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THE LORD'S SUPPER.
WE will very briefly review and reply to the treatise of Gellius on the sacrament called the Lord's Supper, because we have published our foundation and belief of this matter, and referred to many Scriptures, in the past. Whosoever finds a delight in the truth, may read them and reflect on them in the fear of God. Yet we would, in our weakness, remind the pious reader, before we commence our reply to Gellius' publication, that it is written, " For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread," 1 Cor. 10:17. Since we learn from the Scriptures that the Holy Supper was instituted of the Lord as a sign and testimony, not to the world but to the church of Clod, that all of us who are one bread are members of one body, namely, of the body of Christ; and since we plainly see that both the dispensers and partakers of the worldly supper, are not true members of the Lord's body, because the dispensers are all hirelings, thieves of the honor of God, and murderers of our souls, who retain the thoughtless, reckless people in all manner of unrighteousness, blindness, and in an unbridled, carnal life, by their promises, philosophy and logic; who deceive all the world and hate, upbraid, belie, apprehend, banish and exterminate the pious, who renounce evil, follow the word of the Lord, and ever eat of his bread; and because the partakers, generally, are an impenitent, light‑minded and vain people, nay, worldlings, part of whom not only little regard the Spirit, word and knowledge of the Lord, but trample it under foot, as may be seen‑therefore we abstain from their supper; for the sincere fear in our hearts, caused by the word of God, prevents us from partaking of it with such dispensers and partakers, lest we also partake of their deceiving actions and abominable abuse, and, at the day of Christ, receive the same reward with them.
He boasts a great deal of his admonition, yet all his admonition is nothing but vain boasting, without all power; for how can he and his like preachers rightly teach Christ, and admonish others, while they are yet filled from the top of their heads to the soles of their feet, with all manner of unrighteousness, blindness and disgrace?
They would do well to reflect upon the words of Sirach, and rightly learn to know themselves, because many of them are as yet such useless people, that they are more fit to be herders of swine than to be shepherds of the sheep of Christ, as he writes. And because Gellius is not only an adulterer of the Scriptures and deceiver of souls, but also a very cruel, profane and defaming man, as may be very clearly educed from his writings.
He writes that they admonish them in the first place, what should be the qualifications of the partakers, according64 to the doctrine of the law, and especially of the holy gospel.
Answer. Wherever the law is preached rightly and taken to heart, through faith and manifested in Spirit and power, there we find a subdued mind, a penitent, humble heart, and a conscience which trembles be, fore the word and true fear of God, and which allays and disperses sin, as Sirach says.
This is the real intention and object of the law: To reveal unto us the will of God, to discover unto us sin, to threaten us with the wrath and punishment of the Lord, to proclaim death and to point us to Christ, that we may, before the eyes of God, be humbled in heart, die unto sin, and seek and find the only and eternal medicine and remedy for our souls, Jesus Christ.
In the same manner it is in regard to the gospel. Wherever it is preached in true zeal, according to the pleasure of God, and unblamably in the power of the Spirit, so that it penetrates the hearts of the hearers, there we find a converted, changed and new mind, which joyfully and gratefully gives praises to his God for his inexpressibly great love towards us, miserable sinners, in Christ Jesus, and thus enters into newness of life willingly and freely, by the power of a true faith and a new birth.
If Gellius would knock at the innermost heart of his followers, and of himself, with the hammer of the law, and zealously enkindle in them the fire of the holy gospel, so that they would, in true repentance, change their unclean, obdurate hearts, and abandon their heathenish pomp and splendor in their houses, and clothes, their vain show of gold and silver, their extravagance, avariciousness, drinking and carousing, and would enter with Christ into newness of life, then I would admit that that which he has written here concerning the Lord's Supper, did well compare with their walk. But as it is, he consoles the poor with an empty purse, only, and acts in a manner entirely contrary to that in which he should. For the signs of the New Testament are in themselves quite powerless, vain and useless, if the signification, namely, the new, penitent life, is not there, as has been said above in treating of baptism.
