Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (14)

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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This [the remonstrance] caused the Netherlands churches to become very dejected, since these differences had burst forth into open schism. They all diligently attempted to get a copy of this Remonstrance in order to give an answer to all the slanders. But the Arminians, through the favor of those who tried to hold these matters in safe keeping, easily prevented for a long time any copy of the Remonstrance from getting into the hands of other ministers.

Along with this trouble in and misery of the churches, there came yet another, which increased the anxiety and the difficulties above measure. When they sought a person to replace Jacobus Arminius in the theological ministry, the deputies of the churches earnestly and in the public name of the churches petitioned and begged the curators of the Academy of Leiden to put in his place a person free from all suspicion of wrong doctrine, in order to end the differences of the Academy of Leiden and in due course to return peace to the churches. To this end they recommended certain excellent foreign and Dutch theologians, but in vain. The Remonstrants, who beforehand had won the hearts of some, recommended that Conradus Vorstius, professor at Steinfort (whom for years the Reformed churches had justly suspected of Socinianism), be called to the theological ministry to replace Arminius. To that end Uytenbogaert was sent to Steinfort.

The deputies of the churches judged it to be their solemn duty to admonish the States that such a person would be like a nail in the wound and that he should not be thoughtlessly admitted to this ministry, especially since the affairs of the church were in confusion.

“The deputies of the churches judged it to be their solemn duty to admonish the States that…[Vorstius] should not be thoughtlessly admitted to this ministry, especially since the affairs of the church were in confusion.”

To accomplish this more fruitfully, they requested through letters the theological faculty of Heidelberg, to whom Vorstius was very well known, forthrightly to declare whether they judged that in this situation he should be placed in charge of the youth of the churches in the Academy of Leiden to instruct them with fruit, peace, and edification. The deputies also stated on August 26 that Vorstius had recently published a book concerning God and the divine attributes, in which he had cast aside the doctrine of ancient and more recent theologians and taught that God according to his being had quantity, size, and finiteness and was composed of being and incidental matters; that according to his will he was changeable; that he was subject to a passive power; and other monstrous views. Further, they stated that ten years earlier Vorstius had been sent to Heidelberg to purge himself of Socinianism, of which the churches at that time accused him before the theological faculty, where Doctor Pezelius also was present. They stated further that Vorstius claimed to have purged himself of Socinianism, but that he had left behind a manuscript that did not confirm it, but on the contrary, often and in many ways, made him suspect. Moreover, they said Vorstius had in his head a nest full of monstrous ideas, with which he had corrupted the school and the youth of Steinfort. And they stated that if a person who was under such suspicion as to doctrine would be called to the renowned Academy of Leiden, it would be nothing else than trying to put out the fire with oil. When the deputies of the churches and the esteemed magistrates of the chief cities of Holland, Dordrecht, and Amsterdam informed the curators and the States of these things and petitioned them not to increase the difficulties of the churches and put them in danger of new and greater disturbances by calling such a person, the Remonstrants on October 18 clung with might and main to their position not to turn aside from this intended call. Meanwhile, Vorstius came to Holland. After being heard in the assembly of the States (no one else of the ministers being present except Uytenbogaert), he went back to Steinfort

“[The deputies of the churches”] stated that if a person who was under such suspicion as to doctrine would be called to the renowned Academy of Leiden, it would be nothing else than trying to put out the fire with oil.”

(To be continued…)