To this the States-General declared that this clause must not be understood as if by it they wanted something in the doctrine of these Churches changes, seeing that review does not always bring with it change, but can also imply establishment of the doctrine. But even so, they declared that the clause could not be left out without the preceding judgment of this Province, which had expressly added it. Accordingly, on March 15, 1606, they gave to the Deputies of the Churches letters of consent in which this clause was also included. And the Deputies sent these letters to the Churches of the respective Provinces, at the same time informing them how diligently they had attempted to have this clause omitted. The Netherlands Churches, having received these letters, were indeed happy that after so many years of waiting consent had finally been won for the convening of a National Synod; but they were nonetheless not a little offended by this clause. The problem was not that they did not desire that the Confession and the Catechism should be revised at the National Synod in the ordinary and proper manner, but rather that they feared that those persons who were attempting to get changes in doctrine would thereby be emboldened, just as though by this clause they were allowed, by the public authority of the States, to upset and to change everything as they pleased, and as though these disputings and differences had come forth not out of curiosity, but out of a desire to fulfill the will of the States. The States-General also let it be known in these letters, that they deemed it good that some learned and peaceable Theologians from every Province. should be called together, in order that they might take counsel with them concerning the time, place, and manner of holding the National Synod. Matters standing thus, the annual Synod of the Churches of Holland was held at Gorinchem, in August, 1606. At that Synod; after the Deputies of the Churches had reported what they had done in the matter of the National Synod, and what the States had decided, they saw fit to instruct the Deputies diligently to persist in seeking the convening of a National Synod. And although the Synod judged that the Confession and the Catechism could be properly reviewed in the National Synod according to the normal procedure for such matters, nevertheless they wanted those who would be called together by the States of Holland from South Holland to the meeting at which they would deal with the time, place, and manner of holding the National Synod to be instructed to seek from the States-General, in the name of these Churches, that the aforementioned clause, for the reasons already cited, should be omitted from the letters of authorization, and that in the place of that clause some softer words, which would occasion less offense, should be used.
At the same Synod, the demand was made of all Ministers of the South Holland Churches and all Professors of Sacred Theology in the Academy of Leiden that they should immediately make known their suspicions and their insights against the doctrine contained in the Confession and the Catechism. For Arminius and the Ministers siding with him frequently tried to boast that they had very many such reservations. The Ministers were to do this in their Classis, and the Professors to the Deputies of the Churches. The purpose was that these objections might be brought lawfully to the National Synod, in so far as they could not be dealt with in the Classis. When this was placed before the Ministers who adhered to Arminius, they refused to present their reservations in the Classis. They claimed that they were not yet ready to do so. But they promised that they would do so at the right place and at the proper time. Arminius, who was also admonished about this by the Deputies of the Churches, replied that this could not take place at that time in an edifying manner, but that he would reveal them in full at the National Synod.
Not long after this, May 23, 1606, the States-General called together certain Theologians from every Province, namely: Johannes Leo, Johannes Fontanus, from Gelderland; Franciscus Gomams, Jacobus Arminius, Johannes Uitenbogaard, and Johannes Becius, from South Holland; Werner Helmichius and Gerardus Hermannus, from North Holland; Hermannus Faukelius and Henricus Brandius, from Zeeland; Everardus Botius and Henricus Johannes, from. the Province of Utrecht; Sybrandus Lubbertus and Johannes Bogerman, from Friesland; Thomas Goswynius from Overijsel; Johannes Acronius and Johannes Nicafius, from the city of Groningen and Ommelanden, in order to obtain their advice concerning the time, place, and manner of the holding of the National Synod. The States-General presented to them various items which were to be treated at this gathering. As far as the time was concerned, it was declared unanimously that it was necessary that the Synod should be convened immediately at the beginning of the coming summer, in the year 1608. Concerning the place, they declared that the most suitable place to hold the Synod would be in the city of Utrecht. And concerning the manner, they declared:
1. That the objections which would be treated at the Synod should be brought by every Provincial Synod to the National Synod;
2. That from every particular Synod, by vote of the same, four ministers and two elders should be delegated; but that in place of the elders they might also delegate men of singular learning, experienced in Theological matters, and of pious testimony, even though they were not serving in any ecclesiastical office;
3. That these Delegates would be given power not only to deliberate but also to make decisions and to give decrees in all matters treated at the Synod;
4. That the rule according to which judgment would be made in all differences concerning doctrine and morals would be the only Word of God, or the Holy Scripture;
5. That not only the Churches in the United Netherlands, namely, those of Dutch and of French language, but also those Churches of the Netherlands which are scattered outside of the Netherlands, whether under the cross or elsewhere, would be accredited to the National Synod;
6. That they should request the States-General to send their commissioners, men making confession of the Reformed Religion, to the Synod, and that these commissioners would preside over the order in the name of the States-General;
7. That also the Professors of Sacred Theology should be called to the Synod.
In all of these points they were agreed, but not in certain others. For Arminius, Uitenbogaard, and the two Delegates from Utrecht whom they had attracted to their side had pressed for these three items over against the others:
1. That for a decision and judgment of the Synod should be counted not that which was approved by the majority vote of those who were delegated to the Synod, but that which would be decided by the votes of all delegated Ministers; and that by the name of Synod not only those delegated were to be understood, but also all the delegating ones themselves;
2. That the Delegates would always be free, as often as they pleased, and if they would find themselves aggrieved in any matter, to leave freely for the purpose of asking advice;
3. That the revision of the Confession and of the Netherlands Catechism was completely necessary, and that on this account they saw no reason why the clause concerning revision of those documents should not be placed in the letters of authorization.
The other Ministers and Professors judged:
1. That for anything to be counted as a decided opinion of the Synod that which would be decided either by unanimous vote or by the vote of the majority of the Delegates to the Synod would be counted. Further, that by the name of Synod were to be understood only those who, being lawfully delegated with power to decide, were gathered together;
2. That it would indeed be permitted freely to take time off to consult with one’s own people, but nevertheless thus, that the proceedings of the Synod were not to be disrupted, but that when, how, and for what reasons one should be excused should not be according to the whim of every individual Delegate, but according to the judgment of the whole Synod;
3. That the Confession and Netherlands Catechism might well be reviewed in so far as the Synod for proper reasons judged it necessary; that everyone would also be free to present to the Synod whatever he might think to have against those documents, so that the Synod might consider the same and pass judgment; but since the clause concerning revision, if it would be placed in the letters of authorization, would give to one an offense and to others too great a freedom to bring up all kinds of innovations, they judged that it was proper to request the States-General that for the peace of the Churches, this clause should be omitted in the letters of authorization; and instead, that these or similar words should be proposed, namely that the Synod is convened for the establishment, agreement, and furtherance of the pure and sound doctrine, for the preservation of peace and good order in the Church, and finally for the provision of the true religion among the inhabitants of these lands.