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would nail his theses to the door of the old church in Wittemberg. Luther had but just found the chained Bible in the convent of Erfurth, and had not heard the good Staupitz say, ' If thou wouldst be really converted, follow not these mortifications and penances. Love Him who first loved you. God is not against thee, but thou art averse to God. Remember that Christ came hither for the pardon of sins. Cast thyself into the arms of the Redeemer. Trust in Him, in the righteousness of His life, in the expiatory sacrifice of His death.' Could Lefevre have heard such words, he would have found much sooner the treasure which he sought on the shores of truth.
In the year 1510, Luther was on his way to Rome, to witness its abominations, and William Farel was on the way to Paris to study in the university, and to find in Lefevre a friend among strangers, a guide to the truth, and a father in Christ; for, by the private light of this man, the young provincial was to make sure his landing upon the Eternal Rock of salvation.
On the walls of most Romish churches are hung pictures of different scenes in the sufferings and death of our Lord. The worshippers begin at the first, and pass around to the last, kneeling before each one, and repeating the words of their penance or prayers. These kneeling-places are called stations on the way of the cross. To make the circuit is a pilgrimage.
William Farel had not come to Paris to stroll through the streets, nor to lock himself up in his room, and pore night and day over his books. He was a close student; but he did not neglect his religious devotions. He took time for a regular attendance at church, and made it a matter of conscience to visit the stations along the way of the cross. What a privilege to the young villager to kneel before better pictures than he had seen at home, and confess to a more accomplished priest!
One day, when on his pious pilgrimage, he saw an aged man going the rounds, all absorbed in his devotions. He prostrated himself at the stations, and lingered, repeating his prayers. He seemed the model of fervour and contrition; as the tears fell, the lips quivered, and the voice rose full and clear in the responses of the public service. There was much in his manner to charm the young stranger; and he could not forget the earnestness of the good old man, saying of him, years afterwards, 'Never had I seen a chanter of the mass sing it with greater reverence.' This little, unpretending, aged man, of the tearful eye and kind face, was the eloquent, popular, and beloved Lefevre. To become acquainted with him was now the student's most ardent wish, and without it he could not be happy.
How they met, we know not; but Farel 'could not restrain his joy, when he found himself kindly received Jiy this celebrated man.' It seemed as if he had gained his object in coming to the capital. 'From that time his greatest pleasure was to converse with the doctor of Etaples, to listen to him, to hear his admirable lessons, and to kneel with him devoutly before the same shrines. Often might the aged Lefevre and his young disciple be seen adorning an image of the Virgin with flowers; and alone, far from all Paris, far from its scholars and its doctors, they murmured in concert the fervent prayers they offered up to Mary.' The teacher, warring against certain errors, still held to some of the most absurd; and the student, who had refused to take the sword, still clung to the rosary.
Farel was sincere. He thought that he was right. He
was not hoping for a rich benefice, nor preparing to fleece some flock over which he might be placed, nor dreaming of the vicious life then led by so many of the priests. A soul like his was above loving Popery for money, or for power, or for indulgence in sin. In his view the Pope sat on a throne of God, and ruled in the place of Christ . To obey and worship him as Christ was a part of salvation. If any one said aught that was ill of the 'holy Pontiff,' he would 'gnash his teeth like a furious wolf,' and was ready to call down the lightnings of heaven 'to overwhelm the guilty wretch with utter ruin and confusion.'
'What do you believe?' we presume to be asked of him, by some student who has caught up certain sarcastic remarks of Erasmus about the follies of Romanism. 'Do you really believe that a wafer is converted into the very body of Christ?'
'I believe,' said Farel, 'in the cross, in pilgrimages, images, vows, and relics. What the priest holds in his hands, puts into the box, and then shuts it up, eats, and gives others to eat, is my only true God; and to me there is no other, either in heaven or upon earth.'
Still he was not satisfied. His spirit hungered, his soul found no rest . Everything was going from bad to worse. The study of the profane authors brought him not one crumb of the bread from heaven; in the rites of the Church there was not one drop of the water of life to quench his thirst. Lefevre scarcely dared tell him the little truth that he was leaning upon ; for he was not quite sure of it himself, and no lame man likes to give away his staff. The student went, restless and wretched, to several doctors of the age; but they only sent him away more wretched than before. He told them that he wanted to be a real Christian, and they gave him Aristotle as a guide! He read books, bowed to images, adored relics, invoked the saints, kept the fasts and festivals, carried his reverence for Mary to a superstitious extreme, and yet all proved worse than in vain. It was sending him to the brambles, under a delusion that from them he would gather grapes.
In his severe mental sufferings he learned one piece of good news. It was, that the ' holy father, the Pope,' was willing to allow the Old and New Testaments to be called the Holy Bible. Thanks to his holiness for this concession! If he had gone further and said, with one of the English martyrs, 'No writings are holy but the Bible,' it would have settled an important question in the anxious minds of hundreds, who, like young Farel, knew not which to believe—Christ or the Pope. That question was, Which shall we follow: the word of God, or the word of the Church? Farel thought that since the Pope acknowledged the great good book to be the Holy Bible, he might read it for himself. Surely the Pope and the apostles must agree in their teachings! But as he read the sacred page, he was amazed at seeing how they disagreed, and how different everything in Romanism was from the pure Christianity of the New Testament. Where was the mass taught in the Bible? Where prayer to the saints? Where the adoration of relics? Where the worship of the Virgin Mary? Where confession to priests? Where the paying of money for a pardon? Where purgatory? Where salvation by an endless round of mere works? Certainly not in the Bible. It taught repentance instead of penances; faith in the Crucified, rather than the adoration of the cross; prayer to Jesus, and not to the saints; and love to God, rather than the fear of the Pope. In its light he could
see that any one might pray to God in the name of Christ; every one might come to Jesus and find rest; and no one need to buy his pardon of a priest, nor an indulgence of the ' holy father.' He could see that penitents would be safer at Jesus' feet, and pilgrims better off at home. The thought must have arisen in his mind, that if priests could convert a wafer into the Deity, they could make anything a god ;1 and if the elevation of the Host be a crucifixion, then Jesus must be always suffering for our sins. The young Bible-reader went far enough to see that the word of God did not agree with the word of the Church.8 He scarcely dared go further. He had severe pangs of mind, and struggled to know which to accept. His first effort was the very reverse of what young Luther was now doing, when making the Church give way to the teachings of the chained Bible. The monk of Erfurth thought, in his best hours, that Christ must stand, and the Pope must fall; God must be believed, though the Church went to ruin. The Dauphinese student scarcely ventured to think; but first attempted to make the Bible give way to the teachings of Popery. If he read any passages of Scripture that opposed the Romish practices, he hung his head, cast his eyes upon his breast, as if trying to get a kind look from his conscience. He blushed, as if ashamed to deny his Lord, and yet dared
1 An Englishman had said, 'If every consecrated Host be the Lord's body, there are 20,ooo gods in England.'
2 This was one of the first things to be seen before there could be a reformation. Among the many predecessors of Luther who perceived this, was John of Wesalia, an aged doctor of divinity, who was tried for heresy at Mentz in 1479. He held that 'nothing was to be believed not found in the Scriptures ;' and was charged with saying, 'I despise the Pope and his councils. I love Christ; and may His word dwell in us abundantly!'