Thursday, January 15, 2009


This biography of James Arminius was written in Latin by Caspar Brandt, published by Gerard Brandt in 1724, and translated to English by John Guthrie in 1854.


Brandt has appended to his memoir the two Latin poems by Baud and Grotius, on the death of Arminius, to which he refers, p. 300. Baud's poem is very long, occupying twenty pages of the original, and containing some 600 lines. It is, moreover, in its tone, somewhat equivocal and temporising; and elicited, in consequence, a complaint from the true and magnanimous Uitenbogaert, to which Baud replies in a strain of profoundest respect, both for him and the deceased Arminius, — declaring that of all his old friends they were the two that stood highest in his esteem, and that he had advanced nothing in his poem which could sustain a single sinister inference in regard to Arminius. The truth is, Dominic Baud, like Daniel Heinsius, though conscious of the sincerest friendship and respect for Arminius gave way, after his death, to that violent pressure of the times to which Arminius himself had 'fallen a blessed martyr.' Baud's poem contains many bold and masterly passages, that abound in vigorous thought and lofty imagery. We had translated the larger half of it into English verse, with a view to its insertion in this appendix; but, on second thoughts, we have concluded to let that pass as labour lost. Its great length, to mention no other consideration, would make it out of all proportion.

The poem of Grotius, on the other hand, is of sufficiently moderate limits to make its insertion here consistent with the scope and symmetry of the volume; while the transcendent lustre of his name, and his well-known attachment to the Arminian cause, lend a peculiar interest and charm to his verses on Arminius. For the sake of those, accordingly, for whom this little work is specially intended, we have in this instance, also, — though profoundly sensible of the difficulty and delicacy of the task, — done our best to present the lines of Grotius in faithful English, in the following metrical version.—TR.:—


Deep searcher in the mine of truth profound;
Spirit sublime, with various learning stored;
For keen-edged perspicacious wit renowned;
Arminius, thee we mourn:— O loss deplored!

From this dark world, and from the turbid throng
Of dim-eyed mortals, thou hast winged thy flight:
And rangest now, with vision pure and strong,
The sunny fields of beatific light.

Whether for truth thou gaind'st some trophies fair,
Spurning the yoke on tamer necks that pressed;
Or erred in aught, as man may err, declare
Ye who have right to judge, and skill to test.

Yet well we know what hours by thee were spent
O'er God's own book, enslaved to no man's creed.
And now, of conscience pure, and high intent,
Thou bear'st, by heaven's award, the glorious meed.

There, filled with peace and joy, 'tis thine to know
What here thy thoughts explored with toil and pain;
Thou seest what shades enwrap all minds below;
What wears the name of knowledge here, how vain.

Yet, proud thereof, aloft we raise our head,
And spurn our fellows, who return the same.
Hence wars polemic, furious, rise and spread;
Hence hate plebeian stirs and feeds the flame.

And sacred Truth, of sacred Peace the friend,
Deigns not her presence there, but flies afar:
Ah, why does lust of strife men's bosom rend?
And will the God of peace be pleased with war?

Whence such untempered zeal, such parties new?
Hath Satan sowed these tares 'neath mask of night?
Must men's dire passions feed on aught they view,
And God's own cause afford them scope to fight?

Or does this prying world, that dares to tread
Where even to angels all access is barred,
And snatch forbidden knowledge, serpent-led,
Reap in these sad debates its due reward?

As when at Shinar, in that structure proud,
Men thought to pile a stepway to the sky;
Their thousand tongues dispersed the impious crowd,
And all their schemes in babbling strife did die.

Ah ! know we what we do? The little flock
Elected from the world, in Jesus' fold,
Each other rend, in foul and frequent shock,
While Moslems smile, and Jews with joy behold!

Happy the simple, pure, and artless faith,
From faction free, and meretricious dress;
Which sees sin put away by Jesus' death,
And trusts in his atoning righteousness:

Which sees salvation free, — all gifts above;
And doom ordained for those who doom deserve:
Which plies the gentle part of holy love,
Nor seeks to soar, so much as lowly serve.

Nor asks too far if adamantine laws
Fix all events; — How God, all sinless still,
Wills sin? — How not? — How far the Great First Cause
Bends by his sovereign nod the human will?

And happy he whom no ambitious ends,
Nor gain, nor empty plaudits turn aside;
But, fired with heavenly zeal, still heavenward tends,
And studies God where God himself doth guide.

Threading with cautious steps life's 'wildered maze,
Through fatal snares his course he daily winds;
While Freedom, tempered with Love's gentle rays,
Secures his concord with dissentient minds.

True piety and justice he maintains, —
Condemned by men, himself condemning none;
Now speaks for Truth, and now for Peace refrains,
Still watchful each presumptuous path to shun.

Oft didst thou urge these truths, Arminius dear —
In public oft, as thousands can declare;
In private, too, — yea, when thine end drew near,
Thy parting breath still urged these counsels fair.

With life's protracted ills out-worn and spent,
Tired of a world of pertinacious strife,
Though crushed thy meaner part like shattered tent,
Thy nobler part, unscathed, aspired to life.

Full spread, it longed to gain those kingdoms bright
To which to thousands thou did'st point the way;
And now arrived, another star of light,
It gems the temple of eternal day.

There dost thou pray, that to his flock below
God would such light, as here they need impart;
And curb their restless wish aught more to know;
And send them teachers after his own heart:—

Would all men's hearts (if not all tongues) unite;
And Strife dispel, before Love's ardours driven;
That Christ's whole Church, at one, may, in his light,
Approve their life to earth, their faith to heaven.

Subtle in intellect, and great in speech,
But careful most his life to regulate,
Arminius, dead, thus speaks, thus all would teach,
(Of life approved, and matchless in debate):—
'I, as in life, in death this counsel give —

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chapter 13 Part 3

The Life of James Arminius
Chapter 13, Part 3 of 3 (p. 310-319).

This biography of James Arminius was written in Latin by Caspar Brandt, published by Gerard Brandt in 1724, and translated to English by John Guthrie in 1854.

On the other hand, as Arminius himself had abundantly refuted these accusations, and many others of the same kind, so at this time also Bertius, Uitenbogaert, Simon Episcopius, Corvinus, Narsius, Courcelles, Poelenburg, and others, undertook the vindication of his blessed memory; and for this reason they began to receive from their adversaries the designation of Arminians.

