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BELOVED readers, in our first publication of the writings concerning Baptism, we have, with christian truth, satisfied the desire of every pious christian. Yet, there are some light minded, rebellious, contentious and carnal persons who, without cause and Scripture, and in every respect without the fear of God, teach, write, admonish and cry out against us, with partial hearts, saying, " It is heresy and deceit; for it is written and taught adverse to the learned, and against the doctrine of the holy, christian church." Although I had not intended to reply to such perverse, rebellious, disobedient and contentious persons, according to the word of the Lord, Matt. 7, but solely to write to the humble, meek, God‑fearing and penitent. For the wise will hear wisdom; will love it and become wiser; but the fool will hear folly, praise it, persist and die in it‑yet to such contenders and gainsayers, who speak so hard against the word of God, I would ask two questions; and request them to examine and ponder them well,‑ and return a discreet and becoming reply to me. In the first place: What are properly heretics and deceivers? Secondly, Who are they that admonish and teach against the doctrine of the holv church? If they answer these questions fairly they must themselves pronounce the sentence, that with us the Upright truth of Jesus Christ is found and not with them; on the contrary, that all manner of heresy, deceit and false doctrine are abundantly taught and practiced by them, and not by us. Which of the two parties, then, are heretics and imposters, I will leave to the judgment of the reader. For hereticus means: one who sorts out, one who chooses, one who gleans. Quia heresis Grece ab electione aocatur, inquit Beda super acts Apostolor~, one who selects such as will suit his own opinion. If these, then, are truly heretics, who, according to their own meaning, without Scripture, form themselves a faith, then I truly do not know where to find more miserable and more deplorable heretics than those who ever combat, upbraid, betray and persecute us, poor, scattered and rejected christians, as damnable heretics. For there is no worse, br more abominable heresy under heaven than is found among our gainsayers and contenders; while they so shamefully change and garble the word and the perfect ordinance and institution of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, as to baptize such things which God has neither commanded nor ordained to be baptized, namely: The little, unconscious children and bells; and do not baptize those whom God has commanded to be baptized, namely: Those who believe, while they worship and honor a mouthful of bread and a drink of wine as the Son of God; while they ascribe to themselves, without the word of God, the power over the living and the dead; and while they place ‑in Christ's stead a sinful man, a child of perdition, whose natural pride, pomp, greed, cruelty, uncleanliness and idolatry are beyond description, 2 Thess. 2:4.
Truly, I do not know how a worse. heresy could be invented. Notwithstanding these miserable men cruelly cry against us, Heretics, heretics, drown them, slay and burn them. And this for no other reason than that we teach, according to the holy gospel of Jesus Christ, the new life, Baptism on the confession of faith, the Supper as representing both a holy and unblamable church; because we rebuke all false doctrine, idolatry and the accursed carnal life; and point alone to the blessed Christ Jesus, and to no other means of salvation, neither in heaven nor on earth.
191If this is heresy, beloved reader, then, in deed, the true Being is not in Christ; then he is not the true way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6. Be not frightened by their upbraiding and slandering; for from the beginning it has been the case that the unbelieving, hate, slander and persecute the believing; the wicked, the good; the unrighteous, the righteous; the carnal, the spiritual; the heretics, the christians. It was the case with Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob and with the false prophets and the true prophets; as Christ Jesus has told us before namely: "Ye will be hated of all nations, for my name's sake," Matt. 24:9. If they were the true disciples of Christ Jesus as they boast themselves to be, they would persecute, betray or murder no body for the sake of their faith; but with Christ Jesus; they would diligently seek to reclaim that which was lost, Matt. 18:11, if we were lost, as they claim. If they were the bride of Christ, they would not be spiteful, cruel and blood thirsty, but meek, mild and merciful, yea be thus minded as is the good and faithful bridegroom, Christ Jesus. But they plainly manifest themselves, by their works, not to be the bride of Jesus Christ, but rather to be the bride of him, who, from the beginning was a murderer, that is, the devil, Jn. 8:44.
