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HOW THE HOLY APOSTLES PRACTICED BAPTISM IN THE WATER.
IN the third and last place we are forced to assert the christian baptism of the believing, even at the risk of life and blood for the reason, that the holy apostles of God baptized none but those alone who desired to be baptized, as Christ expressly and plainly commanded them, saying, "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. This commandment the apostles received from the mouth of the Lord and have proclaimed the holy gospel, the glad tidings of grace, throughout the world, Rom. 10, and preached it to every creature which was under the heavens, Col. 1. They baptized all who accepted this gospel by faith, and no others as is shown and perceived in many Scriptures treating of the acts of the apostles; some of which Scriptures I shall place before the reader, by which all the rest of the Scriptures will be easily explained. When Philip was led by the angel of the Lord, to the chariot of the eunuch, who was come from the land of Ethiopia, and read the gospel of Jesus Christ from Esaias the prophet, "Philip preached unto him Jesus and as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God," Acts 8:35‑37.
My chosen, beloved brethren, If all the earth were full of learned orators or highly renowned doctors, and these were, by sharp subtlety and human philosophy, exalted as high as the stars; yet, by the grace of God, the word will never be wrung from us, namely this: That where there is no faith, no baptism should be administered, according to the word of God; or else we must admit, first, that the command of Christ 222Jesus is wrong: Secondly, that the holy apostles have taught wrongfully; thirdly, that the holy Philip here asked wrongfully; fourthly, that the eunuch was concerned about this matter more than all the rest of humanity.
No, kind reader, no. But as Peter and Paul, together with all the pious witnesses of Christ always had their eyes fixed upon the commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ and did not act in opposition thereto, so also, the holy Philip, the true servant of God who preached and taught with the same spirit, would not baptize until the illustrious and famous man had sincerely confessed his faith; for it was thus commanded him of Christ Jesus, his true Master, our Redeemer and Savior, Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15.
As the holy apostles required of those that were to be baptized, first, to make a confession of their faith before baptism, so I ask you, beloved reader, How can we require a confession of faith of infants before they are baptized, and who shall confess for them? If you should say the godfathers, then I would reply, that the godfathers were first gotten up by pope Higinius, as we have shown above. Inasmuch as Higinius is the getter up of them, and as infant baptism has been practiced ever since the time of the apostles as Origen and Augustine write, and as I believe, because those who do not rightly confess Christ, ever seek their righteousness in wrought ceremonies, notwithstanding it is no divine command nor apostolic usage, as may be particularly proven by the holy Scriptures, and also by Tertullian and Ruffinus and others‑therefore I verily do not see who, by the faith of infants, has answered for them in their baptism which were baptized during the period between the apostles and pope Higinius, inasmuch as the godfather were first gotten up by Higinius who was either the ninth or tenth pope, and as the infants which were before him had as little doctrine, hearing, voice or understanding as the children of the present day, as they plainly prove by their fruits.
Observe, kind reader, that all their doing with children, such as catechism, godfathers, baptism, crisma, and such like things, is nothing but open hypocrisy, human righteousness, idolatry, useless fantasy and opinion.
Inasmuch as Christ Jesus has commanded but one baptism on the confession of faith, and as the apostles have taught and practiced it‑therefore the infant baptists must consent and admit, by virtue of the word of God, that infant baptism is not by the commandment of Christ, not by the teaching and practice of the holy apostles, but by the doctrine of anti‑christ and by the practice of his preachers.
I repeat that the holy apostles baptized none but those that desired it, or those who confessed the most holy faith either verbally or proved it by their walk, as did holy Peter; for although he was previously informed by a heavenly vision that he might go amongst the Gentiles to teach them the gospel, yet he refused to baptize the pious, noble and godly centurion and his consorts, so long as he did not see that the Holy Spirit was descended upon them, that they spoke with tongues, and glorified God. But when Peter plainly saw that they were truly believing and that the Spirit was descended on them, he said, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord," Acts 10:47, 48.
Behold, kind reader, here you are plainly taught that Peter commanded that those only should be baptized who had received the Holy Ghost; who spoke with tongues and glorified God, which only pertains to the believing and not the unconscious infants. Thus the practice of Peter was in accordance with the commandment of Christ, Mark 16:16. Therefore Peter did not command infant baptism; for the Holy Ghost does not operate in them, as may be plainly seen. This may also be understood from a passage of Paul; for he says, "When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women," Acts 8:12. Observe, nothing is said of infants.
