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crown was offered him. He was not so devout and firm a protestant as not to be tempted by the offer of a kingdom. The duke of Sully advised him to comply with the terms offered; he followed the advice, renounced the protestant re. ligion, made a profession of the popish, and was elevated to the throne. This event took place in 1588, seventeen years after Henry attended the synod of Rochelle. Sully his prime minister, who like his master, was a mere nominal profes. sor, still continued attached to the protestant church, and was an instrument in the hand of the great Redeemer, of promoting its interests. In 1598, an edict was issued from Nantz, in Lower Languedoc, by Henry IV. securing to the protestant church in France the free exercise of their religion, and allowing them to occupy many important stations under the crown-an edict which for about one hundred years was a shield to the friends of truth, against the catholic and bigoted successors of that great prince. Such was the power and weight of the protestants, that, during the reign of Henry, who was their friend as far as consisted with his own ambitious views, and during the reign of his immediate successors, the crown would not have been able to crush them, even had the attempt been made.
From the bosom of the church itself proceeded its own ruin. The elevation of Henry to the throne of France, and the worldly spirit of the duke of Sully, opening the way for a union of distinguished protestants with catholics in the administration of the public affairs of the nation, a disposition to flatter and accommodate the king, for the favours which he bestowed upon them, and the profound policy of catholic statesmen, soon caused a relaxation among the friends of truth, of which the first evidence recorded in history, was given about the year 1595. A plan had been formed to unite the popish and protestant churches. It originated with four protestant ministers, Rotan, Marlas, Secres, and Cayer, of whom the two latter became Roman catholics. Rotan was appointed to appear before the king in a dispute against the leading doctrines of the catholics, and to betray the cause of the reformers; but he did not attend, and Be
raud of Mantauben, appeared in his place, and in a most triumphant manner, vindicated the protestant opinions in relation to the inefficacy of all other means of salvation than the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus. But the zeal of the reformers was cooling, and error was creeping abroad among their churches, and finding its way into their theological schools.
A minister of very considerable talents and professor at Herborne, Piscator, was cited to appear before the general synod of Gap, in 1603, and answer to charges brought against him in relation to some errors which he had written and taught on the atonement, such as, “ that the active obes, dience of Christ Jesus, or his obedience to the precepts of the divine law, forms no part of the sinner's justifying righteousness before God; that the sufferings of Christ in his life and at his death were all that he did in the room of the sinner; that on account of these sufferings our sins are pardoned; but it must be on the footing of our own personal holiness that we gain admission to Heaven.” The synod denounced those errors as of a dangerous nature and of alarming magnitude, and instructed the subordinate synods to depose all their members who should embrace and obstinately maintain them; and provided Piscator would not publicly renounce them they appointed two of their members, Sohnis and Ferrier, to write an answer to them. They also wrote to the universities of England, Scotland, Leyden, Heidelburg, Bazil, and Herborne, to unite with them in the condemnation of these errors. Regnault, pastor of the church at Bordeaux, was appointed to report the decrees of the synod to Piscator. Sohnis addressed himself to the task assigned him by the synod, and completed his answer to the Piscatorian errors before the meeting of the general synod of Rochelle in 1607.
