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law abrogates a prior one when they are found to be inconsistent with each other, how is it that, in the very judgment wherein they have misapplied, they should have shunned to apply this legal truism when its application was so strongly called for? All the Protestants of France to a man, aver that the 291st article of the penal code is in open and violent contradiction of the 5th article of the Charte. The Cour Royal of Orleans came, on the occasion of the trial which has provoked these remarks, to the same cons clusion; whilst the highest court of judicature of the French realm, without denying the universal averment, has insisted that this article of the penal code remains in full force.
Let us now sum up briefly the complicated iniquity of the judgment of the Court of Cassation in the case of Messrs Doine and Lemair, under the presiding influence of M. Dupin :
1st. The edict of the 17th Vende
miaire formed the proper completion and corollary of the 5th article of the Charte, and it is therefore abrogated.
2d. The 291st article of the penal code destroys the 5th article of the Charte, and therefore it is attached to it.
3d. The abrogation of the edict of the 17th Vendemiaire has been effected [as far as the Court of Cassation can do so] under the false assumption that it is in contradiction of a more recent enactment.
4th. The 291st article of the penal code is in glaring contradiction of a more recent fundamental law of the Great Charter of France: it is retained in all its pristine force.
We shall next make known to our readers an event of very late occurrence, which forms the progressive sequel of the memorable judgment on which we have felt ourselves bound to dwell so emphatically. The attack on Protestantism which we have now to record, has taken shape in a projected ordinance issued by M. Teste, late Ministre des Cultes. If the Cabinet of which he was member had not suddenly broken down, this ordinance might at this time be in process of execution, and nothing is more probable than that it may be, at a convenient season, adopted and enforced by the present or any future Ministry of France. The principal articles of this extraordinary document, addressed to
the presidents of all the Reformed consistories throughout that kingdom, and tending to remodel completely the organization of the French Protestant establishments, are the following:
"Art 1. The circumscription of the consistorial churches can only be fixed and modified according to the following forms:
"The préfet must, as a preliminary measure, institute an enquiry in the interested communes ; the consistory must then be called upon to pronounce its opinion; this opinion must be delivered efficiently to our State Council; and this document must designate specially the communes comprised in the consistorial circumscription.
"Art. 2. The consistories can build no temple without being authorized to do so by our Council of State.
"Art. 3. No other place can be devoted to the public exercise of worship, within the circumscription of a consistorial church, except on the demand of the consistory, and by the sanction of the préfet. The pastors of the consistorial church can alone fulfil there the functions of an Evangelical minister.
"Art 12. The consistories must determine by a regulation which must be sent to the préfet, the number and times of their meetings.
66 Art. 25. In case of the insufficiency of the credits allowed by the state, for the creation of new posts for pastors, there may be established, on the demand of the consistories, associations of the faithful and of the communes, in order that they may enter into an engagement to pay the salary of the new pastor, and defray the expenses which may result from the new establishment. The new posts of pastors can only be created, after enquiry, at the recommendation of the municipal coun. cils, and by an ordinance of our State Council."
The jet of all these articles is the same; viz. to hinder the diffusion of Protestantism, and to bring all the Reformed churches, whether connected with the state or not, under the arbi trary regulations and absolute control of the legislature. But they have a more subtle and complicated purpose still, which is, to round out and encircle the national establishment of the Reformation so effectually, that no communication or interchange of zealous services and good offices may in future take place between them and the unsalaried religionists. Hitherto, the Nationalists and Independents
have made common cause. They have joined hand in hand, most fraternally, in all the work they have mutually ac complished. The latter are often supplied by the former with funds to send preachers to particular spots and establish a worship. If success at tend the mission, and it be otherwise advisable, the new flock, in case the consent of the Government can be obtained, then enter into the fold of the state. This happened lately at Tours, and similar facts occur very frequently. In truth, the word Dissenter does not properly apply to the great majority of French Protestants who belong not to the National Communion. They adhere not to this communion, simply because by so doing they would be compelled to remain quite inactive, and besides might be left altogether without any religious services. The legislature will not give any sensible extension to the establishment. They are thus forced to quit it, in order at the same time to provide for them. selves the means of worship, and to extend their faith; and, in their ef forts to this end, they meet with the cordial energetic co-operation of those from whom they are not separated in principle or in doctrine, but only in position and external circumstances. It is to put a stop to this co-operation, which, on both sides, has been attended with great success to effect a real separation, to draw an impassable line betwixt the two denominations of French Protestants, that the ordinance has chiefly in view. This is openly avowed by one of its ablest advocates, a M. Coqueril, who is a Socinian or Rationalist pastor, and a member of the Paris consistory. But let us examine the provisions of the impending statute more closely.
