SWISS BRETHREN TRACT
1532 - 1540 AD
ANSWER OF SOME WHO ARE CALLED (ANA) BAPTISTS TO THE QUESTION WHY THEY DO NOT ATTEND THE CHURCHES
We severally, whom men call (Ana)Baptists, who by the grace of God have no other desire than to believe and live according to the pure and holy gospel, and who, if anyone show us otherwise, are willing to improve ourselves; we confess and announce to all men severally: Since worldly power and men with their preachers take occasion for persecution against us, and assert and complain that we refuse to come to their preaching, teaching and assembly [congregation]; that we disdain the same along with Gods Word, which most of all alienates us from those who rate most highly according to evangelical truth, that is, those called Lutheran and Zwinglian, and also repeatedly ask us why we oppose the above-mentioned attendance at their meetings-we therefore feel impelled and constrained out of necessity to answer and not remain silent, indeed, to state the reason why we do not attend their said preaching, teaching and assembling, nor have fellowship with them in their faith and cause; and further to disclose that which is lacking, on account of which we avoid them, so that the matter may be illuminated and no one will think that we shy away from the Word of God. It is our desire and prayer that men may perceive this, so that they will not abuse and attack us in matters which have not been investigated, but will hear us reasonably, as is legally appropriate, so that no one will be judged or condemned without trial. For this reason the devout Nicodemus, John 7, said. Doth our law judge any man before it hear him and know what be doeth? etc. And even though not everyone may be able, nor have the desire, to hear or to perceive this our presentation of the truth, or yet to hear or to see according to Matthew 13, John 12, Romans 2, Isaiah 6, thus having neither ears nor eyes, just as already at other places similarly our scriptural defense and demonstration were neither received nor heard, but rather held in contempt. Here it is to be asked whether men do not despise the Word of God (which is precisely the thing of which they accuse us), and as Paul says in II Tim. 4, will not endure sound doctrine, but turn their ears from it, yet even so, we cannot refrain from this reply, whether or not men listen to it, whether or not they obey, Ezekiel 2, 3, hoping that still some pious men and hearts will respond, and by this receive a right understanding and discernment in these things, to the further development and deepening of their life.
HERE FOLLOWS A RESUME OF THE ABOVE-NAMED REASONS WHY WE DO NOT ATTEND THEIR PREACHING
The First Reason
Item: The first reason is that they do not observe the Christian order as taught in the gospel or the word of God in I Cor. 14, namely, that a listener is bound by Christian love (if something to edification is given or revealed to him) that he should and may speak of it also in the congregation, and again thereupon be silent, according to the text which reads: How is it then brethren? When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, and hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying, etc. And again, Let one or another prophet speak (that is prophesying), and the other judge. If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints, etc. It thus appears further that Paul spoke to the church of God, yea to all Christians whom he in the beginning of the chapter admonished to seek after spiritual gifts, yet most of all, that they may prophesy, prophesying meaning that they receive the meaning from God to share with others (for edification, exhortation and comfort). Yes, also to those whom he (in I Thess. 5) enjoins to admonish one another, to build up one another, and to comfort one another (I Cor. 4), and in Eph. 5, Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; and also Peter, I Peter 4, enjoins them to serve one another, each with the gift which he has received, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God: If any man speak that he speak the oracles of God, etc. That all things may be done in the best, the most seemly and convenient manner when the congregation assembles, which congregation [gemein] is a temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6) where the gifts or inner operation of the spirit in each one (note, in each one) serve the common good (I Cor. 12, Eph. 4). Note, for the common good. How could this more suitably be applied, offered or employed for the common good than in the coming together precisely for this common good and edification, as stated in chapter 14: When such believers come together, Everyone of you (note, every one) hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. etc. And he enjoins them thereupon to permit all this to be done, that is, to apply or to use, to the edification of the congregation which comes together, so that it may be a bright light in spite of the presumptuous attacks of the adversaries. And it is Pauls intention that if one sitting by or listening receives a revelation or is moved to exercise his spiritual gift or to prophesy, then the first shall hold his peace; and he Paul says that all may prophesy, one after the other, and wants that at all times the spirit of the one who prophesies, or teaches, or preaches first, shall be subject to, and silent before, the one from among those seated or listening who has something to prophesy, and shall not show himself discordant or unpeaceful, as some, especially among their preachers, presume that they need yield to no one, either to be silent or to speak, especially not to us. Out of this [situation] discord and sects follow, contrary to the above-mentioned words of Paul, yes, contrary even to their own glosses which they have placed at this point in several German testaments. So Paul in the end of the chapter commands that they shall not forbid to speak in tongues, which, according to the beginning of the chapter serves to the edification of the congregation. How much less authority has one to forbid prophesying, teaching, interpreting, or admonition to the edification of the congregation? When someone comes to church and constantly hears only one person speaking, and all the listeners are silent, neither speaking nor prophesying, who can or will regard or confess the same to be a spiritual congregation, or confess according to I Cor. 14 that God is dwelling and operating in them through his Holy Spirit with his gifts, impelling them one after the other in the above mentioned order of speaking and prophesying?1
1Christians are priests and thus proclaimers of Gods virtues, 1 Pet. 2, Acts l; and Moses says, Would that all the Lords people prophesied, Num. 11. Item, he who believes let him speak, II Cor. 4. [This is a marginal notation in the text.]
And thus, as already mentioned, they deny that we possess the evangelical order nor would they permit us to exercise it (if we did attend their preaching), but teach and presume that we also, as those who err, should remain silent in their preaching regardless of what we would have to speak to edification whether or not their preacher defaults from the truth, one must still be silent, even though according to I Cor. 14 the listeners must judge the preachers doctrine. All judgment and everything, yes everyone in his conscience, is bound to the preacher and to his teaching, whether it be good or evil (to accept the same in conscience to believe and to do), and not the teaching of Christ and of his Holy Spirit. .And if a prophet or messenger from God came into their congregation (as occurred in apostolic times), being sent of God and of men, he would be compelled to remain silent, or would be persecuted by them, and thereby under the appearance and pretext of the holy gospel and the word of God, they would hinder the aforementioned order, and in the name of love annul, transgress and resist (their own doctrine of evangelical liberty), yes forbid and then also frustrate and impede the rivers of living water, see John 7, as gifts of the Holy Spirit to the faithful, which gifts should appear for the edification of the congregation, and for the salvation of souls, so that men might recognize the congregation as spiritual; otherwise each one must bury his talent silently within himself, keep it without profitable investment, and at the coming of Christ receive punishment from the Lord, Matt 25. This would mean transgressing, and not abiding in, the doctrine of Christ, and for this reason be without God according to II John 1, nor yet being truly Christs disciples or Christian, John 8.
