Synod of Wesel

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VirginiaHuguenot

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The articles of the Synod of Wesel bear the date November 3, 1568. On that occasion, an assembly of divines, presided over by Petrus Dathenus, gathered together to address many ecclesiastical issues. They approved the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Dathenus Psalter; and they addressed matters concerning church order, including the diaconal ministry; among other things.

There seems to be some controversy over the historicity of the event. I have found some information about the assembly and its articles, including an English translation of some of the articles, but I would be grateful if anyone who is knowledgeable about this synod could point me to further resources for study, in English, including a full translation of the articles. Thanks very much.

New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge:

1. Events Prior to the Synod of Emden
The establishment of the Reformed Church in the Netherlands was gradually brought about despite every effort of the Roman Catholic Church to prevent it. Though for a time it seemed that sacramentarians and Anabaptists were destined to gain control, before long Reformed tenets made headway, and the triumph of Calvinism was assured. This was the condition of affairs as early as 1567, when the duke of Alva was sent to the Netherlands for the extirpation of heresy. The stern measure; adopted by him rendered even secret assemblies of the Protestants full of peril, and the exodus of adherents of the new doctrines rapidly increased. England and France afforded harbors to the refugees, but their chief centers were the important cities of Emden, Wesel, Cologne, Aachen, Frankenthal, and Frankfort. The need of organization was strongly felt, and in 1571 the foundation was laid for a definite ecclesiastical system by the synod held at Emden, which marks the beginning of the Reformed Church in the Netherlands. But before this, by the creation of consistories there had been expressed the conviction that the members of each local body formed an organic whole, and provincial synods were established to bring the churches in different localities into closer union. This was perceived to be inadequate, and there developed s dire for more definite organization and for a formal statement of the unity in doctrine already prevailing. On Nov. 3, 1568, about forty preachers and elders met at Wesel, apparently under the presidency of Petrus Dathenus, to draw up a tentative church order. This informal assembly, to receive official recognition, must necessarily be followed by a synod of duly qualified delegates of the various congregations, empowered to draft rules and regulations binding on the entire Dutch Reformed body. In the actual realization of this synod-that held at Emden-the leader was Marnix van St. Aldegonde (q.v.). Deeply impressed with the need of a general synod, he had devoted the period of his captivity in Germany (beginning with 1567) to the realization of his ideal. With this end in view, he seems to have written the open letter which, in 1570, was widely distributed, in the name of the congregations at Heidelberg and Frankenthal. The chief ideas advanced by Marnix in this letter were discussed at the Synod of Emden and became the bases of specific resolutions. In this letter Marnix invited the congregations to whom he wrote to delegate men to a conference to be held at Frankfort in Sept., 1570, which led up to the Synod of Emden, though a provisional synod was first held at Bedbur on July 4-5, 1571, attended by delegates from Germany and Brabant as well as from Mich. Here the definitive synod was resolved upon, and Gerard van Kuilenburg and Willem van Zuylen van NijeveIt were empowered to confer with the congregation at Emden, and after first securing the approval of the congregations at Wesel and Cleves, they also won the sanction of the Emden Reformed. The result was that the two delegates named, together with four others, were entrusted with the preparations for the general synod.

2. The Synod of Emden.
The committee thus formed chose Emden as the place and Oct. 1, 1571, as the date on which to convene. The only opposition to the synod came, curiously enough, from Holland. The grounds for these objections are unknown, but they appear to have been regarded as trivial. The Walloon and Flemish congregations at Cologne, on the other hand, appealed to the prince of Orange to induce the Dutch Reformed to send delegates to the synod; and the synod was attended by a number of Reformed pastors from Holland. Thus the first general synod of the Dutch Reformed Church was held at Emden on Oct 4-13, 1571. The president was Gaspar van der Heyden, preacher at Frankenthal; the vice-president, Jean Tan, pastor of the Walloon congregation at Heidelberg; and the secretary, JOannes Polyander, pastor of the Walloon congregation at Emden. The attendance was twenty-nine, five of whom were elders. This synod laid the foundations of the Dutch Reformed Church. The delegates were fully aware that they had been called to prepare binding regulations, and that they were the authorized representatives of their church. Besides adopting three of the Wesel articles (the nineteenth, twentieth, and twentyfirst of the Emden articles), the synod utilized the French church order of 1559, the two often corresponding word for word. On the other hand, the Emden acts can not be considered a mere amplification of the French church order. The acts of this synod are distinctly Calvinistic, and the organization which they propose is presbyterial and synodal. The sole bond of union between churches is consensus in doctrine; fellowship is desired with the churches of other lands, provided they are Reformed in doctrine. The standards adopted were the Belgic Confession and the French; the Geneva Catechism was to be used in French congregations, and the Heidelberg Catechism in the Dutch, though churches employing any other corresponding catechism might retain it. The administration was to be conducted by consistories, classes, synods, and national synods. Of these, only the consistories were to be permanent, the members of the other bodies being chosen for each assembly. Each church or congregation was to have a consistory, consisting of preachers, elders, and deacons, and the consistory was to meet at least weekly. Every three or six months a classis " of several neighboring churches " was to meet; and synods were to be held annually of the congregations in Germany and East Frisia, of the English congregations, and of the Dutch congregations. About every two years a national synod " of all the Belgic churches together " was to be held. Each congregation, while independent, formed part of an organic whole, being subject successively to the classis, the synod, and the general synod, in each of which it was represented by delegates chosen either directly or indirectly. The synod arranged for classes in the various countries and prepared a number of regulations governing the internal administration of the Reformed congregations, as on the calling of pastors, the choice of elders and deacons, and the length of their terms, baptism, the Lord's Supper, marriage, discipline, and the like.

Select Articles from the so-called Assembly at Wesel (1571)

Acts of the Synod of the Netherlands Churches both under the Cross and Scattered through Germany and East Friesland, held at Emden, 4 October 1571
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Ted Postma, Psalmody Through the Ages, p. 68:

As indicated earlier, in 1568 the Synod of Wesel approved Dathenus' Psalter, which set loose an avalanche of psalm singing. This Synod passed four important resolutions:

1. The Dutch-speaking churches were to sing the Dathenus translation of Marot-Beza Psalms.

2. School children were to be taught to sing the Psalms so that they could lead in congregational singing.

3. Instructions on the correct manner for singing the Psalms should be posted in the churches.

4. Charts listing the Psalms to be sung on Sunday should be placed in the churches so that interested people could study the Psalms in advance; this was unnecessary if the congregation sang the Psalms in numerical order.[152]

[152] Slenk, "The Huguenot Psalter in the Low Countries," 225.
 
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