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It is doubtless vain to attempt any thing against many of those opponents, who succeed to each other, with sufficient variety as to the grounds on which they take their stand, and from which they make the assault; but in some respects nearly in the same course of misapprehension or misrepresentation, as to the real sentiments of those whom they undertake to refute. It suffices to say of them, “ Neither can they prove the things “ of which they accuse us : " and to say to them, “ Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
neighbour.” But indeed Calvinists seem to be no more considered as neighbours by many Anticalvinists, than the publicans, Samaritans, and gentiles were by the Scribes and Pharisees !
After all that has been published on these subjects, the groundless charges brought by many against the whole body cannot be considered as excusable misapprehension. They must be attributed either to intentional misrepresentation, or to the inexcusable presumption of writing on subjects which the writers have never studied, and against persons, and descriptions of persons, of whose tenets, amidst most abundant means of information, they remain wilfully ignorant. A fair and impartial opponent is entitled to respect, but I can only pity such controvertists.
Aston Sandford, March 15, 1818.
SYNOD OF DORT.
CONTAINING THE HISTORY OF PRECEDING EVENTS ;
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY THE TRANSLATOR.
THE TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTION.
In perusing the following prefatory history, the reader should especially recollect, that it was drawn up and published by the authority and with the sanction of the States General, and the Prince of Orange, as well as by that of the Synod itself; and that, in every part of it, the acts, or public records in which the events were registered, are referred to, with the exact dates of each transaction. No history can therefore be attested as authentic in a more satisfactory and unexceptionable manner : for, whatever degree of colouring prejudices or partiality may be supposed to have given to the narration, it can hardly be conceived, that collective bodies, and individuals filling such conspicuous and exalted stations, would expressly attest any thing directly false ; and then appeal to authorities, by which the falsehood of their statement might at any time be detected and exposed. It should also be remembered, that prejudices and partiality would be as likely to colour the account given to the world, and transmitted to posterity by the opposite party ; while the very circumstances, in which they were placed, would render it impracticable for them to substantiate the authenticity of their narrative in the same manner. Yet, contrary to all rules of a sober and unbiassed judgment, the unauthenticated histories given by the Remonstrants of the Synod of Dort have, almost exclusively, been noticed and credited by posterity, especially in this country, to the neglect of the authentic records.2 In giving the translation of this history I would merely say, Audi alteram partem. 'Do not read the authenticated narration with greater suspicions of unfairness, than you do those which are not so fully authenticated. Let not your approbation of what you suppose to have been the doctrine of the Remonstrants, or your aversion to that of the ContraRemonstrants, bias your mind in this respect; but judge impartially. One of these histories was drawn up by a man, Peter Heylin, who has
· So called from a Remonstrance presented by them to the States of Holland and West Friesland, against the doctrines of their opponents, or those of the Federated churches of Belgium.
· Neither Mosheim, nor his translator Maclaine, mentions this history; while they refer to a variety of authorities on both sides of the question, in their narrative of these transactions. So that it is even probable that they had never seen it. Whether the severe measures by which the decisions of this Synod were followed up; and especially the strict prohibition of printing or vending any other account, in Latin, Dutch, or French, in the Federated provinces, during seven years, without a special licence for that purpose; did not eventually conduce to this, may be a question. The measure, however, was impolitic, if not unjustifiable.
been fully convicted of misrepresenting the very articles of the Synod in the grossest manner; and has thus misled great numbers to mistake entirely the real import and nature of the decisions made by it. I appeal to the Abbreviation, as it is called, of the Articles of the Synod of Dort, as compared with the real Articles themselves, in another part of this publication. So scandalous a misrepresentation, which has lately been implicitly adopted by many others, should render the impartial reader cautious in giving implicit credit to other statements made by the same party, however celebrated the names of some of them may be.
When I first entered on this part of my undertaking, I purposed merely to give a short abstract of the history, just enough to render the subsequent part of the work intelligible to the less learned or studious reader: but, whether it were the result of partiality, or of unbiassed judgment, I found myself so deeply interested in the events recorded, (which were almost entirely new to me,) that my reluctancy to translating and transcribing the whole was overcome: and I determined to give it entire, with a few remarks on different parts, to the English reader. As far as I am competent to judge, it possesses every internal evidence of authenticity and fairness; and of impartiality, as far as even pious men, exactly çircumstanced as the writers were, in the present imperfect state of human nature, can be expected to be impartial. It is, I think, also drawn up with a degree of calmness and moderation, far different from that fierce and fiery zeal which is generally supposed to belong to all wlio profess, or are sus
pected of, what many in a very vague and inappropriate manner call Calvinism. And, though according to the fashion of those times, epithets are in some instances applied both to men and opinions, which modern courtesy, nay, perhaps Christian meekness, would have suppressed; yet, if I mistake not, they are more sparingly employed in this than in any contemporary controversial publication. Indeed the higher points of what is called Calvinism are far less insisted on, and the opponents of those points far more moderately censured, than might have been expected; while the doctrines commonly called orthodox, as opposed by Pelagians, Arians, and Socinians, are strongly maintained, and the opposers of them strenuously, nay, severely, condemned. Even Mosheim allows, that the triumph of the Synod was that of the Sublapsarians, not only over the Arminians, but over the Supralapsarians also."
In order to the impartial reading of this history, it should be previously recollected, and well considered, that all the Belgic churches were, from the first, Presbyterian in government and discipline; and constituted according to that plan, with presbyteries, classes, provincial synods, and general synods of all the federated provinces; and with all those rules and methods for admission into the ministry, and to the pastoral charge in distinct congregations, and to situations in universities and schools of learning, which form á constituent part of it; as well as of that strict discipline connected with it, implying not only excommunication of lay-members, but the suspension
' Ecclesiastical History, vol. v. p. 368.