This would constitute a significant and injurious error. It would not be the word of God nor the voice of Christ, but rather against it, as the preaching of an alien voice, which we should not hear, but rather flee according to the word of Christ, John 10, lest we partake of the impending punishment, or as unfruitful branches or members be cut off, John 15, or as trees which do not bear good fruit, Matt. 7, be cut off and cast into the fire. They have long proclaimed that we shall not be permitted to speak openly, or in public, and forbid us this as already mentioned. This means, however, to quench the spirit. to despise prophecy and, contrary to the word of God, not to prove all things and hold fast that which is good, I Thess. 5. We do not advise everyone among us, notably the weak, inexperienced and ineloquent; much rather we warn them, for the aforementioned and following reasons, not to listen to your preaching nor yet to speak there, because through such listening one is soon worse off than before, and for one to speak before such persons readily leads to blasphemy and malediction rather than to blessing, because the tendency here is to evil rather than to good.
According to their writings their preachers at first taught that they do not wish to set any judge over Gods word, that they know of no such judge, and that there is no authority [Oberkeit] over the word but God alone. Therefore no one can make such a prohibition. Such a one would be a servant of anti-Christ, and no magistrate [Ober] would wish, as far as it depends on him, to hinder the salvation of souls, etc. But now they transgress this, their original teaching. You say that if, in connection with the sermon, something is said contrary to the preachers doctrine, let him go to him after the sermon and tell him privately according to the teaching of Christ, If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone, etc., Matt. 18. Answer: This passage does not at all apply here, for this is a matter of great ignorance in spiritual matters and of stewardship in a true Christian congregation.
We say, that if anything is revealed to a listener to be spoken to edification in the congregation or to prophesy, as the above text. I Cor. 14, clearly states, even if it does not pertain to an error made by the minister, but to any other matter, but also if it does pertain to an error of the minister, this must be treated openly before the congregation which has heard it, and not privately with only the preacher. Because the sin is not against himself only, but against the whole congregation, and therefore should be corrected before them all, especially since the congregation is to judge that which is spoken openly. Therefore such public matters cannot be terminated or adjusted privately, apart from the congregation. And if the preacher otherwise sin against only one person in the congregation, and refuse to hear the first and then the second time, this then (according to the commandment of Christ) becomes a matter to bring before the congregation, that is, there to reveal the matter. Certainly this opportunity in their congregation is undermined, since no one may speak but the preacher, and thus the congregation is deprived and robbed of all right of judgment concerning matters of the soul, being bound exclusively to the preachers and their understanding, contrary to the word of God. A preacher who verily has the love of God and neighbor, will rejoice in the truth, if someone will kindly correct him before the congregation in things wherein he erred before the congregation, and will not become impatient, obstinate nor bitter, nor attribute this to evil intent, I Cor. 13, and, through the fear of God, avoid such error as coming from the evil, Prov. 16. If otherwise, he lacks such love and fear, and opposes the truth as long as he continues. Some of the preachers also interpret this passage, when one cites the words of Paul in I Cor. 14, as follows: When ye come together every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, etc.... Let all things be done unto edifying.... For ye may all prophesy, one by one ..., etc., to mean that it refers not to the entire church but only to the elected ministers, since they are the preachers and will observe this together. Paul speaks to these in this passage. They infer the same meaning from other words in this same chapter concerning the laity, where they apply the word (lay) to their hearers or sheep, whom they regard as laity, and themselves as those to whom Paul spoke, even though Paul spoke the words When ye are come together not only to some, but to the whole believing Corinthian church [gmeind] of Christ. We cannot understand the word 1ay thus; and more, as applying to those that are without, those thousands who do not belong to the congregation of Christ, or who would otherwise come and listen in, as the meaning of the word in the German text also shows. There the words (lay or unbeliever) mean nearly the same, and say, and there come in those who are lay or unbelievers, etc., that is to say, into the Christian congregation as, according to our understanding, the Latin text regarding this word (lay) makes still more clear, that it cannot be applied to the true believers or Christian members. Nevertheless let him who thinks otherwise give his proof, for we do not wish to oppose the truth. And even if Paul had meant that the words, ye may all prophesy, should apply only to the prophets, then prophesying would still not be limited to one person in the congregation only, but would also be given by God to others, that they might also do according to the words indicated above (Ye may all prophesy). And thus the foregoing words (When ye are come together everyone of you hath. . . . Let all things be done to edification ) undeniably apply to the whole congregation or to all the members of Christ.
The Second Reason
The second reason is that the evangelical preachers at first taught much from the word of God, the evangelical, Christian freedom of faith, and matters of faith, against the rulers and constrainers of ones faith, and that the authorities, pope, emperor, prince, and others in like offices have not the right to exercise power or command concerning faith, soul, and conscience, and that men are not under obligation to obey them, and similar things. Whose earlier teaching of Christian freedom is founded and witnessed in these gospel passages: Matt. 17; John 8; I Cor. 6, 10; 11 Cor. 3; Gal 2, 3; I Tim. 1. From which Christian teaching and the word of God, concerning evangelical liberty, they have now fallen away into this error, that they now suppress and transgress this teaching under the appearance of the gospel, in this that they (as everyone bean and knows) again inflame, incite, and stir up men, the worldly sword and authorities, in their teaching and preaching (as happens to us). With force and commandments concerning matters of faith and the soul (as going to church and similar things) they force and compel men, whom when they do not obey, they persecute, kill, exile, and afflict, through which they become guilty of innocent blood and lead the authorities and other men into similar sin. Who then would desire to be with them, to listen or to participate? And bow shall such hearers become saved? For according to Isa. 33 only those are promised grace, who stops their ears from hearing the plotting of violence against the innocent, etc. The preachers have also begun in the past Bern Synod, according to the printed booklet, Anno 1532, etc..; in which they have again established in the church the worldly power, to rule and reign over the gospels or faiths outward teaching and life. Through which also the outward things of faith and conscience, without contradiction, are enforced, Christian liberty is again suspended, and instead a Mosaic compulsion instituted, against their first teaching. This then is teaching backwards, and erring back into Moses, yea, from the sun back into the shadow. And how can one understand the compulsion of faith otherwise than through outward commandments and prohibitions concerning matters of faith? They have also before decried such coercion and persecution as tyranny. Consider what they are doing now. This cannot in such an instance be called preaching Gods evangelical word, but much more, falling away from it, yes, to abandon the evangelical way, and to make those few who are in it to fall. In like manner God complained about the priests of the Old Testament, Mal 2.
The Christian gospel neither desires nor teaches that anyone be compelled with force to its teaching, preaching, fellowship, nor regarding any other matters of faith or the soul, but teaches indeed the opposite (as indicated), that no one shall be compelled thereto, and cursed be, Gal. 1, what is taught otherwise. Therefore because those who coerce, and what the preachers (as above, and as follows) teach against the evangelical teaching, is another doctrine, and therefore, as indicated, cursed, and also that such teachers are no followers of the apostles, but deceptive and false, II Cor. 2, so it becomes us not to go to such teaching, nor to hear them, but much more to flee away.
