in the Church of Rome
by Charles Chiniquy
CHAPTER 65 Back to Contents
Bishop Smith had fulfilled his promise in addressing to me a testimonial letter, which would show to both friends and foes that the most honourable and lasting peace between us was to succeed the deplorable years of strife through which we had just passed. I read it with Grand Vicar Dunn, who was not less pleased than I with the kind expressions of esteem towards my people and myself with which it was filled. I had never had a document in which my private and public character were so kindly appreciated. I put it in my portfolio as the most precious treasure I had ever possessed, and my gratitude to the bishop who had written such friendly lines, was boundless. I, at once, addressed a short letter to thank and bless him: and I requested him to pray for me during the happy days of retreat I was to spend at the monastery of St. Joseph.
The venerable Grand Vicar Surin, and his assistant, Rev. M. Granger, received me as two Christian gentlemen receive a brother priest, and I may say that, during my stay in the monastery, they constantly overwhelmed me with the most sincere marks of kindness. I found in them both the very best types of priests of Rome. A volume, and not a chapter, would be required, were I to tell what I saw there of the zeal, devotedness, ability and marvelous success of their labours. Suffice it to say, that Grand Vicar Saurin is justly considered one of the greatest and highest intellects Rome has ever given to the United States. There is not, perhaps, a man who had done so much for the advancement of that church in this country as that highly gifted priest. My esteem, respect, I venture to say, my veneration for him, increased every time I had the privilege of conversing with him. The only things which pained me were:
1st. When some of his inferior monks came to speak to him, they had to kneel and prostrate themselves as if he had been a god, and they had to remain in that humble and degrading posture, till, with a sign of his hand or a word from his lips, he told them to rise.
2nd. Though he promised to the numerous Protestant parents, who entrusted their boys and girls to his care for their education, never to interfere with their religion, he was, nevertheless, incessantly proselytizing them. Several of his Protestant pupils were received in the Church of Rome, and renounced the religion of their fathers, in my presence, on the eve of Easter of that year.
While, as a priest, I rejoined in the numerous conquests of my church over her enemies, in all her colleges and nunneries, I objected to the breach of promise, always connected with those conversions. I, however, then thought, as I think today, that a Protestant who takes his children to a Roman Catholic priest or a nun for their education, had no religion. It is simply an absurdity to promise that we will respect the religion of a man who has none. How can we respect that which does not exist?
As a general thing, there are too few people who understand the profound meaning of our Saviour's words to His disciples: "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest awhile." These words, uttered after the apostles had gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things both what they had done and taught, ought to receive more attention, on the part of those whom the Son of God has chosen to continue the great work of preaching His Gospel to the world. I had never before so well realized how good it was to be alone with Christ, and tell Him all I had done, said, and taught. Those few days of rest and communion with my Saviour were one of the greatest favours my merciful God had ever given me.
My principal occupation was to read and meditate on the Gospel. That divine book had never been so precious to me as since God had directed me to put it as the fundamental stone of my faith in the act of submission I had just given to my bishop: and my church had never been so dear to me as since she had accepted that conditional submission. I felt a holy pride and joy at having finally silenced the voice of the enemy which, so often, troubled my faith by crying to my soul: "Do you not see that in your Church of Rome, you do not follow the Word of God, but only the lying traditions of men." My church, through her bishop, had just given me what I considered an infallible assurance of the contrary, by accepting the document signed by me and by my people, where we had clearly said that we would never obey any authority or any superior, except when "their orders or doctrines would be based upon the Gospel of Christ." My soul was rejoicing in those thoughts, when on the 5th of April (Monday after Easter) Grand Vicar Saurin handed me a letter from Mr. Dunn, telling me that a new storm, brought by the Jesuits, and more formidable than the past ones, was about to break on me; that I had to prepare for new and more serious conflicts than I had ever experienced.
The next morning, Mr. Saurin handed me another letter from the Bishop of Dubuque and with a sympathy which I will never forget, he said: "I am sorry to see that you are not at the end of your troubles, as you expected. Bishop Smith orders you back to Dubuque with words which are far from being friendly." But, strange to say, this bad news, which would have saddened and discouraged me in other circumstances, left me perfectly calm and cheerful on that day. In my dear Gospel, which had been my daily bread, the last eight days, I had found the helmet for my head, the breastplate and the shield to protect me, and the unconquerable sword with which to fight. From every page, I head my Saviour's voice: "Fear not, I am with thee" (Isaiah xlii. 5).
When on my way back to Dubuque, I stopped at Chicago to know from my faithful friend, Mr. Dunn, the cause of the new storm. He said:
"You remember how Grand Vicar Mailloux was displeased with the conditional submission you had given to the bishop. As soon as we had left him, he sent the young priest who is with him to the Jesuits of Chicago to tell them that the authority of the church and of the bishop would be for ever lost if Chiniquy were allowed to submit on such a condition. He wanted them to notice that it was not to the authority of the bishops and the church you had submitted; but only to the authority of the Bible. The Jesuits were of the same mind. They immediately sent to Dubuque, and said to the bishop, 'Do you not see that Chiniquy is a disguised Protestant; that he has deceived you by presenting you such an act of submission. Does not your lordship see that Chiniquy has not submitted himself to your authority, but to the authority of his Bible alone? Do you not fear that the whole body of the bishops and the Pope himself will condemn you for having fallen into the trap prepared by that disguised Protestant?' Our administrator, though a good man when left to himself, is weak, and like soft wax, can be manipulated in every way. The Jesuits, who want to rule the priests and the church with an iron rod, and who are aiming to change the Pope and the bishops into the most heartless tyrants, have advised the administrator to force you to give an unconditional act of submission. It is not the Word of God which must rule us now. It is the old Jupiter who is coming back to rule us under the name of a modern divinity, called 'the authority of the bishops.' The administrator and the Jesuits themselves have telegraphed your submission to several bishops, who have unanimously answered that it must be rejected, and another, without condition, requested from you. You were evidently too correct when you told me, the other day, that your act of submission was too good for the bishops and the Pope. What will you do?"
I replied: "I do not know what I will do, but be sure of this, my dear Mr. Dunn, I will do what our great and merciful God will tell me."
"Very well, very well," he answered; "may God help you!"[*]
After warmly shaking hands with me, I left to take the train for Dubuque, where I arrived next morning. I went immediately to the bishop's palace. I found him in the company of a Jesuit, and I felt myself as a poor helpless ship between two threatening icebergs.
"Your lordship wants to see me again," I said.
"Yes, sir, I want to see you again," he answered.
"What do you want from me, my lord?" I replied.
"Have you the testimonial letter I addressed to you at Chicago last week?"
"Yes, my lord, I have it with me."
"Will you please show it to me?" he replied.
"With pleasure here it is;" and I handed him the precious document.
As soon as he had assured himself that it was the very letter in question, he ran to the stove and threw it into the fire. I felt so puzzled at the action of my bishop that I remained almost paralyzed; but soon coming to myself, I ran to save from the flames that document which was more valuable and precious to me than all the gold of California, but it was too late. It was in ashes. I turned to the bishop and said: "How can you take from me a document which is my property, and destroy it without my permission?"
He answered me with an impudence that cannot be expressed on paper: "I am your superior, and have no account to give you."
I replied: "Yes, my lord, you are my superior indeed! You are a great bishop in our church, and I am nothing but a poor miserable priest. But there is an Almighty God in heaven, who is as much above you as He is above me. That great God has granted me rights which I will never give up to please any man. In the presence of that God I protest against your iniquity."
"Have you come here to lecture me?" replied the bishop.
"No, my lord, I did not come to lecture you; I come at your command, but I want to know if it was to insult me as you have just done that you requested me to come here again."
"I ordered you to come here again because you deceived me the last time you were here," he answered: "you gave me an act of submission which you know very well is not an act of submission. I accepted it then, but I was mistaken; I reject it today."
I answered: "How can you say that I deceived you? The document I presented you is written in good, plain English. It is there, on your table, I see it: you read it twice, and understood it well. If you were deceived by its contents, you deceived yourself. You are, then, a self-deceiver, and you cannot accuse me of having deceived you."
He then took the document, read it slowly; and when at the words, "we submit ourselves to your authority, according to the Word of God as we find it in the Gospel of Christ," he stopped and said: "What do you mean by this?"
I answered, "I mean what you see there. I mean that neither I nor my people will ever submit ourselves to anybody, except according to the eternal laws of truth, justice, and holiness of God, as we find them expressed in the Bible."
He angrily answered, "Such language on your part is sheer Protestantism. I cannot accept such a conditional submission from any priest."
Then again I seemed to hear the mysterious voice, "Do you not see that in your Church of Rome you do not follow the Word of God, but the lying traditions of men?"
Thanks be to God, I did not silence the voice in that solemn hour. An ardent, though silent prayer, went from the bottom of my heart to God! speak, speak again to Thy poor servant, and grant me the grace to follow Thy holy Word!" I then said to the bishop:-
"You distress me by rejecting this act of submission, and asking another. Please explain yourself more clearly, and tell me the nature of the new one you require from me and my people."
Taking then a more subdued and polite tone, the bishop said:
"I hope, Mr. Chiniquy, that, as a good priest, you do not want to rebel against your bishop, and that you will give me the act of submission I ask from you. Take away these 'Words of God,' 'Gospel of Christ,' and 'Bible' from your present document, and I will be satisfied."
"But, my lord, with my people I have put these words because we want to obey only the bishops who follow the Word of God. We want to submit only to the church which respects and follows the Gospel of Christ."
In an irritated manner he quickly answered: "Take away from your act of submission those 'Words of God,' and 'Gospel of Christ,' and 'Bible!' of I will punish you as a rebel."
