A Declaration against Vorstius

King James I of England

Letter 1

James' Letter of 6 October, 1611 to the Dutch Authorities

High and mightie Lords,

Having understood by your answere to that proposition which was made unto you in our name by our Ambassaour there resident, That at your Assembly to bee holden in November next, you are resolved then to give order concerning the businesse of that wretched D. Vorstius, Wee have thought good (notwithstanding the declaration which our Ambassadour hath alreay made unto you in our name touching that particular), to put you againe in remembrance thereof by this Letter, and thereby freely to discharge our selves, both in point of our duetie towards God, and of that sincere friendship which wee beare towards you.

First We assure Our selves that you are sufficiently perswaded that no worldly respect could move Us to have thus importune you in an affaire of this nature, being drawen into it onely through Our zeale to the glory of God, and the care which Wee have that all occasion of such great scandals as this is, unto the trew reformed Church of God, might bee in due time foreseene and prevented. Wee are therefore to let you understand, that Wee doe not a little wonder, that you have not onely sought to provide an habitation in so eminent a place amongst you for such a corrupted person as this Vorstius is, but that you have also afforded him your license and protection to print that Apologie which he hath dedicated unto you; A booke wherein he doeth most impudently maintaine the execrable blasphemies, which in his former hee hath disgorged; The which wee are now able to affirme out of our owne knowledge, having since that Letter which wee wrote unto our Ambassadour, read over and over againe with our owne eyes (not without extreme mislike and horrour) both his bookes, the first dedicated to the Lantgrave of Hessen, and the other to you. We had well hoped, that the corrupt seed which that enemie of God Arminius did sowe amongst you some few yeeres since (whose disciples and followers are yet too bold and frequent within your Dominions) had given you a sufficient warning, afterwards to take heed of such infected persons, seeing your owne Countrey men already divided into Factions upon this occasion, a matter so opposite to unitie (which is indeed the the onely prop and safetie of your State next under God) as of necessitie it must by little and little bring you to utter ruine, if wisely you doe not provide against it, and that in time.

It is trew that it was Our hard hap not to heare of this Arminius before he was dead, and that all the Reformed Churches of Germanie had with open mouth complained of him. But assoone as Wee understood of that distraction in your State, which after his death he left behind him, We did not faile (taking the opportunitie when your last extraordinary Ambassadors were here with Us) to use some such speeches unto them concerning this matter, as We thought fittest for the good of your State, an which we doubt not but they have faithfully reported unto you; For what need We make any question of the arrogancie of these Heretiques, or rather Atheisticall Sectaries amongst you, when one of them at this present remaining in your towne of Leyden, hath not onely presumed to publish of late a blasphemous Booke of the Apostasie of the Saints, but hath besides been so impudent, as to send the other day a copie thereof, as a goodly present, to our Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, together with a letter, wherein he is not ashamed (as also in his Booke) to lie so grossely, as to avowe, that his Heresies conteined in the said Booke, are agreeable with the Religion and profession of Our Church of England. For these respects therefore have Wee cause enough very heartily to request you, to roote out with speede those Heresies and Schismes, which are begining to bud foorth amongst you, which if you suffer to have the reines any longer, you cannot expct any other issue thereof, then the curse of God, infamy throughout all the reformed Churches, and a perpetuall rent and distraction in the whole body of your State. But if peradventure this wretched Vorstius should denie or equivocate upon those blasphemous poynts of Heresie and Atheisme, which already hee hath broached, that perhaps may moove you to spare his person, and not cause him to bee burned (which never any Heretique better deserved, an wherein we will leave him to your owne Christain wisedome) but to suffer him upon any defence or abnegation which hee shall offer to make, still to continue and teach amongst you, is a thing so abominable, as we assure our selves it will not once enter in to any of your thoughts: For admit hee would prove himselfe innocent (which nevertheless he cannot doe) in most of these points wherewith hee is charged; yet were it but the scandall of his person, which will remaine, it were cause more then enough for you to remoove him out of your Dominions. You know what is written of Caesar's wife, that it was not sufficient for her to be innocent, but she must also bee free from all occasion of suspicion: how much more then ought you to bee warie and cautious in a matter of so greate importance as this, which concerneth the glory of God, the salvation of your souls, the soules of your people, and the safetie of your State; and not to suffer so dangerous a sparke to lie kindling amongst you? For a man may easily conjecture, that feare and the horrour of his owne actions will make him boldly denie that poyson which boyleth at his heart: For what will not he denie, that denieth the Eternitie and Omnipotencie of God? An howbeit he were innocent (as we have said before) the Church of God is not so ill furnished with men of sufficiencie for that place, as that you need bee unprovided of some other, who shall not be subject to that scandall, where with hee is so tainted, as it must bee a long penance, and many yeeres of probation, that must weare it away. But especially ought you to bee very carefull, not to hazard the corruption of your youth in so famous an Universitie by the doctrine of so scandalous a person, who (it is to bee feared) when hee findeth himselfe once well setled there, will return againe to his ancient vomite.

We will therefore conclude with this request unto you, that you will assure your selves, that the affection onely which wee beare unto your State, hath enforced us to use this libertie towards you, not doubting for our part, but that, as this which wee have written unto you proceedes from the sinceritie of our conscience, so our good God will bee pleased to give you a due apprehension thereof, and that your resolution in a matter of so greate consequence, may tend to his glory, to your owne honour and safetie, to the extirpation of these springing Atheismes an Heresies, and to the satisfaction, not onely of us, but of all the reformed Churches, who have bene hitherto extremely scandalized therewith: But if on the contrary part, we faile of that wee expect at your hands (which God forbid) and that you suffer hereafter such pestilent Heretiques to nestle among you, who dare take upon them that licentious libertie, to fetch againe from Hell the ancient Heresies long since condemned, or else to invent new of their owne braine, contrary to the beliefe of the trew Catholike Church, wee shall then bee constrained (to our great griefe) publikely to protest against these abominations: and (as God hath honoured us with the Title of Defender of the Faith) not onely to depart and separate our selves from the union of such false and heretical Churches, but also to exhort all other reformed Churches to joyne with us in a common Councel, how to extinguish and remand to hell these abominable Heresies, that now newly begin to put foorth againe. And furthermore for our owne particular, we shall be enforced strictly to inhibite the youth of our Dominions from repairing to so infected a place, as is the Universitie of Leyden. Sed meliora speramus & ominamur, We hope and expect for better, assuring our selves in the mercie of our good God, that as he hath a long time preserved you from your temporall enemies, and at this time is beginnig to establish your Estate to the contentment of all your friends, (but especially to ours, who have never beene wanting to assist you upon all occasions) that the same God will not leave you for a prey to your spiritual adversaries, who gape at nothing but your utter destruction. And in this confidence wee will recommend you and the prosperitie of your affaires to the protection of God, remaining as we have ever beene,

Your good friend James R.

Given at our Pallace of Westminister the 6. of October, 1611.

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