Paul, a preacher and apostle, also baptized upon the confession of faith and truth.
223He required faith before baptism to such perfection that he regarded the baptism of the holy John the baptist, as useless and vain among the disciples at Ephesus, because they knew not the Holy Ghost, saying, "Unto what then were ye baptized? And they, said Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them, and they spake with tongues and prophesied; and all the men were about twelve," Acts 19:3‑7.
Hear, most beloved readers; for I would here present to you and to all the world three points, which you should impartially consider and judge according to the word of God. First, Was the baptism of John not of God? I know you will give an affirmative reply. If now the baptism of John is of God, as it is indeed, and if Paul yet considered this baptism which was from above, as insufficient and imperfect in these disciples because they did not acknowledge the Holy Ghost, and as he, after preaching to them Christ, again baptized them with the baptism of Jesus Christ, as is mentioned in Luke, for what purpose must we consider the baptism of children that are naturally unable to understand the divine word, and therefore they acknowledge neither Father, Son, nor Holy Ghost; neither can they distinguish between truth and lies, righteousness and sinfulness, good and evil, right and wrong? Does not this prove infant baptism to be useless, vain and unfruitful? and as administered and received without the ordinance of God? and if we acknowledge this by the word of God through faith, is it therefore not necessary to be baptized with the baptism of Jesus Christ as Christ has commanded and as Paul has administered to these disciples? I say, verily, if we do not, there is, according to the word of God, neither faith, regeneration, obedience, nor Spirit in us, and therefore no eternal life, as we have frequently shown above.
Let all the learned garble this invincible Scripture and practice of Paul as subtlely as they please, yet it will never be asserted by virtue of the word of God but that these disciples, notwithstanding that they were baptized with the baptism of John, were again baptized, after they were taught by Paul, with the baptism of Jesus Christ; because they knew not that there was a Holy Ghost; that is, if baptism is to be baptism according to the word of God. But, brethren, the preaching of the cross is ever opposed because it is to them that perish, foolishness, 1 Cor. 1:18.
Again, judge for yourselves kind readers, since Christ Jesus himself and also the holy apostles, Peter, Paul and Philip, have commanded and taught no other baptism in all the Scriptures of the New Testament, but upon the confession or proof of faith, and as the whole world in opposition thereto, teaches and practices a different baptism, which is founded neither in the command of Jesus nor in the teaching and practice of the holy apostles, namely, infant baptism, and asserts it not by the word of God, but solely by the opinion and long usage of the learned; and forces it upon the world by the cruel, bloody sword; therefore judge, I say, which of the two we should follow. The divine truth of Christ Jesus, or the lies of the ungodly world? If you answer, Christ, your judgment is right; but the consequence according to the flesh, is anxiety, being robbed, apprehension, banishment, poverty, water, fire, sword, the wheel, shame, cross, suffering and temporal death; yet in the end eternal life. But if you answer, the world, then you verily judge wrongfully; notwithstanding, on the contrary according to the flesh, the consequence is honor, peace, ease, liberty, temporal life and such perishable advantages; yet the end is eternal death.
Thirdly and lastly, judge rightly whether the ordinance of Jesus Christ which he commanded into his church, and which the holy apostles learned and administered from his blessed mouth, can ever be changed and broken by human wisdom or excellency. If you answer in the affirmative, you must prove it by the divine and evangelical Scriptures or else we should not believe it. But if you answer in the negative, as it 224should be, you must acknowledge that those, no matter who they are, whether they lived at the time of the apostles, and were even their disciples, who say that the apostles baptized infants, shamefully misrepresent the apostles and load falsehood upon them, yea, that they speak their own opinion and not the word of God, for the most holy apostles, the true witnesses of christian truth, never taught two different baptisms in the water; neither did they act contrary to the command and ordinance of Christ, nor administer it contrary to their own doctrine.
