Pierre Jurieu (1637-1713): Rectifying the Papist idea of schism

Pierre Jurieu

Pierre Jurieu (1637-1713), a French Huguenot leader and grandson of the well-known Huguenot pastor Pierre Du Moulin, lived in extremely testing times. His lifetime was marked by great persecution of Protestants by Catholics in France. Like many other Huguenots, Jurieu ended up fleeing to the Netherlands, which at the time was a safe haven for Protestants in Europe, settling in Rotterdam, where he became pastor of the Flemish Walloon Church, the French-speaking Reformed Church in the Netherlands. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, Catholic persecution of Protestants in France went rampant.

Four years later, in 1689, Jurieu published a work titled Lettres pastorales adressées aux fidèles de France qui gémissent sous la captivité de Babylon (Pastoral Letters addressed to the Faithful of France who are Groaning under the Captivity of Babylon), which was secretly circulated around France and elsewhere in Europe. The main thrust of these letters are an encouragement to Huguenots in France to persevere in the Reformed faith and not go back to the Catholic Church, offering many arguments and reasons not to do so. This was much easier said than done, of course, since their safety would have been secured if they were to return, and there were a host of persuasive polemical arguments from the Papists which convinced many Huguenots to return to the Roman Church. Throughout these letters, Jurieu addresses these polemical arguments, one of which we will consider below.

One of the stronger polemical arguments the Papists made, which convinced many Protestants to return to Rome, was that the Huguenots had broken away from the one and only true Universal Church, and that consequently they had excluded themselves from salvation.  In Letter 13 of Volume 1, there is a section in which Jurieu discusses this allegation and the Papist view of schism:

“[Breaking the unity of the Roman Church through schism] is a point which your converters [Papists who attempt to convert Huguenots back to Catholicism] continually repeat, and beat upon you. Schism, say they, is a hideous crime: schismatics are out of the Church; there is no salvation for them: and although the Church of Rome itself were corrupt, you ought not to break with her. Their modern writers who seem willing to soften the maxims of the Roman Church do nevertheless observe no measure on this subject, and on this point. They proceed so far as to maintain, that although it should be true that even the Church of Rome should be fallen into idolatry, we ought not to forsake her, and could not justly set up altar against altar…

They say, that even though the Church should fall into idolatry, we cannot be saved if we separate from it. And I say, although even the Church of Rome should have reason at the bottom, and were not idolatrous, and that we were out in our separation, we should not hazard our salvation by continuing as we are [i.e. by continuing as Protestants]. Men are everywhere well where they have Christianity and the marrow and substance of it; and it is a folly to imagine that the salvation of men depends upon the temper of their guides. It may be therefore that Luther and Calvin were mistaken, i.e. that the corruption of the Church of Rome was not great enough to oblige the faithful to go out of her: let us suppose that would have done better to leave things as they were, I do nevertheless maintain, that at this day you do not in any way hazard your salvation by continuing where they have placed you [i.e. in the Protestant Church]; because however it may be, you have Christianity in its integrity, you have it wholly pure and incorrupt. In every society where that is found, a man may be saved, after whatever manner it be formed. The idea which men have formed of schism for many ages past is the most false that can be imagined: but besides the falsehood of it, it is the most dangerous and cruel chimera that could be found. Every society would be Catholic Church to the exclusion of all others. The Church of Rome pretends thus far for herself. The Greek Church makes no less pretence thereto. He that goes out of this Church breaks the unity, and he that breaks it is no longer in the Church. Now, he who is no longer in the Church, is no longer in a state and way of salvation, whatever he say and whatever he do. Behold what they say; behold the chimera.

We must therefore rectify this idea of schism, according to the unity which we have given you. The unity of the Universal Church does not subsist within the bounds of one certain communion, nor in adherence to certain pastors, to the exclusion of all others: but in the unity of spirit, doctrine, sacraments, and evangelical ministry in general, i.e. of pastors declaring the truth of the Gospel. What must be done then to make a schism with respect to the Church Universal? He must renounce the Christian doctrine, the sacraments of the Church, and the Gospel ministry; that is to say, he must be an apostate or a heretic. But every society that goes out of another and greater society of which it was part, makes no schism with respect to the Church Universal, whilst it retains the doctrine, the sacraments, and the ministry of the Gospel: it goes not out of the Church because it carries the Church with it, and it carries the Church with it, because it carries Christianity with it. It carries, say I, the Church with it, in such a manner nevertheless, that it leaves it in the society which it leaves; for leaving true Christianity there, it leaves the true Church there also. And the advantage of being the Church, and of having Christianity, is a privilege which may be possessed entirely, and without prejudice to other Christian societies.”