First of all, let us listen to Arnold Poelenburg, that most worthy champion of the Remonstrants, as he pleads the cause of Arminius against the charges of Hoornbeck. Referring to the passage just cited, 'Behold,' he exclaims, 'with how great a rage of calumniation he (Hoornbeck) burns! For what could he mean by traducing Arminius, of pious memory, after his death, as one "who trusted to his own speculations," when he, too, acknowledged the Sacred Scriptures to be the only rule of his faith, and had greatly the better of his opponents, at once in the number and in the weight of his testimonies? What could be his object in declaring that Arminius "showed himself much too eager to demolish all else," when nothing lay nearer his heart than to get the Church restored to her pristine purity and peace? But on reading those statements in which he brands Arminius, the best of men, as "a covenant-breaker," I was utterly horror-struck, and much at a loss to divine whence a degree of audacity so great and so extraordinary had come to be generated in a man speaking things that were false, and maintaining an unjust cause. For why, is that man to be called a covenant-breaker who defends with all his might the covenant which God has struck with the entire human race? After this, there is no reason why he should not brand almost all the Ancient Fathers as covenant-breakers; for they either knew not, or they opposed, absolute predestination. But I think I can discern to what he refers — namely, to this, that Arminius did not subscribe to the Belgic Confession and Catechism. But it had already been answered, that very many traces of our opinion are to be found in these writings. Besides, Arminius had never so enslaved his faith to any human composition as to imply that such was not, at all times, to be weighed in the balance of Scripture. What? Is Hoornbeck prepared to call Luther, Musculus, and many more, "covenant-breakers," because, when bound by vows to the Papacy, they felt unable with a sound conscience to remain in the Papacy? For as formerly, and still, the Papists, so the Reformed of the day, unhappily defend certain grievous errors of their own, under cover of the Holy Scriptures erroneously understood: although, we own, not altogether after the same fashion. Let that liberty, then, be conceded to Arminius, which has been conceded to numerous others before him. For my part, I maintain, that to a man of high standing, and endowed with distinguished gifts, it is not only allowable, but, by virtue of his office, it is also incumbent upon him, to oppose with all his might prevailing errors which had come to be regarded as necessary truth.' [A. Poelenb. Epist. ut supra pag. 6, 7.].

But not to insist on the testimonies of Remonstrants, in what esteem the name of Arminius, — to many so hateful, — continued to be held by the honourable curators of the Academy, will be apparent from the fact that to his widow, Elizabeth Real, and to her fatherless children, whom they took under their protection, they assigned a handsome annuity; and that very dignified body, the Senatus Academicus, in compliance with their request, at once furnished them with the following testimony to the deceased:—

The Rector Magnific, and Senatus of the Academy of Leyden-in-Holland, to all and sundries, who may read or hear this testimony, greeting:

'Inasmuch as it has seemed good to Almighty God to call that distinguished and reverend man, James Arminius, Doctor of Sacred Theology, and Professor in Ordinary of that Faculty in this our Academy, away from that professorship which, for a series of years in which he thus acted, he exercised with singular assiduity, and with the applause of his hearers, into the celestial country, and to grant him an everlasting release and immunity from those protracted labours which he sustained both in the Church and in the Academy; and seeing that the surviving widow of this same deceased man, of most blessed memory, together with the children which she had by him, has requested, as a debt due to his eminent virtues, that the Senatus would furnish her with a testimonial, — a request which, considering the many distinguished endowments of that man, appears to us to be nought else than just; we willingly contribute the last office which it is in our power to discharge to his very dearly cherished memory. We testify, therefore, that the said James Arminius, D.D., led such a life in this our Academy as to teach Sacred Theology (for we leave controversies to others) both in public and in private, with the utmost assiduity and diligence [It is to be observed that this same formula also occurs in the testimony which the Senatus Academicus gave to Gomarus, when he left for Middelburgh.]. And besides, in the Senatus Academicus, as became an eminently wise and prudent man, he maintained by his judgment, counsel, and authority, that place and dignity which was due at once to himself and to the whole honourable order; and to public matters which fell to be transacted by us in our assembled capacity he was ever ready to postpone those which were personal and private. Whatever he thought conducive to the interests of the Academy, he frankly propounded; whatever he deemed the contrary, to that with the like freedom he declared himself opposed. He did not stain his most sacred profession with any spot or blemish, in manners of life; but, as was incumbent on an upright man, he maintained a demeanour in harmony with his calling and office. As became a diligent teacher, he instructed the youth intrusted to his charge with assiduity and zeal. For these reasons we entreat all and sundries to speak and think of the same James Arminius, D.D., a man of blessed memory, in such a manner as his erudition, his work performed in this our Academy, and his excellence, deserve. Which testimony we have ordered to be certified by the hand of our secretary, and to be further ratified and confirmed by our common seal.

'Compared with the original, and copied in terms of the same order of the Rector Magnific and the Senatus Academicus, by

'Daniel Heinsius.'

To this very honourable testimonial of the Senatus, which is preserved to this day among the archives of the Leyden Academy, it may be well to add some individual testimonies with which several very eminent men, unfettered by the partialities of sect, honoured him both during his life, and after his death.

The truly illustrious Scaliger, though sufficiently chary of praising others, calls him 'a very great man.' Meursius assigns him 'a most penetrating intellect and judgment.' [Vide Scaligerana. Meursii Athenae Bat. pag. 177.]. The very celebrated Drusius classes him among 'the learned and candid men' to whose judgment he readily submitted his writings.

In that epistle to the States-General, in which the distinguished Baud dedicates to their name his elegiac poem on the death of Arminius, he calls him 'his reverend colleague, an excellent man, whom, when alive, he embraced in his sincere affection, and whom, now that he is dead, he continued to esteem as a man abounding in extraordinary endowments of mind and learning'; and in a letter to Uitenbogaert he follows up his praises of the deceased with these words: 'He was never legitimately convicted of, or condemned for, any error. Yea, to his last breath he adorned the post which by the decree of the curators and of our rulers he had obtained, and he died in the possession of rightful office; so that all good men, for the best of reasons, ought to cherish his memory with every feeling of favourable regard. For myself, I am left with a mournful sense of his loss; and nothing did I so eagerly desire as to see that day on which his innocence might be vindicated from rumours so invidiously circulated, and so rashly believed.' [Epist. Eccles. pag. 239.].

The celebrated Anthony Thysius, also, between whom and Arminius, while alive, much intimacy subsisted, was wont, on repeated occasions, to declare respecting him, 'that he had never seen a mail endowed with more or with greater virtues, and chargeable with fewer or more trivial faults.' [Epist. Eccles. pag. 327.]. Richard Thompson, too, that great luminary of the English Church, making mention of Arminius in a certain letter to Dominic Baud, dated July 27, 1605, thus speaks: 'What you write concerning Arminius I gratefully acknowledge, although the fame of that man is not so imperfectly known among us as you seem to imagine. For even to me he was formerly very well known, before he had yet become a professor among you; and from the time that he did, he began to be well known in this country and many others besides. Hence as often as any scholars visited us from your country, our professors made diligent inquiry respecting Arminius. I am truly glad, therefore, on behalf of your Academy, which contains so great a man.' [Epist. Eccles. pag. 148.]. To this may be added the testimony of John Buxtorf, professor in the Academy of Basle, who, on being apprised of his death, wrote to Uitenbogaert in these terms: 'The unlooked-for extinction of so truly great a luminary of the far-famed Belgium as James Arminius, fills, as it well may, my mind with grief, both as a common calamity to the Clmrch of Christ, and as a melancholy breaking-off of the first approaches I had made towards the acquaintance of so great a man. For I hoped to see him put in that place in my esteem which was occupied by that illustrious hero, the learned Scaliger, of pious memory, who, — for me, alas, too suddenly, — has also been snatched from the stage of time.' [Epist. Eccles. pag. 244.].

The very erudite Isaac Causabon, unites also in this tribute to Arminius. In a letter of his sent from Paris to Samuel Naeranus, dated July 28, 1610, these words occur: 'That Arminius, now in glory, of whom you make mention, was a great man, I do not doubt; although I have never as yet found any of our pastors who did not regard him as an infamous heretic, — their standard of truth being the opinion of Calvin. For Calvin I am conscious of a profound respect; but still I cannot away with those who rancorously hate all who dissent from him.' [Ib. p. 249]. Nay, M. Martinius himself, who was afterwards present at the Synod of Dort, and was no mean member, — and into whose bosom Arminius, a few weeks before his death, and already sick, had poured his complaints respecting the calumnies that were fabricated against him,—expressed this thoroughly candid and unsophisticated opinion of the man : 'He seemed to me,' says he, 'to be a man that truly feared God; most erudite, most practised in theological controversies; mighty in the Scriptures; very circumspect, and precise in applying philosophical terms to theological subjects.' [Ib. p. 238.].

