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being deceived by these high-swelling words, Spirit,' and fruits of the Spirit,' &c.
And then, they go on to say, 'That he that will be a Christian cannot lawfully be a magistrate, nor wield the sword of justice, nor have any thing of his own as private property; because we have nothing that is our own. That he is a true Christian who proves his Christian life by his works: who leaves all things: who will not be employed in any civil offices of the state: who goes plainly and thinly clad: who endures hunger and thirst,' &c. These are what they call fruits of the Spirit; which are nothing else than sheep's clothing; by means of which, they most basely deceive the miserable unexperienced people, and entangle and involve them in every kind of error.
AND HERE, who is so sharp-sighted as to be enabled to distinguish a wolf concealed under this clothing of a sheep, and to beware of him?--I answer: I know no other method more sound and effectual, than, as I said, for every one to look to it again and again that he be certain of his own cause and doctrine, and that he hold the same with so closely a cleaving mind, that he may stand therein unmoved from his purpose, even if the whole world, and whatever creeps on, and breathes in, the world, should live and teach otherwise. And he that will be certain, is not to look at any external appearance in Christianity, nor is he to judge of himself according to any such appearance, but to order his life according to the Word of God; which shows unto us that true way of believing and living which avail before God.-For instance,
The head and sum of the Christian doctrine is this, that God sent his Son Christ into the world, and gave him unto us; and that it is through him alone that he pardons our sins, makes us righteous, and saves us. This, and nothing else, thou art to hold fast firmly. And then, if thou open thy eyes, thou wilt see various, multiplex, and widely-differing, ways of life, customs, and manners: that is, this person a man and that a woman; another person a master; a fourth a servant;
a fifth a prince; and a sixth a subject: and also, some rich and others poor: and whatever other conditions and offices there may be in the world: and all mingled together in that variety, that thou canst see no one of them that carries with it any singular splendour or appearance. But, since I am in that happy state that I possess the sum and substance of my faith, in which I have all things comprehended; whether I see a husband or a single man, a master or a servant, a learned or an illiterate person, clothed in red or clothed in black, fasting or feasting, laughing or mourning, my heart concludes and says, What is all this diversity to me? In a word, I consider that all these different conditions of life which I see with my eyes, are to be held by me in no difference at all. For I am endued with that understanding, that I know, that a girl in a red robe, and a` prince in his purple and gold, may be equally Christians, as well as a beggar clothed in rags, or a monk cowled under his hooded cloak. And this understanding and knowledge will, I hope, keep me safe from all the bugbears of external appearance.
Wherefore, the state and condition of a good husband, or of a faithful servant, or maid, or workman, are to be considered high, excellent, and divine. And thus, those who are anointed with the Word can rightly teach concerning all works, states, and conditions, and live rightly themselves, and in all things do well. And all these conditions are right, and such as God appointed, and the same please him. And O that we could attain unto that state, that such good citizens, women, children, masters, servants, and maids, could be found in every city, we should then have a heavenly kingdom upon earth: there would then be no need of monasteries and moreover, it would be superfluous to wear ourselves out with fasting, and with singing and praying in a chapel all day: for we should then only do that which each one's station and duty required.
THUS, you see what these false prophets are wont to conceal under their sheep's clothing, and how they deceive the minds of the simple.-But what are they
within? Nothing (saith Christ) but ravening wolves. That is, being themselves the most wicked vagabonds, they seek, by that their fair outside show of doctrine and life, to tear away and destroy souls. They do not this, however, outwardly as those tyrants and persecutors do who destroy our bodies and take away our property, nor like those preachers who openly teach against us and condemn our doctrine; but they do it inwardly, that they may secretly plunder our heart of its treasure, which is now made the throne, or the kingdom and habitation of God. That is, how much soever their doctrine and life may cover over and conceal their wickedness and malice, it is certain that the only aim of both is this,--to pluck away faith, and the principal article, Christ.