Jurieu then goes on to distinguish between two kinds of schism: universal and particular schism. He defines universal schism as:

“the renunciation of the Universal Church, by renouncing her doctrine, sacraments, and ministry.”

In other words, universal schism is to break away from the Church entirely and become apostate or utterly heretical. He then defines particular schism as:

“when a man separates from a particular Church, be it for some point of doctrine, be it for some quarrel about discipline, be it for some personal differences of the guides among themselves.”

Jurieu mentions several such particular schisms throughout church history, arguably the greatest example being, of course, the schism between the Greek (Eastern Orthodox) and Latin (Roman Catholic) Churches in 1054. He also mentions schisms in the Latin Church during the later Middle Ages, that of Popes and Anti-Popes, the one seated at Rome and the other at Avignon. He then comes to the Reformation, which he classifies as one of these particular schism, and states:

“…in these last times a great schism has happened in the Latin Church, which is divided into three great bodies: the Papists, the Lutherans, and the Reformed.”

Jurieu argues that the problem with the Papist view of schism is that they confound these two kinds of schism, since they regard particular schisms (such as the Reformation) as universal ones, and hence consider such schismatics as apostates who are altogether excluded from salvation. He would go on to argue that though “peace is to be preferred before division,” nevertheless the separation was made “for reasons of some worth and value, i.e. because of corruption in doctrine and worship,” and since this corruption still persists in the Church of Rome, we therefore cannot return to her.

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Jacques Abbadie (c. 1654-1727): The sense of our indigence is one of the greatest marks of our greatness

Jacques Abbadie

Tonight I came across this interesting discussion by the French Huguenot Jacques Abbadie (c. 1654-1727), in which he argues that man’s imperfections are, quite paradoxically, also an indication of his excellence. The main thrust I get out of this is that the consciousness of our imperfections reveals that we were made, to put it in simple terms, for “bigger things,” and herein consists our excellence. Read it for yourself, and think on it a bit. This is from his work Traité de la Verité de la Religion Chrétienne (Treatise on the Truth of the Christian Religion), vol. 1, chapter 13:

“Man, I confess, has his imperfections; his soul finds itself shut up within a very narrow compass: He sees himself confined on all sides, in the middle of an unlimited extent of space. He finds himself obliged to follow the condition of matter, which is much inferior to him in perfection. He perceived himself miserable and poor in the midst of prosperity and abundance. Nothing fills him; nothing satisfies him: He loathes everything, and desires everything. He is always seeking knowledge, and understands nothing perfectly. He admires, because he is ignorant. He has a curiosity to know, because he knows nothing. He is not only the sport of others, but in some manner his own. Equity and rectitude, with relation to him, are whatever his passions make them to be; and truth is nothing but what pleases him. His imperfections are great, and because they are great, they are not to be met with, but in an excellent being, and therefore serve better than anything else to show the perfection of man. This is what may easily be conceived with a little consideration and reflection upon ourselves.

Well, let those spaces be never so great which encompass me, I still find myself greater than they are. My body which is but an atom in comparison to the sun, is a colossus in respect to a mite. The sun which is a prodigious colossus with respect to me, is but an atom compared with that immense space, and those vast spheres wherewith it is itself encompassed. The greatness therefore or smallness of matter, does depend upon different respects, under which it is represented to us, or the different comparisons which may be made of it. It is my soul that makes those comparisons, my soul therefore has something more noble and great in it, than that whose greatness surprised me, or whose minuteness was too exquisite to be perceived by me.

Everything keeps its rank in nature; but man, who maintains his rank in the world, and knows it, is more perfect than all other [created] beings; and the narrower the space is which the soul is confined to, the greater subject of wonder is it; since by a particular prodigy, whenever it pleases, it draws together into the compass of an atom, heaven and earth, whatever we see of the immense spaces which encompass us, and all that lies beyond, out of our sight: It runs through all the parts of the universe, without any motion of its own, and that in a more amazing and wonderful manner, than if it moved itself. In the same simple undivided subject, it assembles together past, present, and future things, life and death, light and darkness, the most contrary elements, and most inconsistent qualities: And though it lies concealed, and (as it were) buried in a corner of the universe, it fetches in the universe to itself, when it pleases.