The Third Reason
The third reason is that the preachers at first, as indicated, taught Christian freedom, and then forsook it, and earlier also taught the evangelical Christian doctrine that Christians shall not resist those who hate them, that they shall not seek to defend themselves and their faith and gospel by worldly and carnal violence, sword, weapons, or resistance, but only through the word of God, the sword of the Spirit and other weapons described in Ephesians 6, only in patience and suffering, yes, not to avenge or to resist evil, not to retain in their midst the worldly or Mosaic sword. They shall not avenge or dispute their honor or possessions before the courts, but shall be prepared rather for suffering or cross; otherwise they are not Christian, and the like. But their [Anabaptists] doctrine is grounded in the gospel scriptures as Matt. 5; Luke 6; Rom. 12; I Cor. 6; Eph. 6; Isa. 2, ll. Thus they confirm the modes of Christian patience in which it behooves all Christians to live, according to Heb. 12; James 1, 5; Rom. 12; 11 Tim. 2. But they [the preachers] have fallen away from this Christian teaching, have forsaken and transgressed the gospel and the evangelical way. This is evident in the fact that they employ the external, worldly sword of steel to compel magistrates, cities and lands in faith and matters of faith as well as to protect, shelter, counterattack and defend their own interests, their own faith and matters of faith; and are prepared thereby to pummel, harm and destroy their enemies, their adversaries, and those who hate them. Similarly they form alliances against towns, against princes and lords, and attack, and defend their own interests and honor, in the courts. Thus they annul the cross end the patience of Christ, since according to his teaching, they should love end seek their welfare, and not return evil for evil, nor avenge, according to the teaching of Christ which they grossly violate. As is generally rumored, and we now see openly, with the imperial cities aligned against the emperor and the papists, so too the preachers in the aforementioned Synod of Bern, as the published booklet shows, the magistracy is to maintain and manage the external teaching and life of the gospel among the subjects, as in the Mosaic system, which results (as the booklet shows) in the confusion of the Mosaic rule and protection of the Christian church and the name of Christ, and Christian love and patience (without which no one can be saved) toward enemies and opponents is annulled, contrary to the teaching of Christ, Matt. 5. These preachers, as well as their flock, reveal their apostasy from the above teachings therein that when anyone offends them in word or deed, they seek recourse before the courts and the magistrates, where they dispute and contend against those who offend them on behalf of their own honor and possessions, contrary to their own former teaching as indicated. Therefore it is not becoming for us to frequent a church [gmeind] or preaching where men fall away from evangelical doctrine, the more so, because we are compelled to remain silent even in the face of this error. Anyhow, in what way would this edify us? What good fruit, such as figs or grapes, can one gather from thorns or thistle, Matt. 7? The Lutheran preachers say now (when someone reminds them of their earlier evangelical teaching) that their former teaching was not right, but contrary to the gospel; that formerly they had not understood as well as they do now. Rather they say that (especially where the emperor gets the upper hand) they have learned under the chastisement of God, lest (otherwise) they come to grief with the emperor or those whom he wins over. But to this we answer: It depends on whether the gospel is more in accord with the earlier teaching, as indicated, or with the present. Rather, their former teaching seems to testify against their present views.
The Fourth Reason
Since they proceed, as indicated above, and undertake to protect, uphold and defend the teaching of Christ and the gospel by means other than the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, and teach and counsel that it should be protected and defended thus, so they testify herewith that they lack the sword of the Spirit; and because they do not have it, it is manifest that they also lack the Holy Spirit as he who should wield that sword in and through them. This lack they manifest also in this that they inveigh against us and others like us (this is the occasion for this book), reproaching us indiscriminately in every form, accusing us along with erring sects with whom we neither share nor participate, and do not speak the truth, but act against the manner and the nature of the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of truth and not of untruth. And since they lack the Holy Spirit, they lack also the love of God which is poured out by his Spirit, Rom. 5. This lack of love shows itself also in their untruthful slander and accusation against us, as we have already noted, as well as in their aforementioned resistance to the evil of those who hate them, or enemies, and in the coercion and persecution of men on account of their faith, which persecution also testifies as indicated to their lack of the Holy Spirit. These are not born of the Spirit, because in Gal. 4 Paul asserts that persecution is born, not of the Spirit but of the flesh. They also manifest various other works of the flesh against us, such as enmity, anger, blasphemy, scolding and the like, in which they also lack the birth of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, which is given of God; to repeat, this they lack, being without the Holy Spirit, and love of the Spirit, without which love they also do not know God and his children, I John 3, 4. Out of this ignorance they hate and persecute us according to John 15, 16.
Yes, because they do not know God nor come from him, they also do not bear our words as the word of God, and do not know our voice, John 8, I John 4. This is also the reason why they will not permit us to speak in their churches [Kirchen], fearing that we might deceive them, and do not know that they are not yet delivered from deception, not yet touched by the divine birth, and much rather still are natural men, I Cor. 2, who can know nothing of the Spirit of God, the Spirit being rather foolishness to them. And because the Spirit and love of God are lacking, so they also cannot be baptized of Christ, for such Spirit and love of God together constitute the baptism with which Jesus Christ baptizes men since his ascension, according to Matt. 3; Mark l; Luke 3; John l; Acts 1. They also, without the same Spirit and love, do not possess the living and saving faith; thus the rivers of living water, John 7, among and toward one another are also wanting; nor are they able without said divine birth to avoid sin or the assault of the wicked one, I John 3, 5, and therefore they remain in sin. For without the Holy Spirit man is unable to mortify the works of the flesh; he is not yet spiritual, but is carnally minded, at enmity with God, not able to be subject to the law and the commandment of God; he is not the Lords but rather he lives after the flesh and dies accordingly, Rom. 8. For the wages of sin is death. Rom. 14 One reads that in spiritual judgment the church can be maintained by example and sufficient evidence, that this is the church [Kirchen] of Christ, which suffers persecution and does not herself persecute for how should the church have martyrs if she herself makes martyrs, etc.? [This is a marginal notation in the text.] 15 A question as to who, according to the gospel, are the sheep of Christ: those who pursue insult and massacre others, or those who permit themselves to be insulted and massacred. [This is a marginal notation in the text.) 6. In view of all this, which would recognize them, together with their preachers, as a spiritual Christian congregation, attend their preaching, and have fellowship in their faith? The gospel regards and recognizes as the church [gmeind] or bride of Christ only those who follow Christ, their bridegroom and spouse, and who live before him in obedience and unblamable holiness, Eph. 5. But because, as indicated. they transgress the evangelical doctrine and word of Christ, persist in their transgression, and oppose the same (doctrine and word), thus having no God, not being true disciples of Christ, nor being so regarded or designated by us, unless falsely or blasphemously so, nor yet (for that matter) regarding themselves, or truthfully designating themselves as such, though would to God we could say truthfully that they are a Christian congregation, but if we would untruthfully say it in order to please them, we would be like the false prophets, about whom God complains, when they said peace when there was no peace.
