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and there, staring at some new wonder. The groups become crowds. Houses are left empty, the streets are filled with readers, talkers, murmurers. Men and women, young and old, priests and friars, gather in front of the placards, and read with amazement these strange words—
God, Our Heavenly Father,
A General Pardon Of All His Sins
To Every One Who Feels Sincere Repentance,
A Lively Faith In The Death And Promises
Of Jesus Christ.
'This surely cannot be a Papal indulgence,' say certain Huguenots, 'for money is not mentioned in it. Salvation given freely must certainly come from heaven/
'A defiance of the Pope's pardon,' cry the priests, in wrath that grows fiercer as they overhear the talk of the delighted readers. They insulted those whom they suspected had posted up 'the general pardon of Jesus Christ.' They not only used their fists, but more deadly weapons. They made a great uproar, and tried to tear down the placards. But the patriotic party, now called Lutherans by the priests, would not allow this to be done. Two parties were soon organized; those who defended the placards, and those who wanted to pull them down. One leader from each were to have a small battle.
A certain canon, Wernly of Friburg, hearing the tumult, rushed out of his house, went toward the cathedral of St. Peter, and caught sight of the placard on the pillar. He flew at it, clenched it, and tore it down, uttering a coarse oath. There he stood, a burly, active fanatic, who could handle a sword as skilfully as the censer, and give a blow as readily as a blessing.
A Genevese patriot saw what was done, and, walking up to the pillar, calmly put another paper in the place of the one torn down. All saw that he was Goulaz, a bold spirit, who could brave those whom he despised. The Friburger lost all self-control, and forgetting the placard, he rushed upon the heretic, dealing him a lusty blow. Then he drew his sword (for the canons wore swords at that time), but Goulaz was ready to meet him with his own weapons. In the struggle, Wernly was wounded in the arm. Upon this there was a general tumult, that increased and extended through the whole city. The magistrates were scarcely able to prevent a fierce battle in the streets*
The noise of this affair soon reached Friburg, where it was said that the placards were the result of the sermons of a certain schoolmaster, who had taught that the pardon of God was to be preferred before all the indulgences of the Pope. This Romish city would not be satisfied until the council of Geneva forbade any more papers to be posted up without their permission, and ordered that ' for the present the schoolmaster should cease to preach the gospel.' The priests went about visiting every family, and demanding the surrender of every New Testament.
'The priests want to rob us of the gospel of Jesus Christ,' murmured the people, 'and in its place give us what? Romish fables! Really it is quite enough to hear them at church.' The councillors were urged to show themselves Christians. Often had Olivetan told them that there was no intention of introducing a new religion, but of returning to the old. This was easily understood. The friends of the Reformation in the council began to speak boldly for the word and the people's right to read it. It was ordered by the council that 'in every parish and convent the gospel should be preached.' This was the first official act in Geneva favourable to the Reformation.
The great pardon of Jesus Christ began to be understood and embraced by numbers of people. The placards announcing it mark an important epoch in the history of Geneva. From the little town of Payerne, where Anthony Saunier was pastor, came to the Genevese one of the best letters ever penned. We quote one of the first and one of the last sentences. 'We have heard that the glory of God is with you. ... Be the standard-bearers upon earth of the colours of our Saviour, so that by your means the holy gospel may be borne into many countries.'
THE PREACHERS AT THE INN.
|N a fine October day two travellers, the one riding a white horse, and the other a black one, entered Geneva, stopped at the Tour Perce, dismounted, addressed" the landlord, and took up their quarters under his roof. He would never forget them, for the little slender man with a red beard and sun-burnt face was William Farel, and the other was Anthony Saunier, now on their return from the visit to the Waldenses. One of their first thoughts was to inform Robert Olivetan of their arrival.
The schoolmaster hastened to meet them, supposing that the gospel in Geneva was to be the first and last topic of conversation. But Farel had another idea which must first be mentioned. He had fixed on this excellent Greek and Hebrew scholar to translate the Bible for the Waldenses.
* I cannot accept such a commission,' said the modest teacher. 'The work is difficult, and I am not qualified.'
'Your excuses cannot be admitted. God gives you this call, and He has prepared you for the task.'
* You could do this work much better yourself,' still urged the accomplished scholar.
'God has not given me leisure,' replied Farel. 'He calls me to another work. He wills me to sow the pure seed of the word in His field, and water it, and make it flourish like the garden of Eden.' The subject was changed to matters in the city.
Out of his pocket Farel took the letters given him at Berne for some of the chief Huguenots. They went and made several calls, talking as they went of the late affairs in the streets. The Huguenots opened the letters, and found that a famous man was in town. They looked at him with gratitude to Berne, to him, and to God. Certainly he should preach, not simply because Berne requested them to hear him, but because they expected that this great preacher would bring the light of heaven into their hearts. Farel left them for the night, saying that he would be happy to see them at his inn.
The great missionary had come! It was the best of news to the Huguenots. . 'Let us go and hear him,' they said; 'he is the man they call the scourge of the little priests.' But there was wrath among the bigots, the friars, and the nuns. They knew what to expect . Jeanne de Jussie, a literary nun, wrote thus in venting her feelings: 'A shabby little preacher, one Master William of Dauphiny, has just arrived in the city.'
To a room in the Tour Perce many of the noted citizens and councillors went the next morning to be instructed. The landlord brought in some benches and stools, and Farel took his station near a little table. On it he placed a Bible, and he drew from it the faith that he preached. He set forth before this select audience, in which were the earliest champions of modern liberty, both Romanism and the Reformation. They saw the former was all wrong; the latter they wished to embrace.