It is a surprising thing, I own, to see an intelligence so vast, subject to the laws of such a limited portion of matter, and a being so noble, wedded to the interests of a body which does not seem to have anything in common with it. And in this respect, methinks, it may be said, that it is most surprising to see the soul of man depending on matter, than separated from it; and that our life has something more astonishing in it than our death. For in fine, search as far as you please into the knowledge of the structure and constitution of the body, let the glandula pinealis be the centre of the motion of the animal spirits, or fix it in some other part of the brain; it is impossible there should be any true proportion between the motions of this gland, or this other part of our brain, and the thoughts of our soul; and though we should reason about it for ten thousand ages together, this agreement or proportion could never be found.

But is not this dependence of thought upon corporeal motion, and this dependence of corporeal motion upon thought, which are mutual occasions of one another, without any manner of proportion discoverable between them, is not this, I say, another wonder which ought infinitely to astonish us?

By this mark, I know that my soul was created: This is the character and seal of its dependence: And that it might appear the free production of an Understanding sovereignly free, it was necessary that this soul should depend upon matter, which is of a nature much inferior to it.

Moreover, of all the beings, we behold, man alone perceives his misery and wants; he is therefore the most perfect: For he must needs be of a more noble and exalted nature than other [created] beings, else he could not be miserable, since without knowledge, there can be no misery.

Besides, the mere privation of some good, is not properly indigence or want, but the privation of some good that seemed due. Cyrus whilst a shepherd, did not think himself miserable, because he was not seated on the throne: But the same Cyrus knowing himself to be of royal extraction, cannot be content except he reign.

What sort of being then is man, who is always poor and miserable, whatever degree of prosperity he enjoys? Why, he must necessarily be such a being whose excellence is no way proportioned to whatever we see. Wherefore the sense of our indigence is one of the greatest marks of our greatness.

Both our understanding and our heart, are (I confess) equally insatiable: The one is never tired with knowing, and the other never weary of desiring.  But that which occasions their extravagance in that respect, denotes their perfection.

The desire of knowledge, shows indeed that man does not know everything; that is, that he is not infinite; but it shows also that he may always be advancing in knowledge, and consequently, that his excellence is not limited in that respect.

It is the same case with the desires of man’s heart, which are perpetually renewed, and can never find anything capable of satisfying them. They show indeed that man does not enjoy all that is necessary to make him happy; but at the same time, they discover, that all temporal advantages are incapable of satisfying him; that he is above the world, and all the happiness the world can afford, and that no less than an infinite object is able to fill the vast capacity of his soul.

The admiration of the understanding is more wonderful than all he admires, and the desires of man are more noble than all the objects desired by him. That infinite thirst of our understanding tells us, that our excellence is on some sense unlimited; and the infinite appetite of our heart teaches us, that we may aspire to an infinite happiness. What we are ignorant of, humbles us; what we know, satisfies us; and that which we cannot attain to the knowledge of, does in some manner raise us higher than what we do know, and shows us that our soul shall not always continue in that low state it is now in; that it shall not always be taken up with those little interests and advantages, which are all its employs and concerns now, without the power of procuring it any true satisifaction.

It is a fault in covetous man, to be always desiring new additions of wealth; but it is a perfection not to be content with so inconsiderable a trifle as riches. Worldly-minded men are guilty of ignorance and blindness, and in that respect they sin; but properly speaking, they do not sin by being covetous, and pursuing their interest. They are to blame only for blindingly desiring what cannot satisfy them; but not for being insatiable after the possession of what they ought not to be contented with.”

Abbadie then, without offering an extensive discussion thereof (seeing that he says that he intends first to establish the existence of God in the subsequent chapters before doing so), offers some glimpses of what the perfection of man consists of, namely that man:

“…by a special privilege has the honour of representing the Supreme Being; which finds in itself some traces of that Knowledge and Wisdom it is obliged to ascribe originally to God… [man is] a being designed to collect the glory that streams from all created perfections, in order to reflect it back to their Great Maker…”

“[the perfection of man in this life consists…] …in the glorious state of virtue, regulating his desires by temperance, renouncing his passions, to practise the duties of piety, devoting the present to his duty, and gaining a sure title to the future, by his good use of the present; sacrificing his vicious desires to God, renouncing himself for the love of him who gave him all things, raising himself above time and the world by a sublime hope which carries him to far more solid objects than any time or the world can afford; and referring everything to the glory of God, as to the greatest and noblest end of all his thoughts and actions.”