At length, that the memorial of so dear a head might never be lost to after ages, his relatives published his portrait, cut in brass, with this inscription:

'Qui nunc per altas aurei caeli domes
Regnat beatus, et suo junctus Deo
Humana celsus speruit, et nescit simul,
Sic Hospes, ora Magnus Arminius tulit.
Caelare mores atque dotes iugeni
Doctumque pectus, quod fuit (sed beu fuit!)
Magnus nequivit artifex: et quid manus,
Efferre cum non lingua, lion stilus queant.'

[These Latin verses may be thus rendered into English:

Beyond these orbs that gild the etherial dome,
Joined to his God, his toils and conflicts o'er,
The great Arminius, in that blissful home,
Still lives and reigns, though seen on earth no more.
Such, stranger, were the traits which here he wore:
But ah! to sketch the beauties of that heart,
Aud learned mind, whose loss we now deplore,
Transcends the able limner's loftiest art.
What neither pen can write, nor tongue can say,
The feebler hand presumes not to pourtray.—TR.]

Among those of his countrymen who stood high in rank and office, he had attached most closely to himself these honourable Senators and Burgomasters, namely, Nicholas Cromhout, Adrian Junius, Sebastian Egberts, Rombout Hogerbeets, and one who of all his defenders and patrons held by no means the last place, William Bardesius, Lord of Warmhusen. This man cherished and evinced a stedfast affection for Arminius; when debilitated under his slow and lingering malady, with the utmost affection he took him to his manor as soon as his disease, and the state of the climate, and intervals of respite would permit; and after the removal of Arminius from this lower stage, he showed the same kindness to his widow and afflicted family, and embodied it in many substantial proofs.

In addition to John Uitenbogaert, so often mentioned in this memoir, — whom he was wont to call his sheet-anchor, as one to whom he might betake himself for counsel and aid, — among the friends who were knit to him in bonds of special intimacy, the following held a principal place, namely, the celebrated John Drusius, Conrad Vorstius, Anthony Thysius, John Halsberg, Peter Bertius, Adrian Borrius, John Arnold Corvinus, and other two whom he loved as a brother and a son: to wit, Rembert and Simon Episcopius, the former a merchant of Amsterdam, of cultivated understanding and exalted piety, the latter the most distinguished of his disciples, and who, at a subsequent period, in consideration of the extraordinary endowments of mind and genius which Divine Providence had heaped upon him, was judged worthy to fill the office of his deceased preceptor.

These are the things which I have judged necessary to be said respecting James Arminius, whose piety and simple virtue never courted any celebrity on the earth, much less that a sect should be called by his name. This, indeed, after all things had become convulsed, actually happened subsequently to his death; the Christian community having suffered a lamentable rent, for which, as matters now stand, — unless God interpose in behalf of his Church, — the long-looked-for day of remedy may not speedily arrive.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chapter 13 Part 2

The Life of James Arminius
Chapter 13, Part 2 of 3 (p. 306-310).

This biography of James Arminius was written in Latin by Caspar Brandt, published by Gerard Brandt in 1724, and translated to English by John Guthrie in 1854.

As during his life, so after his death, he underwent judgments, on the part of many, of the most conflicting kind. Scarcely had Peter Bertius paid the last honours to him in a funeral oration, when Gomarus broke out against his deceased colleague, and the eulogiser of his virtues; and in a treatise which he published against him, he detracted much from the merits of both. Yea, the very poem in which the honourable Hugh Grotius had celebrated Arminius, was to him a great eyesore; the following verses, in particular, drew from him some bitter remarks:

Indigniore parte fractus et languens,
Meliore sospes, ilia millibus multis
Monstrata per te regna SOLUS arderes.

['Broken and powerless in thy meaner part (the body,) but sound in thy nobler part (the soul,) thou wert all on fire (TOTUS arderes) to gain those heavenly kingdoms to which, to many thousands, thou hadst pointed the way.' Such was the meaning of Grotius. But the blundering substitution, by the printer, of 'SOLUS,' 'alone,' for 'TOTUS,' 'entire,' made him represent Arminius as the only man of his order who cherished those heavenly aspirations. We have given a metrical version of (Grotius's Elegiac poem at the end. The part here quoted will be found in the 19th and 20th stanzas.—TR.]

That word SOLUS had excited much ill-feeling against this most celebrated poet, and also in relation to Arminius himself; the truth being, that owing to the negligence of the compositor, or some other who superintended the publication, that word had crept in, TOTUS being the word which should have occupied its place,—a circumstance of which Grotius himself informed Gomarus in the following letter (now published for the first time), in which he appropriately takes upon himself the defence of his elegiac poem:—

'To that Reverend and most distinguished man, Francis Gomarus, professor of theology in the Leyden Academy:

'I suppose, Reverend Sir, that you have seen my verses on the death of Arminius, in which if there be anything that has pleased you, it will be very gratifying to me. But what has, I understand, proved displeasing to you, is also, I assure you, displeasing to me. I had written to the effect that your colleague, overwhelmed as he was with affliction towards the end, was altogether (totum), meaning as far as in him lay, inflamed with the desire of the better life in heaven. What evil hand it was that out of my word totus (whole) made solus (sole) I do not know; a mistake so foolish, as it appears to me, that it can admit of no good sense. Whoever he is, I marvel at his audacity and stupidity in being so awkwardly officious in regard to the production of another. And even if any emendation had been required, I ought to have been consulted. Immediately after the publication, I uttered the complaint to the most learned Heinsius, and other friends, that my publishers had betrayed in this place a lack of fidelity, as in many other places they had betrayed a lack of diligence.

'At all events, what I proposed to myself in praising Arminius was this, that to the man to whom when living I could refuse no kind of service, (for I knew him, though only as I knew many others, without being on terms of close intimacy,) I should, now that he is dead, render this tribute, — which I was conscious of being able with all sincerity to do, — to that far-from-ordinary cast of genius, and transparent kind of eloquence which I always admired in him. I added that both in those things in which he defended the truth so strenuously against the Pope, and in those other things in which it was more possible for him to err, he did nothing from a hardened impulse contrary to the dictates of conscience. This was a judgment which charity dictated to me; as also that other, namely, that Arminius, particularly as death drew near, had bent his wishes towards the peace of the Church.

'But as to the points of difference between you and Arminius, and between many good men, with these I am neither sufficiently acquainted, nor, if I were, would I rashly intermeddle. That matter has its own appropriate judges. To us, occupied as we are with other things, it is allowable, as I trust, with the kind favour of God, to continue ignorant in respect to many things, and in respect to many others to withhold our assent. But although I do not build on human authority, this nevertheless I am free to avow, that in those points on which I entertain doubt, it is not easy for me to become wrenched from the opinions of those whom the Church has hitherto acknowledged to have been the pioneers of her restored purity. Many precepts, in particular, of Doctor Francis Junius, whose memory I hold sacred, remain indelibly in my mind. But then, in all such controversies I invariably incline to that side which attributes most to divine grace, and least to ourselves. These dissensions grieve me; but the Church has never been long without them, and never will. It remains that we bear one with another, and that, among the many things which human infirmity renders uncertain, we hold those for certain on which rests the hope of our salvation.

