תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

It therefore pleased the Illustrious the States, that, leaving these thorny questions, they should come to the discussion of the articles. The pastors deputed by the churches, proposed in writing their reasons, on account of which, they disapproved of each of these articles. The Remonstrants also, on the other side, exhibited in writing their own arguments, by which they thought that each of them might be confirmed. About these reasons and arguments, disputations were held by speaking, in the full convention of the Illustrious the States. The parts of the collocutor, in the name of those deputed by the churches, were sustained by Festus Hommius; but in the name of the Remonstrants, at first by Adrian Borrius, and then by Nicolas Grevinchovius, John Arnoldi, and Simon Episcopius, succeeding each other by turns.

While the pastors were occupied in this conference, Conr. Vorstius had returned out of Westphalia into Holland, whom the Illustrious the States appointed to be heard in a full convention, all the collocutors being present. When they were come together, he made a prolix oration, in which he endeavored to clear himself from the errors objected to him. Then the collocutors were asked, whether they had any considerations, on account of which they judged that the calling of Vorstius, to the professorship of theology in the University of Leyden, should be hindered. The Remonstrants expressly declared that they had nothing against Vorstius; neither had they detected any thing in his writings, which was repugnant to truth and piety.* The other pastors exhibited in writing their reasons, for which they judged that this vocation would be vehemently mischievous and disgraceful to the churches of Holland; and they shewed from a book of Socinus, concerning the authority of the sacred Scriptures, edited by Vorstius himself, and interpolated; and also from that, which Vorstius himself had very lately written and published concerning God and the divine attributes, his principal errors, concerning which there was held during some days a conference between him and Festus Hommius, in the convention of the Illustrious the States, in the presence of the collocutors.

appointed them by the same decree to eternal damnation, without any regard to their infidelity or impenitency.” Heylin's 1st Article of the Synod of Dort.

* “ Among the persecuted ecclesiastics was the famous Vorstus, who by his religious sentiments, which differed but little from the Socinian system, had rendered the Arminians particularly odious.” Mosheim, vol. v. p. 455.

This having been finished, the pastors on each side were again' asked by the Illustrious the States, that they would sincerely, and without any passions (affectibus) declare, whether Vorstius by his answers seemed to have satisfied them. The Remonstrants answered, that full satisfaction had

given to them by Vorstius; and they moreover judged that it would be very useful to the churches and to the University, if his vocation proceeded. The rest of the pastors declared in writing, that the answers of Vorstius were so far from having moved them from their former opinion, that by them they were the more confirmed in that opinion; and that his vocation could not be forwarded, except by the extreme detriment of the churches and of the University, and the manifest danger of still greater disturbance ; to which, that they might not rashly expose the churches by this vocation, they submissively adjured (or obtested) the Illustrious the States, that, dismissing Vorstius, they might return to the conference concerning the five articles of the Remonstrants; and when this, having been continued during some days, was at length brought to a conclusion, the Illustrious the States commanded the collocutors on each side, that those things which had been spoken, viva voce, and whatever they might judge necessary to a more full answer, being on each side comprised in writing, should by Utenbogardus and Festus be exhibited to the Illustrious the States. And in the mean time, that the pastors might not glory among themselves concerning the victory which they had gained one over the other, but that they teach moderately with edification concerning the controverted articles, and live among themselves in peace and charity; they determined that these articles should be left in the same state in which they had been before the conference.

In the cause of Vorstius nothing was at that time decided ; but when a little time afterwards, the most ample the magis trates of the city of Dort, by their delegates, most ample men, D. Hugo Musius, ab Holii the Prætor (or Mayor,) James Wittius, Adrian Repelarius, John Berkius, the Syndich, requested the Illustrious the States, seeing rumors concerning the errors and heresies of Vorstius, became daily more and more frequent, that his vocation might be broken off, or at least deferred; the Illustrious the States commanded the curators in the University, to proceed no further in his vocation. And when the report of his vocation had come to James the First himself, the most Serene and powerful king of Great Britain, the Defender of the Faith, who out of his admirable

skill in theological matters, especially in a king, and for his singular zeal towards the reformed religion, when he had himself carefully read the tract of Vorstius concerning God, and had noted the principal errors with his own hand, judged that the Illustrious the High Mightinesses the States General, his neighbors and allies, were to be admonished, as well by letters, (the catalogue of his errors being also transmitted,) as by his own ambassador, an Illustrious person, D. Rodolphus Winwood, not to admit a man infamous by so many and so great errors and blasphemies, to the public office of teaching in the University; but rather to banish him from their borders; lest if the youth should be imbued by him with these wicked and execrable errors, the state should by little and little go to decay; seeing that by the purity of the reformed doctrine, in which the Belgic churches had hitherto cultivated an amicable agreement with the English, and in the preservation of it, the safety of the republic itself was concerned.* When this was delayed, the Remonstrants earnestly striving against it, and especially Vorstius, by various explanations, apologies, prologues, (prodromis,) and answers, as well modest, as more fully excusing and strengthening (incrustante) his own errors; yet his most Serene Royal Majesty did not desist to

urge

his dismission, sometimes repeating his admonitions, and even adding a serious protestation.

