Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER XIII.
THE HUGUENOTS APPEAR.

[graphic]

(IS3I-IS32-)

!.E prudent; do not rashly expose yourself to danger, but take good care of yourself for the Lord's future service.' Thus wrote Zwingle to Farel, when this suffering missionary was labouring to sound the gospel through all the country, from Berne to Basle.

'Take good care of yourself also,' was the reply; 'for far greater danger threatens you than me.' The warning was too late. Zwingle had fallen on the battle-field. But such words were just like Farel. He scarcely thought of himself. No reformer was more like St. Paul, in his zeal, his feebleness of body, his strength of spirit, his perils, and his journeys. It is not possible for us to follow him into every town that he surprised, every pulpit where he was attacked, nor every little new church where he often brake bread with the glad disciples.

On the shore of Lake Neufchatel, at the entrance of the town of Grandson, stood the large convent of the Gray Friars. Two men came to its door one day, rang the bell, and were shown into the parlour. The superior, Friar Guy Regis, met them, and asked what they wanted. They told him they intended to see that the gospel was preached in the town, and, in passing the convent, they had said to each other that this was the place to begin. They coolly begged him, 'in the name of the Lords of Berne,' to grant them the use of the chapel. And if he wished to know who they were, there were their commissions, bearing the names of Farel and De Glautinis, the minister of Tavannes. The friar had heard of them, and he knew all that was still going on at Orbe; and, if he could help it, the like should never occur at Grandson. It was insolent to ask what they did ; he was resolute enough to repay their bold impudence. 'Heretic!' said he to Farel. 'Son of a Jew!' cried a listening monk. This was not a very encouraging reception. They left, and some friends put them upon another track. 'Go to the priory, on the hill.'

Soon they were knocking at the door of the Benedictine convent, where several monks appeared. They had a hint of the arrival of the missionaries, and with their eyes they measured them from head to foot. Farel asked permission to preach, when a loud uproar arose in the cloister. One friar came forward with a knife hid under his frock, and thought to put an end to the 'heretic who was disturbing all the churches.' The sacristan pointed a pistol at Farel with one hand, and, seizing him with the other, tried to drag him into the prison. De Glautinis sprang forward, when the monk with the knife fell upon him. The friends of the preachers, waiting at the door, and hearing the noise, rushed in and tore them from the stout arms of the monks. The gates were closed in scorn, and for two weeks remained shut, so great was the fear of these reformers. Farel went to Morat; but De Glautinis began to preach in the streets and private houses of the towns. Guy Regis led the whole array of the monks against him. Guy would not debate with him there; but if he would only go to some far-off city, he would prove that his preaching was mere witchcraft. After such a valiant proposal, attended with roaring abuse from the monks, the troupe made their retreat behind the convent walls, where they, perhaps, talked of the terrors of the most notable year in the history of Grandson. The castle had once been defended for ten days against the assaults and artillery of the Burgundian army. Famine came, and the garrison accepted the offered pardon, and surrendered. Charles the Bold received them, and vented upon them the outrages of revenge. Two days afterwards his crime returned upon his own head, and, being defeated by the Swiss, he was compelled to fly for his life across the mountains, with only five followers. His splendid baggage is still among the antiquities of Geneva. Perhaps these Benedictines imagined that they had resisted Farel, and that no spiritual famine would ever cause them to yield their fortress. They may have supposed that he had fled, and resolved never to appear again in their streets.

The Lords of Berne heard of the treatment given their ministers, and some of them came to Grandson. Wishing to give the people the liberty of hearing the gospel without hindrance, they ordered the convent churches to be thrown open, whatever might be the will of the Benedictines. They sent for Farel, who brought Viret with him. It was but six days after his first sermon, and Viret was fully in the work. The three preachers gave the friars the privilege of hearing the truth every day. The priests excited the people; the reformers were in and out of prison; Farel was struck by an officer when questioning a friar; he and Watteville, a Bernese deputy, were met in the church by two monks armed with axes; Watteville had them arrested, and after the friar ended his sermon, Farel went forward and refuted it. These two monks, within two years after, renounced Popery, and preached the truth which they had once opposed.

One day the preachers were holding service in the church, when a troupe of women had the masculine boldness to rush in and put an end to the preaching. The congregation, at first, tried to resist them; but it was hard to employ force against the gentler sex, especially when their will was taking such a furious way to carry a point. Farel and his companions left the women in charge of affairs, until the people should prefer a change. They went into the surrounding villages and raised up majorities for the Reformation. Grandson at length gave the right vote; and John le Compte, a young man whom Farel had known in Meaux and invited into Switzerland, became its minister. If history be silent, charity inclines us to imagine that those women received him as their good pastor, and gave their zeal to , a better cause.

What Switzerland needed was religious liberty, so that priests and preachers might have a proper freedom of speech, and the people the free choice of their mode of worship. Berne had laboured for it, but Papal Friburg wanted the liberty all on their own side. Little Orbe was to claim this one-sided freedom so madly, that the rights of the preachers were to be declared equal to those of the priests. It was on this wise. On Christmas eve, 1531, a minister—it may have been Viret—was in the church preaching upon the coming of the Saviour into the world and into the hearts of men. Certain bigots peeped in, and, seeing an attentive crowd, exclaimed, 'The devil must have sent a good many there!' The time for the midnight devotions of the Romanists had not come; but when the clock struck nine, another crowd entered the gates to raise a riot. The gospel party quietly retired; the priest party set upon them in the streets, where houses were assaulted, blows given, blood shed, and heads broken. The preachers were not at fault; they were simply using the church when the priests had left it empty. Viret, with ten of the reformed, went to Berne to plead for religious liberty.

A sort of council was there held the first days of January, consisting of two hundred and thirty ministers, and many laymen. They heard Friburg, the champion of Popery, and Berne, the staunch advocate of Protestantism. 'We desire,' said the Bernese, 'that every one should have free choice to go to the preaching or to the mass.'

'And we also,' said the Friburgers.

'We desire that all should live in peace, and that neither priests nor preachers should call their adversaries heretics or murderers.'

'And we also,' said the Friburgers.

'We do not wish to hinder the priests and preachers from amicably discussing matters of faith.'

'Quite right,' said the Friburgers. Thus, articles for securing religious liberty were drawn, signed, and published. It is to be regretted that they were not faithfully kept, and that the Romanists, who thought discussion was folly, did not regard persecution as a crime.

We return to Farel. 'Even were my father alive, I could not find time to write to him,' was his frequent

« AnteriorContinuar »