"My lord," I replied, "those expressions are there to show us and to the whole world that the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ, and the Bible are the fundamental stones of our holy church. If we reject those precious stones, on what foundations will our church and our faith rest?"
He answered angrily: "Mr. Chiniquy, I am your superior, I do not want to argue with you. You are inferior: your business is to obey me. Give me at once an act of submission, in which you will simply say that you and your people will submit yourselves to my authority, and promise to do anything I will bid you."
I calmly answered: "What you ask me is not an act of submission, it is an act of adoration. I do absolutely refuse to give it."
"If it be so, sir," he answered, "you can no longer be a Roman Catholic priest."
I raised my hands to heaven, and cried with a loud voice: "May God Almighty be for ever blessed."
I took my hat, and left to go to my hotel. When alone in my room I locked the door and fell on my knees, to consider, in the presence of God, what I had just done. There the awful, undeniable truth stared me in the face. My church could not be the church of Christ! That sad truth had not been revealed to me by any Protestant, not any other enemy of the church. It was from her own lips I had got it! It had been told me by one of her most learned and devoted bishops! My church was the deadly, the irreconcilable enemy of the Word of God, as I had so often suspected! I was not allowed to remain a single day longer in that church without positively and publicly giving up the Gospel of Christ! It was evident to me that the Gospel was only a blind, a mockery to conceal her iniquities, tyrannies, superstitions, and idolatries. The only use of the Gospel in my church was to throw dust in the eyes of the priests and people! It had no authority. The only rule and guide were the will, the passions, and the dictates of sinful men!
There, on my knees, and alone with God, it was evident to me that the voice which had so often troubled and shaken my faith, was the voice of my merciful God. It was the voice of my dear Saviour, who was bringing me out of the ways of perdition in which I had been walking. And I had tried so often to silence that voice!
"My God! my God!" I cried, "The Church of Rome is not Thy church. to obey the voice of my conscience, which is Thine, I gave it up. When I had the choice between giving up that church or the Bible, I did not hesitate. I could not give up Thy Holy Word. I have given up Rome! But, oh Lord, where is Thy church? Oh! speak!! where must I go to be saved?"
For more than one hour I cried to God in vain; no answer came. In vain I cried for a ray of light to guide me. The more I prayed and wept, the greater was the darkness which surrounded me! I then felt as if God had forsaken me, and an unspeakable distress was the result of that horrible thought. To add to that distress, the thought flashed across my mind that by giving up the Church of Rome, I had given up the church of my dear father and mother, of my brother, my friends, and my country in fact, all that was near and dear to me!
I hope that none of my readers will ever experience what it is to give up friends, relatives, parents, honour, country everything! I did not regret the sacrifice, but I felt as if I could not survive it. With tears, I cried to God for more strength and faith to bear the cross which was laid on my too weak shoulders, but all in vain.
Then I felt that an implacable war was to be declared against me, which would end only with my life. The Pope, the bishops, and priests, all over the world, would denounce and curse me. They would attack and destroy my character, my name and my honour, in their press, from their pulpit, and in their confessionals, where the man they strike can never know whence the blow is coming! Almost in despair, I tried to think of some one who would come to my help in that formidable conflict, but could find none. Every one of the millions of Roman Catholics were bound to curse me. My best friends my own people even my own brothers, were bound to look upon me with horror as an apostate, a vile outcast! Could I hope for help or protection from Protestants? No! for my priestly life had been spent in writing and preaching against them. In vain would I try to give an idea of the desolation I felt when that thought struck my mind.
Forsaken by God and man, what would become of me? Where would I go when out of that room? Expelled with contempt by my former Roman Catholic friends; repulsed with still more contempt by Protestants: where could I go to hide my shame and drag on my miserable existence? How could I go to hide into that world where there was no more room for me; where there was no hand to press mine; none to smile upon me! Life suddenly became to me an unbearable burden. My brain seemed to be filled with burning coals. I was losing my mind. Yea, death, and instant death, seemed to me the greatest blessing in that awful hour! and, will I say it? Yes! I took my knife to cut my throat, and put an end to my miserable existence! But my merciful God, who wanted only to humble me, by showing me my own helplessness, stopped my hand, and the knife fell on the floor.
Though I felt the pangs of that desolation for more than two hours, I constantly cried to God for a ray of His saving light, for a word telling me what to do, where to go to be saved. At last, drops of cold sweat began to cover again my face and my whole body. The pulsations of my heart began to be very slow and weak: I felt so feeble that I expected to faint at any moment, or fall dead! At first, I thought that death would be a great relief, but then, I said to myself, "If I die, where will I go, when there is no faith, nor a ray of light to illumine my poor perishing soul! Oh, my dear Saviour," I cried, "come to my help! Lift up the light of Thy reconciled countenance upon me."
In that very instant, I remembered that I had my dear New Testament with me, which I used then, as now, to carry everywhere. The thought flashed across my mind that I would find in that Divine book the answer to my prayer, and light to guide me thorough that dark night, to that house of refuge and salvation, after which my soul was ardently longing. With a trembling hand and a praying heart, I opened the book at random but no! not I, my God himself opened it for me. My eyes fell on these words: "YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE. BE NOT YE THE SERVANTS OF MEN" (I Cor. vii. 23).
Strange to say! Those words came to my mind, more as a light than an articulated sound. They suddenly but most beautifully and powerfully gave me, as much as a man can know it, the knowledge of the great mystery of a perfect salvation through Christ alone. They at once brought a great and delightful calm to my soul. I said to myself: "Jesus has bought me, then I am His; for when I have bought a thing it is mine, absolutely mine! Jesus has bought me! I, then, belong to Him! He alone has a right over me. I do not belong to the bishops, to the popes, not even to the church, as I have been told till now. I belong to Jesus and to Him alone! His Word must be my guide, and my light by day and by night. Jesus has bought me," I said again to myself; "then He has saved me! and if so, I am saved, perfectly saved, for ever saved! for Jesus cannot save me by half. Jesus is my God; the works of God are perfect. My salvation must, then, be a perfect salvation. But how has He saved me? What price has He paid for my poor guilty soul?" The answer came as quickly as lightning: "He bought you with His blood shed on the cross! He saved you by dying on Calvary!"
I then said to myself again: "If Jesus has perfectly saved me by shedding His blood on the cross, I am not saved, as I have thought and preached till now, by my penances, my prayers to Mary and the saints, my confessions and indulgences, not even by the flames of purgatory!"
In that instant, all things which, as a Roman Catholic, I had to believe to be saved all the mummeries by which the poor Roman Catholics are so cruelly deceived, the chaplets, indulgences, scapularies, auricular confession, invocation of the virgin, holy water, masses, purgatory, ect., given as means of salvation, vanished from my mind as a huge tower, when struck at the foundation, crumbles to the ground. Jesus alone remained in my mind as the Saviour of my soul!
Oh! what a joy I felt at this simple, but sublime truth! But it was the will of God that this joy should be short. It suddenly went away with the beautiful light which had caused it; and my poor soul was again wrapped in the most awful darkness. However profound that darkness was, a still darker object presented itself before my mind. It was a very high mountain, but not composed of sand or stones, it was a mountain of my sins. I saw them all standing before me. And still more horrified was I when I saw it moving towards me as if, with a mighty hand, to crush me. I tried to escape, but in vain. I felt tied to the floor, and the next moment it had rolled over me. I felt as crushed under its weight; for it was as heavy as granite. I could scarcely breathe! My only hope was to cry to God for help. With a loud voice, heard by many in the hotel, I cried: "O my God! have mercy upon me! My sins are destroying me! I am lost, save me!" But, it seemed God could not hear me. The mountain was between, to prevent my cries from reaching Him, and to hide my tears. I suddenly thought that God would have nothing to do with such a sinner, but to open the gates of hell to throw me into that burning furnace prepared for his enemies, and which I had so richly deserved!
I was mistaken. After eight or ten minutes of unspeakable agony, the rays of a new and beautiful light began to pierce through the dark cloud which hung over me. In that light, I clearly saw my Saviour. There He was, bent under the weight of His heavy cross. His face was covered with blood, the crown of thorns was on His head, and the nails in His hands. He was looking to me with an expression of compassion, love, which no tongue can describe. Coming to me, He said: "I have heard thy cries, I have seen thy tears, I have given Myself for thee. My blood and My bruised body have paid thy debts; wilt thou give Me thy heart? Wilt thou take My Word for the only lamp of thy feet, and the only light of thy path? I bring thee eternal life as a gift!"
`I answered: "Dear Jesus, how sweet are Thy words to my soul! Speak, oh! speak again! Yes, beloved Saviour, I want to love Thee; but dost Thou see that mountain which is crushing me? Oh! remove it! Take away my sins!"
I had not done speaking when I saw His mighty hand stretched out. He touched the mountain, and it rolled into the deep and disappeared. At the same time, I felt as if a shower of the blood of the Lamb were falling upon me to purify my soul. And, suddenly, my humble room was transformed into a real paradise. The angels of God could not be more happy than I was in that most mysterious and blessed hour of my life. With an unspeakable joy, I said to my Saviour: "Dear Jesus, the gift of God! Thou hast brought me the pardon of my sins as a gift. Thou has brought me eternal life as a gift! Thou hast redeemed and saved me, beloved Saviour; I know, I feel it. But this is not enough. I do not want to be saved alone. Save my people also. Save my whole country! I feel rich and happy in that gift; grant me to show its beauty, and preciousness, to my people, that they may rejoice in its possession."
