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A KIND ADMONITION.
Menno Simon wishes all true brethren and sisters in Jesus Christ the grace and peace of God our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ his Son, our Lord, who loved us, and cleansed gas of our sins by his blood. To him be glory, now and forever, Amen.
Hear, believe, and fulfill God's word, and you shall have everlasting life. Do not judge until you have perused and well understood this.
SINCERLY beloved children in Christ Jesus, you are aware with what diligence, nay, how sincerely I have of late admonished most of you, according to the word of the Lord, by many Scriptures, flowing from a loving, inclined and moved Spirit, as you yourselves have witnessed, I, who seek nothing (of which God is my witness) but alone the salvation of your souls; teaching nothing, desiring nothing, admonishing you to nothing but alone that your most holy faith and works may be powerful and fruitful before God; and that your life and walk may be found before God, before his angels, and before all the world, holy, pure, sober, chaste, temperate, humble, gentle, kind, mild, merciful, righteous, unblamable, in conformity with, and obedient to the gospel of Christ, a shining light, that in all your doings you may express Christ Jesus whom you have put on, if you have rightly put him on, as I trust; and thus show in your life his divine and heavenly image after which you are created, Col. 3; Eph. 4.
You know that I do not desire your money, silver, and carnal gifts, although I may be blamed of it by the infamous, lying world. I beseech all of you, and would with much solicitation, anxiety, tribulation, sighing, weeping, and pains, teach you such faith, love, spirit, conscience and walk that you can stand before the righteous judgment of God, and that in Christ Jesus.
I do not doubt, most beloved brethren, that you well know (if you be born with Christ, of God the Father of the heavenly seed of the divine word), that you must be conformed unto Christ in mind, spirit, courage and will, both in doctrine and life, as Christ Jesus is conformed unto the nature and image of his blessed, heavenly Father, to which he was so conformed that he did nothing but that his Father did, Jn. 5; that he taught nothing but the word of his Father. Jn. 7. In the same manner with those who are begotten of the living, saving word of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ; they are, by virtue of their new birth, so conformed unto Christ, so like unto him, so really implanted into him, so converted into his heavenly nature, that they do not teach nor believe any doctrine but that which conforms unto the doctrine of Christ; do not make use of any religious ceremonies but Christ's ceremonies, which he has taught and commanded in his holy gospel; for how can the natural branches bear fruit different from that of the vine itself of which they budded forth H Jn. 15.
As there is nothing found in Christ Jesus but solely the holiness, wisdom, brightness, righteousness, power, love, peace, mercy, and truth of the Almighty Father, thus you have in the same manner partaken of his being and goodness, because you with him are regenerated and renewed of the same Father.
Behold, brethren, such regenerated and godly minded, live unblamably, even according to the measure of the rule of the holy gospel of Jesus Christ and his apostles. Therefore he kisses them as his beloved, chosen ones, with the mouth of his peace, Cant. 1, and calls them his church, his bride, flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, of which he begets, with inexpressible pleasure, by his powerful seed, his holy word, the children of God, the children of the promise, the children of righteousness, the children of truth, and the children of life eternal. But of the Babylonian, Sodomitic, whoring, adulterous, idolatrous, bloody, unbelieving, blind and unclean whore with which they have, for centuries, lived in adultery by the use of wood, stone, gold, silver, bread, wine, false doctrine, and of the very vain, ac 443cursed works of their own hands, contrary to Jesus Christ and his holy word, he will never beget them, Rev. 17; 18.
Therefore I admonish all our beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord, so precious as is Christ Jesus to you, never to let it go out of your mind, but ever to remember for what purpose you are called, taught, and baptized. Remember the covenant of the most high God, that into which you voluntarily entered; into which you have voluntarily desired and accepted; being taught by the word of God, and operated upon by the Holy Spirit; and remember that according to the doctrine of Paul, you have voluntarily buried in baptism, all your avarice, uncleanness, pride, hatred, envy, abuse of the sacramental signs, idolatry, gluttony, drunkenness, sensuality, falsehood, deceit, &c., and that you are arisen with Christ Jesus, into newness of life, Rom. 6, if you are rightly arisen with him; which new life is nothing else but righteousness, unblamableness, love, mercifulness, humility, longsuffering, peace, truth, yea, the whole, gentle life which is taught by the gospel, and was found in Christ Jesus.
