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FROMJENT'S JLITTJLE SEKMONS.
AT the village of Yvonand, on the southern shore of Lake Neufchatel, dwelt a young Dauphinese named Anthony Froment. He had been more disgusted with the excesses of Rome, probably, than charmed by the riches of the Bible, and had sought peace of soul in the Reformation. He had been with Farel, helping him through some of the most perilous scenes, and was now preaching to a little flock in Yvonand. To this village came Farel, in October, with new plans in his mind for taking Geneva. He invited several ministers to meet him in council, among whom were Olivetan, Saunier, Froment and Martin,* (probably) the Waldensian by whose parishioners he had been entertained in the '' holy valley.'' Farel gave an account of his mission to Piedmont, and of the stormy reception he had received at Geneva. They all looked on him with wonder and gratitude to the Author of miracles. Froment could not keep his eyes off the fugitive missionary, and he pitied the Genevan patriots who seemed about to lose all they had ever gained.
* Martin Gonin seems to have spent several years in Switzerland, but in 1536, on his return from Geneva, he was seized at Grenoble, hurried through a mock trial, taken from his prison at night, and drowned in the Isere.
"Go and try if you can find an entrance into Geneva to preach there," said Farel, fixing his keen eye on Froment. For a little the young Dauphinese was speechless with astonishment.
"Alas! father," said he, recovering himself, "how can I face the enemies from whom you are compelled to flee?"
"Begin as I began at Aigle," replied Farel, "where I was a school-master at first and taught little children, so that even the priests gave me liberty to preach. True, they soon repented, and even now I seem to hear the curate exclaiming, 'I would sooner have lost my right hand than introduced this man, for he will ruin all our business.' But it was too late; the word of God had begun its work, and the mass and images fell."
A new school-master in Geneva—an Ursinus! The plan began to appear wise and to win upon Froment. It would be an achievement to gain a position in the city that had driven out the prophets.
"You fear the men of Geneva," said Farel, who noticed that Froment was entertaining his plan. "But were you not with me when I planted the gospel at Bienne, and at Tavannes, and near that mountain (Pierre Pertuis) which Julius Cassar tunnelled? Were you not with me when I went to Neufchatel and preached in the streets? Do you not remember that we very often received our rent, that is blows and abuse; once especially, at Valangin, where my blood remained for more than four years on the pavement of a little chapel, near which the women and priests bruised my head against the walls, so that
both of us were nearly killed?"
These remembrances were not very encouraging. Some of the council sided with Farel; others thought that a man of twenty-two was too young to face the fearful storm in Geneva. Froment was not decided. Another thought was struggling for the chief place in Farel's mind.
Those Bibles and teachers for the Waldenses, must be in readiness. Again and again did Farel talk to Olivetan about the proposed version, as they met with their friends, sat together in private, or walked under the noble oaks of Yvonand. After much pre-ssisg* the scholar consented to make the translation, and a great victory was gained for the poor Christians of the valleys. They should have a good version of the Scriptures. But a journey was necessary. "Cross the Alps," said Farel, in his commanding way; "go to the Waldensian valleys, and come to an understanding with the brethren about the translation. And you, Adam, Martin, and Guido, go with him and preach to them the doctrine that will correct all their errors.''
These four men set out, and had reason to use every caution lest the Duke of Savoy and his officers should seize them. They travelled by night in the last days of October. A guide led them onward, and the second day they were at Yevay where they dined and spoke of the "Bread of heaven." Then they entered Farel's old district, where his voice first proclaimed the gospel to the French Swiss. At Aigle they were welcomed, and the people gathered to hear them, happy to know that their former teacher, Ursinus, had become so great a man in the world, and happier still to hear afresh the good word of grace. Near to Bex brother Martin was attacked with severe pain. No house was open to receive him, and the walnut trees would not shelter him. What could his friends do? Some one told them of Ollen, where lived the minister Claude, preaching to a little flock that Farel had once gathered. They went, carrying the sick man, and reached the door, where Claude met them. The pastor was touched at the sight of a sick man and invited the strangers in. On a sudden the voice of a violent, pitiless, scolding woman was heard, '' What's this, a sick man? If you receive him into the house, I will leave it.''
The travellers saw that Claude was unfortunate in having a Xantippe for a wife. Her voice rose higher and higher; he durst not say a word; she disappeared in a passion, and he was sorely vexed and ashamed. "We will not be the cause of a divorce," said prudent Adam; "we will go away." So away they went, poor Claude not daring to harbour them. All of them were soon sick with what Adam called cholera. At last they dragged themselves to a wretched cottage, where they got a little comfort for large pay. Rest and the mountain air somewhat repaired their broken health. Other anxieties came, which they bore with good humour. "Alas," said Adam, the purser, smiling, as he held up the wallet, l' our purse has been seized with such cruel pains that there is scarcely anything left of it." They met one of the monks of St. Bernard, and spoke to him of the way of life. He listened and was convinced. Said he,— 1' I will quit Anti-Christ.''
Adam took a paper, wrote something, handed it to the monk, and said,—"Here is a letter for Master Farel; go to him, and he will tell you what you have to do.'' What became of the monk we know not; but the missionaries finally reached the Waldensian valleys, and began to teach and preach. Some of these Alpine shepherds went on foot a two days' journey to hear them. Poor as these Christians were, they handed over to Olivetan five hundred gold crowns, and urged him to hasten forward the work of giving them a new translation of the Bible. It was finished in 1535, and in the preface he says; "It is to Thee alone that I dedicate this precious treasure, in the name of a certain poor people, who, ever since they were enriched with it by the apostles and ambassadors of Christ, have still possessed and enjoyed the same."*
In the room of an inn at Geneva was a young man, who had felt something far more chilling than the winds of the early November. He had met the piercing coldness of the people. He had tried to talk with one and another, but they were very short with the stranger, who imagined that he could not preach with the chance of an audience. He looked about for some acquaintance, whom he could draw aside and tell his plans; but all faces were strange, He went to some of the leading Huguenots. They looked at his mean appearance rather than listened to his words; they intimated that Geneva was an important and learned city, and the accomplished Roman clergy must be opposed by a fine gentleman of a minister, or a celebrated doctor; and the little man was politely bowed out of their houses. Those who seemed willing to hear the gospel stared at him with contemptuous eyes. "Alas!" said he, "I cannot tell what to do, except to return, for I find no open door to preach the word." Yvonand would receive him again—for this was Anthony Froment. It cost the little flock there a struggle to give him up; they had wept at the parting with blessings and prayers.
"*IIe made much use of Lefevre's version of the New Testament, hut rendered certain words in terms less objectionable than those used in the Romish church. He says,—" If any one is surprised at not finding certain words in my translation, such as pope, cardinal, archbishop, abbot, prior, monk, he must know that I did not find them there, (in Scripture,) and for that reason I have not changed them."