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ministration they were recalled from banishment, and restored to their former reputation and tranquillity. Those who had taken refuge in the kingdom of France and in the Spanish Netherlands, were the first that embraced this occasion of returning to their native country, where they erected churches in several places, and more particularly in the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, under the mild shade of a religious toleration. That they might also have a public seminary of learning, for the instruction of their youth, and the propagation of their theological principles, they founded a college at Amsterdam, in which two professors were appointed to instruct the candidates for the ministry, in the various branches of literature and science, sacred and profane. Simon Episcopius was the first professor of theology among the Arminians; and since his time, the seminary now mentioned has been, generally speaking, furnished with professors eminent for their learning and genius, such as Courcelles, Polenburg, Limborch, Le Clerc, Cattenburgh, and Wetstein.
x. We have already seen, that the original difference between the Arminians and the Calvinists was entirely confined to the five points mentioned an above, relative to the doctrines of predestination minjanis and grace; and it was the doctrine of the former concerning these points alone that occasioned their condemnation in the Synod of Dort. It is further to be observed, that these five points, as explained at that time by the Arminians, seemed to differ very little from the Lutheran system. But after the Synod of Dort, and more especially after the return of the Arminian exiles into their native country, the theological system of this community underwent a remarkable change, and assumed an aspect, that distinguished it entirely from that of all other Christian churches. For then they gave a new explication of these five articles, that made them almost coincide with the doctrine of those who deny the necessity of divine succours in the work of conversion, and in the paths of virtue. Nay, they went still further, and, bringing the greatest part of the doctrines of Christianity before the tribunal of reason, they modified them considerably, and reduced them to an excessive de
The ancient and modern system of Ar
There is an accurate account of these and the other Arminian writers given by Adrian Van Cattenburgh, in his Bibliotheca Scriptorum Remonstrantium, printed in 8vo. at Amsterdam, in the year 1728.
gree of simplicity. Arminius, the parent and founder of the community, was undoubtedly the inventor of this new form of doctrine, and taught it to his disciples ; but it was first digested into a regular system, and embellished with the charms of a masculine eloquence, by Episcopius, whose learning and genius have given him a place among the Arminian doctors, next to their founder. XI. The great and ultimate end the Arminians seem to
have in view, is, that Christians, though divided The great end in their opinions, may be united in fraternal charithe Arminialis ty and love, and thus be formed into one family principal beads. or community, notwithstanding the diversity of their theological sentiments. In order to execute their benevolent purpose, they maintain, that Christ demands from his servants more virtue than faith ; that he has confined that belief which is essential to salvation to a few articles ; that, on the other hand, the rules of practice he has prescribed are extremely large in their extent ; and that charity and virtue ought to be the principal study of true Christians. Their definition of a true Christian is somewhat la
The great end proposed by ihe Arminian
y It is a common opinion, that the ancient Arminians, who flourished before the synod of Dort, were much more sound in their opinions, and strict in their morals, than those who have lived after this period; that Arminius himself only rejected the Calvinistical doctrine of absolute decrees, and what he took to be its immediate consequences, adopting in all other points the doctrines received in the reformed churches; but that his dis*ciples, and more especially Episcopius, had boldly transgressed the bounds that bad been wisely prescribed by their master, and had gone over to the Pelagians, and even to the Socinians. Such, I say, is the opinion commonly entertained concerning this matter. But it appears, on the contrary, evident to me, that Arminius himself had laid the plan of that theological system, that was, in after times, embraced by his followers, and that he had instilled the main principles of it into the minds of his disciples ; and that these latter, and particularly Episcopius, did really no more than bring this plan to a greater degree of perfection, and propagate, with more courage and perspicuity, the doctrines it contained. I have the testimony of Arminius to support this notion, beside many others that might be alleged in its behalf; for, in the last will, made by this eminent man, a little before his death, he plainly and positively declares, that the great object he had in view, in all bis theological and ministerial labours, was to unite in one community, cemented by the bonds of fraternal charity, all sects and denominations of Christians, the papists excepted ; his words, as they are recorded in the funeral oration, which was composed on occasion of his death by Bertius, are as follow: “Ea proposui et docui .... quæ ad propagationem amplificationemque veritatis religionis Christianæ, veri Dei cultus, communis pietatis, et sanctæ inter homines conversationis, denique ad convenientem Christiano nomini tranquillitatem et pacem juxta verbum Dei possent conferre, excludens ex iis papatum, cum quo nulla unitas fidei, nullum pietatis aut Christianæ pacis vinculum servari potest." These words, in their amount, coincide perfectly with the modern system of Arminianism, which extend the limits of the Christian church, and relaxes the bonds of fraternal communion in such a manner, that Christians of all sects and all denominations, whatever their sentiments and opinions may be, papists excepted, may be formed into one religious body, and live together in brotherly love and concord.
