To the noble and most potent the states of Holland and West Friezland, my Supreme Governor, my most noble, potent, wise and prudent Lords:
After the conference which, by the command of your mightinesses, was convened here at the Hague, between Gomarus and myself, had been held in the presence of four ministers and under the superintendence of their Lordships the Counselors of the Supreme Court, the result of that meeting was reported to your highnesses. Some allusion having been made in that report to the nature and importance of the controversy between us, it soon afterward, seemed good to your highnesses to cite each of us, with those four ministers, to appear openly before you in your honourable assembly, and in that public manner to intimate to all of us whatever you then judged to be expedient. After we had appeared before Your mightinesses, Gomarus affirmed, "that the controversy between him and me, was of such immense importance, that, with the opinions which I professed, he durst not appear in the presence of his maker." He likewise asserted, "that, unless some mode of prevention were promptly devised, the consequence would be, that the various provinces, churches, and cities of our native land, and even the citizens themselves, would be placed in a state of mutual enmity and variance, and would rise up in arms against each other." To all those allegations I then made no reply, except "that I certainly was not conscious of entertaining any such atrocious sentiments in religion, as those of which he had spoken; and I confidently expressed a hope, that I should never afford either cause or occasion for schism and separation, in the Church of God or in our common country." In confirmation of which, I added, "that I was prepared to make an open and bona fide declaration of all my sentiments, views, and designs on every subject connected with religion, whenever I might receive a summons to appear before this august assembly, and even prior to my retiring at that time from your presence." Your highnesses having since deliberated upon the proposal and offer which I then made, deem it proper now to summon me before you, for the purpose of redeeming, in this hall, the pledge which I had previously given. To fulfill that promise, I now appear in this place, and will with all due fidelity discharge my duty, whatever it be that is demanded of me in relation to this affair.
Yet since a sinister report, has for a long time been industriously and extensively circulated about me, not only among my own countrymen but also among foreigners, in which report, I am represented to have hitherto refused, after frequent solicitations, to make an open profession of my sentiments on the matter of religion and my designs concerning it; and since this unfounded rumor has already operated most injuriously against me, I importunately intreat to be favoured with your gracious permission to make an ingenuous and open declaration of all the circumstances which relate to this business, before I proceed to the discussion of other topics.
On the 30th of June, in the year 1605, three Deputies of the Synod of South Holland came to me at Leyden; they were Francis Lansbergius, Libertus Fraxinus, and Daniel Dolegius of pious memory, each of them the minister of their respective churches at Rotterdam, the Hague, and Delft. Two members of the Synod of North Holland accompanied them-John Bogardus, minister of the Church at Haerlem, and James Rolandus of the Church at Amsterdam. They told me, "they had heard, that at the regular meetings of certain of their classes, in the examination to which candidates for holy orders must submit prior to their admission into the Christian ministry, some of the students of the University of Leyden had returned such answers to the questions propounded to them as were of a novel description and contrary to the common and received doctrine of the Churches. Those novelties," it was said, "the young men affirmed to have been instilled into them while under my tuition." In such a situation of affairs, they desired me "to engage in a friendly conference with them, by which they might have it in their power to perceive if there were any truth in this charge, and that they might afterwards be the better qualified to consult the interests of the Church." To these suggestions I replied, "that I could by no means approve of the mode of proceeding which they recommended: For such a course would inevitably subject me to frequent and almost incessant applications for a friendly interview and conversation, if any one thought it needful to pester me in that manner whenever a student made use of a new or uncommon answer, and in excuse pretended to have learned it from me. The following therefore appeared to me a plan of greater wisdom and prudence: As often as a student during his examination returned any answer, which, according to his affirmation, had been derived from my instructions, provided the brethren considered such answer to stand in opposition to the confession and catechism of the Belgic Churches, they should immediately confront that student with me; and, for the sake of investigating such an affair, I was ready to proceed at my own expense to any town, however distant, which it might please the brethren to appoint for that purpose. The obvious consequence of this method would be, that, after it had been resorted to a few times, it would cause it clearly and evidently to appear whether the student’s assertion were the truth or only a calumny.
