תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

SECTION II.

CHAPTER III.

CONCERNING TAE ARMINIAN CHURCH.

THERE sprung forth from the bosom of the reformed church, during this century, two new sects, whose birth and progress were, for a long time, the oleme mimapainful and perplexing to the parent that bore ninne, whence. them. These sects were the Arminians and Quakers, whose origin was owing to very different principles; since the former derived its existence from an excessive propensity to improve the faculty of reason, and to follow its dictates and discoveries; while the latter sprung up, like a rank weed, from the neglect and contempt of human reason. The Arminians derive their name and their origin from James Arminius, or Harmensen, who was first pastor at Amsterdam, afterward professor of divinity at Leyden, and who attracted the esteem and applause of his very enemies, by his acknowledged candour, penetration, and piety. They received also the denomination of Remonstrants, from an humble petition, entitled, their Remonstrances, which they addressed, in the year 1610, to the states of Holland, and as the patrons of Calvinism presented an address, in opposition to this, which they called

a The most ample account we have of this eminent man is given by Brandt, in his Historia Vitæ Jac. Arminii, published at Leyden in 8vo. in 1724, and the year after by me at Brunswick, with an additional Preface and some Annotations. See also Nouveau Dictionaire Histor, et Critique, tom. I. p. 471. All the works of Arminius are comprised in one moderate quarto volume. The edition I have now before me was printed at Francfort, in the year 1634. They who would form a just and accurate notion of the temper, genius, and doctrine of this divine, will do well to peruse, with particular attention, that part of his works that is known under the title of his Dispreiationes publicæ et private. There is, in his manner of reasoning, and also in his phraseology, some little remains of the scholastic jargon of that age ; but we find nevertheless in his writings, upon the whole, much of that simplicity and perspicuity which his followers have always looked upon, and still consider, as among the principal qualities of a Christian minister. For an account of the Arminian confession of faith, and the historical writers who have treated of this sect, seo Jo. Christ. Koecherus, Biblioth, Theol. Symbolica', p. 491.

mencement of Arminianism

their Counter Remonstrances, so did they, in consequence thereof, receive the name of Counter Remonstrants. II. Arminius, though he had imbibed in his tender years

the doctrines of Geneva, and had even received Thement on his theological education in the university of that

city, yet rejected, when he arrived at the age of manhood, the sentiments concerning predestination and the divine decrees, that are adopted by the greatest part of the reformed churches, and embraced the principles and communion of those, whose religious system extends the love of the Supreme Being, and the merits of Jesus Christ, to all mankind. As time and deep meditation had only served to confirm him in these principles, he thought himself obliged, by the dictates both of candour and eonscience, to profess

them publicly,when he had obtained the chair of divinity in the university of Leyden, and to oppose the doctrine and sentiments of Calvin on these heads, which had been followed by the greatest part of the Dutch clergy. Two considerations encouraged him, in a particular manrier, to venture upon this open declaration of his sentiments; for he was persuaded, on the one hand, that there were many persons, beside himself, and, among these, some of the first rank and dignity, that were highly disgusted at the doctrine of absolute decrees; and, on the. other, he knew that the Belgic doctors were neither obliged by their confession of faith, nor by any other public law, to adopt and propagate the principles of Calvin. Thus animated and encouraged, Arminius taught his sentiments publicly, with great freedom and equal success, and persuaded many of the truth of his doctrine; but as Calvinism was at this time in a flourishing state in Holland, this freedom procured him a multitude of enemies, and drew upon him the severest marks of disapprobation and resentment from those that adhered to the theological system of Geneva, and more especially from Francis Gomar, his colleague. Thus commenced that long, tedious, and intricate controversy that afterward made such a noise in Europe. Arminius died in the year 1609, when it was just

b Bertius, in his Funeral Oralion on Arminius, Brandt, in his History of his Life, p. 22, and almost all the ecclesiastical historians of this period, mention the occasion of this change in the sentiments of Arminius. It happened in the year 1591, as appears from the remarkable letter of Arminius to Grynæus, which bears date that same year, and in which the former proposes to the latter some of his theological doubts. This later is published in the Biblioth. Brem. Theol. Philolog. tom. iii. p. 384.

beginning to involve his country in contention and discord.

