A WARNING AND AN APPEAL; OR, THE HUGUENOTS, THEIR FOLLY AND THEIR FALL.
Shall Americans contend for the truth or betray it? This is the question of this hour, and of all hours.
Men are created for God’s glory. God does not waste his time or energies in holding up and blessing those who refuse to glorify him. He gives them up. He lets go of them. If they insist on going to the Devil, to the Devil they go, and make out of it what they can.
It is a glorious privilege to know God. It is the manifest duty of those who know him to be thankful for the knowledge, and to use it wisely and well. Whoever fails to do this, makes a loss. The Huguenots, in their folly and their fall, illustrate this truth. There was a time when those who professed the religion of Jesus Christ were in the majority in France. Then they had an open Bible, a Sabbath sacred to holy uses, the wealth, the culture and the government. They lost all because they did not champion and proclaim the truth God had entrusted to their care.
When Henry IV., in 1598, issued the Edict of Nantes, and acknowledged God, and evidenced his gratitude by giving to Christianity, as taught by the Gospel, a place in the lives, thoughts and plans of men, he enriched France.
When Louis XIV., in 1685, revoked the Edict of Nantes, and gave his country over to the black-hearted villainy and terrible despotic hate of Romanism, to be despoiled and degraded, he brought ruin upon the State, and eternal infamy upon his name.
Then France was taken off the list of God-fearing States, and was enveloped in night, shrouded in superstition, that begets ignorance, poverty and death. In 1537 there were eight hundred and six churches in France. A bright future awaited them. France has known three periods in her religious life. Let us name them:
I. The Period of Repression, 1512 – 1559.
The attempt was made to reform the Papal church. It was in vain. As well might the attempt be made to clean out sin. It is ours to come out from it, and bring others out. This we can do. It is what men are within that makes them. It is what Romanists believe that damns them. The cry should be, “Come out from her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.” Protestants hoped that error unrebuked would be dispersed by the truth. This is the dream of thousands in America. It is a false dream, built on a false hope.
II. The Period of Organization, 1559-1562.
This was the hour of battle. The Huguenots named as torch-bearers for Christ Jesus. The ministry and nobility revealed courage, and as the churches followed, effective work was done for God.
III. The Period of Resistance, 1559-1662.
This period deserves a book rather than a paragraph. Figures, some fearless and uncompromising, others devilish and malignant, are on the stage. Gaspard de Coligni, Charlotte Laval, Jeanne d’ Albert, mother of Navarre, how grandly they stand forth for God and the right!
Over against them are, Charles IX., Catherine do Medici, Alva, the Duke of Guise and others, whose deeds blacken the page of history. See them at work! ” Bring out the books and burn them,” is the savage demand of the Duke of Guise, as he reins up his horse in front of the barn where 3,000 have gathered to hear Leonard Morel as he preaches Christ.
“In whom do you believe?” is the question asked of the watchman at the door. ” In the Lord Jesus Christ,” is the brave answer. ” Cut him down.” “Dogs, rebels, Huguenots, heretics, “are the appellations thrown at the worshippers of Christ. The watchman is slain. Leonard Morel is struck with a musket. He falls on his knees and prays for his enemies. “Bring out the book!” The Bible is handed him. He opens and looks at the date. “This the Bible? It is 1500 years and more since this book was written. It was printed within a year. Wonderful truth! The Bible is old and yet new! Huguenot was, at the onset, a term of reproach. Afterwards, it became an honor. About the origin of the name there are various legends.
Davila finds a derivation for the name in the fact that they worshipped in cellars near Hugo’s gate. Others declare, the name came from Hugh Capet, from whom they claimed descent. It was not his origin, but his deeds, that made the Huguenot a power.
He has been described as a “soldier with the Testament in his knapsack, the Psalms on his lips, the name of Jehovah on his banner, the conviction of the Divine Presence as his leader” that made him a power.
On the field of battle the vision of liberated France was ever before his eye. His enemies were the enemies of God, who began each new war for the Papal idolatries. He fought them for Christ’s sake, and fired each shot with a prayer, and saw with thanksgiving a routed foe. He rushed to the charge without fear ; he cut right and left with unsparing severity ; he made it his work until the order was given to desist. He held every truce and treaty sacred. He had mercy for the prisoner, the maimed and the dying. He forgave as generously as he fought grievously. He boasted not of his own valor, if he was the conqueror ; he had no despair if he was the vanquished. He murmured not if he must die for Christ and country. He gave his soul to God, expected his pockets to be rifled, his body left for the eagles, and his bones to bleach under a sun that might yet shine upon a liberated kingdom.
