THE COMPLETE WORKS OF

MENNO SIMON,

TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL DUTCH OF HOLLAND.

 

Volume One

 

Volume 1 Contains Renunciation of Popery, Foundation and Plain Instruction, The True Christian Faith, Concerning the New Birth, Cross of Christ, Pleasing Meditation on the Twenty-fifth Psalm, The Spiritual Resurrection, Excommunication, The Education of Children and Letters.

Volume 2 Contains Reply to Gellius Faber, A Supplication to Christians, Apology, Reply to John A’Lasco, The Triune, Eternal and True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Christian Baptism, Reasons Why, A Confession, Reply to Zylis and Lemmekes, Replication, The Incarnation, Reply to Martin Micron, Jesus, the True Scriptural David, Letters, etc.

 

Volume One.

 

“The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of Judgment.  The Law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”  Psalm 7:30, 31.

 

“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.”  Hebrew 13:7.

 

Elkhart, Indiana

Published by John F. Funk and Brother,

1871

 

Entered according to Act of Congress,

in the year 1871, by

JOHN F. FUNK & BROTHER,

In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

 

 

 
 

MENNO SIMONS.

Born in Witmarsen, in Friesland, Holland, in the year 1496, and died in Woestevelt, formerly called Oldeslohe, on the 13th of January 1561, in the 66th year of his age.

The Complete Works of Menno Simon,  Volume 1

Menno Simons’ prominence as a leader of the Anabaptist movement came somewhat as a result of his prolificacy.  Being one of the few Radical Reformers who did not suffer an early martyr’s death, he had much more time to write and develop his ideas.  His complete works include his magnum opus: The Foundation of Christian Doctrine, plus essays, devotionals, letters, and tracts.  Even skimming through his work can lead to much greater appreciation and understanding of both early Anabaptism and the contemporary Mennonite tradition.

Kathleen O’Bannon

CCEL Staff

 

 

Digital Versions

Restored, Corrected and Reset

by

Bruce Armstrong

Central Highlands Congregation of God

3rd September, 2023

Revised 19 January, 2024

 

Published by

Central Highlands Christian Publications

PO Box 236 Creswick Vic 3363 Australia

info@chcpublications.net

chcpublications.net

 

 

Digital Edition Foreword

It is almost 500 years since Menno Simon wrote this material, and 150 years since the English translation was printed, but his work remains valuable for God’s children to read and understand.  From the moment Menno decided to truly walk with Christ, his life was in constant danger, and many of his fellow believers were cruelly murdered for their faith.  This edition has been ‘translated’ into modern English, as it seems inappropriate to leave it in the archaic King James Bible style English which the 1871 translators chose and the CCEL version retained, rather than contemporary language like the Dutch used by Menno.

 

As Menno stressed many times, we too need to hold fast to Christ, study his Word, and follow His Instructions to the end of our days.  Menno taught baptism was only for believers, our need for the indwelling of the Holy spirit, non-violence, obedience to Christ and then secular rulers, separation from the unbiblical myths and traditions of Catholicism and Protestantism and the exclusion of unrepentant sinners from their congregations.  May Menno’s work inspire you to deepen and strengthen your faith, especially if you find yourself threatened with the viciousness the early Mennonites faced in the coming Great Tribulation.

 

Bruce Armstrong

Central Highlands Congregation of God

 

 

 

Contents

PUBLISHERS’ PREFACE.

THE CONVERSION of MENNO SIMON,

TO THE READER.

MENNO SIMON’S RENUNCIATION

AN ACCOUNT of the SEVERE PERSECUTIONS of MENNO SIMON,

FOUNDATION

PREFACE.

THE DAY OF GRACE.

SINCERE AND TRUE REPENTANCE.

FAITH.

A SUPPLICATION TO THE MAGISTRACY.

CONCERNING BAPTISM.

COUNTER ARGUMENTS WITH THEIR REPLICATIONS.

AN ADMONITION ADDRESSED TO THE SCORNERS OF THE WORD CONCERNING BAPTISM.

THE LORD’S HOLY SUPPER.

THE CORRUPTION OF THE HOLY SUPPER.

SHUNNING BABYLON.

SENDING PREACHERS.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE PREACHERS.

THE CONDUCT OF PREACHERS.

COUNTER ARGUMENTS OF BABYLON AND ITS BUILDERS, WITH THEIR REPLICATIONS.

A CHRISTIAN AND AFFECTIONATE EXHORTATION TO ALL IN AUTHORITY.

APPEAL TO THE LEARNED.

APPEAL TO THE COMMON PEOPLE.

APPEAL TO CORRUPT SECTS.

TO THE BRIDE, KINGDOM, STATE, and CHURCH OF THE LORD, GRACE AND PEACE.

CONCLUSION OF THIS BOOK.

THE TRUE CHRISTIAN FAITH,

THE TRUE CHRISTIAN FAITH.

THE PAPISTIC BELIEF.

THE LUTHERAN BELIEF.

THE BELIEF OF THE ENGLISH ZWINGLIANS.

TRUE CHRISTIAN BELIEF.

NOAH’S FAITH.

ABRAHAM’S FAITH AND OBEDIENCE.

FAITH AND FIDELITY OF MOSES.

FAITH OF CALEB AND JOSHUA.

BELIEF OF THE PIOUS KING JOSIAH.

FAITH OF THE CENTURION OF CAPERNAUM.

FAITH OF ZACCHEUS, THE TAX COLLECTOR.

THE MURDERER’S FAITH.

FAITH OF THE SINFUL WOMAN.

FAITH OF THE WOMAN OF CANAAN.

CONCLUSION.

OF THE NEW BIRTH.

AN EXHORTATION

A CONSOLING ADMONITION

PREFACE.

THE CROSS OF CHRIST

ON THE TWENTY-FIFTH PSALM

PREFACE.

THE TWENTY-FIFTH PSALM

THE SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION.

CONCLUSION

SEPARATION FROM THE CHURCH OF CHRIST;

PREFACE.

TRUE APOSTOLIC SEPARATION OR EXCOMMUNICATION.

CONCLUSION AND EXHORTATION TO ALL THE PIOUS.

GOVERN, CORRECT AND EDUCATE THEIR CHILDREN,

PREFACE.

THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN.

LETTERS WRITTEN BY MENNO SIMON.

FIRST LETTER.

SECOND LETTER.

THIRD LETTER.

FOURTH LETTER.

INDEX.

 

 

PUBLISHERS’ PREFACE.

The writings of a good man, when read with an unbiased mind, and with a sincere desire to be profited and instructed, are always beneficial to those who read them; for “of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” and “a good man, out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things.”

Such writings may be the means of doing much good among men, especially in these times of worldly conformity, in which there is such a great opposition to the cross of Christ; in which men love ease and pleasure, and who make many devices to avoid those self denying principles of the religion of Jesus, and hope to gain the crown of life in some other way than that in which he himself walked, and pointed out to all his true followers; in which mankind are so much given over to the pursuit of the perishable things of this world, to honor, wealth and power, and are so deeply sunk in sin and unrighteousness; in which error and deception are so prevalent that on every side we hear the cry, “Lo, here is Christ,” and “Lo, he is there,” so that sometimes it seems almost impossible for those who are not firmly established in the faith to maintain themselves unmoved, and remain unshaken in the midst of this “crooked and perverse generation.”

We believe that these works of the zealous and pious Menno, in which he protests so powerfully against the prevailing corruptions of the times, both in the church and in the ordinary walks of life; in high and in low places, or wherever found, and advocates with such uncompromising firmness and devotion, the imperative necessity of a true and sincere change of heart through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, a new life, a pious and holy walk, which delights in good works, follows the footsteps of Jesus in love, humility, and meekness; is a light in the world, and labors for the glory of God and the salvation of all men, are well adapted to promote vital, Christian piety, to strengthen and confirm the faith of believers, to encourage and cheer the weary pilgrim on his journey Zionward; to instruct and teach us clearer views of duty; to set before us the true character of the truly penitent child of God, what he must do and how he must live to become an heir of the kingdom above; to show what the church, and what all believers should be; to warn the impenitent; to expose erroneous views; to teach sinners the way of life, and admonish them to turn from their evil ways, to flee from the wrath to come, and seek the Lord while he may be found; and thus believing, we have felt that these writings should be placed before the public in English, so that all who understand this language may have the opportunity to read and examine them for themselves.

These works were originally written in the Dutch language, only a portion of which have been previously translated into the English and German languages.  Hence the greater portion of the book will be entirely new to most of the readers of the present day.  And inasmuch as the church, bearing the name of Menno, has now so extended itself that it has become a body of considerable importance, and many of the members are much better versed in the English language than in the German, it is meet that the complete works should be published in the English language, so that those professing the same faith with Menno, may enjoy the benefit of his labors even at this distant day.

For the foregoing reasons we have undertaken the arduous and laborious task of translating from the original Holland or Dutch language the entire work, including all his writings, as far as known, with the exception of such of them as he himself rejects and of which he makes mention in his article on the Ban or Excommunication.

In the translation, we have followed the edition of his works, published in the Dutch language by John Van Veen, in Amsterdam, in Holland, in 1681.

The first part of the writings of Menno Simon, with the exception of the “Account of the severe persecutions of Menno Simon,” &c., and several letters in the latter part of the volume, were formerly translated into the German language and published in several editions; and from the German translation, they were again translated into the English language, by I. Daniel Rupp, and published by Elijah Barr & Co., in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1863.  This translation has been followed in part in the present work, though the whole of it was diligently compared with the original Dutch language, revised and corrected.

The work has required a great deal of time, care, labor and expense.  The original work being written in very old style language, on which account many passages were difficult to be understood, but the translators have worked faithfully, and by comparing such passages with different editions of the work, and using such other means as they could command, we feel assured that we can offer to our readers a reasonably correct translation of the works of Menno.

We have found a few places where neither the English nor the German editions formerly published were entirely correct, and this will account for some differences which the reader may observe by comparing the different translations, and there may still, possibly, be some passages which could be greatly improved, but without boasting of anything that we have, humbly, in the fear of the Lord, sought to accomplish, we believe that as the result of our labor, we are enabled to present to the reader, a book which gives a very correct expression of the writings of Menno in the English language.

And if by the publication of this work we may be instrumental in doing good to the souls of others; if thereby the cause of Christ shall be advanced and the faith of believers confirmed; if thereby a single soul may be saved, and God glorified, then we shall feel that our labor has not been in vain.

May God bless the work; may it be the means of doing much good; yes, through it, may many souls be converted, and brought from the darkness of sin and error to the glorious light of the Gospel of Truth.  May God be glorified and honored and mankind humbled and brought to Jesus.  This is the prayer and sincere desire of your humble servants,

The Publishers

═════════════════

 

 

THE CONVERSION of MENNO SIMON,

AND HIS RENUNCIATION OF THE CHURCH OF ROME,

WHEREIN IS BRIEFLY AND PLAINLY NARRATED HOW, AND FOR WHAT CAUSE, HE RENOUNCED POPERY;

ALSO, HIS SUBSEQUENT CALLING TO THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL.

 

WRITTEN BY HIMSELF,

AND ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE DUTCH LANGUAGE

A.D. 1554.

 

TO THE READER.

BELOVED READER, We are falsely accused, by our opponents, of following the teachings of Munster, concerning the king, the sword, rebellion, retaliation, polygamy and other abominations.  But my kind readers, know that I have never in my life accepted any of the foregoing doctrines; but on the contrary, I have opposed them for more than seventeen years, and to the best of my abilities, have warned all mankind against this abominable error.  I have also, through the word of God, led some on the right way.  Never in my life have I seen Munster, nor have I been in the communion of that sect.  I also hope, through God’s grace, neither to eat nor drink with such (if such there are), as the scripture teaches me; unless they confess their error with all their heart, bring forth fruits appropriate for repentance, and follow the Gospel in the right manner.

MENNO SIMON.

═════════════════

 

 

MENNO SIMON’S RENUNCIATION

OF THE

CHURCH OF ROME.

 

MY READER,

I write to you the truth in Christ, and do not lie.  In the year 1524, being then in my twenty-eighth year, I undertook the duties of a priest in my father’s village, called Pingjum, in Friesland.  Two other persons of about my age also officiated in the same station.  The one was my pastor, and was well learned in part; the other succeeded me; both had read the scriptures partially; but I had not touched them during my life, for I feared if I should read them, they would mislead me.  Behold!  Such a stupid preacher was I, for nearly two years.

In the first year thereafter a thought occurred to me, as often as I handled the bread and wine in the mass that they were not the flesh and blood of the Lord.  I thought that it was the suggestion of the devil, that he might lead me off from my faith.  I confessed it, and often sighed and prayed, yet I could not be freed from this thought.

Those two aforementioned young men and myself spent our time daily in playing, drinking, and all manner of frivolous diversions, alas! as it is the fashion and way of such useless people; and when we were to treat a little of scripture, I could not speak a word with them without being scoffed at; for I did not know what I asserted.  Thus was the word of God concealed to my understanding.

At length I resolved that I would examine the New Testament attentively.  I had not proceeded far in it, ere I discovered that we were deceived.  My conscience, which was troubled on account of the sacramental bread, aforementioned, was soon greatly relieved, without any human aid or advice; though I was encouraged by Luther in the belief that human authority cannot bind to eternal death.

Through the illumination and grace of the Lord, I continued daily to examine the scriptures, and was soon considered by some, though undeservedly, as being an evangelical preacher.  Every one sought my company, the world loved me and had my affections, yet it was said that I preached the word of God, and was a fine man.

Afterwards it happened, before I had ever heard of the existence of brethren, that a God-fearing, pious man, named Sicke Snyder, was beheaded at Leeuwarden, for being rebaptized.  It sounded strange to me, to hear a second baptism spoken of.  I examined the scriptures assiduously and meditated on them earnestly, but could find nothing in them concerning infant baptism.  After I had discovered this, I conversed with my pastor on the subject; and after much discussion, he had to admit that there was no scriptural foundation for infant baptism.  Notwithstanding all this, I dared not trust my own understanding, but consulted several ancient authors.  They taught me that children were to be washed by baptism from their original sin.  I compared this doctrine with the scriptures and found that it made baptism take the place of the blood of Christ.

Afterwards, desiring to know the grounds for infant baptism, I went and consulted Luther.  He taught me that children were to be baptized on account of their own faith.  I perceived that this also was not in accordance with the word of God.

Next I consulted Bucer.  He taught that infants were to be baptized, that their baptism would cause those who had their training, to be more careful in bringing them up in the way of the Lord.  I perceived that this doctrine, too, was without foundation.

I then consulted Bullinger.  He directed me to the covenant and circumcision.  This I found incapable of being substantiated by scripture.

Having thus observed that authors varied greatly among themselves, each following his own opinion, I became convinced that we were deceived in relation to infant baptism.

Shortly after, I went to the village in which I was born, called Witmarsum.  Covetousness and a desire to obtain a great name, were the inducements which led me to that place.  There I spoke much concerning the word of the Lord, without spirituality or love, as all hypocrites do, and by this means I made disciples of my own stamp, such as vain boasters and light-minded babblers, who, alas! like myself, cared but little about these matters.  Although I had now acquired considerable knowledge of the scriptures, yet I wasted that knowledge through the lusts of my youth in an impure, sensual, unprofitable life, without any fruit, and sought nothing but gain, ease, favor of men, splendor, reputation and honor, as all generally do who embark in the same ship.

Thus, my reader, I obtained a knowledge of baptism and the Lord’s supper through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, through much reading of the scriptures, and meditating upon them, and through the gracious favor and gift of God, but not by means of the service of misleading sects, as it is reported of me: I hope that I write the truth and do not seek vain glory; though some, doubtless, may have contributed to my assistance in the pursuit of truth, yet will I, for this, render thanks to the Lord forever.

Meanwhile it happened, when I had resided there about a year, that quite a number broke in upon baptism; but whence the first beginners came, or where they resided, or who they properly were, is to this hour unknown to me, neither have I ever seen them.

Afterwards the sect of Munster made inroads, by whom many pious hearts in our quarter were led into error.  My soul was much troubled, for I perceived that though they were zealous, they erred in doctrine.  I exerted my feeble efforts, as far as I was able, in opposing them by preaching and exhortations.  I conferred twice with one of their leaders, once in private, and again in public; but my admonitions availed nothing, because I did that myself which I well knew was not right.

