Изображения страниц

and perhaps for the world, ac cording to our dark-sighted views of happiness, had Arminius so remain ed; and had Franciscus Junius, the enlightened professor at Leyden, lived to pursue his pacific career in the theological chair, having only such a luminary as Arminius, quiescent, and in the vista of his view. Not that Arminius had been altogether at ease in Amsterdam. He had commented on the 9th chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans; and having applied the argument of the Apostle merely to the doctrine of justification by faith, he gave such alarm to the Reformed, that they accused him of pleasing at once the Lutherans, the Anabaptists, and the Libertines, by his doctrine. He was surprised at pleasing so many, and all but those he desired to please. He replied,

"That with no less grief of mind had he heard by report of the clandestine slanders of some persons, and in what manner he was traduced under the title of a Heretic, a Libertine and Pelagian; that he had never given just cause to any person to have such a bad opinion of him; that he had never SPOKEN ANY THING IN CONTRADICTION TO THE REFORMED CONFESSION AND CATECHISM, but had at all times taught what agreed with them, and had, on more occasions than one, given testimony to this fact in his sermons; that if any one would before that assembly openly accuse him, and should think it possible to convict him of this crime, he was prepared instantly to hear his reasons, and to enter into a defence of his own innocence." Arminius, p. 113.

Again: "His conscience bore him testimony, and he knew, from the communications of several persons, that his discourses had been rendered useful, and their delivery attended with profit. In reference to those passages of Scripture which, it was asserted, he had expounded in a sense contrary to that of the Confession,-no person could convict him of that offence: he confessed, that the eighteenth verse of the seventh chapter of the Romans was cited in the margin of the Confession in a sense somewhat different. Yet, if it was incumbent on every teacher of the Reformed Church to adhere thus strictly to the terms of this Confession,-and if, when any one in quoting passages of Scripture departed even a hair's breadth from those terms, it was instantly construed into an enormous offence,it would not be a matter of difficulty for him to prove the greater part of his fellow-labourers

guilty of the same crime, and of having more than once taught such doctrine as was not only contrary to the passages of Scripture quoted in the MARGIN, but at variance with those which are given at large in the TEXT of the Confession.

"The Rev. J. Kuchlinus owned, that observation, and added, that if there was he could not deny the truth of this last a perfect agreement in those principal points which were the very hinge of the articles of the Confession, there needed to thing further was then said on this topic.” be no apprehension about the rest.' NoArminius, pp. 114, 115.

The nature of his heresy was however at length disclosed; for, on an adversary, at another convention, being suddenly called forth to allege the points objected to, he stated, with much hesitation and some confusion, the sum of his objections as follows:

"1. While Arminius was interpreting the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the

Romans, he had taught, that no one was condemned except for sin, and that all infants were for that reason excluded from condemnation.

"2. That he had likewise said, It is scarcely possible to attribute too much to good works: we cannot say enough in commendation of them, provided we abstain from ascribing to them any portion of merit.

"3. And that he had avowed, The angels are not immortal.'

"Arminius answered each of these charges, thus:

"In reference to the first objection, when he was preaching on sin as the cause of condemnation, he did not by those words exclude original sin; but Plancius had not correctly understood the nature of the original stain, if under the name of sin he was desirous to have it excluded.

"2. So far was he from denying the second assertion respecting good works, that he chose rather to defend it as a correct saying.'-Plancius then asked, Is justification therefore to be ascribed to good works, provided no merit is attributed to them?'-Arminius replied,

Justification is not assigned to works, but to faith. In confirmation of this he quoted Romans iv. 4, 5: Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.'

"3. With regard to the third matter of which he was accused, he had never uttered such a sentiment about the angels in public, but had, he confessed, once mentioned it privately in the house of Plancius, and had established it by solid arguments,

been mortal before the fall, and capable of dissolution; yet they would never have been called to endure death, unless sin had intervened." Arminius, pp. 117, 118.


