Images de page

in presence of the new energy displayed in the government and Catholic schools, the Protestant private schools in Paris, of which there are nearly one hundred, more than one third being of the National Reformed Church, will lose their relative position. Funds are lacking to supply the teachers necessary for the modern system of division in the work of instruction. The private schools with lay instructors have been losing ground generally in France before the advance of the government system and the powerful Roman ecclesiasticism. This appears from the report of M. Bardoux, published in August, 1878. From 1854 to 1865 one hundred and sixty-eight such institutions of secondary grade perished; from 1865–76, one hundred and sixty-three. At present only four hundred and ninetyfour remain in France. In twenty years, at this rate, all will disappear. “Ce sera,” says the report, “le duel de la caserne et du couvent.” The late rapid progress of primary instruction is shown in the report of M. Gréard, Director of Public Instruction in Paris—L'enseignement primaire à Paris de 1865 à 1877—which was open for inspection at the Exposition of 1878. The percentage of children at school was, in 1831, before the law of 1833, 16.67; in 1836, 20.86; in 1856, 21.68; in 1866, 27.63; in 1873, 30.54; in 1875, 39,61, an increase of 9.17 per cent. in three years. Still, one third of the pupils, or 66.490, were in the free schools. Protestantism will need to display great energy to maintain itself as a distinct factor in this educational development, though we may, of course, anticipate that the general spread of education will awaken increase of favor toward the Protestant principle.

We will now review briefly the direct work of evangelization. During and immediately after the war of 1871 some of the secular papers uttered repeated lamentations over the dearth of religious faith. “Does any moral life exist in France ?” said the Siècle: and further: “What we want is, to change our hearts.” The Protestants in Paris, during the excitement, seemed timid about aggressive evangelistic work, though the popular feeling was favorable to them from its reaction against the priests. In October, 1871, the Evangelical Home Missionary Society was founded at Nismes, embracing the various branches of Protestantism. Next year the Protestant pastors were surprised at the ready reception they met when they opened public halls for preaching. In 1873 Pastor Armand de Lille, whose zeal was exceptional in 1871, had marked success in his meetings for the middle classes in Paris. These meetings, held in Rue Royale, have since continued to grow in power, as was manifest particularly in 1877. In 1874 very successful union meetings were held in Paris by the excellent Theodore Monod, who prosecuted from year to year his itinerating labors for the new Home Mission. Interesting revivals occurred from time to time in the Haute-Loire, Ardèche, and Gard, as also in the winter and spring of 1875 at Montmeyran, and in the Drôme, the old home of religious zeal, and at Marseilles.

In the winter of 1876–77 remarkable openings for evangelization appeared in the departments lying farther to the north of Yonne, Côte d'Or, Nièvre, and Creuse, where Catholic communities en masse, and whole villages, petitioned for the labors of Protestant pastors. In 1877 occurred the notable conversion to Protestantism of M. Bouchard, counselor of Côte d'Or; M. Turquet, deputy of Aisne; M. Renouvier, editor of La Critique Philosophique ; and M. Réveillaud, editor of a republican paper at Troyes. The latter, during the next year, advanced to so ardent a spiritual experience that he declined the editorship of the proposed new Protestant daily paper, and became an evangelist of the Reformed Church. His itinerant labors in the center and west of France, in connection with M. Dardier, of the Geneva Evangelical Society, during the past winter, were attended with marked success, as reported at the meeting of the Home Mission Society in April. At St. Quentin he found a Church of fourteen hundred members, nearly all converts of several years past from Romanism. A successful Methodist Church, constituted in like manner, was found at Thiers. Crowds of people, among whom the best order prevailed, every where heard his addresses. Catholic churches were in some cases transferred by the municipality to the purposes of Protestant worship. New Protestant schools were opened. Special interest was taken in the work progressing in La Creuse, under M. Hirsch, a converted Jew. “I dwell more particularly,” says M. Réveillaud, “upon the sentiment manifest in the rural districts, because the favorable reception accorded in the cities to public addresses on the subject of Protestantism is now well known." A committee was formed at Paris, in April last, to devise and establish, if possible, a systematic scheme of public addresses on Protestantism throughout France. The report of M. Lelièvre, editor of the Evangeliste, to the late Basle Conference, on evangelization in France, is replete with interest.

The different societies have, in their yearly reports, given at the May anniversaries, varied between encouragement and hope. They have lately suffered more or less in their resources from the business derangement of the times, especially such as have depended considerably upon foreign aid. A cheerful enthusiasm naturally pervaded the assemblies this year. About one million francs was reported as the aggregate contribution for all work.