The report spread far abroad that I could readily silence these persons.  All looked to me.  I saw that I was the leader and defender of the impenitent, who all depended upon me.  This pained my heart; I sighed and prayed, Lord help me, lest I make myself a partaker of other men’s sins.  My soul was troubled and I reflected upon the result of my doings, namely that if I should gain the whole world, and live a thousand years, and at last have to endure the wrath of God, what would I have gained?

Afterwards, the poor straying flock, who wandered as sheep without a shepherd, after many severe edicts and slaughters, assembled near my place of residence, called Oude Klooster, and, alas!  Through the ungodly doctrines of Munster, and in opposition to the Spirit, the word and the example of Christ, drew the sword to defend themselves, which the Lord commanded Peter to put up in the sheath.

After this had transpired, the blood of the slain, although it was shed in error, grieved me so sorely that I could not endure it.  I could find no rest in my soul.  I reflected upon my carnal, sinful life, my hypocritical doctrine and idolatry, in which I continued daily under the appearance of godliness.  I saw that these zealous children willingly gave their lives and their estates, though they were in error, for their doctrine and faith.  And I was one of those who had discovered some of their abominations, and yet I myself remained satisfied with my unrestrained life and known defilements.  I wished only to live comfortably and without the cross of Christ.

Thus reflecting upon these things my soul was so grieved that I could no longer endure it.  I thought to myself, I, a miserable man, what shall I do?  If I continue in this way, and do not live agreeably to the word of the Lord, according to the knowledge of the truth which I have obtained; if I do not rebuke to the best of my limited ability the hypocrisy, the impenitent, carnal life, the perverted baptism, the Lord’s supper and the false worship of God, which the learned teach; if I, through bodily fear, do not show them the true foundation of the truth, neither use all my powers to direct the wandering flock, who would gladly do their duty if they knew it, to the true pastures of ChristOh, how shall their shed blood, though shed in error, rise against me at the judgment of the Almighty, and pronounce sentence against my poor, miserable soul.

My heart trembled in my body.  I prayed to God with sighs and tears that he would give to me, a troubled sinner, the gift of his grace, and create a clean heart within me; that through the merits of the crimson blood of Christ, He would graciously forgive my unclean walk and unprofitable life, and bestow upon me, wisdom, Spirit, candor and fortitude, that I might preach his exalted and adorable name and holy word unperverted, and make manifest his truth to his praise.

I began in the name of the Lord to preach publicly, from the pulpit, the word of true repentance; to direct the people into the narrow path, and through the power of the scripture to reprove all sin and ungodliness, all idolatry and false worship, and to present the true worship, also baptism and the Lord’s Supper, according to the doctrine of Christ, to the extent that I had at that time received grace from God.

I also faithfully warned every one in relation to the abominations of Munster, concerning kings, polygamy, dominion, the sword, &c., until after the expiration of about nine months, when the gracious Lord granted me his fatherly Spirit, aid and power; then I voluntarily renounced all my worldly honor and reputation, my unchristian conduct, masses, infant baptism, and my unprofitable life, and at once willingly submitted to distress and poverty, and the cross of Christ.  In my weakness I feared God; I sought out the pious, and though they were few in number, I found some who were zealous and maintained the truth.  I conversed with the erring, and through the aid and power of God, with his word, reclaimed some from the snares of damnation, and gained them to Christ, while the hardened and rebellious, I commended to the Lord.  Behold, thus, my reader, the God of mercy, through the benign influence of his abounding grace, exerted upon me, in my heart, a miserable sinner, produced in me a new mind, humbled me in his fear, taught me to know myself in part, turned me from the way of death, and graciously called me into the narrow path of life, to the communion of his saints.  To him be praise forever more, Amen.

About one year thereafter, while I was secretly exercising myself in the word of God by reading and writing, it happened that six, seven or eight persons came to me, who were of one heart and one soul with myself, in their faith and life, and as far as man can judge, were unblameable, and according to the testimony of the scriptures, separated from the world and subdued to the cross.  They sincerely abhorred not only the sect of Munster, but the anathemas and abominations of all other worldly sects.  For the sake of those pious souls who were of the same mind and spirit both with them and with me, they with much solicitude kindly requested me, to reflect on the great sufferings and necessity of the poor, oppressed souls (for the hunger was very great and the faithful stewards were very few), and apply to advantage the talents which I had unmeritedly received from the Lord.

When I heard this my heart was greatly troubled.  Trouble and fear were on every side; for on the one hand I was sensible of my limited talents, my great ignorance, my weak nature, the timidity of my flesh, the unbounded wickedness, perversity and tyranny of the world, the powerful sects, the subtlety of different minds, and the heavy cross that would oppress me, should I comply with their solicitations, and on the other hand, the miserable, starving condition and necessity of these God-fearing, pious children, for I saw plainly that they erred as innocent sheep which have no shepherd.

At last, after much prayer, I placed myself and these circumstances before the Lord and his church, in order that we might pray earnestly to the Lord for a season; should it accord with his acceptable and holy will that I could or might labor to his praise, that he would give me such a mind and heart as would enable me to say with Paul, “Woe is me, if I do not preach the Gospel,” and if not, that he might provide a way to prohibit the same, for Christ says, “That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by my Father which is in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” Matt. 18:19, 20.

Thus, my reader, behold, I was not called to serve among the followers of Munster, nor of any other seditious sect (as it is falsely reported concerning me), but I have been called, unworthily, to this office by a people who were ready to receive Christ and his word, led a penitent life in the fear of God, served their neighbors in love, bore the cross, sought the welfare and salvation of all men, loved righteousness and truth, and abhorred wickedness and unrighteousness, which shows pointedly that they were not such perverted persons as they are slanderously reported to have been.  But they were true Christians, though unknown to the world, if in anywise we believe that Christ’s word is true, and his unblameable, holy life and example infallible.

Thus have I, a miserable sinner, been enlightened by the Lord, converted to a new mind, fled from Babel, entered into Jerusalem, and finally, though unworthily, called to this high and arduous service.

When the persons before mentioned did not desist from their supplications, and my own conscience in some degree made me uneasy (although in weakness), because I saw the great hunger and need, already referred to, I surrendered myself, soul and body, to the Lord and committed myself to his grace, and commenced in due time, according to the contents of his holy word, to teach, and to baptize, to labor in the vineyard of the Lord with my limited talents, to build up his holy city and temple, and to repair the dilapidated walls.  The great and mighty God has made known and revealed the word of true repentance, the word of his grace and power, together with the salutary use of his holy sacraments, through our humble service, doctrine and unlearned writings, together with the careful service, labor and help of our faithful brethren, in many towns and countries, to such an extent, and made the condition of his churches so glorious and bestowed upon them such a subduing power that many exalted and proud hearts not only became humble; the unclean, pure; the drunken, sober; the avaricious, benevolent; the ferocious, mild, and the ungodly, pious; but they also faithfully yielded their possessions and blood, bodies and lives, for the blessed testimony they had, as may yet daily be seen.  These are not the fruits and evidences of false doctrines, in which God is not a coworker.  Neither could they endure so long under such grievous misery and oppressive crosses, were it not the power and word of the Almighty which sustains them.  Yes, more, the Lord endued them with such grace and wisdom, as Christ has promised to all his children in their trials, so that all the worldly-wise and renowned teachers, together with the blood-guilty, daring tyrants, who, O, God, boast that they are Christians, were vanquished and abashed by these invincible champions and pious witnesses of Christ.  Those ferocious persons knew of no other weapons or refuge to which to resort than those of banishing, seizing, punishing, burning, murdering, and destroying, even as has always been the custom of the old serpent, from the beginning, and as may yet, alas! be daily witnessed in many places of our Netherlands.

Behold this is our calling, our doctrine and fruits of our labor; on account of which we are so grievously slandered, and so malevolently persecuted; whether or not all the prophets, apostles, and faithful servants of God, have endured similar sufferings on account of their faithfulness, we willingly leave all the pious to judge.

But as much as regards my poor, weak and imperfect life, I freely confess that I am a poor, wretched sinner, conceived in sin, of sinful seed, and sinfully brought forth.  I can say with David that my sins are ever before me.  My thoughts, words and actions convince me.  I see with holy Paul, “That in me (that it is in my flesh), dwells no good thing,” Rom. 7:18.  Nevertheless, I must be allowed to boast this much in my weakness, if this wicked, desolate world would hear our doctrine (not ours, but the doctrine of Christ), with patience, and, in the true fear of God follow it submissively, this would undoubtedly, be a more Christian-like and better world than, alas, it now is.

I thank God, who has made me willing with holy Paul, to hate the evil and follow the good; and willingly would I with my own blood, reclaim this wicked world from ungodly and evil works, and gain it to Christ.  Through the grace of God, it is my desire to fear the Lord with all my heart; to love, seek and serve him, to do right before him, and be an unblameable pious Christian.

I hope through the mercy and assistance of the Lord that no one upon earth may have reason to accuse me of leading an avaricious and luxurious life.  Money and affluence, I have not; neither do I desire them, although alas, some from a perverted heart, say that I eat more roasted than they do seethed; and drink more wine than they do beer.  My Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, was also called a winebibber and a glutton.  I trust that through the grace of the Lord, I am innocent in this matter, and stand acquitted before God.

He who, purchased me with the blood of his love, and called me, who am unworthy, to his service, knows me, and knows that I seek not wealth, nor possessions, nor luxury, nor ease, but only the praise of the Lord, my salvation, and the salvation of many souls.  For this I, my poor, feeble wife and children have for eighteen years endured extreme anxiety, oppression, affliction, misery and persecution, and at the peril of my life, have been compelled everywhere to live in fear and seclusion; yes, when ministers repose on easy beds and downy pillows, we generally have to hide ourselves in secluded corners; when they at weddings and feasts, pipe and beat the tambour, and vaunt loudly, we must look out, when the dogs bark, lest the captors be at hand.  Whilst they are saluted as doctors, lords and teachers by every one, we have to hear that we are anabaptists, hedge preachers, deceivers and heretics, and must be saluted in the name of the devil.  In short, whilst they are gloriously rewarded for their services with large incomes and easy times, our recompense and portion must be fire, sword and death.

Behold, my faithful readers, in such fear, poverty, misery and danger of death, have I, wretched man, performed to this hour, without change, the service of the Lord, and I hope through his grace to continue in it to his glory, as long as I remain in this earthly tabernacle.  What I and my faithful coworkers have sought or could have sought in performing these our arduous and dangerous duties, is apparent to all the well-disposed, who may readily judge from the works and their fruits.

I will here humbly entreat the reader for Jesus’ sake, to accept in love, this my confession in relation to my illumination, conversion and calling, and to meditate on them.  I have made it out of urgent necessity, for the information of the pious reader, because I was slandered by the clergy, and am accused, without foundation of truth, of being called and ordained to this service by a seditious and heretical sect.  He that fears God, let him read and judge.

MENNO SIMON.

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AN ACCOUNT of the SEVERE PERSECUTIONS of MENNO SIMON,

AND A DESCRIPTION OF THE PLACE WHERE HE LAST PREACHED THE GOSPEL, DIED AND WAS BURIED.

“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus,” says Paul, “shall suffer persecution,” 2 Tim. 3:12.  These words, although often confirmed, through the inconsiderate wickedness of this world, we find particularly confirmed in the example of our author Menno Simon.  For, after he had been persecuted in many ways and sought for by his opponents, they, in order that their design might be accomplished with certainty, issued a decree in which it was stated that whosoever should shelter, or in any manner conceal Menno Simon or any of his followers, should suffer death; which decree was enforced in the year A.D. 1539 in the case of Tjaert Reyndertz,* a peasant living near Harlingen (prov. Friesland, Neth.), who, because he secretly harbored Menno Simon in his house, in his great danger and distress, was a few days after, taken to Leenwarden (in the same province), and as an ungodly criminal put on the wheel, though even his enemies acknowledged that he was a pious man.
Besides this, another decree was issued in the year A.D. 1543, throughout West Friesland, by which a general pardon, the favor of the Emperor, freedom of the country, and besides, one hundred Carl guilders was promised to any criminal, even a murderer, who would deliver Menno into the hands of the executioner; and, in order that their purpose might be more readily accomplished, his name, person, clothing and stature were described, and this description posted upon the church-doors; so that he could not even find a butt of straw where he could quietly rest with his wife and little children, for any length of time.  Menno himself relates that in 1546, at a certain place, where they yet boasted of being evangelical Christians, four dwellings were, at once, confiscated, because the owner had rented one of them for a short time to his sick wife and little children, though the neighbors were not aware of it.  This severe persecution compelled Menno to remove to a place situated between Hamburg and Lubeck, six and a half or seven miles from Hamburg, three miles from Lubeck, and nearly a mile from Oldesio, which formerly was a large forest of oaks, but which is now an open field, generally called Woeste Veldt, belonging to the nobleman and estate of Van Yriesenburg; which nobleman was at that time a very cruel person, on which account he was generally shunned and feared.  But having spent much of his youth in the Netherlands, and having often witnessed the death of martyrs, he was very compassionate towards them, being conversant with their doctrines.  He clandestinely gave them liberty to dwell there, and assiduously and faithfully assisted them; although he was requested by the king’s order not to permit them to live there; therefore he announced to them, through one of his servants that they should leave before sundown, at the risk of punishment; yet he sent a faithful servant after the first, to tell them the cause of this announcement, and to inform them that the men should either absent or conceal themselves for a week or two.  In the mean while he succeeded in quieting this excitement, through one of the courtiers.  After this the exiles came hither from every aide, until there was quite a little community there, who lived in comparative quiet.  Each family had to pay one dollar a year for this protection, and were taxed no further: This may well be considered a special dispensation of God’s providence that the exiles were fostered and protected by a very cruel person, who was feared by all around him.  For which reason Menno considered it expedient, as it was said, to remove to that place.

Menno Simon died about thirty years after he left the church of Rome.  During this time he taught and proclaimed the gospel, purified of Roman idolatry and superstition.  His last exhortation was given on his deathbed, while the hand of death seemed already to rest upon him, showing his unquenchable zeal.  He, however, partially recovered and was better for several days, but on the day of the anniversary of his renunciation of popery, he suddenly became worse, though well taken care of, and the next day, being Friday the 13th of January, 1561, he calmly fell asleep in Jesus, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, and was buried in his own garden, which according to Hoornbeck, was also customary with the primitive Christians under the persecutions of the pagans.

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NOTE 1. Although the “Martyrs’ Mirror,” page 59, and T. J. van Braght in his “Bloody Theatre” and others, write that Menno Simon died on the 13th of January 1559, yet we are led to think that he died in 1561, for the following reasons:

The old biography of Menno Simon mentions 1561 as the year of his death, which statement we deem correct; also on the 23rd of January 1559, he wrote a tract (see his Reply to Zylis and Lemmekes in this book), and sent it to the German teachers, Zylis and Lemmekes.  Now, if he died on the 13th of January 1559, he must have written this ten days after his death.

NOTE 2.The reader should know that although some old biographies mention 1505 as the year of his birth, yet we will take 1496; for, the “Martyrs’ Mirror,” “The Bloody Theatre,” “The Decline of Tyrants” and “Annals,” all mention that he died in his sixty-sixth year.  If Menno, then, died in 1561, he necessarily was born in 1496, or else he died in the fifty-sixth year of his age.

 

 
 

 

A

FOUNDATION

and

Plain Instruction

of the

Saving Doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ

BRIEFLY COMPILED FROM THE WORD OF GOD.

TOGETHER WITH OTHER INSTRUCTIVE TREATISES.

 

“For no other foundation can any man lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 3:11.

 

TO THE READER.

PIOUS, BELOVED READER, Since I perceive that our work, called “THE FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE”, which I published a few years ago, has been, through the grace of God, to whom be eternal praise and thanks, productive of much good to some; and God’s holy word which was obscured for such a long time, has been again a little explained, through our limited talents, and as many well disposed children requested and entreated me, diligently to revise and correct such parts as were obscured through the negligence of the printer, and which deprived the reader of the sense, I was prevailed on, and did so.  In some places I made additions; explained the obscure parts, corrected those that were defective, and omitted redundancies; the style and language I improved, in order to be better suited to aid the kind reader, and to make known and acceptable to many, the despised truth.

