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Protestant. Her court was repeatedly the asylum of the persecuted Reformed, who flocked thither from all quarters; the most eminent of their number being glad of her protection and countenance. She was the mother of the celebrated Henry IV., and when eight years of age, conjured him, with the affection of a mother, never to attend mass, assuring him, that if he did so she would disown him as her son. How it would have made her heart bleed, had she lived to behold his apostasy; and, after all his sacrifices, to know the unhappy end to which his life was brought by the hand of a Popish assassin, whose religion he had adopted!
Great was the rapidity with which the reformed faith advanced in Navarre and Bearn. In 1560, when the French Protestant Church may be said to have been first regularly organized, the population of the former was nearly divided between the Protestants and Roman Catholics; so that a question arose, who were best entitled to the use of the parish churches. Two years after, when the aggressions of the Papists stirred up the Protestants to war, a minister at one town offered to place at the disposal of a military commander four thousand Protestant soldiers, and also to support them a plain proof, at once, of the numbers and respectability of the Protestant population; and yet, not many years before, this was, in a great measure, a popish country. In 1563, the queen, in the course of a very able letter which she wrote to a popish cousin, a cardinal, in defence of Protestantism, declared that the adherents to the Reformed Church increased in number daily. Such was the progress, that the churches were on all hands supplied with Protestant pastors. Two hundred and thirty monks of the convent of Orthez were superseded by Protestant teachers. Golden chalices, and the other apparatus of the Romish Church, were publicly sold, and the proceeds thrown into the public exchequer; and such was the unpopularity of the Popish ecclesiastics, that they needed a guard to protect them against insult. In various considerable towns the Protestants formed the chief part of the population. In twenty-seven years from the commencement of the queen's reign, not less than eighty Protestant churches had been erected in the province of Bearn-a province which probably, at that period, did not comprehend more than two hundred thousand souls. How amazing, then, had been the progress of the Gospel in the course of a few years, under the rich outpouring of the Spirit of God. At the same time, how perfectly accordant was this
with the experience of the Church of God in other quarters -in Germany, and in France generally. But the very progress of the Gospel provoked; and as the people came to be very equally divided, and the court of Navarre was favourable to the Protestant interest, while the court of France was intensely Popish; so it was easy to see, that collision and broils, terminating in civil war, must ere long ensue. This, accordingly, was the case; and the whole reign of the mother of Henry IV. might be said to be chequered with peace and war, often succeeding each other at very short intervals. There was a perpetual struggle, and the fortunes were various. Though we cannot altogether vindicate the proceedings of the Protestants-though sometimes they were unduly severe in their retaliations, yet, generally speaking, there is a very marked contrast between them and their opponents: the proceedings of the latter were usually the aggressive, and they were tracked with the deepest blood-stains. At Toulouse, in one of the struggles, three thousand five hundred Protestants were most cruelly put to the sword, who, without any sacrifice of principle, yea, in common humanity, might have been spared. As the Popish party were strongly supported by the power of the French throne, the queen of Navarre, the sovereign, comparatively speaking, of a very limited territory, was constrained to apply for aid to the queen of England. To the honour of Elizabeth let it be recorded, that she promptly sent £50,000—a large sum in these days-and six pieces of cannon. On a second application to the same quarter, the success was similar. Whatever might be the imperfect views, or the serious faults of the English queen, she was, at least, the ready friend of the Protestant cause in foreign lands against Popish oppression; and as such, her services should never be spoken of without gratitude. In the present case her assistance did not prove of such essential use as could have been desired; it was, however, important: and after all, it was to a foreigner that the queen of Navarre was indebted for the deliverance of her kingdom. Gabriel Montgomery, the grandson of a Scotchman who had settled in France, undertook, in 1569, the rescue of the town of Navarreins, the last refuge and stronghold of Protestantism. There were but 400 soldiers within its walls. Arrayed against them were 12,000 Popish troops. Montgomery, with 3000 Protestants under his command, repaired to the walls, and, by the excellence of his management, and the blessing of the God of armies, re
pelled the besiegers; so that the unhappy refugees, after being shut up for seventy-seven days, and undergoing the severest hardships, were at once and completely delivered. Looking over their walls on the morning of the 9th of August, there was no enemy to be seen. In that religious spirit in which they contended, they devoted the day to public thanksgiving to the God of heaven. On a similar occasion at an after day, they partook of the Supper of the Lord, plainly showing, that the object for which they struggled was not political, or merely patriotic, but decidedly religious. The character of their commander harmonized with such proceedings. The Scottish soldier seems to have been a true Christian. He escaped the massacre of St. Bartholomew, though he was in Paris at the time. By an almost incredible exertion-the continuous ride of above 100 miles—he reached the shore, from whence he sailed to the hospitable refuge of England. On his return, however, two years after, he was seized in Paris by the Popish party, to whom he was peculiarly obnoxious, and basely executed; but no cruelty could take from him the glory, that, in ten weeks, with a small body of troops, he reconquered the whole province of Lower Navarre, and re-established the legitimate authoritythe reign of the Protestant queen. She died in 1572, a few months before the St. Bartholomew massacre, and was succeeded by her son, Henry IV. He, in process of time, succeeded also to the crown of France, and the separate and independent kingdom of Navarre ceased. Though Henry had himself been shortly before preserved from the massacre, yet, forgetful of all his mother's instructions, and his obligations to his Protestant subjects, and of what he owed to God, he speedily issued an ordinance for the abrogation of their privileges, and the re-establishment of Popery in the ancient territory of Navarre. Multitudes of refugees fled from the Parisian massacre to this foreign asylum. But Navarre was no longer what it had been. A large body of Protestants remained, but their protection was gone.