O, had the educated and learned men, Origen, Augustine, Jeronimus, Lactantius and others, not soared so high in their smartness and philosophy; and had they been satisfied with the clear, chaste, and plain doctrine of Jesus Christ and his apostles, and had they conformed their intelligence and subtle reasoning to the word of God, then the heavenly doctrine and unchangeable ordinance of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ would not have been subjected to such shame and change? And in particular has the great Origen, by his philosophy and self‑conceit, so shamefully treated with the Holy Scripture that Martin Luther in his book called Seruum Arbitrium, calls him Spercissimus scripturarum interpres, that is: The falsest explainer of the Scriptures. And besides, it is annotated in the Lutheran New Testament, that this Origen is the great star which fell from heaven, burning like a lamp, and that his name is Wormwood, Rev. 8:11. Therefore we will leave it to God who and what he is. Notwithstanding he has treated the word of God so shamefully and has erred so terribly, yet, because he pleases the world in regard to infant baptism‑the holy doctrine of Christ Jesus and the apostles must stand back; and Origen is heeded, accepted and followed as a sure testimony to this idolatrous ceremony. O, abominable blindness! O, shameful foolishness! That we do not believe the sure word of our Lord Jesus Christ, the word of truth, and the true witnesses who were sent by him! But that we would rather follow, to the loss of our souls, those who teach to please us, notwithstanding it is plain from their writings that they have so often stumbled and erred, and been mistaken in regard to the truth of Almighty God!
Therefore I beseech you all, beloved brethren in the Lord, by the grace of God to open your understanding, that you may be no longer deceived, and that you may perceive, you who are made uneasy by the writings of the learned, that all the writers, both ancient and modern, have ever sought righteousness in wrought ceremonies, which we should only seek in Christ Jesus. And again, that, because they have not the word of God on their side they do not follow the same path in regard to this matter, do not speak of one accord nor write unanimously. For as their writings show, some seek the washing away of inherent sin. Others teach that they should be baptized on account of their faith. Again, to train them in the word and commandments of God. Still others, to have them included into the covenant with God; and, again, to baptize them into the church of Christ. Behold, kind readers, thus each of the beforementioned writers follows his own course, and does not follow the same way. If they were supported by the word of God, in regard to this matter, they would all be unanimous. But because they have not the word of God‑each one follows his own inclination, thinking that he can, under a scriptural appearance, palm off pernicious falsehood as being the truth. Yea, he tickles his vision so long with garbled Scriptures, that his mind becomes so obscured that he can no more conceive that he teaches, follows and administers accursed falsehood for the blessed truth of God.
Thus, most beloved children, because the learned have ever sought and yet seek righteousness in infant baptism, you can easily surmise that these infant baptists have, by that means, made this innovation. For with the ancients it was not the common practice, I say common, as may be deduced from Tertullian, Ruffin and others; but as appears, just after the demise of the apostles or perhaps yet in their times, they commenced to abuse the true, christian baptism, which solely belongs to the believing. As some of the Corinthians already in the time of Paul suffered themselves to be baptized for the dead, 1 Cor. 15:29, so, also, 225through the false doctrine and opinions of foolish bishops, the abominable serpent of infant baptism crept in, and was so confirmed by long usage that, at last, it was thought and accepted by all the world as an apostolic institution for the sake of righteousness which they all seek therein. Therefore you must acknowledge, beloved brethren, not withstanding infant baptism is of old date, that it is still not by the command of Jesus Christ, and by the teaching and practice of the holy apostles; and is therefore idolatrous, useless and vain.
And because the true, christian baptism has such a great promise, namely, the remission of sins, and other promises, Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Pet. 3:21; Eph. 4:5, the pedo‑baptists apply the same baptism to infants; never once observing that the beforementioned promises are solely to those who show obedience to the word of God; for Christ Jesus has so commanded it. Inasmuch as pedo‑baptism is not commanded, therefore it is not required of children as obedience. For where there are no commandments there are no transgressions. Again, baptism is not commanded to infants, by God; and therefore they have no promise in their baptism, from which it follows that infant baptism is idolatrous, vain, useless and void, before God, as was said above; for God, the Lord, has no pleasure in the ceremonies, unless they are administered according to his divine and blessed word.
