Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

seemed to have been born a second time to the Christian life." The French refugees had formed a church, and Farel was the preacher, whom none heard with a more joyful heart than the former doctor of the Sorbonne. Such Christian society lessened the pain of exile.

An aged man, who had taken the name of Anthony Pilgrim, was often seen walking cautiously through the streets, as if he wished to be unknown. But he could not be hidden. In a short time the whole city knew that he was the illustrious Lefevre, who was the translator of the Bible into the Gallic tongue, and the very children saluted the venerable Frenchman with respect. Gerard Boussel, (Le-Boux,) took the name of Tolnin, so fearful was he lest he should be found by the enemies who were upon his track. Master Cornelius Agrippa, who had loaned Luther's works and started men to thinking in Metz, was there "taking his tone and tuning his voice" in harmony with the reformers.

The house of Capito was like an inn, where all were sure of a welcome. These refugees met with Zell, who, as priest of St. Lawrence, had been among the first to preach that "man is saved by grace." A nobleman of this city, Count Sigismond, of Hohenlohe, was touched by the preaching of Zell and the heroism of Luther. He was not one of those nobles, so numerous then, who followed the Saviour as a secret disciple. He made it his business to help Luther's writings over the Bhine and forward them to the Duchess Margaret, who called him "her good cousin," and felt herself greatly benefited by his influence.

The dews of Christian love had often been shed upon Farel, in order to moderate his flaming zeal, and he had taken kindly the gentle advice. But he thought that, while he might be over-hasty, some of his friends in Basle were too slow in acting fully up to their knowledge. They tolerated too many Romish practices. It was very offensive to him that Pellican should still attend mass and wear the dress of a monk. He remonstrated; but one of his friends, who had done the same thing to no purpose, only reminded him that it was a hard task to change a monk into a Christian. Farel requested Luther to use his influence with Pellican. The next year he had the pleasure of seeing his friend cast off the badge of popery and teach the word of God in Zurich.*

To this zealous man was given the work of a peace-maker. A controversy had arisen in respect to the Lord's Supper—some holding with Luther and some with Zwingle. It was likely to disturb the pleasant meetings of the preachers in Strasburg. They requested Farel to be an agent in reconciling the parties. He did much to bring Luther and Zwingle into a more friendly style of discussion, and, when their letters came, they were found to be quite nearly agreed on most of the points at issue. The friends at Strasburg resolved to fix upon the important meaning and benefit of the ordinance, and hold '' to the main point—faith and love, or to the remembrance of Christ for the invigoration of our hope, since Christ must be internal and invisible, and not necessarily connected with what is external, be it a sign or anything else."

* Many years after this Pellican was deeply wounded by a report that Farel had used some harsh terms concerning him. Calvin's letter to Pellican throws such light upon Farel's character that we condense a part of it. "That which is reported to you about Farel is to me so utterlyincredible, that I would venture, even at the peril of my life, to be answerable for it, that no such expression had ever fallen from him; for I know that he both loves and reveres you. ... If it had been said that Jie had made you wince a little, and without any more serious outrage, I would admit that the report might have been believed. But, only consider how monstrous it is to suppose that he, who has been so closely allied to you, who at this very time reveres and loves you, had given utterance to such reproachful expressions as would be reckoned extreme even among the most deadly foes. Besides, it is altogether inhuman that any man should be condemned unheard. Such persons do wrong Farel when they do not acknowledge him to be such a man as they have ever truly found bim by experience to be."—Calvin's Letters, No. ciii., A. D. 1543.

The fellowship at Strasburg was bearing good fruit. Men, raised up here and there, as they had been, and eacji struggling almost alone with the faith, needed such a school. Doctrine had been the great thing hitherto; discipline had been too much neglected. The energetic Farel, the learned Lefevre, the spiritual Roussel, gifted with opposite natures, were now to act upon each other. Farel learned gentleness, Roussel gained courage; the one imparted the overplus of his peculiar traits to the other. The soft iron became steel; the steel had the rough wire taken from its edge. In other days these brethren remembered how they dwelt together in unity. "We carefully put out of sight all that might interrupt the harmony between brethren. The peace that we tasted, far from being without savour, like that of the world, was prepared with the sweet odour of God's service."

In the spring of 1526, a shout of joy was heard rolling through France from the Pyrenees to Calais. Strasburg heard it, and was behind no city in its gladness. The duchess Margaret had secured the release of the king. He was on the way to Paris. Louisa must resign her fearful power. Duprat must learn that he has a master. Beda may find that he has not the church of France in his hands.

None were more joyous than the friends of the gospel. Some of them determined to go and meet the king and petition him on behalf of the exiles and the prisoners. They felt sure that he would put himself at the head of a party which Charles V. his detested rival and captor was persecuting. But he had a secret hatred of "the evangelicals," and, although Margaret uttered a cry in favour of the miserable, he kept the most cautious reserve. She had hoped to see the Count Sigismond come from Basle to Paris, and give his talents to the work of restoring the gospel in France. He was delaying for the king to send him an invitation.

One day Margaret took courage, and asked her brother to invite the Count; he was not ready. He knew Count Sigismond well, and thought his gospel principles exaggerated. Besides, if there was to be any change in France, he meant to make it alone. And what would the pope and the emperor say, if the count were in Paris, preaching at the court, in the churches, and in the open air perhaps? He did not fully tell his sister what he would do, but to her suggestions he replied, 4'Not yet," and she turned away bitterly disappointed.

Again she pleaded her cause. "I do not care for that man," said Francis, sharply. This was not true. He cared for him when he wanted him. When he needed three thousand soldiers, then it was "my very dear and beloved cousin of Hohenlohe," highly esteemed for "his loyalty and valour, his nearness of lineage, love and charity." But where the gospel was concerned it was quite a different affair. The usual "Not yet," was again heard. The Count Sigismond did not come to France. Thus one of Margaret's plans failed. But she had another. The king must call back the exiles, and open the prisons. Already had she entreated for one sufferer, saying to the king, "If you do not interfere, Berquin is a dead man." He did interpose, and wrote from Spain that he would make the first president answerable for Berquin's life, if he dared to condemn him. The president halted, the monks hung their heads, and Beda and his pack "were nigh bursting with vexation." And now the returned king resolved to save Berquin from "the claws of Beda's faction." He said to the parliament, only a few days after his return, '' I will not suffer the person or the goods of this gentleman to be injured. I will inquire into the matter myself.'' The king sent his officers to take this Christian captive from his prison, and put him into a more commodious chamber. They were still to keep watch over him, but he should be well treated. He took courage, and set about forming plans for the triumph of the truth.

Good news for Strasburg; the king was inquiring into matters himself; he was making the prisoners more comfortable; he was listening to the importunate Margaret; he was despising the monks and vexing Beda, and now one step more, and the exiles would be permitted to return to France. One day the duchess urged him to put an end to the cruel exile of her friends. He granted it. The glad tidings went to Strasburg, and France was open to her refugees. Nay, not all of them. There was one exception, unaccountable to us, and mysterious in the providence of God. This we shall see to be the earnest William Farel.

What joy! the aged Lefevre, the fervent Boussel, are recalled with honour. These are nearly the words of Erasmus, who did not regard the two men as "Lutherans," nor so far gone out of the old Romish church as Farel. The Strasburgers bade them farewell with tears, and they took the road to France, happy that they were going to the land of their birth, one to die there, and the other to preach the new life. Others followed; all believed that the new times were come.

« AnteriorContinuar »