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EXCOMMUNICATION, BAN OR SEPARATION.
BEFORE I commence a reply to Gellius' excuse why they do not practice Excommunication, Ban or Separation in their church, I would briefly refer the kind reader to different passages of the Scriptures to show that the Excommunication, Ban or Separation was not always practiced in the same manner, nor according to the same ordinance, by the Lord's people. The ban of Moses was punishment with death, Deut. 13; Lev. 16; Numb. 31; Josh. 7. This ban was in force until the Roman dominion. At that time a change was made; for, under the Roman scepter, they were not allowed to put the law in force, in regard to capital punishment as before. But they separated those who disobeyed the law; that is, they ejected them from their synagogues and assemblies, shunned their daily intercourse, neither ate nor drank with them, as may be learned from many of the Scriptures of the apostles, Luke 15:2; Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:11; 2 Thess. 3:6‑14.
To this shunning, rule and usage, the doctrine and example of Christ Jesus, and the holy apostles unanimously point us; and these two following benefits are derived from them.
In the first place, that we be not deceived by the erroneous doctrine of false spirits, and weakened by their carnal, vain life, 2 John 1:10. "Know ye not," says Paul, "that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out, therefore, the old leaven," &c., 1 Cor. 6:6, 7.
Yea, my reader, wherever this excommunication, ban or separation is zealously and earnestly taught and maintained in the fear of God, without respect of persons, there, doubtlessly, the church of the Lord will be maintained unprofaned, in salutary, pure doctrine, and in an offensive life. But where this is neglected, we find nothing but vanity and worldliness, as may be plainly observed by all the churches and sects which are not of us.
Reader, observe, so long as the literal Israel, in this respect, followed the Ordinance of the Lord, and punished those deserving of the ban, according to the word of the Lord, they remained upright and pious; but when they neglected it, inclined their ears to falsehood, and gave way to false prophets, they deviated from the way of life, and degenerated into all kinds of wickedness and idolatry, as the prophetical Scriptures, on every hand, complain and testify.
It was also the case with the primitive church; for so long as the pastors and teachers strictly required a godly, pious life, served baptism and Supper to the penitent alone, and rightly practiced separation, according to the Scriptures, they remained the church and community of Christ. But as soon as they commenced to seek an easy, careless life, and to shun the cross of Christ, they laid aside the rod, preached peace to the people; gradually abandoned the ban; and thus established an anti‑christian church, a Babel or worldly church, as may, alas, be noticed, to look back over the last several centuries. Yea, my reader, if we had not until now strictly maintained this means ordained of God, then, we and ours, at this day, would have been a reproach and curse to the world, while, now, I trust, they, in their weakness, will be, by the grace of God, an example and a light to many men; although the world will not acknowledge it. In short, a church without ban or separation, is like a vineyard without an enclosure and trenches, or a city without walls; for the enemies have free ingress into it to sow and plant their pernicious tares unhindered.
In the second place, that the wicked, by a reasonable admonition, and separation from the pious, may, at heart, become ashamed, humble themselves and sincerely repent before God and the church. Therefore; Paul delivered the Corinthian unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, 1 Cor. 5:5. He also thus delivered Hymeneus and Alexander, that they might no longer blaspheme, 1 Tim. 1:20. At another place he writes, "If any man obey 69not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed; yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother," 2 Thess. 3:14, 15.
Behold, reader, here you have it briefly stated of whom, how, and to what purpose, the ban or separation is ordained in the house and church of the Lord. Judge, now, if you fear God, if it is not an especially noble and necessary institution of pure love, which is ordained of the God of love to a service of love, although the unenlightened and refractory judge and consider it as enmity. For its ultimate design and fruit is, that the church may remain sound in doctrine, and unblamable in life; and that the erring, either in doctrine or life, may be converted, and again return to the pasture and flock of the Lord. But how far, yea, how very far, are all the preachers and churches of the world from this God‑pleasing ordinance and very necessary practice.
