Imatges de pàgina
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that honourable meeting, that the magistrates having consult

ed together had come to a determination to command the • Ecclesiastical Senate to let the whole of this business rest, 6 and to suffer whatever dissensions had formerly been raised

concerning it to be buried in oblivion ; that a new conference on this subject appeared to them to be neither proper por useful; that each of them must hereafter avoid broaching new doctrines in a sermon; that it was the duty of every one, whose opinions differed from those of other teachers, and in the more intimate knowledge of which he might rejoice, to reserve them to himself, and to confer about them in a friend, • ly manner with his brethren in the ministry: and that, in the mean time, those who held different sentiments, provided they could not be convicted of error, should be treated with kindness, until the questions be decided by the authority of some Council.

When this affair was finished, and the peace of the Church had in some measure been restored, Arminius resumed his series of discourses on the Epistle to the Romans, which were attended by crowds of persons of high and low degree, and of different sentiments in religion. But the design of all his auditors was not alike; some of them were drawn by a genuine attachment to the man and by the high celebrity of his reputation. Others, on the contrary, with a kind of blind impulse obtruded themselves, and frequented his sermons for no other cause than to extract something from them, by which they might diminish his increasing fame, and excite against him the vilest and most detractive envy. He perceived these designs in his enemies, and on that account thought it his duty to be the more circumspect, that, while on the one hand he refrained from sinning against his conscience, by propounding certain doctrines of whose truth he doubted, he might not, on the other hand, deliver any thing which differed in any material point from the current opinions, or which might justly and deservedly offend the ears of those who differed from him in sentiment. But with whatever prudence and industry he aimed at this object, either by means of moderation or suppression, he found it impossible fully to expel, from the minds of his brethren in the ministry and of those who depended on their authority, the wrong judgment of him which they had once formed.

H.- Page 31. • The reader will perhaps think, from the contents of Appendix G, that, when Bertius made this remark, he was not supported by facts; and, on perusing the subjoined account, he will be still more confirmed in such a supposition:

In the year 1593, Arminius began in his regular course to expound the ninth chapter of the epistle to the Romans. When he revolved this subject in his mind, and was conscious that it was generally cited by the Reformed teachers as the chief prop of their sentiments concerning Absolute Predestination, he determined to utter nothing either in defence of those sentiments or in contradiction to them. He only asserted, that the Apostle, in this chapter, adhered to the same design and pursued the same course of reasoning, as that which he had prescribed to himself in the preceding chapters,—which was to vindicate his doctrine of the justification of a man by faith, from several objections which had been raised by the Jews. Those objections Arminius refuted in various sermons and with solid arguments. Though in the estimation of many persons he seemed to discharge the part of an able and successful defender of the Christian Religion, yet his conduct was viewed by others in an unjust light. For when, in elucidating the design of St. Paul and in explaining this very celebrated chapter, he adopted a plan in some respects different from others, and passed over in silence the crude opinions of some persons which are commonly deduced from this portion of scripture, many of his brethren in the ministry began to murmur; but they expressed their disapprobation more loudly when they perceived him to rise in reputation among the Lutherans, Mennonites, and others, who were displeased with the austere and rigorous assertions which certain of the Reformed used in relation to this doctrine. The ecclesiastical senate, therefore, having assembled together once or twice in the absence of Arminius, at length on the 25th of March began to proceed against him openly on this account. The Rev. J. Hallius, in the name of all the Presbytery, addressing him, intimated, that his mind was deeply grieved at the complaints 6 of some citizens who had been much disturbed by his sermons on the ninth chapter of the epistle to the Romans ; that

the professed adversaries of the church had from that cir• cumstance taken occasion to cavil against the doctrines of the • Reformation; and grounds were also thus afforded to many * pious people to suspect that a degree of dissension respecting

some doctrines was cherished between him and the other • sacred heralds of the heavenly word ; that it had appeared * proper to the Presbytery, for the sake of providing against

any further estrangement of mind, to admonish him of this 'matter, and to beseech him that he would preach the same doctrines as his colleagues, and openly testify from the pulpit that he had never said any thing against the Confession and Catechism, and that those who had suspected him of any such thing had given very little attention to his discourses.'

