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by Dr. John Thomas
"Soon after he came to the crown," says Mr.
Claude, "there arose in the kingdom a civil war, which proved so sharp and desperate, as brought the State within a hair's breadth of utter ruin.
Those of the reformed religion still kept their loyalty so inviolable, and accompanied it with such a zeal, and with a favour so extraordinary, and so successful, the king found himself obliged to give public marks of it by a declaration made at St.
Germains in the year 1652.
Then as well at Court as in the armies, each strove to proclaim loudest the merits of the reformed".
Now, however commendable Mr.
Claude and others may deem them on account of this loyalty, the simple import of the matter is, that their devotion to Louis XIV proved that their testimony was finished.
Instead of standing aloof, and testifying against the despotism of Church and State, and "contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints," their pastors and congregations had sunk down into the formalism of Calvinism; and actually drew the sword for a horn, or dynasty, of the very Beast which had "made war against the saints," with all the attendant cruelty of massacre, rapine and ravishment; and which was destined finally to "kill them".
Calvinists in the imperio-papal, and royal, armies, of the Beasts and their horns, have forfeited all claims to divine favour as His witnesses of either class.
Their mission is ended, and the sentence of death rests upon them.
In about thirty years after this fatal demonstration of loyalty to the monster of the sea, God permitted their enemies to destroy them.
Moved by the Jesuits, who flattered his pride by persuading him that for him was reserved the glory of re-establishing religious unity in his dominions, Louis XIV determined to accomplish the suppression of Huguenotism in France.
The plan was arranged in the spirit of Jesuitism, and pursued with dreadful perseverance.
Referring to their new-born zeal for the Bourbon dynasty, their enemies said, "If on this occasion the Huguonots could preserve the State, this shows likewise that they could have overthrown it; this party must therefore by all means be crushed".
Hence, Louis, and the abettors of the tyranny, immediately set about it.
"A thousand dreadful blows," says M.
Saurin, "were struck at our afflicted churches before that which destroyed them: for our enemies, if I may use such an expression, not content with seeing our ruin, endeavoured to taste it".
They were persecuted in every imaginable way.
They were excluded from the king's household; from all employments of honour and profit; all the courts of justice, erected by virtue of the Edict of Nantes, were abolished, so that in all trials their enemies only were their judges, and in all the courts of justice the cry was, "I plead against a heretic"; "I have to do with a man of a religion odious to the State, and which the king is resolved to extirpate".
"Orders were printed at Parris, and sent from thence to all the cities and parishes of the kingdom, which empowered the parochial priests, churchwardens, and others, to make an exact inquiry into whatever any of the reformed might have done, or said, for twenty years past, as well on the subject of religion as otherwise; to make information of this before the justices of the peace, and punish them to the utmost extremity.
Thus the prisons and dungeons were everywhere filled with these pretended criminals; orders were issued, which deprived them in general of all sorts of offices and employments, from the greatest to the smallest, in the farms and revenues; they were declared incapable of exercising any employ in the custom- houses, guards, treasury, or postoffice, or even to be messengers, stage coachmen, or waggoners.
Now a college was suppressed, and then a church shut up, and at length they were fordidden to worship in public at all by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.
Rude Popish missionaries, without learning, or decency, went from house to house, for the purpose of inducing them to abjure their religion; they interrupted the preachers; and, if, the congregation forcibly ejected them, they complained to the magistrate, who seized the opportunity thus presented to suppress the meeting-house.