Short Papers on Church History — Chapter 51

The Great Progress of the Reformation

Towards the end of the reign of Francis, and under that of his son, Henry II., the Reform movement made such rapid progress, that it becomes utterly impossible in our "Short Papers" to follow it in all its details. We can do little more than give a mere outline of the principal events from the death of Francis I. till the massacre on the eve of St. Bartholomew.

Francis lived and died as kings generally do. He commenced his reign with great splendour, but closed it in darkness and dismal forebodings. When he ascended the throne all was brilliant and loyal; he was surrounded by a vast assemblage of gallant knights, and with few exceptions, chieftains of the princely aristocracy of France; and the noblest ladies of the realm were in attendance on their gentle mistress, queen Claude, or, rather, as the female ornaments of his court. But how different when he descended from the throne to the grave! The luxury of his court, its chivalry, its festivals, its pageants, which were once the admiration of Europe, afford him no comfort now. In excruciating agonies of body from the life he had led, and in deep anguish of soul from what had been done by his orders; "He groans deeply; his starts are sudden and violent. There flits at times, across his face, a dark shadow, as if some horrible sight afflicting him with unutterable woe, were disclosed to him; and a quick tremor at these moments runs through all his frame." He is heard to mutter, as if suffering from an accusing conscience, "I am not to blame; my orders were exceeded"-referring, no doubt, to the merciless slaughter of the unoffending Waldenses. He was surrounded by a crowd of priests, courtiers, and courtesans, but they cared nothing for the dying monarch; they only increased the weight of his agony by their cold selfish indifference.

The scene closes, the last groan is uttered, the line is crossed, and the soul, under a responsibility entirely its own, appears before God. Solemn thought! all is reality now. The judgment-seat cannot bend to royal prerogative. There is no respect of persons with God, every man must be judged according to the deeds done in the body. But what must be the judgment of those who stand there with hands red, and garments stained with the blood of God's saints? Nothing but a timely repentance, and the efficacy of the precious blood of Jesus could cleanse such guilt away. May all those who are willing to pause a few moments over the melancholy scene of these closing hours believe this, and turn to the Lord Jesus, God's Son, whose blood cleanses from all sin. "Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out," are His own words of gracious assurance. Three hundred years have rolled away since Louisa, Francis, and Margaret died. We cannot help lingering a moment over this solemn thought, that our reader may be prepared for that change which admits of no succeeding change for ever. Every tree is known by its fruits; and as the tree falls so it lies. Who would not say that Margaret's was the happiest course of the three? True, she had in her lifetime to suffer reproach and shame for the name of Christ, and be branded as a heretic, but she willingly identified herself with the suffering saints of God, and great is her reward in heaven. Better suffer for a few years, and even die at the stake, than be three hundred years in hell, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:44-50; Matt. 5:10-12)

Reader! O reader, beware! God is not mocked; as a man sows in time, so shall he reap in eternity!

Henry II

Francis I. died in 1547, and was succeeded by his son, Henry II., the husband of the notorious Catherine de Medici, who, like Jezebel of old, was well fitted and inclined to stir him up to persecute the Naboths, and take possession of their vineyards. And this was actually done to a great extent, and the confiscations applied in many instances to the most shameful purposes. Surrounded by hostile and designing councillors, besides the example of his father and the influence of his wife, he was indeed stirred up to pursue a persecuting policy, and a great multitude of martyrs fell during his reign. When the great battle of St. Quentin was lost, and the Spaniards expected daily at the gates of Paris, the old pagan cry against the primitive Christians was raised-"We have not sufficiently avenged the honour of God, and God takes vengeance upon us." The disaster was ascribed to the mildness with which the heretics had been treated. So it was when Rome was attacked by the barbarians; the pagans accused themselves of having been too lenient towards the Christians.

The clergy, becoming alarmed at the unaccountable progress of the Reformation, used every artifice to alarm the king. They assured him that the Huguenots-as they were now called, from one Hugues, the name of a Genevese Calvinist-were the great enemies of monarchs and of all ecclesiastical and regal power; that, should they prevail they would trample his throne in the dust, and lay France at the feet of atheists and revolutionists. The effect of these misrepresentations, which were chiefly made by the cardinal de Lorraine, was to multiply the executions; and as they were viewed as appeasing the wrath of heaven, the more the king himself sinned, the more he burned to atone for his sins. But so great was the energy of God's Spirit in connection with the spread of Bibles and religious books, that all the means used to exterminate the Huguenots proved utterly fruitless. Exceeding great armies seemed to arise from the ashes of the martyrs. "Men of letters," says Felice, "of the law, of the sword, of the church itself, hastened to the banner of the Reformation. Several great provinces-Languedoc, Dauphiny, the Lyonnese, Guienne, Saintonge, Poitou, the Orleanese, Normandy, Picardy, Flanders (the most considerable towns in the kingdom) Bourges, Orleans, Rouen, Lyons Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, La Rochelle-were peopled with Reformers. It is calculated that they comprised in a few years nearly a sixth of the population, of whom they were the elite."