This sudden revelation of that marvelous truth of salvation as a gift, had so completely transformed me, that I felt quite a new man. The unutterable distress of my soul had been changed into an unspeakable joy. My fears had gone away, to be replaced by a courage and a strength such as I had never experienced. The Popes, with their bishops and priests, and millions of abject slaves might now attack me, I felt that I was a match for them all. My great ambition was to go back to my people and tell them what the Lord had done for my soul. I washed my tears away, paid my bill, and took the train which brought me back into the midst of my dear countrymen. At that very same hour they were very anxious and excited, for they had just received, at Kankakee City, a telegram from the Bishop of Dubuque, telling them: "Turn away your priest, for he has refused to give me an unconditional act of submission."
They had gathered in great numbers to hear the reading of that strange message. But they unanimously said: "If Mr. Chiniquy has refused to give an unconditional act of submission, he has done right, we will stand by him to the end." However, I knew nothing of that admirable resolution. I arrived at St. Anne on a Sabbath day at the hour of the morning service. There was an immense crowd at the door of the chapel. They rushed to me, and said: "You are just coming from the bishop; what good news have you to bring us?"
I answered: "No news here, my good friends; come to the chapel and I will tell you what the Lord had done for my soul."
When they had filled the large building, I told them:
"Our Saviour, the day before His death, said to His disciples: 'I will be a scandal[*] to you, this night.' I must tell you the same thing. I will be, today, I fear, the cause of a great scandal to every one of you. But, as the scandal which Christ gave to His disciples has saved the world, I hope that, by the great mercy of God, the scandal I will give you will save you. I was your pastor till yesterday! But I have no more that honour today, for I have broken the ties by which I was bound as a slave at the feet of the bishops and of the Pope."
This sentence was scarcely finished, when a universal cry of surprise and sadness filled the church: "Oh! what does that mean!" exclaimed the congregation.
"My dear countrymen," I added, "I have not come to tell you to follow me! I did not die to save your immortal souls; I have not shed my blood to buy you a place in heaven; but Christ has done it. Then follow Christ and Him alone! Now, I must tell you why I have broken the ignominious and unbearable yoke of men, to follow Christ. You remember that, on the 21st of March last, you signed, with me, an act of submission to the authority of the Bishop of the Church of Rome, with the conditional clause that we would obey him only in matters which were according to the teachings of the Word of God as found in the Gospel of Christ. In that act of submission we did not want to be slaves of any man, but the servants of God, the followers of the Gospel. It was our hope then, that our church would accept such a submission. And your joy was great when you heard that Grand Vicar Dunn was here on the 28th of March to tell you that Bishop Smith had accepted the submission. But that acceptation was revoked. Yesterday, I was told, in the presence of God, by the same bishop, that he ought not to have accepted an act of submission from any priest or people based on the Gospel of Christ! Yes! yesterday Bishop Smith rejected, with the utmost contempt, the act of submission we had given him, and which he had accepted only two weeks ago, because 'the Word of God' was mentioned in it! When I respectfully requested him to tell me the nature of the new act of submission he wanted from us, he ordered me to take away from it 'the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ, and the Bible,' if we wanted to be accepted as good Catholics! WE had thought, till then, that the sacred Word of God and Holy Gospel of Christ were the fundamental and precious stones of the Church of Rome. We loved her on that account, we wanted to remain in her bosom, even when we were forced to fight as honest men, against that tyrant, O'Regan. Believing that the Church of Rome was the child of the Word of God, that it was the most precious fruit of the Divine tree planted on the earth, under the name of the Gospel, we would have given the last drop of our blood to defend her!
"But, yesterday, I have learned from the very lips of a Bishop of Rome, that we were a band of simpletons in believing those things. I have learned that the Church of Rome has nothing to do with the Word of God, except to throw it overboard, to trample it under their feet, and to forbid us even to name it even in the solemn act of submission we have given. I have been told that we could no longer be Roman Catholics, if we persisted in putting the Word of God and the Gospel of Christ as the foundation of our religion, our faith and our submission. When I was told by the bishop that I had either to renounce the Word of God as the base of my submission, or the title of the priest of Rome, I did not hesitate. Nothing could induce me to give up the Gospel of Christ; and so I gave up the title and position of priest in the Roman Catholic Church. I would rather suffer a thousand deaths than renounce the Gospel of Christ. I am no longer a priest of Rome; but I am more than ever a disciple of Christ, a follower of the Gospel. That Gospel is for me, what it was for Paul, 'The power of God unto salvation' (Rom. i. 16). It is the bread of my soul. In it we can satisfy our thirst with the waters of eternal life! No! no!! I could not buy the honour of being any longer a slave to the bishops and popes of Rome, by giving up the Gospel of Christ!
"When I requested the bishop to give me the precise form of submission he wanted from us, he answered: "Give me an act of submission, without any condition, and promise that you will do anything I bid you.' I replied:
"'This is not an act of submission, it is an act of adoration! I will never give it to you!'
"'If so,' said he, 'you can no longer be a Roman Catholic priest.'
"I raised my hands to heaven, and with a loud and cheerful voice, I said: 'My God Almighty be for ever blessed!'"
I then told them something of my desolation, when alone, in my room; of the granite mountain which had been rolled over my shoulders, of my tears, an of my despair. I told them also how my bleeding, dying, crucified Saviour had brought me the forgiveness of my sins; how He had given me eternal salvation, as a gift, and how rich, happy, and strong I felt in that gift. I then spoke to them about their own souls.
My address lasted more than two hours, and God blessed it in a marvelous way. Its effects were profound and lasting, but it is too long to be described here. In substance, I said: "I respect you too much to impose myself upon your honest consciences, or to dictate what you ought to do on this most solemn occasion. I feel that the hour has come for me to make a great sacrifice; I must leave you! but, no! I will not go away before you tell me to do so. You will yourselves break the ties so dear which have united us. Please, pay attention to these, my parting words: If you think it is better for you to follow the Pope than to follow Christ; that it is better to trust in the works of your hands, and in your own merits, than in the blood of the Lamb, shed on the cross, to be saved; if you think it is better for you to follow the traditions of men than the Gospel; and if you believe that it is better for you to have a priest of Rome, who will keep you tied as slaves to the feet of the bishops, and who will preach to you the ordinances of men, rather than have me preach to you nothing but the pure Word of God, as we find it in the Gospel of Christ, tell it to me by rising up, and I will go!" But, to my great surprise, nobody moved. The chapel was filled with sobs; tears were flowing from every eye; but not one moved to tell me to leave them! I was puzzled. For though I had hoped that many, enlightened by the copies of the New Testament that I had given them, tired of the tyranny of the bishops, and disgusted with the superstitions of Rome, would be glad to break the yoke with me, to follow Christ, I was afraid that the greatest number would not dare to break their allegiance to the church, and publicly give up her authority. After a few minutes of silence, during which I mixed my tears and my sobs with those of my people, I told them: "Why do you not at once rise up and tell me to go? You see that I can no longer remain your pastor after renouncing the tyranny of the bishops and the traditions of men to follow the Gospel of Christ as my only rule. Why do you not bravely tell me to go away?"
But this new appeal was still without any answer I was filled with astonishment. However, it was evident to me that a great and mysterious change was wrought in that multitude. Their countenances, their manners, were completely changed. They were speaking to me with their eyes filled with tears, and their manly faces beaming with joy. Their sobs, in some way, told me that they were filled with new light; that they were full of new strength, and ready to make the most heroic sacrifices, and break their fetters to follow Christ, and Him alone. There was something in those brave, honest and happy faces which was telling me more effectually than the most eloquent speech: "We believe in the gift, we want to be rich, happy, free, and saved in the gift: we do not want anything else: remain among us and teach us to love both the gift and the giver!"
A thought suddenly flashed across my mind, and with an inexpressible sentiment of hope and joy, I told them: "My dear countrymen! The Mighty God, who gave me His saving light, yesterday, can grant you the same favour today. He can, as well, save a thousand souls as one. I see, in your noble and Christian faces, that you do not want any more to be slaves of men. You want to be the free children of God, intelligent followers of the Gospel! The light is shining, and you like it. The gift of God has been given to you! With me, you will break the fetters of a captivity, worse than that of Egypt, to follow the Gospel of Christ, and take possession of the Promised Land: let all those who think it is better to follow Jesus Christ than the Pope, better to follow the Word of God than the traditions of men; let all those of you who want me to remain here and preach to you nothing but the Word of God, as we find it in the Gospel of Christ, tell it to me, by rising up. I am your man! Rise up!"
Without a single exception, that multitude arose! More than a thousand of my countrymen had, for ever, broken their fetters. They had crossed the Red Sea and exchanged the servitude of Egypt for the blessings of the Promised Land!
CHAPTER 66 Back to Contents
Where shall I find words to express the sentiments of surprise, admiration and joy I felt when, after divine service, alone in my humble study, I considered, in the presence of God, what His mighty hand had just wrought under my eyes. The people who surrounded the Saviour when He cried to Lazarus to come forth, were not more amazed at seeing the dead coming out of his grave than I was when I had seen, not one, but more than a thousand, of my countrymen so suddenly and unexpectedly coming out from the grave of the degrading slavery in which they were born and brought up. No, the heart of Moses was not filled with more joy than mine, when on the shores of the Red Sea, he sang his sublime hymn:
"I will sing unto the Lord: for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation: my fathers' God, and I will exalt Him" (Ex. xv. 2).
My joy was, however, suddenly changed into confusion, when I considered the unworthiness of the instrument which God had chosen to do that work. I felt this was only the beginning of the most remarkable religious reform which had ever occurred on this continent of America, and I was dismayed at the thought of such a task! I saw, at a glance, that I was called to guide my people into regions entirely new and unexplored. The terrible difficulties which Luther, Calvin and Knox had met, at almost every step, were to meet me. Though giants, they had, at many times, been bought low and almost discouraged in their new positions. What would become of me, seeing that I was so deficient in knowledge, wisdom and experience!
