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acceptance, and high expectations were formed of his future eminence.
Superville was re-called to Saumur in consequence of the illness of his father, who died before his arrival. This event, followed soon after by the death of his former tutor, M. de Brais, exceedingly distressed him : but he relaxed not in his application to those pursuits which he had chosen as the business of his life. His skill in disputation and his ability as a preacher commanded general respect. In Poitou he held several conferences and disputes on certain topics of religion, with some ecclesiastics and other persons of distinction, which he conducted in a manner that gained him considerable reputation.
In this province he had the affliction of witnessing some of those proceedings by which the perfidious government of France had begun to harass its Protestant subjects with a view to the entire extinction of the reformed religion throughout the kingdom. One of the means employed for this purpose, was to send dragoons among them and quarter them in their houses, to teaze and torment them into an abjuration of their faith. Quartered on the Protestants at discretion, they were strictly charged by their officers, to let none go out of their houses, nor to hide or conceal their goods or effects, on great penalties. Similar penalties were denounced against the Catholics, if they should receive, harbour, or assist them. The first days of their visitation were spent in consuming the provisions found in the houses, and plundering the inhabitants of their money, jewels, and other valuables. Then all their furniture was offered for sale, and the neighbouring Catholics were invited to come and buy them. After stripping the Protestants of their property, the dragoons proceeded to torture their persons. The barbarities in
fficted by these military apostles of persecution were thus described by M. Claude. They cast some into large fires, and took them out when they were half 'roasted. They hanged others with large ropes under their arm-pits, and plunged them several times into wells, till they promised to renounce their religion. They tied them like criminals on the rack, and poured wine with a funnel into their mouths, till, being in'toxicated, they declared that they consented to turn • Catholics. Some they slashed and cut with pen
I knives, some they took by the nose with red hot " tongs, and led them up and down the rooms tilk 'they promised to turn Catholics.'
These horrible transactions induced Superville to form the design of leaving France and coming to England. But just as he was about to carry this design into execution, early in the year 1683, the church at Loudun invited him to become their pastor. He accepted the invitation, and a few days after, he was received in this official character at the synod of Sorges. The church at Loudun was numerous and respectable. In this important station he exercised his ministry with credit to himself and advantage to his congregation, a little more than two years.
The piety, talents, and diligence of the Protestant pastors presented the most powerful obstacles to the schemes of the court and clergy for the ruin of the reformed religion. Their zealous and conscientious discharge of the ministerial duties was regarded as a capital crime. Their best actions were misrepresented, their most innocent expressions misinterpreted and perverted; the most insidious artifices were employed; the most false and frivolous charges were fabricated, in order to silence these champions of the truth, or, at least, to prevent their long continuance with the same churches.
The reputation of Superville had attracted the notice of the higher powers; and the prosperity of the church at Loudun inflamed their ardour to accomplish its ruin. They employed spies to watch the life and ministry of the young pastor, in hopes that his youth might betray him into some imprudence of conduct or expression, which should afford a plausible ground for removing him from the superintendence of his flock. His prudence disappointed these, and they could find no matter for accusation. This deficiency, however, malice and perjury were ready to supply. About the middle of the year 1685, he was charged with preaching a seditious sermon. A Lettre de Cachet was issued, requiring him to appear at Paris by a certain day, to give an account of his conduct. When he received this summons he was ill in bed, but he hastened to obey the royal mandate without waiting for the re-establishment of his health, and repairing to Paris, presented himself before the council at the time appointed. He was detained three months, in attendance upon the Court, at Paris, Versailles, and Fontainebleau; trifled with from day to day, without any investigation of the evidence of his guilt or innocence,
During this period, all the engines of Catholic seduc. tion, both lenient and violent, were in full activity at Loudun. While amicable conferences, promises, and bribes, threats, soldiers, and prisons, were making havock among the flock, all the sophistry of the clergy and the policy of the court were assiduously exerted to entice their pastor within the pale of the Catholic Church; but all in vain; he remained inflexible. The whole affair was at length terminated by an Edict revoking the Edict of Nantz, and forbidding all public exercise of the reformed religion in France. This edict was signed on the eighth of October 1685, and registered on the the twenty-second of December following.
It had been the common practice of the persecutors, in their attempts to seduce the Protestants, to present a bribe with one hand while they exhibited a scourge in the other. The same double expedient was practised in this edict towards the Protestant Ministers.
The following are the fourth, fifth, and sixth clauses :
IV. We command all ministers of the Pretended 'Reformed, who will not turn from it and embrace the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion, to 'depart our kingdom and the lands of our do'minion, within fifteen days after the publication ' of this our present edict, and not to tarry beyond that time, or during the said fifteen days to 'preach, exhort, or perform any function of their ' ministry, upon pain of being sent to the gallies. V. Our will is, that such of the said ministers, who 'shall change their religion, shall, during their 'whole life, continually enjoy, and their widows ' also after them, as long as they remain unmarried, 'the same exemption from taxes and lodging of 'soldiers, which they enjoyed during the time of 'their ministry; and farther, we will pay also 'unto the said ministers, as long as they live, a stipend, which shall exceed by one third the wages they received for their ministry, and their ' wives also, as long as they abide widows, shall 'enjoy the one half of their said stipend. VI. If any of the said ministers desire to become Advocates, or would proceed Doctors of the
Laws, it is our will, and we declare it, That 'they shall be dispensed with as to three years studying, prescribed by our declarations, and 'having undergone the usual examination, and thereby judged capable, that they be promoted Doctors, paying one half only of the fees cus'tomarily paid to this purpose in every University.'
Nobly disdaining these bribes, and valuing truth and conscience at too high a rate for earthly treasures to purchase, Superville, with about six hundred of his ministerial brethren, preferred exile to apostacy. He retired to Holland, and took up his residence at Rotterdam. There during six years he discharged the functions of minister pensionary, or supernumerary with five other pastors.
The royal edict forbad the Protestant laity to emigrate, on pain of confiscation of property and the severest personal vengeance; but by faith many of them also forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king. Eight hundred thousand followed their pastors, and formed numerous congregations in the various places where they afterwards settled
In the beginning of the year 1687, the Marshal Schomberg proposed Superville's removal to Berlin, and very advantageous offers were made by the Elector of Brandenburg, to induce his compliance. Towards the close of the same year, his services were requested by the church of the Savoy in London. In the year 1690, several efforts were made to prevail upon him to undertake the charge of the French Church at Hamburgh. But all these invitations, though highly honourable, he thought he had sufficient reasons to decline.
At length he was about to accept an invitation sent him by the Walloon Church in London, when the Magistrates and Consistory at Rotterdam, unwilling to lose a minister of such distinguished merit, called him, together with the learned James Bashage, to the office of regular pastors, though there was not at that time any actual vacancy in their number. On the day of their establishment in this office, the thirtieth of