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friendly suggestions, therefore, as to what line of procedure you ought to adopt in order to protect yourselves from Popery, will probably be acceptable to you.
Popery is now assuming an elevated and potent aspect in this land, and it becomes all true Protestants, more especially all who love the truth as it is in Jesus, to be on their guard, and earnestly “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints." The Papal Church is opposed to religious freedom and to religious truth, and hence you have an important work to do at the present time.
First, then, let your own minds be well stored with Gospel truth. Without this you are constantly in danger of imbibing erroneous notions, and being led from the simplicity of the truth. At your time of lifo it is very important that you should know the Holy Scriptures; for they are able to “ Make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Make, then, the Word of God your daily companion--read the Bible diligently and prayerfully, and read such other good books as you may be able to obtain as will afford you useful information, and lead you to a right understanding of your duty to God and man.
The human mind is an active principle-it will be employed about either good or evil. It is well to have the miad occupied with truth, for this is one of the best and most powerful means of keeping out error. The knowledge of Divine truth will defend you against the puerilities, heresies, and corruptions of the Church of Rome; therefore, study to become well acquainted with the teaching of the oracles of God. Bibles and many other excellent books are now abundant and cheap, and you possess much greater facilities for obtaining improvement and knowledge of the doctrines of the Bible, and other useful information, than was enjoyed by your forefathers. Value as you ought the privileges with which you are favoured ; hide the Word of God in your hearts—believe its doctrines and promises -- listen to its counsels, and frame your lives according thereto; then will you possess and enjoy, notwithstanding the efforts of Rome, freedom, firmness, and safety.
Having ranged yourselves on the side of truth and righteousness, have full confidence in your position. With truth for your instructor, and the God of truth for your helper, you need not fear the presumptuous bulls and empty threats of the Pope. Truth may sometimes be like the sun behind a cloud, but it afterwards will burst forth with increased splendour and force. In the Bible, truth is compared to a girdle, as in the following words:-“Having your loins girt about with truth.” Truth is also said to have a purifying efficacy :-“Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth.” Such, then, being the value and benefit of religious truth, I cxhort you, in the language of the wise man, “Buy the truth, and sell it not."
It is important, in the next place, that you have a strong conviction of the heretical and practical corruption of the Church of Rome. That the Papal Church is awfully depraved, is a point on which all Protestants are agreed. Its idolatrous worship of images, saints, and the Virgin Mary; its nonsensical masses, penances, and confessions; its foolish, arrogant, and ill-founded pretensions to infallibility and unity; its vilo assumption of apostolic succession, absolution, and purity; its superstitious mummeries, rites, and ceremonies, are all contrary to the Word of God. When you consider the vices, cruelties, lewdness, and abominations of this Church, you will have no sympathy with its aggressive movements, but will be prepared to put forth every Scriptural and necessary effort to restrain its progress, and keep yourselves unspotted thereby.
I would also counsel you to beware of allurements to Romanism. Your path, especially now, is beset with dangers and beguilements. Roman Catholics, of all ranks in life, are ever on the alert to make proselytes. The bait is covered with glittering gold or silver, and accompanied with fair promises; but, bear in mind, the hook is concealed beneath, and that which is sweet in the mouth will be bitter in the stomach. Be continually on your guard. Keep out of the way of temptation. Remember the word of exhortation given by the ancient preacher—“My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” “ Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation."
In the last place, I recommend that you cultivate active usefulness. Having yourselves become the happy possessors of Gospel salvation, seek to make known the truth to others. You are all capable of doing something. Some of you may soon begin to teach in the Sabbath-school,
distribute religious tracts, or collect inoney for the cause 1 of Christian Missions. Useful activity will strengthen you
in the love of the things which are good, and be a safeguard to you against things which are bad. Remember the saying of the poet, which is as true as it is beautiful
“Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.”
If you live to God, neither Popery, nor sin, nor Satan, can inateriaily harm you.
