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OF THE MISSION OR CALLING OF THE PREACHERS.
GELLIUS complains very much of a bitter and sneering epistle of the anabaptists, as he calls them, in which they are said to have given five particular reasons, as I understand from his writing, why they cannot conscienciously accept the preachers as true and uablamable, and cannot use their sacraments as true and Scriptural ordinances, &c. Of which the vocation of their preachers is the first reason. Gellius assiduously tries to maintain that their calling is christian‑like and according to Scripture and says that ours is sectarian and not according to scripture.
Answer. How bitter and sneering the said epistle may have been, I do not know, for I have never seen it. But I presume it was not so bitter as Gellius complains that it was; that it was a reproof of his corruption, his deceiving and unscriptural sacraments; something which he ever, maliciously, calls brawling and sneering.
Since I did not read the epistle myself, as said, therefore I will not undertake to defend every word of it; but will undertake a defence, by virtue of my ministry of the divine word, and because I have been disgracefully treated in regard to it, so far as concerns the five articles in which the preachers17 are reproved or accused, whose vocation Gellius maintains as evangelical and right. And I trust that, with the gracious assistance of God, I will be enabled to defend these articles with such power and clearness of Scripture, that all impartial, reasonable readers, on comparing our writings, will, by the grace of God, behold, as in a mirror, that he and all the worldly preachers are not the called preachers and teachers of the church of Christ, to whom the Scriptures point; but that they are the open preachers and teachers of the world, or of the church of anti‑christ against whom the Scriptures on every hand warn us, and in many places terrifies us against them. He that hath ears, let him hear what the word of the Lord teaches.
Gellius points out a difference between the calling or sending of the prophets of Christ and the apostles and between the calling of the bishops, pastors and other servants of the church, and says, "That the sending of the prophets of Christ and the apostles was done without any means of man, solely of God; but that the sending of the bishops and pastors is done of God by means of man."
Answer. We do not contradict this, but agree with him in this respect. But we contradict that the calling of which they boast is done in accordance with the apostolic doctrine and usage; and would say that we should well observe these five, following points or articles, according to the Scriptures; namely, Of whom they are called; what they are that are called; to what purpose they are called; what fruit the called bring forth; and what the proper desire and seeking of the called is.
In the first place, we must observe that the calling which was done in the primitive, apostolic church, by means of man, was not done of the world but of the true christians and obedient disciples of the Lord and his word. For Luke writes, Acts 14:23, "And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed." Paul also says to Titus, " For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldst set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city, as I have apointed thee," Tit. 1:5, &c. Read also 1 Tim. 3:12.
Since the preachers, then, boast of a calling of God, by means of man, as said, therefore I would ask without all artifice, Who is the Paul or Barnabas, or Timothy or Titus that has called and ordained Gellius and his like preachers to the service? If they answer, the magistracy; then I would ask in the second place, If the magistracy, who assumes this matter, have the spirit, calling, ministry, ordinance, and power of Paul, Barnabas, Titus and Timothy? If they answer in the affirmative, then I would like to see their grounds proven according to Scripture. If they say, because they are part of the church, as Gellius seems to have it, then I would ask in the third place, Whether they are actuated by the Spirit of God? Whether they have crucified the flesh with its lusts, and in their weakness, walk innocently and christianly according to Christ's example and teaching, with his followers? Whether they have become new creatures? Whether they are in Christ and Christ in them? &c. If they say, God knows, and not we, then I would ask in the fourth place, Are you such trees, then, that we cannot judge your fruits, and such lights that we cannot see its refulgence? My reader, ponder well on these questions.
Scriptures plainly testify that there is no christian but who is in Christ and has his Spirit, Rom. 8:9. It is evident that the magistracy does not conform themselves to the example and Spirit of the Lord, as may, alas, be perceived on every hand by their fruits. For they live in every respect according to the lusts of the flesh; seek vain honor, treasure, pompous living, &c.; they are earthly, and not heavenly‑minded; therefore we should consult the word of the Lord whether such people are competent to ordain preachers, pastors and servants for the church of Christ, while their fruits testify that they are yet without Christ's Spirit, kingdom, church and word themselves, as said.
If they should say that they are not called of the magistracy, but of the church, then I would ask in the fifth place, Whether the church which has called them is flesh of Christ's flesh and bone of his bone? Eph. 5:30, that is, a church which sincerely seeks and fears God; that walks in obedience to his word; loves and serves his neighbor; controls18 his ungodly lusts; strives after truth with all his heart; leads an unblamable, pious life, and who is prepared for the sake, of the will and word of the Lord, to sacrifice and abandon, money, goods, blood and life, nay, father, mother, life, husband, wife, children and every thing else, if the honor of God requires it? If they answer no, which is the true answer, then it is already proven that they are not the church and people of the Lord; for the church of Christ must be in unity of spirit with Christ, as has already been heard. If, then, they are not of Christ's church, how can they call preachers unto the church of Christ, as Paul, Barnabas, Timothy and Titus, and the primitive church have done? If on the contrary they answer Yes, then I say again, their open unrighteousness, slander, godlessness, avarice, pomp, drunkenness, superfluity, unchastity, hatred, envy; unmercifulness, violence, &c., testify before the whole world that the answer is not the true one.
Inasmuch as it is manifest that both the magistracy and the subjects are directly contrary to the Spirit and word of Jesus Christ, to his walk and actions; and have not a syllable which in this respect agrees with, the spirit and actions of Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, or of the primitive church; therefore I am very much surprised that he can be so imprudent and inconsiderate, or so very bold as to boast, in these times of grace in which the truth has become so manifest, that he and the preachers of his character were called and ordained of God by the means of man, as were the elders of the primitive church, by Paul, Barnabas, Timothy and Titus.
O, that God would grant that he would once consider and not compare the faithful men and dear servants of God, together with the zealous, regenerated communities and pious children of the primitive churches to this impenitent, reckless and bad world who wish to be considered the true church; and would no more blind the poor unwary hearts who little regard the holy word, with such a semblance and quotation of the Scriptures; for it would be of infinite value to his poor, miserable soul, at the time of his dissolution.
I would now leave it to the reflection of all intelligent readers, how the calling, of which the preachers boast, can stand the test of the Scriptures, while those of whom they boast that called them, are found to be not only no regenerated, pious christians, but besides, open despisers and impenitent contenders against God and his word, as may, alas, be seen, on every hand, by their actions.
In the second place we should observe of what disposition, doctrine and conduct the called servants of the word should be, according to the testimony of the Scriptures; namely, "Blameless, the husband of one wife; vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;" not a novice; he must be holy, just, temperate, &c. "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught; that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." "Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil," &c. "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things," 1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1.
My reader, observe, this is not my word but the word of the Holy Ghost, which gives a true pattern of a true preacher, bishop, pastor, teacher and servant who will, in the church of Christ, bring forth fruit which will remain, John 15.
The Holy Spirit points us to such teachers, to obey and follow them. Paul says, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account; that they may do it with joy and not with grief," Heb. 13:17. In another place he says, "We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake, and be at peace among yourselves," 1 Thess. 5:12, 13.
Such teachers are compared in the Scriptures, to the oxen that tread out the corn, which shall not be muzzled. They are the elders worthy of double honor, and the 19faithful laborers, worthy of their hire, Deut. 25:4; Matt. 10:10. But how Gellius and all the preachers of the German nations, whom he esteems as faithful servants, conform to this I will leave the impartial reader to judge according to the word of the Lord.
Faithful reader, consider well that which I write. They boast that they are called in accordance with Scriptures, as you may hear; although it is obvious and palpable that they lead a life as the one portrayed by Peter and Jude. Many of them are so fallen in the fullness of Bacchus that they, alas, live night and day as swine in full rest; their tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean, as the prophet says, Isa. 28:8; they fearlessly walk after their own lusts, as Jude says; and they esteem as joy the temporal, lusty life, says Peter; they are spots and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you.
Some of them, also, are open fornicators and adulterers. How their wives, as a general thing, conform themselves to Scriptures, may be educed from their fruits. Others are so avaricious that they have become open usurers. They are so intent upon perishable lucre, money and possessions that I dare truthfully say that they, through the easy doctrine of their gospel, have become lords upon earth; yet, most of them are loved of the world and highly esteemed by the ignorant. Their pomp, laziness, easeseeking, vanity, light‑mindedness, pride, &c., baffle all description to say nothing of their tyranny, lying, brawling, slandering, betraying and uproaring against all who seek and fear the Lord.
Reader, it is as I write. O, how willingly would I be silent and close, if the honor of God and his word, and the love for your souls did not compel me to do so; but as it is I am forced to touch upon their abominable shame. Their abominations are so gross and terrible that my soul shrinks back at the thought of them, therefore, imagine how, if I shall treat and write of them. How their actions and behavior agree with the description of Paul, who teaches us that they shall be unblamable, have but one wife, not given to wine, not avaricious, nor covetous of filthy lucre; that they shall be temperate, modest and amiable; have a good report of those that are without; this I will leave to all pious hearts to judge in the fear of God, according to the Scriptures. Behold, my reader, since it is manifest that they are quite contrary to the word of the Lord, in their walk; therefore it is, in fact, nothing but vain hypocrisy, to call such unfruitful, offensive actions, evangelical edification and such a void mockery, a calling.