In this synod, the subject was again discussed, and some errors in relation to repentance, which Piscator was said to have taught. The professor sent letters to the synod, written in a very gentle and conciliatory style, containing explanations, palliations and vindications of the doctrines which he
had embraced and taught. On the subject of repentance, the synod express their approbation of the explanations which he had given, and reiterate their disapprobation of his views, respecting the active obedience of Christ. Their tone, however, is lowered in a very remarkable manner. Felix Huguet, a minister of the gospel in Dauphiny, had written and published in Geneva an answer to Piscator's writings, in which he acted contrary to a standing decree of the general synod--that no minister should publish a book, without the consent of the consistory or presbytery to which he belonged, a license which Huguet had not obtained from the consistory of Dauphiny. The synod declare that “he incurred a grievous censure," and say, with great emphasis, that the book of Piscator against which Huguet wrote, had not been published, and applaud the conduct of the magistrates of Geneva, in endeavoring to suppress his book. They also express high approbation of the style of Piscator's letters, in explanation of his views. Sohnis presented to the synod his reply, which was approved as ortho. dox, but he was not allowed to publish it, “ least,” as they say, " the peace of the church should be disturbed.” In all these proceedings, we discover, that during the four
years, which had elapsed since the meeting of the synod of Gap, the tone of the orthodox in the Gallic church, had suffered & most inauspicious relaxation. What was the cause? We have hinted at it before. The duke of Sully, the duke de Bouillon, the king's sister, and many other illustrious personages of the protestant faith, formed a part of Henry's court, where the catholic religion prevailed; and their attachment to the unbending course which was held by Cal. vin, Beza, and their immediate successors, was greatly weakened. Accommodation was becoming the fashion of the times, the warmth of opposition to the catholic 'errors had greatly cooled, and this coolness began to manifest itself in all the acts of discipline, which related to the errors that were making inroads upon the church. The protestant nobility had political projects, for the attainment of which, the preservation of harmony and the appearance
of strength must be preserved, though at the expense
of truth. To these views, the protestant ministers, as they have too often done in other instances, permitted themselves to become subservient. The very great favour shown to Piscai tor on this occasion, was owing, at least in part, to the interference of the earl of Nassau, who wrote warmly in his favour to Regnault. The synod was presented with the Earl's letters, in which he promises to prevent Piscator's notions from spreading, “provided he receive no provocation from any public writings.” This was intended to prevent the book written by Sohnis, from appearing before the world, with the sanction of the synod, and it had the desired effect. A vote of thanks to the Earl was passed, “ for his pious in: tentions," and a promise made that no provocation should be given. Thus the cause of truth was betrayed, as an apology for which, they caused that Confession of Faith, which they were trampling underfoot, to be read over, and it was unanimously approved and sworn to by the deputies. That the spirit which prevailed in this synod has not been misunderstood appears from their proceedings in relation to an intimation given by the king, that the publication of that article in the confession, in which the pope is called Antichrist, would be highly offensive to him. The synod pusillanimously decreed, in a conditional manner, that the obnoxious article should not be printed, and that his majesty should be humbly intreated to prevent any one from being injured for what had been done in relation to this affair. Thus we see the protestant church in France rapidly sinking into a state of general debility. Still it contained a great body of learned, illustrious, pious and faithful divines, among whom may be named as the most distinguished Peter de Moulin, better known by the name of Molinæus. This great and good man saw, in its full extent, the evil which threatened the church, and employed his utmost efforts to avert it. He undertook to answer the errors which were spreading from the University of Herborne, in which work he employed four years. It was written in Latin, and the manuscripts were laid before the synod of Privas, which appointed a com
tnittee to examine them, and they were pronounced orthodox, and their author thanked for his labours in defence of the truth; but, least the repose of the church should be disturbed, he was prohibited from publishing them.
At the synod of Vitré, 1617, Sohnis was permitted to publish the manuscripts, which ten years before he had presented to the synod of Rochelle: but the evil had then become too extensive, and too deeply rooted, to be affected by the publication. About this time measures were put in train by the prince of Orange, for calling the synod of Dort; and letters were sent to the reformed church in France, inviting the attendance of commissioners, who were appointed. The deputies were Chamier, Du Moulin, and Chave, among the most distinguished French divines. They had commenced their journey to Holland, but were recalled by an arrét of Louis XIII, the son of Henry IV. Thus we discover how unsatisfactory the Calvinistic views of election, definite atonement, &c. are to the Roman catholics, and that the Arminian system was, at that time, considered by them in a friendly light, and as deserving protection.
Notwithstanding the coldness, which was creeping into the reformed church in France, the great body of their divines, and of their people, were orthodox in their principles; and they were still willing to hazard something with the government in expressing their opinions. This was done at the synod of Alez, the first general synod that met in France after the synod of Dort. It was assembled in 1620, and not only expressed its entire approbation of the decrees of that body of illustrious divines, but adopted them in the most unequivocal manner; and every member bound him. self by solemn oath, to support them to the utmost of his power. The expression of a belief in them was made a term of ecclesiastical communion, and the candidates for the ministry, the principals and professors of the universities and theological schools, and all the elders of the church, were ordered to express on oath their approbation of them, and their resolution to support and maintain them to the end of their lives. The civil magistrates of the Netherlands are