Acts of Synod of Dordrecht, Historical Foreword (conclusion)

(Connection: In the previous section, the Remonstrants were still trying to obstruct the convening of a National Synod, even after the States-General had decided it should be held in 1618. The Remonstrants sought a Provincial Synod in Holland—something which they formerly opposed. They tried to get an Ecumenical Synod. But the States-General continued to insist on a National Synod. The only thing accomplished by the Arminians was that this National Synod was again delayed for a few months. Meanwhile, in the various provinces, in some of which the ecclesiastical assemblies were badly rent, measures were taken to appoint delegates to the coming National Synod.) 

Meanwhile the States-General, after they had various times ordered especially those of Utrecht to dismiss those new Soldiers, or City-Militia, and seeing that it was also known that they had been engaged for the purpose of hindering by armed force the execution of the resolutions of the coming National Synod, in case perhaps the Remonstrants could not approve those resolutions, found it good to reject and to dismiss all these militia men, who were now some thousands in number. When his Excellency the Prince of Orange had accomplished this with unbelievable bravery, caution, dexterity, and skill, without any bloodshed, and had imprisoned the chiefest of them who had sought to oppose or to prevent this dismissal by force, then JohBnnes Uitenbogaard, Jacobus Taurinus, and Adolphus Venator, being aware of danger, forsaking their Churches, fled from the United Netherlands. A short time afterwards Nicolaus Grevincovius, having been cited by the Court of Holland to answer for the same thing, also fled. 

And when in South-Holland the particular Synod was gathered at Delft, in September, then many Remonstrants, despising the previous Resolution of the States, refused to delegate anyone to the Synod. Instead, by petition they besought the States of Holland and West-Friesland, September 13, that instead of the National Synod, which was already authorized, another gathering should be convened, according to the same twelve conditions which those who were cited proposed again a little later in the National Synod. The States, having heard the advice of the Synod of Delft concerning this request (which is also in these Acts), ordered that they should obey the appointed order and the command of the States, and besides, that they should fully declare their views concerning the articles presented in the year 16 13 at the Delft Conference, in writing, to the Synod of Delft, and along with this all their accusations against the Confession and the Catechism of these Churches. They delivered the declaration of their views concerning the aforementioned Articles; and this, having been translated into the Latin language by the delegates of this Synod, was shortly afterward forwarded to the National Synod. But instead of the accusations against the Confession and the Catechism, they sent certain things taken from the writings of some writers as being in conflict with the Confession and the Catechism. Johannes Uitenbogaard and Nicolaus Grevincovius were cited before this Synod; and when the one, being a fugitive, did not dare to appear, and the other stubbornly refused to appear, both of them, after the accusations brought against them had been heard and investigated, were deposed from ecclesiastical office by the sentence of the Synod. And because, besides these two, there were also many others, some of whom had been forced upon the Churches in the course of these disunities contrary to their desires and without lawful calling, some of whom had scattered abroad various Socinian errors in addition to the Five Articles, some of whom had grievously offended the Churches with evil and disorderly actions, and some of whom led an evil life, it was judged necessary that the Churches should be purged of these offenses, and the neglected discipline Cleri (as they say), that is, discipline of the ministry of the churches, should again be established, and all those irregular Ministers should be summoned to give account both of their calling, of their doctrine, and of their life. It was further judged that this must be done before the holding of the National Synod, in order that if anyone perhaps found himself aggrieved by the sentence of this Synod, he might appeal to the judgment of the National Synod. Among these there were some who appeared and who, after a proper investigation of their cases, were suspended from office, while others were immediately deposed, But of those who because of the brevity of the time could not be cited nor heard, or who, having been cited, did not appear, five Ministers were appointed, to whom the States added their Deputies, to take cognizance of and to judge their cases in the name of the Synod. These Deputies were expressly mandated that they should exercise no censure over anyone on account of their views of the Five Remonstrant Articles, seeing that the judgment of these must be entirely reserved for the National Synod. And although they partly suspended and partly immediately deposed many in various places on account of the aforesaid and very weighty reasons, even during the National Synod, they never exercised censure on anyone on account of his views of the Five Articles, as can be clearly proved from the minutes. 

