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ALL that we sincerely desire, reasonable reader (behold, before God we lie not), is, that by our writing, teaching, living, misery and confiscation of our goods we may once acquire so much mercy from the children of men that we shall be allowed a private discussion with our adversaries, before any number of pious, intelligent, and reasonable men who love and fear the Lord and who can distinguish between good and evil, if it cannot be allowed us in public; and that their lies and accusations shall not be believed, until teacher is confronted with teacher, and the accuser before the accused with equal rights and liberty, as the word of God, christian love and natural reason teach and imply, that thus the ungodly may no longer be protected in their ungodliness, the wicked in their evil doing and that the pious and righteous be no longer condemned and suppressed, that God's holy word, by which our souls must live, may be made manifest, the fearful lying cease and the unmerciful and cruel blood‑shedding be stopped, which in itself is nothing but the manifest works of the infernal serpent, as Christ himself says; and which are, in appearance of true zeal and love of God, made use of without fear, reflection or mercy, by those who boast of the name, Spirit, word, death and blood of Christ, against those who with Asaph wash their hands in innocence. But we apprehend that it will not be allowed us. For in both sacred and profane history we read and find that the pure, wholesome truth, from the beginning of the world has generally been hated, belied and persecuted and that it has, as a general thing, only found shelter with a few in obscure nooks and corners, as a hateful, ungodly abomination. And that it can not be made manifest without tribulation and peril of life.
Because the good, pious Jeremiah reproved the Scribes for their false doctrine and wickedness; admonished the ignorant, confused and evil populace to repent, and threatened them with future plagues, he was called by them a heretic and deceiver, and by the princes a rebel and mutineer. He had to experience much misery although he was chosen of God, a prophet from his mother's womb, and spake from the mouth of the Lord; he had to hear, that on his account298, they had to bear such sore plagues. Ahab, the blood‑thirsty and idolatrous king, blamed the pious and spiritual man that it was he who seduced all Israel, 1 Kings 18:18.
Again King Joram thought that Elisha had entailed the great famine in Samaria, 2 Kings 6.
John, a man sent from God, blessed in his mother's womb, the greatest born of woman, a burning, shining light, the messenger of the Lord, a voice crying in the wilderness, the second and spiritual Elias, was accused that he was possessed of devils, and was at last beheaded because of his reproving a shameful case of fornication, Luke 1:15; Matt. 11:11; Jn. 6:35; Mal. 3:1; Mk. 1:3; Matt. 11:14.
Again, Jesus Christ, the eternal Light and Life himself, was called Beelzebub, a Samaritan, and possessed of a devil, a mover of insurrection, a transgressor of the law, a blasphemer, a glutton and wine‑bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners; he was deemed worse than a murderer; and, at last, he was rewarded for all his glorious miracles, kindness and love shown to them, by putting on him a mock robe, a crown of thorns, scourging, cross and death, after they had derided and blasphemed him to their satisfaction.
At the time or commencement of the primitive church, the christians were called swine by some; others called them robbers of God's glory, murderers, infanticides, abominable, unchaste persons, who committed all manner of abominations with their mothers and sisters; and that they in their worship, shed human blood and also offered their children to idols; that they were rebels, and that because of their separation from the priesthood of Balaam, and their occasional night‑meetings to partake of the Lord's Supper.
Again, enemies of the human race; unfruitful, corrupted people, because they would not keep company with the winebibbers, liars, &c., but led a sober, godly, humble and circumcised life, in the love and fear of God.
Again, enemies of God, accursed malefactors, and rogues, because they kept aloof from the shameful idolatry, and suffered themselves to be exiled and freely gave their goods and life blood for the sake of the testimony of the Lord and true religion and honor of God.
Behold, thus the blind, ungrateful world has ever rewarded and treated those who sought and feared God, with all their hearts, with all their souls, and with all their power, as Cyprian, Tertullian and other historians testify. Darkness can not bear the light; nor falsehood, truth. God's word is an abomination to the ungodly, for it is a treasure of wisdom hidden from them. Christ says, "That light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil," Jn. 3:19. The pious and godfearing are ever an offense and sting in their hearts and are a hurt in their sight. And this is the cause that the world, which in all its doings will ever live unrebuked and unhindered in idolatry, pride, pomp, licentiousness and lust, from the beginning, has so enviously hated, miserably belied and so tyrannically persecuted the pious and godfearing.