The Fifth Reason
The fifth reason why we do not go to their preaching and church is that they do not maintain among themselves the Christian spiritual ban and punishment, nor the separation from the impure, nor the Christian, apostolic authority, key, and power, to exclude and include, to bind and loose on account of sin, to absolve and retain sin, and to maintain a spiritual order and regiment, in this manner, through the word of God, as sword of the Spirit, for the establishment, the preservation and improvement of a true, unblamable spouse accepted of Christ, with the adornment, the embellishment and the virtues, with which the Scriptures portray her. The references regarding the aforesaid ban, separation, authority, power, key, sword, opening and closing, binding, loosing, and such like power and order [are] Matt. 16, 18; Luke 17; John 20; II Cor. 10, 11; I Cor. 5, 6; II Thess. 3; I Tim. 1, 3, 6; Acts 20. Yes, all this is impossible for them (as some of their preachers themselves admit, all the while using wor1dly power to this end). Why? Because, as indicated, they lack the Holy Spirit, while such [discipline] is commended and possible only to those who have the Holy Spirit, according to John 20, and who alone are the true hearers of that which is to be taught and preached, John 14, and who alone ordains and appoints bishops, Acts 20. For this reason Christ told his disciples to wait to preach until they received this Spirit, Luke 24, and Acts 1. And however much they boast, cry out and conduct themselves pompously, they still cannot possess or comprehend the church of God and of Christ concerning which Paul speaks in Eph. 5 which is cleansed by the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a holy church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. The Christian ban is not a ban such as some have made of it, where Paul says in I Cor. 5, Put away from yourselves that wicked person. He means, away from the fellowship of the separated members of Christ, out into the world or among other evil men, living in the same city or country, to excommunicate them kindly, and not to expel them from city or land, and through the worldly magistracy to persecute or even to put to death, as these so-called churches and preachers now advocate, and which practice cannot be called, in all eternity, the Christian ban.
Jesus makes the same point in the words, Let him be to you as an heathen man, likewise Paul, ... not as an enemy, but [admonish him] as a brother. They do not say persecute, drive them from one city to another, subject them to martyrdom, or expel in worldly fashion, as in the case where, under Christian and spiritual pretense, instead of the sword of spirit and power, they apply, establish, and employ the worldly sword and power in matters of spirit and faith, against which practices the evangelical preachers long wrote at an earlier time and condemned such practice as tyrannous.
If their preachers had the Holy Spirit they would institute the aforesaid Christian ban, order and manner among themselves, and would not employ worldly power and sword, nor appeal to it. This [Christian order] would be possible to them without appeal to worldly power. They could labor as the apostles labored, without calling upon and using worldly arms. For they, the preachers, formerly, according to their original teaching concerning spiritual things, amply proved that the man of God does not resort to arms, that such spiritual things of the gospel have been rather hindered, destroyed and persecuted, than furthered and served as (so someone writes) Zwingli says in his 36th article to the preachers, As long as you call for iron weapons, we all see that you are not a follower of Christ or of Peter, but that you belong to the devil and the antichrist. ... And Luther writes in commenting on the Psalms, The true, righteous church is not to be defended with worldly arms and power, but rather the so-called church, which indeed claims the title church, but which denies her power . . . ... And again, The true church of Christ does not know the brachium saeculare [the temporal arm], which indeed the ungodly bishops employ preeminently and call upon. . . . But they bring themselves under suspicion, that they seek again to patch the worldly sword back into the churches, and turn the matter in such a direction that, should one pursue it further, one would find in effect a carnal arm and spine. If any should 16. Article 36 in Zwinglis famous Schlussreden, a 67-artlcle treatise which Zwingli prepared for the first disputation in Zurich, January 29, 1523. This gathering called by the city council, in cooperation with church officials, endorsed Zwinglis evangelical preaching, but also acknowledges the authority of the secular authorities to regulate external changes in the church regime. Article 36 argues precisely that the settlement of juridical disputes belongs, not to the church but to the civil authority, insofar as the latter claims to be Christian. The statement which the Anabaptists here cite is directed to the Catholics on Zwinglis right (the *left had not yet emerged). While the later Zwingli begins to emerge in the Schlussreden, this earlier condemnation of the use of civil power in the religious order is still retained, naturally enough, so far as his opponents, the Catholic, are concerned. touch their error with the sword of the Spirit, him they persecute with the worldly sword, so that purity and clarity will not be made manifest, Isa. 59. Yes, if they had the Holy Spirit, they would establish the ban and all that has been portrayed, as easily as the apostles did, through the teaching of the evangelical word of God. He who would allow himself to be governed thereby would be a Christian, and is not permitted the worldly sword at all. Otherwise he would not be a Christian and would not belong to this spiritual sword and rule, but [be] outside under worldly sword and rule. One suspects that they are afraid this will bring him the cross and the hatred of the excommunication, and on account of this it is impossible to them. And for this they set up the worldly sword (it is said) in the churches, that it shall administer spiritual things, wherewith they let the spiritual authority, sword, and power lie, and abandon it.
