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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 


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…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (27)

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. 


By subterfuge and quibbling [the Remonstrants] delayed for some time the sending of the letters and the postponing of the appointed day for the convening of the synod.

Meanwhile, Lord Dudley Carleton complained in the assembly of the States General that the honor of the king of Great Britain, his master, had been scandalously and shamelessly ridiculed in the dishonorable pamphlet Weegschaal that the Remonstrants, even after the edict of the States General, had translated and printed in French. After a brief and pertinent refutation of many Remonstrant objections, he made known to the States what method and manner his Royal Majesty of Great Britain was accustomed to use in the resolving of differences concerning religion or doctrine. Since this agreed with the resolution of the States General, the States were more and more confirmed in this holy purpose. Also the magistrates of the city of Amsterdam, having previously consulted with the ministers of that church and with others called together for this purpose, presented in writing in the gathering of the States of Holland and West Friesland on March 23, many and very weighty reasons by which it was plainly proved that these differences could at this time be resolved and laid to rest in no other way than by a national synod. At the same time they furnished a very basic answer to all the objections of the Remonstrants and all their proposals concerning a general synod. Shortly thereafter the magistrates of the city of Enkhuizen confirmed this with many reasons that were put in writing and delivered in the Apology of the Cities of Dordrecht, Amsterdam, Enkhuizen, etc. (104, 113). These reasons were later printed on March 27 so everyone would know how improperly the Remonstrants and their supporters had acted when they opposed so perversely with their new proposals the convening of the national synod and when they had sought to escape the judgment of such a national synod.

The States General, judging that this highly necessary matter, already decided for very proper and weighty reasons, ought to be postponed no longer by such proposals and subterfuges. The States decided anew that the convening of the national synod should take place immediately, without any postponement and delay. And they ordered that the meeting place would be the city of Dordrecht and the day, the first of November next.

“The States decided anew that the convening of the national synod should take place immediately, without any postponement and delay.”

When men loyal to the Remonstrants’ cause among the States of Holland and West Friesland opposed this resolution in the gathering of the States General and complained that thereby the dignity, right, and freedom of their provinces were being abridged, the States General declared in a public act that by this authorizing of the national synod they did not desire to abridge or belittle in any way the dignity, right, and freedom of any province. On the contrary, it was their upright intention, without any prejudgment of any province, and that of the union, or confederation itself, through the ordinary judgment of the national synod lawfully to resolve only the ecclesiastical differences that had arisen concerning the doctrine, to God’s honor and the peace of the Republic, since these differences concerned all the Netherlands Reformed churches.

Thereafter the States General wrote to the States of every province and declared their purpose in the name of the Lord to authorize from all the churches of these provinces a national synod on the first of November next, in order lawfully to investigate the differences that had arisen in those churches and to resolve them in a proper manner (always maintaining the truth). And they exhorted the States of every province immediately to convene in their province, according to custom, a provincial synod from which six godly and learned men or three capable men who confessed the Reformed religion could be delegated. These men would receive a copy of the conditions, would investigate these differences at the national synod, and would remove these differences to preserve the truth. The States General also sent letters of similar content to the French churches in the Netherlands, which had been accustomed to have holding their own particular synod because the churches were spread throughout all the provinces.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (26)

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. 


Thus the disunities of the Remonstrants would have brought these most flourishing provinces into danger of an internal and civil war unless the States General, through their singular carefulness, and his Excellency the Prince of Orange, through his never sufficiently praised watchfulness and bravery, had in a timely manner stamped out and suppressed this delirious madness. The States General saw how the provinces and churches were in the great danger, and they decided not to postpone the convening of the national synod any longer, but to promote it at the earliest moment—the more so since the illustrious Lord Dudley Carleton, ambassador of the royal court of Great Britain, on October 6 had alerted the States by an excellent and careful address, which the Remonstrants did not respect but publicly and shamelessly slandered with a pamphlet titled Weegschaal. No one, regardless of his position—even the States General, the Prince of Orange, and the Royal Majesty of Great Britain—was excluded from the insults and ridicule of their slanderous tongues. This pamphlet the States General condemned in a public edict as dishonorable and seditious, and they posted a liberal reward for anyone who would identify the author.

Later Johannes Casimirus Junius, son of the renowned Franciscus Junius, thoroughly refuted this pamphlet.