Many times, during the first night after the deliverance of my people from the bondage of the Pope, I said to my God in tears: "Why hast not Thou chosen a more worthy instrument of Thy mercies towards my brethren?" I would have shrank before the task, had not God said to me in His Word: "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. And God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised, hath God chosen; yea, the things which are not, to bring to naught the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (I Cor. i. 29 29).
These words calmed my fears and gave me new courage. Next morning, I said to myself: "Is it not God alone who has done the great things of yesterday? Why should I not rely upon Him for the things which remain to be done? I am weak, it is true, but He is strong and mighty. I am unwise, but He is the God of light and wisdom: I am sinful, but He is the God of holiness: He wants the world to know that He is the worker."
It would make the most interesting book, were I to tell all the marvelous episodes of the new battle my dear countrymen and I had to fight against Rome, in those stormy but blessed days. Let me ask my readers to come with me to that Roman Catholic family, and see the surprise and desolation of the wife and children when the father returned from public service and said: "My dear wife and children, I have, for ever, left the Church of Rome, and hope that you will do the same. The ignominious chains by which we were tied, as the slaves of the bishops and the Pope, are broken. Christ Jesus alone will reign over us now. His Holy Word alone will rule and guide us. Salvation is a gift: I am happy in it possession."
In another house, the husband had not been able to come to church, but the wife and children had. It was now the wife who announced to her husband that she had, for ever, renounced the usurped authority of the bishops and the Pope: and that it was her firm resolution to obey no other master than Christ, and accept no other religion than the one taught in the Gospel. At first, this was considered only as a joke; but as soon as it was realized to be a fact, there were, in many places, confusion, tears, angry words and bitter discussions. But the God of truth, light and salvation was there; and as it was His work, the storms were soon calmed, the tears dried, and peace restored.
A week had scarcely passed, when the Gospel cause had achieved one of the most glorious victories over its implacable enemy, the Pope. In a few days, 405 out of 500 families which were around me in St. Anne, had not only accepted the Gospel of Christ, as their only authority in religion; but had publicly given up the name of Roman Catholics, to call themselves Christian Catholics.
A few months later, a Romish priest, legally questioned on the subject, by the Judge of Kankakee, had to swear that only fifteen families had remained Roman Catholics in St. Anne.
A most admirable feature of this religious movement, was the strong determination of those who had never been taught to read, to lose no time in acquiring the privilege of reading for themselves the Divine Gospel which had made them free from the bondage of man. Half of the people had never been taught to read while in Canada; but as their children were attending the schools we had established in different parts of the colony, every house, as well as our chapel, on Sabbath days, was soon turned into a school-house, where our school-boys and girls were the teachers, and the fathers and mothers, the pupils. In a short time, there were but few, except those who refused to leave Rome, who could not read for themselves the Holy Word of God.
But, however great the victory we had gained over the Pope, it was not yet complete. It was true that the enemy had received a deadly wound. The beast, with the seven heads, had its principal one severed. The usurped authority of the bishops had been destroyed, and the people had determined to accept none but the authority of Christ. But many false notions, drank with the milk of their mothers, had been retained. Many errors and superstitions still remained in their minds, as a mist after the rising of the sun, to prevent them from seeing clearly the saving light of the Gospel, it was my duty to destroy those superstitions, and root out these noxious weeds. But, I knew the formidable difficulties the reformers of the fifteenth century had met, the deplorable divisions which had spread among them, and the scandals which had so seriously retarded and compromised the reformation.
I cried to God for wisdom and strength. Never had I understood so clearly, as I did in that most solemn and difficult epoch of my life, the truth that prayer is to the troubled mind what oil is to the raging waves of the sea. My people and I, as are all Roman Catholics, were much given to the worship of images and statues. There were fourteen beautiful pictures hung on the walls of our chapel called: "The Way of the Cross," on which the circumstances of the passion of Jesus Christ were represented, each surmounted with a cross. One of our favourite devotional exercises, was to kneel, three or four times a week, before them, prostrate ourselves and say, with a loud voice: "Oh! holy cross, we adore thee." We used to address our most fervent prayers to them, as if they could hear us, asking them to change our hearts and purify our souls! Our blind devotions were so sincere that we used to bow our heads to the ground before them. I may say the same of the beautiful statue, or rather idol, of the Virgin Mary, represented as a child learning to read at the feet of her mother, St. Anne.
The group was a masterpiece of art, sent to me by some rich friends from Montreal, not long after I had left that city to form the colony of St. Anne, in 1852. We had frequently addressed our most fervent prayers to those statues, but after the blessed Pentecost on which we had broken the yoke of the Pope, I never entered my church without blushing at the sight of those idols on the altar. I would have given much to have the pictures, crosses and things removed, but dare not lay hands suddenly on them, I was afraid, lest I should do harm to some of my people who, it seemed to me, were yet too weak in their religious views to bear it. I was just then reading how Knox and Calvin had made bonfires of all those relics of old Paganism, and I wished I could do the same; but I felt like Jacob, who could not follow the rapid march of his brother, Esau, towards the land of Seir. "The children are tender and the flocks and herds with young are with me. If men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die" (Gen. xxxiii. 13).
Our merciful God saw the perplexity in which I was, and taught me how to get rid of those idols without harming the weak.
One Sabbath, on which I preached on the Second Commandment: "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image," ect. (Exod. xx. 4), I remained in the chapel to pray after the people had left. I looked up to the group of statues on the altar, and said to them: "My good ladies, you must come down from that high position: God Almighty alone is worshipped here now: if you could walk out of this place I would politely invite you to do it. But you are nothing but mute, deaf, blind and motionless idols: you have eyes, but you cannot see: ears, but you cannot hear: feet, but you cannot walk. What will I do with you now? Your reign has come to an end."
It suddenly came to my mind that when I had put these statues on their high pedestal, I had tied them with a very slender, but strong silk cord, to prevent them from falling. I said to myself: "If I were to cut that string, the idols would surely fall, the first day the people would shake the floor when entering or going out." Their fall and destruction would then scandalize on one. I took my knife and scaled the altar, cut the string, and said: "Now, my good ladies, take care of yourselves, especially when the chapel is shaken by the wind, or the coming in of the people."
I never witnessed a more hearty laugh than at the beginning of the religious services, on the next Sabbath. The chapel, being shaken by the action of the whole people who fell on their knees to pray, the two idols, deprived of their silk support, after a couple of jerks which, in former days, we might have taken for a friendly greeting, fell down with a loud crash, and broke into fragments. Old and young, strong and weak, and even babes in the faith, after laughing to their hearts' content at the sad end of their idols, said to each other: "How foolish and blind were we, to put our trust in, and pray to these idols, that they might protect us, when they cannot take care of themselves!" The last vestige of idol worship among our dear converts, disappeared for ever with the dust and broken fragments of those poor helpless statues. The very next day, the people themselves took away all the images before which they had so often abjectly prostrated themselves, and destroyed them.
From the beginning of this movement, it had been my plan to let the people draw their own conclusions as much as possible from their own study of the Holy Scriptures. I used to direct their steps, in such a way, that they might understand that I was myself led with them by the mighty and merciful arm of God, in our new ways. It was also evident to me that, from the beginning, the great majority, after searching the Scriptures with prayerful attention, had found out that Purgatory was a diabolical invention used by the priests of Rome, to enrich themselves, at the expense of their poor blind slaves. But I was also convinced that quite a number were not altogether free from that imposture. I did not know how to attack and destroy that error without wounding and injuring some of the weak children of the Gospel. After much praying, I thought that the best way to clear the clouds which were still hovering around the feeblest intelligences, was to have recourse to the following device:
The All Souls Day (1st Nov.) had come, when it was the usage to take up collections for the sake of having prayers and masses said for the souls in purgatory. I then said to the people, from the pulpit: "You have been used, from your infancy, to collect money, today, in order to have prayers said for the souls in purgatory. Since we have left the Church of Rome for the Church of Christ, we have spent many pleasant hours together in reading and meditating upon the Gospel. You know that we have not found in it a single word about purgatory. From the beginning to the end of that divine book, we have learned that it was only though the blood of the Lamb, shed on the Cross, that our guilty souls could be purified from their sins. I know, however, that a few of you have retained something of the views taught to you, when in the Church of Rome, concerning purgatory. I do not want to trouble them by useless discussions on the subject, or by refusing the money they want to give for the souls of their dear departed parents and friends. The only thing I want to do is this: You used to have a small box passed to you to receive that money. Today, instead of one box, two boxes will be passed, one white, the other black. Those who, like myself, do not believe in purgatory, will put their donations in the white box, and the money will be given to the poor widows and orphans of the parish to help them to get food and clothing for next winter. Those of you who still believe in purgatory, will put their money into the black box, for the benefit of the dead. The only favour I ask of them is that they should tell me how to convey their donations to their departed friends. I tell you frankly that the money you give to the priests, never goes to the benefit of the souls of purgatory. The priests, everywhere, keep that money for their own bread and butter."
My remarks were followed by a general smile. Thirty-five dollars were put in the white box for the orphans and widows, and not a cent fell into the box for the souls of purgatory.
From that day, by the great mercy of God, our dear converts were perfectly rid of the ridiculous and sacrilegious belief in purgatory. This is the way I have dealt with all the errors and idolatries of Rome. We had two public meetings every week, when our chapel was as well filled as on Sabbath. After the religious exercise, every one had the liberty to question me and argue on the various subjects announced at the last meeting.
