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HEARING THE PREACHERS.
IT is a well known fact, kind reader, that, on account of this article, principally, we are so hated and persecuted by the learned, and that all the world cries against us and complains, That we will not hear God's word. Therefore we are necessarily impelled, inasmuch as it concerns the prairie of God and the salvation of our souls, to assign the reason according to the word of God (which we would gladly omit if we were not required by Scripture), to assign the reason why we do not hear them, and conscientiously dare not listen to them; on account of which we have to suffer so much pain and tribulation. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he can Rot see the kingdom of God." Paul also says, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," and John says, "Whosoever 264transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God," Jn. 3:3; Rom. 8:9; 1 Jn. 1:9.
Honored reader, consider the word of the Lord. That the preachers of the world are not born again and have not the Spirit of Christ, and do not abide in his word, their fruits abundantly prove; for it is manifest that they pitiably adulterate the word of the Lord and walk according to the flesh, as will be clearly shown in the following:
First, I am convinced that you never saw that the preachers, who are one with their church, have ever converted an avaricious person from his avarice; a drunkard from his inebriety or a proud person from his pride and luxury, which are plainly, works of the flesh, and, according to Scripture punishable with eternal death, if not repented of. Inasmuch as they convert none as it appears, therefore it is plain that their doctrine is nothing but vain prattle without power and fruit; which, alas, is clearly shown and proven by all the world by their unbecoming life.
Secondly, the reckless people are chained to and consoled in their unbelief and licentious, carnal life by their light minded doctrine, sacraments and easy life; for they preach and teach you, " There are none that can truly believe; we are all sinners therefore none can rightly keep the commandments of God. In your baptism (they say) you became a regenerated christian and received the Holy Ghost. Although you could not understand the word; although you have no faith in Christ Jesus nor knowledge of good or evil, nor any change or renewing of heart, because you were an unconscious child, and like false consolations." You hear their absolutions, and receive their bread, as if that were sufficient; and never mind that you are yet an impenitent, avaricious, proud, drunken, unclean, envious and idolatrous man. We' will leave you to judge whether these can be called preachers of peace who make arm cushions and pillows for the people and preach such things as are pleasing to them, Dent. 1:39; Ezra 13:18.
Inasmuch as none are made better by their doctrine and sacraments but are more and more comforted in unrighteousnesstherefore it must be acknowledged that they strengthen you in your evil doing, shut unto you the kingdom of heaven, lead you into the ditch, and rob and murder your souls, Jer. 23; 14; Matt. 16:14.
O, kind reader, they have so enchanted the ignorant people who so gladly walk upon the broad road, with their light minded doctrine that we may well exclaim with Jeremiah, that "No man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?" Jer. 8:6; or who enquires after a pious, penitent or godly life? What is worse, they have carried it so far, that alas, those must be called work‑saints and heaven stormers who, with faithful hearts hear, believe, fear, love, and, according to the measure of their faith, obey the word of the Lord. Behold, thus entirely has the smoke of the pit darkened the sun and sky, Rev. 9:2.
As to their sacraments, it is manifest that they do not have the sacraments of Christ; 'but self‑begotten abominations and idols, only a semblance of the Lord's sacraments. For they baptize infants; of which Christ has not taught nor commanded a single word in the whole New Testament, and are therefore called christians, notwithstanding that such baptized persons generally, walk in perverse ways all their lives, and not only not confess Christ Jesus together with his holy word, but also hate him and oppose the word.
Again, their supper must be called the Lord's flesh and blood; while the Scripture, at many places testifies that he ascended up to heaven, Mark 16:19; Luke 24:61; Acts 1:9; Eph. 4:8; and is seated at the right hand of his Father, while common sense, besides the Scripture, teaches us that he cannot be chewed with teeth nor consumed by the stomach. Besides, it is administered by some as for the remission of sins. Behold they have so entirely forsaken the Lord who has purchased. them with his blood, that they have changed his praise and honor into such a weak creature. If this cannot be called serving Baal and moulding calves you may judge according to Scripture.
