“The doctrine contained in the Netherland Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of the Synod of Dort, forms the historical foundation of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands.
“Inasmuch as this doctrine is not confessed with sufficient unanimity by the community, there can, under the existing circumstances, be no possibility of ‘maintaining the doctrine’ in the ecclesiastical sense. The community, building on the principles of the Church, as manifested in her origin and development, continues to confess her Christian faith, and thereby to form the expression which may in course of time once more become the adequate and unanimous Confession of the Church.
“Meantime, care for the interests of the Christian Church in general and the Reformed in particular, quickening of Christian religion and morality, increase of religious knowledge, preservation of order and unity, and furtherance of love for King and Fatherland—are ever the main object of all to whom any ecclesiastical office is entrusted, and no one can be rejected as a member or a teacher who, complying with all other requirements, declares himself to be convinced in his own conscience that in compliance with the above-named principles, he may belong to the Reformed Church of the Netherlands."
This declaration, however, did not pass the Provincial Church Courts, which possess the right of veto; and the law therefore remained as it was. But, in 1881, a new proposal for altering the formula of subscription passed the General Synod. Next year, it was definitely approved, and is now the law of the church. According to it, licentiates to the Ministry, on being admitted by the Provincial Church Courts, are made to promise that they will labour in the Ministry according to their vocation with zeal and faithfulness; that they will further with all their power the interests of the kingdom of God, and, so far as consistent therewith, the interests of the Dutch Reformed Church, and give obedience to the regulations of that Church.
There is, however, both in orthodox and in semi-orthodox circles, a wide-spread dissatisfaction with this amount of latitude, and fears are entertained for its continuance.
[Footnote 20: The debates in this Synod were conducted with the highest ability on both sides. Guizot took a part on the side of orthodoxy. The published report will be found abstracted in the British Quarterly, No. CXIV.]
[Footnote 21: Mr. Wicksteed makes the following curious remark:—“I am often asked whether the ‘Moderns’ are Unitarians. The question is rather startling. It is as if one were asked whether the majority of English astronomers had ceased to uphold the Ptolemaic system yet. The best answer I can give is a reference to the chapter on ‘God’ in a popular work by Dr. Matthes which has run through four editions. In this chapter there is not a word about the Trinity, but at the close occurs this footnote: On the antiquated doctrine of the Trinity, see the fourteenth note at the end of the book,—where, accordingly, the doctrine is expounded and its confusions pointed out rather with the calm interest of the antiquarian than the eagerness of the controversialist.’”]