But Gellius tries to clear himself of this, and lays the blame on those who, according to his writing, lead an unchristian life after the lusts of their flesh, against the ordinance of the apostles, saying, that they cannot weaken the cause of the pious, by their unrighteousness; I would, in the first place, say, Since he complains of them so much, in his book, and says, that they would better be pastors of swine than pastors of the sheep of Christ; and wishes that they would be ex‑officiated, &c.; and since these constitute the majority of them, as may be openly seen; therefore Gellius should admit, that, according to the Scriptures, we should not follow such, nor partake of their sacraments, even, if they were the true sacraments; for he himself admits that they are useless people and wishes them ex‑officiated.
In the second place I say, Since Gellius acknowledges that they are unfit for their offices; and since he and they are of one church, calling and service, why does he suffer them to remain in their offices, and why does he not, by virtue of his calling, excommunicate them with the advice and consent of his church? Since they are a hindrance to the community and a reproach and disgrace to Gellius and his brother-preachers, whom I would were themselves pious and unblamable.
If he says that the magistracy are to blame, he then admits, that those magistrates are not true servants and members of Christ, who admit such offensive people, as adulterers, wine‑bibbers, covetous, &c., as are met with on every hand, to be preachers, while they ruin the souls of the poor miserable people by their wicked offensive life, to say nothing of their doctrine; whom 20they might debar with a single word, without blood‑shed. And what is more, Gellius himself is a faithless shepherd, and dumb watchman. And the magistracy, which is his elector and companion in church‑service, have a contempt for God and slander his word.
In the third place I would say, It would be well for Gellius to first learn to know from the Scriptures the nature of Christ and his church together with the true church-servants, pastors and preachers; to rightly judge all things by the Spirit, word and example of the Lord; and to thoroughly search himself, his brother preachers and his church before contending so maliciously against the pious and accuse them before the whole world, without cause. I would further say, Since (if I understand him aright) he admits that we should not hear the adulterers, wine‑bibbers, strikers, &c., nor partake of their sacraments (something which was intended, probably, to make his cause have a good appearance); therefore we are forced to view in a Scriptural light, how he, according to Paul's doctrine, can stand as a pastor of the church and as a servant of Christ.
Paul says, A bishop must be blameless; this applies also to a true preacher, pastor and teacher; and it is obvious that Gellius is not unblamable, but blamable in many respects; that he is a friend of the world, who seeks to please the world, contrary to the word of God and the example of Christ, the apostles and of the prophets, otherwise he would have suffered persecution, 2 Tim. 3:12, and not have exercised his service at ease, for so long a time, as is testified by the example of Christ, the apostles and by all the true witnesses.
Again, that he is a hireling who has been hired as a servant at certain wages and a stipend, contrary to the example of Christ and the example of all the true messengers who have been sent by him. He is not only not persecuted for the sake of the testimony of Jesus but he himself persecutes the godly, pious hearts who have neither injured or harmed him nor any body else. He persecutes them wilfully by his instigation, advice and writings; contrary to the example of Christ and all the chosen, as may, alas, be seen by his writings here cited. Besides this, his doctrine is wrong and deceiving. He is an upbraider, condemner, defamer and backbiter of the innocent who sincerely fear God and are zealous for his word; yea, who would seal it with their blood, something which he does not. This assertion is, alas, made good by his writing in which he, without just cause, accuses and condemns the god‑fearing, pious hearts before the whole world as being apostates, anabaptists, conspirers, contrabands, sowers of pernicious seed, excommuned sects, servants of the devil and tools; and thus makes them the objects of suspicion, although they sincerely seek the Lord and daily sacrifice possessions and blood for the sake of his holy word.
Besides, he is a supporter and defender of the kingdom of anti‑christ, a falsifier of the Scriptures, an abuser of the sacraments, a strengthener of the impenitent, a liar, &c., as will be plainly shown, by the grace of God, each in its turn.
In the third place it should be observed for what purpose the true preachers are called, namely, that they should teach the word of the Lord; rightly use his sacraments; lead and rule in the church of God; gather together with Christ and not scatter; console the afflicted; admonish those not ordained; seek what is lost; bind up what is bruised; separate those that are incurable, without any respect of person, and should assiduously watch over the vineyard, house and city of God, as the Scriptures teach, Matt. 28:19; 12:30; Mark 16:15.
Behold, my reader, these are the proper reasons why the Holy Ghost has ordained in the house of the Lord bishops, pastors and teachers, according to the precept of Paul Paying, "He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," Eph. 4:11‑13.
But for what purpose Gellius and all the preachers of the world are called, may be educed from their doctrine and work; namely, to preach to suit the magistracy and the world. Again, to offer to the two golden 21calves of Dan and Bethel (understand what I mean); to keep the church of anti‑christ, without penance and regeneration in unity and peace of the flesh, on the perverted and crooked road of darkness and death, under the name and semblance of the word, contrary to the Spirit, doctrine and example of Christ; to console the wilful, reckless world, who wish to be called the church of Christ, without regeneration and obedience, in their impenitent and ungodly nature, with the death, blood, baptism and Supper of the Lord; to violently oppose Christ Jesus and his word and Spirit, so that the world may live on in their original state and unrighteousness unrebuked; that the preachers may continue in their improper gain and careless life; and that the ignorant people, both rich and poor may live on in the lusts of their flesh, pomp, splendor, drinking, carousing, in avariciousness and hoarding, in short, may continue in the broad and easy way of the flesh, unreproved.
This is made too manifest to be denied, by deeds which speak for themselves; yet their cause is artfully adorned with the Scriptures; they talk much; boast loudly of the grace and favor of God; they use baptism and supper under the appearance of truth, as if they were the church of Jesus Christ; although, in fact, they are nothing but a selfish, refractory, impenitent, earthly and sensual people, as is obvious by their fruits. If I do not write the truth, reprove me.
Since, then, it is clearer than day‑light that they are not called to uphold the church of Christ, which is of God and a divine nature, with salutary doctrines, Scriptural sacraments, an unblamable life; earnest reproving, without favor or respect of persons; with faithful admonition and separation, if necessary; but are, under false pretenses of the name and church of Christ; they are servants of the world; receive their reward from it; honor and love it; speak of it, and please it, and whom it seeks and loves to hear, for they are of the world, as John says, 1 John 4:5.
Therefore it is, in the third place, an incontrovertible evidence, that they, alas, are no called servants of the church of Christ; as they falsely pretend, but are the servants and supporters of the kingdom of antichrist, as may be unmistakingly learned from their doctrine, walk and fruits if we closely examine them.
In the fourth place we should observe what kind of fruits they bring forth, for Christ says, "I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain," John 15:16. We confess with holy Isaiah, as does also Gellius, that the doctrine of the holy gospel, if preached in the power of the Spirit, according to the Spirit of Christ, cannot fail to bring forth fruit. " For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud," so, also, is the word that goeth forth out of the mouth of the Lord, Isaiah 55:10.
But Gellius and we should well consider that the sower should, by the power of true faith and the co‑operation of the Holy Spirit, be changed into the Spirit and nature of Christ, and should then teach or present to the people the pure, unadulterated seed, which is the word, without all abuse, leaven and hypocrisy, for where there are such sowers, there it will bud and bring forth. The word of the prophet, which the mouth of the Lord has spoken is true and firm. But where there are not such sowers there they arise too early or start out too late; labor and pains will be in vain; for God works not unto repentance but through those who are of his Spirit.
Inasmuch, then, that the word with true preaching does not remain fruitless as we have seen, and since we clearly see that the seed of the preachers of the world brings forth no fruit unto repentance, but alone hypocrisy, therefore it is an indisputable fact that they have not the word of the Lord in power; but that they are artful workers and not true preachers, or else the word of the prophet must be false, which says, "If they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings," Jer. 23:22.
Since then, that preachers are known by their fruits, and that Gellius and his like 22preachers have preached their doctrine and sacraments so many years to the whole world (which they may continue to do without fear, while they are not opposing the impenitent in their hypocrisy and uncontrolled life, but rather console and encourage them), and yet do not convert a miser nor usurer to liberality; do not bring forth their disciples further than that they profess in name and appearance; remain unchanged in their heart, hate and oppose true righteousness, walk upon the broad way, and earnestly strive after the world, flesh, money and possessions. The pompous remain pompous; the proud remain proud; and liars continue in their falsehood, as is manifest; therefore this their fruitless preaching, vain doctrine and church‑service fully prove that their calling is not of God and his word, but of the son of the abyss, anti‑christ and of the world, however much they adorn and boast of their cause. The word of God is and will remain true, Isaiah 55:11.
Gellius then refers us to his fruits, and says, Is not the preaching of the truth and the light of the holy gospel, which we assiduously preach and promulgate both by teaching and writing a good fruit and glorious testimony that our calling is of God and not of the devil; by which the kingdom of the devil is destroyed and by which the papistical abominations, idolatry, masses, absolutions, vigils, &c., have become a deadly stench?
