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JAMES ARMINIUS, D. D.
FORMERLY PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY
^Transflateln from the Uattn.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED,
Brandt's Lirr. OF The Author, With Considerable Augmentations;
NUMEROUS EXTRACTS FROM HIS PRIVATE LETTERS;
A COPIOUS AMD AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF THE SYNOD OF DORT
AND ITS PROCEEDINGS;
. AND SEVERAL INTERESTING NOTICES OF THE PROGRESS OF
HIS THEOLOGICAL OPINIONS IN GREAT BRITAIN AND ON THE CONTINENT.
BY JAMES NICHOLS,
Author of " Calvinism and Arminianism Compared in their
1'KINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REV'S, ORHE, BROWN
"there is a country almost within sight of the shores of our island," says a highly accomplished writer, "whose literature is less known to us than that of Persia or Hindustan: A country, too, distinguished for its civilization, and its important contributions to the mass of human knowledge.'' Its language claims a close kindred with our own; and its government has been generally such as to excite the sympathies of an English spirit. It is indeed, most strange, that while the Poets [and may I not add the Divines ?"] of Germany have found hundreds of admirers and thousands of critics, those of a land nearer in position—more allied by habit and by history with our thoughts and recollections—should have been passed by unnoticed.
"Classics painters, men of science—such names as Erasmus, Grotius, Lipsius, and Boerhaave—fill the pages of the literary history of the Netherlands ; and it would be strange indeed, if these pages were quite deserted by the sons of song.
"Events the most extraordinary, and characters the most original and sublime, arrest the attention in the varied but interesting history of Holland. Nothing can be more imposingly tragic than the story of the old Barneveldt and of the hapless De Witts. The struggles in favour of civil and religious freedom, and their triumphant results—the proud march of the Batavian republic in increasing influence and dignityt—every thing seems to have conspired to
• "We owe to the Dutch the discovery of the arts of Printing and Oil Painting; we owe to them the Microscope and the Pendulum."
+ In enumerating "the circumstances? which brought on, together with thedestruetion of Laud, the overthrow of the Church and State, the murder of King Charles the First, and the long miseries of the nation," Mr. Southey with great propriety mentions "the establishment of the Dutch Republic as one of those causes."—"(Nothing in the history of the modern world had as yet so strongly and so worthily excited the sympathy of upright and intelligent minds, as the struggle in which the Ncthcrlanders engaged, for their civil and religious liberties. Never was good cause more virtuously and gloriously defended. But by those wars the way was prepared for that preponderance of the French power which has produced such evils to Europe, and in all human likelihood will yet produce more: And as the doctrinal disputes which in their consequences subverted the Church of England, were principally derived from the Synod of Dort; so from the Dutch wars were the seeds of English Republicanism imported. English and Scotchmen were trained in those wars as soldiers of fortune ready to embark in any cause. A great proportion of the trading part of the community, especially of the Londoners, seeing the commercial prosperity of the Dutch, imputed it to the form of their commonwealth; for they were too ignorant to know what had been the previous condition of the Low Countries. And at the same time, many of the higher classes had imbibed, from their classical studies, prejudices in favour of a popular government, which are as congenial to the generous temper of inexperienced youth, as they are inconsistent with sound knowledge and mature judgment. Thus while some men of surpassing talents were so far infatuated with political theories, that, for the prospect of realizing them, they were willing to incur the danger and the guilt of exciting a Civil War, others were ready toco-operate with them for the purpose of destroying Episcopacy, and establishing with the discipline of Geneva, the irreversible decrees of Calvinism by rigorous laws: And they who, for these secret purposes which they dared not as yet avow, systematically attacked the give interest to a literature and a language which have hitherto scarcely penetrated beyond their own natural and narrow bounds. The land that gave birth to a Laurence Coster—to him who created the means by which knowledge and civilization were conveyed through half the world,—cannot be neglected in days like these. The country of Rubens and Vandyck, of Rembrandt and Ruysdaal, and a hundred besides—' whose glory is gone forth to the ends of the earth,' has children too of the elder—the diviner art. In Holland the seeds of poetical genius have been scattered—in Holland they have budded and blossomed—they have been brightened by the dew of natural feeling—they have been shone on by the sun of enthusiasm: They are fair—they are fragrant—and we have ventured to gather and transplant them to our own flower-garden.
"Nor, among the claims of Holland to the attention of mankind, should it be forgotten that it was the country in which Haller, and Linnaeus, and Descartes pursued their studies and formed their characters.
"Many causes have contributed to the neglect of the Dutch writers; and some of those causes have no doubt had their origin in a false estimate of the character of the people, and in their own inattention to their language and literature. A more potent cause, however, has been a real ignorance of the existence of any thing that could put in its claim to the name of Belgian Poetry. The essential character of the Poetry of Holland —that which marks it in every age and in all its varieties—is a high tone of religious feeliug, a sublimity borrowed from devout associations, and especially from the sacred writings."
