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Death of Benjamin Du Plan.
all our burdens, is faithful and all powerful to help us and even to give us, if He think fit, a foretaste of the happiness
Herein, my dear cousin, is my chief consolation under the infirmities I bear. Through the infinite mercy of God, the boundless merits of Jesus Christ, and the blessing of the Holy Spirit, I trust I shall be enabled to persevere in the faith, and ere long to commit my soul in peace and joy into the hands of my Creator and adorable Saviour. I feel no certainty that my life will be prolonged even for a quarter of an hour, and at best it cannot be of long duration except by a miracle. Whatever may happen, God be praised! Only may I have grace from the Lord to be found numbered with the wise virgins who are waiting for the bridegroom's coming with their lamps trimmed, so that whether I live or whether I die soon I may be ready.
Early in the month of July, 1763, Du Plan passed away, and by his death the Protestant Church lost one of the most devoted of its off. spring. In the course of his long career, which we have, so to speak, been following day by day, his faith never wavered. The sacred flame that was kindled in the soul of the young soldier burnt with unquenchable ardour in that of the aged veteran. Often towards the close of his life his thoughts reverted to his earlier years and he would thrill with joy on comparing the present with the past. It was not without emotion that he called to mind those days of enthusiasm, when renouncing his military career, he bade a final adieu to the world and its vanities and devoted himself wholly to the service of his Divine Master. The times were then grave. The chill blast of persecution had
A glance retrospective.
bowed down the proudest heads, dispersed the pastors and devastated the flocks. Yet encouraged by the example of some aged preacher or some poor prophetess who still bade defiance to rigorous edicts and maintained at the risk of their lives the drooping cause of Protestantism, we have seen this man of noble birth, brought up in ease and refinement, attending the assemblies in the Desert, encountering every danger, living like the peasants themselves, -his companions, rude mountainers, and he their friend and pastor. He bethought him of that happy day when, in the midst of his absorbing occupations, he first met Antoine Court and "grappled him to his heart." Drawn together by a love like that of David and Jonathan, they struggled to rekindle by the fervour of their zeal, and their ardent labours and self sacrifice, the expiring fires of French Protestantism; it was they who, regardless of the edicts assembled the scattered sheep, while by word and deed they sought to strengthen the constant, rouse the lukewarm and encourage the weak. When persecution fell upon him also, we find our hero flying from the Château of his fathers and becoming a wanderer on the face of the earth, an exile and a stranger. Happy time! exile opened to him a new field of activity in the service of the Church. By his missionary journeys in Switzerland, England, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Holland and his pressing appeals to small and great, he was enabled to raise funds sufficient not alone for founding a College at Lausanne for the training of pastors for his native
A glance prospective.
country, but for the purchase of religious books for his persecuted brethren. He was also instrumental in eliciting the sympathies of the Protestant Powers on behalf of the most unfortunate amongst the sufferers. Thanks to his exertions, galley-slaves were liberated and the lot of other prisoners made more tolerable. Yet, alas! with what sad thoughts were these happy reminiscences often mingled! Where were his early companions, his old friends? Arnaud, Huc, Vesson, Durand, Roger and many others had perished on the scaffold; Antoine Court had died at Lausanne; Bonbonnoux and Cortiez, the sole survivors, broken down with fatigue and crushed with the infirmities of age, had abandoned the struggle and retired into exile, where they awaited their end. His own closing years were darkened by calumny and bitter mortification.
But in compensation for these sorrows, sufferings and martyrdoms, his heart glowed in the anticipation of the dawn of better days. Providence had accomplished its work. As hitherto in the history of the Church, the blood of martyrs had proved to be the seed of the harvest. The mustard seed had become a great tree; the winds and the storms had shaken it and buffeted its branches, but its roots had only struck the more deeply into the earth, until now beneath its grateful shade a numerous and god-fearing generation could take shelter. Baville, Bernage, Le Nain, Saint-Priest and the other persecutors had wielded the scourge in vain, their violence and wrath had been defied.
The fathers and the sons.
Yet a little while and a new whirlwind would sweep away the still heavy, but already drifting clouds. The Revolution was advancing with rapid strides, bringing in its train that most precious of all liberties, liberty of conscience. Yet a little while and the chains of captives would be broken and all would breathe freely and proudly under the glorious canopy of heaven. Yet a little while and Protestantism victorious would replace the despairing cry of evil days, "Save Lord we perish," with the watchword of victory, "Through the cross triumphant."
It was not permitted to Du Plan to witness the dawn of this blissful day. Nevertheless he cherished in his noble heart, with unshaken faith, the hope of a happy future. Like Moses he saw from afar the promised land, though God had not allowed
him to enter it.
While contemplating with gratitude our hero's life we are tempted to compare the present with the past, the indifference of to-day with the zeal of former times, and to apply to ourselves the reproof of the Prophet: "Your fathers, where are they"?
Be that as it may, we are without fear for the future of a Church that God has so loved; and notwithstanding the evils of the present and the uncertainties of the future, we exclaim with Jesus Christ "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
GENEALOGY OF BENJAMIN DU PLAN.1
At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Ribot2 family who occupied the manor Du Plan de la Favède in the parish of Laval in the diocese of Uzès, was represented by two near relatives, possibly brothers, named respectively Anthoine and Jacques.
ANTHOINE RIBOT died prior to 1577, leaving issue a son named Jean, who was Captain and Governor of the Château de Sommières in 1577, a period at which he gave to Bringuier Ribot, son of the late Jacques, a receipt for the sum of fifty livres for all his paternal inheritance "to which he may now be or henceforth become entitled, to pertain by right to the said Bringuier."
JACQUES RIBOT was the founder of the family of the Seigneurs Du Plan, of which the filiation is established as follows:
I-JACQUES RIBOT died before 1577 and was the father of
II.-Noble BRINGUIER, or BERENGER RIBOT, Seigneur Du
1. This genealogy has been drawn up with the aid of the family papers and copies of wills. For the latter (which were accidentally discovered in the garret of the Château de la Favède where they had remained buried for more than a century) we are indebted to the present proprietor, Monsieur Arbousset.
2. There formerly existed in the Parish of Saint-Florent, a locality of the name of Des Ribots, and near to it, among the out-buildings of the Château des Silhols, was a spring known as the Fontaine des Ribots.
On the 24th of November 1493, Pierre Ribot living on the estate Des Silhols in the Parish of Saint-Florent, in a communication addressed to Seigneur De Saint-Florent mentioned certain possessions as formerly belonging to Jacques Ribot, also of the aforesaid Des Silhols. Bernard Ribot, in 1548 sold the manor of Des Silhols to one Claude Pomier. This incident may possibly furnish a clue to the origin of the family of De Ribot.