Philippe du Plessis Mornay (1549-1623): Our doings can have no end to rest upon here, but only in the life to come

Philippe Du Plessis Mornay

Chapter 18 of De la Verité de la Religion Chrestienne: contre les Athées, Épicuriens, Payens, Juifs, Mahumedistes, et autres Infideles (Of the Truth of the Christian Religion, against Atheists, Epicureans, Paynims, Jews, Muslims, and Other Unbelievers) by the French Huguenot Philippe du Plessis Mornay (1549-1623) contains a discussion of man’s highest end, by no means identical to but reminiscent of Thomas Aquinas’ discussion of the beatific vision.

Mornay demonstrates the vanity of man seeking his highest good in the things of this world – in riches, honour, power and authority, in himself, in beauty, bodily pleasure, voluptuousness, sensuality, virtue, politics, earthly wisdom, and so forth. He then shows that God himself is man’s highest good and ultimate end, which though partially attainable in this life, is ultimately only attained in the life to come. In the excerpt below, which is from the end of the chapter, he argues along the lines of Hebrews 11:1 (“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”):

“And what is this faith in God, but a believing that our good lies in him? What is the believing, but the hoping for it? What is hope, but the desiring of it? What is the desire of it, but the not having it? And to be short, what is the continual belief of it here, but [a confirmation] that here we can neither have it nor see it? If we have not faith, what have we but ignorance? And if we have faith, what have we but only a desire and longing, considering that the greater our faith is, the more we despise these base things [of the world], and the greater our desire is, the more we hate ourselves, and the more earnestly do we love God. To be short, what is faith? Salvation promised. But we would [want to] see it. Again, what is faith? The way unto felicity. But we would [want to] possess and enjoy it. Look then what proportion is between that which is present, and that which is to come; such proportion is there between the hope which we have here (yea, even above the world and above ourselves), and the perfect and full fruition of the good which we seek to attain unto. But let us in a few words gather together what we have said heretofore. Whereas we seek for an end or resting-point, the world is made for man, man for the soul, the soul for the mind, the mind for a much higher thing than itself, and what else can that be but God? As for that which we understand here concerning God by our natural wisdom, it is but ignorance; and by our supernatural, is but belief; and belief makes not things perfect, but only moves the understanding. It follows then that our doings can have no end to rest upon here, but only in the life to come, which is the beholding and knowing of God. Again, if we seek the sovereign good, our appetites owe obedience to our will, our will to our reason, and the perfection of our reason is the knowing of God. And so our contentment of our will is our possessing of God. Now we possess not God, but so far as we love him; we love him not but so far as we know him: and neither can ignorance engender full and perfect fruition, but only a certain hope, which hope is accompanied by impatience even in the best of us. It follows therefore that we cannot enjoy our sovereign good, until we have come to our utmost end; nor have our full contentment, until we have full knowledge: that is, we cannot have it in this world, nor in man, which two cannot content the mind or satisfy the will of man, forasmuch as either of them both is a world of wretchedness: but though we have a double life, yet can we have our utmost resting-point and our sovereign good nowhere else but only in God and in the everlasting life.

Here I should declare what that felicity of man shall be, when he has come to his utmost resting-point. But who will be so rash as to open his mouth on this behalf, after him who has told us that neither eye has seen it nor heart can conceive it? And how should we know it here, being unable either to see it or to have it here? Now therefore in one word, let us be content with this, that all our desires shall be satisfied at that day, seeing they extend not but to the things that are, and that in God we shall at that day see, have, and know all things.”