Praying that the blessing of God may attend, and rest upon you, I am,
My young Friends,
R. C. LOVETRUTH.
THE WOOL COMBER OF MEAUX. For many a long year the Romish priesthood in France, as in all countries where they have sufficient power, contrived to keep the Bible out of the reach of the people. The priests themselves knew very little, and the people knew nothing, of its contents. The Sunday-scholar in this happy land now knows more of God's Word than did all the men and women-not excepting the priests of some of the large parishes of France in those days. This fearful darkness long prevailed, and still, alas! continues to a great extent; but when the light of the blessed Reformation dawned, some of these dark papists began to read the Bible, and thus discovered the folly and wickedness of the Romish religion. To extinguish the light, the Pope and his priests quickly made desperate efforts. Persecution began; and the first martyr was John Leclerc, the
Wool-comber of Meaux, of whom we shall give a short ! history.
The city of Meaux, at that time, was almost wholly inhabited by artizans and dealers in wool; and when first the Bible was brought within their reach, it pleased God to excite in the breasts of many of these humble men an earnest desire to know its contents. An old writer tells us that they “ took no other recreation, as they worked with their hands, than to talk with each other of the Word of God, and to comfort themselves with the same. Sundays and holidays, especially, were devoted to the reading of Scripture, and inquiring into the good pleasure of the Lord."
The father of John Leclerc was a blind and devoted follower of the monks; but his mother was one of those who loved God's holy Word. Her two sons received the Gospel, and John soon distinguished himself among the new Christians. Many were his zealous efforts to make known that truth which had brought peace to his own soul. He expounded the Scriptures, to such of his townsmen as were disposed to hear them, with much ability; visiting from house to house to confirm the disciples in the faith of the new doctrine. Being filled with courage by the Spirit of God, he became the bold leader of the little party in Meaux who dared to take the Bible for their guide. Fain would he have seen the whole system of Popery at once overthrown, and France, from the midst of its ruins, turning with a cry of joy toward the Gospel. Had he but been as prudent as he was zealous, his pious efforts might have proved much more useful to the cause which he loved. In his unguarded zeal he wrote a proclamation against the Antichrist of Rome, announcing that the Lord was about to destroy it by the breath of His mouth. He then boldly posted his placards on the gates of the cathedral. Presently, all was in confusion around that ancient edifice. The faithful were amazed; the priests greatly enraged. What! a fellow whose employment is wool-combing dares attack his holiness the Pope. The monks were outrageous, and demanded that this once, at least, a terrible example should be made. Leclerc was thrown into prison.
His trial was finished in a few days. The carder was condemned to be whipped three days successively through the city, and on the third to be branded on the forehead. This sad spectacle soon began. Leclerc was led through the streets with his hands bound and his back bare, and the executioners inflicted the blows he had drawn upon himself by rising up against the Bishop of Rome. An immense crowd followed in the track marked by the martyr's blood. Some yelled with rage against the heretic; others, by their silence, afforded satisfactory marks of their tender compassion. One woman encouraged the unhappy man by her looks and words : she was his mother.
At last, on the third day, when the blood-stained procession was ended, they halted with Leclerc at the usual place of execution. The hangman prepared the fire, heated the iron that was to stamp its burning mark on the evangelist, and approaching him, branded him on the forehead as a heretic. A shriek was heard ; but it did not proceed from the martyr. His mother, a spectator of the dreadful scene, wrung with anguish, experienced in her loving heart a bitter struggle ; but faith prevailed at last, and she exclaimed with a voice that made the adversaries tremble, “ Glory to Jesus Christ and to his witnesses !” Thus did that Frenchwoman of the sixteenth century fulfil the commandment of the Son of God, He that ... loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Such boldness, and at such a moment, merited signal punishment; but this Christian mother had appalled the hearts of both priests and soldiers. All their fury was controlled by a stronger arm than theirs. The crowd, respectfully making way, allowed the martyr's mother slowly to regain her humble dwelling. The monks, and magistrates, gazed on her without moving. “Not one of her enemies dared lay hands upon her," says the historian.
After this, Leclerc, being set at liberty, retired to a small town about six leagues from Meaux, and afterwards to Metz, in Lorraine, about the end of the year 1523.
In Metz, the historian tells us, John Leclerc followed the example of St. Paul at Corinth, who, while working at