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“ Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith
“God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from
WHILE so many guides to the knowledge of God's word, and the design of the Christian religion, are daily issuing from the press, it is surprising that the following Catechism should have been so long overlooked, or allowed to remain in a state of comparative obscurity : since, for its comprehensiveness, and excellent methodical arrangement, it claims at least an equal attention with any work of the same kind hitherto composed, embracing the whole Christian doctrine and practice, yet free from that diffuseness which is the usual fault of many Catechisms of a similar nature.
As the original is not universally known, nor often to be met with before its first publication in the
Sylloge Confessionum Fidei,” by the University, some account of it appears necessary.
It was written at the instigation and under the authority of Frederic III. Elector Palatine, by Zachary Ursinus,* and Caspar Olevian, to whom some have added, but without sufficient reason, Peter Boquine and Immanuel Tremellius ; and after having been submitted to a strict examination, and approved of by the inspectors of the different churches in the Palatinate, it was then authorized to be published. It made its first appearance at Heidelberg in the year 1563, and hence obtained the name of the Palatinate," or Heidelberg Catechism.” It recommended itself by its concise method, its perspicuity, and its excellent adaptation of the words of Scripture, and was received not only in Germany, but also in Belgium, Hungary, and Switzerland. It had, however, many opponents, who strongly attacked it in their writings, amongst 'whom may be reckoned Angelus de Monte Bello; Coppenstein, and Theodosius Cornhert, but whose animadversions were all answered and ably refuted by John Gerobulus, minister of one of the churches at Utretcht, and Arnold Cornelius and Reiner Dontecloeck, ministers of Delft. Amidst all its opponents, however, it made its way, and at last became triumphant in Hol
* For a fuller account of this Catechism, see Kocheri Bibliotheca Theologiæ Symbolicæ, p. 953, and 308. Also Jo. Franc. Buddei Isagoge ad Theologiam, tom. i. lib. ii. cap. 1, sect. xii. p. 341, 342.
land, and was approved of and sanctioned by the national synod of Dort, A. D. 1618,* and received amongst the
* There were two synods held at Dort; the first was in the year 1574, held by the ministers of Holland and Zeland, without the consent of the States ; but they asserted that the Prince of Orange had given them leave to meet. Those divines made several decrees ; among other things they ordered, “ That the Heidelberg Catechism should be taught in all churches that the ministers should subscribe the confession of faith of the low countries that all school-masters should sign that confession, submit to the discipline, and teach children the said Catechism-that those who were to be admitted into the ministry, should be asked whether they believe that the Bible contains all doctrines necessary to salvation, which are to be found summarily in the Catechism, and are faithfully taught in the reformed churches.” After this the clergy left nothing unattempted to prevent the revision of the Confession of Faith, and of the Catechism; which contributed also to retard the Congocation of a national synod, contemplated under the authority of the States. Some were very vehement in defending the Catechism. In the synod of South Holland, which was held at Delft, in the year 1607, some ministers cried out, “We will live and die with the Confession of Faith, and the Catechism." That assembly asked some ministers the following question : “Do you acknowledge, that whatever is contained in the Confession and the Catechism, both as to the sense and expression, does perfectly agree with the Holy Scriptures ? Others, however, were not so attached to it. The favourers of Goma. mus said that Arminius and Uytenbogart had advised the States not to consent to the convocation of a national synod, but upon condition that the Confession of Faith and the Catechism should be first revised. The same divines maintained that it was dangerous to admit any person into the ministry, without obliging him to submit to these two formularies. The synod of North Holland, held at Horn, in the year following, also