Pierre du Bosc (1623-1692) on Soli Deo Gloria

Pierre-Du-Bosc

Pierre du Bosc (1623-1692) was an eminent French Reformed (Huguenot) pastor who, as a result of the persecution of Protestants following the repeal of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, was forced to flee to the Netherlands together with thousands of other Huguenots. He settled in Rotterdam, and preached there to his fellow French exiles, spending the rest of his life in the Dutch port city. During his exile in Rotterdam he preached a series on Ephesians which was subsequently printed under the title Sermons sur l’Épître de St. Paul aux Éphésiens, part of which was later translated into English. Below is an excerpt from his sermon on Eph. 1:4:

“‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth’s sake,’ was a prayer, my brethren, of the church of Israel, which you will find recorded in the beginning of the cxv. Psalm. Now, what they uttered in the way of worship, may be adopted by us as a form of confession of faith, for not unto us, but unto God, belongs all the glory of our salvation, which flows entirely from his mercy and grace. Nothing is due to us; all comes from on high, from the Father of lights, who is the author of all good. ‘O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help found,’ said God by his prophet, that all might learn, from the example of Israel, that our good comes entirely from the Lord. We are in darkness, from God comes our light; we are depraved, from God we get holiness; we are weak, from God we have strength; we are dead, of God we receive life; we are under eternal wrath and curse, God bestows blessing and salvation. We ought, then, to give him all the praise, and attribute nothing to man. Moses took the mirrors which devout women presented as an offering at the door of the tabernacle, and having broken them, he formed them into a sacred vessel to the Lord; and that burnished brass, which had served to reflect the lovely faces of the daughters of Israel, and which had often tempted them to forget God in admiring themselves, became a laver by which might be displayed the beauties and the charms of the face of Jehovah. So, in like manner, ought we to break in pieces everything which exalts only ourselves. Our religion and its services were never intended for this purpose, and if we ever mix up with them, feelings and sentiments, which have this tendency, they cannot too soon or too completely be destroyed. Our high and exalted privileges were never given us that we might admire ourselves for our good works, or make a display of them before our fellow men, or acquire fame, or gain aggrandizement by any moral worth which we may be supposed to possess; but rather on the contrary, that we may learn to sacrifice our love and high opinions of ourselves to God and his glory, and in any good that we may have attained to, see only him. It is very true that the gospel is a mirror, but in it you can see nothing but the worth of the Saviour. ‘We behold,’ says St. Paul, ‘as in a glass the glory of the Lord,’ not that of a man to admire our own merits, but that of God and his Son Jesus Christ, who is ‘the brightness of his glory,’ to admire and celebrate their goodness and their love. This is the only view given by the Christian revelation; and if, under its guidance, we ever see any good in ourselves, instead of teaching us to applaud and to glory in ourselves, it leads us directly to an humble acknowledgment of God’s favour, and to cry, ‘it is not us, but the grace of God which is in us’.”

– Pierre du Bosc (1623-1692), Protestantism, Being a Series of Discourses on a Portion of the Epistle to the Ephesians (part of Sermons sur l’Épître de St. Paul aux Éphésiens), p. 159-162

Augustin Marlorat (1506-1562) on John 8:11, “Go, and sin no more”

augustin_marlorat

 

When the scribes and Pharisees had brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, he said to them in John 8:7,

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

I am sure you have seen people use these words of Christ, ripped out of their context, as an escape from reproof and accountability.  Of course, Christ was not speaking here against all forms of reproof and punishment, but rather was exposing the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. As the Huguenot Augustin Marlorat (1506-1562) says on this text in his A Catholic and Ecclesiastical Exposition of the Gospel of John:

“This is not a precise and simple interdict and prohibition by which Christ forbiddeth sinners to do their office in correcting and punishing other mens offences, but he only reprehendeth hypocrites, who being too severe and cruel Judges of other men, do quietly passover their own sins. No mans sins therefore shall be a lette unto them, but that he may correct other mens faltes, and punish them also so often as nede shall require, so that he hateth as well in him self as in another, that thing which is to be condemned. Yea every man ought to beginne here, and to aske his conscience, and to be a witness and Judge against him self, before he come to other men.

And so it shall come to pass that we shall warre against sins withoute hatred against any man. In these words therefore due correction and the autority of the sword against offenders is not taken away; only the mallice of the Pharisees and Elders, is reproved, and restrained.”

Grace and forgiveness is not a license to continue in sin. After Christ had rebuked the scribes and Pharisees and they had left, he turned to the woman caught in adultery and said (John 8:10-11):

“Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” [emphasis added]

Marlorat comments:

“Notwithstanding least any man should think that the same free remission of sins, was a giving of liberty to sin, he [Christ] by and by addeth a restraint from sin. Hereby we gather what is the end of the grace of Christ: namely, that the sinner, being reconsiled to God, may worshippe and serve the aucthour of his salvation in innocensy and holiness of life.

