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Synod of Dort, Errors rejected by it...................
Decision concerning Remonstrants.
. 13, 14
Held by the churches, preparatory to Synod Dort..
29, 33, 35-
Synodical Conventions, Opposition to..
Not granted to Remonstrants..
Treatment of Remonstrants by Synod Dort, remarked upon.... 132-136
Venator, Adolphus-his impudent conduct...
.29, 30, 72
THE manner in which the author was brought to the determination of adding the present work to all his former publications, will appear more fully in the introduction to the articles of the Synod of Dordrecht, or Dort. In general, he had erroneously adopted and aided in circulating a gross misrepresentation of the Synod and its decisions, in his "Remarks on the Refutation of Calvinism ;" and, having discovered his mistake previously to the publication of a second edition of that work, he was induced to do what he could, to counteract that misrepresentation, and to vindicate the Synod from the atrocious calumnies with which it has been wilfully or inadvertently traduced. But other motives concurred in disposing him to giving his attempt its present form and order.
1. A very interesting and important part of ecclesiastical history has been obscured and overwhelmed in unmerited disgrace, by the misrepresentations given of this Synod and its articles, especially in this nation; in which very few, even among studious men, know accurately the circumstances which led to the convening of this Synod, and the real nature and import of its decisions. To excite, therefore, others more conversant in these studies, and better qualified for the service, to examine this part of ecclesiastical history, and to do impartial justice to it, is one object which the author has
2. He purposes to prove, that the doctrines commonly termed Calvinistic, whether they be or be not the doctrines of
scriptural Christianity, may yet be so stated and explained, without any skilful or labored efforts, as to coincide with the strictest practical views of our holy religion; and so as greatly to encourage and promote genuine holiness, considered in its most expanded nature, and in its effects on all our tempers, affections, words, and actions, in relation to God and to all mankind.
3. In a day when these doctrines are not only proscribed in a most hostile manner on one side, but deplorably misunderstood and perverted by many on the other side; the author desired to add one more testimony against these misapprehensions and perversions, by showing in what a holy, guarded, and reverential manner, the divines of this reprobated Synod stated and explained these doctrines; compared with the superficial, incautious, and often unholy and presumptuous manner of too many in the present day. And if any individual, or a few individuals, should by this publication be induced to employ superior talents and advantages, in counteracting these unscriptural and pernicious statements, his labor will be amply compensated.
4. The author desired to make it manifest, that the deviations from the creeds of the reformed churches in those points which are more properly called Calvinistic, is seldom, for any length of time, kept separate from deviations in those doctrines, which are more generally allowed to be essential to vital Christianity. It must, indeed, appear from the history with which the work begins, that the progress is easy and almost unavoidable, from the controversial opposition to personal election, to the explaining away of original sin, regene. ration by the Holy Spirit, justification by faith alone, and even of the atonement and deity of Christ: and that the opponents of the Synod of Dort, and the Remonstrants in general, were far more favorable to Pelagians, nay, to Socinians, than to Calvinists; and were almost universally unsound, in what are commonly called orthodox doctrines, and many of them far
from conscientious in their conduct. Indeed, it will appear undeniable, that the opposition made to them by the ContraRemonstrants, was much more decidedly on these grounds, than because they opposed the doctrine of personal election, and the final perseverance of true believers as connected with it.
5. The author purposed also, by means of this publication to leave behind him, in print, his deliberate judgment on several controverted points, which must otherwise have died with him, or have been published separately, for which he had no inclination. But he has here grafted them as notes or remarks on the several parts of this work; and he trusts he has now done with all controversy.
It is doubtless vain to attempt any thing against many of those opponents, who succeed to each other, with sufficient variety, as to the grounds on which they take their stand, and from which they make the assault; but in some respects nearly in the same course of misapprehension, or misrepresentation, as to the real sentiments of those whom they undertake to refute. It suffices to say of them, "neither can they prove the things of which they accuse us :" and to say to them, "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." But indeed Calvinists seem to be no more considered as neighbors by many Anti Calvinists, than the Publicans, Samaritans, and Gentiles, were by the Scribes and Pharisees!
After all that has been published on these subjects, the groundless charges brought by many against the whole body, cannot be considered as excusable misapprehension. They must be either intentional misrepresentation, or the inexcusable presumption of writing on subjects which the writers have never studied, and against persons and description of persons of whose tenets, amidst most abundant means of information, they remain wilfully ignorant. A fair and impartial opponent is entitled to respect, but I can only pity such controversialists.