Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (27)

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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By subterfuge and quibbling [the Remonstrants] delayed for some time the sending of the letters and the postponing of the appointed day for the convening of the synod.

Meanwhile, Lord Dudley Carleton complained in the assembly of the States General that the honor of the king of Great Britain, his master, had been scandalously and shamelessly ridiculed in the dishonorable pamphlet Weegschaal that the Remonstrants, even after the edict of the States General, had translated and printed in French. After a brief and pertinent refutation of many Remonstrant objections, he made known to the States what method and manner his Royal Majesty of Great Britain was accustomed to use in the resolving of differences concerning religion or doctrine. Since this agreed with the resolution of the States General, the States were more and more confirmed in this holy purpose. Also the magistrates of the city of Amsterdam, having previously consulted with the ministers of that church and with others called together for this purpose, presented in writing in the gathering of the States of Holland and West Friesland on March 23, many and very weighty reasons by which it was plainly proved that these differences could at this time be resolved and laid to rest in no other way than by a national synod. At the same time they furnished a very basic answer to all the objections of the Remonstrants and all their proposals concerning a general synod. Shortly thereafter the magistrates of the city of Enkhuizen confirmed this with many reasons that were put in writing and delivered in the Apology of the Cities of Dordrecht, Amsterdam, Enkhuizen, etc. (104, 113). These reasons were later printed on March 27 so everyone would know how improperly the Remonstrants and their supporters had acted when they opposed so perversely with their new proposals the convening of the national synod and when they had sought to escape the judgment of such a national synod.

The States General, judging that this highly necessary matter, already decided for very proper and weighty reasons, ought to be postponed no longer by such proposals and subterfuges. The States decided anew that the convening of the national synod should take place immediately, without any postponement and delay. And they ordered that the meeting place would be the city of Dordrecht and the day, the first of November next.

“The States decided anew that the convening of the national synod should take place immediately, without any postponement and delay.”

When men loyal to the Remonstrants’ cause among the States of Holland and West Friesland opposed this resolution in the gathering of the States General and complained that thereby the dignity, right, and freedom of their provinces were being abridged, the States General declared in a public act that by this authorizing of the national synod they did not desire to abridge or belittle in any way the dignity, right, and freedom of any province. On the contrary, it was their upright intention, without any prejudgment of any province, and that of the union, or confederation itself, through the ordinary judgment of the national synod lawfully to resolve only the ecclesiastical differences that had arisen concerning the doctrine, to God’s honor and the peace of the Republic, since these differences concerned all the Netherlands Reformed churches.

Thereafter the States General wrote to the States of every province and declared their purpose in the name of the Lord to authorize from all the churches of these provinces a national synod on the first of November next, in order lawfully to investigate the differences that had arisen in those churches and to resolve them in a proper manner (always maintaining the truth). And they exhorted the States of every province immediately to convene in their province, according to custom, a provincial synod from which six godly and learned men or three capable men who confessed the Reformed religion could be delegated. These men would receive a copy of the conditions, would investigate these differences at the national synod, and would remove these differences to preserve the truth. The States General also sent letters of similar content to the French churches in the Netherlands, which had been accustomed to have holding their own particular synod because the churches were spread throughout all the provinces.

(To be continued…)