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CONCERNING SOME ACCUSATIONS AGAINST US.
In the first place Gellius accuses us, saying, "They (he means us), falsely, adorn and deck themselves with the sanctity of the church. For, since the Holy Spirit, which sanctifies the church both by the remission of sin, and dying unto the old man with all his lusts, and also by the nullifying of the sins in the flesh, is given through faith, therefore I cannot see how they can receive the Holy Spirit, together with true sanctification, and be the true, holy church, while they so bitterly contend among themselves about the divinity of the Holy Spirit (which, besides other evidence, sufficiently proves his divinity by the work of sanctification), as well as about many other articles of faith."
Answer. Zuinglius formerly taught that the will of God actuated a thief to steal, a murderer to kill, and that their punishment was also brought about by the will of God; which, in my opinion, is an abomination of abominations. Now, if I conclude that because Zuinglius taught so, all preachers teach it, it would be a wrong conclusion. Athanasius could not prevent Arius from teaching that the Holy Spirit was a creature of the creature of Christ.
94Reader, understand my meaning. I never have thought that God's Holy and eternal Spirit was not God, with God and in God; yet, he would accuse us, who are not guilty, of denying the sanctification, grace, fruit and power of the Holy Spirit, because some, who have been separated from us, have erred in this respect, and probably still err; although he plainly sees and palpably feels the sanctification and power of the Holy Spirit in us, namely, that it smothers the old man with his lusts, and destroys the sins of the flesh; something which he calls the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, as has been heard. Behold, thus he upbraids and accuses the guiltless. Whether this is not the Pharisaic, envious and disgraceful spirit, which explains away the good intentions of Christ and his disciples, and thereby inflamed the thoughtless populace against them, I will leave to his own reflection.
In the second place he accuses us, saying, "They have an obdurate faith; one half of which is founded upon the merits of Christ, and the other upon their own merits. For Obbe Philips, who has a great many followers (as he says) does plainly assert that the justification of man is not brought about by faith alone, but by faith, love and good works."
Answer. I would humbly ask Gellius this question: Does it follow that because Obbe Philips formerly taught this doctrine, Menno and the others also teach it? If he answer in the affirmative, then I would say that he does us an injustice, as, alas, he often does. For our doctrine and publications abundantly testify that we and the church of God are not thus minded, but that we seek justification alone in the righteous and crucified Christ Jesus.
But if he answer in the negative, then I wish he would have the kindness and virtue in him to make a difference and not mix the innocent with the guilty; and, I also wish that he would say no more than the truth; for he writes that the before mentioned "Obbe Philips has a considerable number of followers," and I make the assertion that he cannot find more than six or ten who believe as he does.
In the third place he accuses us, saying, "How can they be a holy church who disagree among themselves about the head of the church; do not suffer him to be the true God, and thereby resuscitate the old Arian heresy."
Answer. We may well sincerely thank the Most High, that he so manifests unto us his paternal grace and great mercy, that even our most adroit and acute opponents cannot accuse us but by such puerile, and, for the greater part, false reasoning. If he would consult natural honor, not to mention love and truth, as much as he, alas, consults bitter and envious feeling, how loth would he be to think that which he now is not ashamed to publish in writing, indiscriminately saying that we resuscitate the old Arian heresy, while he and his like, well know that such have no part in the communion of our churches, so long as they do not renounce such errors, as heard.
O dear Lord, how long will such bitter and envious accusations and false backbitings continue! Would to God that the magistrates would have a little fear of the Lord, and consider what they are doing, and that they would hear and compare the different parties, so that they would once learn whom and for what purpose they persecute, and what kind of people and teachers they are whom they daily maintain and encourage in their injustice and abominations, by their violence.
In the fourth place he accuses us, saying, "If they are the true, holy church, the spiritual bride of Christ, pure, holy, and unblamable, then let them prove the unity of the Spirit, especially concerning the twelve articles of faith, which are the foundation of the church; then the one should not be Mennonite, the other Adam Pastorite, the third Obbeite, the fourth Dirkite, &c. For although they may ban one another as much as they please, it still is evidently true that they are all anabaptists and enemies to infant baptism, and thus still continue to conspire and fanaticize against the churches of Christ."
Answer. I trust that we, by the grace of God, are so wedded to our Lord and Bridegroom, Christ Jesus, that we are prepared to sacrifice our lives for the sake of hearing his holy voice. We do not boast of our holiness and piety, as Gellius accuses us, but of our great weakness. I also trust that we, who are grains of one loaf, agree in not only the twelve articles (as he counts them), but in all the articles of the Scriptures, as regeneration, repentance, baptism, Holy Supper, separation, &c., which we, long with Isaiah, Peter and Paul, Isaiah 28:18; 1 Peter 2:6; Eph. 2:20, accept as the only foundation of the churches, as preached by 95Christ's own, blessed mouth, and left and taught us in clear and plain words; and not only the twelve articles as he does.
