« AnteriorContinuar »
THE REV. CHARLES DRELINCOURT.
EXTRACTED CHIEFLY FROM MONSIEUR BAYLE.
THIS illustrious person (for what is more illustrious than true piety ?) was born on the 10th of July, 1595, at Sedan, where his father, whose name was Peter Drelincourt, a gentleman of good family, had a considerable post, being at tirst Secretary to Henry Robert de la Mark, Duke of Buillon and sovereign Prince of Sedan, and afterwards chosen Register of the Supreme Council of that city. His mother was no less worthily descended, being the daughter of Nicholas Buyrette, advocate in the parliament of Paris, of whom we find it related, (from a manuscript life of our author) that having embraced the reformed religion, he was followed therein by his wife and children, with so much zeal, that Thomas Buy. rette, his eldest son, is reckoned among the glorious company of the Protestant martyrs; and James Buyrette, his second son, having devoted himself to the ministry, would have been elected one of the pastors of the church at Paris, if he had not died the same week that was appointed for his ordination.
As this exemplary piety in his mother's family, reflects so much honour upon our author, I hope the reader will not think me too circumstantial, if I take notice in this place, that his aforesaid uncle, Thomas Buyrette, was but nineteen years of age, when, by the advice of Calvin and his colleagues, be undertook the office of a minister, which he exercised with great reputation at Lyons, for some years, till the storms of persecution arising, he was obliged to retire to Geneva; but not finding any comfort, except in the discharge of his duty, he was soon after sent to Besancon; where God was pleased to give such a blessing to bis labours, as to enable him to settle a church privately, and to advance the kingdom of Christ in a wonderful manner.
After he had been here some time, his mother, not having seen him since he became a minister, and being passionately desirous of a visit from him, he took a journey to Paris the year of the massacre, where he fell, the third day of that dreadful slaughter, into the bands of the murderers; who having learned from him his religion and function, put him to death in a most cruel manner, together with Jobo Mole, the husband of Mary Buyrette, his eldest sister, and inhumanely dragged both their bodies into the river.
His mother parrowly escaped the same fate, by a kind of miracle, and immediately retired to Sedan, with the rest of her children, whom she carefully educated in the fear of God. The youngest of these was a posthumous daughter, who was afterwards the mother of our Charles Drelincourt.
To return to our author, he passed through the study of polite
literature and divinity at Sedan; after which, he was sent to Saumur, to go through a course of philosophy there, under professor Duncan: at both which places he acquitted himself in such a manner as to gain the admiration and love of all who knew bim.
Having thus finished his preparatory studies, in the beginning of June 1618, he was admitted minister, and received imposition of hands in the castle of Precigni; after which, he went to discharge the duties of his function near Langres, whither he was called upon the following occasion.
It being thought, that a church might be founded at the gates of Langres, as in a bailiwick, those who endeavoured to establish it were very pressing with Mr. Drelincourt to undertake the care of this rising church; which he readily accepted; and because he was assured there was a prospect of a considerable harvest in those parts, preferred the offer to all the others that were then made him. For though at that time he was but twenty-two years and some months old, he had the good fortune to be desired by many churches of the kingdom, and even by some of the most considerable foreign churches.
Accordingly, when he came to Langres, he was filled with abundant hopes; for he found in that city a great number of people, who only seemed to wait for an opportunity of declaring themselves; and in the country, he saw the people so well disposed to embrace the purity and simplicity of the gospel, that even upon the mere report of the settlement of this church, there flocked togeiher to the number of above six hundred, in hopes of hearing a sermon.
Whilst he staid here, expecting this so much desired establishment, he often preached in the neighbouring churches, and sometimes in the castle of Precigni, where he had been ordained. For as he was not permitted to make his ordinary residence at Langres, it made him the more diligent in visiting, instructing, and comforting the protestants in the country.
But when it was found impossible to obtain the necessary de cree of the king's council, Mr. Drelincourt felt so deep a sorrow on this account, that it threw him into a dangerous fit of sickness which lasted three months, and brought him almost to the grave.
Having recovered from this illness, he accepted of the call of the church of Paris, where he preached for the first time on the 15th March, 1620. But he always retained a particular affection for the members of bis former church.
In the year 1625, he married the only daughter of a rich merchant of Paris, whose name was Boldue, (a convert from the Romish church) by whom he had sixteen children, the seven first all sons, the rest intermixed, six sons, and three daughters.
Nor was the blessing of God, which showed itself in his marriage by this uncommon fruitfulness, less visible in the success of his ministry. His sermons were very edifying; he was incomparably
well skilled in comforting of the sick, and he managed with great success the affairs of the church, and even those of other flocks, upon which he never failed to be consulted when they were important. The services which he did to the church by his pen can never be sufficienily acknowledged, whether we consider his books of devotion, or those of controversy. In the former, there is such a vein of piety, and the spirit and expressions of scripture run through them in such a manner, that religious minds have always, and still do, wonderfully edify from them. What he wrote against the church of Rome has confirmed the Protestants more than can be expressed; for with the arms with which he furnished them, those who had not the advantage of learning were enabled to oppose the monks and parish priests, and resolutely contend with the missionaries. His writings have made him considered as the scourge of the Roman catholic controvertists; and yet his candour and great endowments won him the love of many of that party. He had an easy access to the secretaries of state, the first president, the king's advocate, and the civil and criminal lieutenants; but he never made any other use of his interest with them, than to assist the aflicted churches, or to serve such private persons as applied to him for his protection.
