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Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (22)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


After this the States summoned Uytenbogaert and Festus to learn from them what hope of peace and unity there was. Festus forthrightly told them what had taken place and declared that there was hope if the Remonstrants were willing straightforwardly to declare their views concerning the articles they had previously delivered to the States. Uytenbogaert had deceitfully arranged to be heard only in the absence of Festus more freely to present what he thought would serve his purpose. After he had at length censured the dealings of the other ministers, as though by their demand of a declaration (which he had nevertheless promised before the conference) they sought to introduce a new and entirely intolerable inquisition, he managed to have them forbidden any longer to exact from the Remonstrants the aforesaid declaration. In addition, they were at once ordered more broadly to declare in writing their advice concerning the best way of peace and the conditions by which they believed toleration should be limited. When they had done this and had also shown that the proposed articles, concerning which the declaration had been desired, stood in so many words in the Confession and the Catechism of the Netherlands churches and that the contra-articles could be found in public documents of many with whom the Remonstrants had great fellowship in these lands, and after this their writing had been openly read, the Remonstrants accomplished through the advocate strictly to forbid this to be passed on to any man, either in print or in handwriting. Since they saw that the deputies of the churches or the synods, to whom the common care of the churches was committed, through their labors (as was in harmony with their office) were much in the way, they also brought it about, even as previously all annual synods had been forbidden, that it was forbidden anyone from now to use the name of deputies of the churches or of the synod, or to serve in such an office. Their purpose was to take away all care for the welfare and the peace of the churches, and thus to be free to rage against them. Through this conduct the Remonstrants made themselves more and more suspect with the churches, since all those with understanding judged that if they did not differ from the churches in these points of doctrine, they would have no reason to avoid this declaration, because to the ambassador of the States General, this would tend in particular to the advancement of the peace of the churches and to the benefit of their name and fame.

“Through this conduct the Remonstrants made themselves more and more suspect with the churches, since all those with understanding judged that if they did not differ from the churches in these points of doctrine, they would have no reason to avoid this declaration…”

To gain more easily through public authority this toleration (for which they pressed so much as the way by which  they hoped to introduce their doctrine in the churches), they used this strategy. The advocate Hugo Grotius sent from England to the ambassador of the States General a certain writing in which the true state of the differences was incorrectly presented, along with the draft of a letter requesting the ambassador to petition King James I of Great Britain, that because only tolerance could lay to rest this matter, would it please his Royal Majesty to write according to the draft of the enclosed letter to the States General. This end was secretly and privately obtained, and such a letter was sent to the States General on May 6. The Remonstrants rejoiced greatly about this, and hoping to attain their purpose, they worked through the advocate to establish by the public authority of the States a certain formula of toleration (the same as is in chapter 11, articles 4 and 5 of the Church Order of Utrecht) and to impose it upon the churches. Although the feelings of many in the gathering of the States were inclined in this direction, the most understanding among them were valiantly opposed to this, considering it improper to force upon the churches a toleration in matters of faith that had never been properly investigated in a lawful ecclesiastical gathering, and that brought with it a manifest change in doctrine. Further, they considered also that the peace of the churches could not be obtained in this way, because they feared that if toleration were permitted men might present from the same pulpit and for the same gathering views that differed so greatly from one another that the peace of the churches would be more and more disturbed, even as experience had taught to this point.

“…they feared that if toleration were permitted men might present from the same pulpit and for the same gathering views that differed so greatly from one another that the peace of the churches would be more and more disturbed…”

Nevertheless, the Remonstrants continued to press in every way for toleration and to recommend it publicly and secretly by writings and sermons, using especially the reason that the articles in question were of little importance and did not concern the fundamentals of salvation, and for this reason people ought to be tolerant. Contrary to the wishes and strivings of some of the foremost and strongest cities of Holland and West Friesland, the Remonstrants on July 25, 1614, finally caused this resolution of tolerance to be printed. It was clothed with some scriptural expressions and those of the old fathers, among whom was Faustus Regins, former head of the semi-Pelagians.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (21)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


On February 27 they came together for this purpose in the city of Delft. Present from the Remonstrants were Johannes Uytenbogaert, Adrianus Borrius, and Nicolaus Grevinchovius; ministers from the side were Johannes Becius, Johannes Bogardus, and Festus Hommius. The States admonished the men through their deputies to put aside all secret hatred and evil passions and to exert all the power of their understanding to find some proper way of peace. They declared how pleasing this would be to God, to the churches, to all the pious, and especially to the States. Then all the individual ministers testified that they had come with a peace-seeking intention and would do all in their power to make peace. Thereupon a friendly conference was held between them.

“The States admonished the men through their deputies to put aside all secret hatred and evil passions and to exert all the power of their understanding to find some proper way of peace.” 

