Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (19)

The following is an excerpt from  “The Voice 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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Meanwhile the curators of the Academy of Leiden, on the advice of the Remonstrants, called Simon Episcopius to the theological ministry against the will of Joannes Polyander, who had been called to that ministry in the place of Franciscus Gomarus. This increased greatly the grief and anxiety of the churches, since it was evident from this that they intended to feed the disputes in the academy and to establish the doctrine of the Remonstrance.

When these evils could no longer be contained within the boundaries of the Holland churches, this corruption spread to the neighboring provinces, especially to the churches of Gelderland, Utrecht, and Overijsel. In the Province of Utrecht, through the neglect of the ministers, the ecclesiastical order appeared to have fallen away. Under the appearance of reestablishing this, Uytenbogaert on August 24 introduced into the church certain Remonstrant ministers, among them Jacobus Taurinus, a seditious and cruel man. To establish their cause in the Province of Utrecht, they framed a new church order that was first approved by the synod at which Uytenbogaert, minister of The Hague, presided, and thereafter also by the States of the same province. In chapter 2.4–5  toleration of the views of the Remonstrance, for which they had agitated so much in Holland, was publicly established, and the doctrine of the Reformed churches was incidentally and hatefully blamed. Further, one finds very many innovations concerning ecclesiastical rule in this church order, so that it is obvious that these men intended nothing less than that everything in the doctrine and in the order and government of the church would be changed.

“…it is obvious that these men intended nothing less than that everything in the doctrine and in the order and government of the church would be changed.”

The Remonstrants in Gelderland had now gotten the ministers of Nijmegen, Bommel, and Tiel on their side. Thereafter the Remonstrants saw to it that no one but men of their views served in the ministry of the neighboring churches. To make this surer Uytenbogaert, Borrius, and Taurinus traveled in Gelderland when the States were gathered there and with the other Remonstrants prevented the annual synodical gatherings in the province. Similarly, in Overijsel, especially in the churches of Kampen and Deventer, which through the help and practices of some had fallen to the Remonstrants, thereafter they disturbed the peaceful churches there with new disputes.

When the Netherlands churches saw that this evil was growing and spreading in the other provinces, they deemed it highly necessary to oppose this. Without any further postponement, by common consent they sent from each province two delegates to the States General: from Gelderland, Johannes Fontanus and Guilielmus Baudartius; from Holland, Libertus Fraximus and Festus Hommius; from Zeeland, Hermannus Faukelius and Guilielmus Telingius (the Utrecht churches refused to send theirs); from Friesland, Gellius Acronius and Godefridus Sopingius; from Overijsel, Johannes Gofmannus and Johannes Langius; from the city of Groningen and Environs, Cornelius Hillenius and Wolfgang Agricola. These men, together with the deputies of the church of Amsterdam (which was synodical), Petrus Plancius and Joannes Hallius, set forth in detail the difficulties and the dangers of the churches. They did so in the names of the churches and the States of their provinces (whose letters they also showed). Further, they humbly petitioned the States to sympathize with the thoroughly grievous position of the churches and at once to give serious attention to the solution of these evils, and to that end to authorize at once a national synod (which had been promised for many years).

“they humbly petitioned the States to sympathize with the thoroughly grievous position of the churches and at once to give serious attention to the solution of these evils…”

Although many among the States General judged that the convening of the synod should be postponed no longer and clung to this, nevertheless because the representatives of the Province of Utrecht were absent and those of Holland West Friesland said that they did not have a clear enough mandate for this matter, the matter was postponed until the representatives of all the provinces would authorize it by a united vote—something that through the actions of those friendly to the Remonstrants from Holland and Utrecht was further prevented.

(To be continued…)