The chief lords of the reformed religion in general had the highest regard for him, particularly the duke de la Force, the marshals Chattillion, Gascou, and Turene, and the duchess of Tremoulle, who distinguished him by a great many favours.They often sent for him to their palaces, and honoured him from time to time with their visits; as likewise did several foreign princes and noblemen, and the ambassadors of England and Holland; and all of them frequently made use of his prudent advice. We must not omit that he was particularly esteemed by the illustrious house of Hesse; as appears by the books which he dedicated to the princes and princesses of that name.
He was always animated with a warm zeal for the glory of God; to which, and the service of the church, he had consecrated all his labours; and was so indefatigable in the discharge of his function, that he never spared himself, when he had any ministerial duty to perform.
He was constant in visitiog the sick; in comforting of whom, as we have before taken notice, he had a peculiar facility of happiness; and the little leisure he had from these holy offices, he faithfully employed for the benefit of the church, in defending and enforcing the great truths he taught by his writings, and in attacking the errors of the contrary party.
He departed this life on the 4th of November 1660, in the most comfortable disposition, as one who had been always faithful in his Lord's business. He preached to the last week of his life; his last sermon being that of the 27th of October 1669, taken from Psal. li. 7, 8. “Purge me with hyssop,” &c.
We have already observed, that he was hlessed with a great many children; and had also the consolation to see many of them grow up to an uncommon stature of piety and reputation.
The books which our excellent author left behind him, and which will always endear his memory to every good christian, and true protestant, are as follows:
1. A treatise of Preparation for the Holy Supper.
These, of all his works, are those which have been the most frequently reprinted. Some of them have passed through above fifty editions, and have been translated into divers languages; particularly his admirable piece against the Fears of Death.
5. His Charitable Visits, in five volumes.
He likewise wrote several letters, which have been printed, one to the Duchess of Tremouille, upon her husband's revolt from the Protestant religion; one of consolation, addressed to Madame de la Tabariere; one upon the restoration of King Charles; and some upon the English Episcopacy, &c. by which it appears, that he had a particular esteem and veneration for the Church of England.
He also published several prayers; some of which were made for the King, others for the Queen, and the Dauphin. Behaviour of the Rev. Author in his last moments.
It having been reported in every quarter, that Monsieur Drehincourt died suddenly, of an apoplexy, several godly persons have thought it might be of service to promote the glory of God, and the edification of his church, to undeceive such as may have entertained this opinion, by acquainting all those into whose hands this may fall, that God was graciously pleased to permit his servant to glorify him to the last, and to make him an instrument of edifying all them who were witnesses of his happy death. It is this that occasions our present undertaking, to give a faithful and genuine account of his last minutes; which, though it comes abroad somewhat late, yet will not appear unseasonable, if that blessing and success attend it, which the authors hope and wish for.
But before we proceed to the particulars of the last scene of this illustrious life, it may not be improper to observe, that the deceased was naturally of a very strong and vigorous constitution, which enabled him to bear up under very great labours for a long time together; insomuch that once, upon an extraordinary occasion, he had the strength to preach seven times in one day.
As God had bestowed upon him, together with bis strength of body, a very lively and active spirit, and a zeal which burned
for his glory, he spared bimself neither day nor night in the dig. charge of his function, but employed himself with an unwearied diligence and application, in visiting the sick, in looking after the affairs of the church, and in the divers works of piety and charity, of which his beneficent and compassionate temper never suffered him to want occasions; often causing him to repeat our Saviour's words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts xx. 35.
He had, in particular, a very weighty charge upon him during the first years of his ministry in the church at Paris. For a few months after his call thither, Monsieur du Moulin being removed, he was twelve years one of the three persons to serve that great church; and even for a long time had no other assistant than Monsieur Mestrezat.
In the midst of so many employments, not being able to find any time in the day, he set aside part of the night for his meditations, and the composing his works.
But at length his youthful strength giving way to old age, his natural good constitution was extremely broke by these continual labours. The first notice he had of this change, was from the attack of a sharp defluxion, which fell from his head upon his throat, and occasioned him frequent disorders.
In the last years of his life, his nature growing weaker every day, and not having that strength to resist the enemy which it had before, this deflux. ion began to fall upon his breast, and to afflict him, from time to time, with very painful obstructions, attended with a violent cough, which sometimes reduced him to the last extremity, and made it a doubtful struggle between life and death. This was particularly troublesome to him in the night, in winter, between that season and spring, and between autumn and that season.
Also, in the year that preceded the last of his life, there happened to him an accident, apparently mortal, and which, in its beginning, both the nature of the disorder, and the circumstances attending it, was exactly like that which carried him out of the world. This was on the last day of April, in the year 1668, when, being already weak and indisposed, he would needs go that evening, contrary to the entreaties of his family, to the burying ground, to pay the last duties to one of his grand daughters whom God had taken to his rest. Accordingly he went, with some difficulty, leaning on the arm of one of his sons; but as he returned, his legs failed him several times, so that he had much ado to set one foot before another: however, at last, with a great deal of trouble, he made shift to get home, where he arrived exceeding faint, and in a cold sweat, appearing in a manner, without life; and so pale and wan, that for some time he frigbtened all his family; but at length he came to himself, being relieved by a remedy which he had sometimes used with success.
Notwithstanding these frequent and dangerous attacks, this