In this conference the Remonstrants declared that they could point to no other way to peace than the way of mutual tolerance (as they called it), to wit, that every party should be allowed to teach openly in the churches his views concerning the five articles. They requested of the other ministers to declare whether they considered the views expressed in the five articles to be in that manner allowable and tolerable. If they held them to be insufferable, it was not necessary to take under further advisement anything concerning the way to peace, for according to their judgment there was no way to peace left.

The other ministers judged that the most sure and proper way to peace was for each party to subject its case to the lawful judgment of the Netherlands churches, since on both sides were ministers of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands who wanted to be counted as such. To that end they should labor earnestly and uprightly for the authorization by the States General of the national synod of the Reformed churches in the Netherlands as soon as possible. At this synod the entire matter should be lawfully investigated and considered, and it should be determined which of the two views ought from then on to be taught in the churches as being in accord with God’s word, and it should be determined with the united advice of all the churches whether or not the so-called way of tolerance should be followed as being according to the word of God. Moreover, they declared their readiness to submit to the judgment of this synod. And if the Remonstrants were willing to do the same, in this manner peace could be established. They declared that tolerance, which would be limited by various conditions—however much they had exercised it before and however much they appeared still to desire it—could not serve to the peace and edification of the churches.

“They declared that tolerance, which would be limited by various conditions—however much they had exercised it before and however much they appeared still to desire it—could not serve to the peace and edification of the churches.”

But if they were willing to limit tolerance by honorable conditions, they declared their readiness to confer with the Remonstrants about these conditions, provided the Remonstrants were willing first by forthright declaration to assure the churches that except for the five articles, they would hold no views other than those of the Reformed churches in any other point of doctrine. They pointed out that for two years now, December 3, 1611, the States had expressed by name six points of doctrine concerning which they forbade anyone to teach differently than what until this time had been taught in the Netherlands churches, namely, concerning the complete satisfaction of Jesus Christ for our sins, the justification of man before God, saving faith, original sin, the certainty of salvation, and the perfection of man in this life. Therefore they requested especially that the Remonstrants be willing to declare their support for the views of these points of doctrine as expressed in the Confession and the Catechism, which they had summarized in certain articles out of those documents, and their rejection of contrary views in certain contra-articles from the writings of Arminius, Bertius, Vorstius, Venator, and others.

Over against this the Remonstrants said that they could not see how these differences could be settled by a national synod and that on this account they could not consent in this situation to the authorizing of such a synod, nor request it. Further, they declared that this matter could not be helped by synodical decisions and that they did not believe that in the matter of religion the Province of Holland would be subject to the decisions of other provinces. They stated that they would take counsel with the other Remonstrants concerning the demanded declaration. When they had briefly summarized in writing the views of both sides, they separated from one another with nothing accomplished.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (20)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


Meanwhile, the Remonstrants continued diligently to push their cause, to win the favor of the great, to gain the hearts of the magistrates, and to render suspect and prevent all synodical gatherings with the political leaders, to gain the vacant churches, to spread their views through public sermons and writings, to violate sound doctrine with terrible slanders, to draw the people to their side, and more and more to alienate them from the doctrine of the Reformed churches. To this end they spread abroad booklets among the people, written in the mother language, under such titles as Firebells, Further Information, Signpost, and others. In these they not only upheld their doctrine and enhanced Vorstius, but they also with bitter and shameless eloquence and in a most horrible manner struck at the adopted doctrine of the Netherlands churches with the most shameless slander and by evilly and faithlessly drawing from that doctrine the most senseless consequences or conclusions. Because of this there arose among the people everywhere bitter disputes and quarrels, through which the closest friends and acquaintances were embittered against one another and were frightfully alienated and torn apart from one another, to the great injury of love, to the disturbance of the church and the common peace, and to the great grief and offense of the pious. Since in many places the Remonstrants had the magistrates on their side, and through Johannes Uytenbogaert were permitted everything by the advocate of Holland, they were also haughty and scornful against their churches and fellow ministers. Meanwhile, all pious lovers of the fatherland and of the church pitifully mourned and bemoaned this terrible misery of the churches. Because they saw clearly where these upheavals would end if they were not promptly attended to and that the public authority had not been able thus far to do this, they began seriously to consider whether or this evil could be removed in one way or at least stemmed.

“Because they saw clearly where these upheavals would end if they were not promptly attended to and that the public authority had not been able thus far to do this, they began seriously to consider whether or this evil could be removed in one way or at least stemmed.”

Especially the illustrious Count of Nassau, Willem Lodewijk, governor of Friesland, in harmony with his outstanding love toward the churches and the Republic, admonished in particular Uytenbogaert, on the one side, and Festus Hommius, on the other side, in friendly and brotherly fashion to consider whether or not an honorable means could be found whereby this grievous dispute could be quieted and unity attained, because the condition of the Republic was severely upset by these ecclesiastical disputes.

