last moment, thrusting their hands in at the window, with the hope of receiving either a gospel or a tract. At half past 2 we left Lerida, and after a journey of 228 miles, at a quarter to 9 p.m., reached Saragossa, where, at the Fonda de las Cuatro Nationes, we found suitable accommodation. The following morning (Sunday, Nov. 29th) a meeting was held at Mr. Gulick's Church, when Mr. Muller preached, with translation by the pastor, and in the afternoon addressed the Sunday School children at the same place. At the beginning of the service they chanted the 23rd Psalm, and, at the close, sang a hymn, of which the following words are a translation of the first verse:--
"Jesus Christ came down, From Heaven to Bethlehem; There, our Peace was born, Our Felicity, Light, and Good.
Oh, blessed be God! Thanks be unto Thee, Lord, For Jesus the Saviour."
This hymn was set to a lively tune, and sung in marked, quick time, with great spirit and animation. In the evening Mr. Muller preached again at the same Church to a large, attentive audience.
On Dec. 30th we walked out with Mr. Gulick, who conducted us to one of the _two_ Cathedrals in Saragossa--the only city in Spain which has two Cathedral Churches. The architecture is Moorish, and some sculpture on the walls represents the martyrdom of a few of the early Christians, and that of St. Lawrence in particular, who, in the 4th century, was roasted to death on a gridiron over a slow fire, by the command of one of the Pagan Roman emperors. Though considered a Catholic by the Papists, it is said that he was a true disciple of Christ. Some poor devotees were worshipping at the shrines, to a few of whom we quietly gave Spanish gospel tracts; and a tract was handed also to a gowned individual, a verger or sacristan, with a wand of office, as he slowly wandered up and down the aisles, who looked at us gloomily, but accepted it nevertheless.
Our next visit was to the Cathedral of Nuestra Senora del Pilar, which contains an image of the Virgin and Child on a jasper pedestal, said to have come down direct from Heaven in the 1st century, and to have been brought by the Apostle _James_ to Saragossa! To this image the most extravagant miracles are attributed. Many persons were kissing the pillar and crossing themselves, whilst others, dispersed about the Cathedral, were kneeling on the stone pavement before various images of saints. Whole regiments of soldiers, too, come in to kneel, bow, cross themselves, and perform their devotions before the different shrines.
Oh! how responsible are _we_, who possess the pure gospel of the grace of God, to make it known to poor idolators like these. In order to form a correct idea of the degrading superstitions, the debasing idolatry of Popery, there is nothing like _witnessing_ these things in a country such as Spain, where the Roman Catholic religion appears to be of a grosser type than it is in Protestant countries. Our last remaining tract was slipped into the hand of a worshipper, kneeling upon a stone step before an altar.
Besides these two Cathedrals, Saragossa contains many curious old Moorish houses and ancient monuments, including the Aljaferia, now a fort, but formerly a Moorish palace. As we walked through the streets, almost every one turned round to have a good look at us as strangers; and occasionally some children followed close behind, desiring to have a thorough gaze at the walking curiosities from a foreign country.
In the evening, Mr. Muller preached again at Mr. Gulick's Church, and on the following morning (Dec. 31st) we rose at half-past 4, in order to start early for Madrid. The journey was extremely tedious, and, after stopping at every one of the 35 stations, in the evening, at 10 o'clock, we reached our destination, where Mr. Fenn (an English missionary) was kindly waiting to receive and to conduct us to the Fonda Peninsular, near the Puerta del Sol, about two miles from the station. The next morning (Jan. 1st, 1879), at 10 o'clock, a procession passed along the street consisting of boys carrying lighted tapers; soldiers, priests, and men bore a large figure of the Virgin, robed in crimson satin, with a crown upon her head; whilst a small image of the Saviour was carried immediately _behind_ it. The men in this procession were bareheaded, and all the passers-by took off their hats.