And still the funeral piles blazed in all quarters of Paris, and in all towns of France; and persons of all ages and both sexes fed the flames, suffering the most fearful barbarities and tortures. But as the rigour of the persecutions increased the number of the disciples multiplied. Among these were now enrolled princes of the blood, the king of Navarre, the duke of Vendome, the Bourbons, prince of Conde, Coligny Chatillon, and a great number of the nobility and gentry of France. "Besides these," says a catholic historian, "painters, watchmakers, sculptors, goldsmiths, booksellers, printers and others, who, from their callings have some nobility of mind, were among the first easily impressed."*

{*Felice, p. 52; Wylie, vol. 2, p. 522.}

Meanwhile, Farel and his fellow exiles, were inundating France with religious books and Bibles from the printing presses of Geneva, Lausanne, and Neuchatel, by means of pedlars, who hazarded their lives to introduce the precious wares into the mansion of the noble, and the hut of the peasant.

The king's alarm grew great. A little longer, and all France would be Lutheran. The first and most sacred duty of a prince, said his councillors, was to uphold the true religion, and cut off its enemies. The irritated prince proceeded to the House of Parliament to consult his senators as to the best means of appeasing the religious differences in the realm. This event happened on the 10th of August, 1559. Though the presence of the king may have been intended to overawe the members, it did not prevent them from speaking freely on the subject. The chief president, Gilles Lemaitre, spoke in favour of burning, and recommended the example of Philip Augustus to be followed, who had in one day caused six hundred of the Albigenses to be burned. The men of middle course confined themselves to vague generalities. The secret Calvinists, especially Annas du Bourg, demanded religious reforms by means of a national council. "Every day," he said, "we see crimes committed that go unpunished, while new torments are invented against men who have committed no crime. Should those be guilty of high treason who mentioned the name of the prince only to pray for him? and should the rack and the stake be reserved, not for those who raised tumults in the cities, and seditions in the provinces, but for those who were the brightest patterns of obedience to the laws, and the firmest defenders of order? It was a very grave matter to condemn to the flames men who died calling on the name of the Lord Jesus."

The angry king stung to fury by the honest speech of Du Bourg, ordered him to be arrested in full parliament by the captain of his guards, and said aloud that he would see him burned with his own eyes. He was thrown into the Bastille, and other members were arrested the following day. Fourteen days after this memorable visit to his parliament, Henry was displaying his strength and skill as a cavalier, in a tournament, to the admiration of many. He had resisted the attacks of the duke of Savoy and the duke of Guise, the two best generals in the service of France, and might have left the gay scene amidst the praise and acclamations of the ladies and nobles of Paris; but he insisted on having a tilt with count Montgomery, the captain of his guards. He meant, no doubt, to give the king the best of the shock, like his other assailants, but by some mismanagement, the lance of Montgomery broke in the king's visor, and a splinter passed through his eye to the brain: the king lay forward on his horse; a thrill of horror ran through the spectators. He died soon after, but never saw with his eyes the burning of Du Bourg; and, as the Lord would have it, the same hand that arrested the senator dealt the death-blow to the monarch.

The Martyrdom of Du Bourg

The death of the king did not release the prisoners. Du Bourg heard his sentence read without a change of countenance. As a criminal of the deepest dye, his execution was reserved for the Christmas holidays, December, 1559. "I am a Christian; yes, I am a Christian;" he said, "and I will shout still louder for the glory of my Lord Jesus Christ." When suspended on the gibbet, he proclaimed the truth to the vast crowds around him, and cried aloud, "My God, my God, forsake me not, that I may not forsake Thee."

Thus died this pious and illustrious magistrate at the age of thirty-eight. He belonged to a good family; his uncle had been chancellor of France. He was a man of great learning, integrity, and devotion to his duties. His only fault was, that he had spoken in favour of the new religion. Florimond de Ramond, then a student, avows, "that everyone in the colleges was moved to tears; that they pleaded his cause after his death, and that his martyrdom did more harm to the Catholic religion than a hundred ministers could have done by their preaching."

