8: Chapter VIII
<< 7: Chapter VII || 9: Chapter IX (1613-15) >>
Schism in the Church had become a public fact, and theological hatred was
in full blaze throughout the country.
The great practical question in the Church had been as to the appointment
of preachers, wardens, schoolmasters, and other officers. By the
ecclesiastical arrangements of 1591 great power was conceded to the civil
authority in church matters, especially in regard to such appointments,
which were made by a commission consisting of four members named by the
churches and four by the magistrates in each district.
Barneveld, who above all things desired peace in the Church, had wished
to revive this ordinance, and in 1612 it had been resolved by the States
of Holland that each city or village should, if the magistracy approved,
provisionally conform to it. The States of Utrecht made at the same time
a similar arrangement.
It was the controversy which has been going on since the beginning of
history and is likely to be prolonged to the end of time--the struggle
for power between the sacerdotal and political orders; the controversy
whether priests shall control the state or the state govern the priests.
This was the practical question involved in the fierce dispute as to
dogma. The famous duel between Arminius and Gomarus; the splendid
theological tournaments which succeeded; six champions on a side armed in
full theological panoply and swinging the sharpest curtal axes which
learning, passion, and acute intellect could devise, had as yet produced
no beneficent result. Nobody had been convinced by the shock of
argument, by the exchange of those desperate blows. The High Council
of the Hague had declared that no difference of opinion in the Church
existed sufficient to prevent fraternal harmony and happiness. But
Gomarus loudly declared that, if there were no means of putting down the
heresy of Arminius, there would before long be a struggle such as would
set province against province, village against village, family against
family, throughout the land. He should be afraid to die in such
doctrine. He shuddered that any one should dare to come before God's
tribunal with such blasphemies. Meantime his great adversary, the
learned and eloquent, the musical, frolicsome, hospitable heresiarch was
no more. Worn out with controversy, but peaceful and happy in the
convictions which were so bitterly denounced by Gomarus and a large
proportion of both preachers and laymen in the Netherlands, and convinced
that the schism which in his view had been created by those who called
themselves the orthodox would weaken the cause of Protestantism
throughout Europe, Arminius died at the age of forty-nine.
The magistrates throughout Holland, with the exception of a few cities,
were Arminian, the preachers Gomarian; for Arminius ascribed to the
civil authority the right to decide upon church matters, while Gomarus
maintained that ecclesiastical affairs should be regulated in
ecclesiastical assemblies. The overseers of Leyden University appointed
Conrad Vorstius to be professor of theology in place of Arminius. The
selection filled to the brim the cup of bitterness, for no man was more
audaciously latitudinarian than he. He was even suspected of
Socinianism. There came a shriek from King James, fierce and shrill
enough to rouse Arminius from his grave. James foamed to the mouth at
the insolence of the overseers in appointing such a monster of infidelity
to the professorship. He ordered his books to be publicly burned in St.
Paul's Churchyard and at both Universities, and would have burned the
Professor himself with as much delight as Torquemada or Peter Titelman
ever felt in roasting their victims, had not the day for such festivities
gone by. He ordered the States of Holland on pain of for ever forfeiting
his friendship to exclude Vorstius at once from the theological chair and
to forbid him from "nestling anywhere in the country."
He declared his amazement that they should tolerate such a pest as Conrad
Vorstius. Had they not had enough of the seed sown by that foe of God,
Arminius? He ordered the States-General to chase the blasphemous monster
from the land, or else he would cut off all connection with their false
and heretic churches and make the other Reformed churches of Europe do
the same, nor should the youth of England ever be allowed to frequent the
University of Leyden.
In point of fact the Professor was never allowed to qualify, to preach,
or to teach; so tremendous was the outcry of Peter Plancius and many
orthodox preachers, echoing the wrath of the King. He lived at Gouda
in a private capacity for several years, until the Synod of Dordrecht
at last publicly condemned his opinions and deprived him of his
Meantime, the preachers who were disciples of Arminius had in a private
assembly drawn up what was called a Remonstrance, addressed to the States
of Holland, and defending themselves from the reproach that they were
seeking change in the Divine service and desirous of creating tumult and
This Remonstrance, set forth by the pen of the famous Uytenbogaert, whom
Gomarus called the Court Trumpeter, because for a long time he had been
Prince Maurice's favourite preacher, was placed in the hands of
Barneveld, for delivery to the States of Holland. Thenceforth the
Arminians were called Remonstrants.
