תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

trious lords the States these difficulties of the churches, as growing more and more heavy; and had petitioned, that for the removal of the same, the convocation of a provincial Synod might be appointed, at the most early time: though great hopes had been given them, by the most ample the lords the delegates, they were not as yet able to obtain it; because at that time [Sept. 14, 1607] a beginning had been made of settling the terms of a truce with the enemy: and the Illustrious States being themselves fully occupied with the most weighty affairs of the Republic, could not have leisure to attend to these ecclesiastical concerns.

April 30, 1608.] In the mean time Arminius, when he saw that the churches were urgent, that this cause should be determined by the legal ecclesiastical judgments; in order that he might decline that trial, (forum, meaning the decision of the ecclesiastical courts, having exhibited a suppliant writing (libellum) to the Illustrious the States, obtained that cognizance should be taken of his cause, by the most ample the counsellors of the supreme court, being political men ; (not ecclesiastical ;) and Gomarus was commanded to hold a conference with Arminius before the same, the pastors being present, who had lately attended at the preparatory convention from South and North Holland. When the deputies of the churches had understood this, they again requested the Illustrious the States of Holland and West Friesland, that, instead of this conference instituted before the supreme court, a provincial Synod might be called ; that in the same, cognizance might be taken and judgment given on this ecclesiastical cause, by ecclesiastical men, skilful in these matters, and lawfully delegated by the churches with the power of awarding judgment. The Illustrious the States answered, that the cognizance of the cause alone had been entrusted to the supreme court ; but that the decision of it would afterwards be committed either to a provincial or to a national Synod.

In this conference, a long dispute occurred about the order of proceeding. Arminius contended, that Gomarus ought to undertake the part of an agent, (actoris, pleader, or prosecutor, or accuser,) but that he was only bound to defend himself; while Gomarus judged, that this method of proceeding was not less unjust than unusual, especially in an ecclesiastical cause, before political judges ; that he indeed was prepared to bring proof before a lawful Synod ; that Arminius had proposed dogmas which were at variance with the word of

God, and with the Confession and Catechism of the Belgic churches; but that it could not be done in this place, without prejudice to his cause; that he (Gomarus) thought this conference, in order to answer the intention of the Illustrious lords the States, might better be conducted in this manner; namely, that without these mutual accusations, each of them should clearly and perspicuously explain and set forth his own opinion, concerning every one of the heads of doctrine ; for thence it might most advantageously be understood, in what things they agreed or disagreed. As to what belong to himself, he would not shrink from explaining his opinion concerning all the heads of doctrine fully and openly, as much so indeed as could be desired by any one; that Arminius also, if he were willing fully to perform the part of a faithful teacher, ought in the same manner to declare his own opinion, and not any longer in this business to use subterfuges of this kind. He, (Arminius,) nevertheless persisted in his purpose; so that he at length exclaimed, that he wondered, seeing various rumors of his heterodoxy had gone about through the churches; and the conflagration excited by him, was said to rise above the very roofs of the churches ; that he yet found no one, who dared to lodge an accusation against him. Gomarus, in order to meet this boasting, undertook to prove that he had taught such an opinion concerning the first article of our faith, namely, concerning the justification of man before God, as was opposed to the word of God, and to the confession of the Belgic churches. For the proof of this thing, he produced his own very words, written out from the hand writing of the same Arminius, in which he asserts, that in the justification of man before God, the righteousness of Christ is not imputed for righteousness; but that faith itself, or the act of believing, (so credere,) by the gracious acceptation (acceptationem, acquittal) was that our righteousness, by which we are justified before God. When Arminius saw himself thus fast bound, as he could not indeed deny this to be evidence of proof, (evidentiam probationis, conclusive evidence, he began to consent to another method of proceeding; namely, that each should sign in a writing his own opinion, comprised in certain theses, concerning the

principal articles, in which the difference was thought to consist ; on which each afterwards in return marked his own animadversions.

This conference having been terminated, the counsellors of the supreme court reported to the Illustrious the States of Holland and West Friesland, that they, as far as they had

[ocr errors]

been able to perceive from the conference, judged ; that the controversies, which had arisen between these two professors, were not of so great importance, but regarded especially some more subtile disputes concerning predestination, which might either be omitted or connived at, (dissimulari,) by a mutual toleration. But Gomarus added, that the difference detected in the opinions were of so great moment, that he, with the opinion of Arminius, should not dare to appear before the judgment of God: and, unless a remedy were maturely applied, it was to be feared, lest in a short time, one province should be engaged in contest against another, church against church, state against state, and citizens against each other. But the Illustrious the States determined, that the writings sealed on each side in this conference, should be preserved in the supreme court, even unto a national Synod, neither should they be communicated in the mean while to any man (cuiquam mortalium.) Yet, neither did this conference deliver from anxiety the churches, but rather increased it; especially as the things which had been done at it were concealed from the churches. For not without reason they judged, (haud temere,) that this was done in favor of Arminius, lest his opinions should be made manifest. In the mean while the churches did not cease, by their deputies, strenuously to petition the Illustrious States, that this ecclesiastical cause, which, except with great danger of the church, could not be deferred, might be examined and decided on, as soon as possible, by the judgment either of a lawful provincial, or a national Synod. When Arminius understood this, he procured by Utenbogardus, whose authority at that time was great among most of the chief persons of the country, that the Illustrious States should command that the Annual Synods themselves, as well of South as of North Holland, the time of which was at hand, should be deferred. But as this could not be done without the greatest detriment of the churches, they again, having explained before the Illustrious the States their difficulties, petitioned, either that it might be allowed, to hold, according to custom, each of the annual Synods, as well that in South, as in North Holland ; or that out of each united together one provincial Synod should as soon as possible be called, as it had also before this been petitioned.

