Imagens das páginas


He urges Court to procure it for him.

sence in this country may be of some service to our Churches. Please inform me what effect your letters have produced touching the collections for the support of the ministry, and for the expenses of the Deputation to the Powers. As you have not referred to this subject for some time, I have reason to fear that your exhortations have been like seed cast into sterile and badly cultivated ground. There is always a great difference between promise and performance. It is much easier to draw out a good plan than to put it into execution. May God grant me grace to serve our Churches in much humility and without reward. Those who would give, cannot; and those who could give, will not. It is grievous, but we must nevertheless have patience. A time will come, if it please the Lord, when the husks will burst and the chestnuts will fall in abundance. God will implant His charity in the hearts of the covetous, and the poor shall suffer no more. O happy age, when wilt thou arrive? Let us hasten it, my dear friend, by our zeal for God, by our love towards our brethren, and by our diligence to fulfil all the duties of modesty, virtue and temperance. It the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much, let us be righteous and God will hear our prayers."

(September 1725).

Antoine Court replied to him immediately :—

"The Synod has been held. The preparations for it were successful, and the resolutions good, but the means of executing them failed. We need preachers, and need money for their support. Those who serve are not paid. Thirty per cent. has been deducted from their salaries and for the remainder they have received only paper. Instead of eleven hundred livres,1 which we require, but two hundred and eighty and some odd livres have been raised. Do therefore what you can for the Churches that suffer under the Crossand whose advocate you are. The word Cross may inspire

1. "Livre" is occasionally used by French writers as a convertible term for "franc".

Poverty of the Churches.


you at such a moment, and perhaps I am not wrong in bringing it to your remembrance.

"It was proposed that you should go into Germany, and to the North, but the great difficulty, want of means, marred our intentions. Fifty pistoles have been voted to maintain you for the present, while waiting for further help; it will supply your most pressing needs. I have not yet received the sum, but will work incessantly to obtain it. O God, will there never arise another Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America, who without being under the necessity of going from Potentate to Potentate or appealing to any Philip of Spain, shall appeal direct to Philip the Evangelist?; or shall there never again be seen any Cyrus, Artaxerxes or Nehemiah, who touched by our misery shall bring us more speedy and effectual relief than money can supply? Then not alone Ethiopia but countries more distant shall resound with our praises! Patience! God who is in Heaven is good, He is omnipotent, He will provide all things, and while hoping and waiting for His help, I will not allow any difficulties or oppositions to weaken my courage or relax my zeal. Our preachers have asked for their discharge, less perhaps with a view to obtain it than to arouse from their lethargy our elders, the majority of whom are discouraged with the first bad collection or with the meanness and unworthiness of the offerings. But I appealed to them, exhorting patience, and they have submitted, each one having again with renewed zeal taken possession of his own department in the vineyard of the Lord."

(September 1725).

Du Plan, however, did not wait to receive the money that had been promised him and which there was so much difficulty in collecting: in company with a preacher named Chapel, he commenced a short journey of two months duration. They visited the principal towns of Switzerland, including Berne,


Success of Du Plan in Switzerland.

Zurich, Neuchâtel, and Lausanne. For the sake of economy they travelled on foot. "They were received everywhere with a respectful sympathy, and great astonishment was evinced when Du Plan related in the towns still attached to the old Calvinistic traditions the sufferings, incessant persecutions and martyrdoms which had been endured during a ten years struggle and the success with which that struggle had been attended. The man who had been delegated to the Churches of Switzerland by his brethren of France and who had himself been a witness of so many extraordinary events, became a man of eminence-little short of a hero." 1

At Zurich, Du Plan obtained from their Excellencies the Magistrates sixty louis d'or; while the German clergy and the French Church promised to contribute their share to the relief of their persecuted brethren.

At Neuchâtel, the deputy collected thirty crowns, and the excellent M. Osterwald, pastor of the Church, personally furnished a large case of books, the greater number consisting of his own works.

It was at Lausanne, however, that Du Plan left the most salutory traces of his progress. He was received there with the warmest affection by the chief families of the country, and with their co-operation he realised one of the great ideas of Antoine Court, in founding a Protestant seminary.

1. Edmond Hugues, already quoted Vol. I. p. 281.

Establishment of the College at Lausanne. 131

As foreign pastors could not be prevailed upon to court martyrdom in France, it became necessary, as soon as possible, to supply their place by procuring for some young students the means for prosecuting their regular studies. Du Plan assembled in secret certain pastors and friends of Lausanne, such as Polier and De Montrond, &c., in order to deliberate on this grave question. The delicate point was to know to what College it would be most expedient to send the young students. Geneva, constantly threatened by France, was out of the question; Berne was not much less so and for the same reason, while Zurich was German and too far out of the way. Lausanne, then a dependency of Berne, was finally selected. Their Excellencies the Magistrates of Berne, at the request, probably, of certain eminent and influential friends, such as Dachs, D'Hacbrett and others, courteously consented to the opening of a private college, but on the express condition that it should remain in obscurity and make no stir. This condition was accepted.


The Churches were able to provide for the expenses of a single student only; but later on, thanks to the exertions of Du Plan, the number gradually inceased in a few years to six. first student was Bétrine, a pious and zealous young man whom Court had formerly encountered on his rounds, and had consecrated to the holy ministry. Bétrine set out for Lausanne in 1725. He was intelligent, though like all the preachers very ignorant, and having no notion of Greek or


Bétrine, the first student at the College.

Latin was unable to follow an academical course. Time pressed, the number of preachers diminished. daily under the fire of persecution, and it was necessary to replace them. A few willing and talented men thereupon undertook to give the young student private lessons, the more rapidly to complete his education, and in the space of a few months he acquired all his theological instruction.

On his return to Geneva, Du Plan found awaiting him the letter from his friend describing the want of generosity among the faithful. He hastened to reply, and to acquaint him with the results of his first journey.

"Monsieur, my dear friend,

"I have just returned from my journey into Switzerland in company with M. Chapel. I have been absent more than two months, which will account for my not having replied to the several letters that awaited me at Geneva. Scarcely had I received yours, when I resolved to give you evidences of my sincere and tender friendship. I commence then by praising the Lord, who in spite of the misery and peril to which the preachers are exposed in our unfortunate country, raises up persons to overcome these troubles. I praise God further for the good will of many worthy Elders who warmly interest themselves for the good of our Churches, though I am a little disappointed that they cannot carry out their good designs. God permits many obstacles to try the faith, patience and charity of His servants. If from the discharge of our duties we derived honour, pleasure and worldly prosperity, our diligence might be ascribed to ambition, avarice or voluptuousness. We must be poor, we must be despised, we must suffer, in order that God may be glorified, the Church edified, and our enemies forced to

« AnteriorContinuar »