Neither are we so divided as he says; for Dirk (Dietrich Philip) and we are of the same mind, and I trust, through the grace of God, we will ever remain so. But that Obbe has become a Demas, and that Adam Pastor has separated from us, is not our fault. Such things, also, often happened in the apostolic times. God reclaim them at his will; they have taken their leave, and are, alas, no more counted among us, so long as they do not repent.
His writing "that we still conspire and contend against the church of Christ," and other like bitter and resenting words, show that he is so actuated by the spirit of envy, that he cannot write or speak a discreet and reasonable word about us; but he must call us fanatics, conspirators, hedge preachers and sneaks; and he never observes how different of opinion, and how divided in doctrine the baptizers of infants are, who claim to be the true church; and into how many different sects they are divided. One party is papistic; the other Lutheran; the third Zuinglian; the fourth Calvinistic, &c.; and, although they violently quarrel among themselves, disgrace, condemn and ruin each other, as much as they please, yet it is still evidently true that they baptize their children, are unfriendly to the baptism of Christ, continue to conspire against the truth, and persecute it and the church of Christ. O, reader, that the world would once learn to know who are the fanatics and conspirators; then we might hope for the better, but as it is, it is hidden from their eyes.
In the fifth place he accuses us, saying. "If they are the holy church, then, let them hearken unto the voice of Christ; which says that the word of the holy gospel and its sacraments should not be preached and dispensed in secret nooks and corners, but in public."
Answer. If we are not the true church of Christ, but if Gellius and his like are that church, as he pretends, and would yet have us publicly proclaim our doctrine, why has he then twice refused a public discussion with me, under safe conduct, to which I have invited him, while he well knows that I have to endure so much for the sake of my doctrine and faith? It would be reasonable, if we err in some things, from which God preserve us, that he should go with me before the public, vanquish and convince me of our errors, for God knows that I am willing to be vanquished if I can be convinced by stronger Scriptures and more powerful truths; that he might thus receive the applause of his fellows (which he, in my opinion, very much strives after), and, besides save my soul and the souls of many others.
If he is a true preacher, and a member of the true church of Christ, why does he, then, desire us to go before the public, while he well knows that I could not do so without the loss of blood and life? I freely offer myself, if he can show one plain passage in the Scriptures, that the apostles and prophets have publicly taught at such places where they knew that the people had resolved upon their death, as, alas, they have every where resolved upon our death, and, by the grace of God, we will do the same.
I know to a certainty that he can find no such examples nor Scriptures in the Bible. Yea, dear reader, if he would be straightforward in assigning the reason why he ever desires us to go and preach in public, he would confess that he seeks nothing by his hypocritical and artful pretension, other than to make our cause suspicious with the people, that his cause shall make a good appearance, and that he is very desirous and thirsty after the blood of the innocent, while he, I say, against all reason, love, and Scriptures, desires us publicly to proclaim our doctrine, well knowing that in all Germany, not a place can be found where this could be done without imprisonment, violence, or rebellion. If he, now, were in the truth, as he would like to be considered, namely, an upright, unblamable preacher, how loth would he be to think of such gross disgrace, which he now, alas, dares loudly proclaim both by speaking and writing. David says, "The Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man," Ps. 5:6.
96In the sixth place he accuses us, saying, "As they want to be the true church of Christ, they would do well to look back to the origin of their church and see how it agrees with the origin and age of the true church. That their church is not of the origin and times of Adam, Abraham, or David, is proven by their wrong opinion and abominable error in regard to the incarnation of Christ, whereby they make him neither God nor man, and rob us of our Messiah. Also, above, under the head of the Calling, he writes, It is an abominable fruit that they have resuscitated, and again introduced into the world such a disgraceful error in regard to the incarnation of Christ. For if Christ was not of our flesh (of which he was not, unless he received it from the woman), then the law was not fulfilled in our flesh; then the righteousness of God is not yet acquitted, which without the ransom would not leave us unpunished.
Answer. The learned ever slander us and complain because, we, with the angel Gabriel, Luke 1:32; with John the Baptist, John 1:15‑36; with Peter, Matt. 16:16; with Martha, John 11:2; with the apostles, Matt. 14:33, and with the eternal Father himself, acknowledge Christ, both according to his divinity and humanity, as the true and only begotten Son of God; and we dare not teach and believe more nor otherwise than the word of the Lord teaches us of him. I would therefore beseech all readers and hearers to consider well the following brief answers and references. I trust that, by the grace of God, I will be able to explain the matter so clearly in a few words, that the reader will plainly see that they not only rob us of Christ, the doctrine, sacraments, Spirit, life, ordinances and usage of our Savior, but also rob him of his most holy origin, glory, honor and person; and, that they, by their deceiving comments and reasoning, render Christ a divided, impure and inconsistent Christ, both according to nature and the Scriptures. Whosoever has ears to hear let him hear, and whosoever has a mind to understand let him understand.
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