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The Life of the Truly Eminent and Learned Hugo Grotius
by Jean Levesque de Burigny
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I. In the year 1608, while the truce between the Spaniards and the United Provinces was negotiating, Arminius, an eminent Professor in the University of Leyden, departing from the rigid sentiments of Calvin, publickly taught, that God, foreseeing Adam's sin, had resolved to send his only Son into the world to redeem mankind; that he had ordained Grace to all to whom the Law should be preached, by which they might believe if they would, and persevere; that this grace offered to all men was of such a nature, that not only it might be resisted, but men actually did often resist it; and that God had only chosen or reprobated those, who, he foresaw, would embrace or reject the grace offered them.

Gomar, another Professor in the University of Leyden, warmly opposed this doctrine; maintaining, that by an eternal and irreversible decree God had predestinated some to everlasting life, and others to eternal damnation, without regard to their actions; that the grace given to the Elect was so powerful, they could not resist it; and that Jesus Christ did not die for the Reprobate.

The doctrine of Arminius was directly opposite to that of Calvin: accordingly it met with great opposition; and he was accused before the Synod of Rotterdam, in which Gomar's party prevailed.

Arminius, who knew that the Magistrates were as warm for him, as the Clergy and Professors were against him, presented a petition to the States of Holland and West-Friesland, praying that the Grand Council might take cognisance of this dispute. His adversaries maintained that a theological contest ought to be judged by a church judicature: Arminius's petition, however, was granted, and Gomar obliged to appear with him before the Magistrates, who promised to have the affair speedily discussed in a Synod; and forbad, in the mean time, the advancing any thing contrary to the Holy Scriptures, the Confessions of faith, and Catechism. The Grand Council reported to the States, that the whole dispute was about some obscure questions concerning Grace and Predestination.

Barnevelt happening to say he thanked God that the fundamental points of Religion were not in question, Gomar, who was present, obtaining leave to speak, said, among other things, he would be very sorry to appear before God with Arminius's sentiments.

The dispute still continuing with much bitterness, in 1611 the States of Holland ordered the principal Ministers of the two parties to appear before them: Twelve accordingly attended, six Arminians and six Gomarists, and disputed in presence of the States on Predestination, the Death of Christ, the necessity and nature of Grace and Perseverance. The States heard them, but would determine nothing, only recommended to them to live in peace. But the consequence of this conference was like that of all other disputes, especially in matters of religion, mens minds were the more inflamed and provoked.

Arminius died on the 19th of October, 1609, some time before this conference; and Grotius made his elogium in verse. He had hitherto applied little to these matters, and even, writing to Rutgersius, December 24, 1609, he ingenuously owns, he did not understand a great part of them, because they were foreign to his profession. He had no inclination to offend Gomar in commending Arminius: he speaks with great moderation of their disputes, and doth not even affirm that the sentiments of Arminius were the only true ones: but entering afterwards into a more strict examination of those points, he was convinced that the idea we ought to have of God's goodness and justice, and even the earliest tradition of the church, favoured Arminius's system, and contradicted that of Gomar: and in these sentiments he persevered till his death.

II. The partisans of Arminius, desirous to efface the bad impressions which Gomar's discourses and those of his adherents had made on the minds of the public, met privately, and drew up a Remonstrance, dated January 14, 1610, which they addressed to the States of Holland, setting forth, that they did not believe, like their adversaries.

1. "That God, by an eternal and irreversible decree, had predestinated men, whom he did not consider as created, and still less as culpable, some to everlasting life, and others to everlasting death, without regard to their good or evil actions, from his mere good pleasure, for the praise of his Mercy, or his Justice, or, as others say, to manifest his saving grace, his wisdom, and his absolute power: And that God has also, by an eternal and immutable decree, preordained the proper methods of executing his will, by which those who are predestinated to salvation are saved in a necessary and inevitable manner, so that it is impossible they should perish; and such as are predestinated to eternal death (who are the greater part of mankind) are necessarily and inevitably damned, so that they cannot be saved.

2. "That God, according to others, willing from all eternity to make a decree for electing some men and rejecting others, considered the human race not only as created, but also as fallen and corrupted in Adam and Eve our first parents, and thereby deserving of the curse; and that he resolved to deliver by his grace some men from this fall and damnation, for the manifestation of his mercy, and to leave others, both young and old, and even the children of those who are in the Covenant, and died in their infancy, by his just judgment, under the curse, for the manifestation of his justice; and this without any regard to the repentance or the faith of the first, or the impenitence and unbelief of the others. They pretend that for the execution of this decree God makes use of means by which the Elect are necessarily and inevitably saved, and the Reprobate necessarily and inevitably damned.

3. "That accordingly Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, did not die for all men, but for those alone who were chosen in the first or second manner, as he was only appointed Mediator for the salvation of the Elect, and of no others.

4. "That in consequence of this the Spirit of God and of Christ works so efficaciously in the Elect, that they cannot resist it; but must be converted, believe, and be necessarily saved: That this irresistible grace and strength is given to the Elect alone, and not to the Reprobate, to whom God not only refuses this irresistible grace, but even denies them necessary and sufficient grace for their conversion and salvation, though they be called and solicited to accept it, without compulsion, externally, by the revealed will of God; but the inward strength necessary to conversion and faith is nevertheless denied them, by the secret will of God.

5. "That those who receive true and justifying faith by this irresistible power, cannot totally or finally lose it, even when they fall into gross sins; but are guided and supported by this irresistible strength, so that they cannot totally or finally fall away, or perish."

The Arminians afterwards added their own sentiments on these matters, comprehended in five articles. They declare their belief,

1. "That God, by an eternal and immutable decree, in Jesus Christ his son, before the world was created, resolved to save in Jesus Christ, on account of Jesus Christ, and through Jesus Christ, those from among mankind fallen in sin, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in his same son Jesus, and through the same grace continue in the faith and obedience to the end; and on the contrary, to leave under sin, and wrath, and to condemn the obstinate and unbelieving, as having no part in Christ; according to what is said St. John iii. 36.

2. "That accordingly Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, died for all and every man; and by his death on the cross has merited for all reconciliation with God, and remission of sin; in such manner, nevertheless, that no one can partake of them but Believers, according to the words of Jesus, St. John iii. 16. 1 St. John ii. 2.

3. "That Man hath not saving faith of himself, and by the strength of his own free will; since while in a state of sin and apostacy he cannot of himself think, desire, or do that which is truly good, which is what is chiefly meant by saving faith; but it is necessary that God in Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, regenerate and renew him in his understanding and affections, or in his will and all his powers; that he may know the true good, meditate of it, desire, and do it. St. John xv. 5. That to this grace of God is owing the beginning, the progression, and accomplishment of all good; in such manner that even the Regenerate, without this antecedent, of preventing, exciting, concomitant, and co-operating grace, cannot think that which is good, desire, or practise it, nor resist any temptation to evil; so that all the good works or actions he can conceive, spring from the grace of God: that as to what regards the manner of operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, since it is said of several, they resisted the Holy Spirit. See Acts vii, and other places.

5. "That those who by a lively faith are engrafted into Christ, and consequently made partakers of his quickening spirit, are furnished with sufficient strength to be able to combat and even overcome Satan, sin, the world, and their own lusts; and all this, as is carefully to be observed, by the assistance of the grace of the Holy Spirit; and that Jesus Christ succours them by his Spirit in all temptations, reaches to them his hand (provided they be willing to engage, ask his assistance, and are not wanting to themselves) supports and strengthens them so, that they cannot be led away by any wile or violence of Satan, or snatched out of Christ's hands, as he says himself, St. John x. My sheep shall no man pluck out of my hands. For the rest, if it be asked whether these may not, through negligence, let go the confidence which they had from the beginning, Heb. iii. 6, cleave again to the present world, depart from the holy doctrine which was delivered, make shipwreck of a good conscience? (2 Pet. i. 10. Jude iii. 1. Tim. i. 19. Heb. xii. 15.) This must be previously examined, with more care, by the Scriptures, to be able to teach it with full assurance to others."

Such is the Arminians Confession of Faith, to which they gave the name of Remonstrance, and thence were styled Remonstrants. It was drawn up by Utengobard, Minister at the Hague, and signed by forty-six Ministers. It was probably made in concert with Grotius, the intimate friend of Utengobard, and at that time wholly employed in the subjects which were disputed by the Arminians and Gomarists.

