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trembling converts in that city. They were in peril. The chevalier obtained some books from Farel, who was still at Montbeliard; and, traversing the forests, reached Metz early in 1525. The priests knew why he came, and watched all his movements.
It seems that in June of 1525, Toussaint and Farel made a journey to Metz,1 intending to take a firm stand in that field. They requested a hearing before their lordships, The Thirteen; this being refused, they appealed to the highest civil authority. But it was discovered by them that the agents of Beda were on the ground. They had exposed themselves to a masked battery. Plans were already laid for seizing and casting them into prison. Seeing the danger, they quickly left the city, and travelled all night, lest they should be overtaken. It was a timely escape, for the heresy hunters were sweeping down upon Lorraine.
The Chevalier Esch had not been able to escape the eyes and suspicions of the priests in Metz. They discovered that he kept up a communication with the gospel Christians; and this was enough. They arrested him and threw him into a prison at Pont-a-Mousson, about five miles from Metz, on the banks of the Moselle. Others were seized in the neighbouring parishes. Among them was the pastor, Schuch, of St. Hypolyte. A guard of brutal men brought him to trial, and the judge heaped abuse upon him. The pastor made no reply to these epithets; but, holding in his hands a Bible, all covered
1 So D'Aubigne, History of the Reformation, vol. iii. book xii. ch. xiv. No little difficulty has been found in harmonizing all the dates in reference to these two men, especially this visit of Toussaint, and his sojourn at Paris, where he was imprisoned, as stated hereafter.
with notes, he meekly, and with great power, faced the inquisitors with the truth. They were amazed and • enraged; and tearing from him his Bible 'like mad dogs,' says the chronicler, 'unable to bite his doctrine, they burned it in their convent.' He was afterwards sent to the stake, where he continued to recite passages until the smoke and flames stifled his voice.
The refugees could not receive letters from their friends, nor write to them, without exposing some hidden believer to danger. An intercepted letter might betray him. One man, however, dared to carry tidings from France to Basle, by sewing a letter, which bore no signature, in his doublet. He escaped the bands of detectives, and laid before the exiles the sad account of what was going on in the kingdom. At Paris, Meaux, Metz, Lyons, everywhere that any trace of the Christians could be found, there was persecution to the death. 'It is frightful,' Toussaint wrote to Farel, 'to hear of the cruelties inflicted,'
Yet these strong-hearted exiles and their persecuted friends kept up their courage. The gates of hell should not prevail against the true church of God. 'In vain were all the Parliaments on the watch; in vain did the spies of the Sorbonne and of the monks creep into churches, colleges, and even private families, to catch up any word that might fall unwarily; in vain did the soldiers arrest on the highways everything that bore the stamp of the Reformation;' for some would escape, and others confound their inquisitors' with shame and defeat. These Frenchmen had faith in better days to come. But not from man had the refugees any hope. 'Those who have begun the dance,' said Toussaint, 'will not stop on the road.' They could only trust that God would end their ' Babylonish captivity.'
The Chevalier Esch escaped from his prison and met his friend at Strasburg. This fact soon was known to Toussaint, who immediately wrote to Farel, saying, ' For the honour of God, endeavour to prevail on the knight, our worthy master (if it becomes us to have any master on earth), to return to Metz as speedily as possible, for our brethren have great need of such a leader.' Esch therefore went back, to expose himself to the wiles of his enemies.
It was not Toussaint's disposition to send others to the battle and not join it himself. He was eager to engage in the cause, although CEcolampadius said, '1 wish my dear lords of France would not be so hasty in returning to their own country, for the devil is spreading his snares on every side.' But the young exile felt that a prison could not be much worse than the house of the ignorant and contentious priest with whom he lodged. He turned his eye toward Paris. There the youthful James Pavanne of Mcaux, and the aged hermit of Livry, had been burned, and the fires were still smoking. There no one could name the Reformation without risking his life. But was not this a reason why he should go? Thither, it appears from his letters, he went, and he entered the university. Instead of the rioting which held sway in the college while Farel was a student, he found an intense fanaticism for Popery. He sought to form an acquaintance with some of the brethren who were secretly imitating Farel's example, especially in the College of Lemoine, where he and Lefevre had taught. But this only exposed him to danger.
One day certain officers arrested him. A duke and an abbot, who are unknown now, had pointed him out to the agents of Beda as a heretic. He was cast into prison. While in chains he prayed to God, and dwelt on the names of his friends, Roussel, and Lefevre, and Farel, and CEcolampadius, that gentle father, said he, 'whose work I am in the Lord.' Death seemed hanging over him; and his mother, his uncle, the Dean of Metz, and the Cardinal of Lorraine, made him the most lavish offers if he would recant. But he could not thus be moved. 'I despise them,' said he; 'I know they are a temptation of the devil. I would rather suffer hunger. I would rather be a slave in the house of the Lord, than dwell with riches in the palaces of the wicked.' Then boldly confessing his faith, he exclaimed, ' It is my glory to be called a heretic, by those whose lives and doctrines are opposed to Jesus Christ.' He signed his letters to Farel, 'Peter Toussaint, unworthy to be called a Christian.'
The date of his release we cannot find. It seems that he soon after resolved to go to Metz, not to yield to his uncle and mother, but to assist the Chevalier Esch. On reaching Louvain he was betrayed, and arrested by his former friend, Theodore Chamond, the abbot of St. Anthony. This abbot was well known as a cruel, violent, merciless man. He was not touched by the youth, the candour, or the weak health of his victim. He threw him into a horrible dungeon, full of abominations, where the young evangelist could hardly stand. With his shoulders pressing against the wall, and his feet planted on the only spot which the water did not reach, and almost stifled by poisonous vapours, he called to mind the cheerful house of his uncle, the Dean of Metz, and the gorgeous palace of the Cardinal of Lorraine, where he had once been so kindly received while he believed in the Pope. What a contrast now! And how cheaply might he buy it all back, and flourish again in the homes of the great! Only renounce his religion, and all would be happy. But no! If he did not suspect that such a course would gain him only penances and humiliations at the hands of those who wanted to make a terrifying example of him, he knew that he would bring his soul into the deepest wretchedness. But where were the days when, as a child, he learned from his mother to say, * Antichrist will soon come and destroy all who are not converted?' He thought that time had arrived. His imagination was excited. He saw himself dragged to punishment . He screamed aloud, and was near dying of fright . All who saw him were interested in one so young, so feeble, and scarcely able to bear his weight on his feet. He was so mild, so child-like, so harmless, that even the cruel abbot knew not how to justify his death.
This persecutor thought that if he could search Toussaint's books and papers, he might find some excuse for burning him. One day the monks came to his vile pit, and led him out to see the abbot. 'Write to your host at Basle,' said the crafty Romanist, 'and tell him that you want your books to amuse your leisure, and beg him to send them to you.' It flashed upon the mind of the young man, that the books were ordered for a far different purpose. He hesitated, and the abbot gave utterance to most terrible threats. The almost helpless hand penned the letter, and he was sent back to his pestilential den. There he must wait, without knowing that the Duchess Margaret would appear as his deliverer.