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Pierre Jurieu

1637-1713. Prominent theologian and apologist of the French Reformed Church. Descended from notable families, he studied philosophy at Saumur and theology at Sedan (1656-58) before traveling to England and the Netherlands. He succeeded his father as minister at Mer (1671) and remained there until he was appointed professor of Hebrew at the Sedan academy (1674-79). During his years at Sedan, Jurieu vigorously defended the Reformed faith against the attacks of clerics like Bossuet.* When the academy was dissolved by Louis XIV, Jurieu went to the Netherlands, where on the recommendation of Pierre Bayle* he became minister of the Walloon Church at Rotterdam (1681). There he fostered French Calvinism through his writings and by caring for exiled French Reformed pastors. He came to believe that the Calvinists would soon be restored to France, because of his interpretation of the prophecies of the Apocalypse (as seen in his work: L'Accomplissement des prophéties ou la délivrance de l'église, 2 vols., 1686; ET 1687).

Jurieu gradually adopted a view that distinguished between temporal and spiritual power. He demanded full liberty of conscience for the citizen. These ideas, developed in Histoire du calvinisme et du papisme (2 vols., 1683) were accepted by many Protestants in 1685 when the Edict of Nantes* was revoked by Louis XIV. Jurieu then continued during the years 1686-89 to fashion an ideology of revolution. He stated that the “right of princes to use the sword does not extend to matters of conscience.” Since Louis's use of the sword to coerce men's consciences had put himself outside the pale of law, revolt was thus lawful. Violence was to be repaid with violence.

A prolific writer, Jurieu's style is marked by impressive erudition and polemical bitterness. In addition to his books against Louis and Bossuet, he wrote against the Jansenists (Pierre Nicole and Antoine Arnauld) as well as against the indifference of Bayle. His other important works include Histoire critique des dogmes et des cultes (1704-5; ET 2 vols., 1705), Unité de l'église et points fondamentaux (1688), and Traité de l'amour divin (1700).

C. Van Oordt, Pierre Jurieu (1879); H.M. Baird, Huguenots and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (2 vols., 1895); G.H. Dodge, The Political Theory of the Huguenots With Special Reference to Pierre Jurieu (1947); P. Hazard, The European Mind, the Critical Years (1680-1715) (tr. J.L. May, 1953).