Connection: In the preceding section we saw: 1) That Conrad Vorstius, the Socinian nominee to replace Arminius at Leiden, returned to the Netherlands. 2) That King James I, of Great Britain, strongly warned against Vorstius. 3) That the Curators of the Academy were ordered not to proceed with the call of Vorstius. 4) That the Hague Conference resulted in no solution to the problems in the churches.)
Meanwhile, the disunity, uproar, and disturbances in the Churches sadly increased more and more everywhere. For the Remonstrants did their very best, by inciting the Magistrates against them by false accusations, to see to it that especially the Ministers who opposed their purposes not only were driven out of their ministry, but also were driven out of the cities themselves. And everywhere in the Churches which were not supplied with Ministers, such men were forced upon them, even against the desire of the Churches, who were besmirched with their Arminian views. They did this by every means possible and wherever they could, excluding all other ministers, even though they were gifted with learning, godliness, and the necessary gifts for the ministry, and even though they were lawfully desired and called by the Churches. This was the reason why the right-minded Churches, with respect to those who either had oppressed and driven out their innocent fellow ministers contrary to all justice and propriety, or who had been forced upon them against their desire and who daily with bitter and venomous sermons very grievously violated the doctrine of the Reformed Churches, could not acknowledge them as their lawful Pastors, could not listen to their sermons, and could not celebrate the Lord’s Supper with them. Rather, they went to hear the sermons of sound Pastors in neighboring places, although on this account they had to suffer many reproaches and accusations and mockery. These were the beginnings and the occasions of separations. The first among all the churches which was compelled to make such a separation was the Church of Alkmaar. For Adolphus Venator, the Minister there, was suspended from his ministry by the North-Holland Churches on account of his unsound life and thoroughly unsound doctrine. But he, appealing to the Magistrate there and despising ecclesiastical censures, nevertheless continued in the office of Minister. Then, when there was a change of Magistrates, as that happened ordinarily every year, and when men were lawfully chosen who did not appear to be very favorable toward his cause and on whose protection he might no longer depend, this Venator incited the common people against the lawful Authority and brought it about that they rebelliously took up arms and were not satisfied until they had deposed the lawful Magistracy and replaced them by others who were alien to the Reformed religion and who sided with the cause of Venator. These, as soon as they were established in the government of the City, through the instigation of Venator, first forced the elders and deacons to lay down their office; then they did the same thing to the two Ministers because they had taken position against the errors of Venator. .And when the Ministers had been deposed from their office, they were scandalously driven out of the city. The one was PieterCornelissen, who had been minister for some fifty years with great edification; and the other was Cornelius Hillenius, a bright and pious man, both of them earnest defenders of the pure doctrine.
Next it became necessary for the Church of Rotterdam to imitate this separation. For Nicolaus Grevinchovius, seeing that his fellow minister, Cornelius Geselius, a man of singular godliness, uprightness, and propriety, was very .pleasing to the Church of Rotterdam and opposed to him in his intention to introduce the doctrine of the Remonstrance, brought it about through the Magistrates of that place, first; that he was deposed from his ministry, and then that he was led out of the city by the city-agents. Also the Ministers of the Classis of Rotterdam who were devoted to purity of doctrine refused to hold Classical gatherings with this Grevinchovius and with others whom he had brought to the views of the Remonstrants. This took place after Grevinchovius, by the authority of the Magistrates of Rotterdam, had forced upon the Church of Bleiswijk, against the advice of the chief Ministers, Simon Episcopius, to whom the Church of Amsterdam, where he had lived, had refused a testimony concerning his life and doctrine.
There were also many churches in the villages on whom, against their will, were imposed Remonstrant Ministers, or Ministers who were favorable toward the Remonstrants. And seeing that they could not without the greatest offense, grief, and unrest listen to those terrible slanders against sound doctrine which were daily heard in their sermons, the people of these congregations forsook their churches and went to hear the sermons of neighboring sound Ministers; or where they could not obtain the latter, they were taught by other Ministers in their villages or by sound proponents, in separate gatherings. When the Remonstrants sought in vain to prevent this by strict prohibitions by the Magistrates, they aroused no little persecution against those churches.
