(Connection: In the last installment we saw the conflict become more intense. In some parts of the country actual separation began to take place, and even the formation of so-called “nood-gemeenten” (emergency congregations). Meanwhile, Simon Episcopius, on advice of the Remonstrants, was called to the Academy of Leiden. Again pleas were made to the States-General to authorize a National Synod; but this was prevented through the influence of. the Remonstrants. The latter continued to make open and shameful propaganda, to the grief and injury of the churches.)
Especially the Illustrious Count of Nassau, Willem Lodewijk, Governor of Friesland, in harmony with his outstanding love toward the Churches and toward the Republic, admonished in particular Uitenbogaard, on the one side, and Festus Hommius, on the other side, that seeing that the condition of the Republic itself was severely upset by these ecclesiastical disputes, they should in friendly and brotherly fashion consider whether no honorable means could be found whereby this grievous dispute might be quieted and unity might be attained. Festus declared that if the Remonstrants did not differ from the other Ministers in any other articles than in those five (concerning predestination and the related points), he believed that a way could be found whereby a certain peace might be established between the parties until the entire controversy might be resolved in a National Synod. But seeing that there were weighty reasons why the Churches believed that many Remonstrants diverged in almost all of the more important doctrines from the adopted doctrines of the Netherlands Churches, and seeing that they ought not to tolerate or to allow that under cover of these five articles very grievous errors would be introduced into the Churches, he believed that there appeared to be no hope to achieve peace with the Remonstrants unless they would uprightly declare that they, with the exception of these five articles, were of one mind with the Reformed Netherlands Churches in all other points of doctrine. Uitenbogaard, when questioned about this, answered that as far as he was concerned, he had nothing else than those five articles wherein he differed, and that he would be prepared always to declare his views concerning the other points. Also, he did not doubt but that many Remonstrants would do the same thing. And further, he wished nothing so much as that for that reason a conference would be held between certain Ministers who were moderate in their feelings. And when he had renewed the same declaration at Leiden, and particularly to Festus, they agreed that they would both, each with his own people, bring it about that three Ministers from each side might be delegated. These Ministers would come together with one another in a friendly way, in order seriously to consider together a proper way of peace; and thereafter this would be submitted to the Churches for their approval. The States of Holland, understanding that this was being taken under advisement in secret, praised this their intention, and publicly ordered that this conference should be held at once.
Shortly thereafter, February 27, they came together for this purpose in the city of Delft. From the side of the Remonstrants, there were Johannes Uitenbogaard, Adrianus Borrius, and Nicolaus Grevinchovius. From the side of the other Ministers, Johannes Becius, Johannes Bogardus, and Festus Hommius. First the States admonished them through their Deputies that they should put aside all secret hatred and evil passions, and should exert all the power of their understanding, in order that they might find some proper way of peace; and they declared how pleasing this would be to God, to the Churches, and all the pious, and .especially to the States. Then all the individual Ministers also testified that they had come with a peace-seeking intention and would do all that was in their power to make peace. Thereupon a friendly conference was held between them. In this conference the Remonstrants declared that they could point to no other way to peace than the way of mutual tolerance (as they called it), to wit, that every party should be allowed openly to teach his views concerning those Five Articles in the churches; and they requested of the other Ministers that they would declare whether they considered their views, expressed in the Five Articles, to be in that manner allowable and tolerable. If they held them to be insufferable, then it was not necessary further to take under advisement anything concerning the way to peace. For, according to their judgment, there was then no way to peace left. The other Ministers judged that the surest and most proper way to peace, seeing. that on both sides they were Ministers of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands and wanted to be counted as such, was that each party would subject their case to the lawful judgment of the Netherlands Churches; to that end they should labor earnestly and uprightly that, through the authority of the States-General, the National Synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands should be authorized to meet as soon as possible, if possible in the coming summer. At that, Synod the entire matter should be lawfully investigated and considered; and either it should be determined which of the two views ought from then on to be taught in the churches