Answer. If they did not mix the dross with the silver and water with wine, that is, if they would preach the truth, without falsehood, and the light without darkness in the power of the Spirit, and would testify it before the whole world by a pious and unblamable life, then we would agree with them that it is a glorious light and a noble fruit. But while they practice wrong and pervert truth into lies, the true apostolic baptism into the baptism of heretics, the church of Christ into pernicious sectarianism and conspiracy, &c., and on the other hand pervert lies to truth, the anti‑christian to christian baptism and the reckless, wild world to the Lord's church, &c., we say that their doctrine is deceiving, offensive and wrong, and is not the true doctrine, as Gellius boasts and pretends.
Yea, my reader, they so preach the word of the Lord that unrighteousness and abuse yet remain in full sway; they so teach the truth, that in many respects, false doctrine, lying and deceiving is not yet weakened nor destroyed; they so use and practice divine service that the high places are honored and idolatry is not avoided; they so preach the christian church, that the church of anti‑christ remains in full power, as is openly manifested to the whole world both by their work and their tyranny.
In short, it is manifest that they so preach and promulgate the gospel that no repentance follows but that every one, alas, remains as he is; yea, what is worse, that the people are not only not regenerated but are daily growing more wicked. Neither encomiums, reasoning nor artful demonstrations will avail here, for their fruit testifies that their doctrine is faithless and false, as said before, Jer. 23.
The serpent spoke the truth when he said, "God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened; and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil," Gen. 3:5. But that which he promised before was a lie, namely, "Ye shall not surely die." Adam and Eve were thereby deceived. Thus, also, do those who teach the serpent's word. They so teach the impenitent, carnal people, concerning the death of the Lord, by their unscriptural sacraments of impenitance, and so console them in their reckless, Adamic nature and life, by false promises (although they do some times speak the truth, as did the serpent, produce Scriptures, partly reprove sin and praise virtue) that there is no body to be found who truly feels sorry for his sins, who sincerely repents of his wickedness, saying, "What have I done," Jer. 8:6. Behold, says the prophet, so they practice falsehood and strengthen the wicked that none repent of their wickedness.
That some of them have thus weakened the papistical abominations, for this they and we give praises to the Lord. But what does it avail if they renounce the pope and they themselves step in his stead? It is true that many branches of the tree of anti‑christ are hewn off, but the roots and body still remain. And although he destroyed some high places, yet they walk in the ways of Jeroboam and have not come to Jerusalem for the purpose of truly worshiping.
Yea, kind reader, had the learned firmly 23trusted the living God, faithfully adhered to his word, and had they not acted hypocritically with the world and had they themselves, in power and deeds faithfully practiced, without fear of the cross and the disfavor of the magistracy, what they have, in some of their writings, pointed out, O, what a noble and clear light would have shone on the world, which now, alas, has become such a pernicious darkness and destruction, and a broad way, through the fear of the cross, through hypocrisy, selfishness, desire of ease, ambition and favor of men.
In the second place he says, Is the whole Bible, translated (into the German language) by the memorable D. Martinus, a despisable fruit? Are the songs or hymns composed by Luther and many others a contemptible fruit? Is, also, the constancy, which exists in these times of peril and danger of body and possessions, as it did in the beginning of the gospel, not a noble and genuine fruit of our calling? But such fruits are of no account in their sight or else they will not see them; although they are the surest and the best fruits, &c. The fruits of the outward life and dealings with men, although often mere hypocrisy, only avail in their sight.
Answer. The deceased translators, authors and composers we will leave undisturbed, for they have already found their Lord and Judge; but we will turn to the living, with whom we have to speak. His saying, that writing, translating and composing are the surest and best fruits, is, in my opinion, a very senseless assertion, for such things can be done through learning and skill in languages, without regeneration and change of heart, as he himself well knows. Yea, as the Bible or the Scriptures are read by the greater part of the world, with impure, carnal hearts, so, also, they can, undoubtedly, be translated, through the knowledge and skill of languages, from one language into another, with a carnal, unregenerated and impious heart.
And as hymns are generally sung in God's houses or temples, carelessly, and are light‑mindedly sung, here and there, in the streets and in riotous taverns; so, also, can they be composed by a light‑minded heart without spirit or regeneration? These are, therefore, not the surest and best fruits, as Gellius pretends to say, for they do not remain. But whatever some, in by‑gone times may have written, in true zeal, which is Scripture or conformable to Scripture and useful to the regeneration of the pious, we should, reasonably, praise and esteem.
However, the surest and best fruits arc, to so preach the word of God in power, that many may be born of him and be led to sincerely fear and love him; to cordially serve their neighbors; to die unto flesh and blood; to believe on Jesus Christ with all the heart, and tremble at his word; that they may do nothing contrary to it; may truly worship God and conform their whole life or walk according to his Spirit, word and example, for such fruits remain.
I would further say, He boasts of the danger and constancy (as he calls it) of some of their number; now, in these times of war, which he calls a time of trial, because, (if we understand him aright), they can no longer uphold and protect their cause by force of arms; and consider it a noble fruit, although they have, perhaps, not been tempted unto death as we daily are; and therefore he so indiscreetly condemns and profanes our cause, which the Lord knows we have maintained and will maintain in spite of sword or any other deadly weapon, something which cannot be truthfully refuted. We have patiently walked ac fording to the example of Christ; sacrificed our possessions and blood which might have been saved by a single, hypocritical word; and at all times, for our invincible constancy, we suffer with fire, water and sword; being defenceless, and without any resistance "we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter," Rom. 8:36.
But we give praise to God, that some of them have sacrificed their blood for the sake of the testimony which they had, and with James count them happy; yea, that they are joint‑heirs in the sufferings of Jesus Christ; for their deeds have proven that they sought God and were faithful as far as they were enlightened. But what will that avail them, while they close their hearts to the light of truth; contend against the Spirit, word and will of God; preach lies, pervert and abuse the sacraments, and console and encourage the wild, wicked world in their impenitent, reckless life? Something which the faithful heroes have not done, for they were faithful 24in every thing which they acknowledged as the truth. If they had acknowledged more they would, doubtlessly, have died for the sake thereof as well as for that which they did, at the time, acknowledge.
If our opponents are of the same spirit then they may boast. But their fruits openly testify that that they are, alas, very different.
Again, he writes, that the fruits of an outward life, alone, avail in our sight, &c. Do not our sole oppression, trials, great tribulation, misery, possessions and blood; besides, our open and frank confession, openly testify that he makes this assertion without all truth. Yea, that he openly slanders and wrongs us? O malitiosam calumniun ac perversitatem, (O malicious calumny and perversity).
My kind reader, observe that all Scriptures and the power of true faith constrain us zealously to teach an upright, pious, godly and penitent life; for Jesus Christ says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works." Paul, also teaches, "That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ." That we might walk worthy of the Lord and his gospel. Peter says, "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles;" and John says, That we should walk even as Christ walked, Matt. 6:6; Phil. 1:10; Col. 1:10; 1 Pet. 2:12; 1 John 2:6.
Since Scripture, on every hand, enjoin upon us a pious life, as has been heard; therefore it is reasonable and just, if we believe the word of God, that we zealously follow, in our weakness, that which the Spirit of the Lord has so clearly taught and enjoined in his holy word.
But his assertion, that such fruits, only, avail in our sight comes, alas, from an impure heart. For, I presume, he well knows, that we plainly teach that we cannot be saved by outward works, however great and glorious they may appear or that we can thus entirely please God; for they are ever mixed with imperfection and weakness and, therefore, through the corruption of the flesh we cannot acquire the righteousness required in the commandments; therefore we point, alone, to Christ Jesus who is our only and eternal Righteousness, Reconciliation and Propitiator with the Father, and do not at all trust in our works.
My reader, I write the truth in Christ Jesus, and lie not.
O, that Gellius would quit his unguarded talk, and speak no more than that which is true, for a liar is a disgrace and shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and that he could once feel what a true, christian faith is, what it requires in its nature and what it produces in power; he would then know what it is that brings forth such a pious, penitent and unblamable life which he has in times gone by, so disgracefully slandered and upbraided as devilish fruits, hypocrisy and a new mockery; and, as appears, would yet upbraid, if it was not for the experience of many and the great quantity of innocent blood which has been shed.
Behold, dear reader, now you can see how they adorn and deck their abominable hypocrisy and fruitless, impenitent church‑service with writing, translating, singing, &c., although generally alone without repentance and regeneration, as heard; and how they basely construe and explain the sincere, pious fruits of true faith which are taught and represented by all the Scriptures, ceremonies and sacraments; that they may daub the wall with untempered mortar and console the poor, miserable people in their disregard of the word of the Lord. But when the Lord's hurricane, flood and great hailstones shall come with a great noise, then they will break down the wall that they have daubed with untempered mortar and bring it to the ground so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, &c., Ezekiel 13:13, 14.