To resume in few words the doctrine of the Arminians, we shall say with Bossuet[71], their principles were, That there is no absolute election, nor gratuitous preference, by which God prepares for certain chosen persons, and for them alone, the infallible means of bringing them to glory; but that God offers to all men, and especially to those to whom the gospel is preached, sufficient means to convert themselves; which some make use of; and others not, without employing any other for the Elect, than for the Reprobate: so that election is always conditional, and a man may come short of it by failing in the condition: from whence they conclude, first, that justifying grace may be lost totally, that is, without any degree of it being left; and lost finally, that is, without its ever being recovered: secondly, that there can be no assurance of salvation.

FOOTNOTES:

[71] Hist. des Variations, Lib. xiv. 12. 30.

III. This remonstrance not satisfying the Gomarists, they opposed to it a contra-remonstrance, which gained them the name of Contra-Remonstrants. As these disputes gave the States a good deal of uneasiness, they enjoined the Divines to deliver their thoughts of the most proper means to put an end to them. The Remonstrants proposed a Toleration; the Contra-Remonstrants, a national Synod, in which they were sure of a majority. Both these opinions were laid before the States, who declared for a toleration: this was the cause gained to the Arminians; but the Gomarists were favoured by the People, and grew very factious. The Grand-Pensionary, imagining that by making themselves masters of the election of the ministers, the States would insensibly appease these troubles, proposed the revival of an obsolete regulation, made in the year 1591, by which the magistrates and consistory were each to nominate four persons, who should chuse a Minister, to be afterwards presented to the body of Magistrates, who might receive or reject him.

This motion was agreed to by the States, to the great mortification of the Contra-Remonstrants: they complained that the States had exceeded their power. Hence arose a grand contest who ought to be Judge in ecclesiastical matters. The Arminians said it belonged to the Civil Magistrate to decide them: the Gomarists maintained that the clergy alone had that power. They separated themselves from the communion of the Remonstrants[72], took possession of the churches by force, stirred up seditions, wrote libels, and deposed the Arminian Ministers. In other churches the Contra-Remonstrants were driven out as madmen and rioters. These violences gave rise to schisms, some joining the old Ministers, and others the new.

It was at this time of confusion Grotius was nominated Pensionary of Rotterdam, and ordered to go over into England. It is imagined[73] he had secret instructions to get the King and the principal divines of the kingdom to favour the Arminians, and approve of the States conduct. He had several conferences with his Majesty on that subject. At his return to Holland he found the divisions increased. Barnevelt and he had the direction of the States proceedings in this matter; and he was appointed to draw up an edict which might restore tranquility. It was approved by the States, and is as follows.

FOOTNOTES:

[72] Grot. Apolog. Cap. 9.

[73] Le Vassor, L. 4. p. 477.

IV. "Whereas great dissentions and disputes have arisen in the Churches of this Country, on occasion of different explanations of some passages of Holy Writ, which speak of Predestination and what relates to it; and these contentions having been carried on with so much heat, that some Divines have been accused of teaching directly, or at least indirectly, that God has created some men to damn them; that he has laid certain men under a necessity of sinning; that he invites some men to salvation to whom he has resolved to deny it; other Divines are also charged with believing that mens natural strength or works may operate their salvation. Now these doctrines tending to the dishonour of God and the Christian reformation, and being contrary to our sentiments, it has appeared to us highly necessary, from a regard to the honour and glory of God, and for the peace and harmony of the state, to condemn them. For these causes, after having weighed the matter, and long examined it with much conscience and circumspection, employing the authority which belongs to us as rightful Sovereign, and agreeable to the example of the Kings, Princes, and Cities which have embraced the Reformation, we have ordained, and by these presents ordain, that in the interpretation of the passages of Scripture above-mentioned every one give diligent heed to the admonition of St. Paul, who teaches that no one should desire to know more than he ought; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith; and agreeable to what the Holy Scriptures every-where set forth, that salvation is of God alone, but our destruction is of ourselves. Wherefore in the explanation of the Scripture, as often as occasion shall offer, the Pastors shall declare to the people, and instil into the minds of all under their care, that men are not indebted for the beginning, the progress, and the completion of their salvation, and even of faith, to their natural strength, or works, but to the sole grace of God in Jesus Christ our Saviour; that we have not merited it; that God has created no man to damn him; that God has not laid us under a necessity of sinning, and that he invites no man to be saved, to whom he has resolved to deny salvation. And, though in the universities, in conversation, and in those places where the Scriptures are expounded, passages may be treated of which relate to predestination and what depends on it, and it may come to pass, as hath happened formerly, and in our own times, to learned and good men, that persons may give into these extremes and absurdities which we disapprove and have forbidden; our will is, that they be not proposed publicly from the pulpit to the people. But as to those who in relation to such passages only believe and teach that God hath from all eternity chosen to salvation, from the mere motion of his will, through Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer, those who by grace which they have not merited, and by the operation of the Holy Spirit, believe in Jesus Christ our Lord, and by free grace given them persevere in the faith to the end, we will that they be not molested on that account, nor pressed to embrace other sentiments, or teach other doctrine; for we judge these truths sufficient for salvation; and proper for the instruction of Christians. We moreover ordain, that all Pastors, in expounding the other articles of the Christian faith, make use of explanations agreeable to the word of God, to what is commonly received in the reformed churches, and what has been taught in those of this country, which we have maintained and protected, and now maintain and protect; that they exercise Christian charity; and that they avoid greater divisions: for in this manner, we judge, they ought to act for the good of the State and the Church, and the restoration of her tranquility."

This Edict was too favourable to the Arminians not to give great offence to the Contra-Remonstrants. They complained that it misrepresented their sentiments[74] in order to render them odious, and that not only it wanted the approbation of the Cities, but had not even been sent to them: from whence they concluded that no regard was to be paid to it.

The States were very desirous that the King of Great Britain and the English Bishops should be satisfied with the manner in which they had explained themselves in the Edict: they were the more anxious as they had reason to believe James unfavourable to the Arminians[75]. However the King, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops of England allowed the doctrine of the Edict to be orthodox, and equally distant from Manicheism and Pelagianism: the only thing which gave the King some pain, was, to see the Civil Magistrate assume a right of making decrees in matters of religion[76].

FOOTNOTES:

[74] Vossius, Ep. 3. p. 5. Pres. Vir. Epist. p. 388.

[75] Ep. Casaub. 933. Grot. Apolog. C. 6. Ep. Gr. 28, 29.

[76] Ep. Caus. 863.

V. This Edict served but to increase the troubles, by driving the Gomarists, against whom it was levelled, into despair. The riots which had already happened, and which they hourly apprehended, made the Grand Pensionary Barnevelt propose to the States of Holland, that the magistrates of the Cities of the Province should be impowered to raise troops for the suppression of the rioters, and the security of their towns. Dort, Amsterdam, and three others of the most favourable to the Gomarists, protested against this step, which they regarded as a kind of declaration of war against the Contra-Remonstrants. Barnevelt's motion was, nevertheless, agreed to, and on the fourth of August, 1617, the States issued a placard accordingly.

This fatal decree occasioned the death of the Grand Pensionary and the ruin of Grotius, by incensing Prince Maurice of Nassau against them, who looked upon the resolution of the States, taken without his consent, as derogatory to his dignity of Governor and Captain General.

He had entertained a mortal enmity for several years against the Grand Pensionary[77], who concluded the truce in 1609 without his concurrence. Hitherto he had stifled his revenge for want of a proper opportunity of executing it; but it blazed openly on occasion of this decree of the States, which he considered as Barnevelt's act. He accused him of labouring to diminish his authority: found fault with the Edict: that was made to engage the two parties to live in peace; declared publicly for the Gomarists, assisted at divine service only in their churches, and forbad the soldiers to obey the States when they would employ them to appease the riots. Some towns, however, levied men in consequence of the States decree, whether they suspected their garrisons, or thought there was no other way to suppress the enterprises of the rioters. The Contra-Remonstrants seeing themselves powerfully protected by Prince Maurice, separated from the communion of the Arminians in 1617.

FOOTNOTES:

[77] Grot. Hist. l. 17.