as being in accord with God’s Word, or it should be determined whether the so-called way of tolerance, with the united advice of all the Churches, might be followed as being according to the Word of God. They declared, moreover, that they were ready to submit themselves to, the judgment of this Synod, and that, if the Remonstrants were willing to do the same, in this manner peace might be established. But they declared that tolerance, which would be limited by various conditions, however much they had exercised it to this time, and however much they appeared still to desire it, could not serve to the peace and edification of the Churches. But if they, nevertheless, were willing to limit the way of tolerance by honorable conditions, they declared that they were prepared to confer with the Remonstrants about these conditions, provided the Remonstrants were willing first by forthright declaration to assure the churches that, except for those Five Articles, they would hold views other than those of these Reformed Churches in no other point of doctrine. They pointed out that for two years now, December 3, 1611, the States had expressed by name six points of doctrine concerning which they forbade to teach differently than until this time had been taught in the Netherlands Churches, namely: concerning the complete satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ for our sins, concerning the justification of man before God, concerning saving faith, concerning original sin, concerning the certainly of salvation, and concerning the perfection of man in this life. Therefore they requested especially that the Remonstrants be willing to declare that they supported the views of these points of doctrine expressed in the Confession and the Catechism of these Churches, which they had summarized in certain articles out of those documents, and that they rejected the contrary views in certain contra-articles from the writings of Arminius, Bertius, Vorstius, Venator, and others. Over against this, the Remonstrants said that they could not see how these differences could be settled by a National Synod, and that on this account they could not consent in this situation to the authorizing of such a synod, nor request it. Further, they declared that this matter could not be helped by synodical decisions, and that they did not believe that the Province of Holland; in the matter of Religion, would be subject to the decisions of other Provinces. As far as the declaration which was demanded was concerned, they declared that they would take counsel about that with the other Remonstrants. And when they had briefly summarized in writing the views of both sides, they separated from one another with nothing accomplished.
After this the States summoned Uitenbogaard and Festus, in order to learn from them what hope of peace and unity there was. Festus forthrightly told them what had taken place and declared that there was hope if the Remonstrants were willing straightforwardly to declare their views concerning the articles which had previously been delivered to the States. Uitenbogaard had deceitfully taken care that he would be heard only in the absence of Festus, in order that he might more freely present that which he thought would serve his purpose. And, after he had at length censured the dealings of the other Ministers, as though by their demand of a declaration (which he had nevertheless promised before the Conference) they sought to introduce a new and entirely intolerable inquisition, he managed to have them forbidden to exact from the Remonstrants any more the aforesaid declaration. In addition, they were at once ordered that they should declare in writing more broadly their advice concerning the best way of peace and concerning the conditions with which they believed toleration should be limited. When this had been done by them, and when at the same time they had shown that the proposed articles concerning which the declaration had been desired stood in so many words in the Confession and the Catechism of the Netherlands Churches and that the contra-articles were to be found in public documents with many with whom the Remonstrants had great fellowship in these lands, and after this their writing had been openly read, then the Remonstrants brought it about through the Advocate that it was strictly forbidden that this should be passed on to any man either in print or in handwriting. And since they saw that the Deputies of the Churches or Synods, to whom the common care of the Churches was committed, through their labors (as was in harmony with their office) were much in the way, therefore they also brought it about, even as previously all annual Synods had been forbidden, that it was forbidden from now on that anyone should use the name of Deputies of the Churches or of the Synod, or should serve in such an office. Their purpose was to take away all care for the welfare and the peace of the Churches, and thus to be all the more free to rage against them. Through this conduct the Remonstrants made themselves more and more suspect with the Churches, since all those with understanding judged that if they did not differ from the Churches in these points of doctrine, they would have no reason to avoid this declaration, seeing that this would tend in particular to the advancement of the peace of the Churches and to the benefit of their name and fame.