The doctrines of auricular confession, prayers in an unknown language, the mass, holy water and indulgences, were calmly examined, discussed, and thrown overboard, one after the other, in a very short time. The good done in those public discussions was incalculable. Our dear converts not only learned the great truths of Christianity, but they learned also how to defend and preach them to their relations, friends and neighbours. Many would come from long distances to see for themselves that strange religious movement which was making so much noise all over the country. It is needless to say that few of them went back without having received some rays of the saving light which the Sun of Righteousness was so abundantly pouring upon me and my dear brethren of St. Anne.
Three months after our exit from the land of bondage, we were not less than six thousand French Canadian marching towards the Promised Land.
How can I express the joy of my soul, when, under cover of the darkness of night, I was silently pacing the streets of our town, I heard, from almost every house, sounds of reading the Holy Scriptures, or the melodies of our delightful French hymns! How many times did I then, uniting my feeble voice with that old prophet, say in the rapture of my joy: "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name" (Ps. ciii. 1).
But it was necessary that such a great and blessed work should be tried. God cannot be purified without going through the fire.
On the 27th of July, a devoted priest, through my friend, Mr. Dunn, of Chicago, sent me the following copy of a letter, written by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Illinois (Duggan) to several of his co-bishops: "The schism of the apostate, Chiniquy, is spreading with an incredible and most irresistible velocity. I am told that he has not less then ten thousand followers from his countrymen. Though I hope that this number is an exaggeration, it shows that the evil is great; and that we must not lose any time in trying to open the eyes of the deluded people he is leading to perdition. I intend (D.V.) to visit the very citadel of that deplorable schism, next Tuesday, the 3rd of August. As I speak French almost as well as English, I will address the deluded people of St. Anne in their own language. My intention is to unmask Chiniquy, and show what kind of a man he is. Then I will show the people the folly of believing that they can read and interpret the Scriptures, by their own private judgment. After which, I will easily show them that out of the Church of Rome there is no salvation. Pray to the blessed Virgin Mary that she may help me reclaim that poor deceived people."
Having read that letter to the people on the first Sabbath of August, I said: "We know a man only after he has been tried. So we know the faith of a Christian only after it has been through the fire of tribulations. I thank God that next Tuesday will be the day chosen by Him to show the world that you are worthy of being in the front rank of the great army Jesus Christ is gathering to fight His implacable enemy, the Pope, on this continent. Let every one of you come and hear what the bishop has to say. Not only those who are in good health must come, but even the sick must be brought to hear and judge for themselves. If the bishop fulfills his promise to show you that I am a depraved and wicked man, you must turn me out. You must give up or burn your Bibles, at his bidding, if he proves that you have neither the right to read, nor the intelligence to understand them; and if he shows you that, out of the Church of Rome, there is no salvation, you must, without an hour's delay, return to that church and submit yourselves to the Pope's bishops. But if he fails (as he will surely do) you know what you have to do. Next Tuesday will be a most glorious day for us all. A great and decisive battle will be fought here, such as this continent has never witnessed, between the great principles of Christian truth and liberty, and the principles of lies and tyranny of the Pope. I have only one word more to say: From this moment to the solemn hour of the conflict, let us humbly, but fervently ask our great God, through His beloved and eternal Son, to look down upon us in His mercy, enlighten and strengthen us, that we may be true to Him, to ourselves, and to His Gospel, and then, the angels of heaven will unite with all the elect of God on earth to bless you for the great and glorious victory you will win."
Never had the sun shone more brightly on our beautiful hill than on the 3rd of August, 1858. The hearts had never felt so happy, and the faces had never been so perfectly the mirrors of joyful minds, as on that day, among the multitudes which began to gather from every corner of the colony, a little after twelve o'clock, noon.
Seeing that our chapel, though very large, would not be able to contain half the audience, we had raised a large and solid platform, ten feet high, in the middle of the public square, in front of the chapel. We covered it with carpets, and put a sofa, with a good number of chairs, for the bishop, his long suite of priests, and one for myself, and a large table for the different books of references I wanted to have at hand, to answer the bishop.
At about two o'clock p.m., we perceived his carriage, followed by several others filled with priests. He was dressed in his white surplice, and his official "bonnet carre" on his head, evidently to more surely command the respect and awe of the multitude.
I had requested the people to keep silence and show him all the respect and courtesy due a gentleman who was visiting them, for the first time.
As soon as his carriage was near the chapel, I gave a signal, and up went the American flag to the top of a mast put on the sacred edifice. It was to warn the ambassador of the Pope that he was not treading the land of the holy inquisition and slavery, but the land of Freedom and Liberty. The bishop understood it. For, raising his head to see that splendid flag of stripes and stars, waving to the breeze, he became pale to death. And his uneasiness did not abate, when the thousands round him rent the air with the cry: "Hurrah for the flag of the free and the brave!" The bishop and his priests thought this was the signal I had given to slaughter them; for they had been told several times, that I and my people were so depraved and wicked that their lives were in great danger among us. Several priests who had not much relish for the crown of martyrdom, jumped from their carriages and ran away, to the great amusement of the crowd. Perceiving the marks of the most extreme terror on the face of the bishop, I ran to tell him that there was not the least danger, and assured him of the pleasure we had to see him in our midst.
I offered my hand to help him down from his carriage, but he refused it. After some minutes of trembling and hesitation, he whispered a few words in the ear of his Grand Vicar Mailloux, who was well known by my people, and of whom I have already spoken. I knew that it was by his advice that the bishop was among us, and it was by his instigation that Bishop Smith had refused the submission we had given him.
Rising slowly, he said with a loud voice: "My dear French Canadian countrymen, here is your holy bishop. Kneel down, and he will give you his benediction."
But, to the great disgust of the poor grand vicar, this so well laid plan for beginning the battle failed entirely. Not a single one of that immense multitude cared for the benediction. Nobody knelt.
Thinking that he had not spoken loud enough, he raised his voice to the highest pitch and cried:
"My dear fellow countrymen: This is your holy bishop. He comes to visit you. Kneel down, and he will give you his benediction."
But nobody knelt, and, what was worse, a voice from the crowd answered:
"Do you not know, sir, that there we no longer bend the knee before any man? It is only before God we kneel."
The whole people cried "Amen!" to that noble answer. I could not refrain a tear of joy from falling down my cheeks, when I saw how this first effort of the ambassador of the Pope to entrap my people had signally failed. But though I thanked God from the bottom of my heart for this first success He had given to His soldiers, I knew the battle was far from being over.
I implored Him to bide with us, to be our wisdom and our strength to the end. I looked at the bishop, and seeing his countenance as distressed as before, I offered him my hand again, but he refused it the second time with supreme disdain, but accepted the invitation I gave him to come to the platform.
When half way up the stairs he turned, and seeing me following him, he put forth his hand to prevent me from ascending any further, and said: "I do not want you on this platform; go down, and let my priests alone accompany me."
I answered him: "It may be that you do not want me there, but I want to be at your side to answer you. Remember that you are not on your own ground here, but on mine!"
He then, silently and slowly, walked up. When on the platform, I offered him a good arm-chair, which he refused, and sat on one of his own choice, with his priests around him. I then addressed him as follows:
"My lord, the people and pastor of St. Anne are exceedingly pleased to see you in their midst. We promise to listen attentively to what you have to say, on condition that we have the privilege of answering you."
He answered angrily: "I do not want you to say a word here."
Then stepping to the front, he began his address in French, with a trembling voice. But it was a miserable failure from beginning to end. In vain did he try to prove that out of the Church of Rome, there is no salvation. He failed still more miserably to prove that the people have neither the right to read the Scriptures, nor the intelligence to understand them. He said such ridiculous things on that point, that the people went into fits of laughter, and some said: "This is not true. You do not know what you are talking about. The Bible says the very contrary."
But I stopped them by reminding them of the promise they had made of not interrupting him.
A little before the closing of his address, he turned to me and said: "You are a wicked, rebel priest against your holy church. Go from here into a monastery to do penance for your sins. You say that you have never been excommunicated in a legal way! Well, you will not say that any longer, for I excommunicate you now before this whole people."
I interrupted him and said: "You forget that you have no right to excommunicate a man who has publicly left your church long ago."
He seemed to realize that he had made a fool of himself in uttering such a sentence, and stopped speaking for a moment. Then, recalling his lost courage, he took a new and impressive manner of speaking. He told the people how their friends, their relatives, their very dear mothers and fathers in Canada were weeping over their apostasy. He spoke for a time with great earnestness of the desolation of all those who loved them, at the news of their defection from their holy mother church. Then, resuming, he said: "My dear friends: Please tell me what will be your guide in the ways of God after you have left the holy church of your fathers, the church of your country; who will lead you in the ways of God?"
Those words, which have been uttered with great emphasis and earnestness, were followed by a most complete and solemn silence. Was that silence the result of a profound impression made on the crowd, or was it the silence which always precedes the storm? I could not say. But I must confess that, though I had not lost confidence in God, I was not without anxiety. Though silent and ardent prayers were going to the mercy-seat from my heart, I felt that that poor heart was troubled and anxious, as it had never been before. I could have easily answered the bishop and confounded him in a few words; but I thought that it was much better to let the answer and rebuke come from the people.
The bishop, hoping that the long and strange silence was a proof that he had successfully touched the sensitive cords of the hearts, and that he was to win the day, exclaimed a second time with still more power and earnestness: "My dear French Canadian friends: I ask you, in the name of Jesus Christ, your Saviour and mine, in the name of your desolated mothers, fathers, and friends who are weeping along the banks of your beautiful St. Lawrence River I ask it in the name of your beloved Canada! Answer me! now that you refuse to obey the holy Church of Rome, who will guide you in the ways of salvation?"
