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Menno Simon wishes the learned John A'Lasco aced his fellows, and to all the people of East Friesland, of whatever class or condition in life they be, true faith, true light and knowledge, the Holy Spirit, the lovely fear and pure love of the Lord, an unblamable life and the eternal life of God our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, his beloved Son, our Lord, who has loved us and washed us in his blood. To him be the glory, honor, praise, kingdom, power and majesty for ever and ever, Amen.
BELOVED friends and brethren, as I, in the latter part of the first month of the year 1543, met you at Emden to discuss with you for three or four days, the disputed articles of our faith and religion, for which purpose I was invited to come, by writing; first, the incarnation of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, to which, you well know, you forced me against my will; secondly, infant baptism. Not agreeing in this, you let me depart in peace at our separation, desiring however, that I should send to you, by U. L., the foundation of my faith, which I had compiled in writing, inside of a stipulated period, which was three months,, so that you might thus show to your god‑called rulers, our faith, diligence, desire, seeking and life (which, however, is very weak); upon what foundation, Scriptures and reasons our intended doctrine, faith and life was founded. I hope and trust, by the grace of the Lord, that you have desired and required this of me without any malice or bad intention.
Therefore I have promised to fulfill your kind bidding and desire, rejoiced in spirit; because also through U. L., our faith, doctrine and life could be best explained to those of high, social standing, to whose care the carnal sword was entrusted, and thus the suspicion be destroyed which is held against us by the pernicious uproar and shameful doctrine and practice of the false prophets, who, under a holy semblance, ever creep into society to the hindrance of the wise and intelligent; as before God, who knows our hearts, we are certainly clear of all their abominable doctrine, uproar, mutiny, bloodshed, polygamy‑and the like abominations. Yea, we hate, and with sincere affection fight against them as acknowledged heresy; as snares to the conscience; as deceit, seduction and fraud, and as pestilential doctrine, accursed by all divine Scripture. For how should the true brethren and sisters of Jesus Christ, the well‑disposed children of God, who, with Christ Jesus, are born of God the Father, and the powerful seed of the divine word in Christ Jesus; regenerated by Christ, partake of his Spirit and nature, conform unto him, are christian and heavenly minded, teach rebellion of any kind? inasmuch as they are ever prepared, according to the measure of their faith, to do the will of the eternal Prince of peace, who has taught his disciples nothing but patience and eternal peace, saying, " Peace I leave with. you, my peace I give unto you," Jn. 14:27. Again, "Peace be with you." For his kingdom is a kingdom of love, of unity, of peace, and of reformation; and not of hatred, rebellion, blood, disquiet and destruction. Again, In peace we are called of God; peace should rule in our hearts to him by whom we are called. Again, Blessed are the peace‑makers. Paul says, 326"The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing," Rom. 15:13. I am aware, kind reader, that the cited Scriptures have, for the most part,‑reference to the inward peace, which comes through Christ; yet, whoever has this inward, Christian peace in his heart will nevermore be found guilty, before God and the world, of rebellion, treason, mutiny, murder, robbery or such unbecoming acts. For the Spirit of Christ which is in him seeks no evil, but good; no destruction, but healing; no corruption, but assistance; seeks to live everywhere in peace with all mankind, as far as possible. He follows "peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man ‑can see the Lord," Heb.12:14; Jn. 14:17; 21:15; Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 7:15; Col. 3:15; Matt. 5:9; Rom. 15:13.