If they were the body of Christ, they would not crucify and persecute any one for the sake of the truth of the Lord, but would themselves, with Christ Jesus, and his church, be crucified and persecuted for the sake thereof, Matt. 5:11; Jn. 16:1, 2; 2 Tim. 3:12. For the innocent ‑lamb does not kill, but from the beginning it was killed. Behold, kind readers, what miserable, bloody, tyrannical and murderous heretics our gainsayers, opponents and persecutors are found to be before God, in all their teachings, admonitions, instructions, life and tyranny. But this they do not acknowledge. For it would not do to acknowledge this. If they did, how could they then crucify and persecute the chosen children of God, the children of the kingdom and promise, the brethren and sisters of Jesus Christ, the angels of peace, and the children of the eternal, imperishable life.
But now their minds are so obscured, their eyes are so bedimmed, their ears are so closed up that they cannot understand; for their evil‑doing and wickedness have obscured and blinded them. The table of the divine word is to them " a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense," Rom. 11:9. . The righteous judgment and awful wrath is come upon them, because they so industriously seek falsehood, and so obstinately combat and reject the lovely truth of Jesus Christ.
Christ Jesus says, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled," Matt. 5:6. But these hunger and thirst after unrighteousness, with which they, according to Paul, are abundantly filled, 2 Thess. 2:12.
Christ Jesus says, "Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened," Luke 11:9. But these seek diligently, night and day, not after the right way, but after the wrong; hoping yet to find something, either in the word or in our lives, which may be so twisted, bent or applied as to trample upon and nullify, the right, evangelical truth, even as if the eternal Truth, the blessed Jesus had spoken and taught with two tongues; and if they can find any errors in our walk, as there often are (for we are all of the sinful, failing flesh of Adam); then the evangelical truth is all deceit, as if we had no help from God but only human aid. Inasmuch as they so assiduously seek after unrighteousness and delight in falsehood, therefore God smites them with such great blindness that they can neither comprehend nor judge of the teachings of God; yet they desire to clothe their cause, however shameful it is, in the garment of the Scriptures, that they may, under this scriptural, holy appearance, the better deceive the foolish, ignorant populace that desire to be deceived and seduced. And thus they remain, both teacher and disciple, in the service of their perishable flesh which they have chosen as their God, Phil. 3:18; Rom. 16:17.
Again, kind reader, they cry and foam with rage against us, saying that we write against all the doctors, and also against the teachings of the holy christian church.
192I affectionately and freely admit and ac knowledge that we write against the greater part of the doctors or the learned men, For whenever or wherever they write, admonish and teach contrary to the word, ordinances, statutes and institutions of Jesus Christ, we do not consider their famous names and have nothing to do with their human philosophy. But if they teach rightly we do not contradict nor write against them.
I trust, by the most merciful grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the oldest, most pious, most upright, truest and most able doctors of the church of Jesus Christ, who were long before all other doctors, are received and believed by me and my beloved brethren, in every word and doctrine. These are, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David, Christ Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, 'John, Paul, Peter, James and Jude. If any body can show me a word in all my writing that I have taught or written contrary . to the doctrine of these doctors, then I am willing to be abashed, instructed and taught better; but I trust that it can never be truthfully done. If I should write and teach against these pious, unblamable doctors, then my writing and teaching would be against the teachings and admonitions of the christian body, community or holy church.
I acknowledge and know well that I admonish, teach, instruct and write contrary to the instructions and teachings of some communities and churches, in regard to some articles, such as the Papists, Dztherans; and the corrupted sects; but not contrary to the teachings of the holy, christian church. May the merciful Father, whose divine will I industriously seek to obey, save me from teaching, instructing and writing contrary to the doctrine of the holy church; for else woe would be unto my soul forever.