The Sixth Reason
The sixth is, because they (may themselves see and judge out of aforementioned grounds and demonstration) are no established, separate church of God, nor body of Christ (through the Holy Spirit, as Spirit of love, yes Spirit and love of God, both of which they lack) baptized of Christ, I Cor. 12; Matt. 3. [And] also as indicated [they] transgress the gospel, and also live in sin against divine love, so we cannot regard their supper as the Lords Supper. For Christ has commanded this only to his followers and disciples, who are separated from the world, that is the true Christians who love each other as he loved us, yes these who, Col 2, are circumcised with the circumcision without hands, through putting off the body of the sins of the flesh. This only is the body, the people, or the church of Christ; and this body of love they do not yet know, because they hate it, being silent that they should be the body. And since they are not this body, and do not know it, neither can they discern. Therefore one eats and drinks judgment to himself, because discernment is not used according to the intention of Paul. And without the Spirit of God it is not the Lords Supper according to I Cor. 11, but an abomination to God, even as it also was in the carnal, figurative Israel against God, forbidden of God, and as it was an abomination to God when one who was uncircumcised in the foreskin of his flesh ate the passover lamb, Exod. 12. How much more today in the real spiritual Israel must the partakers of the Lords Supper be as indicated, circumcised without hands, that is newborn spiritual persons, who live in obedience of faith, yes in the Spirit and a new life, and no more walk after the flesh, Rom. 6, 7, 8. Yes, those who observe, I Cor. 5, this manner of passover, not in the leaven of malice and lusts, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity, love and truth, wear the wedding garment of love and the Spirit, Gal 5, Matt. 22; for he who finds not himself thus prepared, is not circumcised without hands, and can neither eat nor have fellowship in the Lords Supper, is yet dead in sins. And therefore the aforementioned self-styled churches can test themselves herein, that the power of practically the whole gospel of which they boast, is rendered ineffectual by their life and that of their preachers. They merely bear the name and superficialities (as do the papists) in mouth and word, with eyes so completely closed, that they accuse and regard as deceivers and heretics, those who show them the right way. What should we then make of their preaching and Lords Supper? We, especially the weak among us, would only be offended by their teaching and life: even as they with their aforesaid transgressions of the gospel, give us and all men offense, being no light, but darkness under the appearance of the gospel, without its light and pattern, a grave offense indeed, Matt. 18; Luke 17; I Cor. 8; Rom. 14. They forget that Paul says, Give no offense to anyone, II Cor. 6. That they themselves formerly preached against such offense did not improve us, but rather worsened and offended us, nor were they improved by forbidding us to speak. Rather we increasingly partook with them in all the foregoing rubbish, sin and transgressions, and for this reason God calls us away from all offensive men and things, according to these references. See also Rev. 18: Come out of her, my people, lest you take part of her sins ... for her sins are heaped as high as heaven. So also II Cor. 6. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? But ye are the temple of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them and will walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, etc. We read further in Jer. 51, Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul; be not cut off in her iniquity; and in Ecclesiasticus 13: He that toucheth resin will be stained; and he who has fellowship with the proud will become like him. And again, All flesh seeks its own kind, and men readily conform to their fellows. Thorns and snares are on the way of the perverted but he that guardeth himself, keepeth his soul . . . , Proverbs 22. For this reason God enjoined Israel in Exod. 24. Take heed that ye make no covenant with the people of the lands into which thou comest, that they become not an offense to thee. . . : They did not take heed, however, as Psalm 106 indicates, but mixed with the heathen, learned their ways, and served their gods, which became a snare to them, etc. And of these David speaks in Psalm 26, I have not sat with vain persons; neither will I go with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evildoers; and will not sit with the wicked. . . . Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth. . . . Yes, this [such company] is what a man talks about. Evil associations corrupt a man. Read also Numbers 16, II Chron. 20.
Since Paul commands us, Rom. 16, to mark those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which we have learned and to avoid them. Since these preachers, alongside the doctrine which they, as indicated, at first preached from the gospel, thereby also instructing us since they now cause division and offense by falling away, we withdraw from their preaching, according to the word of God through Paul, which word we are to obey rather than that of men, Acts 4, 5. So the preachers fall away from their original evangelical teaching, and thereby turn themselves and their congregation into heretics who themselves live and speak contrary to their own former teaching. Thus Paul commands in Titus 3 that heretics should be rejected after the first and second admonition. Accordingly, too, they have been, and continue to be, admonished through our writings and words, etc. But such shepherds are strangers to us. In accordance with the words of Christ we flee from them, since we do not know their voice, John 10. Therefore we admonish them, should they have eyes and ears to see and hear, that for their own good they might take foregoing and following cause to heart and through the fear of God amend their life and purpose, and seek how they might receive the Holy Spirit, who alone can teach and remind them what the body of Christ is, that perchance they might discern it and, together with us, become that body, yes, together with us be separated from the body of Satan, in accordance with the aforementioned words in II Cor. 6. For the body of Christ is spiritually minded, as are those who in and after the Spirit walk and live in the new reality. So also the body of the world is born after the flesh, lacks the spirit of Christ and does not belong to him, as we read in Rom. 6, 7, 8 and Gal 5. In the same way the body of the world is born after the flesh and persecutes the body of Christ which is born after the Spirit. Gal 4. So also Christ says to his body, because ... I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you; John 15. Thereby it is evident that the world, being carnally minded, is of the body of Belial and of Satan, and that Satan is the worlds god and prince, II Cor. 4, John 12, 14. Further, the body of Christ brings forth the fruit of the Spirit and of love. These are fruits. The body of the world bears the fruit of the flesh, evil fruit. Both kinds of fruit are treated in I Cor. 13 and Gal 5. The Lord tells us, Matt 7, 12, Luke 6, how to recognize them: By their fruits ye shall know them. So likewise, I John 2, If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. And I John 3: He that is born of God sinneth not, for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither be that loveth not his brother. The Lord says further in John 13, A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. This is the manner in which the body of Christ is to be separated. The Lord seeks such separation, especially in the Lords Supper. Let each one remind himself of the body in which he stands, and ask himself whether he truly belongs to the body of Christ as the body of Gods love, and whether he loves his fellow member. So also [let him] not eat and drink, and thus have fellowship and participate, with those whom he knows belong to the body of the world, those who, according to I Cor. 5, are to be purged out as the old leaven, and thus put out into the world. All this (must be done so) that one may eat and drink blamelessly and worthily the bread and drink of the Lord. Thus we are to observe the Lords Supper, or the passover, not in the old leaven, the leaven of malice and lust, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, writes Paul, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lords body, I Cor. 11. In like manner God required a separation already under the law: Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not, Mal 3. So also Lev. 10, And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between clean and unclean. Finally Ezek. 22, Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean. . . .
The Seventh Reason
The seventh reason is that also their preachers in their office or service of preaching and baptizing do not maintain the evangelical order, commanded by the Lord Christ, and practiced by the apostles, to found, gather, and receive a Christian church, but transgress such command or teaching of Christ, and usage of the apostles, in which it was commanded and taught that teaching comes first (that is of adult persons who can be taught) and only afterward baptism, Matt. 28, Acts 2. And they have inverted the order and practice, that they baptize first, and namely the young, those as yet unable to speak, to comprehend or to know, and teach as correct something which in fact is a perversion of said evangelical order, decree, and practice, and which furthermore has never been shown by the pure, clear and indubitable word of God, to be right and evangelical, neither can it be shown. Concerning this we would have much to point out, also in answer to their refutations, but for the sake of brevity, we forbear. Paul curses, Gal 1, what is preached contrary to what be and the other apostles have preached. And so as expressly recorded, we find constantly that in their ministry they preach, teach, and baptize mature persons only and not the young children who are unable to speak or to understand. And therefore they as baptizers of children through and by their infant baptism do not have an authentic separate church of Christ as indicated above. Thus we believe [that] for a long time will they not establish any, without the evangelical order to which we refer. And since therefore they do not have any [church], and on account of baptism and of all the above-named reasons, we entertain grievances and causes against them, and can have no fellowship with them in matters of faith and church; thus we can never attend their preaching nor their churches, neither to any such teaching which is not shaped and molded by the apostolic teaching, but rather, as stated above, is condemned by Paul.