"The sixteenth century is not celebrated for its poets only. It had its heroes in De Ruiter and Van Tromp: Its statesmen in Barneveldt and the De Witts. Its learned writers, are Huig de Groot (Grotius), Daniel and Nicolaus Heins (Heinsius), P. Schryver (Scriverius), Salmas (Salmasius), John Frederick Gronov (Gronovius), Caspar van Baerle (Barlaeus), John Vos (Vossius), and many other eminent Classics. Its men of science—Leoninus, Aldegonde, and Dotisa. For its painters it had Rubens, Vandyk, Rembrandt, MiereVelt, the Teniers, the Van de Veldes, Jordaans, Kuyp, the Ostades, Gerard Douw, Mieris, John and Philip Wouvermans, Metsu, Bsrchem, Paul Potter, Pynaker, the Ruysdaels, Van Huysem, Wynants, Steen; and during this period the Universities at Groningen, Utrecht, and Gelderland, and the celebrated school at Amsterdam were established.
"' The age of which we speak,' says the learned professor Siegenbreek, * and more especially the earlier part of it, was in every
government, were strengthened by the aid of many wise and moderate men, (the best of the nation,) who from the purest motives opposed the injurious measures of the crown, till the same sense of duty which had induced them to resist it in its strength, made them exert themselves and sacrifice themselves for its support in its hour of weakness and distress."—Book of the Church.
* The very name of Grotius calls up all that the imagination can conceive of greatness and true fame. His most elaborate poem in the Dutch language, Bewijs vim den Wacren Godtsdienst, "Evidence of True Religion," was written during his confinement at Loevcstijn, in the year 1611. He laid the ground-work of that attention to religious duties which is so universal in Uolland. The authority of his great name, always associated with Christianity—with peace—with literature—with freedom
and suffering and virtue has ever been a bulwark of truth and moral*—Bowbino S
'point of view so glorious to the Dutch nation, that it would be 'difficult to discover, in the history of any other people, a period of 'such resplendent fame and greatness.' "—Bowrxng's Bol. Anthology. I re-iterate the complaint of our neglect of Dutch writers, which Mr. Bowring has so eloquently stated in the preceding paragraphs; and I apply it to Arminius, and to his doctrinal system, which has received higher commendations from men of opposite religious persuasions than any other since the days of the Apostles, and which therefore, on this occasion, requires the less of my sincere praise to recommend it to universal regard. The rise of Arminianism was only a continuation of the struggle for religious liberty in the Low Countries, between the learned among the Laity and the Calvinistic clergy, as has been correctly related by Le Vassor* and other equally impartial
* At the time when Pope Paul the Fifth was exerting himself to suppress the disputes concerning Grace and Predestination in his Church, the Protestants of Holland were divided among themselves upon the same questions. Whether influenced by former prepossessions in its favour, or because it appeared to them better adapted for confuting the dogmas of the Romish Church, and establishing those of the Reformation, Luther and the principal Reformers had hastily embraced the hypothesis of St Augustine. But Luther himself, or at least his early disciples, soon perceived the inconvenient and troublesome consequences of the Augustinian System; and as that of the Greek Fathers appeared both more ancient and more rational, Melanchthon adopted it; and his moderate sentiments prevailed among those who adhered to the Augsburgh Confession. Calvin, Zanchius, Beza, and the major part of the Reformed, continued steadily attached to the dogmas of St. Augustine; which some of them greatly overstrained, by employing more difficult expressions, as the rigid Thomists have done in the Church of Rome. About the beginning of that age, many of the Reformed divines began to open their eyes to the example of the Lutherans; and after having examined the holy scripture with much attention, the opinion of St. Chrysostom and of the ancient Greek Fathers appeared to them preferable to that of [St. Augustine] the Bishop of Hippo, whose acquaintance with either the Old or the New Testament was certainly very superficial.
As the writings of Erasmus, Melanchthon, and Bullinger, were highly esteemed in Holland, where those works had greatly contributed to make the Reformation palatable, the Magistrates and well-informed laymen of the Province evinced a stronger inclination for the mild and moderate opinions of these divines respecting Grace and Predestination, than for the hypothesis of the rigid Reformed: At all events, they believed them to be perfectly tenable and consistent with the Reformation embraced by the Province. But, on the other hand, the greatest part of the Ministers, who had studied religion only in the writings of Calvin and Beza, obstinately maintained the doctrines of their masters; so that a great difference of principles existed between the Clergy and the Magistrates. Each of them had conceived a contrary idea of that which they called The Reformation, or Reformed Doctrine. The clergy understood by these words, the doctrines of theology, as explained by their great authors, and inserted in the Confessions of Faith which the early Reformers had drawn up. Those primitive servants of God were influenced by good intentions; but they did not perceive that in endeavouring to furnish, in the formularies of faith and in the Catechisms, a complete and consistent system of divinity, they had embodied in them their own private speculations, as if they were something undoubted and essential. The Magistrates and learned laymen of Holland, on their side, contended, that, as the Reformation comprised only a purer form of worship, divested of the vain superstitions of the Church of Rome, with a greater liberty concerning doctrines which are not clearly revealed in the holy scripture, it could not be said, the Reformation was founded on what some persons have deemed the most difficult and thorny questions in Theology.
The ministers, always warm in the defence of their own opinions and prejudices, frequently exclaimed, that the Magistrates were wanting in zeal for sound doctrine; and they, in their turn, complained, that the clergy were hard and inflexible folk, who would have the whole world blindly to embrace their peculiar sentiments. When the zealous churchmen brought before the magistrates those who opposed the theory of Calvin and Beza concerning Predestination and Grace, and accused them as persons who overthrew the foundations of the Reformation, the wisest and most discerning of
Vol. I. b