-but with this addition, that he still considering matters which relate thought immortality to be an attribute to the point of regeneration, and properly belonging to God alone, which was manifest from Paul's testimony earnestly long to discharge my (1 Tim. vi. 16), The blessed and only thoughts into your bosom. Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of above all, I beg you to admonish lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling me when you judge that I depart in the light to which no man can approach,' &c. Angels are indeed happy spirits, and too far from the common doctrine are now and will ever be immortal, not of our people, not so much in the by their own nature, but by the external exposition of some Scripture texts, sustentation of God which preserves them: as in things relating to articles of much in the same way human bodies had faith. I shall not be in haste to lay my papers before others, till I know how agreeable they may be to them*. The caution you have instilled into me, I carry always about me: for my heart is extremely set upon promoting the peace of the church, through God's grace; but neither am I less indefatigable in searching into, and establishing truth. No day goes over my head, nay, (without vanity be it spoken, for you know me,) no hour, without ruminating on the matters in which I am employed, and I esteem every thing harsh and unpleasant in comparison with the sweetness of this work. I look upon all the time, which I do not bestow upon this labour as lost. God grant (well may I say so,) that I do not overdo it! For one must keep a mean even in this, to the end that other duties of religion be not interrupted, which are of far greater importance." Eccles. p. 122, quoted by Brandt.

We have gone back to these circumstances, in order, without adverting either to the truth or fallacy of the opinions of Arminius, to confirm our position, that no direct charge was substantially and logically laid against him for departure from the avowed formularies of his church; and that his own constant appeal was to his faithful and conscientious adherence to them--name. ly, to the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism-"in the very sense," he says, "in which they are severally explained by nearly all the Reformed churches;" "feeling no doubt or scruple about any thing, except the interpretation of the sixteenth Article of the Belgic Confession, to the words of which he was nevertheless willing to adhere." Such were his voluntary declarations, at the end of the conference above alluded to, and which left him in general freedom from any public embarrassment till the end of the sixteenth century. About that time we find him called upon by the Synod of Haarlem to reply to the growing errors of the Anabaptists: on which occasion, he suspected indeed that the task was given him to draw out his opinions respecting predestination, which he had avowed himself not to teach" after the Geneva system." But he writes to his beloved and bosom friend Uitenbogardt, that such an intention on their part should be defeated by the course he would take. "And now," he says in this letter, quoted by Brandt, "I am wholly taken up in

[ocr errors]

To the great grief of all men, and to the ill-starred honour of Arminius, in 1602 died prematurely the learned and pious, the moderately Calvinistic, and eminently pacific Franciscus Junius, the colleague of Gomarus, the renowned Calvinistic champion, in the theological chair of the university of Leyden. Arminius was chosen to succeed him, through the intrigues (says the Historical Preface we have before quoted, as translated by Mr. Scott)

love of novelty, for novelty's sake, so Here is certainly nothing like that continually charged upon Arminius by those who deemed all to be orthodor which was commonly received in the Reformed churches. We do not observe that this letter, though very characteristic, is quoted by Mr. Nichols.

[ocr errors]

of Uitenbogardt, the bosom friend of Arminius, with the curators or senate of the university; and, it is added, in express contradiction to the whole body of the Amsterdam church, of which he was pastor, "because the more prudent thought, that a disposition so greatly luxuriant and prone to innovation, would be statedly employed with more evident danger in an university at which youth, &c., than in any particular church, &c., under the vigilance and authority of the Presbytery." Thus did the disinterested flock of Amsterdam reason with respect to their beloved, their chosen, and their own early and educated pastor, who was also said to be very ambitious of the honour proposed. But, ex altera parte, proceeds Bertius the panegyrist of Arminius,

"When those celebrated and distinguished individuals, Doctor Junius, and Luke Trelcatius, sen. died, this university, deprived of two of its professors, required a Hercules that was capable of bearing on his shoulders this world in miniature; the burden of which was in the mean time sustained solely by that Atlas and reverend person, Doctor Francis Gomarus, who, by the lamented decease of his colleagues, was destitute of all collateral support. In this state of affairs, by the unanimous voice of all men, and at the general request of his country, recourse was had to Arminius; from whose mind nothing was further removed than the thoughts of such an application; and who had then, for fifteen years, had the charge of the church of Christ in Amsterdam. But when the inhabitants of that city declared, that they could not dispense with his assistance, because they esteemed him the chief and most successful opposer of those monstrous heresies which had sprung up in that part of the country, no one can express the uncommon consternation among all good men which this intelligence created. Various were the public deliberations at this juncture and nothing that could be done, was left unattempted. The most noble Dousa and D. Neostadius, two of the curators of our university, with that most honourable man Nicholas Zeystius, the syndic of our city, proceeded in the public name to Amsterdam. To this commission were also appointed at the same time, by the most illustrious the Prince of Orange, John Uitenbogardt, minister of the church at the Hague, and Nicholas Cromhoutius of the supreme court. All CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 310.

these great men tried by various means to prevail with the discreet and wise senate of that city, and with the presbytery of ministers and elders, and to incite them to a compliance with the public wishes. It was at length with the utmost difficulty obtained, after great assiduity, many entreaties, and at the intercession of the most illustrious prince himself, that Arminius should have leave to depart, and to perform the important services which this university demanded from a professor of divinity." Arminius, pp.