For the Gospel remitteth sins, not because it is lawful to sin, but to the end we might repent and walke in neweness of life. For by the same word of GOD, when pardon is offered unto us, we are called to repentance.

They therefore which are receyved into the grace and favour of GOD, and whose sins are forgiven them must take heede that they take not unto them selves liberty: and being taken out of the handes of their enemies, let them see that they serve GOD their deliverer, in holiness and righteousness before him all the dayes of their life.

And in that, that Christ sayeth not, Gooe thy way, and committe no more Adultery, but, Go thy way and sin no more, we are taught how necessary, Innocency, Righteousness, and holiness, is to those that repent: in so muche that we should not only abstaine from sins, but also from all show of evel.”

In short, justification is to be followed by sanctification. The Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 32 summarizes this well:

Question 86. Since then we are delivered from our misery, merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?

Answer: Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by his blood, also renews us by his Holy Spirit, after his own image; that so we may testify, by the whole of our conduct, our gratitude to God for his blessings, and that he may be praised by us; also, that every one may be assured in himself of his faith, by the fruits thereof; and that, by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ.

Question 87. Cannot they then be saved, who, continuing in their wicked and ungrateful lives, are not converted to God?

Answer: By no means; for the holy scripture declares that no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or any such like, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Jacques Auguste de Thou (1553-1617) on St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and the death of Gaspard de Coligny (1519-1572)

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So the other day I was driving around Bloemfontein, the city where I live and study, when I was inspired by a street name to write this post. A few street names in Bloemfontein bear witness to the Reformed heritage of the South African Afrikaner people (which unfortunately is widely neglected today), including Calvynsingel (Calvin Crescent), John Knox Street, Luther Street, and Coligny Road. It was the latter that drew my attention and inspired me to post this one.

Gaspard de Coligny (1519-1572) was a French Huguenot leader in the French Wars of Religion, who was killed during the notorious St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre on 24 August 1572, in which thousands of Huguenots (French Reformed Protestant Christians) were slaughtered. The factors behind St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre are complex, so for brevity’s sake I’ll try to only offer a short heuristic paragraph for a little bit of context:

The French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) were largely the result of increasing religious (Catholic vs Huguenot) and political (different aristocratic houses) tensions. The spread of Reformed Protestantism in France didn’t go down well with the Catholics. It is generally agreed that the wars started with the Massacre of Vassy in 1562, the first of many massacres of Protestants, where a reported 63 Huguenots were killed and over a hundred more wounded when the barn in which they were holding a church service was set on fire. Despite further persecution of the Huguenots in the subsequent years, their number continued to grow throughout France (does Tertullian’s famous phrase “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” come to mind?). In 1570 the Peace of Saint-Germain brought a brief end to the conflicts, at least on paper. France was still rife with religious and political tension. The very influential Guise family, staunch Catholics, could not stomach the readmission of Huguenot leader Coligny to the King’s council in September 1571. Many Catholics thought Coligny had tried to persuade the French king to side with the Dutch (Protestants) against the Spanish (Catholics) during the Dutch Revolt, which didn’t help to soothe religious and political discord. The queen mother, Catherine de Medici, and her son, King Charles IX, attempted to cement the peace between the religious parties by having Catherine’s daughter, Margaret of Valois, marry the Protestant prince Henry III of Navarre on 18 August 1572, which, to put it lightly, did not go down well with the Catholics. The wedding led to the gathering of Huguenot nobility from far and wide in predominantly Catholic and anti-Huguenot Paris. After the wedding, Coligny and the Huguenot nobility remained in Paris in order to discuss some outstanding grievances about the Peace of Saint-Germain with the king. The queen mother was concerned that Coligny may succeed in persuading the king to side with the Dutch in their conflicts with Spain, and accordingly gave her approval to a plot devised by the above-mentioned staunchly Catholic house of Guise to assassinate Coligny. On 22 August 1572, there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Coligny, in which he was severely wounded. The king promised to investigate the attempted assassination in order to appease the angry Huguenots, but his mother, Catherine, convinced him that the Huguenots were on the brink of rebellion and persuaded him to authorize the Guise family’s plot and allow the Catholic authorities to butcher the Huguenot leaders. Thus the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre broke out on the night of 23 August and the morning of 24 August 1572, where thousands of Huguenots were killed. The Catholic Parisians, overcome by bloodlust, ended up not only slaughtering the Huguenot nobility but also Huguenots in general, sparking similar mass killings of Huguenots elsewhere in France.

