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Hex ye, O, illustrious, noble, wise lords and princes! Hear ye all judges of the land, where the sword of God is given to the destruction of the evil doers, to the protection of the good, and to the punishment of the wicked I Hear, ye wise and intelligent, you, who think that you bear the vessels of the Lord! Hear ye, all people, of whatever state, condition, trade or class, who call yourselves christians, and who boast of his bitter death and precious blood I Rom. 13:1; Tit. 3:4; 1 Peter 2:13, 14.
Since we, for the sake of baptism, are so miserably profaned, slandered and persecuted by all mankind, and as we are ever suspicioned by the ungodly sects (who are to you very shameful, perilous and abominable, as may be plainly seen); therefore we say and testify in Christ Jesus, before God, before his holy angels, before you, and before the whole world, that we are solely urged by a God fearing faith which we have in the word of God, to baptize and to be baptized, as the only means; nor will it be found otherwise neither in this life, nor in death, nor in the last judgment of God.
Beloved, we verily seek nothing in this baptism other than to obey our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, who has taught and commanded us this with his own blessed mouth, Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16. Consider, once, we pray you, that we cannot possibly seek carnal profit in this our actions; neither gold, nor silver, nor honor, nor ease, nor long life on earth. For you may plainly see that we are made a prey to the world on account of it. But we are urged solely by the love of God, by an upright, fruitful faith, which faith industriously examines all the words of Christ, giving ourselves in willing obedience to God; knowing to a certainty that if we oppose, and do not obey that which our Lord has commanded, we can never receive nor inherit the heavenly blessing and divine promise. For through obedience every thing is received, as has been mentioned in the preface, Matt. 3:6; Acts 19:18; 2:38; 9:6; 10:48; 16:30.
How could Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, together with all the beloved fathers and patriarchs, have obtained the consoling promise of God, if they had not done, be it ever so little, that which God had commanded them through his holy word? But they heard the word of God; firmly believed and obeyed it; and therefore they became joint heirs of righteousness, Heb. 11:8.
On the contrary, however, all those who did not obey God, undoubtedly, must have borne the punishment of the Lord, as did Adam and Eve; Nadab and Abihu; Korah, Dathan and Abiram; as Saul; as the man of God who reproved Jeroboam the king, for his idolatry, and was deceived by the old prophet in Bethel, and other instances, which may be read of in Moses and other scriptural writings, Gen. 3:17; Lev. 10:2; Num. 16:32; 1 Sam. 15:23.
Since we are so pitiably opposed by all mankind in our doctrine and practice of the christian baptism, and since they do not realize that their opposition tends to eternal death, for they oppose Christ and his word; therefore I will again briefly show them and all persons, from the word of God who shall read, see or hear these my writings, how wonderfully, powerfully, nay, how incontrovertibly this our doctrine and practice are contained and founded on the holy gospel of Jesus Christ, although we have fully shown and proven this before, in our writings on baptism.
Most beloved, there are necessarily three reasons why our faith accepts this baptism under such a heavy cross and anxiety.
195First, because of the divine .commandment of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, which can never be broken. Secondly, because of the teaching of the holy apostles. Thirdly, because of the practice of these same apostles. And first of the commandment: After Christ Jesus had risen from the power of death and was going to ascend to his heavenly Father, he thus commanded his disciples, saying, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," Matt. 28:19. Again, at another place, " Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved," Mark 16:15, 16. While, now, Jesus Christ, the eternal wisdom who cannot err, the eternal truth who cannot lie, has commanded this, namely, that we shall first preach the gospel, from the hearing of which comes faith, Rom. 10, and that we shall baptize those who believe, who will or who can, now, explain this divine commandment otherwise, or make it of more value than the eternal, wise, perfect, blessed Christ Jesus, has made and commanded it?
Brethren, it was not allowed to apply one single word of the Mosaic ceremonies different from what they were contained in the law. For the Almighty God will not that we should follow our own inclinations with regard to the ceremonies which he has commanded us, but alone desires us to observe his good will and pleasure; for that purpose he has commanded them. In the outward ceremonies alone God finds no pleasure; but he has commanded them because he requires of us faithful obedience. His wrath has often come on those who practiced his ceremonies differently from the commandment, as in the case of Nadab and Abihu and many others. For he will, yea, he will that we should not follow our own opinion, but that we should hear, believe and obey his holy voice, Jer. 7:5‑7.