“Honest as a Huguenot,” was the proverb coined in his honor and made current through long generations, because of what he was when he was at his best God’s child, fearless for the truth, the foe of Romanism, the champion of liberty, at any cost or sacrifice.
Gaspard d Coligni was the flower grown on the stem of a Huguenot’s faith. He was born Feb. 16, 1517, at Chatillon sur Laing. He came from good stock. His father was a brave soldier and an incorruptible patriot. He trained Gaspard to be brave. There were three boys, who loved each other, Odet, Gaspard and Francis. The star of the Reformation shone in the mother’s heart. The senior, Gaspard, chief marshal of the army, while hastening to relieve a beleaguered town, became overheated and died. He made a will commending wife and children to the king and brother-in-law Montmorency, and died on the ninth day of his illness.
The grief of the fatherless lads found some solace in their mother’s love, and in their affection for each other. Whoever was loved by the one was loved by the other two, and whoever offended one had an affair to settle with the entire three.
The mother of Coligni, in the home of Margaret Navarre, became the governess of Jeanne d Albert, the mother of Henry IV. It is probable that she made much of the friendship of this wonderful woman, who, for diversion, read the Holy Scriptures, saying, “In perusing them, my mind experiences its true and perfect joy.” His uncle was a rough soldier.
Coligm’s conversion to Christ was the foundation of his strength. It was in the castle at Ghent, while a prisoner, that he received a copy of the Scriptures, while on the brink of the grave. Audelot his brother, a prisoner at the same time, was released because he permitted the mass to be said in his cell. Coligni paid his ransom, and retired to his castle at Chatillon. There Charlotte Laval, his good wife, became his teacher. When urged to profess Christ, he replied:
“It is wise to count the cost of being a true Christian.”
“It is wiser to count the cost of not being a true Christian. In the one case, the cost is temporal. In the other, it is eternal. In the one, the body pays it ; but in the other, the soul pays it for ever.”
“You are right,” replied the Admiral, “and if you are ready for the sacrifice, so am I ; ” and from that time he professed the reformed creed. He gave the Scriptures to his servants, forbade profane swearing, engaged pious teachers for his children, and established schools among the poor. One day, being at Vaterille, listening to the word of God, the truth broke in upon his mind. He then saw that the true preparation for the Supper is not in the elements used, but in the person using them ; he must have faith in Christ. It was then he came into the full fellowship of the church.
The influence of this act was felt far and wide. Happy for France if there had been a John Knox at the head of the Reform, a man bold in the face of royalty, scathing upon usurpers, reading the tendency of political schemes, so that he could march abreast of events, the standard-bearer of the truth!
The Reform-movement went on. Churches multiplied. A fourth of the kingdom became identified with the churches of Christ.
The uprising of (he Huguenots called for Coligni. He hesitated. His wife knew the struggle in his soul. She could not sleep. She thought of them enjoying every blessing in the palace, while their brethren were in dungeons, or on the bare fields with the storm beating on them. He urged that war might only increase the number of the sufferers. Your argument leaves your brethren hopeless. It does not show a strong faith in God,” said the good wife. “He has given you the genius of a great Captain. You have confessed the justice of their cause.”
“Lay your hand on your heart, wife, and tell me: Could you receive the news of defeat without a murmur against God, and a reproach upon your husband?”
“I could.” “Are you prepared to see your husband branded as a rebel and dragged to a scaffold, while your children are disgraced and begging their bread of their enemies, or serving them as scullions and slaves? I give you eight days to reflect upon it, and if you are prepared for such reverses, I will march.” “The eight days are already expired,” said the intrepid wife. “Go sir, where duty calls.” He went. We cannot follow him. From camp to cabinet ; from cabinet to camp: now wounded, now defeated, but always undaunted, he went forth, until August 24, 1572, when, on the night of St. Bartholomew, he was murdered while a guest of the king; his body thrown from the window to the ground, had its head severed, and then was placed upon a gibbet ; afterward his body having been dragged about the streets, put over a fire and scorched, and thrown into the river, taken out again as unworthy food for fish, dragged again by boys and lewd fellows of the baser sort, was hung up again on the gallows, feet upward, where it remained for two weeks.
