« AnteriorContinuar »
and priests bruised my head against the walls, so that both of us were nearly killed?'
These remembrances were not very encouraging. Some of the council sided with Farel; others thought that a man of twenty-two was too young to face the fearful storm in Geneva. Froment was not decided. Another thought was struggling for the chief place in Farel's mind.
Those Bibles and teachers for the Waldenses must be in readiness. Again and again did Farel talk to Olivetan about the proposed version, as they met with their friends, sat together in private, or walked under the noble oaks of Yvonand. After much pressing, the scholar consented to make the translation, and a great victory was gained for the poor Christians of the valleys. They should have a good version of the Scriptures. But a journey was necessary. 'Cross the Alps,' said-Farel, in his commanding way; 'go to the Waldensian valleys, and come to an understanding with the brethren about the translation. And you, Adam, Martin, and Guido, go with him, and preach to them the doctrine that will correct all their errors.'
These four men set out, and had reason to use every caution lest the Duke of Savoy and his officers should seize them. They travelled by night in the last days of October. A guide led them onward, and the second day they were at Vevay, where they dined, and spoke of the • Bread of heaven.' Then they entered Farel's old district, where his voice first proclaimed the gospel to the French Swiss. At Aigle they were welcomed, and the people gathered to hear them, happy to know that their former teacher, Ursinus, had become so great a man in the world, and happier still to hear afresh the good word of grace. Near to Bex brother Martin was attacked with severe pain. No house was open to receive him, and the walnut-trees would not shelter him. What could his friends do? Some one told them of Ollen, where lived the minister Claude, preaching to a little flock that Farel had once gathered. They went, carrying the sick man, and reached the door, where Claude met them. The pastor was touched at the sight of a sick man, and invited the strangers in. On a sudden the voice of a violent, pitiless, scolding woman was heard, 'What's this?—a sick man? If you receive him into the house, I will leave it.'
The travellers saw that Claude was unfortunate in having a Xantippe for a wife. Her voice rose higher and higher; he durst not say a word; she disappeared in a passion, and he was sorely vexed and ashamed. 'We .will not be the cause of a divorce,' said prudent Adam; 'we will go away.' So away they went, poor Claude not daring to harbour them. All of them were soon sick with what Adam called cholera. At last they dragged themselves to a wretched cottage, where they got a little comfort for large pay. Rest and the mountain air somewhat repaired their broken health. Other anxieties came, which they bore with good humour. 'Alas!' said Adam, the purser, smiling, as he held up the wallet, 'our purse has been seized with such cruel pains that there is scarcely anything left in it.' They met one of the monks of St. Bernard, and spoke to him of the way of life. He listened and was convinced. Said he, 'I will quit Antichrist.'
Adam took a paper, wrote something, handed it to the monk, and said, 'Here is a letter for Master Farel; go to him, and he will tell you what you have to do.' What became of the monk we know not; but the missionaries finally reached the Waldensian valleys, and began to teach and preach. Some of these Alpine shepherds went on foot a two days' journey to hear them. Poor as these Christians were, they handed over to Olivetan five hundred gold crowns, and urged him to hasten forward the work of giving them a new translation of the Bible. It was finished in 1535, and in the preface he says, 'It is to Thee alone that I dedicate this precious treasure, in the name of a certain poor people, who, ever since they were enriched with it by the apostles and ambassadors of Christ, have still possessed and enjoyed the same.'1
In the room of an inn at Geneva was a young man, who had felt something far more chilling than the winds of the early November. He had met the piercing coldness of the people. He had tried to talk with one and another; but they were very short with the stranger, who imagined that he could not preach so as to attract an audience. He looked about for some acquaintance, whom he could draw aside and tell his plans; but all faces were strange. He went to some of the leading Huguenots. They looked at his mean appearance rather than listened to his words; they intimated that Geneva was an important and learned city, and the accomplished Roman clergy must be opposed by a fine gentleman of a
1 He made much use of Lefevre's version of the New Testament; but rendered certain words in terms less objectionable than those used in the Romish Church. He says, 'If any one is surprised at not finding certain words in my translation, such as pope, cardinal, archbishop, abbot, prior, monk, he must know that I did not find them there (in Scripture), and for that reason I have not changed them.'
minister, or a celebrated doctor; and the little man was politely bowed out of their houses. Those who seemed willing to hear the gospel, stared at him with contemptuous eyes. 'Alas!' said he, 'I cannot tell what to do, except to return, for I find no open door to preach the word.' Yvonand would receive him again—for this was Anthony Froment. It cost the little flock there a struggle to give him up; they had wept at the parting, with blessings and prayers.
He paid the landlord his bill, strapped his little bundle on his shoulders, and, without one word of adieu to the cold Huguenots, bent his steps toward the Swiss gate and —stopped. An invisible hand seemed to arrest him. A voice cried up from his conscience. A force, greater than that of man, sent him back. He took his room at the inn, sat down with his head in his hands, and asked what God wanted with him. He remembered what Farel had done at Aigle. He rebuked himself for coming there as a preacher. He will now begin in humility as a schoolmaster.
He met with a man of lowly lot, and asked him where there was a place for a school. He was led to a large hall, near the Molard, in a house on which is still seen the sign of the golden cross. With his eye he measured the room and rented it. He would have a school, if he could only get the scholars. He drew up a placard, in his best handwriting, and posted several copies in the public places. It read thus: 'A young man, just arrived in this city, engages to teach reading and writing in French, in one month, to all who will come to him, young and old, men and women, even such as have never been to school; and if they cannot read and write within the said month, he asks nothing for his trouble. He will be found at Boytet's Hall, near the Molard. Many diseases are also cured gratis.'
The papers were read by the passers by; and some who had met him, said, 'We have heard him speak; he talks well.' To some his proposal was suspicious; others replied that it was benevolent, for 'in any case he does not aim at our purses.' But the priests and their followers were irritated, and exclaimed in their usual style, 'He is a devil. He enchants all who go near him.'
The school opened, and there was no lack of young learners. Froment taught with clearness and simplicity. Before dismissing the children he would open his Testament, read a few verses, explain them, and then ask if any at their homes were sick. If so, he gave them a few harmless remedies. The children ran home and told everything. The mothers stopped in their work to listen, and the fathers, especially the Huguenots, made them tell it over again. Thus the children prattled about it, and the older ones were set wondering. Soon the city was quite engaged about 'the schoolmaster who spoke French so well.'
The teacher was doing more than he promised: there were arithmetic, and good manners, a thing not to be despised in Geneva; and there were those readings and talks from the Bible. The grown people must go and hear. Certain ones played off their jokes, wives held back their husbands, priests vented their feelings in coarse abuse, but still Froment found the interest increasing. There were some peeping in and slyly listening to his words. The little sermon was what most came for, and they seemed to lack ears and mouths enough to gather it all. The boys glanced on the men, whom they had brought in, with a feeling of triumph, and the men