2001-11-06 - The Hidden Bible
Lamentations 3:22,23 The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
I mentioned trials in my devotional yesterday and I know that many of us go through our various trials. I fear that more trials may be on the way for Christians and in view of this I would like to present the following article from the Christian Miscellany of 1870. It shows the providence of God in a remarkable way, but also the endurance of a man who struggled under persecution for many years. The ending of his journal is remarkable and I hope you will continue to follow this story on Wednesday. I will present it without much editing.
In one of the cells of the Bastille a secret recess was discovered; the access to it was gained by pushing the corner of one particular stone in the wall, which revolved on a pivot, and thus revealed the hiding place. In this recess a treasure was discovered: neither gold, silver, nor precious stones, but a well-worn French Bible, the treasured possession of a Huguenot prisoner, who, as appeared by entries in the Book itself, was the Pastor of the Protestant church at Meaux, and thrown into prison. The blank pages, the margins, and even the spaces between the lines in this Bible were entirely filled with small writing in pencil, forming the journal of the prisoner, who commences July 13, 1688, by recording his gratitude to God for the signal blessing of this Bible reaching him through the kindness of friends outside.
He had been in the prison fourteen months, and adds: "Here have I been all day turning over the leaves to see if anything were written within, and am quite sad to find nothing; as if the good Word of God were not enough." The "sad" heart commences his lonely study of God's "good Word" by reading and meditation on John 14:18, "I will not leave you comfortless."
On the 15th of May, 1689, this entry occurs: "I have been here two years and they tell me I may go out when I please, if I will only abjure! I will die first! O! Could I only get some news of my wife, my children, my little brother. I know not even if they yet live." Then he records how he accidentally discovered a hollow place in the wall, begun by one of his predecessors in the cell, and at which he toiled for months to enlarge, so as to conceal his treasured Bible.
May 20, 1691, M. Bossuet came again; but, thank God, I was strengthened to tell him plainly that he would have much to answer for in exciting the anger of the King against his Protestant subjects. Upon which he departed in great wrath." In November came another priest, whose deportment was so winning and gracious that the prisoner rightly suspected him to be M. de Fenelon, and adds: "He was pleased that I had recognized him, and so much touched by my constancy under captivity, that, on leaving, he had well nigh embraced me. He would soften none of the rigors of his church. I do not think he will come again."
He did not; for soon after this was recorded, harsher measures were resorted to; as we find in the next entry in October 1702, eleven years later. Thus writes the prisoner, "Eleven years have passed since I read or wrote anything. When they lodged me in another cell, my Book, happily, remained safe in its hiding place. But the dungeon I was removed to was so horribly unwholesome. I doubt if anyone could exist in it two months. At the end of six weeks, being like to die, I was carried to a dark little cell, in which I passed 11 years without once leaving it, or receiving a single visit; often in great anguish of spirit, even so that I earnestly prayed to God to remove me from the world. This was sinful; but, now that I have His Word, I shall be strengthened."
Today is mainly and introduction to what will follow. This man, as you will see tomorrow, lived the rest of his life in prison, in solitary confinement, because he would not deny his faith. He never got word of his wife or children, but his faith was more than all life had given him. It is an amazing story and we have to wonder, do we have his faith? Can we forsake all for Christ? This is the call of the gospel and it can be a hard call, but it is the call of faith. May God give us this faith.
Soli Deo Gloria,