“The States General saw how the provinces and churches were in the great danger, and they decided not to postpone the convening of the national synod any longer…”

On December 11 the States General ordered the convening of the national synod to be held in the name of the Lord on May 1 of the following year. At the same time they proposed some rules according to which the national synod would be authorized and held. Since the Remonstrants did not think much of the judgment of the Netherlands churches, and constantly attempted to convince the people that their views were no different from the Reformed churches, the States General invited theologians—outstanding in godliness, learning, and wisdom—from all Reformed churches in neighboring lands, principalities, and republics to support the delegates of the Netherlands churches with their judgments and counsel. Thus these differences could be investigated and judged by a common judgment of all Reformed churches and laid to rest more certainly, expeditiously, firmly, and with great joy.

This resolution was adopted in 1618, and the Remonstrants raged marvelously. Through various other measures, schemes, and workingthrough those who were loyal to their cause, the Remonstrants tried to upset itand to make it useless. In Holland, through those favorable to them, theyrequested a provincial synod, which a little while before they had greatlyabhorred. Because the calling of foreign theologians to the national synod hadbeen proposed, the Remonstrants thought the foreign theologians should also becalled to the provincial synod, if men would approve this. But the answer wasgiven that formerly the Holland churches had requested a provincial synod whenthere appeared to be no hope of gaining a national synod and when thedifferences were confined to the Holland churches. Since the convening of anational synod had been decided and the evil had spread throughout all theprovinces and could not be removed by the synod of one province, it was unreasonableto consider a provincial synod at this time for the resolving of thesedifferences. Further, it was pointed out that as in every separate provinceparticular synods must precede the national synod, so also in South and NorthHolland, particular synods would precede.

“…the Remonstrants raged marvelously.”

The Remonstrants through their leaders nevertheless bravely persisted in this and pressed for such a synod. They did this either because they thought their cause would be less of a hindrance in the eyes of the provincial synod, since many of the regents and ministers in Holland were loyal to them, or because they wanted to prevent through such subterfuges the convening of the national synod altogether.

When they saw that their request was so improper that they would not easily convince anyone of it, they took refuge in a new measure. They desired that this case be brought to an ecumenical synod, that is, to a general synod of all churches. The answer was given to them that it was very uncertain whether and when an ecumenical synod would be able to be called. Besides, the current ills required an immediate remedy, and the authorized national synod would be like a general synod, since delegates from most of the Reformed churches would be present. If the Remonstrants thought they had been aggrieved by the judgment of such a synod, it would be permissible and justified for them to appeal from the national synod to an ecumenical synod, provided they were meanwhile willing to submit to the judgment of the national synod

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (25)

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. 


Since these long-standing differences in the churches and the Republic had brought about many evils, difficulties, disturbances, and confusion, everyone who had at heart the welfare of the United Provinces and the Reformed churches in those provinces understood clearly that the remedy of these miseries could no longer be postponed without noticeable damage to both the state and the churches. Since the States were unable thus far to agree on how to alleviate the situation, his Royal Majesty James I of Great Britain, according to his singular and upright devotion to these lands and churches, admonished the States General to allow no longer this cancer to eat at the body of the Republic, but immediately to oppose the unsalutary disputes, divisions, schisms, and partisanship that openly threatened the state. At the same time he also very earnestly prayed them to root out the errors and to restore in its former purity the old and true Reformed doctrine that they had always confessed, that had been established by the common consent of all Reformed churches, and that had always been the chief foundation and bond of the very close friendship and alliance of long standing between his kingdoms and these provinces. This, he believed, could take place most properly through a national synod, since that had been the ordinary, lawful, and most efficient remedy that Christians of old had used in such difficulties.

“He also very earnestly prayed them to root out the errors and to restore in its former purity the old and true Reformed doctrine that they had always confessed…This, he believed could take place most properly through a national synod…”

Also the illustrious Maurits, Prince of Orange and Stadhouder of the United Netherlands, continued very earnestly and gravely to admonish the States General and the States of Holland and West Friesland that as dear to them as was the preservation of the Republic and the church, so diligently should they labor to remedy immediately these very sore evils. To this end he also recommended above all the convening of a national synod as an ordinary and most certain remedy, and he persisted in this (May 10).

Also the States of Zeeland, through the honorable Lords Maldere, Brouwer, Pottej, and Bonifacious de Jonge, admonished and begged the States of Holland and West Friesland in their gathering on May 19, that since the disputes and disunity daily were becoming greater, to the very great danger of the Republic, and since many remedies had been tried in vain, they should consent to the convening of a national synod as an ordinary remedy for such evils, as something set forth by the Holy Ghost and always used by Christians.

The States of Gelderland, Friesland, Groningen and Ommelanden in a friendly manner requested the same through their deputies.

