Изображения страниц

ably disposed towards his doctrine feel much consoled by it, but it was the means of converting to the truth a multitude of adversaries. Whole villages, which till then had been opposed to the pastor, acknowledged their blindness. On all sides was heard, "We have injured our minister; we have accused and persecuted him, though he was innocent; we have rejected salvation, for we can be saved only according to the manner which he teaches." One of the most violent of his enemies came to him on quitting the church, asked his pardon, and entreated him to instruct him. Thousands of peasants and burghers began to read the Bible; and the veil which hitherto had been over their eyes seemed suddenly to be removed. Such facts form a triumphant answer to those who imagine that an elaborate examination of every intricacy of doctrine must necessarily precede true faith. Events such as this prove, more than any reasoning, that which the Bible affirms from one end to the other, that faith is a gift of God: they make that evident, which it is impossible to endeavour to explain, the action of the Holy Spirit on the heart.

In the month of July following, the Consistory declared that Bos was not guilty of heresy; that they could only reproach him with false interpretations and an extravagant zeal. The Bishop, on communicating this sentence to him, wrote him a private letter, in which he desired him not to dwell too much on the doctrine of justification.

Persecutions and inquiries still continued closely to succeed each other. Of these the most remarkable took place in the months of October 1811, and January and July 1812. Bos did not dread these moments of affliction, because he perceived that, the more he was persecuted, the more did his parishioners become attached to the doctrine for which he suffered. But it was not only the inhabitants of Gallneukirchen

who reaped the fruits of his ministry: the neighbouring priests and others, drawn by curiosity, returned converted to God, and spread around them the faith which they had adopted. Ecclesiastics came even from Bavaria, Switzerland,and Hungary, to whom he taught the true faith.

At length his enemies set down in the following order their charges against him. He was accused; First, of teaching the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith, which they considered as immoral in its consequences; Secondly, of wishing to reform the Austrian clergy, as if they did not proclaim Jesus Christ and his Gospel; Thirdly, of maintaining an extensive correspondence; and Fourthly, notwithstanding the existing laws of Austria, of belonging to a secret society composed of Catholics and Protestants. These four points formed the grounds of a complaint which they presented against him to the Emperor, who at the expiration of some months returned a reply, in which the accusers themselves were represented as culpable, and Bos, although taxed with imprudence and mysticism, was cleared from the reproach of heresy. The charge respecting the secret society was declared not to be sufficientlyproved. It is lamentable to see religious questions, in which the conscience alone is concerned, submitted to the judg ment of the civil authority. The Consistory, however, who had provoked this sentence from the government, declared it to be too favourable; and, making known only parts of it, they took care to retrench all those expressions in it which were favourable to Bos; so that the inhabitants of Gallneukirchen did not hear of them till two years after, when they were informed of them by the Emperor himself, who, on his journey to Lintz, declared to the deputies whom they sent to him, that he had never considered their pastor as a heretic.

The Consistory added to the resolution the Imperial injunction, that, in speaking of faith, good works,

and justification, Bos should use no other terms than those which the other Catholic priests of the diocese made use of. This appeared to be a relaxation of the order which had formerly been given him, that he should be entirely silent on these subjects in his sermons, his cate chetical instructions, in the confessional, and in his private conversation. But, looking even at the last injunction, we may easily conceive what Bos must have felt, who was placed just in the same situation in which St. Paul would have been, had he been commanded to use the expressions of the Pharisees and Sadducees of his time: as if to compel him to exchange for vague and inefficient modes of expression those plain declarations which had been instrumental to the conversion of so many sinners.

We will not enter into the detail of all the interrogatories which took place subsequent to this period: it will suffice to say, that Bos was compelled to be examined more than a hundred times, by civil or ecclesiastical authorities. The length and extent of this persecution will appear surprising, if we consider that it was begun by two weavers, and that it was never carried on by more than thirty adversaries, which number was afterwards reduced to twelve; whilst the rest of his parishioners, consisting of from four to five thousand souls, continued constantly attached to their pastor, and firm under every storm; so that they declared, that, though he should yield to the violence to which he was exposed, they were resolved that nothing should separate them from Jesus Christ, the author of all spiritual benefit, and their Advocate with the Father. The enemies of truth at length obtained their aim in July 1815; when Bos was again cited to appear at Lintz, and, after having been examined by the Consistory, the Bishop pronounced upon him a sentence, by which he was deprived of all spiritual power; declaring that he could not tolerate him in

his diocese, and that he must await the Emperor's final decision in the ecclesiastical prison of the Carmelites.