In North-Holland they acted similarly in the Synod of Hoorn, in which the Ministers of Hoorn, Johannes Valesius, Johannes Rodingius, and Isaacus Welsingius, being suspended from the office of Minister, appealed to the National Synod. And when the Deputies of this Synod, together with the Commissioners of the States, investigated in the Classis of Alkmaar the case of Johannes Geystranus, Minister at Ahnaar, and of his brother Petrus Geystranus, Minister at Egmond, it was found that they were entirely committed to the blasphemous and accursed errors of Socinus, as appears from their confession, which, since it was to the horror of all openly read in the National Synod, is also included in these Acts. Also in the Synod of Overijsel some of the Remonstrants were ordered to give account of their doctrine and their actions. And seeing that among these there were also the four Ministers of the Church of Kampen, Thomas Goswinius, Assueris Matthisius, Johannes Schotlerus, and especially Emerardus Vosculius, who had been accused of many errors and of various disorderly actions, after the case was investigated it was decided to forward it to the National Synod; and accordingly it was brought to that Synod afterwards.

Meanwhile, the States-General, June 25, had sent letters to his Royal Majesty of Great Britain, James I, to the Deputies of the Reformed Churches of France, to the Illustrious Elector of the Palatinate and Brandenburg, to the most Illustrious Count of Hesse, to the four Reformed Republics of Switzerland (Zurich, Bern, Bazel, and Schaffhuizen), to the Dukes of the Wetterau, to the Republic of Geneva, of Bremen, and of Emden. In these letters they requested them to send to this Synod some of their Theologians who were outstanding in learning, Godliness, and wisdom, who with their counsel and judgment might diligently labor to still the differences which had arisen in these Netherlands Churches, along with the Delegates of the Netherlands Churches, and might again bring peace to those Churches. Then, when all of this was thoroughly arranged and accomplished, at the set time the Dele gates of the Netherlands Churches and also the foreign Theologians, with few exceptions, arrived at Dordrecht; and the National Synod was begun in the Name of the Lord on the 13th of November. What was treated in this Synod the understanding reader will learn in detail from the Acts and Proceedings of Synod, which have now been published for the benefit and advantage of the Reformed Churches. But it was thought good to add to these Acts, besides other documents submitted to this Synod, the opinions themselves of all the Theologians concerning the Five Articles of the Remonstrance as they were presented to the Synod in order that the Reformed Churches should more clearly understand upon what passages of Scripture and what reasons the Canons are based. There is no doubt but that the understanding reader will discover in these opinions an altogether wonderful and complete agreement. In case it might appear to anyone that in certain less important things a degree of diversity arose, then this will even be a proof that in this gathering there was the proper freedom of prophecy and of judgment, and that nevertheless they all together with united voice agreed in the doctrine which is expressed in the Canons of this Synod, which were subscribed to by everyone, not one being excepted or making objection, for a testimony of unity. 

Finally, all Reformed Churches are begged that they will embrace, preserve, advance, and pass on to their descendants this orthodox doctrine, so solemnly declared and established from God’s Word in this Synod, to the honor of God and to the comfort and salvation of souls. And at the same time they are asked to hold in esteem the Godly and never sufficiently praised zeal and diligence of the States-General of the United Netherlands for the preservation of the purity and soundness of the Reformed Religion, as well as the labor and blessedness of so many outstanding teachers of the Churches who were present at this Synod to stand for this doctrine and be favorable toward it. And above all they are asked earnestly to pray the good and almighty God that He should from now on mercifully preserve the Netherlands Churches, and also all others who with them confess the same sound doctrine, in unity of the faith, of peace, and of rest, and that He will impart to the Remonstrants themselves, yea, and to all others who are in error, better senses and understanding, and, by the grace of His Spirit, bring them at last to the knowledge of the truth, to the honor of His Divine Name, to the edification of the Churches, and to the salvation of us all, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to Whom the Father and the Holy Ghost, the One true and immortal God, be praise, honor, and glory, forever. Amen.