Behold, beloved friends and brethren, by these and other Scriptures we are taught and warned not to take up the literal sword, nor ever to give our consent thereto, Bxcepto ordinario potestatis gladio, indebitum usum verso; but to take up the two‑edged, powerful, sharp sword of the Spirit, which goes. forth from the mouth of the Lord, namely, the word of God. By this we intend to destroy the kingdom of satan, constrain all the world to regeneration and salvation and bruise, crush and pierce all petrified and obdurate hearts. Desiring, I say, by the grace, Spirit and power of the Lord, therewith to circumcise all flesh, high, low, rich, poor, learned or unlearned, of all. pride, vain show, pomp, avarice, usury, smuggling, lies, deceit, robbery, shedding of innocent blood, hatred, envy, adultery, fornication, unchastity, unnatural desires, gluttony, wine ‑ bibbing, drunkenness, debauchery, cursing and swearing, blindness, vanity, and of the fearful,. unbecoming idolatry; that all of them, no matter who they be, by the pure fear of the Lord, of whom comes the sure knowledge of the judgment of God, become first inwardly humble before him, and then, by the sure knowledge of his blessings, so .abundantly shown to us, .be refreshed and consoled by Christ Jesus, and thus willingly renounce, by the power of their faith, working by love, their own wisdom, intelligence, philosophy, sophistry, unwillingness, sloth, evil lusts, unbelief, disobedience and the very erroneous, carnal, mad life of this world, and enter into all divine wisdom, truth,. love, zeal and soberness; the true sacraments and true religion, in fall obedience to God and Christ and in all the christian fruits which flow from a pure heart, good conscience and unfeigned faith, Tit. 2:7; 1 Pet. 1:23; Eph. 6:7; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 1:16; 19:15.
Thus we do not contend with carnal, but with spiritual weapons, patience and with the word of the Lord, against all flesh, world and devil, trusting in Christ. Nor shall there ever be found other weapons with us. Therefore, be not afraid of us (behold, in Christ Jesus I lie not); for we do not desire your destruction, but your regeneration; not your condemnation, but your everlasting salvation; not your flesh and blood, but your spirit and soul; on account of which I have these seven years suffered and yet suffer slander and scorn, anxiety, suspension, persecution, and great peril of being imprisoned.
The more the word of the Lord is extended, by the grace of God, to the reformation of some persons, who, however, are few, the more hatred and bitterness increases against me; so that up to this hour I could not find, in all the country, where, alas, the mere boasting of the divine word is a great deal more plenty than the fear of God, a cabin, or but (blessed be the Lord) in which my wife and little children can safely sojourn for a year or two. O, cruel, unmerciful christians! O, that all magistrates and princes, as also all the wise and learned knew the seeking, intention and desire of my heart, as also of my beloved brethren who, by the grace, Spirit and word of God, are converted into a new spirit or new birth I If they rightly understood our teaching how soon their hearts and minds would be changed into a different sense I But as all of them, with but few exceptions, are nothing but earth and flesh and not gifted with the Spirit of Christ; therefore, alas, we hear nothing from them but upbraiding and slander, can expect nothing from them (I mean the evil‑disposed) but the stake, water, fire, wheel and sword, as a reward of gratitude, that we have sought and yet seek our conversion, salvation and eternal life, 327and that of the whole world, with such diligence, solicitude, pains and labor from our inmost heart. For I strive after nothing, of which God is my witness, but that the God of heaven and of earth, through his blessed Son, Jesus Christ may have the glory and praise of his blessed word; that all men may be saved; and that they may awaken in this convenient time of grace, from their profound sleep of sinfulness; that they may lay by all adhering sin and the damnable works of darkness; that they may put on the armor of light, that they may thus become, with us by true penance, faith, baptism, Supper, ban or separation, love, obedience and true life, one holy, christian church and body in Christ Jesus. Something which the whole world to‑day yet opposes with all its strength with both shoulders and horns; not being willing that Christ Jesus, forever blessed, shall reign over them. Yea, they persecute, banish, burn, murder, and destroy all those who willingly teach and uphold the glory, praise, honor, will and commandments of the Lord. De bis sans, Heb. 12:16; Rom. 13:11; Heb. 12:2; Rom. 13:12; Luke 3:3; Matt. 3:1; 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2; Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 6: ti; 2 Thess. 3; 1 Tim. 1:20; Luke 19:47.
