« IndietroContinua »
of the body were almost forgotten. The method of filling vacancies is not fully determined by statute. Its reorganization has been talked of since the last winter, and favored by the Liberals. The government assumed the right to fill vacancies by ministerial appointment, which resulted in the introduction of many Liberals, some being of the extreme radical type. The council met July 9. A project for the regulation of elections was presented, but decisive action deferred till the next session, to be held in October. It remains, at the present writing, to be seen whether this movement of the government will be so conducted as to render quite "abortive" the work of the Synod.
Another notable step in the direction of arbitrary governmental action, which occurred last April, was the appointment of two professors, MM. Viguie and Bonnet Maury, respectively to the vacant chairs of Practical Theology and Ecclesiastical History in the Paris faculty. The appointment was made without consulting either the consistories or the faculty, though the latter are considered to have given silent consent. A profound sensation was created by this action, and a formal protest will probably be presented by some of the consistories before the Council of State against such disregard of the Synodal provision for appointment to the professorial chairs. The ministers generally, however, are said to have approved beforehand the legality of the appointment. The delay of the Orthodox party in the Reformed Church to present candidates, through their dissatisfaction with the establishment of the faculty at Paris, and the undue eagerness of the Lutherans to possess the vacant chairs, may be justly blamed as the occasion for this step, and evangelical organs are urging upon their friends speedy action in the case of the vacant professorship at Montauban. The new professors were the candidates of the Liberal party, which has welcomed their appointment and the manner of it. The Liberal influence has manifest ascendency with the present government, which does not stop at arbitrary measures to satisfy it.
On the other hand, there have come into existence during the past year, as a means of action and defense for the Orthodox, the synodes qfficieux, or semi-official synods, the idea of which seems to have originated largely with the Montauban faculty in the autumn of 1878. The Orthodox Churches, or the minority Orthodox party in a Liberal Church, send delegates to a circonscription Synod. In two thirds or more of the circon8criptions, these free Synods, independent of State authority, are now formed, the scheme having been readily adopted by the Orthodox, and a General Synod of this kind, delegated from the circonscriptions, is expected to meet in Paris in November. The movement is naturally regarded as a large step toward the separation of the Orthodox portion of the Ref ormed Church from State dependence. Many of the Orthodox leaders anticipate from the action of such a Synod some happy deliverance from the present intolerable state of indecision and perplexity. The Synod will have assembled, and some advanced action entailing important consequences will perhaps have been taken before this article meets the eye of the reader.
In May last a delegation of forty-one presidents of consistories met in Paris, and assumed action, as an intermediate or prudential body in place of the Synodal Commission, which has been for a long time entirely inefficient. There is little hope at present that another National Synod will be summoned, and, indeed, the results attained by that of 1872 seem to be practically annulled. None the less was the assembling of the latter a highly important epoch, and the survey of subsequent events in the legal relations of the Church, though a tedious study, yet presents an important factor in the great religious problem which has been called the " Sphinx of France." When French Protestantism enters upon its grander career, then will the true significance of the struggles it is now undergoing in the trammels of the State subordination, established by the empire, be appreciated.*
III. We turn to glance for a moment at The Recent Status Of French Protestantism In The Woke Of Education And Evangelization.
The interests of education in connection with the Church, while calling for some difference of opinion, have yet attracted in good degree a harmonious co-operation. The importance of the theological schools is confessed by all; and in the late dis
• Authority for some of the above statements may be found in certain communications from M. Pressense' to the Loudon Christian World, which have been reproduced by Professor Baird in the New York Christian World.
cussions concerning the transfer of the Strasburg and Montauban faculties to Paris, both parties in the Reformed Church, and the whole Lutheran Church, have taken a lively interest. The theological seminary, founded by Antoine Court, at Lausanne, in 1730, directed by him during the remaining thirty years of his life, and subsequently transferred to Geneva, had furnished the Reformed Church with pastors almost exclusively, till Napoleon, in 1810, founded the theological faculty of Montauban, a small town not far from Toulouse. A Reformed seminary had, indeed, anciently existed there from 1598, and was suppressed by the Jesuits in 1661. A second seminary established at Lausanne and one at Neufchatel also furnish pastors for the Reformed Church.
