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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.
FA REUS TURNING-POINT.
"O exiles met on foreign shores with greater joy than did the aged Lefevre and Farel, his disciple at Paris, his co-worker at Meaux, his dear son in the faith. The wrinkled hand of the one had first guided the steps of the other; and after a separation, in which months were as years, they both poured out their hearts together. But the disciple was now really in advance of his master; for Lefevre had not entirely separated himself from the Romish Church. He and his patron, the Bishop of Meaux, had hoped to aid a reform in that Church, and see it brought back to apostolic purity. The bishop had been subdued, the doctor expelled.
'Do you remember,' said Farel, 'what you once told me when we were both sunk in darkness, saying, "William, God will renew the world, and you will see it?" Here is the beginning of what you foresaw.'
'Yes,' answered the pious old man. 'God is renewing the world. My dear son, continue to preach boldly the gospel of Jesus Christ.'
It delighted this man, who had first lifted his voice in
Paris and found it would not be heard, to listen to the preaching at Strasburg. It was just what he intended to teach. 'He seemed to have been born a second time to the Christian life.' The French refugees had formed a 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 Roussel (Le-Roux) 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 borrowed 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 Rhine, 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.1
To this zealous man was given the work of a peacemaker. 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
1 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 utterly incredible, 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 he 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 him by experience to be.'—Calviris Letters, No. ciii., A.D. 1543.