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good-natured Burgomaster of the city, overcame their first intention, and he was sent to the public Latin school of Amsterdam. There he attracted so much attention by ability and good conduct, that, after a short time, the honourable Senate made him an alumnus, or foster-child, of the city, to be educated at public cost. In the year 1600, when seventeen years of age, he was sent to the University of Leyden; and, after six years' residence there, graduated Master of Arts. In due time, being prepared by the study of theology, the Burgomasters of Amsterdam desired that he might be advanced to the ministry of the Gospel; but, having attached himself to Arminius, whose doctrine he defended, the Calvinist Doctors opposed his admission to the sacred office with so great obstinacy, that he left Leyden in disgust, and removed to the University of Franeker. Here he became involved in controversy, contrary to the advice of Arminius, and in spite of his own first intention to be silent on the disputed points; and his situation became so uncomfortable, that he left the place, and returned to Holland. There, in the face of powerful opposition, the Magistrates of Amsterdam succeeded in obtaining his admission into the ranks of the Clergy; and, after giving proof of great learning, adorned with unusual eloquence, and crowned with high theological attainment, he was appointed to be Minister of the church of Bleiswick, a village in the district of Rotterdam, in the year
1610. In a Conference between six Remonstrant and six AntiRemonstrant theologians, holden at the Hague, the year after his appointment to Bleiswick, he appeared as one of the Deputies, and shone in argument so brilliantly that his reputation as a leader of the Arminians, Arminius himself having lately died, became established ; and the year 1612 saw him in the chair of theology in that very University of Leyden which he had left on account of his religious opinions at a time when the professorship was held by Gomarus, champion of the sternest and darkest sort of Calvinism. But he was not at ease in the chair of Leyden. His own colleague, Polyander, was a violent Predestinarian; and both the University and the city were divided into Calvinistie and Arminian factions. We shall not undertake to say on which side was the greater piety, but must sorrowfully confess that too much acrimony and impatience was found on both sides ; and it is impossible to conceal the truth that the Calvinists, still retaining the traditionary doetrine that it was lawful to put down heresy by force a doctrine made yet more bitter by the ruthless dogma they entertained, -were guilty of acts of persecution, even to imprisonment and death, that cannot be thought of without shame and sorrow.
Invited by the States of Holland to assist at the Synod of Dort, Episcopius proceeded thither to take his place; but, when he arrived, found that he could only be admitted in the character of a delinquent, and appear like one summoned to take his trial. The President, forgetful of the dignity and impartiality that a President should manifest when two parties litigant are before him, was betrayed into great intemperance. Episcopius and his companions were deprived of their employments, stripped of their literary honours, and banished out of Holland. An anecdote now occurs in the life of this eminent man which deserves to be remembered.
As soon as the sentence was pronounced on the Remonstrant Ministers in the Synod, they were taken into custody, and locked up in prison, until it should be known whither they would choose to go; and two of their number were permitted to go home and consult the friends of them all, in order to decide. As for Episcopius, he was the object of special animosity. In the Synod he had pronounced an oration in defence of his doctrinal belief, an hour and a half long, that none could answer; and he had also taken a leading part in the general defence and correspondence of the Remonstrants. Too much evil could not be said of him, if his antagonists might be content; and when the condemned brethren asked for a mitigation of the sentence, or even for the least indulgence, they were told that the insolence of their spokesman had so provoked their judges, that neither they nor he must expect the slightest favour. The States, however, sent these good men the moneys due to them, up to that time, on account of salaries, and the payments were made in rix-dollars. One of those pieces of money was coined in the dukedom of Brunswick, and that one piece came into the hand of Episcopius. Examining the coin, his attention was attracted by an image of TRUTH trampling on two figures ; on one of which was inscribed the word Calumnia, (“calumny,") and on the other, Mendacium (“ lying "). Over the head of Truth he read the sentence, Veritas vincit omnia. (“Truth conquers all things.") Turning the coin, he saw, in large letters, on the reverse, Rectè faciendo neminem timeas. (“Fear no man when thou art doing right.") Episcopius, as an Arminian, was no fatalist; and in his mind there was a strong reaction against superstition: but he could not resist the persuasion that this piece of money had not fallen to him by chance. He believed that God had sent it as bearer of a message of consolation, and a word of promise. He took it with him into exile, would not spend it, and afterwards had it placed in a frame of gold, to be preserved as an heir-loom in his family.
