Johannes Seu on the Duty of Magistrates in Religion and a Country Flourishing with Unity in Religion

Reformed pastor at Middelburg, Johannes Seu, declare as he urges the local ruler to “do his duty” by enforcing religious uniformity:

“How can there be a quiet and a peaceful life and how can a country flourish if its citizenry is divided by diverse conceptions of religion? There is nothing so baneful for the community as disunity, diversity, and contention in matters religious. Therefore a magistrate must stand guard diligently that false doctrine and heresy are precluded and eliminated, for these are the well-springs of all disunity among the citizens . . . . It is as clear as the noon-day sun that unity achieved by the sword of the magistrate is the one and only beginning, the middle, and the end, of peace and prosperity in the land.” [Quoted in No. 1172 of the Knuttel Collection of Dutch Historical Tracts (Copy in general Library of the University of Michigan).]

Johannes Seu was a native of the Dutch Zeeland, he died in 1613 at Middelburg, capital of Zeeland, was a Reformed minister. As pastor he first served in Germany, in 1575 being preacher of the Calvinist refugees at Frankfurt on the Main. From 1576 he was a Reformed clergyman at Middelburg, Holland. Seu was a bitter opponent of the Mennonites. It was obviously Seu who caused the imprisonment of Hans de Ries at Middelburg in 1578, when de Ries visited this town. Seu also wrote some books against the Mennonites: Schriftmatige Artykelen tegen de ongeschikte en valsche dwaelingen der wederdoopers (Middelburg, 1599), Corte Beschrijvinge van het ampt der overheid ende wederlegginge van een boucxken dat eenen Wederdooper met verswijging zijns naems . . . heeft laten uitgaen . . . tegen het recht gebruijk des crijchs (Middelburg, 1600). In his Waeraghtighe grondige bewijsinge . . . van den Kinderdoop (Leiden, 1601) he defended infant baptism, attacking believers’ baptism; it is the duty of the magistrates to eradicate the Mennonites by forbidding their meetings and removing their preachers.

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