He further writes, that they, in the second and third place, admonish them (their hearers) that it is not enough to know and understand the doctrine, but that it should be, also, manifested in their walk, yea, at the risk of body and life, that they should be prepared for the cross and temptation, that they should patiently and obediently bear it, and follow their bridegroom, for the devil dislikes such confession and therefore hates and persecutes them.
Answer. Caiaphas said unto the Pharisees and Scribes, " It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not," John 11:50.
His intentions sounded right, yet his cruel, blood‑thirsty heart did not perceive that it was he, who, through bitter zeal, sought the life of the king of all glory.
We do not controvert but that Gellius and his fellow preachers sometimes talk of a pious life, according to the Scriptures, and admonish their hearers of the cross; but how they love true righteousness, which true ‑doctrine brings forth, and how they treat the confessors thereof, may, alas, be educed from their indiscreet and disgraceful writing and crying.
Since he writes that he thus admonishes them, as heard, and that it is plainly manifest that he not only hates the true righteousness, power, fruit and obedience which true preaching brings forth, but also crucifies it, I fear, by his indiscreet and disgraceful writing, therefore, the godly, pious reader may consider if he is not like unto the Scribes and Pharisees, in this respect, who, although they understood the law, yet so hated righteousness, that they, by their connivance and advice, crucified him who was promised in the law, the Fulfiller, Christ Jesus.
Dear reader, understand what I write. Outward preaching, hearing, baptism and Supper do not at all avail before God; but before him avail teaching and believing, faith and works, outwardly baptism and Supper, according to the letter, and inwardly according to the Spirit and truth. Behold, this is what God's word and ordinance teach us.
So long as such impenitent, carnal people are the dispensers, and such vain, pompous, covetous, extortionate, carousing and drinking people the partakers, so long, I say, it 65is not the true Supper of the Lord, but it is a supper of the impenitent, an encouragement to the unrighteous, and an enchanting mockery, however much it may be adorned and decked, before men, with high‑sounding words and praises; for outside of the church of Christ, which is a gathering of the penitent, there is neither baptism nor Holy Supper. Again understand that which I write, Neither water, bread nor wine avail in Christ without true repentance, if they were, even, served by the apostles themselves; before him avail, alone, a new creature, a converted, changed and broken heart, a sincere fear and love of God, unfeigned love of one's neighbors, a sober, humble, peaceable and converted life, according to the word and example of the Lord. Where there is such a new being, lo, there is true baptism, and the true Supper. But to be baptized outwardly and partake of the Supper, according to the letter, and not inwardly before God in Spirit and truth, I repeat, is nothing more nor less than a shadow, vain mockery of God's work, nay, hypocrisy and deceit.
Is it not a lamentable blindness, that these poor, misled people attach so much value to the outward, visible sign, and do not observe that they are, with all their heart inimical to the invisible signification, for which the visible sign was commanded in the Scriptures i as if God had a special pleasure in the mere elements, water, bread and wine, and not in the proper signification, which is represented and admonished thereby.
O no, reader, we can not please nor serve God with mere water, bread and wine; for by his hand, it was all created. But we can serve and please him with the signification of his baptism and Supper, namely, that we thereby testify our faith and obedience, that we will walk in continual and eternal penance, that we will remember his inexpressibly great love and blessings, that we are thereby admonished that he has offered for us his spotless, pure body, and that he has shed his precious blood for the reconciliation of our souls, in his ardent love for us; that we will ever walk with him in unity of the Spirit, and follow him; that we will love, assist, console, reprove, bear, admonish and serve each other as members of one body; and that we will prove ourselves unto death, as the newly born children of God in all righteousness, holiness and truth. Behold, dear reader, for this purpose the signs of the New Testament were instituted. If Gellius and his like preachers were to use the Holy Supper in such heart and spirit; if the signification, fruit, spirit and power, although in weakness, were found in them and their disciples, as it is represented and taught by the sign, then we would, by the grace of God, soon meet, and not dispute about the use of the sign. But so long as they walk on the broad road, practice and uphold infant baptism, defame the baptism of the believing, do not separate their disciples and church from the world, and teach an unblamable doctrine and life, so long we cannot unite with them in doctrine and sacraments, whether this is attended by prosperity or adversity, as God pleases. For we know to a certainty, that the Lord's invincible, strong truth is on our side; and the damnable, weak falsehood on theirs.
