Jean Henri Merle dAubigne

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Swiss Protestant ecclesiastical historian, preacher, and founder of the College of Geneva, whose thinking and achievement influenced Genevan Calvinism, b. Eaux Vives, Geneva, Aug. 8, 1794; d. there, Oct. 21, 1872. d'Aubigné's paternal ancestors were French Huguenot refugees, the name d'Aubigné being added to the family name of Merle by his maternal grandmother. He was educated in Geneva, where he imbibed the influence of the Scottish missionary preacher, Robert Haldane, and in Berlin, where he profited from the scholarship of William Neander and W. M. L. de Wette. After ordination he was appointed in 1819 pastor of the Protestant French church in Hamburg. From 1823 to 1830 he served as court preacher to King William I of the Netherlands in Brussels and also became president of the consistory of the French and German Protestant churches. The Belgian revolution of 1830 decided his return to Geneva, where he served as professor of church history until his death. He became an outstanding promoter of "evangelical alliance," founding, with others, the Evangelical Society for the promotion of evangelical Christianity. Calvinistic in its main doctrines, under d'Aubigné's guidance this society staunchly opposed Church-State union and aimed boldly at establishing an all-Protestant church relationship. Thus he helped to break that inflexible exclusiveness hitherto characteristic of Genevan Calvinism. As a counterpoise to the Genevan Academy, and to meet the need for theologically trained ministers capable of pursuing the necessary Protestant colloquy and union, as well as to encourage a missionary spirit, he founded the College of Geneva and was its president. He remained very anti-Catholic.

In addition to preaching and instructing, he labored indefatigably in writing ecclesiastical history. His most notable works are: Histoire de la réformation du XVI e siècle (5 v. Paris 183553, tr. into most European languages), Histoire de la réformation en Europe du temps de Calvin (8 v. Paris 186277, tr. into English), and a historical monograph on Oliver Cromwell. He visited Britain frequently and was honored both by Oxford University and by the city of Edinburgh.

Bibliography: v. rossel, Histoire littéraire de la Suisse romande des origines à nos jours, 2 v. (Geneva 188991), v.2. h. hohlwein, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart 4:879.

[f. d. s. boran]