But when Francis Lansbergius, in the name of the rest of his brethren, continued to urge and solicit a conference I gave it as a further reason why I could not see the propriety of entering into a conference with them, that they appeared before me in the character of deputies, who had afterwards to render to the Synod an account of all their proceedings; and that I was not therefore at liberty to accede to their wishes, unless, not only with the knowledge and consent, but at the express command of others who were my superiors, and whom I was equally with them bound to obey. Besides, it would be connected with no small risk and danger to me, if, in the relation of the event of our conference which they might hereafter give to the Synod, I should leave that relation entirely to their faithfulness and discretion. They had likewise no cause for demanding any thing of this kind from me, who was quite unconscious of having propounded a single doctrine, either at Leyden or Amsterdam, that was contrary to the word of God or to the Confession and Catechism of the Churches in the Low Countries. For no such accusation had ever yet been brought against me by any person; and, I was confident, no attempt would be made to substantiate against me a charge of this description, if he who preferred such a charge were bound at the same time either to establish it by proofs, or, in failure of his proofs, to confess his uncharitable offense."
I then told these five gentlemen, "that, notwithstanding all this, if they would consent to relinquish the title Deputies, and would each in his own private capacity enter into a conference with me, I was ready at that very moment to engage in it." The conditions which I proposed to be mutually observed by us, were these: (i.) That they should explain their opinions on every single article and then I would explain mine; (ii.) They should adduce their proofs, and I would adduce mine; and (iii.) That they should at last attempt a refutation of my sentiments and reasons, and I would in return try to refute theirs. (iv.) If in this manner either party could afford complete satisfaction to the other, the result would be agreeable: but, if neither party could satisfy the other, then no mention of the subjects discussed in our private conference, or of its unfavourable termination, should be made in any place or company whatever, until the whole affair should be referred to a national Synod."
But when to this proposition they had given a direct refusal, we should have separated from each other without further discourse, had I not requested "that they would offer a conference in the same manner to Gomarus, as well as to Trelcatius of pious memory, because it did not appear to me, that I had given them any cause for making such a demand upon me, rather than upon either of my two colleagues." At the same time I enforced my concluding expressions with several arguments, which it would be too tedious now to repeat in the presence of your mightinesses. When I had finished, the deputies replied, "that they would comply with my request, and would wait on the two other professors of divinity and make them a similar offer:" and prior to their departure from Leyden, they called and assured me, that they had in this particular fulfilled their promise.
This, then, is the first of the many requests that have been preferred to me. It was the cause of much conversation at the time when it occurred: For many persons spoke about it. Some of them related it imperfectly, and in a manner very different from what were the real circumstances of the whole transaction; while others suppressed many essential particulars, and studiously concealed the counter-proposal which I had tendered to the deputies and the strong reasons which I produced in its support.
A few days afterwards, that is, on the 28th of July in the same year, 1605, a request of a similar character was likewise presented to me, in the name of the Presbytery of the Church of Leyden: but on this condition, that if I approved of it, other persons, whom such a request equally concerned, should also be summoned before the same ecclesiastical tribunal: but if this offer did not receive my approbation, nothing further should be attempted. But when I had intimated, that I did not clearly perceive, how this request could possibly obtain approval from me, and when I had subjoined my reasons which were of the same description as those which I had employed on the preceding occasion, my answer was perfectly satisfactory to Bronchovius the Burgomaster [of Leyden] and Merula of pious memory, both of whom had come to me in the name of that Church of which they were the elders, and they determined to abandon all ulterior proceedings in that business.
