Guido De Bres

Guido De Bres, an evangelist and martyr of the Walloon Church, was born at Mons in 1540. He was brought up in the Church of Rome, but by searching the Scriptures arrived at the knowledge of evangelical truth, and was compelled by persecution to escape to London, where he joined the Walloon Church organized under Edward VI, and prepared himself for the ministry. He afterwards returned to his native country as evangelist and travelling preacher, in which capacity he showed great zeal, first at Lille, where there was a large secret Protestant community, which was dispersed by force in 1566. Guido then retired to Ghent, where he published a polemic tract out of the fathers entitled Le baton de la foi. He then went to prosecute his studies at Geneva, where he became a determined adherent of Calvin. Returning to his country, he resumed his evangelical labors, reorganized the three principal communities of Lille, Tournay, and Valenciennes, and made the whole of southern Belgium and northern France, from Dieppe to Sedan and from Valenciennes to Antwerp, the field of his indefatigable activity. Valenciennes, which had become almost entirely Protestant, was stormed by Noircarmes in 1567. Guido was caught while attempting to escape, and was thrown into prison. After seven weeks of imprisonment he was hanged, with the young La Grange, on the last day of May, 1567. Guido, though in the prime of life, leaving behind him a wife and several young children, met death not only calmly, but cheerfully. While in prison he had written letters of consolation both to his mother, to whom he was much attached, and to his congregation; the latter epistle, con-raining a thorough refutation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, is to be found in the Histoire des Martyrs (Geneva, 1617), together with a life of Guido and La Grange (p. 731 — 750).

Guido's prediction that the seeds of Protestantism he had so carefully sowed would grow with greater strength after being watered with his blood, has been fulfilled. To him the Dutch Church owes the fact that, instead of becoming a mere branch of the French (Calvinistic) or the German Reformed Church, it has remained between the two, a shield and a blessing for both. Guido drew up in 1559 a confession of faith, after the model of the French Confession drawn up in 1559 at Paris. This confession he submitted to Calvin, by whose advice he changed it in some particulars, and, after obtaining the assent of the principal Reformed churches in the Netherlands, he published it in 1562 as the Confession of Faith of the Reformed Church in the Netherlands, sending a Copy of it, with an appropriate and remarkable introduction, to king Philip II. The theologians of Geneva believed that the Netherland churches might adopt the French Confession as it stood; but Guido probably foresaw that the adoption of a confession exclusively their own, in French and Low-Dutch, was the only means to form a united church in that country, inhabited by people of two nations and speaking two languages. See Le Long, Kort historisch Verhaal van den oorsprong des ne-derlandschen gereformeerden kerken ondert Kruys, etc. (Amsterd. 1741, 4to); G. Brandt, Historie des reformatie in en ontrent de Nederlanden (Amsterd. 1671); Ypey en Dermout, Geschiedenis der Nederlandscke Hervormde Kerk (Breda, 1818 sq.); and especially Van der Kemp, de Eere der nederlandsche kervormde Kerk (Rotterdam, 1830).

— Herzog, Real-Encyklop. v, 412; Motley, Rise of the Dutch Republic, vol. i; Christian Intelligencer, March 14, 1861.

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