These panegyric allegations of Bertius derive some colour, it must be confessed, from a private letter of Arminius himself to Uitenbogardt, in which, as usual, he opens his inmost soul. This letter is decisive, not on this particular point only, but in general as to the truly amiable, affectionate, and conscien tious cast of the mind of Arminius ; and simply on this latter account, and for the benefit of our clerical readers, we shall throw a brief quotation from it into a note, and proceed with our detail*. The circum

"I yield at once to your supposition, that I shall not be totally unfit for promoting theological studies, if I be diligent and studious, and devote my entire powers to this matter. But, in opposition to it, many things rise up, and persuade me neither to desert the function in which I now am, nor to change it for the other.—The first is, the extreme love and regard of the church towards me; and truly I consider it most equitable to remunerate her for these by a mutual love, and, if I may be permitted so to speak, Í attempt this with all my powers. On this account, therefore, it will be with the greatest difficulty that this church and I can part from each other. You know likewise the amazing difference between the intense affection which sheep evince towards their shepherd who is always with them, and that temporary affection which even the most virtuous of students manifest towards a man who is their instructor only for a few years.-Another consideration is, the edification of my own conscience, to the cultivation of which, may declare to you without blushing,) I should not have paid such great attention, had not God admitted me into this holy function. I have had abundant experience to prove, that the personal sanctification of a man set apart to the sacred office, is vastly promoted by the discharge of his hallowing duties. Hypocrites alone, and they too of the most infamous class, can perform the 4 K

stance of greatest weight in this whole transaction is, that Franciscus Gomarus himself was the man who was appointed to examine Arminius as to his fitness for the office, and to probe him on the points on which his orthodoxy was suspected: and this, ten years after Arminius's first change with respect to the predestinarian tenets of Geneva, ten years after Gomarus and the whole Dutch community had possessed full power for investigating opinions which, in his ordinary ministrations, he never concealed. After the lapse of ten years from 1592, when Arminius became, whatever is meant by the term, an Arminian, did Gomarus in this year, 1602, express himself satisfied with his declarations in a public conference actually held for the purpose; "ingenuously declaring that to that hour he had always thought that Arminius maintained the opinions of

duties of an office so sacred without [deriving from it the benefit of] personal sanctification. It is proper, I know, and the order of things requires, that the private sanctification of such a person ought to precede his separation to his public functions; and I own, that thrice blessed are those who may be allowed, on this account, to glory in the Lord. But the reflection is consoling to me,

that those also are blessed who are com

pelled, by the public discharge of their holy duties, seriously to think upon their own private sanctification. Whatever may be the occasion and the cause of an entrance into a Divinity Professorship, neither of them can be equally powerful and efficacious, in this respect [with the exercise of the Christian ministry]. I declare to you, that my too intense desire to investigate different subjects has deprived me of much of that time which I might have devoted with more propriety, and, I am sure, with greater profit, to the edifying and hallowing of my soul. What will become of me, when I shall have dedicated myself to that employment, which prefers far larger demands for the contemplation and discussion of difficult topics!

The same question might be asked here, as in a former note, Where is the man here, of boldness and enterprise; a man indeed of a genius excitatimis, but ever pleased with some shew of novelty? Whatever may be thought of Arminianism, surely the Historical Prefacers should have given Jacob Harmens his due.

Prosper Desidæus [Faustus Socinus], but that he perceived, after a comparison of the subject, they were far different" (p. 246); and further," that, since Arminius disavowed Pelagianism, he felt himself satisfied; and that his interpretion [of Romans vii-their first controversy], such as it was, might be tolerated." (p. 247.)

This particular conference seems to have been conducted in an excellent spirit on both sides; though with firmness Arminius declined, at the instance of the academical curators, who were present, to say any thing, "until Gomarus and the other deputies of the churches had absolved him from the calumnies with which he had been assailed" (ibid.); and thus, observed one of the curators, " in how short a space of time this wonderful controversy so frequently repeated, and which, for several years past, has excited such great commotions and clamour, had been composed, for the termination of which the people of Amsterdam did not consider many years to be sufficient."