O, brethren, how far are some of us, alas, yet distant from the evangelical life which is of God! Notwithstanding that they stay out of the other churches, and are outwardly baptized in water, they yet are carnal and devilish minded in all things, thinking perhaps, that christianity consists of outward baptism and the non‑attendance of the church. No, beloved, no! I tell you, as truly as the Lord lives, before God avails no outward baptism, nor staying away from the churches, nor supper, nor being persecuted, if we do not obey the commandments of God, 1 Cor. 7; if our faith does not manifest itself in love, and the new creature, as also Christ Jesus says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a inan be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God," Jn. 3:3. At another place he says, " Verily; I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," Matt. 18:3. But the regenerated and converted, that is the believing, are rightly baptized in accordance with God's word; for they bury their sins in baptism, and arise with Christ into newness of life, Rom. 6; they are spiritually circumcised with the circumcision of Christ, Col. 2; they put on Christ Jesus; they show by the washing of regeneration that they are born again; for it is a washing of the new birth, Tit. 3.
These regenerated ones use the true Supper; for they proclaim the death of Christ until his coming again, 1 Cor. 11; their pleasure is in the church of the righteous, their works are nothing but brotherly love, one heart, one soul, one spirit. Yea, one undivided body, fruitful, serving, and common in Christ Jesus, which are symbolized by the outward cup, and the outward bread, 1 Cor. 10.
These regenerated ones shun all false doctrine, all idolatry, all improper usage of the sacramental signs in the church or out of the church; they seek only the true teachers who are unblamable both in doctrine and in life; the true religion, as taught and expressed in Christ's word, namely, the dying unto the flesh, Rom. 12; Gal. 6; the service of the afflicted, Matt. ls; the visiting of the widows and orphans; as James says, They seek to keep themselves unblemished and unspotted from the world, Jas. 1. These regenerated ones bear the cross of Christ with gladness of heart, so established in Christ Jesus that they can not be separated from the eternal truth and love of God, by false doctrine, nor by horrible torments, ever remembering their Lord's word, where he says, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven," Matt. 10:32.
All their thoughts are chaste, gentle, peaceful, heavenly and of the Holy Spirit; all their words are wisdom, truth, doctrine, admonition in grace, well seasoned, the words of God and words spoken at the right time. They are spirit, and they are life. In short, all their works are love, mercifulness, righteousness, piety, and are done in the fear of the Lord.
Behold, brethren, this is the true nature and mind of the children of God, who are by grace converted in their hearts and with Christ born of God the Father. Therefore I beseech you as my sincerely beloved brethren, by the grace of God, nay I com 444mand you with holy Paul, by the Lord Jesus Christ, who at his coming will judge the living and the dead, diligently to observe each other unto salvation, in all becoming ways teaching, instructing, admonishing, reproving, threatening and consoling each other as occasion requires, not otherwise than in accordance with the word of God, and in unfeigned love, that we may all grow up in God, and become united in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, into one perfect man, and according to the measure of the gift of Jesus Christ, Eph. 4:7.
Therefore take heed. If you see your brother sin, then pass not by him, as one that does not prize his soul; but if his fall be curable, from that moment endeavor to raise him up by gentle admonition and brotherly instruction, before you eat, drink, sleep or do any thing else, as one who ardently desires his salvation, lest your poor, erring brother harden and corrupt in his fall, and perish in his sin.
Do not act so unfaithfully as you have hitherto done, as not to make the transgressions of your dying brother or sister known to those within the church before those without; but rather exhort them, and seek by prayer, by words, and by actions to convert him from the error of his way, to save his soul and thus to stop the multiplying of his transgressions, Jas. G. Take heed, brethren, take heed I that you allow no defamer among you, as Moses taught, Lev. 19, no double, lying, roguish, nor backbiting tongue; and do not consent, lest you fall into the wrath of God. Let every one take heed, how, where, when and what he speaks, lest his tongue blaspheme his God and his neighbor; but always remember the words of Ecclesiasticus, "Honor and shame is in talk, and the tongue of man is his fall," Eccl. 5:13.
