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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

And Froment was hunted from house to house


The

policy of Bern, wherever its influence prevailed in western Switzerland, was exerted to secure toleration for all Evangelicals, and to procure, if possible, a public discussion on matters of religion between the Romanists and leading Reformers. They pressed this over and over again on their allies of Geneva. As early as April 1533, they had insisted that a monk who had offered to refute Farel should be kept to his word, and that the Council of Geneva should arrange for a Public Disputation.[76] Towards the close of the year an event occurred which gave them a pretext for decisive interference.

Guy Furbiti, a renowned Roman Catholic preacher, a learned theologian, a doctor of the Sorbonne, had been brought to Geneva to be Advent preacher. He used the occasion to denounce vigorously the doctrines of the Evangelicals, supporting his statements, as he afterwards confessed, not from Scripture, but from the Decretals and from the writings of Thomas Aquinas. He ended his sermon (Dec. 2nd) with the words: "Where are those fine preachers of the fireside, who say the opposite? If they showed themselves here one could speak to them. Ha! ha! they are well to hide themselves in corners to deceive poor women and others who know nothing."

After the sermon, either in church or in the square before the cathedral, Froment cried to the crowd, "Hear me! I am ready to give my life, and my body to be burned, to maintain that what

that man has said is nothing but falsehood and the words of Antichrist." There was a great commotion. Some shouted, "To the fire with him! to the fire!" and tried to seize him. The chronicler nun, Jeanne de Jussie, proud of her sex, relates that "les femmes comme enragees sortirent apres, de grande furie, luy jettant force pierres."[77] He escaped from them. But Alexandre Canus was banished, and forbidden to return under pain of death; and Froment was hunted from house to house, until he found a hiding-place in a hay-loft. Furbiti had permitted himself to attack with strong invectives the authorities of Bern, and the Evangelicals of Geneva in their appeal for protection sent extracts from the sermons.[78] Bern had at last the opportunity for which its Council had long waited.

They wrote a dignified letter (Dec. 17th, 1533) to the Council of Geneva, in which they complained that the Genevese, their allies, had hitherto paid little attention to their requests for a favourable treatment of the Evangelicals; that they had expelled from the town "nostre serviteur maistre Guillaume Farel"; not content with that, they had recently misused their "servants" Froment and Alexandre for protesting against the sermons of a Jacobin monk (Furbiti) who "preached only lies, errors, and blasphemies against God, the faith, and ourselves, wounding our honour, calling us Jews, Turks, and dogs"; that the banishment of Alexandre and the hunting of Froment touched them (the Council of Bern), and that they would not suffer it. They demanded the immediate arrest of the "_caffard_"[79] (Furbiti); and they said they were about to send an embassy to Geneva to vindicate publicly the honour of God and their own.[80]

As the Council of Bern meant to enforce a Public Disputation, they sent Farel to Geneva. He reached the city on the evening of December 20th.

The letter was read to the Council of Geneva upon Dec. 21st, and they at once gave orders to the vicar to prevent Furbiti leaving the town. But the vicar, who had resolved to try his strength against Bern, refused, and actually published two mandates (Dec. 31st, 1533, and Jan. 1st, 1534) denouncing the Genevese Syndics, forbidding any of the citizens to read the Holy Scriptures, and ordering all copies of translations of the Bible, whether in German or in French, to be seized and burnt.[81] The dispute between Syndics and vicar was signalised by riots promoted by the extreme Romanist party. The Council, anxious not to proceed to extremities, contented themselves with placing a guard to watch Furbiti; and the monk was attended continually, even when he went to and from the church, by a guard of three halberdiers.


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