Curcellaeus Stephanus

Curcellaeus Stephanus (Etienne de Courcelles), an eminent aind le irned divine, was born at Geneva in 1586. He studied under Beza at Geneva, and afterwards at Heidelberg. In 1614 he was appointed pastor at Fontainebleau; in 1621, at Amiens; but, on his refusal to subscribe to the canons of Dort (q.v.), he was compelled to resign his pastoral charge. But, yielding to the importunity of friends, he afterwards gave a modified assent to the decrees of Dort, and became pastor at Verrez, in Piedmont, where he remained until 1634. Becoming satisfied that he could not, with a good conscience, serve in a Church which held the doctrine of absolute predestination, he removed to Amsterdam, where he acquired a great reputation among the followers of Arminius. He read lectures in divinity, and succeeded Episcopius (1634) in the professorship of theology in the Remonstrants' College. He had great skill in Greek, as appears by his translation of Comenius's book, Janua linguarum, into that language. He applied himself particularly to a critical examination of the Greek of the New Testament, of which he gave a new edition, with many various readings drawn from different MSS. He prefixed a large dissertation to this edition, in which he treats of various readings in general (Amst. 1658 and 1675, 12mo). His large culture and tolerant spirit commended him to his great contemporaries in Holland, Grotius and Uitembogaert, with both of whom he was intimately connected. In the discussion between Amyraut and Du Moulin he intervened, as a sort of arbiter, by his Advis d'unpersonnage desinteresse relativement 'a la dispute sur la predestination (Amst. 1638, 8vo). Later he published Vindicice Arminii ado. III. Amyraldum (1645, 8vo); Defensio D. Blondelli adv. Maresii Criminationes (Amst. 1657); Dissertationes (Amst. 1659, 8vo). These, and other of his writings (translated into Latin), are given, together with his Institutio Religionis Christiana (an incomplete system of Theology), in Curcellei Opera Theologica (Amstelod. 1675, fol.), with preface by Limborch, and eulogy on Curcellaeus by Arnold Poelemburg. Curcellaeus died at Amsterdam in 1659. Poelemburg thus characterizes him: "He first of all directed his mind to a search after divine TRUTH; for he thought that this treasure, descending from heaven, should be preferred to all other acquirements. Next, he had all the thoughts of his mind directed to INTEGRITY, because he believed that not even truth could be of benefit to us, unless it brought some strikingly advantageous aid to our piety. Finally, this especially he wished, and for this peculiarly he labored, to unite the Christian body, torn into many and terrible schisms to compose and conciliate the separate, distracted feelings of various minds; and to teach that not all the doctrines which were alleged as a pretext for causing or cherishing a schism were vital for salvation, and at the same time to show that those things which had not the weight of necessity by no means sufficed for dividing the Church of Christ. To this all things were to be referred which he meditated, uttered, or performed; for this he refused to subscribe to the famous canons of the synod, because we, whose opinions ought not to be, were condemned; for this he abandoned his loved country, France, and endured many hardships for the sake of mutual toleration; and for this he determined to contest, as if for some divine palladium. He conceded to others as much as he thought should be equally granted to him; demanded that nothing should be conceded to himself from others except what justice, and right reason, and the sacred writings require should be admitted. What is more holy than this proposition, what more salutary, what more necessary for the times? For many contend concerning the truth, and so contend that they never obtain truth, but lose charity. Hence the many disputes in Christendom on slight causes. But what is more disgraceful to us as members of Christ, what more ignominious to Christ as our Head and Leader, than that his seamless coat, and his body, which ought to be united by the closest ties of love, should be torn into a thousand fragments? This, indeed, is the distinction of Remonstrantism; this our crown of glory, because we neither caused this schism, nor consented to any other, nor cherished nor approved any; but we invite and exhort all who love Christ and adhere to his Gospel alone to enter this communion of peace" (see translation of Poelemburg's eulogy in the Methodist Quarterly Review, January and April, 1863). The theology of Curcelleeus was a modified Arminianism. He held the Grotian view of the atonement, but, SEE ATONEMENT, set special emphasis upon the sacrificial character of the death of Christ in its reference to God as well as to man, asserting that Christ made satisfaction for sin, but not by enduring the whole punishment due to sinners (Instit. lib. v, chap. xviii, xix). As to the Trinity, he held that Christ and the Holy Spirit are divine, but that both Son and Spirit are subordinate to the Father, from whom they receive both existence and divinity (Instit. Relig. Christ. lib. ii, cap. xix). — Curcellaeus, Opera (as cited above); Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, ii, § 235, 268; Dorner, Doctrine of the Person of Christ (Edinb. transl.), div. ii, vol. 2:350 sq.; Bull, Defence of the Nicene Creed (Lib. of Angl. Cath. Theology), 1:81 sq.

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