By the first article it is provided, that before any place can be admitted within the limits of a consistorial church, the préfet, the consistory, and the Government must all concur to bring the act about; and this is just tantamount to declaring that no spot at present out of the bounds of the National Temple shall ever be included within them. Had the projected ordinance been a law a few years ago, when many of the inhabitants of Sionville, a small town in Normandy, all at that time Roman Catholics, invited a Protestant pastor to come among them and preach to
them, the pastor could not have at once accepted their invitation, the town being out of his circumscription. He would have had to consult the préfet, the consistory, and the state council; and the veto of any one of these authorities, whose veto would doubtless have been unanimous, would have sufficed to hinder an evangelizing effort, which has been attended with very remarkable success. We could mention numerous other places, Thiers for instance, in the south of France, where, had the ordinance been in force of late years, there could not have existed, as there does now exist in each of them, a promising or flourishing Reformed congregation. Besides, many districts of France there are where Protestants are scattered here and there.
These Protestants especially are frequently obliged by the site of their property, or by their affairs, to live beyond the circumscription of consistorial churches; they would be thus, if belonging to the National Temple, completely cut off by the proposed law from the exercise of their worship.
The second article of the ordinance has a signification which may escape the inattentive reader. It seems, being addressed to a state institution, to say no more than this-that no house of worship can be built at the expense of the Government without the authority of the Government. But if it really meant only this, it would be superfluous formally to reiterate an obligation which no individual or body of men can possibly gainsay or resist. It does, however, we are persuaded, mean to say more than its words literally express. Its real intent is explained in a circular letter of M. Barthé, when he was minister. In that letter to the préfets and presi dents of consistories, there is the following passage:-" In every case, you must bear in mind that no new edifice for public worship can be constructed without the sanction of the competent authorities, whether the Government and the communes participate in the expense, or whether it be entirely defrayed by the subscriptions · of the faithful, and the revenues of the consistories." So much to hinder the construction of churches.
With reference to any other places of assembly for religious services, the third article would take care that they
should not exist. Hitherto French Protestants have been accustomed to meet for the purposes of worship in private houses, in public schoolrooms, and often in barns, where no temple has been in their neighbourhood. Teste would put a stop to this prac. tice; and, lest its reasonableness and urgency should sometimes induce consistories to demand, and préfets to grant, the license he would make requisite, he throws out another obstruction,No one is to officiate, he would lay it down, in these places of worship but a pastor of the National Temple. Gen. erally, however, pastors are too fully occupied by their immediate duties to be able to travel on the Sabbath, or other days, many leagues to attend on these scattered congregations. They have been in the habit, therefore, of appointing a layman to act on such occasions for them. Not only the law, but the fundamental regulations of their own church-discipline, permit and enjoin this. To abolish the practice would be to abolish the Reformed creed, in as much as it consists in, and is upheld by outward observances, over many wide spaces: to restrict it, perhaps, to within the half of its present limits. We must observe, also, that this article excludes, as it were by a cordon sani. taire, Dissenters from the circum. scribed consistorial field; that is, manifests a genuine anxiety that the field should remain barren, as from them, or at least from those who act on their plan of independent spontaneous labour, which the ordinance forbids, its fructification can alone come.