The Hague Conference followed, six preachers on a side, and the States of
Holland exhorted to fraternal compromise. Until further notice, they
decreed that no man should be required to believe more than had been laid
down in the Five Points:
- God has from eternity resolved to choose to eternal life those who
through his grace believe in Jesus Christ, and in faith and obedience so
continue to the end, and to condemn the unbelieving and unconverted to
- Jesus Christ died for all; so, nevertheless, that no one actually
except believers is redeemed by His death.
- Man has not the saving belief from himself, nor out of his free
will, but he needs thereto God's grace in Christ.
- This grace is the beginning, continuation, and completion of man's
salvation; all good deeds must be ascribed to it, but it does not work
- God's grace gives sufficient strength to the true believers to
overcome evil; but whether they cannot lose grace should be more closely
examined before it should be taught in full security.
Afterwards they expressed themselves more distinctly on this point, and
declared that a true believer, through his own fault, can fall away from
God and lose faith.
Before the conference, however, the Gomarite preachers had drawn up a
Contra-Remonstrance of Seven Points in opposition to the Remonstrants'
They demanded the holding of a National Synod to settle the difference
between these Five and Seven Points, or the sending of them to foreign
universities for arbitration, a mutual promise being given by the
contending parties to abide by the decision.
Thus much it has been necessary to state concerning what in the
seventeenth century was called the platform of the two great parties:
a term which has been perpetuated in our own country, and is familiar
to all the world in the nineteenth.
These were the Seven Points:
- God has chosen from eternity certain persons out of the human race,
which in and with Adam fell into sin and has no more power to believe and
Convert itself than a dead man to restore himself to life, in order to
make them blessed through Christ; while He passes by the rest through His
righteous judgment, and leaves them lying in their sins.
- Children of believing parents, as well as full-grown believers, are
to be considered as elect so long as they with action do not prove the
- God in His election has not looked at the belief and the repentance
of the elect; but, on the contrary, in His eternal and unchangeable
design, has resolved to give to the elect faith and stedfastness, and
thus to make them blessed.
- He, to this end, in the first place, presented to them His only
begotten Son, whose sufferings, although sufficient for the expiation of
all men's sins, nevertheless, according to God's decree, serves alone to
the reconciliation of the elect.
- God causes the Gospel to be preached to them, making the same through
the Holy Ghost, of strength upon their minds; so that they not merely
obtain power to repent and to believe, but also actually and voluntarily
do repent and believe.
- Such elect, through the same power of the Holy Ghost through which
they have once become repentant and believing, are kept in such wise that
they indeed through weakness fall into heavy sins; but can never wholly
and for always lose the true faith.
- True believers from this, however, draw no reason for fleshly
quiet, it being impossible that they who through a true faith were
planted in Christ should bring forth no fruits of thankfulness; the
promises of God's help and the warnings of Scripture tending to make
their salvation work in them in fear and trembling, and to cause them
more earnestly to desire help from that spirit without which they can
There shall be no more setting forth of these subtle and finely wrought
abstractions in our pages. We aspire not to the lofty heights of
theological and supernatural contemplation, where the atmosphere becomes
too rarefied for ordinary constitutions. Rather we attempt an objective
and level survey of remarkable phenomena manifesting themselves on the
earth; direct or secondary emanations from those distant spheres.
For in those days, and in that land especially, theology and politics
were one. It may be questioned at least whether this practical fusion
of elements, which may with more safety to the Commonwealth be kept
separate, did not tend quite as much to lower and contaminate the
religious sentiments as to elevate the political idea. To mix habitually
the solemn phraseology which men love to reserve for their highest and
most sacred needs with the familiar slang of politics and trade seems
to our generation not a very desirable proceeding.
The aroma of doubly distilled and highly sublimated dogma is more
difficult to catch than to comprehend the broader and more practical
distinctions of every-day party strife.