June 28, 1608.) To this petition, the Illustrious States declared, that they had determined, in the next October, to call together a provincial Synod for this purpose. When this had been made known to the churches, all the pastors attached

to Arminius were again admonished, that each of them would lay open to his class, his considerations, (or remarks, considerationes,) that the same might be lawfully carried to the approaching Synod. But they, as before, so now also each of them, declined this with one consent, with their accustomed evasions, (tergiversationibus.) And when the month of October approached, and the churches pressed the convocation of a provincial Synod, as promised, that was again deferred for two months : and it was again permitted to the churches, to hold the particular annual Synods, as well in South as in North Holland; yet on this condition, that the cause of Arminius should not be treated of in the same, which they willed to be reserved to the provincial Synod. In the Synod of the churches of South Holland, which was held at Dordrecht, (or Dort) when it had been reported, that all the pastors attached to Arminius were hitherto unwilling to lay open their considerations, which they said they had against the received doctrine, to their fellow pastors, (symmistis,) but that they eluded by various evasions, the admonitions of the churches, and the decrees of the Synods; it was determined, that it should be gravely enjoined on them, to lay open these their considerations, within the space of the next month, after the admonition given, under the penalty of incurring the ecclesiastical censure against the contumacious. The same also was demanded from the professors of sacred theology in the University of Leyden, and from Peter Bertius, the ruler of the theological college. These pastors, when they saw that either their opinion must be laid open, or they must undergo the ecclesiastical censure; in order to evade each of these, they, by the aid of Utenbogardus, obtained letters from the Illustrious lords the States, in which it was enjoined on these pastors, that within the space of one month, they should transmit to the lords the States themselves, the considerations which they had sealed up, that they might be reserved by the same, to be exhibited to the provincial Synod. The professors, being asked by the deputies of the Synod, if they had any considerations of this kind, to open these before them, Gomarus answered; indeed, that he had observed nothing in the Confession and Catechism of the churches, which he thought in need of correction or alteration, as too little agreeing with the word of God; but Arminius, that he would answer by writing to this demand, in his own time. And when he saw himself thus urged by the churches to the declaration of his opinion, he explained in a prolix discourse to the lords

[ocr errors]

the States, in their stated convention, what he thought con: cerning divine predestination, the grace of God, and the freewill of man, the perseverance of the saints, the assurance of salvation, the perfection of man in this life, the Deity of the Son of God, the justification of man before God, and the other heads of doctrine. At the same time, he endeavored to persuade the Illustrious the States, that, in these reformed churches, a doctrine was delivered concerning the divine predestination, which was at variance (pugnaret) with the nature of God, with his wisdom, justice, and goodness; with the nature of man and his free-will; with the work of creation; with the nature of life and death eternal, and finally with that of sin ; and which took

away
the divine

grace, was inimical to the glory of God, and pernicious to the salvation of men; which made God the author of sin, hindered sorrow for sin, took away all pious solicitude, lessened the earnest desire of doing good things, extinguished the ardor of prayer, took away the “ fear and trembling," with which we ought to " work out our own salvation,” made way for desperation, subverted the Gospel, hindered the ministry of the word, and lastly, overturned the foundations, not only of the Christian religion, but also wholly of all religion.*

When Gomarus had heard these things, he deemed it a part of his duty, to give better information (melius erudire) to the Illustrious lords the States, lest perhaps by this method, their minds should be pre-occupied with unfavorable prejudices against the orthodox doctrine. Having therefore

* It is probable, that in all the volumes, which ever since that time, have been written by Arminians, or Anti Calvinists, in refutation of Calvinism, there is no objection of any plausibility, urged against the doctrines designated by thát term, which is not here briefly, and fairly, and emphatically stated, as used by Arminius, before the States of Holland, in this history, written with the express purpose of sanctioning the decisions of the Synod of Dort; perhaps, no where else can so compendious a list of these objections be found. The compilers evidently did not consider them as unanswerable, or very formidable; nor were they afraid of having the whole cause fairly tried and determined according to THE WORD OF GOD; the objections being indeed, neither more nor less, than man's presumptuous reasonings against the express, sure, and authoritative testimony of God himself; the substance of the inquiry which the apostle answered, or silenced at once, "Thou wilt say to me, Why doth he yet find fault? for who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man,” rejoins the apostle, “Who art thou that repliest against God ?" It is evident from the whole narrative, that the Confession and Catechism of the Belgic churches, as well as the sermons and writings of the pastors, were involved in this heavy charge, and condemned most deeply by this sweeping sentence.

« הקודםהמשך »