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had the tact to preserve the unity of the Church in their time, notwithstanding the prevailing diversities of opinion. In the attempt to secure dogmatic unity, the venerable traditions and powerful organization of the Vatican have always the advantage. “If you would achieve,” said M. Fontanès, “a grand success, and offer an asylum to humanity weary of this ritual and dogmatic Christianity, which seem to stand as an obstacle to civilization, form a Church of liberty, of love; a Church which promotes union rather than division. France has lost its faith in Catholic dogmas, but is not yet freed from the spirit of Catholicism; offer to it a grand example of liberality and sympathy; bring healing to the country by demonstrating your respect for liberty of conscience.”
M. A. Coquerel spoke with his usual vivacity. He affirmed that there have always been Liberals in the Church, while they have especially asserted their presence during the last seventy years, since the legal reconstruction. “For my part,” said he, “I have assumed but one obligation, that of preaching the gospel according to my conscience.” The faith of the Liberals is as intense and as living as that of the Evangelicals. Their number is also very considerable, even in the Churches called Orthodox. Schism should be especially shunned and dreaded in the existing political crisis, in presence of the two enemies, the Romish Church and the Germans. M. Colani showed an intellect equally ready, but accompanied by greater learning and more penetrating in matter of criticism. He charged that the Orthodox party, in the proposition they had presented, had manifestly departed from the faith of the Fathers. The doctrine of predestination, the key-stone of the ancient arch, appears no more. Here is no mention of the Trinity, none of the divinity of Christ in the sense of the Nicene Creed. As to the doctrine of salvation, how is the statement to be understood? What does Paul mean precisely by the term, “raised again for our justification?” One passage in St. Paul's writing has had, indeed, three hundred and twenty-one interpretations put upon it. As to the Scriptures, the doctrine of literal interpretation is abandoned, and the proposition limits their authority to “ matters of faith.” But who determines what are “ matters of faith.” “I remain,” said he, “in your Church; yes, in the Re
1 formed Church of France, constituted as you are about to
constitute it. I remain there by the same title as you yourselves, while denying every article of your Confession of Faith; and I remain even in the name of that Confession, since it declares itself submissive to the authority of the Scriptures, freely interpreted.” It is a new thing to take the liturgies and sacraments as the basis of doctrine. The liturgy in general use is that of Geneva, which is pervaded by the spirit of the mate rializing philosophers, of the friends of Rousseau, and so destitute of the old orthodoxy that the men of the revival period did not cease to protest against it. The liturgies, moreover, have always been used with freedom, and have never been considered binding. M. Colani boldly disputed the miraculous facts asserted in the Apostles' Creed, and called the question of the physical resurrection of Christ “a Byzantine problem." In like manner M. Fontanès had asked, “ How can the destiny of the corpse of Jesus Christ be a matter of vital concern for us?” Thus the extreme Liberal leaders made known the spirit of radical unbelief which animated them.
If the speeches uttered on the part of the Right were less brilliant than those of their opponents, they were, nevertheless, generally sound and reasonable. M. De l'Hombres replied to the principal charge of M. Colani, that “theological formulas may vary without altering the substance of belief," and that the present aim of the Right was simply to formulate the fundamental principles of a religious society. M. Bastie affirmed that the attempt to make sentiment the supreme bond of unity was absurd, since our sentiments are determined by our ideas, and that the body of the Church membership have a right to protect themselves against pastors who are at war with the ideas which have determined the whole religious current of their lives. M. Pernessin, a laymen, found the Liberals of the day to be not Protestants but Neo-Protestants. A Protestant, down to 1864, had been defined as one who exercised liberty of examination under the authority of Scripture; but the opposite party were now placing their reason above Scripture. In place of the fear of the Catholics or of any other enemy with which M. Coquerel had sought to alarm us, let us put the fear of God, and be guided by it alone. M. Delmas drew attention to the vigor of Protestantism in Scotland and the United States, where standards of faith had constituted the
bond of denominational life. Indeed, the radical scheme could produce only moral impotency and the ultimate decadence of all religious power.
M. Guizot entered into the discussion in all the dignity of his character as a statesman and a philosopher. He took occasion to defend himself against the accusation of yielding to Romanizing tendencies in the opinions he had published concerning the temporal power of the Pope. While charitable toward Catholicism and its mission in France, and liberal in his treatment at the present session of the party of the Left, he yet showed himself an earnest believer in the ancient faith of Protestantism. The presence of the Synod and the sight of the open Bible above the seat of the moderator, suggested to him the grand associations of the past. “And have we gathered here,” he said, “ to form a new society, to proclaim a new faith? This I have not supposed for one moment." There can be no religious society without a common faith; a truth which has been manifested at every epoch and under the most diverse conditions. This coinmon faith must be a faith in the supernatural. The greatest philosophers, as Socrates and Plato, have no more been able to found and maintain a religion by their philosophical principles alone than have statesmen such as Cæsar and Marcus Aurelius, by their power.