My faithful reader, reflect upon what I write. Our separation from the doctrine and sacraments of the preachers is principally for two reasons. In the first place, because we can plainly see, from the Scriptures and by their actions, and are assured, that they are not pastors but deceivers. All the Scriptures teach us that we shall not hear, but shun such preachers. For if we are afraid of thieves, murderers and wolves, according to the flesh, how much more should we fear those who so miserably devour our poor souls, who retain us in darkness, deprive us of the light of Christ, and fearlessly lead us to the frightful, indissoluble darkness of everlasting and infernal torment, for the sake of a meal of bread. For God's sake, dear reader, do not think hard of me. Behold, before God it is true what I write.
The second reason is, that we may, by such shunning, testify to you and all others, by open deeds, that you are outside of the Spirit, word, kingdom and church of Christ, that you walk upon the wrong way ‑and that you are miserably deceived by your preachers‑so that you may yet awaken in 66time, depart from evil, walk in truth and be eternally saved.
If you are of reasonable minds, then consider well what we hereby seek, and think not that we are so thoroughly deprived of reason that we walk this narrow way, through contentiousness and partizanism. O, how gladly would we save our weak bodies, our wives and small children, our possessions and lives, and live peaceably with the world, if we were not constrained by the love of God, and the eternal salvation of your souls and our own. But, as it is, we should, for the two mentioned reasons, sacrifice all to robbery, and, if the case require, to death, in sincere, genuine love. For, as a general thing, truth is maintained dearly; and sincere, faithful love crowned with a crown of thorns. O, Lord!
In the last place he writes, "From this, every pious christian may educe, how unreasonably these people, who accuse us of enmity, contention and discord, and who quarrel about the articles of faith among themselves, and thus sow enmity, contention and discord, as said, Yea, who never thoroughly searched our doctrine, and who have scarcely seen us partake of the Supper, notwithstanding, they reprove us of our Holy Supper, and leave the assembly of Christ's church."
Answer. To. this I would reply in the first place: The unrighteousness which shuts us out from the kingdom, church, body and Supper of Christ, is not merely included in enmity, contention and discord, but also in all other kinds of works of the flesh, such as, pomp, splendor, avariciousness, drinking and carousing.
Although enmity and discord are, by the use of their supper, partially appeased among some of them, as he writes, yet all the other abominable sins and unrighteousness remain untouched as may be very plainly and publicly seen by their fruits. The heathens, too, conclude peace among themselves, when they are at variance with each other, yet they are not the right grains of the Lord's bread, and the true members of his body. Let every one of sound mind reflect upon what I say.
In the second place I say, He can not with truth substantiate his accusation against us, that enmity, contention and discord exist among us.
But as he and his fellows berate our christian doctrine and faith, our sacraments and actions before the whole world, cause much trouble and affliction; and we, by the grace of God, do not treat them inimically, but patiently bear with them, teach, reprove and admonish them; maintain truth with truth; and in sincerity of heart, show and point out to them the right way, at the risk of blood and life, for which they so hate us, so also, some raise up among us, as was the case in the times of the apostles, who would rather follow their own opinion than the Scriptures; who again return to the broad road, seek honor and a name, and therefore make unscriptural pretensions. With such we entreat and reason, admonish and reprove them, as the. Scriptures teach us, and I trust we do this reasonably and in love. If they suffer themselves to be taught, change their ways and strive after peace, then we thank the Lord for his blessing. But in case they despise fraternal admonition, remain obdurate in their ways and cause contention and discord, then they cannot be our fellows and brethren, until they acknowledge their faults, and return to the Lord's people in peace, 1 Tim. 6:5; 2 Tim. 2:17; Tit. 3:11. If this should be called causing contention, enmity and discord about the articles of faith, or whether it should be called purification of the house of the Lord, all the right‑minded may judge, both by their common sense and the Scriptures.