Festus declared that if the Remonstrants did not differ from the other ministers in any other articles than in the five concerning predestination and the related points, he believed a way could be found to establish peace between the parties until the entire controversy could be resolved in a national synod. But since there were weighty reasons that the churches believed many Remonstrants diverged in almost all of the more important doctrines from the adopted doctrines of the Netherlands churches, and since they ought not to tolerate very grievous errors to be introduced into the churches under the cover of the five articles, he believed that there appeared to be no hope of achieving peace with the Remonstrants unless they would uprightly declare that with the exception of these five articles, they were of one mind with the Reformed Netherlands churches in all other points of doctrine.

Uytenbogaert, when questioned about this, answered that he only differed on the five articles and that he was always prepared to declare his views concerning the other points. Also, he did not doubt that many Remonstrants would do the same thing. Further, he wished nothing so much as that for this reason a conference would be held among certain ministers who were moderate in their feelings. When he had renewed the same declaration at Leiden and particularly to Festus, they agreed that they would both, each with his own people, cause three ministers from each side to be delegated. These ministers would come together with one another in a friendly way and seriously consider together a proper way of peace, and thereafter submitted this to the churches for their approval. The States of Holland, understanding that this was being taken under advisement in secret, praised their intentions and publicly ordered this conference to be held at once.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (19)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


Meanwhile the curators of the Academy of Leiden, on the advice of the Remonstrants, called Simon Episcopius to the theological ministry against the will of Joannes Polyander, who had been called to that ministry in the place of Franciscus Gomarus. This increased greatly the grief and anxiety of the churches, since it was evident from this that they intended to feed the disputes in the academy and to establish the doctrine of the Remonstrance.

When these evils could no longer be contained within the boundaries of the Holland churches, this corruption spread to the neighboring provinces, especially to the churches of Gelderland, Utrecht, and Overijsel. In the Province of Utrecht, through the neglect of the ministers, the ecclesiastical order appeared to have fallen away. Under the appearance of reestablishing this, Uytenbogaert on August 24 introduced into the church certain Remonstrant ministers, among them Jacobus Taurinus, a seditious and cruel man. To establish their cause in the Province of Utrecht, they framed a new church order that was first approved by the synod at which Uytenbogaert, minister of The Hague, presided, and thereafter also by the States of the same province. In chapter 2.4–5  toleration of the views of the Remonstrance, for which they had agitated so much in Holland, was publicly established, and the doctrine of the Reformed churches was incidentally and hatefully blamed. Further, one finds very many innovations concerning ecclesiastical rule in this church order, so that it is obvious that these men intended nothing less than that everything in the doctrine and in the order and government of the church would be changed.

“…it is obvious that these men intended nothing less than that everything in the doctrine and in the order and government of the church would be changed.”

The Remonstrants in Gelderland had now gotten the ministers of Nijmegen, Bommel, and Tiel on their side. Thereafter the Remonstrants saw to it that no one but men of their views served in the ministry of the neighboring churches. To make this surer Uytenbogaert, Borrius, and Taurinus traveled in Gelderland when the States were gathered there and with the other Remonstrants prevented the annual synodical gatherings in the province. Similarly, in Overijsel, especially in the churches of Kampen and Deventer, which through the help and practices of some had fallen to the Remonstrants, thereafter they disturbed the peaceful churches there with new disputes.

When the Netherlands churches saw that this evil was growing and spreading in the other provinces, they deemed it highly necessary to oppose this. Without any further postponement, by common consent they sent from each province two delegates to the States General: from Gelderland, Johannes Fontanus and Guilielmus Baudartius; from Holland, Libertus Fraximus and Festus Hommius; from Zeeland, Hermannus Faukelius and Guilielmus Telingius (the Utrecht churches refused to send theirs); from Friesland, Gellius Acronius and Godefridus Sopingius; from Overijsel, Johannes Gofmannus and Johannes Langius; from the city of Groningen and Environs, Cornelius Hillenius and Wolfgang Agricola. These men, together with the deputies of the church of Amsterdam (which was synodical), Petrus Plancius and Joannes Hallius, set forth in detail the difficulties and the dangers of the churches. They did so in the names of the churches and the States of their provinces (whose letters they also showed). Further, they humbly petitioned the States to sympathize with the thoroughly grievous position of the churches and at once to give serious attention to the solution of these evils, and to that end to authorize at once a national synod (which had been promised for many years).