VI. Amsterdam, almost as powerful singly as all Holland, favoured the Gomarists, and disapproved of the Toleration which the States wanted to introduce. These resolved therefore to send a Deputation to that city, in order to bring them over to their sentiments. The Deputies were Grotius, Adrian Mathenes, Hugo Musius, and Gerard Deich. April 21, 1616, they received their instructions to go to Amsterdam; on the morrow they left the Hague, and arriving the same day at Amsterdam, sent to desire the oldest Burgomaster to assemble the Town Council: they were told, the Council would meet the 23d at three in the afternoon. They employed this interval in removing a calumny spread by the Contra-Remonstrants, that they were sent to change the religion. One of the City-Secretaries waited on them to conduct them to the Council Chamber, and being come there, Grotius, as spokesman, said, "That Sovereigns had a right to watch over the proceedings of the Church; that the States had no intention but to protect the reformed religion; that they ardently desired the city of Amsterdam would agree with them in all that might relate to the government of the Church and mutual toleration; that the revival of the regulation of 1591, which gives the Magistrates a right to chuse the Ministers, after being examined and found well affected to the reformed religion, was of great service, by preventing the troubles which followed the elections; of which there were several recent instances: that mutual toleration was necessary when the difference in opinion regarded only points not fundamental; that it had always been practised by the reformed churches from the time of Calvin's reformation; that it was more necessary in the doctrine of Predestination, as this was a matter of great difficulty; that the first reformers, though of different sentiments, tolerated one another; that Bullinger and Melancton were tolerated by Beza and Calvin; that James I. King of Great Britain, had advanced in his writings, that the two opposite opinions concerning Predestination might be maintained without danger of damnation; that Gomar himself declared Arminius had not erred in fundamental points; that after the conference in 1611, the Ministers of the two parties promised to the States of Holland to live in peace; that the points controverted were not necessary to salvation, that they were very difficult, that they never had been determined, either in the ancient, or the reformed church; that the decisions of the councils held in the church on occasion of Pelagianism enjoined only a belief, that men are corrupted and have need of grace, and that the beginning of grace is from God; that even the church of Rome permitted the Doctors of different parties to dispute on these points; that it was not necessary to call a synod to examine them, because the authority of a Sovereign is sufficient in matters where only the preventing of schism for things unnecessary to salvation, is in question; that the Sovereign has a right to suppress disorders that arise in the church; that the business was not a change of religion, but the hindrance of schism; that the King of Great Britain and the Canton of Bern had justified the use of this right by examples; that if the utility of a synod to inform the Sovereign what he ought to do on such occasions should be maintained, it were easy to answer, that it is not necessary to assemble a synod to know that men must tolerate one another when their opinions differ concerning points not necessary to salvation; that this was a truth acknowledged by Calvin, Beza, Whittaker, Junius, Casaubon, Du Moulin, in fine by the most famous Ministers, whose authority is at least equivalent to that of a synod; that as the question was not about a point of heresy, there was reason to apprehend the division would be increased by calling a synod, so great was the ferment of mens minds; that, besides, the moderate party in such synod would not be the most numerous; that perhaps the Ecclesiastics would seek to diminish the sovereign authority; that they might make decisions which could not be enforced without throwing the Republic into the greatest confusion; that therefore, previous to the convocation of a synod, mens minds ought to be prepared by gentle methods; that the decree made in 1614 by the States of Holland, to which the city of Amsterdam made some difficulty of submitting, was neither partial, nor injurious to the reformed churches; that it was resolved on after mature reflexion, and was in itself agreeable to sound doctrine; that the reasonable men among the Contra-Remonstrants had nothing to apprehend, since the deposition of some Ministers was entirely owing to their attempts to introduce schism; that the Remonstrants and Contra-Remonstrants, not differing in essential points, ought to tolerate one another, and agree on what they should preach; that if a Toleration were not admitted, they must depose such as would not submit to the decision that might be given, or introduce two churches, either of which steps would trouble the State, whereas a Toleration would restore tranquility and union, and favour the assembling of an impartial synod that might labour with success to restore peace to the church."

The Senate, after hearing this Speech, made answer, that they would take it into consideration: and on the twenty-fifth of April the Burgomasters visited the Deputies, and told them, they would send to the States of Holland to acquaint them with their sentiments. Grotius, who perceived his discourse had not gained the Senate, replied, that if the Senate would mention their difficulties, the Deputies of the States would endeavour to resolve them. The Burgomasters answered, that the Senate did not intend to grant them a new audience; adding, that as there was reason to apprehend some alteration in religion, it was their opinion, that in the present circumstances a synod ought to be assembled; and that the city of Amsterdam could not receive the Edict of 1614, without endangering the Church, and risking the ruin of her trade. The Deputies wanted to answer, but were refused to be heard. Grotius drew up in writing an account of all that passed in this deputation, and presented it to the States at his return[78]. He flattered himself for a while with the hopes of some good effect from his deputation[79]: and the disappointment chagrined him so much, that he was seized with a violent fever, which had well nigh carried him off. It appeared plainly by the blood taken from him that melancholy was the occasion of his disorder. He was removed to Delft[80], where he found himself better. As he was forbid to do anything which required application, he wrote to Vossius that he was very desirous to see him for a few days, or at least a few hours; that it would be the means of restoring his health, since conversation with true friends is the best remedy against melancholy. He employed the time of his recovery in examining himself on the part he had acted in the present disputes; and the more he reflected on it, the less reason he found for blushing or repentance. He foresaw the danger he incurred; but his resolution was taken, not to change his conduct, and to refer the event to Providence.

FOOTNOTES:

[78] Grotius delivered his speech in Dutch. It was translated into Latin by Theodorus Schrivelius, and printed in the third tome of his theological works.

[79] Ep. 77.

[80] Ep. 83.

VII. The States of Holland, wholly employed in seeking ways to compound matters, had come to a resolution on the twenty-first of February, 1617, that certain wise and learned men should be chosen to draw up a Rule or Formula, to which the Ministers of the two parties should be obliged to conform; that nothing should be advanced in it contrary to the doctrine of the reformed Churches; that it should be shewn to Prince Maurice, and, after having his opinion, presented to the States, that they might examine what was most for God's honour, the people's safety, and the Nation's tranquillity.

In consequence of this resolution Grotius prepared a writing to be presented to Prince Maurice, importing, That the States were desirous the ministers should teach a doctrine agreeable to that of the Reformed Churches, and that those who departed from it should be proceeded against in the way of Church Censure, or even by the Civil Magistrate; that the five Articles of the Remonstrants doctrine should be examined in a Synod of Holland, and the decision carried to a Synod of all the Provinces; that previous to its meeting, the Sovereignty of each Province in things sacred should be settled; that no definition should be fixed without an unanimous content; that if they could not agree they should endeavour to convene a General Council of the Reformed Churches; that in the mean time a severe Edict be published against rioters and the authors of defamatory libels; that the ministers be charged not to treat one another abusively; that after the holding of the Council they should examine what was proper to be added to the Union of Utrecht concerning the authority of the Provinces in matters of Religion.

This project did not please the Prince: he wanted a national Synod, of which the States of Holland were afraid, because they foresaw the Contra-Remonstrants would have more power in it than the Arminians, who would consequently be condemned by it; and that instead of forwarding the peace, it would increase the confusion and disorder.

The States-General, entirely devoted to Prince Maurice, determined, in spite of the States of Holland, to convoke a national Synod in Holland itself, at Dort. The Provinces of Holland, Utrecht, and Overyssel protested against this resolution: Barnevelt was so thunderstruck by it, that he wanted to resign his place of Grand Pensionary: But Holland, who needed more than ever the counsels of such an experienced Minister, sending a Deputation to beseech him not to abandon the Republic in times of so much difficulty[81], he thought it his duty to yield to the intreaties of his masters, and resumed the functions of his office.

FOOTNOTES:

[81] Grotii manes, p. 78.

VIII. Prince Maurice of Nassau, however, who saw with the utmost displeasure several Cities, agreeable to the permission granted them by the particular States, levy a new Militia without his consent, engaged the States-General to write to the Provinces and Magistrates of those Cities, enjoining them to disband the new levies, which were styled the Attendant Soldiers: but the particular States, who looked on themselves as sovereigns, and the Cities, who thought themselves obliged to obey only the orders of the States of their Province, paid no attention to the Letters of the States General[82]. The Prince considering this conduct as a Rebellion, concerted with the States-General that he should march in person with the troops under his command, to get these soldiers who were levied irregularly, disbanded; that he should depose the Arminian magistrates, and turn out the Ministers of their party.

The Prince accordingly set out, accompanied by the Deputies of the States-General, in the year 1618. Beginning with the Province of Gueldres, he removed from the Senate of Nimeguen all who were known or suspected to favour Arminianism; and turned out the Ministers, obliging them instantly to leave the town. At Overyssel he met with no opposition. In Arnheim there was a numerous garrison of Attendant Soldiers; but the Prince having intelligence in the place, got into it by night: and the soldiers seeing themselves betrayed, laid down their arms. Some Senators were deposed, and the Secretary of the Council banished the City.

The States of Holland, knowing that the Prince was to treat Utrecht in the same manner, sent thither Grotius, and Hoogerbetz, Pensionary of Leyden. Their instructions bore, first that they should consider and resolve on some method of opposing the commission given by the States-General to Prince Maurice: secondly, that they should consult in what manner the union between the particular States of the Provinces might be strengthened, for their mutual aid and assistance.

