(Connection: In the preceding section we saw Gomarus, accompanied by several of his fellow ministers, debating against Arminius, accompanied by several of his fellows. The subject was the various points of doctrine about which they disagreed. The conference was held in the presence of the States. At the conclusion of the conference, the States promised to convene a Provincial Synod; but to this promise conditions were attached with which the Reformed ministers could not comply. They also ordered both parties to submit their views in writing. Arminius, however, died without having prepared his document, October 19, 1609. When the convening of a synod had been made impossible again, the Arminians became bolder in their attempts to undermine the Reformed faith. In 1610 they met secretly and without authorization from their churches and drew up the Remonstrance, which included their own doctrinal beliefs, the infamous Five Points of the Remonstrants. This Remonstrance was addressed to the States. Until the time of the Hague Conference, however, no one was able to obtain a copy of this Remonstrance and to answer its slanders. Affairs had reached a low point for the Reformed party.)
Along with this trouble and misery of the Churches, there came yet another, which increased the anxiety and the difficulties above measure. For when they sought a person who might be called to the Theological Ministry in the place of Jacobus Arminius, the Deputies of the Churches earnestly and in the public name of the Churches petitioned and begged the Curators of the Academy of Leiden that they would at least put in his place a person who was free from all suspicion of wrong doctrine, in order that through this means the differences of the Academy of Leiden might in due course end, and peace might be returned to the Churches. To this end, they recommended certain excellent Theologians, both foreign and Dutch, but in vain. For the Remonstrants, who seemed to have won the hearts of some beforehand, brought it about through their recommendations that Conradus Vorstius, Professor at Steinfort (a person who for years was justly suspected of Socinianism by the Reformed Churches) was called to the Theological Ministry in the place of Arminius; and to that end Uitenbogaard was sent to Steinfort. The Deputies of the Churches, understanding this, judged it to be their solemn duty to admonish the States that such a person would be like a nail in the wound, especially seeing that the affairs of the Church were in a state of confusion, and that he should not thoughtlessly be admitted to this ministry. In order to do this more fruitfully, they requested through letters that the Theological Faculty of Heidelberg, to whom this Vorstius was very well known, would forthrightly declare whether they judged that this Vorstius might, in this situation, be placed in charge of the youth in the Academy of Leiden, to instruct them, with fruit, peace, and edification of the Churches. They also answered, August 26, that a certain book concerning God and concerning the divine attributes had just been published by him, and that in this book he cast aside the doctrine of ancient and more recent Theologians and taught that God, according to His Being, had quantity, size, and finiteness, and that He was composed of Being and incidental matters, that according to His will He was changeable, that He was subject to a passive power, and other monstrous views. Further, they stated that ten years before this he had been sent to Heidelberg in order to purge himself of Socinianism, of which the Churches already at that time accused him, before the Theological Faculty, where Dr. Pezelius also was present. They stated, further, that he had at last purged himself, leaving behind a manuscript; but that he had not confirmed that purging, but, on the contrary, often and in many ways had made himself suspect; that he had a nest full of monstrous ideas in his head, with which he had until now corrupted the school and the youth of Steinfort. And they stated that if a person who was under such suspicion as to doctrine would be called to the renowned Academy of Leiden, it would be nothing else than trying to put out the fire with oil. When both the Deputies of the Churches and the esteemed Magistrates of the chief cities of Holland, namely, those of Dordrecht and of Amsterdam, informed the Curators and also the States of these things and petitioned them not to increase the difficulties of the Churches and put them in danger of new and greater disturbances by calling such a person, the Remonstrants, October 18, clung with might and main to their position, that they would not turn aside from this intended call. Meanwhile, Vorstius came to Holland; and, after he had been heard in the assembly of the States (no one else of the Ministers being present except Uitenbogaard), he went back to Steinfort.
About this time, when some students of Sacred Theology who had been called to the ministry of the Word were to be examined in various Classes, August 22, September 22, the Remonstrants brought it about that the Classes were ordered by the Commissioned Advisers of the States that, with respect to the Article concerning predestination and what is connected with it, they were to require of no one a further explanation beside that in the Five Articles of the Remonstrance. At the same time the Five Articles of the Remonstrance were delivered to the Classes. Besides, it was also forbidden that anyone should be barred from the service of the Church who declared himself in agreement with the Remonstrants with respect to the aforesaid Articles. Because the Ministers, for many reasons, objected against consenting to this, the Deputies of the Churches at their request presented their objections concerning this at the next: gathering of the States of Holland and West-Friesland. At the same time they declared that they were ready to show in a lawful Synod that these Articles of the Remonstrance were in conflict with God’s Word and also with the Confession and the Catechism of the Netherlands Churches. They further requested the States that they would not in this manner force these unsound articles, which had never been ,properly investigated in any lawful assembly of these churches; upon the churches,, but that they rather would convene a Provincial Synod, something which had so frequently been requested and for so long a time had been desired, in which the Articles, according to the rule of God’s Word, might first be lawfully investigated. They also pointed out with what great offense and damage to the churches the intended calling of Vorstius would be mixed, and on this account they petitioned that this call might be prevented by the authority of the States. When this matter was taken under advisement, it was decided that at the next following fathering of the States in the Hague, before the gathering of the States themselves, a Conference would be held concerning the Five Articles of the Remonstrance between six Ministers chosen from each side. The Remonstrants chose for themselves Johan,nes Uitenbogaard, Minister in the Hague; Adriannus Borrius, and Johannes Arnoldi Corvinus, of Leiden; Nicolaus Grevinchovius of Rotterdam; Eduard Poppius, of Gouda; and Simon Episcopius of Bleiswijk. The Ministers on the other side had, through the Deputies of every Classis, chosen Petrus Plancius, Minister at Amsterdam; Johannes Becius of Dordrecht; Libertus Fraxinus, of den Briel; Roardus Acronius, of Schiedam; Johannes Bogardus, of Haarlem; and Festus Hommius, of Leiden.
