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pagation of the true reformed Christian religion, (which is the foundation of prosperity and bond of union of federated Belgium,) the concord, the tranquillity, and the peace of the churches, and likewise the preservation of the concord and communion of the churches in these regions with all foreign reformed churches, from which we never ought, nor are able to separate ourselves; having seen, and known, and maturely examined and weighed the aforementioned judgment and decision of the Synod, we have fully in all things approved, confirmed, and ratified them, and by these presents do approve, confirm, and ratify them; willing and enacting, (statuentes,) that no other doctrine concerning the aforesaid five heads of doctrine be taught or propagated in the churches of these regions, besides that which is conformable and agreeable to the aforesaid judgment: enjoining and commanding with authority, to all the ecclesiastical assemblies, the ministers of the churches, the professors and doctors of sacred theology, the rulers of colleges, and to all in general, and to every one in particular, whom these things can in any way concern or reach unto, that, in the exercise of their ministerial offices and functions, they should in all things follow them faithfully, and sincerely conduct themselves consistently with them. And that this our good intention may every where be fully and in all things satisfied, (or complied with,) we charge and command the orders, governors, deputies of the orders, counsellors, and deputed orders of the provinces of Gelderland, and the county of Zutphen, of Holland, West Friesland, Zealand, Utrecht, Friesland, Overyssel, and of the state of
Groningen and the Omelands, and all their officiaries, judges, and justiciaries, that they should promote and defend the observation of the aforesaid Synodical judgment, and of those things which depend on it; so that they should not either themselves make any change in these things, or permit it by any means to be done by others because we judge that it ought to be so done, to promote the glory of God, the security and safety of the state of these regions, and the tranquillity and peace of the church.-Given (actum) under our seal, and it hath been sealed by the sealing of the president, and the subscription of our secretary, at the Hague, the second of July, in the year 1619.
By the mandate of the aforesaid High Mightinesses the States General,
Subscribed, C. AERSSEN.
And in the (blank) space the aforesaid seal had been impressed on red wax.
REMARKS OF THE TRANSLATOR.
On this document it must be again observed, that the measure adopted by the rulers of Belgium, in respect of the decisions of the Synod of Dort, ought not to be judged according to the generally prevailing sentiments of modern times. An immense revolution in opinion, on these subjects, has taken place within the last two centuries: and to render these rulers and this Synod amenable to what we may call statutes long after enacted,
as if whatever there was wrong in the conduct of the affair was exclusively their fault, would be palpably unjust. "Are ye not partial in yourselves, " and are become judges of evil thoughts." Jam. ii. 4. "But the wisdom from above is without "partiality." Jam. iii. 18. The general principle of inducing, by coercive measures, conformity in doctrine and worship to the decisions of either councils, convocations, synods, or parliaments, was almost universally admitted and acted upon to a later period, than that of this Synod; and, though not long afterwards it was questioned, and in some instances relinquished, yet it retained a very general prevalency for at least half a century after; nor is it without its advocates, even in the reformed churches at this present day. Had the opponents of the Synod possessed the same authority, they would have acted in like manner; and so would the rulers of the other countries in Europe. The exclusive charge therefore, against the measures under consideration, must be laid in those things which were peculiar in their proceedings.
As authority and compulsion can never produce conviction, or any regulation of the mind and judgment; the word sincerely, in this state-paper, is very improperly used. It could not indeed reasonably be expected, that even external conformity to so extensive a doctrinal standard could be generally or durably attained: but to suppose that any thing beyond this would be the result, except what argument and explanation, and appeals to the scriptures in the articles of the Synod itself, could effect, was evidently most irrational; yet it was the notion of the times, and does not still appear absurd to all men, even in protestant countries.
Had the rulers of Belgium adopted and ratified the decisions of the Synod, as approving and recommending them to all the persons concerned; and giving countenance in some measure to those who voluntarily avowed the purpose of adhering to them, and leaving others entirely at liberty to decline these terms, whether as authorized teachers of congregations or of schools, but no further molesting them, or interfering with their pursuits or instructions; their conduct might have been advocated especially if, as was said before, some fair portion of their former incomes had been reserved to those who had relinquished their situations, rather than promise to conform, but who otherwise behaved as peaceful members of the community. But by absolute authority to demand of all entire conformity, whether voluntary or involuntary; and to follow up this demand by the secular arm, and by heavy punishments, was altogether unjustifiable. Yet, except the strictness of the rule itself, what country almost was there in Europe at that time, or which almost of either the rulers or teachers of the reformed churches, that did not in great measure attempt to do the same? So that, while authority in many instances repeatedly shifted sides, which ever part was uppermost, its religious decisions were enforced by similar measures.
The reformers dissented from almost every principle of the church of Rome, but this, the ' right of persecution; and, though Luther and 'some thought it rather too much to burn heretics, all agreed that they should be restrained
That is, I presume, So exact and extensive a standard of doctrine.-J. S.
' and punished, and in short, that it was better to 'burn than to tolerate them. The church of England has burnt protestants for heresy, and papists for treason. The Church of Scotland, and the London ministers in the interregnum declared their utter detestation and abhorrence ' of the evil of toleration, as patronizing and ' promoting all other errors, heresies, and blasphemies whatever, under the abused name of 'liberty of conscience.' 1
The main point in this quotation is indisputable; but in respect of Luther especially, the statement is erroneous. It would probably be difficult to produce an instance, in which this great man even so much as sanctioned the punishment of the wild enthusiasts and deceivers of his day, except where the peace of society rendered the interposition of the magistrates indispensable.— 'At the same time, he (Luther) took occasion to reprobate the cruel sufferings inflicted on the poor wretches by the persecutions of the ecclesi'astical rulers; insisting with the utmost precision
on that grand distinction of which this reformer 'never lost sight-that errors in articles of faith 'were not to be suppressed by fire and sword, but 'confuted by the word of God; and that recourse ' was never to be had to capital penalties, except in cases of actual sedition and tumult.' 2
'His worthy friend Lineus, probably in a state ' of irritation, had asked him, Whether he con'ceived a magistrate to be justified in putting to death teachers of false religion a question, then 'little understood, and not generally agreed upon
Williams on Religious Toleration Eclectic Review.
* Milner's Church History, vol. iv. p. 1098. or v. 498.