Chief among the strictly evangelization societies is the Sóciété évangelique de France, a union organization founded in 1833 to labor among the Catholic population. It reports unusual success this year, and, by the efforts of Pasteur Fisch, has happily passed a financial crisis. The Société Centrale Pro testante, founded in 1845, is a Church extension society of the Reformed Church, and sustains the Batignolles preparatory school. The Church seems to owe its present Orthodox majority to the labors of this society. It supports one hundred and thirty-nine agents, and works now in three hundred and twenty localities, scattered through sixty-seven departments and the colonies. It expends two hundred and twenty-five thousand francs. La mission intérieure évangelique, founded at Nismes in 1871, as above mentioned, was formed under the impulse of a high enthusiasm, and designed to unite all Christians, pastors and laymen, men and women, by the formation of groupes throughout the country, in practical schemes of evangelization. It issues a monthly Bulletin, and is now doing encouraging work. There is also a Commission d'évangélization des Eglises libres. Of the foreign societies devoted to the interests of evangelization in France the chief is the Société évangélique de Genève, founded in 1831, and the oldest evangelical society on the continent. It had lately twenty-four theological students in its seminary. It employs fifteen pastors and teachers and fifty-six colporteurs. The Société de Neufchâtel pour l'évan gélization de France, founded in 1871, and having its origin in a mission to the disbanded soldiers, sends a Bible carriage over the country under M. Pointet, which has already visited fifty departments. There is a Société des Missions at Paris, to sustain foreign missionary work, which is carried on just now with encouragement in Africa. The society was founded in 1822, and had several auxiliaries, scarce any of which now exist. The sum of last year's contributions was 140,000 francs. France has furnished the society thirty-seven missionaries in all. The Journal des missions évangéliques has but seven hundred and fourteen paying subscribers. There is, besides, the Petit Messager, but the missionary literature is extremely limited.*

For religious work at home there are effective popular publications such as, L'ami de la jeunesse, originated by Rev. Mark Wilks, in 1825; L'ami de la maison; and La chambre haute. In this connection the larger journals may be enumerated, which are the organs of some branch or party of the Church. Le Témoiguage, published at Paris, is the Lutheran organ; Le Christianisme au XIX Siècle, (Paris,) M. Doumergue, editor, represents the Orthodox party of the Reformed Church; La Renaissance, (Paris,) M. Etienne Coquerel, editor, the Liberal party; L'Eglise libre, (Nice,) M. Pilatte, editor, the Free Church; L'Evangeliste, (Nismes,) + Wesleyan, M. Lelièvre, editor, naturally favors the Orthodox party, and also the FreeChurch principle. The new Journal du Protestantisme Francais, (Paris,) MM. Byse and Lichtenberger, editors, represents the Left Center. Le Signal, a small weekly established April, 1879, at Paris, in the general interests of Protestantism, M. Réveillaud, editor, is well received. The daily paper, Le Réformateur, established at Paris in April, 1879, from which so much was expected, soon proved a lamentable failure, being injudiciously conducted. The Revue Chrétienne, (Paris,) M. Pressensé, editor, is an able organ of the Orthodox faith and of Free-Church principles. The Revue de Théologie, (Strasburg,) Liberal, long since ceased to appear.

Heretofore some of the most successful gospel workers in France have been foreigners, chiefly from England and Switzerland. During the present decade the cause of evangelization in Paris has been greatly indebted to Rev. R. W. M’All, of Scotland, who opened meetings for the working classes in 1871. His labors have attracted great attention, and have been constantly extending. The report of last year gave 22 stations, 4,694 sittings, an aggregate attendance of about 500,000 at both adults' and children's meetings. The appearance of Protestant propagandism is avoided at these gatherings, but those interested are ultimately directed to the Churches. Mr. M'All has recently opened similar meetings in Lyons and Bordeaux, while new workers have followed his example in Marseilles and other cities. Miss De Broen, "an English lady with a French heart,” has distinguished herself by systematic work for the common people at Belleville, in Paris, which, begun among the Communists in 1871, has grown to large proportions. The agencies employed are a medical mission, evangelistic meetings, sewing classes, day-schools, night-schools, Sunday-schools, Bible classes, a Sunday library, and house to house visitation. The priests say: “We cannot go into a house in Belleville without finding a Bible, or portion of Scripture, on every chair.” New enterprises have been opened in Paris this year. It is an era of increased activity. An evangelical reading-room in the students' quarter, and Prof. Delaunay's meetings, are to be noted. Mr. Weylland, of the London City Mission, went over to Paris, uuder encouragement from the Earl of Shaftesbury, to organize a like work for the French capital. Truly, “the harvest is great” in those great cities. The committee to direct this mission consists chiefly of French pastors and laymen, with some English residents.

* For a notice of the various other organizations, home and foreign Bible societies, tract, educational, and charitable societies, see the Revue Chrétienne for September, 1878.

| L'Evangeliste is to be transferred to Paris.

The caution above referred to as exercised in the case of Mr. M'All's meetings shows what power the law, which might be applied in the interest of Romanism, still has over religious assemblies. M. Gide, of the faculty of law at Bordeaux, has shown in his pamphlet of last year, La défense légale de la liberté religieuse, how all the work of Protestant propagandism stands in peril of legal indictment. He says, “ About all Protestant mission work is done in France among man-traps, and spring-guns, and toils and meshes, which, according to the good pleasure of the local administration, may be kept in abeyance or set in motion.” This position of things arises from the ex

« PrécédentContinuer »