Document: L. Praamsma, Before the Face of God: A Study of the Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 1-24 (Jordan Station, ON.: Paideia Press, 1989).

Excerpt: On the last day of May, 1567, in the city of Valenciennes, two gallows were erected in the middle of the city square. On one hung the body of a man; below the other stood a second, still very much alive, but with a noose already tied around his neck. The condemned addressed the audience, gathered on the square, anxiously awaiting his last words. Surrounding the square was an armed militia, ready at any moment to restore order. The doomed man’s speech began. “Obey. . . pay respect to those placed in authority over you . . .” He raised his arms, as if in benediction, speaking of the true gospel which he had proclaimed, exhorting the people to persevere in the teachings of that gospel. The executioner stepped forward, abruptly pulling the ladder out from under the condemned man’s feet. The body dropped. The head snapped. The lifeless body swung back and forth, back and forth. The Inquisition had killed yet another victim. An angry ripple billowed through the crowd. Women screamed. Men surged forward—faces hard, fists clenched. The soldiers reacted instantly and opened fire into the crowd. Dead and wounded fell at random. People turned, running in all directions. It was a bloody ending to what seemed like an auspicious beginning.

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Before the Face of God: I-XXIV – L.Praamsma.pdf