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§ 6. The Remonstrant Doctrine.

In the early part of the seventeenth century Arminius introduced a new system of doctrine in the Reformed churches of Holland, which was formally condemned by the Synod of Dort which sat from November 1618 to May 1619. Against the decisions of that Synod the advocates of the new doctrine presented a Remonstrance, and hence they were at first called Remonstrants, but in after years their more common designation has been Arminians. Arminianism is a much lower form of doctrine than Lutheranism. In all the points included under Anthropology and Soteriology it is a much more serious departure from the system of Augustinianism which in all ages has been the life of the church. The Arminians taught, —

1. That all men derive from Adam a corrupt nature by which they are inclined to sin. But they deny that this corruption is of the nature of sin. Men are responsible only for their own voluntary acts and the consequences of such acts. “Peccatum originale nec habent (Remonstrantes) pro peccato proprie dicto . . . . nec pro malo, quod per modum proprie dictæ pœnæ ab Adamo in posteros dimanet, sed pro malo infirmitate.283283Apologia pro Confessione Remonstrantum, edit. Leyden, 1630, p. 84. Limborch284284 Theologia Christiana, V. xv. 15, edit. Amsterdam, 1715, p. 439. says, “Atqui illa physica est impuritas (namely, the deterioration of our nature derived from Adam), non moralis: et tantum abest ut sit vere ac proprie dictum peccatum.

2. They deny that man by his fall has lost his ability to good. Such ability, or liberty as they call it, is essential to our nature, and cannot be lost without the loss of humanity. “Innatam arbitrii humani libertatem (i.e., ability) olim semel in creatione datam, nunquam . . . . tollit (Deus).285285Confessio Remonstratum, vi. 6; Episcopii Opera, edit. Rotterdam, 1665, vol. ii. part 2, p. 80.

3. This ability, however, is not of itself sufficient to secure the return of the soul to God. Men need the preventing, exciting, and assisting grace of God in order to their conversion and holy living. “Gratiam Dei statuimus esse principium, progressum et complementum omnis boni: adeo ut ne ipse quidem regenitus absque præcedente ista, sive præveniente, excitante, prosequente et coöperante gratia, bonum ullum salutare cogitare, velle, aut peragere possit.286286Ibid. xvii. 6; ut supra, p. 88.


4. This divine grace is afforded to all men in sufficient measure to enable them to repent, believe, and keep all the commandments of God. “Gratia efficax vocatur ex eventu. Ut statuatur gratia habere ex se sufficientem vim, ad producendum consensum in voluntate, sed quia vis illa partialis est, non posse exire in actum sive effectum sortiri sine coöperatione liberæ voluntatis humanæ, ac proinde ut effectum habeat, . . . . pendere a libera voluntate.287287Apologia pro Confessione Remonstrantium, p. 162. This grace, says Limborch, “incitat, exstimulat, adjuvat et cerroborat, quantum satis est, ut homo reipsa Deo obediat et ad fineni in obedientia perseveret.” And again:288288Theologia, IV. xii. 8; p. 352.Sufficiens vocatio, quando per coöperationem liberi arbitrii sortitur suum effectum, vocatur efficax.

5. Those who of their own free will, and in the exercise of that ability which belongs to them since the fall, coöperate with this divine grace, are converted and saved. “Etsi vero maxima est gratiæ disparitas, pro liberrima scilicet voluntatis divinæ dispensatione tamen Spiritus Sanctus omnibus et singulis, quibus verbum fidei ordinarie prædicatur, tantum gratiæ confert, aut saltem conferre paratus est, quantum ad fidem ingenerandum, et ad promovendum suis gradibus salutarem ipsorum conversionem sufficit.289289Confessio Remonstrantium, xvii. 8; p. 89. The Apology for the Remonstrance, and especially the Remonstrant Theologians, as Episcopius and Limborch, go farther than this. Instead of limiting this sufficient grace to those who hear the gospel, they extend it to all mankind.

6. Those who thus believe are predestinated to eternal life, not however as individuals, but as a class. The decree of election does not concern persons, it is simply the purpose of God to save believers. “Decretum vocant Remonstrantes decretum prædestinationis ad salutem, quia eo decernitur, qua ratione et conditione Deus peccatores saluti destinet. Enunciatur autem hoc decretum Dei hac formula: Deus decrevit salvare credentes, non quasi credentes quidam re ipsa jam sint, qui objiciantur Deo salvare volenti, sive prædestinanti; nihil minus; sed, ut quid in iis, circa quos Deus prædestinans versatur, requiratur, ista enunciatione clare significetur. Tantundem enim valet atqui si diceres, Deus decrevit homines salvare sub conditione fidei. . . . . Etiamsi hujusmodi prædestinatio non sit prædestinatio certarum personarum, est tamen omnium hominum prædestinatio, si modo credant et in virtute prædestinatio certarum personarum, quæ et quando credunt.290290Apologia pro Confessione Remonstrantium, p. 102.

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