Thus, in the present day the Anabaptists use, externally, our name: being confident that we have the Gospel both in word and doctrine. But they say, 'that no fruits are produced by it.' And by these very terms, 'no fruits,' they tear away men from faith, and draw them over to works, and thus take away the main thing, which is, Christ; leading us to look for nothing but their fruits for they say, that where these are seen, there the Gospel is rightly held; but that where they are not, it is the contrary. And thus, all their doctrine is nothing else than a leading to the doing of works, by which (they say) it is to be made manifest, that the Spirit and Gospel are with us. That is, they would have us to possess nothing inwardly in substance, but take of all that a long farewel. And thus, they fall away wholly into works in which they place all their confidence, as if they were thereby to be saved.
And, what is the most pernicious of all, they do not teach any thing about those true fruits which the Gospel enjoins, and which it requires after faith: they enforce only those fruits which they themselves dream of and devise. They say nothing about every man's rightly and faithfully fulfilling his station in life, and persevering therein. They affirm quite the contrary; and tear and drag men away from all such stations, teaching them to
leave all worldly occupations, and to begin a something new that has a singularity attached to it ;-to go with a dismal countenance; to pursue a strict and rigid way of life; not to eat, nor drink, nor wear a garment like other people; to offer themselves willingly to be tortured, and even to be killed. Where these things are not done (say they) the Gospel is unfruitful in thee, and thou art not yet a Christian, how much and long soever thou mayest have believed.
And they confirm these their dreams (as far as God permits them) by the testimonies of the scripture, and the words of the Gospel: although Christ never taught nor commanded such things, neither by word nor by example, that we should shun the society of men, leave all things, and have nothing as own private property (unless any such a necessity should arise that we must lose either our own property or the Word of God.) Therefore no man is to leave his property before God commands him to do it, and he is compelled to do it by force. If matters should come to this: then say, 'Before I will leave the Gospel and Christ, let wife, children, property, and all creatures go together.' But if no necessity comper thee so to do, thou hast the Commandment of God, in which thou art commanded to love thy neighbour and to serve him in every kind of way. And in the same way thou art to love thy wife, thy children, and thy family. And, when thou art compelled to leave them, thou dost not depart from them, as they do, contrary to the Word and ordinance of God, and without any necessity compelling: for they do it boasting that it is some of the great fruits of the Gospel, and that they are conspicuous and signal saints for so doing.
THUS, then, learn thou to discover such spirits as these, how they conceal ravening wolves under their sheep's clothing, take away faith, and lead thee from Christ into thyself. And they call these the fruits of the Gospel; but they are those which they themselves have dreamed, and by which they oppress the true fruits. And these are those ravening wolves in sheep's clothing
who never cease to destroy the Gospel. Heretofore they have been called monks: and now the Anabaptists have succeeded, as a new kind of monks. Formerly they were called Pelagians, Ishmaelites, Idumeans, and Canaanites: for this faith has continued ever since the beginning of the world: and although the Anabaptists are by far the worst of the whole, yet others shall also hereafter succeed and fill their place.
In a word, MONKERY will remain as long as the world shall remain: though it may sometimes undergo some change in name and works. For all those whose endeavours tend to imagine and frame out some singular works beyond faith and the common states and conditions of men, are, and remain, MONKS: though they may adopt a different way of living, different garments, and different customs and manners. But, we can now easily guard against the hood-covered, shavenpated monks, for they are so fully painted out to us in their own true colours, that their iniquitous life and impious religion lie openly manifest to all.-But take thou heed of all new monks, who do not wear hoodedcloaks, but yet propose to themselves some other way and manner of life, carrying with them a wonderful and unheard-of devotion and sanctity, by living in some over-plain way, wearing grey clothes, following a rigid life, and saying that watered silks and clear muslins are not to be worn, nor red, nor variously coloured garments for this is what the first monks also taught.Hence it is manifest, that MONKERY is ever the same, and only comes forth in different bug-bears of outward appearance. And therefore, those painters did not err from the mark, who, when painting the devil, represented him in a monk's hooded-cloak, with a cloven foot and talons appearing from underneath it at the bottom. For, from the very beginning, his aim has been nothing else but to deceive the world by MONKERIES!!!
T. BENSLEY, Printer, Crane-court, Fleet-street, London.