The following article is adapted from the Watsons Theological Biblical Dictionary. Richard Watson was an early English Methodist Theologian who believed in the scripture as God inspired. He was known as a defender of the faith.
In a day and age of "politically correct" history, it is alway nice to get a fresh breeze from the "other point" of view. Political correctness also occurs in Christianity too as seen with the Calvinist point of view. IMARC trusts that what is written here will help balance the "political correctness" that continually occurs in Bible believing Christianity. The Arminians where not the heretics that the fundamental Christian media outlets like radio and the printed page promotes. The only error that they where really guilty of was disagreeing with Calvins doctrines like Martian Luther with the Pope. One only wonders however, after reading the calvinist take on the American Revolution how they can claim that they fought in defense of freedom of speech and religion after what they did at Dort?
The Dutch churches forsook the communion of the corrupt church of Rome soon after the church of England had cast off the papal yoke: and they were generously aided in their endeavors to recover their civil and religious liberties by our good Queen Elizabeth and her wise counselors. The first Christian teachers among them were Lutherans; but in process of time, he celebrity of Geneva as a place of public instruction for ministers of religion induced the majority of the candidates for the ministry to repair to that university; and, as might naturally be expected, they imported into the Low Countries the peculiar views of Calvin and Beza on the subject of predestination. It is justly observed by Le Vassor, "Some learned Hollanders had boldly defended this doctrine, before Arminius became a minister at Amsterdam and a professor at Leyden, and likewise before Gomarus had risen up against him. Their writings are still extant; although it is true that certain ministers, who were too hasty, exerted themselves to bring those authors and their productions into disrepute; but the states of Holland uniformly checked this impetuous zeal. The professors of Leyden were allowed a perfect liberty of teaching conformably to the sentiments of Melancthon; and when Arminius was called to that university, his opinions were generally known; for he had declared them in the church of Amsterdam, from the consistory of which he received very honorable testimonials. Gomarus, and many others of the same opinion, having entered into conversation with Arminius, made no scruple of acknowledging immediately that the difference of sentiments which existed between them did not at all concern the foundations of the Reformation. True it is, that Gomarus did not remain long on good terms with Arminius. Whether he had taken umbrage at the reputation of his new colleague, or the enemies of Arminius had found means to provoke the anger of Gomarus by some artful insinuation or other; he violently set his face against a man whom, some time before, he looked upon as orthodox." The struggles of the party of Arminius in Holland, after the death of that great man, to obtain a toleration for their opinions, are matters of history. The political circumstances of that country and of Europe in general were at that period very peculiar, and exercised great influence in the convening and conducting of that famous ecclesiastical assembly, the synod of Dort; but in a sketch like this, they can only be briefly mentioned. Frederic, the elector Palatine, married Elizabeth, the only daughter of our King James the First; he was nephew to Maurice the prince of Orange: and he sent his Heidelberg divines to the synod to assist his uncle in the condemnation of the Remonstrant party, as the Arminians were generally called, and to gratify his polemical father-in-law in the overthrow of the heretical Vorstius. In return, he naturally expected both of his relations to aid him in his grand enterprise of seizing on the crown of Bohemia; in which, soon after the banishment of the Remonstrants, he completely succeeded,-though he subsequently lost that crown and all his hereditary possessions, and embroiled nearly the whole of Protestant Europe in the famous thirty years' war.
The Remonstrants, according to Nichols, in the ample notes to his translation of the "Works of Arminius," had long wished to have their "Five Points" of doctrine brought for adjudication either before a provincial synod, to prepare matters for a national one; or to have them brought at once before a general council of Protestant divines. But the Calvinists would listen to neither of these equitable proposals. If a provincial synod were convened, especially in that province (Holland) which most needed such a remedy, these men well knew, from trial, how difficult it would be to combat and refute the strong and popular arguments of the Remonstrants, when both parties were placed nearly on an equality in the same assembly; and if a general council of Protestants was summoned together, they were certain that the principles of Arminius would, without demur, be recognized as integral parts of Scripture verity, and consequently entitled not only to toleration, (which was all that the Remonstrants had desired,) but to the especial patronage of the civil authorities. The latter result was anticipated, from the immense preponderance which the Lutheran divines, from all the small states of Germany, and from other parts of the north of Europe, would have had in such a council. Numerous state papers on this subject were written by the public functionaries of the different provinces in the year 1617; among which those of the composition of the learned Grotius, who conducted the arguments in favor of a general council, are very conspicuous for the superior ability which they display. A national synod was therefore the sole remedy which the wisdom, or rather the worldly prudence, of the Calvinists could discover for removing the maladies under which the churches of Holland were at that time laboring. In showing cause for their preference, they were placed in an awkward dilemma; for they perceived, that the strongest reasons to be adduced for the adoption of this measure would extend too far, and might, in the hands of their able antagonists, be made to apply with greater cogency to the convening of a general council.
The designs which Prince Maurice had long cherished against the ancient liberties and internal jurisdiction of the states, (each of which possessed by the act of union the complete management of its own affairs,) were then in a course of execution. By the forcible and illegal removal of the old burgomasters and governors, and the appointment of new ones; by the preponderance which these newly elected individuals gave to their own party in their election of persons to fill the higher offices of state in the various towns which had been ill-affected toward Calvinism and arbitrary power; and by the untrue and scandalous reports which were invented and industriously propagated respecting the alleged secret intentions of Barnevelt and the Arminians to deliver up their country to the Spaniards; the prince was enabled to succeed in his ambitious enterprises. To the party, therefore, that had forwarded his views he willingly gave all the weight of his influence, and that of the States General, the majority of whom, in virtue of the late unlawful changes effected in the provinces, were favorable, not only to Calvinism, but to any measure which the prince might think fit to propose. It was in allusion to the revolution, thus craftily completed, that Bogerman, as president of the synod of Dort, told Episcopius, in a sarcastic style, as Hales tells us, "You may remember what you told the foreign divines in your letter to them, that there had of late been a great metamorphosis in the state; you are no longer judges and men in power, but persons under citation." In such a state of affairs, an ordinance of government was easily obtained for convening a national synod, which was to consist of native divines appointed by the different classes and presbyteries, of civil deputies chosen out of each province by the states, and of foreign divines deputed by such churches as had adopted both the platform and the doctrine of Geneva. The temper and intolerant conduct of the various ecclesiastical meetings with whom rested the inland appointments, had been but too apparent; and time had not mollified their intolerant principles; for, under the new order of things, and with the sanction of the fresh race of magistrates, they were emboldened to effect a schism in many of the chief towns, and forcibly to exclude the Arminian ministers from the churches which they occupied. In other towns, in which these bold practices could not be attempted with any probability of success, they employed the ecclesiastical arms of the classes, provincial synods, and other packed vestry-meetings, the members of which (consisting generally of Calvinists) summoned before them all the chief Arminian pastors in the various districts, accused them of holding heterodox opinions on the subject of predestination, and suspended or expelled them from the ministry. This work of expulsion and suspension was carried on by the dominant party even during the time in which the fate of Arminianism was in a course of determination by the synod of Dort: so that, had that far-famed and reverend assembly decided in favor of a toleration of the Arminian doctrines, the minor church meetings had left few ministers of that persecuted denomination to profit from such a decision.
