Imágenes de páginas




?LL seemed lost in the storm that swept through Geneva in the year 1533. We can glance at only a few of the sad effects. There J^"~^ was the banishment of Olivetan, for rising upon a bench and daring to say something after a friar had been bawling like a madman in decrying the Bible, exalting the Pope, and abusing the people, who sought for true liberty and the new life. All that the mild translator said was, 'Master, I desire to show you honestly from the Scripture where you have erred in your discourse.' It was too much for those who dreaded fair discussion. He was pushed off the bench, saved from deadly blows by Chautemps, denied a hearing by the council, and expelled from the city. There was talk that these banishments were not enough. Farel had been driven away; but after him rose up Froment. He had been expelled; but Guerin appeared in his stead. He had been cast out; but then came Olivetan. This fourth leader had been banished; and now somebody else would suddenly take his place. The whole band must be expelled, or treated with worse cruelties. There were secret plots formed in the house of the grand vicar; an armed attack, a fight on the Molard, a plan to burn out the Huguenots, and a reign of terror.

There was the restoration of the bishop-prince, Peter la Baume, who, six years before, had carried off a young girl to his castle, and raised a tempest that bore him away into banishment. There were all his revenges upon the innocent, some of them being thrust into prison, and some put to flight. Chautemps escaped; but his wife, the delicate, accomplished, devoted, and heroic Jaquema, must pay for it by suffering rough treatment in a narrow cell. Claudine saw her house again despoiled, and her husband fleeing for the mountains; and if he had not been overtaken, seized, and cast into a deep dungeon, she would have suffered in his stead. These are mere specimens of the persecution. There was almost everything to please the Sister Jeanne de Jussie in making up her journal, and telling how the women met to 'make war and kill the heretic wives, in order that the breed might be extirpated;' and how, with their little hatchets, and swords, and caps full of stones, 'there were full seven hundred children from twelve to fifteen years old, firmly resolved to do good service along with their mothers.' But what will she note down when Farel himself will be preaching to the nuns of St. Claire?

Yet, amid all this storm and uproar, there was a voice from My Lords of Berne. Messengers went and told them all about this madness for Popery, and this violence against their ministers. They were aroused, like a 'bear robbed of her young.' Papal Friburg should not drive out of the re-allied city the men whom Protestant Berne sent there to preach the gospel. They ' did not mince matters.' They gave the Genevan council something to s

In mockery Claudine sat down before the magician, who held a book in his hand. Then, mounting on a round table to be better heard, he opened the book, read a few words, and began to apply them. Dame Claudine, not caring the least for the assembly, and wishing to make known her religion, crossed herself several times, and repeated certain prayers. Froment still unfolded the rich treasures of the little book. She began to be astonished; she looked at the minister; she was not hearing an angel, but God was speaking from that small book. Not a more attentive listener was in the hall. She asked herself, 'Can this be true, seeing that the Church knows nothing about it?' Her eyes fixed on the schoolmaster's book. It was not a missal or a breviary. It seemed to her full of life. It was indeed the word of life.

The talk was ended, and all lingered and left. She sat still, looked at the teacher, and asked, 'Is that all true? Is it proved by the gospel?'

'It is all true. It is the gospel,' said he, in a pleasing voice.

'Is not the mass mentioned in it?'

« Not that I can find.'

'And is the book from which you preach a genuine New Testament?'

'It is, madame.' It was probably Lefevre's version.

'Then lend it to me,' she earnestly requested. He did so, and she placed it carefully under her cloak, among her beads and relics, and went home talking with Paula, who began to hope that the finger of God had touched her soul.

Dame Claudine was in earnest. She went to her room, ordered that her family should not wait meals for her, nor knock at her door, and 'she remained apart for three days and three nights, without eating or drinking, but with prayers, fastings, and supplications.' The Testament lay open on her table before her, and she read it, kneeling and lifting her eyes to heaven for light. She had many severe struggles; but at last she heard her Lord say, through His word, * Daughter, thy sins are forgiven thee.' She discovered that 'the grace of God trickled slowly into her heart;' but the least drop seemed a fountain never to be exhausted. Three days she thus spent, as Paul remained three days in prayer at Damascus.

And now she must see the man who had first led her into these rich treasures. She sent for him to come to her house over the bridge. He crossed the Rhone, and was met in her home with no other language than the 'tears that fell on the floor.' When the tide of emotion had receded, she told him how God had opened for her the door of heaven, and so talked that the young preacher was greatly instructed. As Calvin says of Lydia, 'From this tiny shoot an excellent church was to spring.'

One day she shut herself up in that room where she had heard the call of God, and resolved to extinguish all her former glory in dress and decoration. She took 'all superfluous bravery, laid aside those ornaments and trappings which had served to show her off in a vainglorious way,' and packed them up for sale. These and her most beautiful robes were sold. The money she gave to the poor, particularly to the evangelists of France, who were now exiles in Geneva. All her life the refugees were most welcome to her house. 'Verily,' they said, 'she follows the example of Dorcas, and deserves to be kept in perpetual remembrance.' She did more; she spoke meekly and frankly of the precious truth wherever she went, and presented the New Testament, which Farel was sending, to many of the Genevan ladies. Her husband had been most bitter against Froment, but he began to be softened. She gently won him to the Lord. Little meetings were held in the house of the Levets; and when Froment was not present, she read and explained the Scriptures. The modest Guerin, a capmaker, was reading his Bible day and night, and soon he cast his lot with the labourers in the vineyard.

On New-Year's day the city was to pass another crisis. The council had forbidden Froment to preach; and this made the people the more anxious to hear him. The hall was soon filled, then the stairway, then the street, and others still coming. The young preacher came, and he could not press through the crowd. What should be done? One man shouted out, '.To the Molard,' and the cry became general. This was a large square, near where the Rhone pours out of the lake. Thither they went, crying, 'Preach to us the word of God.' Mounting upon a little market-stall, the preacher beckoned with his hand, and there was silence. 'Pray to God with me,' he said, and kneeling, the tears ran down his cheeks, while his voice rose solemnly to heaven. By that prayer, so unlike anything the people had ever heard, thousands were convinced that he sought the salvation of their souls. The text was not fortunate: 'Beware of false prophets;' but the sermon was powerful, every point being proved by the Scriptures. Various attempts were made to disturb him, until at length an armed band forced their way toward the stand. After much confusion Froment was carried away by his friends, and with great difficulty

« AnteriorContinuar »