Meanwhile, the Curators of the Academy of Leiden, on the advice of the Remonstrants, called Simon Episcopius to the Theological Ministry, against the will of Joannes Polyander, who had been called to that ministry in the place of Franciscus Gomarus. This increased the grief and anxiety of the Churches not a little, since it was evident from this that they intended to feed the disputes in that Academy and to establish the doctrine of the Remonstrance. When these evils could no longer remain shut up within the boundaries of the Holland Churches, this corruption finally spread out to the neighboring Provinces, especially to the Churches of Gelderland, of Utrecht, and Overijsel. In the Province of Utrecht, through the neglect of the Ministers, the ecclesiastical order appeared to have fallen away; and under the appearance of re-establishing this, Uitenbogaard, August 24, introduced in the Church certain Remonstrant Ministers, and among these Jacobus Taurinus, a seditious and cruel man. Thereafter, these men were very zealous and diligent that not only in the City but in the entire Province, everywhere where they could, the sound Ministers were driven out and replaced by Remonstrants, so that only the doctrine of the Remonstrance was openly taught. Moreover, in order that their cause might be established in that Province, they framed a new form of Church Order, which was first approved by the Synod, at which Uitenbogaard, Minister of The Hague, presided, and thereafter was also approved by the States of the same Province. In Articles IV and V, chapter 2, toleration of the views of the Remonstrants, for which they had agitated so much in Holland, was publicly established; and the doctrine of the Reformed Churches was also incidentally and hatefully blamed. Further, one finds very many innovations concerning ecclesiastical rule in this Church Order, so that it was to be seen from this that these men intended nothing less than that everything, not only in the doctrine but also in the order and government of the church, should be changed.
The Remonstrants in Gelderland had now also gotten the Ministers of Nijmegen, Bommel, and Tiel on their side; and thereafter they saw to it that no one but men of their views served in the ministry of the neighboring Churches. And, in order that they might make this more sure, Uitenbogaard, Borrius, and Taurinus travelled in Gelderland, when the States were gathered there; and they, with the other Remonstrants, brought it about that also in that Province the ordinary, annual, Synodical gatherings were prevented. Similarly, in Overijsel, especially in the Church of Kampen and Deventer, which through the help and practices of some had fallen to the Remonstrants, thereafter disturbed the peaceful Churches there with new wranglings.
When the Netherlands Churches saw that this evil was growing and spreading in this manner, also in the other Provinces, they deemed it highly necessary to oppose this. And, without any further postponement, by common consent they sent from each Province two delegates to the States-General: from Gelderland, Johannes Fontanus and Guiliehnus Baudartius; from Holland, Libertus Fraximus and Festus Hommius; from Zeeland, Hermannus Faukelius and Guilielmus Telingius (the Utrecht Churches refused to send theirs); from Friesland, Gellius Acronius and Godefridus Sopingius; from Overijsel, Johannes Gofmannus and Johannes Langius; finally, from the City of Groningen and Environs, Cornelius Hillenius and Wolfgang Agricola. These men, together with the Deputies of the Church of Amsterdam, which was Synodical, Petrus Plancius and Joannes Hallius, set forth in detail the difficulties and the dangers of the Churches. They did so in the name of the Churches themselves, and also in the name of the States of their Provinces (whose letters they also showed). Further, they humbly petitioned the States that they would be pleased to sympathize with the thoroughly grievous position of the Churches, and should at once give serious attention to the solution of these evils, and to that end authorize at once a National Synod (which had already for many years been promised). Although many among these States-General judged that this convening of the Synod should no longer be postponed, and clung to this, nevertheless, seeing that the representatives of the Province of Utrecht were absent and that those of Holland and West-Friesland said that they did not have a clear enough mandate for this matter, therefore the matter was postponed until the Representatives of all the Provinces would authorize it by a united vote—something which, through the actions of those friendly to the Remonstrants from Holland and Utrecht, was further prevented.
Meanwhile, the Remonstrants did not cease to push their cause diligently, to win the favor of the great, to gain the hearts of the Magistrates, and to render suspect and prevent all Synodical gatherings with the Political leaders, to gain the vacant Churches, to spread their views through public sermons and writings, to violate sound doctrine with terrible slanders, to draw the people to their side and more and more to alienate them from the doctrine of the Reformed Churches. To this end they spread abroad booklets among the people, written in the mother language, under such titles as Firebells. Further Information, Signpost, and others. In these they not only upheld their doctrine and enhanced Vorstius, but they also with bitter and shameless eloquence and in a most horrible manner struck at the adopted doctrine of the Netherlands Churches with the most shameless slander and by evilly and faithlessly drawing from that doctrine the most senseless consequences, or conclusions. Because of this, there arose among the people everywhere bitter disputes and quarrels, through which the closest friends and acquaintances were embittered against one another and were frightfully alienated and torn apart from one another, to the great injury of love, to the disturbance of the church and the common peace, and to the great grief and offense of the pious. And, seeing that in many places they had the Magistrates on their side, and through Johannes Uitenbogaard were permitted everything by the Advocate of Holland, they were also haughty and scornful against their Churches and Fellow-Ministers. Meanwhile, all pious lovers of the Fatherland and of the Church mourned and bemoaned pitifully this terrible misery of the Churches. And, seeing that they saw clearly where these upheavals would end if they were not promptly attended to, and seeing that this could not be done thus far by public authority, they began seriously to consider whether this evil could not be removed once and for all in one or another way, or whether at least it might be stemmed.