CHAPTER VIII. RATIONALISM AND ITS EFFECTS
Amongst the Calvinists the extremely crude doctrine on Predestination taught by Calvin soon proved too much for the faith of many of his followers. Several of them, holding fast by Calvin's teaching, contended that regardless of Original Sin God had created some for glory and others for damnation, that Christ had died only to save the elect, and that to these alone is given the grace necessary for salvation (Supralapsarians). Others, horrified by the cruelty of such a doctrine, maintained that the decree predestining some to hell followed the prevision of Original Sin (Infralapsarians). This view had been put forward by Theodore Koonhort, and had found considerable support, but it was attacked by the majority of the Calvinist ministers, and a bitter controversy ensued. The orthodox party summoned to their assistance Arminius (Hermanzoon), a distinguished young Calvinist preacher, who had attended the lectures of Beza in Geneva, but whose strict views were modified considerably by a sojourn in Italy. Instead of supporting the Supralapsarians, his sympathies were entirely on the side of the milder doctrine, and after his appointment to a professorship at Leyden (1603) he became the recognised head of the Infralapsarians. His chief opponent was Gomar, also a professor at Leyden, who accused Arminius of Semi-Pelagianism. Arminius, while repudiating such a charge as groundless, rejoined by pointing out that according to his adversaries God was the author of sin. Both appeared before an Assembly of the States in 1608 to defend their views, and though the majority were inclined to favour Arminius, silence was imposed upon the two principals and upon their followers. In the next year Arminius himself died (1609), but his doctrines were upheld by Episcopius supported by the learned jurist, Oldenbarneveld, and the Humanist, Grotius. In replying to the charge of heresy brought against them the followers of Arminius presented to the States a Remonstrance embodying their doctrines (1610) and on this account they were styled Remonstrants. The States adopted a neutral attitude at first, but, as the Gomarists or anti-Remonstrants violated the injunction of silence by founding separate communities, the authorities were inclined not merely to tolerate but to support the Remonstrants.
Maurice, Prince of Orange, Stadtholder of Holland, anxious to strengthen his position by allying himself with the orthodox Calvinists, began a bitter campaign against the Arminians. Oldenbarneveld and Grotius were arrested and brought before the synod of Dordrecht (1617), at which the former was condemned to death, while Grotius was imprisoned for life though he succeeded in escaping after two years. Another Synod was held at Dordrecht (Nov. 1618-April 1619) to which representatives came from all parts of Holland, the Palatinate, England, and Scotland. From the beginning the followers of Arminius were admitted only as accused persons, and were called upon to defend themselves against the charge of heresy. Against them the authority of Calvin was urged as if it were infallible. As the Arminians were suspected of republican principles William of Orange and his supporters were decidedly hostile. The Remonstrants, despairing of getting an impartial hearing, left the Synod. The five Articles contained in the Remonstrance were discussed, and decrees were issued regarding those portions of Calvin's doctrine that had been called in question. It was agreed that faith is the pure gift of God to be given by God to those whom He has predestined by His own mercy and without any reference to their merits for election; that Christ died only for the elect; that man's will does not co-operate in the work of his conversion; and that the elect are exempted from the dominion of sin, so that although they may be guilty of serious crimes they can never become enemies of God or forfeit the glory to which they were predestined. The decrees of the Synod of Dordrecht were received generally in Holland, Switzerland, France, in the territory of the Elector of Brandenburg, and in Hesse, but in the other portions of Calvinist Germany and in the greater part of England they met with serious opposition.
Anabaptists. - The belief that baptism could not be conferred validly on infants who have not arrived at the use of reason was held by many of the Middle Age sectaries, and was revived at the time of the Reformation. Its supporters, claiming for themselves the liberty of interpreting the Scriptures according to their own judgment, maintained that they had divine sanction for their teaching. The leaders of the sect in Saxony and Thuringia were Thomas Munzer and Nicholas Storch. They represented the extreme left of the Lutheran party maintaining the equality of men and the community of property. In Zwickau, where the movement originated, violent disturbances broke out, and the leaders retired to Wittenberg where they were joined by Carlstadt. It required the presence of Luther himself to prevent the city from falling completely into their hands. Owing to the dangerous character of the radical principles defended by the Anabaptists several princes of Germany joined hands for their suppression. They were defeated at the battle of Frankenberg (1525) and Munzer was arrested and put to death. Before his execution he returned to the Catholic Church.