Lest you be ensnared by the word holy church, you shall learn and know from the word of God that the holy, christian church is no collection of unbelievers, carnal or willful sinners; notwithstanding they falsely claim to be of Christ Jesus, and think themselves to be the true, christian church. No, kind readers, no. They are not all Abraham's seed who are born of Abraham, " But the children of the promise are counted for the seed," Rom. 9:8. Thus, also, the holy, christian church must be a spiritual seed, an assembly of the righteous, and a community of the saints; which church is begotten of God, of the living seed of the divine word, and not of the teachings, institutions, and fictions of man. Yea, they are those who are regenerated, renewed and converted; who hear, believe, and fulfill all the commandments and will of God; who "have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts;" who "are all one in Christ Jesus." "Joint heirs with Christ," and heavenly and spiritually minded with him, Gal. 5:24; 3:28; Rom. 8:17.
These are the holy, christian church, the community of God, the body and the bride of Christ, whom he hath trusted, cleansed and sanctified; but "they that are in the flesh cannot please God." This holy, christian church has a spiritual Prince over her who rules her with the unbroken rod of his divine word; a Master, or Teacher who teaches the commandments of eternal life; and a Bridegroom whose voice she is ever ready to hear, that is, Christ Jesus, 1 Cor. 6:11; Rom. 8:8; Ps. 2:9; Jn. 6:68; 3:29.
If, now, I contend against his scepter, trample upon his commandments and teach or write aught against his heavenly doctrine, then I teach and write against the doctrine of the holy, christian church. For this holy, christian church has but one doctrine which is fruitful and godly, which is the limpid, pure and unmixed word of God, the lovely gospel of the grace of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15; 1 Pet. 1:26. All teachings and decrees which do not accord with the doctrine of Christ, are but teachings and commandments of men, be they teachings and opinions of doctors, decrees of popes, councils or anything else; they are doctrines of the devil, and are accursed, Matt. 15:9; 1 Tim. 4:1; Gal. 1:8, 9. Since we write and teach nothing but the pure, heavenly word, and the perfect ordinances of the holy gospel of Jesus Christ and of his apostles; therefore we do not teach and write against the teachings of the holy church, but we sustain them.
Beloved readers, let the light minded ran 193their course to the end, which is certain death. They will nevermore concede the truth, however powerfully they are vanquished, but they will ever delight in hatred, upbraiding, discord and disputation and never be satisfied, because they will not go into the strait way of the Spirit; taught of Jesus Christ and his holy apostles; notwithstanding they want to be considered the children and the church of God, without obedience. Not so kind readers. Ever remember that there is no holy church of Christ other than the assembly of the righteous, and the church of the saints, which ever acts in harmony with the word and ordinances of the Lord, and to no other doctrine. She neither will nor can accept any other doctrine or ordinances in divine matters, forever.
Because, beloved brethren, the divine ordinance of baptism in the water has thus been destroyed for many centuries, and as a strange baptism has been practiced, contrary to the true doctrine of the holy, christian church, namely, contrary to the word of God, from which evil custom so much false doctrine, disbelief and fruitless, carnal life have resulted‑therefore I have again clearly pointed out from the holy gospel, how we should practice the true, scriptural, christian baptism; that the hearts and faith of the wise may be affirmed and assured, and the mouths of the fools may be stopped, and that God may have the glory in his holy word. Read and see if we have not rightly taught and written according to the meaning of Jesus Christ. And because the whole, wide world so shamefully blaspheme and oppose the word of God, and despise his commandments and ceremonies as useless, saying, What good can water do us? never considering that the kingdom of God and the will of God do not consist in external ceremonies, but in the willing obedience to the word of God‑therefore we have, in the following writings, so extensively shown from the holy Scriptures, who should be baptized, according to the word of God, namely, the believing, or the regenerated, Mark 16:18; Jn. 3: G; Tit. 3: C.
Besides we have also shown how very weak, useless and groundless all the arguments of the world are, by which they defend infant baptism, that the beforementioned despisers of God may know and understand that they are not baptized according to the evangelical commandment of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ. From which it follows that they are not in obedience to the divine word, and if they are not in the obedience which has the promise (I speak of those of understanding minds), then they cannot inherit nor obtain the promise, so long as they do not believe the word of God, and obediently fulfill it in all respects. Let every one beware, and save his own soul; for our God is a consuming fire.
May the merciful Father, through his blessed Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, grant you all a true knowledge, and his affection ate grace for your edification, Amen.
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