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Labadists



A pietist sect of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries founded by Jean de Labadie, who was born at Bourg, near Bordeaux, 13 February, 1610, and died at Altonia, 13 February, 1674. He was educated by the Jesuits at Bordeaux, joined their order in 1625, and was ordained ten years later. Having left the Society of Jesus in 1639 he preached successfully at Bordeaux, Paris, and Amiens, where in 1640 he was appointed canon and professor of theology. He exercised his priestly functions at Abbeville also, andin 1649 withdrew to the Carmelite monastery of Graville, near Havre, to avoid a conflict with the ecclesiastical and civil authorities. In 1650 he joined the Reformed Church of Montauban, where he was appointed professor of theology. In 1657 he took up pastoral work at Orange on the Rhône, because extraordinary preacher at Geneva in 1659, and seven years later accepted a call to the French-speaking congregation at Middelburg, Holland, where he refused to subscribe to the Belgian Confession or to recognizethe authority of the Reformed Church and founded a separate sect, whereupon he was expelled from the city. He then endeavoured to organize a community first in the neighbouring town of Veere, then at Amsterdam, where he permanently won over to his cause the learned Anna Maria van Schurman. On the invitation of the princess-abbess, Elizabeth, he removed in 1670 with some fifty-five followers to Herford in Westphalia. Having been banished also from this place in 1672, the congregation settled at Altona where De Labadie died. Shortly after his death, his followers, to the number of one hundred and sixty-two finally migrated from Altona to Wiewert in West Friesland. Here they reached the highest point of their prosperity, but even then did not number more than about four hundred. In 1680 they accepted an invitation from the governor of the Dutch colony of Surinam to establish a missionary settlement in his dominions. But the colony of "Providence" which they founded disappeared in 1688. A similar attempted atNew Bohemia on the Hudson in the State of New York also ended in failure. The congregation of Wiewert itself dispersed in 1732. In their doctrinal teaching, the Labadists laid great stress on the necessity of interior illumination by the Holy Ghost for the understanding of the Bible. The Church for them was a community of holy persons who have been born again from sin. These alone are entitled to the reception of the sacraments. Hence they frowned upon infant baptism, seldom celebrated the Lord's Supper, and declared that marriage with an unregenerate person is not binding. They held property in common, after the example of the primitive Church, supported themselves by manual labour and held very lax views regarding theobservance of Sunday.

N.A. WEBER








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