But the little children, and particularly those of christian seed, have a peculiar promise which was given them of God without any ceremony, but out of pure grace, through Christ Jesus our Lord, who says, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven," Matt. 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16. This promise makes glad and assures all the chosen saints of God, in regard to their children or infants; being assured that the true word of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ can never fail. Inasmuch as he has shown such great mercy towards the children that were brought to him, that he took them up in his arms, blessed them, laid his hands upon them, promised them the kingdom of heaven and has neither done nor commanded them any thing more; therefore they have in their hearts a sure and firm faith in the grace of God, concerning their beloved children, that they are children of the kingdom, of grace, of the promise and of eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom alone be the glory; and not by any ceremony. Yea, by this same promise they are assured that their beloved children, so long as they are not of understanding years, are clean, holy, saved and pleasing unto God, be they alive or dead. Therefore they give thanks to the eternal Father through Jesus Christ our Lord, for his inexpressibly great love to their children, and train them in the love of God and in wisdom, by correcting, chastising, teaching and admonishing them, and by walking before them with an unblamable life until they may hear the word of God, believe it and fulfill it in their works. Then is the time, of whatever age they may be, that they should receive the christian baptism which Christ Jesus has commanded, in obedience to his word, to all christians; and which his apostles have thus practiced and taught.
Behold, brethren, if it should be said that we thus rob the children of the promise and of the grace of God, you will observe that they contradict us out of hatred and envy, and do not tell the truth. Say, who has the strongest ground and hope of the salvation of their children? Is it he who places his hopes upon an outward sign? or is it he who bases his hopes upon the promise of grace, given and promised of Christ Jesus? Still the evangelical truth must, in all respects, be blasphemed and belied by the ignorant and light minded. But, notwithstanding this, the just and impartial Judge, Christ Jesus, will some time pass the true sentence between them and us, although they do not fear it now. I am forced to think that then it will be acknowledged by many, too late, that they did not believe and follow the truth of Christ Jesus but the falsehood of anti‑christ. Take heed and watch.
Again, it is sometimes, and very foolishly too, asserted by the pedo‑baptists, "That the apostles baptized whole households, as the household of Cornelius, Acts 10:48; 226the household of Stephanus, 1 Cor. 1:13; the household of Lydia, and of the jailer, Acts 16:15, 33; from which, they say, it may be presumed that there were also small children among them." From this allegation, beloved brethren, they show, although not intentionally, that they can not produce Scriptures to prove infant baptism. For whenever we must follow (build on) presumption, there is evidently no proof of the assertion.
To such opponents I would reply, in plain language, thus: Three households, namely, of Cornelius, Stephanus and of the jailer, were all believing. Of the first household it is written, "There was a certain man in Cesarea, called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the italian band; a devout man and one that, feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always," Acts 10:1, 2. If they all served and feared God, as Luke writes, then they were not baptized without faith, as is plainly shown in the same chapter; for Peter commanded that those should be baptized who had received the Holy Ghost, as they had who spoke with tongues and glorified God; which are all fruits of faith, as every intelligent person will admit.
Again, of the household of Stephanus it is written, "I beseech you, brethren (ye know the house of Stephanus, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints); that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboreth," 1 Cor. 16:15, 16. I repeat it to serve the saints is a work of faith. Since the house of Stephanus served the saints, as Paul writes, therefore they showed by their fruits that they had faith.
Again, of the house of the jailer it is written that Paul and Silas spake unto him and said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house; and they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he (the jailer) took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them and rejoiced believing in God with all his house," Acts 16:31‑34; or as Erasmus says, "He has rejoiced because he believed in God with all his house." Beloved reader, observe first, that they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. Secondly, he rejoiced with all his house. To hear the word is something which pertains to those of understanding minds, and spiritual rejoicing is a fruit of the believing or of the spiritual, Gal. 5:18. Inasmuch as they all heard the word and rejoiced in God, therefore it incontrovertibly follows that the holy apostles did not baptize them without faith.
In the fourth place, in regard to the house of Lydia, I reply: Because the world tries to establish their cause on presumption, therefore we would say first, that presumption ought not to establish faith; and if it were so that it could avail before God, then still the presumption in the case of the house of Lydia would not be in favor of the world but against it; because it is the custom in the Holy Scriptures and also with the world, that a house is named after the man and not after the woman, so long as the husband lives, because the husband is the lord of his wife and household. As in this case the house is named after the woman, and as there is no mention made of the man, therefore it follows that she, at the time, was not married. If she was a young woman or widow, as appears, then the presumption of the world is contradictory; and it is probable that she had no children and still more probable, that she had no infants, since she at that time had no husband.
