Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (23)

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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After Jacobus Trigland, minister at Amsterdam, had replied to this [resolution of tolerance] in a public writing, Uytenbogaert took in hand a lengthy defense of this resolution, in which he scandalously slandered and attacked both the doctrine of the Reformed churches and the foremost lights thereof: Calvin, Beza, Zanchius, and others. Over against Uytenbogaert’s writing, Trigland prepared a careful reply for the defense of both the honor and the doctrine of the teachers of the Reformed churches.

When the Remonstrants saw that the resolution of toleration, which they called a resolution of the situation, did not have much authority, they attempted another strategy to obtain what they wanted. To that end, during September and October 1615, they invited the ministers everywhere in Holland, both secretly and in their gatherings, to subscribe to a formula of toleration that was written in deceitful language by some who secretly adhered to their party and their views, but who were not considered to be Remonstrants.

However, when even then they could not get their way, they judged that those who could not be talked over to their side would have to be coerced by the authority of the regents, and that at last they could break through this matter and bring it to an end. To this end, they achieved in the name of the States the sending of this resolution of mutual tolerance, published the preceding year, to every classis. It simply ordered the ministers to subscribe to it without contradiction.

“…When even then [the Remonstrants] could not get their way, they judged that those who could not be talked over to their side would have to be coerced by the authority of the regents…”

To get more easily into the service of the churches those who were of the Remonstrant party and to exclude all others, the Remonstrants caused another resolution to be added, which in the calling of ministers and elders allowed the use of the order devised in the year 1591 but not approved. According to this rule, four would be elected who had been delegated by the government, and four others who had been delegated by the consistory. After these resolutions had been sent to the classes, many classes sent their deputies to the States to declare openly and in writing their objections, or gravamina, against these resolutions and to ask that the introduction of them be withdrawn. When the deputies arrived at The Hague for this purpose, they learned from the delegates of some of the chief cities that the resolutions, although they had been forwarded, had not been established by full and formal approbation of all the States and therefore could not yet have the force of a law. The deputies therefore found it advisable to refrain from their intended request until the resolutions were enforced.

This last resolution gave occasion again in many places for new disputes and disturbances, especially in the churches of Haarlem. For when certain of the magistrates wanted to have the ministers called according to his new order, and the church did not approve that, they refused to have ecclesiastical fellowship with the congregations where the ministers were called in the aforesaid manner, and they refused to acknowledge them as lawful ministers. Through the same decisions some classes in Holland had maintained unity with the Remonstrants in the government of the churches for the sake of peace, but now they were divided because many ministers could not consent to these decisions, and the Remonstrants desired the churches to be governed according to them. To force this authoritatively upon their fellow ministers, the Remonstrants introduced into the classical gatherings politicians who were either alienated from the Reformed religion or loyal to the Remonstrants. Thus they sought to exercise dominance in the churches. The right-minded ministers, being tired and weary of these disputes that arose daily on account of these things with the Remonstrants, deemed it better to come together without them and to take care of their churches in peace, rather than to be plagued by continual disputes with the Remonstrants.

“The right-minded ministers, being tired and weary of these disputes…deemed it better to come together without them and to take care of their churches in peace, rather than to be plagued by continual disputes with the Remonstrants.”

Meanwhile, Uytenbogaert arranged through the authority of certain leaders, that his fellow ministers were ordered to obey these resolutions. When his fellow minister Henricus Roseus said he could not promise with a good conscience to obey, he was suspended from the office of minister by their authority and at Uytenbogaert’s corrupt instigation. Therefore the members of the church of The Hague who loved the purity of the Reformed doctrine continued the practice of religion in a separate church, first in the village of Rijswijk and then in The Hague after they obtained ministers on loan from other churches.

Later, at these services the chief men from the States and from the counselors of the Courts of Justice and other colleges, the Prince of Orange and Count Willem Lodewijk of Nassau, forsaking the gathering of the Remonstrants, came to these services to testify of their agreement in the sound doctrine and their inclination toward the same. The Remonstrants very hatefully called this schism and sought in every manner to prevent it or to avenge it

(To be continued…)