The following is a translation of the rest of the Contra-Remonstration of the Calvinists.
What is wanted is that all those who urge Revision, just because they have something against the Confession, be allowed to sit as judge over their own objections. It is being contented that all the ministers be freed from the tie wherewith they themselves voluntarily binded themselves to the Confessions. Already the result is that several ministers have begun to reveal themselves as being addicted to sentiments that differ from those that have thus far been taught in the Reformed Churches. How then can they say that they are unjustly being suspected of seeking a change in the doctrine? How is this to be harmonized with what is being said here in this full gathering of your Noble Lords, namely that we must not look at what has been taught in this Land but at what is going to be taught in the future. If anyone thinks that something has been taught against God’s word, let him reveal the same in a general meeting of the churches; there it belongs certainly. No one on this account will be accused of faithlessness or purgery, providing he is subject to the general judgment of the churches. For if one subscribes the Forms, he is not on that account forbidden, if he finds something in the Forms that he thinks not to be in sufficient agreement with God’s Word, to reveal the same, where it belongs, in order that it may be investigated according to the rule of God’s Word. But that they want the Forms of Unity in the Reformed Churches revised, and ask to be freed from the obligation of subscribing the Forms, before they have pointed out that there is something that does not agree sufficiently with God’s word—that can only serve to foster all manner of strife and cause unrest. This opens the door to all kinds of false teachings.
In this way there can be no stability in the churches. The papists will upbraid us for our lack of firmness in doctrine, and the Academy will fall into disrepute and be despised. We gladly admit with Dr. Ursinus that writings postulated by men are not to be held for writings that as such merit faith, yet we share his view that we must be on our guard against too great liberties, because changing the doctrine of the church can lead to schisms and give numberless offences. The ministers sin with reckless boldness, if they spread— and if the rulers allow to be spread—among the churches opinions that militate against the accepted doctrine before they have been investigated by their brethren and been generally approved. Had the Remonstrants indeed but acted according to the admonition of this celebrated theologian (Ursinus), we would have preserved rest and unity in our churches. What makes it that some of our churches are so divided, that some do not desire to hear their ministers and eat with them the Lord’s supper? The reason is that even the common man notices that some ministers preach differently than until now it has always been the custom to teach in the Reformed Churches, yea, even differently than they themselves were wont to teach.
If the Remonstrants desire that your Noble Lords take them under your protection against church censure, they thereby show that they do not desire to submit themselves to the judgment of the Reformed Churches, though through appeal they may turn to the broader gatherings in case they feel themselves aggrieved by the censure of the smaller gatherings. But if in this way they decline and reject all judgment of the churches, with what show of right can they lay claim to being ministers in the Reformed Churches? If on the contrary they would candidly make known their objections to their Consistories and Classes, doubtless satisfaction could be given them from God’s Word, or otherwise they could convince their fellow brethren that their objections repose on grounds solid enough. Therefore we cannot by any means approve that the Remonstrants have submitted to your Noble Lords certain points that they have never communicated to any Consistory or Classis, and that they by the authority of your Noble Lords want to compel their brethren not alone to bear them in their views but also to maintain future ministers who share their views in the hope that finally their views will prevail in the Reformed churches of these Lands.
As to the points of doctrine, when they (the Remonstrants) set forth some teachings and say that among us almost nothing is being preached but these points, we find that therein they act unjustly and not in good faith, since they begin with the high point of predestination, which is preached in our churches with moderation and caution only to bring out that the grace of God is unmerited and to take away all human merit and worth; they ascribe to us things that we never thought to concede much less to preach. The articles that, according to them, contain their sentiments, are equivocally written and doubtful as to their manner of speaking; in part they are in conflict with God’s word.
The Contra-Remonstration, coming to us directly from the pen of the Fathers of Dort, is of incalculable value as source material for the subject that is being treated in this series of articles. I therefore include in this article also the original Holland text. (We have not included this original Holland text in this article – RFPA).