On the ninth of November, in the same year, 1605, the deputies of the Synod of South Holland, Francis Lansbergius, Festus Hommius, and their associates, presented nine questions to their Lordships, the curators of the University of Leyden; these were accompanied with a petition, "that the Professors of Divinity might be commanded to answer them." But the curators replied, "that they could on no account sanction by their consent the propounding of any questions to the Professors of Divinity; and if any one supposed that something was taught in the University contrary to truth and rectitude, that person had it in his power to refer the matter of his complaint to a national Synod, which, it was hoped, would, at the earliest opportunity be convened, when it would come regularly under the cognizance of that assembly, and receive the most ample discussion." When this answer had been delivered, the deputies of the Synod did not hesitate earnestly to ask it as a particular favour, "that, by the kind permission of their Lordships, they might themselves propose those nine questions to the Professors of Divinity, and might, without troubling their Lordships, personally inform themselves what answer of his own accord, and without reluctance, each of those three Divines would return." But, after all their pleading, they were unable to obtain the permission which they so strenuously desired. The whole of this unsuccessful negotiation was conducted in such a clandestine manner, and so carefully concealed from me, that I was totally ignorant even of the arrival of those reverend deputies in our city; yet soon after their departure, I became acquainted with their mission and its failure.
After this, a whole year elapsed before I was again called to an account about such matters. But I must not omit to mention, that in the year 1607, a short time before the meeting of the Synod of South Holland at Delft, John Bernards, minister of the Church at Delft, Festus Hommius, minister of Leyden, and Dibbetius of Dort, were deputed by the Synod to come to me and inquire what progress I had made in the refutation of the Anabaptists. When I had given them a suitable reply concerning that affair, which was the cause of much conversation among us on both sides, and when they were just on the point of taking their leave, they begged "that I would not hesitate to reveal to them whatever views and designs I had formed on the subject of religion, for the purpose of their being communicated to the Synod, by the Deputies, for the satisfaction of the brethren." But I refused to comply with their intreaties, "because the desired explanation could not be given either conveniently or to advantage; and I did not know any place in which it was possible to explain these matters with greater propriety, than in the national Synod; which, according to the resolution of their most noble and high mightinesses, the States General, was expected very shortly to assemble." I promised "that I would use every exertion that I might be enabled in that assembly openly to profess the whole of my sentiments; and that I would employ none of that alleged concealment or dissimulation about any thing of which they might then complain." I concluded by saying, "that if I were to make my profession before them as deputies of the Synod of South Holland, I could not commit to their fidelity the relation of what might transpire, because, in matters of this description, every one was the most competent interpreter of his own meaning." After these mutual explanations, we parted from each other.
In addition to these different applications, I was privately desired, by certain ministers, "not to view it as a hardship to communicate my views and intentions to their colleagues, the brethren assembled in Synod:" while others intreated me "to disclose my views to them, that they might have an opportunity of pondering and examining them by themselves, in the fear of the Lord," and they gave me an assurance "that they would not divulge any portion of the desired communication" To the first of these two classes, I gave in common my usual answer, "that they had no reason for demanding such an account from me, rather than from others, but to one of these ministers, who was not among the last of the two kinds of applicants, I proposed a conference at three different times, concerning all the articles of our religion; in which we might consider and devise the best means that could possibly be adopted for establishing the truth on the most solid foundation, and for completely refuting every species of falsehood. It was also a part of my offer that such conference should be held in the presence of certain of the principal men of our country; but he did not accept of this condition. To the rest of the inquirers, I returned various answers; in some of which I plainly denied what they requested of me, and in others, I made some disclosures to the inquirers. My sole rule in making such a distinction, was, the more intimate or distant degree of acquaintance which I had with the parties. In the mean time it frequently happened, that, a short time after I had thus revealed any thing in confidence to an individual, it was slanderously related to others—how seriously soever he might have asserted in my presence, that what I had then imparted to him was, according to his judgment, agreeable to the truth, and although he had solemnly pledged his honour that he would on no account divulge it.
