The French Convert/A Brief Account of the Present Severe Persecutions of the French Protestants
OF THE PRESENT
THE reſtleſs malice of the great enemy of mankind againſt the church of God has been ſufficiently manifeſted in all ages of the world, and began to exert itſelf firſt of all in Cain, who killed his brother Abel, becauſe his own deeds were wicked, and his brother's righteous; as the holy ſcriptures inform us: And it has been his frequent practice, when he could not withdraw the people of God, from the profeſſion of the truth, by the bait of worldly advantage, to raiſe a flood of perſecution againſt them, by that means to extirpate them, if it were poſſible, out of the earth; of which no people in Europe have, in this age, had more fatal experience, than the poor Proteſtants in France, who have been ſo barbarouſly uſed by the blood thirſty Papiſts there, that a true account of their ſufferings, will appear to the next age, rather like romantic fictions, than (as indeed they are) realities. There are two things in it, that appear alike admirable; and they are the barbarous rage and cruelty of the perſecutors, and the invincible courage and conſtancy of the poor ſufferers, who are ſo mightily ſupported by divine grace, that they not only triumph over all their tortures, but ſuffer joyfully the loſs of all, as knowing that they have in heaven a better and more enduring ſubſtance; But I will recite briefly, ſome inſtances of their ſufferings.
Some they condemn to the gallies, where they are commonly coupled with the vileſt miſcreants condemned thither, for the moſt flagitious crimes, whoſe fearful oaths and execrations are continually wounding their pious ears: There are generally five of them placed upon every form, fettered with a heavy chain of about ten or twelve foot long. They ſhave their heads from time to time, to ſhew they are ſlaves, and are not allowed to wear their hats or perriwigs: They have only beans, and nothing elſe for their food, with about fourteen ounces of coarſe bread a-day, and no wine at all. They are devoured in winter by lice, and in the ſummer by and fleas; and forced to ly upon one another as hogs in a ſty; and every day threatened and tormented by friars and prieſts, who not be being able to convince them by reaſon, think to do it by ſeverity.
Some are put in priſon, and kept in naſty dungeons and holes, full of mire and dirt, without any bed, or ſo much as ſtraw to lie upon, and not ſuffered to have the leaſt glimmering of the ſun, or the light of a candle; and allowed ſo ſmall a quantity of victuals as is hardly ſufficient to keep them alive. In this miſerable caſe, without any pity to them, ſome have been kept above a year together. One of them being viſited after twelve months impriſonment, in this manner, by one called a director of conſcience, juſt as they were going to bring him his ſmall allowance, he could not forbear crying out, as ſoon as he ſaw him; "Lord! in what a condition are you, ſir?" To which the poor ſufferer replied, with a Chriſtian fortitude, worthy of the cauſe he ſuffered for; "Could you but ſee the ſecret pleaſure my heart experiences, you would think me too happy." The prieſt told him, "The greateſt ſufferings did not entitle to the glory of martyrdom; unleſs he ſuffered for truth and juſtice." To this the poor priſoner replied, "He granted it; but that was his caſe; the Holy Ghoſt ſo ſealed it to his heart, that the very thoughts thereof, ſupported him in the midſt of all his afflictions:" This perſon has, through God's providence, been ſince delivered; and has declared, That the conſolations that God, out of his infinite love afforded to him, were ſo great, that he little regarded the miſeries he was reduced to, tho' he continued in that lamentable condition about two and twenty months, without changing his clothes, till his beard was grown as long as the hair of his head, and his face as pale as a plaiſtered wall; he declared alſo, that when he was delivered, the number of thoſe chained to the gallies for the ſake of religion, was about three hundred and ſeventy, who glorified God, in their ſufferings, with an unparalleled courage and conſtancy.
PRINTED By J. & M. ROBERTSON, (No. 10.)