We have seen that the question of transferring the Montauban faculty to Paris was considered in the late Synod. This was not a new question, and the same arguments were used on either side as had been employed before. In 1834 a commission appointed by M. Guizot, then Minister of Public Instruction, to consider the needs of the Protestant schools, reported next year in favor of the foundation of a new theological faculty at Paris, and the strengthening of those at Montauban and Strasburg. Against the project of a faculty at Paris it was argued with much earnestness, in the Chamber, in the press, and elsewhere, that the moral atmosphere of Paris and the expense of living rendered it an unfit place for Protestant students; while the actual establishment of a faculty there would, on the whole, operate destructively upon the patronage of Montauban. The opposition came then, as of late, mainly from the Orthodox party. It was feared that the Liberal influence would predominate at Paris. In favor of the project it was urged that Protestantism languished precisely for the want of that larger contact with the world and that broader culture of its ministry which a faculty at Paris would secure for it. No action of the kind proposed, not even in strengthening the old faculties, was then taken, though the discussion was for a long time continued. The accession of MM. Jalaguier, (1834,) Monod, (1836,) and De Felice, (1839,) to the faculty of Montauban revived the prospects of the institution, and brought to it an era of greater influence.
The general awakening of energy incident to the establishment of the Republic after the war of 1871, and the attention directed to the subject of education, called up again the question of a Protestant faculty at Paris. A removal of the Lutheran faculty from Strasburg seemed necessary after the political changes, and the Lutheran Synod of 1872 petitioned for its transference to Paris. The Reformed Church, and especially the Orthodox party, were in doubt as to which course to favor about the faculty of Montauban. The influence of Paris life was dreaded, and at the same time courted. Many feared to leave Montauban in rivalry with Paris, yet the maintenance of an institution in the south seemed highly important. Probably the wisest suggestion has been that of transferring the Montauban faculty to Montpellier, where it would be associated with the provincial university. This plan would accord with the favorite national scheme of fostering such provincial establishments, and would give the faculty a rank corresponding to the Catholic universities now organized. The Protestant institution would be in the bosom of the Huguenot population of the departments Gard and Herault, equally distant from those of Ardeche and Dr6me, where are one hundred thousand Protestants, of Tarn and of Tarne-et-Garonne. As yet the faculty remains at Montauban.
In 1873 a free school of theological science was opened in Paris, with the general co-operation of leading Protestants, Reformed and Lutheran. It was not designed to form a new theological faculty, but "to offer solid and serious theological instruction in courses of lectures which will supplement the teachings given in the faculties." An extensive library was to be attached to the school, and prizes were offered for papers on specified subjects. The course was opened December 1, and lectures delivered by MM. Pressens6, Lichtenberger, Hollard, Bersier, Sabatier, Matter, and Doumergue. The rapid advance of the Catholics in securing the right to organize education under exclusive control of the Church, first in the primary and secondary grades, and, in 1875, in the foundation of universities, hastened the determination of the Protestants to erect their new school, if possible, into a full faculty of theology. The government, however, took other and welcome action. M. Waddington, the Minister of Public Instruction, issued a decree March 27, 1877, transferring the faculty of Strasburg to Paris, or, rather, reorganizing it there. The faculty, consisting of M. Lichtenberger, Dean, and Profs. Matter, Berger, and Sabatier, were formally installed June 1, 1877, under the auspices of the Ilecteur de VAcademie de Paris, in the ancient College Rottin, Rue Lhomond, near the Pantheon. This was a great day for Protestantism, the jealousy of the Sorbonne having forbidden any such establishment in Paris, even during the happiest times of the Edict of Nantes. Eight scholarships were granted by the government of eight hundred francs each. Two chairs were left to be filled by the Reformed Church, but the Synodal Commission has delayed action, and the Lutherans have sought to occupy the positions. The important new action of the government has been noticed above. In August, 1878, the faculty graduated five students. The same number of candidates for the ministry were presented by Montauban. This seems to be a feeble showing for the hope of the French Protestant Church. There were not, indeed, last year, over one hundred theological students in all the schools.
In the matter of general public education the Protestants have shown a worthy interest. The position which the Protestants have maintained, and the wide influence they are now able to exert, notwithstanding the civil disabilities so long endured, demonstrates their thorough devotion to the work of education within their own fold. They have not, however, built up distinct institutions of the secondary grade to any notable extent . For the education of their sons they have depended upon the government colleges or lyceums, which furnish all that is necessary for intellectual training. Private schools for girls as well as for boys, or pensions, exist in Paris and in the provinces. There are two or three preparatory theological schools: that at the Batignolles, in Paris, under the auspices of the Societe Cent/rale, which has given a large number of candidates to the ministry, being well known.
Special attention has been bestowed upon the work of primary instruction. The "Society for the Promotion of Primary Instruction among the Protestants of France," founded in 1830, has sent out over twelve hundred breveted teachers from its normal schools, and some thirteen hundred schools have been through its aid transformed into communal schools under government support. Of late, however, fears are entertained that,