While these things were doing, certain students of sacred theology who likewise had come forth from the instruction and the house of Vorstius, in the University of Franekar, which they had now been sedulously employed in infecting with Socinian errors, published in print a certain little book of Faustus Socinus, concerning the duty of a Christian man; in which persuasions are given, that all who would consult the salvation of their own souls, having deserted the dogmas

* This at least shews the general judgment of theologians concerning Vorstius, whom the Remonstrants so zealously supported ; and even still more strongly, on the supposition that James and his select divines, were not at that time favorable to Calvinism.

| This shews what the generally received doctrine of the church of England was then supposed

to be ; viz. for substance the same as that of the

Belgic church. The eulogium on James I. reminds us of the words of Cowper, “Grant me discernment, I allow it you;" yet the English divines have spoken still more decidedly on the subject. (Preface to Translation of the Bible.) It may be supposed that the Belgic divines, who adhered to the Synod of Dort, would retract or qualify this eulogium, when they learned the change which soon after took place in England under the patronage of the same James.

and assemblies of the reformed churches, should embrace the opinion of the Phothinians and the Ebionites ; adding a preface, in which they diligently commend this book unto the churches. * The Illustrious the States of Friezland, having been assured of this, and having at the same time procured certain familiar letters of these students, in which they declared, by what arts the common cause of Socinianism, (which they not obscurely intimated was also carried on by Vorstius and by Utenbogardus and others in Holland,) might be ocultly and safely propagated; having taken care that the most of these copies of this book should be destroyed by the avenging flames, and having expelled the students from their confines; they, at first indeed by letters admonished the magistrates of the principal cities of Holland; and then by the most noble person Kempson a Donia, the Illustrious lords the States themselves; and they requested, inasmuch as the orthodox consent in the reformed doctrine was the principal bond and foundation of union, among the confederated provinces, that they would not admit, by the vocation of one man, thus suspected of manifest heresies, this agreement to be enfeebled; nor suffer themselves to be led about by artifices and frauds of this kind, by which it was evident, that these men secretly attempted this. But the pastors of Leoward having made public the above mentioned letters of the students, with necessary annotations, solemnly warned all the churches, to take heed to themselves against artifices of this kind, and especially the deceitful machinations of the heretics, and in the first place of Vorstius. The Illustrious dukedom of Gueldria and county of Lutphan also warned the Illustrious the States of Holland, concerning the same thing, who answered, that nothing would be more their hearty desire and care, than that they might retain, in the common business of religion, this consent with the rest of the federated provinces inviolate. Concerning which their constant purpose, they peculiarly requested, that their federated neighbors would be assured. In the mean time, that they themselves would have regard to this admonition. And they command Vorstius, to remove his place of abode from the city of

* “ Photinus' opinions concerning the Deity, were equally repugnant to the Orthodox and Arian systems.” See Mosheim, vol. i. pp. 425, 426. “Though the Ebionites believed the celestial mission of Christ and his participation of a divine nature, yet they regarded him as a man born of Joseph and Mary, according to the ordinary course of nature.” Ibid. vol. i. pp. 214, 215,

Leyden to Gouda, and there to vindicate himself from the errors objected to him by public writings, as much as he could.

Then the same, the lords the States, decreed, that they who held the conference at the Hague, should on each side exhibit in writing the state of the controversy concerning the five articles of the Remonstrants; and should at the same time add their counsels, by what method they thought that these controversies might be most advantageously composed to the peace of the church and the good of the republic. The Remonstrants judged, that no more certain method of concord could be entered on, than a mutual toleration, by which each party might be permitted, freely to teach and contend for his own opinion concerning these articles.* The other pastors declared that they could not show a more advantageous way, than that as soon as possible, and on the first opportunity, a national Synod should be called together by the authority of the Illustrious the High Mightinesses the States General; in which, these and all other controversies having been clearly explained and examined, it might be determined which opinion agreed with the word of God, and the common judgment of the reformed churches, and on that account ought to be publicly taught; lest, by the agitating of discordant opinions, truth should be injured, or the peace of the churches disturbed.

On these counsels the opinions of the Illustrious the States were various; some approving the counsel of the Remonstrants, and others that of the rest of the pastors, which was the cause, that nothing was determined in this matter, by which an end might be put to these controversies.

Dec. 3, 1611.) But when the Illustrious the States had understood that, besides these five articles, concerning many other things controversies of no small importance were mov

* Such a toleration amounted to an entire abolition of the Belgic Confession and Catechism, without any previous interference of those Synods, classes, and presbyteries, which were essential to their form of church government. 'As if

, under the name of toleration here in England, the whole establishment of the church, without any reference to the authority which established it, should be disannulled by one royal or senatorial mandate; and all preferments in the church and universities thrown open to men of every creed and character. James the Second attempted a little in this way in order to bring in popery, but the dissenters in general opposed this his dispensing power; and few if any of modern dissenters, who make the highest claims of something above toleration, mean such a complete abolition of the present state of things, by the same despotic authority as this implied,

« הקודםהמשך »