The Eight Reason
The eighth reason is, because earlier their preachers also preached this gospel, and partly do yet, that men should avoid sin, should lead a godly, Christian, irreproachable life, be born out of God anew, exercise Christian brotherly love, follow Christ, bear the cross, fear and love God above all things, abide by the evangelical truth, and leave house, farm, wife, child, etc., before departing therefrom, or recanting, and such like, of which their first evangelical books are full, as also in the New Testament everywhere appears ample testimony. But now, if we lay hold by the grace of God, to do, believe, teach and live according to their first teaching, we are an abomination to them, [they,] not being able to bear us, slander and reproach us in such our Christian faith, teaching and life, is if it were heretical and erroneous, cry out to the worldly powers and people against us, or incite and provoke them to persecute and kill us: some of them also advise us to forsake this way and life, whereby we might remain with house, farm, wife and children; [they] call us fools because we endure persecution for the sake of such truth. Yes, even if in their own church there were those who would undertake to do and live rightly, this they would brand as they brand us (Ana) Baptist, therewith attesting that they therefore hate those persons as they hate us. This constantly demonstrates that the gospel which they preached earlier is completely subverted, denied, and under the appearance and cloak of the selfsame gospel, is derided and trampled underfoot. Also the holy cross of Christ is abolished by them. They herewith identify themselves with those of whom the Lord spoke, Matt. 23, Luke 11, who do not enter the kingdom of God, and oppose and shut it up to those who would enter. And they are against us in the aforesaid Christian faith, doctrine and life, and cry out against us and reprimand us, as if it were heresy and error before or in their church which leads such people and the world (generally) to think that it is so. The result is that they [those hearing] despise, mistrust and slander the way into the kingdom of God through obeying the will of God, and are thus prevented and hindered from going into the kingdom of God through observing the will of God, without which observance no one enters, Matt. 7, 19. And from this it follows that they, the preachers, must many times abstain from teaching the right Christian life, and say something else instead, something that does not bring the cross to them, because it has become an abomination to them also, lest men call them (Ana)Baptist, and hate and persecute them as they do us. Such people the Holy Spirit calls the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, whose glory is turned into shame, who mind earthly things, Phil. 3, Heb. 6. They may well take heed that the words of Peter By reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of, do not apply them, etc. And again, Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, etc. And again, These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest, to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them, who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption, Il Pet. 2. And the words of Paul say, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth ... men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. II Tim. 3.
IN CONCLUCION, SOME REFUTATIONS OF THEIR PRETENTIOUS CLAIMS
In the ninth place and in conclusion, because of all the foregoing reasons, we find also so little spiritual, and only carnal, judgment and understanding among such preachers and the church which is led by them. This is to be seen first in that they say to those of us who buy and sell from them, or have similar intercourse, that we should thus also attend their preaching, and have fellowship with them in these matters also. Here we answer, that this means mixing spiritual and earthly things together, or regarding them alike, without distinction. If they were spiritual, they would apprehend spiritual things, that is, the things of faith, spiritually, and judge according to the words of Paul, I Cor. 2. In buying and selling and such temporal things, Christians do have fellowship with the world, apart from its sins, for the sake of the nourishment of the body, or, to use the world is not forbidden by the gospel, except that according to I Cor. 7, they are to use the world as though they did not use it. This, however, does not mean that we have fellowship in their matters of faith. For in these we make a difference and say, that in matters of faith we can have neither part nor fellowship with them or with others who live and act against the gospel and the commandments of God. For the first apostolic Christians likewise associated with the world and used the same, apart from matters of faith, and sin, otherwise they would have bad to go outside of the world, also we, as Paul says in I Cor. 5. We could in turn ask the Lutherans, who in similar fashion buy and sell from the papists, and have similar fellowship, why they then do not also in matters of faith, doctrine, mass and such like have fellowship with them.
In the second place, these self-styled evangelicals, moved by their carnal, unspiritual minds to speak further in carnal manner against us because for the afore-mentioned reasons we do not frequent their preaching nor fellowship with them in matters of faith, they accuse us of despising them or considering ourselves better than they are, and disregard the fact that we in turn could ask why they consider themselves better than the papists. In part, the papists also address the Lutherans in like carnal manner. If they say then that they do not consider themselves to be better, we ask them, why then censure them and avoid them in their doctrine and faith? If they answer that they of themselves are not better, but only in faith, or, on account of a better faith and life, well! Let them also grant to us the right, in like manner to be better than they. Indeed not of ourselves, but of God inasmuch as by the grace of God we are more desirous to obey and to follow the gospel and the commandments of God than they, the more so because they are unable to prove us guilty of transgression, whereas we found them in the wrong as indicated above. We avoid their preaching and church, not out of carnal disdain, as they presume, but because we desire to obey the word of God, which enjoins upon us such avoidance and separation, as described in the above sixth reason. This obedience of Gods word, as a spiritual matter they regard or judge in us as carnal disdain. Yet we do not boast, for boasting, according to the words of Paul in II Cor. 12, has no value. But if ever anyone causes us to boast as in this instance, we glory not in ourselves, or in our flesh, but in the Lord Jesus Christ and his cross, I Cor. 1, Gal 6.
Thirdly, they reveal their carnal mind and ignorance in this, that when they say that they do not have the ban and other aspects of the order and discipline of the Holy Spirit among themselves, and then seek to exercise the same in the church, some of their preachers say that we should help them establish such a ban, order, and cause. Upon this we answer that we marvel since there are so many of you preachers on earth, in fact, several hundred in the land and cities all around here, that we do not find that even only one, not to say several, has established such a ban and order of the Holy Spirit in his church, and this in such long times and years since Luther and Zwingli rose up. Thus, we do not unjustly suspect that this matter is neither serious nor important to them, yes, that they lack that through which the apostles and apostolic bishops and pastors established [matters], namely the power of the Holy Spirit And if some of them claim they have the Holy Spirit, but it is still not possible for them, by such carnal words they accuse and reproach the Holy Spirit, as if he had lost his power, and were not as powerful as in the time of the apostles; and thereby they make themselves suspect of not seeking the salvation of the souls of men, nor that which pertains to the Lord Jesus Christ, but themselves and their own interests only. If they, whether many, or only a few of them, had the Holy Spirit, they would not need our help; they would be enough for the task. The apostles were not nearly so many, yet much earlier, indeed very soon, and in many places on earth, they gathered and established many true, spiritual, Christian congregations or churches, including the establishing of the ban and other spiritual order and discipline. But if the preachers do not have the Holy Spirit, seeing we cannot discover him among them, in keeping with their carnal discourses, words and works (which they, as indicated above apply against the gospel and us), so we cannot help to establish the things of the Holy Spirit, because they are not spiritual, but carnal, and born according to the flesh, as indicated in the afore-mentioned fourth reason; and because of which nothing would be more certain than that they, being born after the flesh, would find such establishment of spiritual things altogether repugnant. But since they desire of us that we help them to establish such an order, they thereby testify that they regard us to be qualified-that is, that we have the Holy Spirit, without whom it cannot come to pass, and in this manner they ignorantly pursue spiritual things. How does this harmonize, or what is their desire, when they ask for help, since they at the same time regard us as errant, and censure, indeed hate us even because of the Christian, apostolic order and usage, by which we establish the true Christian church, ban, etc., through the Holy Spirit, this is, with proper apostolic baptism of mature persons, while they pursue the opposite with the fictitious baptism of infants, which is a hindrance and an inhibition to such establishment. Yea, how we should help them in this, since they are the ones who resist the Christian order and power, as described above in the first reason, I Col. 15, in their church and their preaching, the preaching which would serve to promote improvement to the gathering and establishing of a Christian church and order as given by God.