Arminius replied, “that with no less grief of mind had he heard by report of the clandestine slanders of some persons, and in what manner he was traduced under the title of a HERETIC, a LIBERTINE and PELAGIAN; that he had never

given just cause to any person to have such a bad opinion of . him; that he had never spoken any thing in contradiction to

the Reformed Confession and Catechism, but had at all times taught what agreed with them, and had, on more occasions than one, given testimony to this fact in his sermons; that if 6 any one would before that assembly openly accuse him, and * should think it possible to convict him of this crime, he was prepared instantly to hear his reasons, and to enter into a defence of his own innocency ; that it was their duty, on

giving their consent to a candid hearing of this cause, to' * remove from the minds of others all unjust suspicions of this description, and to suffer him long to take delight in being entitled to the name of A GOOD MAN, till by indubitable tes. timony it should be proved that he was no longer worthy of • such a name, and had forfeited all title to that character;

that he considered this admonition of the Presbytery “uncalled-for as it respected him, and, in virtue of the same

right as that which his brethren had exercised towards him, * and with the same desire to preserve peace, he would advise

and beseech them not to deliver any thing which was at * variance with the sacred scriptures or with the received forms * of consent, and to adopt no mode of speaking not recognized by them, so as to cause any kind of scruple or doubt to arise

in the minds of the weak or to afford ground for scandal ; • and that, since no one openly accused him, and since only a

report was spread that one of the sermons lately delivered by him (whatever its import might be,) had afforded a pretext for dissension between him and his brethren in the ministry,

it ought to be as much their care to live in amity with him, as Vol. I.

Del.

for him to be on similar terms with them, while both sides should labour to preserve concord in those things to the truth of which all of them had subscribed.'

Arminius spoke with much animation; and after some warm words had arisen between him and his adversaries, one of the elders at length expressed himself to this effect: “ He perceived • the arts of the devil employed in disturbing the peace of that church ; and some of the magistrates had endeavoured to contribute to this effect. Arminius had in vain appealed to the Confession and Catechism, when he had already explained * two passages of scripture contrary to the meaning of those

two forms. Having heard Arminius explain the seventh chapter of the epistle to the Romans, he could never afterwards derive any profit from his discourses.

To these remarks Arminius modestly replied, that by the • favour of God he would never become a leader and author of dissensions. A strict enquiry ought to be instituted into the

persons and intrigues employed by the sworn enemy of man• kind, when he tries to sow strife and to introduce discord. • He hoped better things of his merciful rulers, the courteous magistrates of that city, than had been expressed by the preceding speaker: So far was he from thinking any one of them capable of aiming at such an object, that he was more inclined to believe, whatever might be the portion of autho

rity which they possessed, that it would be administered by • them with the greatest moderation, in reducing to order and • obedience those ecclesiastical personages who, forgetful of.

their duty, might attempt to produce a division in the church. His conscience bore him testimony, and he knew,' • from the communications of several persons, that his discourses had been rendered useful, and their delivery attended with profit. In reference to those passages of scripture' which, it was asserted, he had expounded in a sense contrary' "to that of the Confession,—no person could convict him of that offence: He confessed, that the eighteenth verse of the seventh chapter of the Romans was cited in the margin of the Confession in a sense somewhat different. Yet, if it was · incumbent on every teacher of the Reformed Church to • adhere thus strictly to the terms of this Confession, and if,

when any one in quoting passages of scripture departed even 6a hair's breadth from those terms, it was instantly construed ' into an enormous offence,—it would not be a matter of difficulty for him to prove the greater part of his fellow-labourers

guilty of the same crime, and of having more than once taught such doctrine as was not only contrary to the passages of scripture quoted in the margin, but at variance with those , which are given at large in the text of the Confession.'

The Rev. J. Kuchlinus owned, that he could not deny the truth of this last observation, and added, “ that if there was a. 'perfect agreement in those principal points which were the 'very hinge of the articles of the Confession, there needed to

be no apprehension about the rest. Nothing further was then said on this topic; but some questions were asked respecting the duty of the elders, and about ecclesiastical discipline, on which neither Arminius nor his reverend colleague John, Halsbergius was thought to have correct ideas. Both of them, defended themselves in a long reply, and refuted the objections which had been raised against them.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the reverend J. Hallius, who was, for the time being, the president and moderator of the Presbytery, addressing himself to Arminius, publicly testified the pleasure which he felt on perceiving the promptitude. tified the pleasure which folk of mind which he had evinced to cultivate union with his brethren in the matters of doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline : He begged God to favour this auspicious commencement with his blessing, and to make the whole of this affair a source of further prosperity to his church; and then dissolved the assembly.

Yet certain preposterous zealots, thinking that matters ought not to be suffered to remain in this state of tranquility, began to excite other complaints against Arminius; and by the numerous slanders which they propagated, they were enabled to prevail with the Presbytery, that had assembled on the 22nd of April without his knowledge, to pass a resolution to this effect: “ That the said Arminius shall be asked to declare without any obscurity or wary circumlocution his sentiments on all the articles of faith ; and, in case of his betraying any reluctance to comply with this request, certain theses and anti-theses shall be prepared, on the subjects of which a conference shall be held with him.” On the 6th of May when Arminius first heard of this resolution and of the advice which it contained, he was not hasty in replying to it, but more inclined to ask the Presbytery to grant him a longer period for deliberating on that proposition. A few weeks afterwards, (on the 20th of May,) when some members of the Presbytery reminded him of this affair, and would not desist from

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