If God would have his ceremonies under the law (which were numerous, and in one respect attended with trouble and expense, and which he commanded not through Christ, his Son, but through his servant Moses), kept thus strictly and unchanged until the time of Christ; how much more so will he have the few ceremonies of the New Testament kept strictly and unchanged, which are but two in number, being baptism and the Supper, which he has commanded, not through his servant but through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ; and which are neither attended with trouble nor expense.
Consider how troublesome and expensive it was to the Israelites to travel a long distance over hill and dale, to appear two or three times a year before the Lord, at Jerusalem, with their offerings of bullocks, rams, goats and tenths, which they were bound to offer of all their goods, to the Lord. But the christian .ceremonies of the New Testament, baptism and Supper, which are commanded us of God, are not at all attended with trouble or expense; although the meaning or representation of these ceremonies to true believers, is attended with great vexation to the flesh. This however is not caused by the ceremonies themselves, but alone through the faith which leads us to these ceremonies, out of love and obedience to the divine word. Most beloved, since the ordinance of Jesus Christ is unchangeable and the only one that is acceptable to the Father; and since he has commanded that we shall first preach the gospel and then baptize those who believe; it follows that all those who baptize and are baptized, without the teaching of the gospel and without faith, baptize and are baptized, on their own opinion, without the doctrine and the ordinance of Jesus Christ, and therefore it is idolatry, useless and vain. For had Israel circumcised their females because it was not expressly forbidden, they would yet have circumcised without the ordinance of God, for he had commanded that the males were to be circumcised, Gen. 1'7:10. The same it is in this instance. If we baptize the unconscious children, although Scripture has not expressly forbidden it, just as it was not forbidden to circumcise the females, we yet baptize without the ordinance of Jesus Christ; for he commanded to baptize those who should hear and believe his holy gospel, Gen. 1'7:10; Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 9:18; 10:48; 16:33.
It avails nothing that some say that these 196words of Matthew and Mark extend the holy church to the Gentiles, and that thereby the baptism of infants is not excluded. Beloved reader, it is true by this commandment the holy church is also extended to the Gentiles, to the fulfillment of the prophetic Scriptures which long before had seen this through the Spirit, as Paul proves, Rom. 15. Yet the word stands firmly with regard to both Jews and Gentiles, namely, whosoever believeth and is baptized, shall be saved. Faith is before baptism. For faith is the beginning of all righteousness which avails before God, from which faith, baptism is the result as a sign and token of obedience. If the children, then, have faith, their baptism is not forbidden by the alleged words of Matthew and Mark.
Again, neither does it avail any thing that some allege and say, that the resurrection of the dead was not expressly written in the books of Moses, yet it was implied as Christ Jesus proved to the Sadducees from Exod. 3:6, namely: I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. As in these words of Moses the resurrection is not expressed, yet it is implied, as God is no God of the dead but of the living, as Christ teaches, Matt. 22:32; thus they say, infant baptism is not expressed in the gospel, yet it is implied. To this we reply: That the resurrection of the dead is no outward ceremony which God has commanded us to do; but it is something which God himself will accomplish in us by his Almighty power, therefore it is an invisible consolation in the hearts of all believers, which is comprehended by faith alone. But the baptism of unconscious children is an outward ceremony. If, then, it is an ordinance and word of God which has the promise, it must be plainly expressed in the Scriptures. If not, it cannot be called a ceremony of Christ.
Thirdly, neither does it avail that some allege and say, "Although the believing women have no express word of invitation to the Lord's Supper, neither were they at the celebration of the last Supper of the Lord, yet they are, for good reasons, admitted to the Supper, and it is the same with unconscious children. Although there is no express command for their baptism, neither were they baptized of the Lord nor of his disciples so far as we can learn from the Scriptures; yet they are, for good reasons, admitted to baptism, the same as the believing women are admitted to the Supper."
