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NOT BATTLES, BUT BOOKS.
(1500-1512.) SCOUNG FAREL was sincere, although super
Ve stitious. He believed in Romish miracles, S
and wished to see whatever pretended to be
one. But he was not willing that ignorance should be the mother of his devotion. He thirsted for knowledge. And if the Bible had not been a forbidden book, he must have found the truth at an early age. He knew of no such book as the word of God. He asked permission to study.
Study what?' we imagine his father saying. "Whatever is taught in the best schools. I want to be something in the world.'
‘Be a soldier, then. Put on the armour that hangs in the hall, take the rosary for your heart, and the sword in your hand, and enter the service of Gaston de Foix, or fight for the Pope; he needs brave warriors now. Let the sword-hilt be your cross, and you may become a valorous knight before you are grey.'
1 The rosary of Dominic was a necklace of beads intended to ensure the repetition of the Lord's prayer' fifteen times a day, and that of “Hail Mary' one hundred and fifty times, the beads being passed through the fingers as the task was accomplished. This invention was thought such an honour, that the Dominicans were some. times called the Order of the Rosary.
'I would rather be a scholar. Let me read of Cæsar before I try to be like Cæsar. Let knowledge be my armour, and the pen be my sword. I want not battles, but books.'
'Folly, my son! War leads to greatness. Whose name is now on every breeze that comes across the Alps ? That of our neighbour, the Chevalier Bayard, the brave knight without fear and without reproach. All Dauphiny is talking of him, since his victory in the battle of the Taro. Like him, be fearless and stainless, and you will come to the honours of knighthood.'
‘Such are not the honours I wish.'
'Not an honour for one to say, with the Chevalier Bayard, “My soul is God's, and my life is my country's!" Not an honour to guard a bridge against a legion of foes ! And when he rebuķes profane swearing, and is told it is only a little fault, hear him say, “Sir, that cannot be a trifling fault which is a great sin of the age.” And when a family, in whose house he lodges, offers him a large sum of money for protecting it from the pillage of soldiers, he refuses it, because he defends it for goodness' sake, and not for gold. Be noble, then, and brave as Bayard. This is your best road to glory.
Thus the father opposed the taste for study which his son manifested; but the young man persisted in having a chance to indulge it. Nobler conflicts and victories were before him than those of the famous Chevalier, and God had His good hand upon him. He was to be clad with “the whole armour of God,' and wield 'the sword of the Spirit.' Long and earnestly did he plead with his father, who felt it to be a great blow to all his hopes of seeing the young noble enter upon a military career; but at last the old gentleman gave way, and began to inquire for a competent teacher.
The learned schoolmaster was not then abroad in the land. If priests. were the instructors, the education of the mind was likely to be at the expense of the morals. Young Farel would have gained little from the schools of Dauphiny, had there not been in him the strong spirit of self-help. In the text-books the wheat and the tares grew together, and the teachers could scarcely point out the difference between them, or show the students what to gather into the garner, and what to burn in the fire. But he applied himself to his books as zealously as ever Bayard pushed on into the battle. The difficulties only fired him with ardour to overcome them; and, having acquired the most of what his native province could afford, he turned his eyes to the brighter lights of the capital city.
The University of Paris had long been renowned in the Christian world. It was described as the mother of all learning, the true lamp of the Church, which never knew eclipse; that clear and polished mirror of the faith, dimmed by no cloud, and spotted by no touch.' Thus it appeared to the devout Romanist, and thus to the young aspiring Dauphinese. To the Protestant eye of Milman, before whose clear vision marched the centuries of Latin Christianity, it rose stately in its superiority, and powerful in its independence. He says, “If Bologna might boast her civil lawyers, Salerno her physicians, Paris might vie with these great schools in their peculiar studies, and in herself concentrated the fame of all, especially of the highest—theology. The University of
Paris had its inviolable privileges, its own endowments, government, laws, magistrates, jurisdiction ; it was a state within a state, a city within a city, a church within a church. It refused to admit within its walls the serjeants of the Mayor of Paris, and the apparitors of the Bishop of Paris; it opened its gates sullenly and reluctantly to the king's officers.'
If it excelled in theology, how low must have been the standard of theological attainments! The principal department of theology was called the Sorbonne. The
true lamp of the Church' must have been too dim for an eclipse to be possible, when its doctors 'looked upon the study of Greek and Hebrew as the most deadly heresy.' They had declared to the parliament that religion is ruined, if you permit the study of Greek and Hebrew.' They must have agreed with the monks, who asserted that all heresies arose from those two languages, and particularly from the Greek.' And why this hatred to these two languages ? Because in them the Bible was written. If they were studied, the Bible would be read, and the errors of their Church exposed. One of them was bold to say, “The New Testament is a book full of serpents and thorns. Greek is a new and recently invented language, and we must be upon our guard against it. As for Hebrew, my dear brethren, it is certain that all who learn it immediately become Jews !
But, in spite of the Sorbonne, there was in Paris a revival of learning; and the man who led the advance was a proof of the saying, “The last shall be first.' Who had supposed that the young William Budæus, giving the rein to his passions, fond of the chase, and living only for his hawks, his horses, and his hounds,' would ever cherish in himself, and awaken in others, a thirst for a
purer literature? Yet there was a rein upon him, held in the unseen band of God. "On a sudden, at the age of twenty-three, he stopped short, soid his hunting-train, and applied himself to study with the zeal he had formerly displayed in scouring the fields and forests with his dogs.' It was his honour to be the chief cause of the revival under Francis the First. So devoted was he to his studies, that he seemed to have little memory for anything else. Even on the very day of his marriage he forgot what was expected of him. The hour for the wedding came, but he did not appear. A messenger was sent to tell him that the affair could not proceed unless he was present, and he was found absorbed in writing his ‘Commentaries. But he consented to drop his pen, and be married to one who could sympathize with him in his pursuits, and aid his memory. His wife was of great assistance to him in his studies, and used to find out and mark the various passages suitable to his purpose. In a rare book, in the British Museum, is another anecdote about his literary devotion. One day the servants came running to him, in a great fright, crying out
"Sir, sir, the house is on fire!'
“Why do you not tell your mistress of it?' replied Buddeus, coolly. 'You know I never trouble myself about the house.'
This man, no doubt, did much to call attention to Erasmus, who, toiling up from obscure orphanage, had given all his time to learning; spent his money, when he could get any, upon Greek authors; entered a convent, but soon left it in disgust; came to Paris, and studied at the university, and was soon to bring out his edition of the Greek Testament. Budæus may have aided the influence of John Reuchlin, who had passed through the