The Calvinistic account of this summary and iniquitous process is thus given, in the preface to the acts of the National Synod: "And since there were several pastors in that province, [Guelderland,] some of whom had been suspected of many other errors beside the Five Points of the Remonstrants, others of them had illegally intruded into the office of the ministry, while others were men of profligate habits; certain persons of this description being cited before the [provincial] synod [of Guelderland and Zutphen, held at Arnheim, in July, 1618,] were suspended from the ministry for some of the before-mentioned reasons, and by no means on account of the opinion contained in the Five Points of the Remonstrants, which was reserved for the cognizance of the national synod. The trial of the rest of these men being dismissed in the name of the synod, was committed to a deputation from their body, to whom the states added certain of their own delegates. When they had fully investigated the cases of these men in their classes, they suspended some of them from the ministry, and entirely removed others." In the very able memorial which the Remonstrants, on their arrival at the synod, presented to the foreign members, it is justly observed, respecting those who were accused of having taught, beside the Five Points, those doctrines which were contrary to the fundamentals of faith: "Such particular cases do not in any manner affect the common cause of the Remonstrants, but concern those alone who may be found guilty of them. Nor are we adverse to the issuing of ecclesiastical censures against such persons, provided they be lawfully put upon their trials, and fairly heard in defense of themselves against such charges." Because the members of these Calvinistic provincial synods could not be long absent from their respective congregations, such galloping commissions as these, endowed with ample powers, were appointed to traverse every province in which Arminianism had been planted; and they soon showed to the world the most compendious method of rooting out reputed heresies. Their track through the land resembled that of the angel of destruction; it was marked by anguish, mourning, and desolation. After this detail, established by the synodical documents themselves, few words will suffice to point out the purely Calvinistic constitution of the synod of Dort. When very few Remonstrant ministers remained in the land, except such as were ejected from the church or under suspension, it was no difficult matter to procure an assemblage of men that were of one heart respecting the main object that was then sought to be accomplished.
In the original order for holding the synod, and in the list appended to it, as they were both passed by the States General, no mention was made of inviting any other churches, except those of England, France, the Palatinate, Hesse, and Switzerland, and it was a matter postponed for farther deliberation, whether any invitation should be transmitted to the churches of Bremen, Brandenburgh, Geneva, and Nassau. The clergy of the principality of Anhalt were not invited to the synod, because their opinions were understood to be similar to those of the Remonstrants, the ancient confession adopted by their churches being decided on the subject of conditional predestination. The divines of Bremen were viewed as men inclined too much to moderate counsels, and on that account improper representatives in an assembly that intended to carry every proposition with the unanimity of force. The divines of Brandenburgh were the last of those invited. Indeed no invitation was transmitted to them till the state and temper of their churches had been ascertained with tolerable accuracy; and when it was generally thought that the deputies from that electorate were tractable and would follow in the train of the Contra-Remonstrants, it was determined to summon them to the synod. It was for some time a matter of doubt with the leading men of Holland, whether they ought to invite the divines of Geneva and Nassau, two of the greatest nurseries of Calvinism, to be present at the synod. The cause of this demur was, to avoid the appearance of partiality, which they justly thought all the world would have imputed to them had they convened an assembly consisting only of Calvinistic doctors. To keep up this semblance of moderation, the synodical summons was not transmitted to those divines when they were sent to the churches of other states and countries. But when Prince Maurice's schemes of secular aggrandizement and political power had succeeded beyond his utmost wishes, they no longer studied to "avoid the appearance of evil," but boldly summoned all those divines about whose presence at the synod they had formerly hesitated. This was a most notable and certain method of procuring a strict Calvinian uniformity in the members. On this topic, Hales, in his letters from Dort, to the English ambassador at the Hague, says, "For a general confession of faith, at least so far as those churches stretch who have delegates here in the synod, I think his project very possible, there being no point of faith in which they differ." Great interest was made at the court of France, to procure the attendance of deputies from the reformed churches of that country; but the king of France prohibited the Protestant clergy within his dominions from becoming members of the synod, or assisting at its deliberations.
The letters of the States General, inviting the foreign divines to the national synod, were issued on the 25th of June, 1618; and the members were summoned to meet together in the city of Dort, on the first day of November in the same year. The letters of invitation to the divines of the united provinces were dated Sept. 20th, and the synod of Dort was formally opened Nov. 13th. Whosoever casts his eye over the list of the foreign divines that composed this last of Protestant councils, will find scarcely one man who had not distinguished himself by his decided opposition to the doctrine of conditional predestination, and who was not consequently disqualified from acting the part of an impartial judge of the existing religious differences, or that of a peace-maker. This caused the famous Daniel Tilenus to observe, that "no persons were summoned to Dort who were not well known to be zealous promoters of Calvin's predestination. In former ages, men were accustomed, first to go to the councils, and then to declare their sentiments: just the reverse of this is the practice in our days; for no one could be admitted into the synod of Dort unless he had previously manifested the bearing of his opinions."