The First Planting of the Reformed Church in France

It was in the year 1555, that the first avowed French church on Reformed principles was established at Paris. Forty years had passed away since Lefevre first preached the gospel in the university, during which time we have met with many noble disciples, confessors, and martyrs, but no public congregations. There had always been secret gatherings of the faithful, but without fixed pastors or regular administration of the sacraments. Calvin was their acknowledged leader, and he recommended them not to observe the Lord's supper until they had duly recognized ministers. In consequence of this, though they were a large body in the aggregate, they were as isolated individuals, acting a part from each other, without the knowledge of the grand uniting principle-the presence and indwelling of the Holy Ghost. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them," ought to have been warrant enough for remembering His love, and showing forth His death in the breaking of bread.

A church was now formed in Paris on the Genevan or Presbyterian model, with a minister, elders, and deacons. Poitiers, Angers, Bourges, and other places soon followed the example. From this time, the work or organization went on vigorously, and in the short period of five years, over a thousand Calvinistic congregations existed in France. The next step to be taken was the uniting of these isolated churches into one general church; and for this purpose a general Synod was convoked to meet at Paris, which took place on the 25th of May, 1559. But the difficulties that attended the ministers travelling from all parts of France was so great, that only thirteen churches sent their deputies to the Synod: and these braved an almost certain death. "There was in the deliberations of this assembly," says Felice, "a simplicity and moral grandeur that fills us with respect. Nothing of declamation or violence but a calm dignity, a tranquil and serene force prevailed, as if the members of the Synod debated in a profound peace, under the guardianship of the laws."

The ecclesiastical foundations of the French Reformation were then laid. The basis consisted of four grades of power, or church courts. 1. The consistory, or kirk-session-composed of the elders and deacons, the minister being their president; the affairs of the congregation were the objects of their care. 2. The colloquy, or the congregations of a district consulting each other by their deputies on their mutual interests. 3. The provincial Synod, or court of appeal from the kirk-session, in a meeting of the churches of the province. If possible, the minister and an elder from each were expected to be present. 4. The national assembly. Two ministers and two elders were expected from each of the provincial Synods. It was the highest court; it heard all appeals; determined all great causes; and to its authority, in the last resort, all were subject.*

{*For minute details of this ecclesiastical constitution, see Felice, Wylie, or Faiths of the World.}

Francis II

The new King, Francis II., was about sixteen years old when he ascended the throne. He is represented as a sickly boy, feeble in body and mind; and his wife, Mary Stuart of Scotland, a thoughtless beauty, spending her time in pleasure, was about the same age. Thus was monarchy represented in France in 1559; when a strong hand and a powerful will were required to protect the royal authority. The profligacy and extravagance of the last reign had borne their natural fruits. There was anger and discontent all over the land; the court was a hot-bed of intrigue, and the nation, broken into factions, was on the brink of civil war. Catherine de Medici, the Guises, Chatillons, Bourbons, the constable Montmorency, all worked to their own advantage these feeble children of royalty, and mingled with the religious discussions, the quarrels of their political ambition.

The two Guises, the cardinal and the general, became managers of the court. Uncles of the fair young queen, and guardians of the feeble sovereign, they had the ear of both, which gave them immense advantages over their rivals. But there was one at the foot of the throne who was a match both for the general and the cardinal. The queen-mother, Catherine de Medici, hated the Huguenots as much as the Guises-who were the heads of the Roman Catholic party-but she also hated all who would supplant her in power. Artful and vindictive, unscrupulous and ambitious, without religious faith or moral feeling, the crafty Italian dissembled that she might ruin the authority of the Guises, in order to consolidate her own. This threw Catherine for a moment on the side of the Huguenot party, which was overruled by a merciful providence to weaken the power of the Guises, divide the strength of the popish party, and save the Reformers. Affecting to hold the balance between the two parties, she was only biding her time in all changes of circumstances, by turns embracing and deserting all parties alike.

We now come to the wars of religion. Parties began to be formed from political motives, which threw the whole of France into the most ruinous, desolating, civil war, which lasted, with brief intervals, for many years-we might say, centuries. All the liberalism of France became Huguenot, which then simply meant antipapist. And thus, to their great injury and final destruction, the French Protestants became a great political party in the state. Meanwhile Francis II., after a reign of seventeen months, died; and Catherine, emerging from the obscurity in which she had restrained her ambition, claimed the custody of her next son, Charles IX., who was only nine years of age; and before the court could assemble, assumed the guardianship of the king, and in fact, if not in name, the regency of the kingdom.

The Saint Bartholomew Massacre

The Italian mother, having thus become supreme in the kingdom, began to mature her plans for stamping out heresy in the dominions of her son. Possessed in an eminent degree of the family arts of dissimulation and concealment, she pursued, with steadiness of purpose and recklessness of means, the object before her. She has justly been compared to the shark which follows the vessel through storm and calm in expectation of its prey. The country was divided into two, apparently equally matched, and irreconcilable camps. Several campaigns had been fought, and there was no immediate prospect of the Catholics overcoming the Huguenots in the field; therefore Jezebel has recourse to her old policy-which she thoroughly understood-treachery and secret assassination. At the same time, it is affirmed by Felice, that no state reason can be advanced in justification of the massacre. Rome had no longer anything to fear for her supremacy, or the crown for the maintenance of its political power. It was fanaticism, resentment, Jezebel's unquenchable thirst for the blood of God's saints, which led to the crushing of the minority in 1572.

The first and real authors of the massacre were Catherine, Pope Pius V., and Philip II. of Spain-none of them French. Others were drawn into the plot, but nothing could be done without the sanction of the king. The mother, with the assistance of the pope, accomplished this. By a gross perversion of scripture, the crafty pontiff pointed out to the young king that he was now in the position of Saul, king of Israel, who had received the orders of God, by the mouth of Samuel the prophet, to exterminate the infidel Amalekites, and not to spare one in any case. But as he did not obey the voice of God, he was deprived of his throne and his life. Charles saw the application of the allusion, and ultimately consented to kill all the Huguenots, that not one might be left to reproach him with the deed.

The King's Snare to Entrap the Huguenots

The next question was, How is it to be accomplished? The chiefs of the Reformed were in the provinces. It was necessary to draw them out and concentrate them, in order to get them into their power. The perfidious Charles, who was now committed to the plot, pretended an earnest desire for the establishment of a lasting peace, and proposed a marriage between the young king of Navarre, afterwards Henry IV., and his sister, Margaret of Valois. This was a grand alliance for the poor house of Navarre, but the mother, Jeanne d'Albret, was not dazzled by it. She preferred the fear of the Lord to great riches. "I would rather," she said, "descend to be the most humble maiden of France, than sacrifice my soul and that of my son to grandeur." But the greatest Reformer in France must be brought within the toils of Catherine.

Jeanne d'Albret was the daughter of the accomplished and pious Margaret of Angouleme; but the daughter in some respects was greater than her mother; at least she was more decided as to the Reformation. But it is due to Margaret to bear in mind that she was greatly hindered by her dissolute brother and mother. In 1560 Jeanne d'Albret made open profession of the Protestant faith; abolished the popish service throughout her kingdom, and introduced the Protestant worship. When we remember that her little kingdom lay on the slope of the Pyrenees, touching France on the one side, and Spain on the other, we shall not consider her wanting in courage. The popes thundered their anathemas against her, the powerful kings of France and Spain threatened to invade her territory and raze it from the map of Europe; but for twelve years the Lord protected this pious queen, during which time she had the Bible translated into the dialect of the country, established colleges and schools, studied laws like a senator, and mightily improved the condition of her subjects.

The next person of great note was Admiral Coligny. He was a true Christian, a really godly man, and the most skilful leader of the Huguenot armies. The envoys of the court set before Jeanne, Coligny, and the chiefs of the Huguenots, that this marriage would be the best guarantee of a solid peace between the two religions. Charles declared that he married his sister, not only to the prince of Navarre, but to the whole Huguenot party. Coligny allowed himself to be deceived; the prospect was indeed bright; the entire kingdom would be united; and he thought they should trust the sincerity and oath of his majesty.

The King's Consummate Duplicity

At last Jeanne d'Albret gave her consent to the marriage, and visited the court at Blois in March, 1572 but leaving her son behind her from a lingering feeling of distrust. The king and the queen-mother caressed her with much apparent tenderness; especially the king, who called her his great aunt, his all, his best-beloved, and entertained her with so much honour and respect that everyone was astonished. She reached Paris in May, on the 4th of June she fell ill, on the 9th she died. It was said that a Florentine perfumer, Master Rene, known by the name of the "queen's poisoner," had sold her some poisoned gloves. Her end was peace, she was happy to go home, she uttered no complaints against her murderers, and seemed only anxious for the spiritual welfare of her son Henry and her daughter Catherine. Committing them to the Lord's tender care, she fell asleep in Jesus at the age of forty-four.

Admiral Coligny had also gone to court. In his first interview he knelt before the king. Charles raised him up, called him his father, and embraced the illustrious old man thrice. "We have got you now," said the king, "and you must remain with us. This is the happiest day of my life." The other chiefs of the Huguenots being assembled in Paris, the marriage was celebrated with great splendour in the cathedral church of Notre Dame on the 18th of August, 1572 the principal members of the nobility, Protestant as well as Catholic, being present on the occasion. It was followed by a succession of feasts and gaieties, in which the leaders of both parties alike participated; and the fears of the Huguenots were thus completely disarmed. Charles by his dissimulation, and Catherine by her treacherous smiles, had succeeded in deceiving all parties. Indeed all seemed to hope that the age of bloodshed was closed, and that this marriage was the harbinger of a peaceful and prosperous future for a country so long afflicted with civil wars. But at that very moment, when all classes were rejoicing and full of hope, a secret council was held, at which it was determined to arrange a general massacre of the Huguenots.

Fifty thousand crowns was offered by the king for the head of Coligny, whom Charles was embracing so warmly only a day before. To earn the reward, one Maurevert lay in wait for the admiral on the 22nd of August, in a house near the church of St. Germain. He was struck by three balls shot from an arquebuss, which shattered the forefinger of his left hand, and wounded his left arm. The assassin escaped, he is styled by historians of that day "The slayer on the king's wages, the common assassin. " Coligny succeeded in reaching his hotel, where he was attended by the celebrated surgeon Ambrose Pare. The king and his mother, like two innocents visited the admiral, professed the greatest horror at the dastardly act, swore that they would take such terrible revenge that it should never be forgotten. "You bear the wound," said the king, "and I the perpetual pain"-unparalleled deceitfulness!

Saint Bartholomew's Eve

Meanwhile the day fixed for the general massacre drew near. Between two and three o'clock in the morning of the 24th of August-the feast of St. Bartholomew-as the king sat in his chamber with his mother and the duke of Anjou the great bell of St. Germain rang to early prayers. This was the preconcerted signal. Scarcely had its first peal disturbed the silent hour of midnight, when the firing commenced. Charles was greatly agitated: a cold sweat stood upon his forehead; he started, and sent word to the duke of Guise to precipitate nothing. It was too late. The queen-mother, distrusting the constancy of her son, had commanded that the hour for a signal should be anticipated. In a few moments every steeple in Paris was sending forth its peals, and with the clamour of a hundred bells, there mingled the shoutings, cursings, and howlings of the assassins; and the shrieks, groans, and cries for mercy of the surprised Huguenots. To distinguish the assailants in the dark, they wore a white sash on their left arm, and a white cross on their hats. At the sound of the tocsin armed men rushed out from every door, shouting, "For God and the king." The streets of Paris flowed with human blood, and the savage ferocity of the Catholics knew no bounds.

The duke of Guise, accompanied by three hundred soldiers, hastened to the dwelling of Coligny. He had been awakened by the noise of firing, and dreading the worst, was engaged in prayer with his minister Merlin. His servants came rushing into his room, exclaiming, "Sire! the house is broken into, and there is no means of escape!" "I have been long prepared to die," answered the admiral calmly, "as for you, save yourselves if you can; you cannot save my life." Behem, a servant of the duke of Guise, was the first to enter the room. "Are you not the admiral?" he demanded. "Yes, I am," replied Coligny, looking with great composure on the naked sword of the assassin; and began to say a few serious words to the young man, who instantly plunged his sword into the veteran's breast, and gave him a second blow on the head. Guise who was waiting impatiently in the courtyard, called aloud, "Behem hast thou done it?" "It is done, my lord," was the reply. ' But we must see it to believe it: throw him out at the window." In lifting up the body of the admiral, who was still breathing, he clutched the window-frame, but was instantly flung into the courtyard. The duke of Guise, wiping off the blood from his face, said; "I know him, it is he," and kicking the dead body with his foot, he hastened into the streets, exclaiming, "Courage, comrades, we have begun well-now for the rest." Sixteen years afterwards, in the castle of Blois, this same Henry of Guise was assassinated by order of Henry III., who, when the dead body lay before him, kicked it in the face. Oh! the sovereign retributive justice of God!

In that awful night, Teligny, son-in-law of the admiral, and five hundred of the Protestant nobility and gentry, were sacrificed to the Moloch of bigotry, and that in the sacred name of religion. "Thick grass is more easily mown than thin," was the proverb acted upon, and the leading Protestants were lodged in the same quarter of Paris. This field was kept as the special preserve for the grim, cruel duke of Guise. The retinue of the young king of Navarre were lodged in the Louvre, as the special guests of the monarch, but with the Satanic intention of having them all conveniently murdered. They had come in the train of their royal chief to be present at the celebration of his marriage with the sister of the king. One by one they were called by name from their rooms, marched down unarmed into the quadrangle, where they were hewn down before the very eyes of their royal host, and piled in heaps at the gates of the Louvre. A more perfidious cold-blooded butchery is not to be found in the annals of mankind.

