« AnteriorContinuar »
were a return to the word of God and to faith in Christ. The opposers were frequently invited to reply, but not one of them appeared. They contented themselves with boasting in private how much they could have done had they been there! The interpreter said: 'These sophists act the braggart; but they do it in dark holes and corners.'
One effect of the disputation was, that the priests and members of the university sank in the estimation of the people; for they wished to suppress the truth, and dared not defend their own doctrines. Another effect was, that Farel rose in the esteem of all the reformers as a champion in the good cause. They were delighted to see a Frenchman exhibit so much knowledge with his zeal, and piety in his courage. 'He is strong enough,' said they, 'to destroy the whole Sorbonne single-handed.' Conrad Pellican, a learned Franciscan monk, was confirmed in the faith, and became a valuable ally of the great Reformation.
Farel had learned a lesson concerning himself. He found that he needed more of the dove in his nature. His zeal had betrayed him into language which fell like hail where the soft and gentle rain would have been more effective. In the pleasant home of his friend he was kindly admonished of this fault. They mutually agreed to cultivate meekness, and a tenderness of speech. Yet his friend regarded his ardour as a virtue; for without it the world could not be moved, nor the Church aroused from sleep. He wrote to Luther, in a letter of introduction, afterwards: 'There are certain men who would have his zeal against the enemies of the truth more moderate; but I cannot help seeing in this same zeal an admirable virtue, which, if seasonably excited, is no less needed than gentleness itself.' This the impetuous Luther could appreciate, coming as it did from one of the gentlest of men.
Farel visited the land of Zwingle and Myconius, who welcomed him with a kindness never forgotten. On his return to Basle, he found Erasmus and other enemies at work stirring up the senate against him. As his freedom of speech was not on their side, they insisted that the people could not bear it, and disturbances would arise if he was not ordered away. In vain did his friends urge that this was an abuse of all custom and law; for their city took pride in being an asylum for the persecuted. Farel bade adieu to Basle. 'It is thus we exercise hospitality,' said his indignant host, 'we true children of Sodom!'
With the Chevalier Esch he set out for Germany, with letters for Luther and Capito; and he was commended, by his friend of the warm heart and home, as 'that William who has toiled much in the work of God.' It does not appear that he went as far as Luther's Wittemberg.
The opposers of the gospel in Basle became more arrogant than ever; and by public mandates or secret intrigues endeavoured to suppress the truth, and crush its adherents. But CEcolampadius had caught something of Farel's spirit, and he no more wished himself among the Turks. In a letter to the bishop, he reproached them for being so noisy after refusing to appear in defence of their faith, and for claiming the exclusive right to teach a people who were not allowed to understand their doctrines. The flock would go where they were best fed; the priests were despised as cowards and hirelings, who did not care for the sheep; and the reformers were counted as their best friends and pastors. Thus the gospel was working with power at Basle.
A NEW FIELD.
3N strange ways God can open new fields of labour. The young Duke Ulrich had lost his estates in Wurtemberg by the Swabian League in 1519, and taken refuge in Montbeliard, an earldom in France which still belonged to him. In his dark days he had met with the reformers in Switzerland, and found the cheering light of the gospel. The once violent and cruel prince now seemed to be a lamb, seeking the fold of Christ. The priests led him in barren pastures, and his eye was attracted to a little flock that, in some way, had been gathered at the chief town in his domain. They wanted a pastor, and the duke promised to aid and protect them in sustaining a man of their choice. They laid their case before CEcolampadius, and he saw that the hand of God was extended to lead back the chief of the exiles to France. He sent word to Farel to come to him from Strasburg.
Farel was bold enough to go to Basle, and wise enough not to expose himself to those who had lately driven him away. There were hidden paths and dark nights, of which he could take advantage, and he secretly entered the old city. He was safely concealed in the house of his former pilgrimage; and we seem to hear the mild voice of his friend rising into earnestness, and his own louder voice toned into greatness.
'I have sent for you,' says the host, • to urge you to preach the gospel. You have refrained from entering fully into the service of the Church. It is now your duty, for there is in you all that may constitute you a minister of the Lord.'
'I have considered my weakness,' replies Farel, 'and I have not dared to preach, waiting for the Lord to send more suitable persons. If I could have a clear call, I would not hesitate.'
'You have a threefold call. God, in His providence, has opened the way for your return to your country. All France calls you, for behold how little is Jesus Christ known to those who speak the French language! Will you not speak to them in words which they can understand? And the people of Montbeliard invite you among them, and the duke gives his assent.'
'It does not seem lawful for me to resist; I must obey, in God's name. I accept the charge; but I am not yet ordained.'
'Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures. You must here, in this house, be set apart to the ministry.'
The step was a bold one, and is not an example to be followed. Whether any of the preachers in Basle were invited to be present, we know not, but CEcolampadius ventured upon a private ordination. He solemnly set Farel apart to the ministry, calling upon the name of the Lord. Let the success of the minister be considered as evidence of the Lord's approval.
'Now go and feed the flock of God,' said his friend; .' and guard your own nature. The more you are inclined to violence, the more you should practise gentleness; temper your lion's courage with the meekness of the dove.' This needed counsel was received by Fare! with all his heart.
In July 1524 he entered upon his labours at Montbeliard, and the first promise of success was astonishing. The seed was hardly sown when the harvest began to appear. The duke and his court were much in his favour. Most of the people were eager to hear the word of God; a few, who regarded themselves as of the higher class, were disposed to treat him with contempt, or dread his presence as a source of disturbances. There are always some who fear lest the world will be turned upside down by the gospel. Chevalier Esch was his companion, and doubtless was of service at the court of the duke. Farel had written to his gentle friend at Basle with no little exultation, and now another chevalier proposes to join him.
Anemond, delighted with the good news, ran with his usual vivacity to Peter Toussaint, saying hastily, 'I shall set off to-morrow to visit Farel.'
'Good! I am just finishing a letter to him. You must be the bearer.'
'Gladly will I be so; and I am to take one also from CEcolampadius.' At the time appointed the chevalier set out, and in a few days was at Montbeliard, where his face and the letters were appreciated.
CEcolampadius wrote: 'It is easy to instil a few doctrines into the ears of our auditors, but to change their hearts is in the power of God alone.' Toussaint wrote: 'I am glad that the duke and court are on your