Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (10)

The following is an excerpt from  “The Voices of Our Fathers: An Exposition of the Canons of Dordrecht” and is used by permission from the Reformed Free Publishing Association

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When Gomarus learned of this [Arminius’ declaration to the States] on December 12, he felt obligated to inform the States to prevent any prejudice by wrong prejudgments against the orthodox doctrine. On this account, having sought consent to speak, he declared at length what the real view of Arminius was concerning the grace of God, the free will of man, the justification of man before God, the perfection of man in this life, predestination, original sin, and the perseverance of the saints. He showed how Arminius had given just reasons for suspicion that he did not have the right view concerning Holy Scripture, the holy trinity, the providence of God, the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, the church, faith, good works, and other main items of doctrine. Further, he exposed Arminius’ practice of spreading abroad his beliefs, how he had not revealed his views publicly, although the churches had asked and begged him to do so, but had spread them secretly, especially to his pupils and to the ministers whom he hoped to draw to his side. He showed how Arminius diligently taught his views, undermined the chief proofs of those who sought to establish sound doctrine, supported the proofs of the Jesuits and other enemies by which they opposed the doctrine of the Reformed church, inculcated in his disciples various doubts concerning the truth of the adopted doctrine, and presented the true doctrine as being on an equal footing with the opposing doctrine, in order thereafter to reject the former.

“[Gomarus] showed how Arminius diligently taught his views, undermined the chief proofs of those who sought to establish sound doctrine, …and presented the true doctrine as being on an equal footing with the opposing doctrine…”

Gomarus pointed out that Arminius had been completely unwilling to make a declaration of soundness in and agreement with the doctrine (although many times the churches had lovingly and fraternally asked to do so) and that he had done his utmost to prevent his errors, which had been exposed before the High Council, from becoming known to the churches. And he showed how Arminius, having despised the judgments and decisions of the synods, classes, and consistories, had for the first time walked into a trap before the government, where he had presented his complaints and accusations against the churches and with courtly practices diligently had labored to curry favor for himself and to arouse hatred and disfavor for the churches. Since the students of sacred theology in the Academy of Leiden and many preachers in various places were more and more falling away from sound doctrine, the disagreements and disputes were increasing, and the churches were being disturbed and the citizens divided, Gomarus concluded by beseeching the States immediately to convene the promised national synod, lawfully to investigate the causes of the calamity, and to apply a proper remedy.

The deputies of the churches repeatedly requested the same thing, but through the initiative of Uytenbogaert and others the convening of the synod was always postponed. They also admonished Arminius various times to keep his promise to deliver his objections in writing.

He finally answered on April 4, 1609, that he did not deny having promised this, but since he understood that the States had ordered the ministers to send their objections sealed to the States, he changed his mind and would wait until the same order came to him.

Petrus Bertius, regent of the theological college, was admonished by the same deputies that if he had anything against the adopted doctrine of the churches freely to declare this. On February 13 he forthrightly and without alibi declared his views concerning many points of doctrine and declared that in the articles concerning the justification of man before God, predestination, the grace of God and free will, and the final perseverance of the saints he had different views from the doctrine of the Netherlands churches.

This increased the concern of the churches, because Arminius in the academy and Bertius in the theological college, a “greenhouse” of the Holland churches, presented strange doctrine to the youth entrusted to them and dedicated to the service of the churches, led them away from sound doctrine, and instilled in them new beliefs. The churches saw all of this and were grieved. Although they greatly wished for and considered it highly necessary to make lawful provision in this matter and to remedy this evil, they could not accomplish this because Uytenbogaert and others, whose influence was great with many regents of the fatherland, diligently prevented all the synodical gatherings and ecclesiastical judgments

“The churches saw all of this and were grieved.”

(To be continued…)