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AND CLEAR DEMONSTRATION
TO THE LEARNED JOHN A'LASCO, ARCH‑BISHOP AT EMDEN, EAST FRIESLAND, ALSO TO HIS
BRETHREN. HOW THE PREACHERS OF THE DIVINE WORD AND THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
SHOULD BE MINDED, ACCORDING TO THE TESTIMONY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
BELOVED sirs, friends and brethren, as I have disclosed unto you, at your own request, the foundation of my faith and feelings concerning the very consoling incarnation of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, although I do not teach the same so deeply before the church, therefore I will now briefly point out my foundation and feeling how the teachers and church, who can rightly be called christians, should be affected and minded before God and before all the world, according to the showing of the Scriptures, so far as we can, by the grace of God, comprehend and understand it from his word; yet I will not dwell upon this matter long, lest I become tedious.
First, I would say in regard to the preachers and adduce this Scripture, "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you," Jn. 20:21. Ever remain unchangeable in the church of God, thus: As all true teachers and preachers are sent of Christ Jesus, as he is sent of his Father, therefore we should rightly consider how and who this Christ Jesus was, how and what he taught when the Father sent him. He is doubtlessly the Son and image of God, the Teacher of righteousness who has taught and testified nothing but the truth, namely, the word of his Father. He taught it in the power of the Spirit and was urged by the Holy Ghost through an unquenchable fire of love to the service of all mankind. Besides, he was the burning, shining light of the world, the true pattern of all virtue who could truly say, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart." Again, "For I have given you an example," &c., and therefore he gloried by the true testimony of his Holy Spirit, saying, "I am the good Shepherd," Jn. 18:37; 7:18; 1:9; 3:19; 8:12; 12:36; Matt. 11:29; Jn. 13:15; 10:11.
This Christ Jesus, the Bishop of bishops, and the Shepherd of shepherds, who was faithful in all things unto which he was sent of his heavenly Father, never sends any other bishops, teachers, shepherds and laborers in his vineyard, to his members, children and sheep to care for them, to pasture and, protect them, than those who are of one body, Spirit and mind with him, as he is one with his Father, who, by the divine Word, which is Christ, in him and in his heavenly nature, are so renewed, converted and changed that he may truly say of them, Behold, these are the children which God hath given me. Whosoever shall hear you shall hear me, as the Father testified of Christ, saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him," Matt. 17:5. Again, those who are of one spirit with Christ Jesus are members of his holy body, full of the love of God and of their brethren, who with Christ Jesus, their Bishop, seek nothing but the eternal gain, honor, glory and praise of God, and the inward conversion, regeneration and eternal salvation of those whose brotherly care is entrusted and commended to them of God. Yea, he sends such as are unblamable both in doctrine and life; as are urged by the Holy Spirit; who sincerely lament. with 340Christ, about those who do not acknowledge the gracious time of their temptation, who are rejoiced, with all the angels of God, at the conversion of a sinner, who so thirst after the salvation of all mankind as a hungry person hungers after bread; who so apply the word and truth of the Lord that they dare not teach or practice a word otherwise than Christ Jesus himself has taught, practiced and commanded, namely, the pure, unadulterated, biblical word in the true sense and meaning of Christ and of his holy apostles; who practice the sacramental signs conformable to the gospel of Christ, namely, the baptism of the believing (and not of infants), and the Supper under both forms, in such church as is flesh of Christ's flesh and bone of his bone; such as are outwardly unblamable and inwardly of one heart, spirit, soul and body in Christ Jesus. Yea, he sends such whose doctrine is a salt; whose life is as a shining light, long suffering, meek, lowly, merciful, hospitable, not avaricious or selfish, not desirous of shameful gain, not puffed up, of good report among those of the world, ruling well his own house, having a well‑minded consort, if they have the gift of cleanliness and obedient children. Yea, in all things chaste, sober, unblamable, having the Spirit, fear and love of God. Again, so minded in all things that they can truly say with Paul, to their entrusted sheep, " Be ye followers of me, even as I am of Christ." "Be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in Spirit, in faith, in purity," Heb. 3:2; Jn. 17:11_; Heb. 2:13; Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15; Eph. 5:30; Matt. 5:14; 1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:6; 1 Cor. 4:2; 11:1; 1 Tim. 4:12; Phil. 2:17.
