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apology for silence. Yet he seized moments to address a noble letter to the suffering Christians of France, from whose numbers many young men were coming to labour in Switzerland. He now became interested in another body of sufferers on the slopes of the Italian Alps—the Waldenses.
For two or three years there were strange reports circulated among the infant churches which were forming between the Alps and the Jura. They heard of a wonderful people who had never been Papists, and had always been what they were struggling to be. These people had a simple faith, simple worship, simple form of government, and had been driven by Rome into the coldest recesses of Piedmont, and they were the most remarkable Christians ever known. But while these reports were coming over the snow-crowned mountains, other reports met them on the way. The Waldenses had rumours among them of the mighty work of God in the lands of the Rhine and the Rhone. Their preachers must go and see what Luther, and Farel, and Zwingle, and their increasing hosts were doing and believing. They went on foot, and visited Germany, France, England, and Switzerland, giving and receiving encouragement. They invited commissioners to their next Synod in Piedmont.
One day there came to Grandson two men, whose foreign look showed that they had come from a distance. It was in July 1532. They wished to speak with Farel. George of Calabria and Martin Gonin entered the room. They spoke of their people, their faith, their antiquity, and how they had not left Rome, for Rome had long ago left them. They had continued in the apostles' word and doctrine. Probably they said what some of their brethren, seated in the friendly house of CEcolampadius, had said to him. 'Some people ascribe our origin to a wealthy citizen of Lyons, Peter Waldo, who saw one of his friends fall dead at a feast. Moved at the sight, and troubled in conscience, he prayed to the Lord, sold his goods, and began to preach, and sent others to proclaim the gospel everywhere. But we descend from more ancient times, when Constantine was introducing the world into the church, and our fathers set themselves apart; or even from the time of the apostles.' Farel was delighted with the brethren, and with joy accepted their invitation to attend their Synod.
No time was to be lost,—Farel never had any to lose. He took with him Anthony Saunier, a Dauphinese, who knew Popery by hard experience, having lain in prison at Paris fourteen years, for daring to believe what his Redeemer taught. Certain friends had fears for their safety. Everywhere there were persecutions, and in Savoy and Dauphiny the bishops had specially 'ordered a raid to be made upon the heretics.' In the last days of August they passed by the caverns of Pignerol, in which the Waldenses had once their retreats and their temples; they passed La Tour, where every rock was a memorial of persecutions and martyrdoms; they went on to Angrogna. There the Synod was to meet, in the parish of Martin Gonin. The people were in the fields and in the roads, ready 'to be a guard to the ministers of the good law.'
'That one with the red beard and riding the white horse is Farel,' said John Peyret of Angrogna, the escort, to the people who gazed along the way. 'The other, on the black horse, is Saunier.' There was a third, 'a tall man and rather lame,' a Waldensian, perhaps, who had joined them. Other 'foreign Christians' were gathering in this remote valley.
On the 12th of September the Synod was opened 'in the name of God.' Farel was the leading man in favour of urging the Waldenses to renounce the Papal errors that had slowly crept in among them, or been forced upon them by the violence of the Romanists. The other party contended that they should compromise a little, in order to save their lives and their church. Farel gained his point with most of them. They confessed their errors and signed a covenant of faith and love.
It greatly interested Farel and Saunier to examine the old manuscripts, preserved for centuries, among which was the Noble Lesson, saying—
The Scriptures speak, and we must believe.
And they looked at several manuscript copies of the Bible, which the Waldenses showed them with peculiar pride, saying, 'These were copied correctly by hand so long ago as to be beyond memory, and are to be seen in several families.' The visitors were moved as they turned over the leaves, 'marvelling at the heavenly favour accorded to so small a people.'
Farel proposed to the Synod that measures should be taken to have the Bible and other books translated, printed, and circulated among the Waldenses, and to establish schools in all their parishes. They agreed 'joyfully and with good hearts to Farel's demand.' The hour came to adjourn and separate. The pastors returned to their churches, the shepherds to their flocks, the lords to their castles, and never forgot that people whose church has been 'the burning bush of Christendom.' Farel and Saunier shook hands with the villagers, who wept to see them go, mounted their horses and rode on, talking of teachers and translators, books and Bibles for the Waldenses. They were directing their way to an ancient city, where Caesar had built long walls against the Helvetii, and where Popery had thrown up entrenchments against the Reformation. We turn now to Geneva, which God is about to make renowned for a theology that has been called 'the grandest form of the grandest faith in heaven or on earth.' The truth of the motto on her shield was being proved: 'After darkness I wait for light.'
It was no sudden purpose, formed along the way, that led Farel to Geneva. It had long been in his mind; and before starting for Italy, he had resolved to stop there on his return. With that intent he had obtained from the Lords of Berne certain letters of introduction to the leading Huguenots of Geneva. 'I will go to them,' said he; 'I will speak to them, even if there is nobody that will hear me.'
This plan of Farel is the beginning of the positive work of the reformation in Geneva. But it was not the beginning of the movement against the Papacy and the bishops. For years in that city Rome had been opposed by a band of patriots who sought liberty in the state, but cared less for a new life in the Church. Young Geneva had already been shaking old Rome. To understand the difficult work before Farel, it is quite important to trace the rise of the patriots, and see how they came to be called Huguenots.
There came to Geneva, in ^13, a brilliant young man, full of good-humour, making himself easily a favourite with everybody, laughing at almost everything, with wit sparkling on his pen, and Virgil and Cicero at his tongue's end. The priests admired him, the people loved him, and he was the hero of the hour. He could amuse his company, or in solitude prove himself one of the best French writers of his times. This agreeable scholar was Francis Bonivard, known in poetry as the prisoner of Chillon. 'He was to play in Geneva, by his liberalism, his information, and his cutting satires, a part not very unlike that played by Erasmus in the great Reformation.' With him there were two subjects too serious for a jest: one was the revival of letters, and the other was the love of liberty. He was born at Seyssel, and was in high favour with Charles in., Duke of Savoy, the worst of foes to Geneva. 'He was educated at Turin, where he became the ringleader of the wild set at the university.' This, in the duke's eyes, qualified him for a work similar to that of Catiline when he sought to gain his treasonable plots by corrupting the youth of Rome. Charles was intent upon drawing Geneva into the snare, and annexing it to his dominions. The jovial Bonivard seemed to be just the man to prove 'an excellent bait to entice the youth of the city into the nets of Savoy.'
He soon met a genial companion. Philibert Berthelier, with three centuries of noble blood in his veins, was the leader of a rising party in the city. In April 1513 he had lamented the death of Charles de Seyssel, the bishop and prince of Geneva. This 'right good person,' ever mild and frank, was, 'for a wonder, a great champion of both ecclesiastical and secular liberty.' He wished Geneva to remain with a free state and a free church. Duke Charles had sharply quarrelled with him, saying, 'I made you bishop, but I will unmake you, and you shall be the poorest priest in the diocese.' The bishop had just returned from a pilgrimage, and he suddenly