“they humbly petitioned the States to sympathize with the thoroughly grievous position of the churches and at once to give serious attention to the solution of these evils…”

Although many among the States General judged that the convening of the synod should be postponed no longer and clung to this, nevertheless because the representatives of the Province of Utrecht were absent and those of Holland West Friesland said that they did not have a clear enough mandate for this matter, the matter was postponed until the representatives of all the provinces would authorize it by a united vote—something that through the actions of those friendly to the Remonstrants from Holland and Utrecht was further prevented.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (18)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


Meanwhile, the disunity, uproar, and disturbances in the churches sadly increased everywhere more and more. By inciting the magistrates by false accusations, the Remonstrants saw to it that especially the ministers who opposed their purposes were driven out of their ministry and out of the cities. In the churches that were not supplied with ministers, men who were besmirched with Arminian views were forced upon these churches. The Remonstrants did this by every possible means and wherever they could and excluded all other ministers, even though they were gifted with learning, godliness, and the necessary gifts for the ministry, and even though they were lawfully desired and called by the churches. This was the reason that the right-minded churches—with respect to those who either had oppressed and driven out their innocent fellow ministers, contrary to all justice and propriety, or who had been forced upon them against their desires and who daily with bitter and venomous sermons very grievously violated the doctrine of the Reformed churches—could not acknowledge them as their lawful pastors, listen to their sermons, or celebrate the Lord’s supper with them. They went to hear the sermons of sound pastors in neighboring places, although they had to suffer many reproaches, accusations, and mockery. These were the beginnings and the occasions of separations.

“They went to hear the sermons of sound pastors in neighboring places, although they had to suffer many reproaches, accusations, and mockery. These were the beginnings and the occasions of separations.”

The first church that was compelled to make such a separation was the church of Alkmaar. The North Holland churches suspended Adolphus Venator from his ministry there, on account of his unsound life and thoroughly unsound doctrine. But, appealing to the magistrates there and despising ecclesiastical censures, he continued in the office of minister. When there was a change of magistrates, as happened ordinarily every year, and when men were lawfully chosen who did not appear to be very favorable toward his cause and on whose protection he could no longer depend, Venator incited the common people against the lawful authority and caused them rebelliously to take up arms. They were not satisfied until they had deposed the lawful magistracy and replaced them by others who were alien to the Reformed religion and who sided with Venator’s cause. As soon as they were established in the government of the city through the instigation of Venator, these first forced the elders and deacons to lay down their office. Then they did the same things to the two ministers because they were against Venator’s errors. After the ministers had been deposed from their office, they were scandalously driven out of the city. One was Pieter Cornelissen, who had been minister for some fifty years with great edification, and the other was Cornelius Hillenius, a bright and pious man, both of them earnest defenders of the pure doctrine.

Next it became necessary for the church of Rotterdam to imitate this separation. When Nicolaus Grevinchovius noticed that his fellow minister Cornelius Geselius, a man of singular godliness, uprightness, and propriety, was very pleasing to the church of Rotterdam and opposed to Grevinchovius in his intention to introduce the doctrine of the Remonstrance, by means of the magistrates, he caused Geselius to be deposed from his ministry and then led out of the city by the city agents. The ministers of the classis of Rotterdam who were devoted to purity of doctrine refused to hold classical gatherings with Grevinchovius and others whom he had brought to the views of the Remonstrants. This took place after Grevinchovius, against the advice of the chief ministers, by the authority of the magistrates of Rotterdam had forced upon the church of Bleiswijk Simon Episcopius, to whom the church of Amsterdam had refused a testimony concerning his life and doctrine.

Remonstrant ministers or ministers who were favorable toward the Remonstrants were imposed on many churches in the villages. Since they could not without the greatest offense, grief, and unrest listen to the terrible slanders against sound doctrine that were daily heard in the sermons, the people of these congregations forsook their churches and went to hear the sermons of sound ministers in neighboring churches. Where they could not obtain the latter, they were taught by other ministers in their villages or by sound ministers in separate gatherings. When the Remonstrants sought in vain by strict prohibitions of the magistrates to prevent this, they aroused severe persecution against those churches

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (17)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


While these things were going on, certain students of sacred theology who had come from the home and school of Vorstius did their best to besmudge the Academy of Franeker with Socinian errors by publishing a little book (of Faustus Socinus, About the Office of a Christian, in which he advised all who seek the salvation of their souls to forsake the teachings and gatherings of the Reformed churches and to accept the views of the Photinians and the Ebionites), along with a foreword that strongly recommended this book to the churches. The States of Friesland were made aware of this. They also obtained certain familiar letters of these students in which they declared how Socinianism (which these letters plainly stated was also promulgated by Vorstius, Uytenbogaert, and others in Holland) was to be secretly advanced. After they burned many copies of those little books and forced these students to leave their boundaries, they admonished and petitioned the States, first through missives of the magistrates of the chief cities of Holland, and thereafter through the Honorable Lord Kemp of Donia, that since upright agreement in the Reformed doctrine was the chief bond and the foundation of unity and union between the United Provinces, not to tolerate having this agreement weakened through the calling of a person who was suspected of public heresy, and not to allow themselves to be misled by such deceptions by these people who were trying to bring about this call. Besides, the ministers of Leeuwaarden, publishing the aforementioned letters of the students along with necessary notes, earnestly admonished all the churches to beware of such deceitful attempts of heretics, especially of Vorstius. The States of the Duchy of Gelderland and the Duchy of Zutphen also warned the States of Holland about this.