In the evening, at a coffee meeting at Chamberi, Mr. Muller addressed a gathering of Spanish Christians, with translation by Mr. Fenn. On the afternoon of Jan. 2nd, we attended a meeting of Christian Workers, to whom my husband gave a short address, and in the evening he preached at Chamberi. At a gospel service held the following Sunday morning at Chamberi, he preached again; spoke in German in the afternoon at Pastor Fliedner's Church, and in the evening preached at Chamberi a second time, with translation into Spanish. The next day a meeting of school teachers was held at Mr. Fenn's house, where Mr. Muller gave them a short address, and in the evening he attended the first of a series of prayer meetings at Mr. Fliedner's Church.
On Jan. 7th, we inspected the five schools--three at Chamberi, and two in another part of Madrid--which are supported by the funds of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, and are under the care and superintendence of Mr. and Mrs. Fenn, where it was gratifying to find the dear children (contrary to custom, as their Christmas holidays were scarcely over) assembled in considerable numbers to see the strangers from England, whose presence seemed to afford them great delight. After visiting the three Chamberi schools, which are admirably conducted, all the children formed one assembly in the Chapel, where Mr. Muller addressed them for about twenty minutes, with translation by Mr. Fenn.
He spoke also to the children of the two other schools. Sheets of paper, containing texts and short addresses, beautifully written, were presented to us by the pupils at Chamberi. On our way back to the hotel, we passed an open piece of ground, where, several years ago, large quantities of human bones were disinterred, the remains of victims of the Inquisition, about 130 Protestants having been burned alive there in former times, as an "auto da fe," by their enemies, the Papists. Here the hand of a young girl was found, with a large nail driven through it; tresses of long hair were discovered, and other revolting evidences were brought to light of the cruelties that had been perpetrated. We visited the Plaza Mayor also, a large Square in _Old_ Madrid, where, centuries ago, Jews, Protestants, and criminals, all dressed in hideous garments, and high, pointed caps, were brought before their judges; by whom, after sentence of death had been pronounced, they were sent to the spot above mentioned, near Chamberi, and there burned alive.
On the evening of Jan. 9th, at a united prayer meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, Mr. Muller gave an address on prayer, and spoke at Chamberi also, at a prayer meeting the next evening. On the 11th, we visited Mr. and Mrs. Fenn's interesting Orphan Institution; on the morning of Sunday, the 12th, my husband preached at Chamberi, and in the evening addressed a large English congregation at a Hall connected with the residence of the Presbyterian minister. This Hall, and the premises connected with it, at one time formed a portion of the Spanish Inquisition.
On the afternoon of Monday, Jan. 13th, at a quarter before 5, we left Madrid for Bayonne, and at 7 reached the Escurial--both palace and monastery in one; which, on account of the lateness of the hour, could be seen very indistinctly. We passed Avila also, a town enclosed by ancient granite walls 800 years old, which has 86 towers and gates, and is considered the finest specimen of a walled town in Europe. Valladolid was reached at midnight; and soon after 6, on the 14th, as the day began to dawn, we arrived at Vitoria, where the mountainous, picturesque character of the country formed an entire contrast to the plain on which Madrid is situated. For many miles we travelled through the Passes at the western extremity of the Pyrenees, and went through tunnel after tunnel, until, at 10.15, the train drew up at San Sebastian, a town on the Bay of Biscay, besieged by the British army under Wellington in 1813; where numbers of English soldiers, who fell during the war on the Peninsula, lie interred. The last stations in Spain were Irun and Hendaya; and, after travelling close to the Bay of Biscay, where great rolling waves were dashing in upon the shore, at half past 1 p.m. we reached Bayonne.
On the afternoon of Jan. 15th, at a little meeting held at the house of Monsieur Nogaret, pastor of the Reformed Church, Mr. Muller spoke in French for three quarters of an hour; and afterwards we walked to the fortifications, from which the district between Bayonne and the frontier could be seen--a locality memorable as the scene of the struggle between Wellington and Soult in the year 1813. On the 17th we went to Biarritz, a beautiful watering place on the Bay of Biscay, six miles from Bayonne, where the rocky coast lies open to the full sweep of rollers from the Bay. There, at 2 o'clock, in a large salon of the Hotel de France, Mr.
