One hundred eighty-five years ago...

One hundred eighty-five years ago, on October 13, 1834, two elders and three deacons in the small Reformed church in Ulrum, the Netherlands, signed their names to the Act of Secession, or Return. Their actions sparked an uproar in the national Dutch Reformed Church. And as a result, the men and their families faced intense persecution, not only from the church they left, but also from the political authorities in the Netherlands. They, and others who joined them, were forced to house soldiers in their homes. They were forbidden to meet in groups larger than twenty people. When they met, they were fined large amounts, and imprisoned when they couldn’t pay.

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The year 1834

God is ever faithful throughout history to preserve his church in the truth of his word. October 31, 1517, marks the great Reformation of the church by Martin Luther. This is significant for all Protestants and Roman Catholics. The sixteenth-century Reformation restored to the church of Christ the truths of the sole authority of God’s word and of justification by faith alone. The first was the formal principle of the Reformation; the second was the material principle. If one denies either of these principles, he stands with Rome in opposition to the Christian church.

The year 1834 marks the reformation of the Reformed Church in the Netherlands. In that year those who separated from the apostate Hervormde (Reformed) Church in the Netherlands returned to these Reformation principles and to the truth of sacred scripture as set forth in the Reformed creeds: the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordrecht.

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The Sesquicentennial of the Afscheiding

Pastor de Cock briefly addresses the gathering, pointing them to the seriousness of the moment and of the step they were contemplating. Then they all kneel in prayer to commit their cause to the Lord and to beseech him for grace that they may make their decision in the consciousness of his favor. For their help is in the name of the God of Jacob. 

It was only a little band! 

They did not belong to the noble and the wise and the rich of this world. They did not belong to those who counted for something in this world. But "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are" [1 Cor. 1:27]. 

It was by this little flock of small and despised folk that a step was taken and a decision reached which would prove to be of tremendous historical significance for the Reformed Churches—in fact, for Zion of all ages, for eternity. 

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