z The life of this eminent man was composed in Latin by the learned and judicious Limborch, and is singularly worthy of an attentive perusal. It was published at Amsterd'am, in 8vo. in the year 1701.
titudinarian in point of belief. According to their account of things, every person is a genuine subject of the kingdom of Christ, “ 1. Who receives the Holy Scriptures, and more especially the New Testament, as a rule of his faith, however he may think proper to interpret and explain these sacred oracles; 2. Who abstains from idolatry and Polytheism, with all their concomitant absurdities; 3. Who leads a decent, honest, and virtuous life, directed and regulated by the laws of God; and, 4. Who never discovers a spirit of persecution, discord, or ill will toward those who differ from him in their religious sentiments, or, in their manner of interpreting the Holy Scriptures.” Thus the wide bosom of the Arminian church is opened to all who profess themselves Christians, however essentially they may differ from each other in their theological opinions. The Papists alone are excluded from this extensive communion, and this because they esteem it lawful to persecute those who will not submit to the yoke of the Roman pontiff." It is not our design here either to justify or condemn these latitudinarian terms of communion; it is true indeed that, if other Christian churches adopted them, diversity of sentiments would be no longer an obstacle to mutual love and concord.
T a It is not only on account of their persecuting spirit, but also on account of their idolatrous worship, that the Arminians exclude the papists from their communion. See the following note. ·
b For a full and accurate representation of this matter, the reader need scarcely have recourse to any other treatise than that which is published in the first volume of the works of Episcopius, p. 508, under the following title ; Verus Theologus Remonstrans, sive veræ Remonstrantium Theologiæ de errantibus dilucida declaratio.' This treatise is written with precision and perspicuity. Le Clerc, in the Dedication prefixed to his Latin translation of Dr. Hammond's Paraphrase and Commentary on the New Testament, gives a brief account of the Arminian principles and terms of communion in the following words, addressed to the learned men of that sect; “ You declare,” says he, “that they only are excluded from your communion who are chargeable with idolatry; who do not receive the Holy Scriptures as the rule of faith ; who trample upon the precepts of Christ by their licentious manners and actions ; and who persecute those who differ from them in matters of religion."* Many writers affirm, that the Arminians acknowledge as their brethren all those who receive that form of doctrine that is known under the denomination of the Apostles' Creed. But that these writers are mistaken, appears sufficiently from what has been already said on this subject; and is further confirmed by the espress testimony of Le Clerc, who, in his Biblioth Ancienne et Mod. tom. xxv. p. 110, declares, that it is not true that the Arminians admit to their communion all those who receive the Apostles' Creed ; his words are, “Ils se trompent; ils,” the Arminians, "offrent la communion a tous ceux, qui recoivent l'ecriture sainte comme la seule regle de la foi et des meurs, et qui ne sont ni idolatres ni persecuteurs."
* The original words of Le Clerc are, “ Profiteri soletis ... eos duntaxat a vobis excludi qui (1) idolatoria sunt contaminati, (2) qui minime habent scripturam pro fidei norma, (3) qui impuris moribus sancta Christi præcepta conculcant, (4) aut qui denique alios religionis causa vexant."