In the third place, Gellius writes that the office of a preacher consists of two parts, namely, in rooting out, destroying and opposing; also in sowing and building, &c., and boasts that their fruits, especially as regards the first part, cannot be denied in many kingdoms and principalities; and that the Lord Jesus Christ (as he says), has, through their services, planted sincere repentance and such true christian faith in many hearts, that the small community at Emden, in sure expectation of a reward in heaven, willingly supports several hundreds of poor people by their alms, &c.
Answer. We admit that the first part of a preacher's office consists in rooting out, destroying and opposing, and the other of sowing and building up, and this is a proof for 25us that they are not the preachers to serve in such capacity. Although they have renounced, in different cities and countries, (for which we praise the Lord), some abuses and idolatries, which were so gross that they might be plainly noticed, without Scriptures, to be abominations; yet, the root of all deceit remains untouched, namely, the false doctrine and unscriptural sacraments, with which they console the world and encourage them in their impenitence and natural state or Adamic heart which is the source of all unrighteousness, as may, alas, be seen on every hand by the fruits.
If, then, they are the true preachers as they pretend to be, let them execute the first part, namely, To break in pieces with the hammer of the divine word the proud, obdurate hearts, the impure, avaricious hearts, the blood‑guilty, tyrannical hearts, &c., of whom it is written that they are worthy of death; to humble them by the eternal judgment and punishment of Almighty God; to discover to them their ungodly and corrupt nature and flesh, by virtue of the commands; that they may learn to know themselves, see their shame and thus, with sorrowing and repenting hearts, in the fear of the coming wrath and eternal punishment of the just and great God, sincerely and tremblingly repent and die unto their sins, crucify their flesh, smother their lusts, and walk before their God with broken and humbled hearts. Behold this is the true and principal rooting out, destroying and opposing to which Scriptures say, the true preachers are called.
Then let such moved and humbled hearts, such penitent and sighing sinners, who are, with Peter and Magdalene, heart broken, bitterly weep, and with David confess their guilt; then point them to the only and eternal seat of grace, Christ Jesus; teach them the eternal mercy, love, favor and grace of God, according to the Scriptures; console them with the gospel of peace; carefully anoint their wounds, caused by the sharp and smarting wine, with the oil of the joyful promises of Christ, that they may thus, through faith arise with Christ from the death of their abominable sins into the new life of all virtue; that they may, in true faith and in pure, unfeigned love, ever walk without all offence, according to the example of Christ and all the pious; and give thanks to the Lord for his manifest love. Behold, thus sow and build, all true preachers who are called of the Spirit of the Lord and are fit for his service.
Dear reader, observe; Since Gellius and the preachers, then, are not such destroyers and builders, rooters and planters, as their deeds testify; but destroy that which is good and build up that which is bad; that they root out truth with their offensive doctrine and plant falsehood with their false sacraments and easy life; therefore our assertion is incontrovertible, that they are not the servants of Christ nor his true messengers.
He writes, "that the Lord, through their service, has planted true repentance and such a true christian faith in many hearts, that the small congregation at Emden were comforted in expectation of a heavenly reward."
Answer. If this were true indeed, as he writes, it should be attested by the fruits and manifested by the works. Paul says, "The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power," 1 Cor. 4:20. Let nobody falsely boast; we will be judged of one before whom nothing is hidden. Nobody knows what true, christian faith and true repentance are, but he who has truly received them and felt their power. If God, then, plants repentance in so many hearts, as Gellius pretends, why is he and his like preachers, yet so impenitent, so inimical and refractory to truth, and so offensive and blamable in wholesome doctrine? If those of whom he speaks are of the same mind with him, which we trust they are not, then he has not written the truth; this is too plain to be denied.
Those hearts in which God has planted true repentance and an ardent, true, christian faith cannot, especially in these times of manifest truth, long be hidden, nor remain without the cross promised by the Holy Scriptures, if, even, their own preachers and relations are to persecute them. For if they would testify their faith by a frank confession, by a pious life and by works, which are the fruits of true and ardent faith, they would soon find that they have to bear the cross with Christ, their Lord. However much Gellius may garble it in his writings, 26the word of Christ is and remains the word of the cross; all who accept the word in power and in truth must be prepared for the cross; this, both Scriptures and experience abundantly teach us.
This had necessarily to be said, lest we be consoled with a false boasting and idea, and lest the word of the Lord, spoken to the false prophets, be applied to us; saying, Ye promise life to those souls to whom you should not promise it, "By your lying to my people that hear your lies," Ezekiel 13:19.
Notwithstanding, many are suffered in their churches who wantonly live in pomp, splendor, carousing, avarice and according to the lusts of the flesh, which service a true and faithful preacher, through which God works, does not allow, if the evangelical Scriptures and apostolic ordinances and doctrine shall avail and are true.
But, as to the alms and support of the poor, I would say, that it is a good and praise‑worthy work, and cordially approve of it. Also, that many pious, gentile philosophers, as Aristotle, Plato, &c., have considered it as right and just. But we contradict that sincere and true repentance, or the true seed and foundation of sincere love, which is a fruit of true faith, consists therein; for we may give in hypocrisy, as well as in love, as may be seen by the Scribes and Pharisees, by the open heathens and daily, yet, by the papists.
Paul also agrees with this, saying, "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing," 1 Cor. 13:3. Therefore, let every one take heed for what purpose and with what heart he bestows his alms. For the love which is of God and of a divine nature hates all boasting and hypocrisy, neither does it know them; of this I am convinced.
If Gellius points to the support and service of the poor, which I deem praiseworthy, as a fruit of true repentance, then I would ask in the first place, Whether he finds a lack of alms with our church; although they are exiled to foreign countries and live in poverty and misery and are partly robbed of their possessions?
In the second place I would say, that while he wants to boast of true repentance, he should first commence with the repentance of such faith as brings forth the love and fear of God, and not with the alms for the poor. For the Lord's own mouth speaks, That love is the keeping of his commandments; yea that it is the greatest commandment, Deut. 6:6.
Yea, my reader, if he and his could fully comprehend sincere, true repentance and true christian faith, which he thinks has been planted in their hearts, O, how cordially would they fear their God, love and thank him for his favors and loving‑kindness, and how willingly would they follow and obey his holy word! But how they do love and thank him for his loving‑kindness and how they obey and follow his word, their actions and fruits, alas, too plainly testify.
If they love God, and if a true, living faith and genuine repentance has been implanted in their hearts, as he boasts, why do they, then, yet walk after the manner of the Gentiles in pomp and splendor, in the lusts of their eyes, embellishment of their bodies and houses, in avariciousness, carousing, &c.? and why do they not heed the words of Paul? namely, "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die," Rom. 8:13.
If they love their neighbors, as the Scriptures command and true repentance brings forth, why are they, then, so usurious, avaricious and perfidious amongst themselves? Why do they litigate? Hatred, envy, lying, deceit, backbiting and defamation still prevail amongst his followers; besides they curse, swear, brawl, fight, war, destroy, rob and some of them are fornicators, perjurers, &c.; to say nothing about their disgraceful upbraiding, profaning and defaming of all those who seek and fear the Lord. What sort of repentance and faith it is, of which he so loudly boasts, you may consider in the fear of God.
O, my kind reader, it never fails that where true faith is, there, also, is the righteousness of faith; where there is unfeigned, christian love, there also is obedience to the holy word, and where there is true, sincere repentance there also is an unblamable life, 27according to the truth; this is incontrovertible.
Is it not a false assertion to say that the giving of alms shows true repentance; sins we do not know whether it is done in sincerity of heart or in hypocrisy and vanity while he can plainly see that those who give alms generally are merely of the world and flesh, yea, without regeneration and repentance?
It would be well if he could take to hear what stands written: The alms (gifts) of the ungodly do not please the Most High; and sins are not remitted by much offering; he who offers of the possessions of the poor does, even as if he slaughtered the Son, in the sight of the Father. But to keep God's commandments, is a pleasing offer and to do according to the command, this is an offer which avails. "To depart from wickedness is a thing pleasing to the Lord; and to forsake unrighteousness is a propitiation." Again, "To obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken, than the fat of rams," Eccl. 35:3; 1 Sam. 15:22.
I would further say that it is my fixed opinion that the before mentioned alms, of which he boasts, are not the two mites or pennies of the widow's necessaries; but only a small crumb of their abundance, riches and wealth. This I frankly assert, and I have not the least doubt that if they would apply, to the support of the poor, their silk damask and the superabundance of clothes in which they go splendidly attired, the ornaments of their houses, the golden and silver rosaries, the useless, costly ornaments, gold rings, chains, silvered and gilt swords, besides, the booty of the persecuted which may be found in the houses of some, then the poor would not, in the least, suffer from want.
O, my reader, yet by him, this must be called true repentance and a highly boastful work. If such boasting of outward works was heard from our side, how soon would we hear that we are work‑saints, and that we want to be saved by our own merits.
O, Lord! dear Lord!! thus the ignorant people are deceived and consoled in their impenitent, reckless life with their own works and merits. I think that such preachers may justly be called peace‑preachers, bolsterers and false daubers of the Spirit of the Lord, since they praise such a carnal people as penitent and happy according to the prophetic word, while they are still quite earthly and carnally‑minded; as their daily walk openly testifies before the whole world.