Muller held a meeting for the English, of whom he addressed a considerable number, for an hour. At half past 3 we returned to Bayonne, and at 5.20 left by rail for Pau in the Pyrenees. There, on the following Sunday (Jan. 19th), my husband preached morning and afternoon in English at the Presbyterian Church, to large congregations, with much help from the Lord. On the evening of the 20th, he conducted a French service at Le Temple, and preached the following morning in German at the Presbyterian Church. He held English meetings also at this Church every morning (except Saturday) throughout the week.
Pau is famous for its mild, genial climate, its beautiful scenery, and for being much resorted to by visitors--especially the English--of whom, during our stay, there were about 2,000 in the place. The Chateau of Henry 4th is joined by three bridges to the town. On the morning of Sunday, Jan. 26th, Mr. Muller preached a farewell sermon at the Presbyterian Church and held a French meeting in the evening for the working classes, at a large Hall.
On the 27th, we left Pau for Bordeaux, about 150 miles distant, where, at the Chapelle Evangelique, he held two French meetings. An address was also given by him at a Hall belonging to the "Union Chretienne de jeunes gens," and on the 29th, we went to the Asylums of La Force, of which the late Mr. John Bost was the Founder and Director. After a journey of 70 miles we reached our destination, and in the afternoon accompanied Mr.
Bost in a small omnibus belonging to the Institution, to visit his Asylums, which are situated at some little distance from each other.
They are eight in number. "La Famille Evangelique is for Orphan girls of all ages. Bethesda is an asylum for girls infirm or incurable, blind, or threatened with blindness, idiot, imbecile, or of feeble intellect.
Ebenezer is an asylum for epileptic girls. Siloam is for boys infirm or incurable, blind or threatened with blindness. Bethel is an asylum for epileptic boys. Le Repos is for invalid governesses, infirm school mistresses, widows or spinsters who are ill or without resources. La Retraite is for servants, widows or spinsters, who are ill, infirm, or without means of support, and afflicted with incurable diseases; and La Misericorde is for idiot girls who have lost all intelligence; also for epileptics, who are idiot and infirm." After we had inspected these deeply interesting, and most Christ-like Institutions, a very large gathering of the inmates who were well enough to attend, assembled at "La Famille," where Mr. Muller addressed them for three quarters of an hour; for though the community is so afflicted as a _whole_, a meeting was hailed by them with delight, many of the patients being intelligent, and some of the epileptics even, persons of sound mind, when not suffering from their dreadful fits. The next day, at half past 2, another service was held at "Le Temple" (the Church of the Institution) where upwards of 400 individuals assembled; and as Mr. Bost would not hear of a translation--because, said he, "Monsieur Muller, est admirable"--my husband addressed this large company for an hour and a quarter in French. Afterwards we drank tea at "La Famille," and returned by railway in the evening to Bordeaux. [Since our visit to these Asylums, their beloved Founder and Director, Mr. Bost, has departed to be with Christ. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; they rest from their labours and their works do follow them."] On the afternoon of Jan. 31st, at the Chapelle Evangelique, Mr. Muller held his fourth and last meeting in the city, and at 6.50 we left by the night express for Cannes. Toulouse was reached in the middle of the night; the next morning we stopped at Marseilles, and proceeded along the coast of the Mediterranean, until (after a journey of 480 miles) at a quarter to 1 p.m. we arrived at Cannes.
There, on Sunday, Feb. 2nd, Mr. Muller preached in the morning at the German, and in the afternoon at the Presbyterian, Church; gave an address on the 4th, at the Eglise Evangelique, held another meeting at the German Church the following afternoon, and continued his labours every day until the 12th, when he spoke in French at the Eglise de la Redemption, in the evening. On the 13th, he preached at the Presbyterian Church, and on the 14th gave a farewell address in English at the Eglise de la Redemption.
During our stay at Cannes, we visited "Les Orangers"--large plantations of orange and lemon trees, laden with ripe fruit--and greatly enjoyed the climate of that delightful place.
