Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

grief at the errors which he saw and heard. He would return home, and, sitting with his patron, refute the opinions of the priests, and explain the word of God. The councillor became a friend of the reformation, and, amid all the strifes, upheld the growing cause. His heart was warming, and his house preparing to receive "that great missionary, Farel," about whom there were such wonderful reports in the land.

The school-master took a still wider range, and talked with the councillor's friends, and to all whom he could approach. He endeavoured to "point out with gentleness" to the priests the errors which they taught. Fear did not hinder him. He became so bold that Chautemps advised him to be more cautious, lest he should come to harm. Still he went on in his unassuming, but courageous way. And now the Genevans began to come to him. In small circles they sat to hear the word. Then, from private houses, he was drawn out into the open air, in front of the churches, there to touch the consciences and make the ears of his hearers tingle.

One day at a private assembly there came a few men and women, most of them known to the master of the house, and they sat down on the benches before the new teacher. Some of the intellectual men, of whom Geneva was proud, were present. After reproving their sins and their unbelief, and telling them of Christ, he said to them, "We cannot attain true holiness if the Holy Ghost, who is the reformer of hearts, be absent. By the Spirit of. Jesus Christ the remains of sin in us diminish little by little. What a profound mystery! He, who was hung upon the cross, who even ascended into heaven to finish everything, comes and dwells in us, and then accomplishes the perfect work of eternal redemption." Thus taught the school-master,

who was soon to rouse all Geneva.

The pope's great jubilee was coming; the people were talking about it, and some told how it originated. A witty scholar thus relates the story, '' On the eve of the new year, 1300, a report spread suddenly through Rome (no one knew whence it came,) that a plenary indulgence would be granted to all who would go the next morning to St. Peter's. A great crowd of Romans and foreigners hurried there, and in the midst of the multitude was an aged man, stooping and leaning on his staff, who wished also to take a part in the festival. He was a hundred and seven years old, people said. He was led to the pope, the proud and daring Boniface VIII. The old man told him, how, a century before, an indulgence of a hundred years had been granted on account of the jubilee; he remembered it well, he said. Boniface, taking advantage of the declaration of this man, whose mind was weakened by age, declared that there should be a plenary indulgence every hundred years." As great gains were made out of the scheme, it was thought that it would pay well to have the jubilee more frequently, and it was appointed for every fifty years, then every thirty-three, and then every twenty-five. Such jubilees were held in our times in 1825 and in 1833.

The minds of the Genevans were soon in a great ferment. There was much talk and murmuring everywhere in the streets. u A fine tariff is the pope's," the bolder ones said. "Do you want an indulgence for a false oath? Pay about 29 livres. One for murder? a man's life is cheaper—only about 15 livres. It is all an invention of the devil.''

"If the pope sells indulgences," said some who were beginning to have glimpses of the truth, '' the gospel gives a free pardon. Since Rome advertises her pardons, let us advertise that of the Lord.'' They went to Olivetan, whom they had probably heard declare against these tricks to fill the treasuries of the pope. He probably was the real author of a "heavenly proclamation," which was to startle the citizens. Baudichon hurried to the printer, and had it strnck off in large, bold letters. He and one Goulaz laid their plans, and while Geneva slept, as the ninth of June was dawning, they were busy in the streets. Gentle taps of the hammer fastened on a pillar in front of St. Peter's church, right over the advertisement of the pope's jubilee, a proclamation which the laziest priest would have kept awake to prevent, if he had suspected what would be seen in the morning.

The sun rises, the people awake, throw open their windows and doors, and see little groups standing here and there, staring at some new wonder. The groups become crowds. Houses are left empty, the streets are filled with readers, talfcers, murmurers. Men and women, young and old, priests and friars gather in front of the placards, and read with amazement, these strange words—

God Our Heavenly Father,
Promises
A General Pardon Of All His Sins
To Every One Who Feels Sincere Repentance,

And Possesses
A Lively Faith In The Death And Promises
Of Jesus Christ.

"This surely cannot be a papal indulgence," say certain Huguenots, "for money is not mentioned in it. Salvation given freely must certainly come from heaven."

"A defiance of the pope's pardon," cry the priests, in wrath that grows fiercer as they overhear the talk of the delighted readers. They insulted those whom they suspected had posted up "the general pardon of Jesus Christ." They not only used their fists, but more deadly weapons. They made a great uproar, and tried to tear down the placards. But the patriotic party, now called Lutherans by the priests, would not allow this to be done. Two parties were soon organized; those who defended the placards, and those who wanted to pull them down. One leader from each were to have a small battle.

A certain canon, Wernly of Friburg, hearing the tumult, rushed out of his house, went toward the cathedral of St. Peter, and caught sight of the placard on the pillar. He flew at it, clenched it, and tore it down, uttering a coarse oath. There he stood, a burly active fanatic, who could handle a sword as skilfully as the censer, and give a blow as readily as a blessing.

A Gene'vese patriot saw what was done, and walking up to the pillar calmly put another paper in the place of the one torn down. All saw that he was Goulaz, a bold spirit who could brave those whom he despised. The Friburger lost all self-control, and forgetting the placard, he rushed upon the heretic, dealing him a lusty blow. Then he drew his sword (for the canons wore swords at that time,) but Goulaz was ready to meet him with his own weapons. In the struggle, Wernly was wounded in the arm. Upon this there was a general tumult, that increased and extended through the whole city. The magistrates were scarcely able to prevent a fierce battle in the streets.

The noise of this affair soon reached Friburg, where it was said that the placards were the result of the sermons of a certain school-master, who had taught that the pardon of God was to be preferred before all the indulgences of the pope. This Romish city would not be satisfied until the council of Geneva forbade any more papers to be posted up without their permission, and ordered that '' for the present the school-master should cease to preach the gospel." The priests went about visiting every family, and demanding the surrender of every New Testament.

"The priests want to rob us of the gospel of Jesus Christ," murmured the people, "and in its place give us what? Romish fables! Really it is quite enough to hear them at church.'' The councillors were urged to show themselves Christians. Often had Olivetan told them that there was no intention of introducing a new religion, but of returning to the old. This was easily understood. The friends of the Reformation in the council began to speak boldly for the word and the people's right to read it. It was ordered by the council that "in every parish and convent the gospel should be preached." This was the first official act in Geneva favourable to the Reformation. '■•'

The great pardon of Jesus Christ began to be understood and embraced by numbers of people. The placards announcing it mark an important epoch in the history of Geneva. From the little town of Payerne where Anthony Saunier was pastor, came to the Genevese one of the best letters ever penned. We quote one of the first and one of the last sentences. "We have heard that the glory of God is with you. ... Be the standard bearers upon earth of the colours of our Saviour, so that by your means the holy gospel may be borne into many countries." 21 *

« AnteriorContinuar »