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French historian Jacques Auguste de Thou (1553-1617), who witnessed the massacre as a young man, wrote down his account of Coligny’s death in his work Historia sui temporis, the second part (containing his treatment of the French Wars of Religion and the excerpt below) of which, by the way, ended up on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the Catholic list of prohibited books:

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So it was determined to exterminate all the Protestants and the plan was approved by the queen. They discussed for some time whether they should make an exception of the king of Navarre and the prince of Condé. All agreed that the king of Navarre should be spared by reason of the royal dignity and the new alliance. The duke of Guise, who was put in full command of the enterprise, summoned by night several captains of the Catholic Swiss mercenaries from the five little cantons, and some commanders of French companies, and told them that it was the will of the king that, according to God’s will, they should take vengeance on the band of rebels while they had the beasts in the toils. Victory was easy and the booty great and to be obtained without danger. The signal to commence the massacre should be given by the bell of the palace, and the marks by which they should recognize each other in the darkness were a bit of white linen tied around the left arm and a white cross on the hat.

Meanwhile Coligny awoke and recognized from the noise that a riot was taking place. Nevertheless he remained assured of the king’s good will, being persuaded thereof either by his credulity or by Teligny, his son-in-law: he believed the populace had been stirred up by the Guises and that quiet would be restored as soon as it was seen that soldiers of the guard, under the command of Cosseins, bad been detailed to protect him and guard his property.

But when he perceived that the noise increased and that some one had fired an arquebus in the courtyard of his dwelling, then at length, conjecturing what it might be, but too late, he arose from his bed and having put on his dressing gown he said his prayers, leaning against the wall. Labonne held the key of the house, and when Cosseins commanded him, in the king’s name, to open the door he obeyed at once without fear and apprehending nothing. But scarcely had Cosseins entered when Labonne, who stood in his way, was killed with a dagger thrust. The Swiss who were in the courtyard, when they saw this, fled into the house and closed the door, piling against it tables and all the furniture they could find. It was in the first scrimmage that a Swiss was killed with a ball from an arquebus fired by one of Cosseins’ people. But finally the conspirators broke through the door and mounted the stairway, Cosseins, Attin, Corberan de Cordillac, Seigneur de Sarlabous, first captains of the regiment of the guards, Achilles Petrucci of Siena, all armed with cuirasses, and Besme the German, who had been brought up as a page in the house of Guise; for the duke of Guise was lodged at court, together with the great nobles and others who accompanied him.

After Coligny had said his prayers with Merlin the minister, he said, without any appearance of alarm, to those who were present (and almost all were surgeons, for few of them were of his retinue) : “I see clearly that which they seek, and I am ready steadfastly to suffer that death which I have never feared and which for a long time past I have pictured to myself. I consider myself happy in feeling the approach of death and in being ready to die in God, by whose grace I hope for the life everlasting. I have no further need of human succor. Go then from this place, my friends, as quickly as you may, for fear lest you shall be involved in my misfortune, and that some day your wives shall curse me as the author of your loss. For me it is enough that God is here, to whose goodness I commend my soul, which is so soon to issue from my body. After these words they ascended to an upper room, whence they sought safety in flight here and there over the roofs.

Meanwhile the conspirators; having burst through the door of the chamber, entered, and when Besme, sword in hand, had demanded of Coligny, who stood near the door, “Are you Coligny ?” Coligny replied, “Yes, I am he,” with fearless countenance. “But you, young man, respect these white hairs. What is it you would do? You cannot shorten by many days this life of mine.” As he spoke, Besme gave him a sword thrust through the body, and having withdrawn his sword, another thrust in the mouth, by which his face was disfigured. So Coligny fell, killed with many thrusts. Others have written that Coligny in dying pronounced as though in anger these words: “Would that I might at least die at the hands of a soldier and not of a valet.” But Attin, one of the murderers, has reported as I have written, and added that he never saw any one less afraid in so great a peril, nor die more steadfastly.

