Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (29)

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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Meanwhile the States General, after they had often ordered especially those of Utrecht to dismiss the new soldiers, or city militia, who had been engaged for the purpose of hindering by armed force the execution of the resolutions of the coming national synod, in case the Remonstrants could not approve the resolutions, rejected and dismissed the thousands of militia. After his Excellency the Prince of Orange accomplished this with unbelievable bravery, caution, dexterity, and skill, without any bloodshed, and imprisoned the foremost of them who by force opposed or prevented this dismissal, Johannes Uytenbogaert, Jacobus Taurinus, and Adolphus Venator, being aware of danger and forsaking their churches, fled from the United Netherlands. A short time afterward Nicolaus Grevinchovius, having been cited by the court of Holland to answer for the same thing, also fled.

When the particular synod gathered in September in Delft, South Holland, many Remonstrants, despising the previous resolution of the States, refused to delegate anyone to the synod. Instead, by petition they besought the States of Holland and West Friesland on September 13 that instead of the national synod that had been authorized, to convene another gathering according to the same twelve conditions that those who had been cited also proposed in the national synod. The States, having heard the advice of the synod of Delft concerning this request (which is also in these Acts), ordered the synod to obey the appointed order and the command of the States and besides, fully to declare in writing their views concerning the articles presented in 1613 at the Delft Conference to the synod of Delft and all their accusations against the Confession and the Catechism. They delivered the declaration of their views concerning the aforementioned articles. This was translated into Latin by the delegates of this synod and shortly afterward was forwarded to the national synod. Instead of accusations against the Confession and the Catechism, the synod sent quotations from writings that conflicted with the Confession and the Catechism.

Johannes Uytenbogaert and Nicolaus Grevinchovius were cited before this synod. When the one, being a fugitive, did not dare to appear and the other stubbornly refused to appear, they were both deposed from ecclesiastical office by the sentence of the synod after it had heard and investigated the accusations brought against them. Because there were some who had been forced upon the churches, contrary to their desires and without lawful calling, during these disunities, some who had scattered abroad Socinian errors in addition to the five articles, some who had grievously offended the churches with evil and disorderly actions, and some who led evil lives, it was judged necessary to purge the churches of these offenses, to reestablish the neglected discipline of the ministry of the churches (cleri), and to summon all those irregular ministers to give accountof their calling, doctrine, and lives. It was further judged that this must be done before the national synod was held, in order that if anyone had felt aggrieved by the sentence of this synod, he could appeal to the judgment of the national synod.

“…it was judged necessary to purge the churches of these offenses, to reestablish the neglected discipline of the ministry of the churches (cleri), and to summon all those irregular ministers to give account of their calling, doctrine, and lives.

Among these were some who appeared and, after proper investigation of their cases, were suspended from office, while others were immediately deposed. But of those who because of the brevity of time could not be cited or heard or who, having been cited, did not appear, five ministers were appointed, to whom the States added their deputies, to hear and judge their cases in the name of the synod. These deputies were expressly mandated to exercise no censure over anyone on account of his views of the five articles, since the judgment of these must be entirely reserved for the national synod. Although they partly suspended and partly immediately deposed many in various places on account of the aforesaid and very weighty reasons, they never exercised censure on anyone on account of his views of the five articles, even during the national synod, as can be clearly proven from the minutes.

In North Holland they acted similarly in the synod of Hoorn, in which the ministers of Hoorn, Johannes Valesius, Johannes Rodingius, and Isaacus Welsingius, being suspended from the office of minister, appealed to the national synod. When the deputies of this synod and the commissioners of the States in the classis of Alkmaar investigated the cases of Johannes Geystranus, minister of Alkmaar, and of his brother Petrus Geystranus, minister at Edmond, they were found to be entirely committed to the blasphemous and accursed errors of Socinus, as appears from their confessions, which to the horror of all were openly read in the national synod and is included in the Acts.

The synod of Overijsel ordered some of the Remonstrants to give account of their doctrine and their actions. Among them were the four ministers of the church of Kampen,Thomas Goswinius, Assueris Matthisius, Johannes Schotlerus, and especially Emerardus Vosculius, who were accused of many errors and of various disorderly actions. After the synod investigated the case it decided to forward it to the national synod. Accordingly it was afterward brought to that synod.

(To be continued…)