All this, and volumes more, was the background of 1637.
Now, look forward. Dark grows the night because God’s children withhold the light. Bright grows the day whenever the messengers of Christ have the courage of their convictions.
So long as the Huguenots filled out in their lives, and by their proclamation of the truth, the conception which the world still cherishes of them, they prospered.
Henry IV. illustrates, in his life and in his death, the uselessness of cowardice. He had courage on the battlefield, a rough wit, and in some circumstances would have shone as a leader. But in that age he lacked the faith which was essential to victory. He did not see Him who is invisible. His life was not built on Christ, the corner stone. The trial came. He was weighed in the balance and ” Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin” was as true of him as of Belshazzar. He was found wanting in steadfastness of purpose. He surrendered to Koine when a lad. He dared not be a Daniel. He trifled when he should have been resolute and firm. Brave and skillful in war, he lost the advantage of his splendid victories by trying to serve both parties. At last, he tore himself treacherously from the faith of his mother, and from all the associations of his early years. On the 25th of July, 1593, he knocked on Sunday morning at the Cathedral of St. Dennis. The door was opened, and upon the bishop demanding his errand, he replied, ” To be admitted into the church of Rome.” He bowed at the altar, and swore allegiance to the Roman faith . He acted a lie . He thought the throne of France worth a mass, and consented, because Rome would not assent to his ruling on any other conditions, to become a godless king. He had asked once before, “Could you confide in the faith of an atheist? And in the day of battle would it add to your courage to think you followed the banner of a perjured apostate ?” Brave words, had he followed them ; but he surrendered, and lost all. The Rome he sought to placate, turned from him with fresh aversion in 1598, when he issued the Edict of Nantes, twenty-six years after the massacre of St. Bartholomew. The essence of the edict was limited toleration. Liberty of conscience was permitted to the Huguenots ; but except in special parts of France, they could not exercise their religion. They were declared eligible to office. Their poor were admitted into the hospitals ; but they were required to keep the Romish festivals and pay tithes. For a time the edict was observed, and under its shelter the Huguenots pursued their way, enjoying a measure of quiet and liberty. Then, had they preached the truth, they might have achieved a victory. But they suppressed it. They lacked the courage which was displayed by Antonio Court, who gathered little crowds about him, and went on until there were thousands listening to his voice.
The History of French Protestantism from the promulgation of the Edict of Nantes, by Henry IV., in 1598, to the revocation of the same edict by Louis XIV., in 1685, naturally divides itself into three periods. In the first, extending from that great religious transaction which marks the end of the civil wars of the sixteenth century, to the taking of Rochelle in 1629, the Protestants were at one time by their own fault, and at another by the artifice of the nobles, involved in the troubles which agitated the regency of Maria de Medici ; and in the first years of the majority of Louis XII., beheld themselves deprived of the fortresses or towns yielded to them in pledge for the fulfillment of treaties of their political organization, and of their influence in the State.
Had they resisted this inroad, they could have held Romanism in check. But when the Huguenots allowed a solemn compact to be trifled with, Rome believed her hour had come, and marched boldly on.
God gives everybody a chance. Accept it, and salvation is assured. Reject it, and all is lost.
In the second period (1629-1662), which extends from the taking of Rochelle to the first persecutions of Louis XIV., the Protestants lived as Protestants in America are trying to live. They surrendered their influence as a religious party. Their chiefs pulled down the banner of a protest against the aggressions of Rome and sought for quiet and prosperity and thrift.
They disturbed France no longer, as their ancestors had done, by incessant armed risings, but enriched themselves by their industry.
FOR A TIME THEY PROSPERED.
Deprived of their cautionary fortresses and of their political organizations, gradually excluded from employment at Court and from nearly all civil offices, they turned to agriculture and to manufactures, and amassed fortunes. They redeemed lost provinces from sterility.
The Protestant burgher-class in the towns applied itself to industry and commerce, and displayed a degree of activity and intelligence coupled to integrity such as never have been surpassed in any country. In Guienne it nearly monopolized the wine trade ; in the two governments of Brouoge and Oleron, a dozen Protestant families held a monopoly of the trade in salt and wine which amounted yearly to twelve or fifteen million lives.