When they came together, on March 11, 1611, the Remonstrants refused to enter into conference with the other six Ministers in the capacity of Deputies of the Classes of Holland and West-Friesland, such as they showed themselves to be by their credentials, in order that they should not seem to be parties of the Churches. Indeed, they. protested that they would rather leave with matters unfinished if they would not relinquish this capacity. When there had been a long debate about this, the other Ministers preferred to give way before this importunity, rather than to wrangle about this any longer. And those who had been delegated from the Classes, before they entered into Conference, requested of the States that the promise made to the Churches two years earlier at the time of the Conference between Arminius and Gomarus (August 18, to wit, that the judgment of this case, when the Conference was finished, would be left to the Provincial or National Synod, and that the States would reserve judgment) might here also be renewed. As far as procedure was concerned, they would follow this order, that the parties on both sides would put the proofs of their views in writing, and thereafter would hold an oral Conference about them. Before they turned to the investigation of the Articles, the Ministers who, as before stated, had been delegated by the Classes furnished an answer against the Remonstrance of the Remonstrants, a copy of which they had at last obtained only a short time before the Conference. In this answer they demonstrated that the Remonstrants had presented the views of the Reformed Churches in a bad light and that they had slanderously fabricated many things against those views; they also showed that the Remonstrants had not forthrightly revealed their own views, nor presented all the Articles concerning which there were differences. And since there were more main points of disagreement than those declared in the Five Articles, they humbly petitioned that by the authority of the States the Remonstrants would be ordered to reveal themselves clearly and forthrightly also concerning all the remaining points. Accordingly, when they were to investigate the first Article of the Remonstrance, in which it is set forth that God from eternity has decided to save the persevering believer (which no Christian denies), and when this Article was presented as though it embodied the doctrine of God’s eternal election, the Remonstrants were requested that, for the clarification of their views expressed in this Article, they should declare two things more precisely: first, whether they held that this Article comprehended the entire decree of Predestination; second, whether they believed that faith and perseverance in faith are causes or conditions which precede election unto salvation, or whether they are fruits which come forth from election and follow upon the same. After they had for some time sought excuses, they finally answered. To the first question, they answered that they acknowledged no other predestination to salvation than that which was expressed in the first Article. To the second, they answered that faith, in the consideration and view of God, precedes election to salvation, and does not follow it as a fruit. Thereupon they presented in return seven other questions, both about election and about reprobation, to which they desired that the Ministers delegated from the Classes should answer. Since these questions did not belong to the point of difference concerning the first Article, and since many of them were also unnecessary and very involved, and were presented by the Remonstrants for the very purpose of leading the discussion off into tangents, away from the chief point of difference, therefore the Ministers by request demonstrated to the States this improper manner of dealing. They did not request, however, that they should not reveal their views concerning reprobation (as the Remonstrants frequently falsely accused them); but they clearly declared their views in so far as they held to be sufficient for the peace and edification of the Churches, not only orally but also in writing. They declared that, when they posited an eternal decree of election of particular persons, they also at once posited an eternal decree of reprobation and passing by of some particular persons, seeing that it cannot be that there should be an election without there also being at once a reprobation or passing by. They declared, further, that recklessly to investigate all difficult questions concerning this Article would do nothing else than fill the Church with useless disputes and strivings which serve no good purpose, and would disturb the peace of the churches. Further, they declared that this their explanation, expressed in their Petition, ought to be sufficient for every temperate and peace loving mind, namely, that they believe and teach that God condemns no one, yea, has also decided to condemn no one, except justly on account of his own sins. Accordingly, it pleased the States that, putting those thorny questions aside, they should turn to the treatment of the Articles. The Ministers delegated by the Churches presented by document their reasons why they rejected each Article in particular. The Remonstrants also posited over against these and presented by document their proofs by which they intended to establish every Article. Concerning these reasons and arguments they debated orally in the gathering of the States. Festus Hommius spoke for the one side, in the name of the Ministers delegated by the Churches; and on the other side, in the name of the RenBnstrants, first Adrianus Borrius spoke, and thereafter by turn, Nicolaus Grevinchovius, Johannes Arnoldi, and Simon Episcopius.