King James was furious at the thought that common men--the vulgar, the
people in short--should dare to discuss deep problems of divinity which,
as he confessed, had puzzled even his royal mind. Barneveld modestly
disclaimed the power of seeing with absolute clearness into things beyond
the reach of the human intellect. But the honest Netherlanders were not
abashed by thunder from the royal pulpit, nor perplexed by hesitations
which darkened the soul of the great Advocate.
In burghers' mansions, peasants' cottages, mechanics' back-parlours, on
board herring smacks, canal boats, and East Indiamen; in shops, counting-
rooms, farmyards, guard-rooms, ale-houses; on the exchange, in the
tennis-court, on the mall; at banquets, at burials, christenings, or
bridals; wherever and whenever human creatures met each other, there
was ever to be found the fierce wrangle of Remonstrant and Contra-
Remonstrant, the hissing of red-hot theological rhetoric, the pelting of
hostile texts. The blacksmith's iron cooled on the anvil, the tinker
dropped a kettle half mended, the broker left a bargain unclinched, the
Scheveningen fisherman in his wooden shoes forgot the cracks in his
pinkie, while each paused to hold high converse with friend or foe on
fate, free will, or absolute foreknowledge; losing himself in wandering
mazes whence there was no issue. Province against province, city against
city, family against family; it was one vast scene of bickering,
denunciation, heart-burnings, mutual excommunication and hatred.
Alas! a generation of mankind before, men had stood banded together to
resist, with all the might that comes from union, the fell spirit of the
Holy Inquisition, which was dooming all who had wandered from the ancient
fold or resisted foreign tyranny to the axe, the faggot, the living
grave. There had been small leisure then for men who fought for
Fatherland, and for comparative liberty of conscience, to tear each
others' characters in pieces, and to indulge in mutual hatreds and
loathing on the question of predestination.
As a rule the population, especially of the humbler classes, and a great
majority of the preachers were Contra-Remonstrant; the magistrates, the
burgher patricians, were Remonstrant. In Holland the controlling
influence was Remonstrant; but Amsterdam and four or five other cities of
that province held to the opposite doctrine. These cities formed
therefore a small minority in the States Assembly of Holland sustained by
a large majority in the States-General. The Province of Utrecht was
almost unanimously Remonstrant. The five other provinces were decidedly
It is obvious therefore that the influence of Barneveld, hitherto so all-
controlling in the States-General, and which rested on the complete
submission of the States of Holland to his will, was tottering. The
battle-line between Church and State was now drawn up; and it was at the
same time a battle between the union and the principles of state
It had long since been declared through the mouth of the Advocate, but
in a solemn state manifesto, that My Lords the States-General were the
foster-fathers and the natural protectors of the Church, to whom supreme
authority in church matters belonged.
The Contra-Remonstrants, on the other hand, maintained that all the
various churches made up one indivisible church, seated above the States,
whether Provincial or General, and governed by the Holy Ghost acting
directly upon the congregations.
As the schism grew deeper and the States-General receded from the
position which they had taken up under the lead of the Advocate, the
scene was changed. A majority of the Provinces being Contra-Remonstrant,
and therefore in favour of a National Synod, the States-General as a body
were of necessity for the Synod.
It was felt by the clergy that, if many churches existed, they would all
remain subject to the civil authority. The power of the priesthood would
thus sink before that of the burgher aristocracy. There must be one
church--the Church of Geneva and Heidelberg--if that theocracy which the
Gomarites meant to establish was not to vanish as a dream. It was
founded on Divine Right, and knew no chief magistrate but the Holy Ghost.
A few years before the States-General had agreed to a National Synod, but
with a condition that there should be revision of the Netherland
Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism.
Against this the orthodox infallibilists had protested and thundered,
because it was an admission that the vile Arminian heresy might perhaps
be declared correct. It was now however a matter of certainty that the
States-General would cease to oppose the unconditional Synod, because the
majority sided with the priesthood.
The magistrates of Leyden had not long before opposed the demand for a
Synod on the ground that the war against Spain was not undertaken to
maintain one sect; that men of various sects and creeds had fought with
equal valour against the common foe; that religious compulsion was
hateful, and that no synod had a right to claim Netherlanders as slaves.
