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PREFACE.

PAUL writes to Timothy, and says, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come; for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, un­thankful, unholy, without natural affection, trace‑breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, trai­tors, heady, high‑minded, lovers of pleas­ures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away," 2 Tim. 3:1‑6.

Further he says, "I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suf­fering and doctrine, for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables," 2 Tim. 4:1‑4.

Again Daniel says, "There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation," Dan. 12:1.

Beloved reader, if you will pay close at­tention to the seeking, teaching and conduct of the preachers of the present day, and to the deplorable condition of the common people, you will be convinced that the teach­ers of whom' Paul speaks are here, in great numbers and that the abominable time has arrived. O reader, take heed! It is such a time now, that if Sodom was flourishing as of old, it would compare as pious and right­eous with the present, miserable world. Yet, through the just punishment and wrath of God, Sodom was turned into ashes and suf­fered the vengeance of eternal fire.

"Behold," says the prophet, "this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, Pride, full­ness of bread, abundance of idleness, was in her, and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy; and they were haughty and com­mitted abomination before me; therefore I took them away as I saw good," Ezek.16:49,50.

But now the world lives as if they were merely born to ungodliness and sensuality; and as if God was a dreamer and his word a fable. Say, beloved, is it not so 8 My kind reader, is it not so a Where is he who sincerely fears God and seeks after the truth I Wherever we tern we see nothing but unrighteonsness, idolatry, deceit and despising of God. And all this is decked with the holy name, word, death and blood of Christ; besides, with human weakness and with false freedom, to avoid offence, O Lord! as if Christ were the Redeemer of all the impenitent and Mediator of all per­verse sinners. No, my reader, no; this is not the case. Beware I Paul says, "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die," Rom. 8:13.

Inasmuch, then, that the world is so cor­rupted, on every hand, that it has become a double Sodom, nay a confused Babel or benighted Egypt, under the pretense and name of christian churches; and since the great and merciful God has, in these latter days of unrighteousness, again revealed un­to some the precious word of his divine grace in a pure, christian understanding, and placed it as a clear light amidst the darkness, wherewith he yet in everlasting love will assemble unto himself, before the dark day, an obedient and willing church through the revelation of his holy word and the enlightenment of his eternal Spirit; and since he has chosen them as his own pecul­iar people from the assembly of anti‑ohrist, 3through true repentance and a virtuous walk (although in weakness), under the cross of Christ, together with a salutary use of the sacramental signs according to the ordi­nance of Christ and his apostles and through a free, unfeigned confession of faith in the precious blood of Christ; therefore all the gates of hell arise and rave, so that, alas, true christians can find but little rest upon earth, as may be seen.

The rulers banish and persecute them; drag them into prisons and dungeons, tort­ure and rob them, and in many places de­prive them of their manhood, possessions and even life.

This perverse and reckless people ever call us anabaptists; heap one shameful lie upon another; point at us with the finger of scorn, as if we so behaved that fire and sword were too merciful a punishment for our bodies, and eternal hell‑fire too merci­ful a punishment for our souls.

The preachers and the learned " are cor­rupt, and speak wickedly concerning op­pression; they speak loftily," as the prophet says, Ps. 73:8, although we testify by so many tribulations that we, in our poor weakness, sincerely desire to fear and fol­low the Lord, and that we seek and desire peace with all mankind; yet, we are infa­mously slandered; we are accused, every­where, before lords and rulers of cities and countries, that we are ungodly sects and anabaptists; that we are seducing the pop­ulace; conspire to raise mutiny and rebell­ion; and are falsely accused of other crim­inal intentions; that they may thus obscure and obstruct the precious word of God, the word of true repentance; the joyous gospel of grace; the true and powerful faith in Christ Jesus; the pious, unblamable life, required by the Scriptures; and destroy the glorious kingdom of Christ, and his right­eousness; lest their cause and unfaithful­ness be made manifest to the world; as may be educed from their fruits; and that on the other hand, the corrupt kingdom of anti­christ, the kingdom of this world, may be preserved uninterruptedly and maintained without shame unto the end, in falsehood, impenitance, open idolatry, a carnal, easy life and in unrighteousness, according to the desires of the old serpent.