The Magistrates of Utrecht, in consequence of the advices given them, doubled the guards at the gates, and armed all the militia they could assemble. Grotius and Hoogerbetz promised that the States of Holland would not abandon them on this occasion when their sovereignty was at stake: they also brought Letters from the States to the principal officers of the ordinary garrison, tending to persuade them that it was their duty to obey the States of Utrecht, who paid them, and to resist the Stadtholder.

Every thing seemed ready for enabling the city to make a vigorous resistance: the Burghers had taken up arms, and the Attendant Soldiers were posted in the principal quarters of the town. These dispositions did not divert the Prince from his design of seizing it. The old garrison, from a jealousy of the new, declared for him; this occasioned a mutiny: some of the Burghers left the interest of the city, which being unprovided of good officers, the Prince and the Deputies of the States found means to enter, and reduce it. The Prince being now master of the town, disbanded the Attendant Soldiers, made Ledenberg, Secretary of the States, and some Senators, prisoners, and turned out of their places those who had distinguished themselves by their resistance, putting in their room such as he could depend on. The States-General at the same time published an Ordonnance at the Hague for disbanding the new levies. Grotius, who was returned to Rotterdam, finding resistance would only occasion new troubles, advised the city even before receiving the Ordonnance of the States-General, to dismiss the Attendant Soldiers.

FOOTNOTES:

[82] La Neuvill's Hist. of Holland. B. iii. c. 5.

IX. The Prince of Orange's revenge was not yet satisfied: that was the name Maurice went by after the death of his brother Philip William, which happened at Brussels February 21, 1618. The destruction of the Grand Pensionary he had resolved on. In an extraordinary assembly of eight persons, who called themselves the States-General, he got an Ordonnance passed, without any previous information, as Grotius complained afterwards; importing, that Barnevelt, Grotius, and Hoogerbetz should be taken into custody.

Accordingly on the 29th[83] of August, 1618, as Barnevelt was in the court of the Castle of the Hague[84] returning home from the Assembly of the States of Holland, one of the Prince of Orange's guards, attended with some soldiers, commanded him, in the name of the States-General, to follow him: He was carried to a room in the Castle, and there confined. The Prince had sent to acquaint Grotius and Hoogerbetz that he wanted to speak with them: they immediately came, and were arrested.

The same day was published the following Placard: "Messieurs the States-General desire to acquaint all persons, that to avert the great peril which threatened the United Provinces, and restore and establish in the said Provinces harmony, peace, and tranquillity, they have caused to be imprisoned John de Barnevelt, Advocate-General of Holland and West Friesland, Romulus Hoogerbetz, and Hugo Grotius, it having been discovered and made manifest that they were the first authors of the insurrection at Utrecht, and of an attempt which would have been not only highly prejudicial to the country and Province, but to several other Cities. For these causes they have ordered, that the said three persons be arrested and confined in the Castle of the Hague, till they give an account of the administration of their offices." This Placard was without any signature.

A report was at the same time spread by the prisoners enemies, that Barnevelt and Grotius received money from the Spaniards to deliver up to them the United Provinces; that they took money in 1609 to conclude the truce; that they fomented the disputes in order to disunite the Provinces; and that they had engaged to introduce into Holland the public exercise of the Roman Catholic Religion.

It is said that Barnevelt had notice of the resolution taken to apprehend him; that he talked of it to his friends; and told them he was so secure in his innocence, he did not fear to take even his enemies for judges, if any should dare to attack his conduct. It was represented to him, that there were seasons of fanaticism and fury, in which innocence was sacrificed to the violence of powerful enemies: but the testimony of a good conscience hindered his attending to these remonstrances.

A few days after Grotius' arrest, his wife presented a petition, praying that she might have leave to stay with her husband till the end of the process. This grace was refused: she was not even permitted to see him; and having asked to speak to him in presence of his guards, they were so hard-hearted, as to deny even this slight favour.

Some days after these imprisonments, the Prince of Orange and the Deputies of the States-General made a tour through the towns of Holland. They had the power in their hands, and the Arminians were in the greatest consternation. The Prince met with no opposition to his designs: he deposed such magistrates as were relations or friends of the three illustrious prisoners, putting in their place others that were wholly devoted to him; and obliged some towns to receive a garrison, particularly Rotterdam. The Arminians had hitherto been the more powerful party there[85], and had excluded the Contra-Remonstrants from preaching in the great Church: but the Prince took that church from them, and gave it, with all the rest, to the Gomarists, leaving only two to the Arminians. He placed a garrison of an hundred men in the town and turned out and banished the Ministers who had distinguished themselves by their zeal for Arminianism, such as Vorstius, Utengobard, and Episcopius. Ledenberg, Secretary of Utrecht, hearing of these violences, was so terrified, that he made away with himself in prison.

FOOTNOTES:

[83] Du Maurier says the three prisoners were arrested the 22d of August; others assure us it was the 24th. La Neuville, Le Clerc. But it is evident from what Grotius says himself, Ep. 104, that it was the 29th.

[84] Le Clerc.

[85] Mercure Francois, an. 1617.

X. The warmest opposers of a National Synod being disabled from giving any further obstruction, the States-General proceeded to the holding of it. The States of Holland, who in May, 1618, had renewed their protest against the convocation of a National Synod, frightened by the violences exercised against the three illustrious prisoners, at last gave their consent; and it met at Dort.

It was opened on the fifteenth of November, 1618, in the name of the States-General, who assisted at it by their Deputies; and was composed of about seventy Contra-Remonstrants, with only fourteen Arminians. John Bogerman, Minister of Leewarden in Friesland, was chosen President, and had with him four assessors; all five declared enemies of the Arminians. On the tenth of December the Remonstrants brought in a long Writing, containing their reasons for not acknowledging the Synod, as being an illegal assembly where the parties made themselves Judges, contrary to the laws of equity and the Canons of the Church. They further shewed, that most of those who composed the pretended synod were guilty of the schism complained of; that it was publickly notorious they were their declared enemies, and consequently incompetent judges. They afterwards proposed twelve conditions, without which they could not acknowledge the authority of the Synod, nor submit to any of its decisions. This paper put the Synod into a very ill humour. Next day the Arminians giving in a protest, it was censured, and a decree of the Deputies of the States-General ordered that the Synod should proceed, without regarding the protest.

The Arminians wanted to leave Dort; but an order from the States-General obliged them to stay. Their five articles were condemned; and Episcopius and the other Arminian ministers deposed, and declared guilty of corrupting religion, breaking the unity of the Church, and occasioning great scandal. The Synod's sentence was approved by the States-General on the second of July, 1619. The same day the Arminian Ministers who had been detained at Dort, were banished, or imprisoned: they were deprived of their employments, and the effects of several were confiscated. They continued to assert the irregularity of this Council; and the Bishop of Meaux observes, that they employed the same arguments which the Protestants use against the Roman-Catholics concerning the Council of Trent.

XI. The Prisoners were not brought to their trial till after the rising of the Synod of Dort. Their confinement had caused great murmuring in the Province of Holland: for not only all honest men were persuaded of their innocence; but it was also evident that the sovereignty of the province of Holland had been openly violated. On the 29th of August, 1618, under the first surprise that an event of this nature must occasion, when it was mentioned in the Assembly of the States-General, the Deputies of the Province of Holland expressed great concern; they complained the rights of Holland had been invaded; adding, that they would ask their constituents what was to be done in such a melancholy and singular occurrence. The City of Rotterdam and some others made loud complaints: They acknowledged that if the three Prisoners were guilty of treason, or of unlawful correspondence with the Spaniards, they ought to be prosecuted; but maintained that they could not be legally tried but by the States of Holland, who alone were their Sovereigns. The Prince of Orange and the States-General found no way of putting a stop to the opposition of such Magistrates as were zealous for their Country, or friends to the Prisoners, but by deposing them. Nothing now remained to obstruct the Prince of Orange in his projects of revenge: The States of Holland, not being in a situation to hinder these violences, unwillingly left the management of this affair to the States-General: but were so much persuaded of the injustice done them, and the invasion made on their Sovereignty, that in the end of January 1619[86], notwithstanding the change of Deputies, they passed a Decree, importing that what had been done in the imprisonment of the Grand Pensionary, and the Pensionaries of Rotterdam and Leyden, should not be made a precedent for the future.

