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CONTAINING THE DECISION OF THE SYNOD CONCERNING THE REMONSTRANTS, AND THE APPROBATION OF THE STATES GENERAL, WITH REMARKS.
The Decision (or Sentence) of the Synod concerning the Remonstrants.
THE truth having been, by the grace of God, thus far explained and asserted, errors rejected and condemned, and iniquitous calumnies refuted; this Synod of Dort, (according to the duty which is further incumbent upon it,) seriously, earnestly, and by the authority which, according to the word of God, it possesses over all the members of its churches, in the name of Christ beseeches, exhorts, admonishes, and enjoins all and every one of the pastors of the churches in confederated Belgium; the doctors, rectors, and masters of the academies and schools; and indeed all universally, to whom either the care of souls or the discipline of youth is committed, that, casting away the five known articles of the Remonstrants, which are erroneous, and mere hiding places of errors, they preserve this wholesome doctrine of saving truth drawn from the most pure fountain of the divine word, sincere and inviolate according to their ability and office, propound and explain it faithfully to the people and to youth; and diligently declare its most sweet and beneficial use in life,
as well as in death: that they instruct those of different sentiments, such as wander from the flock, and are led away by the novelty of opinions, meekly by the evidence of the truth, "if perad"venture God will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth;" that, restored to a sound mind, they may with one spirit, one mouth, one faith and charity, return to the church of God and the communion of the saints: and that at length the wound of the church may be closed, and all her members be of one heart and mind in the Lord.
But moreover, because some persons having gone out from among us,. under the title of Remonstrants, (which name of Remonstrants, as also of Contra-Remonstrants, the Synod thinks should be blotted out by a perpetual oblivion :) and the discipline and order of the church having been violated by their private endeavours and counsels, in unlawful ways; and the admonitions and judgments of their brethren having been despised; they have very grievously and dangerously disturbed the Belgic churches, before most flourishing, and most united in faith and love, in these heads of doctrine; have recalled ancient and pernicious errors, and framed new ones; and publicly and privately, both by word and by writings, have scattered them among the common people, and most vehemently contended for them; have made neither measure nor end of inveighing against the doctrine hitherto received in the churches, by enormous calumnies and reproaches; have filled all things every where with scandals, dissensions, scruples of conscience, and inventions (excogitationibus); which offences, cer
tainly very heinous, against faith, against love, and good morals, and the unity and peace of the churches, as they could not justly be endured in any man, ought necessarily to be animadverted on in pastors, with that most severe censure, which hath in every age (ab omni ævo) been adopted by the church: the Synod, having invoked the holy name of God, and honestly conscious of its authority from the word of God; treading in the footsteps as well of ancient as of recent synods, and fortified by the authority of the most illustrious the States General, declares and judges, that those pastors, who have yielded themselves leaders of parties in the church, and teachers of errors, be held guilty and convicted of corrupting religion, of rending the unity of the church, and of most grievous scandals; and moreover, having been summoned before this Synod, of intolerable obstinacy against the decrees of the supreme magistracy made known by this Synod, and also against the venerable Synod itself.
For which causes, in the first place the Synod interdicts the before cited persons from every ecclesiastical service, and deprives them of their offices, and judges them also to be unworthy of academical functions, until by earnest repentance, abundantly proved by words and deeds, and by contrary exertions, they satisfy the church, and be truly and fully reconciled with the same, and received to her communion; which for their own good, and for the joy of the whole church, we specially (unice) desire in Christ our Lord. But the rest, of whom the knowledge hath not come to this national Synod, the Synod commits to the Provincials, the Classes, and the Presbyteries,
after the received order; that they may take care that the church receive no detriment, nor fear it hereafter. Let them discriminate with the spirit of prudence the followers of these errors: let them deprive the refractory, the clamorous, the factious, the disturbers, as soon as possible, of ecclesiastical and academical offices, which fall under their cognizance and care: and they are admonished that without any delay interposed, after the reception of the decision of this national Synod having obtained the authority of the magistrate in order to it, they assemble for this purpose, lest the evil should increase and be strengthened by remissness. Let them, by all lenity, by the offices of love, by patience, excite those, who have fallen or been carried away by infirmity and the fault of the times, and who perhaps hesitate, or are even dissentient, in lighter matters, but quiet, of blameless life, tractable,-let them excite these to true and perfect concord with the church: yet so that they may diligently take care, that they do not admit, any to the sacred ministry who refuse to subscribe these synodical constitutions of the declared doctrine, and to teach it and that they retain no one, by whose manifest dissention the doctrine approved with such agreement in this Synod may be violated, and the tranquillity of the churches again disturbed.
Moreover, this venerable Synod seriously admonishes all ecclesiastical assemblies, most diligently to watch over the flocks committed to them, and promptly to meet and obviate all innovations privily springing up in the church, and pull them up, as it were tares, out of the field of the Lord that they attend to the schools, and
the conductors (moderatoribus) of schools, lest by any means, from private sentiments and corrupt opinions instilled into the youth, mischief should afterwards be produced to the church and the republic.
Finally, thanks having been reverently given to the most illustrious and very powerful the States General of Belgium, because they in so necessary and seasonable a time kindly succoured the afflicted and declining interests of the church, by the remedy of the Synod; received the upright and faithful servants of God under their protection; and willed that the pledge of every blessing and of the divine presence, the truth of his word, should be in a holy and religious manner preserved in their dominions; and spared no labour or expense to promote and complete such a work: for these extraordinary benefits, the Synod, with its whole heart, prays for the most abundant recompense, on them from the Lord, both publicly and privately, both spiritual and temporal. The Synod also most strenuously and humbly solicits the same most clement lords, to will and command that this salutary doctrine, most faithfully expressed by the Synod according to the word of God, and the consent of the reformed churches, be alone, and publicly heard in these regions; to drive away all heresies and errors privily springing up; and to repress unquiet and turbulent spirits: that they would go on to approve themselves the true and benign nursing fathers and tutors of the church; that they would determine that the sentence, according to the ecclesiastical authority confirmed by the laws of the country, be valid against the persons before