Again, we would further say in reference to this Scripture, that if it were that Lydia had infants, they would not be counted among the baptized of the house. For Christ commanded that the believing should be baptized and the holy apostles taught and practiced such baptism; from which it may be safely deduced that when the holy Scriptures speak of houses being baptized, or houses being subverted that it has reference to those of understanding years, who may be taught or subverted, as Paul shows in another Scripture, that some "subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake," Tit. 1:11.
227If you take the term whole houses as applying also to infants; and as whole houses were subverted, as Paul says, then it would follow that infants were subverted by false doctrine. No, beloved reader, no. An infant without understanding can be neither taught nor subverted; therefore they are not counted in the number of baptized, or those who were subverted, of which the Scriptures speak. But the Holy Scripture teaches and admonishes, both by words and sacraments, as they are called, those alone who have ears to hear and minds to understand, as we have frequently shown above.
If any one would like to have more information about the ceremony of baptism and about the objections made to it, let him read our first treatise on baptism which we published; and by the grace of the Lord, he will be enlightened upon the subject from the word of God.
Brethren, I conclude this treatise on baptism in the water in these words: Inasmuch as God, the merciful Father, has graciously sent into this miserable, blind and erring world his chosen, beloved Son, Christ Jesus, who has taught us the holy will of his Father, in great clearness; and as he has, in his great love, offered up his precious and most holy flesh and blood for us, and as to him the eternal Father has not only pointed us through his holy prophets, but also from high heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him," Matt. 1:5; therefore we say and testify that we should hear this Christ Jesus; that we should believe in him and follow him in all things which he has taught and commanded us; and that we should also hear and follow his holy apostles who by his own divine command were sent out with the most precious word of grace, namely, with the holy gospel‑or else we have neither God, promise, nor eternal life, as is plain and intelligible to all mankind, from the New Testament.
As this Christ Jesus has given us this express and incontrovertible command in this wise: First to teach the gospel and then to baptize those who believe, and those that are thus baptized shall be saved, Mark 16:16; >Matt. 28:19; Acts 19:5; 2:38; 10:48; 16:33. And as the holy apostles have taught and used no other baptism than baptism on faith, according to the command of Christ, as shown and proven by many reasons from Acts 2; 8; 10; 16; 19; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2; 1 Cor. 12:13; Tit. 3:6; 1 Pet. 3:21; therefore we again declare before you, before all the world and before God, that we are prompted by nothing but by the fear of God, being so taught by his word, thus to teach this christian baptism, and thus to receive it upon the confession of faith, for the remission of sins, Acts 2:38, as said before, and are thus baptized with the washing of water, by the word, Eph. 5:26; and by a Holy Spirit which quickens our hearts, into one body, 1 Cor. 12:13; of which body Christ Jesus is the head, Col. 1:18; Eph 1:22. Nor do we know of any other baptism, of which God is a witness, than this alone; of which, by the grace of God, we have so much taught and written.
I herewith beseech you, kind reader, not to do like the angry, blind and bloody world, who condemn everything from an envious, rebellious, refractory and raving heart before they have thoroughly perused and understood it; who reject all good, christian doctrine and usage; sometimes because of fashion, again, because of the cross, and sometimes because of the plainness of the person. Do not thus; but judge this and all our writings according to the Spirit and holy word of the Lord, and you will plainly see whether we have written and taught you truth or falsehood; whether we teach two baptisms or one; whether we seek to save your souls or destroy them; whether we seek the praise and honor of the Lord, or his dishonor. For I trust, by the grace of God, if you are desirous of your own salvation, and if you peruse what we have written and judge it with a spiritual judgment, that you will find nothing in it but the teaching which is of God; the eternal, heavenly, true and saving will of God, and the very strait way of truth which the ever blessed Jesus Christ and his apostles have, in the most holy gospel taught and shown all mankind.
