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VIRO PARI, ET FAMILIARI MEO
MY DEAR AND GOOD FRIEND,
THESE Papers come now to your hands, to give you assurance, that my many late discourses, upon the subjects here treated of, were in good earnest. Whatever it was that occasioned the forming of my conceptions into this shape, there is nothing in the world hath a greater hand, (if so it may be said of motives,) to give them birth, than your passionate opposition. For I am weary of those debates by word of mouth, wherein men of much zeal and prejudice grow so hot and so far transported, that instead of solid arguments advancing orderly under the command of sober reason, they can levy no other forces but froth and choler to assist them. That I may no more break the peace (in this kind) with you, nor endanger making the least flaw in that dear friendship that hath, by so long a conversation, grown up to so great a height betwixt us; I have resolved to take this calmer course,—to give an account of some grounds of my present persuasions, wherein I differ from your judgment. Perhaps they may some time or other find your affections so quiet, your understanding so well awakened, and your will so willing to stand neuter, till these truths have a fair and full hearing, that they may make a better impression, than hitherto they have had opportunity to do, upon you. And because I remember, (in some heat of dispute,) you have thrown some things upon me, (which were not so much faults in me, as prejudices and scandals taken up by yourself,) I shall briefly wipe them off, that such rubs being removed out of your way,
you may have the less objection to fright you from a further inquiry into the Articles under question.
And now, I beseech you, in the first place, to upbraid me no more with the errors of my education, (for so I must now account them,) because the greater the prejudices were which were instilled into me against these doctrines, the greater you ought to conclude the light to be which hath wrought this my present conviction of their truth, and induced me to embrace them, against all the charms of interest, and secular advantages, wherewith the world tempts us, to the contrary.
Unconstancy, (one of your other charges,) I confess, is sometimes culpable: But may we not say so too of constancy many times? which is therefore resembled (somewhere) to a sullen porter, who keeps out better company oftentimes than he lets in. Our happiness that will be unchangeable commenceth in a change; and it is our duty to turn from darkness to light, though we be called "inconstant" for it. We were not born with our eyes open; neither shall we ever see far, if we look no further than that prospect which some few admired writers have set before us. "The new man,” which we are to "put on," is "renewed in knowledge;" ;" and if we receive our illumination regularly from heaven, that is given according to the capacity of the subject. We have a dawning first, but the progress of our light holds a proportion with the sedulity of our studies. We are never too old to learn in Christ's school.
"But the great scandal," you say, "is, to profess myself a disciple to such masters."-What masters do you mean? I call no man MASTER on earth, (in this sense,) nor ever will give any so great a dominion over my faith, as to swear allegiance to his doctrines. I would, others were as free from this yoke of bondage. But yet I know, it is not only a thing commendable, but a duty, to march after the standard of truth, what hand soever carries it before us. And who do you think were the bearers of it? If you enquire into their learning, (even their adversaries being judges,) they were as lights shining in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation; † and if you examine their lives, for piety and justice, they were blameless and harmless as becomes the sons of God; not more polite in their intellectuals than unreproveable in their morals, but very
eminent in both. And they have declared their virtues as well in a way of passive obedience as active. What professors were ever more constant and cheerful in their sufferings for the word of God and for the testimony which they held, (having been taught it, according to their full persuasion,) as the truth is in Jesus. *—They have been banished, imprisoned, &c; insomuch that one of them bespeaks his fellow soldiers (in this conflict,) after this manner: Vos societatis nostræ decora ac lumina, quorum vincula jam non in Belgio tantum, sed penè ubique per totum orbem Christianum celebria facta sunt, qui patientiâ vestrá jam per tot annos invicta atque infracta, adversariis totique adeo mundo fidem fecistis, conscientiam Remonstrantibus pluris esse, quam quicquid uspiam carum est in mundo. Ita pergite &c.t—" You, the lights and glory of our society, whose bonds are famous throughout the whole Christian world, whose invincible patience hath given proof to your very adversaries and all the world besides, that the Remonstrants value their conscience, above all things whatMarch on with me," (saith he,) "to the mark, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report, as deceivers and yet true: as unknown and yet well known: as dying and behold we live as chastened and not killed: as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as poor, yet making many rich: as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.'"-(2 Cor. vi, 8, 9, 10.) -Thus far he.
But you will say, "Non pæna sed causa, &c. 'it is not the suffering but the cause that makes a man a martyr;' and those men run after the error of Pelagius, who was condemned by the Ancient Fathers as an enemy to the grace of God."-To this I shall return Arminius's own solemn protestation: Inspiciantur capita omnia Pelagianæ doctrinæ, prout illa in Synodis Milevitana, Arausicana, et Hierosolymitana enarrantur et condemnantur, etiam ut à Pontifice Romano Innocentio referuntur; et adparebit posse quempiam Pelagianam doctrinam improbare, et tamen doctrina isti (Gomari sc.,) de Predestinatione, non accedere: ‡ And, a
* Ephes. iv, 21. + Apolog. pro Confess. in Prefat. ad finem. "Let all the articles of the doctrine of Pelagius be inspected, as they stand recorded aud condemned in the Acts of the Synod of Milevia, [or Mela, in Africa,] Orange, and Jerusalem, and even as they are related by Innocent, the Roman Pontiff; and it will appear possible for any man to disavow and disapprove the Pelagian doctrine, and yet not make the least approach to this doctrine of Gomarus concerning Predestination, as it is expounded in these theses."-Examen Thesium Gomari. 156.