The latter answered that there was nothing of more concern to them than to preserve unbroken the unity with the other United Provinces in the common cause of religion. They requested on November 15 their neighboring comrades to remain assured of their firm intention, declaring that meanwhile they would give their attention to this admonition and would order Vorstius to leave the city of Leiden, to take up residence at Gouda, and to purge himself of the errors laid to his charge by public writings.

“[the States of Holland] answered that there was nothing of more concern to them than to preserve unbroken the unity with the other United Provinces in the common cause of religion.”

The States of Holland and West Friesland thereafter ordered the participants of both sides in the Hague Conference to hand over in writing the differences of position and to add to this their advice regarding the manner in which they thought that these differences could be ironed out in the best way for the peace of the churches and the profit of the Republic.

The Remonstrants, assuming the standpoint of the Hague Conference, judged that they could apply no more certain means of unity than mutual tolerance, namely, that both parties be permitted freely to teach and to promulgate their views concerning these articles.

The other ministers declared that they could point to no more proper way than that the States General would prescribe a national synod at which these and all other differences would be declared and investigated, a judgment rendered regarding which view was in harmony with God’s word and the common opinion of the Reformed churches and consequently ought to be taught openly, in order that the cause of the truth would not be injured by the maintenance of various views and that the peace of the churches would not be disturbed.

With regard to this advice, the votes of the States were divergent; some approved the advice of the Remonstrants, and others approved the advice of the other ministers. The result was that in the whole matter nothing was decided with a view to bringing about an end to these differences.

Further, when the States understood that besides these five articles there were many other important disputes and were causing upheaval, they decreed that to preserve the purity of doctrine and to prevent innovations, the doctrine of the holy gospel in its purest form should be presented in the churches and in the public schools of the land. Accordingly, they decreed that in the churches and public schools of Holland and West Friesland nothing else should be taught concerning the perfect salvation of Jesus Christ for our sins, the justification of men before God, saving faith, original sin, the certainty of salvation, and the perfection of man in this life than what was always taught in the Reformed churches and in these provinces

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (16)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


Accordingly, it pleased the States to put these thorny questions aside and to turn to the treatment of the articles of the Remonstrance. The ministers delegated by the churches presented in their document their proofs to establish every article. Concerning these reasons and arguments they debated orally in the gathering of the States. Festus Hommius spoke for the one side in the name of the ministers delegated by the churches; and on the other side in the name of the Remonstrants, first Adrianus Borrius spoke and thereafter by turn, Nicolaus Grevinchovius, Johannes Arnoldi, and Simon Episcopius.

While the ministers were occupied in this conference, Conradus Vorstius returned from Westphalia to Holland. The States decided to hear him in the presence of all the conferees. When he appeared on April 27, he made a long speech in which he tried to purge himself of his alleged errors. Thereupon the States asked the conferees if they had any objections to calling Vorstius to the theological ministry in the Academy of Leiden should not take place. The Remonstrants plainly declared that they had nothing against Vorstius and that they found in his writings nothing that conflicted with truth or godliness. The other ministers furnished written reasons for their judgment that the call of Vorstius would be very damaging and offensive to the Holland churches. They pointed out his chief errors from the book of Socinus concerning the authority of Holy Scripture that Vorstius had published and from the book concerning God and the divine attributes that Vorstius had recently written and published. Concerning this they held conference for some days between the Remonstrants and Festus Hommius in the gathering of the States and in the presence of the conferees.

On May 6 when this was finished, the States ordered the ministers from both sides to declare forthrightly whether Vorstius’ answers had satisfied them. The Remonstrants answered that they were fully satisfied and, therefore, judged that it would be highly profitable for the churches and the academy if his call went through. The other ministers declared in writing that the answers of Vorstius were so far from changing their opinions that on the contrary they were more and more convinced by his answers that his call would work great harm to the churches and the academy and would be accompanied by marked danger of more disturbances if it went through. On this account they submissively petitioned the States not to place the churches in that danger by his call.

“The other ministers declared in writing that…they were more and more convinced by [Vorstius’] answers that his call would work great harm to the churches and the academy and would be accompanied by marked danger of more disturbances if it went through”

After Vorstius had departed they returned to the conference concerning the Remonstrance. This continued for some days and then ended. Thereupon the States ordered the conferees from both sides to put in writing what had been treated orally and what they judged was still necessary for a complete answer. Uytenbogaert and Festus Hommius were to turn these writings over to the States. The States ordered that meanwhile the ministers should not boast over against one another concerning the victory they had gained, but they should modestly teach with edification concerning the various articles and live in peace and love with one another. They also ordained that these articles should continue in the same position, or standing, as before the conference.

