The people who listened to the words of Christ were still anxiously watching for some announcement of the earthly kingdom. While Jesus was opening to them the treasures of heaven, the question uppermost in many minds was, How will a connection with Him advance our prospects in the world? Jesus shows that in making the things of the world their supreme anxiety they were like the heathen nations about them, living as if there were no God, whose tender care is over His creatures.  

     "All these things," said Jesus, "do the nations of the world seek after." "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Luke 12:30; Matthew 6:32, 33. I have come to open to you the kingdom of love and righteousness and peace. Open your hearts to receive this kingdom, and make its service your highest interest. Though it is a spiritual kingdom, fear not that your needs for this life will be uncared-for. If you give yourself to God's service, He who has all power in heaven and earth will provide for your needs.  

     Jesus does not release us from the necessity of effort, but He teaches that we are to make Him first and last and best in everything. We are to engage in no business, follow no pursuit, seek no pleasure, that would hinder the outworking of His righteousness in our character and life. Whatever we do is to be done heartily, as unto the Lord.    

     Jesus, while He dwelt on earth, dignified life in all its details by keeping before men the glory of God, and by subordinating everything to the will of His Father. If we follow His example, His assurance to us is that all things needful in this life "shall be added." Poverty or wealth, sickness or health, simplicity or wisdom--all are provided for in the promise of His grace.     

     God's everlasting arm encircles the soul that turns to Him for aid, however feeble that soul may be. The precious things of the hills shall perish, but the soul that lives for God shall abide with Him. "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." 1 John 2:17. The city of God will open its golden gates to receive him who learned while on earth to lean on God for guidance and wisdom, for comfort and hope, amid loss and affliction. The songs of the angels will welcome him there, and for him the tree of life shall yield its fruit. "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." Isaiah 54:10.     

"Be not therefore anxious for the morrow. 

 . . . Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Matthew 6:34, R.V. 

     If you have given yourself to God, to do His work, you have no need to be anxious for tomorrow. He whose servant you are, knows the end from the beginning. The events of tomorrow, which are hidden from your view, are open to the eyes of Him who is omnipotent.”  

MB 98-100

The Waldenses

     “Our visit to the Waldensian Valleys was one of special interest on account of the close connection which this locality has with the history of the people of God in past ages. It was in the friendly shelter of the surrounding rocky peaks that they found protection when the fierce persecutions of the Roman church drove them from the fertile plains of Northern Italy. In these plains they had succeeded in maintaining their independence of Rome many years after others had yielded to her power. Indeed, up to the eleventh century, the diocese of Milan is said to have greatly exceeded in extent that of Rome. But the very fact that her authority was disregarded on what might be called her own territory, was very humiliating to a power to whom all the world was then bowing down; and, after repeated unsuccessful attempts to induce the bishops of Milan to yield their independence, they were finally forced to submit.    

     The submission, however, was by no means universal. Many refused to yield their rights, and fled, some to one country, some to another, while many retired to the Piedmontese Alps. “Behind this rampart of mountains, which Providence, foreseeing the approach of evil days, would seem to have reared on purpose, did this remnant of the early apostolic church of Italy kindle their lamp, and here did that lamp continue to burn all through the long night which descended upon Christendom.”    

     Every rock upon which we gazed seemed to speak in solemn silence of the wonderful scenes it had witnessed. One place of interest, which we visited, was a spot just back of the town of Bobbio, seven miles up the valley from Torre Pellice. We had a beautiful day for our trip. The air was clear, the sky as blue as only an Italian sky can be. Our party numbered seven besides the two drivers. The ride was delightful. After going as far as the carriages could carry us, we took our blankets and lunch-baskets, and prepared to ascend the mountain.    

     By a zigzag course our path made its way up the hillside, sometimes winding in and out among the rocks that line the banks of a mountain brook, sometimes crossing a little patch of grain which was supported by a great stone wall and thus kept from being washed down the mountain side, sometimes following along the very edge of these great walls which hold in place the mountain terraces, on which are small vineyards, pasture lands, and grain fields; then it would turn suddenly and ascend by rocky steps to the heights above. Now and then we would stop to rest, or to allow to pass us a solemn-looking flock of sheep and goats which some little girl or boy was driving to the small patches of pasture land above.    

     A climb of three-quarters of an hour brought us to a large open plat of ground. Here we halted, and under the friendly shade of a huge chestnut-tree spread our lunch. A few rods from us was a large house, built of stone, and plastered on the outside. Although about eight hundred years old, it was still occupied. Here it was that many of the Waldenses found shelter when driven by their persecutors from the valley below; but spies soon found them here, and soldiers were sent to exterminate them. The battle was fought on the very spot where we were seated. Although the Waldenses were few in number, they held their ground for some time, and then, attempting to escape, most of them were brutally massacred. 


Two who were wounded fled to the rocks a few rods above us, where they dragged their wounded bodies through a narrow passage into a cave, which extended thirty feet underground.    

