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Dangers encountered by the Colporteurs.
was insufficient. The books bought were Testaments and the Psalms-but mostly Testaments-also works. on morality, treatises on the Communion, the Catechisms of Drelincourt, Osterwald, Superville and Saurin; The Preservative against corruption, or Treatise on the sources of corruption, by Osterwald ; Indifference to religion, by Pictet; as well as The Mystical Manna of the Desert, by the same author; Morality, by Pictet, and his Theology; the Sermons of Claude, the Exposition of the Forty Articles of the Confession of Faith, &c.
The great difficulty was to import the works into France, the frontier being rigorously watched for suspected books; but the zeal and discretion of Du Plan surmounted all difficulties. Through his management brave colporteurs undertook, at a thousand perils, to introduce the works. With their packs they crossed the border, and having hastily deposited their precious burdens in a safe place, passed on. The books, once received, were distributed after the sermons, when everyone eagerly ran to obtain them. Some were sold to those who could afford to pay, while others were given to the poor or placed at the disposal of the preachers. The following letter of Du Plan shows the interest he took in this work, and above all in the brave colporteurs who risked their liberty on behalf of the Church.
"You have asked me, my dear friend, in some of your letters to send you some books, and you tell me that zealous persons here ought to defray the expense. I reply, in the
Du Plan interests himself in their mission. 119
first place, that the inhabitants of this country very honourably support their ministers as well as their poor; the latter increase daily, either owing to want of employment or to the vanity and avarice which prevails in the dwellings of the rich. After having sought for more than eight months in vain, I have found a favourable opportunity of sending you some packets of books, though the difficulties at one time seemed almost insurmountable. Charity having furnished only some old books and about twenty crowns, I have made myself responsible at the bookseller's for goods to the amount of one hundred crowns, as I would rather spend all I possess than allow a favourable opportunity to slip of affording to my country the means of instruction and salvation for pastors and people. May God by His grace safely conduct the escort, and bestow His blessing on all the preachers of Lower Languedoc, the Cevennes, and Vivarais. M. Cortiez and you will select what you wish aud distribute the remainder according to your discretion. I hope everyone will be satisfied, and that you will with pleasure lend to one another what each may specially receive.
"Should the man who risks his goods, his liberty and even his life, to procure means for the salvation of his conntry get into difficulty, I hope the Churches will not abandon him. I beseech you all, for the love of Christ, to interest yourselves on his behalf. The man is poor and has suffered many misfortunes, and he would not have been able to undertake the enterprise at all had I not encouraged him and supplied him with means. If I have done anything for the good of my country, to God be all the glory! I commend myself to the prayers of the faithful, that I may still be useful to the Church. My Saviour has loved it and shed His blood for it, and I would, through the help of the Lord, make, or wish to make, the same sacrifice. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” (10th of September 1725.)
The smallest detail furnished to Du Plan an occasion for the display of his fine spirit, the noblest
His noble minded sentiments.
sentiments even at these times would flow from his
"I belong no more to myself," continued he, "but to God who has redeemed me with His blood, and who animates me by His spirit in order that I may be wholly devoted to the service of His dear and well-beloved Spouse. Courage, my dear brother! never let us lose courage, whatever we see, or whatever we hear; let not the most fearful tempests and storms have power to move us; we have a Pilot who commands the winds and the waves, let us not permit Him to slumber through our negligence or indifference! Let us cry to Him without ceasing in the words of the superscription on the seal which I send to you by our brother Deleuze; 'Save, Lord; we perish!' If we pray to our kind and omnipotent Saviour with all the humility, ardour and confidence of which we are capable, we shall undoubtedly soon witness an end of the storm everywhere and a succession of mild and genial weather by which the earth will be made to bring forth fruit and barrenest trees to bloom. Toil without ceasing to sow, weed and cultivate the soil which Providence has committed to your care, and may the blessing of God, my dear friend, be upon you and upon your work; may it also descend upon your fellow labourers and upon all who invoke the name of our Lord. Never fear your foes, however numerous they may be; you fight for the Lord of Hosts, and if you are faithful to Him the victory will surely be yours; yet a little while, our enemies shall be confounded and the truth shall appear with such brilliancy that the shadows of superstition shall everywhere be dispersed ; the idols of the nations shall be destroyed, and all shall adore the one and only God, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same; all shall cry, Hosannah! Blessed be He who cometh in the name of the Lord! Alleluia, Alleluia! Praise the Lord! To Him alone be all the glory, majesty, dominion and power!
"All that I say is true; it is no chimera or effect of an
His solicitude on behalf of the Churches.
excited imagination. I have for my authority the Holy Scriptures, and the marvels which God has done, and is still doing, by His grace in my dear country. I have for my authority the love of God which is shed abroad in my heart; this love never deceives us if we pray for it and consult it with humility and faith; it is an infallible oracle which gives us glimpses and foretastes of the triumph of the Church on earth and in heaven. Love is God Himself, according to the explanation of the beloved disciple. All who are really animated by love are inspired of God. God makes Himself known unto them and reveals unto them His secret thoughts. Let us not deceive ourselves as to the nature of this love. Saint Paul has given us an admirable description of the virtue in his Epistle to the Corinthians. It is for us to examine whether we practice it in like manner.
"I will at present urge my arguments no further, because I wish, if it please God, to write to you again soon. I therefore conclude, my dear friend, by assuring you of my perfect goodwill, and by expressing sincere and ardent wishes for your welfare, for the welfare of your beloved colleagues and of all our Churches. Assure our dear brethren, by whom I have the honour to be known and loved, that I am, and shall be all my life, their good friend and faithful servant. I specially salute your wife. I trust you will write to me soon. Your two illustrious friends and a great number of noble and pious persons of both sexes and all ages, salute you, and offer many supplications on behalf of yourself and your companions. The Eternal, who has preserved you and delivered you from the hands of your enemies by a striking miracle, will keep you until the day of full fruition. May the cloud of divine protection encircle you in all places and at all times; may the angels of heaven attend you like Jacob, and may no cruel Esau ever have power over you or your brethren. God soften the heart of your enemies! God enlighten their understandings and give them grace to serve Him-the Judge of the Universeas He wills, and as He is worthy to be served. Adieu,
His solicitude for the galley slaves.
my very dear friend, Adieu. I embrace you and am, much more than I can express it, your very humble and affectionate brother and servant.
10th of September 1725.
There was no physical or moral suffering to which Du Plan was a stranger; he was as solicitous for the pastors as for all the members of the flock, and especially for those of them who were victims to the rigour of the times. His thoughts constantly recurred to the most unfortunate of his co-religionists aud went forth to the dungeons and the galleys; he felt himself constrained to stir up sympathy on their behalf. He willingly forgot himself in caring for others, and his charity extended to every one who suffered for righteousness' sake.
“I learn with regret," he wrote, "that those who serve the Churche are scarcely ever fully paid, though they are so few in number and their wages so very moderate. Moreover sufficient attention has not been given to the galley slaves and prisoners. Is not this, however, an inalienable duty of the Churches, and is it not rather from want of love and intelligence, of care and management, than of money, that sufferers for the Gospel and servants of the Churches are deprived of necessary support? As for myself, I ask for nothing. God will be my support and my recompense. I will, through His grace, sacrifice not only my goods and my worldly prospects, but my life, if this sacrifice be required by my country and the Church. Let your colleagues and elders rest assured of my true sentiments on this subject, for I express them as they occur to me. I will spare no efforts for the consolation and deliverance of my brethren, and will with my whole heart solicit heaven and earth in their favour.