We beg our readers now to give a second perusal to the 26th article. This is the most extraordinary, indeed we may say astonishing, of them all. The national establishment of the two Protestant confessions in France is such, solely on the condition, expressed in repeated laws, but most solemnly in the 6th article of the Charte, that the state shall support that establishment. When the support stops, of course the establishment stops. But M. Teste says No. We may not, he says, be able to allow you Protestants any more money; but state to us your wants and desires, and if they meet with our approbation, why, then, take the money out of your own pockets to provide for wants which we acknowledge to be such, and you shall have our gracious permission to employ it to this end, under our autho
rity and direction-but not otherwise. The object, it may be seen at a glance, of this exorbitantly strange article is twofold: first, to parry any demand for an additional pastor that may be so imperatively urgent and reasonable that no decent pretext can be found for refusing it; and second, to work out a claim for the exercise of a legislative power over the unsalaried or Dissenting congregations. As to the first object, should the ordinance be acted on, it would be easily compassed. Let us suppose a demand of the kind we have described, or even one open to objections-it would not much signify which-made. Being received with entire complacency and granted, the Council of State has but to sayNow, find your funds and install your pastor-and the whole project, in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred, would fall to the ground. The difficulties of collecting any considerable sum by subscription in France, are next to insurmountable. The collections which are made by a few religious societies in that country come in great part, if not chiefly, from foreign contributors, and from various denominations of Christians, who would certainly not feel the slightest disposition to aid in a work of a very uncertain complexion in one point of view, and extremely unjust and injurious in another. With respect to the second purpose aimed at, the Government might, should the ordinance be executed, urge their authority over pastors of the National Temple unsalaried by the state as an argument, justifying their enforcement of the like authority over other pastors who belong not to the National Temple, simply by the fact that they receive no salaries from the public treasury. There is no other original legal distinction between the two orders of pastors than that of which the pecuniary support of the state is not the foundation and condition. Take this distinction away, and the Nationalists and Dissenters of the French Reformed churches fall under the same category; and the dealing which the one might experience, might, by a parity of proceeding, be dealt out upon the other. Thus, by the article in question, Protestantism in general in France would be affected: the Reformed establishment would be first assailed, and through the establishment the Dissenting, or, as they merely call themselves at present, the unsalaried
Churches, would be hooked into a dependence on the legislature from which they are at present free.
It must here be observed, that the French Government arrogates to itself an authority, with reference to the Protestant Church, which it does not pretend to possess over that of Rome, with which, nevertheless, it has much closer affinities, interests and sympathies much more homogeneous. To legislate for Romanism, as the ordinance presumes to do for Protestantism, would be regarded by any French Cabinet as preposterous, and would, if attempted, raise an outcry against the proceeding from one end of Europe to the other. The pretext for acting so differently towards the two establishments is, that the one is represented by a hierarchy, and that the other has no representative before the nation. But this is a hollow pretext: for, ac. cording to the legal constitution of the National Temple, synods may be assembled at the will of the minister of public worship, and these synods would represent legally the Protestant Established Church of France.
synod, however, has ever been convoked since Richelieu broke down the power and influence of the Reformation in that land; and in all probability such a convocation will never in future take place.
Many of the consistories have objected in very strong terms to the proposed regulations of the ordinance, and that of Orleans has formally declared its incompetence to take it at all into consideration, pointing out at the same time the propriety and necessity of convening, to consult on the matter, synods, which, according to the law of the 18th Germinal, are alone competent "to regulate their ecclesiastical affairs." Most of the consistories, however, may be supposed to be more compliant to the will of any Ministry. They have hitherto, for the most part, distinguished themselves by their opposition to the propagation of their creed, and by their servility to men in power. Thus they are regard. ed by those who would pound Protestantism within narrow and still narrowing circuits as allies rather than as adversaries; and on them the Government mainly relies in all its machinations against the Church to which they externally adhere.
We must not omit to mention that M. Gasparin, a member of the State
Council, the son of the late Minister of Finance, and himself a rising political character from whom much is expected, has published a very able pamphlet on the ordinance of M. Teste, in which he takes the same view of that document that we have done. This fact of itself tends to demonstrate that Protestantism is com. ing into notice among the influential classes in France.
Having now exemplified, by two striking instances, the spirit that animates the French civil authorities with regard to the diffusion of the Reformed faith, it may be well to say a word as to the motives by which they are, with reference to this subject, actuated.