The States-General, desirous of making an end of this affair, on the nineteenth of November, 1618, nominated twenty-six Commissioners, chosen from among the Nobility and Magistrates of the Seven Provinces, who were ordered to repair to the Hague to try the Prisoners. The Decree appointing these Judges mentioned that the Accused were taken into custody to secure the tranquillity of the Republic, to hinder the ruin of Religion and the destruction of the Union, and prevent disturbance and bloodshed: they were represented as ambitious men, who sought by secret practices to embroil the State: And to give some appearance of satisfaction to Holland, it was said in the Decree, that the States-General had issued it without prejudice to the rights of the Provinces. Care was taken to chuse for Judges the declared enemies of the Prisoners. Barnevelt objected to them; representing that he could not be tried by the States-General: but no regard was paid to his exceptions. Thus he was obliged to answer before incompetent judges, who were notoriously known to have sworn his ruin. He entered a protest, that his answering before them should not be construed an approbation of their infringement of the jurisdiction of Holland.

In fine, after many iniquitous steps, which will be more particularly mentioned in Grotius' trial, Barnevelt was condemned to be beheaded. The principal grounds[87] of his condemnation were, That he had disturbed religion; that he had advanced that each Province in its own jurisdiction might decide in matters of religion, without the other Provinces having a right to take cognizance of it; that he diverted the King of France from sending the Reformed ministers of his Kingdom to the Synod of Dort; preferred the interests of the particular States of Holland and West Friesland to those of the States-General; made use of the name of the States of Holland and West Friesland for holding conventicles and unlawful assemblies; occasioned the insurrection at Utrecht; authorised the levying of the Attendant Soldiers; slandered Prince Maurice, accusing him of aspiring to the sovereignty of the United Provinces; and that he received large sums from foreign Princes, which he concealed from the State.

FOOTNOTES:

[86] Grotius, Apology, c. 15.

[87] La Neuville, lib. 3. c. 16.

XII. Lewis XIII. who had an affection for the United Provinces, with which he was connected by their common interest, beheld the domestic troubles of Holland with concern. The Prisoners, especially Barnevelt, whose merit was well known at the Court of France, were held by him in particular esteem. When he heard of their arrest he nominated Thumeri de Boissise his Ambassador extraordinary to Holland, ordering him to repair thither, immediately, and join Du Maurier the Ambassador in ordinary, in soliciting the States-General in favour of the Accused, and labouring to restore the public tranquillity.

December 12, 1618, they presented to the States-General a Writing from the King, asking that the prisoners might have justice done them; that their judges might be persons impartial and dispassionate; that the States would rather chuse mild, than rigorous measures: "And, said the Ministers, his Majesty will take for a high offence the little regard you pay to his counsels, his prayers, and his friendship, which for the future will be as much cooled as it was heretofore warm in your interest."

The States made answer on the nineteenth of December following, that they would act with all the lenity and clemency which justice and the safety of the State would permit; and that they hoped the King would leave it to their prudence.

The French Ambassadors continued their solicitations[88]; but the answer made them March 23, 1619, must have left them no hope: it represented the Prisoners as turbulent men, suspected of very heinous crimes, and almost convicted of conspiring against the Republic, and projecting and attempting to destroy the Union and the State. This answer was certainly concerted with Prince Maurice, who was highly offended that the King of France should interest himself so much to save men whom he looked on as his declared enemies. Boissise quitted Holland, leaving Du Maurier alone to act in favour of the Accused. On Monday morning, May 13, 1619, the Ambassador was informed, that sentence had been passed the Day before, and that Barnevelt was to be executed that day. He went immediately to the Assembly of the States to get the execution suspended, but was refused audience: he wrote to the States, conjuring them by the regard they ought to have for the King his master, not to spill the blood of a Minister who had served them so faithfully; and, if they would not pardon him, to confine him to one of his country houses, his friends being bound for him; or banish him the country for ever. This Letter had no effect: their resolution was taken to destroy him. When the Grand Pensionary was informed of his sentence, he seemed less moved at it, than for the fate of Grotius and Hoogerbetz: he asked if they also were to die? adding, It would be great pity: they are still able to do great service to the Republic. The scaffold for his execution was erected in the court of the Castle at the Hague, facing the Prince of Orange's apartments. He made a short speech to the people, which is preserved in the Mercure Francois: "Burghers, said he, I have been always your faithful countryman: believe not that I die for treason; but for maintaining the Rights and Liberties of my Country." After this Speech the executioner struck off his head at one blow. It is affirmed that the Prince of Orange, to feast himself with the cruel pleasure of seeing his enemy perish, beheld the execution with a glass. The people looked on it with other eyes: for many came to gather the sand wet with his blood, to keep it carefully in phials: and the croud of those who had the same curiosity continued next day, notwithstanding all they could do to hinder them.

Thus fell that great Minister, who did the United Provinces as much service in the cabinet, as the Princes of Orange did in the field. It is highly probable that the melancholy end of this illustrious and unfortunate man, to whom the Dutch are partly indebted for their liberty, was owing to his steadiness in opposing the design of making Prince Maurice Dictator. But this is a question discussed by several writers[89], and foreign to our subject.

The French ministry discovered no resentment at the little attention paid by the States General to Lewis's solicitations. There is reason to think Barnevelt would have met with less cruel treatment, or at least that France would not have passed it over so easily, had Cardinal Richelieu, who was soon after Prime Minister, been then in place: for a book[90] ascribed to him censures the conduct of Messieurs de Luines, who were in power at that time, with regard to this affair.

FOOTNOTES:

[88] Apology, c. 15.

[89] See Du Maurier, Le Vassor, La Neuville, Le Clerc.

[90] Hist. de la mere & du fils, t. 2. p. 380.

XIII. Grotius's trial did not come on till five days after Barnevelt's execution. September 3, 1618, the fourth day after he was arrested, the Burgomasters of Rotterdam presented a petition to the Prince of Orange[91], setting forth, that they had heard with great grief that Grotius, Counsellor and Pensionary of Rotterdam, being at the Hague at the assembly of the States, was arrested by order of the States General; and representing to his Excellency that it was a breach of privilege, by which no Deputy could be arrested during the sitting of the States; and as they stood in need of Grotius's assistance and counsels, praying that he, as Governor of Holland and West-Friesland, would prevail with the States General to set him at liberty, and put him in the same situation he was in before his imprisonment, promising to guard him at Rotterdam or elsewhere, that he might be forthcoming to answer any charge brought against him by the States General. The Prince gave only for answer, that the affair concerned the States General. Their petition having had no effect, on the 10th of September, 1618, the city of Rotterdam sent a deputation to the States of Holland, praying that Grotius and the other persons accused might be tried according to the custom of the country. But the States themselves were under oppression.

Grotius's wife petitioned[92] for leave to continue with her husband whilst his cause was depending; but this favour was denied her. On his falling ill, she again pressed to be allowed to visit him, they had the cruelty to hinder her: she offered not to speak to him but in presence of his guards; this was also refused. Thus all the time of his confinement at the Hague, no one was permitted to see him, even when he lay dangerously ill.

We may judge to what length his enemies carried their blindness and fury, by the following passage related by Selden[93]. When Grotius was arrested, some who bore him ill-will, prevailed with Carleton, Ambassador from Great Britain at the Hague, to make a complaint against his book Of the Freedom of the Ocean: the Ambassador was not ashamed to maintain that the States ought to make an example of him, to prevent others from defending an opinion that might occasion a misunderstanding between the two nations. Carleton and his advisers were the dupes of this contemptible step: the States General paid no regard to his complaint. The proposal was shameful in itself. Could they think that it would be made a crime in Grotius to have written a book, dictated by his love to his country, and deserving a recompence from the States to whom it had been of great use in the dispute with England concerning the right of navigation?

At the first examination which Grotius underwent, he answered[94] that he was of the Province of Holland, Minister of a city of Holland; that he had been arrested on the territories of Holland; that he acknowledged no judges but that province, and was ready to justify all he had done. He maintained that the States General had no jurisdiction over him, and consequently could not nominate his Judges. He alledged also the privilege of the citizens of Rotterdam and demanded permission to set forth his reasons before the States of Holland and the States General; and that the validity of his objections might be determined by Judges of Holland. All these things were denied him. They insisted that he should plead: he protested against this violence; but this did not hinder them from proceeding against him, in contempt of all forms. He had been allowed the use of pen and ink[95], but, after his first examination, they were taken away.

The rigour and injustice, with which he and the other prisoners were treated, are scarce conceivable. He tells us, that when they knew they were bad, they chose that time to examine them; that they did not give them liberty to defend themselves; that they threatened, and teazed them to give immediate answers; and that they would not read over to them their examinations. Grotius having asked leave to write his defence, they allowed him for that purpose only five hours, and one sheet of paper. He was always persuaded, that if he would own he had transgressed, and ask pardon, they would set him at liberty: but as he had nothing to reproach himself with, he would never take any step that might infer consciousness of guilt. His wife, his father, brother, and friends approved of this resolution[96].

