Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (28)

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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When these letters were received, the States of each province convened the provincial or particular synods of their churches, which received the objections that would be brought to the national synod and delegated by common vote of the churches the persons who would be sent there with their mandates and instructions. These things took place in every province according to the manner that had been followed in these Reformed churches, with the exception of Holland and the Bishopric of Utrecht. Because of the great number of Remonstrants there, the ordinary procedure could not be followed in all things. Because in some classes of Holland there were separations, and the Remonstrants held separate classical meetings, the States of Holland thought that the classes in which there were no separations, according to the manner previously followed, should delegate by majority vote four men to send to the particular synod with regular power. To avoid confusion in the classes with separations both sides would delegate two men to be sent to the particular synod with equal power. In the Bishopric of Utrecht the churches were not divided into various classes. The States of that province thought that all the Remonstrants should gather separately in a synod, that the ministers who did not follow the Remonstrants’ views, of whom there were a goodly number, should gather in another synod, and that from each synod and each party three men with the power to judge should be delegated to the national synod. However, since the church of Utrecht was divided into parties, one of which followed the Remonstrants’ views and the other rejected their views and recently had been delivered from the oppression of the Remonstrants, it was not provided with ordinary ministers but was being served by Johannes Dibetz, minister of Dordrecht. Therefore he was lawfully delegated by the other synod in the name of the Utrecht churches that did not follow the Remonstrants.

When the synod of the churches of Gelderlandand of Zutphen gathered in Arnhem on June 25, the Remonstrants who were delegated from the classis of Bommel did not want to sit with the others unless certain conditions were promised to them beforehand, conditions that the synod judged to be in conflict with the resolution of the States. Because before this time the Remonstrants of the classes of Nijmegen, Bommel, and Tiel had delivered to the States of Gelderland and to the honorable court their ten articles that they said the other ministers taught, they were mandated to name openly those preachers who taught these things, in order to hail them before the synod and lawfully to determine whether this was true. For it was known that the Remonstrants had slanderously fabricated these articles against the Reformed ministers in order to make the government hate these articles. However, they could mention no one in the entire province besides the minister of Hattem, who had abundantly cleared himself in the classis. When the synod nevertheless wanted to hail him and to hear him, the Remonstrants no longer persisted. Henricus Arnoldi, minister at Delft,who was present there in the name of the South Holland churches, also declared that there was no one in South Holland who taught or agreed with the aforesaid articles.On this account the synod earnestly rebuked the Remonstrants for these grievous slanders and at once declared that the churches of Gelderland did not accept or support the doctrine comprehended in those articles as they had proposed them, although there were certain clauses in them that in themselves and taken in a proper sense could not be rejected.

The Remonstrants at last acknowledged their guilt concerning these unjust slanders and begged forgiveness. Then in the same synod the differences between the Remonstrants and the other ministers were described, and this was later passed on to the national synod. Since in that province many ministers were suspected of many other errors besides the five articles of the Remonstrance, such as being unlawfully inducted into the ministry and leading a scandalous life, some of these ministers were hailed before the synod. For these reasons (but in no wise on account of their views of the five articles, which were reserved for the national synod) they were suspended from the ministry. The cases of others were committed to certain delegates in the name of the synod, to whom the States also added their commissioners. After they fully investigated the cases of those men in the classes, they suspended some and at once deposed others from the ministry.

(To be continued…)