Inasmuch as I do your kind bidding in this matter by briefly compiling in writing my doctrine, faith and seeking, as I did before, verbally, which I am ever prepared to do to all mankind, according to the doctrine of Peter, as was said above, therefore I desire of you, so dear as Christ is to you, that you do not look upon this my confession, which is the word of God, with carnal, blind eyes, as the mad, unintelligent world do who want to have all things taught according to their own fancy and will, under the name of christianity; that you will not measure and judge according to the carnal way, as with logical questions and other like human wisdom; but that you will look at and judge it according to the word and truth of the Lord, as those would who understand spiritual matters, as unblamabie, regenerated christians who are full of the knowledge, love and fear of God; are urged by the Holy Spirit, and do not seek human favor) praise and honor, self and carnal welfare, but alone the honor and glory of God, and the eternal salvation of their brethren. For such, alone, can judge of spiritual matters; and not the carnal minded, 1 Cor. 14:29. The Spirit of God teaches, judges and understands all things. Paul says, "What man. knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him $ even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God," 1 Cor. 2:11. Therefore try your intention and the inmost of your hearts, as if before God who seeth all things. Search yourselves thoroughly and open your hearts before the Lord. In case you yet seek any carnal liberty, lusts, honor and profit, then, doubtlessly, your judgment in spiritual matters (especially as regards the mere confession) will be quite carnal, selfish, partial, unjust and false; you will also garble and pervert the plain testimony of the Holy Scriptures, by logic and false reasoning, to free yourselves and to please the world. Beware, lest you do so, and thus the terrible wrath of the Lord come upon you. I know why I write this. I am in doubt about your sincerity. Remember what I mean. And if your hearts be sincere, clean and pious before God, as I hope; and if you actually are desirous of the truth, then you will confess, by the grace of God, that our humble, plain doctrine, faith, sacraments, and the life of nearly all, particularly the outward, unblamable, christian, evangelical life, is conformable to the Spirit and word of God.
And if God, by his loving kindness, should grant that you sincerely acknowledge it in your inmost soul as being the unchangeable word and, will of God, even as the Spirit and power of God; then I pray you by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ to receive it in gladness and gratitude of heart and let it be examined by your ordained rulers and by all men and let them know what your heart, spirit or conscience testifies concerning our doctrine, faith, sacraments and lives. Fear not the exalted position of any man, nor despise his humbleness. Go upon the kingly highway speaking the truth to all mankind, with a clear conscience, lest you teach, judge or testify contrary to your inward understanding, judgment and conviction, 328
to your everlasting condemnation. For you are certainly taught by the word of the Lord that whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come, Matt. 12:32; Luke 10:12; Mark 3:28. Therefore, most beloved, search your spirits. If you be spiritual then your judgment, doubtlessly, will be spiritual, just and right. If you be not, and judge spiritual matters according to your own will, woe unto you I I speak to you as to one whose soul I seek and love with all my strength. Although you are more learned than I am, yet I teach and admonish you to judge justly in all things, without carnality or partiality. For I am afraid that there were not a few, part of whom were also famous men, excelling in learning, who, in semblance of fearing God, for the sake of shameful gain, worldly honor and carnal lusts have shamefully written, judged and taught the blessed word of the Lord by garbling the Scriptures, against their own consciences, to the despising of the cross of Christ, in order to please those who are in authority.
Be this as it may, let every soul seek the pure, christian truth, in purity of heart; and strive after the same with all diligence, and he will be successful. Jesus says, " If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," again, those who trust in him, shall understand the truth, and the believing in love shall be agreeable unto him. Again, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant," Jn. 8; 31, 32; Ps. 26:14.
May the Almighty Father, through his blessed son Jesus Christ, give you all, in all things, a true understanding and clear vision to judge rightly in all things, to distinguish rightly between that which is holy and that which is unholy; between good and evil; right and wrong, and between the clean and unclean, according to the evangelical truth; that all those of you who have renounced gain, honor and fame, for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, may, henceforth, be taught by the sure and true confession of Scripture, be impelled by‑the Holy Ghost, and enter into all divine wisdom, truth, righteousness and obedience to him who has taught us by his powerful word, drawn us by his Spirit and bought and delivered us by his precious blood, that is, Christ Jesus, Amen.
Judge aright, and confess the truth.
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