But brethren, if those of years of understanding who were with us, by the urging. of the Spirit, baptized in the most holy body of Jesus Christ, which is the church, again withdraw themselves from the body or church of Christ, actuated either by false doctrine or vain, carnal life, no matter whether it be father or mother, sister or brother, husband or wife, son or daughter, or any one else, for God's word applies to all flesh, without respect of person, Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2; Eph. 8; Col. 3, if he or she do not heed the admonitions of the brethren, which is given with sorrow, tears and a compassionate spirit of love, but continue in their Jewish doctrine, namely, of sword, kingdom, polygamy or the like deceit; again, in the doctrine of the infamous confession, of shamelessness in exposing their persons, and the like unnatural, inhuman actions; again in the doctrine which is opposed to the cross of Christ, such as that uncleanness is pure to the pure, and thus having communion in fruitless works, as the hearing of the preachers of the world, infant baptism, the worldly supper, and the like abominations. Again, continue in drunkenness, avarice, adultery, fornication, unbecoming words, &c., with such have nothing to do, nor eat with them, as Paul has taught and commanded us in plain words, 1 Cor. 5.
But if he affectionately receive the admonitions of his faithful brethren, if he confess his fall, if he be sorry, promise reformation, show signs of penitence, and acknowledge his transgression, then, no matter how he has transgressed, receive him as a returning, beloved brother or sister, but beware, lest he mock his God; for the acceptation of brethren does not avail if we be not accepted of God. Beware, I say, lest his hearing the admonitions, his sorrow, his promise of reformation, and his penitence be not sincere before God; for he searches the hearts and reins, and he knows all inward feignedness and thoughts of men, Jer. 17; Jn. 2; Rom. 8.
If his hearing the admonitions, his sorrow, promise and penitence are not sincere and from his heart, but merely indifferent, feigned, spiritless, hypocritical, just because he does not want to be outwardly thrown out of the communion of the brethren, he is still cut off by Christ, and is a hypocrite in the sight of God. Nor will he be looked upon nor judged by God as being any thing else. For God the righteous Judge does not judge according to the outward appearance, but solely according to the inward intentions of the heart.
Say, beloved, inasmuch as this is the 445case, what does it avail to go by the mere name of a christian brother if he have not the inward, evangelical faith, love, and unblamable life of a true brother of Jesus Christ
Or what does it avail to partake of the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ with the brethren if we have not the true symbolized fruits of this Supper, namely, the love of the brethren, and the peaceable unity of faith in Christ Jesus? Or does it avail anything outwardly to converse in the communion of the brethren, if we are not inwardly in the communion of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ?
Therefore, brethren, none is cut off by us, or ejected from the communion of the brethren (judge rightly) but those who have already ejected themselves either by false doctrine, or by a blamable life, from Christ and his communion. For we do not wish to eject any, but to accept them; not to cut them off, but to restore them; not to reject, but to win them back; not to afflict, but to console them; not to condemn, but to save them. For this is the true nature of a christian brother. Whosoever renounces evil, be it false doctrine or; vain life, and conforms himself to the gospel of Jesus Christ, unto which he is baptized neither shall nor can be ejected or cut off by any of the brethren.
But those whom we cannot raise up and admonish unto repentance by tears, threatening, reproving, or. by any other christian services and divine means, we should reluctantly separate from us, sincerely deploring the fall and damnation of such erring brethren, lest we also be deceived and led astray by such false doctrine which eats about itself like a cancer, 2 Tim. 2; lest we corrupt our flesh which is inclined to evil, by the contagion; and that we may thus obey the word of God which commands us to do so; and that thus the separated brother or sister, whom we can not convert by gentle services, may, by means of the separation, be shamed unto repentance, 2 Thess. 2, and acknowledge to what he has come and from what he is fallen. Thus .the ban is a great work of love, notwithstanding it is looked upon by the unintelligent as an act of hatred.