Those of Caen, sold to English and Dutch merchants linen and clothes manufactured at Vive, at Falouse, and at Argenton ; thus securing a rich outlet for this branch of national industry. Though bad Catholics, Eomanists were compelled to admit that the Reformed were excellent men of business.
Swamped by a ruinous legislation to which they assented, and tolerated in the midst of a population entirely outnumbering them, which ever regarded them with suspicion, constantly the butt of all calumnies, subjected to the control of imperious laws which compelled them to exercise perpetual constraint upon themselves, they forced public esteem by their austerity of morals and irreproachable loyalty. By the confession of their enemies, they respected law, they obeyed God, loved their fellowmen, and were true to them. They lived as seeing Him who is invisible. “Renowned for their commercial intelligence and activity, they were no less famous for their industry. More devoted to labor than other subjects of the realm, because they could only hope to equal them by surpassing them in the quality of their work, they were still further stimulated and advanced by the principles of their religion.” Those principles forbid their inaction in thought. Compelled to enlighten themselves by diligent study, there came necessarily the superior light, which spread itself over all their actions, and rendered their spirit abler to grasp all ideas the application of which would tend to the advancement of their weal
Besides, the working year of the Protestants contained three hundred and ten days ; because they set aside only the fifty-two Sabbaths and a few solemn holidays, which gave their industry the advantage of one sixth over that of the Catholics, whose working year contained but two hundred and sixty days, in as much as they set apart to rest above one hundred and five days.
They adopted the system of combined labor. They organized their establishments on the principle of the subdivision of labor, directed by skilful directors, who employed thousands of workmen, whom they stimulated by the lure of salaries duly proportioned to their services, thus offering the surest and most ready method of arriving at the most perfect, most abundant, and most economical production. As a result, France possessed the finest manufactories of wool, and shared the rich commerce in broadcloth which belonged to the English, the Hollander, and the Italians.
The invention of the stocking loom increased the number of the manufactories of stockings, of wool, silk, thread, and cotton. The Protestants distinguished themselves in this new art, and propagated it in the district of Sedan and Languedoc. A portion of that province, the upper Gevaudon, a mountainous and sterile region, almost entirely inhabited by the “Reformed” was celebrated for the serges and coddices made. In that region all the peasants had trades. The children spun from the age of four years and upward, and the whole of the family thus found occupation.
It was the Protestants of France who gave the world the best linen cloth. The tanneries of Touraine, the silk factories of Tours and Lyons, were all owned and worked by Protestants.
Nor did the Protestants confine themselves to manufactures and commerce, but entered largely into all the liberal careers. Numbers of the Reformed distinguished themselves as physicians, as advocates, as writers, as well as preachers, and contributed largely to the glory of the age of Louis XIV. The eloquence of the pulpit at this date owed to the Protestants its extraordinary success ; for while with Romanists preaching was but an accessory part of worship, it had become with their adversaries its most important feature.
“They ask only their bellyful of preaching,” said Catherine de Medici, sneeringly, while she was yet vacillating between the two creeds. Having charge to teach the religion of the gospel, culture was essential, then as now. Hence, there shortly arose a rivalry between the two religions, from which the pulpits reaped good results. Because of the power of the pulpit, Bossuet, Massilon, Bourdalue and Fenelon became famed in the Catholic world as preachers more than priests. In all the principal cities of the kingdom, the Protestants maintained flourishing schools of learning. Grand as was this period in many respects, it was wanting in fidelity to the truth. When they knew the truth and had the opportunity, they failed to glorify it, neither were thankful.
The same men who had braved death and torture were found to be unarmed against Court favor. They had not the courage of their convictions. Expediency, rather than principle, ruled them.
In this land a similar state of things exists. Men are silent in regard to the aggressions of Rome, when a proclamation of the truth would overthrow error and cause errorists to flee. The surrender to Rome on the part of politicians was only matched by the conduct of the French when they might have spoken. The consequences of this betrayal can only be described in part.
An edict of the 17th of June, 1681, permitted boys at fourteen, and girls at twelve, to abjure the Protestant religion, and re-enter the bosom of the Romish church.
This law was attended with terrible results. It undermined all parental authority in Protestant families. It is in line with the Romish claim that all sprinkled children are Romanists. It was enough that any one should affirm to the authorities that a child wished to become a Roman Catholic, having joined in prayer, or made the sign of the cross, or kissed the image of the Virgin, to cause his abstraction from the care of his parents, who were forced besides to pay him a pension ; so that the loss of the child was followed by the loss of property.
