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CONTAINING THE JUDGMENT OF THE SYNOD ON
THE FIVE CONTROVERTED POINTS OF DOCTRINE,
In the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
AMONG very many comforts, which our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ hath given to his own church militant, in this calamitous pilgrimage, that which he left unto it, when about to go away to his Father, into the heavenly sanctuary, saying, “ I am with you at all times, even unto the end of “ the world,” is deservedly celebrated. The truth of this most delightful promise shines forth in the church of all ages, which, whilst it has been assailed from the beginning, not only by the open violence of enemies, but also by the secret craftiness of seducers, truly if at any time the Lord had deprived it of the salutary guard of his own
1 The full title is : · The judgment of the National Synod of ' the Reformed Belgic Churches, held at Dort in the years 1618, . 1619, (at which many eminent Divines of the Reformed • Churches of Great Britain, Germany, and France were present)
concerning the five heads of Doctrine controverted in the • Belgic Churches. Published May 6. 1619.-J.S.
promised presence, had long since been either crushed by the power of tyrants, or seduced into destruction by the fraud of impostors.
But that good Shepherd, who most constantly loveth his flock, for which he laid down his life, hath always most seasonably, and often, by his own right hand stretched forth, most miraculously repressed the rage of persecutors; and hath also detected and dissipated the crooked ways of seducers, and their fraudulent counsels ; in both (these ways) demonstrating himself to be most effectually present (presentissimum) in his church. Of this thing, an illustrious proof (documentum) exists in the history of the pious emperors, kings, and princes, whom the Son of God hath excited so often for the assistance of his church ; hath fired with the holy zeal of his house; and, by their help, hath not only repressed the furious rage (furores) of tyrants, but also hath procured to his church, when conflicting with false teachers, in various ways adulterating religion, the remedies of holy synods ; in which the faithful servants of Christ, by united prayers, counsels, and labours, have valiantly stood for the church, and for the truth of God; have intrepidly opposed themselves against the “ ministers of Satan, though transforming themselves into angels of light;" have taken away the seeds of errors and discords ; have preserved the church in the concord of pure religion ; and have transmitted the genuine (sincerum) worship of God, uncorrupted, to posterity. With a similar benefit our faithful Saviour hath, at this time, testified his own gracious presence with the Belgic church, for several years past very
much afflicted. For this church, rescued by the powerful hand of God from the tyranny of the Roman antichrist, and the horrible idolatry of popery ; (or the popedom, papatus ;) and many times most miraculously preserved in the dangers of a long continued war; and flourishing in the concord of true doctrine and discipline, to the praise of her God, to an admirable increase of the republic and the joy of the whole reformed world; James Arminius and his followers, holding out the name of Remonstrants, by various errors, old as well as new, at first covertly, and then openly assaulted ; ( tentarunt ;) and, while it was pertinaciously disturbed with scandalous disentions and schisms, they had brought it into such extreme danger, that, unless the mercy of our Saviour had most opportunely interposed in behalf of this most flourishing church, they had at length consumed it with the horrible conflagration of discords and schisms. · But, blessed be the Lord for ever, who, after he had hid his face for a moment from us, (who by many ways had provoked his wrath and indignation,) hath testified to the whole world, that he doth not forget his covenant, nor contemn the sighs of his own people. For, when scarcely any hope of a remedy, humanly speaking, (humanitus,) appeared; he inspired this mind into the most illustrious and powerful the States General of confederated Belgium,' that, with the counsel and direction of the most illustrious and valiant the Prince of Orange, they determined to go forth to meet these raging evils, by those legiti
" See Ezra vii. 27, 28.
mate means, which have been sanctioned by the examples of the apostles themselves, and of the Christian church that followed them, during a long course of years, and which have before this been had recourse to (usurpatæ) in the Belgic church, with much advantage ; and they called a Synod at Dort by their own authority, out of all the provinces which they governed ; having sought out towards it both the favour of the most serene and powerful James king of Great Britain, and of illustrious Princes, Counts, and Republics, and having obtained also very many most grave theologians; that, by common judgment of so many divines of the reformed church, those dogmas of Arminius and of his followers might be decided on accurately, and by the word of God alone; that the true doctrine might be confirmed, and the false rejected ; and that concord, peace, and tranquillity might, by the divine blessing, be restored to the Belgic churches. This is that benefit of God, in which the Belgic churches exult; and they humbly acknowledge and thankfully proclaim the compassions of their faithful Saviour. Therefore this venerable Synod, (after a previous appointment and observance of prayers and fasting, by the authority of the supreme magistracy, in all the Belgic churches, to deprecate the wrath of God, and to implore his gracious assistance) being met together in the name of the Lord at Dort, fired with the love of God (divini numinis) and for the salvation of the church ; and, after having invoked the name of God, having bound itself by a sacred oath, that it would take the holy scriptures alone as the rule of judgment, and of Correspondentia and Wedevarica; to the republics of Geneva, Bremen, and Emden ; in which they requested, that they would deign to send from them to this synod some of their own theologians, excelling in learning, piety, and prudence, who might earnestly labour by their counsels and decisions, along with the rest of the deputies of the Belgic churches, to settle those controversies, which had arisen in these Belgic churches, and to restore peace to the same.
All these things having been duly prepared and completed, when at the appointed time as well the deputies of the Belgic churches, as also the foreign theologians, a few excepted, had met together at Dort, that national Synod was begun in the name of the Lord, on the thirteenth day of November, 1618. But in this Synod, what now was actually done, the prudent reader may know at length (prolixe) from the Acts of the same, which now are published for the favour (satisfaction, gratiam) and use of the reformed churches. It hath seemed good also, that to these Acts should be joined, besides other writings exhibited to this Synod, the judgments also of the theologians concerning the five articles of the Remonstrants, as they were proposed in the Synod; by which they may more fully know, by the same, on what passages of scripture, and on what arguments, the canons of the reformed church do rest. It is not to be doubted, that the prudent reader will discover in these judgments the highest and most admirable agreement. If perhaps in less matters a certain diversity appear, even this will be an argument, that a due liberty of prophesying and