Not, my reader, that I changed the original doctrines and contents; by no means!  I have not changed, but as appears to me, improved its form, and given it more force and distinctness.  Those who fear God may judge.  The former, as well as this, is God’s word; and all that the first teaches, this teaches also.  May the Almighty, Merciful Father grant that through his grace our little work, so lightly esteemed, may produce much fruit in many thousands.  Amen.

MENNO SIMON.

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PREFACE.

NOTE. The following Preface shows to whom this book is addressed, and was written at the time when the errors of Munster yet prevailed.

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To those in authority and all others, of whatever condition, class or calling they be, Menno Simon wishes the illumination of the Spirit, and the pure knowledge of the kingdom of God, from our heavenly Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who has loved us and washed us from our sins with his blood.  To him be praise, honor, glory, and thanksgiving forever, Amen.

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Dear Sirs, Friends and Brethren, since we learn from the scriptures, and from experience find that the prediction of the prophets, Christ and of the apostles, concerning the terrible oppression, misery, want, persecution, danger, anxiety, and false doctrine in these latter times is being accomplished to its full measure, Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 1 Tim. 4; 2 Tim. 3; 2 Pet. 2; Jude 1, and this so powerfully that unless the merciful Father graciously shortens these days no flesh will be saved.

Therefore, we poor miserable men entreat and admonish every one, and that through the mercy of the Lord, for once candidly to read our doctrine and faith, lay it well to heart and understand it correctly, that you might know what kind of doctrine we inculcate, what kind of faith we maintain, what kind of life we lead, and how we are disposed, on account of which we have to hear and suffer so much, endure imprisonment, exile, be robbed, derided, defamed and slain as poor, innocent sheep.  In order that you may sincerely lament and weep over your former bloody deeds, before God, and with greater circumspection guard and preserve yourselves from such things, and henceforth be found a more pious, sincere, yes, a more God-fearing magistracy, Exo. 18:23; Deu. 1:17; not afflicters and destroyers, but fathers and guardians of all miserable and wretched; not exterminators, but defenders of righteousness; not persecutors but followers of Christ and his word.  Therefore, anoint your eyes with eye-salve that you may see and understand which is the right way, the truth and the life; the way which is so strait and narrow and found by so few; the truth which is known to none, except those who are taught by the Spirit of the Lord, illuminated and drawn by the Father; the life which is to know God the Father as the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent; that you may see him whom you fiercely pierced, and that you may with holy Paul, with your whole hearts, humble yourselves before the Lord with much fasting and weeping; clothe yourselves in sackcloth; rend your hearts and not your garments, that you may find grace in his sight.  For he is long-suffering, gracious and merciful, and pardons the iniquity of all who sincerely repent and seek his grace.  Be no longer like Jeroboam, Ahab and Manasseh, but like David, Hezekiah and Josiah; that you need not on account of the office entrusted to you stand confounded in the great and dreadful day of the Lord, in that day which shall burn as an oven; and all who have dealt unrighteously and used violence upon the earth shall be burnt up as dry straw and stubble, Mal. 4.

Therefore, we most humbly entreat you, for the sake of the merits of Christ, that you would thoroughly ponder and reflect upon our faith, doctrine and undertaking; and not esteem us to be worse than you do thieves and murderers, whom you do not condemn without having certain knowledge of their case.  Our doings are not thievish, nor have we to do with perishable possessions, but with God and his word, our bodies and souls, everlasting life or eternal death.  Therefore do not look upon the usages and customs of the fathers, nor upon the worldly wise and the learned, for it is deeply hidden from their eyes.  They were always those who, from the beginning, thrust from them the wisdom of God through their own wisdom and have trampled it under foot; for the wisdom of God, which we teach, is that wisdom which none may understand, except those who are desirous of living and walking according to the will of God; it is that wisdom which is not to be brought from afar nor taught in colleges.  It must come from above and be learned through the Holy Spirit; as Paul says, Rom. 10:69.  “Do not say in your heart, who shall ascend into heaven?  (That is, to bring Christ down from above).  Or, who shall descend into the deeps (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead).  But, what does it say?  The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart; that is the word of faith which we preach; that if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.”  Therefore, look to God’s word, to the testimony and example of the holy prophets, the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles.  Let these be your doctors and teachers, and not the ambitious, mercenary preachers of this world; then you will soon perceive whether we are within or without the truth.  May the almighty and eternal God give you such hearts and minds.  To him be honor, praise and gratitude, dominion, power and majesty forever, Amen.

Seeing then, beloved, that satan can transform himself into an angel of light, 2 Cor. 11, and thus sow tares among the Lord’s wheat, such as the sword, polygamy, secular kingdom, and kings and other like errors on account of which the innocent have to suffer much; hence we are prompted to publish this our faith and doctrine; and we desire for Jesus’ sake that we might obtain so much grace that they would not treat and judge us except according to the word of God, as is reasonable and just.  But should we not obtain so much grace, we have to commend it to the Lord, who is the only helper of every one in need.  We will, nevertheless, through the grace of God, abide in the word of the Lord; and comfort ourselves with the scriptures, which say, “Thus says Jehovah that created you, O, Jacob, and he that formed you, O, Israel, do not fear; for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be scorched; neither shall the flame burn upon you; for I am Jehovah your God, the Holy one of Israel, your Saviour,” Isa. 43:1, 3.  Again: “Do not fear the reproach of men, neither be afraid of their revilings; for the moth shall eat them up like a garment and the worm shall eat them like wool.”  “I, even I, am he that comforts you: who are you that you should be afraid of a man that shall die, and the son of man which shall be made as grass.” Isa. 51:7, 8 and 12.  Christ also says: “Do not fear them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven; but whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven,” Matt. 10:28, 32, 33.  “With the heart,” says Paul, “man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” Rom. 10:10.

Since then the scriptures urge us so much, both to believe and to confess, and so kindly comfort us against the raging and raving of men, therefore, we also desire to abide by the same until death.  And hereby testify before you in Christ Jesus that we neither have nor know any other foundation, faith or doctrine, than that which may be plainly read, heard, and understood in the following, from the word of God, Amen.

MENNO SIMON.

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THE DAY OF GRACE.

In the first place, we teach what Jesus, the teacher from heaven, the Oracle and Word of the Most High God himself taught, John 3:2, that now is the time of grace, a time to awaken from the sleep of our abominable sins, Rom. 13:11, and obtain an upright, converted, renewed, contrite and penitent heart, and sincerely lament before God, our past profligate and dissolute course of life, and in the fear of God, to crucify and put to death our depraved, sinful flesh, temper and nature, and arise with Christ into a new, righteous, and penitent life and conduct, Eph. 4:22; Gal. 5:24.  Even as Christ says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe the Gospel,” Mark 1:15.

The time is fulfilled, and the promised day of grace approaches; the time for the appearing of the promised seed; the time of redemption, the time of that offering by which all things were to be reconciled in heaven and upon earth, Gen. 3:15; Col. 1:19; the time for the consummation of all the literal and figurative transactions into a new, spiritual life and an abiding truth; the time for which the fathers, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, David, Daniel, &c., with all the patriarchs and prophets hoped, and which they desired with many tears, and through faith saw from afar, and drew comfort and hope from there, Heb. 11:23; yes, it was to them such a great and pleasing consolation that good old Simeon desired to no longer live, when he beheld the time and saw the Redeemer.  He said, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation; which you have prepared before the face of all people,” Luke 2:29-31.

The time is fulfilled, the predictions of the prophets and promises of the fathers appear in their full power; the sworn oath is accomplished; Israel has received its King David, its Prince and Chief, who has arisen as a mighty one to prepare his way, Psm. 2:7; Isa. 9:5; Jer. 30:9; his going forth is from the heavens; the Anointed, who was the desire of all nations, has come, girded about his loins with the sword of the Spirit and valiant for battle, Mic. 5; Hag. 2; Isa. 24.

He has declared the gospel of the kingdom, the word of his Father; he taught and left unto his followers an example of pure love, and an unblemished life, Matt. 4:17; Jn. 7:14, 15; conquered the mighty, destroyed the power of the devil, bore our sins, abolished death, reconciled the Father, acquired for all the chosen children of God, grace, favor, mercy, eternal life, dominion and peace, Heb. 2; 1 Pet. 2; 1 Cor. 15, and has been ordained by his Eternal and Almighty Father as an omnipotent King over the holy Mount Zion, as the head of the Church, a Provider and Dispenser of heavenly blessings; yes, an Almighty Ruler over all in heaven and on earth, Isa. 2; Eph. 2; and this is what Christ here declares, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand,” Mark 1:15.

Out of compassion and a sincere heart, I exhort you with the apostle Paul that you take heed to this day of grace, and be obedient to the word of God, which says, “I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored you; behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” and with Paul let us “give no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed; but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults (understand this in relation to things which befall us), in labors, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor, and dishonor; by evil report, and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things,” 2 Cor. 6:2-10.  Oh, my beloved Sirs, Friends and Brethren, my mouth is open unto you, and my heart is enlarged towards you; for your sakes I am much grieved that you are so careless, and do not observe the people by whom these plain and intelligible scriptures were written; that you so entirely despise the word of the Lord, and allow this precious time of grace, which God gives us all for improvement, to pass away so shamefully, and regard nothing more than to live with the whole heart, according to the impure and wicked lusts of your flesh, bowing the knees before dumb idols.  Alas! it is time to awake! Remember that the angel has sworn, Rev. 10:6, by the eternal and living God, who created heaven and earth, that after this time, there shall be time no longer.  From the scriptures we cannot otherwise conclude, but that this is the last watch of the year, the last proclamation of the holy gospel, the last invitation to the marriage of the Lamb, which is to be celebrated, promulgated and sanctified before the great and terrible day of the Lord.  Hereby we may learn and determine that the summer will pass away and the winter approach.  Those, who, like the foolish virgins, neglect to prepare their lamps, will come too late, knock in vain and be excluded, Matt. 25:11.  Therefore do not comfort one another with idle comfort and vain hope, as some do who think that the word should be taught and observed whilst they reject the cross.  I mean those who know the word of the Lord, but do not live according to it.  Oh, no! it is the word of the cross and will, in my opinion, remain so to the last, for it must be sustained with much suffering, and sealed with blood.  The Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world, Rev. 13:8; yes, he did not only suffer in his body, but also through the cross and death entered into that glory, which he, for a time, had left for our sakes, Luke 24:26; Jn. 11:25.  If Christ then had to suffer such torture, anguish, misery and pain, how shall his servants, children and members expect peace and freedom from suffering while in the flesh?  “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” Matt. 10:25.  “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus,” says Paul, “shall suffer persecution,” 2 Tim. 3:12.

Christ also says, “You shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake,” Matt. 10:22.

Therefore banish the pernicious thought that you may hope for another time, from your hearts, and be not deceived by your vain hopes, for I have known some who waited for a more convenient season, but did not live to realize their hopes.  Had the apostles and fathers thus waited, the gospel of the kingdom would not at this day have been preached, and the word of the Lord would have remained unknown.

Alas!  Were you christians and the people of God as you boast yourselves to be, you should be able to say with Paul, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Rom. 8:35.  For then the flesh, the devil, sin, hell and death would all be subdued; there would then be no desire to remain long in this depraved, wicked, sanguinary world; neither would you then boast of anything save the cross of Christ, Gal. 6:16, and like Paul, with the whole heart desire to be delivered from this body and dwell with Christ, Phil. 1:23.

I sincerely desire that you may awake, and not hope nor wait for a more acceptable time.  If, however, the merciful Father will give us liberty and peace, we will gladly receive them with all thankfulness from his gracious hands; but if he will not, his great name shall, notwithstanding, be praised forever.

We have all enjoyed the acceptable time of grace, for now is the day of salvation, Isa. 49:8.  Let us therefore not be like ungrateful, disobedient, blood-thirsty Jerusalem, who with such perverted minds rejected the divine peace, the heavenly grace and merciful calling; but let us awake, with sober hearts, and give ear to the inviting voice, and in this accepted time arise from the deep slumber of our abominable and offensive sins, for the Lord is at hand.  “The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light, let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts of it,” Rom. 13:12-14.  Let every one be vigilent, and improve the time which God has graciously given for repentance.  Ecce nunc tempus acceptum, ecce nunc dies salutis.  “Behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation,” 2 Cor. 6:2.

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SINCERE AND TRUE REPENTANCE.

In the second place we exhort you in the language of Christ, “Repent, and believe the Gospel,” Mark 1:15.  Oh, you faithful word of grace! Oh, you faithful word of divine love!  You are read in books, sung in hymns, preached with the mouth, with life and death and proclaimed in many countries, but in your power they do not desire you;* yes more, all those who rightly teach and receive you are made a prey for the whole world.  Alas, beloved Sirs, it will avail us nothing to be called christians, and boast of the Lord’s blood, death, merits, grace and Gospel, as long as we are not converted from this wicked, impious and shameful life.  It is in vain that we are called christians; that Christ died; that we were born in the day of grace, and baptized with water, if we do not walk according to his law, counsel, admonition, will and command and are not obedient to his word.

Therefore awake, and behold the doings of the world.  On every hand you see nothing but sensuality, wine-bibbing, infernal pride, lying, fraud, avarice, hatred, strife, adultery, fornication, war, murder, hypocrisy, open blasphemy, idolatry, and false worship, Hos. 4:11; Mic. 6:14; Gal. 5:19-21; in short, nothing but a powerful persecution of all that God teaches, commands and enjoins.  Who can relate the terrible and alarming condition of the world at the present time?  Yet they (the wicked) want to call themselves the holy christian church.  Oh, no!  They who do such things, says Paul, shall not inherit the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6:9,10; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:5.  Oh, you men, awake and see for yourselves, for thus says the word of the Lord, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, except you be born from above you shall not see the kingdom of God,” Jn. 3:3.  Also, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” Jn. 3:5, and again, “Truly, I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. 18:3.  What does it profit to speak much of Christ and his word, if we do not believe him and obey his commandments?  Again, I say, awake and banish the accursed unbelief with all unrighteousness from your hearts, and live a pious, penitent life, according to the scriptures; for Christ says, “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish,” Luke 13:5.  Here do not understand such repentance as is taught and practiced by an erring world, which consists only in an outward appearance and human righteousness, such as hypocritical fastings, pilgrimages, praying and reading Pater Nosters and Ava Marias, hearing frequent masses, auricular confessions, and similar hypocrisies which Christ and his  apostles did in no way teach and command.  Hence it cannot be a propitiatory sacrifice, but rather will be a provocation, and tend to excite the divine displeasure.  Such doctrines are unavailing and fruitless commands of men, the accursed and enchanted wine of the Babylonian whoredom, which those who have dwelt upon the earth, through the just anger of God, have drunk for so many ages, Rev. 17:2.  But we speak of a repentance possessed of power and works, as John the Baptist teaches, saying, “Bring forth therefore fruits appropriate for repentance, and do not think to say within yourselves, we have Abraham for our father,” Matt. 3:8.  “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; every tree, therefore, which does not bring forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire,” Luke 3:9.

Behold, dear reader, the repentance we teach is to die unto sin, and all ungodly works, and no longer live according to the lusts of the flesh, even as David did, 2 Sam. 13:12; 18:1.  When he was reproved by the prophet on account of his adultery, and for numbering the people, he wept bitterly, called upon God, forsook the evil, and committed these sinful abominations no more.  Peter sinned very grievously but once, and no more.  Matthew, after being called by the Saviour, did not again return to his ways of life.  Zaccheus and the sinful woman did not again return to their impure works of darkness.  Zaccheus made restitution to those whom he had defrauded, and gave half of his goods to the poor and distressed.  The woman wept very bitterly, and washed the feet of the Lord with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; she anointed them with precious ointment, and sat humbly at his feet, to listen to his blessed words.

These are the precious fruits of that repentance, which is acceptable to the Lord; therefore, it was said to David that the Lord had put away his sins from him; to Peter it was proclaimed that the Lord had arisen from the dead; Matthew was called to be an apostle; Zaccheus was told that he had become a son of Abraham, and Mary was told that she had “chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:42.  To the adulterous woman, Christ said, “Go, and sin no more,” Jn. 8:11.

Such a repentance we teach, and no other, namely, that no one can glory in the grace of God, the forgiveness of sins, the merits of Christ; and count himself pious, unless he has truly repented.  It is not enough that we say we are Abraham’s children, or that we are called christians and esteemed as such, but we must do the works of Abraham, that is, we must walk as all true children of God are commanded by his word, as John writes, “If we say we have fellowship with him (God) and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not do the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sins,” 1 Jn. 1:6, 7.

