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belong to their duty, to admonish the Illustrious the States, that a man of this kind might not rashly be admitted to this vocation, who might be as a nail or claw in an ulcer, especial, ly in so disturbed a state of the churches. Moreover, that this might be done by them with the greater fruit, they peti. tioned by letters from the venerable the theological faculty of the University of Heidelberg, to whom this Vorstius had been intimately known, that it would sincerely declare, whether it thought that this Vorstius, in the present state of things, could with profit, and the peace and edification of the churches, be placed over the education of youth in the University of Leyden. It was also answered (by this theological faculty) that a certain book of his had lately been published concerning God and the divine attributes, in which he refuted (convelleret) the doctrine both of ancient and modern theologians ; and taught, that God was as to essence, great, finite, composed of essence and accident, changeable in his will, and obnoxious to passive power, (passivæ potentiæ,) with other similar portents.
And that he had been sent ten years since to Heidelberg, that he might clear himself before the theological faculty, D. Pezelius also being present, from (the charge) of Socinianism, of which had been accused by the churches. And indeed that he had so cleared himself, a writing (syngrapha) having been left: but that this clearing of himself (purgationem) had not been made valid; but, on the contrary, too often and by various means he had rendered himself more suspected; because he carried in his head a nest of monstrous fancies, (portentorum,) with which he had hitherto polluted the school and the youth at Steinfurt: but if a man of so suspected a faith should be called to the most illustrious University of Leyden, this would be nothing other than to extinguish a conflagration with oil.
When not only the deputies of the churches, but also the most ample the magistrates of the principal cities of Holland, of Dort for instance, and Amsterdam, had signified these things to the lords the curators, and to the Illustrious the States themselves; and intreated that they would not exasperate the difficulties of the churches, and expose them to the danger of new and greater (evils) by this calling of that man; the Remonstrants labored with all their powers that they would not desist from this purposed calling (of him ;) for they persuaded them that this would be joined with the loss of their own authority.' In the mean time, Vorstius came into Holland; who, after he had been heard in the convention of the
Illustrious the States, Utenbogardus alone of the pastors being present, returned to Steinfurt.
About this time, when certain students of sacred theology, having been called to the ministry of the word in the divers classes, were about to be subjected to examination, the Remonstrants procured it to be enjoined to these classes, by the counsellors of the Illustrious the States, that no further declaration should be demanded from any one, in the examination, concerning the article of predestination, and the heads annexed to it, than what had been expressed in five articles of the Remonstrants, which were sent along with (this injunction ;) and at the same time, it was strictly forbidden, that any should be driven away from the ministry of those, who professed that they thought in the before mentioned articles with the Remonstrants. * When the pastors, on many accounts,
* The five articles of the Contra-Remonstrants so often mentioned in this history, do not occur separately and all together in the authenticated documents, of which I make use, but comparing the detached accounts of them, and the arguments used in the Synod of Dort, concerning them, with the following statement from Mosheim, (vol. v. p. 444, 445,) the latter appears sufficiently accurate for our present purpose.
1. “That God, from all eternity, determined to bestow salvation on those who, as he foresaw, would persevere unto the end in their faith in Christ Jesus, and to inflict everlasting punishment on those who should continue in their unbelief, and resist, to the end of life, his divine suc
2. “That Jesus Christ, by his death and sufferings, made an atonement for the sins of mankind in general, and of every individual in particular ; that, however, none but those who believe in him can be partakers of that divine benefit.
3. “That true faith cannot proceed from the exercise of our natural faculties and powers, or from the force and operation of free-will, since man, in consequence of his natural corruption, is incapable either of thinking or doing any, good thing; and that therefore it is necessary to his conversion and salvation that he be regenerated and renewed by the operation of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ.
4. “That this divine grace, or energy of the Holy Ghost, which heals the disorders of a corrupt nature, begins, advances, and brings to perfection every thing that can be called good in man; and that, consequently, all good works, without exception, are to be attributed to God alone, and to the operation of his grace: that, nevertheless, this grace does not force the man to act against his inclination, but may be resisted and rendered inefféctual by the perverse will of the impenitent sinner.
5. “That they who are united to Christ by faith are thereby furnished with abundant strength, and with succours sufficient to enable them to triumph over the seductions of Satan, and the allurements of sin and temptation; but that the question, Whether such may fall from their faith, and forfeit finally this state of grace ? has not been yet resolved with sufficient perspicuity, and must therefore, be yet more carefully exami
were very reluctant (gravarentur) to consent to this, the deputies of the churches having been asked by them, laid open their grievances, in the next election of the Illustrious the States of Holland and West Friezland; and at the same time declared, that they were prepared to prove in a lawful Synod, that those articles of the Remonstrants were contrary to the word of God, and the Confession and Catechism of the Belgic churches : and they entreated the Illustrious the States, not to suffer these heterodox articles, having never been duly examined in a lawful assembly of the churches, to be obtruded in this manner on the churches; but rather, that they would call together the provincial Synod so often petitioned for, nay, now for a long time earnestly sought, in which these articles might be first examined according to the rule of the divine word. They shewed also, with how great scandal and detriment of the churches, it would be joined, if the appointed calling of Vorstius should proceed. And further they request, that this should be hindered by the authority of the Illustrious the States.