Take heed, ye illustrious, noble and pious lords! Take heed ye judges and keepers of the law, against whom your cruel, 228
bloody sword is sometimes sharpened and drawn. I tell you in Christ Jesus that we seek nothing but what we have here told you, as you may clearly see by many, namely, that there is not a false syllable nor deceitful word heard from their mouths or found in them, and these are forced and led by you to the sword, fire and water, as poor, innocent sheep to the slaughter. And if you should point me to the abominable actions of the corrupted sects, and say that you must therefore oppose baptism, by the sword, that such ungodly doings may be averted and hindered; then I would again reply, first: Christian baptism belongs not to corrupted sects; but it is the word of God. Secondly, the holy, christian baptism does not cause mutiny nor shameful actions; but it is caused by the false teachers and false prophets who boast themselves to be baptized christians, and yet, before God, are not such. Thirdly, there is nothing under heaven at which I am more alarmed than I am at the ungodly actions of the false, corrupted sects. They frighten me more than death; for I know that all men must once die, Heb. 9:27. More than the tyrannical sword; for if they take my body, it is all they can do, Matt. 10:28. More than Satan; for I have vanquished him through Christ. But in case the terrible doctrine of the corrupted sects adhered to me, then I would verily, be lost; eternal woe would be to my poor soul. Therefore I would rather die the temporal death (that he knows who knows all things) than to eat, drink, commune, greet or converse with such, if I knew that they would not be helped by my conversation or admonition; for it is forbidden in the word of Christ to keep the company of such, Matt. 7:16; 1 Cor. 5:11; 2 Thess. 3:14; Phil. 3. And, by the grace of God, I know to a certainty, that they are not in the house of the Lord, in the church of the living God and in the body of Jesus Christ. Therefore I say, if you find in me or in my teachings, which is the word of God, or among those who are taught by me or by my brethren, any thieving, murdering, perjury, mutiny, rebellion or any other criminal acts, as were formerly, and are yet found among the corrupted sects‑then punish all of us; as we would be culpable if this were the case. I repeat, if we are disobedient to God in religious matters, we are willing to be instructed and corrected by the word of God; for we mean diligently to do and fulfill his most holy will. Or if we are not obedient unto the emperor in matters belonging to him as he is called and ordained of God, I say in matters belonging to him, then we will willingly submit to such punishment as you may inflict upon us. But if we sincerely fear and seek our Lord and God, as I trust we do, and if we are obedient unto the emperor in temporal matters, as we should be according to the word of God, Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:13; Tit. 3:1, and are yet to suffer and be persecuted and crucified for the sake of the truth of the Lord‑then we should consider that "the disciple is not above his master nor the servant above his lord. * * If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?" Matt. 10:24, 26. Yet you should know and acknowledge, O ye beloved, noble, illustrious, pious lords, ye judges and keepers of the law, that as often as you take, condemn and put to the sword such people, that you put your tyrannical sword into the blessed flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you break the bones of his holy body; for they are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, Eph. 6:30; they are his chosen, beloved brethren and sisters, who are with him, born from above, of one Father, Jn. 1:13; they are his sincerely beloved children who are born of the seed of his holy word; they are his holy, spotless and pure bride whom he, in his great love has wedded as his consort. Why? Because they have, by the operation of their faith, and led by the Holy Spirit, cordially committed themselves to the service of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, and do not live any more according to their lusts, but agreeably to the will of God, alone, according to the direction of his holy, blessed word. Yea, they would rather surrender every thing which they possess, and suffer envy, slander, scourging, persecution, anxiety, famine, thirst, nakedness, cold, heat, poverty, imprisonment, banishment, water, fire, sword or any other punishment than to forsake the gospel of 229grace and the confession of God and be separated from the love of Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:35. But they will never accept the vain doctrine and commandments of men.
Therefore we pray you, as our beloved and gracious rulers according to the flesh, by the grace of God, to consider and realize, if there is any reasonableness about you, in what great anxiety and suspense we poor, miserable people are placed. For if we abandon Christ Jesus and his holy word, we fall into the wrath of God; and if we remain firm in his holy word, we are put to your cruel sword. O, Lord! if it were true that this large church were thy holy church, bride and body, as they boast it to be, then we might truthfully assert that thou art the prince, bridegroom and head of an abominable, detestable band of murderers, who thirst after the innocent blood of those who sincerely seek, fear, love and serve God. For the ignorant, blind people go about like a backsliding heifer, as the prophet says, seeking nothing but the persecution, imprisonment and destruction of God's saints and children.