It will be perceived from the preceding statement, by what kind of ecclesiastical management the Remonstrants had been excluded from having any deputies in the synod of Dort. So completely had the Calvinistic plan of exclusion succeeded, that three of the members from Utrecht were the only Remonstrants in that synod. The reason of their being there at all, was, because that province was almost equally divided between Remonstrant and Calvinist churches, and it had been agreed that three of each denomination should be summoned. But so obnoxious were the persons as well as the doctrines of the Remonstrants to their adversaries, that they would not allow even those three individuals to have a place in the seat of judgment. In the twenty-fourth session, it was unanimously declared, that they could only be reputed as cited persons; however, as the Acts express it, "that this synod might not be exposed to calumnies, as if they wished to exclude them, it was allowed them to sit among the judges" on five conditions, the chief of which were, "that while the affairs of the Remonstrants were under discussion, they should not disturb the proceedings of the synod by unseasonable interruptions, and not acquaint their party with any thing done or said in the synod, which concerned their cause." Two of them, after a day's deliberation, united themselves with their suffering brethren; and the third, who was a layman, had seen enough of the partial conduct of that venerable assembly to induce him to absent himself from their farther deliberations. As the Remonstrants formed no part of the members convened, it was debated, in the fourth session, how they ought to be summoned. It was proposed and resolved, that a letter should be composed and sent to the whole body, that they might depute three out of each province as deputies to the synod. The president Bogerman then inquired, if all the Remonstrants were to be admitted; the president of the lay commissioners answered, that the ecclesiastical president and the secretaries should receive a private explanation from him respecting their numbers. In the interview which the two presidents and the secretaries had together, they concerted matters so well, that next day the preceding resolution for writing to the whole body was withdrawn for amendment; and it was finally agreed, that it should be left to the determination of the lay commissioners, what persons, and how many, should be convened. These gentlemen selected thirteen of the Remonstrants, to each of whom they addressed a letter of citation, commanding them to appear before the synod, "within fourteen days after the receipt of it, without any tergiversation, excuse, or exception, that in it they might freely propose, explain, and defend the before-mentioned five points as far as they were able and should deem to be necessary." In the mean time the Remonstrants, without knowing the resolution of the synod, had deputed three of their body from Leyden, to obtain leave for their appearance at the synod, in a competent number and under safe conduct to defend their cause. On making their request known to the lay commissioners, they were informed of the resolution which had passed the synod only the preceding day. To which they replied, that it was unreasonable to cite those to justify themselves who were both ready and willing to come of their own accord; and that if they persisted in proceeding with their plan of citation, they would by that act furnish just cause, not only to them, but to all good men, to entertain strange notions and suspicions of the synodical proceedings. Not being permitted to choose those men from their own body whom they deemed the best qualified to state and defend their cause, they accounted it an additional hardship, that their enemies should assume that unlawful authority to themselves. But neither at that time nor afterward, when they wished to add two of the most accomplished of the brethren to their number, were their representations of the least avail. On the sixth of December these valiant defenders of the truth arrived, and requested, by a deputation, to be allowed a few days to unpack their books, arrange their papers, etc. But they were commanded immediately to appear in a body before the synod, and to prefer their own request. They were introduced by their brethren of Utrecht, and ordered to sit down at a long table placed in the middle of the hall. Episcopius then, with the permission of the president, addressed an apostolic greeting to the synod; and, having repeated the request previously made, he said, that the cited Remonstrants appeared there to defend their good and righteous cause before that venerable assembly, by reasons and arguments drawn from the word of God,-or else to be confuted and better informed from the same word. In reference to the favor which they had asked, they left it to the discretion of the commissioners of the States General, being ready on their parts, immediately, and without delay, to engage in a conference, if that should be required." Then were they desired to withdraw into a chamber prepared for them adjoining the hall of the synod. After some time spent in deliberation, they were recalled, and informed by the president, that they would be expected at the synod next morning at nine o'clock. He added, according to Hales, "that they came not to conference, neither did the synod profess themselves an adverse party against them. Conferences had been heretofore held to no purpose. They ought to have heeded the words of the letters by which they were cited. They were called, not to conference, but to propose their opinions with their reasons, and leave it with the synod to judge of them." Episcopius replied, that it was not necessary so nicely to criticize the word conference, and that they had come there with no other view than to treat about the doctrines which were controverted, according to the summons which they had received. The next day, December 7th, the Remonstrants were called in, when after Episcopius had desired and obtained leave to speak, he uttered an oration, the delivery of which occupied nearly two hours, and which, on account of the noble sentiments contained in it, deserves to be recorded in letters of gold. The gracefulness, force, and energy with which it was spoken, made such an impression on the auditory as drew tears from several of them, and even from some of the states' deputies. This effect gave mighty umbrage, to the choleric Bogerman, who, as president, according to Mr. Hales's account, "signified unto Episcopius, that, because there were in his speech many things considerable, he was therefore, to deliver the copy of it. Episcopius replied, that he had none handsomely written: if the synod would have patience, he would cause a fair transcript to be drawn for them. But this excuse would not serve; fair or foul, deliver it up he must, and so he did." In the session, December 10, after the president had ceased to speak, he desired the Remonstrants to proceed with their explanation and defense of the five points. They requested leave to have a paper read by Episcopius. Bogerman would not consent to this; but the lay president ordered another of the Remonstrants, Bernard Dwinglo, to read it. This very convincing document was addressed to the synod, and consisted of two parts. It may be seen at full length in the acts, and is in every respect worthy of the great men whose holy cause it defended. The first part declared, that the Remonstrants did not own the members of the synod for lawful judges, because the great majority of them, with the exception of the foreign divines, were their professed enemies; and that most of the inland divines then assembled, as well as those whose representatives they were, had been guilty of the unhappy schism which was made in the churches of Holland. The second part contained the twelve qualifications, of which the Remonstrants thought a well constituted synod should consist. The observance of the stipulations proposed in it, they would gladly have obtained from the synod, averring that they were exceedingly equitable, and that the Protestants had offered similar conditions for the guidance of the Papists, and the Calvinists for the direction of the Lutherans. The production of such a mass of evidence from writers of the Calvinistic persuasion, in favor of a toleration and moderate measures, and against the principle of interested parties usurping the place of judges,-gaved readful offence to that powerful body in the synod, and especially when they were charged with being at once plaintiff, judge, and jury. No one can form an adequate conception of the scene which followed the reading of this document. Bogerman, the Remonstrants, the lay president, and the commissioners, were warm interlocutors during that session and the succeeding one which was held in the afternoon of the same day. Bogerman labored hard to show, that, by denying the competency and impartial constitution of the tribunal before which they were summoned, they in reality were guilty of disaffection to the higher powers, who had appointed and convened the synod; and that, by charging the majority of the members with being the authors of the schism, they had in effect accused the prince of Orange and the States General, because those great personages had frequented the separate meetings. In reference to the latter circumstances, which exceedingly galled him and the inland divines, he said, "The proper time has not yet arrived for discussing it. But when it shall have been proved to the synod, what kind of doctrine is sanctioned by the church, those who have departed from it, and who are consequently guilty of the schism, will appear in their true colors." Charles Niellius, one of the Walloon ministers, answered in behalf of the Remonstrants, that though they acknowledged the authority of the states, and held the synod in due estimation, yet it was as lawful for them to challenge this synod, as for several of the Christian fathers who challenged some of the ancient councils, and their ancestors that of Trent. The laws themselves allowed men for certain reasons to challenge even sworn judges. But it was never known, that any law allowed parties to be judges. Nor was it equitable, that those who had previously separated from the Remonstrants should sit in the synod to try them, after they had by such separation prejudged their doctrine and entered into mutual engagements to procure its condemnation. Episcopius then said, "Mr. President, if you were in our places and we in yours, would you submit to our judgment?" Bogerman replied, "If it had so happened, we must have endured it; and since government has ordered matters in a different way, it becomes you to bear it with patience." Episcopius rejoined, "It is one thing to acknowledge a person for a judge, and it is another to bear with patience the sentence which he may impose. We also will endure it; but our consciences cannot be persuaded to acknowledge you for the judges of our doctrines, since you are our sworn adversaries, and have churches totally separated from ours."