Kind reader, this is a very crafty argument to deceive the simple and ignorant, for it savors highly of subtlety, but is not at all according to the example of Jesus Christ. Because the Holy Supper represents the death of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of our neighbors; both of which are known and practiced by the believing women as well as the believing men. If, then, the unconscious children have that which is represented by baptism, namely, death unto sin, the new life, Rom. 6:4; the new birth, Jn. 3, the putting on of Christ, Gal. 3:27, the moving, quickening Spirit by which we are baptized into the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:13, and a good conscience, 1 Pet. 3:16, as have the believing women of what is represented in the Holy Supper, then they should be baptized for the same reason that believing women are admitted to the Supper; but it neither will nor can ever be found in unconscious children.
Fourthly, it avails nothing that some allege from Ecclesiasticus 1:14, that " To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and it was created with the faithful in the womb," and will be with the chosen women. If then, they say, "The fear of the Lord is created with the believing in the mother's womb, which fear is a fruit of faith, and as the fruit can not be before the tree, therefore the children from their mother's womb have a fruitful faith; if they have faith, then their baptism cannot be hindered according to the Scriptures." Not so, beloved reader, but judge every thing according to the word of God and his Spirit. For I do not doubt but that you will confess that the faith which avails with God, is a gift of God, from whence all righteousness proceeds, comes by the hearing of the divine word. If, now, it comes by hearing the divine word, as Paul teaches, how will it be found in unconscious children; for it is plain that they can not be taught, admonished or instructed, nay, they are more senseless and helpless at their birth than 197the irrational creatures; so unconscious that they cannot be taught any thing about carnal things, until their hearing, comprehension and understanding have commenced to develop themselves. If they cannot be made to understand any thing visible, how can they, then, prematurely, that is, before they can comprehend things, be taught and instructed in invisible, celestial matters of the Spirit?
Secondly, you know and acknowledge that where there is a true faith there is the true knowledge of the difference between good and evil; the fear of God, the love of God and also of our neighbor, and the obedience to God and the desire after righteousness. It can not be otherwise than that a good tree bringeth forth good fruit. Faith works all manner of righteousness, as it is written, " The just shall live by faith," and " Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," Matt. 7:18; Rom. 1:17; Heb. 11:1.
Say, dear reader, If faith ever begets good fruits, all manner of righteousness is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen‑what fruits and righteousness do our little children beget, which are evidence of faith, and what do they hope for, and seek after but eating, drinking, laughter, crying, warmth, play, &c., as has been the nature of children from the beginning. Besides, they often show the growth of the evil, Adamic seed; and as they advance in youth they manifest it still more; but the fruits of faith, or of the new birth they do not show, as may be plainly observed, and if you do not observe it by daily experience, then believe the word of God, which will never deceive you. Thus Moses says, " Your children, which in that ‑day had no knowledge between good and evil," &c., Deut.1:39. They had no knowledge between good and evil, as it appears where, then, is their faith which has the knowledge between good and evil?
Thirdly, you will acknowledge that all righteousness comes by faith as our controverters themselves allege and adduce in their opposition, Rom. 4: G. Without faith there is no godly righteousness; therefore Paul says to the Hebrews (speaking of those of understanding years), that " Without faith it is impossible to please God," Heb. 11: g. Inasmuch as the children, then, have no faith by which they can realize what God is and that he is a rewarder of both good and evil, as they plainly show by their fruits‑therefore they have not the fear of God, and consequently they have nothing upon which they should be baptized, yet they have the promise of everlasting life, out of pure grace. This is all that the Scriptures accord to them, and all that the word of God says of them, as will be shown below.
Inasmuch, then, as faith must be first and afterwards the righteous fruits which come by faith‑such as the fear of God, the love of God, &c., which fruits do not appear in unconscious children, as has been often said; therefore we must presume that Ecclesiasticus does not teach that the fear of God is not in little children immediately after conception; but we are taught here that the fear of God is to the believing in the womb, that it will be given them in due time; because his eyes of fire, those eyes which from the beginning to the end foresaw all things; foresaw when they were yet in their mother's womb, that they in time would hear his holy voice, truly believe, and through faith fear God; and become righteous before him; for true faith cannot be without its fruits, as has been often proven.