Fourthly, it is also a great error and absurdity that some of their preachers say to those who do not want to attend their preaching, because they do not live according to the gospel and the commandments of God, saying, even if they do not live according to it, men are still obliged to go to their preaching according to the words of Christ in Matt. 23: The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses seat. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works, etc. It is recorded further, They say and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on mens shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers; etc. To this we answer: preachers who speak thus show that they are not in Christ as the mercy seat, regarding which Rom. 3 and 5 speak, that they are not disciples and followers of Christ, but that they stand rather in the place of the Mosaic scribes and Pharisees before Christs death, resurrection and ascension, and the shedding abroad, or sending of the Holy Spirit, which had been promised; [that they sit] namely on the seat of Moses to preach the law and the Mosaic compulsion, and not the gospel and evangelical freedom. Neither do those who sit upon it belong to Christ, nor are they his disciples or followers. Christ gave them no charge, nor did he send them to preach his gospel. He did not give them his churchly power, or the Holy Ghost (who according to John 7 was not here yet), but gave and entrusted him only to his disciples, Matt. 16, 28, Mark 16, John 20. Because they reveal themselves to be such Pharisees and scribes who have mounted Moses seat, being disobedient to God, not practicing what they preach, just as the seat of Moses may be ascribed to them, so also all the woe, the judgment, and the rest belongs to them. They indict themselves by that which the Lord pronounced upon such Pharisees and scribes in the following chapter, and demonstrate that they are those who do not keep their own doctrine, but shut up the kingdom of heaven before men, nor enter themselves (which according to Gods will Matt. 1 must come to pass); and those who would enter, they hinder, as we indicated in the above, eighth reason. Since they do all their works to be seen of men, and are denounced by the Lord himself, as hypocrites, blind leaders of the blind, yes, fools, blind, serpents, beasts, full of robbery and uncleanness within, killing, crucifying and persecuting the messengers of Christ, we do not find that Jesus anywhere commands us to attend their preaching or teaching, but said only, That which they say that you should do, etc, But we find that he commands that we should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, that is, of their doctrine, according to Matt. 16. How can we then better beware than not to attend their preaching? And since they are blind, according to the words of the Lord, how can they as blind people show anyone the way? When one blind man leads the other they both fall into the ditch, says the Lord, and commands us to leave them alone, Matt. 15, Luke 6. The Lord spoke the already-cited beginning of Matt. 23 concerning Moses seat, before his death, ascension, and the outpouring of the afore-promised Holy Spirit. And spoke not only to his disciples, but also to all the people and the disciples without distinction; all of whom were still not redeemed and liberated from the law. And in this setting be did not speak to them as to Christians, or free children of God: for such sonship and freedom did not yet obtain, but only came to pass after his death and ascension, through the holy and filial Spirit whom he sent, and through which man first is, and becomes free, II Cor. 3.
The text says, All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do. This is to be understood in such manner that men were obliged to keep the law of Moses, but not that which the Pharisees themselves had commanded contrary to the law of God. For neither God nor Christ enjoins us to do what only men command us, and which he has not commanded, nor anything which is commanded contrary to his commandment, teaching or law. But they preach neither the Law of Moses nor the gospel of Christ rightly. They sit neither in Moses, nor in the Christian seat properly, but mix and confuse the two together; evangelical freedom and Mosaic compulsion which cannot have the same import, nor [can] Moses and Christ be preached simultaneously. They not only mix them together, but they also preach contrary to the gospel and suppress it as indicated above in the first, second and third reasons. The Christians are not under the law, but are free from it-Rom. 6, 7; John 8; II Cor. 3; Gal. 3, 5. The Lord Christ is the end of the law to everyone who believes in him, Rom. 10. For this reason Christians no longer hear the preachers of the law who sit on Moses seat, but rather are redirected by Paul from such preaching to the gospel message of grace and freedom from law and sin, Col 2, Gal. 3, 4, 5. For the Christians to preach the law and the things of the law is against evangelical freedom, and for this reason an action detrimental to the gospel teaching which we have taught, and concerning which Paul bids us to avoid such destructive teaching, Rom. 16. God the Father also bids us to hear his Son Jesus Christ, and to obey him who proclaims only peace, grace, life and freedom from law, death and sin, Matt. 17, Mark 9, Luke 9, while Moses teaches more concerning wrath, discord, judgment, death, captivity and coercion through the law. Therefore those who sit on Moses seat are strange shepherds to the lambs of Christ, to whom their voice is strange, and they do not recognize it as the peaceful and gracious voice of Christ, which leads out of the legalistic, Mosaic prison, Rom. 7.
Therefore they do not listen to this voice, but rather hear Christ more, and flee from such strange shepherds, according to the word of Christ, John 10. They are always the hirelings of men, and not shepherds of the sheep of Christ, sent by Christ as stated above, and therefore the sheep of Christ gave no attention to them. And because, as stated, they do not live according to Gods or Christs commands, God has no pleasure in their teaching as he has said, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit, etc., Psalm 50. Such teachers are like those spoken of in Rom. 2, who teach others and do not teach themselves; and those who through their teaching, undertake to pull a mote out of the eye of another (as becomes teachers), and they themselves have a beam in theirs, for which reasons Jesus calls them hypocrites, Matt. 7.
Some of such teachers who do not obey the commandments of God and of Christ, who represent themselves as sitting in the seat of Moses, as above indicated, also put themselves forward in another manner toward those who will not listen to their preaching, nor regard it, because of their manifest faults and transgressions of the gospel. They say, But Judas Iscariot also preached as one sent by the Lord; Matt. 10, Mark 6, Luke 9; but despite this be was a traitor and a thief and such like.
