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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Rabaut, Paul

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a French Protestant divine, who was a martyr to the cause of true Christianity in France, was born at Bedarieux, near Montpelier, in 1718. He was educated at the seminary in Lausanne for the holy office of the ministry, and became one of the "Preachers of the Desert," among whom he soon ranked as first in many respects. In 1743 he was made pastor of the Reformed Church at Nismes, and there became the leader of French Protestantism. This was a time of persecution indeed. The government of Louis XV had taken up anew the task of rooting out the heretical doctrines which had flourished their banner in the face of the very man who had given authority to his government by saying "L'etat c'est moi." In spite of allopposition, and in the face of a host of plotting enemies, Rabaut maintained his position, and in 1785 he was even emerited. But in 1793, when the great Revolution succeeded, he was arrested as a traitor, and only gained his freedom in 1794 by the reversal of the 9th Thermidor. He died shortly after (Sept. 25, 1794). Rabaut took part in the Reform National Synod of 1744, and was presiding officer of that in 1763; and although his heterodox views on many important points made him a pronounced Chiliast in doctrine and an Episcopalian in government, he was yet so greatly revered for his fortitude, consistency, frankness, and devotion to Protestantism that his leadership was never rejected, but always gladly accepted by the Huguenot successors. He was not a great man. His education was moderate, his power in the pulpit ordinary. It was his sterling qualities of character that made him a leader in the Israel of France.

His eldest son, Paul, also called St. Etienne, who was born in 1743, and was both preacher and lawyer, distinguished himself as a leader of the Revolution, to which both he and his wife fell martyrs. It was his influence that carried through the National Council religious equality for all France. His novel Triomphe de l'intole'cance (Lond. 1779; republished at Paris in 1820 and 1826 under the title Le Vieux Cevenol) is important for the history of French Protestantism. Another son (the second), Antoine R. Pommier, who was born Oct. 24, 1744, was also a preacher, and likewise distinguished himself in the Revolution. He finally entered the civil service, but in 1815 he was obliged to quit France on account of his having voted for the execution of Louis XVI, and was only allowed to return in 1818. He died at Paris in 1820. He published Anuctaire Ecclesiastique, a l' Usaye des trois Seances sur P. R. et les Prot. Francais au XVIIIe Siele (Lausanne, 1859). See New York Nation, 18:267; London Academy, Aug. 1, 1874, p. 119; De Felice, Hist. of the French Protestants, p. 416, 451,462; Register, Studien u. Kritiken, 1838-47; Smith, Hist. of the Huguenots; Bridel, Sketches of Paul Rabaut aind the French Protestants of the 18th Century (transl. from the French. with an Appendix containing portions of Paul Rabaut's writings now first published [Lond. 1861, 12mo]). (J. H. W.)

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Rabaut, Paul'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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