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toward piety and true religion, and loves to converse with certain persons at his court about the Reformation. He is just the man to understand you, for his motto is this, Nothing is wanting to those who fear God; and this is yours also. His heart stands in need of God and His grace; all he wants is a powerful impulse. If he were won to the gospel, he would have an immense influence on Switzerland, Savoy, and France. Write to him, I beseech you.'
'Assuredly,' replied Luther, • a love for the gospel is a rare gift, and an inestimable jewel in a prince.' Although Luther knew that the success of the gospel did not so greatly depend upon the favour of princes as his friend supposed, yet he wrote a most touching letter to the duke. We know not the result. Anemond, in his ardour, would have rejoiced to possess the power of rousing all France.
Farel hardly expected the German champion to come over the Rhine. He laboured on until the civil and ecclesiastical powers of Gap combined against him. They thought him an agent of that sect which the Sorbonne denounced. Beda hunted, and Duprat was ready to burn. 'Let us cast this firebrand of discord far from us,' they exclaimed. He was summoned to appear, was harshly treated, and violently expelled from the city. But he was still a 'voice crying in the wilderness.' He knew the country of his youth, when his rashness had led him to explore the mountains; and now, if closely followed, he could hide in the forests, caves, and clefts of the rocks. He went about preaching in private houses, secluded hamlets, and lonely fields, and found an asylum in the woods, and on the brink of torrents. In this school God was training him for future labours and endurance. The poor heard the truth from his lips, and the solitary places were glad.
Letters came to him from Anemond, and he greatly desired to see the reformers of Germany and Switzerland. The valleys of his native land were narrow; perhaps he might find a broader as well as a safer field. France was offering him nothing but fire and sword; perhaps some other country would offer him a large harvest to reap. But how was he to get away? Foes hung upon every path, neither willing for him to teach the people nor to leave them to themselves. Following by-roads, hiding in the forests, now losing his way and now finding some other way, he evaded the pickets of the enemy and escaped. He reached Switzerland early in 1524, and found Anemond at Basle.
Farel was received at Basle as one of the most devoted champions of the gospel. There was honour in the hospitality extended to him. He was the guest of CEcolampadius, one of the most genial of the reformers. Scarcely any two men were more unlike in their natures. The host charmed his hearers by his mildness; the guest carried all before him by his impetuosity. It was Peter in the house of John; and that most remarkable friendship in the apostolic band was reproduced in the union between these two reformers.
CEcolampadius had been preaching in Basle as a pastor, but his words seemed to fall like gentle snowflakes upon a rock. He was discouraged and greatly depressed. He had said to Zwingle, 'Alas, I speak in vain, and see not the least reason to hope. Perhaps among the Turks I might meet with greater success. But I lay the blame on myself alone.' These sighs rose in Farel's ear, and called forth his sympathy and his heroic words of good cheer. The bold man fired up the courage of the timid. An undying affection grew up in the heart of the host, and he must declare it. * Oh, my dear Farel, I hope that the Lord will make our friendship immortal; and if we cannot live together here below, our joy will only be the greater when we shall be united at Christ's right hand in heaven.'
There were many refugees in the city, who had escaped from the scaffolds of France. They formed a French church. Among them were Anemond of Dauphiny, Esch and Toussaint of Metz, Du Blet of Lyons, and others of lesser note. These all held Farel in high esteem, and he was not backward to maintain his reputation. His courage, learning, and piety soon won the hearts of all who could appreciate his influence. He was the rising man, and to him were the honours paid.
There was, however, one man who felt slighted. He was sensitive to neglect. He had not come to Basle to be overlooked. He had made a noise in the world. It had been the affair of his life to send a storm upon the schoolmen and the monks, and his scathing satires had made his name a dread to all who did not please him. His learning was acknowledged in all the great universities. As a pioneer, he had hoped to prepare the way for the reformers; but the wisest of the reformers had made the painful discovery that he was trying to castle himself on the half-way ground between Popery and Protestantism, shooting the arrows of wit at both parties. His levity of mind was like that of his body— a puff of wind might bear him away. He could expose error, but he lacked the moral courage to stand up for the truth. Yet he had drawn the gaze of Christendom; for he was Erasmus, the prince of scholars. Thousands were ready to crouch at his feet and do him reverence, coveting one kind look, one brotherly word from this master of the age.
And yet Farel had not come near him, as a young noble, wishing to be made a knight by a blow of the sword, and the words, 'Rise, sir,' from his king. The young Dauphinese refused to go and pay homage to the old sage of Rotterdam, because he despised those men who are only by halves on the side of truth. The commentaries of Lefevre had caused no little debate among the guests, at their simple entertainments, where it was well known that Erasmus had said harsh things of the good doctor, who had excelled him in making the New Testament the book of the people. The lines were drawn—some taking sides with the commentator, and some with the severe critic. Farel was valorous for the old teacher, who had shown him the spiritual stations on the way of the true cross. He was ready to break a lance with the cavilling Erasmus. What greatly annoyed him, was the treatment given to the lovers of the gospel. Erasmus had shut his door against them. Farel was not the man to go and beg for admission. The favour of the old sage was of little account to him. He would not fawn for his sarcastic smile. More than all, if Erasmus had given a pledge to the Pope to write against Luther, he would have nothing to do with such a spy in the camp.
No doubt Farel said more than was proper; and the illustrious scholar was nettled at his independence. Princes, kings, doctors, bishops, popes, reformers, priests, and men of the world, were ready to pay their tribute of admiration to the Rotterdam philosopher. Even Luther had treated him with a certain forbearance; and now this young Frenchman, unknown to fame, and an exile, dared to brave his power and beard the lion in his den! Such insolent freedom was more annoying than the homage of the whole world was pleasant. Hence Erasmus took every occasion to vent his ill-humour on Farel, and on all the French refugees in Basle, whose frankness and decision offended him. They had little respect of persons, and cared not for the man who 'knew what was right, but had not the courage to avow it,' however exalted his genius. We may wish them more gentleness; but if we admire the vigour of the old prophets, we must credit them with a brave love for truth, when they would not bow down before that which the world adores. It was evident that a face to face engagement was soon to take place between the bold Dauphinese and the learned Dutchman.
One day Farel was talking with several friends on the doctrines of Christianity, in the presence of Erasmus. The former had perhaps heard that, instead of being called Farellus, the name Fallicus had dropped often from the lips and pen of the satirist; thus giving to one of the frankest men of his day the epithet of a cheat and deceiver. The latter had heard that he had been called a Balaam, as if the presents of the Pope had induced him to curse the people of God. If he had been heated before, he was now boiling with wrath to chastise the author of this reproach.
'Why do you call me Balaam?' inquired Erasmus, rudely interrupting the conversation.
'I have not given you that title,' replied Farel, at first astonished by so abrupt a question.
'Then name the offender.'
Farel declined, tried the virtue of mild words, explained his own position, but yet felt himself pressed.