Another solemn silence followed that impassionate and earnest appeal. But this silence was not to be long. When I had invited the people to come and hear the bishop, I requested them to bring their Bibles. Suddenly we heard the voice of an old farmer, who, raising his Bible over his head with his two hands, said: "This Bible is all we want to guide us in the ways of God. We do not want anything but the pure Word of God to teach us what we must do to be saved. As for you, sir, you had better go away and never come here any more."
And more than five thousand voices said "Amen!" to that simple and yet sublime answer. The whole crowd filled the air with cries: "The Bible! the Holy Bible, the holy Word of God is our only guide in the ways of eternal life! Go away, sir, and never come again!"
These words, again and again repeated by the thousands of people who surrounded the platform, fell upon the poor bishop's ears as formidable claps of thunder. They were ringing as his death-knell in his ears. The battle was over, and he had lost it.
Bathed in his tears, suffocated by his sobs, he sat or, to speak more correctly, he fell into the arm-chair, and I feared at first lest he should faint. When I saw that he was recovering and strong enough to hear what I had to say, I stepped to the front of the platform. But I had scarcely said two words when I felt as if the claws of a tiger were on my shoulders. I turned and found that it was the clenched fingers of the bishop, who was shaking me while he was saying with a furious voice: "No! no! not a word from you."
As I was about to show him that I had a right to refute what he had said, my eyes fell on a scene which baffles all description. Those only who have seen the raging waves of the sea suddenly raised by the hurricane can have an idea of it. The people had seen the violent hand of the bishop raised against me; they had heard his insolent and furious words forbidding me to say a single word in answer: and a universal cry of indignation was heard: "The infamous wretch! Down with him! He wants to enslave us again! he denies us the right of free speech! he refuses to hear what our pastor has to reply! Down with him!" At the same time a rush was made by many toward the platform to scale it, and others were at work to tear it down. That whole multitude, absolutely blinded by their uncontrollable rage, were as a drunken man who does not know what he does. I had read that such things had occurred before, but I hope I shall never see it again. I rushed to the head of the stairs, and with great difficulty repulsed those who were trying to lay their hands on the bishop. In vain I raised my voice to calm them, and make them realize the crime they wanted to commit. No voice could be heard in the midst of such terrible confusion. It was very providential that we had built the scaffold with strong materials, so that it could resist the first attempt to break it.
Happily, we had in our midst a very intelligent young man called Bechard, who was held in great esteem and respect. His influence, I venture to say, was irresistible over the people. I called him to the platform, and requested him, in the name of God, to appease the blind fury of that multitude. Strange to say, his presence and a sign from his hand acted like magic.
"Let us hear what Bechard has to say," whispered every one to his neighbour, and suddenly the most profound calm succeeded the most awful noise and confusion I had ever witnessed. In a few appropriate and eloquent words, that young gentleman showed the people that, far from being angry, they ought to be glad at the exhibition of the tyranny and cowardice of the bishop. Had he not confessed the weakness of his address when he refused to hear the answer? Had he not confessed that he was the vilest and the most impudent of tyrants when he had come into their very midst to deny them the sacred right of speech and reply? Had he not proved, before God and man, that they had done well to reject, for ever, the authority of the Bishop of Rome, when he was giving them such an unanswerable proof that that authority meant the most unbounded tyranny on his part, and he most degraded and ignominious moral degradation on the part of his blind slaves?
Seeing that they were anxious to hear me, I then told them:
"Instead of being angry, you ought to bless God for what you have heard and seen from the Bishop of Chicago. You have heard, and you are witnesses that he has not given us a single argument to show that we were wrong when he gave up the words of the Pope to follow the words of Christ. Was he not right when he told you that there was no need, on my part, to answer him? Do you not all agree that there was nothing to answer, nothing to refute in his long address? Has not our merciful God brought that bishop into your midst today to show you the truthfulness of what I have so often told you, that there was nothing manly, nothing honest, or true in him? Have you heard from his lips a single word which could have come from the lips of Christ? A word which could have come from that great God who so loved His people that He sent His eternal Son to save them? Was there a single sentence in all you heard which would remind you that salvation through Christ was a gift? that eternal life was a free gift? Have you heard anything from him to make you regret that you are no longer his obedient and abject slaves?"
"No! no!" they replied.
"Then, instead of being angry with that man, you ought to thank him and let him go in peace," I added.
"Yes! yes!" replied the people, "but on condition that he shall never come again."
Then Mons. Bechard stepped to the front, raised his hat, and cried with his powerful voice; "People of St. Anne! you have just gained the most glorious victory which has ever been won by a people against their tyrants. Hurrah for St. Anne, the grave of the tyranny of the Bishops of Rome in America!"
That whole multitude, filled with joy, rent the air with the cry: "Hurrah for St. Anne, the grave of the tyranny of the Bishops of Rome in America!"
I then turned towards the poor bishop and his priests, whose distress and fear were beyond description, and told them: "You see that the people forgive you the iniquity of your conduct, by not allowing them to answer you; but I advise you not to repeat that insult here. Please take the advice they gave you; go away as quickly as possible. I will go with you to your carriage, through the crowd, and I pledge myself that you will be safe, provided you do not insult them again."
Opening their ranks, the crowd made a passage, through which I led the bishop and his long suite of priests to their carriages. This was done in the most profound silence, only a few women whispering to the prelate as he was hurrying by: "Away with you, and never come here again. Henceforward we follow nothing but Christ."
Crushed by waves of humiliation, such as no bishop had ever met with on this continent, the weight of the ignominy which he had reaped in our midst completely overpowered his mind, and ruined him. He left us to wander every day nearer the regions of lunacy. That bishop, whose beginning had been so brilliant, after his shameful defeat at St. Anne, on the 3rd of August, 1858, was soon to end his broken career in the lunatic asylum of St. Louis, where he is still confined to-day.
CHAPTER 67 Back to Contents
The marvelous power of the Gospel to raise a man above himself and give him a supernatural strength and wisdom in the presence of the most formidable difficulties has seldom been more gloriously manifested than on the 3rd of August, 1858, on the hill of St. Anne, Illinois.
Surely the continent of America had never seen a more admirable transformation of a whole people than was then and there accomplished. With no other help than the reading of the Gospel, that people had suddenly exchanged the chains of the most abject slavery for Christian Liberty.
By the strength of their faith they had pulverized the gigantic power of Rome, put to flight the haughty representative of the Pope, and had raised the banners of Christian Liberty on the very spot marked by the bishop as the future citadel of the empire of Popery in the United States. Such work was so much above my capacity, so much above the calculation of my intelligence, that I felt that I was more its witness than its instrument. The merciful and mighty hand of God was too visible to let any other idea creep into my mind; and the only sentiments which filled my soul were those of an unspeakable joy, and of gratitude to God. But I felt that the greater the favours bestowed upon us from heaven, the greater were the responsibilities of my new position.
The news of that sudden religious reformation spread with lightning speed all over the continents of America and Europe, and an incredible number of inquiring letters reached me from every corner. Episcopalians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, of every rank and colour, kindly pressed me to give them some details. Of course, those letters were often accompanied by books considered the most apt to induce me to join their particular denominations.
Feeling too young and inexpert in the ways of God to give a correct appreciation of the Lord's doings among us, I generally answered those kind inquirers by writing them: "Please come and see with your own eyes the marvelous things our merciful God is doing in the midst of us, and you will help us to bless Him."
In less than six months, more than one hundred venerable ministers of Christ, and prominent Christian laymen of different denominations, visited us. Among those who first honoured us with their presence was the Right Rev. Bishop Helmuth, of London, Canada; then, the learned Dean of Quebec, so well known and venerated all over Great Britain and Canada. He visited us twice, and was one of the most blessed instruments of the mercies of God towards us.
I am happy to say that those eminent Christians, without any exception, after having spent from one to twenty days in studying for themselves this new religious movement, declared that it was the most remarkable and solid evangelical reformation among Roman Catholics they had ever seen. The Christians of the cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, ect., having expressed the desire to hear from me of the doings of the Lord among us, I addressed them in their principal churches, and was received with such marks of kindness and interest, for which I shall never be able sufficiently to thank God.
I have previously said that we had, at first, adopted the beautiful name of Christian Catholics, but we soon perceived that unless we joined one of the Christian denominations of the day, we were in danger of forming a new sect.
After many serious and prayerful considerations, it seemed that the wisest thing we could do was to connect ourselves with that branch of the vine which was the nearest to, if not identical with, that of the French Protestants, which gave so many martyrs to the Church of Christ. Accordingly, it was our privilege to be admitted in the Presbyterian Church of the United States. The Presbytery of Chicago had the courtesy to adjourn their meeting from that city to our humble town, on the 15th of April, 1860, when I presented them with the names of nearly two thousand converts, who, with myself, were received into full communion with the Church of Christ.
This solemn action was soon followed by the establishment of missions and congregations in the cities and towns of Chicago, Aurora, Kankakee, Middleport, Watseka, Momence, Sterling, Manteno, ect., where the light of the Gospel had been received by large numbers of our French Canadian emigrants, whom I had previously visited.
The census of the converts taken then gave us about six thousand five hundred precious souls already wrenched from the iron grasp of Popery. It was a result much beyond my most sanguine hopes, and it would be difficult to express the joy it gave me, if left alone, to distribute the bread of life to such multitudes, scattered over a territory of several hundred miles. I determined, with the help of God, to raise a college, where the children of our converts would be prepared to preach the Gospel.
Thirty-two of our young men, having offered themselves, I added, at once to my other labours, the daily task of teaching them the preparatory course of study for their future evangelical work.