I ask all my readers, if they ever have read in the scriptures that an impenitent, obdurate man, who does not fear God nor his word, who is earthly minded, sensual, devilish, and lives according to his lusts, can be called a child of God and a joint heir of Christ?*  I believe you will be constrained to answer, no.  But he that with all his heart, ceases from evil and learns to do well, to him the grace of the Lord is proclaimed throughout the whole scriptures, as the prophet says, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes, cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.  Come now, and let us reason together, says Jehovah.  Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” Isa. 1:16-18.  Again, “If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die; all his transgressions that he has committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him,” Eze. 18:21, 22.  And further, read and search the whole scriptures, the true instructions and testimonies of the holy prophets, evangelists and apostles, and you will find it clearly set forth, how this godly repentance is to be earnestly received and practiced, and that without it no one can receive grace, enter into the kingdom of heaven, or ever hope for it.  In short, as far as it lies in us, we teach repentance [derived] from the word of the Lord, in order that we may subdue those carnal lusts which war against the soul, 1 Peter 2:11, crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts, Gal. 5:24, refrain from conformity to this world, Rom. 12:2, cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, Rom. 13:12; that we “do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world,” 1 Jn. 2:15; “put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him,” Col. 3:9,10; yes, cast off the old Adam with his whole nature and deceitful lusts, such as pride, avarice, unchastity, hatred, envyings, gluttony, drinking, idolatry, and put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness, whose fruits are faith, love, hope, righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Spirit, Eph. 4:22; Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:16; be patient in suffering, merciful, compassionate, chaste, sincerely hating and rebuking all sin, and entertaining a sincere love and zeal for God and his word.*  I repeat it, that this repentance which we teach must be sincere, fruitful and acceptable to the Lord, according to the instructions in his word.  He that receives this repentance in sincerity, and abides in it unto the end, [we] may rejoice and thank God, for the end of it is eternal life.  But he that rejects it and does not desire it, let him take warning that the end of it is eternal death.
Beloved Sirs, Friends and Brethren, do for once truly and sincerely lay it to heart, what it is, and what the consequences will be, to willfully transgress the commands of the Lord and haughtily sin against the word of God.  Adam and Eve did but once eat of the fruit which the Lord had forbidden them, therefore, for Adam’s sake the earth was cursed.  In the sweat of his face he was doomed to eat his bread all the days of his life.  Eve and her daughters must bring forth in pain, and be in subjection to their husbands.  They were driven from Paradise, and with all their race, doomed to return to dust, from whence they were taken.  Here also there was no forgiveness nor consolation of grace to be obtained.*  But the Eternal Word, God’s Eternal Son must needs come from high heaven, assume human nature, suffer hunger, temptation, misery; the cross and death, as the scriptures teach.  Oh, beloved Sirs, if this single transgression was so great before God, what will become of those who so proudly, all their days, despise the holy word, covenant, will and commandment of the Lord, who do not confess their sins and transgressions, though they are full of iniquity from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet.  Cain was cursed and became a vagabond upon the earth as long as he lived, because he so enviously slew his innocent brother Abel.  Alas!  What will become of those, who, at the present day without compassion or justice, persecute, plunder and murder the pious Abelites, who with fervent hearts seek Christ and everlasting life?

The ancient world was drowned in the waters of the flood, because the sons of God looked upon the daughters of men, that they were fair, and took to themselves wives of all which they chose, and also because they would not be reproved by the Spirit of God, for every imagination and thought of their hearts were evil continually.  Reflect upon the lusts with which the marriages of the world at the present time are contracted, yes, like dumb beasts; how the Holy Spirit is reviled, slandered and grieved, and how they all walk in their perverted ways which lead to hell, yes, to eternal damnation and death.

Sodom and Gomorrah, with the surrounding cities, on account of their pride, wantonness, cruelty, and abominable crimes, were burned up with the fire of the furious wrath of God, and cast into the abyss of hell.  [CHCoG: Gen 19.  The inhabitants of these cities were burnt up, there is no account of them also being cast into hell (the grave) then.]  Alas, alas, what will befall those miserable men in the great and terrible day when the Lord will appear in his glory, [to those] whose pride, excess, debauchery, pomp, tyranny, blood-thirstiness, adultery, fornication, and papal abominations, no heart can conceive, no tongue express, no pen describe! Rom. 1:24.

Koran, Dathan and Abiram, though they were of the seed of Abraham, and some of them were born of Levi, yet because they revolted against Moses and Aaron, and sought to enter into the sacerdotal office, without being called, they and all their company were swallowed up by the earth alive, Num. 16:32.  Consider what will ultimately happen to our Korites, whom God never acknowledged, much less were sent by him, and whose office, calling and service are not from God and his word, but as the scriptures teach, from the bottomless pit, the dragon and the beast, Rev. 9:1; 13:4; 20:1-3, who mislead so many poor, miserable souls with their seducing doctrines, Babylonian sorceries and hypocritical lives, and not only despise, but also rail [against], persecute, crucify and kill Christ, the righteous Moses and Aaron.  If Moses, the faithful servant of God, could not enter the promised land because he once doubted the word of the Lord, how much less shall this unbelieving, perverted and obdurate generation enter the everlasting land of promise and glory, that not only disbelieve and despise the word of the Lord, the acceptable gospel of Jesus Christ, but also bitterly hate and persecute it, trample the blood of Christ under foot, stop their ears against the truth, and refuse to be taught by any means, either with the truth, the unblameable lives of the saints, or the innocent blood of the witnesses of Jesus, which has been shed, and in many countries flowed like water.

O, you miserable men, who are so entirely depraved and miserable before God, take heed to the word of the Lord, cleanse your bloody hands, and your impure and unbelieving hearts, and no longer despise the grace of God with your vain boastings, and do not say Abraham is your father, Jn. 8:39; that you are the children of God; that Christ died for you, or that you will also confide in his mercy.  “Do not trust in lying words,” says Jeremiah, the prophet; “do not say, here is the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah,” [Jer. 7:4] for it avails nothing that Christ died, and that we are called by his name, if we do not possess a sincere, regenerating, vigorous faith in Jesus Christ, pure, unfeigned love, willing obedience, and a pious and irreproachable life.  God’s mercy, we read, is to his saints, and he has care for his elect, but the hope of the wicked is vain, Wis. 3:9; 5:15.  “The eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry,” Psm. 34:15.  “You are my friends,” says Christ, “if you do whatsoever I command you,” John 15:14.  Therefore, we pray and exhort you again to reform; he is still the same unchangeable God, Mal. 3:6.  He is a strict, jealous and rigid punisher of all wickedness; yes, a righteous judge of all ungodliness and of every evil work.  He visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate him, Exo. 20:5.  On the other hand, he is compassionate, kind, and merciful unto all that do righteously, and fear his name, to many thousands who love him and keep his commandments. [Exo. 20:6].

O, reader, reader, beloved reader, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God! [Heb 10:31]  The time is fulfilled, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.  The kingdom of heaven is at hand; if you would inherit and enter into it, you must repent, not only in appearance, as the hypocrites do, but as sincere penitents, with all your hearts, and all your powers, and bring forth good fruit.  If not, you must be cut off and cast into the fire of his fierce wrath, John 15:6; Luke 3:9.  Imo nisi resipuerite, omnes similiter peritites, i.e., “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish,” Luke 13:3.

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FAITH.

In the third place, we teach with Christ and say, “Believe the gospel,” Mark 1:15.  That gospel is the glad tidings and promulgation of the favor and grace of God toward us, and the forgiveness of our sins through Christ Jesus.  The believer, by faith, receives this gospel through the Holy Spirit, and does not look upon his former righteousness or unrighteousness, but hopes without hope, Rom. 4:18, and with the whole heart depends upon the grace, word and promises of Jehovah; since he well knows that God is true, and that his promises are sure, Psm. 33:4; Rom. 3:4; 1 Cor. 1:9; thereby the heart is renewed, converted, justified, made pious, peaceable and joyous, Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:22; he is born a child of God, John 1:13, approaches, with full confidence, the throne of grace, Heb. 4:11, and thus becomes a joint heir of Christ and a possessor of everlasting life, Rom. 8:14; 1 Tim. 1:16.  Such then awaken in time; they hear and believe the word of the Lord; they weep over their past unworthy lives and conduct; they desire help and advice for their sick souls.  To such, Christ, who is a comforter for all troubled hearts, says, “Believe the gospel;” that is, do not fear; rejoice and be comforted; I will not punish nor chastise you, but will heal you, comfort you, and give you life, Isa. 41:10.  A bruised reed I will not break, and smoking flag I will not quench, Matt. 12:20; “I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick,” Eze. 34:16; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, Matt. 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32; according to the good pleasure of my heavenly Father, I came into the world, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I became a visible, tangible and dying man; in all points like unto you, yet without sin, Heb. 4:15; I was born of Mary, the spotless virgin; I came down from heaven, proceeded from the mouth of the Most High;* I am the first born of every creature, the first and the last; the beginning and the end, Rev. 22:13; the Son of the Almighty God, Luke 1:32, anointed with the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to the poor, and to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to give sight to the blind, to open the prison to them that are bound, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, Isa. 61:1, 2; Luke 4:18.  Believe the gospel.  I am the Lamb that was offered for you all.  I take away the sins of the whole world.  My Father has made me unto you “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” 1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 6:10.  Whosoever believes on me shall not be ashamed; yes, all that believe that I am he shall have eternal life, Rom. 10:11; John 3:16.
Behold, beloved Sirs, Friends, and Brethren, all who believe this are those of whom the scriptures say, “To them, he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” Jn. 1:12,13.  These are they who are justified by faith, and have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God, Rom. 5:1,2, and this, as Paul says, is all of grace and love, [as] all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God has set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, &c., Rom. 3:23-25.  There is none that of himself, can rejoice in, or boast of this faith;* it is the gift of God, Eph. 2:8.  All who receive faith from God, receive a tree full of all manner of good and delicious fruit; happy are they who receive this gift of God, for it is more precious than gold, silver or precious stones; it is incomparable, for he that obtains it, obtains Christ Jesus, forgiveness of sins, a new mind and everlasting life; for the true faith, which is acceptable to God, cannot be dead; it must bring forth fruit, and thus manifest its nature; it works continually in love; walks willingly in righteousness; mortifies flesh and blood; crucifies the lusts and desires; rejoices in the cross of Christ; renews and regenerates, quickens, makes free and gives peace in Christ Jesus.  Behold, such a faith, I say, is the gift of God, Eph. 2:8, by which the righteous, according to the scriptures, are to live as did Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Rahab and all the saints.  Every good tree brings forth good fruit after its kind, Matt. 7:17; every tree which does not bring forth good fruit, although in its full foliage, must be accursed and consumed with fire, Matt. 3:10.  Thus also a fruitless, powerless faith, such as is possessed by the world, and does not work by love, be it ever so learned, wise, eloquent, plausible and miraculous, still, it is in the sight of God unclean, dead and accursed, 1 Cor. 13:2.

Therefore, we exhort you, with Christ Jesus, “Believe the gospel;” that is, believe the joyful news, the message of divine grace through Jesus Christ; leave off sinning, manifest repentance for your past life, submit to the word and will of the Lord; then you will become heirs and joint heirs, citizens and children of the new and heavenly Jerusalem, made free from your enemies, hell, sin, death and the devil, and walk according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, Rom. 8:6.  Quid credit filio dei habet vitan aeternam, i.e., He that believes in the Son of God has everlasting life, John 3:36.

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A SUPPLICATION TO THE MAGISTRACY.

We poor, wretched men, deprived of all human assistance and consolation, who like innocent sheep without a shepherd, have become a prey to the roaring lions of the forest, and devouring beasts of the field; a spectacle and reproach to the whole world, have to suffer daily, under the oppressive sword of lords and princes; have to hear and endure the inhuman revilings and abuse of the learned, the abominable lying and scoffing of the common people.  We humbly entreat the imperial majesty, kings, lords, princes, authorities and officers, every one in his calling, dignity and honor, and all our beloved and gracious rulers, through the deep and bloody wounds of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ that you would but once lay aside all displeasure and evil opinions concerning us, and with sincere pity reflect upon the inhuman and severe trials, misery, depredations, crosses and martyrizations of your distressed and innocent servants; for the great God before whom we stand, who is the Searcher of all hearts, and before whose eyes all things are open and revealed; who knows that we seek nothing else upon this earth than that we, with a good conscience, may live according to his holy commandments, ordinances, word and will; but if there are some pernicious sects, as alas in our day there have been, they will, no doubt, in due time become manifest.

Do therefore condescend so much as to peruse our writings diligently and meditate upon them with a God-fearing and impartial heart, so that you may know with certainty why we are not deterred from our doctrine, faith and practice, by coercion, poverty, misery, persecution and death; that you may thus more thoroughly examine the truth and be no longer guilty of innocent blood.  Be pleased to show some natural candor, and human charity towards your poor servants.  Do not think in your hearts that we poor, forsaken men, after the flesh, are wood or stone; but we are with you descended from one father, Adam, and from one mother, Eve, and are created by the same God; having a common entrance into this world, are clothed with the same nature, desiring rest and peace, concerned for wives and children as well as you, and naturally, as all other creatures on earth, fearful of death.

Therefore, humble yourselves in the name of Jesus, that your poor souls may be saved.  Examine, I say, our doctrine and instructions, and you will find through the grace of God that they are the pure and unadulterated doctrines of Christ, the holy word, the word of eternal peace, the word of eternal truth, the word of divine grace, the word of our salvation, the unconquerable word, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail, Matt. 16:18; they are the two-edged sword that proceeded out of the mouth of the Lord, Rev. 1:16, the sword of the spirit by which all must be judged that dwell upon the earth, Eph. 6:17.

O, you beloved sirs, put the sword into the sheath; for as true as the Lord lives, you do not fight against flesh and blood, but against Him, whose eyes are a flame of fire, who judges and makes war in righteousness; who is crowned with many crowns, with a name no one knows but himself; who is clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; whose name is called the Word of God; who rules the nations with a rod of iron; who treads the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God; who has on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS, Rev. 19:11-16.

O, you highly renowned lords and princes, it is against this Being that you are in this manner contending with your counsel and sword.  Remember what the great prophet of the Lord, Zechariah, said concerning the children of God, who, in this world are ever subject to suffering, “He that touches you, touches the apple of my eye,” Zec. 2:8.  It is a fearful abomination, and bitter enmity, thus miserably to murder, destroy and exterminate those, who with such warm hearts, seek the Lord and eternal life, and who would not molest any one upon the earth.  “Precious in the sight of Jehovah,” David says, “is the death of his saints,” Psm. 116:15.  It is Jesus of Nazareth whom you persecute, Acts 9:5, and not us; therefore awake, forbear, fear God and his word, for we shall all be called to appear before one Judge, before whom neither power, exaltation, comeliness, fine speech nor talents will avail.  Judgment will there be passed in righteousness upon all flesh, impartially and without respect to persons; the oppressed will then receive justice, and the crucified Jesus with his elect, released from the power of death and the hands of tyrants, will enter into his promised inheritance, kingdom and glory.

Seeing then that you deal so unjustly and tyrannically, according to the evil intentions of your hearts, without the sanction of scripture and mercy, with the helpless and God-fearing, how can you expect any grace and mercy in the day of the Lord, when we shall all have to stand before the impartial judgment seat, where every one will be rewarded according to his deeds?  2 Cor. 5:10.

We do not desire such favors as the evildoers of this world; for we have not sinned in this: our doctrine, faith and practice, although we have to suffer so much; but we, only with the word of the Lord, as the scriptures direct us, resist the anti-christian doctrines, ordinances and life.  We resist neither the emperor, the king, nor any authority to which they are called by God; but we are ready to obey till death, in all things which are not contrary to God and his word, and well know what the scriptures teach and enjoin concerning this matter, Rom. 13:18.  But we desire so much mercy that under your gracious protection we may live, teach, labor, and serve the Lord, according to the dictates of our consciences, so that to you and many with you, the gospel of Christ may be rightly preached, and the gate of life opened.  Alas! if the learned had the word of God, and we had it not, how gladly would we be taught by them.  But since we have it, and they do not, therefore we pray, for Jesus’ sake, do not urge us to leave Christ and join anti-christ; to go from truth to error; from life to certain death.

Oh, you renowned lords and princes, who are appointed by God, to be heads and rulers, consider well and believe on the word of the Lord; for if you will not desist from unrighteousness, fear God and do right, it would be better for you if you had never been born.  The innocent blood of Abel calls unto heaven, and will be strictly demanded at your hands at the last day.  Again we say, awake, fear God’s word; for God, the Lord himself, will rule in heaven, in his kingdom, that is in the hearts of men.  He will permit none to detract from his glory, or become exalted above him.  Lucifer, the fair angel of God, desired to exalt himself to the Most High, and was cast out of heaven into the abyss of hell; and is retained in chains of darkness till the judgement of the last day, Isa.14:12-15; Rev. 12:7-9; 2 Pet. 2:4.

Beloved Sirs, receive it in love, and do not be offended, for the truth must be made known.  Your pride has arisen to heaven; look to Christ and his word, his example and his life; judge impartially, and you will find this to be true.  The Almighty, eternal Father, through his everlasting Wisdom, Christ Jesus, has instituted and commanded all things in his kingdom, that is in his church, relating to doctrines, sacraments and life, according to his divine counsel, will and wisdom.  But you, through the counsel and instigation of the learned, by your inhuman and cruel mandates, have changed, destroyed and corrupted these, as if the almighty and eternal word should yield to your command and authority; and as though the divine ordinances of the Son of God might be changed into a more suitable form, and to a better purpose through the wisdom of men.  O, presumption of all presumption!  O, folly of all follies!  Why exalt yourself, O, earth and dust!  Acknowledge Christ Jesus, your chief Lord, who, by God, is made your Prince and Judge.  “The heaven, even the heavens are Jehovah’s,” says David, “but the earth he has given to the children of men,” Psm. 115:16.  I have no doubt that if any were to rise up against the emperor or king, and enter into his kingdom and government, he would not be borne with patiently, nor go unpunished; how much less then, will a poor, fleshly mortal go unpunished, who rises up against the Almighty Emperor, and King, Christ Jesus, to dethrone him from the seat of his divine majesty, and to rob him of his sceptre; and the crown of his glory, as though Christ Jesus, the everlasting wisdom of God, was unreasonable and unfit for the heavenly government.  Reflect on what became of those haughty and proud hearts from the beginning, who desired to place their seats unto the throne of God.

Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, as Peter teaches.  Take as an example the great and prosperous king Nebuchadnezzar, and observe how grievously God punished him, on account of his pride; and how, after being punished, he turned to wisdom, feared the Almighty, highly praised his wonderful and glorious works, and his great and adorable name.

Beloved Sirs, awake, and mend your ways, for it does not become the creature to rise up against the Creator.  Christ alone will be the head of his church, the Teacher in his school; and he alone, the King who will judge his kingdom; not with the doctrines and commands of men, nor with slaying and murdering, but with his Holy Spirit, power, grace and word.

Therefore, we pray you, O, you great ones of the earth, whom we, through the mercy of God, acknowledge in all temporal things as our gracious lords, that you would receive the everlasting, Almighty King, Christ Jesus, as the only Savior, Lord and sovereign of our poor souls, even as he was ordained by his Father; and that you would attend to the duties of your office and temporal government to which you have been called; for we with all our hearts, desire to render unto “Caesar, the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things which are God’s,” Matt. 22:21.  Be pleased also to consider this, our doctrine and instruction, concerning baptism, the Lord’s supper, and the shunning of Babylonian deeds; and compare them well with the word of the Lord.  We hope, through the grace of God that you will find, in truth, that we believe and teach nothing but that which the true oracle of the Lord has commanded us, and the holy apostles have taught and confirmed; to this end, may the great Lord grant you his grace, Amen.

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CONCERNING BAPTISM.

Christ, after his resurrection, commanded his apostles, saying, “Go, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, Amen,” Matt. 28:19,20.

Here we have the Lord’s command concerning baptism, when and how, after the ordinance of God, it shall be administered and received; namely, that the gospel must first be preached, and then those baptized who believe in it, as Christ says, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he that does not believe shall be damned,” Mark 16:15.  Thus has the Lord commanded and ordered; therefore, let nothing else be taught or practiced forever.  The word of God abides forever.  Young children are without understanding and cannot be taught this, therefore, baptism cannot be administered to them without perverting the ordinance of the Lord; misusing his exalted name, and doing violence to his holy word.  In the New Testament there are no ordinances enjoined upon infants, for it treats, both in doctrines and sacraments, with those who have ears to hear, and hearts to understand, Matt. 13:16.  Even as Christ commanded, so the holy apostles also taught and practiced, as may be plainly perceived in many parts of the New Testament.  Thus Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Acts 2:38.  Again, Philip said to the eunuch, “If you believe with all your heart, you may,” Acts 8:37.  Here, faith did not follow baptism, but baptism followed faith, Mark 16:16.

Christ has thus commanded baptism, and received it himself, according to the following manner: When the time had come, and the hour had approached, in which he would fulfil the commission enjoined upon him, preach the word, and make known his Father’s holy name, he came to John, to the Jordan, and desired to be baptized by him, that he might fulfil all righteousness.  He prepared to meet temptation, misery, the cross and death, and as a willing, obedient child, resigned himself to the will of his Almighty Father.  He himself says, “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me,” Jn. 6:38.  He was baptized by John, attested to by the Holy Spirit, and acknowledged by the Father as a beloved Son, Matt. 3:17; 17:5.

Behold, thus Christ commands, and was himself baptized; thus the apostles taught and practiced.  Who will rise up against the Lord, and say, it shall not be so?  Who will teach and instruct wisdom?  Who will accuse the apostles and evangelists with falsehood?  It would be entirely unbecoming for a child to command and judge his father, or a servant, his master, and it is much more unbecoming for the creature to exalt himself above his Creator.  But now it is manifest that the whole world, with its unprofitable doctrines, and commandments of men; with its anti-christian customs, long standing usages, its tyrannical, murdering sword, judges over Christ and his word.  The truths of Christ are esteemed lies; his wisdom, foolishness; his light, darkness, and his gospel, perverted and false.  In short, Christ must be silent and suffer.

Now it may perhaps be said that this was necessary in the beginning of the gospel, because at that time, there were no believers whose children might be baptized; but now, if the parents are believers, then are the children also to be baptized, even as Abraham, when he believed, circumcised his children, Gen. 17:23.  O, no!  This does not follow.

Although Abraham believed God, only one-half of his seed was circumcised, namely, the male children, and not the female, though he was the father of the female, as well as of the male children, of which, by the grace of God, more shall be said in the replication.

In the beginning the gospel was to be preached, and faith followed hearing, and baptism followed faith; this is incontrovertable, for so the Scriptures teach, Rom. 10:17.  But that the children of believers should be baptized because Abraham’s children were circumcised, can in no way be sustained by Scripture; but if it could be established, though it cannot, there would then be but few children baptized, for the number of true believers, it is to be lamented, is very small, as any one may see.

They are not all christians who are so called.  But those only who have the Spirit of Christ are true christians, though I do not know where many are to be found.  Yes, what more shall we say?  All who with Abel bring an acceptable offering; those who are born with Isaac of the free woman, and with Jacob have the birthright, and have obtained the paternal blessing must be slain by blood-thirsty Cain, mocked by Ishmael, and hated by Esau, even as we hear and see on all sides.  May God effect a change for the better.

Behold, this is the word and will of the Lord, that all who hear and believe the word of God shall be baptized (as above stated), thereby to profess their faith, and declare that they will henceforth not live according to their own will, but according to the will of God.  That for the testimony of Jesus they are prepared to forsake their homes, chattels, lands and lives, and to suffer hunger, affliction, oppression, persecution, the cross and death; yes, they desire to bury the flesh with its lusts, and arise with Christ to newness of life, even as Paul says, “Do you not know that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life;” Col. 2:11,12; Rom. 6:3, 4.

Beloved Reader, take heed to the word of the Lord, for this also Paul teaches, who did not receive his gospel from men, but from the Lord himself; even as Christ died and was buried, so also we ought to die unto our sins, and be buried with Christ in baptism; we are not to do this after we have been baptized, but we must commence and do all this before hand.  “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin; for he that is dead is freed from sin,” Rom. 6:5-7; for even as Christ died, has taken away sin, and lives unto God, so every true christian dies unto sin, and lives unto God.

Do not think that we teach that christians are to die unto sin in such a manner, as to become insensible to sin.  Not by any means; but they die unto sin, so as to be no longer obedient to their impure lusts, as Paul says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts of it,” Rom. 6:12; also, John says, “Whoever has been begotten by God does not sin, for His seed is in him; and he is not able to sin,* because he has been begotten by God.” 1 Jn. 3:9; (and 5:18).

For as the death of our Lord would not have profited us, had he not risen from the power of death to the praise of his Father, neither will it avail us anything to bury our sins in baptism, if we do not arise with Christ Jesus from the power of sin, unto a new life, to the praise of the Lord.  “For in that he (Christ) died, he died unto sin once,” says Paul, “but in that he lives, he lives unto God; likewise, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ.” And, “As you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and iniquity, unto iniquity; even so now yield your members, servants to righteousness and holiness.” “For being made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness, and have your fruit unto holiness, and in the end, everlasting life,” Rom. 6:10, 11, 18, 19, 22.

Here observe, intelligent reader; you who desire to know the truth, and seek the salvation of your soul, what the great and holy apostle Paul has taught you.  If you believe his word, doctrine and testimony to be true, you will no doubt readily perceive, from these instructions, and from many other passages in the Scriptures that baptism is no more applicable to infants than circumcision was to the females of the Israelites; for we are no more commanded to baptize infants than Israel was to circumcise female children.  It is also impossible for little children to die to sin, as long as they have not been made alive to it; neither can they rise to a new life, as long as they are not born by God through faith, and by the Spirit of God led into righteousness.  Therefore beware, for the intent of baptism is to bury sin, and to rise with Christ into a new life, which can by no means be the case with infants; therefore, consider well what the word of the Lord teaches you on this subject.

Again, Paul calls baptism “the washing of regeneration.”  Lord, how lamentably your Holy Word is abused.  Is it not greatly to be lamented that men are attempting, notwithstanding these plain passages, to maintain their idolatrous invention of infant baptism, and set forth that infants are regenerated thereby, as if regeneration was simply a pressing into the water?  O, no, regeneration is not such a work of hypocrisy, but is an inward change, which converts a man by the power of God, through faith, from evil to good, from carnality to spirituality, from unrighteousness to righteousness, out of Adam into Christ, which can in no way take place with infants.  The regenerated live by the power of the new life; they crucify the flesh with its evil lusts; they put off the old Adam with his deeds; they avoid every appearance of evil; they are taught, governed and influenced by the Holy Spirit, Rom. 1:17.

Behold, this is true regeneration, with its fruits, of which the Scriptures speak, and comes through faith in the word of God, without which no one who has arrived to the years of understanding can be saved; as Christ says, “Truly, Truly, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” Jn. 3:3: Yes, it is all in vain, if one were even baptized by Peter, or Paul, or Christ himself, if he were not baptized from above with the Holy Spirit and with fire, Matt. 3:11.  As Paul says, “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature,” Gal. 5:6; 2 Cor. 5:17.  All who are thus born by God, changed and renewed in the inner man, and translated from Adam into Christ, are ready to obey the word of the Lord, and say with holy Paul, “Lord, what will you have me do?”  They deny themselves with all their minds and hearts; they submit to the word and ordinances of the Lord, without dislike or opposition; they receive baptism according to the command of the Lord, Matt. 28:19.  They become and manifest themselves as fruitful branches of Christ, the true Vine, and joint heirs in the church of the Lord, John 15:6.  They receive forgiveness of their sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit; they put on Christ; enter the ark of safety, and are secured from the dreadful flood of wrath, which, like a net, will come upon all them that dwell upon the earth.  This, however, is not effected by the power of the water or the sign, but by the power of the divine word, received through faith; for where there is no faith, which through love works obedience (we again speak of those who have come to the years of understanding), there is no promise.  “He that does not believe the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him,” Jn. 3:36.

The Lord commanded Moses that he should stretch forth his hand, and with the rod smite the sea, and the waters should be divided.  Moses believed the word of Jehovah, stretched forth his hand and smote the sea with his rod; the waters were divided and Israel was redeemed; not by the rod and the stroke, but by the power of the divine word received by Moses, through a sincere and living faith.*  Had Moses not believed the word of God, and through disobedience not smote the sea, undoubtedly frightened and oppressed Israel would have fared ill.  He also received a command in the wilderness to erect a brazen serpent, so that when Israel looked upon it, they might be healed of the bite of the serpents.  Moses believed the word of the Lord, and erected a serpent; Israel looked upon it and was healed, not through the virtue of the image, but through the power of the divine word, received by them through faith. [Num. 21:4-9]  In the same manner salvation is ascribed to scriptural baptism, Mark 16:16; the forgiveness of sins, Acts 2:38; the putting on of Christ, Gal. 3:27, and incorporation into his church; not on account of the water, or the administered sign (or else the kingdom of God would depend upon the elements and signs), but on account of the power and truth of the divine promise, which we receive by obedience through faith.  For all those who teach reliance upon words, the elements and works, with Aaron, make a golden calf, and allow a people without understanding to commit idolatry and abominations with this, for in Christ, faith alone avails, which works by love, the new creature, and the keeping of the commandments of God.
Beloved sirs, friends, and brethren, awake and do not delay, render the Most High his due praise and honor, and give ear to his holy word, for those who maintain that the baptism of infants who are incapable of understanding, is a washing of regeneration, do violence to the word of God; resist the Holy Spirit; make Christ a liar, and his holy apostles false witnesses; for Christ and his apostles teach that regeneration comes through faith from God and his word, which word is not to be taught to those who are unable to hear or understand,* but to those who have the ability, both to hear and understand; this is incontrovertible.

The holy apostle Peter also explains the same and says that “even baptism does also now save us; not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God (or the covenant of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” 1 Pet. 3:21.

Here Peter teaches us how the inward baptism saves us, by which the inner man is washed, and not the outward baptism by which the flesh is washed; for only this inward baptism, as already stated, is of value in the sight of God, while outward baptism follows only as an evidence of obedience which is of faith; for if outward baptism could save without the inner washing, the whole of Scripture which speak of the new man, would be spoken to no purpose.  The kingdom of heaven would be bound to elementary water; the blood of Christ would be shed in vain, and no one that is baptized could be lost.  No, no! Outward baptism avails nothing so long as we are not inwardly renewed, regenerated, and baptized by God, with the heavenly fire and the Holy Spirit.  But when we receive this baptism from above, we will be constrained through the Spirit and word of God, by a good conscience, which we thereby obtain, to believe sincerely in the merits of the death of the Lord, and in the power and benefits of his resurrection; and henceforth, because we are inwardly cleansed by faith, and the spiritual strength which we have received, we submissively covenant with the Lord, through the outward sign of baptism, which is enjoined on all the believers in Christ, even as the Lord has covenanted with us in his grace, through his word, that we will no longer live according to the evil, unclean lusts of the flesh, but walk according to the witness of a good conscience before him.

Though these words of Peter are very plain, the learned are not ashamed to force them into a very different signification, by means of their [slightly] plausible comments* and their much boasted reason (probably that they may retain the favor of satan’s world, and live in opulence without cross or affliction), and teach that baptism is a sign of grace; which according to my limited understanding, can in no way be established.  Our sign of grace is Christ Jesus alone, through whom God’s abundant love is freely dispensed and declared unto us.  By signs he was gloriously prefigured to the ancient patriarchs, as by the coats of skin to Adam and Eve; by the rainbow to Noah, by circumcision to Abraham, by which sign they were assured of the divine covenant.  But we are assured by God, of his divine grace, and his eternal peace, by this one sign only, which is Christ Jesus.  The seal in our consciences is the Holy Spirit, but baptism is a sign of obedience, commanded by Christ, by which we testify, when we receive it, that we believe the word of the Lord, that we are sorry for, and repent of our former life and conduct; that we desire to rise with Christ unto a new life; and that we believe in the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ.  Not, my beloved, that we believe in the remission of sins through baptism; by no means; because by baptism we cannot obtain faith and repentance, neither do we receive the forgiveness of sins, nor peace, nor liberty of conscience, but we testify thereby that we have repented, received pardon and faith in Christ, as we said before.  With the fathers it was not thus, for they, through the signs, received assurance and comfort that the promise would be true and sure.  We have this assurance in Christ Jesus alone, in whom all the figurative signs were completed; so that we have in this only true sign, Christ, that which the fathers had in many figurative signs.  In short, if we had forgiveness of sins and peace of conscience through outward ceremonies and elements, then the REALITY would be superceded, and his merits made of no effect.

Behold, this is the only and true foundation of baptism maintained by the Scriptures, and none other.  This we teach and practice, though all the gates of hell rise against us; for we know it is the revealed word of the Lord, and his divine ordinance, from which we do not dare take away, nor add to this, lest we be found disobedient and false before God (who alone is the Lord and God of our consciences), for, “every word of God is pure; he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him,” Prov. 30:5.

Oh God, what are the learned and highly learned masters of this world doing, who are so earnestly engaged in derogating from God’s word and wisdom, and ingeniously urging their own vain reason and wisdom?  They will not prosper; God will not give his honor to another, for he is Jehovah; that is his name, and beside him there is no other, Isa. 42:8.  Conquering, he will conquer them.  He will turn wisdom to folly and their reason to disgrace, for he “knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain,” 1 Cor. 3:20.

Luther writes that children should be baptized on account of their own faith, and adds, “If children had no faith, then their baptism would be blaspheming the sacrament,” &c.  It appears to me, to be a great error in this learned man, through whose writings at first the Lord effected much good, that he maintained that children, without knowledge and understanding, had faith, while the Scriptures teach so plainly that they do not know good from evil, that they cannot discern right from wrong, and he (Luther) says that faith is dormant and concealed in children even as in a believing person who is asleep, till they arrive at the years of understanding.  If Luther writes this as his sincere opinion, he writes much in vain concerning faith and its power, but if he writes to please men, may God have mercy upon him, for I truly know it is only human reason and the invention of men; but it shall not make void the word and ordinance of the Lord.  We do not read in Scripture that the Apostles baptized a single believer while asleep.  They baptized those who were awake, and not the slumbering.  Then why do they baptize their children before that sleeping faith awakes and is confessed by them?

Bucer does not thus support this doctrine, but he maintains infant baptism differently, namely, not that children have faith, but that they, by baptism, may be added to the church of the Lord, and instructed in his word.  He admits that infant baptism is not expressly commanded, nevertheless he maintains that it is right.  O, Lord! How lamentably they do err, who court the favor and honor of men, and seek not the favor and honor of God.  Since infant baptism is not expressly commanded by God, as he acknowledges, it cannot be acceptable to the Lord, Et per consequence, i.e., and by consequence, no promise can follow.  Therefore, the reader should know that true christians ought not to be governed in this matter, by the opinions and traditions of men, but by the word and the ordinances of God.  For we have but one Lord and Master of our conscience, Christ Jesus, whose word, will, command and ordinance, it becomes us, as his willing disciples, to follow, even as the bride rejoices greatly to hear the bridegroom’s voice, John 3:29.

Since we have not a single command in the Scriptures that infants are to be baptized, or that the apostles did practice it; we modestly confess, with a good conscience, that infant baptism is but human invention; a selfish notion; a perversion of the ordinance of Christ; a manifest abomination, standing in the holy place, where it ought, properly, not to be, Matt. 24:15.

Beloved sirs, how little the word of the Lord is regarded, which says, You shall not do after that which is right in your own eyes, but observe whatsoever I command you, Deu. 12:8.  Did not the Father testify from heaven and declare, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him.”? Matt. 17:5.  Does not the whole of Scripture direct us to Christ?  Are we not baptized in his name, that we should hear his voice, and be obedient to his word?  Do you not boast to be the apostolic church?  Then why do you depart from Christ and adhere to anti-christ; and go from the apostolic doctrine and practice to the doctrine and practice of the ‘educated’?  Do observe how severely and frequently God punished men for the self-formed opinions which they maintained as works of holiness and divine worship.

Nadab and Abihu, because they offered strange fire before Jehovah, were suddenly destroyed by fire, before the altar, through the wrath of God. Num. 3:4.

Saul had mercy on Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and prompted by his good intentions, spared the best sheep and oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord, contrary to the word of the prophet.  That seeming act of mercy and laudable zeal was punished, as were the sins of witchcraft and idolatry, because he acted according to his own judgment, and not according to the word of the prophet.  He was reproved by Samuel, smitten with a pestilence, his kingdom taken from him, and given to a more faithful one, 1 Sam. 15:9 &c.

Manasseh, the king of the Jews, and others in Israel, made their children pass through fire.  They built temples and altars in all the high places, also in cities and countries, with good intentions; for they were desirous thereby to honor the Almighty and eternal God, as may be plainly seen, 2 Kings 21:3-6.  This glorious and holy choice was so offensive before God that [even after Manasseh’s death], Jeremiah refused to intercede for the people.

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[CHCoG: The above paragraph is bizarre, but it is likely that Menno was being sarcastic, and thus comparing Manasseh to the popes.  Let us read what the Bible actually says here:

And he [Manasseh] did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, after the abominations of the nations whom Jehovah cast out before the children of Israel.  For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made an Asherah, as did Ahab king of Israel, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.  And he built altars in the house of Jehovah, of which Jehovah said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.  And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of Jehovah.

And he made his son to pass through the fire, and practised augury, and used enchantments, and dealt with them that had familiar spirits, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of Jehovah, to provoke him to anger.

 

There was nothing Mannaseh did at this time that was intended to be either good or holy in Jehovah’s eyes.  He was totally dedicated to promoting paganism, and blatantly inserting it even within God’s temple.  And as a result:]

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Israel was desolated, Jerusalem and the temple burnt; the people and the holy vessels were carried into a foreign land, 2 Kings 25:9; 2 Chr. 36:16-19.  Therefore, says God by the prophet, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the ways that I have commanded you; not those of your own choice; that it may be well with you, Jer. 7:23.

What advice then, my beloved friends, shall be given in relation to such wilful deceivers, who so presumptuously do violence to the expressed word of the Lord, and so shamefully slander the Almighty, the Most High God, and teach that it is the word of God; though such things he never proposed, much less commanded, and never will.

How awful it is thus to sin against God, and so lamentably to pervert his holy and precious word!  Yes, they shall be severely punished by the Lord with heavy judgments, they shall not escape the ire of his fierce wrath, if they do not repent and reform; for God is an enemy to all liars.  They have neither part nor lot in his kingdom; but their portion is eternal destruction, in the lake of fire, 2 Thes. 2:8; Rev. 20:10; 19:20.

In the second place, it is evident that infant baptism is an accursed, abominable and idolatrous institution; for all those who are baptized in infancy are called christians and are accounted partakers of the Lord’s grace, merits, death and blood, and are called his people, although the whole course of their lives is entirely heathenish, wild and dissolute; yes, they indulge in nothing but gluttony, drinking, gaming, whoring, cursing and swearing, as though the water in baptism could make and preserve them as christians.  O, no!  Paul declares, “He that does not have the Spirit of Christ, is not his,” Rom. 8:9.  Yes, the helpless, innocent children, though baptized with the blood of the Lord, and having the sure promise of the kingdom of God, if not baptized with their baptism, must be buried outside the grave yard as accursed.  What infamy!what blindness!  We will say nothing of godfathers, of crossing, breathing upon, sprinkling with salt water, anointing, spitting upon, and their abominable exorcism, all of which are nothing else than open blasphemy, and not commanded by God.  What abominable, detestable idolatry these things are.

In the third place, we are informed by historians, ancient and modern, and also in the decrees that baptism was changed both as to its mode and time of administering.  In the beginning of the holy church, persons were baptized in common water on their first profession, upon their own faith, according to the Scriptures.  Afterwards a change was made; they were examined seven times before being baptized; after that they were baptized at two stated periods; namely, at Easter and Whitsuntide.  Higinius, the tenth pope, instituted godfathers, in the year A.D. 146.  Finally, Luther tells us that in the year A.D. 407, Pope Innocent confirmed infant baptism by a decree, and it is to be feared that it will not be abrogated, except at the expense of much innocent blood of the saints and children of God; even as the prophets, in their days, reproved the accursed abominations and idolatry of the kings, priests and people, not by admonition only, but also with their blood, as we read in both sacred and profane history.

If infant baptism was commanded by God, in his word, why did Innocent add his decree?  How can baptism as practiced by the world, be right, since it has been so frequently changed?  We entreat you, for Jesus’ sake, to reflect that Christ Jesus and not the ‘learned’, is King and Lord of his Church; and rules over it with his sceptre, Spirit and word, Matt. 11:27.  As it is said, He is made unto us Wisdom, and none can instruct him; he appeared in order that he might testify to the truth.  They that love the truth hear his voice and believe his word; and not that of the learned, for his word is truth; but the word of the learned, in this respect, is seduction; for Christ commands that believers should be baptized; but in relation to infants that are without understanding, he gave no command.  But the learned say he that does not have his children baptized, and is himself baptized upon his faith, as Christ commanded, is a fanatic, anabaptist and heretic.

We have here given you the principal reasons why we oppose infant baptism, not only in doctrine, but also to the sacrifice of our lives and possessions.  For we well know, by the grace of God that there is not one word in the Scriptures in its support.  We tell you the truth and do not lie.  Is there anyone under the canopy of heaven who can show us, by divine truth, that Jesus Christ, who is the Son of Almighty God, [Jehovah,] the Eternal Wisdom and Truth, whom alone we acknowledge as the Lawgiver, and Teacher of the New Testament, has given a single command that children should be baptized; or that Christ’s holy apostles ever so taught, or practiced?

What need is there to urge this upon us by tyranny and punishment?  Only show it to us in the word of God, and the difficulty is removed.  For God, who is omniscient, knows that in our weakness, we humbly seek to walk according to the divine ordinances, word and will, for which we, poor miserable men, are shamefully reviled, banished, robbed and slain by every one in many countries, like innocent sheep; but the Lord be eternally praised!  We are esteemed as unworthy of heaven or earth, even as Christ said, “They shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and you shall be hated by all nations for my name’s sake,” Matt. 24:9.

It is our determination, in this matter as in all other matters of conscience, in view of the wrath of Almighty God, that we will not be influenced by lords and princes, nor by doctors and teachers of schools, nor by the influence of the [church] fathers, and long established customs, for in this matter, neither emperors, nor kings, nor doctors, nor licentiates, nor councils, nor proscriptions against the word of God, will avail.  We do not dare be bound to any person, power, wisdom or times, but we must be governed only by the expressed and positive commands of Christ, and the pure doctrines and practices of his holy apostles, as remarked above; for if we do so, we neither deceive any one in this matter, nor are we deceived.  Alas!  Woe to him, woe to him, who departs from this foundation, or is compelled to do so, either through the infirmities of the flesh or tyranny, or by false doctrine; and will not testify of the word of his Lord until death, unto this wicked and sinful generation, both in word and deed, Matt. 10:38; 16:24.

Observe, all of you who persecute the word of the Lord and his people, this is our instruction, doctrine and belief concerning baptism, according to the instruction of the words of Christ; namely, we must first hear the word of God, believe it, and then upon our faith be baptized; we are not seditious or contentious; we do not approve of polygamy; neither do we seek nor wait for any kingdom upon earth.

O, no! no!  To God be eternal praise; we know well what the word of the Lord teaches us and testifies to on this subject.  The word of the Lord commands us that we, with a sincere heart, desire to die to sin, to bury our sins with Christ, and with him to rise to a new life, even as baptism is a figure of it.

That we seek to walk humbly and uprightly in Christ Jesus, in the covenant of his grace, and his everlasting peace, and with an approved conscience before God, even as the mouth of our Lord has commanded; as he has testified by his example, and as we are taught by the pure doctrines and practices of the apostles, 1 Pet. 3:21.

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COUNTER ARGUMENTS WITH THEIR REPLICATIONS.

Having briefly noticed the Lord’s command, and the apostolic doctrine, practices and signification of baptism; that it is and will be the true baptism to the end of time, we will also, now, through the grace of God, as a duty, refer and reply to some scriptural passages of which the learned wrongfully make use, to make void the ordinance of the Lord, and place in its stead their own.

In the first place, they teach that we are all the children of wrath, and sinful; born of the sinful seed of Adam, and therefore, say they, children are to be baptized, in order to be purified and washed from original sin, &c.

To this we reply thus: With the word of the Lord, we believe and confess that we all come from, and are born of, unclean seed; that we through the first Adam, who was of the earth, became wholly depraved, and children of death and of hell, Rom. 5:12.  Nevertheless, as we fell, and became sinners in Adam, we also believe and confess that through Christ, the second and heavenly Adam, we were restored to grace and justified.  For he appeared upon earth, that in and through him we might have life.  Through him only, we glory to have obtained grace, favor and the forgiveness of our sins with God our Father; and not through baptism, whether we are children or believers; for if redemption, and the washing away of original sin, were through baptism, and not by the blood of Christ alone, then would the sweet smelling sacrifice, which is of eternal worth, have been in vain, and without effect, or there would be two remedies for our sins.  But, no!  The Scriptures speak only of one, which is Christ, with his merits, death and blood, 1 Pet. 1:19.  Therefore, he who seeks the remission of his sins through baptism rejects the blood of the Lord and makes water his idol.  Therefore, let every one be careful, lest he ascribe the honor and glory due to Christ to the outward ceremonies and created elements.

It is true, Peter says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.” But this is not to be understood [as meaning] that we receive the remission of our sins through baptism.  O, no!  For if it be so, then Christ and his merits must fall.  But we receive the remission of our sins, in baptism, as follows:

The Lord commanded his gospel to be preached to every creature, so that all who believe and are baptized may be saved.  Where there is faith, which is called the gift of God, by Paul, there also are the power and the fruits of faith.  Where there is an active, fruitful faith, there also is the promise; but where such a faith does not exist (we speak of adults), there also is no promise.  For he that hears the word of the Lord, and believes it with the heart, manifests his fruit, and faithfully observes all things the Lord commanded him; for the Scriptures teach the just shall live by faith, Heb. 10:38.  Then the remission of his sins is preached to him, as Peter teaches and instructs.

Had Noah and Lot not believed the word of the Lord, they would have fared ill.  Had Abraham not believed, he would not have obtained such glorious promises; but they believed, and did right, and became heirs of righteousness, Heb. 11:8.

Had Moses and Israel not believed the word of the Lord and been disobedient, how could they have been succored in the sea and in the wilderness?  But they believed, and according to his promise, were protected by the mighty hand of the Lord.  But those who provoked him, and did not believe his gracious word and the great miracles, fell in the wilderness, and did not enter the promised land.

There was also reconciliation connected with the sacrifices of the Old Testament, not on account of the worth of the smoking offerings upon the altars; for it was not possible, says Paul, that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin, Heb. 10:4.  Before it was offered, it was all Jehovah’s, and the cattle upon a thousand hills were his, says David. Psm. 50:10.  But because the righteous believed the word of divine promise as true, and walked in obedience to his command, so now also is the remission of sins preached through baptism; not on account of the water, or the ceremonies performed, for Christ, I repeat, is the only source of grace; but because the righteous receive the promises of the Lord by faith, and obediently follow his word and will.

This direction does not extend to infants.  For in all the Scriptures, there is not a single command given to baptize them.  Therefore, it is not required of them as a sign of obedience.  Since, then, infant baptism is performed without the command of God, it cannot be a ceremony of God, but a pernicious superstition of men, and evidently idolatry; therefore, the promise of God cannot rest upon such abominations.  It seems to me, it is high time to awaken, and to give heed to the Scriptures.  For Jesus’ sake, sin is not imputed to infants that are innocent, and incapable of understanding.  Life is promised, not through any ceremony, but out of pure grace, through the blood of the Lord, as he himself says, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God,” Mark 10:14.  But concerning baptism he did not command them any thing.

According to my opinion, it is a great error, which some entertain, that the children of the Jews were acceptable to Christ on account of circumcision; and that ours are acceptable to him on account of baptism.  O, blasphemy and infamy!  In every instance, Christ, the only medium of divine grace must be set aside, and grace must be attributed to the lifeless rites and elements.  Here I would ask all pedo-baptists, how they are going to prove that these blessed children were all circumcised, and that there were not among them female children!  If they were acceptable on account of their circumcision, as they pretend, then, why were [some] adults who were circumcised not acceptable?

