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or silencing of pastors; and excluding from their office academical teachers and professors on account of heresy in doctrine, and gross inconsistency of conduct, proved against them in their classes or synods. Through the whole history it appears, that no other form of government was proposed even by the Remonstrants; nor any thing mentioned about toleration in that respect; though their measures evidently tended to subvert the whole system. All the funds likewise, reserved for religious purposes, were appropriated entirely in consistency with the Presbyterian model; and. all academical honours and distinctions were conferred in that line.
This, beyond doubt, having been the case; and the principal persons concerned in the controversy against the Remonstrants, having been zealously, and most of them at least conscientiously, attached to this system ; so that it appeared to them as if the very interests of vital religion were intimately, if not inseparably, connected with it; he must be a most unreasonable and partial Antipresbyterian, who can expect from men of this stamp, that they would permit their whole system, and all its operations, to be retarded, disturbed, nay, totally deranged and subverted, and the whole state of their churches thrown into confusion and anarchy, without vigorous struggles to prevent a catastrophe, in their view so deplorable and ruinous. Even in this age and land few persons, of supposed candour and liberality of mind, among either zealous episcopalians or independents, seem inclined tamely to witness the subversion of their favourite system, without employing the most ef
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fectual means of preventing it which are fairly within their reach. Indeed it is not in human nature, and cannot reasonably be expected. Nor, till men are convinced that it is not the cause of God, nor essential to that of true religion, would it be right thus to yield it up to their opponents. But, when measures of this nature are adopted, at first simply in self-defence, against aggressors, in order to preserve advantages already possessed by law and custom ; it must also be expected that, in the eagerness of a violent and protracted contest, even conscientious men will, through remaining prejudices and evil passions, excited and irritated by what they judge injurious usage, be betrayed into some unjustifiable measures ; of which their opponents will make great advantage, and which even impartial spectators cannot justify or excuse. If then this should appear to have been the case in the Belgic contest, with the opposers of the Remonstrants, as well as with the Remonstrants themselves; it ought neither to excite our surprise, nor prejudice us so deeply against the whole company, as to involve them, on account of it, in one sweeping sentence of condemnation.
Again, it is well known, at least it is capable of the most complete proof, in respect of the doctrines controverted during this period in Belgium ; that the Confession and Catechism of the Belgic churches were entirely on the side of the ContraRemonstrants. Their appeal is constantly made to those articles ; not under the disadvantage, in which some of us in England appeal to the articles of our established church, while our opponents,
with a degree of plausibility, interpret them in a different meaning ; but as to the very documents to which the Remonstrants objected, nay, which they vehemently and openly opposed, both in their sermons and public writings. So that their concessions and requisitions, in this respect, put the matter beyond all denial or doubt to him that has carefully examined the history. This will fully appear as we proceed. Now he must be a most unreasonable and unfair advocate for the Remonstrants, who would require decided and conscientious Contra-Remonstrants, holding responsible stations in the Belgic churches, universities, and schools, by virtue of their subscription to this Confession and Catechism, to suffer, without any effort to the contrary, those documents to be opposed, proscribed, and vilified; and contrary doctrines promulgated, even by persons who generally held their situations in the same manner: while the opposers of the established doctrines indefatigably laboured, and employed all their influence with those in authority, to set them aside and introduce the contrary doctrines ; and this by the authority of the civil governments alone, to the exclusion of that ecclesiastical power by which they had been in great measure supported. Such a passive acquiescence would not, I apprehend, be found at this day, if eager opponents should put the matter to the trial, either among decided episcopalians, or Lutherans, or any others who are cordially attached to their own views of Christianity. How far the defenders of the Belgic Confession and Catechism used, exclusively, “weapons “ of warfare not carnal but mighty through God,
is another question. It can scarcely be doubted that there were faults on both sides in this vehement contest ; but I cannot think in an equal degree. Let the candid inquirer read and judge for himself.
In translating this history, and the other documents which I now lay before the public, I make no pretensions to any thing beyond fairness and exactness in giving the meaning of the original. Had I been disposed to aim at it, I do not think myself competent to translate in such a manner, as to invest the Latin, fairly and fully, with the entire idiom of the English language ; but I have, even by design, confined myself more closely to literal translation, than I should have done in an attempt less connected with controversy: and have often declined giving a more approved English word or expression, when I feared that it might be suspected of not exactly conveying the sense of the original. Indeed, as far as it could be made consistent with perspicuity, I have rather preserved than shunned the Latin idiom, where any doubt could remain as to the idea which the writers intended to convey. And, when after all I had any apprehension that I had not fully accomplished this, I have given the Latin word in a parenthesis, that the reader may judge for himself.-In other places, a parenthesis often contains a word not found in the Latin, but useful in elucidating the meaning. My sole desire has been to render the whole clearly understood by the English reader ; and to call the attention of pious and reflecting persons to a part of ecclesiastical history, which I am confident has been generally less known, and more grossly mis
represented by some, and mistaken by others, than any other part whatever ; but which, I am also persuaded, is peculiarly replete with important useful instruction ; especially to zealous Calvinists, who may here learn in what a guarded, holy, and practical manner these generally reprobated theologians, stated and defended their tenets; and on what grounds, exclusively scriptural, they rested them.
THE HISTORY OF PRECEDING EVENTS."
In the course of the last summer, the decision of the venerable Synod, -lately held at Dort (or Dordrecht) concerning some heads of doctrine, which had hitherto been disputed in the Belgic churches, with the greatest disturbance of the same, was published, having been comprised in certain distinct canons. And, as this celebrated Synod had been called together by the illustrious and most mighty the States General, the supreme magistracy of the federated provinces, especially for the removal of the controversies which had arisen in religion; the most of them judged that it would be sufficient, if merely the determination of the Synod concerning these same controversies were published. But, when it afterwards was evident that there were very many who greatly desired fur
This is intitled in the original, and in the former edition of this translation, · The Preface to the Reformed Churches of
Christ, in which the rise and progress of those controversies . in Belgium, for the removal of which this synod was especially held, are briefly and faithfully related.'-J. S.