« AnteriorContinuar »
FA REUS TURNING-POINT.
"O exiles met on foreign shores with greater joy than did the aged Lefevre and Farel, his disciple at Paris, his co-worker at Meaux, his dear son in the faith. The wrinkled hand of the one had first guided the steps of the other; and after a separation, in which months were as years, they both poured out their hearts together. But the disciple was now really in advance of his master; for Lefevre had not entirely separated himself from the Romish Church. He and his patron, the Bishop of Meaux, had hoped to aid a reform in that Church, and see it brought back to apostolic purity. The bishop had been subdued, the doctor expelled.
'Do you remember,' said Farel, 'what you once told me when we were both sunk in darkness, saying, "William, God will renew the world, and you will see it?" Here is the beginning of what you foresaw.'
'Yes,' answered the pious old man. 'God is renewing the world. My dear son, continue to preach boldly the gospel of Jesus Christ.'
It delighted this man, who had first lifted his voice in
Paris and found it would not be heard, to listen to the preaching at Strasburg. It was just what he intended to teach. 'He seemed to have been born a second time to the Christian life.' The French refugees had formed a a church, and Farel was the preacher, whom none heard with a more joyful heart than the former doctor of the Sorbonne. Such Christian society lessened the pain of exile.
An aged man, who had taken the name of Anthony Pilgrim, was often seen walking cautiously through the streets, as if he wished to be unknown. But he could not be hidden. In a short time the whole city knew that he was the illustrious Lefevre, who was the translator of the Bible into the Gallic tongue, and the very children saluted the venerable Frenchman with respect. Gerard Roussel (Le-Roux) took the name of Tolnin, so fearful was he lest he should be found by the enemies who were upon his track. Master Cornelius Agrippa, who had borrowed Luther's works and started men to thinking in Metz, was there, 'taking his tone and tuning his voice' in harmony with the reformers.
The house of Capito was like an inn, where all were sure of a welcome. These refugees met with Zell, who, as priest of St. Lawrence, had been among the first to preach that 'man is saved by grace.' A nobleman of this city, Count Sigismond of Hohenlohe, was touched by the preaching of Zell and the heroism of Luther. He was not one of those nobles, so numerous then, who followed the Saviour as a secret disciple. He made it his business to help Luther's writings over the Rhine, and forward them to the Duchess Margaret, who called him 'her good cousin,' and felt herself greatly benefited by his influence.
The dews of Christian love had often been shed upon Farel, in order to moderate his flaming zeal, and he had taken kindly the gentle advice. But he thought that, while he might be over-hasty, some of his friends in Basle were too slow in acting fully up to their knowledge. They tolerated too many Romish practices. It was very offensive to him that Pellican should still attend mass, and wear the dress of a monk. He remonstrated; but one of his friends, who had done the same thing to no purpose, only reminded him that it was a hard task to change a monk into a Christian. Farel requested Luther to use his influence with Pellican. The next year he had the pleasure of seeing his friend cast off the badge of Popery, and teach the word of God in Zurich.1
To this zealous man was given the work of a peacemaker. A controversy had arisen in respect to the Lord's Supper—some holding with Luther and some with Zwingle. It was likely to disturb the pleasant meetings of the preachers in Strasburg. They requested
1 Many years after this, Pellican was deeply wounded by a report that Farel had used some harsh terms concerning him. Calvin's letter to Pellican throws such light upon Farel's character, that we condense a part of it. 'That which is reported to you about Farel is to me so utterly incredible, that I would venture, even at the peril of my life, to be answerable for it, that no such expression had ever fallen from him; for I know that he both loves and reveres you. . . . If it had been said that he had made you wince a little, and without any more serious outrage, I would admit that the report might have been believed. But only consider how monstrous it is to suppose that he, who has been so closely allied to you, who at this very time reveres and loves you, had given utterance to such reproachful expressions as would be reckoned extreme even among the most deadly foes. Besides, it is altogether inhuman that any man should be condemned unheard. Such persons do wrong Farel when they do not acknowledge him to be such a man as they have ever truly found him by experience to be.'—Calviris Letters, No. ciii., A.D. 1543.
Farel to be an agent in reconciling the parties. He did much to bring Luther and Zwingle into a more friendly style of discussion ; and when their letters came, they were found to be quite nearly agreed on most of the points at issue. The friends at Strasburg resolved to fix upon the important meaning and benefit of the ordinance, and hold 'to the main point—faith and love—or to the remembrance of Christ for the invigoration of our hope, since Christ must be internal and invisible, and not necessarily connected with what is external, be it a sign or anything else.'
The fellowship at Strasburg was bearing good fruit . Men, raised up here and there, as they had been, and each struggling almost alone with the faith, needed such a school. Doctrine had been the great thing hitherto; discipline had been too much neglected. The energetic Farel, the learned Lefevre, the spiritual Roussel, gifted with opposite natures, were now to act upon each other. Farel learned gentleness, Roussel gained courage; the one imparted the overplus of his peculiar traits to the other. The soft iron became steel; the steel had the rough wire taken from its edge. In other days these brethren remembered how they dwelt together in unity. 'We carefully put out of sight all that might interrupt the harmony between brethren. The peace that we tasted, far from being without savour, like that of the world, was prepared with the sweet odour of God's service.'
In the spring of 1526, a shout of joy was heard rolling through France from the Pyrenees to Calais. Strasburg heard it, and was behind no city in its gladness. The Duchess Margaret had secured the release of the king. He was on the way to Paris. Louisa must resign her fearful power. Duprat must learn that he has a master. Beda may find that he has not the Church of France in his hands.
None were more joyous than the friends of the gospel. Some of them determined to go and meet the king, and petition him on behalf of the exiles and the prisoners. They felt sure that he would put himself at the head of a party which Charles v., his detested rival and captor, was persecuting. But he had a secret, hatred of 'the evangelicals;' and although Margaret uttered a cry in favour of the miserable, he kept the most cautious reserve. She had hoped to see the Count Sigismond come from Basle to Paris, and give his talents to the work of restoring the gospel in France. He was delaying for the king to send him an invitation.
One day Margaret took courage, and asked her brother to invite the Count; he was not ready. He knew Count Sigismond well, and thought his gospel principles exaggerated. Besides, if there was to be any change in France, he meant to make it alone. And what would the Pope and the emperor say, if the count were in Paris, preaching at the court, in the churches, and in the open air perhaps? He did not fully tell his sister what he would do; but to her suggestions he replied,' Not yet,' and she turned away, bitterly disappointed.
Again she pleaded her cause. 'I do not care for that man,' said Francis sharply. This was not true. He cared for him when he wanted him. When he needed three thousand soldiers, then it was,' my very dear and beloved cousin of Hohenlohe,' highly esteemed for 'his loyalty and valour, his nearness of lineage, love and charity.' But where the gospel was concerned, it was quite a different affair: the usual 'Not yet' was again heard. The Count Sigismond did not come to France.