'Meanwhile, Reverend Sir, I pray God that he may direct your labours towards that which I doubt not is your aim — the tranquillity of the Church and the confirmation of sound doctrine.

'One who regards your name with the utmost respect,

'H. Grotius.'

But those same adversaries with whom he had so often, on past occasions, come into collision, treading in the footsteps of Gomarus, traduced him as 'a man, indeed, of somewhat practised intellect, but whom nothing pleased except what recommended itself by some appearance of novelty; so much so, that he appeared to loathe many doctrines received in the churches, even on this very ground, that they had been received.' [Praefat. Synodi. Dordac.]. Among strangers, too, were found some who, misled by a certain blind prejudice, and attributing undue importance to the clamours of sundry zealots, characterised him as 'an enemy of God; a man of crafty intellect; who had done all things dexterously; who, Ham-like, had exposed the nakedness of his fathers; and who, in a detestable manner, through the side of the holiest leaders of the Reformation, had dealt a stab at the very body of the Reformed Church.' John Hoornbeck writes that Arminius was much too confident in his own speculations, and showed himself much too eager to demolish all else. And more: appropriating the words of Tacitus, he calls him a covenant-breaker who, forswearing the faith which he had pledged both to God and the Church, had begun, first secretly, then openly, both by himself, and by his disciples and abettors, to disturb and subvert the faith of the churches, and the doctrine of Christ; and not the churches only, but civil politics also, in his nefarious attempt; and that he would have succeeded, had not God interposed his aid at that perilous crisis [Vide Arn. Poelenb. Epist. ad C. H. in qua liber 8. summae controversiarum Hoornbeequii, refellitur Amstelod. 1655. pag. 5.].

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chapter 13 Part 1

The Life of James Arminius
Chapter 13, Part 1 of 3 (p. 300-305).

This biography of James Arminius was written in Latin by Caspar Brandt, published by Gerard Brandt in 1724, and translated to English by John Guthrie in 1854.



On the day on which Arminius was interred, Peter Bertius, regent of the theological college, and a most accomplished man, publicly conducted the solemnities by a funeral oration in honour of Arminius, in the theological hall. In this oration (from which, in the present little work, we have very freely drawn,) he gives some brief account of the life and excellences of the deceased; adding towards the close, that his blessed memory ought to be embalmed in the Christian Church, with this elogium: 'There lived in Holland a man, whom they that did not know him could not sufficiently esteem; whom they who did not esteem him had never sufficiently known.'

The same kind office which Bertius performed in his prose oration, was also publicly rendered in song by these world-renowned men and consummate poets, Dominic Baud and Hugh Grotius, whose elegiac poems we have subjoined at the close of this memoir. To these we add a distinguished little poem of Daniel Heinsius, omitted in the collection of his poems, — for what reasons, it is not difficult to conjecture, — in which, by means of a comparison which he institutes between Arminius, the champion of the ancient liberty of the Batavians, and our Arminius, he thus celebrates, in a strain of singular elegance, the service rendered by the latter in withstanding the tyranny of the Romanists:—

'In Obitum Rev. D. Jacobi Arminii, Summi Pontificiorum Oppugnatoris.'

'Ingentem Dominum rerum Martisque nepotem
Germanus olim fregit Armini vigor,
Ausus inaccessam Romano opponere gentem,
Nihil timere doctus et fortis mori.
Horruit et nostro Tiberis se subdidit Albi,
Martisque gentem faedus invasit timor.
Quintiliae cecidere acies, terramque momordit
Ferox juventus, unico minor viro.
Nunc alter Batavo de sanguine fortis et acer,
Et veritate armatus, et fandi potens.
Mendacem invasit sublimi pectore Romam,
Sic fuit in fatis: laudem hanc Germinia servas,
Bis Roma nostros non tulisti Arminios.'

[The name of this ancient patriot was Hermann (i.e., chiefman, or chieftain), latinised by Tacitus and other Roman historians into Arminius. He flourished at the very commencement of our era, and withstood the power of imperial Rome in many a hard-fought field. The particular exploit here alluded to was the total destruction, by the hand of Arminius and his German warriors, of three Roman legions under Quintilius Varus, who, with their general, fell almost to a man in the woody pass of the Teutoburger Wald — an event which struck terror into the heart of Rome, the aged Emperor Augustus calling out in his grief for Varus to give him back his legions. This will sufficiently explain the allusions that occur in this little piece, the conception of which was furnished by the coincidence in the two names, and in Rome being in each case the party opposed. The versification is exquisite to a degree which renders translation an uninviting and somewhat perilous task. But for the sake of the English reader, in whose special service we are now engaged, we will adventure the following:—

On the death of the Rev. Doctor James Arminius, a renowned opposer of the Papists.

Rome's lordly legions, sprung of Mars,
Of old the valiant Hermann broke;
Untaught to fear, untamed by wars,
The dauntless Germans spurned the yoke.
Old Tiber, trembling at the shock,
Bowed to our Elbe his crested pride;
Hosts melted under Hermann's stroke.
The flower of Rome in battle died;
And Varus' legions sunk undone,
Crushed by the giant might of one.

Behold another Hermann strong!
A Hermann of Batavian blood;
Begirt with truth, of golden tongue,
And lofty, lion hearted mood;
Apostate Rome he well withstood;
But now in death our hero sleeps,—
So Heaven decreed, all-wise and good,—
And o'er his tomb Germania weeps;
But 'Rome!' she boasts, 'Thou Queen of pride!
Thee have my Hermanns twice defied.'—TR.]

It now remains that we subjoin a brief sketch of Arminius, descriptive at once of his person and his mind. In bodily stature he did not exceed the medium size. His eyes were black and sparkling, indicating acuteness of mind and genius. His countenance was serene. His bodily temperament was sanguineous; his limbs wall compacted, and at the prime of life, somewhat robust. His voice was slender, indeed, but sweet, musical, and sharp. He was eloquent in an admirable degree: if any subject was to be embellished, if any discussed, it was done with distinctness; the pronunciation and intonation of voice being thoroughly adapted to the sense [Baudart Hist.]. As respects his general bearing, he was courteous and affable towards all, respectful to superiors, hospitable, cheerful, — and noway disinclined among his friends to harmless sallies of wit, by way of mental relaxation; but in all that constitutes the man of gravity, the Christian, and the consummate teacher of the church, as far as human infirmity could permit, he was second to none. He adored with profound veneration the supreme and ever-blessed God; and never allowed a day to pass without pious meditation, and perusal of the Sacred Scriptures, making a commencement with fervid prayers; and in order to make the greater progress in the cultivation of piety, and the truth, he occasionally followed up these prayers with fasting. He wished to be, rather than to appear pious; and regarded nothing as of greater moment than to regulate all his actions, not by the opinion of others, but by the dictate of a pure conscience; and to confirm by his own example the truth of his own maxim, in which he pre-eminently delighted: 'Bona Conscientia Paradisus' — 'A Good Conscience is a Paradise.'

