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intent upon deep investigation and research ; the fruit of which he has bequeathed to his family, and to posterity, in numerous dissertations on theological, philosophical, historical, and philological subjects.
The extent and variety of profound topics thus embraced by an inhabitant of the rude recesses of the Alps, who has illustrated those topics in every instance by a mass of erudition, may well astonish any one who reflects that he had not that access to ample stores of literature, which those students enjoy who reside in universities, or in the polished circles of society.
The editor of the present volume first became acquainted with M. Peyran at his secluded abode in the year 1814; and on his second visit to Piedmont in 1823, the MSS. left at his decease were entrusted to his care by the children of M. Peyran,-two sons and daughter, the latter of whom died lately, leaving a numerous family. With the advice of judicious friends, he will endeavour to ascertain in what way the publication of any
or all of them will be most beneficial to the family of the deceased author. In the mean time, the following treatises are submitted to the public attention; namely,Letters respecting the Vaudois addressed to his Eminence Cardinal Pacca;-A Reply to the Bishop of Pinerolo's charge;—The Moderator's charge to his co-pastors ;—A Letter to M. Ferrary, a Roman catholic priest;—and a late Waldensian Confession of Faith;—the whole, from the nature of the subjects they include, forming an “ Historical Defence of the Waldenses."
After an illness endured with exemplary patience, the learned Moderator closed his earthly career in the year 1823, at the age of 71. The stone that marks his grave, (what a contrast to the marble that bears a splendid but unmerited panegyric !) has but the following letters rudely inscribed upon it:
J. R. PEYRAN,
PASTEUR ET MODERATEUR,
Né le 11 me. Decre. 1752.
Mort le 26me. Avril, 1823.
The abilities and worth of M. Peyran, whilst honourable to the pastors and people with whom he was more immediately connected, did not escape the notice of the late governor of the province, and other persons in high civil and military stations ;-more especially as he was firm in his attachment to the ancient line of princes of the house of Savoy; and when Napoleon once passed through the north of Italy, even that extraordinary man, who was so distinguished for his knowledge of men and things, and for an inquisitive disposition, proposed several questions to M. Peyran on one occasion, respecting the antiquity, and exploits of the Waldensian community.
It deserves also to be recorded as a fact honourable to the character of the Vaudois Moderator, and to the feelings of his Roman catholic neighbours, that great numbers of the latter, notwithstanding a prohibitory order, attended his remains to the grave, from the veneration they entertained for one whom they expressively termed “ le Père des Vallées,”--the Patriarch of the Valleys. This tribute of respect and gratitude they were the more solicitous to pay, because he had, on a former occasion, when an hostile army threatened to burn the small Roman catholic town of Pérouse, actually secured it from destruction, by his prompt and earnest intercession for the inhabitants to the French general.
This single fact will amply prove that the controversial writings of the learned pastor, in opposition to the errors of the church of Rome, were not the result of hatred and aversion to the members of that church; but of a paramount
; regard to truth, and what he believed to be “the faith once delivered to the saints." Whilst the advocate of primitive truth, he knew how to maintain “ the truth in love.” In this respect he was a model, that disputants both for and against the dominion of the church of Rome, will do well to imitate; and his writings are, on account of this temperate spirit, peculiarly worthy of the attentive perusal of persons of every party. It will be a happy result of the publication of the present volume, if those,whether Roman Catholics or Protestants,- who read it, shall be led, instead of relying implicitly on the authority of others, to search more diligently for themselves on the momentous subject of religion, as well as to cherish sentiments of candour and forbearance towards each other.
To inculcate such sentiments of mutual kindness,-both for the honour of christianity and for the tranquillity of states,-is the more necessary, because many circumstances already indicate that a great discussion is at hand on all the leading questions that separate the church of Rome from the reformed churches. The revival of the order of Jesuits* by the court of Rome, in opposition to the prevailing wish of other Roman catholics ;-the attempt made by that highly-accomplished body of instructors to obtain a commanding influence in colleges and schools ;—the protest against their influence in France, and in support of the dignity of the crown and the liberties of the Gallican church, by many distinguished indivi