« PreviousContinue »
view of Christian perfection implies a devout contemplation of the character of Christ, as a full and perfect Saviour-a Saviour able and willing to meet all our real necessities. By such contemplations -- contemplations in which we brought to “know and believe the love which God hath to us"-we are informed, 1 John 4: 16, 17, that “our love is made perfect."
“3. In yet another view of the subject, dwelling upon the doctrine under consideration implies a frequent and devout contemplation of the provisions of divine grace for the entire sanctification of believers, and of the designs of God to raise them to this state, whenever they look to him by faith to do it for them. Such meditations upon God's “thoughts of good, and not of evil,” towards his people, tend in the most powerful manner conceivable to melt our hearts in love and tenderness towards God, and to induce in us the most vigorous efforts after that holiness which we are required to perfect. In whatever point of light the doctrine under consideration is contemplated, dwelling upon it has one tendency, and only one—the assimilation of our entire character to that of Christ."
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN FRANCE.
By an American in Paris.
1. Projet d'Ordonnance portant réglement d'Administration pour les
Eglises Réformées. 2. Lettre d'un Laique à un Pasteur, sur le Projet d'Ordonnance portant
réglement d'Administration pour les Eglises Réformées. (Par
Henri Lutteroth), Paris, 1840. 3. Lettre à un Pasteur sur le Projet d'Ordonnance portant réglement
d'Administration pour les Eglises Réformées, par Athanase Coquerel,
l'un des Pasteurs de l'Eglise Réformée de Paris. 4. Lettre à M. Athanase Coquerel, l'un des Pasteurs de l'Eglise Réfor
mée de Paris, sur le Projet d'Ordonnance portant réglement d'Administration pour les Eglises Réformées, par le Comte Agenor De Gas
parin, Maitre des Requêtes au Conseil d'Etat. 5. Lettre d M. le Comte Agenor De Gasparin, sur le Methodisme.
Par Joseph Martin-Paschoud, l'un des Pasteurs de l'Eglise Réformée de Paris.
It was our intention to give one or two articles on the History of the Protestant Religion in France, before entering on the topic which is now to receive' our notice; but circumstances, which we need not state, compel us to postpone them for the present, that we may discuss a subject of vast and immediate interest to the church in that country.
To bring this subject more fully before our readers, we invite their attention to the State of Religious Liberty in France since the Revolution of 1789.
It is well known that one result of that great movement, in its earliest and best times, was to give to France the rich boon of religious freedom,—a boon which she had only partially and occasionally enjoyed, for centuries. But soon, the Revolution, so full of promise to its ardent admirers, became a tornado, sweeping away all the ancient institutions of the kingdom, and leaving bare the very foundations on which they had stood. The Roman Catholic church dominant, exclusive and persecuting, as she had long been, was soon made to feel that her day of retribution had come; and dreadful were the blows beneath which she succumbed. In her fall, she dragged down Christianity itself; of which, in the estimation of the infuriated avengers of past injuries, she had been the true and sole representative. Religion in its widest sense was declared by statute to be annibilated.
But the storm of political fury and infidel licentiousness at length abated ; and the conviction of the necessity of a religion of some kind to the existence of any civil government, began to return to the minds of all reflecting mer. Even when the storm was at its acme, Robespierre saw the desolation it was working, and endeavored to mitigate its fury, by inducing the Convention, which had recently abolished religion in every form, to restore the doctrines of the existence of a Supreme Being, and of the immortality of the soul.* The reign of Atheism and the worship of Reason, which was personated as a Goddess, by a beautiful woman from the brothels of Paris, in some of the fêtes of that city, were of brief duration. Nor was that of Deism, which succeeded, much longer. It is true the theophilanthropists, aided by the funds of the government, opened some fifteen or twenty churches, hired the best singers from the opera and theatre, delivered orations and sung hymns in honor of God and the immortality of the soul ; but all in vain. By the end of 1795, scarcely a vestige of Deism, as an organized form of religion, remained in France. From that epoch we may date the return of Christianity.
