Momiers or Mummers

Momiers or Mummers (from the French word monzerie-mummery, hypocrisy) is a name of contempt given to a sect of Calvinistic Methodists in French Switzerland. In the first part of the present century we find in Switzerland, as in Germany, a conflict between the old confessional faith and Rationalism. The Genevan school had broken loose from rigid Calvinism, and the heresies of Arianism and Socinianism were taught and believed. But after the great political events of the years 1813-15 we see the old evangelical faith beginning once more to assert itself, young theologians in Geneva and the canton Vaud declaring in favor of orthodox preaching, and avowing the then almost forgotten doctrines of Christ's divinity and of total human depravity. Their preaching caused great bitterness of feeling. Empaytaz, generally recognised as the first preacher of the Momiers at that time, was in 1816 obliged to quit Geneva, and in 1817 the "Venrable Compagnie des Pasteurs" (i.e., the Presbytery of Geneva) issued a formal prohibition against preaching on those doctrines which had ever been held as the fundamental doctrines of the Reformed Church. This arbitrary action led to an open rupture between the evangelical and rationalistic parties. A number of preachers-among them, Malan (q.v.), Empaytaz, Gaussen, Bost, Galland, and Drummond (a British Methodist) refused to obey, and actually separated from the state Church, organizing their own independent evangelical congregations. Their adherents were all more or less influenced by Methodist tendencies, and inclined to a sombre view of life. They were called by the people "Momiers," as if to say hypocrites, and exposed to the insults of the populace. Many vexatious occurrences took place; they were much disturbed in their worship, particularly at Geneva, where they had erected a church by funds secured in England; but they were at last officially tolerated. In the canton Vaud, however, where they had spread considerably, their assemblies were entirely forbidden by the authorities by special act (May 20, 1824), and in consequence the pastors Scheler, Olivier, Chavannes, Professor Monnard, and others, were obliged to leave their flocks or suffer heavy penalties. But the old experience that persecution only strengthens a persecuted cause proved true here also. The sect gladly took to itself the name given in reproach, and the "Momiers," in spite of interdict, continued to increase, and finally caused the formation of an independent Church (Eglise separe). In 1834 the right of assembling together. and free exercise of their religious convictions, was granted them by the state, and they spread now more than ever. They found adherents also in German Switzerland. Thus in Berne a Wiirtemberger named Mehrli, and a physician from Weimar named Valenti, actively proselyted for the new doctrines. In Neuenburg also, and in other Protestant cantons of the little European republic, this peculiar "Methodism" spread and flourished. A paper was also started, the Gazette Evangelique, and it rapidly gained a large circulation. While the Evangelical Society of Geneva [see the articles SEE MALAN and SEE HALDANE brothers] owes its origin and strength largely to the influence and zealous co-operation of this sect, the great results of this schism are embodied in a free evangelical Church union, called the "'Iglise libre," which was organized by the different nonconforming congregations in 1848. See Malan, Swiss Tracts, 1:20 sq.; Les Proces du Methodisme en Geneve (1835); Hagenbach, Ch. Hist. 18th and 19th Cent. 2:406 sq.; Hist. veritable des Momiers de Geneve (Paris, 1824); Schweizer, Die kirchl. Zerwurfiisse im Kanton Waadt; Mestral, Mission de l'Eglise libre (1848); Bost, Defense des fidbles de l'Elise de Geneve (Paris, 1825); Von Goltz, Die reform. Kirche Genfs im 19: Jahrah. (Basle and Gel. 1862); Cheneviere, Quelques mots sur la Geneve religieuse du baron de Goltz (Genesis 1863); Aschbach, Kirchen-Lex. 4:259.

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