As respects the cultivation of piety, and the regard to be paid to conscience, he also acknowledged that much on his part was due to the ecclesiastical function to which, in the very flower of his youth he had already been destined. For this reason, he marked off for special castigation those persons who, — as if they bore universal knowledge about with them locked up in the cabinet of their own breast, — judged themselves entitled, on being asked their opinion on any subject, to speak forth none other than oracular utterances to be received with open ears and obsequious minds. No object, moreover, lay nearer to his heart than to see the brands of discord extinguished, and the convulsed Christian community brought back to an agreement of mutual forbearance as respects controversies which do not shake the foundations of the true soul-saving faith. So intense was this desire, that the intemperate rage of denouncing dissentients, how trivial soever the point of difference, in matters of religious opinion, not unfrequently brought the tears to his eyes. Hence he often repeated, with deep emotion, the lament of Hilary, 'that while one is launching anathemas upon another, and driving him from the communion of the Church, scarcely a single soul is gained to Christ.' [Uitenb. Hist. pag. 483.].

He rarely indulged in rhetorical garniture, and in the fragrant fineries of the Greeks, either because his nature was averse to such artifices, or because he deemed it derogatory to the majesty of divine things to call into requisition those classic names and adscititious embellishments, when the naked truth was sufficient for its own defence. He set a high value, however, as appears from his correspondence with Drusius [Epist. Eccles. pag. 33.], on the knowledge of the Hebrew and Oriental literature, by which not only the phrases of the sacred language, but also the antiquities of the ancient church of the Jews, with their rites, manners, and customs, both sacred and civil, might be discovered and explained. This he judged useful, and necessary to the ideal of a consummate theologian; and with those who attached little importance to these and kindred studies, he was in no small measure displeased. A keen debater on points connected with religion, and expert in using the subtilties of adversaries against themselves, he was in other respects disinclined to controversy, when no necessity for it existed; and he strove to make every doctrine, and all the powers of his mind and genius, subserve the aim of leading a life worthy of a Christian man. There was no air of haughtiness in his teaching; he was a mild and perspicuous interpreter of his thoughts; in argument circumspect; and so little inclined to self-confidence, that he refused to gratify the wishes of his importunate friends when they urged him to publish some work he had composed. On this very account, indeed, he was, wont to tax with no small measure of imprudence his eminent colleague, L. Trelcatius, junior, for having published, in his youthful years, A Body of Christian Theology in which, in his judgment, he had written many things, indeed, well, but many more that were little in harmony with the Sacred Scriptures [Arminii Epist. ad Uitenb. 3 Kal. Septemb. 1604].

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chapter 12 Part 3

The Life of James Arminius
Chapter 12, Part 3 of 3 (p. 289-299).

This biography of James Arminius was written in Latin by Caspar Brandt, published by Gerard Brandt in 1724, and translated to English by John Guthrie in 1854.

But as the shattered health of Arminius, which betrayed itself by too evident symptoms under this very conference, appeared unable to sustain any longer the effort of debate, it pleased the States to break it short. They also ordered the disputants to deliver each his own opinion, drawn up in writing, with the arguments on which it rested, and a refutation of the contrary, within the space of fourteen days; to remain in possession of the States till the Provincial Synod. There were present at the Conference from the city of Amsterdam, the honourable rulers, Jacob Boelius Cornelius P. F. Hoofdius, Cronhout, Sebestian Egberts, Jonas Witzen, and Elb. Verius, Syndic of Amsterdam [Ex Epist. vernacula Jac Arminii ad R. Episcop. 26 Aug. 1609.]. After the conference had thus come to a close, it further seemed good to the States, to summon before them apart, the assessors of each doctor, that they might severally state their opinions, not only in regard to the importance of these controversies, but also as to the remedies by which they might be allayed. On this point, however, there was the utmost diversity of sentiment. Those who stood by Gomarus exaggerated the importance of the controversies, and indicated no remedy other than the convocation, as speedily as possible, of a Provincial or National Synod. On the other hand, the assessors and coadjutors of Arminius, on being heard by themselves, gave it as their opinion, that 'that question concerning justification was either of no importance, or at most of very trivial importance, and could be settled without difficulty, if acrimony and ill-will were but laid aside, and due homage paid to peace and truth. With regard to the opinion of Arminius concerning Predestination, and questions therewith connected, considering that it was in harmony with Sacred Scripture, as well as simple, easily intelligible, and free of subtleties, they thought that it commended itself as much the better adapted of the two for the ends of consolation and instruction. In favour of Arminius was the entire tenor of the gospel; while the opinion of Gomarus transcended the gospel: and he himself, in a certain thesis, had ultroneously confessed that the doctrine of predestination, as he taught it, did not, properly speaking, pertain to the gospel.

The Rev. J. Uitenbogaert next, in name of all the rest, discoursed, in an oration replete with varied erudition and eloquence, concerning the causes of the growing dissensions, and how they were to be remedied; what care in these controversies belonged to the States; and how far in this matter their power extended [Vide Orationem hanc in Uitenbog. His. lib. 3. p. 480.]. But particularly in regard to the Synod, which most believed to be the sheet-anchor of the imperilled Church, he declared 'that it was by no means useless, yea, that it might, according to the state of times and circumstances, be necessary, provided care were taken to prevent, — what the famous Beza elsewhere affirmed of the assemblies of the Ancient Church, — the devil from acting in it as president; to foreclose which danger there did not exist any remedy more effectual, than that the illustrious Rulers, according to the authority which they possessed, should convoke a Synod thoroughly free and just, in which not only Arminius and Gomarus, but all who may happen to have some doubts and strictures on the controversies referred to, may be fully heard, and their reasons duly weighed according to the Sacred Volume. It ought, moreover, to be taken into consideration what was the aim which that Synod should, propose to itself. Under the impulse of that prejudiced sentiment and high tide of excitement by which at this time they were borne along, the greater part had this only as the object of their desire, that the majority should condemn the minority, and pronounce judgment in reference to these controversies in a manner altogether definitive and peremptory; and what sort of evils would thenceforth rush from that fountain, no candid discerner of events could be at a loss to conjecture. This Synod, therefore, ought to be convened for friendly conference between parties opposed to each other on controverted points, and to see whether they might not be able to agree among themselves. But if there seemed nothing to warrant the hope that this matter would be disposed of so promptly, and at one assembly, the safety of the State and Church would be best consulted were the illustrious States, by a formula of mutual forbearance on points that are less essential, to put an end in some measure, if only for a time, to such ecclesiastical contentions.'

Shortly after these transactions, Gomarus transmitted in writing, within the time prescribed by the States, those opinions which he had orally defended before their assembly [Prefat. Act. Synod.]. Arminius, however, on being conveyed home from the Hague, had scarcely composed himself to the task of obeying the mandates of the rulers, when the disease in its malignant form again attacked him anew, and that with an aggravated severity proportioned to the increased intensity it had gained from a harassed mind and debilitated energies. But he in the highest degree consoled himself, according to God and the testimony of his conscience, with this one reflection, that in the supreme Assembly of all Holland he had been patiently listened to by his most clement lords, to whose prudence he attributed so much as to encourage the hope that, in the event of his death, there would not be wanting among them those who, once satisfied of the justice of his cause, would throw around it the protective influence of their wisdom and favour. He sent, however, by letter, on the 12th September, a modest excuse to the States as to his inability to fulfil their commands by the appointed day; in which he stated, 'that he was confined to a sick-bed, after having already drawn up a considerable part of the prescribed document, which now, — such being the will of the Divine Disposer, — he was obliged to break off. His having been heard on a previous occasion, and the whole case at that time having been exhibited in writing, might be accepted in discharge of the present necessity. If, however, they at all desired the portion he had executed, he would take care either that, in the event of his being by the grace of Christ restored to health, they should have the whole perfect and entire, or that, in the event of his decease, they should have it in its abrupt and imperfect form. With regard, however, to the Confession he had given forth, so far was he from entertaining any doubt respecting it, that, on the contrary, he stedfastly believed it to be throughout in accordance with Scripture; he therefore persisted in it, being prepared with this very faith to appear, even at that very moment, before the tribunal of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Judge of the living and of the dead.' [Uitenbog. Hist. pag. 470.—Bertii Oratio pag. 36.].