To thoughtful politicians like Barneveld, Hugo Grotius, and men who acted
with them, fraught with danger to the state, that seemed a doctrine by
which mankind were not regarded as saved or doomed according to belief
or deeds, but as individuals divided from all eternity into two classes
which could never be united, but must ever mutually regard each other as
And like enemies Netherlanders were indeed beginning to regard each
other. The man who, banded like brothers, had so heroically fought for
two generations long for liberty against an almost superhuman despotism,
now howling and jeering against each other like demons, seemed determined
to bring the very name of liberty into contempt.
Where the Remonstrants were in the ascendant, they excited the hatred and
disgust of the orthodox by their overbearing determination to carry their
Five Points. A broker in Rotterdam of the Contra-Remonstrant persuasion,
being about to take a wife, swore he had rather be married by a pig than
a parson. For this sparkling epigram he was punished by the Remonstrant
magistracy with loss of his citizenship for a year and the right to
practise his trade for life. A casuistical tinker, expressing himself
violently in the same city against the Five Points, and disrespectfully
towards the magistrates for tolerating them, was banished from the town.
A printer in the neighbourhood, disgusted with these and similar efforts
of tyranny on the part of the dominant party, thrust a couple of lines of
doggrel into the lottery:
"In name of the Prince of Orange, I ask once and again,
What difference between the Inquisition of Rotterdam and Spain?"
For this poetical effort the printer was sentenced to forfeit the prize
that he had drawn in the lottery, and to be kept in prison on bread and
water for a fortnight.
Certainly such punishments were hardly as severe as being beheaded or
burned or buried alive, as would have been the lot of tinkers and
printers and brokers who opposed the established church in the days of
Alva, but the demon of intolerance, although its fangs were drawn, still
survived, and had taken possession of both parties in the Reformed
Church. For it was the Remonstrants who had possession of the churches
at Rotterdam, and the printer's distich is valuable as pointing out that
the name of Orange was beginning to identify itself with the Contra-
Remonstrant faction. At this time, on the other hand, the gabble that
Barneveld had been bought by Spanish gold, and was about to sell his
country to Spain, became louder than a whisper. Men were not ashamed,
from theological hatred, to utter such senseless calumnies against a
venerable statesman whose long life had been devoted to the cause of his
country's independence and to the death struggle with Spain.
As if because a man admitted the possibility of all his fellow-creatures
being saved from damnation through repentance and the grace of God, he
must inevitably be a traitor to his country and a pensionary of her
And where the Contra-Remonstrants held possession of the churches and the
city governments, acts of tyranny which did not then seem ridiculous were
of everyday occurrence. Clergymen, suspected of the Five Points, were
driven out of the pulpits with bludgeons or assailed with brickbats at
the church door. At Amsterdam, Simon Goulart, for preaching the doctrine
of universal salvation and for disputing the eternal damnation of young
children, was forbidden thenceforth to preach at all.
But it was at the Hague that the schism in religion and politics first
fatally widened itself. Henry Rosaeus, an eloquent divine, disgusted
with his colleague Uytenbogaert, refused all communion with him, and was
in consequence suspended. Excluded from the Great Church, where he had
formerly ministered, he preached every Sunday at Ryswyk, two or three
miles distant. Seven hundred Contra-Remonstrants of the Hague followed
their beloved pastor, and, as the roads to Ryswyk were muddy and sloppy
in winter, acquired the unsavoury nickname of the "Mud Beggars." The
vulgarity of heart which suggested the appellation does not inspire
to-day great sympathy with the Remonstrant party, even if one were
inclined to admit, what is not the fact, that they represented the cause
of religious equality. For even the illustrious Grotius was at that very
moment repudiating the notion that there could be two religions in one
state. "Difference in public worship," he said, "was in kingdoms
pernicious, but in free commonwealths in the highest degree destructive."
It was the struggle between Church and State for supremacy over the whole
body politic. "The Reformation," said Grotius, "was not brought about by
synods, but by kings, princes, and magistrates." It was the same eternal
story, the same terrible two-edged weapon, "Cujus reggio ejus religio,"
found in the arsenal of the first Reformers, and in every politico-
religious arsenal of history.
"By an eternal decree of God," said Gomarus in accordance with Calvin,
"it has been fixed who are to be saved and who damned. By His decree
some are drawn to faith and godliness, and, being drawn, can never fall
away. God leaves all the rest in the general corruption of human nature
and their own misdeeds."
"God has from eternity made this distinction in the fallen human race,"
said Arminius, "that He pardons those who desist from their sins and put
their faith in Christ, and will give them eternal life, but will punish
those who remain impenitent. Moreover, it is pleasanter to God that all
men should repent, and, coming to knowledge of truth, remain therein, but
He compels none."
This was the vital difference of dogma. And it was because they could
hold no communion with those who believed in the efficacy of repentance
that Rosaeus and his followers had seceded to Ryswyk, and the Reformed
Church had been torn into two very unequal parts. But it is difficult to
believe that out of this arid field of controversy so plentiful a harvest
of hatred and civil convulsion could have ripened. More practical than
the insoluble problems, whether repentance could effect salvation, and
whether dead infants were hopelessly damned, was the question who should
rule both Church and State.
There could be but one church. On that Remonstrants and Contra-
Remonstrants were agreed. But should the five Points or the Seven
Points obtain the mastery? Should that framework of hammered iron, the
Confession and Catechism, be maintained in all its rigidity around the
sheepfold, or should the disciples of the arch-heretic Arminius, the
salvation-mongers, be permitted to prowl within it?
Was Barneveld, who hated the Reformed religion (so men told each other),
and who believed in nothing, to continue dictator of the whole Republic
through his influence over one province, prescribing its religious dogmas
and laying down its laws; or had not the time come for the States-General
to vindicate the rights of the Church, and to crush for ever the
pernicious principle of State sovereignty and burgher oligarchy?
The abyss was wide and deep, and the wild waves were raging more madly
every hour. The Advocate, anxious and troubled, but undismayed, did his
best in the terrible emergency. He conferred with Prince Maurice on the
subject of the Ryswyk secession, and men said that he sought to impress
upon him, as chief of the military forces, the necessity of putting down
religious schism with the armed hand.
The Prince had not yet taken a decided position. He was still under the
influence of John Uytenbogaert, who with Arminius and the Advocate made
up the fateful three from whom deadly disasters were deemed to have come
upon the Commonwealth. He wished to remain neutral. But no man can be
neutral in civil contentions threatening the life of the body politic any
more than the heart can be indifferent if the human frame is sawn in two.
"I am a soldier," said Maurice, "not a divine. These are matters of
theology which I don't understand, and about which I don't trouble
On another occasion he is reported to have said, "I know nothing of
predestination, whether it is green or whether it is blue; but I do know
that the Advocate's pipe and mine will never play the same tune."
It was not long before he fully comprehended the part which he must
necessarily play. To say that he was indifferent to religious matters
was as ridiculous as to make a like charge against Barneveld. Both
were religious men. It would have been almost impossible to find an
irreligious character in that country, certainly not among its highest-
placed and leading minds. Maurice had strong intellectual powers. He
was a regular attendant on divine worship, and was accustomed to hear
daily religious discussions. To avoid them indeed, he would have been
obliged not only to fly his country, but to leave Europe. He had a
profound reverence for the memory of his father, Calbo y Calbanista, as
William the Silent had called himself. But the great prince had died
before these fierce disputes had torn the bosom of the Reformed Church,
and while Reformers still were brethren. But if Maurice were a religious
man, he was also a keen politician; a less capable politician, however,
than a soldier, for he was confessedly the first captain of his age.
He was not rapid in his conceptions, but he was sure in the end to
comprehend his opportunity.
The Church, the people, the Union--the sacerdotal, the democratic,
and the national element--united under a name so potent to conjure
with as the name of Orange-Nassau, was stronger than any other possible
combination. Instinctively and logically therefore the Stadholder found
himself the chieftain of the Contra-Remonstrant party, and without the
necessity of an apostasy such as had been required of his great
contemporary to make himself master of France.
The power of Barneveld and his partisans was now put to a severe strain.