As was stated, the Contra-Remonstration is of inestimable value as source material. For the author and the signatories of this document were contemporaries of the Remonstrants. They lived with these people. With their own eyes they saw them in action and they heard them talk with their own ears. What we therefore have in this document is the testimony of eye- and ear-witnesses. And what a testimony it is! Let us take notice. The Remonstrants were openly teaching their heresies by the spoken and written word, but in language so equivocal that no one could base any charge on anything they said. When asked clearly to state their views on the meeting of a lawful synod they refused and continued to conceal their real sentiments in dark sentences. Though they corrupted the official doctrine of the churches they insisted that they were reformed, even more so than their opponents, for, as they had it, the views of the Calvinists militated against the Confession and the Catechism implying that their sentiments were in full agreement with the doctrine contained in these creeds. Yet at the same time they requested their government to order the Confession and the Catechism revised, and in the meantime to free the teaching ministry from the obligation to adhere to these creeds in their expositions of the Scriptures, and all this on the ground that there were errors in these creedal documents; so they said, yet they refused to state what these errors were and requested their government to do their bidding—change the adopted creeds of the churches—without compelling them to state what these errors were and to prove them. They claimed for themselves the right to a name and place in the communion of Reformed churches though they circumvented its assemblies—consistory, classis and synod—and directed all their appeals to their government.
Such is the testimony of the Contra-remonstration, definitely of that section cited above. What a testimony!
Yet they were real pious people, were the Remonstrants. They offered touching prayers full of feeling. And, as was remarked, they were always and forever shouting: love! love! love! And they emphasized human responsibility and laid great stress on godly walk of life, placing it—godly walk—far above purity of doctrine “rechtzinnigheid”. And they were zealous exponents of “free investigation”, too, and of tolerance. (But they were not tolerant). But what they lacked with all their piety and broadmindedness and vaunted tolerance is honesty and righteousness and love of the truth. They deified the human will. This comes out so clearly in that Contra-Remonstration of the Calvinists.
Having set forth their grievances against the manner of doing of the Remonstrants, the Calvinists go on in their Contra-remonstration to inform their government how the Gospel is being preached in the churches by the orthodox. This they do in 7 articles or propositions that as translated read as follows.
In our churches the Gospel is being preached as follows:
I. Seeing that the whole human race is fallen in Adam and thereby is so depraved that all men are conceived and born in sin and are thereby children of wrath, who lie dead in their sins, so that of themselves they have no more power uprightly to turn to God and believe in Christ than a dead man has power to raise himself from the dead—God draws and saves out of that fall and that damnation a certain number of men whom in His eternal and unchangeable counsel from sheer lovingkindness and according to the good pleasure of His will He elected for the purpose of saving them through Christ; and in His righteous judgment passing by the others and letting them lie in their sins.
II. That not only adults who believe in Christ and moreover walk worthy of the Gospel are to be regarded as elect children but also children of the covenant so long as they do not indeed prove the contrary, and that therefore believing parents, if their children die in their infancy, have no cause to doubt the salvation of their children.
III. That God in this election had no respect to the faith and conversion of His elect nor to the right use of His gifts as to causes of His election, but that He on the contrary in His eternal and unchangeable counsel purposed and resolved to bestow faith and steadfastness in godliness and in this way to save them whom according to His good pleasure he chose unto salvation.
IV. That to this end He gave them His only begotten Son, whom He delivered up to the death of the cross to save His elect, so that, though the sufferings of Christ as that of the only begotten and co-essential Son of God is sufficient to expiate the sin of all men, this nevertheless has, according to God’s counsel and decree, its saving efficacy only in the elect and true believers unto redemption and pardon of sins.
V. That moreover God the Lord to this end has His Gospel preached and that externally the Holy Spirit through this preaching and internally by a particular grace works with such efficacy in the hearts of the elect of God, that He enlightens their mind and changes and renews their will, removing their stony heart and giving them a heart of flesh in this manner that thereby they receive not merely power to be able to convert themselves and to be able to believe but also do actually convert themselves and believe.
The remaining two propositions (VI and VII) will appear in the article to follow.
All the translations in these series of articles are by the undersigned.