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thing else; but I should observe whether or not he agreed in all things with my Gospel; and thus, by divine grace, I should be armed and fortified against him, and should discover him to be a false prophet, and a ravening wolf covered with, and concealed under, this sheep's skin.
Thus diabolical spirits and false prophets overcome us by these two means.—Partly, because we are heedless, secure, and altogether light and vain. And partly, because they well know how to cover and conceal themselves under sheep's clothing. For by this “sheep's clothing,” Christ does not mean such open, flagrant, and abominable sins as those with which the gentiles and the ungodly are defiled; but, baptism, the sacrament, Christ, and all the things of Christ: all these things must be borne and professed by these characters. For no one can come forward, and impudently say, “I say so and so.' He must say, 'My dearest friends, Christ saith so and so: ye have here the Word of God and the scripture : ye must believe this if ye will be saved : and he that would teach you otherwise seduceth you,' &c. In all which, they introduce the ineffable name of God and of Christ, and also those great but horribly perverted terms, honour of God, truth, eternal salvation, and whatever other expressions of this kind there are that are used in speaking of such things. A man of a simple mind hearing such great and important words, and being admonished in such weighty expressions as ' by the salvation' or 'damnation of his soul, stands astonished; and if he be not well fortified and instructed against such crafty attacks, he presently yields himself up. For such words are sharper than a razor cutting both into the body and the soul. This then is one part of the sheep's clothing with which these wolves are covered.
And then, they make to themselves another kind of external adorning by certain singular works of their own, and a particular mode of life. They go about clothed in grey jackets, and with a sad and miserable countenance, wearing themselves out with much fasting,
and afflicting their bodies with deprivation of sleep, with hard beds, and long prayers; and by conforming in no respect to the common way of living among men. And this also is a crafty trick that has much influence : for, by it, the eyes of men are so blinded, that they yield themselves up to such like so many blackbirds or jackdaws caught in a net. And one robber of this stamp may seduce and turn away, by one sermon, a whole city, which had heard the Word of God for some time; and, in one hour, hurl to oblivion that which had been heard for ten years. And I believe that I myself, if I wished to do so, could by one or two sermons, without any difficulty, change my little multitude of people, and at last draw them over to Popery, invent for them new pilgrimages, and institute masses, &c. having deceived them with such kinds of bugbears, and a singular sanctity. For the multitude (as I have observed) are given to change, and easily persuaded, being curious and naturally prone and inclined to hear any new thing
Behold, in this manner also they endeavour to set off their life and doctrine; using exactly the same words and terms as we do, and living a singularly showy kind of life. And in this way the Anabaptists in this our day, seduce numbers of men, by their crying out, That the Gospel is not rightly taught and held by us, because (as they say) it brings forth no fruits, and wicked, proud, envious, and avaricious men still remain. That there must be something more than the mere word in the letter of it. That it is to be obeyed in the spirit
. That the life must be powerfully bridled and mortified. That, if it were the Word of God, it would without doubt bring forth fruit.' — Thus, having acquired to themselves much fame, they go on and affirm that it is they who have the true understanding of the scripture, the right fruits of it, and the right kind of life. And when any simple unexperienced man hears these things, he is immediately persuaded, and says, s This indeed must be the very truth!': And thus he permits himself to be led into a labyrinth of errors, VOL. II.
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 () 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