The entrance of Arminius on his new professorship opened, however, scenes of a very different description. The chair of theology found in Gomarus and Arminius, seated side by side, elements of the most discordant description; and no wonder if an explosion was the consequence. The charge against Arminius, with that want of candour which marks the Historical Preface throughout, is, that, immediately on entering the chair of theology," he defended, contrary to his own opi nion, the doctrine of the Reformed churches, concerning the satisfaction of Christ, justifying faith, justification by faith, the perseverance of believers, the certitude of salvation, the imperfection of man in this life, and the other heads of doctrine which he afterwards contradicted, and which at this day are opposed by his disciples."-With regard to one of these important heads of doctrine, namely, the perseverance

of believers, it is a curious fact that the preface expressly contradicts itself, by declaring that he held that doctrine to his dying day, as unanswerably laid down in Scripture. (p. 40.) And with respect to the others, especially that of predestination, there seems little reason on any hand to doubt, that his general object was to discard metaphysics and scholastic divinity, from his incompetency, says Dr. Twisse, to engage in them. But what, on the other, says his biographer?

Scarcely had he entered the university, when he discovered that the divinity students involved themselves in the intricacies of disputations and controversies, and that they had become the sectaries of certain knotty theorems and difficult problems, to the neglect of the sacred Scriptures. After conferring with his colleagues, he endeavoured to correct this evil, and succeeded in a great degree. For he recalled that ancient, masculine, and hardy method of study; and, as far as possible, he withdrew these erratic candidates for hoiy orders from their wanderings, and brought them back to the fountains of salvation,-those pure fountains whose pellucid streams refuse to flow in muddy channels. His object in this, was, that the search for religion might be commenced in the Scriptures; not that religion which is contained in altercation and naked culations, and is only calculated to feed their understandings;-but that religion which breathes forth charity, which follows after the truth that is according to godliness, by which young men learn to flee youthful lusts,' and by which, after they have completely overcome the allurements of the flesh, they are taught to avoid the pollutions that are in the world,' and to do and suffer those things which distinguish a Christian from a heathen. He repeatedly inculcated on their minds that doctrine which our Saviour has expressed in these words: Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."" Arminius, p. 37.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


The first recorded act of Arminius, on occasion of his new dignity, we find, was the delivering of an oration, which stands the fourth out of five given in this volume by Mr. Nichols. It is on the priesthood of Christ. Mr. Nichols says of it,

"This charming oration was delivered

by Arminius on the eleventh of July, Doctor of Divinity was publicly conferred on which the of on him, and immediately prior to the act of creation. At the close of the oration

will be found a beautiful form of prayer and thanksgiving which Arminius addressed to God, after receiving at the hands of Dr. Francis Gomarus the requisite literary honours. He also briefly returned thanks to Gomarus and the various orders of spectators, who were exceedingly numerous on that interesting occasion, not only on account of the just celebrity of the professor elect, but because his was the first Doctor's degree which had been granted by the new Dutch University." Arminius, p. 338.

This oration was followed at the close of the same year, by three others, on the Object, the Author and the End, and the Certainty of Theology. We discover nothing in these orations but what may well comport with the renown of the orator, and his profession of orthodoxy: though we must own ourselves, by no means charmed with the still remaining scholasticism observable throughout, in these compositions. We shall give a single quotation from the second, which we select chiefly as exhibiting the constant usage of the professor in designating the persons of the Father and the Son by the distinctive appellations of God and Christ.

"The end of Evangelical Theology is (1) God and Christ, (2) the union of man with both of them, and (3) the sight and fruition of both, to the glory of both Christ and God. On each of these particulars we have some remarks to make from the Scriptures, and which most appropriately agree with, and are peculiar to, the evangelical doctrine.

"But before we enter upon these remarks, we must shew that the salvation of man, to the glory of Christ himself, consists also in the love, the sight, and the fruition of Christ. There is a passage in the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, which imposes this necessity upon us, because it appears to exclude Christ from this consideration. For in that place When Christ shall the Apostle says, have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, then the Son also himself shall be subject unto him, that God may be all in all." (1 Cor. xv. 24.) From which must be removed by an approthis passage three difficulties are raised, priate explanation. They are these:(1) If Christ "shall deliver up the king

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »