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but already Farel had another invitation before him. Let us see whence it came.
On the shield of an ancient Swiss city was the figure of a bear,1 and the wits called its people the 'bears of Berne.' It was the centre of a little republic, whose freemen caught the spirit of the great awakening, and as early as 1518 held out attractions to literary men. Berne, whose soldiers had won renown, must have its scholars as well as Basle and Zurich. The next year appeared among them a young man of twenty-one, named Berthold Haller, who had been a fellow-student with Melancthon. Haller won the hearts of the people, and soon became the preacher of the cathedral. The gospel which Zwingle was teaching came to the city, and Haller examined it, believed, and began to declare it. But the 'bears' were not lambs, willing to be led in the new pastures of truth, without making enough resistance to discourage the meek and timid shepherd. He wished to see Zwingle and talk to him as a son to a father. So, taking with him his burden of trials, he paid a visit to Zurich. He was kindly received by this 'first of the reformers,' whose gentleness imparted a charm to his manners. Zwingle was pleased with this young man of about twenty-eight years, tall,
1 The old Germans called a bear a 'bern,' and for centuries he has been the favourite of all pets in that city. His image is still upon sign-posts, fountains, and public buildings. Living specimens were kept in the town at the public expense; and when the French army, in 1798, carried the bears captive to the gardens of Paris, the people lamented their loss. But when the ancient order of things was restored, one of the first cares of the citizens was to replace their ancient pensioners, and secure for them an endowment. The visitor who does not pay his respects to the bears may expect to be regarded as very disrespectful by the Bernese. They are 'the lions' of the city.—Murray's Handbook for Switzerland.
artless, candid, and diffident, but who gave fair promise of being the reformer of Berne.
'My soul is overwhelmed,' said Haller one day; 'I cannot support such unjust treatment . I am determined to resign my pulpit and retire to Basle, to employ myself entirely, in Wittembach's society, with the study of sacred learning.' This desire for study was strong in the first reformers.
'Alas!' replied Zwingle, 'and I too feel discouragement creep over me, when I see myself unjustly assailed; but Christ awakens my conscience by the terrible stimulus of his terrors and promises. He alarms me by saying, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me before men, of him shall I be ashamed before my Father." He restores me to tranquillity by adding, "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him also will I confess before my Father." Oh, my dear Berthold, take courage! Our names are written in imperishable characters in the annals of the citizens on high. I am ready to die for Christ . Oh that your fierce bears would hear the gospel! Then they would grow tame. But you must undertake this duty with great gentleness, lest they should turn round furiously and rend you in pieces.'
Haller took courage, went home, laboured gently, and then wrote to his friend, 'My soul has awakened from its slumber. I must preach the gospel. Jesus Christ must be restored to this city, whence He has been exiled so long.' 'The timid young preacher rushed,' as Zwingle described it, 'into the midst of the savage bears, who grinding their teeth, sought to devour him.'
The cause gained strength as the years passed, and Haller declared, in confident hope, 'Unless God's anger be turned against us, it is not possible for the word of God to be banished from the city, for the Bernese are hungering after it.'
The Bernese had certain districts in Roman Switzerland where the people spoke the French language, and a French missionary was needed. Farel was the man to carry the gospel into these new regions, and Haller gave him the most urgent invitation. What should Farel do? France was shut; no one opened its gates; not a word yet from thence inviting him to return. France had rejected him. Switzerland was open; a voice was calling him thither. It must be the voice of God, who took Paul away from the Asia in which he proposed to labour, and sent him over into Macedonia. He could not hesitate. He left Strasburg on foot in December, grieved as he cast an eye toward his native land that now disowned her son, but cheered as the prospects of success in new regions rose upon his vision. He was on the road when the messenger of Toussaint and Roussel arrived at Strasburg. It was too late. His friends sent the letters on to Berne; but even there they did not overtake him. In his zeal he had made haste to enter upon his new field. In a little Alpine village he had fully settled down, when he received the invitation of the lords of La Marche. Might he not even then return? Should he put aside the call of the lords of Berne, and the call of God's providence, and obey the voice of the young princes? In his soul there was a fierce struggle. He was only a lowly schoolmaster in a little village of the Alps. In France he might be a reformer in a great field, using princes in pushing on the good work; perhaps enlisting the king, and making the throne, the court, the capital, a centre of power on the side of the gospel. If this invitation had only reached him at Strasburg! But no; it was too late. The hand of God had drawn him away for some purpose yet to be disclosed. He will remain at the humble desk in his little school, and have an experience which invites our further attention.
Thus France lost the reformer whom many Christians thought had been raised up for her deliverance. But God had wisely planned these events. Farel would have been a powerful evangelist; but he was too much a soldier, and too little a scholar, for that great nation. He was a general who could urge forward a movement against error; but not the guide who could lead men to the full system contained in the Bible. A greater than Farel was about to appear, who could combine all the excellences of his predecessors in the French Reformation. He was then a student of seventeen, in the college of La Marche, at Paris, working his way, as Farel had done, into the clear light of the gospel. His was that great name—John Calvin. Farel knew him not : but it was yet to be the work of this Alpine schoolmaster to lay the foundation in Roman Switzerland, to open the gates of Geneva, and be the forerunner of Calvin, whose voice should shake the world, and roll on through the centuries.
'O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.' 'The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.' What was true of Jeremiah and David was to be true of William Farel, who had passed the delicate turning-point in his eventful life.
THE ALPINE SCHOOLMASTER.
)N the banks of the 'Great Water,' a narrow stream that falls in thunder from the rugged glaciers of the Diablerets, lies the small town of Aigle1 (iElen), about ten miles from Villeneuve, at the upper end of Lake Leman. A railway now passes through it, and from the train at this point one may see the sublime Dent du Midi rising on the south, and the proud Dent de Morcles on the north, both crowned with snow; and between them, a quiet, smiling valley, whose picture will not soon fade from his memory. There the laurel blooms beside the most exquisite grapes; and yet, hanging almost above them, are vast glaciers, near to which, in summer, the shepherds lead their flocks for pasture. If this be his first gate of entrance, the traveller begins to think that he is amid the grandeur of Switzerland.
To this small town, in December 1526, a man was making his way on foot, and in the rain. He wished to conceal his name, for he was one whom persecution had made an exile from France. He was of middle stature,
1 The old Latin Aquilea, now containing about 1650 inhabitants.