On the 18th of May, 1619, the Commissioners pronounced sentence against him, which we shall give at length.

"Whereas[97] Hugo Grotius, who was Pensionary of the Magistrates of Rotterdam, and at present a prisoner before the Commissaries appointed by the States General to try him, has acknowledged without being put to the torture.

That he ventured to endeavour to overturn religion, to oppress and afflict the Church of God, and for that end advanced heinous things pernicious to the Republic, particularly, that each Province has singly a right to decree in matters of religion, and that the others ought not to take cognizance of the disputes which arise on this subject in a particular province; that against order, and the custom of the reformed churches, he endeavoured to get opinions received which are contrary to the doctrine of those churches, without being sufficiently examined; that he opposed the convocation of a National Synod in the name of the States General, though it was judged by the King of Great Britain, Prince Maurice, the majority of the nation, and the principal persons of the province of Holland, a necessary and certain remedy for the disorders which had crept into religion; that he advanced the convening a synod would be prejudicial to the right of sovereignty belonging to the province of Holland, unless the whole or the greater part of the province would consent to it.

That he held private meetings with the Deputies of some towns, with design to procure a majority in the assembly of the States of Holland.

That without the orders of the States of Holland, Utrecht, and Overyssel, he ventured to make an act in the name of those provinces, in the house of John Barnevelt, protesting against what the Deputies of the other provinces might do, and declaring they would be the cause of the disorders that the Synod might produce; which act he read in the assembly of the States of Holland without being required, and carried it to the assembly of the States-General.

That he made eight Deputies of the cities send back the letter of the States-General for the convocation of the Synod.

That he wrote to the King of France in the name of the States of Holland, informing him that the name of the States-General was falsly made use of in the Letters for convoking the Synod, and desiring his Majesty not to suffer his subjects to attend the Synod, and to protect Holland against the other provinces.

That, by the counsel of Barnevelt, he bestirred himself to get Ministers to come to the Synod who were of the new opinion.

That he embroiled the Republic in order to get every thing passed according to his fancy and caprice.

That he assisted in so far changing the form of government, that those who complained of oppression were not admitted to be heard, and the Magistrates of cities disobeyed the orders they received.

That by the advice of John Barnevelt he held private meetings with the Deputies of some towns, whose deliberations were carried to the States of Holland, to serve for the model of their resolutions.

That he was concerned in the odious decree of the 4th of August, 1617, permitting the cities of Holland to raise new troops for their defence, and to require of them an oath of fidelity to those cities.

That he gave it as his opinion, the city of Rotterdam should raise those soldiers.

That he also advised the city of Delft to raise them; that he wanted to lay the expence of these new levies on the Generality.

That he asserted these new soldiers were not obliged to obey the States-General, if their orders were contrary to those of the cities.

That he sent back the French auxiliaries in order to employ the money assigned for their subsistance in paying the new soldiers.

That he pretended these soldiers ought to serve even against the States-General and against Prince Maurice.

That he wanted to prevail with the cities to make a new union.

That he held conferences with a foreign Ambassador.

That he was concerned in the deputation sent to the Brille to oppose Prince Maurice.

That, on the 14th of May, 1618, he made an act with eight Deputies of cities, by virtue of which they were permitted to oppose what the States-General might do for accelerating the holding of the Synod; which act they wanted to get approved by the States of Utrecht; that he endeavoured to divert the Deputies of Utrecht from disbanding their new troops agreeable to the intention of the States of that province, by promising them assistance.

That he accused the States-General, as well as Prince Maurice, of evil designs.

That he maintained, they ought to be resisted, and the revenue and forces of the State employed against them.

That he said the disbanding the new soldiers would increase the boldness of the Disaffected, and the disorders in the State; that the ordinary troops were not sufficient; that the members of the province of Holland would abundantly succour such as did not obey the States-General; that he suffered himself to be deputed to Utrecht to offer his assistance to the States and the City; that this deputation was ordered only by a few Nobles, three Deputies of Cities, and some Deputies to the States of Holland, who had no instructions on that subject from their Constituents.

That his acknowledged design, and that of those deputed to Utrecht, was to engage the States to require the ordinary soldiers to obey the States of Utrecht, in prejudice of the obedience due to the States-General.

That he carried Letters of Barnevelt, which had not been read in the assembly of the States of Holland, declaring, that the soldiers ought to obey the States, and oppose whatever might be done against them.

That he had combined with Ledemberg in the measures to be taken for preventing the new soldiers from being disbanded by the States of Utrecht.

That he spoke against the States-General and against Prince Maurice in the assembly of the States of Utrecht; that he assisted the States of Utrecht in preparing their answer to Prince Maurice and the States General, by which they refused to acknowledge these Deputies as sent by the States-General, though they were in fact; that he held a conference with the Bailly of the city of Utrecht on the measures to be taken for resisting Prince Maurice if he should come to Utrecht to disband the new soldiers; and that he endeavoured to prevail with the States of Utrecht to have recourse to open force on this occasion.

That he wanted to make the ordinary garrison oppose the Deputies of the States-General when their orders were contrary to those of the States of Utrecht; threatening to stop their pay if they did otherwise.

That he advised the Bailly of Utrecht to obey only the Deputies of Holland or the States of Utrecht.

That he conferred with the said Bailly on the means of hindering Prince Maurice from introducing soldiers into Utrecht; which might have occasioned much bloodshed in the city, and put the Prince and the Republic in the greatest danger; and which gave rise to dissentions and new treaties, contrary to the union of the provinces: whence the public order in Church and State was disturbed, the finances of the State exhausted, divisions arose between the States-General and the Provinces, and the union was on the point of being broke.

For these causes the Judges appointed to try this affair, administring justice in the name of the States-General, condemn the said Hugo Grotius to perpetual imprisonment; and to be carried to the place appointed by the States-General, there to be guarded with all precaution, and confined the rest of his days; and declare his estate confiscated. Hague, May 18, 1619."

Grotius, who enters into an examination of this sentence, charges it with many falsities: he maintains[98] that it makes him say several things which he constantly denied: and that he never acknowledged himself guilty. What is mentioned in the sentence concerning the deputation to Utrecht, he shews to be palpably false[99]. On the 20th of July, 1618, he acquaints us, certain Deputies to the States of Holland wanted to go home; that the assembly was summoned for the 24th; that some Deputies were indeed absent that day, but the Curators of the Republic of those Cities, agreeable to the order they had received, supplied their place; that the assembly was composed of the Deputies of Harlem, Delft, Leyden, Amsterdam, Goude, Rotterdam, Alcmaer, and the Nobles; that the Deputies of the other cities were summoned; that their absence could not stay the proceedings of the rest; that, excepting the Deputies of Amsterdam, all the others agreed to the deputation sent to Utrecht; that it was thrice approved; and that the Deputies at their return received the thanks of the States, who defrayed the expence of their journey.

Grotius complains that he was not examined on the tenth part of the facts specified in his sentence, that his examination was not read over to him; in fine, that he was no ways reprehensible, since in all he did, he exactly followed the orders of the States of Holland, or those of the city of Rotterdam[100], as the States and the City allowed; and that if he was to be tried, it ought to be by Judges of Rotterdam, according to the privileges of that city. Hoogerbetz was also condemned to perpetual banishment. The body of Ledemberg, Secretary of the States of Utrecht, who, as hath been said, put an end to his life in gaol, was affixed in the coffin to a gibbet. Moerbergen, Counsellor of Utrecht, had only his country-house, for his prison, because, suffering himself to be moved by the tears of his wife and children, he made a kind of submission bordering on those which they wanted to draw from Hoogerbetz and Grotius.

The Judges who condemned them were so ignorant of the laws, that they decreed penalties which are only enacted against persons convicted of high treason, yet omitted mentioning in the sentence that Grotius was guilty of that crime. They were told of this irregularity, and saw they were in the wrong: to remedy it, they declared, a whole year after the trial, without rehearing the cause, that their intention was to condemn Grotius and his accomplices as guilty of high-treason; which step was the more irregular[101], as delegated judges cannot, by law, add to their sentence after it is passed. This addition deprived Grotius's wife of the liberty of redeeming, at a moderate price, her husband's estate; a privilege which the law allows in all cases but those of treason. His estate was therefore confiscated: but by this he was no great loser. At that time he was very far from being rich: his father being alive, what properly belonged to him was only the savings of his salary and his wife's fortune.

FOOTNOTES:

[91] Hug. Grotii votum, p. 664.

[92] Apol. c. 13.

[93] Mare clausum l. 1. p. 198.

[94] Apol. c. 15.

[95] Apol. c. 13.