Nothing was decided at this time in the case of Vorstius. Not long thereafter, when the esteemed magistracy of the city of Dordrecht through its deputies (the Honorable Hugo Muys van Holy, knight; Jakob de Witt; Adriaan Repelaar; and Johannes Berk, Pensionaris) requested the States either to drop or to postpone Vorstius’ call, because the rumors concerning his errors and heresy were becoming stronger and stronger, the States ordered the curators of the academy not to proceed with his call.

On September 21 when the report of this call reached His Majesty, King James I of Great Britain, protector of the faith, who according to his great and (especially in a king) wonderful experience in theological matters, and according to his special zeal for the Reformed religion, had read the book of Vorstius, Concerning God, and with his hand had indicated the chief errors, he admonished the States General by letters and an ambassador (the Honorable Lord Rodolf Winwood). King James admonished the States not to admit to public office a person besmirched with so many serious errors and reproaches and allow him to teach the youth in the academy, but to make him leave their boundaries, so the youth would not be corrupted by him and his evil and accursed errors and so the state of the country would not be weakened, since the welfare of the Republic was dependent on the uprightness and preservation of the Reformed doctrine, in which the Netherlands churches had until now maintained a lovely unity with the English churches. When there was postponement because the Remonstrants worked against this, and especially because Vorstius excused his errors with various explanations, responses, provisions, and modest and incomplete answers, his Royal Majesty did not neglect through repeated admonitions and with earnest protestation to insist that they should let Vorstius depart.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (14)

The following is an excerpt from  “The Voices of Our Fathers: An Exposition of the Canons of Dordrecht” and is used by permission from the Reformed Free Publishing Association

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


This [the remonstrance] caused the Netherlands churches to become very dejected, since these differences had burst forth into open schism. They all diligently attempted to get a copy of this Remonstrance in order to give an answer to all the slanders. But the Arminians, through the favor of those who tried to hold these matters in safe keeping, easily prevented for a long time any copy of the Remonstrance from getting into the hands of other ministers.

Along with this trouble in and misery of the churches, there came yet another, which increased the anxiety and the difficulties above measure. When they sought a person to replace Jacobus Arminius in the theological ministry, the deputies of the churches earnestly and in the public name of the churches petitioned and begged the curators of the Academy of Leiden to put in his place a person free from all suspicion of wrong doctrine, in order to end the differences of the Academy of Leiden and in due course to return peace to the churches. To this end they recommended certain excellent foreign and Dutch theologians, but in vain. The Remonstrants, who beforehand had won the hearts of some, recommended that Conradus Vorstius, professor at Steinfort (whom for years the Reformed churches had justly suspected of Socinianism), be called to the theological ministry to replace Arminius. To that end Uytenbogaert was sent to Steinfort.

The deputies of the churches judged it to be their solemn duty to admonish the States that such a person would be like a nail in the wound and that he should not be thoughtlessly admitted to this ministry, especially since the affairs of the church were in confusion.

“The deputies of the churches judged it to be their solemn duty to admonish the States that…[Vorstius] should not be thoughtlessly admitted to this ministry, especially since the affairs of the church were in confusion.”

To accomplish this more fruitfully, they requested through letters the theological faculty of Heidelberg, to whom Vorstius was very well known, forthrightly to declare whether they judged that in this situation he should be placed in charge of the youth of the churches in the Academy of Leiden to instruct them with fruit, peace, and edification. The deputies also stated on August 26 that Vorstius had recently published a book concerning God and the divine attributes, in which he had cast aside the doctrine of ancient and more recent theologians and taught that God according to his being had quantity, size, and finiteness and was composed of being and incidental matters; that according to his will he was changeable; that he was subject to a passive power; and other monstrous views. Further, they stated that ten years earlier Vorstius had been sent to Heidelberg to purge himself of Socinianism, of which the churches at that time accused him before the theological faculty, where Doctor Pezelius also was present. They stated further that Vorstius claimed to have purged himself of Socinianism, but that he had left behind a manuscript that did not confirm it, but on the contrary, often and in many ways, made him suspect. Moreover, they said Vorstius had in his head a nest full of monstrous ideas, with which he had corrupted the school and the youth of Steinfort. And they stated that if a person who was under such suspicion as to doctrine would be called to the renowned Academy of Leiden, it would be nothing else than trying to put out the fire with oil. When the deputies of the churches and the esteemed magistrates of the chief cities of Holland, Dordrecht, and Amsterdam informed the curators and the States of these things and petitioned them not to increase the difficulties of the churches and put them in danger of new and greater disturbances by calling such a person, the Remonstrants on October 18 clung with might and main to their position not to turn aside from this intended call. Meanwhile, Vorstius came to Holland. After being heard in the assembly of the States (no one else of the ministers being present except Uytenbogaert), he went back to Steinfort

“[The deputies of the churches”] stated that if a person who was under such suspicion as to doctrine would be called to the renowned Academy of Leiden, it would be nothing else than trying to put out the fire with oil.”