His first excuse that separation is not practiced in their church is, That the papistical abomination has so abominably destroyed the ordinance of the churches and the right usage of the ban, by their abuse, that it cannot be immediately re‑established.
Answer. If we diligently search the writings of the historians and compare the actions of the church; to which they refer, with the Scriptures, then, I think, that we surely find that there was not among all the German nations, a true, apostolic, christian church which stood right in doctrine, sacraments, ordinances and life; but that they were all founded upon the papistic foundation and abominations, and remained so, these many years.
Since, then, the church is not founded by the apostles upon the foundation of Christ, but is founded of the Pope, upon his own foundation, and is in every respect a papistical, and not a christian church, and since it is palpable that it has at this hour, neither teachers, communion, life nor sacraments conformable to the ordinance, doctrine and example of Christ, therefore he can not practice the ban until he separates himself, because he is an adulterer of the Scriptures and deceiver of souls, and then all the church, because they are generally impenitent in life and outside of the command, ordinance and word of Christ in doctrine, as may be plainly noticed. Cogita quae dico, Qui male facit, non videt Deum, 3 John 11. Remember that it is spoken, "He that doeth evil hath not seen God."
In the second place he writes, "We admit that in many churches negligence is found, which we cannot commend; which is caused in some places by the punishment of all open transgressions by the magistracy, so diligently that the pastors esteem it unnecessary to put the ban in force."
Answer. In my opinion it is high time that the preachers would quit their trifling with the souls of men; that they would unreservedly acknowledge that they are not the church of the Lord, but a poor, erring and worldly flock; and then would earnestly commence to learn to know themselves and next, to preach rightly the word of sincere repentance, in the power of the Spirit. All those who would accept it in sincerity of heart and truly repent, should serve the sacraments of the Lord, according to the ordinance of God, and those who would stubbornly reject it, should, by virtue of the holy word, be excommunicated, without respect of persons; then they might gather a church unto Christ, and rightly practice the ordinance of the Lord, according to the Scriptures.
But so long as they baptize unconscious children, esteem all those who are baptized as christians, dispense the bread to the impenitent, and admit all .the avaricious, extortionate, pompous, drinking and carousing, in the communion of their churches, the world will be their church, and their church the world. In such a state of affairs they may preach and admonish all their life‑time about separation, and the true church ordinances, but never establish them, since it is evident that all their doctrines and sacraments are nothing but a vapor, vain and powerless, for they are not the rightly called preachers, their sacraments are not the true sacraments and their disciples are not the Lord's church and people.
Say, beloved, how shall a house be built without workmen, timber, iron, stone and mortar? Qui sanicordis est, cogitet quae dico. He who is of sound mind, may ponder on what I say.
I would further say, that if Gellius rightly70 understood Christ and his word, he would be ashamed all his life‑time; and for these two reasons:
Firstly, because he undertakes to excuse the neglect of the pastors, by saying that the magistracy punish open transgressions, as if therefore it were not necessary. I think that hundreds of pastors can be found in Germany, who never in their life knew that the avaricious, drunken, adulterous, &c., should be excommunicated; nay, what is worse that the greater part of them are themselves guilty of such infamous doings.
In my opinion it is as clear as day‑light that his covering up and decking this ignorance, nay, negligence and disgrace, with the excuse that the magistracy punish the transgressors is nothing less than to willfully defend falsehood and oppose truth.
Secondly, because he complains that the magistracy do not grant authority or hearing to the pastors. Say, kind reader, where, in all the days of your life, did you read in the apostolic Scriptures, that Christ or the apostles requested the authority of the magistracy to punish those who would not hear their doctrine or obey their words? Yea, reader, I know to a certainty, that wherever the magistracy is to maintain the ban by the force of the sword, there are not the true knowledge, Spirit, word and church of Christ. If this is not rightly called by the papists, Invocare brockium seculare, that is invoking the assistance of the world, I will leave to the judgment of the discreet reader.