On Feb. 15th we left Cannes, and, just before our departure, received a little parcel, containing an ivory paper-cutter, with a slip of paper on which these words were written--"For dear Mr. Muller from one of his former Orphans, and wishing both Mr. and Mrs. Muller, God speed." At half-past 2 we arrived at Nice, where, on the following afternoon (Sunday) my husband preached in English at the Presbyterian Church, held a meeting in the evening at the Vaudois Church, and continued to conduct services in English, French, or German during the remainder of our stay, including a meeting at the Presbyterian Church on the 26th, when he preached in English, to a large congregation on the second coming of Christ. Whilst we were at Nice, the whole town was in a state of excitement from the Carnival, for which that place is noted. During our walks, to and from the meetings, we met troops of individuals in masks, dressed in extraordinary costumes, who danced along the streets, and made merry with anybody and everybody who happened to come across them; but by promptly branching off into back streets, _we_ (happily) escaped their notice altogether. The popular idea seems to be that, just before the austerities of Lent commence, a season of extravagance, folly, and amusement is particularly appropriate. That children and young people should be tempted to indulge in such diversions, is not perhaps surprising; but how persons of mature age can take delight in making such _fools_ of themselves, is really most astonishing. We heard a Christian gentleman from London lamenting greatly that the English too--Protestants--who might be expected to set a good example to their Catholic neighbours, were amongst the foremost in these amusements.
On Feb. 21st, we visited Monaco, one of the most beautiful spots along the whole coast of the Mediterranean. It is notorious, however, for its gambling saloons, which lead many who frequent them both to temporal and eternal ruin. Suicide was said to be a common thing also amongst the votaries of those gaming tables.
On March 1st we left for Mentone, 24 miles from Nice, where Mr. Muller preached at the Hall of the Free Church of Scotland, at the Eglise Francaise, and at the German Church, to large congregations; and continued to hold meetings daily as long as we remained. As on Sunday mornings the little Hall of the Free Church was crowded, its doors and windows were left open; several persons therefore sat outside in the balcony, on chairs, and amongst the number was Mr. Spurgeon, who attended three meetings. Whilst at Mentone, we had the pleasure of seeing and driving out with him occasionally. One afternoon, the Turin road leading to Castiglione, was selected for our route, where, whilst slowly winding up hill in an open carriage, surrounded by magnificent scenery, Mr. Spurgeon said:--"When in the midst of landscapes such as these, from the crown of my head to the sole of my foot, I feel as though I could burst out into one song of praise."
On the morning of March 11th, at the Free Church Hall, my husband gave a farewell address. At 3.50 that afternoon we left Mentone for Ventimiglia on the Italian frontier, and proceeded afterwards to Bella Vista, Bordighera, the residence of Mrs. Boyce, two miles distant from the station. In the evening Mr. Muller preached at a small church in Bordighera (built by Mrs. Boyce) with translation into Italian by Signor Malan, a young Italian pastor. The congregation consisted of the children belonging to Mrs. Boyce's schools, their teachers, and some country people from the neighbourhood, most of whom were Roman Catholics. This little church at Bordighera was then the only centre of real Christian influence throughout a very extensive district, as there were no other Italian _Protestant_ services between Bordighera and Genoa. On the following morning, we visited Mrs. Boyce's schools, and at half past two, Mr. Muller held a drawing-room meeting for English residents and visitors, at Viletta Aurelia, where, for upwards of an hour he addressed a large company of gentlemen and ladies. On March 13th we accompanied Mrs. Boyce in a carriage to San Remo, on the coast of the Mediterranean, nine miles distant; and there, in the large drawing-rooms of Villa Theresa, at 2 o'clock; he held a meeting for the English also, which was crowded with gentlemen and ladies. He spoke with great power; the hearers were all attention, and one lady said afterwards--"I was never so much interested in my whole life." This meeting was an important one, as many present were always under ritualistic teaching, and never heard the pure gospel preached. In the evening, at half-past 6, we left San Remo by express--reached Genoa at 11, and the next day at 1.10 p.m. set off for Pisa, when our route through Spezzia and near Carrara extended along the coast of the Mediterranean, through scenery of the most beautiful description. At 7 o'clock we arrived at Pisa, and the next morning, before our departure for Florence, saw the exterior of its celebrated leaning tower, 180 feet high, and 13 feet out of the perpendicular, built in the year 1174, by Bonanno of Pisa.
