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tended, amid persecution and reproach, for “the faith once delivered unto the saints.”
Dr. Gaussen was settled, in the year 1815, as pastor of the parish of Sattigny, in the canton of Geneva. About the time of his entrance into the ministry, he had been brought to the saving knowledge of the truth, and was one of the very few in the Church of Geneva who preached “ Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” By the ancient constitution of the National Church, candidates for the ministry were required to pledge themselves “to preserve the doctrine of the apostles and prophets, as it is contained in the books of the Old and New Testaments, of which we have an abridgment in our Catechism." The Catechism referred to is that of Calvin, and embodies the sound theological views which he taught. But that Catechism had been remodelled, and the vital truths of Christianity were utterly suppressed, and this unchristianized document became the only creed of the Genevese Church. Feeling more and more dissatisfied with it, Dr. Gaussen ceased to use it in the instructions he imparted to the youth in his parish, to the candidates for admission to communion, and in those public catechetical discourses which the usage of Geneva prescribes. His chief reason was that already indicated, that it suppressed the leading truths of the gospel ; and his second and subordinate reason was, that it was very ill adapted to interest and instruct the young. He substituted the Bible in its room. For this grave irregularity, as they deemed it, and after somewhat protracted proceedings, he was finally brought before “the Venerable Company of Pastors,” and by them censured and suspended for a year from his right to sit in the Company. Dr. Gaussen and his friends, however, were not daunted by this
fulmination of the Venerable Company. Persuaded that the spiritual interests of their fellow-citizens, the very existence of the Church of Geneva, and the honour of the great God our Saviour, demanded some measures of a more decisive character than they had yet adopted, with the growing displeasure of the church and civil authorities of Geneva before them, they did not hesitate to take their ground. Scarcely had this censure passed, when the Evangelical Society of Geneva was instituted, a society which contemplated the preservation in Geneva of evangelical truth in its purity ; and, with this view, opened an apartment for the preaching of the gospel in the city, and took the still more decisive and important step of forming a theological seminary, in which pious youths might be prepared for the ministry, without being exposed to the contagion of the Genevese academy, and coming out from a nominally Christian school with no better recommendation than this, that they had been indoctrinated in Genevese Arianism.
In the formation of this institution, others were associated with Dr. Gaussen, and one especially, whom to name is to praise, and who, in the eyes of Europe, has imparted a fresh lustre to the very name of Geneva : I refer to Dr. Merle d'Aubigné.
It is easy to imagine with what indignation the Venerable Company beheld those men and their measures. They summon the offenders to their bar, dictate to the Consistory the decision it should pass, and obtain from the Council of State the necessary sanction to their decision. It was in vain that the holy eloquence of the accused was called forth on this occasion. It was in vain that, by word and writing, they demonstrated the necessity of their measures, vindicated their right to employ them, and exposed the weakness and unreasonableness of the objections of their opponents. The Company possessed power ; they were resolved to exercise it; and they passed a sentence, recalling Dr. Gaussen from the functions of pastor of Sattigny, and interdicted him, with Messrs. Galland and Merle d'Aubigné, from all the functions of the pulpit in the churches and chapels of the canton. The exclusion of such men from the National Church, and the formation under their auspices and the Divine benediction, of such an institution as the Evangelical Society, must be regarded as forming an era in the religious history of Geneva, the extensive, happy, and lasting results of which time will unfold."
In the theological seminary connected with the Evangelical Society, Dr. Gaussen accepted the office of Professor of Systematic Divinity, and by his high qualifications, has shed lustre on the chair he so worthily occupied. He was also one of the pastors of the church of the Oratoire, a plain and commodious chapel, capable of accommodating about eight hundred persons. From public active labours he has for some years been laid aside by severe affliction. In the midst of it he enjoys “ abundant consolation,” and is held in the highest respect and veneration by all who have the privilege of knowing him. His public life has been marked by the meekness of wisdom, the affectionate gentleness of a large and loving heart, unfaltering attachment to the truth as it is in Jesus, fidelity in proclaiming the whole counsel of God, and earnest effort for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom. His path has been that of the just, resem
1 In the preceding statements I have gladly availed myself of the information furnished by the late Rev. Dr. Heugh, in his interesting and instructive work, entitled, Notices of the State of Religion in Geneva and Belgium ; and I have given the facts, although in an abbreviated form, very much in his own language.
bling the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
In the translator's preface an account is given of the circumstances in which the Lessons or Lectures to the Young were delivered. The following is from the pen of Dr. Heugh :“ The meeting for the young at eleven is conducted by Dr. Gaussen, who seems remarkably qualified for this department of labour. Studious, learned, and accomplished as he is, from his kind condescension, his gentle vivacity, and the simplicity and fervour which mark his explanations, Dr. Gaussen evidently delights and fascinates his young pupils ; and it is very pleasing to see before him a large company of Genevese boys and girls, with their bright eyes fixed on their beloved instructor, and to listen to the apt and striking answers which they return to the questions with which his addresses are judiciously interspersed. One cannot but augur much for future Geneva from the attentions of such a labourer devoted to the cultivation of such a soil. Indeed, many adults, both Genevese and foreigners, attend this truly interesting and instructive service. I have seen an English lady of rank descend from her carriage, having her children along with her, take her seat among the pupils, hang on the lips of Dr. Gaussen, and stimulate the attention of her children to what they heard ; and I have known Christians far advanced in years and piety, speak with delight, not only of the pleasure, but of the benefit they derived from these juvenile exercises.” 1
Those who read the subsequent Lessons will not, I am persuaded, feel surprised that so much interest should be manifested in such a service. The opening portion of the Word of God,
1 Notices of the State of Religion in Geneva and Belgium, p. 123.
on which the Lessons are founded, is confessedly of difficult interpretation, and not one, at first sight, likely to attract the young. But, difficult as the subject is, Dr. Gaussen brings a master-mind to grapple with it, and, by a series of beautiful expositions and illustrations, places it, in all its parts, clearly and strikingly before the mind of his youthful auditors. The Lessons must not be carelessly read. They require attention, and thought, and reflection ; but a child of ordinary intelligence and application is quite capable of understanding and appreciating them. Even should he fail in some points, he will yet find so much that is simple and instructive—so many facts in nature, and so many truths of Scripture, beautifully and impressively unfolded—so many harmonies brought out between the great works and the great Word of God, that he cannot but be deeply interested and delighted. While this is a book specially for the young, it will also be read with interest and profit by those of maturer years. To parents and to Sabbathschool teachers it will prove an invaluable help, when seeking to explain to their children or pupils the wonderful workings of the great Creator in the formation and adornment of that world on which we dwell. In it Dr. Gaussen has accumulated a rich store of materials for thought, inquiry, and prayer which will not soon be exhausted, and which may furnish topics for many pleasing and instructive conversations by the evening fireside circle or in the Sabbath class.
Dr. Gaussen was appointed Professor of Systematic Divinity in 1832, and early in 1834—just two years after—he began that course of weekly lessons to the young on the Lord's day, which, in conjunction with his professorial duties, he continued till he was laid aside from active labour by the hand