Also, observe here his hypocrisy and his pernicious flattery of those in high standing; for where do we find, alas, more ungodliness than among those in authority. Notwithstanding, he wants the ban to be maintained by them, as if they were the true and faithful members of the church of Christ and children of his community; and never observes that if the pastors would rightly judge, according to the holy word, the magistrates, next to the preachers themselves, would be the first who should be, according to the Scriptures, separated and excluded from the communion of the pious.
Since he, in this instance, so openly wheedles the magistrates and those of high standing, and thus flatters them, against all the Scriptures, therefore I cannot neglect to admonish all magistrates and subordinates, and in faithful love to warn them, to consider how miserably they are deceived by the preachers. Beloved lords, observe. You all boast that you are christians and have the word of God, while it is manifest that so many of the lords and princes, daily shed human blood like water, by their ungodly warring and tumult; that they rob many innocent people of their homes and property, that they cause many afflicted orphans and helpless children to be made; and that many of them drink and carouse day and night; abuse the creatures of God above measure, namely, wine, beer, victuals, clothes, &c., all of whom are deserving of excommunication and can not stand the test of the Scriptures, as, I presume, many of the learned and preachers themselves, well know; yet they connive at such, desire their authority and assistance; they act hypocritically with them, they talk so as to please them, do not separate and punish them, however wickedly they behave; dispense to them the bread and wine as if they were members of the body of the Lord and brethren of his church. By this they so comfort and encourage them in their wickedness, that they never stop to inquire into the fear and ways of the Lord; for it is all peace, peace, whatever they preach, as the prophet complains, Jer. 8:8; Ezek 13:22: Beloved lords, take heed; they lead you straightway to the abyss of hell; therefore, beware. I tell you the truth in Christ Jesus, they deceive you. Again, I say, beware, they deceive you.
On the other hand, they hate and upbraid above measure, all those who seek the Lord sincerely, who strive after his holy word, in their infirmity, and who would gladly, in their weakness, lead a pious, godly life, in the fear of the Lord; because they point them to Christ; and in true, godly zeal, and brotherly love, reprove and admonish them, to their own good, of their false doctrine, false sacraments, hypocrisy and indifferent life, according to the teachings of the Scriptures. Nay, we are called apostles of the devil, apostates, anabaptists, conspirators and heretics, by them.
Behold, thus they connive at and flatter 71those of high standing, although they, generally, are upon the broad way; and thus they shamefully upbraid the innocent who never harmed them, and who would gladly lead a pious life. Yet they boast that they are preachers of the gospel and teach the word of God.
In the third place he writes: The disrespect to the servants of the church, has, everywhere, become so prevalent, through the doings of these devilish conspirators and heretics, that few churches submit themselves, in unity of spirit, to their pastors, which is necessary.
Answer. That the disrespect to the preachers has become so prevalent, is caused by nothing else but their own, exceeding wickedness, deceit, avarice, blasphemy and shamelessness, as the prophet says, "Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, &c." "Ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts; Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law," Mal. 2:3, 8, 9.
Yea, dear reader, they have become so sinful, and have so trafficked with the souls of men, that the just and great God could no longer endure it; he therefore graciously inspired some pious hearts with the Spirit of his divine knowledge, in his great love, and has discovered unto them the decked, Babylonian woman, the preachers and their churches, with all their fornication, abominations and blood‑guiltiness, and thus made manifest their inhuman disgrace. And these, on account of their warning, all, in unfeigned love, against the deadly, enchanting poison of her cup, by doctrine, life, example, blood and possessions, by which they seek nothing but the praise of God and the salvation of their neighbors, are called devilish conspirators and heretics. O, Lord, O! Never heard of blasphemy! O disgrace of all disgrace!