Behold, most beloved, thus the teachers should be minded who shall serve the Lord's church, that they may not hear from the obdurate and refractory: " Why do you teach others and not yourselves?" Nor can they otherwise teach to the glory of God; for the service of the New Testament is a service of the Spirit and not of the letter, 2 Cor. 3:6. Therefore Christ never chooses as laborers in his vineyard, as servants and builders, such as are avaricious, drunkards and idlers, that the kingdom of God, which h spiritual, may be taught in purity of heart, pasturing the sheep of Christ, not by force, but willingly, not being intent on shameful gain but on affection, not as those who seek dominion over others, but as examples to the flock of Christ, not serving for a certain benefice, pension, or stipulated salary as do your teachers, but, solely, for the gain of the souls which Christ Jesus has so dearly bought with his precious blood. Entrusting and commending to the God, who, by his grace, created, delivered, regenerated and sent them to his ministration, to the care of their temporal necessaries of life, diligently feeding themselves, by the grace of the Lord, from their own or their rented lands, or from the labor of their hands, so far as is possible; that they do not sell the free word of God, given them without price, and thus live on shameful gain, robbery and theft. Let all sincere and pious servants. of Christ beware of this, and whatever they cannot obtain by due prudence and diligence will doubtlessly be provided for them by the begotten brethren who fear the Lord, for whom they sow spiritual things; and not by inconvertible heathen, drunkards, usurers, whoremongers and such like. For such teachers are the oxen which tread out the corn, which should not be muzzled, 1 Cor 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:18; Deut. 25:4; they are those who are worthy of double honor, with whom all things should be shared, and who shall live by the gospel according to the Lord's own ordinance, as the priests under the law, lived by the altar; these are the true laborers worthy of their reward as Christ says; such teachers we shall acknowledge, honor, maintain in love, and for their labors' sake keep peace with them, as Paul teaches, "For they watch for your souls as they that must give account," Heb. 13:17.
Behold most beloved sirs, friends and brethren, thus has God, the merciful Father, sent his blessed Son, who was in his own form, and minded like him in all things, namely, Christ Jesus, who has sent such as were of one spirit, soul and body with him, without a staff, purse, shoes, scabbard, money, gold and silver, that is, without all solicitude and avarice. The apostles ordained, at all places where they.had begotten churches, such bishops and teachers 341as were unblamable both in doctrine and in life, and have never mentioned annual incomes, benefices or rents. For they were men of God, servants of Christ, full of the love of God and their beloved brethren, who labored, taught, sought, pastured and watched through mere love, urged by the Spirit, not only for one, two or three hours a week, in the synagogue, but at all hours and places, in synagogues, streets, houses, mountains and fields. And, as they had received the knowledge of the kingdom of God, the truth, love and Spirit of God, without price, so they were, again, prepared to dispense it diligently and teach it without price, to their needy brethren; and, as for the temporal necessaries of life, the begotten church was sufficiently urged by love, through the Spirit and word of God to give unto such faithful servants of Christ, and watchers of their souls, all the necessaries of life, to assist them and provide for them all such things they could not obtain themselves. O, brethren, flee from avarice!
Again, those teachers did not go about offering their services, as these do, but they were called of God, as were Aaron, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Zechariah, Paul and others. Others, born of the unblamable church of Christ, were chosen by lot, as was Matthias Acts 1:26. Being called, they were constrained by the Spirit, to teach, to admonish, to console, to reprove and to serve and protect their poor brethren and sisters according to God's holy word, with all their strength. As they were thus called, and felt in them an urging spirit and moved by love, as was said above, so they reasonably filled their office with all solicitude and diligence, watching night and day for the eternal salvation of their sheep, working diligently in the vineyard of the Lord, ruling the people of God with the rod of the Lord; they did not doubt, made use of no flattery; but in a good conscience they reproved the great as well as the small, the rich as well as the poor, the learned as well as those that were not learned; the word was proclaimed in their church, wholesome and unadulterated, at all times and in all places, as was said above, according to the measure of their faith and Spirit which God, by his grace, had given to every one of them. Most beloved, do not excuse yourselves because all who boasted themselves as being teachers of the church of Christ, even in the times of Paul, were not sincere, pious, and urged by love, as appears from Phil. 1:15; 2:21; 3:2. Verily, I say unto you, they boasted of being such, but in truth, before God they were not. For it is not hidden from you what kind of fruits they produced and how Paul regarded them. As you are aware that it is not the intention and will of God, nor ever shall be, that his holy word should be proclaimed to the erring world unto salvation, either by drunkards, whoremongers, avaricious, idolaters, despisers of the Scripture, gluttons, proud, thieves, bloodthirsty, vain talkers, enemies of the cross of Christ, by those whose belly is their God, by those who are already condemned by the word of God, or by the carnal or earthly‑minded. But only, by the truly regenerated christian, unblamable men who sincerely seek God from their inmost souls, urged by the Holy Ghost and constrained by love, as Christ said thrice unto Peter, " Lovest thou me? Yea, Lord (answered Peter); thou knowest all things and knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my lambs," J n. 21:15.
O, most beloved, take heed what spirit urges you, what love constrains you, what church calls you and what things you seek. Follow the good and not the evil. I tell you in Christ Jesus that my soul is troubled for your sakes. I pray you, beloved brethren, receive it with a will. I must frankly speak my mind; for as much as I can deduce and understand from my past actions and from your apparent fruits, you are all, none of your teachers excepted, urged by your flesh and belly, and are therefore all hirelings and not shepherds, Jn.10:12. Or, at best, are such shepherds as seek the wool, milk and flesh and do not care for the Lord's sheep. For wherever the fattest are, there are also ‑the best sheep. O brethren, consider what the Lord's prophets have so often threatened on such. Yea, how many are found among you who, for the sake of an earthen house, or for ten guilders, move from one place to another, as if they were not all bought equally dear at one price? I fear that you would all do it.
342O brethren, if you confess this to be true then judge for yourselves what is your seeking, and if you will not verbally confess it, swperbia five pertinacia impediente, it can yet not be denied by the intelligent. God has been mocked long enough. Brethren, be converted
As the teachers are serving their bellies. avaricious, desirous of shameful gain, earthly‑minded, as Paul says, not to say proud, lazy, vain, drunken, spiteful and envious, so are also minded, all those who are taught and begotten of them, as may be plainly seen, inasmuch as both teacher and church live and walk so shamefully that all heaven must be ashamed and astounded thereat. For their avarice, unchastity, pride, pomp, greed, drunkenness, hatred, envy, fornication, adultery, bloodthirstiness, usury, fraud, vanity, and all manner of shame have no limits or bonds. Moreover, we find open fencing‑schools, gambling houses, houses of ill‑fame and drinking houses. For as the teachers are, so are also their doctrine, sacraments and church, as is said, Qualis Papa, We Bvangeliwm and omnia. Verily, I say, believe it if you choose, Christ does not send such avaricious, selfish and carnal teachers, nor does he acknowledge such a self‑conceited, carnal and blamable church. But those who are sent of Christ Jesus have his Spirit, crucify the lusts and desires of their‑flesh, that they, preaching to others may not be found shameful, seeking alone, the praise of God and the salvation of their beloved brethren, refusing all shameful gain, presents and gifts, so long as they have wherewith to maintain themselves, honoring none for the sake of gain, living unblamably, teaching the word wholesomely and using the sacraments according to the commandments of the Lord, excluding all degenerated sisters and brethren, again proclaiming grace to those that are converted, having eternal vigilance and care for those whose care is entrusted to them of the Lord's church.
As you are not such as the Scriptures require you to be, but are as yet in opposition to the true doctrine, and also, blamable in life, as is apparent, therefore I admonish you in all earnestness and fraternal love, to become first sincere christians before you undertake to impress and teach Christ unto others. Let us examine ourselves, that we may learn to know our own ailings, and knowing them, die unto them: For before God, neither smooth words nor semblance will avail. Brethren, I must tell you the plain truth which may be galling and bitter to you because there is found neither Spirit nor power, nor trust in Christ, nor fear of God, nor love of the brethren with your teachers, but only a vain calling of words for the sake of a stipulated salary, without any show of christian fruits. Therefore all your calling is nothing but to sow on the shore to reap the wind; for the pure word of God and the teaching of the Holy Spirit cannot be pointed out and taught by servants who are unclean and carnal. To this all intelligent persons must, doubtlessly, consent.
As you then, I say, are blamable both in doctrine and in life, and as your doctrine, such as you have, is hired for a salary and without spiritual fruit, and as no unblamable church is begotten of you, and as the signs of the Word are abused by you; therefore it is apparent that you are not the true messengers of God, but you run your own course, urged by the flesh and not by the Spirit; not sincerely seeking the salvation of the church, but rather the temporal profits and rents, and that with such rapacity that you are not ashamed to receive them as a reward and price of your preaching, which were in ancient times, by feigned words and fraudulent commerce, as Peter says, nay, by nothing but theft and sly robbery, taken from the true and legal heirs.
Thus you sell, first, the precious, free word of God which, by grace, was given us of God, without price. And secondly, it is paid for by that which was stolen. Here lies hidden more than I will disclose. Qui de furto vivit and rapina non dubiwm est, quip fur est and raptor. Do look at the matter in a christian light. Behold, feel and taste your manifest error, unworthiness and plain avarice. I here speak of all your preachers; for they all enjoy such gain. Your teachings, benefices, pensions and rents are such an abomination before my eyes, that brethren, verily I would343 rather be beheaded, burned, drowned or torn into quarters by four horses than to receive, on account of my preaching, such benefices, pensions or rents. Yea, when giving salaries to preachers was established, there surely crept into the church of Christ a very fearful, corrupting pestilence; which has corrupted so that, alas, there are scarcely any left who have retained the breath of Christ in them. To this you must all consent. What other reason is there than this that the preachers have sought the temporal gain of their own bellies more than the eternal gain of the souls of Christ 8 As you freely accept and enjoy the beforementioned shameful gain, and what is still worse, as you diligently seek and desire the same, how can you defend yourselves and say that you are not desirous of the filthy lucre I 1 Tim. 3:3, and that you do not honor the person for filthy lucre's sake 8 O, brethren, I wish you would awaken, to consider the matter, and ‑that you were all of one mind with us in this matter; for it would doubtlessly be profitable to both the praise and truth of God, and to your poor souls, that we would without pay, dispense the precious word of God, the word of eternal salvation and heavenly grace, which can be merited by no works nor requited by money, as we, by grace only, received it of God without price, that we again would dispense it without pay, and solely by brotherly love would teach it to the hungering consciences, God surely would not forsake us, but would in every emergency paternally care for us and protect us. But it can not thus be with you because you are devoid of faith and love.
As you are all buried to your ears in filthy lucre; earthly and carnally minded in all things; not yet dead unto the flesh by the power of regeneration, not yet received Christ Jesus in all his words, and on that account, are not yet wholesome in doctrine, do not conform the ministration of the signs to the word of God; are blamable in doctrine, as is plain, and as there is found with you no power, no fruit of the Spirit, no true fear of God and no brotherly, love; but rather heresy, upbraiding, blasphemy and profaning of the teachings and lives of the pious saints and children of God, who for the testimony of their consciences, confirmed by the word of God, have fled from their country and kindred, and for the sake of the testimony are prepared for water, fire and sword if God so will. Besides, your doctrine being quite powerless and fruitless, the church which you beget being quite earthy, carnal and contrary to the testimony and fruits of the holy word of the Lord; therefore, we repeat it that you are not the true messengers of Jesus Christ. Be not angry with me, most beloved.
It is for the beforementioned reasons that we will not hear nor attend your preaching, nor partake of your supper. For we shall never desire to enter into your church and to become one body with you until you sincerely repent and embrace a free, christian doctrine, not hired nor sold out, but solely urged by the Holy Spirit through brotherly love, a true use of the sacramental signs, according to the command, doctrine and usage of Christ and his apostles, and an unblamable life and walk, led in the love and fear of the Lord. If we do so before these are found with you, we are sure that we sin against God and his holy word, from which may the kind, merciful Father save us. For before God, it does not become us to commit ourselves to such doctrine, admonition and church, who first, err in doctrine, and secondly, do not in the least show by their lives that they are the truly regenerated children of God, or the true church of Jesus 'Christ. But most beloved, it behooves you, as you have not the unblamable doctrine and walk of Jesus Christ, to renounce your doctrine and life and voluntarily bid adieu to all the lusts of the flesh, to seek the kingdom of God in sincerity of heart, to enter with us, into all obedience to our beloved Lord Jesus Christ with all your strength, if you do not desire to err willfully, that we together, may become the holy, christian and unblamable church, godly, holy, clean, obedient unto God, serving all mankind, powerful in truth, shining forth in righteousness, dead unto sin, living by the Spirit, nay, in all things christian, heavenly and unblamable in Christ Jesus.
Do receive my admonishing confession, 344in good faith, and do not understand it as too far‑reaching, namely, such words as, clean, unblamable, and the like. For they are spoken of Christ Jesus himself, and of his holy apostles to the church of the Lord,. Jn. 13:10; Phil. 2: ls. Do not understand it, most beloved, that we deem ourselves so clean and unblamable as being without sin. Not at all, dear brethren; for I know full well that holy John teaches, saying, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,"' 1 Jn. 1:8. Again, James says, In multis enim labimur omnes. " In many things we offend all," Jas..3:2. Yea, beloved brethren, with Paul, I find the disposition to commit sin, at all times, so strong in my flesh, that I often think recklessly,, speak inconsiderately and `.` the evil which I would not, that I do," Rom. 7:8, 19.
But the abominable, shameful sins and offenses, such as adultery, fornication, hatred, envy, inebriety, pomp, splendor, cursing, swearing, gambling, desire of filthy lucre, abuse of the ordinances of Christ and fraud I verily, detest from the inmost of my heart, and they should never, by the grace of the Lord, be practiced by any sincere, godfearing christians, inasmuch as they hate and oppose them; for the spirit which is in them is a deadly enemy to all ungodliness, wickedness and sin (in the mean while we often find that we are born of Adam). Besides, their spirit strives and hungers after the truth, righteousness, will and commandments of God, yet in great weakness; for they are very much retarded in the works, fruits, and fulfillment by the heavy burden of the sinful flesh. Nevertheless, because the good Spirit of God abides in them, they do not cease to fight their tardy flesh. For the life of true christians is nothing but a continual combat upon earth. Whosoever shall valiantly battle and overcome, will be clothed in white raiments, and fed with the heavenly bread of the tree of life, Rev. 2:17.
Behold, most beloved, inasmuch as you and your church have never triumphed in this battle (I judge from what I hear, and from your actions which I see), but still serve the world, the flesh and the devil carelessly; therefore we deem, according to the testimony of the Scripture, that you vainly and wrongfully boast of the name, grace, deliverance, merits, death, blood, and promises of Christ; as you have not his word, and by the word, his faith, Spirit, fear and love, and consequently do not follow them.
Therefore, I pray you by the mercy of the Lord, to consider once, what kind of teachers you are, what kind of spirit urges you, what kind of love prompts you, with what intentions and by what motives you teach, what kind of fruits you produce, what kind of ordinances you use, and unto what kind of a church you teach and minister. Judge all things according to the divine testimony, without self‑love, flesh and partiality. I doubt not but if you examine the matter rightly, you will not be surprised that we will not hear your doctrine, nor use your sacraments, and refuse unto death to become members of your church. For this remains incontrovertible, eternally unchangeable; that as Christ Jesus is of one mind with the Father, and sent of him, so all teachers should be of one mind with Christ Jesus who can be considered as sent of him. Those who are one with Christ in Spirit, love and life; who teach that which was commanded by Christ, such as repentance and the peaceable gospel of grace, which he himself received of God, and taught to the world, all those who hear, believe, keep and fulfill the same in true fear, are the church of Christ, the truly believing, christian church, the body and bride of Christ, the ark of the Lord, the mount and paradise, the house, people, city and temple of God, the spiritual Eve, flesh of Christ's flesh and bone of his bone, children of God, the chosen generation, the spiritual seed of Abraham, children of the promise, branches and trees of righteousness, sheep of the heavenly pasture, kings and priests, a holy begotten people which is God's own. Besides, they are chosen to proclaim the power of him who has called them from darkness into his marvelous light, Col. 1:14; 1 Cor. 12:27; Heb. 12:22; Matt. S:14; 2 Cor. 6:16; 11: S; Eph. G:30; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rom. 9:8; Isa. 61:3; Ps. 95:7; 79:13; Rev. 1:6; 1 Pet. 2:9.
All those who have not the Spirit, love and life of Christ, nor sincerely desire them, 345nave no snare in the glorious Jerusalem of God, that is, in Christ's church; no matter whether they be teacher or disciple, prince or subject, man or woman; besides they have neither prayer, nor God, nor Christ, nor promise, nor remission of sins, nor any sure consolation in eternal life, so long as they do not sincerely repent, receive God's word, and fulfill it in the true fear, as Christ himself says, "He that believeth not is already condemned," Jn. 3:18.
Dear brethren, you may contradict this as much as you will, yet this foundation shall stand forever, and will never be changed. The words of Paul shall never be broken, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," Rom. 8:9; and where the Spirit is there shall also be the fruits of the Spirit; as it is infallible that if the Spirit is in man, the evil one as well as the good, it will manifest itself by its fruits, Gal. 5:16; Matt. 7:17.
Lastly, most beloved, if you want to be the true church of Christ and boast of the truth, grace, word, Spirit, and blood of the Lord, then separate, first, all your preachers who are urged by the unclean spirit and flesh, who, therefore are not of the church of Christ, namely, all those who are desirous of filthy lucre, as was said above. Again, also, all drunkards, wranglers, flatterers, proud, envious and avaricious; for all these testify by their fruits that they have not the Spirit of Christ. And if they have not the Spirit of Christ, how can these poor, miserable men, then, teach and impress the Spirit, power and will of God, the word of grace, and the word of eternal life, which they do not confess? Yea, brethren, it is impossible for me to teach the things which I do not know myself, and how shall I serve in the house of the Lord while I myself am a castaway? Judge for yourselves.
Secondly, cleanse your church, also. Exclude, according to the word of God, all adulterers and fornicators, drunkards, slanderers, swearers, those who lead a shameful and inordinate life, the proud, avaricious, idolatrous, disobedient unto God, whoremongers and the like, that you may become the holy, christian church which is without spot or blemish, which is as a city built upon a rock. In case these are truly observed and found with you, and, besides, a free; christian doctrine, the true ministration of the sacraments of Christ, not according to the opinion of men or of the learned, but according to the true doctrine of Christ and his apostles‑again, the fear and love of God, and an unblamable life, according to God's word, then you will ever have us as your brethren; for it is such we seek. But if you remain as you are, then I say publicly, Better to die than to enter into your doctrine, sacraments, life, and church, as was said above.
Beloved brethren, it is no use to allege the Scripture of the Pharisees sitting in the seat of Moses, Matt. 23:2; nor that Herod sent the wise of the east; nor that some say, If the devil should preach the word of God, why not. hear it? Christ Jesus did not send the Pharisees, the servants of the letter, to preach the word of the Spirit and of life; Herod did not send the wise, with good intentions; nor has the devil ever sincerely given praise to God; nor does God want the praise of the devil, for Christ says, "Hold thy peace, and come out of him," Luke 4:35; therefore it is useless to adduce such reasons, inasmuch as God, by his mercy and grace, has so opened the eyes of our mind that we surely know that the spiritual service of the New Testament can be administered by none but by servants of the Spirit impelled in love by the power of the Holy Ghost; for it is and remains a service of the Spirit and. not of the letter, 2 Cor. 3:6. Enough has been adduced on this.
In short, deny yourselves, be prepared to do the will of God, seek nothing but his honor and praise, and the eternal salvation of your brethren, and hunger and thirst after the righteousness of God. Believe and receive Christ Jesus rightly in his blessed word, and you will undoubtedly understand and comprehend the true way, the truth, and life eternal, to the praise of God, and to your own salvation. May God, the kind and merciful Father, grant us all this, Amen, Matt. 5:6; Jer. 31:25.
As I, dear brethren, have diligently reproved the preachers, on account of the receiving of filthy lucre, in this my admonishing confession, according to the word of God, therefore I do not doubt but that there 346are some who will bitterly‑contradict me in this matter, and say, "Beloved Menno, you can not deprive us of the privileges Christ Jesus has given us; as you have alleged from Paul, that those who serve the gospel shall live by the gospel. Say why seek you to take away that of which we have the privilege 3" To those who contradict me thus, I would first reply by asking, If the teachers, to whom this privilege is given of Christ by the gospel, are not sent of Christ Jesus? They must answer in the affirmative. Then I say again, as they are sent of Christ, who enjoyed this privilege given of Christ, therefore those have not this privilege, who ran their own course and are not sent of Christ.
Again, I ask if these teachers to whom this privilege is given by the Scriptures, were not men of the Spirit of love and of truthl Doubtlessly so. Then I reply: If they are men of Spirit, of love and of truth, to whom this privilege is granted by the gospel, those who do not teach .and serve by the Spirit, love and truth, may not appropriate and make use of this privilege; for they are not the teachers to whom it was given and promised by the word of God.
Thirdly, I ask, if the teachers which are sent of Christ Jesus, who, according to the Scriptures may enjoy this privilege, led a shameful life after their being called? and if they led a shameful life, and were found corrupt before God and his church, if they could longer remain as teachers in the unblamable church of Christ? They must doubtlessly answer, No. Then, if they answer, no, as it is in truth, that those whose life and walk in the church of Christ, are no more pure and useful than the filthy carrion by the roadside, are no teachers is the church of the Lord; such as drunkards, perjurers, those filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, deceit, debate and malignity. For if the salt have lost his savor, says Christ, it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men, Matt. S:13; 1 Cor. 5:10; 2 Cor. 6:10; Rom. 1:29. And if the church is to be unblamable, and without spot or blemish, how much more so the teachers, as‑Christ himself teaches, saying, Ye are the light of the world. Ye are the salt of the earth, Eph. C:30; Matt S:13. Inasmuch as the beforementioned, carnal teachers are already excluded from, and deprived of the christian office of teacher, by God's own ordinance and word, as they do not live up to the doctrine, and by their apparent unbelief and inordinacy are not in the church of Christ; therefore they can not enjoy that privilege; for Christ Jesus has promised and given sincere, pious, spiritual, meek, true, unblamable teachers, sent of God, and not inordinate, lazy, vain, idle, drunken, shameful, lying, pompous, gluttonous, avaricious and carnal rogues, Rom. 10:16; Isa. 51:7; 62:6.
Fourthly, I ask, whether the men of God, the prophets, apostles, and teachers sent of God, were also hired or bought at a stipulated, annual salary, to teach and proclaim the free word of grace? I know that the answer must be, no. For they did not teach but by the urging of the Spirit and love. I say again, Inasmuch as your preachers are hired and bought at a stipulated salary or rents, and do not preach unless they are hired, they must acknowledge that they are hirelings, and not teachers that are sent; for they do not teach by the urging of the Spirit and love, but are, enticed and drawn on as was Balaam by the promised salary, benefices and rents. Qui id negat, Sole= in die splendere minus concedet.
Fifthly, I ask, if the teachers, sent of God, men of the Spirit, of love and of truth, enlightening both in doctrine and in life, lived of a stipulated salary, benefice or rents; or whether they did not live by the services or assistance of the brethren, so far as they could not obtain it of themselves? They must confess that it was by the assistance of the brethren, and not of certain benefices, pensions or rents. This I teach, seek and sincerely desire. Therefore this is my brief conclusion and christian admonition to all preachers and teachers. Brethren, humble yourselves and become unblamable disciples, that you may hereafter become called teachers. Try your Spirit, love and life before you commence to pasture and to teach. Run not your own course, but wait until you are called of the Lord's church; I say, 347Lord's church, of the Spirit of God, and are constrained by urging love. If this is the case, brethren, then pasture diligently, preach and teach valiantly, cast from you all filthy lucre and booty; rent lands, milk cows, learn a trade, if possible, do manual labor, as did Paul, and all that which you then fall short of will doubtlessly be given and provided you by the pious brethren, by the grace of God. Understand it not as 'superfluously,' but as `necessarily.'
Such privileges the holy gospel grants to the unblamable preachers which are sent of Christ Jesus, and nothing further. But the preachers who run their own course, are earthly and carnally minded, are blamable in doctrine and in life, " serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own bellies," who, on account of their lazy, gluttonous, easy flesh, teach and serve to please the world, as hired servants, at certain wages, the Scriptures do not know. Therefore I say for once and for all time, If they will not do differently, but always say in their hearts‑Erret quilibet homo ad libitum, nikil ad nos, modo ventri nostro proviswm ficerit‑then I will leave them in the hands of him who shall judge them and us according to his most holy word and to his pleasure.
Brethren, decide the more wisely, and living in the great God through all things, refuse not to bid adieu to your carnal bodies.
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