Now we can sum up some of the legacies that our Huguenot ancestors have handed down to us.
We must remember examples of fortitude that have endured through persecutions, loss of friends, property, and loved ones. And bravery to defy the powerful French kings, their self-seeking followers, and radical Roman Catholics, and the abusive dragonnades. We may not leave out models of courage to leave France, where the Huguenots had to forfeit businesses, property, and social status for the uncertainties of foreign countries. If coming to America, they faced a wild, untamed land filled with possibly hostile natives.
Among our legacies, we must not forget faithfulness to God. They found in the Bible a revelation between a personal God and each individual on Earth as well as the laws for the relationship of each person with all others. In their temples, their worship services centered on the pulpit where the minister was charged with expounding the word of truth as found in the revealed Word of God. They believed that God’s revelation is not static. No, to their minds, God speaks to all men and women, if they seek Him and listen. If with all your heart you truly seek Him, you will surely, truly find Him, for God has made that promise.
The Huguenots also had a high regard for education, for only the literate could read and interpret God’s Word. They believed that only the educated could intelligently develop the talents with which God had endowed and entrusted them.
Their faithfulness to God found expression in everyday work. Work was good; it was, in a real sense, holy, because God had ordained that men and women should work. Work not only helped build character founded in a deep sense of responsibility, but it also had spiritual benefits as well.
Our Huguenot ancestors probably did not foresee that they also gave us a legacy of democracy. It was practiced in their temples in France. Based on the model of the Early Church, they believed that all members were equal. No temple or church was superior. As members of the priesthood of believers, lay personnel had leadership roles in both the administrative and spiritual governance of their temples.
A natural outgrowth was the realization that in spiritual matters, men and women answered only to God, and directly to God without intervention of priest, pope, king, or any civil authority. Civil authorities had jurisdiction over civil matters alone. And so eventually many of the Huguenots accepted the doctrine of separation of church and state. While it would be misleading to credit the Huguenots exclusively with initiating the doctrine of freedom of individual conscience from the dictates of the state, they added the force of their convictions to others of like mind.
This conviction of spiritual accountability, along with fortitude, bravery, courage, faithfulness to God, a belief in the sanctity of work, a high regard for education, and the examples of living democracy in their temples, make up, in part, the unanticipated legacies that our Huguenot ancestors have given us.
Not to be overlooked, the Huguenots became loyal citizens of their adopted countries. In many of these older countries, such as The Netherlands, Prussia, and England, they helped revitalize those countries, adding new vigor, both material and spiritual.
And in the young America, they joined others with their dreams of a new land with new opportunities. It was to be a new country where they could breath the fresh air of freedom. Those early Huguenot immigrants to America in all likelihood did not foresee that they were helping to lay the foundation of a new nation that would be conceived in liberty with the proposition that all men and women are created equal with certain unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
All descendants of the Huguenots should stand with eagerness and say: “Je suis Huguenot, and I am proud of it.”