Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

had left the Romish faith. For two hours they laboured with him, but he persisted in his errors. He was kept for two years in prison, and finally released at the intercession of Francis 1. We do not justify his punishment. By Farel's triumph over him in the debates a strong turn was given to the Reformation.

During the next Lent a milder monk was preaching in one of the churches. He was enjoined by the senate to publish the pure gospel, and not allude to the adoration of the Virgin Mary, prayers to the saints, purgatory, and such like subjects. He promised to obey, but did not keep his word. The Bernese deputies heard his sermons, and then asked that one of their ministers might preach, promising that he should not attack the mass, nor image worship, nor any peculiar tenet of Popery. They said it was reported that their preachers kept in dark corners, met at an inn for worship, and dared not appear in the churches. But the Genevese senate feared to offend Friburg and the bishop, and the request was not granted. The people tried another plan that very day.

In a few hours the bell of the Franciscan church was ringing, and the people flocking thither, almost carrying Farel. They set him up in the pulpit, and he preached without interruption. It was the first Protestant sermon in a Genevan church. Every one was astonished, and the grave question was, Who of the citizens had rung the bell ?' It was not by our consent,' said the senate. 'We had no hand in it,' said the Bernese envoys; 'it looks like a wonderful providence.' The Friburgers declared that it must not be permitted again, or they would break off their alliance. The senators asked the Bernese to send away the preachers. 'Not at all,' said the Bernese, who begged Farel to bear in mind the critical state of the city, and be moderate in his attacks upon the errors of the priests. In April 1534, the Friburgers carried out their threat, tore the seal from their treaty, and left Geneva in the hands of Berne and the reformers.

It was a great victory for the Protestant cause, whose weapons were those of peace and good-will to men. At Whitsuntide, Farel administered the Lord's Supper to a large number of communicants. For a moment there was fear of a disturbance, for a priest entered the church in full dress, as if he intended to break up the services. All were breathless. He walked up to the table, threw off his robes, declared that he thus renounced Popery, wished to be received into the little band of disciples, and sat down with the communicants. The exiles began to return, and the prisoners to see hope of release. By degrees one church after another was opened to the preachers.

The Romanists began to make a new use of their old weapons. The bishop and the canons approved of a plan to surprise the city by night, expel the civil rulers, take the government in their own hands, and sweep out the new doctrines and the new church. The plot came to light, and the bishop came to grief. The Pope next tried the 'thunders of the Vatican,' and Geneva, with her allies, was excommunicated from the Church of Rome. This act raised up Huguenots in the streets and in the senate, and finally Geneva broke with the bishop-prince and with the Pope.

Smaller plots were laid. A servant girl was engaged by certain priests to take off the ministers by mixing poison with their food. It happened that Farel ate nothing that day, Froment1 dined elsewhere, and only

1 Of Froment, who had done much to prepare the way for Farel in Geneva, we shall hear little more. In 1537 he became a pastor Viret partook of the poisoned dish. He felt the effects of it immediately, and, although his life was saved, his health never recovered entirely from the shock. Not long after a still more atrocious attempt was made to poison the bread and wine at the Lord's Supper. These plots excited a sympathy for the reformed, and a general hatred against the priests and their party.

The preachers now resided with the Franciscans, and gained many of these monks over to the reformed faith.

One day Farel was invited to preach in the Magdalen church. He went, and, as he entered, the priest left the mass and hastily retired, leaving Farel, the pulpit, and the audience. The vicar complained. The senate ordered Farel to confine himself to the two churches already open to him and his brethren. A few days afterward Farel appeared in another church, and for this was brought before the senate. He listened respectfully to their rebukes, and then begged to be heard. He urged ' that the Reformation was the work of Divine Providence, and to delay its progress was to oppose God's will; besides, almost the whole city had declared in its favour. Issue right commands if you wish the servants of God to render you willing obedience. Give God the glory, and aid the victory of truth over error, especially when you behold some of the most zealous defenders of Popery converted to the true religion.' The senate did not withdraw their

in Geneva. He was too fickle and vain to be content with that glorious part assigned to him as a missionary of the Reformation. His wife seemed to dream of a 'dress reform,' and, like some of later times, went about declaiming against the length of the ladies' garments, quite to the amusement of the sedate Calvin. In 1553 he gave up the ministry, became a notary, then a secretary of Bonivard in drawing up his chronicles, and he also assumed authorship, leaving behind him some curious memoirs.

prohibition, and were reminded that 'we must obey God rather than men.' There were some Gamaliels in that senate, who would not allow any forcible measures.

Another day, August 8, 1535, the bell of the Franciscan church was ringing, and Farel was on the way thither, when he was met by a strong body of men. They obliged him to go to the cathedral, the very throne of Romanism in the city, on whose pillar had once been nailed the 'great pardon.' There, in the pulpit of St. Peter's, he declared what had not rung to its roof for centuries. He was himself again, with his loud voice and his torrent of eloquence. He could not endure the images and relics that were thickly seen in all corners. No doubt he said many severe things, which excited the people against these idolatries, and when they came again in the evening in great numbers, the work of image-breaking commenced in downright earnest. Vandel, Baudichon, and others led the way, and they left mourning enough for the monks. The next day they visited other churches and made rough havoc of the images.

The senate, not knowing whereunto this would grow, joined with the Council of Two Hundred, and they summoned Farel to appear before them. He went with several other ministers, Franciscans, and citizens. He addressed them with firmness and moderation at first, and then warming with Scripture and the greatness of his cause, he employed all his bold and masterly eloquence in defence of the faith. 'We do not wish those priests, who cannot receive our doctrines, to be punished,' said he; 'but we pray for their conversion. We are here to preach, not to persecute. We are ready to seal the truth with our blood.' He then prayed most fervently that God would give light to the members of the council, so that they might act wisely in behalf of the people who needed salvation. All was respectful, earnest, powerful, and convincing.

The councillors were touched, moved, and decided. They asked the Romish clergy to come forward and state their arguments. The monks confessed their ignorance; and those higher in rank simply hurled back their contempt for Farel and their defiance of the council. It was firmly resolved to abolish Popery, and to establish Protestantism. In the evening of the same day, August 10, the vicar was informed of the proceedings, and that his services were no longer desired. The mass was forbidden, even in private houses. The Bible was to have its place and its power. The bishop-prince removed to the little town of Gex, and the see was declared vacant. The monasteries were suppressed; and an opportunity was given for Sister Jeanne to hear the fearful preacher, William Farel, on whom she had expended so much of her wit and her wailing.

Whether Sister Jeanne heard Farel or not, we cannot tell; but he preached to the nuns of St. Claire, and showed that Mary and Elisabeth were not shut up in convents, but were excellent mothers at their homes. They had been thrown into horrors long before, by certain women who told them, 'if the heretics win the day they will certainly make you all marry, young and old, all to your perdition.' And now they took to flight, furnishing Sister Jeanne a chance to employ her vivid pen in a more sorrowful way than usual. Some of them had not been outside the convent walls for many years, and they were frightened at the most harmless objects. They spent a day in getting to St. Julien, about four miles distant. 'It was a pitiful thing,' she writes, 'to see this holy

« AnteriorContinuar »