     But a Satanic spirit drove humanity from the hearts of their pursuers, and led them to devise a means of killing these wounded men whom they could not capture. Wood and leaves were piled at the various crevices of the rock, and set on fire, and the prisoners soon perished from suffocation. After partaking of our simple lunch, we climbed up to this cave, and explored it as far as we could. Then one of our number crawled, feet first, between the rocks, and dropped himself into the inner cave where the poor martyrs miserably perished.    

     History tells us of several occasions when the same means of extermination was resorted to and that, too, on a much larger scale. The valley of Loyse was the scene of one of the most horrible of these tragedies. The inhabitants were quietly pursuing their vocations, when they were surprised by seeing an armed force twenty times their own number enter their valley. “Despairing of being able to resist them, they at once prepared for flight. Placing their old people and children in rustic carts, together with their domestic utensils, and such store of victuals as the urgency of the occasion permitted them to collect, and driving their herds before them, they began to climb the rugged slopes of the mountains, which rise some six thousand feet over the level of the valley.” “About half way up, there is an immense cavern. In front of the cavern is a platform of rock, where the spectator sees beneath him only fearful precipices, which must be clambered over before one can reach the entrance to the grotto. The roof of the cave forms a magnificent arch, which gradually subsides and contracts into a narrow passage, or throat, and then widens once more and forms a roomy hall of irregular form. Into this grotto, as into an impregnable castle, did the Vaudois enter. Their women, infants, and old men, they placed in the inner hall; their cattle and sheep they distributed along the lateral cavities of the grotto. The able-bodied men posted themselves at the entrance. Having barricaded with huge stones both the doorway of the cave and the path that led to it, they deemed themselves secure.” “It would cost them little effort to hurl headlong down the precipices any one who should attempt to scale them in order to reach the entrance of the cavern.    

     “But a device of their pursuers rendered all these precautions and defenses vain. Ascending the mountain on the other side, and approaching the cave from above, the soldiers were let down by ropes from the precipice overhanging the entrance to the grotto. The platform in front was thus secured. The Vaudois might have cut the ropes, and dispatched their foes as they were being lowered one by one; but the boldness of the maneuver would seem to have paralyzed them. They retreated into the cavern to find in it their grave. Seeing the danger of permitting his men to follow them into the depths of their hiding-place, the general adopted the easier and safer method of piling up at its entrance all the wood he could collect and setting fire to it. A huge volume of black smoke began to roll into the cave, leaving to the unhappy inmates the miserable alternative of rushing out and falling by the sword that waited for them, or of remaining in the interior to be stifled by the murky vapor. Some rushed out, and were massacred; but the greater part remained until death slowly approached them by suffocation. When the cavern was afterward examined, there were found in it four hundred infants, suffocated in their cradles or in the arms of their dead mothers. Altogether there perished in this cavern more than three thousand Vaudois, including the entire population of the valley of Loyse.”    

     This one circumstance out of many of a similar character will give something of an idea of what the Waldenses endured for the truth's sake. Terror, mourning, and death everywhere followed in the footsteps of their persecutors. Whole villages were given to the flames. Nor could the caves, as we have seen, afford any protection to the multitudes who sought refuge in them. When the fire kindled at the mouth of these retreats was extinguished, “all was silent within.”    

     One can hardly imagine the indescribable feelings with which, after contemplating such scenes, we looked upon the cave now before us. After exploring it quite thoroughly, we climbed still higher, upon the rocks above it, and there bowed in a season of prayer. Jesus seemed very near while we pleaded with him to imbue us with more of the spirit of true devotion and firm adherence to principle that had led so many in these valleys in times past to lay down their lives for the truth's sake.    

     It is beyond my power to describe the picture which opened before us from this high elevation. That its beauty has attracted the attention of others, appears from the glowing description which we here give from the pen of another:—    

     “At this point the grandeur of the valley Lucerna attains its height.” “Immediately behind Bobbio shoots up the ‘Barion,’ symmetrical as an Egyptian obelisk, but far taller and more massive. Its summit rises three thousand feet above the roofs of the little town. Compared with this majestic monolith, the proudest monument of Europe's proudest capital is a mere toy. Yet even the ‘Barion’ is but one item in this assemblage of glories. Overtopping it behind, and sweeping round the extremity of the valley, is a glorious amphitheater of crags and precipices, enclosed by a background of great mountains, some rounded like domes, others sharp as needles.” “In this unrivaled amphitheater sits Bobbio, in summer buried in blossoms and fruit, and in winter wrapped in the shadows of its great mountains, and the mist of their tempests.” “A carpet of rich meadows clothes the valley from side to side; fruit-trees fleck it with their shadows; the Pellice waters it; and on either hand is a wall of mountains.” “Over these are hung stupendous battlements of rocks; and above all, towering high in the air, are the everlasting peaks in their robes of ice and snow.”    

