47. The Dilemma of a Calvinist Minister with a Rural Charge, 3 May 1602

To the Reverend and Most Renowned Master Franciscus Junius, Doctor of Sacred Theology and Professor at the University of Leiden. (I will pay the boatman who brings your reply.)

Greeting many times over, most Reverend, Renowned and Esteemed Doctor, Pardon my boldness, that I should interrupt you so boldly, involved as you are in the concerns of the University of Leiden and of the Church and immersed in the controversies with the Jesuits: necessity compels me and the care for my church to which my God has destined me. It is now two months since I undertook the ministry of the Word of God in this village of Aarlanderveen. I have quite shocked the rustics, simple souls, who can scarcely tell A from B. This is not surprising for they have been without a minister for a good two years and they are all devoted either to Lutheranism or to the Papists. The church consists of only six men and seven women; there are no elders and only a single deacon. In general the village is quite populous and many here would wish to join the church, but they fear the mocking laughter of the Lutherans (of whom there is here a huge number). Hear, most renowned master, the state of the church and entertain briefly the reason for my writing. Whitsuntide is at hand when the Lord’s Supper is administered in all the villages. When therefore I now summon even those who are outside the church and invite these with more kindly words to Holy Communion, I cause offence to many. These say that they are indeed convinced in their hearts of the truth of our religion, but are, however, too little advanced in the fundamentals of religion and cannot advance sufficiently on account of their agricultural pursuits. Nevertheless they seek to be received into the church, saying that they believe in Christ crucified, that they renounce their works except [those performed] by the sole merit of Christ. I ask whether this profession is adequate and whether I am allowed to admit such to the church, when their outward life coincides with this confession. I ask you, Reverend Doctor, in the name of Jesus Christ to the increase of whose Church I devote myself, to reply to me at once, if you are able, for they press me greatly. Once I have admitted them, the Lutherans will say that they too can profess the same [things] and are similarly not be excluded in future from the service or else (for they are embittered) they will say sarcastically, ‘behold, these are the Reformed’. On the other hand, if I exclude these (since the people here are simple souls), no one, who is conscious of his ignorance, will ever join the church. As I am beset on all sides I eagerly await your judgement. I ask you urgently to free me from my difficulties with a few words, or else, if you are unable to do so because you are busy, to prevail on Master Gomarus or Master Trelcatius to write me. For those who wish to join the church press for an answer. May the perfect and almighty God keep you safe for a long time for the sake of the churches of Holland, the University and the Commonwealth to the glory of His name. 3 May 1602.

Most humble servant of Christ and admirer of your learning,
Johannes Lydius, minister of the Word of God in Aarlanderveen.

Source : W. Cuno, Franciscus Junius der Ältere, Professor der Theologie und Pastor (1545-1602). Sein Leben und Wirken, seine Schriften und Briefe (Amsterdam, 1891) 391-92. Professor Posthumus Meyjes of Leiden University kindly drew my attention to this source and Dr. E.O. Blake corrected my translation.