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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Remonstrants

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have obtained this name, particularly on the continent, because, in 1610, they presented to the states of Holland a petition, entitled their remonstrance, in which they stated their grievances, and prayed for relief. They are also called Arminians, because they maintained the doctrines respecting predestination and grace, which were embraced and defended by James Harmenson or Arminius, an eminent Protestant divine, and a native of Holland, who was born in 1560, and died in 1609. He first studied at Leyden, and then at Geneva. While at the university of Geneva, he studied under Beza, by whom he was instructed in the doctrines of Calvin; and having been judged by Martin Lydius, professor of divinity at Franeker, a proper person to refute a work in which the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination had been attacked by some ministers of Delft, he undertook the task. On a strict examination of the reasons on both sides, however, he became a convert to the opinions which he was employed to refute. The result of his inquiries on this, and other subjects connected with it, was, that, thinking the doctrine of Calvin with respect to free will, predestination, and grace, too severe, he expressed his doubts respecting them in the year 1591, and at length adopted the religious system of those who extend the love of God, and the merits of his Son, to all mankind. After his appointment to the theological chair of Leyden, in 1603, he avowed and vindicated the principles which he had embraced; but the prudence and caution with which he published and defended them could not screen him from the resentment of those who adhered to the theological system of Calvin, and in particular from the opposition of Gomar his colleague. After the death of Arminius, the controversy, thus begun, became more general, and threatened to involve the United Provinces in civil discord. However, the Arminian tenets gained ground, and were adopted by several persons of merit and distinction. The Calvinists or Gomarists, as they were now called, appealed to a national synod. Accordingly, a synod was at length convened at Dordrecht or Dort, and was composed of ecclesiastical and lay deputies from the United Provinces, and also of ecclesiastical deputies from the reformed churches of England, Switzerland, Bremen, Hesse, and the Palatinate. This synod sat from the first of November, 1618, to the twenty-sixth of April, 1619. The principal advocate in favor of the Arminians was Episcopius, who was at that time professor of divinity at Leyden. The religious principles of the Arminians have insinuated themselves more or less into the established church in Holland. and imbued the theological system of many of those pastors who are appointed to maintain the doctrine and authority of the synod of Dort. The principles of Arminius were early introduced into various other countries, as Great Britain, France, Geneva, and many parts of Switzerland; but their progress is said to have been rather retarded of late, especially in Germany and several parts of Switzerland, by the prevalence of the Leibnitzian and Wolfian philosophy, which is more favourable to Calvinism. The distinguishing tenets of the Remonstrants may be said to consist chiefly in the different light in which they view the subjects of the five points, or in the different explanation which they give to them, and comprised in the five following articles: predestination, universal redemption, the operation of grace, the freedom of the will, and perseverance. They believe that God, having an equal regard for all his creatures, sent his Son to die for the sins not of the elect only, but of the whole world; that no mortal is rendered finally unhappy by an eternal and invincible decree, but that the misery of those who perish arises from themselves; and that, in this present imperfect state, believers, if not vigilant, may, through the force of temptation, and the influence of Satan, fall from grace, and sink into final perdition. See ARMINIANISM .


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Remonstrants'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/r/remonstrants.html. 1831-2.

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