Lastly, How they conform their lives according to the doctrine of Paul you may 265best deduce from their fruits and life. That they do not walk in humility of heart before the Lord, their looks and names prove. They suffer themselves to be greeted as lords and masters; notwithstanding it is forbidden by the mouth of the Lord. Say kind reader, did you ever hear or read that the holy apostles and prophets were covetous of such high, vain names as are the learned and the preachers of the world. It is true the word Rabbi or Master was applied to the ambitious Scribes and Pharisees, but not to the apostles and prophets. For we do not read of Doctor Isaiah, of Master Ezekiel and of Lords Paul and Peter. No, no. All those who have rightly taught the word of the Lord, were in their time not honored with such high‑sounding names. This I write that you may know that such ambitious, proud spirits can never rightly teach you the humble word of the cross.
Besides, also, consider their avarice, and solicitude for their appetite; for they do not preach nor render services without pay, as if the office of a preacher and shepherd were a profession or trade. Jude says, They honor the persons for the sake of profits. Where there are no liens and rents there we find no preachers; but where liens and rents are abundant there is no want of preachers.
Again, they are in part usurers, in part fornicators or adulterers, greedy, liars, irascible, proud, hateful, lustful, vain, and lazy, envious, cruel, treacherous and rebellious toward all those who sincerely seek and fear God. In short, if you rightly confess the Lord and his word, then you must acknowledge that the best and most pious of them are yet far outside of Christ and his word in regard to doctrine, sacraments and also to their walk.
Inasmuch as all of them, in doctrine, sacraments and walk are so diametrically Opposed to the Spirit, word. and walk of the Lord, as appears, and inasmuch as Christ says, " Every tree is known by his own fruit," Luke 6:44; therefore it is plainly proven that they see not the kingdom and glory of God; are not of the Lord, and have not God, as was said before.
If they see not the kingdom of God as Christ speaks, how, then, can they rightly preach it and teach it to others?
If they have not the Spirit of the Lord and are not of him (as appears), how then, can they be true ministers and servants of the spiritual office
And if they have not God, how can they, then, rightly teach and point out his precious word unto righteousness? Inasmuch as it is well known to all theologians that they do not understand the kingdom of God and his glory; are not of the Lord, and have no God, as was said, therefore we conclude therefrom, and that truly, that their sending, calling, office and service is not of God end his word; but they are of the bottomless pit, and of the dragon and beast, Rev. 9:2. By this we do not mean this one, or that one; but all preachers in general who do not act according to the word of God; no matter of which denomination or sect. We do not judge according to their boasting and appearance, but truthfully, according to doctrine, sacraments, fruits and life; for we are sure that the high and holy office, which should be filled in the power of the Spirit, can never be filled by the avaricious; neither by the proud and unrighteous, the carnal and earthly minded, nor by drunkards and the lustful who serve their appetites before their God, as Paul says; nor by slanderers nor by vain prattlers, nor liars, nor soothsayers, nor hirelings, nor by those who adulterate, hate and oppose the Spirit, will, word, ordinances and commandments of the Lord, and who are ignorant and blind in all spiritual and evangelical matters; for the Spirit and word of God do not know such shepherds and teachers, but the Scripture portrays them with many terrible names and calls them profane, blind watchmen and greedy dogs, blind leaders, con, sumers of souls, false daubers, fools who seek not the Lord, preachers of peace, of whom it is written, "The prophets prophesy lies in my name; I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them; they prophesy unto you false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart," Jer. 23:11; Matt. 15:14; Ezek. 13:10; Jer. 10:8; 14:14. In short, they are the teachers against whom the word of the Lord has faithfully warned 266us. Read here and there in the prophets, particularly Jer. 23:13; Matt. 7':15; 15:14; 16:12; 24:11; Mark 12:38; Luke 12:1; 20:45.
Say, kind reader, did you ever read in the Scriptures of any proud, avaricious, unclean, lying, inebriated and idolatrous prophets, apostles and shepherds who were pleasing unto the Lord? Or of such who, to please the world, have adulterated, changed and abused the word, ordinances and commandments of the Lord? Or, of such who said to cities, districts or towns, If you will care for our necessaries of life; or, if you will give us so much money or income, we will teach you the word of the Lord? O no, reader, no. It never was nor never will be the way of the holy prophets, apostles or servants of Christ. Of this we are sure.