Ah, my reader, my faithful reader, if we could reason with them, how soon would it be shown who are the devilish conspirators and heretics! But what does it avail? The Scribes and Pharisees sat upon exalted seats, but Christ had not whereon to lay his head. Besides, he had to hear, that he was possessed of the devil, and wrought his miracles in the name of Beelzebub.
Is it not a perverse, lamentable hypocrisy, that this man undertakes to blame us for their not practicing the ban, while it is known and manifest to the whole world, that the greater part of the preachers are such an indifferent, blind and carnal people, that they neither acknowledge God nor his word, and seek nothing else than that they may satiate their carnal appetites and continue in their careless easy life? What kind of christians their churches or disciples are, what knowledge they have, and how they fear God, may, alas, be educed from their words and works, in city and country.
In the fourth place he writes, It is a fact well known to the whole community (he refers to the community at Emden) that we have for several years, assiduously labored to again establish the christian ordinance of the ban.
Answer. The world acknowledges no ban, but when such a transgression has been committed, that the executioner bans them with the sword, noose or fire, for the sake of their evil‑doing. Or, if one sincerely repents and returns to God, abolishes the wicked, sinful life, in true fear, and puts on the new life of true repentance, that they, along with the papists, often deprive such an one of honor, possessions and life, or exile him and thus drive him into the mouth of the gaping lions.
But that they should, according, to the Scriptures, shun the misers, drunkards, fornicators, &c.; that they should neither eat nor drink with them, they do not know, since they are, as a general thing, unchanged at heart, earthly‑minded and full of all manner of avarice, pomp, extravagance and carnal works.
Therefore I say again, they will admonish all their life time, concerning the ban, but never establish it according to the word of God; for how can one avaricious person shun the other, one drunkard the other and one deceiver the other, according to the Scriptures, and separate him from the communion of the church, while they are altogether earthly‑minded and without the communion, Spirit and word of the Lord, as has been heard.
72In the fifth place he writes, "The example of the anabaptists frightens us, who so practice the ban with discord, hatred and irreconcilable anger one against the other, that it tends more to the destruction than to the edification and gathering of the church, among them."
Answer. All that I read and see of him, is a benighted vision, wrong judgment, wheedling of those of high standing, upbraiding and slandering the pious, excusing perverseness and adulteration of the Scriptures.
O, how little does he, as appears, fear God; for here he undertakes to cover up his fleeing from the cross and his disobedience, by citing the example of others. Reader, remember that the word of God should teach and govern us; that some refractory persons take offense at us, we cannot prevent. We act as the word of God has commanded us.
All those who once enter into the obedience of the word, and afterwards live or teach contrary to it, can not be permitted to continue with us as brethren and sisters, if they will not hear our admonitions. In this case, neither greatness nor littleness, riches nor poverty avail. With God there is no respect of persons; they must all bow to the Spirit, word and scepter of Jesus, or else they cannot remain our brethren.
Since it is manifest that the Spirit of the Lord becomes extinct in such as seek the broad road, and are desirous of the freedom of the flesh, of money and possessions; and that they offend the pious by their light‑mindedness or self‑conceit, therefore, they should, though reluctantly, be separated from the intercourse of the godly, when there are no hopes left of their reformation. If they take offense at this, because they hate to bear this shame, which is visited upon them in love, for no other purpose than for their reformation, and therefore slander and upbraid us, as, also the preachers do because we dare not hear their teaching, and partake of their sacraments, we cannot help this; nor can we prevent that some of them become Davidists33Davidists are the followers of David George, a sect of quiet mystics in the sixteenth century, who were accused of very erroneous sentiments. and Epicurians 44Followers of Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher.‑Webster's Royal Octavo Dict. (as Gellius calls them), in spite of all our faithful admonitions, assiduity, labor and brotherly service.
The fact is, the seed did not fall on the right kind of soil, but by the wayside, on rocky ground and amongst thorns, Matt. 13:6.