This explanation can be answered appropriately by the above answer concerning those who sit in Moses seat. We believe that if Judas, at the time of his preaching, had shown by evil works that he was a thief, or that he would betray Christ, or if in his doctrine he had erred from the proclamation that had been ordered as these err in regard to evangelical liberty, and such like, the hearer would have given little credence to his teaching, would have refused to listen or to amend his life accordingly, and thus would not have benefitted from it. We do not find that be fell short in carrying out the command to preach, as these preachers err from the gospel, as we have shown above. Furthermore, when Jesus sent him and the other apostles out to preach, he was not yet a traitor, but became one only afterwards. Nor is it certain that at that time he was already a thief, since they were sent out without gold, silver, or purse, and with no money for their fare. At the time he was called a thief, John 12, and was the keeper of the purse and its contents, the Lord was approaching his passion, namely two days before the Passover, when he was to be betrayed and delivered to death, according to Matthew 26, Mark 14. Furthermore, at the time when he was sent to preach he was not yet endued with the Holy Spirit which was promised, nor did be as yet participate in the apostolic commission which came only after Christs ascension, at Pentecost. [Which commissioning] he did not await, but by his misdeed he went astray and hanged himself before Pentecost. Thus, if these preachers liken themselves to him, they admit that they, like that traitor, lack the Holy Spirit, the true teacher, who according to the words of Christ in John 14, guides into all truth. In any case, not many of them would dare to cry out and place themselves in [Judas] situation, seeing that their situation does not really correspond, since they, as indicated, defame us by their attacks; and because they incite worldly power and men against us to persecute and slay us, they become guilty of our blood. Indeed, that traitor was in a better position, because, according to Matthew 27, he became remorseful and admitted his wickedness that he had become guilty of the innocent blood of Christ. Such remorse we do not find among these preachers; rather they persist unabashedly.
In sum, he who likens his position to that of the said traitor and his ilk is in a sorry enough plights! He has his appropriate honor and remorse; he deserves the same esteem as that accorded to him, [Judas] as well as all the gruesome things pronounced and prophesied upon him and his kind, according to Psalms 3, 5, 69, 100, and Acts 1. Such certainly cannot be regarded as successors to the apostles, since they do not live in the walk and conversation of the apostles. May our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ keep all his true spiritual servants by the power of the Holy Spirit, that in doctrine and life they may walk in obedience to his commandments and will. May he guard them, lest through such evasive and repugnant speech they forsake the way of obedience to evangelical Christian truth, and instead of serving their fellow men as a light and an example by obedience to the gospel as befits their office, they become darkness, offence, vexation, and derision. May God the Father grant this through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
And since such teachers lack the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of grace, of Christ himself (because of this lack they find that it is impossible for them to observe Gods will and commandment according to Romans 6 and John 15), they readily influence others likewise to walk in such disobedience, saying that no one is able to comply with the gospel and the commandments of God, to obey and to keep them; nor yet in accord with the ordinance and teaching to believe in Christ and to die to sin, especially since they also hate us, seeing that we seek to live without sin, and slander us by saying that we say we want to be without sin, etc. These words we have already answered sufficiently in a special booklet. Their speech and slander leads, not to the amendment and salvation of men and their souls, but to their perdition, and are thus a grave and harmful error and deception. According to such reasoning no man would be saved, if it were to mean that no one is able to keep [the gospel]; for according to Mark 16 one can be saved only by faith, and only by observing the will and commandments of God can one enter the kingdom of heaven and eternal life, Matt. 7, 19; while he who transgresses and does not abide in the teaching of Christ has no God, II John 1. In these terms, all their preaching and teaching is idle, vain, and futile, while the whole gospel scriptures, which testify that the apostles and others believed accordingly, Rom. 5 and 6, II Cor. 4, Gal. 2 and 3, Col 2, I Pet. 1, are made into lies. To say that they have kept Gods commandments is to say that they have walked in his love, II Cor. 12; Col 1 and 2, I Thess. 1 and 3, Philemon 1, I Pet 1, II Thess. 1, Eph. 1, II John 3, Acts 14; that they have died to sin or have put off the sinful body of the flesh or subjected it to the fire of judgment, Rom. 6, Col 2. Thereby they also accuse the Lord of falsehood, for he said that all things are possible to him who believes, Mark 9, and to those who believe nothing will be impossible, Matt. 17. May almighty God keep us and all the devout to the very end from such preachers and teachers. Amen. . . .
Likewise some of them say, according to their carnal understanding, that they are authorized to compel us to attend preaching by worldly, human force, according to the words of Christ where he says, Compel them to come in, Luke 14. We answer: the Lord indeed said to his servant in the Spirit, Compel them to come in; but he does not say that he should constrain them by worldly might or the sword, or that his armed officer should pursue those who do not heed the call. Rather he says rightly, Compel them to come in. Thereby observe carefully: under no circumstances can this word be taken to mean worldly force or bodily coercion, for the statement, Compel them to come in, has various meanings. It means a beckoning or constraint without such force in the manner of Genesis 19, And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him . . . . Thus also Luke 24, But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us. Again Acts 16 concerning the seller of purple, And she constrained us: This is constraint by good words, just as the apostles, according to their writings and epistles, brought the people to the obedience of the faith rather by good words, namely the words of God. Therefore they [the preachers] cannot prove the opposite from the words of the ruler in Luke 14 to mean constraint by worldly sword, service or servants, for he speaks to the servant who holds a spiritual office, and cannot be taken as a worldly servant or coercer. Otherwise, what would become of the Scriptures which speak of free and voluntary [service], that God is pleased only with such service, not with service which is forced, II Cor. 8 and 9, I Pet. 5.
Further, some of you, our opponents, ask why we do not stand up and appear among the people, preaching openly, whether or not the world approves, thus awaiting the cross as did the apostles, when they were told no longer to preach in the name of Jesus; to which command they answered in Acts 4, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than to God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things that we have seen and heard.
Answer: it is good enough for the opponents to speak thus, but they are not in love and earnest. For if we were to appear in their church or congregation, and to speak to the salvation of souls, as has happened often already, they would be the first to cry out against us, and to seek to silence us, and so bring sorrow and persecution upon us. The point is that they speak such words only so as to have occasion to persecute us by bodily force. How can they be in earnest, when, as shown in the first book above, they resist us in their congregation, not permitting us to speak openly according to the practice and custom of the apostolic churches; though we shall not fail to do so nonetheless, when God moves one or more of us, but not at the behest or action of the opponents, rather only where and when the Holy Spirit instructs and moves us. Amen.
This tract is thought to have been written in or around the years 1532 - 1540 AD Anabaptist author is unknown.
Source Acknowledgments: Published with permission from The Mennonite Quarterly Review 45 (1971)
Translated by SHEM PEACHEY and PAUL PEACHEY Edited by PAUL PEACHEY