The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Twenty Four: Sessions 134-143

Session 134: Monday, April 22 AM
The previous week Synod had been discussing the proposed Conclusion to the Canons. At this session the States General delegation informed Synod that it approved this conclusion, and urged Synod to finish its work quickly. Synod then adopted the proposed Conclusion. The British delegates reminded Synod that they desired this conclusion to include more, but for the sake of peace and expediency they would not insist on it.

In the afternoon the drafting committee met to rework articles two and six in the Rejection of Errors section of the Second Head.

Session 135: Tuesday, April 23 AM
The First Head was again read, and all the delegations, both foreign and native, signed it. The changes that the drafting committee made to the Second Head were read; this included the removal of the entire sixth article that had been discussed.

Session 136: Tuesday, April 23 PM
The Second Head as revised, the last three Heads, and the section of the Conclusion in which the Synod rejected the blasphemous statements of others, were read and signed.

Session 137: Wednesday, April 24 AM
The drafting committee had asked someone to draft a proposed judgment that the Synod could pronounce on the Remonstrants. This draft was read. It called for the Remonstrants to be removed from their offices in the churches and universities. Most of the foreign delegations would not speak to the matter; they had been called to Synod to discuss doctrines, and thought it proper that only the Dutch should deal with persons. The Dutch delegates discussed whether this was a judgment they could pass, in light of the fact that the States General had authority over the minister’s offices. In the end Synod agreed to pass such a judgment, but decided to revise its wording.

Session 138: Wednesday, April 24 PM
The revision of the proposed judgment regarding the Remonstrants was read, and Synod adopted it. The States General delegation informed the Synod that it would report this adoption to the national government for its approval.

Session 139: Thursday, April 25 AM
Synod received the material relating to the case of John Maccovius. Maccovius, a strong defender of supralapsarianism, had been accused of heresy. The Classis of Franeker declared him guilty. He appealed to the Synod of Friesland, which forwarded the matter to the Synod of Dordt.

The introduction to the Canons was also read aloud. Most considered it too long and asked that it be revised.

Session 140: Thursday, April 25 PM
A revision of the proposed introduction to the Canons was read. [A new translation of this introduction is found in W. Robert Godfrey, Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2019), 27-30.] Some delegates desired that the phrase regarding the Antichrist, referring to the Romish papacy, be further revised. Synod adopted the revised introduction.

Synod had finished its treatment of the Remonstrant errors. Some of the States General deputies were sent to The Hague to inform the national government what Synod had done.

Session 141: Friday, April 26 AM
Synod began reading the material pertaining to the case of John Maccovius, including the fifty charges that had been made against him.

Session 142: Friday, April 26 PM
Synod continued reading the material of the Maccovius case, including his response to the charges.

Session 143: Saturday, April 27 AM
Synod appointed a committee of three Dutch delegates and three foreign delegates to bring recommendations regarding the Maccovius case.

The French king had prevented the French delegation from coming to the Synod. Pierre du Moulin, a Reformed minister from Paris who had been one of the French delegates, sent Synod his own judgment regarding the five points. Synod received and read du Moulin’s paper at this session. This paper revealed that he was emphatically opposed to the Remonstrant theology.

Douglas Kuiper, Professor of Church History and New Testament
Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary