Front Page Titles (by Subject) HULDREICH ZWINGLI'S REFUTATION AGAINST THE TRICKS OF THE CATABAPTISTS. - Selected Works of Huldrich Zwingli
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HULDREICH ZWINGLI’S REFUTATION AGAINST THE TRICKS OF THE CATABAPTISTS. - Huldrych Zwingli, Selected Works of Huldrich Zwingli 
Selected Works of Huldrich Zwingli, (1484-1531) The Reformer of German Switzerland, translated for the First Time from the Originals, ed. Samuel Macauley Jackson (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1901).
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HULDREICH ZWINGLI’S REFUTATION AGAINST THE TRICKS OF THE CATABAPTISTS.
Thus far our preface. Now hear in what order we shall proceed. First, we shall reply to their calumnies, in which they assert they have confuted our fundamental arguments. Secondly, I shall overthrow the basis of their superstition. Then I shall discuss the covenant and the election of God, which abides firm and is above baptism and circumcision; nay, above faith and preaching. I shall add an appendix, in which, with the help of God, I shall refute certain errors recently wrought out by them. But all with a light hand. In the first two parts I shall always put their words first, faithfuly translated from German into Latin; after that the reply. Thus then they begin:
The Catabaptists. One of Zwingli’s grounds for advocating the baptism of infants is the family of Stephanas. For he says: It is more likely than not that the apostles baptized the children of the faithful, for Paul says, 1 Cor. i. 16, And I baptized also the household of Stephanas; a second is in Acts xvi. 15, when Lydia was baptized and her house; a third in verse 33, a little after, And he was baptized, he and his house, straightway. In these families it is more likely than not that there were infants. Thus far they.
Before I go to the regular reply, I would warn thee of one thing, O reader. This work is called a “Refutation of the Tricks, etc.,” because this class of men so abounds and works in tricks that I have never seen anything equally oily or changeable. Yet this is not wonderful. For add to their asseverations of holiness, which they are skilled in working up, their readiness in making fictions and scattering them, and (you see) how they deceive not only the simple, but even the elect, divine providence thus proving its own. The book containing the refutation of our positions* they had for a long time been passing through the hands of their brotherhood, who everywhere boasted that they could so tear up Zwingli’s positions that there would be nothing left. I had meanwhile been looking and searching everywhere to see if I could get it, but could find it nowhere, until Œcolampadius, a most upright man, and also most vigilant, found one somewhere and sent it to me. So the first trick was that they sent around their own writings, which through their seared consciences they knew could not endure the light, secretly by the hands of the conspirators, who are as purblind in their ignorance as they are blind in their desire to advance the sect. They did not allow it to come into other hands. But the evil-doer cometh not into the light lest his works be manifest. But how could they submit their works to the church when they have seceded from the church? For you must know, most pious reader, that their sect arose thus. When their leaders, clearly fanatics, had already determined to drag into carnal liberty the liberty we have in the gospel, they addressed us who administer the word at Zurich first,* kindly, indeed, but firmly, so that so far as could be seen from their appearance and action it was clear that they had in mind something inauspicious. They addressed us therefore after the following manner: It does not escape us that there will ever be those who will oppose the gospel, even among those who boast in the name of Christ. We therefore can never hope that all minds will so unite as Christians should find it possible to live. For in the Acts of the Apostles those who had believed seceded from the others, and then it happened that they who came to believe went over to those who were now a new church. So then must we do: they beg that we make a deliverance to this effect—they who wish to follow Christ should stand on our side. They promise also that our forces shall be far superior to the army of the unbelieving. Now the church was about to elect from their own devout its own senate. For it was clear that there were many impious ones both in the senate and in this promiscuous church. To this we replied in the following manner: It is indeed true that there would ever be those who would live unrighteously, even though they confessed Christ, and would have all innocence and therefore piety in contempt. Yet when they asserted and contended that they were Christians, and were such by their deeds—as even the church could endure—they were on our side. For who is not against us is on our side.
So Christ himself had taught in just such beginnings of things as were then ours. He had also commanded us to let the tares grow with the grain until the day of harvest, but we hoped boldly more would return daily to a sound mind who now had it not. If this should not be, yet the pious might ever live among the impious. I feared that in that condition of affairs a secession would cause some confusion. The example of the apostles was not applicable here, for those from whom they withdrew did not confess Christ, but now ours did. A great part of those would be unwilling to consent with us to any secession, even though they embraced Christ more ardently than we ourselves. By the continuous action of the word that alone should be promulgated which all ought to know, unless they wished to be wanting to their own salvation. I did not doubt that without disorder the number of the believing would ever grow larger by the unremitting administration of the word, not by the disruption of the body into many parts. That although the senate seemed to them to be of very varying complexion, we were not of that mind. Especially because, while nothing humane seemed alien to them, yet they frankly not only did not oppose the word, but they favored it equally with that Jehoshaphat who strengthened with his cohorts by the law itself the priests and Levites that they might the more freely preach the word through all Judea. Yet one should especially observe that there were ten virgins awaiting the bridegroom, but five of them were wise and prudent and five were slothful and foolish. Replies on this line we made to them as they urged us, and they saw they would not succeed. They brought up other matters. They denounced infant baptism tremendously as the chief abomination, proceeding from an evil demon and the Roman pontiff. We met this attack at once, promised an amicable conference. It was appointed for Tuesday of each week. At the first meeting the battle was sharp but without abuse, as we especially took in good part their insults. Let God be the witness and those who were present, as well from their side as from ours. The second was sharper. Some of them, since they could do nothing with Scripture, carried on the affair with open abuse. When they saw themselves beaten after a considerable conflict, and when we had exhorted them in friendly ways, we broke up in such a way that many of them promised they would make no disturbance, though they did not promise to give up their opinions. Within three, or at most four, days it was announced that the leaders of the sect had baptized fifteen brethren. Then we began to perceive why they had determined to collect a new church and had opposed infant baptism so seriously. We warned the church that it could not be maintained, that this proceeded from good counsel, to say nothing of a good spirit, and for these reasons: They had attempted a division and partition of the church, and this was just as hypocritical as the superstition of the monks. Secondly, though the churches had to preserve their liberty of judging concerning doctrine, they had set up catabaptism without any conference, for during the whole battle about infant baptism they had said nothing about catabaptism. Third, this catabaptism seemed like the watchword of seditious men. Then when they learned this in great swarms they came into the city, unbelted and girded with rope or osiers, and prophesied, as they called it, in the market place and squares. They filled the air with their cries about the old dragon, as they called me, and his heads, as they called the other ministers of the word. They also commended their justice and innocence to all, for they were about to depart. They boasted that already they hold all things in common, and threatened with extremes others unless they do the same. They went through the streets with portentous uproar, crying Woe! Woe! Woe to Zurich. Some imitated Jonah, and gave a truce of forty days to the city. What need of more? I should be more foolish than they were I even to name all their audacity. But we who by the bounty of God stood firmly by the sound doctrine of Christ, although throughout the city one counseled one way and another the other, we believed we should teach correctly the proof of the Spirit. Something was accomplished in this way, although they changed themselves into all shapes that they might not be caught. When the evil had somewhat subsided, so that the majority seemed likely to judge the matter impassively, joint meetings were appointed. But as often as we met, either publicly or privately, the truth that we had on our side ever came off conqueror. They promised then that they would prove by blood what they could not by Scripture. They did this with so great boldness and boasting that I do not doubt they were a burden to themselves. They practiced catabaptism contrary to the will of the senate and people, the public servants and police were turned back and some of them harshly treated. Finally a meeting was appointed* where each side should be heard to completeness, and when they were brought from the prison to the court or were taken back again one would pity the city and another would make dire threats against it. Here hypocrisy tried its full strength, but accomplished nothing. While some womanish breasts bewailed and turned to pity, yet the truth, publicly vindicated, came off best. For all were allowed to be present during the whole three days’ fight. When finally their impudence, though beaten also at that meeting, would not yield, an opportunity was again given them to fight.† In the presence of the church the contest raged for three whole days more, with so great damage to them that there were few who did not see that the wretched people were struggling for the sake of fighting, and not to find the truth. By this battle their forces were so cut up that we began to have much more tranquility, especially in the city, but they wandered through the country by night and infested all to the best of their opportunity. After that conference (the tenth, with the others public or private,) the senate decreed that he should be drowned who rebaptized another. Perhaps I obtrude these details upon you to your great disgust, good reader; but it is not heat or bias that has influenced me, only a faithful watchfulness and solicitude for the churches. For many of the brethren who had not discovered the character of these men thought that what had been done to them was too monstrous. But now when these people have begun to devastate their own sheepfolds, they are daily assailing us with letters and shouts, confessing that what they had heard was more than true, that they who have not had experience of this evil may now be rendered the more watchful. I think that the world has never seen a similar kind of hypocrisy. For as knowledge without love puffs up, so when conjoined with hypocrisy it is bolder than one of the people would think, and more adroit than even an astute man would apprehend The hypocrisy of the monks was crude, and they discoursed of divine things, if at all, in coldest fashion. But these men further act in such a way that they do not persuade or induce those whom they find thrown in their way; they assail and rush on them. So these wretched fellows just undertake I know not what beyond their powers; they assail the magistrates in terrible fashion; they devote to destruction the ministers of the gospel; on all sides they act like Alexander the false prophet—he would not have Epicureans or Christians at his tricky performances. For as those in the magistracy command great wisdom and kowledge of affairs, so also they who worthily preside over the ministry of the gospel ought to be established in sound doctrine, so as to be able to overcome the contumacy of those who contradict it. Now see the astuteness of these men. They revile especially the ministers, both of the church and the state, so that if ever one in accordance with duty even whispers against them they straightway are able to say they are hostile to them because they have assailed their vices. Now any one of the people who hears this will suspect the ministers of the church and the magistrates before he does these many-colored deceivers: aroused to fury they charge forward at their command, ignorant whither they are rushing or to what end they will come. Impudence and audacity increase, so that he who to-day is a simple hearer will to-morrow abuse the magistrate to his face. When it is seen whither their increase is tending and resistance is made, straightway he who is the instigator departs from the midst and leaves the miserable people to be mangled by the executioner. And they present a parallel to Ate:* whithersoever they turn all is woe; they overturn everything and change things into the worst condition possible. Some city begins to think more soundly about heavenly teaching; thither they proceed and bring confusion; they do not introduce the Lord to those which do not receive the word. Who does not discern from this whose apostles they are? Therefore establish your courage, good brethren. The hypocrisy of the Roman pope has been brought into the light; now we must war with hypocrisy itself. And you must do this with the less delay the more you see those apostles of the devil, although they promise I know not what salvation, seeking nothing but disturbance and the confusion of affairs, both human and divine, and destruction. So much about their division and betrayal of the church. They have gone out from us, for they were not of us. Yet I may add this one item: there is a small church at Zollicon† where the catabaptists set up their teaching under inauspicious beginnings. This church, though small (for it is a part of the Zurich church, only five miles out), is admirable in its constancy. For now they have about overcome the catabaptists born among them, having ever embraced the word with simplicity and placidity. This opportunity these [catabaptists] had eagerly looked for, hoping that on this account the men would the more readily yield to their hypocrisy because they displayed such great simplicity and eagerness.
Now I return to their tricks, and thus I respond: When you say that the family of Stephanas is one of Zwingli’s bases for insisting on infant baptism, you show great disingenuousness. For where, pray, have I ever postulated this, which you assert, as a foundation? Have I not written a special book to the unfaithful Balthasar,* the apostate, in which I briefly showed upon what bases I strive in defending infant baptism? In this book do you not read:
On the Baptism of Infants.
I. The children of Christians are no less sons of God than the parents, just as in the Old Testament. Hence, since they are sons of God, who will forbid their baptism?
Circumcision among the ancients (so far as it was sacramental) was the same as baptism with us. As that was given to infants so ought baptism to be administered to infants.
II. But perhaps you have not read it, for in your superstition this is the first point, that he whom you wish to render doubly worse than he was may not unite with that church that has as bishops those who defend infant baptism. So I do not doubt that they have placed under interdict my books. My mention of the household of Stephanas, Lydia and of the keeper of the prison came about in the following way: I was giving you many warnings not to argue unskillfully thus: We do not read that the apostles baptized the infants of believers, therefore [infants] ought not to be baptized. First, because of the absurdity, because we might just as well argue, the apostles are nowhere said to have been baptized, therefore they were not baptized. And when you replied, it is most likely they were baptized long before they baptized others, then I replied: It was too true what Christ set forth, that some see a mote in a brother’s eye and are deceived as to the beam in their own. But when I had said that it was more likely than not that the apostles baptized believers’ infants, what laughter and mockery did not the faithless apostate Balthasar excite against me? Those are the columns, he says, and they bring no other Scripture but futile conjecture; we demand clear Scripture. See the crafty fellows! In the same matter they reply by conjectures and laugh at others who adduce conjecture simply as conjecture; nay, they falsely assert among themselves that we use conjecture as a foundation. After that I very properly adduced as exampes, which showed it was more probable than not that the apostles baptized infants, the families of Stephanas, Lydia and of the warden of the prison. And these examples you will never be able to do away with, as I shall clearly show. You then continue to answer my examples thus:
Catabaptists. We reply first that Zwingli says in his book that an act of the apostles can prove nothing, which is not true. Second, grant that it is true; the obscure testimony which he alleges concerning the act of Paul, 1 Cor. i. 16, and concerning Lydia, can therefore by his own admission prove nothing.
Reply: I myself recognize my own words, and I will not permit them to be twisted by your violent appropriation of them otherwise than as they were said. It was in this sense that I said that the act of the apostles proved nothing. Everywhere we read that they baptized; by that fact we cannot prove that they did not baptize those whom Scripture does not assert to have been baptized by them. For otherwise it would follow that the divine virgin mother was not baptized, for Scripture does not relate her baptism. I would say: By a fact a not-fact cannot be proved. We read that Christ was at Jerusalem, Capernaum and Nazareth; it does not follow that he was not at Hebron because Scripture does not say so. We read that Christ taught at Nazareth, therefore he did not teach at Bethlehem, for we do not read that he taught there. Again, who does not see that the acts of the apostles are most pertinent as a defence of our acts, provided we do them in the same way under the same law? Peter thought nothing external should be placed on the necks of the disciples; James allowed that something should be imposed, principally because of the Jews who had believed. It therefore follows rightly, if it can be obtained, that all ceremonies be abrogated entirely; if this can not be done with public peace, those can be tolerated on account of the weak which do not involve impiety. For while the apostles permitted certain small details, such as abstinence from blood and things strangled, they in no way permitted believers to be circumcised. For he who is circumcised becomes a debtor to the whole law; not so he who eats not blood or things strangled. It does not follow: The apostles are not said to have eaten pork, therefore they did not eat it. So our reasoning here is: It cannot be proved that believers’ infants were not baptized by the apostles because this is not written, for there are many things done, both by Christ and by the apostles, which were not committed to writing. The lawyers call this a question of law, not of fact. Something may exist in law that never issues in fact. It was lawful for Paul to draw bodily nourishment from the field where he sowed spiritual seed. For Christ had said that the laborers were worthy of their hire. Now as he did not use this lawful right, the reasoning does not follow: Paul did not receive remuneration for preaching, therefore no one should accept it. Where again, not to pass over this, your audacity ought to be considered. For when you cry out among the simple populace against the ministers of the gospel that they ought not to gain a living from the gospel: Paul with his hands provided support for himself and for others, in this, as in all other matters, you act with malicious unfairness. For he himself (Paul), I say, taught that it was right for those to receive support who in turn nourished by the word. The condition of affairs at that time admonished him, so that he did not do what was permissible, as the impious and the false apostles were assailing him. Read 1 Cor. ix. and you will learn how much Paul discussed on this matter of fact and right. You will see that it is not only foolish, but impious to argue thus: This is done, it is therefore done under warrant; this is not done, therefore it is not right to do it. I would say then by this expression nothing else than this: The acts of the apostles cannot prove anything more than that the apostles did not baptize infants—to grant for the time that they did not—but it does not follow that they are not to be baptized, or that a negative follows from the affirmative, as the apostles baptized adults and believers, therefore infants are not to be baptized. You may argue neither in divine nor in secular matters from the fact to the right; then only may a fact be adduced for the law when an act has been proved done by the law. For example, at Zurich it was permitted by the goodness of God to abolish all externals without compromising public peace. Since this was done legally it is not lawful to do away with all at Winterthur and Stein if only love as a judge permits it as right. At Jerusalem things strangled and blood were interdicted because of the weak. Now at Bern and Basel certain things which are not most wicked can be borne to a certain extent if love warns that this is right; impious things, such as the mass, idols, false doctrine, are not to be suffered. Therefore the acts of the apostles are to be a law to us so far as they were done under sanction of the law. So it is only things false and wicked that right forbids both them and us to do, apart from whether they themselves have ever done them. For when you have done that which was permissible you have done right, even though no apostle had done it. My words therefore must be understood as dealing with right and with fact. To wit, infants may not be denied baptism because it is nowhere expressly said that the apostles baptized infants. Also there is the consideration that, as we shall show clearly, the fact that they baptized may not have been put down in writing, and the acts of none may prejudice the right, much less acts not committed. So that if it were down in plain words somewhere: The apostles did not baptize infants, it would not (even then) follow that they are not to be baptized. The inquiry would have to be made whether they simply omitted the performance or whether it was not right to baptize. This we prove by John iv., where you read: Although Jesus himself did not baptize. Here you have an example of fact or non-fact. Christ did not baptize; must we therefore, according to you, not baptize? This would follow if you are to argue from a fact to a law. And you can not say: But it says in the same place that the apostles baptized. For we should at once reply: Oh, if the apostles rightly baptized, even though Christ himself did not, we, too, rightly baptize infants, though the apostles did not. There is no difference in the cases, or rather our case is the stronger; we have Christ’s not baptizing, yet the legitimacy of baptism; you have the apostles only, who did not baptize infants (supposing we grant that they did not), yet none the less, infants are to be baptized. For since baptism is legitimate, though Christ did not baptize, so is baptism of infants, though the apostles did not baptize them, unless it is forbidden by another necessity which prevents the baptism of infants. As to your reply in the second place to the examples and facts which I adduced, as follows: Grant that it is true (i. e., that nothing can be proved by the deeds of the apostles unless it is clear that they acted legitimately), the obscure testimony which he adduces concerning Paul’s act cannot therefore even in his own opinion prove anything. In this you have a fine answer; you turn the tables upon me beautifully. For if by acts one cannot prove legitimacy, but one must examine what is legitimate, then that Paul baptized infants in the families of Stephanas, Lydia and the jailor, cannot prove infant baptism. For I was not here intending by these examples to confirm as upon a foundation the baptism of infants, but showing how rash and false was your argument when you said that the apostles never baptized [infants], for you have no testimony to this; and then to prove that it was more likely than not that they baptized, I laid as the foundation the saying: The children of believers are as much within the church and as much among the sons of God as are their parents.
Catabaptists. Third. Just before this fundamental argument of Zwingli’s Paul says: Some of the family of Chloe tell me that there are strifes and contentions among you, etc. [1 Cor. i. 11.] As here infants announced and could announce nothing (for they could know nothing), so the infants of Stephanas’ family were not baptized, if indeed there were infants in that family. For Zwingli thrusts them into it, in spite of the testimony of Scripture?*
Reply. Who does not see that the church never had such impostors? They dare to reason as follows: No infant of the family of Chloe could make announcements to Paul, therefore no infant of Stephanas’ family was baptized. What is there here but imposture for those who are ignorant of argument? Who was ever so unskillfully malign or so malignly unskillful as to argue thus? It can only be that they rely upon the foolishness of men. As if I should argue: No infant announced to Christ about the tower that fell, or about those whose blood Pilate mingled with the sacrifices, therefore Christ embraced no infant. Or: It is written of a certain family that it announced certain tidings, so who could not announce could not be of that family. As if announcement or any other deed made one of a family. What insanity is this?
Catabaptists. Fourth. All testimony that mentions families excludes children. This is self-evident.
Reply. Therefore when Christ was a boy he was not of the house and family of David. Then why is the family of his fosterparent Joseph so diligently written down? So when peace was given to the family of Zaccheus, if there were infants in it, were they excluded from peace? Ex. i. 21: Moses asserts that the Lord had built a house for the children of Israel, i. e., given them family and posterity, when the midwives pretended that the Hebrew women had skill in helping on progeny. So those children were not children, or the women bore adults and men; for infants, according to you, are not of the family. Ex. xii. 30. There was not a house in which there was not one dead, therefore no infant was dead. But why do I plead with the aid of testimony, as if there were need to tear away with testimony of truth things said most foolishly? But that is fine which they add: This is self-evident. As if any ass ever gaped so at a lyre as to believe him who asserted that boys did not belong to the house or family.
Catabaptists. Fifth. According to the reason, opinion and sentiment of man no one ought to baptize or do anything else, but according to express Scripture or fact, as the mass of testimony of divine Scripture proves. Just as Zwingli himself has often exclaimed against the vicar* and other enemies of God, and will not admit anything which depends upon human judgment or the custom of the fathers. But now he hastens to do what the enemies of truth have thus far done.
Reply. I am always of the opinion you ascribe to me, and have never held or will hold a different one while life lasts. But when you impute to me what the enemies of truth have done until now, you speak from that spirit which has from the beginning been false and has not been based on truth. For what else have I ever done but confirm by testimony of Scripture all that I have given out? Not by authority, though I have some modicum of this; not with clamor or hypocrisy. This will appear to my readers in the progress of the discussion.
Catabaptists. Paul teaches that what is not in the gospel or in the discourses of the apostles is anathema.
Reply. Where, pray, does Paul teach this? I suppose you refer to what he wrote in Gal. i. 8: But though we or an angel from heaven preach to you otherwise than we preached let him be anathema. I will expose your words here a little diligently, for your ignorance and your malice will both be manifest. Your ignorance because you suppose that when Paul wrote this the gospel records and apostolic letters were already in the hands of the apostles and authoritative. As if even then Paul attributed to his own letters (for they are not the least part of the books of the New Testament) that whatever was in them was sacrosanct. Not that I would not have his productions sacrosanct, but that I would not have monstrous arrogance imputed to the apostles. As often as they, either Christ or the apostles, refer to Scripture they mean not their own letters or the gospel records, which were either not yet written or were then in process of writing, just as the times demanded; they meant the law or the prophets. You cannot escape by saying that you do not refer to the gospels or the discourse of the apostles in writing, for you say: Whatever is not contained [therein]. You use the word “contained.” And this must refer to documents [monumenta]. Here is stretched forth the finger of your malice and inconstancy. You have finally come to the point of denying the whole Old Testament, just as also at Worms Denk and Haetzer with Kautz deny in no obscure terms a full satisfaction through Christ, which is nothing else than trampling upon the New Testament; with us at Grüningen they deny the whole Old Testament, as I have seen with my own eyes.* For they have written to our senate: The Old Testament is antiquated and the testimony adduced from it is void, and so can prove nothing. Here I look for your spirit, I say, if you assert it to be a true one. For it at the same time takes away from us the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament, for at Grüningen you tread upon the Old Testament just as much as at Worms upon the New. If you admit it not to be true, what boldness is it to simulate the divine Spirit with such persistency and wantonness! But in vain do I offer you this alternative, for you will never admit your spirit to be a lying one. I will arraign it then by the very power of him who silences the kind of spirit in which you abound, so that it does no more dare to assert: Thou art the Son of God. For as falsely and faithlessly as you did they say: Thou art the son of God. For as often as you confess Christ (by “you” I mean your leaders) you make a confession worse than the demons. For pain constrained them, for they so experienced his power and might that sincerely they confessed that he is the Son of God. But if you ever confess him you do it with pretence, for as soon as you hope for such an increase of your forces that you may speak disdainfully of him without being called to account, suddenly you assail his kingdom and goodness. For does he who denies that Christ has thoroughly made satisfaction for the sins of the world by one offering of himself—does he say aught but: Christ is false, he is not God, he is not our souls’ salvation? Of this enough has been said above, I think. But it is time to prove your spirit. You openly teach that felicity can come to none but by works of righteousness. So Christ, whom the Father sent into the world to become a victim for the despairing, is made void. Of this victim you have no need, for you trust in your righteousness But do you truly trust? By no means. For not only does divine Scripture teach that all men are liars and that all things are under sin through the law; even the human reason of wise men reaches the same conclusion, so that it sees that man thinks and does nothing except by his favor. I have adduced the testimony of Cicero in my Commentary for this purpose—it would take too long to repeat this here.* So the oracle attributed to Apollo, “Know thyself,” makes clear to us that man within and at heart is worthless and evil. For man is not told to inspect himself that he may contemplate himself with pleasure, but that he may descend into himself and weigh both himself and his [works]. He will find such corruption that he will not rashly think highly of himself whom he finds so low, or have a low estimate of another than whom he sees himself no better. Since then even human reason perceives, when it is quite frank and thrusts itself into the hidden recesses, that man is altogether evil, with what boldness do you assert trust in human innocence? Or will you perhaps say that we must not trust at all? According to your opinion then we shall all be adjudged to ultimate condemnation. For if felicity must come by our innocence, and this innocence is wholly denied us, then felicity for us has perished. Then why do you simulate innocence? Why do many of you take to themselves these words of Christ and boast: Which of you convicteth me of sin? I therefore judge that this is the result, whether you assert that innocence is man’s and from this innocence (which the apostle calls righteousness) felicity [flows], or whether you deny it, your hypocrisy is made clear. For if you insist that felicity follows from our deeds, reason and common sense oppose. What have you to do with sacred Scripture, which you so hold as a supplement or appendage that you lay it aside whenever you please? If you deny that it [innocence?] can be obtained, why then do you pretend that what you see can pertain to no mortal, that you hold with both hands? Read again and again this refutation, I beg, and you will come to know yourselves, unless you are more obstinate than the demon. What then? At Worms you deny Christ, and lead the way back to trust in works, because the men there who have recently become interested in religion are little trained in the wiles of hypocrisy, and so are susceptible to your tricks. For when they see your squalor and hear also your sounding words about innocence they assert that you have assumed this squalor that you might the more put on God; they therefore receive you as men of God, and supply richly what they possess. For what chest is so firm that it will not yield to such sanctity, what pouch so close as not to open to so vehement a spirit? Worshippers of the belly! At Grüningen you deny the Old Testament, for you see there many who are not affected by a pretence of sanctity, and detest the boldness with which you talk about “spirit” when Scripture does not suffice. Since therefore you see that catabaptism, from which you hope as from a fountain to derive all your counsel, is proved by no Scripture; while infant baptism can be defended by the Old Testament, you reject the Old Testament. Since then you disparage part of the Old and part of the New, you only show that you are the very worst and most fickle of men, indeed atheists. For while you draw from the records which are written about Christ the matters that concern baptism, you make Christ himself of no account. So it is known to all that you do everything for contention’s sake, however much in hypocrisy you simulate sanctity and simplicity. Further, since you reject the Old Testament for the reason that you cannot endure what is deduced from it in reference to infant baptism, you clearly evince that you make of no account him who is God both of the Old Testament and the New. Let me not seem too immoderate, dear reader. You will see that in all matters the case of these people is worse than my pen can show. What hidden ulcer is that they cherish—but why do I say hidden ulcer, when it is not hidden that they deny both the Old Testament and Christ himself? Weigh a little carefully their words, which we copy here. Paul, they say, teaches that whatever is not in the gospel or discourses of the apostles is anathema. You see how openly they reject the Old Testament. You see them as wishing to appear to strive by Scripture, yet distorting Scripture as they do here by Paul, even making that Scripture lie which Christ called in as testimony. And have the apostles taught anything that they had not drunk in or proved from this Scripture? A fine and learned saying that: “Whatever is not in the gospel or in the discourses of the apostles, let it be anathema.” The oracles of the prophets or of the poets [i. e., poetical books of the Old Testament,] are not contained to the word in the gospel and apostolic commentaries, so they are anathema. Thus ought they to speak who make themselves masters of all. Who, pray, thus speaks? Do not all who base their speech on this axiom speak thus: Whatever is asserted without the testimony of the Old and New Testament, let it be anathema? But now I will restrain my chiding, for I think that you, most devout reader, see clearly this hidden ulcer.
Catabaptists. John xvii. 20 gives a good reason through the mouth of Christ as he says: Neither pray I for these (i. e., the apostles,) alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. The apostles have their word from Christ, but Christ has [his] from the Father.
Reply. Unite these words, reader, to those immediately preceding, that you may see how trained a sense they have in citing Scripture and how excellently they square what they thus caw out before an unskilled people. What will they of the authority of Christ? Is it that he is to be believed because what he has said and taught he has drawn from the Father and his disciples from him? Then why do they not believe Christ, who just beforesaid: For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth, i. e., really and truly sanctified? By which words he means only what Paul does when he says, Heb. x. 14: For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Why do they not believe him when he says: God hath not sent his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believeth in him is not judged, etc. And: No one cometh to the Father but by me. Why do they not believe his apostles? Peter, e. g., saying: Ye yourselves are built up as living stones into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. And Paul: Through him we have access to God. And: He is our redemption. In fact whither does the whole teaching of Paul tend if not to show that through Christ alone sins are done away and salvation is given. Why do they not believe John? Little children, he says, I have written these things to you that ye sin not. But if any man among you sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation, not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world. These people then have not the purpose of proving that faith is to be had in Christ’s words and his apostles’, for they have none themselves; if they had they would not assert justification by works.
Catabaptists. Sixth. By the same rule by which Zwingli thrusts infants into the family I thrust them out, but by Scripture; this Zwingli does without Scripture, for infants cannot be counted among the baptized families.
Reply. First, I ask by what rule do you think I thrust children into families. By none. Do you not see then that men are born of men, that parents support and protect children? You see how those angel messengers of the devil have put off all human sense. Their head in hell knows that a demon is not born of a demon. So having become his slaves they suppose that this has become obsolete among men viz., that man should beget man and foster what he has begotten. Hear therefore what I mean, and how I would say: It is more likely than otherwise that the apostles baptized infants. For in the sacred Scriptures we have whole families baptized by them, in which it is more than likely that there were children. So to you this does not seem the more likely? Show the reason, and teach us how it is more likely that there were no children in those households, of which we mentioned three. But I will throw them out by Scripture, he says. But who, pray, are you that throw them out? I throw them out, he says. He must be a man of great authority among you to promise that, yet he shows none, neither baton nor scourge. For however he promises, he furnishes no evidence by which he may demand that he be believed. . . Himself said it, forsooth! Children, he says, cannot be reckoned among the families baptized. Here is Scripture for you! That master of ours thinks they cannot be reckoned in; who will dare to contradict him? Zwingli, he says, thrusts children into the family without Scripture. What then if upon you, you raging wild ass (for I would not call him a man who I think was baptized among the shades on the Phlegethon,* both because it seems funny to strive with ghosts and because I am not sure, even though I am led by certain assured conjectures to conclude who is the author of so learned a confutation† )—upon you I should bring down loads of proof from Scripture, from which you may learn that children are to be reckoned in baptized families. In Acts ii. 44 we read: And all that believed were together, and had all things common. Here I ask: Did the believers have their children with them or not? If they did, were they not in their families? If not, how is it we nowhere read that they were anxious because he who believed could not have his children with him? Was the spirit that impelled them so cruel as to dictate the abandonment of their children? Oh! You do not mean that they did not have them and nourish them, but that these did not belong to the Christian family! I ask then what you mean by family? You will doubtless say: Those who had come to such an age that they knew what law is and what sin is, for he must repent who wishes to be baptized, but since infants cannot repent, they cannot be included in the family. Thanks to God that you have learned to make so fine a rope of sand, twisting out lie from lie. For having persisted in the statement that none is to be baptized but he who can repent, you will rightly assert that infants may not be baptized. But here there is need of a law forbidding, and you have no law. You therefore are the law, and where the lion fails you, patch on the fox. And why not? What one of your brethren weighs how correctly or incorrectly you reason? But we, who are accustomed to assert nothing not abundantly founded and supported by divine testimony, we know that Isaac, even when an infant, belonged to Abraham’s family so completely that he compelled his father to send forth the servant and the child born of her. Does not this seem so to you? But Paul joins Moses in saying: The son of a maid-servant shall not be heir with my son Isaac. He was heir, and doubtless of the family. For even they who are not heirs, such as slaves and freedmen, are of the family. I do not care to plead here that by lawyers this son whom you disinherit here is declared a member of the family. I hasten to this: Ex. xii. 48 we read—we who go to the Old and the New Testament as to two lights to prevent us from being deceived, while in the meantime you support yourselves on your own spirit—as pearls do on their own absorption when nothing flows into or moistens them from outside—we read, I say: And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee and keep the passover of the Lord, let all his males first be circumcised, and then he shall rightly keep it. Why is said here: All his males? Does this pertain only to adults? Why then the precept to circumcise every male on the eighth day? Yet infants are not of the family. To me the opposite seems true, for they possess heirship. But it is yours to prove by Scripture that they who received the sign of the church of God in accordance with the rite and religion of the parents belonged not to their parents’ family. But that you will as soon do this as cut through an isthmus I will show by other evidence. In Acts xxi. 5 Luke writes: And after some days we went on our way, all bringing with us wives and children, etc. Were the children here only adults? And if not adults, were they not of the family? What miracle is here, or what is the special attention, if the fathers of the family brought the apostle on his way with wives and youths or almost adults? This was the special attention, that fathers with their wives carried or dragged with them the children, as is customary during such eager times. Now they took with them not others, but their own sons; these were therefore in the family. There is no reason to admonish you, good reader, that I am exposing some trick or guile. For what difficulty will there be in discovering this to be malice, in that they do not reckon the infants of believers with the father’s family. For it cannot be foolishness, since they themselves are counted in the families of the Denks and Hetzers and Kautzs (wonderful flock) to their finger-nails.
Catabaptists. Seventh. Grant that there were infants in these families, the truth yet does not favor that those infants were baptized. But it follows with insult to truth and divine wisdom.
Reply. Who can wonder enough at the assurance of the man? He grants that children were in those families, but says they were not baptized. Yet in the first passage the words are: But I baptized also the house of Stephanas. In the second: But when she was baptized and her house. In the third: And he was baptized and all his house. How could he say in general, in the first place, that he had baptized the house of Stephanas, which he did not do if there were children in it whom he had not admitted? The same must be said about the second. But in the third case, when he asserts that the whole house was baptized, how is it that they do not see that in the beginnings the same custom obtained as with Abraham and his descendants, who circumcised the whole class of his servants, as well those taken in war as the home-born slaves and those bought, not to say the children, as appears from the passage just cited from Exodus? There it is expressly commanded to circumcise every male of the family, and there is never any mention of believing or knowing God, which yet ought to be the especial care of all It follows, he says, with insult to the truth and wisdom of God. Though they know neither, they affirm insult to both. But what contumely is it to either God’s truth or his wisdom that Hebrew infants were circumcised and included in the faithful families? But these words of theirs are high-sounding; this is their merchandise—bombast and words a foot and a half long. To words of this sort, which they use in great rotundity, the unskilled mob erects its ears and then applauds.
Catabaptists. Eighth. The last chapter of this epistle shows that the apostle neither knew nor baptized children. Zwingli dishonestly keeps this back; it makes against his foundation of glass. Paul describes this family to the learned when he says: Ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits in Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the service of the saints—that ye submit yourselves to them and to every one that helpeth with us and laboreth. A family of this sort pædobaptism and pædobaptists do not recognize; they do away with it, for it is against them.
Reply. As in many other places so here, we easily catch the author of this frivolous confutation, although the greatest proof is the Swiss tongue, in which it is so written that it has no foreign or imported words. Yet, as I have said, since the man now doubtless burns among the shades as much as he froze here through his catabaptist washings, I have concluded to omit his name.* What impudence is this, O shade, in that you assert that I wish to ignore these words of Paul. Were these words not cited by Haetzer in the first two debates? Did not I reply that they were synecdochic, like 1 Cor. x. 1: All our fathers were under the cloud? But there were infants also under the cloud, yet no individual mention is made of them. All crossed the sea. Yet the infants could not have crossed. Therefore they crossed who did not, but were borne by those who did. So in the family of Stephanas there were those who were the first believers of the Achaians; there were also those who at the same time belonged to the church, who in actuality, because of age, not yet believed or took part in the ministry of the saints. All were baptized unto Moses. He speaks throughout of the fathers, the ancestors and forefathers, by which we understand that they who were then infants Paul now calls fathers, for out of these was the people of Israel. Therefore not only adults, but infants also, were baptized unto Moses. For if they who were infants at the crossing of the Red Sea were not baptized, the apostle did not speak correctly in saying: All were baptized unto Moses, for they were, as I have just said, the fathers of their posterity. Whither do you turn now? Not to pass this by: Infants are written of by the apostle as then baptized. But you say it is a figure. Very good. It was a figure like this: As those infants then belonged to the family of their earthly and their heavenly Father and were sealed by their sacraments, so now also they who are children of Christians, since they are also sons of God, use the sacrament of God’s sons. You will find no crack by which you can escape. For you argue foolishly to the negative from facts and examples, or rather from neither fact nor example. For what do you but say: The apostles are not said to have baptized infants, therefore infants are not to be baptized? Does not your whole strength turn on this one hinge? But we cannot so strive, but only by facts, if only one has to stand and judge by examples, as follows: The Hebrew children were all baptized in the cloud and in the sea, just as are ours. Paul, in the passage cited, tends in no other direction than to prove that they are as much initiated by our sacraments as we ourselves. It follows therefore, first, that in Paul’s time it was the custom of the apostles to baptize infants; second, if any one contradicts it he vitiates the opinion of Paul. What does this man here than the like? He says we are not superior to them, and they are not inferior to us. He attributes to them then the same sacraments as we have, and to us the same as they had, as in Col. ii. 11. Those ancients could not all be baptized exactly as we are unless we were all baptized with our families. All these therefore being baptized and made equal with us, it is clear that as all their infants were baptized in the sea unto Moses, so also in the time of the apostle believers’ children were baptized unto Christ.
Now I return to the point, and assert that the children are spoken of by synecdoche in: All crossed the sea. For to be accurate crossing occurred only to those who were of an age and strength to cross, and that all ate the same spiritual food when those alone ate who were spiritual, yet none the less it is said of all that they ate. So also in this place, if Paul had used the word “all” and had said: All of Stephanas’ family have given themselves to the ministry of the saints, yet by the very force of synecdoche the infants also would be understood to be of the family, and [likewise] that they who then had believed had given themselves to the Lord. For this is the nature of synecdoche, that when as to any body that has different parts, and those parts are similar in some respects and different in others, anything is predicated of the whole body, it is understood of a part, and what is said of a part is understood of the whole. Here is an example of what I mean. All Judea went forth to him. You see that “All Judea” is put for those who went out, and the synecdoche is two-fold. One puts the container for the content and the other the whole for a part: the Judean region for the inhabitants, all the inhabitants for a good part of them. On the other hand see Is. iii. 16: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty. Here the daughters of Zion are a part of the whole, yet they are put for the whole people, especially for the princes who erected haughty crests wickedly against the Lord. Ex. xvi. 2: All the congregation murmured against Moses. But how did the children murmur? They were ignorant of what was done. But if they did not murmur the whole congregation did not murmur, for the children were also of the congregation. You see what sort of critics you are, laboring in logomachy and desperately ignorant of what you most trust in. For you cling to the letter alone, and are ignorant of what is of prime importance in expounding the letter. Tell me, pray, to whom was it said: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, and thou shalt not steal, and the like? Was it not to the ancients who were the people and church of God? But those things cannot be said to infants; are these then not to be of the church and people of God? God forbid! The children were members of the people of God, the fathers indeed of the people. Gen. xxv. 23. It is clear therefore that what is said with reference to some body or whole when there is a part of that whole to which what is said does not relate, that part none the less belongs to that body, even though what is said does not fit it. Again, if anything is said of a part of this body or whole which yet does not belong to that part at all, yet it so relates to the whole body that it touches and admonishes those parts that are subject to what is said, as is clear at once from the examples cited. “Thou shalt not steal” is not said to the infants, but to those who are under its responsibility. Again, the threat that Isaiah makes against the daughters of Zion pertains to all who oppressed men by their violence and haughtiness. So also I replied, though not in so many words, to that passage that Haetzer adduced from Paul, by which he would exclude the children from the family of Stephanas. Yet that family appears to have been pretty large, if we worthily weigh the generously ample words in which Paul treats of them. Children remain therefore till now in believers’ families and are baptized, and when mention is made of those families, or they are written or spoken of, whatever is said or told pertains to that part to which it is applicable. I might adduce numberless examples, for the Hebrews use almost no figure more extensively, but I think a taste has been given by which you will easily tell all the rest. “Israel my inheritance.” To whom was this said, if not to the Israelitic posterity? But children can not receive this. It does not follow therefore they did not belong to the inheritance or the peculiar people. But although there is a part that cannot understand what is said, that part none the less belongs to the whole body. So when Christ said: Go ye, teach all nations, baptizing them, etc., the apostles taught all who were accessible to the doctrine, and they baptized all who were fitted for the sacrament of baptism.
Catabaptists. Paul, a man of truth, wished in this first chapter [of First Corinthians] to show that he had baptized but few at Corinth, but Zwingli and his witnesses make Paul a liar, and say that he baptized many when they assert that he baptized infants in the house of Stephanas.
Reply. Because we say that doubtless there were children in the families does it follow? Therefore they make Paul a liar, who asserts that he baptized but few. As if, though infants were baptized, they who were baptized by him could not be numbered still as a few! What, pray, can you do with such a stupid kind of men? What kind of a church do you think that which—I will not say believes, but—listens to a man asserting such things?
Catabaptists. Tenth. How the reality is, this text shows which says: Let no one say he was baptized in my name and thence be puffed up on my account. If infants then should speak and be factious (as those Zwinglians would have it) they were rightly baptized.
Reply. See how fine they are at a syllogism! Let no one say, says he, infants can not speak nor be factious, therefore they were not baptized. As if none could be factious but those who said they were of Apollos, Cephas or Paul! Then, as if we had not just shown that by synecdoche that is to be understood of any part which is suitable to it.
Catabapiists. Eleventh. It is not true that Paul baptized Corinthian children.
Reply. Gently, I beg of you.
Catabaptists. Why? Because he baptized believers alone or saw that they were baptized by others.
Reply. Now you argue finely, for it follows at once: Believers only were baptized, therefore children could not have been baptized—provided you can establish that exclusion, that believers only were baptized by the apostles.
Catabaptists. As we shall establish it from Acts xviii. aud xix., to the confusion and disproof of the misleading pædobaptist contention.
Reply. The mountain is laboring.
Catabaptists. It is thus in the Acts, xviii. 8. When Paul was at Corinth, Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with his whole house, and many Corinthians who heard at the same time (I translate faithfully and literally, perverting nothing, however those fellows struggle and stammer even in the German tongue) believed and were baptized. Infants could not hear, they could not then believe, much less be baptized. For the hearing faithful were baptized. And here the whole house was rendered faithful, from which infants are excluded, and they were so excluded because there were none there, or if there were they were not counted in it and accordingly not baptized, for the faithful families were baptized.
Reply. Infants could not listen [to the word], but it does not follow that consequently they were not baptized. We have nowhere the prohibition not to baptize infants of believers unless they hear and believe. I require a prohibition forbidding. But you add beautifully: And here the whole house was rendered faithful. I grant it. You continue: From which infants were excluded. This I ask you to prove from sacred Scripture. I hear it said: Infants are excluded, but nowhere by a divine oracle. Here the whole dispute hinges. There was a strife among the apostles whether the gospel should be preached also to the Gentiles or not. This strife rested partly upon a false inference, partly upon probability. The fallacy was this: To us the Christ was promised, therefore not to the Gentiles. But who is so unskilled as not to see that it does not at all follow: The Messiah was promised to us Jews, therefore not to the Gentiles. For it may be that he was promised also to the Gentiles, and the Scriptures testify to this in various ways. So in the present passage: The writings of the apostles testify that they who heard and believed were baptized, but it does not at all follow that children were consequently not baptized by them. For it may at the same time be true that the apostles baptized believers, and the apostles baptized children. Just as it is true: The Hebrews circumcised adults, they also circumcised infants. For when adult, nay, decrepit, Abraham inflicted upon himself the wound of circumcision and upon the infants Ishmael and Isaac. You are mistaken therefore, O Catabaptists, when you make an indefinite proposition exclusive. An exclusive is either, no one ought to be baptized except he who first believes, or infants ought not to be baptized. But from: The apostles baptized believers, and from: The apostles are not said to have baptized believers, it does not follow. For “The apostles baptized believers,” and “No one may be baptized unless he first believes” are not equivalent. So also with: “The apostles are not said to have baptized infants, therefore these were not baptized by them and may not be by us.” For it may be that they baptized both believers and infants, and also either that they baptized infants, but the fact was not recorded, or that they did not baptize them, and still these were baptized by the ministers of the churches or may be rightly baptized. For [the apostles] were sent above all to preach, not to baptize. If you impute sophistry to me here, as the boldness of the calumniator suggests, recognize that the following is your syllogism, or rather paralogism: The apostles are not said to have baptized infants, therefore they did not, and these are not to be baptized. So that we are compelled to turn your weapons against yourselves. This is probably what led the apostles to think that the gospel was not to be preached to the Gentiles. In the first mission this interdict was given: Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, from which it was possible for them to assert most strongly that it was intended by Christ that he should keep himself for the Hebrews alone. If you had had such a deliverance, ye gods, with what impudence would you have rushed upon us! Consider therefore these two commands: Go ye and teach all the Gentiles, baptizing them in the name of the Father, etc., and: Go ye into all the world and preach, etc. Here we have the abrogation and annulment of the interdict: Go not into the way of the Gentiles. For they had before taught and baptized. They who thus far then had been shut up to the enclosure of Judea found opened to them the whole world. Thus, I will say in passing, you find these latter passages opposed like an antithesis to and abrogating: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles.” You have not therefore yet proved the negative: “No one may be baptized but the believer.”
Catabaptists. So also Acts xvi. 31 has: Believe in the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved and thy house. And that his house was saved with him follows on: And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. Then further: And he was baptized, and all his, straightway. He heard the word of the Lord, and so he was baptized, and all who were in his house; they, too, heard and so were baptized. Where again infants are excluded, for they could not hear and believe, as follows on: And he rejoiced with his whole house, because he had believed in God.
Reply. To pass over some things translated into the Swiss tongue not with entire fidelity, I briefly say: This whole knot may be cut by the one axe of synecdoche. For if there were infants in that family, what is said about faith and doctrine we apply to those who could receive and believe, but what is said of baptism, to those who belonged to the family of the believing master, but through age or weakness neither heard nor believed. For when God said: Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God, he spoke to all who were of Israel. But because the infants neither hear nor understand he does not exclude them so that they are not of the congregation of the people of God or should not be circumcised with all who hear and believe.
Catabaptists. Twelfth. Philip preached to the whole city of Samaria, where doubtless there were infants. Yet Luke speaks in these insuperable words: And they were baptized, men and women. Men and women, says Luke. But if some sciolist should say, as a certain Wittenberg sophist lately did: Under the word women girls are also included, and under “men” males, this is fiction. For preceding these words we find: Philip preached, they believed. They, the men and women, I say, believed and were baptized. So here falls synecdoche, Zwingli’s other basis. This synecdoche is a comprehensive mode of speech to the effect that where Scripture speaks of believers baptized, infants, too, are included among them, as he strives to prove by perverting the Scripture passages that do not contain this.
Reply. I pass over, O shade, what that Wittenbergian did with you while you were in the flesh. But this is sure, that this passage does not exclude infants, even though it does not mention them. For that does not exclude which does not explicitly mention; for to pass over is one thing, to exclude, another. That may be omitted which is in no way excluded. The excluded can never come into the account. Since then the omitted, as well as those expressly mentioned, are included by synecdoche (as has been sufficiently shown), we are still waiting for you to prove that exclusion of yours by which you assert infants are excluded. For we have proved that by comprehension (i. e., synecdoche, unless the Latin word is less appropriate than the Greek,) they are included. In that you promise to show how I had asserted synecdoche only by twisting Scripture, again you are rich in promising, but poor in fulfilment. For when you would tear away synecdoche, you establish it most firmly.
Catabaptists. As in Acts ii. 44: All who believed were together and had all things common. Here, says Zwingli, if believers alone were there, whither had they removed the infants? If they had cast them off, they would have been fine believers to disown the children against the command of the Lord. So the children of believers were also numbered with believers and were baptized with them. To which we reply: Zwingli speaks rightly when he says that they would not have been believers if they had cast off the children. For how could it be that these who had all things in common did not have the children common nor educate them in common, according to the precept of the Lord? Infants then are not numerated or reckoned among the believers, but are included in this, that the believers had all things common.
Reply. You see, good reader, whither the lie turns itself. They would rather enumerate believers’ children with their animals and baggage than with the parents, lest they be compelled by synecdoche to include them with believers. For they will not include them with: All who believed were there, but with: And they had all things common. Among them therefore children are not like dear pledges, are not our flesh and blood. For what else will they when they deny that they are included among the believers, and put them in what all have common? What tiger, pray, is so cruel? Surely to this pitch of insanity ought they to come who have put off not only the sense of piety, but also all human sensibility. Here I beseech you, pious heart, not to take offence at what I am about to say. For here it must be put down (not that I yield so much to passion, but that those things ought not to be ignored by all which those people secretly perpetrate, like what Alexander the coppersmith did to the divine Paul), so that we may the more easily guard ourselves from this pestilence. In describing their deeds I shall be free and brief. They have their wives common in such a manner as to desert their own marriage partners and take others; so with the children, as to desert them and leave them for others to support. These fine fellows, when lust persuades, make common a brother’s wife, even his virgin daughter. Though the very force of nature requires that they cherish their children by the sweat of the body, they make them common to others.
We have a man named Figella (Hafner?), who lives about a mile from the city. He most contumaciously protected their teaching, and had got together for his house provision wherewith to spend the winter, and as often as meal-time came around the idle flies were present, prophesying finely about God, for they think their babblings worthy the name of prophecy. The father, wife and children were held fast by these wonders until the provisions were exhausted. The man then, least expecting what would happen, hoped to provide other food with the aid and assistance of his table companions; he warned them that it was time to get to work providing nourishment. He talked to the deaf, for when he was compelled to lay the warp and set the woof (for he was a weaver), and looked for their help in some part, they began to praise God that his providence prepared and promised all things for them as it were unsown and untilled, and laid hand to no work. Meanwhile he learned from his wife that they had attempted adultery with her under the pretext of piety, and [when] he saw that they were bellies, and not the angels he had a little before supposed them, he drove the scoundrels from his house, recovered his eyes and returned to the Church of Christ. Here you see how public they would have things. The lost fellows would have the goods of ordinary men common, but their own, if they have any, in no wise. If they have none they make all common in this way: they distribute the labor to others; they enjoy leisure so as to do nothing, then they eat in common. So with wives, not to do away with the Republic of Plato,* they make common not their own, but others. This is proved by the following: One of their leaders lived in a village about five miles out of the city,† a man of considerable wealth. His wife came to him in haste when he was going away that he might leave something for the children. She asked blood from a stone. Meanwhile the wife remained for the night, perhaps hoping that her blandishments would win something from him, and when the hour arrived she sought the couch of her husband, and the spiritual man replied to her: Did I not tell you that you came only for lust? He then cast her off, and called to him a Catabaptist girl. When the wife, foreboding evil, opposed this, he devoted her to evil. “You are carnal,” he said, “and so you think and suspect carnal things. You will be damned eternally.” Since her suspicion was in no way shaken by the maledictions, she came to us and told us what her husband, elsewise so impatient of lust, imposed upon them to believe—i. e., about spiritual marriage. For there was room for the suspicion, since he had gone with the same girl on several occasions to St. Gall, and alone with her had passed not only through groves and shady places, but had occupied her couch during the night. Now finally he disclosed the mystery—there was a spiritual marriage between them—to which statement the wife gave no credence. So this fellow would have left his wife common to others that he might leave something common (he never touched her afterwards), unless she had kept her marriage vows with better faith than he, and took a common girl, or rather, made her common.
I will give also another example. There were elsewhere also those who contracted spiritual marriages after a similar fashion; by silver rings they purchased of jewelers they bound girls and women spirits to them. There were such in the school of Valentine, as Irenæus testifies in his first book.* At St. Gall public charges were made against two girls who had been of unblamed modesty until they had gone over to the Catabaptists, but whose modesty had suffered shipwreck when their bodies were immersed in catabaptism. They affirmed that they were betrothed in spiritual marriage, the rings being accepted, and in one night on one couch two Catabaptists had so loosed their virgin belts that the couch, groaning for a long time, at length, impatient of the burden, threw on the floor with one crash the two marriages. Those who heard the downfall swore solemnly that those spirits made such a sound that it appeared as if four bodies had fallen from on high. I beg you, reader, not to go away before considering that the force of hypocrisy surpasses even the attack of lust. By which they may be the less self-complacent who, even if they were chaste (which I do not myself believe), yet were such in order to lay up for themselves this glory among mortals. For those very girls had before been tempted to the crime, but in vain. Hypocrisy is therefore more potent than the flesh, for under the pretext of the Spirit and by deceit it has carried the tower of virginity. Why should I speak of the open adulteries, which, although many, are few in comparison with those concealed by their skill? But who can fittingly tell of the awful murder which a brother perpetrated upon his own brother in St. Gall?† What ability in words can worthily set forth so great atrocity? Or who is so dull as not to see that God has set forth this example for the good of all, so as the more to deter from this pernicious sect? A brother calls in a brother who is thinking of no such thing into the presence of his father, mother, sisters and the whole family, and orders him to kneel in the midst. The fanatical fellow obeys, thinking his brother is going to show some wonder. Doubtless the parents had the same expectation, for almost daily among them something new is born, as in Africa. But when this one had kneeled, the other seized a sword which he had brought for this purpose, drove it through his neck and cut off his head, which rolled to the feet of his parents, and left him lifeless. From his trunk poured a great quantity of blood. All there fell and became [as] lifeless in madness. The murderer himself ejaculated: The will of God is fulfilled. Like a madman he came into the city and cried out to the Burgomaster: I announce to you the Day of the Lord. For at that time they were appointing as the day of the Lord that Ascension Sunday that passed two years ago. I cannot jest here at that murderous sect, for the deed was too atrocious to admit any mirth. They assert for many other, but especially for this reason, that a Christian may not exercise the magistracy, that a Christian may kill no one. And at the same time they all deny that they can judge that crime I have been describing. A parricide therefore is not charged among them, while a homicide is.
Now I return to the matter. Not without reason will they not reckon among believers the children of believers who live with the church; they put them among the things that are common, for they make a man as valuable as a beast—nay, a beast loves more truly a kindred beast than that murderer his own brother. What is there wonderful then about their using virgins and matrons as they do beasts and baggage animals? Among them it is no crime to lay murderous hand upon a brother; how much less will they hear an accusation of adultery and lewdness! Those who are rebaptized unite with a church that denies, if they themselves commit it, that adultery and harlotry is a crime. For to that purport once he who is now a shade said to me, when they were asserting that they were without sin: They would at once shut out from the church him who committed any wrong. I at once reminded him of the man who had committed adultery at Wesen;* he replied: Even though he committed adultery, he did not sin. They who are in our church cannot sin. Then I said: So adultery is not sin among you? There is no adultery with us, he said: I will not say whether [adultery] is sin or not, but that is not adultery which you think is. For since we have one and the same spirit nothing can take place with us which is sin, for as we have one spirit so also we have one body. This sentiment they now preach in open terms. Those who are rebaptized unite also with a church that does not know to judge parricide [fratricide]. But the most noble senate of St. Gall—a city that is most regardful of the glory of Christ—executed the parricide [fratricide] at the prayers of parents and kinsmen, and thereafter, a sign being given by the Lord, suppressed so prudently this evil that nowhere are there fewer Catabaptists, although in the beginning their number was very great. For that whole family had been immersed, and the house itself was the meeting place of the Catabaptists—the house where a brother dipped his murderous hand in his brother’s blood. From this one might rightly say that it was stricken with death by divine justice, both on account of the family and the Catabaptists.
Catabaptists. Otherwise Zwingli would be compelled to admit because of the following context that infants sold their goods and distributed them, which is impossible, and has nothing to do with them, for the property was their believing parents’. And from the context it would follow that the infants who are reckoned among believers, and so baptized, were obliged to celebrate the Lord’s Supper because they were baptized. Similarly they must have prayer with the other believers, for the preceding and following context is as follows: And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and prayer. Who steadfastly continued? All that became believers. If then infants became believers, or were numbered with them, they also broke bread, which no reason can make out, and they were also not baptized. For if they were baptized, they also broke bread, which Zwingli himself will not maintain. Now see how synecdoche hangs together!
Reply. Why do you charge me viciously with a skill in arguing which I never assumed, but [which] is deceitfully attributed by those who cannot sustain the force of the truth on which I rely, since this whole paragraph is only vicious reasoning? For when you oppose synecdoche, you make clear that you do not yet see what synecdoche is. For you do not yet understand that there is no synecdoche where the words are received in their simple and true sense. For where this is the case there is no figure. That discourse is figurative which does not bring us the sense which the first aspect of the words carries. Synecdoche is a figure, so where synecdoche is some other than the open meaning is hidden. Hence when you thus infer: If infants were numbered among the believers, they broke bread, prayed, sold their goods and distributed to the needy, you take everything according to the letter. What then? Do you wish to eliminate synecdoche from the passage? Why not say then: This passage does not admit synecdoche, and then prove it by argument and evidence? But this cannot be done, since I have proved more than sufficiently above that infants belong to the family of the parents, and that you act not only impiously, but inhumanly, when you prefer to include believers’ infants among baggage and goods rather than among believers. If, however, you have come to the poin of confessing this discourse to be figurative indeed, but here require of synecdoche that whatever is said of the whole body be true of all its parts (as every one sees you do think when he looks closely into your teachings), you are wholly in error. For that is not synecdoche where, as we have said, what is said of the whole is true of each part, for then there is no figure. But that is synecdoche when a part of any body is received for the whole, or the whole for a part. I have shown this by the clearest examples. Still, that you may be supplied with all abundantly, hear this. In Ex. xxiii. 17 it is written: Three times a year all thy males shall appear before the Lord thy God. Notice this word “all.” Tell me, then, were infants in the cradle from all Palestine carried thrice a year to Jerusalem? If so, then according to your argument, they ate unleavened bread for seven days, sowed the fields and offered the firstfruits. But since they did not do this it follows that [all] males were not included. If they were not brought it is not true that every male appeared thrice a year before the Lord. “All males” is therefore synecdoche, and however on first appearance it seems as though every male is ordered to be present at the three feasts, they alone are bound by the law who were so old that they could receive the instruction or offer firstfruits or bear branches of trees, according to the variety of the feast or manner of celebration. So also when Deut. xxxi. 11-13 speaks of appearing at the reading of the law at the celebration of [the feast of] tabernacles it appears that those boys came who were beginning to understand what was read. So also Luke ii. 42 shows from Christ, who when 12 years old was a participant at the Passover, that they appeared who could themselves make the journey and understand what was done. At the feast of Pentecost it appeared that they alone went up who offered the firstfruits, a duty of the father or his representative. Here therefore is synecdoche. Again, Ex. xxxiv. 19: Every male that openeth the womb shall be mine. This can not bear synecdoche. For it so pertains to all the firstborn [males] that none is left exempt. I think you now see how crude and unlearned is your argumentation, since you do not deny synecdoche in the passage: They who believed were together, yet contend that all must be predicated of each part that is contained in the whole of which the synecdoche treats. But you do not consider the composition of the word itself—sun and ex with dechomai, as if you would say: When I take the whole body I understand something separate from among those things which are together included in that body. Or: When I take some part of the body I understand the whole body. So that the Latin comprehensio does not quite correspond with the Greek. Then when you contend thus: If then infants were counted among the believers, or were made believers, they also broke the bread, a thing that cannot at all be, and so they were not baptized. For if they were baptized, they would also have broken the bread. You reason wretchedly, so that it is clear to all who read your productions with judgment that you are all impostors. For since you leaders are not so untaught as not to see how wretchedly you reason, and since none the less you offer to the untaught vicious syllogisms, you cannot be saved from being impostors even by the Saviour himself. For what constrains it to follow here that they who were baptized also broke bread? Were there not among the ancients circumcised infants who yet did not tear the lamb nor eat unleavened bread? Or because thrice a year they were not present, were they therefore not of God’s people? Learn then that infants were counted among believers and were baptized, and that of believers those actually believed, prayed, distributed property, broke the Lord’s bread, who had come to such age and understanding as to be fitted for this and subject to the observance, as is clear from the examples drawn from Exodus and Deuteronomy. Every male was directed to be present at the feast, the women and boys at the reading of the law; but however the letter reads, by synecdoche is understood every class according to its manner and understanding. What have squalling [infants] to do with the reading of the law, or adolescents with the offering of firstfruits, unless the father directs them?
The thing itself compels me willy nilly, good reader, to cease to give the vain words of the Catabaptists and to draw to a close. So hereafter I will act thus: I will untie every knot, and whatever is said by them that has any force I will adduce with such fidelity as I have thus far in rendering it literally into Latin. And for this reason in particular, that what they have thus far adduced against the figurative sense has been in great part refuted. What they have argued about the Testament will be so treated and torn away when we reach the Testament.
The arguments against the synecdoche in 1 Cor. x. 9: All our fathers were under the cloud, they all crossed the sea, all were baptized unto Moses, all ate the same spiritual food—the arguments, I say, that they bark out against these synecdoches are so foolish and impure that they are not to be taken into account. For they say they know that they ate, drank, crossed the sea, went to stool and urinated, but it must be proved by us by clear Scripture that infants were baptized. After that they insult us this way: See now how Zwingli stands with his synecdoche, which he affirms with his own peculiar cunning and sophistry, lest by acknowledging the truth he may suffer the persecution of the cross of Christ. What can you do with these men? That I might expound synecdoche correctly I adduced these examples, which they are so far from tearing away that he who will may use them, not only as examples of synecdoche, but to show also that in the apostles’ time believers’ infants were baptized, as I have indicated above. They approach the matter with bitterness, since they can do nothing by the sharp energy of the word of God. They charge cunning and sophistry, which I so express my abhorrence of that all my writings can free me from the charge better than any oration prepared for this purpose. But I recognize and cherish the truth. And I should have to endure nothing if I should adopt your opinion, unless you are most mendacious, for you have promised oftener than I can say that all will eventuate happily if I join you. But you had to have recourse to calumnies and shouts when you undertook to overthrow synecdoche, for you saw this to be impossible. This remains, and will ever remain, synecdoche: The fathers were all baptized, the fathers all ate the same spiritual food with us, as was shown in the foregoing sufficiently and will be treated again in the following. Thus far I have replied to the first part of your refutation, to the rest I will do the same in the course of the disputation. Now I proceed to the second part.
This part is to overthrow the foundations of your superstition; although you have never published them, yet hardly any of your people exist who have not a copy of these well founded laws, as you call them. Why, pray, do you not publish what are so divine and so salutary? But counsels evilly conceived fear the light, and are terrified at the judgment of learned and pious men. For this reason you do not publish the dogmas, articles, principles of your superstition. I therefore shall expose them to the world, translated faithfully and literally into Latin. As in the first part, your position shall come first, then the refutation.
TITLE OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE SECT OF THE CATABAPTISTS.
Articles which we have drawn up and to which we agree, viz.: Baptism, abstention, breaking of bread, avoidance of abominable pastors in the church, [of love], sword and [of wrong] oath.
To this article I say the same as the apostle in Col. ii. 20: If ye be dead with Christ from the elements of the world, how is it that you set forth decrees or dogmas as though you were in the world? But I know what you will say: These are not human dogmas, articles, principles, but divine oracles. To which I reply: Why then do you say you have drawn them up and agreed to them? If they are divine, why do you call them the articles of your conspiracy? Why do you smear the mouth of the divine word with your human ordure? If not [divine], why do you impose new decrees upon the necks of your brethren? You would therefore rule in the Lord’s stead, secretly lead into captivity, and place a check on brethren’s liberty. For however you turn you need no new articles; divine providence does not need your consent, which is nothing else than conspiracy. But thus heavenly wisdom orders all things. As often as we apply to you the term “sect,” because you have withdrawn from the churches that confess and embrace Christ, you at once reply that you cherish no sect. And now you yourselves produce this beautiful offspring of yours. Is not he a heretic who has conspired unto particular articles, though you with a more respectable nomenclature denominate it an agreement? But now I turn to the overthrow of the foundations of your articles, so that the world may see that what you affirm to be divine is fanatical, foolish, bold, impudent. This is not too severe.
Catabaptists. First learn of baptism. Baptism should be administered to all who have been taught penitence and change of life, and who believe really that their sins are done away with through Christ, and in general who wish to walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and who wish to be buried with himself into death that they may rise again with him. So we administer it to all who demand it and require it of us themselves after this manner. By this all baptism of infants is excluded—that chief abomination of the Roman pontiff. For this article we have the testimony and support of Scripture; we have also the custom of the apostles, which we shall preserve in simplicity and also in firmness. For we have been made sure.
Reply. Behold, good reader, in how many ways these jugglers impose upon the judgment of the simple. For, first, who does not know that baptism should be administered to all in Christ, both penitents and those confessing that remission of sins is found? There is no contest here, but whether it may be given to those alone and not to their infant children. Second, they conceal justification by works, and though they admit remission of sins through Christ here, they clearly deny it elsewhere. For they who trust in works make Christ of no effect. For if justification is by the works of the law, Christ has died in vain. Third, they yet do not conceal it so thoroughly as to betray their opinion by no sign. For when they say that remitted are the sins of all who wish to walk in the resurrection of Christ and to be buried with him in death, they elevate free will, and next to that justification by works. For if it is in our choice or power to walk in the resurrection of Christ, or to be buried with him in death, it is open for any one to be a Christian and a man of perfect excellence. Then Christ spoke falsely the words: No one can come to me except the Father who sent me draw him. Finally here is discovered their chiefest evil: When they refuse an oath to the magistrate who asks it, they plead this reason: According to the word of Christ a man cannot change a hair of his head to make it shine white or be dim with blackness. But here they say: They who wish to walk according to him, and then: Who themselves demand of us; after, of course, they have promised that they will walk according to the resurrection of Christ. Will he then who makes this promise be able to walk according to the stipulation or not? If so, why then will he not swear to do this or that when he is able? If not, you in like manner ought not to demand that he promise to walk according to Christ lest he become a liar, as you forbid him to swear lest he become a perjurer. Fourth, where in the Scripture do you read that baptism is to be given none except to him who can make a confession and demand baptism? Of yourselves do you assert this, for circumcision was most often given to those who could neither make confession nor demand. But you reject the whole Old Testament. This is what you clearly betray in the former confutation. This point ought to have been treated by me, but it has fallen out. It therefore comes in properly here when you say: There is no need for me to seek baptism in the Old Testament. By which do you not despise the Old Testament? And yet Christ submitted himself and his teaching to it, and the apostles used no other Scripture, indeed they could not, since until after the beginning of their preaching there was no Scripture as yet other than that drawn from [the Old Testament]. Here therefore your error, in which you do not consider the analogy of the sacrament as does the apostle Paul in 1 Cor. x. and Col. iii., so that we ought not to neglect his example—your error, I say, causes you to deny that in all Scripture the sign of the covenant is given to any except to one who makes confession and demand according to your way of thinking. But is not this deciding dogmas and ordinances? Fifth, you say: We have the testimony and support of Scripture for this article. Who lies? to use a German taunt. Produce that Scripture testimony of yours, and all strife will be laid. Sixth, where do you find this custom of the apostles to baptize no one who had not made this confession of yours and forthwith demanded baptism? Seventh, they say: Which we simply and at the same time firmly will preserve. For we have been made sure. Why do they promise to do what is not in their power? But if they refer to baptism, i. e., that they will baptize according to this rite, again they dogmatize, i. e., make decrees. This they themselves recognize, for they add: For we have been made sure. If they could show from Scripture the firmness of these ordinances, they would doubtless adduce it. But since they cannot, they have recourse to revelation and the confirmation of the Spirit. We are made sure, they say—himself said it. Here we ought not to omit in passing the fact that this has caused their error about the resurrection—they do not see that Paul in Rom. vi. 4 uses an argument from the external sign in order to exhort the more ardently to the imitation of Christ. But wherever they find the word baptism, even though the discussion is not about the sacrament, the truth striving to the contrary, they twist it to some perversion.
Catabaptists. Second. This is our opinion regarding abstention or excommunication: All ought to be excommunicated who after they have given themselves to the Lord that they may walk in his precepts, and who have been baptized into the one body of Christ and are called brothers or sisters, yet either slip or fall into sin and imprudently are thrown headlong. Men of this sort ought to be admonished twice in private; the third time they should be corrected publicly before the church according to the precept of Christ. But this ought to be done according to the ordinance and command of the divine Spirit before the breaking of bread, so that all who break and eat one bread and drink from one cup may be together in unison in the same love.
Reply. If I am silent as to this law I shall seem to approve it, but if I touch on certain things I shall appear captious. Since then it is all so crude that it smells of nothing but a three days’ theologian, I will myself suffer that in this place ignorance be called simplicity, and will note in a few words a few things which ought not to be winked at. They err then in this when they say: The third time they ought to be corrected publicly before the assemblage. For the third time they should be admonished by the church, not corrected. Then if they hear not the church as it warns they should be expelled. Second, they err again when they say this should be before the breaking of bread, unless you understand by this the denunciation customary among the ancients, which only forbade to the excommunicated who had before been cast out the breaking of bread with them. Excommunication did not take place then unless the occasion demanded it, but access was denied the excommunicate to the feast of the church. This I say because it is the Catabaptists’ opinion that they should refuse to celebrate the communion unless those who are to do it first confess or bear witness that they are about to pronounce excommunication or banishment [from the communion]. I do not think this is according to the custom of the apostles, who seem to have celebrated the supper of the Lord without interdict of this sort. But where one had been convicted of a great crime he was already banned. And I think it sprung from that usage that before the Lord’s Supper the excommunicate and banned were publicly interdicted. I do not think it came from the institution of Christ that some ancients and some moderns had and have the custom of thus warning: Let no homicide, usurer, adulterer, drunkard, etc., approach. For if an adulterer or drunkard, or one addicted to any other crime, defile the church he ought to be warned according to the command of Christ, and if he refuse to confess after the testimony of witnesses before the church he ought to be shunned or to be excluded from the church, but so only if contumacious. But if only rumor travels around (it is sometimes mendacious), or he who is under suspicion can rightly ward it off, so that he appears to carry himself honestly, then he ought not rashly to be excommunicated, unless the thing is absolutely certain for which he is excommunicated. This I say not of myself, but after comparing carefully and weighing the words of Jesus on this subject. For when he says to Peter that one is to be forgiven seventy-seven times, and in another place orders the tares to be permitted to grow until harvest, he evidently shows that there are some things at which fraternal love may wink. But when, on the other hand, he commands to expel straightway after the reproof of the church has been despised he surely means in those matters which are manifest and may defile the church. For there are some, sad to say, too ready on one side or the other. Some who think that nothing reaches to the point of requiring dismission, perhaps because they labor under the same or an equal disease; there are others who, if some passion persuades them, at once cry out: Why is he not excommunicated? Moderation therefore in this matter with the greatest diligence (which is to be sought from the Lord) is to be observed here. But what reason is there why the Catabaptists should say aught to us about excommunication when they have not considered the judgment of, or how they ought to judge, the murder that took place in St. Gall, when a Catabaptist murdered a Catabaptist and a brother a brother?
Catabaptists. Third. In the breaking of bread we thus agree and unitedly determine that they who wish to break one bread in commemoration of the broken body of Christ, and to drink of one cup in commemoration of his shed blood, shall first come together into one body of Christ, that is the church of God, in which Christ is the head. And this is particularly through baptism. For, as the divine Paul teaches, we cannot be at the same time participants of the Lord’s table and the demons’, nor can we be participants at the same time of the Lord’s cup and the devils’. I. e., all who have communion with the dead works of the shades have no communion with those who are called from this world to God. All who are settled in evil have no part with the good. Therefore it ought to folow that they who have not the calling of their God to one faith, to one baptism, to one spirit, to one body with all the sons of God, they cannot unite in one bread. But doubtless this must be done if one wish to break bread according to the precept of Christ.
Reply. Hither, doubtless, all this superstition tends, that the untaught people, that rises to every novelty, be led away into catabaptism and to an evil church. You admit no one to the Lord’s Supper unless he have first united by baptism into the one body of Christ. So by baptism as by a cement each one is united to this body. Why then do you strive so mightily that no one be baptized unless he first believe and confess with his own mouth? See how consistent you are! But you would not speak here of the church’s baptism, but of heretical baptism, i. e., your sect’s, and this, as it is born outside the church, is justly called pseudo- or catabaptism (some prefer “anabaptism”). Since then you do not recognize rebaptism or contrabaptism, though nevertheless against the standing custom of Christ’s church and against the divine law, by your baptism you crucify Christ again (for as he was once dead and once was raised from the dead, so he desires to have once baptized him who loves Christ); you do not dare to call your rebaptism catabaptism, but you call “baptism” that which is rebaptism. And while your words appear as though you were unwilling to admit any one to the table of the Lord unless he has been baptized, what you mean really is that no one in your evil church should hope to be a participant at the table of the Lord unless he has been rebaptized. This is what you mean, I say. Behold the tricks of the impostors, my reader. They talk simply about baptism, but will not be understood about simple but about double baptism. To this the confirmation of their law bears witness when they add: For, as the divine Paul teaches, we cannot at the same time participate at the Lord’s table and at demons’. By which they mean only that initiates who were baptized in youth belong to the demons, though they beautifully cover up this error so as not to be compelled to answer a new question which is beyond them, i. e., whether the baptism which we as children received is not sufficient? For they were vanquished by us when they at length declared this baptism to be from the Roman pontiff, and so from a demon. Nevertheless they carry around a long document in their church, in which they show from the decrees of the pontiffs that infant baptism was begun under popish rule—wicked men that they are, since I showed them before that in Origen’s time, who lived about 150 years after Christ’s ascension, baptism was in common use, and afterwards in Augustine’s time, who flourished about 400 years after. For both testify that infant baptism had remained to their own times from the custom of the apostles. But in those times the name of pope, and also monarchy or tyranny, had not come into the churches. And I refuted their statement (that you may lose nothing of our side, reader,) that the baptism of the pope is not Christ’s, but a demon’s, in the following way: If baptism were of the pope alone, I would not object to their calling the pope’s baptism either “not Christ’s” or a demon’s. But the baptism of Christ is not the pope’s, even though the pope were the archdemon himself and used Christ’s baptism, for when the devil used the prophet’s word in the temptation of Christ, the prophet’s word did not become the devil’s; and again, when the demons cried out: “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God,” so salutary a confession was no less salutary because a demon made it; so when the pope baptized not in his own name, but in that of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost, it could in no way be vitiated so as not to be the baptism of Christ’s church. In the second place Christ himself said: “He that is not against us is with us.” The pope therefore has this much of good, that he baptizes in no other name than that in which we were baptized; in this he is with us as was he [with Christ] who expelled a demon by the power of Christ’s name, although he neither followed nor cherished Christ. Finally the apostles have left us in the matter of matrimony a fine example, both in this matter and in others which pertain to disputes about externals. For as some had married among the Gentiles before the apostles had carried to them the salutary teaching of the gospel, so they [the apostles] left those marriages intact. This is clear from the testimony of Paul in 1 Cor. vii. 13, where he commanded the faithful wife to dwell with the unbelieving husband, provided she did what was pleasing to him. This is nothing but the confirmation of the marriage laws which each nation had, even of those marriages entered upon in idolatry. Equally therefore we may not repudiate a baptism which is not only not founded upon the pope’s invention or authority, but depends upon the authority of Christ himself and the apostles. For the popes baptized in no other name than that of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. But in whose name do they suppose marriages among idolaters were made? Yet the apostles left these marriages whole and intact, no matter what the laws and gods under which they were undertaken. The more therefore will baptism be untouched by us when it is given in that name in which we give it, even though the pope have administered it. Then they offered as objection too hatefully the matters of salt, butter, saliva, mud and that class of things, nay, even the prayers made over infants, on the ground that neither John nor the apostles are said to have begun or celebrated baptism with prayer. To which I replied, first as to ceremonial: Christ restored some blind men to sight by the medium of touch or of mud others by the words “Receive thy sight” alone, and they saw no less distinctly who regained sight by the medium of touch or mud than they who did by the words alone. But we care nothing for those externals if the church orders them to be abolished, and it has been brought about that it forthwith gave the order, we who preside over the church not being ignorant that in the beginnings of the church there was need of these things, though not so much was attributed to them as in our times, whence we cut them off without difficulty. As to the prayers which they attempted also to tear away, I replied: The Lord Jesus himself prayed over the infants brought to him. What madness is it then to be unwilling that we pray over infants! I had the best of it in this part, the Catabaptists in the other. All this, I say, they know and conceal in their false church, or rather their conspiracy. And so, to return from my digression, since they know from these reasons and this basis of Scripture that it is not the pope’s baptism, but Christ’s, in which we are baptized, and yet they contemn it, it is clear that they act by no right or reason, but in violence and fury—by which they call, though not truly yet plausibly, their own rebaptism baptism—so as to be able to draw the hearts of the untaught to a rebaptism.
Finally, lest by their words it may be manifest whither they tend, they bring finally an exposition of this their baptism and separation, i. e., they say: All who have communion with the dead works of the shades have no communion with those who are called from the world to God. You will consider diligently all this, reader, and I am sure you will discover by what wiles and stratagems they allure to their conspriacy untaught men. Do you not see that in this exposition they wish to seem to intend only that they who most impudently sin ought not to attend the supper of the Lord? But while you see this most clearly, do they not do this same thing under the action of the law of excommunication or banning that immediately precedes? Therefore whither reaches the treatment of one and the same cause under two constitutions? You infer therefore with no trouble that by this principle they wish—no matter what string of words they put together—that he who would come with them to the table of the Lord must also be rebaptized in their catabaptism, and that they who were baptized as infants these men consider to be of the devil’s table. This is therefore the sense of their exposition—men who have gone over to the church of their rebellion and conspiracy belong to those who have been called of God from the world, but they who will not with them betray the church of Christ belong to those who communicate with dead works. For their words and daily abuse testify to this. For when they see marriages or public feasts celebrated among us they straightway cry out: They are Gentiles, and are of the world, not of the church. And they accept as satisfactory neither that Christ and the apostles appeared at a marriage nor that the tribes of Israel celebrated joyously three times a year, nor that the Lord’s Supper would have perpetually remained a friendly feast if the Corinthians had not abused it—or indeed anything else. You see how on the one side what unjust judges they are, in that as soon as they see those things done among us which Christ himself did not abhor, they traduce, curse and condemn. And on the other hand, how sincerely they act when they think of themselves so finely that they boast that they are the people who have been called to God from the world. As if indeed lewdness, adultery, murder, hatred, envy, arrogance, hypocrisy—in which these people excel—all mortals were not worldly. I am not speaking of the immoderate expense, voluptuousness and wantonness of marriages and feasts, but I am so far from condemning joy in moderation that I think he who takes it away from the pious will have to restore it with interest. In a word, by this law they mean that no one shall approach their supper unless he has been rebaptized, unless he has been called to God from the world, i. e., unless he is of the church and heresy of the Catabaptists. For whatever they do or say, a conspiracy it is, according to the word of the prophet in Is. viii., and a most wretched pretence. For what iniquity is equal to his who prefers himself to others on account of his innocence and who winks at no slip of his brother’s, when he ought to forgive seventy and seven times, even if he were really most innocent who so acts? But what do I? They were not of us, therefore they have gone away from us.
Catabaptists. Fourth. We thus decide about the revolt, separation and avoidance, which ought to be manifested as to that evil planted by the devil—that we have no commerce with those nor agree with them in the communication of their abominations, i. e., inasmuch as all who have not yet yielded in obedience to faith, and have not yet given their name to the Lord as wishing to do his will, are exceedingly abominable in the sight of God, therefore nothing is done by them that is not abominable. Now in the world and in all creation there is nothing else but good and evil, faithful and unfaithful, darkness and light, worldly and those out of the world, the temple of the Lord and idols, Christ and Belial, and no one of these can have part with the other. Known to us also is the precept of the Lord in which he orders us to separate from evil, for then he will be our God and we shall be his sons and daughters. Hence he commanded us to go forth from Babylon and the Egyptian land lest we share their evils and penalties which the Lord is going to bring upon them. From all of which we ought to learn that what is not united to our God and Christ is nothing but an abomination which we should shun. Here we understand are all the popish and secundopopish works and the contentions of idolatry, processions to churches, homes of feastings, states and alliances of unbelief and many like things. They are held by the world in esteem, yet nevertheless they fight and lead directly against the precept of Christ according to the measure of wickedness that is in the world. We ought to be alien and separate from all of these; they are pure abominations, which make us hateful to Christ, who has freed us from servitude to the flesh and made us fit for the service of God through the spirit of God which he has given us. By the strength of this constitution there fall away from us the devilish arms of violence, such as swords and other arms and things of this character, and all use of them for either friend or enemy by reason of this word of Christ: Ye must not resist evil.
Reply. What they mean by so confused a statement, which is so torn and patched that it contains nothing sound and fresh, you would hardly divine if they had not said in the title of the work that they dealt with the avoidance of abominable pastors in the church. First, they have so heaped together those statements of nothing in the world but good and evil, Christ and Belial, and the other matters these divine men have piled up together, that they would be very fine, and would give a reason for not assembling in our churches. You must not suppose this is horror of popish pastors. It is against us they rail in this fashion. For they meet with the popish and do not shun their meetings. We who stand by the gospel are assailed here. The reason is that we alone show up and shun catabaptism and their wholesale sedition. By the papists we are called heretics, by the catabaptists secundopapists, because we preserve in the church infant baptism and some other things which they will have nothing of. So are we exercised in the Lord’s glory that we may bring to him a victory the more excellent the more numerous those are by whom we are assailed. I will show in a few words the deceit they conceal in the words of this article. What they allege from Scripture about separation is not said in the sense to which they wrest it. For otherwise we should be compelled to retire not only from the world, as Paul says, but also from the church. For there is nothing human so holy and blameless that it does not fail in some part. We ought therefore first to be separated from ourselves, of which Christ also speaks. Who hates his own life in this world, he says, saves it for life eternal. This separation results when we daily set forth a desire for betterment, and with our might exhort the brethren to this by example and prayer. But according to this we do not seek to be separate from those who have infirmities in common with us. The thing itself warns us, if only we be truly pious and cherish God, how far in each case we must bear. Nay, we should hear piety alone in this matter of condemning or seceding, so that establishing another law is neither possible nor due. Second, we are separated from those who are not weak, but malign, a thing that both piety and love will teach. For Christ himself also taught that the contumacious and impudently wicked man ought to be shunned only when he had reached in obstinacy the point of not respecting the church. But I know whither tends this supercilious avoidance. As soon as they have allured one to their faction, above all they forbid him to go for a month at least, if they cannot get it for all time or for longer, to any assemblage where one teaches who is opposed to their sect. And this order is at the beginning strongly suspected by those who are not yet wholly demented. Indeed, many who return to a good mind testify to this. For they immediately think of the apostles’: “Prove all things.” In order that by the figure of anticipating arguments they may cut off consideration of this among foolish men, they show great diligence in inculcating separation. They therefore condemn conventions, even those in which for the most honorable purposes the city holds assembly, for there are always found men who arraign the audacity of the men. And it is strange that they have omitted here what elsewhere they have urged as a prime objection. In the assemblies of the city [they allege] murders often take place—as if this did not happen more frequently in the market place and the country. According to that we must not assemble in the country or the market place. They condemn also the processions to the churches; they do this with such a form of words as might seem to apply to those votive processions which we formerly engaged in to the image at Lauretum, Baden, Oetingen and elsewhere, while really they condemn the processions to the churches appointed for certain days. These grieve them, for they prefer those where many meet in some wood by night rather than by day, when the way home has to be felt out through the dense darkness by the more comely girls and matrons, and they consummate spiritual marriages with carnal copulation; or where two or three meet at the house of a man who is a little better off, and eat and chat, lead astray the women, and in a word do many things you would hardly dare imagine. By this hunting they find much greater booty than if their auditors should hear in the assemblage of the churches what is against their doctrines. For who will protect the foolish girls and women and countrymen and simpletons from wolves of this sort when they never openly appear, nor after the manner of the apostles go to the synagogues first and disclose the sources of their doctrines in the Scriptures.* But for some months they will waste the time with some worthless idler and contaminate the whole family not only with error, but with harlotry also, and then appear in some spot. And as soon as they are asked to give the reason for their doctrine they fly away and leave the featherless chick to the hawk. Thus they are at variance with both the word and institution of Christ, who both said: “In secret have I said nothing,” and commanded that what they heard in the ear they should preach upon the housetop. Now see these circumcised! Having gained permission of some house owner they ascend the roof, and there caw out that they are now fulfilling what Christ said: preach upon the housetop, etc. But when a traveler or policeman is seen at a distance they turn tail, as is recorded in the fable of the little fox. Now they condemn states also, not seeing that Paul preserved himself from violence by this one means. Is it not clear now that they have come to the point of obscuring all things, of dissolving all friendship and all union? Who ever forbade one to be a citizen? These learned men have spoken of alliances of unfaithfulness in place of alliances of the unfaithful after the Hebrew style. Alliances then are to be given up, unless we are not ready to make shipwreck by their baptism. Do you see whither they tend? For they add that they are sheer abominations which make us hateful to Christ, who has freed us from the servitude to the flesh, etc. What is this servitude of which they speak? Of course it is obedience to the Christian church, assemblage in all honesty at public meetings and in private interests of brotherhood for the sake of order and quiet, where obligations that are lawfully undertaken and cannot be left undischarged without injury and similar observances are preserved. Freedom from these and all obligations, I say, these pious interpreters in this matter assert in somewhat obscure terms at present they have received from Christ, but they will preach this openly as soon as they have gained a church upon the strength of which they suppose they can rely. So that new tragedies are to be looked for by us. I do not greatly condemn that carrying of arms which some nations have always done as a custom* —such as the German and Swiss—but I detest murder. This, however, does not always come through the sword, but sometimes by spear or rock. Therefore you will have mountains and forests removed, for out of these weapons are obtained. One man dies from the seed of a raisin, another from a goat hair in a glass of milk. I myself saw a man among my people of the Toggenburg who died from the sting of a single bee. Are then grapes, goats and bees to be done away with? But I know whither this also points. The power of every magistracy is particularly hateful to them, and they are not content with what the apostle commands: Fear not authority, but do what is right and lawful. Not applicable to the magistracy is the saying of Christ: Resist not evil, nor that other; you ought not to rule. This has reference to apostles and bishops and each private individual, for authority is of God. It belongs to those to fear legitimate authority who seek the confusion of all things. Hence they snarl out I don’t know what foolish statements all the time about laying down arms. Not that I either approve or assail this custom of carrying arms. But I do condemn the disposition toward slaughter beyond all mortals so thoroughly that nothing do I hate more.* I, too, teach that arms are to be laid aside, but I teach that the sword is to be drawn by which they may be struck who have done injury, those be relieved who have suffered, and those praised who have done their work well.
Catabaptists. Fifth. We thus determine about pastors of the church of God, that there be some one pastor of a flock according to the order of Paul in all things, who shall have good testimony from those who are outside the faith. Let it be his duty to read, warn, teach, instruct, exhort, correct or communicate in the church, and to preside well over all the brethren and sisters, as well in prayer as in breaking of bread, and in all things pertaining to the body of Christ to watch that it may be supported and increased, that the name of God be cherished through us and be praised and the mouth shut to blasphemy. But support ought to be supplied him from the church which elects him, if he lack. For he who serves the gospel should live by the gospel, as the Lord ordained. But if a pastor have done aught worthy of blame or correction, action should not be taken against him unless by the testimony of two or three witnesses. When they sin they should be publicly reproved, that the others may fear. But if a pastor be either driven out or be led by the cross to the Lord another should succeed him at once, so that the people and flock of God be not scattered, but receive consolation and be preserved by exhortation.
Reply. We have seen in a former paragraph how perplexingly and confusingly, captiously and obscurely they treated of separation from abominations, for their cause had little justice in it. Here we see how clear they are when they deal with their church (it is wonderful, the effrontery with which they call it a church) and their pastors. There they were after this one thing—to show their treachery legitimate, both because of the morals of men and the bishops, and they were torn by conflicting emotions, and, as is said, held the wolf by the ears. For if they extravagantly blamed the morals of the faithful they would incur the charge of evil speaking and malevolence, but if they thought moderately well of them, those whom they had brought over to themselves would not be sufficiently aroused to their secession. So since they dared not speak freely, both because of fear and caution as well as because of the injustice of their cause and malice, they concluded to speak obscurely and suspiciously, so that none attacking in open contest might easily catch the oily and chameleon-like adversary. For when you were going to say: Why do you encourage secession from the churches of the faithful, they would be ready to reply that they taught only separation from the evil, and that legitimately. When you objected that you do not denounce separation from the wicked, but that they seem to speak of separation from those whose life is wholly endurable, they could reply by heaping up, in dramatic forestalling of objections, what they can in no way correctly defend—the world, those out of the world, good and evil, God and the devil, Christ and Belial, etc. By this you could be led to reason thus: It is true what they say; all things known are either divine or worldly, and so if you found aught worldly in yourself you would condemn yourself, even if you should have commerce with worldly matters, and so being aroused would go over to the betrayers, not reflecting that when you had gone over to them you would at once find human misery there, too, just as much as among those who as citizens do as the law directs, meet in assembly, attend marriages and public feasts, bear arms and do the other things which those men blame as the very worst possible. Nay, you would find worse misery, for they are steeped in abominable crimes—to use their own vocabulary. They render his own to none, they defile wives, fail to judge parricide, take away the magistracy, eliminate obedience. But I return to the proposition. When in the former paragraph, I say, they encouraged defection, they purposely said everything in obscure terms, chiefly for the reasons I have assigned. But how plain and clear are they when they speak of the pastor of their own church! They concede, then, under this rule the support to the pastor of a heretical church which they deny to the bishop of the Christian church. Where now are those words: “They eat at the table of Jezebel; they themselves devour the homes of widows,” though at that time none of us had more than seventy gold pieces, and we all said that it is much better to live from those goods which were first among the churches, or from the tithes or returns that might be collected, than, leaving those to I know not whom, weigh down the churches by a new begging of support. But thanks be to God the leaders* have thoroughly disclosed themselves here. Now they mark out support for the bishop of their own church. Where, pray, will they get it? Do you not cry out that you are more than sufficiently burdened, and probably with justice, under the innumerable contributions, taxes, giving and other exactions? But this is sweet—what they add in the marking out of support: If a pastor need aught! As if all those leaders were not most lost vagrants, who either save their soul with their feet when they owe anything or are so slothful and idle that they will not provide support by their hands. What then do you suppose they lack? A part of support? They who are so slothful and lazy that when you have supplied all support they are hardly able to endure the labor of living. The atrabilious men! It is bile, and not the spirit, for which they sell themselves. Do we not know that it is from bile and an evil admixture that the crazy commit suicide? And are we ignorant of those atrabilious fellows who labor with their own impatience, and shall we trust their lies about the spirit? I know that all is not borne along of its own will, but is governed and disposed by the providence of God, but at the same time I see also that by his providence these monsters are led like wild boars into our liquid pools to prove us, so that it may appear whether we are faithful or not. That they have sewed together in this article of theirs a patchwork from many passages of Scripture—this I do not think needs exposition.
Catabaptists. Sixth. We determine or decide about the sword as follows: The sword is an ordinance of God outside of the perfection of Christ, by which the evil man is punished and slain and the good man defended. In the law the sword is ordained against the evil for punishment and death, and for this the magistracy of the world is constituted. But in the perfection of Christ we use only excommunication, for the admonishing and exclusion of the sinner, for the destruction of the flesh alone, as admonishment and warning that he sin no more. Here we are asked by many who do not understand the will of Christ toward us: Can a Christian use, or ought he to use, the sword against evil for the defense of the good or from love? This reply is therefore revealed to us unanimously: Christ teaches us to learn from himself. But he is mild and gentle of heart, and we shall find rest to our souls. So Christ said to the woman taken in adultery, not that she should be stoned according to the law (and yet he had said: As my Father hath commanded me, so I speak), but he spoke to her with commiseration and indulgence and warning not to sin again, and said: Go and sin no more. We must in the same way observe this according to the rule of ex-communication.
Reply. I will not interpret the whole of this paragraph in its prolixity at once, but divide it into parts, and confute it as briefly as possible. Therefore when they say that the sword is an ordinance of God outside the perfection of Christ, etc., I would know to what they refer the perfection of Christ, to the head or the body, i. e., do they mean to say: Christ himself is so perfect that he needs no sword (i. e., the magistracy,) to chastise or punish himself, or do they mean that Christians need no sword or magistracy? If the first, I assert that the Lord of lords and King of kings is so far from needing magistracy that all magistrates draw their authority down from heaven through him. If the second, I strive with all my powers against the proposition that Christians need no magistracy. For I grant this, that it is easy for them to say that a real Christian needs no magistracy, for of faith he omits none of those things that ought to be done and does none of the deeds that are not right. But it is our misfortune that among men we do not find so absolute perfection, and may not hope to find that all who confess Christ are wholly happy, as long as we bear about this domicile of the body. Therefore the saying: The sword is an ordinance of God outside of the perfection of Christ is true in this sense—wherever the members of Christ do not arrive at the measure of the perfection of the head there is need for the sword. But they mean something else entirely, i. e., that the heretical church of the rebaptized needs no sword, for it is within the perfection of Christ. For the foolish men assume what the monks used to assume, viz., that they are in a state of perfection, although they do not use those words. For when they separate from the world, crying to brethren of the same kidney, “Go ye out from them,” do they do anything but guard themselves from being defiled by some filth from us? Afterwards when they say: But in the perfection of Christ we use excommunication only, etc., you see how they assert that they have perfection within their church when they say: We use. These most seditious men therefore would take away the sword so that they may the more freely throw all into confusion. There is no need for you to say that there are so many impious that there is no danger of taking away the sword by their preaching. For they do not go to the impious. But when they see those who have embraced the gospel—even now so great a number that if they should undertake to do what those do who defend the pope they might hope to come off superior—if they could draw these to their faction, all magistracy and obligation will be abolished. Well known is the cry of that Catabaptist when he returned to Christ: If we had been as superior to you as you were to us, you would have seen whether we had swords and oath or not. And when they would free us from all fear, and promise that all will come out as we desire it, whither, pray, do they look, if not to the multitude, for when they have gained this they will sail into port? They consequently desire to cajole those who have received the gospel to lay aside the sword. For among them the authority of the word is valid. If you repeat six hundred times the words of Christ to others, the tyrants and the impious popes, they are not all disturbed. In the perfection of Christ, viz., in their evil church, they would have the sword removed, so that they might more freely associate with harlots, defile matrons, seduce with their blandiloquence the women, confuse all settled conditions, nay, overthrow cities and men’s dwelling places. For thus a little band of robbers will be able to compel the making common the goods of those who are unwilling to put them to common use. So that the more the sword ought to be preserved even on their own account, since they assail with so many stratagems the public peace, the more they deny that it can be employed among Christians. When therefore they lead us to Christ, who offered himself as an example to us of gentleness and humility, they wish to appear to have done right; indeed they would in our judgment also have done right if faith were with them. For if it were, they would continue to be mild and of humble spirit, even though none followed them, but now since there is nothing bitterer or more harsh [than they], it becomes evident that gentleness is taught by them just as we have heard that temperance was taught once by a most eager glutton. For when any edible was brought in of which he was particularly fond, he used to warn his table-companions not to swallow it hurriedly and hastily, but quietly to dwell upon it and to masticate it for a long time, and so increase the pleasure by lengthening it, in order that he might gorge himself the more abundantly. So since there is nothing harsher than these (for what age has ever seen such evil speaking?) they refer others to Christ to learn gentleness, while they themselves go as far from his example as possible. Then they adduce the example of Christ when he dealt with the woman adulterer, i. e., he did not hand her over to be stoned, but regarded her with compassion, and said: Go and sin no more. Indeed they write all this charmingly, so that you may the more easily understand that those spirits are even now propitious to adulterers. But look here, you slothful and over-sensitive fellows, have you not read that Christ gave all sorts of precedents in accordance with the diversity of occasions? How often do you read the most cruel things? Here then learn to recognize a divine and punishing justice. How often, on the contrary, do you read the most gentle? There recognize pity. Then in a word learn this, that he whose first coming had nothing harsh in it, with that same one there is also the most complete justice, but since in that first coming his purpose was not to judge or condemn, but to save, he preserved the limits of his mission. Unless you show me that somewhere during that advent he assumed the authority of a judge, you will never move me by that example [to believe] that the magistracy is not lawful for a Christian. This you cannot do, for he fled when once they wished to make him king. But now that that mission has been completed, and he has sat down at the right hand of God, see whether or not he has destroyed cruel murderers and given his vineyard to other workers. It is no strange thing that so many sects are born daily; it is wonderful that more are not produced, especially when we have so wise interpreters of Scripture that they do not yet discriminate between Christ’s omnipotence, providence and divinity, by which he ever governs all, and his mission which he performed here. For when they behold that which he did in accordance with his mission here immediately they found upon those laws. Here he did not take upon himself the functions of a judge, for he did not come for that. Let no one therefore be judge. By no means. For that is to confound divine and human law.
Catabaptists. Secondly, the question is asked about the sword, whether a Christian may pronounce or give judgment in secular matters, between force and force, strife and strife, in which the unfaithful differ. To which we reply: Christ would not decide between brethren who quarreled about a bequest, but drove them away. Consequently we must do likewise.
Reply. I think it is clear enough why Christ put away this case; he had not come to prepare a kingdom for himself in this world, but that he who was Lord of all might subject himself to all. And I assert that the words of the Saviour prove this. For who, said he, made me a judge and a divider over you? Behold how he rejected the office of a judge! For although Christ was lord of all, yet in the dispensation of his humanity he never proclaimed himself king. When then he denies that he is a judge, he denies that this case concerns him; but meanwhile, when the occasion offers, does he not discuss the rendering to each of his own?—something that he almost never omits. If ever a reason is given for discussing necessary matters, he always passes from the gross to the spiritual. But here in passing by this he openly teaches that there was some judge to whom they could refer the case, but Christ was not he, so he made no decision. Therefore we see the office of judge rather confirmed than done away, even among the devout. So Paul’s admonition to bear injury rather than litigate with a brother does not involve that a Christian may not be a judge; it urges us not to be litigious. So also Christ warned against lawsuits because of the danger, since it often occurred in fact that he who hoped to return from the court a winner was thrown into prison till he could pay the whole debt. But this is excessively Christian when they say: In the lawsuits which the unbelieving engage in—meaning by the unbelieving all who are not of their heretical church. For they assert that a Christian may not exercise the office of judge in external matters—yet this is a divine matter if rightly performed. While they arrogate to themselves the judgment of the inner man (for they call all unbelieving who of a whole heart cherish the true God and the one Jesus Christ, provided these do not follow their erring flock). And they do this openly. For often two of them pass by good and devout men and one of them, the other being left to go on, stops to chat with our people; then the one who has gone on, turning about, cries out to the other: Brother, what are you doing among the unbelievers? Go away from them! Gentle men, indeed, who occasion some damage as often as opportunity permits! Which class seems to you, reader, to be the gentler and more humble—they who think nothing but violence and injury or those who overcome all audacity by sweetness?
Catabaptists. Third, about the sword it is asked whether a Christian ought to hold office when it is appointed to him. We reply that Christ was about to be made king, yet he fled and did not look back, according to the ordinance of his Father. So ought we to do, i. e., follow him, and we shall not walk in the darkness. For he said also: He that would follow me must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. He even interdicted the power of the sword, and thus denounced it: The kings of the Gentiles rule, but ye are not such. So Paul says: Whom God foreknew he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son. Peter also said that he had suffered, not ruled, and left us an example that we might follow in his footsteps.
Reply. That Christ would have been king if he had not fled has been discussed above. For he came not to be tended and ministered to as tyrants are, but to minister; not to give the whole world for the redemption of his own skin, as you Catabaptists do, betraying all your brethren when peril threatens, but to give his life for all mankind. He came for this, I say. Yet he never forbade a Christian and one worthy of empire to become a king even. “Who would follow me must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”—this was not said by him to indicate that no one could take office because he did not. For many kings have despised themselves and followed him, though retaining their royal authority until the end. If Saul had done this he would not have rendered the mountains of Gilboa illustrious by his calamity. “The kings of the Gentiles exercise authority over them, but ye are not so,” was not said to interdict from the magistracy. We ought to consider the occasion by which he was led to express this sentiment. The apostles had been contending about the leadership. Let us then recognize that it was said to them. For as he had come not to rule, but to redeem, so also he sent the disciples: As the Father, he said, hath sent me, so I also send you, i. e., to preach, not to rule. So since the apostles acted in Christ’s place, they ought to restrain their desires to rule after the pattern of their archetype Christ. He commanded them therefore not to rule; nay, to each private individual he implied that he should not put himself forward. I will prove this by the testimony of the apostles themselves. Peter ordered slaves to obey their masters, not only good and humane ones, but even the perverted. Behold how he opposes the perverse to good and humane! He means by the good those who were faithful; by the perverse, not the harsh and unkind, but those not in the faith. Therefore there were faithful masters. Peter also baptized Cornelius the centurion. The high functionary of the Ethiopian Candace was baptized by Philip. But if, according to your opinion, a Christian may not exercise the magistracy, and penitence and confession of faith are required before being baptized, then Peter and Philip did wrong in baptizing these before they had resigned office, or a Gentile who has been placed in office may also be baptized and received into the church. But in Paul we find mention of a Christian Quaestor and faithful master. For in writing to the Ephesians he says: Slaves who have faithful masters. And to the powerful of the Colossians he writes that they should act justly to the slaves whom they possess. I pass by Sergius Paulus. Now neither Peter nor Paul in writing to magistrates and masters discourage them from mastership. But when they write to the bishops, how often, pray, do they advise not to compass lordship in their duty, i. e., in the inheritance of the Lord, not to circumvent the brethren or throw a snare or be violent or the like! Clear, therefore, is the word of Christ: Ye are not such. Even the apostles understood it only as directed to themselves. What these cite from Paul respecting conformity to the image of Christ applies equally to kings and beggars; nay, they are more conformed to the image of the Son of God who in the height of power place themselves among the lowest, as did the Son of God, than we who creep upon the ground. Peter, they say, asserted that he had suffered, not ruled. He did that for which he was sent, as has been said often enough.
Catabaptists. Finally we learn that a Christian may not be a magistrate from what follows. The magistracy is a carnal office, a Christian is spiritual. Magistrates’ home and dwelling are corporeal in this world, all Christians’ are in heaven. The first are citizens of this world, Christians of heaven. The arms of the former are carnal and against the flesh; of the latter, spiritual and against the machinations of the devil. Earthly magistrates employ brass and iron, but Christians put on the armor of God—truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the word of God. In short, just as our head is disposed toward us, so ought all the members of the body in their entirety to be disposed through him, that there be no strife in the body to destroy it. For every kingdom divided against itself perishes. Since therefore Christ is as he is described, the members must necessarily be such that the body may remain sound and whole, to its own preservation and upbuilding.
Reply. You stupid seducers, for what more appropriate words can I apply to them? The magistrates’ office is carnal, say they. They might say at least that their power is directed toward the carnal and external. For are those things carnal that are mentioned in Ex. xviii. 21: Provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, who hate covetousness. Therefore a judge ought above all men to be rightly affected to all and unwavering, giving no decision in partiality or hatred or fear or violence. But who can better do this than a most devout person? But because he has to do with those who do whatever they please, according to the impulse of the flesh, does not make him less spiritual than those who think themselves so mightily so. It actually occurs that a father has to judge his son, as occurred to Saul, Brutus, Manlius and others. In such cases what are we to think a judge has most need of? Firmness, surely. But the flesh does not supply that, but either desire for glory or contention, and then it is not firmness, but persistency—such as that livid kind of yours—or from love of righteousness, which can be from God alone. A judge of this sort is more spiritual than those gentle little fellows who preach to us a kind of womanish gentleness, especially since there is so much evil among mortals. A judge of this sort is of more advantage to the glory of God and the advancement of the public peace than the whole Catabaptist heresy, though it should include its thousands of thousands. Consequently a judge or magistrate ought particularly to be a Christian and a spiritually-minded man. So God himself deigned to call them by his own name Elohim, because they should be most like God as high priests of righteousness, equity and firmness. “Their home” (i. e., judges’) “and habitation are corporeal and in this world; Christians’ are in heaven.” As if those words sounded to us of heaven! Where are you, pray, when you say these things? In the world, I think! So you, too, are in this world. If then a Christian may not be a magistrate because his habitation is in this world, then you are not Christians, for you are in the world. But how is a Christian’s habitation in heaven? In that he lives there in contemplation and moves thither in possession and in fruition, no doubt.* Therefore a judge, since he is ever engaged in contemplation of God, since he is every moment considering the safety of the people under him and the rendering of exact justice to each, is he not in heaven, so far as contemplation is concerned, rather than all the Catabaptists, who, if they honored God, would not engage in counsels so foolish and audacious. Finally, a judge who fears God will ascend after this life unto him whose name and office he bears here, when those seducers will all be sunk in the depth of their own evil baptism. Here meanwhile, magistrates and judges, be ye mindful of your duties, for not otherwise is horror of you conceived than because those who render right to every one are so rare among you, especially in this time when all abounds in violence and cruelty. But I have not time to pursue this here. After this manner I reply to their grandiloquent words—the citizenship of these is in this world, of Christians, in heaven. For the Catabaptists thus far have no citizenship here, no church in which they may live and watch, as a bishop and pastor should, but they are like wolves that lie in wait in the forests, that seize the prey and flee, that burn and then escape. The arms of these are carnal and against the flesh, they say, but Christians’ are spiritual and against the forts of the devil. They do not need me as a teacher here, for we see clearly enough that their wars are not against the flesh, for in all they yield to it. So earthly magistrates, they say, are armed with brass and iron; Catabaptists with hypocrisy and evil speaking, lies, injury, discord, faithlessness, disaster and the word of the devil—to give them altogether the gifts that are theirs in place of what they claim for themselves. “We ought in all to imitate Christ”—who denies it? But what prevents a pious judge from being, through the goodness and grace of God, as like Christ as is a Catabaptist? Rather, as I have said, he is the more able as he is the more like him, since when he was placed aloft he thought of humble things. But the Catabaptist ever assumes the highest in his own impudence. And the kingdom of Christ is not divided when a Christian exercises the magistracy; it is built up and united. This is clear from one example of Scripture, many times repeated, where cohorts of slaves are said to have embraced the faith of their masters. And it has been repeated by many cities in these times of ours, for as soon as the gospel began to be preached they gave opportunity to hear it to the people entrusted to them by the Lord, just as when faithful Jehosaphat ordered the law to be expounded by the priests and Levites, supported by several cohorts, throughout all his dominions. They opened a door by public command to the gospel and its ministers. And they have shut the door upon the wolves and false apostles, whether they have proceeded from the court of the pope or from the dens and caves of the Catabaptists. By this deed, glory to God, great growth of the gospel has at once been seen. But, as I have said, among the Christians they keep agitating these perverse teachings about not exercising the magistracy or taking the oath, so that if possible they may sow their errors without punishment or fear.
Catabaptists. Seventh. We thus decide and determine concerning the oath: 1. An oath is a confirmation among those who litigate or make promises. And the law directs, 2, that it be done by the name of God alone truly, and not falsely. But Christ, who teaches the perfection of the law, forbids all oaths, whether true or false, whether by heaven or earth or Jerusalem or oneself. And this for the reason which he adds, saying, 3: For ye cannot make one hair white or black. So notice! All swearing is prohibited because we are unable to perform any of those things we promise with an oath, for the very least of our possessions we cannot change. But some do not believe the simple precepts of God, saying, 4: Since God swore to Abraham by himself who was God, at the time when he promised to be kind to him and to be his God, if only he kept his precepts, why may I not also swear when I make a promise to any one? We reply: Hear what Scripture says—when God wished to offer a promise to his heirs, with surety that his counsel would not change, he interposed an oath, that we might hope Listen to the import of this Scripture: God has the power of taking an oath, which he prohibits to you, for to him all things are possible. God gave an oath to Abraham, says Scripture, to show that his counsel would not change, that is, since no one could resist his power, so it was necessary that he should preserve his oath. But we cannot, as was shown above by the word of Christ, keep an oath or do what we have sworn to do, so we ought not to swear. Again some say that it is in the Old Testament, not in the New, that we are forbidden to swear by God; in the New it is forbidden to swear by heaven or earth or Jerusalem. To which we reply: Hear the Scripture, 5: Who sweareth by the temple or heaven sweareth by the throne of God and by him who sitteth therein. You see how to swear by heaven is forbidden, for it is the throne of God; how much more serious to swear by God himself! O blind and foolish, which is the greater, the throne or he that sitteth thereon? Some even dare say: If it is wrong to swear even when the Lord’s name is used to support the truth, then Peter and Paul sinned, for they swore. To this we reply, 6: Peter and Paul only testify to this, that by God himself a promise was made to Abraham by an oath, but they themselves make no promises, as the examples clearly reveal. For testifying and swearing are entirely distinct. When an oath is taken something is promised for the future. 7. To Abraham when an old man Christ was promised, whom we received after a long interval. But when one testifies he testifies to something present, whether it is true and good or not. Just as Simeon said to Mary about Christ and testified: Lo, this one is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign to be spoken against. After this manner Christ taught us when he said: Let your speech be yea, yea, and nay, nay, for whatsoever is added to this is of evil. Christ warns us thus: Your speech ought to be yea, yea, that we may not understand him as permitting an oath. Christ is simply yea and nay. And all who seek him simply shall find him the Amen.
Reply. So far you have discussed what you decided about the oath. I will then reply to each error in order by its number, to avoid eternal repetition of your remarks. 1. Who, pray, has given you this definition of an oath? You have indeed touched on the practice but the essential nature of an oath you either do not know or maliciously pass by. You tell only what an oath we use, but what it is or how taken you say nothing of. If you should tell this frankly, an oath would cause no great dread in men, but this would not suit your designs, for you wish to destroy the magistracy and the power of which it consists. Take away the oath and you have dissolved all order. The burgomaster summons a senator who does not obey. You say: Let him have the policeman arrest him. How will he obey? The burgomaster sees a Catabaptist inciting the people to rebellion, and, wishing to see that no evil befalls the state, he orders him not to teach in secret (for they who are on the side of the gospel in sincerity easily overcome him when he teaches openly). Or he forbids him to teach publicly or privately, and orders the Catabaptist to be arrested when he despises every order. But the policeman does not obey. Who will arrest [the Catabaptist]—the burgomaster? But the other is stronger. You see, good reader, all order is overthrown when the oath is done away. Still, if the Scriptures required this, I would not oppose, for he by whose providence all is governed will never fail the house of Israel. But he wills not this confusion. Give up the oath in any state then according to the Catabaptists’ desire, and at once the magistracy is removed and all things follow as they would have them. Good gods! What a confusion and upturning of everything! For no one is so destitute of all wisdom in an emergency as this class of men. They would have everything rectified by their shouts, just like that physician, or rather quack, who runs to his single cureall for every sickness. But, to come to the point, an oath is an appeal to God in deciding or vouching for something. This is not our definition, but his through whom we swear. Ex. xxii. 10 thus commands: If a man deliver unto his neighbor an ass or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep, and it die or be hurt or driven away by robbers, no one seeing it, then shall an oath of the Lord be between them both, that he with whom it was left hath not put his hand to his neighbor’s goods, and the owner of the beast shall accept the oath, and he with whom it was left shall not restore aught. Here you see an oath is an appeal to God, for it says: An oath of the Lord (or of God), for the word is יהוה, [Yahweh.] But this appeal is nothing but a vowing of himself to the extreme punishment of the divine wrath if he is wrong. For since he calls as witness him, of whom alone he confesses himself to be a worshiper, and [of him] who can by no means be deceived, though man may, he bears witness under penalty of losing him whom alone he worships and who alone knows the hearts of men, that he is not deceiving and will not deceive. This authority of Exodus deals with the deciding [judicial] character of the oath. In Gen. xxi. 23 we have the words of Abimelech to Abraham, as follows: Therefore swear unto me by God that thou wilt not harm me nor my posterity, etc. And afterward Abraham says: I will swear; and again: There they both sware. Here again we have an attestation by God to do something. For Abraham swore to do no harm, which oath he kept. This, I say, is an oath when you define it. The Catabaptists call it a “decision,” and omit the appeal to God, that the simple may not reason thus among themselves. How is it that God is not to be invoked when the safety of a neighbor is in danger? An oath is therefore a divine thing, a sacred anchor to which we flee when human wisdom can go no farther. For who knows what is in man except God alone? He therefore betrays him who swears falsely by him. For a man is believed for the faith and religious trust which he has in God to have spoken [truly] and to be ready to fulfill. And it is through him that he deceives. For the benefit, then, of one’s neighbor an oath is commanded by God. And since the whole law and the prophets hang upon these two commands: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, then the oath itself is an appeal to God, whom you uniquely love and serve, and is for the advantage of the neighbor. Who then will dare against all the authority of Scripture to deprive the people of God of the oath? God cannot be offended by an oath, for he is called as a witness, so that if we are not believed yet we may be believed, since we will on no account betray him. For all will be praised who shall swear by him. And the neighbor also will not be hurt, for the oath is given for his advantage, that he may either know that to be true which he did not know, or may be sure that what he deprecates will not be done by his neighbor or what he asks will be granted. So far from a devout man not being able to take an oath, he will be impious who refuses when a matter worthy this attestation demands.
But the whole source of the error arises from their not seeing the opinion of Christ in Matt. v. 33; indeed they do not know the very words. For the German word “schwören,” to which they suppose the Greek ἐπιορκεῖν, the Latin “jurare” is similar, has another signification than what they suppose. For when we say in German “Der schwört,” i. e., he swears, it is uncertain whether a formal oath is referred to or whether one is just swearing off-hand. The signification of this word is twofold. The Latin “jurare” is always used in a good sense, i. e., for asking a sacred obligation. But “dejerare” is used for swearing, either truly or falsely, outside of sacred obligations, which we might translate into German by a new word, “zuschwören,” equivalent to the Greek word ἐπιορκεῖν. So the Latin has three words, “jurare,” “dejerare” and “perjerare;” the first means a sacred obligation, the second to swear off-hand to anything either falsely or truly, the third to swear falsely. Christ would not forbid us to swear [“jurare”], but to swear lightly or off-hand [“dejerare”]. But as these men do not, or will not, see this (I have often set it forth to them), they willingly and wittingly stumble. But to show this is the sense of Christ’s words I will examine the words themselves, as follows: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old, Thou shalt not ἐπιορκεῖν, i. e., “dejerare,” or swear lightly. Our translation has it, “Thou shalt not commit perjury,” which is not wholly bad. For the word “perjerare,” though never used in a good sense, does not always indicate the violation or transgression or pretended fulfilment of an oath, but sometimes it means “dejerare,” when “dejerare” is used in a bad sense. For “dejerare” is sometimes used in a good sense, as I have sometimes observed. While therefore the words of Christ are: It was said by them of old, Thou shalt not commit perjury, you will nowhere find among the Hebrews this interdict of perjury, nor among the Greeks. But you will find in Ex. xx. 7: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God “temere,” which our translator translates “in vain.” You will find, Lev. xix. 12: Ye shall not swear by my name falsely, where the Greek interprets: οὑκ ὁμεῖσϑε τῷ ὁνόματί μου επ’ ἀδίκῳ, i. e., Ye shalt not swear by my name to that which is wicked or false. The Latin translates: Non perjurabis in nomine meo. You see how elegantly the divine Jerome has used here the word perjurare for falsely “dejerare,” not for violating an oath. It was therefore forbidden by them of old (2) to take the name of God rashly, i. e., as it is expounded in the passage from Leviticus—not to swear to a falsehood. So in them this opinion rose out of this understanding—if the name of God were taken to that which was true no harm was done even though this was in ordinary and daily discourse, but that it was not permitted to apply it either as “adjurare” or “dejerare” to a light, vain, false, fictitious or lying matter. This opinion it was that Christ combatted, thinking that they ought not “dejerare” either to the true or false in ordinary discourse; everything was to be said and done so truly that if one said ναὶ, that is, Yea, the neighbor should know that what the other had said was true, or if he said Nay, the neighbor should know that for truth. About the official oath nothing is said here. For the passage runs: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old, Thou shalt not forswear thyself. Where is this said? Why, where the discussion is not about perjury, but of “dejerare.” There it was permitted to take the name of God in asseveration of the truth. There follows: Thou shalt pay thy vows. Whither does this point? If the discussion is of official oath, where then does the former passage, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, hold in this sense: Thou shalt not fail thy oath? It is clear therefore that he speaks about those oaths in which people undertook off-hand to do something, just as if he had said: All that thou hast sworn to do must be done correctly and lawfully, in order that by this he might deter from rash vows and swearing, on the ground that there was danger that the Lord would require it if you undertook anything lightly. Then he follows with: But I say to you, swear not at all. But of what swearing does he speak? Why, of that which was lawful for the ancients when he wished to call upon the name of God for some matter true and important. For we ought not in a matter true and important adjure, dejure or promise anything of our own private authority. Here no mention occurs of the oath required by public authority. What follows establishes this. He says: Neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne, nor by earth, for it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king, nor by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black. These examples show that Christ did not refer to the oath [required by magistrates]. For which of the Hebrews ever took [such] an oath by heaven, earth, Jerusalem or his head? On the other hand, who does not swear off-hand by these? One man promises something by the cross of Christ, another asseverates by heaven and earth. This then is what Christ forbade. To this he directs the wind-up of his whole discourse. Let your speech be such that yea means yea, and nay, nay. There you have it. He does not speak about our oath; he does not touch upon the forum or court or magistracy, but upon daily conversation in our familiar intercourse.
Perhaps I seem to some to argue for this opinion tamely. But if they weigh as often as I have done the passages from Exodus xx. and Leviticus xix, in the Hebrew, the Greek and the Latin, I know they will think as I do. You see now whether enough can be said against the Catabaptists, since they have not considered the double sense of the word, but have made a misunderstanding the basis of their error.
(3) Nor is this a good reason for refusing to make oath, that we cannot change a hair, for if it were legitimate we might not reply with even a yea to our neighbor. I have answered yea to many who asked me whether I were going to lead an army against the Catabaptists, yet at no moment was I secure from him who knocks equally at all doors. Still I was right. Yet I was uncertain that I should live, much more write, but no one will accuse me of falsehood. A brother promises another to be on hand to-morrow. But because, taken down with fever, he does not come, he is not accused of falsehood, nor does any one blame him, for God gives him the excuse of necessity. So also when he is summoned to an enquiry by the magistrate under oath, his reply is not such that the power of almighty God cannot rightly exempt him. For when Abraham swore to Abimelech himself, did he not swear to do something? Why then did he do it? Especially when the Catabaptists declare that he could not do anything, and assert that Christ meant that? Under the law, they say, it was permitted to make oath. But Abraham made this reply on oath 430 years before, and he was not under the law, but under faith. For the apostle makes him our father by faith. It is clear then that Christ spoke against that insanity under which many swear of their own motion so frivolously and promise something as of their own authority, or swear not to do what they could not avoid. They also call to witness for any sort of thing, not only the names of heaven and earth, but also of the living God, thus bringing contumely upon God to their own evil.
(4) When they seek to weaken that example of God swearing to Abraham himself, do they not weaken themselves? How often have they said in the foregoing that we are to do what we see that Christ did? But they add, this is possible to God—to do what he promised—but not to us. Must not the same be said of Christ? So I say: Christ could love his enemies, I cannot. So I must not. You see, good reader, that although they try and move many things, yet in all it is shown that they have laid the foundations of their error in some marked arrogance or malice or at least ignorance, as in this case. For in their persuasive discourse from the words: “For thou art not able to change one hair,” they infer that by this Christ would take away the solemn obligation known as an oath.
(5) They reason from the less to the greater: If one may not swear by the throne, how much less by God himself who sitteth upon it? Not inaptly do they infer, if they speak of perjury or of swearing lightly. For if God forbids swearing lightly by his throne because it is his, how much less should we swear lightly by him? But if they speak of the obligation [of the oath], they infer wrongly that if we may not assume an obligation by his throne we may not by himself. An oath is not legitimately taken and as it ought to be, “any created thing,” but “by God” himself. An oath is a religious matter; he who makes oath binds himself to the sum of religion; in religion the chief thing is adoration. Just as it would be illegitimate to infer: The throne is not to be adored, therefore God is not. So it is no less illegitimate: By the throne oath is not to be taken, therefore not by him who sits upon it.
(6) When they speak of the testimonies of Peter and Paul, they do not know of what they chatter. They have not yet learned that the word “testify” is in most elegant use among the Hebrews for proclaiming a thing boldly and constantly. That one may give testimony is clear from 1 Tim. v. 19: Against an elder receive not an accusation but before two or three witnesses. I ask first whether the apostle speaks here of Christian witnesses or the unbelieving? If of the unbelieving, then every moment bishop and church are in danger. For the more holy and innocent one is, the more do the perfidious assail him; and Paul seems to have ill advised for the church and the bishop when he has given the unbelieving the opportunity to testify. But if he speaks of witnesses within the church, it results that a Christian may give testimony. My second question then is—were they who gave testimony sworn or not? If unsworn, again the bishop is in peril, for there are many false brethren, many who the more vigilantly the bishop watches, the more hostilely aim at his deposition. In short, it is the fact in human affairs that there are few whom you can believe unsworn; indeed they say that among the Romans in reality Cato was the only one whom they could believe without an oath. In fact it is not very likely that within the church witnesses were ever received without oath, for under the spirit and prudence that was powerful with them they easily saw that if men unsworn were accustomed to speak against the bishop, daily empty accusations and movements would be aroused against the bishop. If you had weighed this testimony a little more carefully, ye immersers not only of bodies, but of souls, you would not teach that an oath may not be taken. But what good do I hope from you? For whatever you assert you affirm willingly and wittingly against the Scripture.
(7) When an oath is taken, they say, something future is promised. But what is promised for the future when he with whom his neighbor’s ass has been left swears that he has not put his hand to his neighbor’s goods? See how learned and prudently you dispose your trifles. At first an oath was a decision only between litigants; now it is only a promise. What is this but babbling forth whatever comes into your head? When any one testifies, they say, he testifies regarding the present, whether it is true and good, just as Simeon testified: Lo, this one is placed for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, etc. What if the apostles testified regarding a past event—the crucified Christ—throughout the world? And ye shall be my witnesses, not only in Judea and Samaria, but to the ends of the earth. The apostles testified therefore to a past event. Also Simeon testified to the future when he said that Christ was to be a sign to be spoken against. I myself now testify to you of the future, and faithful is the word, i. e., it is sure. I testify to you, whether you accept the monitor or not, that the time will come when they who are now led astray by you will recover their sight and will be aroused against you like shepherds against a wolf or a mad dog. Do not I also now testify? Why do you not insert in those laws of yours something of your sweet attestation? That you may not be ignorant of this, reader, listen to this: At Appenzell they use the following tricks: Some Catabaptist throws himself down just as though he were an epileptic; as long as he can he holds his breath and pretends to be in ecstasy. Those who have seen it say he presents a horrible appearance. Finally, like one waking up, he begins to testify about what he has heard and seen while in ecstasy. They have all seen especially that Zwingli is in error about catabaptism, and this opinion one pronounces gently and another violently. They saw that the day of judgment was at hand two years ago, and that catabaptism was a righteous and holy thing, and all that kind of foolishness. You must not suppose that these tricks are concocted by their common people; the leaders are the authors, as you may know from the following example: At S. Gall there was a Catabaptist girl of about 12 years or a little more. She was the daughter of a right thinking man, as they say. He was preparing one day to carry some provisions (he is a provider of grain) when his daughter warned him to remain at home, for he would see something wonderful. A little after she fell down in the way I described above. And when she was waking up she babbled out those empty ravings of theirs. You see how she knew when she was going to fall. Why did she not fall down at once when she saw her father leaving? Why, she had not been taught all she should say when coming to consciousness, nor been told of all that there was need of in accomplishing the affair. Every now and then they use these tricks still at Abtzell. And they call it an attestation, though it applies to things past and future, so that those vain seducers of old women cannot say that when any one testifies, it is of the present. Oh, how sweetly and gently do they arrange everything. Ye gods and goddesses above, below and in between, be propitious to them!
(8) They rightly tell us that Christ taught that our speech should be ever yea or nay, yet they do not seem clearly to understand it, or if they understand they do not act upon it. For though in many places they have said yea, it has never been yea. When those leaders are banished against whom I write especially, and are asked for an oath, they will not take oath, but say that through the faith which they have in God they know they will never return, and yet having been seen returned, they say the Father led me back through his will. I know very well that it is the father of lies that brings them back; they pretend to know it is the heavenly Father. This is worth telling: When that George (whom they all call a second Paul) of the house of Jacob [Blaurock] was cudgeled with rods among us even to the infernal gate, and was asked by the senate’s officer to take oath and lift his hands [in affirmation], at first he refused, as he had often done before and had persisted in doing. Indeed, he had always acted as if he would rather die than take an oath. The official of the senate then ordered him to lift his hands and make oath at once when put to the question, “or do you, policeman,” said he, “lead him back to prison.” But now, persuaded by rods, this George of the house of Jacob raised his hands to heaven and followed the magistrate in the reading of the oath. So here you have the question confronting you, Catabaptists, whether that Paul of yours did or did not transgress the law. The law forbids to swear; he swore, so he transgressed the law. Hence this knot: You would be separated from the world, from lies, from those who walk not according to the resurrection of Christ but in dead works. How then is it that you have not excommunicated that apostate? Your yea is not yea with you, nor your nay, nay, but the contrary. Your yea is nay, and your nay, yea. You follow neither Christ nor your ordinances.
(9) Be these things said about oaths which they would abrogate from human affairs only for the sake of sedition and tumult? For in promising to the untaught the liberty of the flesh, which neither Christ nor the apostles preached, they use these arts of rebaptizing, separating and refusing an oath. Meanwhile they do not consider what Paul says, Heb. vi. 16: An oath is confirmation and the end of all strife. In saying this it is clear that the divine apostle said not of those who are not within the church, “an oath among them confirms or decides everything,” but of those who are not without the church. Among these therefore he declares that all is confirmed or decided by an oath. Nor do they consider, as I have warned them, what was said above about witnesses testifying about a bishop, nor this, that neither Christ nor the apostles ever taught that the statement that every word stands or falls by the utterance of two or three witnesses had been made void, as is easily seen by Matt. xviii. 16 and Heb. x. 28. From these they might have learned that an oath was never abolished, although they had no word but: Render to Cæsar what is Cæsar’s and to God what is his. So they are told to render to Cæsar what is his. But they owe the oath. Therefore Christ orders it to be given.
But before we leave this a warning ought to be given the tyrants of this world, who though they falsely boast in the name of Christ yet do all to beat down his gospel, that they must not suppose that by this defense of the oath, which I have furnished, an opportunity is given for finding a defense of their own cruelty, because nothing has been said thus far of the atrocity of abusing an oath. To give in brief the sum of my opinion, I myself do not think an oath ought to be demanded, or can be demanded, without disturbing conscience, except when either all human attestation fails or the safety of a neighor is gravely imperilled, and then only in case that in no oath that we take is the name of God blasphemed. This opinion of mine you will easily extract from what has been said. I think that those trifles of the Catabaptists have been quite thoroughly refuted. Now I go to other matters.
In this part I undertake to treat of two things—the covenant or testament, and election, that it may stand firm. Here I shall show with sure testimony and argument that it was the custom of the apostles to baptize the infants of believers. On the covenant then I speak after the following fashion: Although the Architect of the universe created this great world that it might have man as a cultivator, yet before any colony was sent out to any part, nay, before the future colonists were born, the one hope of the whole race, the father of the human race, rebelled against his Maker. But God was too merciful to visit the betrayer according to the magnitude of his fault, and at the same time too just to pass so daring a deed unpunished. So whom he might have utterly destroyed he made wretched and full of misfortune. When he drove him from Paradise he did not forbid him to become a father, but simply that he should not be the father of so noble a race as would have been if he had not betrayed his trust. So then it came about, that such as the offspring was, it was disseminated, as the cultivator, in all the corners of the earth. But, however, it grew and multiplied, and became divided into the various races of men, yet divine Providence in a peculiar way designated one to be among all peoples as especially sacred, as if it were a venerable priesthood among all. Divine Providence selected this race for this purpose, that when it would clear the world’s sin by the death of his Son, this Son should take a body in which he could die from this nation. And this nation he followed in all times with his great blessings, nay, he so cherished and preserved it in every crisis that by observation of this alone one might learn that God was about to accomplish through it something exceedingly wonderful. So that whenever it was reduced to fewness in numbers it suddenly sprang up anew; however it was afflicted, it was ever restored. Adam believed that the son born to him was he of whom God had said not long before that he should bruise the head of the devil; so also his mother said: [“Cain”] I have gotten a man from the Lord, i. e., have obtained or received the man whom God promised.* When she had another son, she named him Abel, i. e., superfluous, not out of scornful pride, but of gratulation, because God had abundanty given what he had promised. As if she would say: That munificent God has done more than he promised.† But in a short time she who had deemed herself more than happy in her sons was bereaved, for he who as the firstborn was the hope of his parents, arose and killed his brother, who merited and expected no such thing. So all fell out that everything depended upon one; Abel was slain; Cain, the murderer, showed clearly by the working of his conscience that out of him should not arise the one who was to repair the fall of his parents. But God in his goodness succored them in this calamity, and he sent them another son, as a branch from whom posterity should flourish. So his name was Seth, i. e., one placed or given, for the Hebrews often used the word to place or give in the sense “given of God.”* From him then posterity was derived up to Noah, who was the most just and unoffending of all in his times. And when the human race was borne along by its cupidity and violence, and by its boldness left nothing undone, he destroyed all in a flood, since they would not hear Noah, who had been sent by God. But Noah and his family alone were saved in the ark. The covenant was renewed with him, in whom the whole human race was renewed and spreading to all parts of the earth in order to its cultivation. Meanwhile God was not unmindful of his counsel, and so passing by all the rest, even the best of them, he embraced Abraham and selected him out of all for this purpose, that from him might come the posterity that would save not only the Jews, but the whole human race. With him then he renewed the covenant he had compacted with Adam, and made it clearer, for the nearer approached the time of his Son’s advent, the more openly did he speak with them. Therefore he promised him first his own goodness, that he would be his God, and he required of him in return that he should excel, i. e., should walk before him in right doing. He then promised that he would give him that blessed seed that was to bruise the head of the old serpent and should raise to an unfailing hope of safety the head of man bowed down by the serpent. He promised also an innumerable posterity to be born to him not only after the flesh, but also according to the spirit. Finally he promised him Palestine. And as the sign of this covenant he ordered circumcision. And the stranger and sojourner so grew that they who had knowledge of the man could easily see that God was with him. And God did all that he had promised. And when his posterity had increased to an enormous multitude in Egypt, he selected not one tribe alone, nor one man, as before, with which or whom to keep the covenant he had made, but although Judah the son of Israel was designated as he from whom the Saviour should be born, yet the rest of the tribes which came of Abraham were not excluded from the covenant or from his friendship that he had given to their father Abraham. Just as he did not change anything with those who afterwards were of Judah, yet not of the house of David, who was himself peculiarly marked out as the father of the coming Christ, all were regarded as under the covenant who had descended from Abraham. Now to return to the point. This, I say, is the Israelitic or Hebrew people whom the Lord marked out as his own peculiar people from all races and peoples, so that it should tower above all peoples, just as the colleges of priests stood forth prominent among that race and all races, as he testifies in his words in Ex. xix. 5: Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenants, ye shall be my excellent people, i. e., my own peculiar and sought-out people of all peoples although the whole earth is mine. And ye shall be a kingdom consisting of priests to me and a holy race.
Here then the Catabaptists have a medicine or plaster for their whole error, if they would suffer it to be applied. If ye will hear my voice and keep my covenant, he says. Here is God speaking synecdochically! For when he addresses the whole people: If ye hear my voice and keep my covenant, etc., which can be referred to those alone who hear and can have desire to keep the covenant, yet he no more excludes infants because they do not hear or understand what is to be kept than they who were bound in sleep or mentally. For they who are of one body are considered together. But since infants are of the people of God, they are not excluded because they cannot hear or understand. For that they are members of one and the same body of God’s people is clear from this, that circumcision, the sign of the covenant, is given them. For God with his own mouth named both the covenant and the sign of the covenant, because he who was of the covenant was sealed with this sign. Paul in 1 Cor. xii. 13 says: In one spirit we are all baptized into one body. But you Catabaptists yourselves argue that if one comes to the Lord’s table, he must first through baptism have become of Christ’s body. I do not say this because now or hereafter I wish to teach that circumcision or baptism introduces one into Christ, but that I may show that the circumcised or baptized are in the body of God’s church, although I take no exception to the change of form: We are baptized into one body, instead of: We who are of one body are baptized in one baptism, for by nature being of the body precedes bearing the mark of the body. So also Paul says: In one spirit we were all baptized into one body. The grace of the spirit by which we are admitted into union with the church precedes the sign of union. For no one is sealed unless he has first been enrolled in the army or service. I therefore am coming to this: If they who are baptized in one baptism have come into one body, doubtless they who were sealed with one circumcision, the sign of the covenant—they were also gathered into one body. Hebrew infants were sealed with circumcision, the sign of the covenant; they were therefore under the covenant. Since they were under the covenant, and God spoke with that body which was joined with him by the covenant, whether we will or not we are compelled to confess that the words: “If ye hear and keep” are a synecdoche by which infants are not excluded, even though certain things do not apply to them. I will give another example, to try if they can in any way be made to see the truth. Plutarch teaches in his book, “On the delay of the divine justice,”* that a people, a city or a tribe is one, even as a man is one. It therefore makes no difference if races, cities and peoples are not punished as soon as they transgress, for no one can escape the hand of the deity. So it follows that some people are punished many years afterwards when none are living of those who sinned. But this is just the same as if those who sinned themselves suffer punishment, for a tribe, a city or a people is one body or, as it were, one man. So consider it in this place that the children of Hebrews and of Christians are of the same body as their parents, and when it is said “Hear, O Israel”—and infants cannot hear—does not say that they are not of the people of God. For although to-day they cannot, yet some time they will act, hear and understand. And those are no less regarded by God himself as among the sons of God who are destined to this, if when he speaks to their elders they themselves do not understand. About which in the following, when we come to election.
There follows “Ye shall be my own peculiar people, sought out.” The Latin interpreter says: In peculium eritis mihi. Peter said an acquired people, or, according to the Hebrew scheme, one of acquisition. This is therefore the singular people of God, which he bore upon his shoulders, which he lifted above all peril, just as an eagle flies above all peril. By which metaphors the divine prophets mean this: This people was ever loved by the Lord above all peoples of the earth, was preserved and fostered, just as a father lifts his children upon his shoulders and bears them, or a hen gathers her chickens under her wings. But this is not to be so received as though the Hebrew infants were not of the people of God, since they bore the sign of that body not without the order of him who was the author of the covenant.
Of all peoples. By these words God secretly implies election. For God has not bound his own choice or the freedom of his will to any external or sign or deed. But in every nation he who fears God and does what is right is accepted and is pleasing to him. Acts x. 35. Whence from his selecting the Israelites out of all peoples it does not follow that no one not of that people was to be saved (for the election of God is ever free), but that for his Son’s glory he would make that people wonderful above all and peculiarly loved.
For the whole earth is mine, or, even though the whole earth is mine. This also refers to the privilege and glory of this people, and asserts election. For although all peoples of the whole earth are the Lord’s, yet he selected Israel to be his part, possession and lot. Is. xix. 25. Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel shall be my inheritance.
And ye shall be my sacerdotal kingdom, or as I have interpreted it, Ye shall be to me a kingdom consisting of priests. For the Hebrew has kingdom of priests, though to avoid the ambiguity is the sense given rightly in the shape I adopt. Just as the ambassadors of Pyrrhus or some other prince said that the Roman senate was composed of kings because of the solemn dignity and majesty of the senators, so the whole Israelite kingdom is said to be a kingdom of priests or consisting of priests, both because of its system of ceremonies and the excellence of its law and its prophets, and because of the covenant and friendship which the Lord had with and for this state. Therefore the Israelitic people excelled all others on the earth, both in those matters which pertain to God and in those pertaining to nobility of race. For as they were all sprung from one, so from them sprung he who was made the only king and emperor of all nations. What greater nobility or what equal grace is discoverable?
Was it not the greatest glory if one were sprung from that race, since God had cherished it above all others, had made it his own and made a covenant with it? And although all these matters are most noted throughout Scripture, and everywhere treated, yet Paul above all treats it in brief but clear words in Rom. ix. 3: I could wish, he says, that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, who are my kinsmen after the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service, the promises, whose are the fathers and of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh; who is above all God blessed for ever. See how he makes out the Israelites to be adopted as sons of God, even though very many of them had displeased the Lord. He says theirs is the glory, for what majesty is equal to theirs, that they are the people of God, sons of God, and that from them was born the Saviour of all? Theirs are the covenants also, for whatever the Lord has covenanted with the human race has been done through this people. Whose is the giving of the law, for the highest and best was not satisfied to enter into covenant or alliance with them without fortifying his people by divine and righteous laws. Theirs, too, was the service, for God showed them how worship could best be done, in righteousness, equity and innocence. But it is not to be believed that the service of animal sacrifice which he had pointed out to them displeased him, though it meant only discipline, circumspection and foreshadowing. He willed the discipline of this service among them that they might have rites by which they might less revolt to the service of idols than if such rites were absent. But he wished to indicate by animal victims that there would come some time a victim that would cleanse their souls. For he wished to accustom them by bodily victims to the idea of a victim for perfection and for their souls, that when they saw beasts commanded for the external purification of the flesh they might learn that a victim would come to purify their souls also. For they could all understand that God’s care was first for the souls and then for the body. Theirs was the service, whether it represented the true service or was itself the true service, for from them was born he through whom all true worshipers and adorers should approach to God. The promises also were made to them alone; I say nothing about the sibyl’s poems, whether they were produced among them or introduced. Still this people of God stood for this, that whatever good he wished to bestow upon the human race he gave or promised through this quasi priesthood. It was then the special people whose were the promises, even though he spoke also through sibyl prophetesses among the Gentiles, that we might recognize the liberty of his will and the authority of his election.* But theirs are the fathers also, men filled with God, some of whom, though almost the whole world was living a bestial life (for where God is not worshiped what difference is there between man and beast?) and was following its own raging affections, alone honored God, believed his word and submitted themselves to his will. Others boldly announced the good things which through the in-breathing of the Holy Spirit they saw coming to the obedient and Godfearing, or the evil in store for the rebellious, impious and contumacious. These, I say, were the fathers, whom we call patriarchs and prophets, to whom the promises were made, and they came of the Israelites, the people of God.
In short (for why should we use much testimony in so clear a matter?), I mean this: The Israelites were God’s people with whom he entered into covenant, whom he made especially his own, to whom also he gave a sign of his covenant from the least to the greatest, because high and low were in covenant with him, were his people and were of his church. And when, in giving command or prohibition, he addresses that whole people, the infants are not excluded because they understand nothing of what is said or commanded, but he speaks synecdochically, so that so far from excluding that part which could receive nothing that came because of the times or its age he even includes it, just as when a person acts with a man he acts also with all the family and his posterity. So that he often addresses the whole people as one man: Hear, O Israel, and: Say to the house of Jacob, etc.
Therefore the same covenant which he entered into with Israel he has in these latter days entered into with us, that we may be one people with them, one church, and may have also one covenant. I suppose that some will vainly cry out: See how that fellow would make Jews of us, though we have always been told of two peoples, two churches and two covenants. See Gen. xxv. 23 and Gal. iv. 22. To which my answer is: Whenever there is held in Scripture that there are two distinct and diverse peoples, necessarily one of these is not the people of God. For both when the Jews were God’s people and we who are Gentiles were not, and now when we who are Gentiles are God’s people and the Jews are cut off, there is only one people of God, not two. In Gen. xxv. 23 we read: Two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels, it is not to be understood as though both were and would be his people at the same time. But Jacob he loved and Esau he hated before they struggled in her womb. Therefore ever one and the same people is that which cherishes the one true and only God, from whatsoever parents it was born. And again, they are diverse who follow a diverse cultus, though one and the same birth- pang produce them. When therefore he spoke of two peoples formerly, one was Jewish, the other Gentile. The Jew worshiped the high God, but the Gentile was impious. Now when we speak of the church of the Gentiles, it is the same now as that former one of the Jews, and the people of the Gentiles or the impious are [now] the people of Israel. For we are put in their place after they have been cut off, not in some place next them. But two covenants are spoken of, not that they are two diverse covenants, for this would necessitate not only two diverse peoples, but also two gods. Since some ancients did not see this, they taught that two diverse gods existed, one of the Old, the other of the New Testament; the one cruel, the other gentle and kind.* So Paul indeed speaks of two testaments, but the one he calls a testament by a misuse of language, when he wishes them to be understood who, although they were under that one eternal covenant and testament, yet on account of the externals which they tenaciously retained betrayed the light and Christ himself. Paul therefore called the way of these a testament, not that it was a true testament, but by a copying or imitation of those who so named it. For this is the testament, that that God Almighty is ours, but we are his people. Now before Christ’s coming there were many types, but these were not themselves a testament, but were foreshadowings of the light to come from the testament itself.
They therefore who according to the gross nature of man held more tenaciously to foreshadowings than was right, preferred to lose the light rather than the foreshadowings, not unlike that madman who seriously complained that his friends labored for his healing.* After the manner of these then Paul said there were two testaments, one leading to servitude, the other to liberty. For some supposed that they should consider that salvation could be obtained by acts and ceremonies. Yet others saw that by mercy alone was approach to God through him who was to come. But this was the testament, that an appendix to the testament foreshadowing the one to come. So therefore Paul calls the appendix to the testament the testament. For the same testament, i. e., the same mercy of God promised to the world through his Son, saved Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, which saved also Peter, Paul, Ananias,† Gamaliel and Stephen. Now let me adduce Scripture testimony, by which all becomes clear.
In Matt. viii. 11 Christ says: And I say unto you, many shall come from the east and west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. In these words it is disclosed to us with whom we shall be united—with those whose are the promises, the testament, the covenant, the fathers, prophets, all things, as all things are ours through Christ. It follows therefore that there is one church of them and us.
This way tends that most luminous parable of the master who summoned workmen to cultivate his vineyard, some of whom came early, some seasonably, others after almost the whole day had passed. Here we see one vineyard, one Master, and (what caused astonishment in the workmen) one equal reward to all. What does this signify to us but one heavenly Father, one vineyard—the church, one reward—Christ, i. e., salvation through him?
But let it not occur to any one that the ancients had access to God, not by Christ, but by observance of the law—a thing that some seem to think because there are two testaments, one that leads to servitude, and the other which is in freedom of the spirit through Christ. They think then that the old requires observance of the law for salvation, not Christ, not seeing that the law even when kept does not save. For if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died in vain. In my opinion, indeed, the law would save, i. e., we should be saved (for the law is spiritual) if we kept the law entirely and according to the will of God, but this is possible to no flesh. Through the law then we learn only our condemnation, for by it we are included in sin and bound unto the penalty. From this it is easily inferred that they also who were under the law saw that by one salvation through Christ both they and the whole world are saved. This Christ himself teaches clearly when in John viii. 56 he addresses the hypocrites of the law: Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad. Then Abraham desired nothing so much as the coming of him who as promised he did not doubt would be to his great good. Still he had not yet come. When then the time was fulfilled and Christ was in the world Abraham already rejoiced. Therefore as they had one and the same Saviour with us they were one people with us, and we one people and one church with them, even though they came before us a long time into the vineyard. It is also clear what the bosom of Abraham is, about which many have anxiously inquired. For it can be nothing else than the sodality of the early believers to be everywhere preserved for the coming of Christ. For just like Abraham, since they were justified by faith, they desired to see the day of Christ the Saviour. Which bosom (if one likes that word) is now to us the heavenly association with the Son of God and with all who are with him.
Paul, wherever there arises a question about the difference between Jews and Gentiles who had faith, carefully proves that one people and one church arises from both. In Rom. xi. he makes election the basis of this; formerly the Jews were by election the people of God, now the Gentiles are. Yet not in such a way that from the Jews none might any longer be within the association of the elect (since he was an Israelite himself and yet was sent as a minister for the preaching of the gospel of salvation), but that they should last until the multitude of the nations came in. And this Christ meant when he said that the lord of the vineyard would let it to other husbandmen—but it was the same vineyard. They are not then diverse or two churches, not two peoples. They are, indeed, two in name, but unless they were made the same people in one spirit they are not the people of God. In Eph. ii. 11 he thus speaks: Wherefore remember that ye who were in time past Gentiles according to the flesh, who were called uncircumcision by the circumcision which itself was circumcised with hands, that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope and being atheoi, i. e., without God, in the world, but now ye are in Christ Jesus who once were far off, but now are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, the middle wall of partition being broken down, abolishing in his flesh the enmity by the making void of the law of commandments with the ordinances, to make in himself of two one new man, and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, the enmity being slain in himself. And he came and preached peace to you that were afar off, and to those also who were nigh. For through him we both have access to the Father in one spirit. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God, built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, etc. By which words Paul means throughout what I do in the present, i. e., that one people has been made of both through one Christ Jesus, who has united into one both those who once were near and us who were most distant. Weigh carefully, good reader, the words of Paul, and you will find abundantly what we assert here. For there is no need of treating at length so holy and evident a proposition.
Also Heb. xii. 22: But ye are come unto Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of thousands of angels, and to the church of the first-born that are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, etc. By which words also Paul teaches that through Christ we are united to the people of God.
And all the apostles believed this, that there is one testament, one people of God in all, i. e., from the least to the greatest they are considered within the people of God, and that there is one church of God compacted out of all peoples through one spirit into one. For Peter in Acts ii. 36 says: That all the house of Israel may know assuredly that God hath made Lord and Christ this Jesus whom ye have crucified. As he says here that Jesus was made the Christ, that is Messiah, the Saviour to the Jews, therefore also the Jews have salvation. And a little after (he says): The promise is to you and your children, and to all that are afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call. Here he asserts that the promise was not only to those who then heard, but to their children also, who were either born or were to be born. So in [Acts] iii. 25 this same Peter says: Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Here he makes Christ belong to the Jews; through him alone they as well as we are saved. For he came first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Rom. i. 16. Afterwards in Acts x. 34 he says: Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, etc., as I have hinted above. Here Peter proves that Christ is also of the Gentiles. We have therefore one and the same Saviour. Then, too, in Acts xi. 18, where Peter tells how the whole affair with reference to Cornelius happened, it says: When they heard these things they held their peace and glorified God, saying: Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life (for the word repentance is here used synecdochically for the gospel itself, as I have elsewhere shown). We see therefore attributed here to the Gentiles what formerly he said belonged to the Jews and their children.
Also 1 Pet. ii. 9: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his glorious light, which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God, which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. By these words of Peter we see that Christian people are now that elect race which the Hebrews once were, as I have shown above from Ex. xix. [5, 6]. Also the same royal priesthood which is now of all nations, which also belong to God (for the whole earth is his), and which the Lord holds in honor and as of value just as he formerly held the Jewish race as a priesthood of all peoples. A holy race, from which infants are not excluded—posterity belongs to the race as much as parents do—a people sought and obtained by the blood of Christ. Which people was not a people once (for he alludes to Hos. i. 9), but now is the people of God. Therefore we are they who formerly Abraham and his like were.
All these things, to shorten sail in this part of the discussion, make for this, that we may know that it is one and the same testament which God had with the human race from the foundation of the world to its dissolution. For God is not prosphatos, i. e., recent, or of an uncertain wisdom that mends in time what had at first been unwisely begun. He knew that man would perish as he did by his own fault, and he had prepared the healing by Jesus, that is, the Saviour, before man gave himself the self-inflicted wound. God therefore made no other covenant with the miserable race of man than that he had already conceived before man was formed. One and the same testament has always been in force. There is ever one and the same unchangeable God, one only Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God not by adoption, but by nature, God eternal and blessed for ever. So there could be no other testament than that which furnished salvation through Jesus Christ. By him alone is access to the Father, so Abraham even came to God by no other way than by him who was promised. One way, one truth, one life, one mediator between God and man, Christ. Through him alone is access to God. Therefore there is one only testament, for the covenant with God tends only that we may have eternal peace and joy.
Yet before I come to conclusion I wish to reply to a question which is perhaps not so fine spun as it appears. What difference is there between the Old and the New Testament? Very much and very little, I reply. Very little if you regard those chief points which concern God and us; very much if you regard what concerns us alone. The sum is here: God is our God; we are his people. In these there is the least, in fact, no difference. The chief thing is the same to-day as it ever was. For just as Abraham embraced Jesus his blessed seed, and through him was saved, so also to-day we are saved through him. But so far as human infirmity is concerned, many things came to them in a figure to instruct them and be a testimony to us. These are therefore the things which seem to distinguish the Old Testament from the New, while in the thing itself or in what pertains to the chief thing they differ not at all. First, Christ is now given, whom formerly they awaited with great desire. Simeon is a witness. Second, they who died then in faith did not ascend into heaven, but [went] to the bosom of Abraham; now he who trusts in Christ comes not into judgment, but hath passed from death into life. Third, types were offered, as is shown in Hebrews. Fourth, the light shines more clearly, so far as pertains to the illumination of the understanding, for ceremonies, while they of themselves made nothing more obscure, yet added much to the priests, and these were not so strong in inculcating religion and innocence as they would have been if avarice had not induced the shortening of ceremonies. Fifth, the testament is now preached and expounded to all nations, while formerly one nation alone enjoyed it. Sixth, before there was never set forth for men a model for living as has now been done by Christ. For the blood of Christ, mingled with the blood and slaughter of the Innocents, would have been able to atone for our faults, but then we should have lacked the model.
Now I state the conclusion. Since therefore there is one immutable God and one testament only, we who trust in Christ are under the same testament, consequently God is as much our God as he was Abraham’s, and we are as much his people as was Israel.
The Catabaptists object here that Paul wrote in Gal. iii. 7: “Know ye therefore that they that are of faith are Abraham’s children,” and like passages from Scripture, all of which it would be “pedantic” or “overburdensome” to put down here. But if they had correctly weighed the discussion that Paul pursues here, or the force of synecdoche, they would raise no such objections. Paul’s question is, whether we acquire salvation by the works of the law or does grace come in? And he decides that grace comes in by faith, and not from works. All of these things he says synecdochically, as are all such things throughout Scripture which pertain to this argument. Abraham was justified by faith. Here is synecdoche. If this were not so it would follow that Hebrew infants were not of the people of God, which has been shown to be false, for they did not believe, and therefore according to the Catabaptists’ faith they were not sons of Abraham. Therefore they believed who were destined for this by God when age allowed it and they were of the people of God; those who were circumcised grew and advanced until they attained intelligence and belief, and meanwhile they were of the people of God. Not only believers then are of the church and people of God, but their children. And when the Catabaptists admit that sons of Abraham according to the flesh were within the people of God, but suppose that our own sons according to the flesh are not, they commit a great wrong. For how is the testament and covenant the same if our children are not equally with those [of the Jews] of the church and people of God? Is Christ less kind to us than to the Hebrews? God forbid!
The other objections that they offer are either answered in the following or are of no moment. As when they say: Then males only must be baptized, and on the eighth day only. For these constituents have been removed, so that we are bound neither to any race nor time nor circumstance, but under this condition, that in these matters we do not transgress piety. For among the ancients females no less than males were under the testament, even if they were not circumcised.
It results then after all this that just as the Hebrews’ children, because they with their parents were under the covenant, merited the sign of the covenant, so also Christians’ infants, because they are counted within the church and people of Christ, ought in no way to be deprived of baptism, the sign of the covenant, and the arguments of the Catabaptists, which because of their ignorance of figures and tropes they think valid, are of no avail against us. And we shall not on account of our ignorance compel the Holy Spirit to lay aside its own method of speaking. He has always spoken to the whole church some things which did not fit a great part, but that part was not on this account cast out of the church, out of the people, out of the covenant of God. And the fact that the sacraments, so far as pertains to externals is concerned, were not the same, does not oppose the truth, for so far as meaning is concerned they were the same. For as circumcision was the signature of the covenant, so is baptism; as the Passover was the commemoration of the passage, so is the eucharist the grateful memorial* of Christ’s death. Whence the divine Paul, 1 Cor. v. 7-8; x. 18, and Col. ii. 11, attributes baptism to them, and also the eucharist or spiritual feasting on Christ, but to us the Passover and circumcision, and so makes all equal on both sides. So far upon one and the same testament, church and people of God.
[* ]As appears from the letter of Œcolampadius to Zwingli, dated July 19, 1527 (Zwingli’s Works, viii. 80), it is probable that the writing which called out the answers of Œcolampadius and Zwingli had the title: “Ein Gesprech Balthasar Hubemörs von Fridberg. Doctors. auff Mayster Ulrichs Zwinglens ze Zürich Taufbüechlein. von dem Khindertauff. Die warhayt is untödtlich. Erd. erd. erd. höre das wort des herrens. Hiere.” Nicholspurg 1526 (quarto). Zwingli’s book on Baptism (“Vom Touf, vom widertouf und vom kindertouf”), appeared May 27 1525. It is in his Works, ii. 1, 230-303.
[* ]In 1524. Cf. for these matters Zwingli, Works, ii. 1, 230 sqq., 370 sqq. II., pp. 370 ff and 230 ff.
[* ]The first was held Jan. 17, 1525.
[† ]On March 20, 1525.
[* ]The daughter of Zeus, who induced gods and men to do rash and inconsiderate things.
[† ]On the north shore of the Lake of Zurich, and five miles from the city.
[* ]Balthasar Hubmaier was born at Friedberg, near Augsburg, about 1480, educated at Freiburg in South Germany, became professor of theology at Ingolstadt, and D. D., 1512. In 1516 he went to Regensburg as cathedral preacher and led the attack on the Jews, whose synagogue was destroyed. On its site a Christian chapel was erected, and he was its first chaplain. In 1521 he removed to Waldshut, near the border of Switzerland, and this brought him in contact with the Swiss Reformers. He embraced their teachings and introduced the Reformation into Waldshut, 1524. In that year Hubmaier came under the influence of Thomas Münzer, who confirmed him in the Baptist views he had previously independently imbibed from his Bible study. His accession to the ranks of the Baptists was a great gain of them. He was quickly recognized as their leading theologian. Driven out of Waldshut in December, 1525, when the city was captured by the Austrian troops and the Reformation suppressed, Hubmaier fled to Zurich. But his Baptist views made him suspected there, as the Baptists, or Anabaptists as they were commonly called, were charged with disturbing the public order and were under the ban of the State. Hubmaier was put in prison, tortured, compelled to recant, and finally driven out of the city. He went to Constance, to Augsburg and finally into Moravia, everywhere proclaiming with eloquence and success by voice and pen his Baptist views. There was in those times, when religious liberty was a term unknown to Protestants and Roman Catholics, and when Baptists especially were hunted to death by all non-Baptists, only one possible end to such a career as his. He came into the hands of King Ferdinand of Austria, was taken to Vienna, 1527, and there burnt at the stake, March 10, 1528. He died like a hero. His wife, who courageously exhorted him to firmness, was herself put to death three days later, only it was through the waves of the blue Danube and not through fire that she entered the presence of the Master who looks with pity and forgiving love upon His followers’ vain attempt to bring in His kingdom by the sword. The life of Hubmaier has been written from the sources by Johann Loserth, Brünn, 1893.
[* ]That is, Zwingli claims that there were infants in the family although there is no plain scripture proof of it.
[* ]Faber, vicar general of Constance. See note on p. 46.
[* ]These persons were prominent Baptists. Hans Denk, born at Heybach (Habach), Upper Bavaria, about 1495; was educated at Ingolstadt; and in Augsburg received into the circle of the Humanists (1520); in Basel was proof reader for Cratander and Curio, and thence in the autumn of 1523, on Œcolampadius’ recommendation, went to Nuremberg as principal of a classical school. But his stay was short, for his advocacy of the views of Münzer and Carlstadt made him so detested by the local clergy that he was driven out of the city on January 31, 1524, and ever after was a wanderer. He is found in Muhlhausen, St. Gall and in Augsburg (September, 1525-October, 1526), and there he met Balthasar Hubmaier, and there he was baptized and baptized others. He was now recognized as a leader by the Baptists, which meant that he was a shining mark for persecution. He went to Strassburg and made a stir, quite captivated many people, so the authorities requested him to leave, and he did, on December 26, 1526. On January 20, 1527, he is found in Landau holding a disputation upon Infant Baptism; the next few months he passed at Worms, and there in connection with Haetzer, another Baptist scholar, made a translation of the Prophetical Books, which is still esteemed (published by Peter Schöffer at Worms, April 13, 1527). Again the zeal of the Baptists in defending their views in a public disputation (June 13, 1527,) led to his expulsion from the city. He visited his brethren in South Germany and Switzerland, everywhere at the peril of his life. At last, wearied in body and mind from incessant wanderings and debatings, he came to Basel in the autumn of 1527, and threw himself upon the gentle and generous protection of Œcolampadius, who cheerfully received him and conscientiously, though vainly, strove to convert him. But soon he was attacked by a power no earthly protector could cope with—he fell sick of the plague and died in Basel, November, 1527. He was a pure, honest and noble man and fine scholar.
[* ]Allusion to his Commentary on the True and False Religion, see Works, iii., 171.
[* ]Phlegethon was one of the five rivers of Hades.
[† ]The document is generally attributed to Conrad Grebel, who had been converted by Zwingli from a licentious life, and who became one of his ardent followers. He joined the radical party in Zurich, and when Zwingli would not go their lengths he turned against him, and in letters to Vadian, his brother-in-law, abuses him. See Die Vadianische Briefsammlung, ed. Arbenz, passim. Grebel belonged to a prominent Zurich family. His father was beheaded as a traitor (November, 1526), and he himself was banished from the city for his Baptist faith in 1525, and died of the plague the next year at Maienfeld, in the canton of St. Gall and a couple of miles north of Ragatz.
[* ]The editors of Zwingli’s Works think that here, as on p. 155 and elsewhere, is an allusion to Balthasar Hubmaier because, as they say, Œcolampadius announced to Zwingli on July 19, 1527, that there was a rumor that Hubmaier had been burnt at the stake. The rumor was false and the editors made a slip, as this treatise of Zwingli’s is dated July 31, 1527, and the letter of Œcolampadius is really dated August 18, 1527. (Works, viii., 85.) But the allusion probably is to Conrad Grebel, as already stated on p. 155. To burn among the shades it was not absolutely necessary to have been burnt at the stake first.
[* ]Allusion to the teaching in Plato’s Republic, Book v.
[† ]This village probably was Zollicon, which was five miles out.
[* ]Irenæus, Adv. Haer., I., vi., 3. The passage is as follows:
[† ]Thomas Schinker upon his brother Leonhard.
[* ]At the west end of the Lake of Walenstadt, no mean rival of Lake Lucerne, some twenty miles southeast of Zurich. There Zwingli had passed his boyhood in his uncle’s house.
[* ]The authorities, with Zwingli’s assent, first forced these oppressed people into holding secret meetings, if they met at all, and now Zwingli taunts them for their secrecy! Alas.
[* ]In Switzerland it was the custom to carry side arms in the senate, courts, popular assembly, and even at baptisms. (Edd. Zwingli’s Works.)
[* ]He refers here to his antipathy to the foreign military service of the Swiss, which he assailed and condemned. (Edd. Zwingli’s Works.)
[* ]Zwingli calls them Coryphaei, the name given to the leaders of the chorus in the Greek drama.
[* ]I. e., transfers his real possessions and interests thither.
[* ]The name is commonly interpreted “acquisition.”
[† ]Modern scholars made the name “Abel” mean “breath” or “vanity.”
[* ]“Seth” is now interpreted “substitution.”
[* ]Eng. trans. Plutarch on the delay of the Divine Justice, trans. A. P. Peabody. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1885. The Latin title is De sera numinis vindicta. It is one of his Opera moralia; Eng. trans., Plutarch’s miscellanies and essays; trans. revised by W. W. Goodwin, Boston, 1872-74, 5 vols.
[* ]This remark shows how extremely liberally-minded Zwingli was.
[* ]So taught, e. g., the Gnostics.
[* ]Referring probably to some case of recent occurrence and well known to his readers.
[† ]The one mentioned as visiting Saul in his blindness (Acts ix. 10-19.
[* ]“Gratianum actio” again—“the giving of thanks for.”