Over all Paris the work of massacre by this time extended. Ruffians by thousands-armed with the poignard, the pike, the knife, the sword, the arquebuss, every weapon of the soldier and the brigand-rushed through the streets murdering all they met who had not the white cross on their hats. They forced their way into the houses of the Protestants slaughtered the inmates in their night-clothes, men, women and children, and threw their mangled bodies into the streets. No pitiful wail for mercy was heard; the obscurest haunts were searched, and nobody was spared. By-and-by the sun rose upon Paris. The wretched Charles, who had shuddered for some moments at the commencement of the massacre, had tasted the blood of the saints, and became as ravenous for slaughter as the lowest of the mob. He and his blood-stained Italian mother, at the break of day went out on the palace balcony to feast their eyes on the slaughtered heaps. Rivers of blood flowed in the streets; corpses of men, women, and children blocked up the doorways; on all sides the groans and death-cries of the dying were heard, and the blasphemies and imprecations of the maddened populace.

Some, however, who had managed to escape were seen struggling in the river, in their efforts to swim across, and Charles seizing an arquebuss, fired on his subjects, shouting "Kill! Kill!" "Two hundred and twenty-seven years afterwards," says Felice, "Mirabeau picked the arquebuss of Charles IX out of the dust of ages to turn it against the throne of Louis XVI." Satan may rule for a time, but God overrules! On the same Sunday morning, Charles sent for Henry of Navarre, his new brother-in-law, and Henry of Conde; and, in the most furious tone said to them: "The Mass, death, or the Bastille." After some resistance, the princes consented to attend mass, but no one believed in their sincerity. On the fourth day, when the fury of the assassins had become satiated, and the Huguenots were for the most part slain, there fell a dead silence on the streets of Paris. The priests now followed the tragic scene with a play. On the Thursday, ankle-deep in blood, the clergy celebrated an extraordinary jubilee, and made a general procession to keep up the excitement. The pulpits also re-echoed with thanksgiving, and a medal was struck with this legend, "Piety has awakened justice. "

Massacre in the Provinces

But the thirst of Jezebel for blood was far from being satisfied. Orders were sent from the court to all the provinces and principal cities to pursue the same course. About a dozen of the provincial governors refused, and one priest whose name deserves to be mentioned with thankfulness to the Lord. When the king's lieutenant called on John Hennuyer, bishop of Lisieux, and gave him the order for the massacre of the Huguenots, he answered, "No, no, sir; I oppose, and will always oppose the execution of such an order. I am the pastor of Lisieux, and these people whom you command me to slaughter are my flock. Although they have at present strayed, having quitted the pasture which Jesus Christ, the sovereign Shepherd, has confided to my care, they may still come back. I do not see in the gospel that the shepherd can permit the blood of his sheep to be shed; on the contrary, I find there, that he is bound to give his blood and his life for them." The lieutenant asked him for his refusal in writing, which the bishop readily gave him.

At Rouen, Toulouse, Orleans, Lyons, and in nearly all the great towns of the kingdom, the work of blood was renewed with undiminished fury; the carnage went on without pity and without remorse for about six weeks. Thousands of dead bodies were thrown into the rivers, which were either washed on shore at different bends of the rivers, or borne to the sea. The faithful of Meaux-our early friends-were slaughtered in the prisons, and, the sword being too slow, iron hammers were employed. Four hundred houses in the most handsome quarter of the town were pillaged and devastated. But we grow weary, weary of this recital; and were it not that the St. Bartholomew massacre is the greatest and darkest crime of the christian era-and gives us, as nothing else does, a true picture of the essential principles of popery-we should willingly have ended our notice of the Reformation in France before coming to it. If ever the depths and wiles of Satan were seen in human wickedness, it is here. The premeditation, the solemn oaths of the king- which drew the Calvinists to Paris-the royal marriage, and the dagger put into the hands of the mob by the chiefs of the state, at a time of universal peace, represent a plot which has no parallel in history. And then, from the pope downwards, the Catholic community lifting up their hands to heaven, and thanking God for the glorious triumph!