A consultation having been held concerning these things, it was determined, that a conference should be appointed, at the next Comitia of the count of Hague, in the convention itself of the Illustrious the States, on these five articles of the Remonstrants, between six pastors, to be chosen by each party. The Remonstrants had chosen for themselves, by the deputies of the several classes, John Utenbogardus, of the Hague; Adrian Borrius, and John Arnoldi Corvin of Leyden; Nicolas Grevinchovius of Rotterdam; Edward Poppius of Goudan, and Simon Episcopius, pastors of the church of Bleswick. But the rest of the pastors had chosen, by the deputies of each of the classes, Peter Plancinus of Amsterdam ; Libertus Frascinus of Brilan ; Ruardus Acronius of Schiedam; John Beccius of Dort; John Bogardus of Harlem; and Festus Hommius of Leyden, pastors of the church.
March 11, 1611.) When they had met together, the Remonstrants refused to institute the conference with the other six pastors, as with the deputies of the classes of Holland and West Friezland, such as they shewed themselves
ned by an attentive study of what the holy Scriptures have declared in relation to this important point.”
“It is to be observed, that this last article was afterwards changed by the Arminians, who, in process of time, declared their sentiments with less caution, and positively affirmed, that the saints might fall from a state of grace,” 'Mosheim, vol. v. p. 445.
to be by letters of commission (fidei,) lest they should seem to be the adversaries of the churches ; moreover they protested that they would depart, the matter being left unfinished, (re infecta,) unless these would lay aside that character. When there had been for a long time much disputation, the rest of the pastors chose rather to yield to their importunity, than to contend any longer concerning that matter. And they who had been deputed by the classes, before they went in to the conference, besought the Illustrious lords the States, that the promise which had been made to the churches more than two years before, in the conference held between Arminius and Gomarus, (namely, that the conference being ended, the judgment of this cause might be permitted and reserved to a provincial, or national Synod,) might here also be renewed.
It was agreed upon that this order of proceeding should be observed by them; that each party should comprise in writing the arguments of its own opinion; concerning which a conference should then be instituted by word of mouth. Before they came to the examination of the articles, the pastors, whom we before said had been deputed by the classes, exhibited an answer to the suppliant writing (libellum) of the Remonstrants, a copy of which they had procured a little before the conference; in which they shewed that the Remonstrants had most unfaithfully (pessima fide) set forth the opinion of the reformed churches, and had feigned in addition to it (adfinxisse) many things as a calumny; and that they had not openly avowed their own (opinion,) or set forth all the articles concerning which there was a controversy. And, seeing there were more controverted heads, besides those which were explained in these five articles, they humbly prayed, that, by the authority of the Illustrious the States, it might be enjoined on the Remonstrants, that they should likewise roundly and openly declare themselves concerning all the rest. Therefore, when the first article of the Remonstrants was about to be discussed, (or canvassed, excutiendus,) in which it is stated, “that God had from eternity decreed to save persevering believers," which no Christian denies; and this article was so placed by them, as that which contained the doctrine concerning God's eternal election ; the Remonstrants were asked, that (in addition) to the declaration of their opinion, as expressed in this article, they would explain these two things. First, Whether they would maintain that this article contained the whole decree of predestination; secondly, Whether they thought that this faith and perseve
rance in the faith were causes and conditions which preceded election unto salvation; or fruits which spring from election, and follow after it. After they had shifted about for some time, they answered at length, to the first indeed, that they acknowledged no other predestination to salvation, than that which had been expressed by them in the first article ; but to the second, that faith in the consideration and view of God was prior to election to salvation; and that it did not follow in the manner of any fruit. They then proposed in return seven other questions, as well concerning election, as reprobation, to which they desired an answer to be given by the pastors deputed from the classes. These, as they did not belong to the state of the controversy concerning the first article, and moreover were most of them mutilated and intricate, were proposed by them, that by this method they might draw them from the principal state of the controversy, and the right manner of treating it into doubtful disputations, (ambages.)* The pastors, having shewn by a libel (libellum) to the Illustrious the States this unjust way of proceeding, did not indeed entreat that they might not manifest their own opinion concerning reprobation; as the Remonstrants had too often iniquitously (improbe) objected to the same persons; but declared expressly their opinion, as far as they thought might suffice for the peace and edification of the churches, not only by word of mouth, but also in writing : That indeed when they state the eternal decree concerning the election of individual persons, they at the same time state the eternal decree concerning the reprobation or rejection of certain individual persons; because it could not be, that there should be election, but moreover there must be, at the same time, a certain reprobation or dereliction. Yet to rashly canvass all these difficult questions concerning this article, was nothing else, but to fill the church with useless disputations and contentions not profitable, and to disturb its peace. That this their declaration suppliantly expressed in this libel, ought to suffice all men of moderate dispositions and lovers of peace: namely, that it was indeed believed and taught by them, that God condemned no one; yea, neither had he decreed to condemn any one, unless justly for his own proper sins.t
* A common method among many controversialists, expressively called, “throwing dust in men's eyes.”
f “That God, by an absolute decree had elected to salvation a very small number of men, without any regard to their faith and obedience whatever ; and secluded from saving grace all the rest of mankind, and