His efforts to bring back the Hague seceders were powerless. The
influence of Uytenbogaert over the Stadholder steadily diminished. He
prayed to be relieved from his post in the Great Church of the Hague,
especially objecting to serve with a Contra-Remonstrant preacher whom
Maurice wished to officiate there in place of the seceding Rosaeus. But
the Stadholder refused to let him go, fearing his influence in other
places. "There is stuff in him," said Maurice, "to outweigh half a dozen
Contra-Remonstrant preachers." Everywhere in Holland the opponents of
the Five Points refused to go to the churches, and set up tabernacles for
themselves in barns, outhouses, canal-boats. And the authorities in town
and village nailed up the barn-doors, and dispersed the canal boat
congregations, while the populace pelted them with stones. The seceders
appealed to the Stadholder, pleading that at least they ought to be
allowed to hear the word of God as they understood it without being
forced into churches where they were obliged to hear Arminian blasphemy.
At least their barns might be left them. "Barns," said Maurice, "barns
and outhouses! Are we to preach in barns? The churches belong to us,
and we mean to have them too."
Not long afterwards the Stadholder, clapping his hand on his sword hilt,
observed that these differences could only be settled by force of arms.
An ominous remark and a dreary comment on the forty years' war against
And the same scenes that were enacting in Holland were going on in
Overyssel and Friesland and Groningen; but with a difference. Here it
was the Five Points men who were driven into secession, whose barns were
nailed up, and whose preachers were mobbed. A lugubrious spectacle, but
less painful certainly than the hangings and drownings and burnings alive
in the previous century to prevent secession from the indivisible church.
It is certain that stadholders and all other magistrates ever since the
establishment of independence were sworn to maintain the Reformed
religion and to prevent a public divine worship under any other form. It
is equally certain that by the 13th Article of the Act of Union--the
organic law of the confederation made at Utrecht in 1579--each province
reserved for itself full control of religious questions. It would indeed
seem almost unimaginable in a country where not only every province, but
every city, every municipal board, was so jealous of its local privileges
and traditional rights that the absolute disposition over the highest,
gravest, and most difficult questions that can inspire and perplex
humanity should be left to a general government, and one moreover which
had scarcely come into existence.
Yet into this entirely illogical position the Commonwealth was steadily
drifting. The cause was simple enough. The States of Holland, as
already observed, were Remonstrant by a large majority. The States-
General were Contra-Remonstrant by a still greater majority. The Church,
rigidly attached to the Confession and Catechism, and refusing all change
except through decree of a synod to be called by the general government
which it controlled, represented the national idea. It thus identified
itself with the Republic, and was in sympathy with a large majority of
Logic, law, historical tradition were on the side of the Advocate and
the States' right party. The instinct of national self-preservation,
repudiating the narrow and destructive doctrine of provincial
sovereignty, were on the side of the States-General and the Church.
Meantime James of Great Britain had written letters both to the States of
Holland and the States-General expressing his satisfaction with the Five
Points, and deciding that there was nothing objectionable in the doctrine
of predestination therein set forth. He had recommended unity and peace
in Church and Assembly, and urged especially that these controverted
points should not be discussed in the pulpit to the irritation and
perplexity of the common people.
The King's letters had produced much satisfaction in the moderate party.
Barneveld and his followers were then still in the ascendant, and it
seemed possible that the Commonwealth might enjoy a few moments of
tranquillity. That James had given a new exhibition of his astounding
inconsistency was a matter very indifferent to all but himself, and he
was the last man to trouble himself for that reproach.
It might happen, when be should come to realize how absolutely he had
obeyed the tuition of the Advocate and favoured the party which he had
been so vehemently opposing, that he might regret and prove willing to
retract. But for the time being the course of politics had seemed
running smoother. The acrimony of the relations between the English
government and dominant party at the Hague was sensibly diminished. The
King seemed for an instant to have obtained a true insight into the
nature of the struggle in the States. That it was after all less a
theological than a political question which divided parties had at last
dawned upon him.
