Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (12)

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 this was finished, they [the States] asked the conferees whether there were more articles of doctrine about which they differed. Gomarus replied that there were indeed more, namely, the articles concerning original sin, the providence of God, the authority of Holy Scripture, the certainty of salvation, the perfection of man in this life, and certain others. He further stated that he would leave it to the discretion of the States whether they would deal with these matters, especially since they would have to be dealt with again in the synod.

Since Arminius’ sickly condition no longer allowed him to continue at the conference, the States terminated it. But first, upon the request of Gomarus and the other ministers with him, they promised on August 22 that this entire matter would be more thoroughly investigated and decided upon at the provincial synod that was to be convoked immediately. Moreover, they ordered the conferees to deliver their views in writing within fourteen days, together with the proofs and the refutation of the contrary views, so these documents could be kept for the provincial synod.

Gomarus sent his writings within the fixed time, and these were published in the Dutch language. Since the difficulties of the churches were increased rather than removed by this conference, the deputies of the churches again humbly petitioned the States on September 16 immediately to convene the provincial synod, which previously had been promised so often and also in this conference.

“Since the difficulties of the churches were increased rather than removed by this conference, the deputies of the churches again humbly petitioned the States on September 16 immediately to convene the provincial synod, which previously had been promised so often and also in this conference.”

To this petition the answer was given, although some were opposed, that the summoning of the provincial synod would take place only after the ministers of the classis of Alkmaar obeyed the orders of the States to admit to their gatherings Adolphus Venator and the ministers who sided with him. To not cause postponement of the provincial synod, the deputies of the churches traveled to Alkmaar and moved the classis to admit under honorable conditions the ministers who sided with Venator. But the classis was not prepared to admit Venator. They gave to the deputies many weighty reasons to stop pressing this matter.

Having made this known to the States, they still could not achieve the convening of the synod, for the ministers who sided with Arminius caused that the classis of Alkmaar was again ordered on October 15 unconditionally to admit the aforementioned ministers. Since they could not do this, the convening of the synod was postponed again.

Meanwhile, by a letter Arminius excused himself with the States, stating that because of physical weakness he could not prepare the document he had been ordered to prepare. This sickness soon became so severe that a short time later Arminius died on October 19.

After his death all the pious hoped that for the most part the difficulties would be removed and buried along with Arminius, since he had been the instigator and the author of all these entanglements.

“After his death all the pious hoped that for the most part the difficulties would be removed and buried along with Arminius, since he had been the instigator and the author of all these entanglements.”

Yet since there were in many ministers in the churches of Holland who adhered to his views and did not cease to propagate them, the deputies of these churches considered it necessary to press for the convening of the provincial synod. However, they were again given the answer that the States would see to the convening of an ecclesiastical gathering only when the classis of Alkmaar obeyed their orders.

(To be continued…)