Brethren and sisters this separation or bait, so earnestly taught and commanded in the Scriptures by Christ Jesus and his holy apostles was instituted to be practiced for these causes and reasons, first: For false doctrine, Matt. 7; 18; Rom. lE; 2 Tim. 2; 1 Tim. e; Tit. 3; Phil. 3; 2 Jn.1; again, for sinful, carnal life, Matt. 18; 1 Cor. G; 2 Thess. 3; 2 Tim. 3; again, that we should admonish them (understand, those that will be admonished), Matt. ~18; Tit. 3. Therefore take heed, and watch your own soul, lest you despise the word of God in this necessary matter of separation, and transgress his ordinances; but that you in every respect practice upon and uphold it with divine wisdom, discretion, gentleness and prudence, in the case of those who have gone aside from the evangelical doctrine or life; not with austerity, nor with cruelty, but rather with gentleness, reluctance, and with sorrow and pity for the diseased members who are not cured, in whose case pains and labor avail nothing, who should be cut off with the knife of the divine word, lest the others be corrupted, and lest the abominable scurvy is imparted to the other sheep. Yea it should be done in such a manner that the erring sister or brother may be made ashamed at heart, and thus be won, as was said above. And in case there be any moving of the Spirit, any spark of life; or any fear of God in such sister or brother, their heart will surely quake and tremble; for by the admonition of the word of God, and by the testimony of his own conscience he will acknowledge that he has cut himself off from the communion of Jesus Christ, by his vain, carnal life, and that he has again entered into the communion of the devil; and that therefore his lot and part shall not be with theblessed souls in heaven, but with the damned in hell unto eternity, unless he convert himself.
May God, the merciful Father, save all his chosen children who have entered into his holy covenant and communion, from such a fearful fall, obduracy, and separation, Amen.
All the apostate sisters and brethren who are offended at and angry with us on account of this open doctrine and practice of the Christian ban or separation, will be offended446 more and more; for whosoever is impure will be rendered still more impure, as the Holy Spirit of the prophecies teaches, Rev. 22. For the word of God is unto the reformation, righteousness, and life of the pious and godly; but unto the lost it is unto offense, unrighteousness and death. Whatl be angry with us because we obey Scripture in this respect? Let them rather be angry with themselves; for they dare teach and live contrary to the commandment of God. If they want to renounce their heresy, and reform their ungodly life, the heavenly doctrine of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ will not offend them nor make them worse, but rather urge, affright and convert them.
If they, by their apostatic, refractory and carnal hatred, are so deprived of grace and the knowledge of God, and become worse and worse, so that they see death in the eternal life, and darkness in the heavenly light of divine truth, then we can claim to be clear before God and his holy angels, from their sins, obduracy, and eternal death if we do toward them that which the Lord's word has commanded us in regard to this matter. Therefore we desire not to have communion with them, nor lot nor part, unto eternity, so long as they do not sincerely renounce their false doctrine and reform their miserable, accursed, earthly, carnal, and devilish life, to the praise of the Lord. But in case true penitence is found in them, in good faith, as before God who sees all things, then we say, welcome beloved brethren, welcome, beloved sisters, and we sincerely rejoice at the sincere conversion of such brethren and sisters. Yea, we rejoice as one is rejoiced at the restoration of an only Son who was dangerously ill as at the restoration of a lost sheep or penny; and as at the reappearance of a son who was given up as lost, Matt. 18; Luke 15.
Behold, brethren, therefore I will leave every apostate brother to consider why, and wherefore, with what kind of spirit, and with what intention this separation or ban was so diligently practiced, first by Christ Jesus and his apostles and afterward by us who are again placed in their doctrine and practice of all christian doings, as may be easily deduced from the alleged Scriptures.