Meanwhile, his disease gathered strength every day, in spite of every effort to arrest it by those most eminent and practised physicians, Doctors Pavius, Sebastian Egberts, Henry Saelius, and Reyner Bontius. The virulence of the malady, moreover, too deeply seated for medical art and appliance to eradicate it, daily developed new symptoms — fever, cough, enlargement of the hypochondria, difficulty of respiration, oppression from food, broken sleep, atrophy, and arthritis, which allowed the sufferer no rest. In complication with these were intestinal pains, — in the ilium and colon; together with affection of the left optic nerve, and dimness of the left eye. When this last affection became known, there were some who, abating nothing even then of their wonted rancour against him, did not scruple to interpret it as one of the judgments dealt out to the contemners of the Divine Majesty. To give some speciousness to this outrage, they bandied about, with application to Arminius, these words of the inspired prophet Zechariah [Chap. xiv. 12.], in which he speaks of the wasting away of the eyes and of the whole body: 'This shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.' To this passage, they appended another from the same prophetic book [Chap. xi. 17.]. 'Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.' ['And yet,' says Bertius, in allusion to this barbarous diversion, 'it was not "his right eye" that was affected, but his left; nor was it "utter darkness," but only a dimness; nor was his arm "clean dried up," but it was swollen. His tongue, too, articulately fulfilled its office to the very last. In this manner things above, and things below, on the right and the left, divine and human, are alike made to subserve the will of these wretched oracular expounders of the mysteries of Providence! '—Orat. in obit. Arminii.—TR.].

There were some also who, by a play on the name James Armimus (Jacobus Arminius) made him out to be a friend of this vain world. (Vani Orbis Amicus.) While others, subsequently, with the view of pouring ridicule upon this anagram, worked up another from the same name, with the addition of a single letter [The letter h, which occurs in his original name Hermanns.], in which he is himself introduced as saying, I have had a care for Sion. (habui Curam Sionis.) Meanwhile Arminius, though day by day the violence of the disease shook his frame more and more, preserved unshaken his constancy of mind and placidity of temper, and retained his power of articulate utterance to the very close of life. Nor did he betray the least abatement of his wonted cheerfulness of aspect, and kindliness of disposition; charging his afflicted and anguish-stricken wife to be resigned in spirit, and very often exhorting her to put her trust in the God of the widow.

Very frequently, too, and with the utmost fervour, did he pour out his supplications unto God, both for himself, and for the prosperity and peace of the church; and in all his conversations he testified his unmoved confidence, and thoroughly unshaken hope in Christ the Saviour. And if his brethren addressed themselves to prayer on his behalf, and he happened at the time to be overpowered by pain, he would request them now and then to pause, until he had recovered himself, and become able along with them to go through this solemn exercise.

Among many forms of prayer which he specially enjoyed, and frequently used, the following were prominent: 'O Lord Jesus, thou faithful and merciful High Priest, who consentedst to be in all things tempted like as we are, yet without sin, that, taught by this experience how hard it is to obey God in sufferings, thou mightest be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, have compassion on me, succour me, thy servant prostrate, and pressed with so many maladies. O God of my salvation, make my soul fit for thy heavenly kingdom, and my body for the resurrection. Great Shepherd of the sheep, who, through the blood of the everlasting covenant hast been brought again from the dead, O Lord and Saviour Jesus, be present with me, an infirm and afflicted sheep of thine.' [Vide Bertii Orat. Funebr. in obitum J. Arminii pag. 40.]. Very often to the friends at his bedside did he repeat the twentieth and following verse of the 13th chapter of Hebrews, from which he had drawn this last form of prayer; and this passage of Holy Writ he used to utter with such ardour of mind and overflowing fervour of spirit, that the Rev. Bartholomew Praevostius, a disciple most worthy of such a preceptor, and who was afterwards pastor of the Remonstrant church in Amsterdam, was wont to declare that it remained ever after indelibly fixed in his memory, and vividly present to his mind.

About the same time, also, from a desire to pay the last offices of piety to his preceptor, the very learned Simon Episcopius hastened from Franeker to Holland, and for several days and nights kept close by his bedside, interchanging much conversation with him on the subject of religion, the state of the Church, the knowledge of the Saviour, and the efficacy of his death and resurrection [Vide vitam Episcop. a Ph. Limburg. concionibus ejus praefixam.].

Moreover, on being admonished by his physicians, as his strength declined, of the urgent propriety, considering the uncertain issues of life, of setting his house in order, and embodying in a last will whatever charges he might wish to leave, so little did he dread the approach of the fatal hour, that he resigned himself to death with truly admirable composure of mind, and set himself to transact whatever duty required of a Christian teacher and head of a family. At this solemn season, accordingly, he drew up a testament, truly Christian in its character; and dictated in it a brief statement of his aims and manner of life. Mark the following confession of the dying man, as a signal index and evidence of his piety.

'First of all, I commend my soul, when it quits the body, into the hands of God its creator, and faithful preserver, in whose presence I testify that in simplicity and sincerity I have walked with a good conscience in my office and calling; very anxiously and scrupulously on my guard not to propound or teach aught which, by diligent application to the study of the Sacred Scriptures, I had not previously found to be in strictest harmony with these writings:— whatsoever things might prove conducive to the propagation and extension of the truth of the Christian religion, of the worship of the true God, of piety in general, and holy conversation among men, — in fine, to the tranquillity and peace, according to the Word of God, which becomes the Christian name; excluding the Papacy, with which no unity of faith, no bond of piety or Christian peace, can be maintained.'

These things having been transacted, and all his affairs set in order, the few days that yet remained were spent in the invocation of Christ the Saviour, and in meditation on the better life. During this period, his reverend brethren, J. Uitenbogaert and Adrian Borrius, who were each closely knit to him in the bonds of a most intimate friendship contracted many years before, and by a community of vicissitudes of a varied and critical kind, excelled all others in their assiduous attentions, which were to him most grateful, and refreshed his spirit by their much relished conversations and prayers. But at length, on the 19th of October, about noon, amidst the prayers of his friends, with his eyes upturned towards heaven, he peacefully yielded up to his creator God, his soul, brimful of this world's woes, already longing for release, and enjoying a foretaste of celestial bliss; several present exclaiming, as he breathed out his spirit, 'O my soul, let me die the death of the righteous!' [Bertii Oratio Funebr. pag. 43.—Et Uitenb. Hist. pag. 483.].