To these it is also necessary to add a report which has been spread abroad by means of letters, not only within these provinces, but far beyond their confines: it is, "that, in the preparatory convention which was held at the Hague, in the month of June, 1607, by a company of the brethren who were convened by a summons from their high mightinesses, the States General, after I had been asked in a manner the most friendly to consent to a disclosure, before the brethren then present, of my views on the subject of the Christian faith, I refused; and although they promised to endeavour, as far as it was possible, to give me satisfaction, I still declined to comply with their wishes." But since I find by experience that this distorted version of the matter has procured for me not a few proofs of hatred and ill will from many persons who think that far more honourable deference ought to have been evinced by me towards that assembly, which was a convention of Divines from each of the United Provinces. I perceive a necessity is thus imposed upon me to commence at the very origin of this transaction, when I am about to relate the manner in which it occurred:
Before my departure from Leyden for the convention at the Hague which has just been mentioned, five articles were put into my hands, said to have been transmitted to some of the provinces, to have been perused by certain ministers and ecclesiastical assemblies, and considered by them as documents which embraced my sentiments on several points of religion. Those points of which they pretended to exhibit a correct delineation, were Predestination, the Fall of Adam, Free-will, Original Sin, and the Eternal Salvation of Infants. When I had read the whole of them, I thought that I plainly perceived, from the style in which they were written, who was the author of them; and as he was then present, (being one of the number summoned on that occasion,) I accosted him on this subject, and embraced that opportunity freely to intimate to him that I had good reasons for believing those articles to have been of his composition. He did not make any attempt to deny the correctness of this supposition, and replied, ,that they had not been distributed precisely as my articles, but as those on which the students at Leyden had held disputations." In answer to this remark, I told him, "of one thing he must be very conscious, that, by the mere act of giving circulation to such a document, he could not avoid creating a grievous and immediate prejudice against my innocence, and that the same articles would soon be ascribed to me, as if they had been my composition: when, in reality," as I then openly affirmed, "they had neither proceeded from me, nor accorded with my sentiments, and, as well as I could form a judgment they appeared to me to be at variance with the word of God."
After he and I had thus discoursed together in the presence of only two other persons, I deemed it advisable to make some mention of this affair in the convention itself, at which certain persons attended who had read those very articles, and who had, according to their own confession, accounted them as mine. This plan I accordingly pursued; and just as the convention was on the point of being dissolved, and after the account of our proceedings had been signed, and some individuals had received instructions to give their high mightinesses the States General a statement of our transactions, I requested the brethren "not to consider it an inconvenience to remain a short time together, for I had something which I was desirous to communicate." They assented to this proposal, and I told them "that I had received the five articles which I held in my hand and the tenor of which I briefly read to them; that I discovered they had been transmitted by a member of that convention, into different provinces; that I was positive concerning their distribution in Zealand and the diocese of Utrecht; and that they had been read by some ministers in their public meetings, and were considered to be documents which comprehended my sentiments." Yet, notwithstanding, I protested to the whole of that assembly, with a good conscience, and as in the presence of God, "that those articles were not mine, and did not contain my sentiments." Twice I repeated this solemn asseveration, and besought the brethren "not so readily to attach credit to reports that were circulated concerning me, nor so easily to listen to any thing that was represented as proceeding from me or that had been rumored abroad to my manifest injury."
To these observations, a member of that convention answered, "that it would be well for me, on this account, to signify to the brethren what portion of those articles obtained my approbation, and what portion I disavowed, that they might thus have an opportunity of becoming acquainted in some degree with my sentiments." Another member urged the same reasons; to which I replied, "that the convention had not been appointed to meet for such a purpose, that we had already been long enough detained together, and that their high mightinesses, the States General were now waiting for our determination," in that manner, we separated from each other, no one attempting any longer to continue the conversation, neither did all the members of the convention express a joint concurrence in that request, nor employ any kind of persuasion with me to prove that such an explanation was in their judgment quite equitable. Besides, according to the most correct intelligence which I have since gained, some of those who were then present, declared afterwards, "that it was a part of the instructions which had been previously given to them, not to enter into any conference concerning doctrine; and that, if a discussion of that kind had arisen, they must have instantly retired from the convention." These several circumstances therefore prove that I was very far from being "solicited by the whole assembly" to engage in the desired explanation.
