Love Under Fire


French New Testament

But their hopes would not be fulfilled. Trial and persecution lay ahead for the disciples of Christ. However, a time of peace interrupted the flow of events, allowing them to gain strength to meet the coming storm, and the Reformation made rapid progress. Lefevre began to translate the New Testament, and at the very time when Luther's German Bible came from the press in Wittenberg, the French New Testament was published at Meaux. Soon the peasants of Meaux had the Holy Scriptures. The workers in the field, the craftsmen in the workshop, cheered their daily labors by talking about the precious truths of the Bible. Though they belonged to the humblest class—the unschooled and hardworking peasantry—the reforming, uplifting power of divine grace was visible in their lives. LF 91.3

The light ignited at Meaux sent its beams to distant places. Every day the number of converts was increasing. For a time the king held back the rage of the church's hierarchy, but the papal leaders finally prevailed. The stake was set up, and many witnessed for the truth in the flames. LF 91.4

In the lordly halls of the castle and the palace there were kingly souls who valued truth above wealth or position or even life. Louis de Berquin was of noble birth, devoted to study, polished in manners, and blameless in morals. “He crowned all his other virtues by viewing Lutheranism with a special hatred.” But God guided him to the Bible, and he was amazed to find there “not the doctrines of Rome, but the doctrines of Luther.” He gave himself to the cause of the gospel. LF 91.5

Rome's supporters in France put him in prison as a heretic, but the king freed him. For years, King Francis wavered between Rome and the Reformation. Three times the papal authorities imprisoned Berquin, only to have the king release him, refusing to sacrifice him to the hatred of the church leaders. Berquin was warned repeatedly about the danger that threatened him in France, and he was urged to follow the steps of those who had found safety in voluntary exile. LF 91.6