On the morning of the next day, the Remonstrants, being called in, were urged by the synod to present their objections in writing against the Confession and Catechism. Before they proceeded to do that, they craved permission to read another document: after some demur, leave was granted, when Dwinglo read a paper which commenced thus: "The celebrated Paraeus, in his Irenicum, prudently observes, that he would advise no man to approach any council in which the same persons had to appear in the character of both adversaries and judges." The rest of the paper was occupied in wiping off the aspersions which had been cast upon them in the four preceding sessions, and particularly the foul charge of their want of respect for the constituted authorities of their country. They declared, that in case men of peaceable dispositions had been deputed to the synod, as the States General had intended, and such men as had never been concerned in making or promoting these unhappy divisions, they would have had little reason to offer exceptions against such a synod. This document concluded with a protest. After the delivery of this protest, the synod invented various methods to vex the cited Remonstrants and to impede the prosecution of their cause. Among those methods one of the most artful was, to ask them questions singly, and not in a body, with an evident design to entrap them in their answers. They had with the greatest injustice chosen those Remonstrants whom they thought proper, to be cited as guilty persons at the bar of the synod, without the least regard to the useful or splendid qualifications of the individuals thus selected. Of the six prudent and accomplished men who had represented the Remonstrant party at the celebrated Hague Conference in 1611, only three were summoned to the present synod; and though those who appeared on this occasion were generally men of good natural talents and sound understandings, and well versed in the matters under discussion, yet they were not all endowed with the gift of rendering a ready and extempore reply in Latin to every question that might be suddenly asked; and if they had possessed such a gift in an eminent degree, it would still have been necessary that they should have had time for reflection, and for each to compare his own views and reasons with those of his brethren. This request, however, which cannot be viewed as a favor but as an act of justice, was almost without exception refused. Having presented to the synod their opinions relative to the Five Points and their remarks on the Catechism and Confession, the Remonstrants wished to enter on the "proposing, explanation, and defense of them, as far as they were able or should think necessary," according to the very terms of the letters by which they had been cited; but the synod, in opposition to the plain and obvious meaning which those expressions conveyed, decided that it was a privilege belonging to themselves alone to judge how far the Remonstrants might be permitted to enter into the explanation and defense of their doctrines. This was accounted an act of great injustice by the Remonstrants, who also alleged, that "they did not feel many scruples about the doctrine of election, but that it was reprobation in which the chief difficulty lay." They were very desirous, therefore, of having reprobation discussed in the first instance: but the Calvinists of those days wished to keep unconditional reprobation enshrined in the dark penetralia of their temples, only to be produced, as opportunity might serve, for their own private purposes, either to terrify the careless among their hearers, or to quicken the occasionally sluggish current of congregational benevolence. It was not to be expected, therefore, that the Calvinists of the synod would allow the Remonstrants to give reprobation that prominence in their discussions to which it was justly entitled. In one of the debates which these two questions produced, Bogerman again took advantage of the disingenuous trickery which we have just exposed, and asked Pynakker, one of the cited ministers, "Do you imagine the synod will suffer the Remonstrants to examine the doctrine of reprobation?" Pynakker replied, "Yes, I do: because, as this is the chief source of the troubles of the church, it ought to be first discussed." Perceiving either that his meaning was not correctly understood, or that he had expressed it in an imperfect manner, Pynakker immediately explained himself by adding, that by first he meant chiefly, (both of which significations the Latin word conveys,) and by acknowledging that election ought to have the precedence of discussion. When relating this occurrence, Poppius remarks, "This, being received in a wrong sense, was imputed to all of us, as though we were unanimously of opinion, that the discussion of the doctrine of reprobation ought to precede that of election. Upon this question foreign divines and others were desired by the president to deliver their sentiments. However, the expression imputed to us was employed by none of us, much less by all. But this was their manner: if one of us, in the name of all, said any thing that proved advantageous to the rest, the president seemed much displeased at our unanimity: then we were told that we were cited singly and personally, and that we did not compose a society or corporation. But when any of us happened to employ a word that was capable of being wrested to our common injury and misconstrued, then what was said by one was certain to be imputed to all!" After gaining a favorable opportunity like this Bogerman always hastily dismissed the cited persons; and on this occasion he dwelt largely, in their absence, on Pynakker's expression, and persuaded the foreign divines that the proposal of the Remonstrants, to treat of reprobation before election, was a sine qua non, and that without it was granted to them they would not proceed. This alarmed all the Calvinistic brotherhood, who rose vi et armis, delivered seriatim their objections to such a bold proceeding, and thought, with the professor of Heidelberg, "that it was unreasonable for the Remonstrants to disturb the consciences of the elect on account of God's judgments against the reprobated, and to plead the cause of the latter, as though they had been hired to undertake the defense of those who had by the just judgment of God been rejected; and that for these reasons the synod neither could nor ought to grant the Remonstrant brethren any farther liberty, unless the members designed to expose the orthodox doctrine of predestination to be openly ridiculed." Finding this great aversion in the synod to the precedence of reprobation, the Remonstrants proposed, since they were forbidden to explain or defend their sentiments viva voce, "to explain their doctrines in writing, beginning with the article of election, and proceeding to that of reprobation; to defend their doctrines, and to refute the contrary opinions of the Contra-Remonstrants and of those whom they consider orthodox: but that, in case this explanation or defense seems to be defective, they would answer in writing the questions which the president might think proper to propose to them, or in oral communications by those of their body whom they might judge best qualified for that purpose. And that the liberty which they desired might not appear unlimited, they bound themselves to proceed in such a manner as should not savior in the least of an insolent licentiousness: and that their discussions might not be extended too far, the lay commissioners were empowered to curtail them at pleasure." But these very equitable terms, which were much worse than those which the unsophisticated and grammatical sense of the citatory letters held out to them, were rejected by the synod, at the instigation and by the management of the president, who, after having had recourse to his old trick of propounding questions to each of the cited persons, and after procuring against them three or four synodical censures, had them at length, (Jan. 14th,) dismissed from the synod, with every mark of contumely and scorn which he could invent. Bogerman had previously busied himself in extracting the opinions of the Remonstrants from such writings of theirs as had been published long before, and in forming them into articles, to be separately discussed by the synod. This passing of judgment on the Remonstrants from the testimony of their own writings, was an employment which Deodatus and his colleague from Geneva had at one of the earliest sessions mentioned as very desirable, and in which they appeared eager to engage. Any one who attentively reads the Acts of the synod, and compares them with the private accounts both of Remonstrants and Contra-Remonstrants will find, that this had also been the intention of the president from the very commencement, and that all his shifting schemes and boisterous conduct was intended to irritate the Remonstrants, who possessed more patience than he had contemplated, and who were therefore to be removed from the synod by a greater exercise of art and with greater difficulty. But one of the greatest injuries of which the Remonstrants had to complain, was, that the book from which their supposed opinions were chiefly collected, was the production of a declared enemy, who wrote a highly colored account of a conference respecting the Five Points, in which he pretended that the Calvinists had obtained a complete victory. A Remonstrant author had also written an able statement of the same conference, and had claimed a triumph for his party. The latter would therefore have certainly been the most proper authority from which to extract the real options of his body.