Thus died James Arminius, having completed a period of six years in the professorship, and in the 49th year of his age — a truly mournful loss, not only to the Academy and the Christian community, but also, and most of all, to his widow and nine children, of whom the eldest at that time had little more than attained the 17th year of his age. Among these were two little daughters, Gertrude and Angelica; the rest were males — Hermann, Peter, John, Lawrence, James, William, and Daniel; of whom, Lawrence, on reaching manhood, became a merchant in the city of Amsterdam, while Daniel prosecuted the medical art with the highest reputation. The remaining sons, after the decease of their beloved father, died in the very flower of their youth.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chapter 12 Part 2

The Life of James Arminius
Chapter 12, Part 2 of 3 (p. 283-289).

This biography of James Arminius was written in Latin by Caspar Brandt, published by Gerard Brandt in 1724, and translated to English by John Guthrie in 1854.

Meanwhile, as the rising controversies, which had now for some time been transferred from the schools to the pulpit, — yea and to the market-places, the streets, and the porticos, — engaged the minds of men alike of the highest and of the lowest rank; and while many, through ignorance, were assigning to Arminius the opinion of Gomarus, and to Gomarus the opinion of Arminius, some person, in the course of this year (1609), with the view of enabling every one to understand more accurately the state of this controversy, published a translation from the Latin into the vernacular tongue of the Theses of both the professors on the subject of Predestination, as they had been defended by them respectively a few years before (viz. in 1604). These were followed by a Dialogue from the pen of R. Donteklok, minister of Delft, in which he asserted that the opinion of Arminius was altogether opposed to the Reformed doctrine as received in the Low Countries, and was such as could not be tolerated in any divine; while the opinion of Gomarus, on the other hand, although in his judgment it soared beyond the prevailing opinion, was nevertheless fairly reconcileable therewith. This Dialogue was promptly refuted, and the fame of Arminius vindicated, by J. Arnold Corvinus, minister of the church at Leyden, in a pamphlet he published under the title of A Christian and Serious Admonition to Christian Peace. To this pamphlet not long after, Donteklok replied. The friends of Arminius, too, with the view of dissipating the very sinister rumours with which he had been assailed, translated about this time from the Latin, and submitted to the judgment of the public, his Theses on The Providence of God concerning Evil; On Man's Free Will and its Efficacy; and also those On Indulgences and Purgatory, which were put out against the Papists. But these minor publications so far from promoting the peace of the Church, operated, as the discord daily increased, like oil poured upon the flame.

Taking this into consideration, it pleased the States of Holland and Westfriesland that a friendly conference should be held anew before their assembly betwixt Gomarus and Arminius, in regard to the articles controverted between them, in which either professor for himself might choose four ministers of whose counsels it should be competent to him to avail himself. Arminius made choice of John Uitenbogaert of the Hague, Adrian Borrius of Leyden, Nicolas Grevinkovius of Rotterdam, and Adolphus Venator of Alkmaar. Gomarus, on the other hand, chose R. Acronius of Schiedam, James Eoland of Amsterdam, John Bogard of Haarlem, and Festus Hommius of Leyden.

The first and second days were consumed by various wranglings and tergiversations. In particular, Gomarus thought that Adolphus Venator was not worthy to take part in the convention, inasmuch as he had been ordered by the Classis of Alkmaar to desist for the time being from the discharge of ecclesiastical functions, on the ground of impure doctrine, and of his refusal to subscribe to the Confession and Catechism; for which reasons he demanded that another should be substituted in his place. The States rejoined that the censure thus inflicted by the Classis contravened the decree which they (the States) had issued with respect to the revisal of these formularies of agreement; and this censure, having thus been rendered by them null and void, availed nothing against Adolphus in any respect.

A lengthened discussion then ensued on the subject of this revisal; the States demanding that this point should be handled first, as the hinge on which their own decree turned as to the holding of a Synod. After the two professors had debated the matter at full length, Uitenbogaert took occasion, in a weighty speech, to expound his mind also on this same point.

At last, when about to enter upon the real question, Gomarus appealed from this political to an ecclesiastical tribunal, before which he was prepared to discuss the controverted points in the presence of delegates from the States [Vid. Uitenbog. Hist. pag. 462.].

The States, on the other hand, refused to sustain any such appeal; told him to break off these tergiversations; and added, 'that if he prolonged his pertinacious opposition they would see to what, in the circumstances, it was their duty to do.' This brought Gomarus to dismiss his quibbles; and on the day following he declared his readiness to obey the mandate of the rulers, but on these conditions:—

I. That this conference be conducted in writing, to be handed in on both sides.

II. That these writings be delivered to the National Synod for their inspection and adjudication, in order that the right of judgment, in an ecclesiastical cause, might be reserved entire to the churches.

III. That the conference commence with the subject of Justification [Praefet. Act. Synod.].

After some discussion as to the order in which the various articles ought to be considered, Arminius at length gave his consent that the one to be first handled should be Justification. The States, however, ruled that the conference should be conducted viva voce; yet not to the exclusion of Writing, when used as an aid to the memory. They further engaged, in a public letter pledging themselves to that effect, that the cause, after they had investigated it in that conference, should be reserved to the judgment of a Provincial Synod, and that, for this end, all things that might there be transacted viva voce, should subsequently be committed to writing, and that these documents would in due course be handed over to the Synod.

Among the first articles treated of at this conference, the controversy concerning Justification led the way; just as, on a previous occasion, it had also been discussed before the Supreme Court. This turned mainly on the sense of the apostle's phrase, that 'faith is imputed for righteousness' [Rom. iv. 5.]. Both doctors agreed in holding that the passage referred to treated of faith properly so called, but differed on the question, whether faith was the instrument of justification? Gomarus held the affirmative. Arminius held the negative; maintaining that faith could not properly be called an instrument, seeing it was an action; or, if the name instrument must be claimed for it, it would then be the instrument, not of justification, which is an act of the Divine mind, but of the apprehension or reception of Christ as our Redeemer, which is a human act: and that faith is graciously regarded by God, in the act of justifying, as having already fulfilled its function [Rom. iv. 5. Ex Epist. A Borrii ad G. Liv. non dum edita. 29 Septemb. 1609. Vide et Uitenb. Hist. pag. 469.].

In the second place they treated of Predestination, and first of all, of the object of election and reprobation: whether God in electing and reprobating, in one and the same act, regarded his creatures as not yet created, — as in the void of nothing, — or, on the other hand, as created: further, if he regarded them as created, whether he regarded them as sinners, or otherwise; if, as sinners, whether as sinners solely by the sin of Adam, or on the other hand, as sinners defiled by other sins also: finally, and as the crowning point, whether he contemplated those to be chosen as also believing and penitent, and those to be reprobated as unbelieving and impenitent. Arminius maintained this, Gomarus the opposite; a variety of arguments being adduced on either side.

The third place was occupied with the controversy concerning the grace of God and the free will of man. Each acknowledged that man of himself, and by his own powers, could accomplish nothing whatever in the shape of saving good; nay, Arminius declared, 'that he admitted all the operations of divine grace whatsoever, which could be maintained as present in the conversion of man, provided that no grace were maintained which was irresistible.' [Praefat. Act. Synod.]. This Gomarus disputed; maintaining that, in the regeneration of man, a certain grace of the Holy Spirit was needed which should operate so efficaciously 'that, the resistance of the flesh being thereby overcome, as many as became partakers of this grace would be certainly and infallibly converted.' He added that a great ambiguity lurked in the word irresistible, and that the opinion, formerly condemned, of the Semi-pelagians and Synergists lay wrapped up in it.

