France. As may be gathered from the above account, the influence of Amyraut was constantly on the increase between 1637 and 1659. At first, only a few provinces and the Church of Paris supported him, and there was resolute opposition in many quarters. With the passage of time, however, the number of those who had been trained under him at Saumur kept growing, while those who entertained misgivings either died or became convinced that there was no basic difference in doctrine but merely one of language and of method. The main opponents were writing from outside of France. (This is true even of Sedan, which was not under the king of France at that time.)
The orientation of the movement became more clearly manifest in one of the most gifted successors of Amyraut, Claude Pajon (1626–1685). His distinctive approach was to deny that there is any direct internal operation of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, for he held that the Spirit works purely in terms of the suasion that is effected by the presentation of the truth. This tended to relieve the clash between the Amyraldian conception of the universal design of the Father and of Christ in redemption and the particularistic activity of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. In Pajon’s scheme, the saving work on the Holy Spirit was also both universalized and rendered ineffective of itself. This was taking a big step toward outright Arminianism, in spite of Pajon’s efforts to retain some place for divine sovereignty in election and reprobation. Needless to say, this approach was in flat contradiction to the Canons of Dort (3d and 4th head, art. 10–12; rejection 7, 8), and it is not surprising that objections were soon raised against the authority of that statement of faith.
The doctrine of hypothetical universalism acted as a corrosive factor in the French Reformed Church. Tolerated at first because it was felt that an outright condemnation would lead to schism, it slowly undermined respect for the confessional standards and disrupted internal unity and cohesion. As far as can be seen, it did not in fact help to promote any basic union with the Lutherans, nor did it materially assist in preventing abjurations to the RC faith. On the other hand, it did provide a bridge toward Arminianism and perhaps toward the Semi-Pelagian tendencies of the Church of Rome. The advantages that Amyraut had envisioned failed to materialize, and the dangers against which his opponents had warned did in fact eventuate.
Switzerland showed great interest in the movement. Geneva and Zürich repeatedly protested against the ‘Salmurian innovations’. They sought to influence the decisions of the French synods; they maintained correspondence with some of the key figures; they sought to discourage any Swiss candidates for the ministry from attending Saumur; they examined with great care those who came from France as refugees, with a view to preventing the acceptance as ministers of those who may have been ‘tainted’.
In 1675, after lengthy efforts made by L. Gernler in Basel, J.R. Stücki and J. H. Heidegger in Zürich, F. Turrettini in Geneva, and others, a special statement of faith was drawn up to which subscription was required of ministers in many areas. This statement, the Formula Consensus Ecclesiarum Helveticarum …, was directly opposed to the novel views of Saumur, and 16 of its 26 articles were specifically directed against the doctrine of universal grace, as presented by Amyraut.
In spite of these efforts, the opponents of the old orthodoxy slowly gained ground. In Geneva, serious difficulties were experienced with Cl. Mussard, Alex Morus and Robert Chouet, who were in varying degrees influenced by Saumur. Louis Tronchin and Philippe Mestrezat, professors of theology in the Academy, were at first secret, and later open, sympathizers with the new views. In the course of the eighteenth century, the Formula Consensus was abrogated almost everywhere as a test of faith, principally through the efforts of S. Werenfels, J. F. Ostervald, and J. A. Turrettini, the son of Francis Turrettini, who had been one of its main promoters!
The Netherlands. The resistance seemed at first more successful, for the whole movement was viewed as an attack upon the Canons of Dort and as a dangerous compromise with Arminianism. It is in this country that many of the principal opponents of Amyraut resided; even P. du Moulin had for some time taught at Leiden (1592–1598). Because of the freedom of the press, it is here that many of the books relating to the controversy were published. As the Netherlands became one of the main havens of refuge for French Reformed people after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), a good many refugees imported their views. This may have paved the way for the relaxing influence of the Cartesian and Cocceian schools of theology in Holland. Venema, van Oosterzee, Doedes, etc., may be listed as more recent representatives of this trend.
Germany. It is difficult to trace the influence of Amyraut here, for views which have considerable similarity were held well before him in Bremen (Crocius, Martinius), Hesse and Nassau. H. Heppe and J. H. A. Ebrard are modern representatives of this trend.
Anglo-Saxon Lands. In England John Davenant (1570–1641) held views on the extent of the atonement which resemble Amyraut’s (cf. his Dissertationes Duae: Prima de Morte Christi …, Cambridge, 1650; Eng. trans. by J. Allport in the 2d vol. of Davenant’s Exposition of … Colossians, London, 1831, 1832). Richard Baxter openly avowed that he espoused Amyraldian views, and he listed other English divines who did so too (Preface to Disputations of the Right to the Sacraments, 1657). Amyraut dedicated one of his works to Bishop Cosin of Durham. We may mention also the names of E. Polhill, Ed. Calamy, Ed. Williams, George Payne, A. C. Clifford.
In Scotland similar views were held by James Fraser of Brea, Thomas Mair, the New Light Reformed Presbytery, James Morison and his group (although John Brown, his professor, probably stopped somewhat short of full Amyraldianism), and R. Wardlaw.
In the United States this type of view has been influential in New England Theology (S. Hopkins, E. Griffin, L. Woods), in New School Presbyterianism (J. Richards), among certain Baptists, otherwise Calvinistically inclined (E. Dodge, A. Hovey, Pepper, A. H. Strong), and many others (L. S. Chafer).
—Roger Nicole, “Brief Survey on the Controversy on Universal Grace (1634–1661)”