Episcopius chose to go, in company with other ten brethren, to Walwick, a town in Brabant, where he was received with great kindness by the civil authorities. The ecclesiastical chief of that place, the Bishop of Bois-le-Duc, paid them assiduous courtesy, professed to censure the atrocities of the Duke of Alva, and found great fault with the States of Holland, whose intolerance expelled these Arminians, “ imitating conduct which had been ruinous" to the Spanish Netherlands. The Dominican Preachers, on the contrary, excited the people to persecute the exiles : but this wiser Bishop displaced the leader of the persecution, and the Preacher appointed to succeed him exhorted his congregation, “as good Catholics, to show all charity and kindness to these strangers. In Holland,” said he,“ if a Priest or Jesuit is seen, who is known to be such, the Ministers excite the people to abuse him ; but do you show that you know how to act a more Christian part.” This was very beautiful; but it is worthy of remark that such exhortation is contrary to the authenticated teaching of the Church of Rome, and that now, when the spirit of the Gospel has wrought so far on the public mind of all Protestant countries as to restrain even the most zealous opponents of Romanism from causing Priests and Jesuits the slightest inconvenience, the contrary spirit so fully operates in all Popish countries, that the Bishop of Bois-le-Duc has no imitators. No one in the Italian and Spanish peninsulas, for example, now preaches toleration of Protestantism ; but the Romish Clergy uses its utmost influence to promote the enactment and execution of laws that, for injustice and cruelty, could not have been exceeded by the decrees of Philip II. and Mary Stuart, just three centuries ago.
Episcopius remained in the Spanish Netherlands until the expiration of a truce with Holland; and, in the year 1621, on the renewal of war between those countries, went into France. Jesuits courted him, and efforts were made to entiee him into the Church of Rome by some who fancied that, being persecuted by Protestants, he would be accessible to arguments against Protestantism, or open to the force of Romish allurements. Many of the Calvinists, too, accused him of a leaning to Popery; but this charge was easily rebutted by his disputations with the Jesuit Wadding, and by several of his writings in confutation of Popish error.
Often had he been accused of Socinianism; but he always defended himself against that charge by producing writings that were explicitly evangelical in regard to the Divine Person of our Lord and Saviour: and if any of his statements or opinions lend a colour of reason to the accusation, it must be remembered that Episcopius lived in the heat of controversy, was wont to employ strong and unguarded expressions, often wrote when in a state of irritation, and could scarcely be expected to escape the sad effects of controversial passion.
But the Remonstrants regarded him with reverential affection; and so satisfied were they with his orthodoxy, that when he returned into Holland, in 1626, he was made Minister of the Reformed Church at Rotterdam. In this city he married, in the year 1627; and, in 1634, removed to Amsterdam, to govern the Arminian College there. After a union of fourteen years, his excellent wife was taken from him by death; and from this shock his constitution, already enfeebled by disease, never recovered. For some time before his death he was totally deprived of sight; but the distress which blindness might have caused him was mitigated by a stupor, in which he lay almost insensible, with the exception of a few brief intervals. In those intervals, however, he only lamented the loss of sight because it prevented him from labouring, as heretofore, for the benefit of the Church, and for the Lord Jesus Christ, his heavenly Master, in whom he expressed unshaken confidence. On the 4th of April, 1643, he departed in peace, at the age of sixty-three years and three months.
On hearing of his death, Uitenbogaerdt, although then in his eighty-seventh year, and living at some distance from Amsterdam, came to be present at the funeral. They had been companions in exile, and united by an intimate friendship through a long course of years. Arriving the day before the interment, Uitenbogaerdt was conducted to the room where the corpse of Episcopius lay. The aged divine drew near to the body of his friend, and, placing his hand on the head, exclaimed, with great emotion, “O head! head! how much of wisdom was once contained in thee !"
Grotius, who was then at Paris, wrote to his brother at the Hague :—“I am deeply distressed by the news of the death of Episcopius. It is an event that will be severely felt by the Remonstrants. He was alike distinguished for his extraordinary intellect, his powerful eloquence, and the spotless purity of his life.” To commemorate his name, his relatives had a medal struck, bearing on the obverse and reverse the image of Truth and that of LIBERTY, to signify that he was a champion of both. And indeed there is not in the universe a more constant pair than Truth and Liberty. We know, indeed, that an idle semblance of Truth may sometimes waken up a vain dream of Liberty ; but when Truth itself prevails, then true rty is established, whether in the soul, or in the State. “ The Truth shall make you free.”