The last topic of discussion was the Perseverance of true believers; and here the question was stirred, not indeed, whether the children of God can fall away from salvation, but whether a man who has once believed cannot, by any possibility, fall away from faith. This was a doctrine which Arminius declared he had by no means opposed, or meant to oppose; but he intimated that his mind was perplexed by several difficulties on this subject, and he adduced various reasons for the doubts he entertained. To these Gomarus replied; after which the disputants were asked whether any articles yet remained on which they mutually differed. Gomarus rejoined that there were several; namely, concerning Original Sin, concerning the providence of God, concerning the authority of the Holy Scriptures, concerning the certainty of Salvation, concerning the perfection of man in this life, and various others, in regard to which he left it to the discretion of the illustrious States whether they should be discussed in this place, especially as they must again come under discussion in the Synod [Praefat. Act. Synod.].

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chapter 12 Part 1

The Life of James Arminius
Chapter 12, Part 1 of 3 (p. 278-283).

This biography of James Arminius was written in Latin by Caspar Brandt, published by Gerard Brandt in 1724, and translated to English by John Guthrie in 1854.



Meanwhile Arminius, by reason of incessant labours, assiduous studies, protracted sitting, and contests recurring without any intermission, had contracted hypochondriacal affections, which ripened at length into obstinate disease. This distemper, which had very long been latent in his internal parts, broke out with special violence on the 7th of February, in the following year. His members were affected by internal languor, and his stomach utterly debilitated; so much so, that his medical attendants at once saw it to be necessary to subject him to slow and cautious treatment. But although, at the commencement of the attack, the sufferer could scarcely drag his body along, nevertheless, afterwards, during some favourable intervals, he regained his vigour of mind, and intermitted nothing, as far as his infirm health would permit, of his readings, disputations, and other duties of his calling; nor was he ever neglectful of his own cause. Of this he gave brilliant evidence in a certain disputation which he publicly held a few months after, on the 25th July, Concerning the Call of Man to Salvation. On this occasion, Arminius acted a very spirited part; and in eloquent terms not only denied that irresistible and necessitating force which some of the Reformed represent God as exerting in the conversion of men, but further proceeded to prove that the Divine call turns on this, either that God supplies, or is ready to bestow, the power to perform that to which, in his call, he invites mankind. He further added, 'that he neither could, nor dared, to define the mode which the Holy Spirit employs in the conversion and regeneration of men. If any one will venture to do so, on him devolves the burden of proof. For himself, he could say in what manner conversion did not take place, but he could not say in what manner it did; for this only He knows who searches the deep things of God.' To this it was objected that there was a certain kind of grace by which men are infallibly converted, and from this it was directly argued that conversion was necessitated; in answer to which, Arminius took occasion to discourse at some length on what the schoolmen call, though very improperly, the necessity of infallibility; and added, 'that the scholastics were not to him the standard of speech, or of faith, seeing that they began to exist only when Antichrist was in course of being revealed, and that their theology had not made way until the true and apostolic theology had been driven into exile.'

After a period of nearly two whole hours had been lengthened out by two opponents, a certain Papist, who passed off his name as Adrian Smetius, and whom some took for a priest, others for a Jesuit, boldly descended into the arena against Arminius, and assailed his opinion on the point in question with a variety of arguments. While Arminius was ever and anon replying to these with prompt and collected mind, Gomarus assumed various colours on the occasion; and that he might not present the appearance of a merely passive listener, he varied his gestures now and then; at one time taking notes; at another whispering something into the ear of Everard Vorstius, Professor of medicine, who sat next him; now casting his eyes over the audience, which was very large; and now muttering something between his lips. Nay, he looked as if he felt an intense desire to contradict the things advanced in the course of the disputation, but repressed himself; — after such a fashion, however, that these, or similar words, fell from him in the overflow of his indignation, — What impudence is this? Moreover, after the disputation had come to a close, he had scarcely reached the hall door, when he broke out in the words: The reins have been remarkably well loosened for the Papacy this day. Directly after, in like manner, making up to Arminius, he exclaimed in the presence and hearing of the Jesuit, 'that he had never, in the Academy, listened to such statements and disputations, by which the door was thrown so widely open to Popery.' Arminius replied, 'that he had given satisfaction to his own conscience, and denied that what he had advanced made anything at all in favour of Popery.' Gomarus forthwith rejoined 'that he would refute these things, and that too in public.' Arminius: 'If anything be said which is opposed to my conscience, I promise you that I, in my turn, will openly gainsay it.' Gomarus: 'I shall not be wanting in my duty to the cause.' Arminius: 'Neither shall I be wanting, I confidently trust. But let us test each other in due time, and to me it is certain that the opinion of an irresistible force will be found repugnant alike to the Sacred Scripture, to antiquity, and to our Confession and Catechism.' [Vide his de hac disput. Epist. Borrii ad Epist. 30 Julii script. inter Epist. Eccles.].

After holding this disputation, he repaired to Oudewater with the view of recruiting his health; and there, on the very night which followed the debate just narrated, he was seized with a most violent paroxysm, which once more shattered his strength, and struck alarm into the minds of all who enjoyed his care and his intimacy. Simon Episcopius, in particular, who had by this time gone to Franeker, mainly for the sake of hearing the lectures of Drusius, felt very deeply affected by the adverse health of his great Preceptor (whom he was wont to address by the name of father), as these words to Arminius abundantly testify:—

'Reverend Doctor and esteemed Father:— Although I have not written you since my departure, I trust you will attribute this, not to any forgetfulness of you, or supine and ungrateful indifference to your claims, but partly to my assurance of the peculiar affection which I have very forcibly and confidently flattered myself you cherish towards me, and partly, and very principally, to my desire not to be officiously troublesome to you, already too much harassed; especially considering that over and above your serious and grave occupations, which, by a universal and simultaneous rush, are now, I well know, accumulating upon your head, you are ever and anon distracted by the oft-recurring agonies of an obstinate disease. In these circumstances, not having the boldness to address you, nor the ability to cheer and refresh you, I deemed it enough to convey to you my grateful remembrance, and the frequent expression of my affection, through those to whom I occasionally wrote. How I wish, Reverend Sir!— and O that God might grant,—that it may be permitted us to have a joyous remembrance of you in this truly abandoned age, to which God appears to have given promise of some remedy through your instrumentality. Would that it may not prove to have been promise merely! For how stands the case? Alas! amid our anxious longings, and repeated attempts to brace up our minds to the confidence of hope, the only intelligence we receive is that your disease has not yet abated, but holds obstinately on, and that it is irritated by the malignant and choleric conduct of certain parties which causes it to relapse with increased severity. For my part, if you will only concede to me the capability of weighing your circumstances with some measure of justice, and estimating, in some sort, at once the utility and the necessity of your prelections, you need be at no loss to imagine how deeply I am distressed by the present visitation. Ungrateful should I be were any day to pass over my head which did not, at frequent intervals, remind and admonish me of your disease, — a consideration, in truth, which so afflicts me from day to day, that, along with it, a sort of sympathetic participation of your malady ever affects and invades me. Would to God this went so far, that some alleviation or solace might thence redound to you! But perhaps it may not seem good to our God to bless any longer through your instrumentality this unwilling, ungrateful, and refractory world, which does not choose to know the things that make for its peace, or to recognise the tune of its visitation.' [Epist. Eccles. pag. 298.].