Vossius, Gerard Jan

Vossius, Gerard Jan a theologian who acquired reputation as a laborer in the fields of Church history, philosophy, philology, general history, and chronology, and also as a controversialist opposed to the Remonstrants, was the son of a Dutch preacher living near Heidelberg, and was born in 1577. His education was obtained at Dort and Leyden, under Gomarus, Trelcatius, etc. He graduated in philosophy, and in 1598 became professor at Leyden, and subsequently rector of the theological college at Dort, where he remained until 1614. He then went to Leyden in a similar capacity. In the Arminian dispute Vossius took sides with the Gomarists, without being a rigid adherent of their views, however. The action of the Synod of Dort had greatly intensified the bitter feeling existing between the parties, and this fact became so unpleasant to him that he resigned his position in the university. To retain his services, the chair of rhetoric and chronology was assigned to him, but on the condition that he should not write against the transactions of Dort. Soon afterwards he published his principal work, entitled Historia de Controversiis, qutas Pelagius ejusque Reliquae. overunet. Lib. VII (Ludg. Bat. 1618), in which he brought together and compared with each other the tenets held by Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians, and at the same time showed that Arminianism differed from Semi- Pelagianism, and that the strict theory of predestination was not known in the early Church. The Contra-Remonstrants thereupon assailed him with great violence. In the Synod of Tergon (1620) they even excluded him from participation in the sacrament, though they revoked that decision in the following year. In 1624 the offer of the chair of profane history in the University of Cambridge was extended to Vossius, but declined, as was a second call to England in 1626. Charles I made him a canon of Canterbury, with privilege to live away from England. The desire to make terms with his opponents led Vossius in 1627 to publish his work De Historicis Latinis, in which he stated that he accepted Augustine's theory of predestination, and that this theory was known to the ancient Church; and in which he distinctly renounced Semi-Pelagianism. He had ceased, however, to enjoy his stay at Leyden, and in 1633 he accepted a call to the gymnasium of Amsterdam as professor of history. He died March 19,1649. His works include a lengthy list of dissertations on chronological, historical, philosophical, and theological subjects. His complete works were published in 1701 at Amsterdam. See Jocher, Allgemeines Gelehrten Lexikon, s.v., where a detailed list of the writings of Vossius is given. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

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