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The motives for his charity.
"It is necessary to give all possible help to Dauphiny, for the more widely we extend our charity and good works the more will God be glorified, and the more shall we be glorified in Him; the less foreign help we receive towards the triumph of the truth in our country the more credit we shall receive from our fellow countrymen and from strangers. Nevertheless we ought not to act from this motive alone; it would be vanity and we should risk paying dearly for a little show; let us cleave unto God wholly and with a single heart, without regard to the opinions of men. Alexander and Cæsar were in some measure justified in seeking the world's praises, for they did not know, as we know, the things of God; but we should be very blind and very guilty to abandon the Creator for the creature, to prefer time to eternity, and to chase the shadow while we lose the substance. Let us occupy our minds about God, heaven and a blessed eternity, we shall not then be disappointed in our hopes; we shall possess here the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and in Paradise we shall behold His face which is a fullness of joy for ever. God grant it, by His grace!' (April 1725.)
Du Plan heard with joy of the revival of the Church notwithstanding the fire of persecution, and was deeply affected on reading such details as the following, given by Antoine Court on the occasion. of his marvellous deliverance:
"I have had abundant and touching proof of the attachment and tender affection entertained by our people for their pastor. Their fear of having lost me for ever after my sad adventure at Alais and their pleasure at my reappearance impressed them so vividly, that words fail them in which to testify their attachment, their grief, and their joy. I know not how to prove to you the respect in which I am held. "I can recall but few occasions when our largest assemblies reached two or three hundred persons, and
124 Court describes the progress of his work.
when one of them surpassed that number it was considered little short of a miracle. Now the Assemblies are considered but indifferent if they do not exceed two or three hundred. In the course of my rounds I have held several meetings at which the numbers approached a thousand persons, and at one there were more than twice as many; the communicants were so numerous that during the administration of the Lord's Supper, nine or ten chapters of Holy Scripture were read and the Commandments chanted, besides the whole of the XI. Canticle and two or three selections from the Psalms. A remarkable circumstance was that this Assembly was convoked at the break of day, lasted till noon and separated as quietly as if it had been held in St. Peter's.1 0 Divine and adorable Providence thou art profound and matchless in all thy doings! God render us sensible of such striking and distinguished proofs of Thy love! Though the event terminated happily, my dear friend, the step did not appear to every one here altogether wise and prudent. Should you find it the same I leave it to your judgment to make an apology for us; the scarcity of preachers, the great number of the faithful, the famine which pinches them, the pressing need they have of consolation, and their zeal, added to the precautions which are the inseparable companions of our doings, will furnish you with abundant means for our defence."
(9th of July 1725).
In this same letter Antoine Court conferred with Du Plan on a very important and interesting question-the confederation of the Churches of Dauphiny and Vivarais with those of Languedoc. It was considered essential to combine their scattered forces in order to make a better stand against persecution. To this end, Roger, who had accom
1. The Cathedral at Geneva where Protestant worship is celebrated.
The Confederation of the Churches.
plished in Dauphiny the same work of restoration that Antoine Court had accomplished in Languedoc, had assembled a Synod in June, 1725. It was there decided, as a proof of complete and lasting union, that all the Churches should adopt the same rules as the Churches of Languedoc. Nevertheless it was thoroughly understood that this deference did not imply any avowal of inferiority, and that Languedoc, in taking the initiative in this measure, did not in any manner aspire to any sort of domination whatsoever. It was in this sense that the arrangement was understood by the brethren at Geneva.
"It is essential," continued Court, "to explain to the Churches of the Vivarais and Dauphiny those terms either in our rules or in the Synodal letter which, though they may in appearance be stern and even despotic, are not so in reality. We are not friendly enough with the proud and blind Vatican to adopt its maxims or to imitate its conduct. Thanks to Thy mercies, O my God, we are taught in a school where we have learned that he who is esteemed the greatest ought to be the servant of him who is the least. God is not well pleased that we should attempt to establish in our midst an authority which Jesus Christ, our Divine Master, took so much pains to banish from among his beloved disciples. We would disapprove and denounce all that has the slightest appearance of it, and agree with pleasure to correct the smallest expression which might seem to favour a principle so worthy of condemnation."
(9th of July 1725.)
Antoine Court was sufficiently interested in the financial position of his friend to speak his mind freely on this subject.
Financial situation of Du Plan.
"I fear," he wrote to him, "that you conceal from me things which you ought frankly to disclose. If I hold in your mind and heart the place apparently assigned to me by your letters, why hide anything? Have the goodness to speak on all subjects with an open heart, and as a bosom friend ought to speak. I need not explain myself more fully, but if further comment is necessary, you have only to remember that since you went to sojourn at Geneva, I have known as little of the state of your affairs as of the inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere. It you do me the favour to refer at all to the subject, I know you will not do it by halves." (9th of July 1725.)
Benjamin Du Plan replied to him immediately:
"You wish me to acquaint you with my affairs, If concerning the temporal I will inform you that they are in such a condition that God alone can help me. The person who is willing to aid me1 has his hands tied, he can sell nothing at present, and what with losses and expenses his income is greatly reduced. Fifty louis were sent me, but they were not nearly sufficient, and I have borrowed considerably. If Providence does not intervene, it will be necessary to reduce my expenditure. Though I desire to maintain a certain position, I do not wish to be chargeable to any one, and it is with regret that I consent to the Churches co-operating in the collection of a small sum to defray my unavoidable expenses for future journeys. I will not however accept even this help, until after all the pastors of the country have received their salaries; and Providence has failed to furnish me with other means. I wish to receive nothing from the Churches, being sufficiently rewarded by the glory and happiness of serving them."
(27th of July 1725).
1. This was a Monsieur Treillis of Alais, a great friend of the family of Du Plan and who had taken in hand the pecuniary interests of the young refugee.
His want of money.
Benjamin Du Plan tried sometimes by curious methods to improve his position; he subscribed to a lottery. Unfortunately this plan did not succeed, and though the attempts were repeated he was never successful.
FIRST JOURNEY OF DU PLAN IN SWITZERLAND.
October and November, 1725.
As soon as Du Plan had received his credentials he occupied himself in the fulfilment of his delicate mission. But he was soon impeded by want of money. He had not yet received the fifty pistoles. which the Synod had voted him, and the help from his father was insufficient to meet the cost of his journey.
He wrote in the month of September to his friend:
"I have not yet been able to set thoroughly to work, owing to want of money. The outlay already incurred has greatly exceeded the help I have received from my relations. I almost lose hope, the obstacles which interfere with this, as with all good designs, being so numerous.
"Affairs in the North and in Germany are in a critical state. It is not yet known whether war will break out or whether an arrangement will be possible. Reasonable and pious men counsel me not to engage in my undertaking without the means necessary for success; I therefore patiently await the manna, and by whatever way it may come I shall look upon it as from heaven. Meanwhile perhaps my pre