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gelical doctrine. Their principle of forbearance looks both ways. They would have every shade of religious opinion represented in the Christian Church. Orthodoxy they would admit to a place, as well the various degrees of admitted error. And indeed they consider differences not merely as tolerable, but as beneficial.

The position of the French Reformed Church, at the time of the late Revolution, may thus be summed up as follows:-(1.) Under the act called the law of Germinal, that Church was recognised and salaried by the State. Her Rule of Discipline, though never abrogated, was in abeyance, and could not be revived. In consequence of this she had no power of self-government, and was merely a union of ecclesiastically independent consistories, cemented and controlled by civil authority. These consistories were appointed according to a system in which wealth was the only test of eligibility, and self-election the real principle of their constitution. (2.) As concerns her internal state, she was composed of opposite elements; contradictory doctrines were professed and taught within her pale, and her Confession of Faith having gone into abeyance, as well as her Rule of Discipline, no means existed by which the anomaly could be removed. In point of doctrine she was divided into the orthodox and rationalist parties, and also into the Evangelical or Methodist and the Latitudinarian or Liberal parties; these two divisions, be it remembered, not being equivalent. Finally, in spite of all her discouragements and difficulties, she was in a state of earnest revival and progress, and her real friends had much reason for thankfulness and hope.

After this brief narrative, we now proceed to record certain circumstances connected with the recent history of this illustrious Church.

As soon as the Revolution of February had been fairly accomplished, and the fact that a totally new order of things was to be established had been fully ascertained, the Reformed Church, in common with every other body in France, inquired with anxiety what she had to hope from the event, and what she had to fear. A change for better or worse seemed inevitable. The law of Germinal, it was thought, would certainly be modified. At first it was supposed that a change would take place, of a kind so radical as that no religious body whatever would thenceforth be recognised and paid by the State. On this point, however, the wishes of some and the apprehensions of the majority were soon disappointed. The four established communions were not long of being satisfied that their connexion with the civil power would be maintained. It remained to be seen on what footing.

The first step towards deciding this was taken by some mem

Relation to the Civil Power.


bers of the Lutheran Church. At Strasbourg, in the early part of March, a meeting was held in which the law of Germinal was treated as abolished, and when it was determined to elect, by universal suffrage of the adherents to the Augsburg Confession, an Assembly for the purpose of elaborating a new ecclesiastical constitution. Nothing could have been more irregular than this movement; but it well suited the times, and accordingly met with at least the implied sanction of the minister of Public Worship. It was evident that the Reformed Church, in such circumstances, could not remain inactive, and that a law which had apparently ceased to exist for others could not be suffered to continue in force as regards her. As it has turned out, all this, like so many other visions of that day, has proved to be a vain illusion; for the law of Germinal, which, at the Strasbourg meeting, was declared to have been "torn up," remains unaltered and in exercise to this moment; but the conviction, though it was probably only the offspring of the wish that its time was come, was for a period strong and fruitful.

To call an Assembly of the Church-a national Synodseemed to all the first thing to be done. The only difficulty lay as to the form of doing it. From the want of any central authority, there existed no means of convening such an Assembly in a regular manner, nor on any uniform system of election. Nevertheless, there being but one feeling as to the law of Germinal, this unanimity, now that an opportunity seemed to offer itself of modifying or abolishing the law, served to force the various social elements to gravitate towards each other; and in such emergencies little more is needed than that kind of influence. Elections of deputies, though on principles as different as can well be conceived, took place in the Reformed Churches all over France, and on the 10th May 1848, a hundred and eight delegates, representing more or less directly eighty-six out of the ninety-two* legal consistories, met at Paris.

On an examination, however, of their commissions and powers, it became immediately evident that an Assembly, constituted by modes so irregular, various, and extraordinary, could not be taken to express fairly and unequivocally the will and wants of the Reformed Church, and that the most it could do would be to prepare the way for a more regular ecclesiastical convocation, by framing an electoral system, according to which, on a uniform basis, a Synod should be named; and, in fact, the practical labours of the May Assembly were almost exclusively confined to this single piece of business.

The necessity of calling another Synod having been unani

Ninety-two, exclusive of the Consistory of Algiers.



mously acknowledged, the Assembly of May deliberated on the manner of doing so. The principle that the election should be by universal suffrage of the members of the Church, was adopted by a large majority. But then the question arose, Who were to be consideredo Church members ? Various tests were proposed. 1st, Baptism, admission to the Lord's Supper, and adherence to this Confession of Faith, “ Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh,” (1 Tim. iii. 16); 2dly, Adherence to the formula,“ Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God,” (Matt. xvi. 16); 3d, Adherence to the Apostles' Creed; 4th, Baptisın, and continued participation in the Sacrament of the Communion ; 5th, Baptism, and admission at any time to the Communion; 6th, The mere fact of previous admission to the Communion. But all these tests were rejected as too stringent. Several pastors stated that in their congregations few males came to the Lord's Table; others, that the majority of the members of their consistory did not. One said he had only two communicants in his consistory; another, that he had but one; a third, that he had none at all. The mere fact of having been baptized was then proposed as the qualification. Even this was rejected; and finally it was resolved, that “all shall be admitted to vote who declare that they belong and adhere to the Reformed Church of France."

