Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

see a bishop asking persons to drink with him, gambling, rattling the dice, spending his time with hawks and dogs, and in hunting, hallooing after rooks and deer, and frequenting the worst of houses and haunts! . . . . Oh men deserving a severer punishment than Sardanapalus himself!"

Did not Farel remember the "holy cross," and wish the priest of Sainte Croix could hear such reproofs? The tales there told to him when a child now appeared as the baldest lies. He saw too the evidence of a general deception in the use of '' holy relics." The "holy cross" near Tallard was said to be made of the very wood of the one on which Christ was crucified. In Paris he had been adoring another cross of which the same story was told. Yet the wood was of a different kind! For others still there were the same lying pretensions, and he now wondered how her had ever been so stupid as to ^believe that the real cross of Calvary had been preserved. He repented, with deep sorrow, of his blindness, credulity and superstitious reverence.

"When the corruptions of the Romish church" wrote Farel in after years, '' are unveiled to the soul that has been drawn aside by them, its sense of their enormity is so overwhelming, that only the clear exhibition of the welcome doctrine of salvation by Christ can prevent a man from utter despair or losing his senses."

But it was only day-light with the young Dauphinese; not yet was it clear sunshine. Some clouds must be broken and scattered before his noon would come. He had closed the Bible, and he must open it again and from the very fountains drink the crystal waters of eternal life. He must hear, not only the voice of Lefevre, but the voice of Jehovah.

Thus Lefevre preached; thus Farel believed. But, at length, the admiration of the saints returned upon him like a Satanic spell. To pray to them seemed easier than to pray to Christ. They had no merit to give him; they must not be trusted in for salvation; Jesus only was the Saviour on whom his faith must be fixed. He saw all that; but, yet, might not the saints help bear his prayers to God? Christ, alone, must be trusted; but, was Christ alone to be invoked? He was troubled, and he carried his question to Lefevre.

"My dear son," said the spiritual father, "we cannot be sure that the saints hear any words we speak. We know they cannot hear different persons, in different places, at the same time. We are sure that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy G-host, do hear us, and to this holy Trinity only we are at liberty to pray. We must hold to what is certain, and abandon everything that Is doubtful."

"But, the saints have such a feeling for us."

"Jesus has infinitely more. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows us, altogether. No saint can have such a tender sympathy for us as Christ. He, alone, hath trodden the wine-press. He, only, is the Head of the Church. Let us not call ourselves after St. Paul or St. Peter; but, in Christ, let ujf be Christians. Let the servant pray only to the Master. Our prayers must reach the willing ear of God, or they are useless. Then, let them go up directly to him."

The soul of Farel was now shaken by conflict. Two views opened before him. In one he saw the vast array of saints, with the Church on earth; in the other, Jesus Christ, alone, with his beloved teacher. Now, he inclined to the saints, now, to the Saviour. It was his last error, and he must decide his last battle. He was almost carried over to those revered men and women, at whose feet thousands fell adoring. Had he also fallen there, he must have exalted Mary above her divine Son and Lord. But, God struck the blow for him; the spell was broken, the enchantment gone. The saints were in a cloud, and Christ appeared in his glory, as deserving of all adoration. Never could he render him reverence enough. And, why waste adoration upon the holiest saint in paradise? It was robbing the Lord of his right to all the tribute of the heart. Referring to this last conflict, when he for ever renounced the word of the Church, he wrote,—"Then, popery was utterly overthrown. I began to detest it as devilish, and the holy word of Grod had the chief place in my heart.''

"It was necessary," he again wrote, "that popery should fall, little by little, from my heart, for it did not tumble down at the

first shock 0 Lord, would that my soul had served

thee with a living faith, as thy obedient servants have done! Would that it had prayed to thee and honoured thee, as much as I have given my heart to the mass, and to serve that enchanted wafer, giving it all honour! I have known thee too late; too late have I loved thee!"

From the stormy sea, Farel had now reached the port, guided by the light of his aged friend; and no man, who ever exchanged a wrecked and sinking ship for the solid, healthy land, could have been more delighted with the new appearance of all things around him. Days of languor and disgust at sea give the traveller a keen wish for the fruits of the land; and, thus Farel, long soul-sick, but now having a firm footing on the shore of heavenly truth, craved and enjoyed the bread of life in the gospel. The desire for holy truth gives to it an enduring newness, for love never permits its object to seem old. "Now," said he, '' everything appears to me under a new aspect. The Bible has a new face, Scripture is cleared up, prophecy is opened, the apostles shed a strong light on my soul. A voice, till now unknown—the voice of Christ, my Shepherd, my Master, my Teacher—speaks to me with power. So great a change has come over me, that, instead of keeping the murderous heart of a ravening wolf, I have come back quietly, like a meek and harmless lamb, with my heart entirely withdrawn from the pope, and wholly given to Jesus Christ.''

Drawn from the abyss of jfbpery, he must now go deeply into the Bible, enriching himself with its treasures. With absorbing interest he began the study of Greek and Hebrew, without neglecting his other studies, on which he set a just value. In order to hide the word of God in his heart, he read it daily, and God gave him increasing light and life. Now, he gave the Scriptures just the meaning which was apparent in them; what conflicted with them he cast away; what agreed with them he held fast. No longer did he '' keep to the interpretation of the Church, and, indeed, of the pope.'' No more did he think that his "degree in arts" must precede those degrees which the apostle—not the pope—Peter laid down,—"Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.'' "Giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherlykindness; and to brotherly-kindness, charity.'' ** On the walls of many an old church in Europe, one sees a dial, whose only use consists in casting a shadow, that will mark the time of day. Any sort of light will give the hand a shadow. It may be that of a lamp, or of the moon. But only one light can give the right shadow. It must be sunshine, falling direct from the unclouded face of that glorious orb which rules the

day. Thus it is with the Bible. We may read it in the light of its beautiful poetry and touching eloquence; in the light of science and theology; in the light of antiquity and history; in the light of commentaries and sermons; and, while the darkness is driven from the intellect, the soul may derive no spiritual benefit. No mark is there, telling its advance in the circle of Christian graces. Only one light can throw a saving impression of the Bible on the soul, and that is the light of the Holy Spirit. When he shines upon the gospel-page, he carries its power into the heart, and, instead of mere shadows, there are burning beams. The hand of Grod touches the soul, and, beneath every finger, a new grace is started, or an old one revived. These graces are the degrees of the Christian's dial. From the time Farel had first read the Bible, trying in vain to make it agree with the teachings of *the Church, the mark on his soul had gone backward ten degrees. But, now, under the shining of the Spirit, he understands the word, he feels its transforming power, he believes, he rejoices, he grows. He loves the truth, and that love is a mark of his being face to face with the Comforter, and with the Sun of Righteousness, which had risen upon his heart with healing in its wings.

From the study of Church history he derived great benefit; for, by its facts, he uprooted many an error that had grown deep in his mind. He found that, in the early centuries, the Christians prayed to Grod, and not to the saints. They confessed their sins to Christ, and not to a priest. They knew nothing of the mass, the consecrated wafer changed into the very body of the Lord, the stations of the way of the cross, the gazing on pictures, the worship of images, the adoration of relics, the pope and his cardinals, the sign of the cross, the rosary, the holy water, the holy unction, the prayers for the dead, the merit which saints leave for sinners, and the doctrine of purgatory.

« AnteriorContinuar »