Although they were circumcised, he commanded that adults should be baptized upon their faith; but concerning infants he gave no such command.  He took them into his arms, laid his hands upon them and blessed them; promised them the kingdom, and dismissed them; but he did not baptize them.

Thus did the wisdom of God himself do; but the world would be his teacher.  Christ does not command that infants should be baptized, but believers; but the world commands that we should baptize children and not believers.*  Yes more, if any one is baptized upon his faith, because the Lord has so commanded; and for conscience’ sake does not have his children baptized, because God does not command it, his name, alas! is reproached by all, and he is subjected to torture, misery and death; and this is not to be attributed so much to the rulers, as to those who are esteemed teachers and preachers, for what the rulers do, they generally do by the counsel and instigation of the [supposedly] learned.  By their fruits, they show who is their father, for they do his works.  It seems to me they always have been, and ever will be, those who, with their false doctrines, revengeful spirits, and hard hearts, shed the blood of the righteous, Rev. 17:6; 18:24.  Alas!  Such persecution is so disgraceful that it is almost a shame to mention it.  For as clear as the sun shines on this world, and is seen by every one, so manifest is the inhuman, raving tyranny of the learned against the Lamb and his chosen.  God grant that the eyes of these blind, perverted, blood-thirsty teachers, with all their tyranny, may be opened that they may become satisfied and weary of their false doctrine and the shedding of innocent blood, Amen.

In the second place, they teach that the children of Israel under the Old Testament, were admitted into God’s covenant and church through circumcision; but now, our children are admitted through baptism.  To this, in accordance with Scripture, we reply, No.  Whoever reads the Scriptures understandingly, will clearly perceive that Abraham was in covenant with the Lord many years before he was circumcised.  And that the children were circumcised on the eighth day, although they had been in the covenant before.  For it is evident that we do not become the children of God through any outward rites, but through the paternal and gracious choice, through Christ Jesus.  But an outward sign was required of Abraham as a seal of obedience and faith.  And likewise of his seed, that they should circumcise the male children on the eighth day; not sooner nor later, and not the female children.  Had the covenant depended upon the sign, and not upon the assurance of grace, what would have become of the females, and the males that died uncircumcised before the eighth day?

Beloved reader, give heed to the word of God.  Although the women and female children were not circumcised, they had the promise in common, in the promised seed, the holy land, the kingdom and glory.  They were no less the seed of Abraham and subject to the covenant of God, and the things signified by the sign of it, than the circumcised men and male children.  From which it is evident that the children of Israel were not in the Lord’s covenant on account of circumcision, as pedo-baptists assert, but through the divine choice of grace.

And even as Abraham and the children of Israel, the female as well as the male children, were in the covenant not through the sign, but through the divine choice, so also are our children in the covenant of God, although not baptized.  The word of Paul is incontrovertible.  He (God) has chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, and has ordained us as his children through Jesus Christ, Eph. 1:4.

Again, children are entitled to the kingdom of heaven, and are under the promise of the grace of God through Christ; as has been said; and therefore we truly believe that they are blessed, holy and pure, acceptable to God; are under the covenant, and in his church, but by no means through any external sign; for there is not a word in all the Scriptures by which to maintain that children should be admitted into the covenant and the church by such a sign.  Besides, it is very evident that they cannot be taught or admonished by word or sacrament, as long as they are without the ability to hear and understand.

Therefore, the signs are not to be used for any other purpose than that for which they were instituted and commanded by the Lord.  Since Christ has ordained and commanded us to baptize believers; and has not said a word about infant baptism, we believe and teach that the baptism of believers is from God and his word, and infant baptism is from the dragon and the beast.

All the rites ordained by God, both of the Old and New Testament, are ordained to exercise our faith and to show our obedience.  Therefore we should not use and change them at our pleasure; but we must use them as the Lord himself has ordained and commanded, if we would escape being punished by the fierce wrath of God, as were Nadab and Abihu, Lev. 10:2.

Since Christ has commanded that believers should be baptized, and not infants, and the holy apostles taught and practiced thus, in accordance with the instructions and commands of Christ, as may be seen in many places of the New Testament, all reasonable-minded men must admit that infant baptism, although alas, practiced by nearly the whole world, and maintained by tyranny, is nothing less than a ceremony of anti-christ: open blasphemy, an enchanting sin, a molten calf; yes, abomination and idolatry.

We also well know how they apply circumcision as a figure of baptism, and adduce the saying of Paul in proof of it, namely, “In whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, &c., Col. 2:11.  He that will attempt to prove by this passage that infant baptism is right, does violence to holy Paul, and falsely perverts his testimony.  For he does not teach that external circumcision is a figure of baptism, but alludes to inward circumcision.  For even as actual circumcision of the foreskin was performed with a knife of stone, so also must our inbred and carnal nature be cut off with that spiritual knife of stone, and circumcised with a circumcision made without hands.  The stone is Christ.  The knife is the word of God, 1 Cor. 10:4; Heb. 4:12.  It is with this circumcision that believers, not children, are circumcised, as Paul evidently intends to teach by this scripture, “In Him you were circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of sins through the circumcision of the Messiah, and you were buried with Him in immersion, in which you also arose with Him because you believed in the power of God, who raised Him from the house of the dead.” Col. 2:11-12 [CHCoG version].  It appears to me that these words plainly show that Paul did not speak in relation to the baptism of infants; but in regard to the inner circumcision of the believers.  Read also what we said above concerning Romans 6.

In the third place, they say that children are regenerated, put on Christ, and receive the Holy Spirit in baptism.

To this we reply: To be regenerated, to put on Christ, and to receive the Holy Spirit, is one and the same thing; and according to its power, inseparable.  Have you the one, you have the other also.  But that does not at all concern infants; for regeneration takes place through faith, through the word of God, and is a change of heart, or of the inward man, as said above.  To put on Christ is to be transplanted into Christ, and to be like-minded with him.  To receive the Holy Spirit is to be a partaker of his gifts and power, to be taught, assured and influenced by him, as the Scriptures teach.  This cannot take place with infants, for they do not have ears to hear the word of the Lord, as they do not have the understanding to comprehend it; for through the word and the understanding of the word all this is accomplished.

Here it may be asked, whether God is not powerful enough to work faith in children: because John the baptist, yet unborn, leaped for joy in his mother’s womb.

We reply to this, that we are not speaking of the power of God; he made aged and barren Sarah fruitful, and caused Balaam’s ass to speak.  But it does not follow that all old, barren women will become fruitful, and that all asses are to speak.  He does not at all times do all that could be done, or has power to do; we speak only of the precept of the Scriptures; what they teach and command us concerning this matter.

Because infants do not understand, they cannot believe, and because they do not believe, they cannot be born again.  Reason teaches us that they cannot understand the word of God.  That they do not believe and are not regenerated, is evident from their actions.  Whether they are baptized or not, their inbred nature is prone to evil from their youth.  They know no difference between Christ and satan; between good and evil; between life and death.  Whereby then shall we know their faith, regeneration, or that they possess Christ and his Spirit?  The regenerating word must first be heard and believed with a sincere heart, before regeneration, the putting on of Christ and the influences of the Holy Spirit follow.

Behold, thus we are taught by the word of the Lord.  He that does, therefore, not desire the palatable bread of the divine word, upon which our souls have to live, may satisfy himself with the husks that the swine eat, Luke 15:16; we cannot forbid him.  I trust that the gracious Father will protect and preserve us forever, through his great mercy, from their anti-christian doctrines and Pharisaical leaven.

In the fourth place, they say that although infants are not so washed from original sin in baptism, that there are no remains of it still, for the sake of baptism it shall not be imputed to them as sin.

To this we reply: Thus to teach and believe is open blasphemy against Christ and his blood.  I have proved more than once by the word of the Lord that Christ is the only remedy for our sins, and that there is forever none other, Isa. 43:25; Matt. 1:21; Acts 4:12.  If men will not believe the word of God, there is no human help for them.  But the way or manner in which believers receive the remission of sins, in baptism, is fully explained above, and he that reads it understandingly, will give the Lord Jesus the praise due him, and not ascribe the remission of his sins to rites and elements.

In the fifth place, they say that Christ has cleansed and sanctified his church with the washing of water by the word.  Children, they say, belong to the church, therefore they must be cleansed with the washing of water by the word, Eph. 5:26.

To this we reply: Paul does not speak of infants, but of those who hear and believe the word of the Lord, and thus by faith, are sanctified and cleansed in their hearts; for such are cleansed by the washing of water, as the mouth of the Lord has commanded.

Since infants have not this pure, sanctifying faith, nor the means to this (that is the understanding), and are not commanded in Scripture to be baptized; how can they then be cleansed with the washing of water by the word, having no faith in the word, and no washing of water by the word?  Therefore, all pedo-baptists should know that their infant baptism does neither cleanse nor sanctify, but that it is idolatry in toto, without promise, pernicious, and contrary to the word of the Lord.

We have before shown that the remission of sins, or reconciliation, was connected with, and consequent upon, the Jewish offerings, if performed according to the instructions of Moses.  But when not thus performed, they did not obtain reconciliation, but made themselves the more guilty, as Saul, Uzziah, Nadab, Abihu and others.  In like manner is the church sanctified and cleansed, with the washing of water, by the word, if it is done in every respect according to the instruction of the word.  But if it is not done so, we are not cleansed but commit much more sin.

And although infants have neither faith nor baptism, do not think therefore that they are damned.  Oh no!  They are blessed; for they have the Lord’s own promise of the kingdom of God; not through any elements, ceremonies and external rites, but only by grace, through Jesus Christ, Matt. 19:13-15.  And therefore, we do truly believe that they are under grace, acceptable to God, pure, holy, heirs of God and eternal life, and on account of this promise, all sincere christian believers may assuredly rejoice and comfort themselves in the salvation of their children.

In the sixth place, they say that infants are to be baptized on account of the promise made them, as above stated; although Christ did not baptize the children brought to him, nor had them baptized; but they say that he had infant baptism taught and practiced after his death.

To this we reply: This is a false doctrine, and does not have the word of God to sanction it; indeed, it cannot be supported by a single word in the Scriptures.  We rejoice with all our heart that they have this promise; the Scriptures, however, do not teach that they should, therefore, be baptized; and that they were not baptized before Christ’s death, gives us greater assurance of this still, and for this reason: We certainly know that he taught no other word, no other doctrine, no other baptism, nor did he give another Spirit, or another promise, nor did he instruct others to teach differently after his death, than he did before that event.  That he commanded his holy apostles, after his death and ascension, to teach and practice infant baptism can never be proved by the word of the Lord.

Oh Human Nature!  You are not ashamed to charge lies upon Jesus Christ and his apostles, and to practice infant baptism under the semblance of the divine word, as if the Lord had taught it, although he never did.  How much you are like those who say, “Jehovah says; although I have not spoken,” Eze. 13:7; thus says the Lord Jehovah.

As often as the question is put to us, Why shall infants not be baptized, since they are in the church of God, and partakers of his grace, covenant and promise?  We answer: Because the Lord neither taught nor commanded it.

In the seventh place they say, The Scriptures inform us that the apostles baptized whole families, from which we may readily conclude that there were infants among them.

To this in the first place, we reply: Since they endeavor to maintain their position with uncertain conjectures, they acknowledge by their own arguments that they have no scriptural authority for this doctrine.

In the second place, we answer: In things of such importance, we do not dare build upon uncertain suppositions, but upon the sure word, which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, Psm. 119:105.

In the third place, we answer: Four families are mentioned in the Scriptures as having been baptized; namely, that of Cornelius, of the Jailer, of Lydia and of Stephanas, Acts 10:48; 16:15; 16:33 & 1 Cor. 1:16.  The Scriptures plainly show that three of these were all believers; namely, the family of Cornelius, of the Jailer, and that of Stephanas.  But touching the family of Lydia, although the Scriptures say nothing definitely concerning it, the reader should know that it is not usual in Scripture, nor the common custom of the world, to call the family by the woman’s name, as long as the husband is living.  Since Luke mentions the family by the name of the woman, reason teaches us that Lydia was at that time either a widow or a virgin.  Of the probability as to whether there were infants in her house or not, we shall let the pious reader judge.

In the fourth place, we answer: The word household, or houses, does not include the minor children as mentioned in the Scripture; for Paul speaks of vain talkers who subvert whole houses.  Now it is incontrovertable that an infant cannot be subverted by any false doctrine.  Therefore, by the word house or houses, no others can be understood than those who have ears to hear, and hearts to understand.

In the last place, they appeal to Origen and Augustine, and say that these assert that they have received infant baptism from the apostles.

To this we answer and inquire, Can Origen and Augustine prove this by the Scriptures?  Have they done so?  We desire to know; if not, then must we hear and believe Christ and his apostles, and not Augustine and Origen.

That this is not the case may readily be seen from Cyprian, because he neither enjoined nor condemned infant baptism, if those who for many years past have been preachers at Norlingen, have rightly informed me in their church records, and not deceived me in the meaning of the word Liberum.

Cyprian also was a Greek, as well as Origen, and lived twenty-five years after him.  If infant baptism was the doctrine of the apostles and practiced by them, as Origen and Augustine assert, it must first be proved by the Scriptures, and in that case Cyprian must have committed a great sin to leave the observance of the doctrines and practices of the apostles at liberty.  For any thing that is apostolic dare not be changed by any man.  The word of Paul is indisputable, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed,” Gal. 1:8.  Else we would be constrained to acknowledge that the twelve apostles with their doctrine, were not the twelve foundations and twelve gates of the new Jerusalem, Rev. 21:12-14.*

If infant baptism is apostolic, why does Tertullian write and say, “They who are to be baptized, confess for a considerable time in the church, before the overseer, that they renounce the devil, his pomp and angels.  After that they are,” &c.

Revanus annotates on this passage and says: That it was the custom of old that adults (grown persons) be baptized by the washing of regeneration.

That infant baptism was not apostolic may be distinctly seen from the insipid remarks of Athanasius, as Rufinus plainly shows; see Eusebius, 10 Libro Ecc. His., Cap. 14.

Remember also how the early writers contended about infant baptism.  Had it been apostolic, and found in the gospel, why should they have thus wrangled?

Read also Erasmus Rotterod, in sua concion, i.e., in his public orations, Sebastus Frank’s Chronicle, Ulrich Zuingli, in his book of Articles, Martin Cellarius, de immensis operi, Dei, i.e., Concerning the immense works of God, and you will find that infant baptism is not the doctrine and practice of the apostles.

Behold, beloved reader, I admonish and advise you, if you seek God with all your heart, and do not wish to be deceived; do not depend upon men and their doctrine, no matter however old, holy and excellent they may be esteemed; for the ‘divines,’ both ancient and modern, are opposed to each other; but put your trust alone in Christ and his word, in the sure instruction and practice of his holy apostles, and you will, through the grace of God, be perfectly safe from all false doctrines and the power of the devil; and may walk with a free and pious mind before God.

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AN ADMONITION ADDRESSED TO THE SCORNERS OF THE WORD CONCERNING BAPTISM.

We well know, beloved reader, that there are many unprofitable talkers, who teach from the letters of the Scriptures, that infants should not be baptized, but only Christian believers; nevertheless they say: Why my beloved, what can water avail us?  We have been baptized once in the name of God.  Had we only the new life, it would suffice us.  O, dear Lord!  Thus is your precious word every where esteemed in this vicious world as the fables of Æsop; as if Omnipotent Majesty, the Eternal Wisdom and Truth had taught and commanded some things to no purpose.  No, my good reader, no; his name [title] is the Sovereign Lord; his word is his will; his command is eternal life.  All things which he has taught and commanded us, he will undoubtedly have us to observe; if we do not, woe to us.  Christ says, “You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you,” John 15:14.  “My counsel,” says his prophet, “shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,” Isa. 48:10.  Therefore, O, creature, do not fight any longer against God.  Give ear to him and obey his voice, for it is his divine counsel, word and will.  Who are you that you would contend with God?  Christ’s sheep hear his voice.  True Christians believe and obey.  Are you a sincere Christian, born by God?  Then why do you dread baptism; which is among the least that God commanded you?  It has always been a difficult and important command to love your enemy; to do good to those who hate you; to pray in spirit and in truth for those who persecute you; to crucify your wicked and ungodly flesh, with its impure lusts and desires; to subdue your arrogant pride; your avariciousness; your offensive unchastity; your bloody hatred; your eating and drinking to excess; to renounce your accursed idolatry; to desist from your envious revilings; to curb your slanderous tongue; to govern your heart and flesh; to love and fear with all your heart, your Lord and God, your Creator and Redeemer; and in all things to submit to his holy word, and serve your neighbor in sincere and unfeigned love, with all your powers, with all your possessions, with your counsel, with your labor, yes, if required, with your death and blood; with a sincere heart to suffer misery, disdain, and the oppressive cross of Christ for the Lord’s word; and to confess Christ Jesus before lords and princes, in prison and bonds, by words and deeds, unto death.

