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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 company in such a plight, so overcome with fatigue and grief that several swooned by the way. It was rainy weather, and all were obliged to walk through the muddy roads, except four poor old women who had taken their vows more than sixteen years before. Two of these, who were past sixty-six, and had never seen anything of the world, fainted away repeatedly. They could not bear the wind; and when they saw the cattle in the fields, they took the cows for bears, and the sheep for ravening wolves. They who met them were so overcome with compassion that they could not speak a word. And though our mother, the vicaress, had supplied them all with good shoes to save their feet, they could not walk in them. And so they walked from five in the morning, when they left Geneva, till near midnight, when they got to St. Julien, which is only a little league off.' We should feel more pity for these nuns if they had been as simple and innocent as was generally supposed, and as they wished to be thought. It created no little surprise, after their departure, to find that there was a secret, underground passage leading from their convent to the monastery of the Franciscans. From this it was suspected that they were not altogether dead to earthly vanities.
The citizens met on the 21st of May 1535, and took an oath to support the Reformation. Geneva was rising into a Protestant state, quite theocratic in its government, and powerful in its influence upon the world. Michelet, who is a moderate Roman Catholic, declares, ' Europe was saved by Geneva.' And who saved Geneva? So far as mere men are concerned, due credit must be given to Farel, the great missionary, and Calvin, the great theologian. Unto God they gave all the glory.
CALVIN UNITED WITH FAREL.
ET us go back a little and see what has become of some of our French heroes, and trace the steps of others who are on the way to Geneva. 'Never tire in the middle of your journey,' was the maxim of a young man who was entering the old city of Angouleme, where the Duchess Margaret was born. He walked along a street which in after years bore the name Rue de Geneve, in honour of him. In this street was the mansion of Du Tillet, where he knocked and was admitted. There he had a young friend, Louis du Tillet, to whose refuge he was invited, and he was now welcomed as John Calvin. A fierce persecution had driven Calvin from Paris, and in this retreat he found a happy home. In the large library he found books that he had never seen before, and prepared for writing the Institutes, the greatest work on theology that had ever appeared. In a vineyard near by he took recreation, and to this day it is called La Calvine. In the village of Claix he drew the notice of the people, who asked the name of that short, thin, pale young man, and they