But though dismissed from their farther attendance on the synod, the Remonstrants were not permitted to depart from Dort; the states' commissioners having charged them not to quit the town, without their special permission. The president, in his speech dismissory, had said, that they would receive an intimation when the synod had any farther occasion for them. When a Remonstrant deputy, by leave of the acting burgomaster of Dort, who was one of the commissioners, had hastily gone to Utrecht, to visit one of his children that was expected soon to die, he was on his return called to an account for his conduct, and the former order repeated. In the course of their detention at Dort during eight months, they were as strictly watched as if they had been condemned malefactors. One of them whose sister lay on her death-bed and earnestly desired to see him, could not obtain permission to visit her while she lived; and after her decease he was not allowed to attend her funeral. Another, whose wife was near the time of her accouchment, wished, like a good family man, to be at home for a few days at that critical period; but his request was refused. When the uncle of another of them was at the point of death, he longed for the presence of his nephew, to receive his dying commands, and to benefit him by his counsels and prayers; but the wishes of the good old man could not be gratified. After his death, the nephew was not allowed to look after the pressing concerns of his orphan cousins, although his uncle had appointed him their legal guardian. None of these favors, though reasonable and asked with much humility, could be obtained from the high bigots, in whose hands, at that time, was vested the personal liberty of the persecuted and cited Remonstrants. Toward the close of February, the magistrates of different towns deposed from the ministry three of the cited Remonstrant ministers who were present at the synod, and sent regular notices to their families, speedily to quit the parsonage houses which they severally occupied. These three good men, being heartily tired of the strict durance in which they had been held since their arrival at Dort, represented to the states' commissioners, that, as they were not now in the ministry, they could no longer be considered amenable to the jurisdiction of the synod: this was the very argument of the commissioners, when, at the commencement of the synod, the Remonstrants had wished to have associated with them the two recently deposed ministers, Grevinchovius and Goulart. Though, for very obvious reasons, at that early stage of the business, they would permit no Remonstrants to appear among the cited "except such as were actually in the exercise of the ministry;" yet they would not listen to the same argument when it militated against their favorite purposes: and the three ministers were commanded to remain at Dort with their brethren. One of the three, however, whose wife then far advanced in pregnancy, had been ordered to leave her house within eight days, ventured to return to Horn, and to assist her to remove from their former dwelling. But, on his arrival, he found her already removed to another house; and his return to Dort was speedily required by the higher powers. To expedite his departure, two or three of the Calvinist magistrates employed their official authority in a manner the most reprehensible: they placed him, like a criminal, in the town wagon openly before his own door, though he had provided a carriage for himself on the outside of the town, to which he wished to have retired privately and without noise. A tumult ensued between the populace who were attached to their good pastor, and the soldiers whom the magistrates had placed before his house two hours before his departure. On his return to Dort, he was severely examined before the commissioners respecting the unhappy commotion; but being convinced that he had not been at all to blame in that affair, they passed it over in silence. At different times the Remonstrants wished to depute a few of their small body to the Hague, to make a proper representation of the manner in which they were treated by the synod; but this indulgence was invariably refused. Their only resource then was, to write to their high mightinesses an account of their proceedings, and to implore their interference and protection. But such an attempt, in that posture of their affairs, was unavailing; for their doom was already sealed. Soon after their appearance at Dort, the magistrates of that city issued a proclamation, commanding the inhabitants, all of whom were celebrated for their attachment to Calvin, to refrain from insulting any of the foreign or native professors, divines, or other persons that were called to appear at the synod, on pain of summary punishment to the offenders. This document was not required for the protection of the Calvinists; but the persecuted Remonstrants were such objects of hatred to the populace, as scarcely to be allowed to pass along the streets without being maltreated. This bad spirit was excited and encouraged by the violent sermons which were fulminated against them, from the different pulpits in the city. Whenever these good men were required to be in attendance, (and they were liable to be summoned from their lodgings at a few minutes notice,) they were not permitted to enter the large hall in which the synodical sessions were held, but were ordered to wait the pleasure of that venerable body in an ante-chamber, the door of which was generally locked, and the passage leading to it guarded by two or three of the police, who hindered them from holding any communication with their friends, and kept them in as strict durance as if they had been convicted of some capital offence. At the formal conclusion of the principal business of the synod, May the 6th, when the farther attendance of the foreign divines was declared to be no longer necessary, the Remonstrants were summoned from their lodgings, and waited upon the lay commissioners, at six o'clock in the evening, when the resolution and censure of the synod were read to them in Latin by Heinsius, the secretary; in which they were accused of "having corrupted the true religion, dissolved the unity of the church, given grievous cause of scandal, and shown themselves contumacious and disobedient: for these several reasons, the synod prohibited them from the farther exercise of their ministry, deprived them of their offices in the church and university, and declared them incapable of performing any ecclesiastical function, till, by sincere repentance, they should have given the church full satisfaction, and being thus reconciled to her, should be re-admitted into her communion."