I repeat it. We have applied to them the faithful service of our brotherly love, from our inmost hearts; admonished and entreated them, and have patiently borne with some for one or two years, still waiting on their reformation, and in truth have not hastily separated them, as he accuses us, without all foundation. Since we follow and practice the ordinance of the Lord, in this respect, if he feared the Lord, he should reasonably commend our action, because we do rightly, follow the commands of God, at the risk of possessions and life, and because we act according to the Scriptures, without all respect to persons; and he would acknowledge the truth, and confess that not our example frightens them, but the fear of the cross. For if they would justly act and treat with kings, dukes, lords and princes, and also with their drunkards, misers, vain‑showers, &c., then it would be quite a different thing with them; this I dare unreservedly say, and could prove it by facts.
In the sixth place he writes, "If they think that they do much good by their banning, toward the edification of the church, then let them point out from the several hundreds which they have banned, not ten, but only five, whom they have banned in love, and reformed through their brotherly love, or whom they have brought to order and saved by their banning."
Answer. He seeks all kinds of causes to blaspheme the word and work of God, that he may give some appearance of reality to his cross‑fleeing and hypocrisy. Inasmuch, as he says that separation tends more to destruction than edification, therefore the reader should know that we daily find, by experience, that the following benefits are derived from separation, among us: Firstly, that we thereby obey God's word. Secondly, that we thereby rid the community from false doctrine, discord, and offensiveness, as has been said. Thirdly, that the disobedient are thereby, daily admonished to reflect, repent and return. Fourthly, that we thereby testify that we do not consent 73to, nor unite with the Munsterites, and other rebellious sects. Fifthly, that we thereby admonish all preachers and their churches, that they are without the ordinance and word of God, in this respect. Sixthly, that thereby the whole world may learn from us that the advice, doctrine, ordinance and command of God should be maintained and obeyed.
Behold, dear reader, these are the fruits which true separation, daily brings forth, by the grace of God. But these, the preachers, alas, do not regard. If it were true that few are reformed thereby, as he imputes, they must still admit that these beforementioned results are obtained thereby.
Reader, take notice that however we may, act, it is of no avail with the perverse; for if we had disregarded this means and divine ordinance, as the preachers do, and had left every body to follow his own mind, from which the great Lord ever preserve us, how loudly would they cry that we were rebels and Arians55Arians, followers of Arius, a presbyter of the church of Alexandria, about 315, who maintained that the Son of God was totally and essentially distinct from the Father; that he was the first and noblest of those beings whom God had created‑but inferior to the Father in nature and dignity; also, that the Holy Ghost was not God, but created by the power of the Son. Buck's Theol. Dic.. But while we separate them, according to the Scriptures, from the communion of the church, it is called a destructive means and a hasty ban. Behold, thus they seek, on every hand, to destroy truth and uphold falsehood.
In the seventh place he writes, "It is better not to use the ban, than to abuse it, to the destruction of the church.
Answer. If it were true as he asserts, then, still a good thing should not be abandoned for the sake of some. If the ban is a means of destroying and rupturing, the church of Christ, then Christ and the apostles have very much deceived us in this regard, to have taught us this ordinance, openly, both by word and example, as may be read in the Scriptures. But what does it avail? He might briefly state his point thus: We do not separate and ban, for we are, as a general thing, all led by an erroneous spirit, and members of the body of anti‑christ.
In the eighth place he writes, "None have proved a greater obstacle to us in re‑establishing the ban, than the anabaptists, who have caused a disturbance in the edification of the churcht of Christ, and in its right course; who have brought the servants into disrepute, and have, under semblance of truth, drawn many, zealous hearts from the church (on whom it was to be practiced) and led them into falsehood."
Answer. If I had not learned to know Gellius from his other writings, this excuse of his, in regard to the ban, would more than clearly teach me what kind of a man he is. O, dear Lord! It is nothing but hypocrisy, falsehood and deceit, whatever he says! He writes that we obstruct the ban; yet, if he would confess the truth, he would be forced to admit, that we do not obstruct him, but his own unbelief, carnal‑mind and his cross‑fleeing flesh, as said before.