After this settlement of the question of the membership, and after a subsequent decision that the consistories should draw up the electoral lists, power being left to any one whose name might have been omitted, to cause the omission to be rectified, it came to be debated whether the election should be by one or by two degrees. The latter arrangement was carried by a majority of votes, and the manner of proceeding was thus laid down. There was to be a primary election, in which the members, as above constituted, of each sectionary church—that is, of each congregation—were to choose as many laymen as the congregation had pastors. There was then to be a secondary election, in which the laymen so chosen, together with the pastors, were to choose the delegates to the Assembly. This secondary election was to be by consistories—that is, the representatives of the sections were to group themselves and vote according to the consistories to which their section belonged.* Each consistory was to return one delegate.f An example of the way in which this Assembly of September 1848.

* We may mention that another system of voting in the second degree was recommended by the Assembly of May, but, at the same time, left optional to each consistory. It was, that instead of the consistories electing separately their representatives, they should unite, according to a given plan, in a number of groups, for the purpose of electing, in common, as many representatives as they were collectively entitled to. This mode, however, was acted on only in a few cases.

+ Algiers, and the Theological Faculties of Montauban and Strasbourg, were also each to send one.


worked will make it more clear. The consistory of Paris contains four sections, Paris proper, Batignolles, (one of its suburbs,) Versailles, and Les Ageux, a village in the department of the Oise. These four sections are ministered to by nine regular pastors and two or three assistant pastors. On the 7th August the primary election took place in each of the sections, and nine laymen were chosen; and these, with the nine regular pastors, proceeded on the 11th August to the secondary election, in which one member (Pastor Coquerel, senior) was named to represent the consistory in the Assembly.

Such was the basis on which the Assembly of September 1848 was returned. It could not properly be considered as a revival of the long discontinued national synods, for these were ordered to be constituted in a different way.

Its true character was that of an extraordinary Convocation, called together in consequence of extraordinary circumstances.

This Convocation met at Paris on the 11th September. The members should have been ninety-five in number, but in some instances no election had taken place, and the actual roll contained only ninety names. The first business of importance in the Convocation was a discussion on the propriety of adopting a definite and well-developed Confession of Faith. As it was on that question that the secession afterwards took place, and as it is, besides, of great general interest, it is the only one of which in this Article we shall present any notices. This debate serves to show, perhaps better than anything else, the existing state of parties and opinions in the Reformed Church, as well as an important phase of public opinion, in these times, in Western Europe and America. We shall not observe the order in which the speakers and the arguments actually followed each other; for though this would be more historically exact, it would be less really logical, and our object, moreover, is to present a general view of these events, and not minute details.

Count Agenor de Gasparin, seconded by Pastor Frédéric Monod, moved the following resolution :

See the ancient Rule of Discipline. It may be worth while to notice the way in which the Government regarded the Assembly. A letter from the Minister of Public Instruction and Worship to the President, speaks of it as “ formed in virtue of the general principle of liberty of meeting," as “beyond the provisions of the legislation affecting the Protestant Churches,” (that is to say, of the law of Germinal, the exercise of which is thus distinctly viudicated) as “having no official character," and “ as not entitled to be considered as a regular Synod of the Reformed Church."

+ In one case there was a member too many. The consistories of the Gard having united themselves into a group, had returned nineteen delegates instead of the eighteen to which they were entitled. The Assembly sustained the electiona curious decision, justified perhaps by the circumstances. M. Coquerel, senior, protested against it, and declared that it so vitiated all the subsequent acts of the Assembly, that he should consider them as null and void ; nevertheless, he afterwards appeared and even spoke in the Assembly.

“ Whereas a Christian Church ought, in its quality of a Church, publicly to confess the Christian faith ; and whereas the Reformed Church does not really fulfil this duty, the Assembly declares that a positive confession, or profession of faith, should be placed at the basis of the organization and discipline of the Reformed Church of France.”

The form thus given to the question soon manifested the existence of three parties. There was, in the first place, the small minority, consisting of M.de Gasparin and M. Frédéric Monod,* who, forced by the conclusion legitimately to be derived from the premises of their resolution to maintain that if the Church refused to adopt a Confession she was not a Christian Church, were ready, on such a refusal, to secede from her communion. In the second place, there was the great majority of the Evangelical section, who, admitting the first premiss of the resolution—namely, that a Church should confess her faith—and desiring, consequently, that the Reformed Church should confess hers more explicitly than she did, denied the second premiss, and, founding on the Confession of La Rochelle, held that, in point of fact, a confession of her faith did actually exist, on which they could fall back in the event of a refusal to adopt a new one. The Confession of La Rochelle thus, in their view, relieved them from the necessity of a secession. Lastly, there were the Latitudinarians in their several degrees, from those who thought it inexpedient to adopt a Confession at that time, to those who maintained that Confessions are at all times hurtful.

We begin with specimens of the arguments of this last party. Some of them held that the Assembly or Convocation was incompetent to adopt a Confession for the Church ; others, that it would be unable to put a Confession into force; a third, that the adoption of a Confession was not advisable at the present time.

Passing over these preliminary objections, we find it argued, in the first place, that Confessions are useless. Pastor Réville of Dieppe, who has lately translated one of the smaller works of Archbishop. Whately, maintained that Confessions are of no avail towards excluding unsound doctrine. Amyraut, he urged, had discovered Universalism in the Confession of La Rochelle; according to the English Tractarians, the Thirty-nine Articles of the Anglican Church teach salvation by works; even Pantheists in Germany sign the Confession of Augsburg. M. Montet, Dean of the Faculty of Theology at Montauban, argued that though, no doubt, a Church must have a common faith, this does not imply the necessity of its having a Confession to expose

* M. de Gasparin's resolution was signed also by M. Jules Bonnet, but that gentleman took but little part in the debate, and did not ultimately secede.

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