My faithful reader, observe the word of the Lord, and take heed; for it is not always a true christian faith nor sincere repentance which the children of the world, who are prone to walk upon the broad way, sometimes teach and represent as true faith and sincere repentance. But this is true faith; which cordially accepts all the words of God, the threatening commands as well as the consoling gospel, and trusts in them as the sure and true word of God, &c. From such faith, which Paul calls a gift of God, springs the fear of God which drives out sin, and the true love which gladdens, enlivens and cheers the heart and leads it into the obedience of the word.
Where there is such a faith which brings forth a new, convened and changed mind; which makes us dead unto sin and leads us into a new life; changes us from Adam to Christ; puts off the old man with all his works and puts on the new man with his works and thus conforms all his thoughts, words and works to the Spirit, word and ways of the Lord, behold, there is true repentance to which the holy prophets, John the baptist, Christ Jesus, together with all the apostles and pious servants have so earnestly pointed us and so faithfully admonished us.
All those who would rightly preach this faith and this genuine repentance, and would thereby bring forth fruits, must themselves first, truly believe and sincerely repent; this is too obvious to be denied; and that Gellius and his like preachers do not yet, in power and truth, believe and sincerely repent, I will leave to be judged by their own writings and fruits, both here on earth and before the throne of God and Christ.
Gellius further writes, and says, If it were true that many of our audience turn the preaching of the holy gospel to lasciviousness, as in Jude 4, and that our preaching avails but little, although many pious, penitent hearts incontrovertibly prove the contrary, then the old lamentation of the prophet Isaiah were but verified, that says, Who hath believed our report, &c.? He also points to the saying of Christ, namely, If they have kept 28
my word they will also keep your word; with which he doubtlessly means to say, as the world has not kept my doctrine, therefore they will not keep your doctrine.
Answer. God has never, from the beginning, preached repentance through the impenitent. The mouth and wisdom of God say, "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles," Matt. 7:16.
Since, it is clear that Gellius and his like preachers remain so earthly and carnally-minded, and are driven by such an unmerciful, tyrannical and slandering spirit, which is, properly, the inborn spirit, nature and fruit of the old serpent; how, then, can they rightly preach the penitent, pious life and the fruitful, merciful, amiable spirit, nature and disposition of Christ, which they not only not acknowledge, but upbraid as hypocrisy and which they sincerely hate in all the pious?
In the second place, I say, that the preaching of peace and the making of cushions of the learned, as they do, will bring forth but few truly repentant persons. For although the world is so wicked and wild that we should reasonably be terrified at their very great wickedness, yet they are so comforted and consoled by their preachers, with their infant baptism, supper, alms and with the merits, grace, death and blood of the Lord, that they presume themselves to be the Lord's chosen holy church and people.
In the third place I would say, because he speaks doubtfully, saying, If it were true that many of his audience turn the preaching of the word to lasciviousness, and little fruit was brought forth by it, something which he however does not admit, &c., the reader should well mark how assiduously they defend the world and the church of anti‑christ, saying, If it were true, &c. Yet the whole German nation has degenerated to such a wild and reckless freedom, by the preaching of their free gospel that if we reasonably admonish and reprove them for their open unchastity, carousing, pomp and splendor, cursing and swearing, lascivious and foul words, we must immediately hear that we are conspirators, vagabonds, fanatics, heaven‑stormers, anabaptists and other indecent, disgraceful slanders.
But in regard to the complaint of Isaiah and the saying of Christ, If they have kept my saying, &c., John 15:20, with which he wishes to cover and adorn his unscriptural practices and doctrine of impenitence, I would ask him: If Christ and the apostles have received those who lived after the lusts of their flesh, such as drunkards, railers, extortioners, avaricious, fornicators, adulterers, &c., as their disciples, so long as they had not sincerely repented?
If he answers in the affirmative, then he speaks contrary to all Scripture. For Paul says, That we shall not eat with such, if he does call himself a brother, 1 Cor. 6:11, and that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6:11. If he answers in the negative, then I would again ask, Why they receive them as disciples while they are not disciples of Christ, but are, according to his own words, of the world?
If he answers that they do not receive them, then I would ask him why they baptize their children before they let them partake of the supper? And whether it would not be better if he would separate them, according to the Scriptures from the communion of those whom he esteems pious? If he answers that he does not know of such, which he can by no means, truthfully say, then I would, lastly ask, if he does not know a tree by its fruits; if he cannot see a light that shines in darkness, as all true christian lights are called in the Scriptures, nor a city which is built upon a high mountain? Matt. 6:14.
Since Gellius and all the preachers, receive and suffer such impenitent persons, whom he himself calls of the world, as heard, in the communion of their churches, against the practice of Christ and of the apostles, therefore they must thereby acknowledge that Christ's church is of the world or the world of Christ's church; that they, contrary to the apostolic doctrine, ordinance and example, dispense the sacraments also to the world, which according to the Scriptures properly belong to the penitent alone; who have placed themselves in the church of the Lord, in obedience to the word; that they, thereby, include the penitent (if such there be) in the communion of the impenitent; and that they are open flatterers and enemies29 of the cross of Christ, Phil. 3:18, who act hypocritically with the higher class and flatter the world, lest they lose their favors; and thus openly and faithlessly transgress the Lord's word and ordinance, for the sake of their bellies and reject it as powerless and discouraging.
Again, as to his reference to the Lord's parable, I would say, That I would have him take a better view of it and not console himself herewith; for it has reference to the true preachers and disciples who have been put to the trial of the cross of Christ, in obedience to the word, and not to the cross-fleeing preachers and the world, as may be learned not alone from the Scriptures but also from experience.
For some reject the received and manifest truth, and the sown seed is devoured of the fowls of the air and does not bring forth fruit. Some are withered by the scorching sun of the cross, oppression and misery, which proves them wood, hay and stubble, 1 Cor. 3:12.
Others are smothered by the cares of this world, and by deceitful riches and the lusts of the flesh, so that the received knowledge dies in them, and the lusts and love of this world prevail, which in our times, as well as in the times of the primitive church, is too often the case with those who, with Demas, alas, again grasp the love of the world.
But the last receive it in a sincere, pious heart, and meekly bring forth fruit with patience; although they are much tempted by all kinds of trials, anxiety, oppression and deadly perils, yet they are, by the gracious help of God, so armed with a true faith, love, hope, and patience or long‑suffering; are so confirmed in God, that neither the fire of tribulation can consume them (for they are gold, silver and precious stones), nor sword and pain can frighten or deter them from the ways of the Lord, Rom. 8:38.
That the beforementioned parable has reference to such christians and not to the world and its preachers, is too clear to be controverted or denied. And Gellius and his like preachers of the world remain defenders of unrighteousness, comforters of the impenitent and servants of the kingdom of anti‑christ, who not only pitifully deceive their own souls but also those of their church, and support and defend them in their gross abominations and impenitent carnal lives, by their perversion of Scriptures and useless consolations, to their eternal destruction.
In the fifth place it should be observed, what the preachers' desire and seeking should be. The Scriptures teach that Moses and Jeremiah, Exod. 4:10, reluctantly accepted of the service when they, Jer. 1:6, were called and sent of God, as Jeremiah laments when the cross bore heavily upon him, Exod. 4:10; Jer. 1:6; Jer. 20:8.
All that the prophets, apostles and faithful servants of God ever sought and desired was nothing else than that they might proclaim the name of their God and might point their neighbors to the way of peace. They did not seek money, gold, honor and an easy life, but they executed their office to which they were appointed, and which was, alas, not weighed by the heedless people, under many sore trials, miseries, anxieties, tribulations, beatings, poverty, oppression and tortures, and at the risk of life even, as sacred and profane histories, in many instances, teach. But why the preachers of the world have hitherto refused and yet refuse the service, and what they seek thereby, experience and the Holy Spirit plainly teach us, saying, that they promise death to the pious and life to the wicked, for the sake of a hand‑ful of barley or a piece of bread; that they seek the fat and the wool, milk and flesh; that they eat but do not feed the Lord's sheep, Ezekiel 34:3; that they preach peace for their bellies' sake (that is, if well paid), and war if not well fed, &c.
Facts testify openly that it is true that they do not seek the salvation of souls, but a careless, easy life; for we never saw in all our life that the preachers lived where there were no rents or liens. That, also, Gellius does not seek the salvation of his sheep, but the rents, he has testified when he left Norden, where he was called by the same calling, and moved to Emden where the annual income was greater; something which the paters, in times gone‑by, esteemed as unjust in their concilions and decrees, and punished with excommunication.
30If he sought the salvation of their souls, and not the rents, as becomes a good and faithful shepherd, according to the example of Jesus Christ and of all faithful servants, why, then, did he make void his first calling, which was, according to his assertion, divine, and leave the first sheep who were no less delivered through the death of the Lord, and bought with his precious blood, than the last, of which he now has the charge. O, hypocrisy and feigning!
Again, Gellius says in regard to the sustenance of the preachers, That they have little care as to how the community, of whom the magistracy are a part, provides them the necessaries of life, while it is certain that if they serve the gospel, as he says, they shall also live of the gospel; and cites Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7.