He writes that we have disturbed the edification of the church, while it is manifest that we point out to all the churches of the world, by doctrine and life, by the periling of possessions and blood, the right way to a true worship and ordinance, and that they are those who, with all their strength, disturb the course of the edification of the church of Christ, by their light‑minded doctrine, false sacraments, and vain life.
He writes that we have brought the servants into disrepute, because we reprove them, in unfeigned love, and point them by doctrine and life to Christ's example, Spirit and word, while he acknowledges above, that some are more fit to be herders of swine than shepherds of the sheep of Christ.
He writes that we have, in semblance of truth, drawn many zealous hearts from the church, and led them into many errors; while the facts show that we do not separate them from the church but from the world, and that we lead them, by the hand and help of God, into eternal truth.
I would further say, Their doctrine has been preached for over thirty years, in Germany, and there are whole kingdoms, principalities and cities where not a single anabaptist, as he calls them, is to be found. Who is it that obstructs the pastors there in re‑establishing the ban? In all the time that they have preached and taught their doctrine, they have never yet banned an adulterer, drunkard, miser, &c., and excluded such an one from the communion of 74their churches; notwithstanding he writes that we obstruct and hinder them. O, dear Lord! thus are the pious everywhere evil spoken of, although they seek God sincerely, and would gladly see a christian church, true in doctrine, sacraments, ordinances and life.
In the ninth place he writes, "For two reasons we could not so soon establish it (he means the ban) as the anabaptists did. Firstly, because our gatherings are open and consist of many hundreds, whom we cannot all know; while their gatherings are secret and consist of but few. Secondly, because we do not establish sects, as they do, which is a work of the flesh, and befriended of the devil; but we establish an eternal church unto Christ, which is beguiled and robbed by the devil."
Answer. Above he has partly acknowledged that many of their hearers are of the world. Here he writes that their gatherings consist of many hundreds, and that they gather an abiding church; yet they never came to the point that they separate their disciples and church from the world, and conform to the divine ordinance. The reason is because they are of the world.
But to his writing that their assembly is large and kept in public, and that ours is small, I would, with the word of the Lord, reply in this manner, "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it," Matt. 7:18,14.
Yea, my reader, if you attentively read the Scriptures you will find that the number of the chosen ones ever was small and the number of the unrighteous was always great. The pure and true gospel of Jesus Christ, the true knowledge of eternal truth, never was so appreciated by the world that the true believers can be counted by many thousands in any country or city. Christ Jesus and his eternal truth must ever abide with few, in retired places; but anti‑christ and his falsehood can go abroad undisturbedly and in public, and count his followers by thousands.
Again, by his writing that they cannot know all on account of their great numbers, he testifies that brotherly love is very scarce with them; for where is there a christian pastor who does not know his sheep? And where is the christian brother who does not know his neighbor? If the preachers do not know all, on account of their great numbers, still one brother should know the other; they should teach, admonish, comfort and reprove each other; they should seek each other's salvation; for this the word and unction of God teach us.
Reader, observe. He pretends "that they cannot possibly know all;" and I, who am most of the time, keeping myself in retired places, could point them out in great numbers. Let him, once travel through city and country where they boast of the word, and let him take a close observation, and he will find out how they dare heap one falsehood upon another, and one ungodly act upon another; how they dare swear by the Lord's sacred flesh, blood, death, wounds and sacrament, and how they are decked with different, vain ornaments. Let him take a view of the taverns, fencing‑schools, the houses of ill‑repute, &c., of which there is no lack in Germany; let him examine the courts of kings and princes; and into the ways of the nobility, and I presume he will find thousands doubly deserving of separation. But an earthly mind and perverse heart has, alas, little regard for the ordinance and word of the Lord.
