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Second Epistle of Menno Simon. Being a consolation to his much beloved brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus, at and about Amsterdam, beseeching them to visit one another during the time of pestilence, and not to fear death, because it is but a passage into a better life.
"O man, what! art joyful! what! dust and shadow art thou! Proud, for thy life lies buried in death!"
" For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ," 1 Cor. 3:11.
Mercy, grace and peace be unto you. The Lord said unto Martha, "I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die," John 11:25. Chosen brethren and sisters in the Lord, whereas I hear that the fire of pestilence is raging about you, therefore I am constrained by the love I bear to you and to all the pious, as I am aware that all flesh is affrighted at death, and that the death of friends is hard to our natural feelings, to write you, who are overshadowed by the heavenly light and called into the communion of Christ, a short epistle of consolation, that you may now, and at all times diligently watch for the coming of the Lord, and prepare your whole life, heart, mind and actions for death. For Paul says, "It is appointed unto men once to die," Heb. 9:27. Also Sirach says, "All flesh wageth old as a garment; for the covenant from the beginning is, Thou shalt die," Sir. 14:17.
If we, with a new, regenerated and penitent soul, firmly adhere to Christ, truly believe his word, faithfully follow his footsteps, are governed by his Holy Spirit, and die unto the old, sinful life, nay, in every manner, die unto the world, flesh, and devil; if we sincerely seek God's kingdom, righteousness, word, will, truth, praise and honor, and walk inoffensively in his ways, then we shall live with, in, and through him for ever, John 11:25, and we shall not be hurt by the second death, Rev. 2:11, notwithstanding that we were, afortimes, dead in sins, as all the others, fall of covetousness, unchastity, pride, hatred, envy, idolatry, and were, by nature, children of wrath, Eph. 2:3, for unto the truly penitent and believing it is all forgiven through the death of Christ, it is requited by his blood, and reconciled by the only peace‑offering of his innocent, bitter death, so Paul says, "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death," Rom. 8:1, 2. Therefore be of good cheer and grateful; praise him who has delivered you by the power of his word from the dominion of sin and death, and has thus called you to the inheritance of his glory by the Spirit of his grace. Again, I say, give him the praise, and that with a godly, pure conscience and with an unblamable, holy life in faith, wholesome, firm and unblemished in love, living in hope, and fervent in prayer, adorned with the raiment of righteousness, and girded with the beautiful girdle of perfection in the Spirit; having oil in your lamps, sober and awake, so that when the true Head, the glorious King and Bridegroom of our souls comes, he may not find you asleep, and that on account of your not being ready, he does not cast you into eternal darkness, and close the door upon you, and thus give you your part with the hypocrites. I repeat it, be sober, and awake; labor while it is day, lest the dark night overtake you, O, reflect on what is meant I Ps. 117:1, 2; Rom. 15:11; Col. 3:14; 1 Pet. 5:8; John 12:36.
Beloved, faithful brethren, be strong in 281the Lord, of good cheer, and consoled; for your whole life and death are in the hands of the Lord. Yea, all your hairs are numbered; and without him not one shall drop from your head; he knows the number of your days, nay your life is measured as a hand breath. Therefore fear not, but willingly serve each other in time of need. O, leave not off visiting the sick, for by this you shall be established in love, as Sirach says, chapter 7:35. "And it is also the nature of true love, to lay down our lives for the brethren," 1 John 3:16. Reflect on what I tell you; you are aware of one thing, that an obedient, virtuous son, servant, or bride, does not fear the coming of the father, lord or bridegroom, but they long for their coming; "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear," 1 John 4:18. You are also aware that a fatigued laborer is desirous of rest, and an afflicted soul of consolation. And I have no doubt but my beloved children are sealed in God with a good conscience; that he is your Father, and you are his children; that Christ Jesus is your Lord, and you are his servants; that he is your bridegroom and you his bride; and that you, for the sake of his blessed name, will unfeignedly proclaim and teach it to the whole world for doctrine, instruction and reproof, that they may, sincerely repenting, be gained unto God; on account of which you must suffer such excessive misery, trouble, privation and slander from the indolent, wicked generation, as may be noticed on every hand.
Therefore we should reasonably not be afraid of death, which is but a rest from sin and the entrance into a better life, nor be sorrowing about the friends who have fallen asleep in God, as those do who do not expect the reward of the saints; but we should joyfully raise our heads, gird our loins with truth and be joyfully taken up to the heavenly Canaan thus, with our only and eternal (mark, eternal), Joshua, Christ Jesus, to take the promised inheritance, and thus be freed from the laborious, troublesome way of our hard pilgrimage, which we must lead through the rough desert of this wild world so long as we shall be here; and then we shall rest in eternal peace, Eph. 6:14; Luke 22:29; Rev. 14:13.
O, chosen brethren and sisters! how gloriously are they gifted of God, who, in grace, are delivered from the body of sin, and from all perishable things, and are taken up into the holy tabernacles of peace, and called to the eternal, holy sabbath day!
The old, crooked serpent shall no longer sting them in their heels; yea, no pain nor disease shall touch them, and the last enemy, which is death, is already overcome; their tears are dried up, and their souls are at sure rest and peace in the paradise of grace, in Abraham's bosom, under the altar of God, Rev. 6:9, on Mount Zion, delivered from their great tribulation, clothed in white robes, worshiping before the throne of God and the Lamb, waiting a little while until the number of their brethren shall be fulfilled, Rev. 6:11, to be fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ, Phil. 3:21, to shine forth as the sun, and thus joyfully enter into the eternal wedding and feast which is prepared in heaven unto all the chosen ones, by the blood and death of Christ.
O, how holy and blessed are they who are called of Christ to this feast, and have come to it, clothed in unspotted, clean garments! O, sing the pleasing and joyous hallelujah in your hearts, and thank him who has given them all this by the Spirit of his love, in eternal grace, and who has chosen you to enjoy the same part with them!
Reflect and be consoled. No more at present, but sincerely fear God, serve him in truth, uphold unity, love and peace; watch and pray; walk unblamably; fight your fight patiently; strive after the good; be friendly to one another; willingly submit to your elders and obey them, and remember them and me in your prayers. May the God of peace, our merciful Father, by his blessed Son, Christ Jesus, bless you now and at all times, unto more righteousness, in perfect love.
Your brother and lover of your souls in truth; at present enjoying tolerable health.
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