"If you have occasion to write on the subject," said Barneveld, "it is
above all necessary to make it clear that ecclesiastical persons and
their affairs must stand under the direction of the sovereign authority,
for our preachers understand that the disposal of ecclesiastical persons
and affairs belongs to them, so that they alone are to appoint preachers,
elders, deacons, and other clerical persons, and to regulate the whole
ecclesiastical administration according to their pleasure or by a popular
government which they call the community."
"The Counts of Holland from all ancient times were never willing under
the Papacy to surrender their right of presentation to the churches and
control of all spiritual and ecclesiastical benefices. The Emperor
Charles and King Philip even, as Counts of Holland, kept these rights to
themselves, save that they in enfeoffing more than a hundred gentlemen,
of noble and ancient families with seigniorial manors, enfeoffed them
also with the right of presentation to churches and benefices on their
respective estates. Our preachers pretend to have won this right against
the Countship, the gentlemen, nobles, and others, and that it belongs to
It is easy to see that this was a grave, constitutional, legal, and
historical problem not to be solved offhand by vehement citations from
Scripture, nor by pragmatical dissertations from the lips of foreign
"I believe this point," continued Barneveld, "to be the most difficult
question of all, importing far more than subtle searchings and
conflicting sentiments as to passages of Holy Writ, or disputations
concerning God's eternal predestination and other points thereupon
depending. Of these doctrines the Archbishop of Canterbury well observed
in the Conference of 1604 that one ought to teach them ascendendo and not
The letters of the King had been very favourably received both in the
States-General and in the Assembly of Holland. "You will present the
replies," wrote Barneveld to the ambassador in London, "at the best
opportunity and with becoming compliments. You may be assured and assure
his Majesty that they have been very agreeable to both assemblies. Our
commissioners over there on the East Indian matter ought to know nothing
of these letters."
This statement is worthy of notice, as Grotius was one of those
commissioners, and, as will subsequently appear, was accused of being
the author of the letters.
"I understand from others," continued the Advocate, "that the gentleman
well known to you--[Obviously Francis Aerssens]--is not well pleased
that through other agency than his these letters have been written and
presented. I think too that the other business is much against his
grain, but on the whole since your departure he has accommodated himself
to the situation."
But if Aerssens for the moment seemed quiet, the orthodox clergy were
"I know," said Barneveld, "that some of our ministers are so audacious
that of themselves, or through others, they mean to work by direct or
indirect means against these letters. They mean to show likewise that
there are other and greater differences of doctrine than those already
discussed. You will keep a sharp eye on the sails and provide against
the effect of counter-currents. To maintain the authority of their Great
Mightinesses over ecclesiastical matters is more than necessary for the
conservation of the country's welfare and of the true Christian religion.
As his Majesty would not allow this principle to be controverted in his
own realms, as his books clearly prove, so we trust that he will not find
it good that it should be controverted in our state as sure to lead to a
very disastrous and inequitable sequel."
And a few weeks later the Advocate and the whole party of toleration
found themselves, as is so apt to be the case, between two fires. The
Catholics became as turbulent as the extreme Calvinists, and already
hopes were entertained by Spanish emissaries and spies that this rapidly
growing schism in the Reformed Church might be dexterously made use of to
bring the Provinces, when they should become fairly distracted, back to
the dominion of Spain.
"Our precise zealots in the Reformed religion, on the one side," wrote
Barneveld, "and the Jesuits on the other, are vigorously kindling the
fire of discord. Keep a good lookout for the countermine which is now
working against the good advice of his Majesty for mutual toleration.
The publication of the letters was done without order, but I believe with
good intent, in the hope that the vehemence and exorbitance of some
precise Puritans in our State should thereby be checked. That which is
now doing against us in printed libels is the work of the aforesaid
Puritans and a few Jesuits. The pretence in those libels, that there are
other differences in the matter of doctrine, is mere fiction designed to
make trouble and confusion."
In the course of the autumn, Sir Ralph Winwood departed from the Hague,
to assume soon afterwards in England the position of secretary of state
for foreign affairs. He did not take personal farewell of Barneveld, the
Advocate being absent in North Holland at the moment, and detained there
by indisposition. The leave-taking was therefore by letter. He had done
much to injure the cause which the Dutch statesman held vital to the
Republic, and in so doing he had faithfully carried out the instructions
of his master. Now that James had written these conciliatory letters to
the States, recommending toleration, letters destined to be famous,
Barneveld was anxious that the retiring ambassador should foster the
spirit of moderation, which for a moment prevailed at the British court.