As our object was to reach Florence, we did not remain either at Genoa or at Pisa, but simply passed through those cities on the way. At noon, therefore, on March 15th, our journey was continued; and at 3 in the afternoon we arrived at Florence, where, at the station, we were received by some Christian friends, with--"A warm welcome in the Master's name." The next day (Sunday) we attended a meeting for the breaking of bread at a Hall in Via San Spirito, which, with an ante-room adjoining it, was crowded. There, Mr. Muller spoke for nearly an hour, with Italian translation by Signor Rossetti; and in the evening, preached at the Vaudois Church. During our stay at Florence he held a number of other meetings also, including services at two Italian Churches--one in Via Palazuolo, and the other in Via dei Benci--a meeting at the Chapel of Dr. Comandi's Asilo in Via Aretina, an English service at the Presbyterian Church, a meeting at the French Swiss Church, with Italian translation, a service at the Methodist Episcopal Church in English with Italian translation, and a drawing-room meeting at Dr. Young's, where he addressed the students of the Theological Seminary, their professors, several pastors, and a number of gentlemen and ladies. He held a second drawing-room meeting also at Dr. Young's, and had a Bible reading at the house of the Presbyterian minister. On most of these occasions, there were large, attentive audiences. A few days after the service at the Italian Church in Via dei Benci, a gentleman said--"God be praised for the glorious meeting you had. I was there, and enjoyed very much your powerful testimony." During our stay at Florence, we looked with interest at the exterior of the prison where Francesco and Rosa Madai were confined, and had a good view of the city and neighbourhood from an elevated spot called the Piazza Michel Angelo.
On the morning of Wednesday, the 6th of March, we left Florence for Rome, and arrived there in the afternoon at a quarter before 5. The next morning at a prayer meeting in Via San Nicola da Tolentino, Mr. Muller gave his first address in Rome. On the 28th, he held a meeting for Christian Workers in Via delle Coppelle; spoke at the Brethren's Hall at a meeting for the breaking of bread on Sunday morning, the 30th, and preached in the evening at Mr. Wall's Chapel. On the 31st he conducted a service at the Oratorio Evangelico, and subsequently preached at various places of worship including the Tempio Evangelico, the Presbyterian Church, the Waldensian Church, the Sala Cristiana, the American Baptist Chapel, the Italian Free Church, a Hall in Via della Scrofa connected with the Tempio Evangelico (where a service for Italian soldiers was held), the Italian Free Church, and the Wesleyan Chapel.
During our stay in Rome, we visited the Catacombs. There are about 60 in all, which extend in various directions, outside the walls of the city.
"They consist of subterranean excavations, which served as places of refuge and worship to the earliest followers of the Christian faith, during the persecutions they had to suffer under the predecessors of Constantine, and where, after death, many thousands were interred, from the earliest period of Christianity to the sixth century of the present era."
We visited St. Peter's also, the Vatican, drove along the Via Appia, by which the Apostle Paul entered Rome, and saw the Arch of Titus. The Coliseum (which originally accommodated 87,000 spectators) is likewise a remarkable ruin. "The caverns in which the wild beasts were confined are still in existence, and the gladiatorial spectacles, of which for nearly 400 years it was the scene, are matters of history. In the reign of Trajan, Ignatius was brought there from Antioch, on purpose to be torn in pieces by wild beasts; and great numbers of martyrs perished on its arena." The Basilica of the Lateran--which we visited also--was long regarded as the first of Christian Churches, and styled by an inscription at the entrance, "The Mother and Head of all the Churches in the world!" One of the sights of Rome, too, is the Scala Santa, where eleven penitents were ascending a long flight of 28 marble steps upon their knees. This Scala Santa is the celebrated staircase up which Luther, before his conversion, was once working his weary way, when these words, "The just shall live by faith," seemed to reach him like a voice from heaven.
Before our departure from Rome, we visited the Basilica of San Paolo likewise, a vast marble Cathedral, erected on the spot where--according to tradition--the Apostles Peter and Paul embraced each other before they were led away to execution--the former to be crucified with his head downwards, the latter to be beheaded.
