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

The three carriages having drawn near


The

once disorderly city, a prey to its own internal factions, became the citadel of the Reformation, defying the threats of Romanist France and Savoy, and opening its gates to the persecuted of all lands. It continued to be so for generations, and the victims of the _dragonnades_ of Louis XIV. received the welcome and protection accorded to the sufferers under the Valois in the sixteenth century. What it did for them may be best told in the words of a refugee:

"On the next day, a Sunday, we reached a small village on a hill about a league from Geneva, from which we could see that city with a joy which could only be compared to the gladness with which the Israelites beheld the Land of Canaan. It was midday when we reached the village, and so great was our eagerness to be as soon as possible within the city which we looked on as our Jerusalem, that we did not wish to stay even for food. But our conductor informed us that on the Sunday the gates of Geneva were never opened until after divine service, that is, until after four o'clock. We had therefore to remain in the village until about that hour, when we mounted our horses again. When we drew near to the town we saw a large number of people coming out. Our guide was surprised, and the more so when, arriving at the Plain-Palais, a quarter of a league from the town, we saw coming to meet us, three carriages escorted by halberdiers

and followed by an immense crowd of people of both sexes and of every age. As soon as we were seen, a servant of the Magistracy approached us and prayed us to dismount to salute respectfully 'Their Excellencies of Geneva,' who had come to meet us and to bid us welcome. We obeyed. The three carriages having drawn near, there alighted from each a magistrate and a minister, who embraced us with tears of joy and with praises of our constancy and endurance far greater than we merited.... Their Excellencies then permitted the people to approach, and there followed a spectacle more touching than imagination could picture. Several of the inhabitants of Geneva had relatives suffering in the French galleys (from which we had been delivered), and these good people did not know whether any of them might be among our company. So one heard a confused noise, 'My son so and so, my husband, my brother, are you there?' One can imagine what embracings welcomed any of our troop who could answer. All this crowd of people threw itself on our necks with inexpressible transports of joy, praising and magnifying the Lord for the manifestation of His grace in our favour; and when Their Excellencies asked us to get on horseback again to enter the city, we were scarcely able to obey, so impossible did it seem to detach ourselves from the arms of these pious and zealous brethren, who seemed afraid


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