But he was not very hopeful in the matter.
"Mr. Winwood is doubtless over there now," he wrote to Caron. "He has
promised in public and private to do all good offices. The States-
General made him a present on his departure of the value of L4000. I
fear nevertheless that he, especially in religious matters, will not do
the best offices. For besides that he is himself very hard and precise,
those who in this country are hard and precise have made a dead set at
him, and tried to make him devoted to their cause, through many
fictitious and untruthful means."
The Advocate, as so often before, sent assurances to the King that "the
States-General, and especially the States of Holland, were resolved to
maintain the genuine Reformed religion, and oppose all novelties and
impurities conflicting with it," and the Ambassador was instructed to see
that the countermine, worked so industriously against his Majesty's
service and the honour and reputation of the Provinces, did not prove
"To let the good mob play the master," he said, "and to permit hypocrites
and traitors in the Flemish manner to get possession of the government of
the provinces and cities, and to cause upright patriots whose faith and
truth has so long been proved, to be abandoned, by the blessing of God,
shall never be accomplished. Be of good heart, and cause these Flemish
tricks to be understood on every occasion, and let men know that we mean
to maintain, with unchanging constancy, the authority of the government,
the privileges and laws of the country, as well as the true Reformed
The statesman was more than ever anxious for moderate counsels in the
religious questions, for it was now more important than ever that there
should be concord in the Provinces, for the cause of Protestantism, and
with it the existence of the Republic, seemed in greater danger than at
any moment since the truce. It appeared certain that the alliance
between France and Spain had been arranged, and that the Pope, Spain, the
Grand-duke of Tuscany, and their various adherents had organized a strong
combination, and were enrolling large armies to take the field in the
spring, against the Protestant League of the princes and electors in
Germany. The great king was dead. The Queen-Regent was in the hand of
Spain, or dreamed at least of an impossible neutrality, while the priest
who was one day to resume the part of Henry, and to hang upon the sword
of France the scales in which the opposing weights of Protestantism and
Catholicism in Europe were through so many awful years to be balanced,
was still an obscure bishop.
The premonitory signs of the great religious war in Germany were not to
be mistaken. In truth, the great conflict had already opened in the
duchies, although few men as yet comprehended the full extent of that
movement. The superficial imagined that questions of hereditary
succession, like those involved in the dispute, were easily to be settled
by statutes of descent, expounded by doctors of law, and sustained, if
needful, by a couple of comparatively bloodless campaigns. Those who
looked more deeply into causes felt that the limitations of Imperial
authority, the ambition of a great republic, suddenly starting into
existence out of nothing, and the great issues of the religious
reformation, were matters not so easily arranged. When the scene
shifted, as it was so soon to do, to the heart of Bohemia, when
Protestantism had taken the Holy Roman Empire by the beard in its
ancient palace, and thrown Imperial stadholders out of window, it would
be evident to the blindest that something serious was taking place.
Meantime Barneveld, ever watchful of passing events, knew that great
forces of Catholicism were marshalling in the south. Three armies were
to take the field against Protestantism at the orders of Spain and the
Pope. One at the door of the Republic, and directed especially against
the Netherlands, was to resume the campaign in the duchies, and to
prevent any aid going to Protestant Germany from Great Britain or from
Holland. Another in the Upper Palatinate was to make the chief movement
against the Evangelical hosts. A third in Austria was to keep down the
Protestant party in Bohemia, Hungary, Austria, Moravia, and Silesia. To
sustain this movement, it was understood that all the troops then in
Italy were to be kept all the winter on a war footing.'
Was this a time for the great Protestant party in the Netherlands to tear
itself in pieces for a theological subtlety, about which good Christians
might differ without taking each other by the throat?
"I do not lightly believe or fear," said the Advocate, in communicating a
survey of European affairs at that moment to Carom "but present advices
from abroad make me apprehend dangers."
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