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lives of their ancestors, and from the Huguenot memorials it contains. The order of service adopted was the authorised shortened form of Evening Prayer, with special Psalms (Psalms xxvii. and xxxi.) and Lessons (First Lesson: Ecclesiasticus, xliv. 1-15; Second Lesson: Hebrews, xi. 24 to end, xii. 1 and 2), adapted to the occasion. In the course of the service, the French metrical versions by Marot and de Bèze, of the 1st and 42nd Psalms. and the Cantique de Siméon, were sung to the music of Bourgeois and Goudimel (date about 1550), the singing being led by some members of the Westminster Abbey Choir and the children of the French Protestant School of Westminster, The measured and stately rhythm of the old Huguenot Psalms was in striking contrast with the rapid English chants, and few to whom the history and traditions of the Church in the Desert were familiar, could have failed to recall the proscribed assemblies in woods and quarries and sequestered places, at which these same heart-stirring words were sung to the same tunes, and when the long pause after each line had a terrible significance, for while the lips were praising God, the ear was ever intently listening for the signal of approaching danger.
The service was concluded by the following impressive sermon by the Rev. John Graves, M.A., from the text "Dominus providebit" the motto of the French Protestant Hospital, or "La Providence," as it was lovingly called by the early Refugees, who found both shelter and kindly help, and counsel within its walls.
JEHOVAH-JIREH "THE LORD WILL
Dominus providebit-The motto of the French Protestant Hospital. In reading the history of the past, we cannot but notice the close parallelism that exists between the career of nations, and the life of individuals. On the one side we see the collective wisdom or foolishness of a people leading it on, either to prosperity or ruin,-on the other, there is the prudence or rashness of the individual drawing him on to success or failure, and in both cases it appears that men and nations are resolved to buy their own experience, totally regardless of the warning and example of those that have gone before. As far, therefore, as we can see at present, the doctrine of ultimate perfection is a mere fanciful theory, still lacking the support of positive facts. For what do we observe as time goes on? Old errors repeating themselves,-old heresies, social, political, and religious cropping up again and again,-it may be in a slightly altered form, or
in some ingenious disguise, but they are essentially the same, as those we had fondly believed to be dead and buried long ago. The spirit of persecution is not yet laid, nor the roll of martyrdom complete.
Since the days of Cain, envy, hatred, and malice, have been doing their work. The hand of the Egyptian crushing down the Israelite; Daniel praying in the den of lions; the three holy children walking in the fire of the furnace; Jesus Christ Himself, our blessed Lord and Saviour, lifted up on the cruel cross of Calvary; His apostles crucified, like their Master, sawn asunder, slain with the sword: the early Christians struggling with the wild beasts of the arena, or chained to the fiery stake of a brutal Nero; these, these are the witnesses. And then in course of time, you may read of the Christian persecuting the Jew; the Roman Catholic hunting down the Protestant; the Protestant in turn driving out the Roman Catholic; and all because men will not and cannot think alike. And it is not the odium theologicum that presents the only instances of this unreasoning cruelty. History supplies us with numerous examples, where political animosity, stirred up by bold and unprincipled leaders, has burst out in uncontrolled fury, and dyed the very streets with torrents of blood. And what has been, may be again. Whoever dreamed that the scenes of another Revolution in Paris would be witnessed in our day? We fondly thought that all such enormities had passed away and gone for ever. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
But in these days of ours we would try to console ourselves with the thought that there is little or no chance of persecution in the matter of faith, owing to the spread of religious liberty, as it is called. Though it may be that this liberty is near akin to license, and in time of danger may be confounded with it. It is possible that the persecutor may still be abroad, but those whom he would persecute, are, perchance, so unappreciative of their religious privileges, that they would not strike a blow in their defence, or suffer the slightest loss or inconvenience in maintaining them intact. All this is possible, I say, but it may not-nay it must not be probable. Let us pray, however, that if any such occasion should arise, we may not be found wanting.
But as we know, there have been those who have not shown themselves to be half-hearted or unreal in their religious profession. Those who dared to think, reason, and believe for themselves, and did not hesitate to die in defending the hope that was in them.
It is to keep alive the holy memory of such as these, that we
meet here to-day on this Bi-centenary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. And as we think over the piteous events of those trying times, let us pray that God may send into our hearts His spirit of peace. Let us pray that there may be forgiveness for those who did the wrong. Let us try to follow the example of those brave souls who did not shrink from suffering so sadly and so sorely for conscience sake.
Let us now bring before you two scenes out of the history of France, the one representing your Huguenot ancestors as full of hope, the other portraying them as overwhelmed with despair.