As soon as these things became known at Gallneukirchen, where Bos was forbidden to return, the inhabitants were exceedingly indignant: they sent a deputation to the Bishop, but, not obtaining satisfaction, they addressed a petition to the Emperor on the 2d of September, subscribed by more than 4000 authentic signatures, to supplicate that he might be restored to them. At the same time that he received this affecting proof of the attachment of his parishioners, Sailer wrote to offer him an asylum, in case of his quitting Austria; adding, that he should always think it reflected honour on him to receive a priest who had been so much persecuted. Many other appointments, from other states, were offered him at the same time; but, his parishioners entreating him not to forsake them until the Imperial decision was made known, he remained in his present situation.

Bos had had several attacks of apoplexy; he suffered also from the stone; and his health became worse in consequence of his numerous afflictions. He was extremely illtreated in prison: there was no indignity to which he was not subjected. The Bishop had been to visit him, in the hope of persuading him to deny his doctrine: Bos having reproached him for wishing to induce him to contradict the truth, the Bishop revenged himself with spitting in his face. A few days after this, he was more closely confined; he was not permitted to quit his damp cell; and was even prohibited from seeing any person except the keeper who brought his food. But he felt an ardent desire to exhort and console his parishioners; and as he was forbidden all correspondence, he had recourse to indirect means to convey his letters. Two officers, and afterwards two young Carmelite monks, who had become converts to the doctrines

which he taught, conveyed to him the necessary materials, by letting them down from an upper window; and he returned his letters to them through a mouse-hole, which he had discovered, and which he enlarged that it might serve for this purpose. On the 24th of April 1816, the Emperor declared that the accusation relative to the secret society was without foundation; and that as to his religious opinions, he was at liberty, if he would not give them up, either to remain in a monastery and wait a new decree, or to quit the country. He resolved upon the latter, and, deeply regretted by thousands of souls to whom his ministry had been blessed, he returned to Bavaria towards the close of May. It is proper to add, that during the time he was at Gallneukirchen no person thought of quitting the Church of Rome, to which Bos himself was attached to the time of his death. It was not till some years after, and because the persecution which had struck the pastor had also extended itself to the flock, that many conversions to Protestantism took place. Bos never felt the necessity of forsaking the Church of Rome: he blamed those German ecclesiastics who some years afterwards did forsake it, and he could have wished that the enemies of the Gospel had not forced his parishioners to take this step.

Bos had no sooner returned to Bavaria than he learnt that Brunner, who had been his greatest foe, had succeeded him in his parish; but that at the ceremony of his induction, notwithstanding repeated notices, there had not been more than ten persons, who presented their congratulations according to custom. Bos went first to Munich; where his former friends did not recognise him, so much was he changed by grief and illness. He there accepted the office of tutor in a noble family which resided in the country; and two boys, one thirteen and the other eight years of age, were entrusted to his care.

He did not long remain undisturbed in this new retreat; and it was with difficulty that he could be permitted to reside in the territory, although a native of Bavaria, as three consistories had accused him of mysticism.

In the month of October 1817 Bos was invited to Dusseldorf; where during more than a year he occupied the office of almoner in the college in that town, with the title of professor of theology. It was his duty to instruct six classes in theology, and to preach on the Sunday to the pupils; and he had the consolation of seeing several of them reward his cares by exemplifying a true faith in the Saviour. The Prussian government, which is remarkable for the wise toleration and protection which it affords to evangelical men, offered him, in February 1819, the parish of Sayn, near Neuwied; and Bos, who had never expected the care of another parish after the persecutions he had endured-persecutions truly honourable in the eyes of the Christian, but disgraceful in those of the world-accepted it with gratitude. Some time after, the King gave him another proof of his good-will, by granting him a pension. The parish of Sayn contains about 700 persons, who had made but little progress in the way of salvation, but who appeared well disposed for instruction. During three or four years Bos saw but little fruit of his labours; but in 1823 he was again enabled to preach the Gospel with the same energy and freedom which had during many years characterized his ministry in Suabia and Austria. The attacks made upon him, which had never wholly ceased, became now more lively and more bitter. He was mentioned in the ecclesiastical histories, though still living, as the leader of a sect; nor was he more spared in the public journals. The Bishop of Augsburg charged the faithful in his diocese to be aware of his doctrines; and it was

feared that troubles would be excited among his own flock. In order to obviate this, his vicar-general, in a letter in which he gave a high testimony to his innocence, demanded of him that he should reject and publicly condemn mysticism, and thus shut the mouths of the ill-disposed. Bos did so; but explaining the meaning of the word mysticism; and distinctly declaring that he did not by any means understand as included under that term, that living faith in Jesus Christ which was taught by the Apostles, and which he himself for many years had preached.

itself was overruled for the furtherance of the Gospel; since those doctrines which, had they been taught in peace, would not have extended beyond a few villages in Suabia, were, in consequence of the persecution which they gave rise to, carried through the whole of Catholic Germany. It was not, however, by a restless and interfering spirit, or by carnal pride, that Bos drew down upon himself persecution; for it was with him a settled principle not to take a step without seeking the direction of God, even though it should be in the cause of God himself. The event has shewn that his labours were conducted under the guidance of God; and most appropriate was the praise which Sailer bestowed on his ministry, when he said, “that he had learnt of St. Paul how to people earth and heaven with children of God."

