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Gaussen, Francois Samuel Robert Louis

GAUSSEN, FRANCOIS SAMUEL ROBERT LOUIS (1790-1863), Swiss Protestant divine, was born at Geneva on the 25th of August 1790. His father, Georg Markus Gaussen, a member of the council of two hundred, was descended from an old Languedoc family which had been scattered at the time of the religious persecutions in France. At the close of his university career at Geneva, Louis was in 1816 appointed pastor of the Swiss Reformed Church at Satigny near Geneva, where he formed intimate relations with J.E. Cellérier, who had preceded him in the pastorate, and also with the members of the dissenting congregation at Bourg-de-Four, which, together with the Eglise du témoignage, had been formed under the influence of the preaching of James and Robert Haldane in 1817. The Swiss revival was distasteful to the pastors of Geneva (Vénérable Compagnie des Pasteurs), and on the 7th of May 1817 they passed an ordinance hostile to it. As a protest against this ordinance, in 1819 Gaussen published in conjunction with Cellérier a French translation of the Second Helvetic Confession, with a preface expounding the views he had reached upon the nature, use and necessity of confessions of faith; and in 1830, for having discarded the official catechism of his church as being insufficiently explicit on the divinity of Christ, original sin and the doctrines of grace, he was censured and suspended by his ecclesiastical superiors. In the following year he took part in the formation of a Société Evangélique (Evangelische Gesellschaft). When this society contemplated, among other objects, the establishment of a new theological college, he was finally deprived of his charge. After some time devoted to travel in Italy and England, he returned to Geneva and ministered to an independent congregation until 1834, when he joined Merle d'Aubigné as professor of systematic theology in the college which he had helped to found. This post he continued to occupy until 1857, when he retired from the active duties of the chair. He died at Les Grottes, Geneva, on the 18th of June 1863.

His best-known work, entitled La Théopneustie ou pleine inspiration des saintes écritures, an elaborate defence of the doctrine of "plenary inspiration," was originally published in Paris in 1840, and rapidly gained a wide popularity in France, as also, through translations, in England and America. It was followed in 1860 by a supplementary treatise on the canon (Le Canon des saintes écritures au double point de vue de la science et de la foi), which, though also popular, has hardly been so widely read.

See the article in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie (1899).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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