little after, Profiteor intereà me Pelagiana dogmata, quæ ipsis imponuntur à Synodis supra nominatis, ex animo detestari, et si quis commonstrare possit, ex iis quæ dico, quidpiam sequi, quod illis affine est, sententiam mutaturum et correcturum. If the protestation of this person be not sufficient to clear the innocency of these tenets, then take Vossius's Historia Pelagiana, and GROTIUS'S Disquisitio on that very argument, for their compurgators. Withal, let us remember the caveat, which Arminius gives, (loco citato,) Neque id solum studio habendum, ut à Pelagiano dogmate recedatur quám longissimè: Cavendum etiam ne in Manichæismum, aut quod Manichæismo est intolerabilius, ratione saltem consequentiæ suæ incidatur. †
But you object further, that "these tenets are not agreeable to the doctrine of St. Augustine, THE MAUL OF HERETICS, as he is styled."-St. Augustine must give us leave to depart from him, where he takes leave to depart from all that went before him, and from himself also; (and which of you will follow him in all he held?) for it is observed, that he changed his batteries, as he changed his enemies; and employed other principles against the Pelagians, than those he used in combating the Manichees: And from the variety of his opinions in these points it proceeds, that his followers express themselves in such different terms, that, though taught in the same school, and of the same master, yet they seem, as he saith, not to have learnt the same lesson. And yet we must not deny what Arminius observed (ubi supra) "that St. Augustine might have confuted the Pelagians sufficiently, and yet have omitted that way of Predestination which he taught." And yet the doctrine of Predestination, as it is handled by Gomarus and the rest of his persuasion, differs much from that of St. Augustine, and lays down many things which Augustine would by no means grant, though the greatest adversary the Pelagians had.
"In the mean time, I profess that 1 detest from my heart the dogmas of Pelagius, which are assigned to him and his followers by the beforementioned Synods; and if any person be able to prove, from any thing which I say, that such consequences ensue as are at all allied to those dogmas, I will instantly change and correct my sentiments."-Ibid, 157.
"It is not only necessary, that we be desirous of receding as far as possible from the Pelagian doctrine; we must at the same time be cautious not to run into the opposite extreme of Manicheism,-or into that which is more intolerable than Manicheism itself, at least with respect to its consequences which are in these pages the subject of controversy."
And therefore your objection, that "these tenets are against the doctrine of the Synod of Dort,"-is of value; for, beside their dissent from all the Ancients and from St. Augustine himself, the manner of their proceedings, in carrying on that business against the Remonstrants, were enough alone to beget an aversation to their doctrine. Take it in their words, who had most reason to be sensible of the injury, Scrip. Hist. Rem. (mihi p. 211,); where they refer us to their Historica Narratio, et Antidotum, in which they say, Iniquitas (Dordrac. Synodi,) imprimis autem fraudes, imposturæ, et equivocationes in Canonibus Synodicis ad horrendam illam Absolutæ Predestinationis sententiam colore aliquo fucandam et incrustandam usurpatæ, clarissime deteguntur. *—Tilenus, who was present there, an eye and an earwitness of those transactions, could discover something: but he spares you. And yet he cannot but tell you, that the many pitiful shifts, and thin distinctions, and horrid expressions, which he observed to be frequently made use of, by persons of that persuasion, have contributed very much to the rectifying of his judgment.
Would it not startle a man, that were well in his wits, sadly to consider that opinion so stiffly maintained by Piscator, Maccovius, and divers others?, viz. † "That God hath so predetermined the will of every man to every action, that he cannot possibly do any more good than he doth, nor omit more evil than he omitteth." What sad inferences may be drawn, and properly enough, from this doctrine? Will it not (in the consequence of it,) take off the wheels of duty, and furnish the careless with an excuse, and lay all sin at the door of the most Holy God? Some of you, indeed, to decline the odium of this assertion, do tell us the quite contrary; and affirm roundly, that men may do more
"In which are most clearly disclosed the iniquity of the Synod of Dort, but particularly the frauds, impostures, and the equivocations which its members employed in their Synodical Canons, for the purpose of disguising by specious colours and plaistering over that horrid sentiment of Absolute Predestination."
† In summâ se tueri fatetur Deum absolute decrevisse ab æterno et efficaciter, ne quispiam hominum plus boni faciat, quam reipsa facit, aut plus mali omittar, quam reipsâ omittit.-Piscator ad Amic. Dupl. Vorstii, p. 175. -["In short, he confesses himself the defender of this doctrine,—that God has efficaciously and from all eternity decreed absolutely, that no mortal man shall do more good than he actually does, or shall neglect the commission of more wickedness than he actually omits."]-See the doctrine of these Divines recited, ACT. SYNODAL. par. 2, pag, 36, 37.