Monday, July 02, 2007

A Wanderer: Donald Fraser. IX.

Though Donald Fraser made it a rule to occupy his own pulpit on the Lord's Day, to put the needs of his own congregation first, there were two occasions wshen he was called by the denomination to leave the pulpit of the Free High Church to minister abroad.
The first occasion was in 1867, when he was called on to spend some time in Italy. The Rev. J. R. MacDougall, pastor of the Chiesa Scozzese (Scots Church) in Florence was to be absent from his post for a short time while he undertook evangelical work in Venice. Since there were many ministers in Scotland who could cover for Fraser, Fraser was asked to take the oversight in Florence for a time. He agreed (as who wouldn't?) and for three months lived in the Italian city with his family. There was a thriving Scottish population in the city, and one of the elders there had previously been one of the elders of the Free High Church, so that the Frasers felt quite at home in Italy. At that time Florence was the capital of Italy, and the Frasers took great interest in the events of the city. For a man who had spent much of his life in Canada among a largely Roman Catholic population in Montreal much was familiar, and the difficulties of the Scots Church were those he had known in Canada.
The evangelistic work in Italy was 'feeble' in Fraser's opinion, and he was not able to preach in Italian. He gained a vicarious pleasure from the preaching of Dr. De Sanctis of the Waldensian Church (pictured), which drew considerable numbers.
After Mr. MacDougall returned to Florence, Fraser and his eldest son took a short vacation, visiting Venice, Rome and Naples. At Venice he met with General Garibaldi and was impressed with the patriot's dignity. At Rome he saw the Pope, Pius IX. Though Pio Nono had a fine bearing, Fraser noticed the man's eyes were keen and cruel, and he thought it must be a terrible thing to fall into the hands of such a ruler.
Fraser found his heart moved within him as he saw a nation given over to the darkness of a superstitious Romanism, and he retained to his dying day an interest in the nation. Italy is now becoming more secularised, but the cause of the Gospel is still feeble there - we ought to keep up that interest.

Fraser's second overseas visit was of a more personal nature - of which more, God willing, next time.



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