At Rome the news was received with transports of joy. The bearer of the glad tidings was rewarded with a present of a thousand pieces of gold. The pope caused the guns of the castle of St. Angelo to be fired, declared a jubilee, and struck a medal in honour of the event. Philip II. of Spain, the duke of Alva, and the cardinal of Lorraine, shared in these transports of joy. But the impression produced by the massacre in Protestant countries was altogether different. In England, Germany, and Switzerland, numbers of exiles arrived, horror-struck and half-dead, to tell the sad tale; and the petrified nations cursed the name of France. Geneva tenderly related to the seventy thousand victims whose bodies covered the plains of France, or lay stranded on the banks of its rivers, instituted a day of fasting and prayer, which is still observed. In Scotland, the aged Knox, in prophetic strains, pronounced the divine vengeance against the house of Valois in the following terms: "The sentence is gone forth against this murderer, the king of France, and the vengeance of God will not be withdrawn from his house. His name shall be held in execration by posterity, and no one who shall spring from his loins shall possess the kingdom in peace, unless repentance come to prevent the judgment of God." In England, Elizabeth put her court into mourning, and when the French ambassador sought an audience to offer his hypocritical explanation, he was received with profound silence. The lords and ladies of the court, in long mourning apparel, suffered the ambassador to pass between them without saluting him, or deigning to give him so much as a look.

The Number of Victims

The whole number that perished in the massacre cannot be accurately ascertained. The victims in Paris were probably from three to four thousand. Brantome says that Charles IX might have seen four thousand bodies floating down the Seine. "There is to be found," says Wylie, "in the account-books of the city of Paris, a payment to the grave-diggers of the cemetery of the Innocents, for having interred one thousand one hundred dead bodies stranded at the turns of the Seine, near Chaillot, Auteuil, and St. Cloud. It is probable that many corpses were carried still further, and the bodies were not all thrown into the river." The number of victims throughout the whole of France was probably about seventy thousand. Perefixe, archbishop of Paris, in the seventeenth century, raises it to one hundred thousand. "This last figure," says Felice, "is probably exaggerated, if we reckon those only who met with a violent death. But if there be added those who died of misery, hunger, grief, the aged, who were helpless and abandoned, women without shelter, children without bread, the many wretched beings whose lives were shortened by this great catastrophe, it will be confessed that the number given by Perefixe is still below the truth."*

{*The above account of the massacre is chiefly drawn from the French historian, Felice, who is more inclined to abridge than to exaggerate the details of his nation's dishonour.

See also, Wylie's History of Protestantism; Smiles' History of the Huguenots; White's History of France.}

The End of the Leading Actors in the Massacre

So wonderfully had the Spirit of God wrought in France by means of the truth, that when men expected to see only the ruins of the crushed Huguenots after the massacre, they were surprised to find them resolved in many parts of the country to offer a determined resistance to the royal troops. There can be no doubt that French Protestantism had become a great political association; but not wholly so. There must have been many thousands of real Christians amongst them, though led to believe that it was right to oppose their oppressors, and fight for their lives, their families, and their religion. In the siege of Sancerre, when nearly all the young children died from hunger, we give one instance of perfect grace. A boy of ten years old, drawing nigh unto death, seeing his parents weeping near him, and handling his arms and legs, which were as dry as wood, said to them, "Why do you weep to see me die of hunger? I do not ask you for bread mother. I know you have none. But since God wills that I must thus die, we must be content. The holy Lazarus, did he not suffer hunger? Have I not read that in the Bible?" Thus passed away that precious lamb, with many others, to be folded in the everlasting embrace of the Good Shepherd who died for them; of them may not it be truly said, "they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun [of persecution] light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Rev. 7:16-17)

But not so died the perfidious and cruel king. The terrible crime in which he had taken so prominent a part, weighed heavily on his mind to the last moment of his life. Night and day he was haunted by the scenes he had witnessed on St. Bartholomew's eve. He imagined he saw his murdered guests sitting at his bedside and at his table. Sleeping or waking, the murdered Huguenots seemed ever present to his eyes with ghastly faces, and weltering in blood. But, as the Lord would have it, he-who had stipulated when giving his orders for the St. Bartholomew massacre, that not a Huguenot should be left alive to reproach him with the deed-was attended on his deathbed by a Huguenot physician, and waited upon by a Huguenot nurse. He evidently had not the slightest confidence in any of his former associates, he was even haunted by the terrible feeling that his own mother was causing his death by slow poisoning. He died of a strange and frightful malady, which caused his blood to ooze from the pores of his body, in less than two years after the St. Bartholomew massacre, having lived twenty-five years and reigned fourteen.