O kind reader, thus it is to‑day as you can see on every hand. The whole world is saturated with all manner of wickedness. False doctrine, idolatry, unbelief, licentiousness, shame and blasphemy are in the ascendency; it will not be reproved nor admonished. It hates all who would, in pure love, at the cost of their goods and life, gladly deliver them from their wicked and inordinate life, point and lead them in the way of peace and save their souls, if possible.
The wise and learned, who ever have plagued and pestered the pious and righteous the most, as was said in our Confessions, heap one abominable lie upon another, lest their unreasonable and shameful gain and false boasting be destroyed. They pretend and cry that we are Munsterites; that we do not want to be subject to and obey the magistracy; that we mean to take cities and countries by force; that like the irrational creatures, we have our goods and women in common; that we say to each other, Sister, my spirit desires thee. Again, 299that we claim to be without sin, and that we mean to be saved by our own merits and works, and the like unfounded lies, that they may thus lead from truth, all mankind and particularly the lords, princes and magistrates which they have inebriated by their golden cup, that they may embitter and turn them against all the pious children of God. He is called and considered a fine, evangelical preacher and a competent teacher well lettered, who can only quarrel, upbraid, slander and lie sufficiently to move the magistracy, who perhaps, would be reasonable, kind and favorable enough if they were not spurred on and vexed by this unreasonable generation of vipers, to persecution, so that the innocent, belied sheep that would not injure a hair on any one, are, without a hearing, led captive, and mercilessly exiled from country, city and town, into misery and privation, and chased by the ravening wolves until they are consumed by over‑exertion, heat, cold or rain. In this, I think, they fill the measure of their ancestors of whom Christ said, Oh Lord! Oh, beloved Lord! How long will these inhuman tyrannies and fearful abominations continue
Inasmuch as they have so embittered all lords, princes, regents, potentates and common people against us by their fearful cry of murder, and by their slanderous lying that we can not acquire sufficient mercy by all our prayers, beseechings and supplications, by all our innocence, tears, patience, misery, cross, goods and blood that, we might be allowed a public conference and discussion with our enviers; and as according to justice and christianity it becomes the magistracy to allow us a fair hearing and trial; and that they do not usurp to themselves, in the judgment seat of the Most High God, to shed innocent blood; and as we are ever slandered by their unfounded lies, and as truth is thus smothered; therefore we are impelled by the urging of the word of God and the love of our neighbors, to publish in writing our excuse and answer with pure, christian truth, that by our defense in writing, since they are so enraged that we can not appear publicly to defend ourselves, the godfearing conscience which would not knowingly act contrary to the will of God, no matter whether he be a magistrate or citizen, learned or unlearned, may know that by the beforementioned abominations we are innocently slandered and belied by our opponents; or that God would grant that thus the word and truth of the Lord might become more known and manifest thereby, and that the deceit and feigned holiness of the learned and priests, must become discovered and manifest to all the world.
Honorable reader, we humbly beseech you for the .Lord's sake, to consider impartially why we so often refer to the preachers, admonish and reprove them of many things which, alas, are not to their honor and reputation. For, as we clearly see that they are those who, for the sake of shameful gain and avarice, so falsely console, retain and bind the whole world in their unbelief, idolatry and impenitent, carnal life; so miserably break the truth and trample it under foot; so miserably murder the poor souls which are so dearly bought, not with perishable gold and silver, but with the precious blood of Christ; so enviously and scornfully hate, slander and belie the pious and godfearing and take their goods and even their lives, which is quite different from the Spirit of the Lord, that they, may hold to their shameful gain, lustful, vain and fruitless life without reproof; and as they do not suffer themselves to be admonished, taught and warned by the word of God, by love, longsuffering, piety and the blood of the saints; therefore the, glory of God and the salvation of your souls require us to do so. The Almighty Lord is our testimony, that we aim at nothing but that those who are reasonably minded and yet do not know the mystery of unrighteousness, as Paul calls it, 2 Thess. 2:9 (as they are yet carnally minded, not born of God and kept back by the preachers), may learn to know the preachers and teachers by such clear and plain discoverings; further reflect upon it and thus become tired of their shameful deceit and seduction; and that all lords and magistrates who dare boast of the name of Christ may know what kind of people and teachers those are who slander us and to whom they give ear and faithfully protect by their arms.
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