They were then required to wait at Dort till farther orders from their high mightinesses; and when they requested to have a copy of the synodical censure and sentence against them, they were as usual refused. On the 24th of May, the cited Remonstrants were summoned to appear before three new commissioners whom the States General had deputed from their body, when each of them was called into the room and separately interrogated; after which, he who had been last called in was ordered into another room, and prevented from holding any communication with those who had not been ushered into the presence of the commissioners. The proposal and questions addressed to each of them were in substance the following: "Since you have been deprived by the synod, the States General have directed us to ask you the following questions: Whether you are, notwithstanding this decision, resolved to act as ministers? Or whether you will be content in future to lead quiet and peaceable lives in obedience to the government, as private burghers, without any place or office, abstaining from all ecclesiastical ministrations in any meeting of the people of your sect, from all manner of teaching and preaching, exhorting, reading, administering the sacraments, visiting the sick, writing letters, or transmitting papers?-It is the intention of their high mightinesses to allow to those who shall conform to these requisitions such a competency as may enable them to live comfortably either in or out of these united provinces, as their own choice may determine." In addition to these things, Episcopius was required to promise, "not to write either letters or books to confirm the people in the sentiments of the Remonstrants, or to seduce them from the doctrine of the synod." All of them professed their willingness to obey their governors in all such matters as might be performed with a safe conscience, to live peaceably themselves, and to exhort all others to the same practice. They also expressed their readiness to refrain from the exercise of their ecclesiastical functions in the public churches; but none of them, except Leo, could reconcile it to their consciences to abstain from feeding in smaller assemblies the flock of Christ over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers. The majority of them added, "Not only those who abuse or squander away their talent will be punished, but those also who bury it in the earth, either through fear of trouble or hope of advantage. It is therefore our duty to place our lights on candlesticks, and not to hide or smother them under a bushel or an easy bed; and we hope your lordships will neither hinder us, nor be displeased with us for so doing." In a subsequent interview with the commissioners, the Remonstrants proved, that their reasons for continuing the exercise of their ministry had formerly received the sanction of the States General themselves: for at the treaty of Cologne, in 1579, their high mightinesses had insisted, "that subjects who professed any religion different from that which was established, could not satisfy their consciences by foregoing its exercise." But, after several unavailing conferences together, the commissioners left them in a state of suspense and confinement, about twenty days longer. During that time, several reports were brought to them from various quarters, "that some great calamity was impending;" and they were seriously advised to avoid it by a timely flight. They were likewise informed of Barneveldt's execution, and of the perpetual imprisonment to which Grotius and Hogerbeets had been sentenced; and that several of their brethren in the ministry, who had lately attended a meeting at Rotterdam about their affairs in general, had been taken into custody, and brought to the Hague, for that offence. They thought, however, that all these reports were only intended to create an artificial alarm, and to induce them to attempt an escape,-thus delivering their enemies from the hatred to which they would be exposed by their farther rigorous proceedings. But their firmness on that occasion corresponded with all their previous conduct, and they refused to dishonor their good cause by flight, or any other act of cowardice. On the 3d of July, after having been summoned from Dort to the Hague, they appeared before the States General, and when they had been called in singly before their lordships, some time was spent to induce each of them to sign the act of cessation from the ministry. But to these renewed solicitations they separately returned the same modest answer as that which they had delivered at Dort. After allowing them two days for farther deliberation, their lordships on the fifth of the same month, having heard a repetition of their refusal, passed a resolution to banish them "out of the united provinces and the jurisdiction thereof, without ever being allowed to return till the said states be fully satisfied that they are ready to subscribe the said act of cessation, and till they have obtained special leave from their high mightinesses for that purpose, on pain, in case of non-compliance, of being treated as disturbers of the public peace, for an example to others." Episcopius delivered a short speech, in which, among other matters, he reminded their high mightinesses, "that they had been invited to a free synod, and had received frequent verbal promises, of a safe conduct." To this speech they did not deign a reply, but ordered the Remonstrants to be conducted into another room, and to have the door locked and bolted, while the provost and his officers attended on the outside for purposes of intimidation. After being kept some time in this kind of imprisonment they were at length permitted to depute to their high mightinesses two of their body, who requested that they might have leave to adjust their domestic affairs, to collect what was owing to them, and to pay their debts, that their wives and children might not be rendered miserable and turned naked into the streets. They offered to give unexceptionable security for their return at such a period and to such places as their lordships might require. While they were preferring this request, the Heer Muis often interrupted them, and at last sarcastically told them "not to be so greatly concerned about their families; for if they had received an extraordinary call from God to serve his church, he would undoubtedly support them after an extraordinary manner." But the only favor which the Remonstrants could obtain, was, the deferring of their departure till four o'clock the next morning, provided each of them would promise to retire to his lodgings, without speaking to any body, and to be ready at the appointed early hour next day. Each of them had fifty guilders allowed for his traveling expenses, and a copy of the sentence of the States General. But it was between nine and ten o'clock the next day, before the magistrates removed them in nine wagons toward Walwick in Brabant, the place of banishment which they had desired, where they arrived after a journey of three days. The canons of Dort, as the grand test of Calvinism, were then carried triumphantly by the synodists throughout the land; and every clergyman, professor, and schoolmaster, that refused to sign them was deprived of his benefice and compelled to lay aside his functions. Several of them, in addition to their deprivation, were also banished out of the country, to various parts on the continent. So ended these proceedings of the Synod of Dort as to these suffering men; proceedings which would have disgraced the worst age of popery! While in a state of banishment, these excellent ministers of Christ Jesus provided for the spiritual wants of their destitute flocks; and, at the imminent hazard of life and liberty, discharged in person, as often as they found opportunity, the duties of the pastoral office. After the death of Prince Maurice, in 1631, they were permitted to return to their native country, and to resume the peaceable exercise of their ministry. But the immense literary labors in which they were compelled to engage during this troublous period have, by the admirably over-ruling acts of Divine Providence, been rendered most valuable blessings to the whole of Christendom. Such doctrines and principles were then brought under discussion, as served to enlighten every country in Europe, on the grand subject of civil and religious liberty, the true nature of which has from that time been better understood, and its beneficial effects more generally appreciated and enjoyed.
We subjoin their opinions on the "Five Points" in dispute between them and the Contra-Remonstrants, translated from the Latin papers which they presented to the synod. It is, however, necessary for the reader to be apprized, that, in framing these doctrinal articles, which served them as texts or theses for some most valuable dissertations on various cognate subjects, they intended rather to expose the unguarded assertions and extravagant dogmas of their theological adversaries, than to exhibit a simple statement of their own sentiments.