Here we must be allowed to say that the admirers of Napoleon have claimed much more for that great but ambitious man than he deserves. At this moment especially, when all France is intoxicated, with the idea of having his remains brought from St. Helena and deposited in the Hôtel des Invalides, no language is too extravagant to be em. ployed in his praise.t For months the press has teemed with these laudations. The newspapers, excepting those
* On the 10th of October, 1793, the Convention decreed the abolition of Christianity ; in place of which they established what they called the worship of Reason. On the 7th of May following, Robespierre induced the same body to proclaim the restoration of the above doctrines.
+ The friends and authors of the Revolution of July, 1830, are foremost in bringing back the remains of the Emperor, and accomplishing—if we may so term it-his apotheosis !
in favor of the Carlist or late régime,—the Gazette de France, the France, the Quotidienne, and the Univers,-have made this event the standing subject of remark. A vast number of pamphlets, and even several volumes have been published on this subject. Every fact and circumstance which any one has known, or heard of in relation to him, has been dragged to light. Elba and St. Helena have been surveyed; and topographical charts have been published, to adorn a ten sous pamphlet in which the author,--some young man perhaps making his début,-thinks that he has said something better than has ever yet been said respecting the “Greatest Captain of twelve centuries," as Lord Holland styles him. And among all the titles bestowed upon him, none is more conspicuous than Restorer of Religion. To believe some of these ignorant scribblers, Napoleon Buonaparte was another Constantine. Indeed they have instituted a grave comparison between the two men, and maintained that what the latter did for Christianity in the 4th century, the former has done, and more, in the 19th.
Let us consider for a moment the claims of Napoleon to the title of Restorer of Religion. What are the facts in the case? During the years 1796—99, that is, from the close of the Convention to the overthrow of the Directory by Napoleon, the Christian religion, aided by legislative enactments, was gradually re-establishing itself in France. * From the
* One of the last acts of the Convention had reference to religious worship. It is called the law of the 7th Vendemiaire of the year IV. (29th September) 1795. The 17th Article is as follows : “ The room chosen for the holding of religious worship shall be indicated and declared to the Assistant Municipal Officer, in the communes* of less than five thousand souls, and in the others, to the Municipal Administration of the Canton or Arrondissement. This declaration shall be copied into the common register of the municipality or the commune, and sent to the bureau of the correctional police of the Canton. It is forbidden to use the aforesaid room before having complied with this formality.” It is remarkable, that the article immediately preceding, forbids the assembling of more than ten persons in a private house, besides the
* The smallest subdivisions of France, which correspond very nearly to our townships.
month Vendémiaire in 1795 to 1801-the epoch of the famous Concordat-32,214 parishes out of 40,000, had demanded and received permission to re-open their churches, and had actually opened them; whilst 4,571 were in the process of demanding the same permission. Two national councils (Catholic) were held at Paris, one in 1797, the other in 1801. The reports and other pieces which these assemblies published, display a large share of the Jansenist spirit; and it is highly probable, that if Napoleon had allowed the Roman Catholic church to go on as it began, it would have become truly the Gallican church, somewhat like the church of England, yielding to the Pope the honors of a simple primacy.
The Protestants, in many places, had begun to hold public worship, which they had not been allowed to do for more than a century; they relied on the voluntary principle for the support of their pastors, as their ancestors had done before the revocation of the edict of Nantes. Had Napo. leon let them alone, it is probable that the state of religion among them would have been more flourishing than it is at this day. They would have re-established their Provincial and National Synods; and they would have restored their ancient confession of faith and discipline. What have they gained by the Organic Articles of the year X? We
But was not Buonaparte the author of the Concordat? We answer, he was. And by that instrument he re-organized the Roman Catholic church of France, and subjected it to the influence of the state beyond what it had ever known before. And was he not the author of the Organic Articles of 1802? He was. By these the Protestants obtained, for the first time since 1685-the epoch of the revocation of the edict of Nantes-a legalized existence, and the right to have their public worship sustained, like that of the Roman Catholics, from the national treasury. In other respects, they were put on a level with their fellow-subjects. This was doing a great deal for them ; nor were they ungrateful. No equal portion of the French people
individuals who reside in it, for religious worship. The Con. vention, like all successive governments of France, seems to have had a great dread of private meetings.