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (15)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


About this time, when some students of sacred theology had been called to the ministry of the word and examined in various classes on August 22 and September 22, the Remonstrants influenced the commissioned advisors of the States to order the classes that with respect to the article concerning predestination and what is connected with it to require of no one a further explanation besides what in the five articles of the Remonstrance had been delivered to the classes. Besides, it was also forbidden to bar anyone from the service of the church who declared himself in agreement with the Remonstrants with respect to the aforesaid articles.

 “it was also forbidden to bar anyone from the service of the church who declared himself in agreement with the Remonstrants with respect to the aforesaid articles.”

Because the ministers for many reasons objected to this, the deputies of the churches at the ministers’ request presented their objections concerning this at the next gathering of the States of Holland and West Friesland. At the same time the ministers declared their readiness to show in a lawful synod that the five articles of the Remonstrance were in conflict with God’s word and with the Catechism and the Netherlands Confession. They further requested the States not in this manner to force upon the churches these unsound articles, which had never been properly investigated in any lawful assembly of these churches, but to convene a provincial synod—which so frequently had been requested and for a long time had been desired—in which the five articles of the Remonstrance would be lawfully investigated according to the rule of God’s word. They also pointed out the great offense and damage to the churches the intended calling of Vorstius would cause, and they petitioned that by the authority of the States his call would be prevented.

When this matter was taken under advisement, it was decided that at the next gathering of the States in The Hague, before the gathering of the States themselves, a conference of six ministers chosen from each side would be held concerning the five articles of the Remonstrance. The Remonstrants chose Johannes Uytenbogaert, minister in The Hague; Adriannus Borrius and Johannes Arnoldi Corvinus of Leiden; Nicolaus Grevinchovius of Rotterdam; Eduard Poppius, of Gouda; and Simon Episcopius of Bleiswijk. The ministers on the other side had through the deputies of every classis chosen Petrus Plancius, minister at Amsterdam; Johannes Becius of Dordrecht; Libertus Fraxinus of den Briel; Ruardus Acronius of Schiedam; Johannes Bogardus of Haarlem; and Festus Hommius of Leiden.

When they came together on March 11, 1611, the Remonstrants refused to confer with the other six ministers as deputies of the classes of Holland and West Friesland and as parties of the churches, which their credentials showed them to be. Indeed, if these ministers would not relinquish their capacity as ministers, the Remonstrants threatened to leave with matters unfinished.

After a long debate about this, the other ministers preferred to give way rather than to wrangle any longer. Those who had been delegated from the classes, before they entered into conference, requested of the States to renew the promise made to the churches two years earlier at the conference between Arminius and Gomarus (August 18, to wit, that when the conference was finished the judgment of this case would be left to the provincial or national synod and that the States would reserve judgment).

The meeting would follow this procedure: The parties on both sides would put the proofs of their views in writing and thereafter would hold an oral conference about them. Before they turned to the investigation of the articles, the ministers who had been delegated by the classes would furnish an answer against the Remonstrance, a copy of which they had at last obtained only a short time before the conference.

The ministers’ answer demonstrated that the Remonstrants had presented the views of the Reformed churches in a bad light and had slanderously fabricated many things against those views. They also showed that the Remonstrants had not forthrightly revealed their views nor presented all the articles concerning which they had differences. Because there were other points of disagreement than those declared in the five articles, the ministers humbly petitioned the States to order the Remonstrants to reveal clearly and forthrightly their views concerning all of the remaining points of doctrine.

“The ministers’ answer demonstrated that the Remonstrants had presented the views of the Reformed churches in a bad light and had slanderously fabricated many things against those views.”

Accordingly, when they investigated the first article of the Remonstrance, which set forth that God from eternity decided to save the persevering believer (which no Christian denies), and when this article was presented as though it embodied the doctrine of God’s eternal election, the Remonstrants were requested, for clarification of their views expressed in this article, to declare two things more precisely: whether they held that this article comprehended the entire decree of predestination and whether they believed that faith and perseverance in faith are causes, or conditions, that precede election unto salvation, or whether they are fruits that come forth from election and follow upon the same

After the Remonstrants for some time had given excuses, they finally answered. To the first question they answered that they acknowledged no other predestination to salvation than what they had expressed in the first article. To the second they answered that faith, in the consideration and view of God precedes election to salvation and does not follow it as a fruit. Thereupon the Remonstrants presented in return seven questions about election and reprobation, to which they desired the ministers delegated from the classes to answer. Since these questions did not belong to the point of difference concerning the first article, and many of them were also unnecessary and very involved and were presented for the purpose of leading the discussion off into tangents and away from the chief point of difference, the ministers by request demonstrated to the States this improper manner.