That year (1860) had been chosen by Scotland to celebrate the centenary anniversary of her Reformation. The committee of management, composed of Dr. Guthrie, Professor Cunningham, and Dr. Begg, invited me to attend their general meetings in Edinburgh. On the 16th of August, it was my privilege to be presented by those venerable men to one of the grandest and noblest assemblies which the Church of Christ has ever seen. After the close of that great council, which I addressed twice, I was invited, during the next six months, to lecture in Great Britain, France, and Switzerland, and to raise the funds necessary for our college. It was during that tour that I had the privilege of addressing, at St. Etienne, the Synod of the Free Protestant Church of France, lately established through the indomitable energy and ardent piety of the Rev. Felix Monod.
Those six months' efforts were crowned with the most complete success, and more than 15,000 dollars were handed me for our college by the disciples of Christ.
But it was the will of God that I should pass through the purifying fires of the greatest tribulations. On my return from Europe into my colony, in the beginning of 1861, I found everything in confusion. The ambition of the young man I had invited to preach in my place, and in whom I had so imprudently put too much confidence, encouraged by the very man I had chosen for my representative and my attorney during my absence, came very near ruining that great evangelical work, by sowing the seeds of division and hatred among our dear converts. Through the dishonest and false reports of those two men, the money I had collected and left in England (in the hands of a gentleman who was bound to send it at my order) was retained nearly two years, and lost in the failure of the Gelpeck New York Bank, through which it was sent. The only way we found to save ourselves from ruin, was to throw ourselves into the hands of our Christian brothers of Canada.
A committee of the Presbyterian Church, composed of Revs. Dr. Kemp, Dr. Cavan, and Mr. Scott, was sent to investigate the causes of our troubles, and they soon found them. Dr. Kemp published a critical resume of their investigation, which clearly showed where the trouble lay. Our integrity and innocence were publicly acknowledged, and we were solemnly and officially received as members of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, on the 11th of June, 1863. We may properly acknowledge here that the Christian devotedness, the admirable ability and zeal of the late Dr. Kemp in performance of that work, has secured him our lasting gratitude.
In 1874, I was again invited to Great Britain by the committee appointed to prepare the congratulatory address of the English people to the Emperor of Germany and Bismark, for their noble resistance to the encroachments of Popery. I addressed the meetings held for that purpose in Exeter Hall, under the presidency of Lord John Russell, on the 27th of January, 1874. The next several Gospel ministers pressed me to publish my twenty-five years' experience of auricular confession, as an antidote to the criminal and too successful efforts of Dr. Pusey, who wanted to restore that infamous practice among the Protestants of England.
After much hesitation and many prayers, I wrote the book entitled: "The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional," which God has so much blessed to the conversion of many, that twenty-seven editions have already been published.
I spent the next six months in lecturing on Romanism in the principal cities of England, Scotland and Ireland.
On my return, pressed by the Canadian Church to leave my colony of Illinois, for a time at least, to preach in Canada, I went to Montreal, where, in the short space of four years, we had the unspeakable joy to see seven thousand of French Canadian Roman Catholics and emigrants from France, publicly renouncing the errors of Popery to follow the Gospel of Christ.
In 1878, exhausted by the previous years of incessant labours, I was advised, by my physicians, to breathe the bracing air of the Pacific Ocean. I crossed the Rocky Mountains and spent two months lecturing in San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, and in Washington Territory, where I found a great many of my French countrymen, many of whom received the light of the Gospel with joy.
After this, I visited the Sandwich Islands, where I preached on my return, crossed the Pacific and went to the Antipodes, lecturing two years in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. It would require a large volume to tell the great mercies of God towards me during that long, perilous, but interesting voyage. During those two years, I gave 610 public lectures, and came back to my colony of St. Anne with such perfectly restored health, that I could say with the Psalmist: "Bless the Lord, O my soul." "Thy youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Ps. ciii. 1,5).
But the reader has the right to know something of the dangers through which it has pleased God to make me pass.
Rome is the same today as she was when she burned John Huss and Wishart, and when she caused 70,000 Protestants to be slaughtered in France, and 100,000 to be exterminated in Piedmont in Italy.
On the 31st of December, 1869, I forced the Rt. Rev. Bishop Foley, of Chicago, to swear before the civil court, at Kankakee, that the following sentence was an exact translation of the doctrine of the Church of Rome as taught today in all the Roman Catholic seminaries, colleges, and universities, through the "Summa Theologica" of Thomas Aquinas (vol. iv. p. 90). "Though heretics must not be tolerated because they deserve it, we must bear with them till, by a second admonition, they may be brought back to the faith of the church. But those who, after a second admonition, remain obstinate to their errors, must not only be excommunicated, but they must be delivered to the secular power to be exterminated."
It is on account of this law of the Church of Rome, which is today in full force, as it was promulgated for the first time, that not less than thirty public attempts have been made to kill me since my conversion.
The first time I visited Quebec, in the spring of 1859, fifty men were sent by the Bishop of Quebec (Baillargeon) to force me to swear that I would never preach the Bible, or to kill me in case of my refusal.
At 4 o'clock a.m., sticks were raised above my head, a dagger stuck in my breast, and the cries of the furious mob were ringing in my ears: "Infamous apostate! Now you are in our hands, you are a dead man if you do not swear that you will never preach your accursed Bible."
Never had I seen such furious men around me. Their eyes were more like the eyes of tigers than of men. I expected every moment to receive the deadly blow, and I asked my Saviour to come and receive my soul. But the would-be murderers, with more horrible imprecations, cried again: "Infamous renegade! Swear that you will never preach any more your accursed Bible, or you are a dead man!"
I raised my eyes and hands towards heaven and said: "Oh! my God! hear and bless the last words of Thy poor servant: I solemnly swear, that so long as my tongue can speak, I will preach Thy Word, as I find it in the Holy Bible!" Then opening my vest and presenting my naked breast, I said: "Now! Strike!"
But my God was there to protect me: they did not strike. I went through their ranks into the streets, where I found a carter, who drove me to Mr. Hall, the mayor of the city, for that day. I showed him my bleeding breast, and said: "I just escaped, almost miraculously, from the hands of men sworn to kill me if I preach again the Gospel of Christ. I am, however, determined to preach again today at noon, even if I have to die in the attempt." I put myself under the protection of the British flag.
Soon after, more than 1,000 British soldiers were around me, with fixed bayonets. They formed themselves into two lines along the streets through which the Mayor took me, in his own sleigh, to the lecture room. I could then deliver my address on "The Bible," to at least 10,000 people who were crowded inside and outside the walls of the large building. After this, I had the joy of distributing between five and six hundred Bibles to that multitude, who received them as thirsty and hungry people receive fresh water and pure bread, after many days of starvation.
I have been stoned twenty times. The principal places in Canada where I was struck and wounded, and almost miraculously escaped, were: Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Charlotte Town, Halifax, Antigonish, ect. In the last mentioned, on the 10th of July, 1873, the pastor, the Rev. P. Goodfellow, standing by me when going out of his church, was also struck several times by stones which missed me. At last, his head was so badly cut, that he fell on the ground bathed in blood. I took him up in my arms, though wounded and bleeding myself. We would surely have been slaughtered there, had not a noble Scotchman, named Cameron, opened the door of his house, at the peril of his own life, to give us shelter against the assassins of the Pope. The mob, furious that we had escaped, broke the windows and besieged the house from 10 a.m. till 3 next morning. Many times they threatened to set fire to Mr. Cameron's house, if he did not deliver me into their hands to be hung. They were prevented from doing so only from fear of burning the whole town, composed in part of their own dwellings. Several times they put long ladders against the walls, with the hope of reaching the upper rooms, where they could find and kill their victim. All this was done under the very eyes of five or six priests, who were only at a distance of a few rods.
At Montreal, in the winter of 1870, one evening, coming out of Cote Street Church, where I had preached, accompanied by Principal Mac Vicar, we fell into a kind of ambuscade, and received a volley of stones, which would have seriously, if not fatally, injured the doctor had he not been protected from head to foot by a thick fur cap and overcoat, worn in the cold days of winter in Canada.
After a lecture given at Parramatta, near Sydney, Australia, I was again attacked with stones by the Roman Catholics. One struck my left leg with such force that I thought it was broken, and I was lame for several days.
In New South Wales, Australia, I was beaten with whips and sticks, which left marks upon my shoulders.
At Marsham, in the same province, on the 1st of April, 1879, the Romanists took possession of the church where I was speaking, rushed towards me with daggers and pistols, crying: "Kill him! Kill him!"
In the tumult, I providentially escaped through a secret door. But I had to crawl on hands and knees a pretty long distance in a ditch filled with mud, not to be seen and escape death. When I reached the hospitable house of Mr. Cameron, the windows were broken with stones, much of the furniture destroyed, and it was a wonder I escaped with my life.
At Ballarat, in the same province, three times the houses where I lodged were attacked and broken. Rev. Mr. Inglis, one of the most eloquent ministers of the city, was one of the many who were wounded by my side. The wife of the Rev. Mr. Quick came also nearly being killed while I was under their hospitable roof.
In the same city, as I was waiting for the train at the station, a well-dressed lady came as near as possible and spat in my face. I was blinded, and my face covered with filth. She immediately fled, but was soon brought back by my secretary and a policeman, who said: "Here is the miserable woman who has just insulted you: what shall we do with her?" I was then almost done cleaning my face with my handkerchief and some water, brought by some sympathizing friends. I answered: "Let her go home in peace. She has not done it of her own accord: she was sent by her confessor; she thinks she had done a good action. When they spat in our Saviour's face, He did not punish those who insulted Him. We must follow His example." And she was set at liberty, to the great regret of the crowd.
