Saturday, January 24, 2009

Westminster Huguenots

Prior to the Synod of Dort, the Synod of the Reformed Churches of France meeting at Cevennes had delegated Pierre Du Moulin (Paris), André Rivet (Thouars), Jean Chauve (Sommieres) and Daniel Chamier (Montauban) to attend. However, after notice was received from King Louis XIII that the government of France refused permission for these men to leave the country, a set of empty chairs was set up in the assembly in honor of the absent French Huguenots. Chamier was later killed in 1621 by the forces of King Louis XIII.

However, several decades later, the situation at the Westminster Assembly was different. The Assembly was intended as an Assembly of British and Scottish divines; however, as England was a place of refuge for French Huguenots who still experienced persecution in France at the time, at least Westminster Divines were in fact French Huguenots: 1) Philip Delmé or Delmy, pastor of the French Reformed (Walloon) Church of Canterbury, a supperadded divine who participated in the committee responsible for producing the Shorter Catechism; 2) John (Jean) de la Marche of Guernsey, pastor of the French Reformed Church of London (which is still in existence); and 3) Samuel de la Place of Jersey, also pastor of the French Reformed Church of London. All of these men favored Presbyterian polity. It may be added that Edmund Calamy's father was a French Huguenot. Herbert Palmer also was able to preach in French as well as English. The Westminster Assembly was very conscious of its sister churches on the Continent, including the French Reformed Churches, and the participation in the Assembly of at least three French Huguenots, and at least one son of a French Huguenot, is an indication of the Assembly's desire, like that of the Synod of Dort, to express its affinity with its French Reformed brethren. The place of Jersey and Guernsey within the British empire, as well as the hospitable welcome given to French refugees on the British isle itself, also ensured French Huguenot participation in the Assembly.

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