When the Remonstrants saw that the neighboring kings, princes, republics, allies, and the foremost and mightiest cities of Holland and West Friesland urgently recommended the authorizing of a national synod; when the Remonstrants feared that many of the States of Holland and West Friesland were inclined to it, industriously promoted it, and might consent to it; and when the Remonstrants realized that they might have to give account before an ecclesiastical tribunal concerning their doctrine and their actions, to escape this they proposed a new way to settle the differences. They proposed that the States of Holland and West Friesland choose a fixed and equal number of political and ecclesiastical men to take counsel with one another and to devise means of peace and unity that would be approved by the States and thereafter would be imposed upon the churches.

When this did not succeed (since men of understanding noted what kind of persons would compose this gathering and what was expected of it, and besides that such a course was unusual in the churches and was not appropriate for the removal of doctrinal and ecclesiastical differences), the Remonstrants recognized that they had to attempt extreme measures to stop the convening of the national synod. Some regents took the position that the convening of the national synod was contrary to the dignity and freedom of the provinces, since every province had complete power to decide in religious matters. They said it was unseemly and improper to subject their freedom to the judgment of other provinces and they ought to defend this right of supremacy in every way, even with weapons.

“…The Remonstrants recognized that they had to attempt extreme measures to stop the convening of the national synod.”

By these and similar reasons the feelings of those who were less cautious were so inflamed that the regents of some cities plotted together and decided to engage city militia who were not bound by an oath of allegiance to the States General or to his Excellency the Prince of Orange, the commander-in-chief, but only bound to themselves. They did this to protect the cause of the Remonstrants and their own authority, which they had endangered for the sake of the Remonstrants. This happened at Utrecht, where the States General had a garrison strong enough to protect against every uprising and mutiny, and at Haarlem, Leiden, Gouda, Schoonhoven, Hoorn, and various other places. The Remonstrants incited the magistrates of the cities to do this, as can be clearly proven from some of their letters that were captured later.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (24)

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] worked to get these resolutions enacted wherever they knew the magistrates were favorable to them. When because of this many pious people were punished by confiscation of goods and with imprisonments and exile, they appealed to the highest court of justice and sought help against this new violence. The Honorable Lord Counselors of the High Council sought to come to the help of the oppressed; but the Remonstrants saw to it through the advocate that the High Council was forbidden to help and that the hands of the High Court of Justice were tied.

When on March 18, 1616,  many leading cities of Holland, among them especially the mightiest city, Amsterdam, took a position against the enforcement of these resolutions, Hugo Grotius and others were sent to Amsterdam on April 24  through their eloquence to persuade the magistrates of that city to accept the resolutions. When he tried to do this with a wide-ranging speech, the magistrates answered that they could not approve that men could bypass the lawful synodical gatherings, take ecclesiastical matters under advisement in the gathering of the States, make decisions in those matters, and put those decisions into effect. Further, they answered that their intention was to stand for the true Christian religion, the exercise of which had flourished in these lands for fifty years. And they judged that the very least change of this religion would be damaging to the Republic unless it was first properly investigated by a lawful synod. The magistrates answered further that on this account they could not consent to various proposals and various actions that had taken place since 1616, nor could they consent to this last proposition. They did not desire any decisions to be made, much less be put into effect, under the name of the city of Amsterdam (since it was an important member of the gathering of the States), nor anything to be decided against those who confessed the Reformed religion, unless lawful synods, under the authority of the lords of the States, previously investigated and treated the differences and changes in religion and ecclesiastical matters.

“[The Magistrates of Amsterdam] answered that their intention was to stand for the true Christian religion, the exercise of which had flourished in these lands for fifty years”

Meanwhile, they did not desire the preachers who were loyal to the views of the Reformed religion and defended by the contra-Remonstrants to be suspended from their ministry because they could not with a good conscience maintain ecclesiastical unity with the Remonstrants. They also did not desire the churches that followed those views to be hindered in the practice of religion, either under pretense of schism or because they had scruples of conscience against hearing the sermons of the Remonstrants. They declared further that they would approve all these things until by the authority of the States a lawful synod could be authorized to investigate properly and to treat the differences and innovations. Thus the labor and attempts of the Remonstrants and of those favorable to them were in vain, especially since the magistrates of the cities of Dordrecht, Enkhuizen, Edam, and Purmerend openly approved this advice of the magistrates of Amsterdam.

About this time the ministers of the Kampen church in the Province of Overijsel, which had accepted the views of the Remonstrants, with the help of the magistrates cast out of the ministry a very learned man who adhered to the truth, their fellow minister and doctor of sacred theology Wilhelmus Stephani, because he opposed their purposes. By means of slanderous pamphlets and public sermons, they sought to make the Reformed religion hated among the people.