The ministers did not request, however, that they would not be required to reveal their views concerning reprobation (as the Remonstrants frequently falsely accused them). The ministers clearly declared, orally and in writing, their views insofar as they were sufficient for the peace and edification of the churches. They declared that when they posited an eternal decree of election of particular persons, they also posited an eternal decree of reprobation, a passing by of some particular persons, since it is impossible to have election without reprobation, or passing by. They declared further that recklessly to investigate all difficult questions concerning this article would fill the churches with useless disputes and strivings that would serve no good purpose and would disturb the peace of the churches. Further, they declared that their explanation as expressed in the petition ought to be sufficient for every temperate and peace-loving mind, namely, that they believe and teach that God condemns no one and has decided to condemn no one except justly on account of his own sins.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (13)

The following is an excerpt from  “The Voices of Our Fathers: An Exposition of the Canons of Dordrecht” and is used by permission from the Reformed Free Publishing Association

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


Meanwhile, when the ministers who sided with Arminius saw matters at the point where the convening of the synod was prevented, they feared little the judgment and the censures of the churches, as became manifest from their boldness and shamelessness. They began openly and secretly to strike out and to bellow with extremely bitter, reproachful, and abusive language against the pure doctrine of the Reformed churches concerning election, the perseverance of the saints, the certainty of salvation, and other doctrines, to the great offense of the pious, to the joy of the enemies, and to the disturbance of the churches. It was not enough for them to upset the hearts of the common people and the regents alike by means of secret blasphemies and by public, uproarious sermons. They also did so with writings that they distributed in great numbers and with equally great offense among the people. They tore to pieces the doctrine of the Reformed churches in such a way that only the sworn enemies of that doctrine could have done so with more bitterness and obscenity. And in order to win the favor of the magistrates and inflame their feelings more and more against the other ministers, they worked through Uytenbogaert, first through a speech given in the gathering of the States and later through a published document, and sought to convince the magistrates that the other ministers belittled the authority of the magistrates, sought to weaken it, and were striving for separate or equally high power for themselves.

“They tore to pieces the doctrine of the Reformed churches in such a way that only the sworn enemies of that doctrine could have done so with more bitterness and obscenity.” 

Therefore the church deputies addressed the States again on May 25 and requested that by convening a provincial synod, the States could lawfully remedy these troubles, which had reached new heights. When the States, on account of the great need, appeared ready to concur, the ministers devoted to the views of Arminius presented a new plan to either prevent the convening of the synod to so constitute it that their cause would remain sure and suffer no harm. Their proposal was that the men called together at this synod would not be delegated by the churches (as was proper and as had been the practice), but that the States would invite certain men. If they succeeded in this, they could easily gain their end, namely, that only those men would be chosen who adhered to their cause or were not very strongly opposed to it. Although they convinced some of the regents of the fatherland of this innovation, they could not move the most understanding men to do this; and the latter judged that the convening of the synod had to take place in the usual way.

While the States debated the matter, the adherents of Arminius succeeded in delaying the provincial synod and preventing the convening the annual synod that customarily had been held almost every year. As often as those who wished these evils to be removed from the churches through lawful means spoke of the convening of a synod, so often those who sided with Arminius renewed these debates about the manner of convening the synod. The ministers committed to the views of Arminius became bolder, since they had brought matters to the point where all fear of ecclesiastical judgment and censure seemed to be removed. Without the knowledge and counsel of their churches and the authority of the government, a large number of them held a secret gathering. There, by subscribing their names, they mutually formed a confederation separate from the existing body of their fellow ministers, thus bringing about open schism in the Reformed churches.

“There, by subscribing their names, they mutually formed a confederation separate from the existing body of their fellow ministers, thus bringing about open schism in the Reformed churches.”

At this time they delivered to the States a request, or as they called it, a Remonstrance (because of which they were hereafter called Remonstrants). This was published in June at the Hague Conference. In the Remonstrance, with open and bitter slander, they put the doctrine of the Reformed churches concerning divine predestination, the grace of God, and the perseverance of the saints in bad faith. Their purpose was to arouse the hatred of the States against these doctrines. Along with this they added a declaration of their opinions concerning the same articles; but they sought to conceal their views under ambiguous and disguised words, in order to fool the simple into thinking that their views were not much different from the truth. In addition, they requested the States to take them under their protection against all ecclesiastical censures

(To be continued…)