Most noble and potent Lords, this is a true narration of those interviews and conferences which the brethren have solicited, and of my continued refusal: from the whole of which, every person may, in my opinion, clearly perceive that there is no cause whatever for preferring an accusation against me on account of my behaviour throughout these transactions; especially when he considers their request, with the manner in which it was delivered, and at the same time my refusal with the reasons for it; but this is still more obvious from my counter-proposal.
1. Their request, which amounted to a demand upon me for a declaration on matters of faith, was not supported by any reasons, as far as I am enabled to form a judgment. For I never furnished a cause to any man why he should require such a declaration from me rather than from other people, by my having taught any thing contrary to the word of God, or to the Confession and Catechism of the Belgic Churches. At no period have I ceased to make this avowal, and I repeat it on this occasion. I am likewise prepared to consent to an inquiry being instituted into this my profession, either by a Provincial or a National Synod, that the truth of it may by that means, be made yet more apparent—if from such an examination it may be thought possible to derive any advantage.
2. The manner in which their request was delivered, proved of itself to be a sufficient obstacle, because it was openly made by a deputation. I was also much injured by the way in which the Synod prejudged my cause; for we may presume that it would not through its deputies invite any man to a conference, unless he had given strong grounds for such an interview. For this reason I did not consider myself at liberty to consent to a conference of this description, lest I should, by that very act, and apparently through a consciousness of guilt, have confessed that I had taught something that was wrong or unlawful.
3. The reasons of my refusal were these:
First. Because as I am not subject to the jurisdiction either of the North Holland Synod or that of South Holland, but have other superiors to whom I am bound to render an account of all my concerns, I could not consent to a conference with deputies, except by the advice of those superiors and at their express command: especially since a conference of this kind was not incumbent on me in consequence of the ordinary discharge of my duty. It was also not obscurely hinted by the deputies, that the conference, [in 1605,] would by no means be a private one; but this they discovered in a manner sufficiently intelligible, when they refused to enter into a conference with me, divested of their title of "deputies." I should, therefore, have failed in obedience to my superiors, if I had not rejected a conference which was in this manner proposed. I wish the brethren would remember this fact, that although every one of our ministers is subject as a member to the jurisdiction of the particular Synod to which he belongs, yet not one of them has hitherto dared to engage in a conference, without the advice and permission of the magistrates under whom he is placed; that no particular magistrates have ever allowed any minister within their jurisdiction to undertake a conference with the deputies of the Churches, unless they had themselves previously granted their consent; and that it was frequently their wish, to be present at such conference, in the persons of their own deputies. Let it be recollected what transpired at Leyden, in the case of Coolhasius [Koolhaes,] at Gouda with Herman Herberts, at Horn in the case of Cornelius Wiggeri, [Wiggerston,] and at Medenblick in the case of Tako, [Sybrants.]
The second reason by which I was dissuaded from a conference, is this: I perceived that there would be a great inequality in the conference which was proposed, when, on the contrary, it is necessary that the greatest equality should exist between the parties who are about to confer together on any subject. For (l.) they came to me armed with public authority; while, with respect to myself, everything partook of a private character. And I am not so ignorant in these matters as not to perceive the powerful support which that man enjoys who transacts any business under the sanction of the public authority. (2.) They were themselves three in number, and had with them two deputies of the Synod of North Holland. On the other hand, I was alone, and destitute not only of all assistance, but also of persons who might act as witnesses of the proceedings that were then to have commenced, and to whom they as well as myself might have safely entrusted our several causes. (3.) They were not persons at their own disposal, but compelled to depend on the judgment of their superiors; and they were bound most pertinaciously to contend for those religious sentiments, which their superiors had within their own minds determined to maintain. To such a length was this principle extended, that they were not even left to their own discretion—to admit the validity of the argument which I might have adduced, however cogent and forcible they might have found them to be, and even if they had been altogether unanswerable. From these considerations I could not see by what means both parties could obtain that mutual advantage, which ought properly to accrue from such a conference. I might have gained some beneficial result from it; because I was completely at liberty, and, by employing my own conscience alone in forming a decision, I could, without prejudice to any one, have made those admissions which my conviction of the truth might have dictated to me as correct. Of what great importance this last circumstance might be, your Lordships would have most fully discovered by experience, had any of you been present in the Preparatory Convention, as the representatives of your own august body.
