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bining much intelligence and wealth, with a form of ecclesiastical polity in itself admirably adapted to produce the strength of united exertion and the energy of free action! The country and the world ought to feel her influence, and rejoice in her labours of love. Her missionaries ought to be found in every destitute portion of the land, and in every dark corner of the world, bearing "the unsearchable riches of Christ," and proclaiming the messages of redeeming love.
It appears from the Minutes of the last General Assembly that Providence is opening a new door of usefulness to the Presbyterian Church in this country. In the year 1828, the General Assembly resolved to open a correspondence with the Protestant Churches in France. A letter was accordingly sent to that body of Christians, in the name of this Judicatory. This letter, addressed to the Consistory of Paris, was translated into French, and published in the Archives of Christianity, a monthly periodical devoted to the cause of Christ. Since the revocation of the Edict of Nantz, the French Protestants have had no national Synod. Correspondence with them, can therefore, be conducted only through their Consistories, or through individuals and voluntary associations.
The publication of the letter of the General Assembly, excited considerable attention. Accordingly, answers were returned by the Editors of the Archives of Christianity, by St. Pilet Joly, pastor of the French Walloon Church of Francfort on the Maine, by the Consistory of the Consistorial Church of Mens, and by the pastor of the Third Ecclesiastical Division of the Reformed Consistorial Church of the Departments of Aisne, and of Seine and Maine.
The effect of this correspondence was not confined to France. On the 10th of March in the present year, a letter was written by the Congregational Board of Ministers in London, addressed to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, in which it is
proposed, that there should be a correspondence between those two bodies of Christians.
The reception of these letters may be justly regarded as a remarkable event in the history of the General Assembly. And it does appear to us, as intimated before, that Providence has, in this way, prepared new facilities for the extension of the Redeemer's Kingdom among men. But that our readers may enter into our views and feelings on this subject, we present the following cursory statement of facts.
The Reformed Church in France was once an object of veneration and sympathy with all Protestants. Pure in doctrine, strict in discipline, full of holy zeal, and furnished with pastors not more distinguished for the fervour of their piety, than for profound and various learning; it was regarded with glorying and joy, by all who loved the Reformation. At the same time, its members, subjected to the tyranny of priest-ridden princes, and to the remorseless hatred of an intolerant hierarchy, endured through a series of years, sufferings too dreadful for minuter description. At length by the repeal of the Edict of Nantz, the cause of Protestantism in France appeared to be totally ruined, and that church, which had furnished an army of more than 200,000 martyrs, and many of the greatest scholars of the age in which they lived; which had more than 2000 congregations, and 2,000,000 of communicants sunk under the fierce fanaticism of Louis, misnamed the great, and his hooded ministers. A great number of learned and pious pastors, and vast multitudes of the most valuable subjects of the French monarch, escaped from the country. But two millions of people cannot emigrate. Of those who remained, the timid and flexible, yielded to force, and were converted to Popery; the firm and conscientious maintained their principles, and worshipped in their own way, in "caves and dens of the earth." This remnant of a better age suffered innumerable vexations, and often horrible per
secution, from the year 1685, until 1787, when, principally through the exertions of La Fayette, "a civil existence" was granted to them.
None need be surprised that men oppressed as the French Protestants were, should rejoice in the change effected by the revolution. Napoleon, with all his faults, was a friend of religious liberty, and under his reign, the persecuted found favour. But on the restoration of the Bourbons, scenes of former violence were renewed, and the true spirit of Popery showed itself with its customary violence and cruelty. During a considerable period the Protestants were unprotected, and suffered all that the rage of their enemies could inflict. It was not until these disgraceful events had attracted the attention, and excited the indignation of the world, that any effectual measures were adopted, to prevent their recurrence.
It will not be thought extraordinary, that in a state of things such as we have very briefly described, religion should greatly decline. But there was another reason. The Protestants every where found the Catholics their bitterest enemies. In the mean while it served the purpose of the philosophists of France, in their warfare against all religion, to hold up the mummeries of Popery to ridicule, and its cruelty to detestation. In this they would have performed a good service, had they not identified true religion with its corruptions. It was, however, to be expected, that the Protestants, driven from their temples, denied the privileges of subjects, and often hunted by their enemies as wild beasts, it was to be expected, that they would feel some obligation to the men, whatever might be their motives, who turned the indignation of mankind against those bloodyminded persecutors. Accordingly, it has been found, that among many of the Reformed Churches, there is that approximation to infidelity, which goes under the name of Liberal Christianity.
It is also a notorious fact, that wherever great reliance is placed on external observances, they are made a substitute for vital religion. And generally, not to say universally, the consequence is a deplorable corruption of morals. Penance is made to take the place of repentance; license to sin is purchased by strict compliance with the ritual; and men go from confession and the mass, to the theatre and the gaming table, to masked balls, and brothels. The influence of an established religion, and of the majority of a nation's population on the dissenting minority is great.
Hence we find with much that is true, and valuable, and worthy of all praise, among Protestants in France, much that we ought deeply to deplore, and endeavour by all means in our power to remove or remedy.
The Congregational Churches in England may be regarded as the offspring of that mighty religious ferment in England, which, beginning with the Reformation, became more and more violent, until it heaved the throne of the first Charles from its fastenings, and destroyed him in its ruins. The History of this denomination is so fully detailed in the well known work of Neal, that a bare reference to this author is sufficient for our present purpose. Their writings are familiarly known to Christians in this country, and in many instances highly esteemed by them.
In regard to doctrine, both the congregational Churches in England, and the Protestants in France, embraced originally the system of Theology, which, since the Reformation, has gone under the name of Calvinism. The Congregationalists still adhere to this system, although in general, they prefer being called moderate Calvinists. Judging from the extraordinary run of Dwight's Theology in England, it may be presumed that their system differs very little, if at all, from his. The Confession of Faith of the Reformed in France, was drawn up by Calvin himself; and of course, it may well be denominated by that illustrious reformer. In
its fundamental articles it harmonizes with other confessions framed by Protestants, during the period of the Reformation. How far the French Calvinists, as a body, have departed from the faith of their fathers, we cannot precisely state.
In the principles of Church government, they are genuine Presbyterians. The official equality of all ministers of the Gospel was, and is now, strenuously maintained by them: but yet is not considered as essential to the being of the Churches. Their Consistory answers to our Church Session; their Colloque to our Presbytery; their Provincial Synod to ours; and their National Synod to our General Assembly.
The ecclesiastical polity of the Congregationalists is too well known to require a particular statement. It may however be observed that they are staunch friends of religious liberty; and so have been from the beginning. It is reasonable to believe, that the persecuted Protestants of France cherish the same sentiments.
After this cursory view of these Christian denominations, we proceed to present our views of the general benefit, which may result, from a proper use of the opportunities afforded by this inchoate correspondence.
We beg leave however, first to notice a particular circumstance which perhaps deserves some attention. Seve ral years ago, a proposition was entertained by the General Assembly to open a correspondence with several denominations of Christians in Europe, and a committee was appointed for that purpose. The measure however, at that time, proved abortive. One established Church, at least, came within the purview of this proposition. And the failure of the whole plan arose, it has been conjectured, from an ascertained indisposition on the part of that Church, to have any correspondence with us. Whether this was owing to the Prince of the establishment; or to an apprehension that the powers which be, would frown on patronised