I. On predestination. 1. God has not decreed to elect any one to eternal life or to reprobate any man from it, in an order prior to that by which he has decreed to create that man, without any insight into any antecedent obedience or disobedience, but according to his own good pleasure, to demonstrate the glory of his mercy and justice, or of his power or absolute dominion. 2. As the decree of God concerning both the salvation and the destruction of every man is not the decree of an end absolutely [intenti] fixed, it follows that neither are such means subordinated to that decree as through them both the elect and the reprobate may efficaciously and inevitably be brought to the destined end. 3. Wherefore, neither did God with this design in one man Adam create all men in an upright condition, nor did he ordain the fall or even its permission, nor did he withdraw from Adam necessary and sufficient grace, nor does he now cause the Gospel to be preached and men to be outwardly called, nor does he confer on them the gifts of the Holy Spirit,-[he has done none of these things with the design] that they should be means by which he might bring some of mankind to life everlasting, and leave others of them destitute of eternal life. Christ the Mediator is not only the executor of election, but also the foundation of the very decree of election itself. The reason [causa] why some men are efficaciously called, justified, persevere in faith, and are glorified, is not because they are absolutely elected to life eternal: nor is the reason why others are deserted and left in the fall, have not Christ bestowed upon them, or, farther, why they are inefficaciously called, are hardened and damned, because these men are absolutely reprobated from eternal life. 4. God has not decreed, without the intervening of actual sins, to leave by far the greatest part of mankind in the fall, and excluded from all hope of salvation. 5. God has ordained that Christ shall be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; and, in virtue of this decree, he has determined to justify and save those who believe in him, and to administer to men the means which are necessary and sufficient for faith, in such a manner as he knows to be befitting his wisdom and justice. But he has not in any wise determined, in virtue of an absolute decree, to give Christ as a Mediator, for the elect only, and to endow them alone with faith through an effectual call, to justify them, to preserve them in the faith, and to glorify them. 6. Neither is any man by some absolute antecedent decree rejected from life eternal, nor from means sufficient to attain it: so that the merits of Christ, calling, and all the gifts of the Spirit, are capable of profiting all men for their salvation, and are in reality profitable to all men, unless by an abuse of these blessings they pervert them to their own destruction. But no man whatever is destined to unbelief, impiety, or the commission of sin, as the means and causes of his damnation. 7. The election of particular persons is [peremptoria] absolute, from consideration of their faith in Jesus Christ and their perseverance, but not without consideration of their faith and of their perseverance in true faith as a prerequisite condition in electing them. 8. Reprobation from eternal life is made according to the consideration of preceding unbelief and perseverance in unbelief, but not without consideration of preceding unbelief or perseverance in unbelief. 9. All the children of believers are sanctified in Christ; so that not one of them perishes who departs out of this life prior to the use of reason. But some children of believers who depart out of this life in their infancy, and before they have in their own persons committed any sin, are on no account to be reckoned in the number of the reprobate: so that neither is the sacred laver of baptism, nor are the prayers of the church, by any means capable of profiting them to salvation. 10. No children of believers who have been baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and who live in the state of their infancy, are by an absolute decree numbered among the reprobate.
II. On the universality of the merit of Christ. 1. The price of redemption which Christ offered to his Father is in and of itself not only sufficient for the redemption of the whole human race, but it has also, through the decree, the will, and the grace of God the Father, been paid for all men and every man; and therefore no one is by an absolute and antecedent decree of God positively excluded from all participation in the fruits of the death of Christ. 2. Christ, by the merit of his death, has [hactenus] thus far reconciled God the Father to the whole of mankind,-that he can and will, without injury to his justice and truth, enter into and establish a new covenant of grace with sinners and men obnoxious to damnation. 3. Though Christ has merited for all men and for every man reconciliation with God and forgiveness of sins, yet, according to [pactum] the tenor or terms of the new and gracious covenant, no man is in reality made a partaker of the benefits procured by the death of Christ in any other way than through faith; neither are the trespasses and offences of sinful men forgiven prior to their actually and truly believing in Christ. 4. Those only for whom Christ has died are obliged to believe that Christ has died for them. But those whom they call reprobates, and for whom Christ has not died, can neither be obliged so to believe, nor can they be justly condemned for the contrary unbelief but if such persons were reprobates, they would be obliged to believe that Christ has not died for them.
III. and IV. On the operation of grace in the conversion of man. 1. Man has not saving faith from and of himself, nor has he it from the powers of his own free will; because in a state of sin he is able from and of himself to think, will, or do nothing that is good, nothing that is indeed saving good; of which description, in the first place, is saving faith. But it is necessary that, by God in Christ through his Holy Spirit, he should be regenerated and renewed in his understanding, affections, will, and in all his powers, that he may be capable of rightly understanding, meditating, willing, and performing such things as are savingly good. 2. We propound the grace of God to be the beginning, the progress, and the completion of every good thing; so that even the man who is born again is not able without this preceding and prevenient, this exciting and following, this accompanying and cooperating grace, to think, to will, or to perform any good, or to resist any temptations to evil: so that good works, and the good actions which any one is able to find out by thinking, are to be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. 3. Yet we do not believe that all the zeal, care, study, and pains, which are employed to obtain salvation, before faith and the Spirit of renovation, are vain and useless; much less do we believe that they are more hurtful to man than useful and profitable. But, on the contrary, we consider that to hear the word of God, to mourn on account of the commission of sin, and earnestly to seek and desire saving grace and the Spirit of renovation, (none of which is any man capable of doing without divine grace,) are not only not hurtful and useless, but that they are rather most useful and exceedingly necessary for obtaining faith and the Spirit of renovation. 4. The will of man in a lapsed or fallen state, and before the call of God, has not the capability and liberty of willing any good that is of a saving nature; and therefore we deny that the liberty of willing as well what is a saving good as what is an evil is present to the human will in every state or condition. 5. Efficacious grace, by which any man is converted, is not irresistible: and though God so affects the will of man by his word and the inward operation of his Spirit, as to confer upon him a capability of believing, or supernatural power, and actually [faciat] causes man to believe: yet man is of himself capable to spurn and reject this grace and not believe, and therefore, also to perish through his own culpability. 6. Although, according to the most free and unrestrained will of God, there is very great disparity or inequality of divine grace, yet the Holy Spirit either bestows, or is ready to bestow, upon all and upon every one to whom the word of faith is preached, as much grace as is sufficient to promote [suis gradibus] in its gradations the conversion of men; and therefore grace sufficient for faith and conversion is conceded not only to those whom God is said to be willing to save according to his decree of absolute election, but likewise to those who are in reality not converted. 7. Man is able, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to do more good than he actually does, and to omit more evil than he actually omits. Neither do we believe that God [simpliciter] absolutely wills that man should do no more good than that which he does, and to omit no more evil than that which he omits; nor do we believe it to have been determinately decreed from all eternity that each of such acts should be so done or omitted. 8. Whomsoever God calls he calls them seriously, that is, with a sincere and not with a dissembled intention and will of saving them. Neither do we subscribe to the opinion of those persons who assert that God outwardly calls certain men whom he does not will to call inwardly, that is, whom he is unwilling to be truly converted, even prior to their rejection of the grace of calling. 9. There is not in God a secret will of that kind which is so opposed to his will revealed in his word, that according to this same secret will he does not will the conversion and salvation of the greatest part of those whom, by the word of his Gospel, and by his revealed will, he seriously calls and invites to faith and salvation. 10. Neither [hic] on this point do we admit of a holy dissimulation, as it is the manner of some men to speak, or of a twofold person in the Deity. 11. It is not true, that, through the force and efficacy of the secret will of God or of the divine decree, not only are all good things necessarily done, but likewise all evil things; so that whosoever commit sin, they are not able, in respect to the divine decree, to do otherwise than commit sin; and that God wills, decrees, and [procurat] is the manager of men's sins, and of their insane, foolish, and cruel actions, also of the sacrilegious blasphemy of his own name; that he moves the tongues of men to blaspheme, etc. 12. We also consider it to be a false and horrible dogma, that God by secret means impels men to the commission of those sins which he openly prohibits; that those who sin do not act in opposition to the true will of God and that which is properly so called; that what is unjust, that is, what is contrary to God's command, is agreeable to his will; nay, farther, that it is a real and capital fault to do the will of God.