M. Bois finally appeared to defend his proposition and the right as well as duty of the Synod to give a formal expression to its faith. His address was remarkably able and persuasive. The Liberals, he said, claim a liberty for the pastor to speak as he pleases; but what of the rights of the laity, who, if they remain in the Church are compelled to listen? What is here claimed but the absolute omnipotence of the clergy, the very negation of the Protestant principle? There may be thus as inany doctrines as preachers, which is division without limit. Changes introduced into the liturgies are illustrative of the same spirit of division. It is not a mere shadow of differences which separate the two parties in this discussion, but all the difference there is between truth and error.
The natural and supernatural theories of religion are diametrically opposed. The right of rational examination of the Scriptures is granted; but “if such examination led me,” said M. Bois, “ to any other result than devout submission to the word of God, I should no
longer call myself a Christian.” It is true, there are differences of opinion among us as to the mode of inspiration; but “one belief dominates, for us of the Right, over all this discussion, namely: There is a supernatural revelation from God made to the human race, and the Bible is the book inspired with this revelation. Is that statement equivocal?” We are accused of using simple, popular, and indefinite terms in our proposition; but how great would have been the complaint had we used metaphysical terms! Christ is here called “the only begotten Son of God,” by which expression his divinity is affirmed without entering into the metaphysical question of his precise relation in the essence of his being to the Father. We appeal to the liturgies as containing the expression of our faith to-day, because history would search for it in these rather than in the discourses of this or that pastor. It is not our object to decree, but simply to affirm definitely, the actual faith of our Church. This it is our duty to do. We do not pretend to give a full expression, but to state its essential points. fundamental question which separates the two parties is this: Is there, or is there not, a supernatural revelation from God? We want to determine whether Christianity is that revelation or not, and whether the Reformed Church which has hitherto professed Christianity desires to change its religion.” The proposition of M. Bois, with a slight verbal modification, was adopted, June 20, by a vote of sixty-one to forty-five, as a formal expression of the present faith of the Church.
3. The question of making subscription to the Confession of Faith obligatory upon the pastors occupied three days, and involved a repetition of some of the points already made on either side. M. Laurens reported from the committee the proposition that “every candidate for the sacred ministry must declare, before receiving consecration, that he adheres to the faith of the Church as it has been determined by the General Synod.”
M. Martin Paschoud, in opposing the proposition, said that, while the Church remained the same, its government, rules, and usage had changed. Such was the case with France itself, which was no longer the France of Henry II. The proposition contained the spirit of the ancient discipline; but Samuel Vincent had said that,“ to put into effect the ancient discipline
and Confession of Faith in the present era, would be a radical revolution, and nothing less than the annihilation of religion." M. Gaufrès compared the proposed action to that of the late Vatican Council, which had silenced its own liberal party by the decree of papal infallibility. He had rather hoped that the essential aim of the Reformation would be here cherished, in delivering Christianity from the yoke of ecclesiastical bondage.
In defense of the requirement, and in denial of the charge that its enforcement would naturally promote hypocrisy in the clergy, M. Delmas appealed again forcibly to the example of the Churches of Scotland and America. "Ah! gentlemen," said he, “that grand Anglo-Saxon race, educated by such Churches, has not been the nourisher of the Machiavels and the Tartuffes ; but has rather displayed the most lofty examples of sincerity which the world has ever seen.” Without some such requirement, to what vagaries shall we not be exposed? A highly re• spected Liberal pastor has even announced that, if he came to believe in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, he would preach it in his Church. M. Bois, in like manner, set forth the absurdity of the assumption that the pastor could justly perform his functions, and maintain harmony in the Church, while he is allowed free utterance for every change of opinion. “To-day
Jesus Christ is represented as having died for our offenses ; to-morrow, as having died only like all martyrs for the faith. To-day, he is raised for our justification; to-morrow, he remains in the tomb. Today, the Scriptures are our rule of faith; to-morrow, they are but a respectable book from which each one may take what counsel pleases him best. Behold this perpetual change erected into a system! And now what becomes of the flock? Poor flock, obliged to follow the strange pastor -what will become of it? Whither is it being conducted? What shall it believe?” Several substitutes were presented from the Liberal stand-point for the above form, such as, that the pastor shall engage to "respect” the main facts of Christianity as represented in the liturgies, etc.; but the original proposition prevailed by a vote of sixty-two to thirty-nine. As to the pastors already in office, their position was left untouched by this action.
Another part of the present question concerning the obligatory character of the Confession, which was determined indeed