Well, dear brethren in the Lord, you who are baptized by one Spirit into one body, and have voluntarily entered into the communion of Jesus Christ, and also you who are of a good mind, inasmuch as you must shun the apostatic in accordance with the word of God, therefore, take heed, that while you shun them as diseased, foul and useless members, unfit fox the body of Christ, you yourselves may be found to be sound, fit, and fruitful members in Christ Jesus; and that while you shun them as children of darkness and of death, you yourselves may be children of the light and of eternal life, that the righteous sentence of God may not be pronounced against you; take heed, lest you who shun others on account of their evil doing, secretly commit worse things in the sight of God. Take heed, lest you adjudge others of what you yourselves are guilty, Rom. 2. Behold, brethren, thus the ban or separation should be practiced in the house of the Lord, that is, in God's church; nor have they any other weapon unto eternity. Of this I would have written more but defer it to some other time, if it please God.
Now, beloved brethren, take heed, take heed, brethren, this I advise you that there may never be any thoughts in your hearts otherwise than such as are pure, holy, chaste, heavenly, and of the Holy Spirit. "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God," Matt. G:8. "The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom and his tongue talketh of judgment," Ps. 37:3o. Let all thy words be as a sworn oath before God and before the world, Matt. S; Jas. G. Let all your actions be wrought of God by God, and in God, Jn. 3. Measure all your thoughts, words and actions by the rule of the divine word, that the ungodly defamer who so diligently watches all your words and actions may find nothing which he can truly cast up to you, whereby he can accuse or blame you, as Paul taught and requested the church, in some instances, Eph. 4; 1 Tim. 3; Tit. 2.
It is also the nature of those who are in God, not to sin, as John says, "Whosoever abideth in. him (God) sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man 447deceive you: he that doeth righteousness, is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin: for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is of God, 1 Jn. 3:6‑9. Therefore I implore and pray you to consider well the nature of the new birth, and examine what it is in reality, namely, the divine nature, and the divine image; of whom it is, that it is of God; from whence it is‑from heaven; and what is obtained by it‑‑life eternal. For without the new birth it is merely the nature of earthly Adam, sin, evil, blindness, transgression, devil and eternal death (I speak in regard to those of mature years), whatever we do; but in whomsoever the new birth is, there is also everything godly, wisdom, goodness, light, righteousness, truth, peace, Spirit, Christ, God and life eternal. Therefore the eternal Truth, Christ Jesus, says in plain words, that we must repent and be born again, if we would enter into the kingdom of heaven, Matt. 18; Jn. 3. For the first birth is of the earth, earthly, and inclined to the earth; but the second birth is of heaven, and is heavenly, and inclined to heaven, Jn. 3. that is to say, the birth of earth makes earthly minded and the birth of heaven makes heavenly minded.
If this good and perfect gift of the new birth be given us of the Father of light, by grace, then we become the chosen children of God, Jn. 1; Eph. 1; then we are the true sisters and brethren of Christ, Luke fir, then we are conformed unto Christ, Rom. 8; then we are created after the image of God, Col. 3; Eph. 4; then we have the sign Tau on our foreheads; then the kingdom of God is ours, Luke 18; then we are the bride of Christ, Jn. 3, the church of Christ, Eph. 6, the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 1. Col. 1; then Christ dwells in our hearts, Eph. 3; then we are led by the Holy Ghost, Rom. 8; we are the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy, begotten people, which is God's own, 1 Pet. 2; then we are the temple of the Lord, 1 Cor. 3; 6; 2 Cor. e; the spiritual Mount Zion, and the new heavenly Jerusalem, Heb. 12; the spiritual Israel of God, Gal. 6; we are of divine mind and nature; we are delivered from the sentence of the law, Isa. 9; Gal. S; 1 Tim. 3; yea from hell, sin, devil, and eternal death, Eph. 2; then we have Christ Jesus forever blessed; his word, life, flesh, blood, cross, suffering, bitter death, burial, resurrection, ascension, kingdom and eternal joy, with him, received as a gift from God the Father, Rom. 8. But in case we be not born again (understand, those of understanding age), then we have not such promises.