Then the duke of Guise inquired of Besme from the courtyard if the thing were done, and when Besme answered him that it was, the duke replied that the Chevalier d’Angouleme was unable to believe it unless he saw it; and at the same time that he made the inquiry they threw the body through the window into the courtyard, disfigured as it was with blood. When the Chevalier d’Angouleme, who could scarcely believe his eyes, had wiped away with a cloth the blood which overran the face and finally had recognized him, some say that he spurned the body with his foot. However this may be, when he left the house with his followers he said: “Cheer up, my friends! Let us do thoroughly that which we have begun. The king commands it.” He frequently repeated these words, and as soon as they had caused the bell of the palace clock to ring, on every side arose the cry, “To arms !” and the people ran to the house of Coligny. After his body had been treated to all sorts of insults, they threw it into a neighboring stable, and finally cut off his head, which they sent to Rome. They also shamefully mutilated him, and dragged his body through the streets to the bank of the Seine, a thing which he had formerly almost prophesied, although he did not think of anything like this.

As some children were in the act of throwing the body into the river, it was dragged out and placed upon the gibbet of Montfaucon, where it hung by the feet in chains of iron; and then they built a fire beneath, by which he was burned without being consumed; so that he was, so to speak, tortured with all the elements, since he was killed upon the earth, thrown into the water, placed upon the fire, and finally put to hang in the air. After he had served for several days as a spectacle to gratify the hate of many and arouse the just indignation of many others, who reckoned that this fury of the people would cost the king and France many a sorrowful day, Francois de Montmorency, who was nearly related to the dead man, and still more his friend, and who moreover had escaped the danger in time, had him taken by night from the gibbet by trusty men and carried to Chantilly, where he was buried in the chapel.

Pierre du Moulin (1568-1658) on the Arminian distinction between the antecedent and consequent will of God

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Lutherans, Arminians and Amyrauldians distinguished between God’s antecedent and consequent wills. For them, God’s antecedent will is the general will of God which desires that all through Christ may be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4). But this expression of God’s will is antecedent to the conduct of human beings. Once confronted by grace, human beings may choose whether or not to embrace the grace being offered them. It is this concrete choice of particular individuals that becomes the object of God’s consequent will. By this consequent will, God decrees to save those who through faith accept divine grace. The orthodox Reformed rejected this and similar distinctions. They reasoned that since God is one, and thus not subject to human manipulation, so too must we affirm the unity of God’s will and its free operation in election, irrespective of human merit.

Pierre du Moulin (1568-1658), a French Huguenot minister, was one of the most capable theologians of his day, holding numerous positions including professor of philosophy and Greek at Leiden (Netherlands), parish preacher at Charenton (France), and professor of theology at Sedan (France). His Anatome Arminianismi was written in 1619 for the Synod of Dort. Below is an excerpt from chapters 4 and 5 of this work, in which he counters this idea of God’s antecedent and consequent wills:

“[The distinction in the will of God may in one sense be admitted], because there is a certain order among the purposes of God. Thus his will of creating man was in order prior to his will of feeding and clothing him. But with… Arminius it is called the ‘Antecedent’ will of God, because it goes before the act of the human will; and they call the ‘Consequent’ will of God that which is after the human will and which is thereby dependent on it…

Between these two wills of God he puts this difference: that the antecedent will of God may be resisted, the consequent cannot. He would have it (a) that God should be disappointed in his antecedent will and fail of his propounded end; but (b) the consequent will of God cannot be frustrated but must necessarily be fulfilled. For he thinks that God does not always attain to that which he intends…

Between these two wills of God (if any credit may be given to Arminius) the human will comes in which causes God to revoke his antecedent will… forces him to abandon his propounded end, leading him to turn toward another goal than that which he first intended…

It is certainly plain that this ‘antecedent’ will of God is not a will at all but only a desire… And by this God is spoken of… as one wishing and desiring… [and thus] in an anthropopathic manner…

It is also absurd, indeed impious, to affirm that God, to whom all things from eternity are not only foreseen but also provided for should intend anything that from eternity he knew would not come to pass…

What a thing it is that hereby there is [posited] as resistance between these two wills of God, the latter of which corrects the former! For by this antecedent will God desires to do that which from eternity he is certain he shall not do…”