In the third place I say, the reason why we do not hear their doctrine, and do not see their partaking of the supper, as he complains, is, because we have for a long time witnessed by their fruits, that their doctrine is vain and powerless, and their sacraments are not according to the word. For of what spirit both their preachers and disciples are, may, firstly, be educed from the dishonest, infamous, biter, false, spiteful and incentive writings of the preachers, and, secondly, from the abominable show of clothes, the extravagance about their houses, and from the superfluous, carnal life of the best of their disciples. What does their fine appearance, their ornamental logic avail, while they, in fact, forsake the Scriptures and the signification, fruit and power of the holy sacraments, nay, 67hate and persecute it? If I do not write the truth, reprove me.
In the fourth place I would say, Gellius accuses us that we forsake the church of Christ. But I say that we, according to the teaching of the word and ordinance of God, and to the example of the holy, apostles, forsake the world and their false prophets, and that we, through the Spirit and grace of God, rid the church of Christ from snares, faithfully, admonish her members, and in our weakness, establish and edify them, according to the command of the holy word, Isaiah 52:11; 2 Cor. 6:17; Acts 2:40; Rev. 18:4. What shall this poor man say and boast of the church of Christ, while she is yet quite unknown to him? I voluntarily make this offer: If they allow me a discourse with them under safe conduct, either privately before witnesses, or publicly, before a full assembly, and if I cannot prove or maintain, by the power of the truth that the preachers, in general, are deceivers and not pastors, and that their pompous, avaricious, extortionate swearing and cursing disciples, are of the world and are not christians, then I will publicly acknowledge before all the world, that we not only have forsaken the church of Christ, but also lamentably destroy her and cause many a pious heart much misery, affliction and trouble, in vain.
But, as we can substantiate these assertions by the power of the truth, why, then, must we yet hear so many evil words? It were, indeed, high time that the preachers would quit their deceiving, that they and their disciples, who, where and what they be, would awaken, that they would tremble at the wrath and punishment of God, would repent, conform themselves to the Spirit, word and example of the Lord, and establish a true christian church, in accordance to the command of the Scriptures, and that they disclaimed and abjured their borrowed names and false boastings, as evangelical teachers, faithful shepherds, soulsavers, and preachers of the holy word, which they, to the dishonor of God, merely claim in appearance.Behold, reader, I write to you the truth and lie not I seek nothing, before my God,, but that I may gain Gellius and all the preachers, wherever they may be, to Christ, by the Spirit and word of‑ God; or that I may be vanquished of them and stand abashed before all the world, as an open deceiver. If they, now, be of christian disposition, and preachers of the holy word who are desirous of unity, as they pretend to be, then let them agree to what I desire they should, namely, a free discussion of the grounds and doctrines of both sides; that thereby the pure, saving truth of Christ may be maintained, and the impure, damnable falsehood of anti‑christ be destroyed.
But in ease they refuse this, as they have before twice refused me, and continue their infamous defamation and upbraiding as they have ever. done before, and accuse us with all manner of accusations before the common people, that we forsake the church of Christ; that we are a misled, deceived people, and that we pervert good into evil; what else can we then do but leave them to the Lord and his judgment; and willingly submit to the cross, as we have done, possess our souls in patience, admonish those of unperverted heart, as much as possible, minutely consider what kind of preachers and pastors they have, what great injustice they do us, poor miserable ones; how scornfully they reject truth, and maintain falsehood, since we, in all humility and true love, invite them to this free, christian discussion of the Scriptures, to the praise of Almighty God, and his eternal truth, and to the beneficial refreshment of all the oppressed and afflicted souls. But they refuse us this, and besides, slander and defame us by their infamous publications without discretion, and without all foundation and truth, and thus, disgracefully accuse us . before the whole world, and cause many pious, innocent children to be deprived of their possessions, honor and lives, even, as may, alaP, be witnessed in many different localities of the Netherlands.
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