Before noticing a few interesting features of Christian character which appear among the Protestants of Navarre, in the period of which I have been writing, let me meet an objection which is often preferred against our Protestant brethren of France. It is said they were wrong in taking up arms in defence of their religion-that this was the cause of their ruin—and that, had they not done so, they would have been more successful, and ultimately, in all probability, tri
umphant. It is very easy for men, coolly sitting in their closets, to speculate in this way. Had they been involved in the same sufferings and perils, there is every likelihood they would themselves have acted in the same manner with those whom they condemn. We have yet to learn why men may, in cases of dreadful extremity, take up arms in defence of their civil liberty; and may not take them up in behalf of their far dearer interests, the gospel of Christ, the welfare of their souls, and salvation. We have yet to learn that all the proceedings of our martyred forefathers, and the present settlement of the crown of Great Britain, which rose out of them, were wrong and sinful. But, in point of fact, nothing can be clearer to a calm and pains-taking student of French History, than that, had not the Protestants betaken themselves they would have been utterly extinguished, and that at a very early period. Their petitions, and remonstrances, and patience were amazing-surpassed only by the treachery and violence of their enemies. It may be safely said, that, so far from the armed resistance of the Protestants being the cause of their overthrow, it was only the stand which they were enabled to make in the field, which extorted their toleration in any form, from their Popish persecutors; and that, had they tamely submitted to every violation of their rights, civil and religious, speedily the reality and profession of the Protestant faith would have been destroyed. With no truth have I been more impressed than with this, in exploring the history of Navarre, and of France generally; and I am persuaded, no one can read Mr. Jamieson's interesting" Notices of the Reformation in the southwest provinces of France" (Seely, London, 1839)-to which I have been indebted for the preceding facts, without arriving at the same conclusion.
And now, to turn for a little to the Christian character of the Church of Navarre and Bearn. Its doctrine and spirit, its discipline and government, were all of the same kind with those of the Reformed Church generally. After the Queen, through God's blessing on the military skill and prowess of Montgomery, had been restored to her authority, in 1569, she issued an ordinance, embracing seventeen leading heads, which all indicate, at once hatred to Popery, and enlightened views of Protestant doctrine and duty. In these views, it cannot be doubted, that the Protestants heartily concurred. Occasionally, some of the regulations may savour of intolerance, but this is not to be wondered at on the part of those who
had just acquired power, after smarting under oppression. We select one or two ordinances:
"The effects of proper EDUCATION being of the greatest importance, none shall be permitted to act as a schoolmaster, unless of the reformed religion; and every one who would act in such a capacity, must be examined by a minister, who will judge of his ability and other qualifications for the due performance of his functions."-Again,
“All matters of business and justice shall cease on the SABBATH-DAY, unless in cases of necessity. The shops and public houses shall be closed during the time of divine service, at which all persons ought to attend. All sports, usually lawful, are interdicted during the same period.”Again,
"In order that no one may have opportunities of wasting time in evil ways, all illegal games, dances, masquerades, impure songs, and such like disorderly proceedings, are hereby prohibited."
In a more enlarged proclamation, given shortly after, it is provided, that the Sabbath-day "be sanctified by Christian works, and the suspension of all employment, either servile or vicious,"―alluding to sports and public festivities.
In regard to the APPOINTMENT OF MINISTERS of the Gospel, the pastors were chosen by the parishioners of each place. The ecclesiastical council or presbytery, or, in the case of private right, the patron, named two candidates to the consistory, who appointed the time of the election by the people of the vacant benefice-the qualifications of the candidates having been previously examined and proved. The ministers were paid by the council, not by the parishioners, and were excluded from all civil power. Speaking of 1579, Mr. Jamieson states, among the proofs of the earnest and general impression which the Reformed doctrines had made in Bearn, THE MISSIONARY SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE. The Roman Catholic historians describe the Navarese traders to Spain, as carrying with them, across the Pyrenees, "a dogmatical spirit ;" in other words, an anxious spirit to spread the Gospel, which led the Spanish Inquisitors to send officers to the frontiers, to guard the religious health of the people. Nor were they deficient in the SPIRIT OF CHRISTIAN SYMPATHY. In the reign of Henry IV., before he ascended the throne of France, a persecution was set on foot, or threatened, by the Popish King of Sardinia, against the honoured Protestant Church of Geneva. Theodore Beza wrote of Daneau, Professor of