XI. From all this it appears plain enough, that the Ar
minian community was a kind of medley, comminian posed of persons of different principles, and that, . Saich. properly speaking, it could have no fixed and stable form or system of doctrine. The Arminians, however, foreseeing that this circumstance might be objected to them as a matter of reproach, and unwilling to pass for a society connected by no common principles or bond of union, have adopted, as their confession of faith, a kind of theological system, drawn up by Episcopius, and expressed for the most part, in the words and phrases of Holy Scripture. But as none of their pastors are obliged, either by oath, de- '. claration, or tacit compact, to adhere strictly to this confession, and as, on the contrary, by the fundamental constitution of this community, every one is authorized to interpret its expressions, which are in effect susceptible of various significations, in a manner conformable to their peculiar sentiments; it evidently follows, that we cannot deduce from thence an accurate and consistent view of Arminianism, or know, with any degree of certainty, what doctrines are adopted or rejected by this sect. Hence it happens, that the Arminian doctors differ widely among themselves concerning some of the most important doctrines of Christianity;d nor are they universally agreed or entirely uniform in their sentiments of almost any one point, if we except the doctrines of predestination and grace. They all indeed unanimously adhere to the doctrine that excluded their ancestors from the communion of the reformed churches, even “ that the love of God extends itself equally to all mankind; that no mortal is rendered finally unhappy by an eternal and invincible decree; and that the misery of those that perish comes from themselves;" but they explain this doctrine in a very different manner from that in which it was formerly understood. Be that as it may, this is the fundamental doctrine of the Arminians, and whoever opposes it, becomes thereby an adversary to the whole community; whereas those, whose objections are levelled at particular
e This confession of faith is extant in Latin, Dutch, and German. The Latin edition of it is to be found in the works of Episcopius, tom. ii. p. ii. p. 69. Where may be found also a Defence of this confession against the objections of the professors of divinity at Leyden.
d They who will be at the pains of comparing together the theological writings of Episcopius, Courcelles, Limborch, Le Clerc, and Cattenburgh, will see clearly the diversity of sentiments that reigns among the Arminjan doctors.
HISTORY OF THE ARMINIAN
The present state of Ar minianism.
Sect. II. HISTORY OF THE ARMINIAN CHURCH.
143 tenets, which are found in the writings of the Arminian divines, cannot be said, with any degree of propriety, to attack or censure the Arminian church, whose theological system, a few articles excepted, is vague and uncertain, and is not characterized by any fixed set of doctrines and principles. Such only attack certain doctors of that communion, who are divided among themselves, and do not agree, even in their explications of the doctrine relating to the extent of the divine love and mercy ; though this be the fundamental point that occasioned their separation from the reformed churches.
XIII. The Arminian church makes at present but an inconsiderable figure, when compared with the reformed; and, if credit may be given to public state of Art report, it declines from day to day. The Arminians have still in the United Provinces thirty-four congregations, more or less numerous, which are furnished with eighty-four pastors; beside these, their church at Frederickstadt, in the dutchy of Holstein, still subsists. It cannot however be said, that the credit and influence of their religious principles have declined with the external lustre of their community ; since it is well known, that their sentiments were early adopted in several countries, and were secretly received by many who had not the courage to profess them openly. Every one is acquainted with the change that has taken place in the established church of England, whose clergy, generally speaking, since the time of archbishop Laud, have embraced the Arminian doctrine concerning predestination and grace; and, since the restoration of Charles II. have discovered a strong propensity to many other tenets of the Arminian
church. Beside this, whoever has any acquaintance with . the world, must know, that in many of the courts of protestant princes, and, generally speaking, among those persons that pretend to be wiser than the multitude, the following fundamental principle of Arminianism is adopted; “ That those doctrines, whose belief is necessary to salvation, are very few in number; and that every one is to be left at
S e What renders the Arminian Confession of Faith an uncertain representation of the sentiments of the community is, the liberty in which every pastor is indulged of departing from it, when he finds any of its doctrines in contradiction with his private opinions. See the Introduction to the Arminian Confession of Faith, in the third volume of the French abridgment of Brandt's History of the Reformation of the Netherlands.