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His favorable reception at Geneva.
companion, and it was this gentleman who now came to partake of their hospitality and to seek among them a little calm and repose after fourteen years of incessant struggles. Du Plan's reception was warm and hearty; he happily found himself in the midst of a polished, learned, and distinguished society, in keeping with his rank, family and education. He had been long severed from such society, preferring, to social enjoyment, an agitated and troubled life in woods and caverns, with peasants and rude mountaineers for his companions; but God had reserved sweet solace at Geneva for the Nobleman who had so readily sacrificed his ease for the love of Christ and the good of the Church.
He had scarcely arrived in the city when he was surrounded and interrogated as to the state of his persecuted bethren. Particulars were demanded of him respecting the Assemblies in the Desert, Assemblies which were considered rash and. imprudent in view of the severity of the Edicts. Du Plan pleaded their necessity as Antoine Court had done before. The excellent and learned Pictet questioned the Nobleman concerning the Inspired who had so greatly endangered the unity of the Church and whose late chiefs had been hanged at Montpellier; perhaps he was not ignorant that the young fugitive was suspected of sympathising with them. But when he heard Benjamin Du Plan vehemently denounce the conduct of Vesson, Huc and Verschand, and pronounce as an absolute duty
Letter of Antoine Court to Du Plan.
obedience and respect to the constituted body of the Church, his prejudices gave way, his heart expanded, and he offered Du Plan the hand of brotherly love and friendship.
A few days after his arrival in Geneva, Du Plan received from Antoine Court an affectionate letter, in which his old friend expressed his sorrow at their disagreement; he gave him at the same time certain practical counsels concerning the Inspired refugees at Geneva, hoping thereby to save him from annoyance and distress such as he had endured in France. The Gentleman of Alais did not fail to ponder over the wise counsels of his friend.
"Monsieur and dear friend,
"It was with true joy I learned that you had arrived safely at your destination, but I was really sorry not to have seen you before you took to flight. I missed you only by two days, and if I had received the letter which was a reply to the one I had the honour to write to you after my return from the Vivarais, I should have been in time. It was, however, otherwise ordered; thus then we are far removed from each other; we no longer make journeys together and battle shoulder to shoulder under the standard of our common Master. This afflicts me! Still if we are separated in body let us be more intimately united than ever in the spirit to fight, and let us work with renewed zeal in the vineyard of our Lord. If you can no longer do so by exhortation address those who have the power of doing good by your pen, your fervent prayers and your petitions; having received talents of a superior order, you must not let them rust; it is more essential than ever to write well and forcibly; you are able to do both-fail not in the task, your own glory will be great. Endeavour to observe as far as possible a certain order in the arrangement of your sentiments and ideas. I
The state of the Church in France.
approved of the petitions you addressed to the Powers. There are some good points in them, but it cannot be denied that there is a certain confusion. I hope they may be efficacious.
"Allow me to exhort you to conceal the sentiments you hold on revelation as far as your conscience will permit; a too open intercourse with persons who hold your views can but produce bad effects. Have the goodness to watch and
"Rome is quietly and cautiously operating against those whom she regards as heretics, but as this attitude is an unnatural and constrained one, she will soon abandon it and persecute with fire and blood. After the registration in the Supreme Courts of the Province, of the Declaration which so much roused your resentment on the one hand, and your pity on the other, she appeared to be quieted; but on the first of this month, when we were least expecting it, a crier proclaimed the Declaration with the sound of a trumpet in the public places of the town of Nismes.
"I am leaving to assist at an assembly of our companions of the mountains and will acquaint you with the result as far as it may merit your attention.
"I long to hear your good news; do not delay sending them. Describe to me exactly your present state as a good friend can and should; the manner in which you have been received, and those with whom you are in relationship; whether you intend to make a long stay at your first stoppingplace, and what is said of our affairs. It is asking a great deal of you, but not too much, since I entertain sincere and ardent wishes for your prosperity, and since I have the honour to be, with the most tender and affectionate sentiments, &c."
We have already said that on quitting Nismes Benjamin Du Plan had placed in the hands of Antoine Court a statement regarding a grave question which occupied his mind. In that state
Activity of Du Plan prior to his nomination. 111
ment he had besought his friend to convoke an early Synod and to demand from it the appointment of a deputy to the great Protestant Powers to plead the cause of the Churches, a duty which he himself offered to fulfil. The idea was excellent. The Powers had effectually intervened on several occasions and what would they not do when a man delegated by the Churches should come to solicit them? Was any man apparently better qualified than the Nobleman of Alais to undertake this mission? His name, his rank, his education and his general information were all of a character to facilitate his access to great personages and to Courts. spontaneously offering his services to his brethren, Benjamin Du Plan did himself no more than justice.
"It requires a certain boldness, he wrote later, not possessed by everyone, to speak and to write to Nobles, Princes and Kings. Temperament, education, a little intercourse with the nobility, some years service in the army, a degree of faith in certain persons whom I believed to be inspired and who assured me of the protection of God, but above all the grace of our Lord, which I implored before undertaking anything, have produced in me an extraordinary boldness almost resembling rashness."
While waiting for the decision of the Synod, which he took for granted would not be unfavourable, Du Plan set himself to work. He wrote to the King of Prussia through the mediation of a pious and distinguished lady, and addressed to M. Lenfant, a celebrated minister and chaplain to the King, a statement of the condition of the Reformed Church of France; he wrote to M. Saurin in Holland and
Letter of Du Plan to Antoine Court.
presented through a confidential agent a petition to their Exalted Majesties of the Hague; he had already written to the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury and had found them easy of access through persons of distinction and piety who volunteered to support his solicitations; finally he proposed to establish relations with Switzerland for the benefit of the Churches or of the faithful, obliged like himself to seek refuge there. These journeys and this correspondence necessarily involved great outlay, but that was no hindrance to the zeal of the pious gentleman; he defrayed all his own expenses and decided to sacrifice his whole fortune if it were necessary. In the event of his means becoming exhausted, he hoped that the Churches out of gratitude would supplement them by a just recompense.
The letter in which he communicated all these projects to Antoine Court concluded with the following beautiful words :—
"I offer many prayers on behalf of your companions in service. May God by His grace preserve and bless them in all their labours. Can you suppose, my dear friend, that my prayers are less fervent and sincere for you than for your companions? On the contrary you ought to feel persuaded that, since Providence has drawn us together like it did David and Jonathan, Iinterest myself specially in all that concerns you. I will be straight forward then; I will tell you what I think of your conduct, and will ask you to do the same by me. I believe that Providence has endowed us in a greater measure than others with those talents which attract men's attention; never let us turn them to our own glory, but