III. After the death of Arminius, the combat seemed to be carried on, during some years, between the the progress on contending parties, with equal success; so that Arminianisın. it was not easy to foresee which side would gain the ascendant. The demands of the Arminians were moderate ; they required no more than a bare toleration for their religious sentiments; and some of the first men in the republic, such as Oldenbarneveldt, Grotius, Hoogerbeets, and several others, looked upon these demands as reasonable and just. It was the opinion of these great men, that as the points in debate had not been determined by the Belgic Confession of Faith, every individual had an unquestionable right to judge for himself; and that more especially in a free state, which had thrown off the yoke of spiritual despotism and civil tyranny. In consequence of this persuasion, they used their utmost efforts to accommodate matters, and left no methods unemployed to engage

the Calvinists to treat with Christian moderation and forbearance their dissenting brethren. These efforts were at first attended with some prospect of success. Maurice, prince of Orange, and the princess dowager his mother, countenanced these pacific measures, though the former became afterward one of the warmest adversaries of the Arminians. Hence a conference was held, in the year 1611, at the Hague, between the contending parties; another at Delft, in the year 1613; and hence also that pacific edict issued out in 1614, by the states of Holland, to exhort them to charity and mutual forbearance ; not to mention a number of expedients applied in vain to pre

c The history of this controversy, and of the public discords and tumults it occasioned, is more circumstantially related by Brandt, in the second and third volumes, of his History of the Reformation, than by any other writer. This excelleut history is written in Dutch ; but there is an abridgment of it in French, in three volumes, 8vo. which has been translated into English. Add to this, Uytenbogard's Ecclesiastical History, written also in Dutch. Limborchi Historia vitæ Episcopii. The Epistolæ Clarorum Virorum, published by Limborch. Those who desire a more concise view of this contest will find it in Limborch's Relatio Historica de origine et progressu Controversiarurn in Fæderato Belgio de Prædestinatione et capitibus annexis,' which is subjoined to the latter editions of his Theologia Christinna, or Body of Divinity. It is true, all these are Arminians, and, as impartiality requires our hearing both sides, the reader may consult Trigland's Ecclesiustical History, composed likewise in Dutch, and a prodigious number of polemical writings published against the Arminians.

Do This toleration was offered them in the conference held at the Hague, in the year 1611, provided they would renounce the errors of Socinianism. See Trigland, loc. cit. See also Henry Brandt's Collatio scripto habita Hasacomitum, printed at Zen riczee, in 1715. VOL. I.

17

vent the schism that threatened the church. But these measures confirmed, instead of removing, the apprehensions of the Calvinists; from day to day they were still more firmly persuaded, that the Arminians aimed at nothing less than the ruin of all religion; and hence they censured their magistrates with great warmth and freedom, for interposing their authority to promote peace and union with such adversaries. And those, who are well informed and impartial, must candidly acknowledge, that the Arminians were far from being sufficiently cautious in avoiding connexions with persons of loose principles; and that by frequenting the company of those, whose sentiments were entirely different from the received doctrines of the reformed church, they furnished their enemies with a pretext for suspecting their own principles, and presenting their theological system in the worst colours. iv. It is worthy of observation, that this unhappy con

troversy, which assumed another form, and was ticles of Ar- rendered more comprehensive by new subjects of

contention, after the synod of Dort, was at this time confined to the doctrines relating to predestination and grace.

T'he sentiments of the Arminians concerning these intricate points, were comprehended in five articles. They held,

“1. That God, from all eternity, determined to bestow salvation on those whom he foresaw would persevere unto the end in their faith in Christ Jesus ; and to inflict everlasting punishments on those who should continue in their unbelief, and resist, unto the end, his divine succours.

“2. That Jesus Christ, by his death and sufferings, made an atonement for the sins of all mankind in general, and of every individual in particular; that, however, none but those who believe in him can be partakers of their divine benefit.

The five ar

minianism.

e The writers who have given accounts of these transactions are well known; we shall only mention the first and second volumes of the Histoire de Louis XIII. by Le Vassor, who treats largely and accurately of these religious commotions, and of the civil transactions that were connected with them.

f The conduct of the states of Holland, who employed not only the language of persuasion, but also the voice of authority, in order to calm these commotions, and restore peace in the church, was defended, with his usual learning and eloquence, by Grotius, in two treatises. The one, which contains the general principles on which this defence is founded, is entitled De jure summarum potestatum circa sacra ; the other, in which these principles are peculiarly applied in justifying the conduct of the states, was published in the year 1613, under the following title ; Ordinum Hollandiæ ac Westfrisia Pietas a multorum calumniis vindicata.

“3. That true faith cannot proceed from the exercise of our natural faculties and powers, nor 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 disorder 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 ineffectual 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 seduction of Satan, and the allurements of sin and temptation; but that the question, Whether such mayfall 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 examined 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 afterward 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.

If we are to judge of men's sentiments by their words and declarations, the tenets of the Arminians, at the period of time now under consideration, bear a manifest resemblance of the Lutheran system. But the Calvinists did not judge in this manner; on the contrary, they explained the words and declarations of the Arminians according to the notions they had formed of their hidden sentiments; and, instead of judging of their opinions by their expressions,

g The history of the five articles, and more particularly of their reception and progress in England, has been written by Dr. Heylin, whose book was translated into Dutch by the learned and eloquent Brandt, and published at Rotterdam in the year

« הקודםהמשך »