Answer. If Gellius and the preachers were such servants as are referred to in these Scriptures, then it is plain, that the sustenance of the gospel was promised them. But if any‑body goes into the service and uselessly destroys and ruins the Lord's goods, if faithless, seeks his own self in all things and does the things which are contrary to the will and honor of the Lord, should such a faithless servant receive the reward which is reasonably due to the faithful, assiduous laborer? I think you will answer in the negative; and that he should rather receive the displeasure and punishment of the Lord: For he speaks, "When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
We acknowledge that sustenance has been promised, by Scriptures, to the true and faithful servants. But, since Gellius and his like preachers are unfaithful servants who destroy the Lord's goods, steal his gain, scatter his sheep and do not gather them together; who, alas, fearlessly lead to hell his precious treasure, namely the poor miserable souls, in great numbers, as those truly regenerated can scripturally judge by the testimony of their open deeds; therefore their sustenance is not the sustenance of true preachers, but an unreasonable, shameful gain; an unbecoming livelihood and the reward of the deceived souls; this, all of sound understanding, must acknowledge and admit.
O, my faithful reader, remember, so long as the world donates such splendid houses and large incomes to their preachers, the false prophets and deceivers will be numerous.
They pretend to vindicate by Scripture all heresy, deceit, idolatry, pomp, hypocrisy, tyranny and drunkenness, together with their unreasonable and shameful service of the flesh and world, and make the ignorant and blind world believe that it is right.
But I openly testify, I testify it unreservedly that the preachers of the world, to take them all in all, are Balaamites, who love the reward of unrighteousness, and serve for the sake of a handful of barley and a piece of bread, whereby they profane the name of God, Ezekiel 13:19. "Prophets which eat at Jezebel's table," 1 Kings 18:20, servants and defenders of Maaz, 1 Chron. 2:27, who are honored with great rewards of Antioch, that is, anti‑christ; Ahabites, who, for the sake of an acre, stone the pious Naboth, 1 Kings 21, that is, who advise and instigate the world by their speeches, writings, backbiting, complaints and permission to, the killing of many an innocent, pious child of God.
Again, they are priests of Jeroboam, who, contrary to the example of Christ Jesus and his holy apostles, hire themselves, for an annual stipend, to an unevangelical service of impenitence, which is practiced, in all respects, without power, spirit, repentance and regeneration, as may openly be seen; their service is vain labor and mockery, besides, an unbecoming speculation.
O, how distinctly has the Holy Ghost portrayed them before our eyes, if we would but see, saying, "And through covetousness shall they, with feigned words, make merchandise of you." Again, "Having men's persons in admiration because of advantage," 2 Peter 2:3; Jude 18, and other like sayings; For that they have sought unreasonable gain and an easy life, from youth, and yet seek it, is so obvious, that it cannot, at all, be denied.
Besides, their liens and properties have 31been obtained from anti‑christ, through artful dealings, enchanting roguery and clerical robbery, and are yet, daily, thus obtained from those who walk upon the broad way without repentance, and who find, alas, no pleasure in the Lord's holy word.
They act hypocritically and flatter the magistrates and those of high‑standing; they console the impenitent and persecute the pious; they adulterate the plain word, sacraments and ordinances of Jesus Christ, by which the church should be gathered and maintained in Him; they preach to suit and please the world, that they may receive, under the semblance of the gospel, the blood-reward of the poor and miserable souls, for which they assiduously strive; that they may peaceably possess it and turn it to the advantage of easy times. Yet they console themselves with the idea that they serve the gospel and therefore should live of the gospel. Behold, thus they give a scriptural shape to all kinds of false doctrines and works, and thus they give a fine appearance to hypocrisy.
My faithful reader, I warn you in sincere love, take heed. Again, I say unto you, The true and faithful servants of Jesus did not have such annual stipends, rents and property attached to the apostolic churches; but the greater part earned their livelihood by their own labor; yet served the church of Christ, and, in all love and humility, walked before them with true doctrines and an unblamable life. They have diligently watched over the Lord's house, city and vineyard; opposed all evil and deceiving spirits with the word of the Lord; admonished the disorderly, consoled the afflicted, reproved the transgressors, excommunicated the disobedient and refractory; served reasonably, left the world to the world, and have patiently borne its cross; and what necessaries they needed they received, not of the world, but at the hands of their pious disciples, in humility, without avariciousness or on desire of shameful gain. Scriptures allow this much, as said above, for they rightly pastured the Lord's sheep, they faithfully planted the vineyard, assiduously tilled the land, and stored the sheaves and fruits in the Lord's barn, as the example of the prophets and apostles points out and the Spirit and word of the Lord command, and enjoin upon all faithful servants.
I will conclude my remarks in regard to the calling of the preachers, and would yet say, Since the Scriptures teach that the servants of the holy word are called either of the Lord himself, or by means of the pious, as has been heard; that they shall be unblamable; able rightly to rule the Lord's church, bring forth permanent fruits, destroy and build up; that they shall not seek unreasonable gain, but sincerely seek the honor and praise of God and the salvation of their neighbors, &c.; and since we plainly see and palpably feel that they, alas, are altogether called of such as we would wish had the Spirit of Christ; moreover that they are blamable in all things, for they are of an unmerciful, tyrannical disposition, and of an earthly, carnal life; pervert the gospel, and do not teach it in power and true repentance; wrongly use the sacraments without power, spirit and repentance, and dispense it to those who are not disciples of Jesus Christ; they deceive the people; do not bring forth permanent fruits, plant that which is evil and root out that which is good; they do not seek the honor and praise of God but their own profit and gain, the favor of the world and an easy, careless life, I will let their doctrines, sacraments, fruits and life testify to this; therefore I say without any reservation that they are not the called preachers and servants of the church of Christ, whom we shall, according to the Scriptures, obey, accept and follow, as they pretend we should, but that they are preachers for the sake of gain and servants of anti‑christ, against whom we are, on every hand, warned by the word of God; not to hear or follow them nor their doctrine but to flee from and avoid them as deceivers, false prophets, wicked men and faithless servants.
Yea, my reader, what can they say about their calling, preaching and church‑service?
It is, briefly stated, not possible, according to the sure promises and prophecies of Christ Jesus and the prophets, that a true and faithful preacher, witness or teacher, especially in these evil times and in this wicked and tyrannical world, can faithfully 32teach and proclaim, without respect of persons, the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, without being exiled, proscribed or killed; much less enjoy life at ease and liberty, as they do, without persecution, yea, receive annual stipends of the world and be highly honored and loved by them.
Peruse all the Holy Scriptures and see if you can find that Christ Jesus, with his holy apostles, true witnesses and followers fared as they do and received as they do; whether persecution, cross, tribulation, anxiety, prison and death were not, generally, their lot and part. Besides experience, yet daily, teaches this abundantly.
If, then, the preachers acted rightly, if they were walking according to the example of Christ and his apostles; if their teachings and dealings were right, as they pretend them to be, then all the Holy Scriptures must be wrong, the word of the cross be fulfilled and Christ and his prophecies must be false, this is incontrovertible. Therefore, all their boasting and artful citations concerning their calling, office, doctrine and church‑service, together with their defense are, in fact, wrong, futile, hypocritical, unjust and without truth. "For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's," Phil. 2:21; their own ease and not the salvation of their neighbors; they are enemies of the cross; they serve their own bellies, Rom. 16. If they would rightly reprove all the ungodliness, idolatry, abuse, pride, pomp, splendor, hypocrisy and unfaithfulness of this world, without respect of persons with the same earnestness, assiduity, heart and mind, &c., as did Christ with his holy apostles and true witnesses, and in other respects would not act so freely; if they would hate all unrighteousness of the world as Christ Jesus and his apostles hated it, then they would not long remain at ease in their comfortable houses; they would not have such incomes and they would be little regarded by this reckless, wild world. Of this I am convinced.
But they do differently; they make the garment to fit the man (as the saying is), and they so teach and act that the world may suffer them and love them and that they may be the friends of the world, so that they may be at ease, not be persecuted and enjoy good times; this is something which is generally well understood, and a sure proof that their sending or calling together with their doctrine and church‑service is in every particular without the ordinance, Spirit and word of God, as said before.
Herewith, Gellius' article on the calling has been replied to. I would earnestly beseech him and all the preachers to reflect in the fear of God for before the flaming eyes of the Lord, which search heaven and earth, nothing wrong will be hidden, however artfully it may be covered before man's eyes, and however much it may be decked and adorned with smooth words.
Next, Gellius denies our calling, and says, Before we can agree with the preachers or teachers who claim that they bring forth fruit, they must first be rightly called of a church of God, and not from a collection who have been deceived by false prophets; and then come boldly forward and preach; or they must show by facts (as he says) that Christ has done wrong, and that he should have rather preached secretly to avoid the cross (as he says we do) than in public, &c.