The synods received an order to accept neither legacies nor donations. The ministers were forbidden to speak in their sermons of the wretchedness of the times, or to attack, directly or indirectly, the Roman Catholic religion. To all this the “Reformed” assented without remonstrance or resistance. They surrendered their liberties, and by so doing were destroyed.
After this, came the systematic attempt for the conversion of the Protestants. Troops were quartered upon them.
In many villages the priests followed the soldiers through the streets, crying, “Courage, gentlemen! it is the intention of the king that these dogs of Huguenots shall be pillaged and sacked.”
The soldiers entered the houses, sword in hand, sometimes crying: “Kill, kill!” to frighten the women and the children. So long as the inhabitants could satisfy their rapacity, they suffered no more than pillage. But when their money was expended, the price of their furniture consumed, and the ornaments and garments of their wives disposed of, the dragoons seized them by the hair to drag them to church; or, if they suffered them to remain in their houses, made use of threats, outrages, and even tortures, to compel them to be converted. They burnt, at slow fires, the feet and hands of some ; they broke the ribs, legs, or arms of others with blows of sticks. Others were cast into damp dungeons, with threats of leaving them there to rot. The soldiers said that everything was permitted to them except murder and rape.
On the 28th of July, 1681, Charles the Second was compelled to sanction a bill which granted the most extensive privileges to those French refugees who should demand an asylum in England. From Holland, and from Germany as well, a cry of indignation arose. Louis XIV. called a halt. The persecutions stopped for a time ; but in 1684 they began again, and then it went from bad to worse.
New tortures were tried. Families were deprived of sleep by the noise of soldiers. The voice of drums, blasphemies, hideous cries, the crash of furniture, and constant shaking, by which they compelled these miserable wretches to stand up at night and keep their eyes open, were some of the means employed to deprive them of sleep. To pinch them, to prick them with sharp instruments, to pull them about, to suspend them with cords, and a hundred other cruelties, were the sport of these executioners, by which their hosts were reduced to such a state that they were glad to promise whatever they wished, to escape these barbarians. The soldiers offered indignities to women. They spat in their faces, they made them lie down on hot coals, and put their heads in heated ovens in which the vapor was enough to suffocate them.
As a result, thousands succumbed. It is a terrible picture, and the sufferings God’s children were compelled to undergo are too horrid to relate.
Is there not a lesson for us? Can we not see the peril in surrendering to such a foe? There was no pity in their hearts. They had no respect for citizenship. Bigotry ruled.
On the 22d of October, Louis XIV. signed at Fontainbleu, the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The principal provisions of the revocation edict were the following: The Protestant temples were to be demolished, and the exercise of their religious worship was to cease, as well in private houses as in the castles of the nobles, on pain of confiscation of property and personal arrest. The ministers who should refuse to be converted, were warned to leave the kingdom within fourteen days, on pain of being sent to the galleys.
Protestant schools were to be closed ; the children who were born after the publication of the edicts were to be baptized by the priests of their parishes and brought up in the Roman Catholic faith. A term of four months was granted to refugees wherein to return to France and apostatize ; that time expired, their property was to be confiscated. Protestants were formally prohibited from leaving the kingdom and carrying their fortunes abroad, on pain of the galleys for men, and confiscation of their property and personal arrest for the women. All the provisions of the law against relapsed converts were confirmed.
The “Reformed” who had not changed their religion, were to remain in the kingdom until it should please God to enlighten them.
On the same day that the edict of revocation was registered, the destruction of the temple of Charenton, built by the celebrated architect Jacques Debrosse, and capable of containing 14,000 persons, was commenced. Five days afterward, no trace of the edifice remained. The church at Caen, which had so many times re-echoed to the eloquent voice of Dubas, fell in ruins, to the flourish of trumpets and shouts of joy. At Nimes, Cheyrau was permitted to preach a last discourse. He did so, and appealed to his hearers to persevere in the faith unto death. The temple was torn down and became a heap of ruins. In the midst, could long be remarked a single stone, beneath the overthrown front, bearing this inscription:
“HERE IS THE HOUSE OF GOD, HERE IS THE GATE OF HEAVEN.”