The first scene is laid in the grim castle of Nantes. There in a closely guarded hall sits Henry of Navarre, the persecuted of the Guises, once the sturdy Protestant, excommunicated by the Pope, now converted and received into the bosom of the Roman Church. Mark him, surrounded by his ministers and officers of state, and before him a band of bold determined Huguenots. With what warmth and eloquence they press their cause! They are asking if the days of their persecution are never to come to to an end. They demand justice, they claim consideration. They do not hesitate to hint that a king, hard pressed as he was by the Spaniards, should think twice ere he alienated so many faithful subjects, the best and bravest of his soldiers. After a pause, the king, not unmindful perhaps of the time when he himself had been a Huguenot, gives way before their powerful pleading, and grants them full redress of all their grievances in the famous Edict of Nantes. Now at last they are allowed liberty of conscience and freedom of worship. Their children are to be admitted without let or hindrance to the schools and universities. They are to be provided with adequate representation in the provincial parliaments, and are again to be eligible for some few places of trust in the capital and other important towns.
Thus were their privileges secured for the time, and the Huguenots again took courage.
We will now turn our eyes for a moment to another scene. It is at the luxurious Palace of Fontainebleau. There in a spacious chamber is seated Louis XIV.,-surnamed the Great, frowning, moody, and full of fear, his miserable body already beginning to decay, conscience tormenting him for the dissoluteness of his past life, and he himself now beyond the slightest power of enjoyment, ready to renounce his profligate habits and eager to show the reality of his conversion by extirpating heresy in his dominions. And there, kneeling at his side, you
may see his favourite mistress, Madame de Maintenon, widow of Scarron, the deformed wit and scoffer, once a pure Huguenot girl, but driven by force to abjure the faith of her childhood, and now the relentless enemy of those with whom she had lived and worshipped. Oh woman! God's choicest gift to man, but, if perverted, what a fearful curse. There she leans over him, scheming how to change the degraded name of a mistress for the dignity of a queen. And the honour shall be hers, if only she can persuade her royal paramour to recall the privileges of the hated heretics. Watch her with her coaxing woman's ways, drawing him on, now by promises, now by threats, until at last, wearied with importunities, overcome by terror, he snatches the pen from her wanton fingers, and signs in haste the fatal document. All is over, alas, alas! The monarch befooled, the woman triumphant, the Huguenots undone.
And then what was left for them but flight. Their country was no longer a fatherland but a prison; the house no more a home; their Churches at Charenton, Quevilly, and Montauban razed to the ground and laid in ashes; their ministers in exile; schools closed to their children; their very prayers forbidden. They had known too well the horrors of the dragonnade. Such had been, such would be again. Could this be “la belle France? No! they must fly for their lives to lands across the sea.
It were better, perhaps, for us not to dwell too long upon the sufferings of that awful time. The black page of that hideous history is open, you can read it for yourselves. It will serve to remind you how cruel men can be, and yet beguile themselves with the idea that their cruelty is a service to God and His Church. And thus was France deprived of the best and truest of her sons.
Who had been the most diligent tiller of the soil? The Huguenot. Who had cultivated the vine with such care and success? The Huguenot. Who had woven so skilfully the paper for the choicest books of Paris, Amsterdam, and London? The Huguenot. Who had been the most enterprising merchant and trader? The Huguenot. Who so punctual, who so trustworthy, as he? He knew not how to deceive, and was ever a man of his word. "To be as honest as an Huguenot," was one of the best known proverbs of the day. These staunch Protestants were men of strong character, as well they might be. The school of suffering, as you know, severe, but it is purifying. The fire of persecution purges
away the dross, and leaves behind only that which is sterling and true. They lived with their lives in their hands, ready to give them up at any moment. Their simple faith had to be maintained in the face of scorn and obloquy. The sufferings they endured for their religion made them grave and solemn in their demeanour. Strict were they in their morals, rigid in their piety. Many thought them sour and fanatical, but there was no one who did not acknowledge and admire their honesty and integrity.
And so they came, poor souls, in their thousands across the Channel over to England. England, ever the home of the exile and the persecuted; the mother of freedom for all the world. They settled down amongst us, with their sweet sounding names, and all their French tact and cleverness. They found us, perhaps, somewhat rough in language, awkward in address, stiff and ungainly, it may be, in our manners; but they found us to be men of like feelings with themselves; honest, brave and true, with hearts that could sympathise with the sorrowful and forsaken.
That misfortune for France has been, by the Providence of God, an unspeakable blessing to us. These sad exiles brought into our midst all their taste and skill, and love for every form of grace and beauty, until, in course of years, we could rival even France herself, in her more famous handiwork. The glazed garrets still to be seen in Spitalfields, and the old mulberry trees growing to this day in the Square, remind us of the time when these foreign silk-weavers entrusted themselves to our hospitality, and taught us the secrets of an art that had been so long the pride and boast of their Fatherland.
Not only in the improvement of our trades and manufactures did these sturdy people lend us their aid, but in their various learned professions the Huguenots eminently distinguished themselves, and added fresh lustre to our history, and the record of their fame points out to us how much we owe to this great French immigration. Our list of celebrities would indeed look somewhat meagre, without the names of Layard, Le Fevre, Hugessen, De Morise, Chevalier, Bouverie, Romilly, Jortin, Saurin, Dolland, Pusey, and many others. Even our good Queen herself has Huguenot blood in her veins. So that from the highest to the very lowest class, the descendants of these refugees are mingled with all the various ranks of our English society.
And now what is the lesson we may learn from this day's commemoration. Is it not that God's ways are not as our