The Church and Monastery of the three Fountains, the Baths of Caracalla, the Columbaria--remarkable ancient burying places for the remains of the dead, after they had been burned to ashes--the Pantheon, the Column of Trajan, the Arch of Septimus Severus, some curious old aqueducts, the ruins of the palaces of the Caesars, and other famous antiquities, we also saw; but the sights of Rome are so numerous and celebrated, that no minute description of them can be attempted, especially as our visits to those just mentioned were most brief and hasty, compared with the time usually devoted to them by strangers. The ruins of Rome--once proudly called the "Eternal City"--plainly show "that the fashion of this world passeth away, and the lust thereof." "He (and he _only_) who doeth the will of God, abideth for ever." What a blessed thing it is to have "_no_ abiding City" here, but to look for "the City which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
On April 9th, we went to Naples, where, the following morning, at the Chiese Metodista, Mr. Muller addressed about 100 Christian Workers, including pastors, evangelists, colporteurs, Sunday School teachers, leaders of Mothers' Meetings, etc.; and in the evening (by particular request) he held a service in the Bethel Mission ship, for the English seamen of Naples, amongst whom were a few sailors from Bristol, who had expressed a desire that he should address them. On the following evening he preached at the Presbyterian Church, in English, to a large congregation; and, during our stay at Naples, held a number of other meetings, including services at the Chiese Evangelica, the Italian Free Church, the Waldensian Church--where he preached in French, with Italian translation--the Chiese Cristiana Apostolica, the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the German Church. He addressed a large class of young ladies also at a school, both in English and in German.
During our stay at Naples, we visited the ruins of Pompeii, 14 miles distant, "a city which was partially overthrown by an earthquake, on Feb. 5th, A.D. 63, and destroyed by an eruption of Vesuvius, Aug. 24th, A.D. 79. Pompeii was overwhelmed by showers of pumice stones and ashes, no current of lava having ever reached it; but through the excavations that have been made, a large portion of the city has been disinterred.
Many of the houses still standing, were probably built before, or during, our Saviour's life on earth." We saw the ruins of Herculaneum also, a city destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79, when it was destroyed by torrents of volcanic mud.
The Solfatara, a semi-extinct volcano near Naples, is a remarkable locality; and the spot where the Apostle Paul, after touching at Rhegium, first landed in Italy, was particularly pointed out. We likewise saw the road along which he travelled on his way to Rome, of which the ancient pavement, composed of massive blocks of lava, in some places is still perfect.
On April 21st--accompanied by Mr. Gray, the pastor of the Presbyterian Church, who kindly acted as our guide--after driving through Naples, Portici, and Resina, we slowly ascended the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, which is about 30 miles in circumference at its base; and, whilst going up the steep incline, marked a gradual decrease of vegetation, until great lava fields, consisting of immense black boulders, and enormous quantities of lava, cooled, and hardened into the most fantastic shapes, were reached. At 2 o'clock we alighted at the Hermitage, and afterwards walked towards the eruptive cone, but made no attempt to reach its top.
The distant view, however, was very beautiful, and the surroundings on every side were grand. A Museum at the Observatory contains a valuable collection of minerals from Vesuvius, some volcanic bombs, and a few curious scientific instruments, amongst which is an "eisograph" for measuring the duration and violence of earthquakes, so constructed that the precise time of their duration can be measured with the greatest accuracy. Before leaving the Museum, we heard that a gentleman, whilst in the act of mounting the cone of Vesuvius, had just died suddenly of apoplexy, brought on by over exertion during its ascent; and a short time afterwards several men passed us carrying his corpse down the mountain in a chair. He appeared to be about 45 years of age, and was sitting upright, with his head hanging over the left shoulder. His countenance was deadly pale, and life was quite extinct. The sight was both solemn and affecting.
On the evening of April 24th, my husband gave a farewell address in English at the Presbyterian Church, when at the close of the service, Mr. Gray, on his own behalf and that of the congregation, publicly expressed his gratitude for "Mr. Muller's valued ministry" amongst them.
Our visit to Naples was a very happy one, and the meetings were of a most important character.