[b]APPEAL TO THE COMMON PEOPLE[/b]
[i]by Menno Simmons[/i]
Give ear, ye people; you who trust in lies, and boast that you are Christians; tear your bands asunder, and suffer yourselves to be led no longer as asses bound and under a heavy burden of sin, by these aforementioned drivers, for they deceive you; they preach to you according to their own opinion, and not out of the mouth of the Lord; they comfort you in your wicked ways; they call and cry only mercy and peace, though it is displeasure and judgment, as the prophet says. The priests and prophets teach a false worship, and comfort my people in their calamity; that they shall esteem it lightly, saying, " Peace, peace, when there is no peace;" they are the blind leaders, who lead you and themselves into the pit, and the blind watchmen who watch not over the city of God. Thieves and murderers, who slay your poor souls with the sword of their false doctrine, and steal from you the word and kingdom of the Lord; greedy shepherds who seek your wool, milk and flesh, and not your souls. In short, they are those who wholly desolate the kingdom of Christ, and promulgate in high honor the kingdom of anti christ through the whole world, and who always comfort and defend you, poor children, in your dissolute abominations, your obdurate, blind life, so that, alas! there is none who is sincerely converted to the Lord, laments his sins, and says, What do I ?
O, worthy children and brethren, my heart
in my body quakes and fears, when I reflect that such a numberless multitude of men are born in vain and to no purpose; who will have eternally to endure the wrath and judgment of the Lord, if they repent not, and shall never find grace.
Beloved children, take heed, for thus Christ Jesus teaches you, I tell you of a truth, " Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," Matt. 18:3. O, dear Lord, this is spoken by God's eternal truth, which cannot lie, and how ungodly you ignorant people live, and how far you are from the innocence of children, your fruits testify; for you despise God and his word; you hate all righteousness and truth, many of you live as the irrational creatures, others quarrel, curse, swear, are covetous, practice usury, lie, cheat, injure and defraud one another; fidelity and piety are seldom found among you, faithlessness, and knavery, alas, every where; eating to excess, gambling, gaming, drinking and carousing are pastimes amongst, you; to pollute women and defile virgins is called courting and loving. To take the advantage of, and defraud one another, is called understanding and wisdom; you are valiant at beer, and mighty at wine; unrighteousness and destruction are in all your ways, the poor and weak you oppress, and you revile the afflicted, the god fearing and pious; you think and practice nothing but evil, you
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are without understanding, says the prophet, as a frantic heifer. Pomp and splendor you call the fashion and custom of the country. The one lies in wait for the other's honor, property, and life, and seeks his destruction, as the prophet says, your faith is hypocrisy, your worship idolatry, your whole life is world and flesh, as may be seen, and then you say, he that walks in simplicity, walks right, as if ignorance, blindness, despising the truth, and godliness, were a pious, humble and plain life. Dear children, be ashamed of your offensive wantonness and accursed folly.
Do you suppose that Christ is a liar, and his word a fable? O no! his sentence stands immovable, and shall never be altered; if you live in pride, avarice, voluptuousness, unchastity and in carnal lusts, believe not Christ and his word, continue to be earthly minded, and are not born of God, you must die eternally, or the Spirit of God is not true, but false.
Say, beloved, why extol the apostles and prophets, while you revile their doctrine as heresy, and their lives as madness? Why suffer yourselves to be called christians, while you hate and oppose Christ's word and example?
Say you, we are without understanding, untaught, and know not the Scriptures? I then again reply: The word is plain and needs no comment, namely, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself," Matt. 22:3'7, 39. Again, You shall give bread to the hungry and entertain the needy, Isa. 58:7.
If you live according to the flesh, you shall die; for, to be carnally minded is death; the avaricious, drunkards, and the proud, shall not inherit the kingdom of God; for he will judge adulterers and fornicators, Rom. 8; 1 Cor. 6, and many like passages. All who do not understand such passages, we must confess and acknowledge; are more like irrational creatures then men, more like blocks than christians.
O my children, my beloved children, do not deceive. your own souls; seek wisdom and understanding, even as you do your daily food, that you may find great riches; for the kingdom of heaven suffers violence. Strive, says Christ, to enter in at the strait gate; ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. The Almighty, great God is not satisfied with a bare name, but he desires a true, sincere faith, unfeigned, ardent love, a new, converted heart, true humility, mercy, chastity, patience, righteousness and peace; he desires, the whole man, heart, professions and actions. He who delights in the word of the Lord, speaks the truth from the heart, crucifies his flesh, and will give his goods and blood for the word of the Lord, if it be required.
Behold, dear children, this is the way in which we will all have to walk, if we desire to be saved; therefore, awaken and learn wisdom. Hear the inviting voice of God, open unto him, and meet him, that he complain not of you, as he did formerly through his prophets, of obdurate and stiff necked Judea and Jerusalem. "I have nourished," says he, " and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me; the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people Both not consider. Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupteri3l They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward," Isa. 1:4.
Jeremiah says, "Every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle; yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane, and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord," Jer. 8:6, 7.
Remember, dear children, how greatly Jesus Christ took to heart the obstinacy and blindness of the Jews; when he said, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not," he wept and said, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto. thy peace, but now they are hid from throe eyes," Luke 19:42.
"Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and ~~ superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with
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meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls," James 1:21. Seek God with a full heart, repent sincerely, cleanse yourselves inwardly before the Lord, let go world, flesh, false doctrine, and every thing contrary to the honor, will, and word of God; hear, believe and follow Jesus Christ,
the only, and true shepherd of your souls, who sought you in such great love, and purl chased you with such a precious price, then you may, of a truth, boast that you are the people of God, and the church of Christ. To him, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, be praise and the eternal kingdom, Amen.
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