Obrázky na stránke

leagues. There was a mutual esteem between himself and the whole church; and here, could he have enjoyed his wish, here would he have spent the residue of his days : but providence had greater work for Claude to do.

Marshal Turenne pretended, at first, to be satisfied with Mr. Claude's answer to the Perpetuity : but, about three years after, his doubts were all revived, yea strengthened by reading an answer to it, published by one of his old friends, the author of the Perpetuity. Claude was not so silly as to imagine that such men as the Marshal troubled themselves with comparing quotations from Greek and Latin fathers. The price of the next blue riband was a question of more consequence to them. However, as the Papists filled all France with shouts of victory obtained by this book, and as the protestant interest was affected by this popular clamour, Mr. Claude set about answering this paltry piece. The episcopal party understood, that some reformed minister was preparing an answer, they endeavoured to find out whence the news came, and who he was, that dare tarnish the glory of those, who were in vogue for the most learned and polite writers of France. At length, it was supposed, the hardy animal lived at Montauban, and the old setter, the bishop, was employed to find him out. This prelate affected great esteem for Mr. Claude, and endeavoured by familiar interviews to diminish the distance, that seemed to be between the episcopal crosier and the pastoral staff. He wanted to know, whether Mr. Claude intended to answer Dr. Arnaud, and he wished to be indulged with a sight of the copy, if, as report said, there were such a thing. Mr. Claude, superior to concealment, shewed him a part of the copy; and although he despised the man for imagining he could impose on him, yet he informed him, that the other part of the copy was printing at Paris. I do not know who this bishop of Montauban was, nor will I look, for it does not signify; a bishop of France is a French bishop, and a French bishop is a bishop of France. Presently down came an order of council to prohibit the exercise of the ministry at Montauban to John

Claude. Mr. Claude obeyed as before, resigned · his charge, and went to Paris to get his suspension taken off.

No sooner was Mr. Claude arrived at Paris, than he was informed, that a stop was put to the impression of his book: however, next morning he was complimented with better tidings; for the Jesuits, having just then an occasion to lower the topsail of the Jansenists, and supposing that Claude's book might very well serve that purpose, procured, without any affection for him, an imprimatur. How happy for good men, that bad ones sometimes fall out!

Nine months was Mr. Claude detained at Paris in fruitless endeavours to get leave to return to Montauban. Although he knew, his was what they called an episcopal case, and that these causes were so privileged, that every process was sure to be lost; yet his desire to return to his charge, or at least to acquit himself of the blame of negligence, induced him to try all means in his power. During his attendance here, the reformed church of Paris, which assembled at Charenton, determined to call him to the pastoral office among them, and they had influence enough at court to obtain leave to do so. It was a bold attempt, at first sight it should seem impracticable, to settle a preacher in the metropolis, who could not be borne with in a distant province: but the reformed nobility were politicians as well as christians, and they understood, as well as other men, the doctrine of lucky moments.

One of these fell out at this time, and John Claude was associated at Charenton with Messieurs de L’Angle, Daille, and Allix, who, I think, were his colleagues.

Our pastor had not been long at Paris before he was obliged to take his pen a third time, to answer father Nouet. This Jesuit thoroughly understood that his own order neither intended to favour the reformed, nor to desert the papal cause in this important crisis, when one of the main pillars of popery was undermined, although they had held back the Jansenists from propping it up. Mr. Claude's answer to this famous disputant was his favourite book. All the reformed were extremely delighted with it, and particularly with the preface to it. This piece produced no bad consequences to Mr. Claude, as the former had done; for now Jesuits and Jansenists were formidable to each other, and their brangles were publick benefits,

[ocr errors]

Mr. Claude, as pastor of the church at Charenton, was placed on the pinnacle of the reformed church of France. Superiority in these churches was not obtained by patents and titles, and habits and hard words; but it was always allowed to sterling merit. Such Mr. Claude possessed, and that added to his situation, attracted the eyes of all France to him. Paris was the source of all the ecclesiastical mischiefs that afflicted the provincial churches; and Charenton was the place, to which they repaired for advice. Our sagacious pastor studied the advantages and disadvantages of his situation. He stood on an eminence, where he had the finest opportunity of reconnoitring the artful enemy; but this elevated station exposed himself at the same time to universal inspection. It required peculiar sagacity to distinguish his object of investigation from a thousand others, that surrounded it. It called for a singular dexterity and delicacy of action to avail himself of events as they turned up, and to improve them to the defeating of episcopal maneuvres, and to the confirmation of the reformed churches. Indefatigable attention, unremitted exertion, a frank deportment, and an impenetrable depth of thought, a clay-coldness toward secular things, a heart inflamed with holy zeal, a courage, that nothing could daunt, and a countenance alternately supple and severe, were all necessary at this critical conjuncture to the pastor of Charenton, and Mr. Claude possessed them all.


Religious liberty was that to the episcopal clergy, which Mordecai had formerly been to stately Haman. It shared no prelatical honours; but prelates could not be happy while it sat all contented and poor, at the king's gate. Its destruction was determined. Bishops prepared poisons, which underling mountebanks dispersed through all the provinces, under the sanction of patents from the crown. It is not imaginable, that vigorous religious freedom could expire without violent agonies. All the reformed church in France felt these dying pangs, and uttered lamentable groans. Claude, the meek and merciful Claude, whose tender soul dissolved at the sound of every human woe, was doomed to see his darling die, doomed to reside the last nineteen years of this convulsive scene at the mart of intelligence, Paris, 'that painful post of observation.

Would my limits allow it, I should have a melancholy pleasure in attending this noble soul, through all his various scenes: I should follow him in his private studies, his pastoral visits, his publick labours in churches and synods, and his attendance on great men.

But I must content myself with relating only a few principal articles.

Dr. Arnaud, neither content with his own performances, nor with that of Nouet, once more attacked Mr. Claude on the old affair, Perpetuity, and now changed the ground, and pretended to produce proofs innumerable that the Greek church had always held the doctrine of transubstantiation. Mr. Claude answered a fourth time; and, as before, the publick did hiin justice, and allowed his

« PredošláPokračovať »