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corrupted.' Such is the impression which America as yet has received on this subject. We have been led to look at it a little more particularly, and propose to offer to our readers the result of our examination. And though they possibly may think that we are giving to it a greater space than a matter of this intrinsic magnitude deserves, we trust they will excuse us when they consider that it is simply an attempt to clear away an aspersion from the fair fame of one of the few liberal communities upon earth, whose slanderers are opening their mouths every where, and she is herself not present to refute them. We happen to have access to all the official
relating to this case, and it is from them that we make up our present account. They are contained in the pamphlet, whose title is at the head of this article, and which was published by the authority of the Company of Pastors at Geneva. They consist of the letters which passed between the Company and M. Gaussen, the letter of M. Gaussen to his parishioners and their reply, the votes of the Company, and a narrative of the case drawn up by a committee. So that we fortunately possess the statements and reasonings of both parties. A more fair publication in this, as well as other respects, it is not often our lot to meet with.
To come then to the history of the case. It is the rule of the Company of Pastors, to whom pertains the superintendence of the Genevan Church, to institute an inquiry every one or two years, into the pastoral conduct of the ministers of the church. În the regular course of this inquiry in September, 1830, it appeared that M. Gaussen, pastor of the parish of Satigny, had ceased, for the two preceding years, to teach the appointed catechism. On being called upon to explain this irregularity, he gave as his reason, that he esteemed the catechism faulty in point of doctrine, and faulty in method ; that he considered it better to teach the Bible only, and accordingly had substituted a series of Scripture questions in place of the public catechism; and that he had done this without consulting the Company, because he had understood that it had been allowed to other ministers before him,
It was at once shown him that in regard to this last point he labored under a complete mistake; and a resolution passed, without a dissenting voice, though several of the members voting were Orthodox, that he must be required to resume the catechetical instruction as existing in all the other parishes. At the same time he was invited to state his objections to the catechism to the committee entrusted with its revision, who would be glad of any suggestions which might aid them in rendering it more perfect.
Such were the proceedings of September 10th. Five weeks passed away, without its being known whether M. Gaussen intended to comply with the requisition of the Company. This interval was employed by him in preparing an elaborate statement and defence of his case, apparently for publication, though ostensibly a private letter to the Company. It was communicated by him in two parts, at the stated weekly sessions of that body on the 16th and 22d of October, and occupies forty-three pages of the volume before us. It is written with great plausibility and skill, in the tone of one who thinks himself wronged, and with an evident aim at popular effect. After stating, more particularly than he had done in presence of the Company, his actual method of religious instruction for the young, he repeats his objections to the catechism; that, in the first place, it omits the four doctrines of the divinity of Jesus Christ, the moral fall of man, the justification of sinners by the blood of Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Ghost; and that, secondly, it is abstract, dry, and above the comprehension of young people in the country. He then proceeds to observe, that the Company have required two things; first, that this catechism shall be used in the schools of his parish. To this he strongly objects, says it is virtually taking the Bible out of the hands of the pupils, and begs that the vote may be reconsidered. Further than this he does not feel himself bound to go. But in regard to the second point, that he shall himself use the catechism in his own private instruction to the children, his conscience does not allow him to consent, and he thinks that the pastors have gone beyond their jurisdiction in requiring it.
Having thus dismissed the subject in hand, and with very earnest professions of his love of peace and dislike of contention, he seizes the opportunity, not very consistently with these professions, of making an assault on the venerable Company; accusing it not only of maintaining false doctrines, but of having set at defiance the fundamental constitution of the state, usurped powers which did not belong to it, and by dishonest artifice, in an underhand way, made changes in the for
mularies and ordinances of the church, contrary to the laws; so that in fact it was guilty of the very irregularities it was charging on him, and that he himself had a better right to call them to account for deserting the order of the church, than they to charge it on him ; in a word, that he and his adherents constituted the real church of Geneva, and the majority were only usurpers and impostors. This is the substance of his long letter; in which one is immediately struck with the inconsistency between its air of defiance and its reiterated professions of a desire of peace, grief at being compelled to say these things, and anxiety sest the subject should publicly transpire. We think no one can read it without an impression that it was designed for the public.
