Imágenes de páginas

Catholic movement.' D'Aubigne says further: 'The Reformation was not, therefore, in France a foreign importation. It was born on French soil; it germinated in Paris; it put forth its first shoots in the University itself, that second authority in Romish Christendom. God planted the seeds of this work in the simple hearts of a Picard and a Dauphinese, before they had begun to bud in any other country on earth. If we look only at dates, we must acknowledge that neither to Switzerland nor to Germany [Zwingle in the one and Luther in the other] belong the honour of having begun this work, although hitherto these countries alone have contended for it. This honour belongs to France.'

The wonder is, that in these three countries the light should break forth so nearly at the same time, when the watchmen saw not eye to eye, nor heard each other's voice, nor laid any plans in concert. It proves that each one acted under an unseen power, who had planned the movement on an extended scale. With no communication one with the other, all struck their blows about the same time, 'as in a battle all the divisions of an army begin to move about the same moment, although one has not told the other to march,' for the chief commander has given the same order to each one of them. This is a proof that God chose the time, the places, and the men; and the great movement of the sixteenth century was the work of God.

When about thirty years of age, Farel could no longer have a good conscience and remain in the Romish Church. He forsook her communion, with a feeling of abhorrence toward himself, and of the errors in which he had so long been enthralled. Not far from this time he was recommended by Lefevre and elected to a professorship in the celebrated college founded by Cardinal Lemoine, one of the four principal colleges of the Theological Faculty in Paris, equal in rank to the Sorbonne. He soon became the regent,—an honour which had always been given to men of learning and eminence. He filled the office with great credit to all concerned, during the short time that a persecution was preparing, and his name was held in delightful remembrance by his colleagues and students.

[graphic][merged small]


HEN one oak puts forth its leaves in the early spring, we may know that the sap is in all the trees of its kind, and they will soon be in full leaf. The new life in Lefevre and Farel was soon to be manifested by other souls of their class, whom we now introduce as opponents of many evils in Popery, if all of them were not yet friends of the Reformation. We may know more of Farel by the company he keeps, and the stirring times in which he began his career.

James Allmain, in 1512, took a position of astonishing boldness, for one of the youngest doctors of the university. Thomas de Vio, who afterwards contended with Luther on two great moral battle-fields, Augsburg and Leipsic, had published the doctrine that the Pope was the absolute monarch of the Church. If Julius II. was his favourite specimen of a Pope, there was need of strong argument to make thinking Frenchmen believe that dogma. This man was supposed to have taken the name Julius with an eye to the military fame of the first of the Caesars, and was soon involved in a war with France. This pretended 'vicar of Christ' assumed to

imitate the Blessed One, by holding down his head when the multitudes applauded him, and once a year washing the feet of twelve beggars. But he was as unlike our Lord as darkness is unlike the day. He was high-tempered, profane, drunken, and dissolute; cruel in war, weak in peace, and ambitious to extend the temporal power of the Popedom. Yet he sought to command respect by the long beard on a face of sixty, and by wearing a tiara of massive gold, covered with costly gems. Under such a fallible Pope the dogma of papal infallibility was firmly established. Thus, at the very time when Antichrist put forth most strongly his three claims of spiritual dominion, temporal power, and infallibility, Christ was coming again to the world.

The troops of the French king, in whose service was the Chevalier Bayard at the time, gained a victory over this papal Caesar. Louis xn., 'the father of his people,' was well prepared to doubt the dogma of Cardinal de Vio's book when it was put in his hands. He laid it before the university. To refute it seemed a bold undertaking. Allmain, a man of profound genius and unwearied application, made the daring attempt. He read his essay before the Faculty of Theology, showed the falsity of the cardinal's assertions, and received the greatest applause. Such courage is contagious, and a fire was kindled in the hearts of many of the students. Before long, the brothers Amaud and Gerard Roussel, two fellow-countrymen of Lefevre, with several others, gathered to the newly-raised standard.

A greater than these was admitted into this growing circle of generous minds—Count William of Montbrun, the son of Cardinal Briconnet.1 After the death of his 1 Sometimes anglicized into Brusonnet.


wife he had entered the Church, given his heart to study, taken orders, and was now the Bishop of Meaux. Twice he was sent on an embassy to Rome, and, on his return to Paris, he was astonished at what had taken place. He was expected to have much to say about the gay entertainments and festivals of 'the holy city;' but his thirst for the truth led him to more solemn and important matters. He renewed his former acquaintance with Lefevre. He passed many precious hours with him, with Farel, the two Roussels, and their friends. Illustrious as a prelate, he was nevertheless humbleminded, and was willing to be taught by the humblest Christian, and especially by the Lord Himself.

'I am in darkness,' said he, 'awaiting the divine goodness, to which I am a stranger because of my demerits.'

'Get into your heart more of that good Bible, which I have already recommended to you,' said Lefevre. 'It will give you light. It will lead you back to the pure Christianity of the early Church.'

'I have read it. But my mind is dazzled by the brilliancy of the gospel. Free grace, free pardon, the free gift of eternal life and heaven, offered freely to all who will simply believe in Christ,—these amaze me. The eyes of all men are not able to receive the whole light of this great sun.'

'We need a great sun to chase away the night that rests on the world. It is the glory of Christianity, that it causes our eyelids to droop before its infinite mercy.'

The gentle bishop read still more eagerly, and the simple and weighty truth of salvation by faith charmed his soul. . He found Christ; he found God, in Christ, reconciling sinners to their Father. 'Such is the sweet

« AnteriorContinuar »