Ellen G. White Writings

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History of Protestantism, vol. 2, Page 341

by his words amid the flames. In the July of 1553 two confessors were expecting death in the prisons of Lyons. Calvin received the tidings during the trial of Servetus, and when he was in the thick of his contest with the Libertines. He hastened to their dungeon, as it were, and by words from his own courageous yet tender heart comforted theirs. “That God,” he told them, “who had called them to the honour of maintaining His truth, would lead them to martyrdom as by the hand.” He bade them think of the “heavenly immortality” to which the “cross and shame and death” conducted, and of Him who waited, the moment these were ended, to wipe away all tears. One of these sufferers, who had been reached by the words of Calvin, thus thanked him: - “I could not tell you, sir and brother,” wrote Louis Marsac, “the great comfort I received from the letters which you sent to my brother, Denis Peloquin, who found means of passing them to one of our brethren who was in an underground cell above me, and read them to me, because I could not read them, inasmuch as I can see nothing in my dungeon. I pray you, therefore, to persevere in aiding us always with like consolation, which invites us to weep and pray.” When the little company of martyrs, of which Louis Marsac was one, were led forth to be burned, all appeared with halters round their necks except Louis. His enemies had spared him this indignity on the ground of his being nobly born. But so far from reckoning this as a favor, he even deemed the denial of it a dishonor, and asked why he was refused the collar of that “excellent order” of martyrs. 2Laval., Hist. of Reformation in France, vol. 1, p. 82; Lond., 1737.

Of all the martyrdoms of the period, the most touching perhaps is that of “the five martyrs of Lyons.” Natives of France, and desirous of taking part in the Reformation of their own country, they repaired to Lausanne to study theology and qualify themselves for the ministry. Having completed their course, they received licence to preach, and set out to begin their labours in France. They rested a few days in Geneva, and then passed on to their destined field, their spirits invigorated, we can well believe, by their brief stay in the capital of Protestantism, and especially by their converse with its great chief. Light they were destined to impart to their native France, but not in the way they had fondly hoped. On their journey to Lyons they met at the Bourg de Colonges, nigh to L’Ecluse, a stranger who offered himself as their fellow-traveller. They harbored no suspicion, and maintained no disguise in the company of their new acquaintance. Soon after their arrival at Lyons, they were arrested and thrown into prison. Their companion had betrayed them. Their fate having awakened great interest, powerful influence was used in their behalf 3The names of these five students were Martial Alba, of Montauban; Peter Ecrivain, of Gascony; Charles Favre, of Blanzac in Angoumois; Peter Naviheres, of Limousin; and Bernard Seguin, of La Reole. at the court of France. The Bernese Government interceded for “their scholars” with the king. Some among the Romanists even, touched by their pure lives and their lovely characters, interested themselves for their safety. Meanwhile their trial proceeded at Lyons. The brutality of the judges was as conspicuous as the constancy of the prisoners. From the sentence of the Lyonnese court, which adjudged them to death, they appealed to the Parliament of Paris.

On the 1st of March, 1553, the decree arrived from the capital confirming the sentence of the court below. So, then, it was by their burning pile, and not by the eloquence of their living voice, that they were to aid in dispelling the darkness that brooded over their native land. There was mourning in Lausanne and Geneva, and in other places on the shores of the Leman, when it was known that those who had so lately gone forth from them, and for whom they had augured a career of the highest usefulness, were so soon to meet a tragic death.

“We have been, for some days past, in deeper anxiety and sadness than ever,” writes Calvin to them, when he had learned the final decision of their persecutors. Turning away from the throne of Henry II., “We shall,” says he, “do our duty herein by praying to Him that He may glorify Himself more and more in your constancy, and that He may by the consolation of His Spirit sweeten and endear all that is bitter to the flesh, and so absorb your spirits in Himself, that in contemplating that heavenly crown you may be ready without regret to leave all that belongs to this world. If He has promised to strengthen with patience those who suffer chastisement for their sins, how much less will He be found wanting to those who maintain his quarrel! He who dwells in you is stronger than the world.” 4Bonnet, vol. 2, p. 374, No. 308.

How calm these words, when we think who spoke them, and that they were spoken to men about to expire in the fire! They breathe not the enthusiasm of feeling, but the enthusiasm of faith. These five young men were to die for the

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