We do not then attribute to them any decided hostility to Protestants; we trace their conduct in this particular to another and still more malign source, viz. to general incredulity. There is no unbigoted Frenchman, we are convinced, with a very small number of exceptions, who conceives for a moment that essential and absolute truth resides in Christianity at all; that there are truths every where he admits, even in Pagan and Eastern idolatries, in philosophy, in poetry, in all things; but that there is to be found any where a purely true religion, which contains the essence of scattered verities, which sums them up, gives them their last expression, which reveals their meaning and the bourne at which they point, he has no notion. Hence religious questions are with him questions merely of political convenience. As an individual, he may prefer Catholicism, or he may prefer Protestantism; yet, even should he give his preference to the latter, he will always, as a citizen, lend his main support and encouragement to the former, because Catholicism, being already widely established, can be more readily brought into operation on the popular mind than Protestantism. The consequences, even the temporal and social consequences, which, flowing severally from the two sources, are so widely different, he takes not at all into consideration. And the reason of this is, that he looks for a ruling influence over the intellect and heart of his country from another quarter-from politics. Religion having thus, according to this idea, but a subordinate under work to accomplish, it becomes of very small moment what may be her doctrines and what may
be her effects, since they are to be controlled and directed by a superior power.
The shallowness of this reasoning suggests to us an observation we have often made:--that Popery and Infidelity alike abjure a moral profundity of thought. In eloquence they may excel; in the discovery of scientific truths they may have much to boast of; but on all moral subjects, on all subjects which prominently possess moral aspects and affinities, they exhibit an extreme superficiality of judgment. And this is easily accounted for. Morality, all ethical knowledge, inheres in religion; and where religion exists not, or in proportion as it is false, vague, received passively upon trust, not excogitated, or is not a personal and individual conviction, moral reflections must needs be exceedingly slender, for they seem to be derived, in such cases, from conventionalities, if we may coin a word, not from realities. The religious realities, nevertheless, out of which they grow, are existent, though neither discerned nor recognized; and they rise up infallibly, in due time, to frustrate, abolish, and destroy all the conclusions and schemes which are built upon other foundations, or rather upon baseless seemings.
On these seemings the Government and authorities of France are now acting with the utmost vigour. Religion seems to them to be requisite for the people, whilst it seems quite unnecessary to distinguish between religious truth and falsehood-between the injurious or beneficial results which different creeds, even politically, bring forth. The re-establishment of Catho licism, in some degree of strength, seems to be more wise than the encouragement of Protestantism; both seem to be but the weaker elements of social order, and in every higher sense, in all which discriminates them from what is called natural religion, to be unimportant or mere artificial helps to the infirmities of the human intelligence; and it seems to them that a state dominancy can rule over the intellectual and spiritual thoughts of men, can revive the power of Popery and restrain its encroachments, and thereby bring the vagrant and rebel mind of the country under its subjec. tion.
All these hollow assumptions ac
count sufficiently for the obstructions which French legislators and lawgivers throw so sedulously in the way of what they call, to use the form of M. Dupin, the proselytism of conventicles, by which is meant the promulgation of the Gospel. No doubt, a desire to please the Romish priesthood, and to protect Popery (towards which, for many reasons, they entertain much quiet good-will) from the aggressions of Protestant zeal, has great influence with them. This desire may constitute the ruling motive of their proceedings towards the Protestants of France; but whether it does or not, of this we feel convinced, that we have stated correctly their general sentiments respecting religion, and these alone would lead them to regard any thing like a successful religious propagandism as fantastic mischievous folly, which should be promptly put down.
How, then, are the French Reformed churches, whether connected with the state or not, effectually to confront and counteract this temper in those who have power to act up to it, as we have seen, after a very masterful fashion? To this question the only answer, not temporizing and equivocating, is-by the acquisition of political importance. The Reformed population of France amounts to a million and a half or two millions of individuals; and if this body of men possessed their due political weight, no cabinet, no law-court would dare to treat them as they have been treated. But till they do possess this sort of influence, their rights will be put aside, waved gracefully away, as they have been by the Court of Cassation, with a flourish of trumpets about an abstract, impracticable, religious liberty, and with a pitying, unhearing, ineffable contempt and politeness. Those religionists may notwithstanding assert, and justly, that their rights, despite the arbitrary illegalities by which they have been and may be put aside, remain to them in full force. suredly they do, just as the title-deeds of an estate may be held by the legitimate owner, whilst the estate itself is sequestered perpétually, or enjoyed, or ravaged and wasted by another. But it is time that French Protestants should take full possession-that they should eject intruders; that is, that they should assume a very determined