Behold thus works the "prince of the power of the air, the Spirit that now work­eth in the children of disobedience," as Paul says, Eph. 2:2; as may, alas, be plainly seen in the case of Gellius Faber, if we well consider his writings, slanders, bitter, offens­ive words, his false accusations, his vain boasting and gross garbling, and judge them according to the Spirit and word of the Lord.

Notwithstanding that it is well known to many thousands of honest and reasonable people (as I suppose) that we seek nothing else upon earth but that we may in our weakness, willingly walk in the footsteps of Christ, in obedience to his word; that we may again light the extinguished lamp of truth, may call many unto righteousness, and that we may save our souls by the as­sistance and grace of the Lord, on which ac, count we, poor ones everywhere, must en­dure so much tribulation, misery, anxiety, cross and persecution; nevertheless, the above mentioned Gellius, who in this case should be our assistant and fosterer (for he claims to be a servant of the holy word), still increases our anxiety and sore perse­cution, and the hatred and bitterness against us, by his unscriptural arguments and hos­tility to our foundation and doctrine, by his covert, malicious complaints to the mag­istracy, and by his infamous slanders which he publishes, through his writings, to the world, to the dishonor of God and his holy word; to the disgrace of all the pious; to the confirmation of his own condemnation, and to the deceiving of the simple. There­fore, no well‑disposed person will think hard of me, that I, by an open reply, in ac­cordance with the Spirit and word of my Lord, defend, .to the best of my ability, the honor of God, the salvation of my brethren, the foundation of my faith and the praise of Christ, my Lord, whose service I entered, unworthily, by his grace and calling, ac­cording to his divine will.

I trust, too, with the gracious help of God, that I shall be able to do this so powerfully and clearly, with so many plain reasons and Scriptures, that not only the theologi­ans but also all reasonable and impartial readers and hearers will, by the grace of God, clearly understand that he and the 4preachers of his class, support deceiving lies; and that we, through the grace of God, support the sure foundation of truth. I, here­with, humbly beseech and faithfully admon­ish all my readers, friends and enemies, that they will attentively read, assiduously examine and judge according to Scripture this my forced reply and defense, not with partiality, not drowsily and spitefully but with care and impartiality. This matter is of like importance to us all, namely, the praise of God, and of Christ, and the salvation of our poor souls. Let none im­agine that he is not accepted.

There is but one road and gate that leads to life, which is a strait road, Matt. 7:13, also, but one doctrine. If we wish to enter with Christ into the kingdom of his glory, we must all walk the strait way and enter in at the narrow gate and be obedient to his word; of this let every one be aware.

Since, then, it is evident that Gellius, and the learned, base their doctrines, sacra­ments, &c., mainly upon human wisdom, garbled Scriptures, upon ideas and opin­ions; and that we base ours upon God's word; that he and his followers walk upon the broad road, and that our followers walk upon the strait road; that he is not perse­cuted, but does persecute by his writings; and, on the other hand, that we are perse­cuted and do not retaliate; therefore, all right‑minded persons must admit that the truth and the true church is not with them, but with us; for it is an infallible‑rule as proven by the word of God and the exam­ple of all the pious, that where the true church is, there also are and necessarily must be the saving doctrine, true sacra­ments, unfeigned love, a pious, godly life and the excommunion or separation of the impenitent and perverse, according to the word of God; as may be clearly educed, by the grace of God, from the following replication.

I would, therefore, earnestly pray all the pious, for God's sake, that they would as­sist me by their ardent prayers to the Most High, that he will bestow upon me, a poor, weak man, together with my beloved breth­ren and faithful servants in the Lord, the gift of his grace and the power of his wis­dom; so that we may silence all opponents, by virtue of true doctrine and an unblam­able walk, and thus maintain to the end, the house of our God, in pure, godly zeal and christian love, to the honor and praise of his great name, to whom be praise and the eternal kingdom, Amen.

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