Menno Simons on ... discipline

For so long as the pastors and teachers strictly required a godly, pious life, served baptism and Supper to the penitent alone, and rightly practiced separation, according to the Scriptures, they remained the church and community of Christ. But as soon as they commenced to seek an easy, careless life, and to shun the cross of Christ, they laid aside the rod, preached peace to the people; gradually abandoned the ban; and thus established an anti-christian church, a Babel or worldly church, as may, alas, be noticed, to look back over the last several centuries. Yea, my reader, if we had not until now strictly maintained this means ordained of God, then, we and ours, at this day, would have been a reproach and curse to the world, while, now, I trust, they, in their weakness, will be, by the grace of God, an example and a light to many men. [p. 69]

The world acknowledges no ban, but when such a transgression has been committed, that the executioner bans them with the sword, noose or fire, for the sake of their evil-doing. [p. 72]

Therefore take heed. If you see your brother sin, then pass not by him, as one that does not prize his soul; but if his fall be curable, from that moment endeavor to raise him up by gentle admonition and brotherly instruction, before you eat, drink, sleep or do any thing else, as one who ardently desires his salvation, lest your poor, erring brother harden and corrupt in his fall, and perish in his sin. [p. 445]

But if he affectionately receive the admonitions of his faithful brethren, if he confess his fall, if he be sorry, promise reformation, show signs of penitence, and acknowledge his transgression, then, no matter how he has transgressed, receive him as a returning, beloved brother or sister, but beware, lest he mock his God; for the acceptation of brethren does not avail if we be not accepted of God. Beware, I say, lest his hearing the admonitions, his sorrow, his promise of reformation, and his penitence be not sincere before God; for he searches the hearts and reins, and he knows all inward feignedness and thoughts of men, Jer. 17; Jn. 2; Rom. 8.

If his hearing the admonitions, his sorrow, promise and penitence are not sincere and from his heart, but merely indifferent, feigned, spiritless, hypocritical, just because he does not want to be outwardly thrown out of the communion of the brethren, he is still cut off by Christ, and is a hypocrite in the sight of God. Nor will he be looked upon nor judged by God as being any thing else. For God the righteous Judge does not judge according to the outward appearance, but solely according to the inward intentions of the heart.

Say, beloved, inasmuch as this is the case, what does it avail to go by the mere name of a christian brother if he have not the inward, evangelical faith, love, and unblamable life of a true brother of Jesus Christ?

Or what does it avail to partake of the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ with the brethren if we have not the true symbolized fruits of this Supper, namely, the love of the brethren, and the peaceable unity of faith in Christ Jesus? Or does it avail anything outwardly to converse in the communion of the brethren, if we are not inwardly in the communion of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ?

Therefore, brethren, none is cut off by us, or ejected from the communion of the brethren (judge rightly) but those who have already ejected themselves either by false doctrine, or by a blamable life, from Christ and his communion. For we do not wish to eject any, but to accept them; not to cut them off, but to restore them; not to reject, but to win them back; not to afflict, but to console them; not to condemn, but to save them. For this is the true nature of a christian brother. Whosoever renounces evil, be it false doctrine or vain life, and conforms himself to the gospel of Jesus Christ, unto which he is baptized neither shall nor can be ejected or cut off by any of the brethren.

But those whom we cannot raise up and admonish unto repentance by tears, threatening, reproving, or by any other christian services and divine means, we should reluctantly separate from us, sincerely deploring the fall and damnation of such erring brethren, lest we also be deceived and led astray by such false doctrine which eats about itself like a cancer, 2 Tim. 2; lest we corrupt our flesh which is inclined to evil, by the contagion; and that we may thus obey the word of God which commands us to do so; and that thus the separated brother or sister, whom we can not convert by gentle services, may, by means of the separation, be shamed unto repentance, 2 Thess. 2, and acknowledge to what he has come and from what he is fallen. Thus the ban is a great work of love, notwithstanding it is looked upon by the unintelligent as an act of hatred. [pp. 445-446]

All excerpts are from The complete works of Menno Simon (Elkhart, Ind., 1871).

« Previous   Next »