Therefore, sincerely beloved brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling through Christ Jesus; "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God," 1 Pet. I, 6:6, and sincerely deny yourselves. Fear God in all your thoughts, words and works, love and serve God and your neighbor; love God above all things created, and your neighbor as yourselves, Matt. 22. Let all your meditations be in the. law of the Lord, Ps. 1. Keep God's word; I repeat it, brethren, keep the word of God which has been so often taught you in love, both verbally and in writing.
Let your ardent prayer at all times go up to God, for all men; for emperors, kings, lords, princes, judges, and for all those that are placed in authority, that God may so direct their hearts that we, if it be his blessed will, may lead a peaceable and godly life, 1 Tim. 2:2.
Be not envious in your hearts and not inconsiderate in your talking about others, whether he be a slanderer, traitor, persecutor, priest or monk, no matter who he be; for they shall receive their reward from God. But ever remember the longsuffering of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, as also, that we were all foolish and unbelieving, erring, serving divers lusts and desires; we were also naturally, children of the wrath, the same as they are. Willingly obey all human ordinances if they be not against the ordinances of God, l Pet. 2. Be liberal in rendering assistance to all the children of God. Receive each other without murmuring, 1 Pet. 4. Let each one work with his own hands, and eat his own bread, if possible, 2 Thess. 3. Shun all manner of idleness448 and worldly pomp. Take faithful care of each other by admonitions, Heb. 10, as I have verbally admonished you to do before, and now again in this epistle.
Wash the feet of your beloved brethren and sisters who are come to you from a distance, tired. Be not ashamed to do the work of the Lord, but humble yourselves with Christ, before your brethren's feet, that all humility, according to the divine nature, may be found in you, Jn. 13; 1 Tim. 5.
Above all pray for your poor humble servant, whose life is sought with all diligence, that God, the gracious Father, may strengthen him with his Holy Spirit, and save him from the hands of those who so unjustly seek his life, if it be his fatherly will, and if it be not his will, that he may then give him in all tribulation, torture, oppression and death, such heart, mind, wisdom and strength, that he may steadily fulfill the glorious work of God, which is begun in us, by the Holy Ghost, to the praise of the Lord.
, beloved brethren, fulfill my desire, and finish, as obedient children of God that which I have faithfully taught, admonished and written unto you from the word of God, to your eternal salvation, that you may also be partakers of the glorious crown, hope and joy, in the day of the coming of Christ, 1 Thess. 2. "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit," Rom. 12:11. Bless God in all his works toward us, and pray him to guide your way,. and let all your counsel be in him, Tob. 4. Walk fearlessly in the commandments of the Lord. Go not in any manner beyond the gospel of Christ, Gal. 1. Be firm in the way of the Lord. Overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil by the most holy faith which is in you, 1 Jn. 5. Joyfully serve each other, "In patience possess ye your souls," Luke 21:13."Be patient in tribulation," Rom. 12:12. Prepare your hearts for the cross of Christ, so that when it comes you may not be terrified with the cowardly.
No more at present, but watch closely all the days of your lives, the unexpected coming of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, who has made us such dear creatures, bought us with his precious blood, graciously called, enlightened and regenerated us, and who will crown us with the crown of glory, array us in the garment of unblamableness, and give us the gift of eternal life. To him be eternal praise and glory, now and forever, Amen.
Ponder, holy brethren, upon every word which I have written unto you; read it attentively; reflect upon it diligently, understand it rightly, judge spiritually, and live up to it divinely. , brethren, then my admonition and writing, and your perusal and hearing shall be fruitful.
I pray you with holy Paul, by the grace of God, not to suppress this admonition, nor to lay it away, but to read it to all faithful brethren and sisters in the Lord; as also to all the apostates who are not entirely given up, that they may be won back. Yea, not alone to these, but to all men in or out of the church, who may desire to hear it. The grace of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ be with all true brethren and sisters, Amen.
Again, pray for me and far all your servants in the Lord.
Beware of all doctrine and works which are not conformable to the gospel of Christ. Beware.
May grace and peace remain with all the true children of God, and fellow‑laborers of the promise, in the kingdom of Christ.
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