My third reason is, that the account which they would have rendered to their superiors after the conference, could not but have operated in many ways to my injury, whether I had been absent or present at the time when they delivered their report. (1.) Had I been absent, it might easily have happened either through the omission or the addition of certain words, or through the alteration of others, in regard to their sense or order, that some fact or argument would be repeated in a manner very different from that in which it really occurred. Such an erroneous statement might also have been made, either through the inconsiderateness which arises from a defect in the intellect, through the weakness of an imperfect memory, or through a prejudice of the affections. (2.) And indeed by my presence, I could with difficulty have avoided or corrected this inconvenience; because a greater degree of credit would have been given to their own deputies, than to me who was only a private individual.
Lastly. By this means I should have conveyed to that assembly, [the Provincial Synod,] a right and some kind of prerogative over me; which, in reference to me, it does not actually possess; and which, consistently with that office whose duties I discharge, it would not be possible for me to transfer to the Synod without manifest injustice towards those persons under whose jurisdiction it has been the pleasure of the general magistracy of the land to place me. Imperious necessity, therefore, as well as equity, demanded of me to reject the terms on which this conference was offered.
4. But however strong my sentiments might be on this subject, I gave these deputies an opportunity of gaining the information which they desired. If it had been their wish to accept the private conference which I proposed, they would have become possessed of my sentiments on every article of the Christian Faith. Besides, this conference would have been much better adapted to promote our mutual edification and instruction, than a public one could be; because it is customary in private conferences, for each person to speak everything with greater familiarity and freedom, than when all the formalities of deputations are observed, if I may so express myself. Neither had they the least reason to manifest any reluctance on this point; because every one of them was at liberty, (if he chose,) to enter into a private conference between him and me alone. But when I made this offer to all and to each of them, I added as one of my most particular stipulations, that, whatever the discussions might be which arose between us, they should remain within our bosoms, and no particle of them should be divulged to any person living. If on these terms they had consented to hold a conference with me, I entertain not the smallest doubt that we should either have given each other complete satisfaction: or we should at least have made it apparent, that, from our mutual controversy, no imminent danger could easily arise, to injure either that truth which is necessary to salvation, piety, or Christian peace and amity.
9. The complaint concerning my refusal to make a declaration of my sentiments, does not agree with the rumors concerning me which are in general circulation.
But omitting all further mention of those transactions, I am not able entirely to satisfy myself by what contrivance these two complaints appear consistent with each other. (1.) That I refuse to make a profession of my sentiments; and yet (2.) Invectives are poured forth against me, both in foreign countries and at home, as though I am attempting to introduce into the Church and into the Christian religion, novel, impure and false doctrines. If I do not openly profess my sentiments, from what can their injurious tendency be made evident? If I do not explain myself, by what method can I be introducing false doctrines? If they be mere groundless suspicions that are advanced against me, it is uncharitable to grant them entertainment, or at least to ascribe to them such great importance.
But it is cast upon me as a reproach, "that I do certainly disclose a few of my opinions, but not all of them; and that, from the few which I thus make known, the object at which I aim is no longer obscure, but becomes very evident."