The Protestants who had believed Louis XIV. to be the greatest king of the age, and that he would yet see his mistake, had their eyes opened to the actual condition of affairs when they saw 800 temples destroyed, and learned that troops had been ordered into the North of France to complete the work done in the South.
Protestant servants were denied employment, and noblemen were compelled to employ Roman Catholics. These severities bore fruit. The galleys were filled with prisoners. Everybody that could escape, did so. To London, to Germany, to America, they came in uncounted numbers. France was emptied of its best population.
Over 1,300,000 of the good and well-to-do citizens went forth as exiles. In a celebrated memoir addressed to Louvais, in 1688, Voubon deplores the desertion of 1,000,000 men, the withdrawal of $60,000,000 of money, the ruin of commerce, the enemies fleet increased by 9,000 of the best sailors of the kingdom, and their armies by 600 officers and 12,000 soldiers.
The north of France became depopulated, as well as the south. Of 1998 Protestant families who dwelt in the district of Paris, 1202 emigrated.
The priests celebrated the day of revocation by public thanksgiving. What sorrows followed in that train! A law passed by the constituent assembly of 1790, restored to the descendants, now dispersed over the face of the globe, the title of French citizens, on the simple condition of returning to France and fulfilling the civil duties imposed on all Frenchmen ; but it could not bring back to France the loss which it had sustained. For almost a century the Roman Catholic church had full sway in the whole of France. It possessed all the edifices of worship, all the schools, the press, the government. The Protestants had lost the right of possessing their creed and the right of existing.
Treachery never pays, and wrong-doing secures terrible harvests. After St. Bartholomew came remorse to Charles IX. He lived but twenty-one months. He could not get away from the horrid memory. The man who had boasted on the fatal night that there should not be a single Huguenot left to reproach him with the deed, was waited on at his death-bed by a Huguenot nurse. “Alas, nurse, dear nurse,” he would say to her, ” what blood, what murders! Oh, my God! forgive me. What shall I do? I am lost.” And the nurse would point him to God as the only hope.
Henry IV., after betraying his mother’s and his soul’s highest interests, was smitten by an assassin’s dagger, and died as the fool dieth.
Louis XIY. saw his kingdom impoverished, his commerce gone, his name execrated throughout the world, and lay in his magnificent palace at Versailles dying. He is utterly wretched. The people curse him, and hurl stones and mud at his coffin.
The church of Rome gains nothing but infamy. The Revolution struck with awful justice and rent the fetters of French Protestantism, smiting into the dust the throne which had so long oppressed them.
And so Protestantism is revived. There are about 1,000,000 Protestants. Many of them have acquired a distinguished place in the Church and in the State.
1. France lost the light, because Christians hid it beneath a bushel. They forgot that they were the light, and if they refused to let their light shine they increased the gloom. They enjoyed the truth ; but they did not preach it. The aggressive gospel of Luther and Zwingle was set aside. They turned to money-getting and thrift, and left the affairs of State to others.
John Knox, with his words, spoken and written, drove his enemies into their retreats. By his addresses and sermons he made public opinion, roused the popular heart, and directed the popular will. In France there was no such man. There was too little enlightened opinion. The military spirit died with the moral. It was not the call to arms, no more than the call to repentance. It was not the fight for liberty, because it was not the good fight of faith.
2. Their second great mistake was in proclaiming the possibility of a Romanist being saved while he clings to the errors of Rome.
For this the leaders argued, even as men argue it now. In our churches are ministers and men who claim that the Roman Catholic church stands in association with evangelical churches as a church of Christ. In the discussion of the Freedom of Worship Bill, this position was maintained.
Romanists are treated not as errorists ; but as if, despite their errors, they are Christians. In faith and practice they are Pagans. We are not speaking against them as citizens, but denying that they are Christians, while they are Romanists. They are in peril because tradition is preferred to Scripture, Mary to Jesus, and the decrees of the church to the commands of Christ. They must have the Gospel brought to them, and they must believe it to the saving of their souls, or they must be lost.
“Venerable ministers of the Gospel,” exclaimed Rev. Charles Chiniquy, “Rome is the great danger ahead for the church of Christ, and you do not understand it enough. The atmosphere of light, honesty, truth, and holiness in which you are born, and which you have breathed since your infancy, makes it almost impossible for you to realize the dark mysteries of idolatry, immorality, degrading slavery, hatred of the Word of God, concealed behind the walls of that modern Babylon. It is that ignorance which paves the way for the triumph of Rome. It paralyzes the arm of the church of Christ.”