[96] Ibid. c. 16.

[97] Ibid. c. 19.

[98] Dedication of his Apology.

[99] Apol. c. 13. 17.

[100] Hug. Grotii votum, p. 669.

[101] Ep. Gr. 161.

XIV. In consequence of the sentence passed against Grotius, the States-General ordered him to be carried from the Hague to the fortress of Louvestein near Gorcum in South Holland, at the point of the island formed by the Vahal and the Meuse; which was done on the 6th of June, 1619; and twenty-four sols per day assigned for his maintenance, and as much for Hoogerbetz: but their wives declared they had enough to support their husbands, and that they chose to be without an allowance which they looked on as an affront. Grotius' father asked permission to see his son; but was denied. They consented to admit his wife into Louvestein, but if she came out, she was not to be suffered to go back. In the sequel it was granted her that she might come abroad twice a week.

Grotius became now more sensible than ever of the advantages men derive from a love of the Sciences. Exile and captivity, the greatest evils that can befal Ministers of ordinary merit, restored to him that tranquillity to which he had been for some years a stranger. Study became his business and consolation. From the time he was a prisoner at the Hague[102], whilst he had the use of pen and ink, he employed himself in writing a Latin piece on the means of accommodating the present disputes. This treatise was presented to Prince Maurice; but it did not mollify the indignation he had conceived against the Remonstrants. Grotius maintained in it, as he had done often before, that notwithstanding difference of opinion in some points relating to grace and predestination, a mutual toleration ought to take place, and no separation be made.

We have still several of his letters written from Louvestein, which acquaint us in what manner he spent his time. He gave Vossius an account of his studies. In the first of those Letters, without date, he observes to him that he had resumed the study of the Law, which had been long interrupted by his multiplicity of business; that the rest of his time he devoted to the study of Morality; which had led him to translate all the Maxims of the Poets collected by Stobaeus, and the fragments of Menander and Philemon. He likewise purposed to extract from the Comic and Tragic Authors of Greece what related to Morality, and was omitted by Stobaeus, and to translate it into free verse, like that of the Latin Comic writers. With regard to his translation of the fragments of the Greek Tragic authors, he intended that the verses of his Latin translation should resemble those of the original, excepting in the chorus's, which he would put into the verse that best suited him. He was in doubt whether he ought to print these additions with Stobaeus, and asks Vossius's opinion whether he should place them at the end, or entirely new-mould that collection. Sundays he employed in reading treatises on the truth of the Christian religion, and even spent some of his spare hours in this study: on other days, when his ordinary labour was over, he meditated some work in Flemish on religion. The subject which he liked best at that time was Christ's love to mankind: he no doubt intended to confute the extravagant opinions of the Gomarists. He purposed also to write a Commentary on the Sermon on the mount.

Time seemed to pass very fast amidst these several projects. December 15, 1619, he writes Vossius, that the Muses, which were always his delight, even when immersed in business, were now his consolation, and appeared more amiable than ever. He wrote some short Notes on the New Testament: these he intended to send to Erpenius, who was projecting a new edition of it; but a fit of illness obliged him to lay them aside[103]. When he was able to resume his studies, he composed in Dutch verse his treatise Of the Truth of the Christian Religion, and sent it to Vossius; who thought some places of it obscure. It makes no mention of the Trinity or Incarnation, because, the authority and authenticity of the sacred Books once proved, these great points ought to be held demonstrated. Those who since Grotius have written against infidelity with greatest success, have followed his example. Sacred and profane authors employed him alternately. In the end of the year 1620[104] he promises his brother to send him his observations on Seneca's Tragedies: These he had written at Vossius's desire[105]. He acknowledges his conjectures are sometimes very bold; but is not so attached to them, but he will submit them to Vossius, and leaves them entirely to him. We have seen that Du Maurier employed his best offices for Barnevelt and Grotius. From the time they were arrested all correspondence between the Ambassador and Grotius was probably cut off till the beginning of 1621; for it is not till the fifteenth of January that year, he returns him his thanks[106]. He says it is impossible for him to express his obligations to the Most Christian King, to his wife Council, and to Du Maurier in particular, for the pains they took to assist him in his misfortunes; that tho' their intentions had not the effect which might have been hoped for, it gave him great consolation to find persons of such importance interest themselves in his troubles. He calls his conscience, as the judge he most respected, to witness, that all he intended was the prevention of schism; that he never had a thought of making any innovation in the Republic; that he only purposed the supporting the rights of his Sovereigns, without invading the legal authority of the States-General; that such as were in the secret of affairs knew that his whole crime was refusing to comply with the caprices of those who wanted to rule according to their fancies; and that he chose rather to lose his estate and his health, than to ask pardon for a fault he had never committed.

Du Maurier losing his lady about this time, Grotius writes him, February 27, 1621, a very handsome consolatory letter, in which he deduces with great eloquence every ground of support that Philosophy and Religion can suggest in that melancholly event. The only method he took to unbend and recreate himself, was to go from one work to another. He translated the Phoenissae of Euripides: wrote his Institutions of the Laws of Holland in Dutch: and composed some short Instructions for his daughter Cornelia[107] in the form of a Catechism, and in Flemish verse, containing an hundred and eighty-five Questions and Answers: it was printed at the Hague in 1619. The author afterwards translated it into the same number of Latin verses for the use of his son: it is added in the later editions of his Poems. He wrote also, while under confinement, a Dialogue in Dutch verse between a father and a son, on the necessity of silence, explaining the use and abuse of Speech, and shewing the advantages of taciturnity. In fine, he collected, when in prison, the materials of his Apology[108].

FOOTNOTES:

[102] Apolog. Pref.

[103] Ep. 126.

[104] Ep. 23. p. 761.

[105] Ep. 132.

[106] Ep. 133.

[107] Mem. Litt. de la Gr. Bretagne, t. xi. p. 66.

[108] Ep. 144.

XV. Grotius had been above eighteen months shut up in Louvestein, when, on the eleventh of January, 1621[109], Muys-van-Holi, his declared enemy, who had been one of his judges, informed the States-General, that he had advice from good hands their prisoner was seeking to make his escape: some persons were sent to Louvestein to examine into this matter; but notwithstanding all the enquiry that could be made, they found no reason to believe that Grotius had laid any plot to get out.

His wife however was wholly employed in contriving how to set him at liberty. He had been permitted[110] to borrow books of his friends, and when he had done with them, they were carried back in a chest with his foul linen, which was sent to Gorcum, a town near Louvestein, to be washed. The first year his guards were very exact in examining the chest when it went from Louvestein; but being used to find in it only books and linen, they grew tired of searching, and did not take the trouble to open it. Grotius' wife observing their negligence, purposed to take advantage of it. She represented to her husband that it was in his power to get out of prison when he pleased, if he would put himself in the chest that carried his books. However, not to endanger his health, she caused holes to be bored opposite to the part where his face was to be, to breathe at; and made him try if he could continue shut up in that confined posture as long as it would require to go from Louvestein to Gorcum. Finding it might be done, she resolved to seize the first favourable opportunity.

It soon offered. The Commandant of Louvestein[111] going to Heusden to raise recruits, Grotius' wife made a visit to his lady, and told her in conversation, that she was desirous of sending away a chest full of books, for her husband was so weak, it gave her great uneasiness to see him study with such application. Having thus prepared the Commandant's wife, she returned to her husband's apartment, and in concert with a valet and a maid, who were in the secret, shut him up in the chest. At the same time, that people might not be surprised at not seeing him, she spread a report of his being ill. Two soldiers carried the chest: one of them, finding it heavier than usual, said, There must be an Arminian in it: this was a kind of proverb that had lately come into use. Grotius' wife, who was present, answered with great coldness, There are indeed Arminian books in it. The chest was brought down on a ladder, with great difficulty. The soldier insisted on its being opened, to see what was in it; he even went and informed the Commandant's wife that the weight of the chest gave him reason to think there was something suspicious contained in it, and that it would be proper to have it opened. She would not; whether it was that she was willing to wink at the thing, or through negligence: she told him that Grotius' wife had assured her there was nothing but books in it; and that they might carry it to the boat. It is affirmed that a soldier's wife who was present, said there was more than one example of prisoners making their escape in boxes. The chest however was put into the boat, and Grotius' maid, who was in the secret, had orders to go with it to Gorcum, and put it into a house there. When it came to Gorcum, they wanted to put it on a sledge; but the maid telling the boatman there were some brittle things in it, and begging of him to take care how it was carried, it was put on a horse, and brought by two chairmen to David Dazelaer's, a friend of Grotius, and brother-in-law to Erpenius, having married his sister[112]. When every body was gone, the maid opened the chest. Grotius had felt no inconvenience in it, though its length was not above three feet and a half. He got out, dressed himself like a mason, with a rule and a trowel, and went by Dazelaer's back-door, through the market-place to the gate that leads to the river, and stept into a boat which carried him to Valvic in Brabant. At this place he made himself known to some Arminians; and hired a carriage to Antwerp, taking the necessary precautions not to be known by the way: it was not the Spaniards he feared, for there was then a truce between them and the United Provinces. He alighted at Antwerp at the house of Nicholas Grevincovius, who had been formerly a Minister at Amsterdam; and made himself known to no body but him. It was on the 22d of March, 1621, that Grotius thus recovered his liberty.