Answer. The sending or calling of Moses, of Christ, of Paul, of the apostles and prophets was also denied by the perverse. Moses had to hear that he had killed the Lord's people and that he had led them into the wilderness that they might perish through want and misery. Christ Jesus was called a wine‑bibber, blasphemer and one possessed of the devil, Matt. 11:19. Paul was called a rebel and an apostate Jew, &c. Behold, thus in their times the sending of the faithful servants of the Lord, nay, the Lord and Messiah himself was despised, although testified by many miracles. How much more, then, shall we be despised, who are such weak and insignificant instruments, and live in seven fold worse and more wicked times than those in which they lived.
Inasmuch, then, as we are accused by our opponents, the learned, that we are not called of a church of God, but of false prophets, or of a false church, therefore I would briefly admonish the reader, to weigh well with the Scriptures who, how and what the church of God is; that it is not a collection of proud, avaricious, extortionate, vain persons, drunkards and impenitent, as the church of the world is, of whom the learned are called but a collection or congregation of 33saints, as the Holy Scriptures and the Nicene symbol clearly teach and represent, namely, of those who, through true faith, are regenerated of God unto Christ Jesus and are of a divine nature, who will gladly conform their lives according to the Spirit, word and example of the Lord, are actuated by his Spirit and are willing and prepared patiently to bear the cross of their Lord Jesus Christ.
Behold dear reader, such were they whom the apostles and faithful servants won unto Christ Jesus, and added to his church with his Spirit and word, nor does Scripture acknowledge any others. From such and of such they have, with fasting and prayer, chosen and called unto the service of the Lord the pious and unblamable pastors and teachers; and not of the world, as has been heard.
Since, then, the preachers of the world and their congregations, are not the church of Christ but are such preachers and churches as shown, by their spirit, words and deeds that they are of the world; and since the merciful, great Lord in these latter days of abominations, graciously gathers together, by his Spirit and word, many faithful hearts from the different unscriptural sects, both great and small, and from different nations and tongues, in one faith; and places them as an admonition to sincere repentance, with their doctrine, life, goods and blood, before the whole world, yea, as a light upon a candlestick; therefore these must be the Lord's church and people; or else the word of God, which is and remains true, must be wrong and false. And some from these and of these are chosen with fasting and prayer and ordained to the service of the Lord by the laying on of hands according to the example and doctrine of the apostolic churches; now, all of sound mind may judge and weigh, according to Scripture whether such a calling or choosing is not consistent with Scripture and according to the usage of the primitive churches; and whether it cannot stand before the Lord and his church as divine, holy and just.
Further, it is a fact well known to me, that the preachers tell the simple, and which Gellius' writing, if carefully read, also insinuates that I should have received my faith, doctrine and calling of a deceiving, refractory and corrupted sect, by the secession of whom the Lord intends to purge his church. For this reason I am necessarily forced to explain my actions briefly, which I, under different circumstances, would, for the sake of modesty, remain silent; namely, how I first came to the knowledge of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; and how I afterward, unworthily, became one of his servants; and I hereby beseech all my readers, for God's sake to consider well this my narration, and that they will not think hard of it, nor consider it as vain boasting that I here tell it; for the honor of my God and the love for his church urge me to do so. Let all judge me as they will He who has created me and has hitherto graciously delivered me from my enemies, knows me; he knows what I seek in this life and what my greatest desire is.11 Here follows in the original works of Menno Simon his renunciation of the Church of Rome. See First part, Page 4.
Again, that Gellius wants us to preach publicly, has been sufficiently replied to above, as I trust, in treating of night preaching. Yet I would propound these three questions.
In the first place, Whether a person would not be guilty of blood, if he would persuade somebody by artful words or force him into a deep water or by such means get him to take poison, if he knew beforehand that death would be the consequence?
In the second place, Since he boasts to be a called preacher and preaches in public, I would ask, Why he is not moved to love and compassion for his own country? Why he does not, amongst the papists, openly proclaim his faith, sacraments and doctrines, contrary to the emperor's decree, tyranny, persecution and ill‑will as he would have us to do?
Thirdly, since he will admit, as I suppose, and must admit, if he judge according to the Scriptures, that the avaricious, proud, haughty, drunkards, vain, extortioners, liars, unrighteous, &c., can not inherit the kingdom of God, and that they therefore are not christians; I would ask him, Why it is that he does not lay aside the fear of 34the cross (of which he blames us) and separate, without all respect of person, the impenitent of his church, from the communion of his sacraments, according to the doctrine and ordinance of the Holy Ghost, since it is God's express word and ordinance? He would have us preach publicly, notwithstanding that he well knows that we can no more do so without the loss of life, than to go on the water without sinking, or to take poison without dying. For he and the learned have brought about such a state of affairs, by their disgraceful slanders and preaching, that we are, alas, already judged before we are caught. Besides he advises the magistracy to stop our doings; and he well knows how he treated a certain person, about ten years ago, who would gladly proclaim to the people the testimony he had, in sincerity of heart, and that he refused me a discussion of Scripture twice, as has been heard. Yet he says, if we are true teachers we should preach in public; while he himself, for the sake of a livelihood and the fear of the cross does not preach his doctrine (whatever it amounts to) in his own place but has moved to another and more safe place, and there, although he can freely practice his doctrine and sacraments, he neglects separation, scriptural reproof and the ordinances of God from the fear of the cross. Now the reasonable reader may educe from all this what kind of a christian, not to mention preacher, he is; since he would have us, miserable ones, to do that which he himself dares not do nor touch, as you may see.
If Gellius could take these three questions to heart and would consider them in a scriptural light and in the fear of God, he would be ashamed all his life that he so indiscreetly attacks us, against all love, reason, intelligence and the Scriptures and that he, under such a semblance, so tyrannically strives after, the ruin, blood and death of the pious.
But in answer to this writing that the prophetic and apostolic doctrine and sacraments should not be taught and dispensed in secret, retired corners and shops, but in public, I would say, We admit that Christ Jesus, generally preached in public, however with such discretion that he sometimes avoided the raving, mad people, after they had resolved upon his death, until the time of his suffering had arrived (which time was known to him beforehand), and the prophecies were fulfilled, Luke 21:32.
Also, that although Jesus Christ sent his disciples to preach the gospel to all people, to Gentiles as well as Jews, he did not command them, nor would he, that they should serve and dispense his sacraments, namely, baptism and Supper to the enemies of his word, Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15. Therefore it is obvious that he accuses us of this without any truth or foundation of the Scriptures. He does not only accuse and reprove us but also Christ Jesus, God's eternal word and wisdom himself; for he has celebrated his Holy Supper, at night in a secret place, with a separate people; he also accuses and reproves Paul and the primitive, apostolic church, who oft held their brotherly meetings at night, in retired places, as has been sufficiently adduced above. Observe how openly he speaks against God's word.
He writes further, that our calling is not testified by any thing, further than that we not only fill the hearts of many with a mad and irreconcilable hatred of all church ordinances and true servants of the church, however pious they be, but also inspire them with a contentious, envious spirit.
Answer. If animosity and bitterness of heart had not so entirely blinded him, and if but a small spark of a true, christian spirit were in him, then he would soon acknowledge the precious fruits of true repentance. But as it is, he has become so blinded, that, alas, he calls the glorious fruits of the Holy Spirit, the fruits of the devil and new monkery; and the burdensome, pressing cross of so many pious saints, the cross of evil‑doers or heretics. Which is in my opinion an abominable sin and gross slander.
The Pharisees said, "This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub, the prince of devils," Matt. 12:24, although they strongly felt in their hearts that it was the finger and power of God. Christ said that it was blaspheming against the Holy Ghost, Luke 12:10. But what Gellius does against us I will leave to the Lord.
God knows that I wish that I might deliver him and all the preachers from their 35sore damnation, even at the cost of my own life. Behold, thus I hate him and all those who seek my life; although we must hear so much evil spoken against us; and I trust that all who fear the word of the Lord, will be of one mind with me in this regard. Notwithstanding this, he writes that we fill many hearts with anger and irreconcilable hatred against them, &c. By no means. And this for no other reason than that we in sincere and faithful love, earnestly reprove the hypocritical deceivers, whom he calls the true and pious servants of the church, and the unscriptural infant baptism, together with all abuses, which he calls church ordinances not only by the Spirit and word of the Lord, but also by our possessions and blood, and because we point them to Christ Jesus and him crucified, to his Spirit, word, ordinances and to the doctrine and usage of his holy apostles.
I truly believe that a spiteful, envious person has no part in God's city. And if we, who are daily killed for our love, are yet spiteful and envious, then much suffering is in vain. I trust that I write the truth when I say that I am more terrified at hatred and envy than at fire and sword. Yet we must hear that we are spiteful. Behold, thus good is ever turned to evil and our love to hatred. What sentence the Scriptures pronounce against such may be seen in Isaiah 5.
He also accuses us That we are not unanimous but quarrel amongst ourselves in regard to many articles of christian religion; namely, in regard to obedience to the laws; to the justification of man; to the Godhead of Christ and his becoming man, and in regard to the powers of the magistracy, &o.
