Calvinism: The Origin And Safeguard Of Our Constitutional Liberties1 -- By: Abraham Kuyper

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 052:208 (Oct 1895)
Article: Calvinism: The Origin And Safeguard Of Our Constitutional Liberties1
Author: Abraham Kuyper

Calvinism: The Origin And Safeguard Of Our Constitutional Liberties1

Rev. Abraham Kuyper


We go back another century, from 1650 to 1550, from the Calvinistic troubles in England to the struggle of the Huguenots in France. It must be shown that the Independents and the Huguenots were congenial to each other, as well as that they differed; only when the affiliation of the two is established, does the line of Calvinistic development appear unbroken.

Their spiritual affiliation is shown, first of all, by de Coligni’s plan of colonization, which, though but little known, is exceedingly noteworthy. It is well known that de Coligni, however different in character, was the Cromwell of the Huguenots; and, without his faults, was, no less than the Protector, the soul and sword of Calvinism. As much as four years before the Huguenots took up arms against the court in 1559, and the martyrs’ woes had been endured in silence for nearly forty years, the natural leaders of the Calvinists began to see that it would not do, in the long run, to submit to slaughter without defence. From a writing to Cardinal Boromeus it appears that the Huguenots numbered nearly half of the population of France, and this fact stimulated both their desire to offer armed resistance, and the purpose of the king to violently exterminate them. The very increase of their numbers rendered their position critical. This was suspected

in the cabinet of Catherine de’ Medici, and led to the horrors of the Bartholomew massacre. Admiral de Coligni likewise saw through this, and it led him to devise a plan of colonization. “If then Calvinism is not to be tolerated in France, allow your Huguenots to emigrate to America. Let there be a Catholic France with Calvinistic colonies. Then will our persecutions be ended, and as a naval power also, France will be the successful competitor of Spain and Portugal.” Henry II. deemed this project not altogether impracticable, and in August of 1555 Durand de Villegagnon, a Maltese Knight, and Vice-Admiral of Bretagne, set sail with two of the king’s men-of-war, to found a colony in Brazil. He landed in the Bay of Janeiro, planted the flag of France, and named the fort which he built Coligni, after the hero whose project he was carrying out. In the following year three ships of the royal navy were employed in the transportation of emigrants. But, alas! even then a less noble intention was entertained at court. Orders were sent to Fort Coligni to introduce Romish worship. This put a stop to further Huguenot emigration, and those who were already in Brazil were overtaken by the Portuguese and most pitilessly massacred.

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