All the priests and monks, who seek and fear nothing but their gluttonous, greedy belly, and their avaricious, pompous flesh, do nothing but upbraid, slander, lie and persecute; the judges and magistrates, who seek to live of the bloody labor of the miserable; take them and deliver them into the hands of the tyrants, that they may become favorites of the rulers, as the prophet says, Mic. 7; "The prince asketh and the judge asketh for a reward." The lords and keepers of the law, as a body, are after nothing but the favor and friendship of their prince to whom they are sworn; after authority, good wages and aggrandizement. They are those who torture, banish, confiscate and murder, as the prophet says, "Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow," Zeph. 3:3. At another place, "Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves, ravening the prey to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain," Ezek. 22:27. O, how just was the revelation of holy John, when he saw that the Babylonian woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, Rev. 17:6.
O, beloved lords and judges of the land, observe once, how all the righteous, the prophets, Christ Jesus himself, together with his holy apostles and servants, have been treated from the beginning; and to‑day you still treat those thus, who in purity of heart seek the truth and life eternal. Therefore we must run the risk; for in case you do not fear God, and do not sheathe your murderous sword against Christ Jesus and against his holy church, then we esteem it of less consequence to fall in the hands of worldly princes and judges, than to fall into the hands of God. I repeat it, take heed, awake, and be converted, that the innocent blood of the pious children of God, which calls for vengeance in heaven, may never more be found on your hands.
Take heed, also, ye wise and learned and ye common people! For such a people are they and such is their doctrine and faith whom you daily ridicule and mock as fools; whom you slander as heretics and deceivers; and whom you take and deliver, and murder in your hearts, as thieves, murderers and criminals. Yet, God's word shall never be broken, 1 Pet. 1:24; Jas. 1:10; Ps. 90:6. O ye miserable people, what will become of you! that you are not ashamed daily to mock and ridicule the blessed Christ Jesus; to trample upon him and thus ravingly tear to pieces his most holy and glorious body, notwithstanding you boast of his divinity, word, death, grace, mercy and blood.
Say, beloved, if you are the church of Christ, why are you not obedient unto him? If you are the body of Christ why destroy its holy members? If you are the children of God why trample upon your brethren? If you are the servants of Christ, why not do the things he has commanded? If you are the bride of Christ why not hear his holy voice? If you are the truly regenerated where are, then, the fruits? If you are the true disciples of Christ, where is your love? If you are the true christians where are your christian ordinances of baptism, Supper, deacons, ban and life as commanded in his word? If you are the truly baptized ones of Christ where is your faith, your 230new birth, your death unto sin, your unblamable life, your good conscience, your christian body into which you were baptized, and your Christ whom you have put on?
O beloved brethren, error has been rampant long enough! Christ Jesus will be no longer mocked as a fool. I tell you as truly as the Lord lives, that so long as you are thus earthly, carnally and devilishly-minded; so long as you oppose God and his holy word; so long as you live without the fear of God, according to the lusts of your flesh, so long you are not the true church of Christ, even if it were that you were using the true sacraments, which, however is far from being so. Beloved brethren, First our hearts must be cleansed and afterward our outward actions will show; or else it is hypocrisy before the eyes of God. I repeat it, so long as you live thus ungodly, as you have done hitherto, Christ Jesus was, verily, born in vain, died in vain, arose and ascended in vain. He is no Lord, Deliverer or Savior of the willful, obdurate, unrepenting and disobedient sinners, but he is a Lord, Deliverer and Savior of those who willingly hear his divine word; who sincerely renounce evil, and walk diligently according to his holy commandments, all the days of their lives.
May God, the gracious Father, who lives in mercy forever, grant you all true knowledge to comprehend all divine truth; and a heart, mind and will to fulfill that which you now confess by faith from the word of God, through Christ Jesus our beloved Lord. To him be the honor, praise, kingdom, power and glory forever and ever, Amen.
Let the bride of Christ rejoice.
HEREIN, reader, you have most devoutly what the mode of God's baptism, which perished through the long degeneracy of the ages, in the church ought to be, being restored whole by the unspeakable gift of God. Therefore let the writers oppose as they please; let the learned oppose by their shrewdness as they know how; let all the world under the heavens oppose in every way in which they are able, this is the only mode of baptism which Christ Jesus himself instituted and the apostles taught and practiced.
The invincible truth will ever abide, although powerfully opposed by many. He who reads the teachings of christianity and considers well, will welcome this divine truth, of Christ, though for many ages lost, and now thus made to appear, because it is not without merit by its favor toward us.
May the reader give thanks to the infinitely great and good God.
Mayest thou be well, be humble, read, obtain, believe and live, and may the Lord be with thee.
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