The teachers and preachers who are sent of God are born of God, are of godly nature, and are prompted by the Spirit of the Lord; they acknowledge the kingdom of heaven; are forced into the vineyard of the Lord by pure, unfeigned love of God and of their neighbors; seek not the gifts of Balak, nor the tables of Jezebel; but they seek the praise of God and the salvation of your souls and commend their carnal cares to him, who, according to the word of his promise, furnishes the necessaries of life to all creatures upon earth, Matt. 13:25; Num. 22:28; 2 Pet. 2:16.
They teach the word of the law in the power of the Spirit, to the remission of sins and the denial of all flesh by the gospel of grace to the consolation, peace and joy of all the godfearing, pious hearts, who before disregarded the law and so greatly feared the wrath and judgment of the Lord.
They reprove and shun all false doctrine, deceit, abuse, idolatry and licentious reckless life, which is of the flesh and contrary to the word of the Lord; they use baptism, Supper, ban and all the ordinances of God as is commanded them by the word of the Lord, be it unto life or death; they admonish lords and princes, learned, unlearned, male and female, so far as they possibly can, if they are favored with a hearing; for the word of God excuses neither emperor nor king, doctor nor master, rich nor poor; all must follow the word of the Lord who wish to be saved, Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 9:6.
They lead their lives in the fear of the Lord; they daily die, with holy Paul, for the sake of their brethren; they are pointed at by all the world; are slandered, persecuted and deemed the sap and substance of all knaves and rogues, notwithstanding they are ever ready to show their love and faithfulness to all, as was formerly the case with Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah the son of Berechiah, John the Baptist, the apostles and Christ himself; and how the pious are thanked and rewarded at the present time, for their love and services, the burning, the sword, the stake and the wheel show, 1 Cor. 15:32. Carefully observe and understand me, kind reader. Since the sending, calling, doctrine, sacraments and life of the preachers do not conform to this beforementioned rule, and are therefore not of God, as was said; for they, generally, do not enter but to destroy, steal and murder, as the Lord says; to adulterate and garble the precious word and the holy sacraments, to gratify their appetites; to exclude the word of God and institute their own; to kill the souls which would have eternal life; and promise life to those that. will die the eternal death; and for the sake of a handful of barley and a mouthful of bread, as the prophet says; rule but do not serve; deceive but do not lead; corrupt but do not teach; weaken but do not cure; scatter but do not gather; shut the kingdom of heaven against man and freely lead all poor souls to hell. Behold, therefore it is that we do not hear them, neither can we conscientiously hear them; for the word of the Lord every where admonishes and commands us that we should be aware of them, flee and shun them, and not hear them, as was said before, Ezek. 13:14; 34:1; Jer. 5:26; Phil. 3:17; 1 Tim. 6:4; Tit. 3:8; 2 Jn. 1:8.
Judge now, kind reader, whether these reasons are not sufficient to shun the preachers. We have not here presented to you philosophical words, garbled flatterings, nor falsehood; but we have pointed you to such facts as you may daily observe and hear of among your preachers. This is what our‑much beloved brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus‑fellow‑partakers of the267 tribulation, kingdom and obedience of Christ, the faithful children of God, have for many long years, so frankly confessed, and so heroically asserted before this idolatrous, bloody world, in excessive measure of poverty, by preaching and writing, at the peril of life, property, blood, prison, banishment, water, fire, chains, gallows, wheels and the stake; but preachers remain preachers and the world remains the world. They, as appears, will never be converted. They, so firmly adhere to their idolatry, that they do not suffer themselves to be converted, Jer. 8.
Honored reader, we pray you for Christ's sake that you will rightly understand this our confession; do not think that we have written this out of bitter feelings or hatred, inasmuch as it so openly reproves, discovers and points out the shame of the preachers. O, no. We testify before you and before the Lord who has created us, that there is no hatred or bitterness in our hearts; for we know and confess that they are works of the flesh and will be rewarded by death. But we have written in purity of heart, as before him, who tries the hearts and reins, to the service of you and all mankind, no matter whether they be our opponents or not, learned or unlearned; to the service of all those who seek the truth; that we may so discover the judgment of the Babylonian whore, the covert wiles of the learned, by such expositions, that you and all godfearing hearts, by such exposition, may tire of the inhuman abominations, and so understand the word and truth of the Lord, and with all your harts seek and obey the same, that you may be saved, Rom. 1:32; Gal. 5:21; 1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. 6:5; Rev. 17:1.
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