     As far as the eye could reach up the mountain sides we could see dwellings, cultivated lands, and even villages, while from many of these rocky eminences white church towers reared their heads, as if pointing the people heavenward. Here, among the rugged rocks, in places seemingly inaccessible, they sought refuge from the fury of their oppressors. Here they thought to worship God without molestation, making the mountains echo with their prayers and songs of praise to their Redeemer.    

     Most of those who have been born and brought up in the seclusion of these mountain homes choose to remain there. Far up on the mountainside we saw a man and woman sowing wheat under the friendly shelter of the overhanging rocks. By these people conveniences and luxuries are not thought of. If they can secure a sufficient harvest from the little patches of land among the crags to feed themselves and their children, they are content. As for clothing, they are quite independent. Near the spot where we ate our lunch, a young peasant girl was tending a small flock of sheep, and at the same time diligently plying the distaff. As we came near, she kindly showed us how the work was done, and also some of the cloth that had been made from yarn thus prepared.   

     We would gladly have remained longer, climbed from height to height, entered the dwellings, and spoken with the people; but we had not time or strength to go farther. As we slowly made our way down the rocky path by the side of a rushing stream, we could but wonder how many pilgrim feet had trod this rugged path before us in the hope of finding an asylum from the wrath of their oppressors, and our hearts ascended to God in prayer that the precious light of present truth might reach the descendants of this long-persecuted people. We firmly believe that God will open the way, that he will remove the obstructions, which now shut the light from them.    

     The next day after our trip to Bobbio we visited an ancient fortress, which is built on a height a short distance from Torre Pellice. Here we found a large open space enclosed by walls within walls, also extensive buildings, which were formerly used as a monastery. Within the enclosure is a cave. This we entered, and found ourselves in a room about eight feet square. The walls of this room were covered with a thick, green moss, on which drops of water glistened like pearls. From this room there were openings into two underground tunnels. One of these led down to the village, into a building formerly used as a convent; the other to a Catholic church in another part of the town. Here the secret workings of the mystery of iniquity had been carried on. Here many precious souls had lost their lives, and left their bones to testify of their faith. But the history of their sufferings will be made known only when every secret thing shall be revealed. The Judgment alone will bring to light the cruelties practiced in connection with these fortified heights.    

     There is no question as to whose banner those ranked under who thus persecuted the saints. Their master, Satan, alone could instigate men to inflict such terrible cruelties, such intense sufferings, such excruciating agony, upon their fellowmen. Those ages of cruel restriction of liberty of conscience are now in the past; but, we inquire, how long before Satan will, through his devices, again bring upon God's people a time of trouble? Satan is a deceiver, a murderer, and his power will be felt in the near future by those who love and fear God.    

     If their voices could be heard, what a history the everlasting mountains surrounding these valleys could give of the sufferings of God's people because of their faith! What a history of the visits of angels unrecognized by these Christian fugitives! Again and again have angels talked with men, as man speaketh with a friend, and led them to places of security. Again and again have the encouraging words of angels renewed the drooping spirits of the faithful, and, carrying their minds above the tops of the highest mountains, caused them to behold by faith the white robes, the crowns, the palm branches of victory, which the overcomers will receive when they surround the great white throne.   

     What valuable lessons these pilgrims and strangers must have learned in the friendly asylum of the rocks! As they climb the steep mountain paths, they have in mind, not the homes they have left, although they still hope to possess them again; but they are looking for a home so high that the highest peak of the Alps cannot reach it,—a home with their heavenly Father in the mansions that Jesus has gone to prepare for them, from which they will never be driven. The bitter venom of the dragon cannot reach them there. Therefore they can well afford to leave their earthly treasures, to grope their way among dark and crooked paths, and to be inclosed in rocky chambers, away from the light of day, if by this means they can attain that home among the blest,—a home not made with-hands, eternal in the heavens.    

     In their lonely retreats they often met their Redeemer and conversed with him, as did the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. He would there open to them the sublime truths of his word, and strengthen them in their determination not to put confidence in false guides, but to obey and worship Him only who made and governs the world, “He sees and knows everything,” they continually repeated to themselves. “He will hear our prayers, and attend unto our wants. He who feedeth the ravens will not leave us to perish.” Thus their words of faith cheered themselves and others, and their trials and perplexities only drove them nearer to God and increased their faith.    

     Such was the character, such the motives, of the Waldenses of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Alas, how changed are this people now! The spirit, which animated their fathers, and led them to contend for pure Bible truth, seems to have slumbered; the light, which shone from their ancestors no longer shines from them. Religious declension has marked the faith and practice of this once God-fearing people. Many dissembled to conceal their faith, and by thus compromising their religion have become corrupted. It is the old story repeated. Men forget the scenes of most hallowed interest, which kept alive their lofty aspirations, and because of hardships they cease to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Scriptures. When they should be advancing, they are retrograding.”  

HS 239-243