The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (6) Week Five: Sessions 25-33

Session 25: Monday, December 10 AM
     The previous week, Synod had permitted the three Remonstrant delegates from Utrecht to remain as delegates on five conditions. These delegates agreed to three of the five, including taking the synodical oath, but had reservations about the first two, including stating that they were able to judge the fallacy of the Remonstrant position. After further discussion, two of them agreed to join the Remonstrants seated in the middle of the room. The third was ready to take the synodical oath, but Synod asked him not to return as a delegate.
     Do you remember that Episcopius had made a long speech the previous Friday? After he had finished, when President Bogerman asked him for a copy to enter into Synod’s record, he said he did not have a presentable copy. Synod became aware that he had given a copy to some foreign delegates. President Bogerman rebuked Episcopius for his deception.
     Synod then asked the Remonstrants to present their opinions regarding the Five Points of the Remonstrants, and their objections to the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism. They responded by presenting a paper that set forth twelve conditions that a synod must meet for it to be considered a proper synod.

Session 26: Monday, December 10 PM
     Synod rejected the idea that these twelve conditions defined a proper synod, and exhorted the Remonstrants to submit to the Synod. The Remonstrants retorted by calling the Synod schismatic.

Session 27: Tuesday, December 11 AM
     Again Synod asked the Remonstrants to present their opinions and objections. This time the Remonstrants expressed two grievances: the Synod was prejudiced against them, and President Bogerman and the States General were treating them unfairly. They compared themselves to Athanasius who left the council that Constantine called because he knew the council was biased against him. They also pointed out that the Reformed would not attend the Council of Trent for the same reason. The Remonstrants said they would not have come to the Synod at all, were it not for the presence and authority of the national government, which they said they honored.
     The ecclesiastical and state delegates all sided with Bogerman on the charge against Episcopius.

Session 28: Tuesday, December 11 PM
     Synod expressed that if anything, President Bogerman had been too soft in his words to the Remonstrants. Synod declared that the Remonstrants could not say that they honored the national government, while at the same time despising the Synod which the national government had called. Synod assigned each delegation to prepare written advice how further to respond.

Session 29: Wednesday, December 12 AM
   The judgments of the foreign delegates regarding the protest that the Remonstrants had made the previous day were read. Always the judgments of the foreign delegates were presented in the same order: first England, then the Palatinate (Heidelberg), then Hesse, Switzerland, Nassau-Wetteravia, Genevan, Bremen, and Emden.
     The States General delegation reprimanded Episcopius for his speech and conduct.

Session 30: Wednesday, December 12 PM
     When Synod asked the Remonstrants if they were ready to proceed to business, Episcopius asked permission to read a prepared writing. He was given permission only after the state delegation reviewed his writing to be sure it did not contain new allegations against the Synod.
     Episcopius recounted the injury done to his reputation, and explained his actions regarding not providing Synod with a copy of his speech. He had written notes, he said, but they were not complete; and he did not provide them because he knew the Synod was against him, and he expected the Synod to use his speech against him. He had given the States General delegation a copy at their request, but without comparing it to the original. Synod responded that it did not need to hear his explanation; it knew the truth of the matter well enough.
     Now would the Remonstrants get down to business? They said they would. The States General delegation reminded them to speak to the point, and not to speak without permission.
     Encouraged that progress could be made, Synod asked if the Remonstrants would provide their written opinions regarding predestination (the first of the Five Articles). They responded that they had prepared to discuss the matter, not to provide a written statement. They had never understood that Synod desired a written statement from them; they had come to attend a “conference.” The States General delegation read aloud the letters requiring them to appear before Synod, showing that the letters had informed them that they were to give their explanation of the Five Articles, after which Synod would judge the matter. The Remonstrants reiterated that a verbal discussion would be the better route. Synod instructed them to provide their written opinions regarding divine predestination at the morning session the following day.
    And, had they written out their objections to some teachings of the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism? No. They had objections, but the objections were not written out.

Session 31: Thursday, December 13 AM
     Episcopius read aloud the opinion of the Remonstrants concerning the First Article, and predestination. (See Homer Hoeksema, The Voice of our Fathers, 103). Each Remonstrant was asked if he agreed with Episcopius’ comments, and each said he did.

Session 32: Friday, December 14 AM
     Synod required the Remonstrants to provide their written opinions regarding Articles Two through Five by the following Monday. Synod also instructed the Remonstrants to express their opinions positively, because they had previously stated what they did not believe rather than what they did believe.

Session 33: Saturday, December 15 AM
     Abraham Schultetus, professor from Heidelberg, preached a sermon on Psalm 122, in which he exhorted the delegates to peace. Brandt notes that earlier in the Synod, Schultetus had desired a way to reconcile the Remonstrants and orthodox, but that after finding such impossible, he stood firmly with the orthodox.