GS 1983 art 174

GS 1983 ARTICLE 174Preface Canons of Dort/Heidelberg Catechism

Synod decides to include the Preface to the Canons of Dort in the Book of Praise. The Standing Committee is asked to have the original Preface to the Heidelberg Catechism. if in existence and available, translated and also published in the Book of Praise.


The Canons of Dort, being the Five Articles against the Remonstrants or Judgment of the National Synod of the Reformed Churches of the United Netherlands, held in Dord­ recht in the year 1618 and 1619 concerning the well-known Five Heads of Doctrine about which controversy has arisen in the Reformed Churches of these United Netherlands.

Among the very many consolations which our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has given to His Church Militant in this wretched pilgrimage, this is justly considered to be the most important one, which He left her when He was about to enter the heavenly sanctuary to go to the Father, saying, “I am with you always, to the close of the age.” The truth of this kind promise is evident in the Church of all ages. For as she has been attacked from the beginning not only by the public force of enemies and the ungodly violence of heretics but also by the masked subtleties of seducers, truly, ii the Lord had at any time denuded her of the salutary succour of His promised presence, she would long have been either oppressed by the force of tyrants or led to her ruin by the subtlety of deceivers. But the good Shepherd, who most steadfastly loves His flock, for which He gave His life, has always at the appropriate time and by His outstretched hand, often in a miraculous way, put down the raging of persecutors, and uncovered and destroyed the crooked ways and deceitful counsels of seducers; proving in both that He is truly present with His Church. Of this we have very clear proof in the histories of the god/ear­ing Emperors, Kings, and Princes whom the Son of God raised up so oftentimes to the aid of His Church, kindled with holy zeal for His house, and by whose service He not only subdued the raging of tyrants but also provided His Church, when she had to fight against false teachers. with means to healing, with holy Synods, in which faithful minis­ters of Christ. with combined prayers, counsel, and labour, placed themselves courageous­ly in defense of the Church and truth of God over against the servants of Satan, even though these changed themselves into angels of light; and removed the seed of errors and of discord, preserved the Church in the concord of the pure religion, and conveyed the genuine religion inviolate to posterity.

With similar benefit our faithful Saviour proved His gracious presence in these times to the Church of The Netherlands, which was sore oppressed for some years. For this Church, having been delivered by God’s mighty hand from the tyranny of the Romish Antichrist and the abominable idolatry of the Papacy, and having been saved so many a time in a miraculous way amidst the dangers of such a long war, and flourishing most marvellously in the concord of the true doctrine and discipline to the honour of God, to the wonderful growth of the commonwealth, and to the joy of the whole Reformed world, has been attacked. first secretly, then publicly, by Jacobus Arminius and his fol­lowers, bearing the name of Remonstrants, by means of various old as well as new er­rors and, being persistently disturbed by offensive disputes and schisms, having been brought into such grave peril that these thus flourishing Churches ultimately would have been consumed by a dreadful conflagration of discord and divisions, if not the compas­sion of our Saviour had interceded at the appropriate time. But praised be the Lord for ever who, after He had hidden His countenance for a moment from us (who in many ways had kindled His ire and wrath) proved before the whole world that He does not forget His covenant or despise the sighing of His own. For when it seemed that accord­ing to human opinion there was to be had hardly any hope of restoration. He put it into the hearts of their illustrious and High Mightinesses. the States General of the United

Netherlands, that, with the advice and direction of the illustrious Prince of Orange, they decided to meet these raging difficulties with legal means which have been generally well-known by the example of the Apostles themselves and of the Christian Church after them, and before this were also used with rich fruit in the Church of The Netherlands, and have by their authority convened a Synod at Dordrecht, out of all the Provinces of their territory, after previously having requested and, by the favour of the Great and Mighty King James, King of Great Britain, etc., and of Illustrious Princes, Illustrious Counts, and mighty Republics, having obtained many excellent theological men in order that by the joint judgment of so many theologians of the Reformed Church the teachings of Arminius and his followers might be considered maturely in a so renowned Synod and be judged from God’s Word alone, the true doctrine be confirmed, the false doctrine rejected, and by God’s blessing unity, peace, and tranquillity be restored to the Netherlands Church­es. It is because of this blessing of God that the Netherlands Churches rejoice and hum­bly acknowledge and gratefully praise the faithful mercies of their Saviour.

This reverend Synod (after prior general fasting and prayer, called and conducted by authority of the High Magistrates in all the Netherlands Churches in order to deprecate God’s wrath and to obtain His gracious assistance) gathered within Dordrecht, kindled in love to God and the well-being of the Church and, after calling upon God’s Name, bound by a holy oath to judge only after the rule of Holy Scripture, and in the examina­tion and judgment of this matter to act with a good conscience, has laboured most dili­gently and with great forbearance to move the main advocates of these teachings, sum­moned to appear before it, that they would fully explain their sentiments regarding the well-known Five Heads of Doctrine along with the arguments for them. However, when they rejected the judgments of the Synod and refused to answer to the points in ques­tion in a manner that was equitable, and, further, when no admonitions of the Synod. nor resolutions of the Well-born Noble Deputed States of the States General, yea when even the injunctions of their Illustrious and High Mightinesses the States General did not make any progress with them, the Synod was compelled to follow another course, by instruction of their High Mightinesses and in harmony with the customs of ancient Synods; and the examination of the aforesaid Five Heads of Doctrine was taken in hand out of the writings, confessions, and declarations, partly issued beforehand, partly de­ livered unto this Synod Now that this, by the special grace of God has been completed with very great zeal. faithfulness, conscientiousness, and concord of all and everyone. this Synod has decided to the honour of God, to the preservation of the uprightness of the saving truth. the security of the consciences, the peace and well-being of the Netherlands Churches, to pronounce openly and proclaim to everyone the following judg­ment (in which the true sentiment which is in harmony with the Word of God regarding the Five aforesaid Heads of Doctrine is declared and the false sentiment which conflicts with God’s Word is rejected).