V. On the perseverance of true believers in faith. 1. The perseverance of believers in faith is not the effect of that absolute decree of God by which he is said to have elected or chosen particular persons circumscribed with no condition of their obedience. 2. God furnishes true believers with supernatural powers or strength of grace, as much as according to his infinite wisdom he judges to suffice for their perseverance, and for their overcoming the temptations of the devil, the flesh, and the world; and on the part of God stands nothing to hinder them from persevering. 3. It is possible for true believers to fall away from true faith, and to fall into sins of such a description as cannot consist with a true and justifying faith; nor is it only possible for them thus to fall, but such lapses not unfrequently occur. 4. True believers are capable by their own fault of falling into flagrant crimes and atrocious wickedness, to persevere and die in them, and therefore finally to fall away and to perish. 5. Yet though true believers sometimes fall into grievous sins, and such as destroy the conscience, we do not believe that they immediately fall away from all hope of repentance; but we acknowledge this to be an event not impossible to occur,-that God, according to the multitude of his mercies may again call them by his grace to repentance; nay, we are of opinion that such a recalling has often occurred, although such fallen believers cannot be "most fully persuaded" about this matter that it will certainly and undoubtedly take place. 6. Therefore do we with our whole heart and soul reject the following dogmas, which are daily affirmed in various publications extensively circulated among the people: namely, (1.) "True believers cannot possibly sin with deliberate counsel and design, but only through ignorance and infirmity." (2.) "It is impossible for true believers, through any sin of theirs, to fall away from the grace of God." (3.) "A thousand sins, nay, all the sins of the whole world, are not capable of rendering election vain and void." If to this be added, "Men of every description are bound to believe that they are elected to salvation, and therefore are incapable of falling from that election," we leave men to think what a wide window such a dogma opens to carnal security. (4.) "No sins, however great and grievous they may be, are imputed to believers; nay, farther, all sins, both present and future, are remitted to them." (5.) "Though true believers fall into destructive heresies, into dreadful and most atrocious sins, such as adultery and murder, on account of which the church, according to the institution of Christ, is compelled to testify that it cannot tolerate them in its outward communion, and that unless such persons be converted, they will have no part in the kingdom of Christ; yet it is impossible for them totally and finally to fall away from faith." 7. As a true believer is capable at the present time of being assured concerning the integrity of his faith and conscience, so he is able and ought to be at this time assured of his own salvation and of the saving good will of God toward him. On this point we highly disapprove of the opinion of the papists. 8. A true believer, respecting the time to come, can and ought, indeed, to be assured that he is able, by means of watching, prayer, and other holy exercises, to persevere in the true faith; and that divine grace will never fail to assist him in persevering. But we cannot see how it is possible for him to be assured that he will never afterward be deficient in his duty, but that he will persevere, in this school of Christian warfare, in the performance of acts of faith, piety, and charity, as becomes believers; neither do we consider it to be a matter of necessity that a believer should be assured of such perseverance.
Under the article PELAGIANS has been shown the line of distinction which the Remonstrants drew between their doctrines and those of Pelagius; and the following are the just distinctions, which they presented to the synod of Dort, between Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism: "But we must declare, likewise, what our judgment is respecting Semi-Pelagianism. The Masillians, after the time of Pelagius, partly corrected his error and partly retained it; on which account they received from Prosper the appellation of the relics or remains of Pelagius, and are commonly styled Semi-Pelagians. They allowed the existence of prevenient grace, but only that which precedes or goes before good works; not that also which precedes the commencement of faith and of a good will, by which they believed that man preceded God,-yet this not always, but only sometimes: On the contrary we say, that God precedes or goes before the beginning of faith and of a good will; and that it is of grace both that our will be excited to begin well, and likewise, that, being thus prepared, it be led through to the grace of regeneration. The Semi-Pelagians asserted, that man, through the previous dispositions which had been implanted in his nature, obtained grace as a reward; and, however they might sometimes decline the use of the term merit, they by no means excluded merit itself: But we deny, that, through the endeavors of nature, man merits grace. The opinion of the Semi-Pelagians was, that, for the preservation of the grace of the Holy Spirit, we want nothing more than that which either by nature we may have, or that which we may once obtain in conjunction with grace: But we acknowledge, that, in order to our perseverance in good, special grace is likewise required.
"Wherefore we are unjustly accused of Semi-Pelagianism by the Contra-Remonstrants, since we condemn in the Semi-Pelagians those things which the church universal formerly condemned in them. Yet these are great signs of inconstancy and consequently of a false judgment,-that while some among them fasten Pelagianism upon us and others Semi-Pelagianism, there are others who declare that we are nearly and almost Semi-Pelagians, all of them having chosen and employed these epithets only for purposes of odium. Our conclusion therefore is, that we derogate nothing from divine grace, but acknowledge its supernatural and unmerited acts, and their absolute necessity for the work of conversion. But, on the other hand, we frankly confess, that the indifferency or liberty of the will is not taken away by grace, but that it is perfected for the better; and that the will is not necessitated, or so determined toward good as not to be able to do the opposite.
"This was also the judgment of all antiquity and of the church universal; and the orthodox accounted this way to be the safest, which lay between two precipices, the one that of the Manichees, the other that of the Pelagians. St. Jerom says, 'We thus preserve free will, that we do not deny to it the help which it requires in every thing which it performs,' Dialog. adversus Pelagium. And St. Augustine, who was at other times a most fierce defender of absolute election, judiciously observes, in his forty-sixth letter to Valentinus, 'If there be no grace of God, how does he save the world? And if there be no free will, how does he judge the world?' And, as St. Bernard says, in the commencement of his book On Grace and Free Will, 'Take away free will, and there will be nothing to be saved; take away grace, and there will then be nothing from which salvation can come.' We have had regard to both of them; lest, if we denied the existence of freedom in the will, we should encourage the sloth and listlessness of men; or if the existence of grace, we should give up the reins to pride and haughtiness.-From these quotations [and others which they give] it is evident that the opinion of the fathers was, that free will and grace so completely conspire together, that free will is perfected by grace, and not destroyed; the destruction of the will in this case being a calumny invented by the Pelagians, which was generally refuted by the patrons of grace."