Answer. I trust that I can write with a clear conscience that we, who are grains of one loaf, are also of one mind in Christ Jesus. But as in the times of the apostles, false teachers arose in the apostolic church who started and taught false doctrines and who were, after faithful admonition, separated from the communion of their church, if they did not repent, as may be learned from many Scriptures; so also it is in our times. Satan is ever at work. Paul says, "There must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you," 1 Cor. 11:19. And if such be deaf unto truth, reject admonition and start perverse sects, then we may no longer receive them as brethren, as the Scriptures teach us. So long as we continue to do this in obedience to the holy word and in the true fear of God, we are convinced from the inmost of our hearts, that we will be clear of all sectarianism as also of blasphemy and perversity; although we must innocently hear such charges from the world.
Since it is a fact well known to Gellius and his fellow‑preachers that peace‑breakers and sectarians are not allowed in our communion at all, but are unanimously separated from us, according to apostolic doctrine and usage, Rom. 16:1; Tit. 3:10, therefore it is very wrong in him to call so many pious persons contentious, and cause them to be of such bad report with the world, without truth; while they hate discord and strife and seek nothing but that they may humbly follow the crucified Jesus, in the peace of their hearts.
If he should say that he accounts them as of us because they have received the same baptism with us, then I would say again that Peter, Simon, Paul and &c., were also one. Then all papists, Lutherans and Zuinglians besides all thieves, murderous wizards, buggerers, fornicators and rogues are one; for they have received one baptism; this is incontrovertible.
Again, in regard to his accusation that we dispute among ourselves in regard to obedience to the laws; the justification of man; the power of the magistracy &c. I would say, that I trust I can testify before the Lord and his church with a clear conscience, that I never but once to my knowledge, disputed, or as Gellius calls it quarreled with any one in regard to the justification of man, and this one has already run to ruin. Nor have I ever discussed the questions of obedience to the laws or the power of the magistracy other than by way of brotherly instruction. What our confession and grounds are concerning the before‑mentioned articles, may be clearly educed from our writings.
O, dear Lord, that Gellius would once consider his own words when he writes that the calling of the pious should not be nullified36 on account of the impious, and would have sufficient fear of God in him to feel concerned about the lies, violence and injustice which he unreasonably practices on us. For what else does he but wilfully defame the pious, perhaps against his own sentiments, that he may oppose the word, may uphold his cause by making ours false and suspicious, lest his pharisaical faithlessness be made manifest. Yea, he writes as if he would say, Judas was a traitor and thief, therefore all the other apostles are traitors and thieves. Again, Simon was a rogue, therefore all the members of the apostolic communities were rogues, &c. For he well knows that we do not, may not suffer heretics, peace‑breakers &c. in the communion of the peaceful and pious, as already heard.
O, that he would leave off slandering the peaceable and could rightly see into the angry quarreling, bitter hatred, division, rupture and brawlings of all those who uphold infant baptism; could see how dreadfully they are divided amongst themselves; that they are so inflamed by envious zeal one against another that they not only slander and adjudge each other to hell by calling each other fanatics, profaners of the sacraments and anti‑christians, but that they also take up the sword against each other, as is the way of sectarians; that they utterly destroy countries and inhabitants, cities and towns, against the meek nature, doctrine and example of Christ Jesus and his apostles.
Besides their learned men are so divided amongst themselves that we can scarcely find five or six in one country who agree in doctrine. One includes every thing in the providence and predestination of God, Quasi necessarium (as an implied necessity). Another disputes it; the third includes Christ's flesh and blood in the bread and wine; the fourth understands it spiritually; the fifth baptizes the children on their own faith; the sixth on the strength of the covenant with Abraham and its promise; the seventh says that faith is no obstacle to persecution; the eighth denies it; the ninth believes in faith without fruits or work; the tenth says, that faith through love shall be active; the eleventh says, that the sacraments may be dispensed to the impenitent and perverse; the twelfth denies it; and other like differences exist among them.
Notwithstanding they call the godly, pious hearts and peaceable children of God, who are zealous for God and his righteousness, as much as is in their power, and who do not countenance quarreling, a contentious sect and ungodly, deceiving conspirators, while they, on the contrary, are peaceable, teachers of one mind; besides they call the impenitent, wicked world the church and people of the Lord.
Behold, so manifestly the Lord "will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent", 1 Cor. 1:18, yea, that to them Christ Jesus is Belial, and Belial Christ Jesus; light, darkness and darkness, light, 2 Cor. 8; that they, alas consider the doctrine, life, power, confession, and the sacrifice of possession and life of the chosen as nothing; but that they judge every thing perversely, unfavorably and with partiality, according to the flesh, and thus construe every thing to offensiveness; that they seek all kinds of excuses to offend the pious, to blaspheme truth and to uphold unrighteousness, that nobody be converted, repent and sincerely seek and follow the word of the Lord. O, Lord! grant that this may be made manifest unto them.
He further writes: "Nor is it a desirable fruit, but a shameful disgrace that they, contrary to the example of Christ, and the apostles constitute themselves a church, desecrate the Lord's Sabbath, leave the open assembly and service, hate and upbraid the servants, and not only not examine the solicitous labors and prophecies of the servants but also boldly despise them, contrary to the command of the Holy Ghost and the doctrine of the command of the Sabbath."
Answer. Observe, reader, how adroitly they can adorn lies, and how frightfully they can suppress and despise truth under cover of virtue. All the evangelical Scriptures teach us that the church of Christ was and is, in doctrine, life and worship, a people separated from the world. It also was in the times of the Old Testament, 2 Cor. 8:17; 1 Peter 2:9, 10; Exod. 19:12.
Since the church always was and shall be a separate people, as has been heard, and since it is as clear as the meridian sun, that for centuries no difference has 37been made between the church and the world, but that they have been indiscriminately blended together in baptism, Supper, life and worship, which is so plainly contrary to all Scripture, therefore we feel ourselves constrained by the Spirit and word of God, and not of our own account, to gather together, to the praise of Jesus Christ and to the salvation of our neighbors, and not unto us, but unto the Lord a pious and penitent church or community from all untrue and deceiving sects of the whole world, not contrary to the doctrine and example of Christ Jesus and the apostles, as Gellius falsely accuses us, but according to the Spirit, doctrine and example of Jesus Christ, manifested unto us; yea, gather them patiently under the cross of misery, in spite of all the violence and gates of hell, and not by force of arms and persecution as is the custom of the world, but separate them from it, as the Scriptures teach, that they may be an admonition, example and reproach to the impenitent world as has already been heard.
They keep and sanctify the Sabbath which is not the literal, but the spiritual Sabbath, which never ends with true christians, not by wearing fine clothes, not by carousing, vanity and idleness, as the reckless world do, but by the true fear of God, by a clear conscience and unblamable life, in love to God and their neighbors; for that is the true religion, Heb. 12:1, and in the fear of their God they do not attend the public Sabbath and holiday gatherings which are, alas, not consecrated to Christ, but to anti‑christ in all manner of vanity and hypocrisy, in pomp and splendor; nor do they take part in their idle church‑service which tends to nothing but deceiving that they may thereby attend the gathering of the saints and the true service, convince the erring, and thus make manifest, truth and the true doctrine, to the reformation and salvation of all mankind.
They do not hate and envy the open deceivers and false preachers who so miserably deceive the poor people, as Gellius accuses us, but earnestly reprove them in love according to God's Spirit and word, that they may repent and be converted, as the Scriptures teach us.
In short, they do not despise the solicitous labors and the prophecies of the true and faithful servants of Christ, nor the precious gifts of the Holy Spirit, against the commands of the Holy Spirit and the doctrine of the command of the Sabbath, as he very wrongly complains we do, but they shun, at the risk of possessions and life, according to the advice, doctrine and admonition of the Holy Spirit, and the doctrine of the Sabbath, the false labors, and the powerless, impenitent and hired prophecies of the anti‑christian servants, who do not serve Christ and the church, as they boast; but serve their bellies and the world; and they dare not hear and follow them because their doctrine and fruits show that they are those whom the Scriptures and divine truth forbid us to follow.
Their priests, says the Lord, "teach for hire, and the prophets divine for money." They rely upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord amongst us? No evil can betide us; therefore "Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps," Mic. 3:12; Jer. 26:18. It is also manifest that Gellius and his like preachers have done the same thing of which he accuses us, for they, long before we did, have separated themselves from the papists into a separate church, as is known to all mankind to be incontrovertible. But we are sorry to say that our separation from them was caused by themselves. For if we would have found them to be right we would have remained with them; but as it is, we have, alas, to leave them at the cost of life and possessions, as may be seen.
Behold, my kind reader, here you have before you, my brief reply to the main articles concerning the calling of preachers, which Gellius so respectfully brought forward to the defense of his cause and to the detriment of ours.
I have no doubt but that you, by the grace of God, will find a clear difference, explanation and foundation, if you compare his writing with ours and judge according to the word of the Lord by the manifest fruits on both sides; and this is the summary of my writings, that nobody can be a truly called preacher and God‑pleasing servant in the Lord's house and church, 38without having the Holy Spirit which worketh in all true christians; without regeneration which transforms the heart from earthly to heavenly things, through faith; nor without unfeigned love, which seeks nothing but the praise of God and the salvation of his neighbor, nor without the salutary, precious word which cuts and cleaves without respect of person; nor without the pious, unblamable life which is of God.
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