In reference to this censure, the great consideration ought to be, "can any of those sentiments which I am said to have disclosed, be proved to stand in contradiction either to the word of God, or the Confession of the Belgic Churches" (1.) If it be decided, that they are contrary to the Confession, then I have been engaged in teaching something in opposition to a document, "against which never to propound any doctrine," was the faithful promise which I made, when I signed it with my own hand. If, therefore, I be found thus criminal, I ought to be visited with merited punishment. (2.) But if it can be proved, that any of those opinions are contrary to the word of God, then I ought to experience a greater degree of blame, and to suffer a severer punishment, and compelled either to utter a recantation or to resign my office, especially if those heads of doctrine which I have uttered, are of such a description as to be notoriously prejudicial to the honour of God and the salvation of mankind. (3.) But if those few sentiments which I am accused of having advanced, are found neither to be at variance with the word of God nor with the Confession, which I have just mentioned, then those consequences which are elicited from them, or seem dependent on them, cannot possibly be contradictory either to the word of God or to the Belgic Confession. For, according to the rule of the schoolmen, "if the consectaries or consequences of any doctrine be false, it necessarily follows that the doctrine itself is also false, and vice versa." The one of these two courses, therefore, ought to have been pursued towards me, either to have instituted an action against me, or to have given no credit to those rumors. If I might have my own choice, the latter course is that which I should have desired; but of the former I am not at all afraid. For, how extensively soever and in all directions those Thirty-One Articles which concern me have been dispersed to my great injury and disparagement, and though they have been placed in the hands of several men of great eminence, they afford sufficient internal testimony, from the want of sense and of other requisites visible in their very composition, that they are charged upon me through a total disregard to justice, honour and conscience.
10. The principal reasons why I durst not disclose to the deputies my opinions on the subject of Religion.
But some person will perhaps say: "for the sake of avoiding these disturbances, and partly in order by such a measure to give some satisfaction to a great number of ministers, you might undoubtedly have made to your brethren an open and simple declaration of your sentiments on the whole subject of religion, either for the purpose of being yourself maturely instructed in more correct principles, or that they might have been able in an opportune manner to prepare themselves for a mutual conference."
But I was deterred from adopting that method, on account of three inconveniences, of which I was afraid:
First,. I was afraid that if I had made a profession of my sentiments, the consequence would have been, that an inquiry would be instituted on the part of others, with regard to the manner in which an action might be framed against me from those premises. Secondly. Another cause of my fear, was, that such a statement of my opinions would have furnished matter for discussion and refutation, in the pulpits of the Churches and the scholastic exercises of the Universities. Thirdly. I was also afraid, that my opinions would have been transmitted to foreign Universities and Churches, in hopes of obtaining from them a sentence of condemnation, and the means of oppressing me." That I had very weighty reasons to fear every one of these consequences together, it would not be difficult for me clearly to demonstrate from the Thirty-One Articles, and from the writings of certain individuals.
With respect to "the personal instruction and edification," which I might have hoped to derive from such a disclosure, it is necessary to consider, that not only I but many others, and even they themselves, have peculiar views which they have formed on religious topics; and, therefore, that such instruction cannot be applied to any useful purpose, except in some place or other where we may all hereafter appear together, and where a definitive sentence, as it is called, both may and must be pronounced. With respect to "the opportune and benefiting preparation which my brethren ought in the mean time to be making for a conference," I declare that it will at that time be most seasonable and proper when all shall have produced their views, and disclosed them before a whole assembly, that thus an account may be taken of them all at once, and they may be considered together.
Since none of these objections have any existence in this august assembly, I proceed to the declaration of my sentiments.
Having in this manner refuted all those objections which have been made against me, I will now endeavour to fulfill my promise, and to execute those commands which your Lordships have been pleased to lay upon me. I entertain a confident persuasion, that no prejudice will be created against me or my sentiments from this act, however imperfectly I may perform it, because it has its origin in that obedience which is due from me to this noble assembly, next to God, and according to the Divine pleasure.
—Complete Works of Arminius