His health becoming worse and worse, he was by degrees obliged to give up his principal occupations; and he was not long in perceiving that the moment of his departure was at hand. In one of those moments in which he felt the approach of death he wrote to a friend, saying, that he was dying in that faith for which he had suffered. He said in another letter, FAMILY SERMONS.-No. CCXXV. "Even now I feel that none shall

see the Lord without having washed his robes in the blood of the Lamb." His parishioners surrounded his bed every day, weeping. During some hours he experienced a painful degree of spiritual anguish and incertitude; but having caused those portions of Scripture to be read to him which had formerly been his chief consolation, he found them so again. He fervently commended his soul to his Saviour. A friend, who came to visit him, was commissioned to communicate to his numerous friends the Apostolical benediction: "Grace and peace be with you, from God our Father, and from Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour." This friend prayed with him, and saw him depart, without pain, on the 29th August 1825.

In the life of this faithful evangelist we see the fulfilment of our Lord's prediction, that his disciples should suffer persecution; but let us not forget, that this very persecution

Hebrews xi. 24-26.—By faith,

Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the. pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect to the recompence of the reward.

ST. PAUL is shewing in this chapter the nature of faith; and he does it by setting before us the examples of various individuals, who exhibited in their conduct the operation of that heavenly principle. Among these, the instance of Moses is very memorable. He had been educated in the court of Egypt, as the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter; and might probably have good reason to expect, that, after the death of the king, he should succeed to the throne. He was now arrived at a time of

life when the splendours of a court, and the facilities which it afforded for the indulgence of pride, ambition, and those various passions which war against the soul, could not but present to his mind very powerful worldly attractions. Yet he was enabled to triumph over all these temptations, and to prefer taking up his lot with a despised and afflicted people-a people reduced to the bitter bondage of slavery-because, oppressed and humbled as they were, they were still "the people of God;" they were that peculiar_nation to whom pertained" the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose were the fathers; and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all God blessed for ever." Now the principle which caused him to make this unlikely, but truly wise, choice, the Apostle says, was faith he believed what God had spoken, and he acted accordingly. Had he consulted the corrupt inclinations of our fallen nature; had he looked only to the wealth or honours, the ease or enjoyments of the present world; his conduct would have been very different. He might, indeed, have enjoyed "the pleasures of sin for a season;" he might have revelled in pomp and luxury; he might have been, perhaps, a victorious general, or powerful sovereign; he might have built splendid cities, or have bequeathed his mouldering dust to repose under a costly pyramid: but he had never had his name enrolled in the glorious cata logue of those who "died in faith;" and he had never joined the illustrious company of heaven, among whom his believing forefathers, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, had been received, to wear the crown of everlasting life, and with whom he himself now beholds and rejoices in the presence of that Saviour for whose cause he was content to suffer reproach and per

secution, and the loss of all that was accounted valuable and splendid by an ungodly world.

This interesting narrative presents three distinct subjects for our consideration: First, the remarkable choice which Moses made; Secondly, his reasons for making that choice; and, Thirdly, the principle which gave to those reasons so powerful an influence over his conduct. His choice was, " not to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter," but "to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." His reasons for making that choice were, that "he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt," and that "he had respect to the recompence of the reward." And the principle which gave such powerful influence to those reasons was "faith;" that firm, practical conviction which is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

1. First, then, we are informed of the remarkable choice which Moses made. For remarkable it truly was, being utterly opposed to all that we might naturally have expected; utterly opposed to the usual practices of mankind; utterly opposed to the gratification of pride and ambition; utterly opposed to a life of ease or pleasure; utterly opposed to the acquirement of wealth; utterly opposed, in short, to an indulgence in any of those habits which are most congenial to the unrenewed heart. It may often happen that one sin restrains the practical dominion of another-that one man will sacrifice his covetousness to his ambition; another, his love of pleasure to his love of money; another, his propensity to revel in profligacy of life to his desire to obtain worldly influence and estimation;-but in such cases there is a compromise made, as it were, between two classes of sinful practices: nothing is sacrificed to conscience; nothing is done from love

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »