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HERE you have, beloved sirs, friends, and brethren, our plain confession of the incarnation of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, which I thus sincerely confess and believe; for you requested me to do so, and, I trust, with a good intention. , Therefore I have not hidden my faith. Now, judge the matter rightly, if you be spiritually minded, and if I should, as you think I do; err as is natural to man, which I trust I do not, then do not think that I do so out of obduracy, or partiality, but before God, my Creator, it is because I know no better but that it is the firm, immutable foundation of God's word and truth. Brethren, do not look at me as one who seeks something contrary to the will of God. Not at all. The eternal truth, word and will of God, I am prepared to do, at the risk of all that his paternal kindness may inflict upon me. This I say in sincerity of heart, and have no doubt. Therefore I say to you, that if you have any plainer Scriptures in support of this article of the incarnation of Christ; if you have a clearer foundation, truth, or clearer proof than we ha: e, then assist us. I will, by the grace of the Lord, change my heart in regard to this matter, and follow your doctrine. But, above all, brethren, I want you to understand that I will not accept nor listen to human doctrines, nor cleverness, nor garbling of the Scriptures, nor flatterings, nor presumption, in regard to this but solely to the plain Scriptures, truth and immutable testimony; as we have presented to you, in this matter of our confession, nothing but scriptural truth and immutable testimony. But if you cannot advance such, then give heed, keep your peace and leave us our faith in peace; for, most beloved brethren, before God, I seek nothing but the pure, unadulterated word of God and its testimony.
Besides; I have here presented to you, how and in what manner I admonish and teach the open hearted brethren; with which doctrine no godfearing consciences can be afflicted, nor christian souls be deceived. I pray and desire you to do likewise, that you may build `and not break. Brethren, if you do not then take heed how and what you teach, I can beseech and admonish you in love, but it behooves me not to force you, even if I could. Every person shall have to render an account of his teaching and doing, before God and not before men.
In the third place you have my admonishing confession how both teacher and church should be minded according to the Scriptures. Again, I pray and desire by the 348mercy of the Lord, that you will not accept this scriptural truth in bitterness; for that which I have written is the unchangeable word and will of God, and will remain go forever. Therefore take heed that you do not be angry with me on account of my writing, because it is contrary to your flesh. It verily is not mine, but the doctrine of Christ; not my will, but the will of Christ. If you be angry, you are not angry with me, but with Christ, who has thus taught and instructed us in his holy gospel or word. And in case you fear God, you will doubtlessly love me the more, because I, by the grace, Spirit and word of God, as far as he bestows on me, open unto you the kingdom of heaven, and show you the right .way. Yea, because I, fearlessly, and in true brotherly love, of which God is my witness, speak unto you and point you to the eternal, immutable truth; because I cut the cankering flesh from your wounds, and do not flatter you; for I seek not your carnal, but your spiritual friendship; not your praise, but the praise of God; not your goods and gifts, but your salvation and souls. For these reasons I tell you the pure truth of God, and do not spare you. O, brethren, receive it in gladness of heart. It is the only word and will of Christ. If you reject it, you do not reject me, but Christ Jesus who has so dearly bought us all. Therefore take heed to awaken yet to‑day, and no longer wander and proceed in darkness and deadly blindness. And let the poor, ignorant people, the poor, innocent souls, no longer err under your name and cover. The whole, wide world depends upon you learned. As you pipe, so they dance; as you teach, so they believe; and as you proceed, so they follow. Therefore, woe unto you if you teach wrongly; if you destroy and do not gather; if you deceive and do not pasture; if you corrupt and do not convert.
Receive eyes of wisdom, that you may rightly teach and lead others, according to the will of God; and that the word which Christ spoke be not applicable to you, "I the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch," Matt. 16:14. Lastly, I shall soon send you, if God please, my treatis .on the baptism of the believing, with other doctrines, from which you may clearly learn my foundation, doctrine, seeking and intentions; why I labor, after what I strive, and by what Scriptures and for what reasons we assert the baptism of the believing; and for what reasons we deem and consider infant baptism as vain, idolatrous and contrary to the word.
Read it all in sincerity of heart, ponder upon it, follow alone the true sense of the divine Spirit and truth. Let opinions go, let flesh and adroitness be destroyed. Many have been deceived thereby. This our doctrine concerning the preachers, concerning the unblamableness of the church, concerning the‑baptism of the believing, concerning the Supper of an unblamable assembly, and concerning the separation of the penitent, is, doubtlessly, the eternal, immutable word, will and ordinance of God; therefore, by the grace of the Lord, we will never be reasoned out of it by human wisdom, cleverness, threats nor tyranny. Yea, at all times I am prepared to testify and assert this doctrine before God and my brethren, with the sure testimony of my conscience, at the cost of all anxiety, persecution, blood and death. Let the merciful, kind Father treat me and all those who sincerely seek and fear him, according to his divine, blessed will. Read it discreetly and judge it in a christian way.
This is briefly my foundation and conviction of the articles of the christian church; that before God neither baptism, nor Supper, nor any other outward ordinances avail if partaken without Spirit and the new creature. But before God, only faith, love, Spirit, the new creature or regeneration avail, as Paul plainly shows, Gal. 6:Ei. All those who, by the grace of God receive these from above, suffer themselves to be baptized according to the commandment of the Lord, and rightly partake of his Supper, Acts 2:38; 9:19; 8:38; Matt. 28:19.
Yea, they with ardent desire commit themselves to the ordinance and doctrine of Jesus Christ, and shall nevermore willfully oppose the holy will, and plain testimony of God. For this reason I amicably beseech you, most beloved, from my inmost heart, not to dispute with me, nor any oth 349er person concerning any outward articles and literal ordinances; but first conquer and subject yourselves; that is, your unbelieving, miserable, refractory, obdurate flesh which yet keeps and hinders you from the truth, faith, knowledge, righteousness and obedience of God. Yea, doubtlessly, if that is rightly vanquished, you will see into all of the ordinances of God, confess and practice them. But as long as it lives in you and has its sway, you will dispute and oppose, and nevermore comprehend, understand and follow the immutable foundation of eternal truth. Beware.
No more at present. But rightly compare Christ with yourselves; his love and Spirit, with your love and spirit; his seeking, doctrine, sacraments and life, with your seeking, doctrine, sacraments and life; and you will, no doubt, find wherein you fall short.
May God, the merciful Father, grant unto you and to us all, true wisdom, understanding, faith, knowledge and true judgment; an ardent heart, true fear, love, doctrine, life, sacraments and ordinances, through Christ Jesus, our Savior and eternal Deliverer of the world, Amen.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate," Matt. 7:13.
Amara est veritas, and qui ecvm prcedicant repktus cmnaritudine, dicit Hieronymus. 350
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