Again, to his assertion that they do not establish sects, as he says we do, and that it is a carnal work, I would reply thus: I do sincerely wish that Gellius and all the Papists, Lutherans, Zuinglians, Davidists, &c., could appreciate this matter, for it is written of heresies and heretics, that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
It is a small matter to us to be called heretics by the world; for the children of God, in the apostolic times, were also called the same. Notwithstanding, we, in our humility, would say this in regard to this matter, that we point to Christ Jesus, God's eternal Wisdom, Truth and Son; for he is the One on whom to rely, and we unreservedly refer to his doctrine, ordinance and usage. If any one under the whole canopy of heaven, can convince us with the infallible truth that we are wrong and act contrary to his word, then we will gladly hear it and obey the truth.
But in case they cannot do so, they must 75confess that we are the apostolic christian church, and that they are the deceiving, carnal sects.
But that sectarians are raised amongst us, and not amongst them, is also a strong proof that we are the church, and that they are not. For Paul says, "There must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you," 1 Cor. 11:19. John says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us," 1 John 2:19.
Say, beloved, why should Satan beguile these with heresies, who are already heretics and his adherents? But those that turn to the Lord, such he beguiles and seeks to devour them, Gen. 3:15; 1 Pet. 5:8.
In the tenth place he writes, If they only said that we do not teach the ban, it might insult us and many teachers and churches, and they might almost be disgraced thereby. But they say that we neither have, hold to, nor practice it.
Answer. In my opinion it would be well for him not to ridicule these things, but to closely observe the word of the Lord. Before God, the literal teaching does not avail; but before him, avails action in power and truth. If they should say that this would cause a disturbance, then I would ask what kind of protectors and shepherds they are, if they neglect the will and word of God on account of the disturbance of the world. Let all the right minded judge this according to the Scriptures, Matt. 10.
In the last place he writes, But, admit it to be true that this failure exists in all of our churches, although the contrary is true of many of them, for in the German church in London, England, one is banned; and it is not altogether neglected here in Emden. Would the church on that account lose its name and henceforth, as they say, be no longer the church of Christ? Then, truly our body, to which the church is likened, would lose the name of body on account of some blemish or wound.
Answer. I think this is posuimus mendac ium spem nostram, to make lies our refuge. For he says, the contrary is true of many churches; yet he can point to only one, of the many kingdoms, principalities, cities and towns, who is banned, namely, at London, England. I have never, in all my life time heard of a more ridiculous assertion. How manifestly does the great Lord turn their wisdom to foolishness and their understanding to nothing, 1 Cor. 1. Yet the blind, ignorant world does not see it.
Reader, reflect, and see if these are not the mockers of which Peter and Jude prophesy, 2 Pet. 3:3; Jude 8. The whole German nation or people, nay, all countries, are so replete with ungodliness, abominations and wickedness that we should stand dumb‑founded. Yea, that the righteous, who fear the Lord, are as scarce as the grapes of a vintage which has been diligently gleaned, and in which few are left to pluck and use, as the prophet laments, Mich. 7:1; and out of so many hundreds of thousands, he points to one who was banned at London, that it may be said that they practice the ban, and thus that they thus may give a semblance to their disobedience.
I think that they act so awkwardly, that the whole world must see that it is nothing but hypocrisy, falsehood and deceit. O, Lord, how long will this mockery be endured! But to his writing that if the church should lose her name on account of an error, that then, also, our bodies would lose its name on account of a blemish or wound, I would reply: If this was the only error in their church, then there would yet be hopes of a reformation; but their failures and short‑comings are so numerous, that they would better be compared to a dead body, than to a body that has but one blemish or wound, as he pretends to say.
I think that in this instance the cunning of the fog which destroys God's vineyard (which he, in his writing imputes to us) is plainly discernable here. For how cunningly they flee from one latibulo (hiding-place) to another, lest they be caught, may, alas, be clearly educed from this frivolous excuse of the ban.
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