Because of these changes and the consequent disruptions of the churches, the Remonstrants, who were more and more hated, presented to the states a second Remonstrance in March 1617. In it they sought with unbelievable shamelessness to remove the blame for all the innovations from themselves and to place it upon the ministers who had remained firm in the adopted doctrine of these churches. Over against this the other ministers presented an extensive and pertinent reply, which they also delivered to the same States

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (23)

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 Jacobus Trigland, minister at Amsterdam, had replied to this [resolution of tolerance] in a public writing, Uytenbogaert took in hand a lengthy defense of this resolution, in which he scandalously slandered and attacked both the doctrine of the Reformed churches and the foremost lights thereof: Calvin, Beza, Zanchius, and others. Over against Uytenbogaert’s writing, Trigland prepared a careful reply for the defense of both the honor and the doctrine of the teachers of the Reformed churches.

When the Remonstrants saw that the resolution of toleration, which they called a resolution of the situation, did not have much authority, they attempted another strategy to obtain what they wanted. To that end, during September and October 1615, they invited the ministers everywhere in Holland, both secretly and in their gatherings, to subscribe to a formula of toleration that was written in deceitful language by some who secretly adhered to their party and their views, but who were not considered to be Remonstrants.

However, when even then they could not get their way, they judged that those who could not be talked over to their side would have to be coerced by the authority of the regents, and that at last they could break through this matter and bring it to an end. To this end, they achieved in the name of the States the sending of this resolution of mutual tolerance, published the preceding year, to every classis. It simply ordered the ministers to subscribe to it without contradiction.

“…When even then [the Remonstrants] could not get their way, they judged that those who could not be talked over to their side would have to be coerced by the authority of the regents…”

To get more easily into the service of the churches those who were of the Remonstrant party and to exclude all others, the Remonstrants caused another resolution to be added, which in the calling of ministers and elders allowed the use of the order devised in the year 1591 but not approved. According to this rule, four would be elected who had been delegated by the government, and four others who had been delegated by the consistory. After these resolutions had been sent to the classes, many classes sent their deputies to the States to declare openly and in writing their objections, or gravamina, against these resolutions and to ask that the introduction of them be withdrawn. When the deputies arrived at The Hague for this purpose, they learned from the delegates of some of the chief cities that the resolutions, although they had been forwarded, had not been established by full and formal approbation of all the States and therefore could not yet have the force of a law. The deputies therefore found it advisable to refrain from their intended request until the resolutions were enforced.

This last resolution gave occasion again in many places for new disputes and disturbances, especially in the churches of Haarlem. For when certain of the magistrates wanted to have the ministers called according to his new order, and the church did not approve that, they refused to have ecclesiastical fellowship with the congregations where the ministers were called in the aforesaid manner, and they refused to acknowledge them as lawful ministers. Through the same decisions some classes in Holland had maintained unity with the Remonstrants in the government of the churches for the sake of peace, but now they were divided because many ministers could not consent to these decisions, and the Remonstrants desired the churches to be governed according to them. To force this authoritatively upon their fellow ministers, the Remonstrants introduced into the classical gatherings politicians who were either alienated from the Reformed religion or loyal to the Remonstrants. Thus they sought to exercise dominance in the churches. The right-minded ministers, being tired and weary of these disputes that arose daily on account of these things with the Remonstrants, deemed it better to come together without them and to take care of their churches in peace, rather than to be plagued by continual disputes with the Remonstrants.

“The right-minded ministers, being tired and weary of these disputes…deemed it better to come together without them and to take care of their churches in peace, rather than to be plagued by continual disputes with the Remonstrants.”

Meanwhile, Uytenbogaert arranged through the authority of certain leaders, that his fellow ministers were ordered to obey these resolutions. When his fellow minister Henricus Roseus said he could not promise with a good conscience to obey, he was suspended from the office of minister by their authority and at Uytenbogaert’s corrupt instigation. Therefore the members of the church of The Hague who loved the purity of the Reformed doctrine continued the practice of religion in a separate church, first in the village of Rijswijk and then in The Hague after they obtained ministers on loan from other churches.

Later, at these services the chief men from the States and from the counselors of the Courts of Justice and other colleges, the Prince of Orange and Count Willem Lodewijk of Nassau, forsaking the gathering of the Remonstrants, came to these services to testify of their agreement in the sound doctrine and their inclination toward the same. The Remonstrants very hatefully called this schism and sought in every manner to prevent it or to avenge it

(To be continued…)

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…)