This letter was referred to a committee of five, who, on the 5th of November, made a report, which appears at length in the publication before us. This report enters into a full history of the catechism and of the changes which it has undergone, and shows that the accusations of unfairness and illegality which had been brought against the Company, are entirely without foundation. As this is the point of by far the greatest interest in the whole inquiry, our readers will be glad to see it stated at some length. We'must begin with the account of the matter by M. Gaus
For two hundred, or two hundred and fifty years, according to him, Calvin's catechism alone was taught in the schools. It was recited in them during the week, and explained in the churches on Sunday. More lately there were united with it the catechisms of Superville and Ostervald. The latter was introduced into all the schools between 1780 and 1788, and as new editions of it were printed from time to time, alterations were made in it, which in some measure changed its doctrinal complexion. It was succeeded at length by the catechism of Vernes, and this again by that of Martin, which was afterwards revised by four catechists. These alterations and changes, he argues, were illegal, because not made in conformity to the method prescribed by the Ordinances, which require the approbation of the Grand Council.
In reply to this, the report goes into a minute examination of the whole history. It seems that, by the Ecclesiastical Ordinances of 1576, it is required of those who enter the ministry of the national church, that 'they engage to hold the doctrine of the holy Prophets and Apostles, as it is con
tained in the books of the Old and New Testaments, of which doctrine we have a summary in our catechism.' This was the catechism of Calvin, who had been dead twelve years. It is required also, that this catechism shall serve as the basis of instruction given from the pulpits of the Canton at certain appointed times, in exercises called the public catechizing. In 1725, when all formularies of faith were renounced by the venerable Company, the above cited article was retained, ac, companied by the explanation, that in referring to the catechism, the engagement taken by the pastors is not to be understood as placing it on the same footing with the Scriptures, nor as implying an obligation to follow it throughout; but simply as an acknowledgment that it contains the substance and summary of the Christian doctrine.' Indeed, it is most obvious that the Ordinance implies no more than this. From this time till 1770, the subject seems not to have been agitated. In February of that year, a committee, appointed to consider of what improvements the public offices of the church were susceptible, made a report, from which it appeared, that at that time the ancient catechism had so far fallen into desuetude, as to be only used to mark the order of sections at the public catechizing, while parents and teachers in every other situation had adopted some other; and therefore, as well as on account of its obscurity and its being so much occupied with disputed points, the committee proposed that it should be formally abandoned, and another substituted in its place. This report was laid by for nine years; when the subject was again called up. The Company then desired to make the change wbich the committee had proposed; but as Calvin's catechism had received its authority from the Ecclesiastical Ordinances, and the Council was engaged in a revision of these Ordinances, the matter was deferred until that revision should be completed. The Council however did nothing about it, and the affair rested as it was eight years longer, till 1787. The inconvenience from the want of uniformity in the religious instruction of the church, occasioned by the variety of catechisms which had crept into use, had then become so great, that it could be borne no longer; and the Company appointed a committee to determine what should be done. This committee proposed to adopt for the lower classes the smaller catechism of Ostervald, and for the upper classes and the catechumens, Ostervald's catechism, with the additions of M. de Roches; while Calvin's, in a new arrangement of the sections, should still be used at the public catechizing. In the mean time, however, M. Martin, the public catechist at the Magdalen church, had devised a method of his own, and obtained leave to introduce it, and thus Calvin's work passed entirely out of use. The two catechisms recommended by the committee were adopted, and ordered to be put into the hands of the catechumens, the students of the college,* and the children of the country. Here, however, the Council interposed; and, having inquired into the doings of the Company, declared, that they had the greatest confidence in that body, but that as the edict of 1782 had made it their duty to inspect all works of this class, they could not allow the catechisms in question to be published without examination by their own officers. This examination having been made, the Council voted its approbation, and testified to the venerable Company its satisfaction and gratitude, for the zeal it had manifested in all that relates to public instruction. From this time the new catechisms were adopted in all the religious instruction of the Canton, and the next year an abridgment was prepared for the use of the youngest children. It is only necessary to add, that in explaining to the Council the grounds of their proceeding, the Company of Pastors represented, that hitherto all the editions of the various catechisms in use had been prepared by the booksellers, and never by authority of the Company or any other body; and that the consequent diversity of books and editions had occasioned great perplexity, and led all, most nearly concerned in the matter, to desire that some one might be set forth by authority.
From this statement it appears, that as long ago as 1725, Calvin's catechism had ceased to be regarded in the light of a confession of faith ; that in the course of years it gradually fell into disuse, other similar works of various authors being substituted by parents and teachers, till Calvin was used only at the public catechizing; that the general dissatisfaction with this state of things induced the Company, after much deliberation and cautious delay (from 1770 to 1787), to substitute other catechisms; and that to this substitution, the Council,
* In Geneva the College is the school for boys, and the Academy a college for young men.