It is said that all the actors in the St. Bartholomew massacre, with one exception, died by violence. But we need not trace their tragic history. These bloody men were overtaken by divine vengeance, and brought down to the grave in blood. Catherine de Medici lived to see the utter failure of all her schemes, the death of all her partners in guilt, and the extinction of her dynasty. The Cardinal of Lorraine was assassinated in prison, and Henry III., the last of the Valois, fell by the dagger of the assassin in his own tent, and thus was the prophecy of John Knox fulfilled.

The vast materials furnished by the Reformation in France have detained us a little longer, and occupied more of our space than we can well afford; but the greatness of the Lord's work there, the mighty struggle between light and darkness, and the melancholy interest which all must feel in the results of that work, give it a peculiar place in the great revolutions of the sixteenth century.

The Council of Trent

At the famous Council of Trent, which met in 1545, and continued its sittings till 1563, during which the events we have rapidly described were in progress, the laws of the Roman Catholic church were more accurately defined, and measures were devised for the more effectual suppression of heresy. Their deliberations and decisions must have been greatly affected by the general state of Europe at that particular moment. But as the original object and character of this council have been already noticed,* we need only add what has not been previously mentioned.

{*See Page 951.}

What particularly distinguished this council was not the framing of new laws, but undertaking to define and fix the doctrines of the Romish church in a more accurate manner than had ever before been attempted, and to confirm them by the sanction of its authority. "The Trentine fathers," says Mosheim, "authorized nothing new; but it is equally true, that they authorized much, hitherto thought, from its want of any sufficient authority, open to individual acceptance or rejection. To these divines, therefore, forming a body chiefly Italian and Spanish, sitting in the sixteenth century .... is the church of Rome indebted for the formal authentification of her peculiar creed." By the servility of the indigent Italian bishops, the popes acquired such influence in the council, that they dictated all its decrees, and framed them, not with any intention of healing the divisions, reforming the ancient abuses, restoring unity and concord to the church, but to establish their own dominion. "Doctrines, " says Scott "which had hitherto been considered as mere private opinions, open to discussion, were now absurdly made articles of faith, and required to be received on pain of excommunication. Rites-which had formerly been observed only in deference to custom-supposed to be ancient, were established by the decrees of the church, and declared to be essential parts of its worship."*

{*Mosheim, vol. 3, p. 894; Scott, vol. 3, p. 256.

The great authority as to our knowledge of the proceedings of this assembly is Father Paul's History. "He has described its deliberations," says Dr. Robertson, "and explained its decrees, with such perspicuity and depth of thought, with such various erudition, and such force of reason, as have justly entitled his work to be placed among the most admired historical compositions.}

Pope Pius's Creed

Pope Pius IV. issued a brief summary of the doctrinal decisions of the council, which is called by his name, and has ever since been regarded as an authoritative summary of the Catholic faith.

"I profess also, that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the new law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and for the salvation of mankind, though all are not necessary for every one; namely, baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders, and matrimony, and that they confer grace; and of these, baptism, confirmation, and orders cannot be reiterated without sacrilege.

"I also receive and admit the ceremonies of the Catholic church, received and approved in the solemn administration of all the above said sacraments.

"I receive and embrace all and every one of the things which have been defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent, concerning original sin and justification.

"I profess likewise, that in the mass is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that, in the most holy sacrifice of the Eucharist, there is truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood, which conversion the Catholic church calls transubstantiation.

"I confess also, that under either kind alone, whole and entire, Christ and a true sacrament is received.

"I constantly hold that there is a purgatory, and that the souls detained therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.

"Likewise, that the saints reigning together with Christ, are to be honoured and invocated; that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated.

"I most firmly assert, that the images of Christ, and of the mother of God, ever virgin, and also of the other saints, are to be had and retained; and that one honour and veneration are to be given to them.

"I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to christian people.

"I acknowledge the holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman church, the mother and mistress of all churches. And I promise to swear true obedience to the Roman bishop, the successor of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, and vicar of Jesus Christ.

"I also profess, and undoubtedly receive all other things delivered, defined, and declared, by the sacred canons and general councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent. And likewise, I also condemn, reject, and anathematise, all things contrary thereto, and all heresies whatsoever condemned, rejected, and anathematised by the church.

"This true Catholic faith, out of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess, and truly hold, I,N., promise, vow, and swear most constantly to hold and profess the same whole and entire, with God's assistance, to the end of my life; and to procure, as far as lies in my power, that the same shall be held, taught, and preached by all who are under me, or are entrusted to my care, by virtue of my office. So help me God, and these holy Gospels of God."