The very next day (21st of April) at Castlemain, I was again fiercely attacked and wounded on the head as I came from addressing the people. One of the ministers who was standing by me was seriously wounded and lost much blood. At Geelong, I had again a very narrow escape from stones thrown at me in the streets. In 1879, while lecturing in Melbourne, the splendid capital of Victoria, Australia, I received a letter from Tasmania, signed by twelve ministers of the Gospel saying:
"We are much in need of you here, for though the Protestants are in the majority, they leave the administration of the country almost entirely in the hands of Roman Catholics, who rule us with an iron rod. The governor is a Roman Catholic, etc. We wish to have you among us, though we do not dare to invite you to come. For we know that your life will be in danger day and night while in Tasmania. The Roman Catholics have sworn to kill you, and we have too many reasons to fear that they will fulfill their promises. But, though we do not dare ask you to come, we assure you that there is a great work for you here, and that we will stand by you with our people. If you fall, you will not fall alone."
I answered: "Are we not soldiers of Christ, and must we not be ready and willing to die for Him, as He did for us? I will go."
On the 24th of June, as I was delivering my first lecture in Hobart Town, the Roman Catholics, with the approbation of their bishop, broke the door of the hall, and rushed towards me, crying, "Kill him! kill him!" The mob was only a few feet from me, brandishing their daggers and pistols, when the Protestants threw themselves between them and me, and a furious hand-to-hand fight occurred, during which many wounds were received and given. The soldiers of the Pope were overpowered, but the governor had to put the city under martial law for four days, and call the whole militia to save my life from the assassins drilled by the priests.
In a dark night, as I was leaving the steamer to take the train, on the Ottawa River, Canada, twice the bullets of the murderers whistled at no more than two or three inches from my ears. Several times in Montreal and Halifax the churches where I was preaching were attacked and the windows broken by the mobs sent by the priests, and several of my friends were wounded (two of whom, I believe, died from the effects of their wounds) whilst defending me.
The 17th of June, 1884, after I had preached in Quebec, on the text: "What would I do to have eternal life," a mob of more than 1,500 Roman Catholics, led by two priests, broke the windows of the church and attacked me with stones, with the evident object to kill me. More than one hundred stones struck me, and I would surely have been killed there had I not had, providentially, two heavy overcoats, which I put, one around my head, and the other around my shoulders. Notwithstanding that protection, I was so much bruised and wounded from head to feet, that I had to spend the three following weeks on a bed of suffering, between life and death. A young friend, Zotique Lefevore, who had heroically put himself between my would-be-assassins and me, escaped only after receiving six severe wounds in the face. The same year, 1884, in the month of November, I was attacked with stones and struck several times, when preaching or coming out from the church in the city of Montreal. Numbers of policemen and other friends who came to my rescue were wounded, my life was saved only by an organization of a thousand young men, who, under the name of Protestant Guard, wrenched me from the hands of the would-be murderers.
When the bishops and priests saw that it was so difficult to put me out of the way with stones, sticks, and daggers, they determined to destroy my character by calumnies, spread everywhere, and sworn before civil tribunals as Gospel truths. During eighteen years they kept me in the hands of the sheriffs a prisoner, under bail, as a criminal. Thirty-two times my name has been called before the civil and criminal courts of Kankakee, Joliet, Chicago, Urbana, and Montreal, among the names of the vilest and most criminal men. I have been accused by Grand Vicar Mailloux of having killed a man and thrown his body into a river to conceal my crime. I have been accused of having set fire to the church of Bourbonnais and destroyed it. Not less than seventy-two false witnesses have been brought by the priests of Rome to support this last accusation. But, thanks be to God, at every time, from the very lips of the perjured witnesses, we got the proof that they were swearing falsely, at the instigation of their father confessors. And my innocence was proven by the very men who had been paid to destroy me. In this last suit, I thought it was my duty, as a Christian and citizen, to have one of those priests punished for having so cruelly and publicly trampled under his feet the most sacred laws of society and religion. Without any vengeance on my part, God knows it, I asked the protection of my country against these incessant plots. Father Brunet, found guilty of having invented those calumnies and supported them by false witnesses, was condemned to pay 2,500 dollars or go to goal for fourteen years. He preferred the last punishment, having the promise from his Roman Catholic friends that they would break the doors of the prison and let him go free to some remote place. He was incarcerated at Kankakee; but on a dark and stormy night, six months later, he was rescued, and fled to Montreal (distant about 900 miles). There he made the Roman Catholics believe that the blessed Virgin Mary, dressed in a beautiful white robe, had come in person to open for him the gates of the prison.
I do not mention these facts here, to create bad feelings against the poor blind slaves of the Pope It is only to show to the world that the Church of Rome of today is absolutely the same as when she reddened Europe with the blood of millions of martyrs. My motive in speaking of those murderous attacks, is to induce the readers to help me to bless God, who has so mercifully saved me from the hands of the enemy. More than any living man, I can say with the old prophet: "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" (Ps. xxiii. 1). With Paul, I could often say: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed: we are perplexed, but not in despair: persecuted, but not forsaken: cast down, but not destroyed: always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifest in our body" (2 Cor. iv. 8 10). Those constant persecutions, far from hindering the onward march of the evangelical movement to which I have consecrated my life, seem to have given it a new impulse and a fresher life. I have even remarked that the very day after I had been bruised and wounded, the number of converts had invariably increased. I will never forget the day, after the terrible night when more than a thousand Roman Catholics had come to stone me, and on which I received a severe wound, more than one hundred of my countrymen asked me to enroll their names under the banner of the Gospel, and publicly sent their recantation of the errors of Rome to the bishop. Today, the Gospel of Christ is advancing with an irresistible power among the French Canadians from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. We find numbers of converts in almost every town and city from New York to San Francisco. Rallied around the banners of Christ, they form a large army of fearless soldiers of the Cross. Among those converts we count now twenty-five priests and more than fifty young zealous ministers born in the Church of Rome.
In hundreds of places, the Church of Rome has lost her past prestige, and the priests are looked upon with indifference, if not contempt, even by those who have not yet accepted the light.
A very remarkable religious movement has also been lately inaugurated among the Irish Roman Catholics, under the leadership of Revs. McNamara, O'Connor, and Quinn, which promises to keep pace with, if not exceed the progress of the Gospel among the French.
Today, more than ever, we hear the good Master's voice: "Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest" (John iv. 35).
Oh! may the day soon come when all my dear countrymen will hear the voice of the Lamb and come to wash their robes in His blood! Will I see the blessed hour when the dark night in which Rome keeps my dear Canada will be exchanged for the bright and saving light of the Gospel?
At all events, I cannot but bless God for what mine eyes have seen and mine ears have heard of His mercies towards me and my countrymen. From my infancy, He has taken me into His arms, and led me most mercifully, through ways I did not know, from the darkest regions of superstition, to the blessed regions of light, truth and life!
From the day He granted me to read His divine word on my dear mother's knee, to the hour He came to me as "the Gift of God," He has not let a single day pass without speaking to me some of His warning and saving words. I have not always paid sufficient attention to His sweet voice, I confess it to my shame. My mind was so filled with the glittering sophisms of Rome, that many times, I refused to yield to the still voice which was almost night and day heard in my soul. But my God was not repelled by my infidelities, as the reader will find in this book. When driven away in the morning, He came back in the silent hours of the night. For more than twenty-five years, He forced me to see, as a priest, the abominations which exist inside the walls of the modern Babylon. I may say, He took me by the lock of mine head, as He did with the prophet of old, and said:
"Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way towards the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way towards north, and behold, northward at the gate of the altar, this image of jealousy in the entry. He said furthermore unto me: 'Son of man, seest thou what they do, even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? But turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.' And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, 'Son of man, dig now in the wall;' and when I had digged in the wall, behold, a door. And he said, 'Go in and see the wicked abominations that they do here.' So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall and round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah, the son of Shaphan, with every man his censor in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he unto me: 'Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery?' for they say, 'The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.' He said also unto me: 'Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.' Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house, which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me: 'Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.' And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house; and, behold, at the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs towards the temple of the Lord, and their faces towards the east; and they worshipped the sun towards the east. Then he said unto me: 'Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence and have returned to provoke me into anger; and lo! they put the branch to their nose. Therefore, will I also deal in fury; mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and they cry in mine ears, with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them" (Ezek. viii. 5 18).
I can say with John:
"And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me: 'Come hither: I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters; with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.' So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness; and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written: 'Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations Of The Earth.' And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus; and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration' (Rev. xvii. 1 6).
And after the Lord had shown me all these abominations, He took me out as the eagle takes his own young ones on his wings. He brought me into His beautiful and beloved Zion, and He set my feet on the rock of my salvation. There, He quenched my thirst with the pure waters which flow from the fountains of eternal life, and He gave me to eat the true bread which comes from heaven.
Oh! that I might go all over the world, through this book, and say with the Psalmist: "Come, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul."
Let all the children of God who will read this book lend me their tongues to praise the Lord. Let him lend me their hearts, to love Him. For, alone, I cannot praise Him, I cannot love Him as He deserves. When look upon the seventy-six years which have passed over me, my heart leaps for joy, for I find myself at the end of trials. I have nearly crossed the desert.
Only the narrow stream of Jordan is between me and the new Jerusalem. I already hear the great voice out of heaven saying: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and be their God, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things have passed away....He that overcometh shall inherit all things" (Rev. xxi. 3, 4, 7).
Rich with the unspeakable gift which has been given me, and pressing my dear Bible to my heart, as the richest treasure, I hasten my steps with an unspeakable joy toward the Land of Promise. I already hear the angel's voice telling me: "Come: the Master calls thee."
A few days more and the bridegroom will say to my soul: "Surely I come quickly." And I will answer: "Even so, come Lord Jesus." Amen.
[*] That same Mr. Dunn was also excommunicated not long after by his bishop, and died after publicly refusing to be relieved from that sentence.
[*] "All ye shall be offended because of Me this night" (Matt. xxvi. 31; Mark xiv. 27).