WHY THIS INDIFFERENCE?
The answer of this man, who was fifty years a priest, is: ” Because modern Protestants have not only forgotten what Rome was, what she is, and what she will forever be, the most irreconcilable and powerful enemy of the gospel of Christ ; but while she is striking Christians to the heart, by cursing their schools and wrenching the Bible from the hands of the children ; while she is battering down and scaling the walls and storming the citadel of their faith, they are recognizing her as a branch of the church of Christ.
IT IS A DELUSION AND A SNARE.
Rome, that shed the blood of our forefathers, that refused to keep faith with heretics, that fired the inquisition, and lit its fires with devilish and malignant joy, is in our midst, attempting to chain our people to the feet of her idols.
Romanists, that murdered Henry IV. , that stabbed Coligni to the heart, that burned a Huss, a Ridley and a Latimer, and that plotted the death of Abraham Lincoln, and attempted to stab Liberty, are here to fight with desperation, and do their utmost to destroy the liberty our fathers fought for, and we have defended.
ROME NEVER COMPROMISES.
Upon the ministry of this hour, a fearful responsibility is devolved. Let them reckon Roman Catholics as a part of the religious world, who can be saved while they adhere to the errors of Rome, and the people will see no cause for alarm, and no reason why efforts should be made to rescue the millions in our midst from the grasp of the destroyer.
Let them proclaim the truth, that Rome hates the Bible, destroys the Sabbath, apologizes for crime, and teaches that a criminal coming to the confessional may, by the act of a priest, become white as a saint, and the people will see a reason for jails and penitentiaries being filled with members in good standing of the Roman Catholic church. They will see that honesty and integrity are impelled by such teaching. Romanism is a lie, coined in hell, and built up as a system through the machinations of Satan. It must be resisted, and Romanists must be warned of their peril, because they who believe in such error are damned. It is our duty to preach the gospel to our prisoners. This may be their only opportunity to hear the truth. Romanism cannot usurp the place of Christianity without destroying the foundations of liberty. The Christians of this land must fearlessly proclaim the truth, if they will save the State.
It was the boast of Napoleon that he made way for the talents. But such talents! Talents wriggling to a height where the lion could scarcely find a foothold, or the eagle a place to perch!
It was, and is, the Bible that opens the way for the talents. Because of this redemption has come, and where it is welcomed, and loved and used, there is prosperity. Life tells. God takes care of his own.
III. A third mistake was made when they consented, for any reason, to be silent concerning the errors of Rome.
This peril confronts us. Pulpits are closed against this. Professors of religion apologize for, it they do not champion, the errors of Rome. While the Huguenot consented to be silent, Rome worked on. The result was seen not only in the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, but in the state of affairs which made that revocation a possibility.
It is not safe to forget the drift and trend of Romanism. All who keep their eye on public affairs, know that Romanism is organizing for the battle of Armageddon. The Watchman St. Louis boldly says: ” There are indications that before the next half century has passed, the two great bodies into which Christianity is divided will engage in a real conflict, in which the strength of the seminal principle of each communion will be put to a real test.”
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Someone must fight, if truth shall reign. Americans have great trusts committed to their keeping.
The need of the hour is an awakened church. Luther could not have got on without the Elector of Saxony. John Wycliffe would have been a failure had not the Duke of Lancaster stood by and for him. Pray that some of our mighty laymen, now giving money for colleges and churches, may lay their offerings on this altar, and help us to sow the broad fields of our American life with Gospel seed.
At the battle of Gettysburg, one hundred and fifty cannons poured their leaden and iron hail upon our men. It seemed difficult to live in the galling fire. Our soldiers were burrowing in the ground, hiding behind what they could place before them, when they heard a band of music. At its head rode Hancock, hat off, saying to the men: ” Gentlemen, that cannonade means that our enemies are getting ready to attack us. Be ready. Prove to be men.” Our boys were ready ; and when the battle-wave struck the Rock of Patriotism, it broke, and victory came, in which the South glories now equally with the North.
So shall it be in this fight with Rome. The defeat of Rome is the salvation of the Republic, and the deliverance of Romanists from superstition, that produces the sleep of death. Let us glorify God as God, and work while it is day.