If then, faith were in the little, unconscious children from conception, as our opponents say, it would be a fruitless faith, for they do not bring forth fruits; and therefore their preaching in this regard is in vain. For, if that were the case, faith would come by the creation, or conception, of the believing, and not by the preaching of the divine word. Not so, beloved reader. This is a sure, eternal, imperishable and an enduring rule of the divine truth, to fulfill all righteousness, namely: First, the true preaching of the holy gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, a desire to hear and understand. Thirdly, to cordially believe this gospel and i to fulfill it in fruit. This being the case, it follows that the little, unconscious children have no faith, for they can not understand and learn. If they have no faith, they cannot have the fear of God. Therefore 198our opponents cannot prove the justice of baptizing little, unconscious children, from this passage of Ecclesiasticus; but they must wait according to God's word until they can understand the holy gospel of grace, and sincerely confess it; then it is time, no matter how young or old they are, to receive christian baptism, as the infallible word of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ has taught and commanded all true believers, in his holy gospel, Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16. If they die before maturity, that is in childhood, before they have come to years of understanding and before they have faith, then they die under the promise of God, and that by no other means than the precious promise of grace, given through Christ Jesus, Luke 18:16; and if they become of understanding minds and have faith, they should then be baptized. But if they do not accept or believe the word when they shall have arrived at the years of understanding, .no matter whether they are baptized or not, they will be damned, as Christ himself teaches, Mark 16:16.
I know that there are a great many, who will ask, " Why I, unlearned man, am not satisfied in regard to this matter with the doctrine of Martin Luther and other renowned doctors, who are versed in the Scriptures and many tongues and sciences ‑.who teach, and particularly Luther, that faith lies dormant in little children the same as in a sleeping believer?"
To this I answer: In the first place, if there were such a dormant faith in little children (which, however, is nothing but invention), then it would not be proper to baptize such children so long as they would not verbally confess it and show it by their fruits. For the holy apostles did not baptize any believers while they were asleep, as we have shown in our former writings.
Secondly, I acknowledge and confess from my inmost heart, before you, and the whole world, that they and many others are well gifted with learning, eloquence, subtlety, languages and science, and that I, poor, ignorant man, am in comparison to them, as a fly is to an elephant; therefore I am heartily ashamed to write and speak against them, with my dull pen and awkward speech. Yet every reader should know that however learned the beforementioned philosophers are, and however ignorant I am, yet our opinions avail the same with God and before him, for, without the command of the holy Scripture, nothing righteous can be done and nothing pleasing to God can be practiced, let him be whosoever he may. The‑holy Scriptures do not refer us to them nor to any other learned person, but to Christ Jesus, alone. Whenever such highly renowned men, by their subtle acuteness and artful philosophy try to take from us and garble the plain ordinances of Jesus Christ and of his apostles, we must, surely, consider their doctrine, in that re= spect, as doctrine of men and false; for Christ Jesus is not under them, but above them. Neither has he received his holy doctrine from them, but from his wise Father, Jn. 7:24; 8:26; 12:46; 16:13.
Since they, by their philosophy, assert that there is a dormant, unfruitful faith in unconscious children, evidently against all Scripture and truth, and that the children should be baptized upon such human phantaey; now, judge for yourselves, you who oppose me, which of the two I would better do‑hear the holy word and ordinance of Christ Jesus, to whom the Father, together with all the prophets, have pointed me, or hear the learned, who, against his holy word and ordinance, would have me follow their opinion, which they have formed by garbling the Scriptures. Eradicate from your carnal hearts all partisanship and contention so that you can fairly judge of spiritual matters. God grant that all the learned and those that are taught of them, may acknowledge and teach truth, and fulfill it in their works, Amen.
Inasmuch as Christ Jesus has commanded his holy apostles that they should first teach the holy gospel of grace and then baptize those who should believe; we are, for the same reasons, urged by the love of God, to teach this christian baptism according to the word of God, and afterwards obediently receive it, and, by the grace of the Lord, to save it, to the honor of God, both in life and death; notwithstanding all the world opposes us.
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