We think that these, and similar commands, are more painful and difficult for perverse flesh, which is naturally so prone to follow its own way, than to have a hand full of water applied;* and a sincere Christian must at all times be ready to do all this; if not, he is not born by God; for the regenerated are of one mind with Christ Jesus.

All who, by the grace of God, have been translated from Adam into Christ, and become partakers of the divine nature, and are baptized by God, with the Spirit and the Fire of heavenly love, will not contend so deridingly with the Lord, and say: My beloved, what can water avail?  But they say, with trembling Paul, “Lord, what will You have me to do?”  And with the penitents on the day of Pentecost, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  They will renounce their own wisdom, and willingly obey the word of the Lord, for they are influenced by his Spirit, and through faith, with willing, obedient hearts, perform all things commanded to them by the Lord.

But as long as their minds are not renewed, they are not of the same mind with Christ; and are not washed in the inner man with clean water from the living fountain of God, they may well say, ‘What can water avail us?’  For as long as they are earthly and sensually minded, the whole ocean would not cleanse them.

My faithful reader, do not think that we put great stress upon the elements and rites.  I tell you the truth in Christ, and do not lie.  If any one were to come to me, even the emperor, or the king, and would desire to be baptized, yet still walking in the unclean, ungodly lusts of the flesh, and were he not unblameable, penitent and regenerated, I hope by the grace of God, I would rather die than to baptize such an impenitent and sensual man.  For where there is no renewing, regenerating faith, leading to obedience, there is no baptism.*  Even as Philip said to the Eunuch, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”  But nevertheless, you ought to know, should the subject for baptism come with a hypocritical heart, under semblance of faith, that his hypocrisy would not be imputed to the baptizer as a sin, but to the dissembler; for no man knows the heart of man, save the spirit of man which is in him, 1 Cor. 2:11.*

It appears to me that you may readily conclude from the language which we have used that we desire no other water than that which the word of the Lord has commanded.  For since we believe that Christ is the true Messiah, to whom the law and the prophets pointed, whom all the righteous fathers and patriarchs desired; that he came from heaven and testified to the truth, and that his command is eternal life, we must, therefore, hear his voice and obey his word.  If not, we actually show that we do not believe, but that we reject his counsel and word, and are ungrateful towards him, for his love.

I know well that many of you will say, We were baptized once in the name of God, and we are satisfied with that.  To which we reply: If you fear God with all your heart, and acknowledge that his word and ordinances are just and good, you must decide that you are not baptized in the name of God, but contrary to it.  It is true that the adorable, exalted name of [the Son of] God was pronounced over you, but not otherwise than it is pronounced over church bells, churches, altars, consecrated water, tapers and palms.  All anti-christian idolatry and abominations, alas, are performed under the semblance of the divine name; although they are not done by virtue of, but against his name, for they are done contrary to his word and will.

My dear reader, reflect well upon these words and judge them by the word of God, and you will find that the baptism which you have received is outside the command of God’s word; that it originated through self-righteousness, and was invented by man, and therefore it must be accursed of God, who alone will reign and rule in his church.  If you would rejoice in the promise and be partakers of the church of Christ, you must believe the word of the Lord, be obedient to, and follow his counsel, will and ordinances.  But if you refuse, and follow your own, and not the Lord’s counsel and will, you cannot comfort yourselves with any scriptural promise, for “he that does not believe,” says Christ, “is condemned already.” John 3:18.

Therefore, do not comfort yourselves any longer with such vain comfort, and say, We have been baptized once; for at heart you are yet entirely unbelieving; yes, rebellious and unclean.  Your whole life is earthly and carnal, your baptism anti-christian, and without the sanction of the word of God.  Therefore, awaken, repent, believe in Christ, seek, fear and love God with all your heart, then the word of the Lord and his anointing will teach you what is proper for you to do or not to do, in this matter.  And do not say, as some do, ‘I will renounce the church and idolatry; I will serve my neighbor, &c., but I do not wish to be baptized.’

O, you blind men!  Do you think that the Lord is pleased with your staying away from that church, or with your alms, or any thing of the kind, if you reject his counsel and word?  No! No!!  He desires your obedience, but not sacrifice.  He desires the whole heart, the entire man.  With him, neither church nor alms will avail, neither words nor deeds, as long as you do not manifest a new heart and life.  “For in Christ Jesus,” says Paul, “neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which works by love, a new creature, and the keeping of the commandments of God,” Gal. 5:6; 6:15; 1 Cor. 7:19.

And whosoever is renewed in Christ and born by God, he lives no more, as Paul says, but Christ Jesus lives in him.  In all his ways he conforms to the word of the Lord, for that powerful, active faith constrains him to all obedience, and to every good work.  But where this new life is not, there fair words may indeed be, but in truth, there is only unbelief, disobedience, wantonness, presumption, and perverseness.

I hereby entreat and admonish you, beloved reader, not to be so obstinate against the Lord, and say, What can water avail us?  But do reflect that Christ Jesus himself was baptized, Matt. 3:13, although he was without sin, neither was guile found in his mouth, 1 Pet. 2:22; yes, who was himself righteousness, the way, the truth, and the life.  Tell us then, what could water avail Christ, who was all in all things?  The disciples also at Ephesus were rebaptized by Paul, because they knew nothing of the Holy Spirit, although they had been baptized with the baptism of John.  If Christ himself was baptized, who was without sin, and others were rebaptized by Paul, who had been baptized with the baptism of John, which was also from heaven, why do you then despise the Lord’s baptism, you who are poor, miserable sinners, who were baptized without knowledge and faith, with the baptism of the dragon and the beast?

Cyprian, the Martyr, with his entire council in Africa, resolved that those who were baptized by heretics should be rebaptized with the christian baptism, and for this reason, that they maintained that the baptism of heretics could not be the baptism of Christ.  Reflect a little, kind reader, who they were that baptized you; by whom they were sent; what kind of faith they had; what kind of lives they led; with what doctrine and practices you were baptized.  If you will seriously reflect upon this, I hope by the grace of God, if you desire true peace and liberty of conscience, you will soon be aware that you never knew either the external or internal baptism, much less received it.

Behold, beloved reader, here you have the true foundation and scriptural instructions of the baptism of Christ, and an explanation of the baptism of anti-christ.

Pray to the Lord, the Most High God, for a sound and clear understanding that you may sincerely know the right and blessed truth, believe, and in the fear of the Lord, faithfully observe it.  Cease from all useless disputing and gainsaying; for whosoever will dispute and gainsay with the determination to remain in the broad way, will ruin his soul, never walk with a good and sure conscience before God, and always find occasion to dispute and wrangle.

Therefore, do examine, believe, and obey the word of God with a sincere and devout heart, and do not be deceived by being led into the appearance of godliness, by fair speeches, and you will certainly obtain the sure doctrine of the saving truth, and the consoling promise of grace.  The Lord Jesus Christ grant you his grace, Amen.

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THE LORD’S HOLY SUPPER.

You know, beloved sirs, friends and brethren, that every where much is written, preached and said concerning the Lord’s Supper.  But with what knowledge, with what faith, love, peace, unity, and after what manner and ordinance they celebrate it, is plainly evident.  It is true, the Lord commanded, in the New Testament, the breaking of bread, or the last Supper, but not in the manner in which you celebrate it.  Your Lord’s Supper is common to all, no matter who or what they are; to the avaricious, proud, gay, drunkards, haters, idolators, debauchees, adulterers, whore-mongers, and rogues.  It is also celebrated, as may be seen, with abominable pomp and splendor, with hypocrisy and idolatry; and besides, it is dispensed by such ministers who only seek worldly honor, ease and the satisfaction of the cravings of their flesh and bodies.

Since so many of you are so zealous about the Lord’s Supper, but not according to the Scripture, as you shall hear; for your table may more properly be called the devil’s table than the Lord’s table, 1 Cor. 10:21, I desire for Jesus’ sake that you would, in the true fear of God, reflect to whom, why and wherefore the Lord instituted, ordained and left this, his last Supper, to his church, so that it may prove to you a living and an affecting sign; that it might bring to your minds, and set forth the Lord’s great and abundant kindness, true peace, the love and union of his church, the communion of his flesh and blood; and that you may die to unrighteousness, and every ungodly work; live to righteousness and godliness; renounce the devil’s table; and that you may sit down at the Lord’s holy table, in the church of Christ, with true faith, a pious, penitent and regenerated life, and with unfeigned brotherly love.

Thus says Paul, “I have received from the Lord that which also I delivered unto you that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood, do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Cor. 11:23-25.

Here you have Paul’s explanation of the words of the Holy Supper, instituted by Jesus Christ, Luke 22:19,20, concerning which words the learned have disputed much; and alas, some of them, through their idolatrous misunderstanding (if we may call it such, and not pride), have disputed at the expense of much innocent blood; and what holy Paul says concerning them is  fulfilled, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” Rom. 1:22.  For they disputed most about the sign, which avails little, but the thing signified for which the sign was instituted, which avails much, they do not touch.  In my opinion, they also pay little attention as to what the qualification of the guests or communicants should be, in order to sit with Christ at his table, and to celebrate this Holy Sacrament.

There is not a single word commanded in the Scriptures that should give cause for dispute concerning the visible and tangible sign, or what it signifies.  The spiritual judge all things spiritually.  For whatever that may be in substance, it can be handled, seen and tasted.  But this we should most consider, that we in our weakness ought to follow, and as much as possible conform ourselves to the signification which is set forth, represented and taught by this sign to all true christian believers.

On this account, we will not trouble the well meaning and pious reader with jarring, fruitless disputing, concerning the outward sign, as the learned do; but we only desire, by the help and grace of the Lord, by the power of the divine word, to point out correctly, for whom, and why Christ Jesus left and ordained this Supper; so that we may not esteem the visible sign above the reality, and depart from the truth to images.

To come to a right, profitable and christian understanding of the Lord’s Holy Supper, what it is, to whom, why, and wherefore it was enjoined, four things in particular should be observed and well considered.

In the first place, we must take heed that we do not do as some, who make [pretend that] the visible, perishable bread and wine [becomes] the Lord’s real flesh and blood.  To believe this is contrary to nature, reason and Scripture; yes, it is open blasphemy against the Son of God, an abomination and idolatry.

Israel had to hold the Passover annually, at the appointed time according to the command of Moses, to commemorate that Jehovah, the Almighty God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob, did graciously preserve his people from the punishment and plagues when he slew the first born of the Egyptians; and by his strong hand and outstretched arm, so gloriously and wonderfully led them out, and redeemed them from the iron furnace of Egypt and the dread tyranny and dominion of Pharaoh, according to the word of his promise.  Hence the paschal lamb is called the Lord’s passah, that is, Passover; the sign for the reality, for the lamb was not the Passover, although so called, but it only typified the Passover, as said.*
So in the Holy Supper, the bread is called the body, and the wine the blood of the Lord, Matt. 26:26-28.  I say the sign is put for the reality,* not that it actually is the real flesh and blood of Christ; for with that he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of his Father, [and is now] immortal and unchangeable, in everlasting majesty and glory.  It is an admonishing type and memorial that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has redeemed us from the power of the devil, from the dominion of hell and eternal death, by offering up an immaculate sacrifice; his innocent flesh and blood, and has triumphantly led us into the kingdom of his grace, as he himself says, “Do this in remembrance of me,” Luke 22:19.
In the second place, it is to be observed that there is no greater evidence of love, than that one suffers death for another, as Christ says, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13.  Since this holy sign is only a memorial of the Lord’s death, and since death is the greatest evidence of love, as said, we are therefore reminded, when we are at the Lord’s table, to eat his bread and to drink his cup, that we not only earnestly show forth and remember his death, but also all the glorious fruits of divine love, manifested towards us, in Christ; namely, that God, in the beginning, made man after his image, incorruptible, placed him in Paradise, and made all creatures subject to him.  After he was beguiled by the serpent, he was cheered and comforted with the promise of a coming Conqueror and Savior, Jesus Christ.  God sent Moses and the prophets, who sedulously practiced the law, and pointed to the promised Christ and his kingdom.  Christ Jesus, according to the promise of the Scriptures, finally appeared in this world, a true man, born of the Virgin Mary, and in much misery, affliction and labor, preached the saving and gracious word to the house of Israel; sought the lost sheep, and brought them to their true Shepherd; appeased and reconciled us before the Father, through his painful death and precious blood, Rom. 8:3.  As he himself says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16.
Oh, wonderful, overflowing and unsearchable* love of God!  He did not send into this unfriendly world [only] an angel, a patriarch, or a prophet, but his eternal MIGHTY WORD, his ETERNAL WISDOM, the brightness of his glory, in the form of sinful flesh, and “made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Cor. 5:21.
My good reader, do not understand this as if Christ had been a sinner; by no means.  The Scriptures acquit him of all sin.  He was the spotless lamb.  He did not sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.  But Paul calls him sin, according to the Hebrew manner of expression; that is an offering for sin, as the prophet says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we were healed, Isa. 63:5.  He gave his life as an offering for sin.

Behold, worthy reader, all those who sincerely believe in this glorious love of God, this abundant, great blessing of grace in Christ Jesus, manifested toward us, are more and more renewed through such a faith; their hearts overflow with joy and peace; they break forth with joyful hearts, in all manner of thanksgiving; they praise and glorify God with all their hearts, because they, with a good conscience have received the Spirit; they believe and know that the Father loved us, so that he gave us poor, wretched sinners, his own and Eternal Son, with his merits, as a gift and an eternal ransom, as Paul says, The grace and love of God, our Savior, appeared not on account of the works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit; which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior, “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life,” Tit. 3:7.

Here it is proper to observe how the Righteous died for the unrighteous, when we were yet sinners and enemies; how the spotless Lamb was prepared for us, in the fire of affliction, suffered upon the cross, and was offered as an eternal propitiation for our sins; how the Creator of all things was bruised for our sakes, and he, who was above all the children of men, became the most unworthy, and was counted with evil doers; how the Innocent bore the sins of the whole world, blotted out all our transgressions, and redeemed us with his crimson blood, as the Scriptures declare, “I restored that which I did not take away,” Psm. 69:4.  In short, Jesus Christ, through his obedience, delivered Adam and all his seed from the consequences of disobedience, and by his painful death, again restored life.

The apostle Paul acknowledged this great and glorious work of divine love, broke forth and said, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword, as it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Rom. 8:35-39.

And this is what John says, Let us love him for he first loved us. 1 John 4:19.  Nature teaches us to love those who love us.  And this is the first fruit of the Holy Sacrament, if rightly celebrated.

In the third place we have to observe that by the Lord’s Supper we are reminded of, and admonished to christian unity, love, and peace, after which all true christians should seek and strive.  “For we being many,” says Paul, “are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread,” 1 Cor. 10:17.

Just as natural bread is made of many grains, broken by the mill, and kneaded together with water, and baked by the heat of the fire; so is the church of Christ made up of many true believers, broken in their hearts with the hammer of the divine word, and are baptized with the water of the Holy Spirit, and with the fire of pure, unfeigned love, into one body, 1 Cor. 12:13.  And as the natural body is in harmony and peace with all its members, and as each member naturally discharges its duty to promote the good of the whole body; thus it also becomes the true and living members of the body of Christ, to be in harmony, of one heart, one mind and one soul; not quarrelsome and unpeaceable, not spiteful and envious, not cruel and hateful, not malicious, not obstinate or rancorous, one toward another, like the ambitious, covetous, and the proud of this world; but in all things, one toward another, be long suffering, friendly, peaceable, ever ready in true christian love to serve his neighbor in all things possible; by exhortation, by reproof, by comforting, by assisting, by counselling, with deed and with possessions, yes, with bitter and hard labor, with body and life.  Ready to forgive one another, as Christ forgives and serves us with his word, life and death, as Paul says, “Put on, therefore, as t