In the mean time it was believed at Louvestein that he was ill; and to give him time to get off, his wife gave out that his illness was dangerous; but as soon as she learnt by the maid's return that he was in Brabant, and consequently in safety, she told the guards, the bird was flown. They informed the Commandant, by this time returned from Heusden, who hastened to Grotius's wife, and asked her where she had hid her husband? She answered he might search for him: but being much pressed and even threatened, she confessed that she had caused him to be carried to Gorcum in the book chest: and that she had done no more than kept her word to him, to take the first opportunity of setting her husband at liberty. The Commandant in a rage went immediately to Gorcum, and acquainting the Magistrate with his prisoner's escape, both came to Dazelaer's, where they found the empty chest. On his return to Louvestein the Commandant confined Grotius's wife more closely: but presenting a petition to the States-General, April 5, 1621, praying that she might be discharged, and Prince Maurice, to whom it was communicated, making no opposition, the majority were for setting her at liberty. Some indeed voted for detaining her a prisoner; but they were looked on as very barbarous, to want to punish a woman for an heroic action. Two days after presenting the petition, she was discharged, and suffered to carry away every thing that belonged to her in Louvestein. Grotius continued some time at Antwerp. March 30, he wrote to the States-General that in procuring his liberty he had employed neither violence nor corruption with his keepers; that he had nothing to reproach himself with in what he had done; that he gave those counsels which he thought best for appeasing the troubles that had arisen before he was concerned in public business; that he only obeyed the Magistrates of Rotterdam his masters, and the States of Holland his sovereigns; and that the persecution he had suffered would never diminish his love to his Country, for whose prosperity he heartily prayed.

Grotius's escape exercised the pens of the most famous poets of that period. Barlaeus wrote some very good verses on it[113]: and also celebrated his wife's magnanimity[114]. Rutgersius composed a poem on his imprisonment, in which he places the day of his arrest among the most unfortunate for the Republic[115]. Grotius himself wrote some verses on his happy deliverance, which were translated into Flemish by the famous poet John Van Vondel. He made also some lines on the chest to which he owed his liberty, and in the latter part of his life was at great pains to recover it[116].

Henry Dupuis, a learned man settled at Louvain, being informed that Grotius was at Antwerp, sent him a very handsome letter, to signify to him the share he took in the general joy of all good men, and offered him his house, and all that a true friend could give[117]: but Grotius chose rather to come to France, agreeable to the advice of Du Maurier and the President Jeannin; the latter assuring him he might depend on the King's protection, the esteem of men of the greatest consideration, and his friendship.

But previous to the account of his journey to Paris it will be proper to say something of the writings that appeared relating to the disputes which divided the church and state.

Among the Ministers who opposed the Arminians Sibrand Lubert was one of the most zealous and in greatest reputation. This man was a Professor in the university of Francker: he wrote against Worstius, who was suspected of Socinianism; and insinuated that the States of Holland favoured that heresy. He also complained of their renewing the law of 1591, concerning the election of ministers, and their opposing the convocation of a National Synod. The States, incensed at his presumption, employed Grotius to write their Apology, which he published in 1613.

In this work he undertakes to shew that the Arminians have very different sentiments on grace from the Pelagians; that they join with the Greek and many Latin Fathers in their opinion about Predestination; that the Reformed did not always entertain such rigid sentiments, particularly Melancton, inferior to none in learning or piety; that since the rise of the disputes Arminius and Gomar had declared in writing, there was no difference between them in fundamentals; that after the dispute of those two Divines in presence of the States, it was determined that the two opinions might be tolerated; that since the death of Arminius twelve Ministers of the two parties having been heard, the States recommended to them mutual toleration and charity.

He afterwards proves that the Synod was not necessary; that it could be of little use, because mens minds were too much inflamed; that as it could not be assembled in the present circumstances, it belonged to the States to find out ways of accommodating these disputes, which did not regard fundamental articles; and that Socinus had no defenders in Holland. He afterwards treats of the power which he ascribes to the Sovereign in matters ecclesiastic, and his authority in convoking Councils. He says the Sovereign has a right to judge in Synods, either in person or by his commissioners, and to judge Synods themselves; in proof of which he advances what passed in the first Councils; and regards as acts of jurisdiction and examination all that has been done by Princes for maintaining good order and polity. He is of opinion that public acts, even those which regard the doctrine of the Church, ought to proceed only from the Prince: he relates what Princes have done, at the solicitation of Bishops, for the assembling of Councils, as proofs of the Sovereign's authority over Councils; and omits nothing in antiquity that favours the authority of the Civil Magistrate in matters ecclesiastical, and especially in what regards elections: he shews that too much precaution, cannot be taken against the presumption of the reformed Ministers, who want to intermeddle with State Affairs, bringing with them their caprices and passions. "Upon the whole (he says in the conclusion) the more I read Church history, the more evident it appears to me, that the evils we complain of are the same which have been complained of in all past ages."

This account of the work is sufficient to shew that the author, with much erudition, was strangely misled: if the proofs he makes use of are susceptible of different interpretations, he has not sufficiently unravelled their ambiguity and intent. It was received with great satisfaction by the Magistrates of Holland[118]: and the States returned him public thanks on the 31st of October, 1613, in very honorable terms. Casaubon[119] and Vossius[120] speak of this book with the highest commendation: but the Gomarists were greatly dissatisfied with it[121]. Bogerman wrote some notes on it, serving to confute it; which were suppressed. Sibrand's friends complained that the author had dipt his pen in gall, and not in ink: and Sibrand himself wrote an answer, to which Grotius replied in some short remarks, exposing the false citations, the errors, and abusive language of his adversary.

Sibrand's work was condemned by the States: but five years after, June 28, 1618, on the imprisonment of Grotius, the States revoked the condemnation. Grotius's desire to bring about an union of sentiments led him, in 1613, while in England, to compose a small treatise, entitled, A Reconciliation of the different Opinions on Predestination and Grace. This piece contains a display of the Arminian system, which he endeavours to place in the most favourable light[122].

The Edict which Grotius prepared by desire of the States[123], ordering the two parties to tolerate each other, having been warmly attacked by the Contra-Remonstrants, Grotius reprinted it, with a collection of passages justifying it against their censures. He afterwards wrote a defence of that decree, in which he complains of the schismatical spirit of the Gomarists; proves that the States did all that depended on them to reconcile mens minds: maintains, against an anonymous writer, to whom he gives the name of Lucifuga, that it is false the Remonstrants gave the draught of that Edict; asserts, on the contrary, that several things are omitted in it, which they wished to be inserted, and which had even an appearance of reason and justice; and sets forth the moderation and equity of the Edict upon the whole. Grotius did not finish this work; but on occasion of the dispute concerning the power of Sovereigns in things sacred; he composed a very considerable treatise. He had already handled this subject in a tract on the Piety of the States of Holland: he examines it more thoroughly in this, proceeding on the same principles. It is certain that this book may be read with some profit[124], that it contains many curious things, but some others also that are very bold, and very false. Such as are acquainted with the just rights of the two powers will never grant to Grotius, that the Sovereign has a right to judge in councils, to alter their decisions, and to depose the Ministers of the Church. Most of the proofs on which he builds consist of ambiguous passages, which he strains to his opinion by forced explanations. This work discovers rather the great lawyer, than the exact divine; and, what is singular, the author is afraid he has not granted enough to the Civil Magistrate, and been too favourable to the claims of the Clergy. He knew, however, that it would not please the King of Great Britain; and the Bishops of that kingdom were of opinion he had given too much authority to the Secular Power in things sacred: It is probable the Letter sent by the States of Holland and West-Friesland, in 1618, to King James I. was written by Grotius: it is his style and sentiments. The States, who foresaw that the troubles would still go on increasing, begin with a short recital of the rise of these disputes; they afterwards desire his Majesty to examine whether in the present circumstances a Synod would be of use, and whether there was not reason to apprehend it might occasion a schism: they ask the King to grant them his protection, and promise to employ their authority in supporting truth, and driving away error.

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