I MENNO SIMONS' CONVERSION AND BAPTISM
The native land of Menno Simons is the province of Friesland in the Netherlands (sometimes spoken of as West Friesland to distinguish it from East Friesland which is a part of Germany). His family name was in his mother tongue written Simonsz which stands for Simonszoon, i.e. son of Simon (1). Concerning his parents, youth, etc., nothing definite is known. He informs us that he was born at Witmarsum and again he speaks of Pingjum as "my father's village." Both places are villages near Bolsward in Friesland. His parents were members of the Roman Catholic state church and had their son educated for the priesthood. Probably all inhabitants of Friesland with the exception of a small number of Jews, were members of this church.
Obviously Menno was thoroughly prepared for the calling of a priest. His writings show that he had a good working knowledge of Latin; he wrote a good Latin style and has also some knowledge of Greek. He was consecrated a priest at Utrecht, in 1524, the date being probably March 26. (2)
In his reply to Gellius Faber Menno Simons gives us interesting information concerning his life as a priest and how he was gradually enlightened which led to his conversion and renunciation of the Roman Church.
"Dear reader, I tell you the truth in Christ and lie not [Rom. 9:1; 1 Tim. 2:7]. It was in the year 1524, in my twenty-eighth year, that I entered the service of the Hierarchy [accepting the office of a vicar] in my father's village called Pingjum." Thus writes Menno in 1554 in an account of his life which he gives in his defense against Gellius Faber. Accordingly the year of his birth was 1496 instead of 1492, as has been commonly believed. This is in all probability correct.
The passage quoted here from Menno's reply to Gellius Faber has marked variations in the different editions of the said book; the original print is lost. In the editions of 1600 and 1646 the age of Menno at the time when he became a vicar at Pingjum, has been omitted, possibly by mistake. The editions of 1621, 1627 and 1633 have, "In the year 28 and my twenty-fourth year" - an obvious error. The great folio edition of Menno's Works has in the introduction the passage as we have quoted it, leading to conclusion that he was born in 1496, but on page 256 the reading varies again. It is reasonably certain that the reading in the introduction to the folio edition is correct. (3)
The parish of Pingjum had two other priests, "the one was my pastor," says Menno, "while the other one was below me in rank. Both had in part read the Scriptures but I had not touched them in my life, for I feared if I should read them, I would be misled [on the supposition that the pope and the official representatives of the church alone are in a position to understand the Scriptures properly]. Behold such an ignorant preacher I was for about two years."
"In the first year thereafter," Menno continues, "a thought occurred to me, as often as I had to do with the bread and wine in the Mass, that they are not the flesh and blood of the Lord. I considered this a suggestion of the devil who would rob me of my faith. I mentioned it often in the confessional, sighed and prayed, yet I could not be freed from this thought.
"Those two young men [the other priests of the place] and myself spent our time daily in playing, drinking and other diversions, in all vanity.
"At length I resolved that I would give myself to reading the New Testament attentively. I had not proceeded far therein ere I discovered that we were deceived.
"Through Luther's writings I was led to see that transgressing the commandments of men can not be the cause of eternal death. By the illumination and grace of the Lord I increased in the knowledge of the Scriptures and was soon considered by a few, although undeservedly, an evangelical preacher. (4) Everyone spoke well of me, for I loved the world and the world loved me; yet it was said that I preached the Word of God and was a fine man."
Menno Simons does not inform us how he obtained Luther's books. About three or four years after he "entered the service of the Hierarchy" as a priest in Pingjum, the authorities of Friesland confiscated a number of Lutheran books which were found in the possession of the priests at Witmarsum. The account of the general treasurer of the Frisian government shows that between October 1, 1527 and September 30, 1528 a certain sum was paid to an officer of the law who had "opened the boxes belonging to the pastor and the vicar of Witmarsum and taken from them the books of Martinus Luther and others of his persuasion." (5)
The testimony of Menno quoted above makes it clear that it was in part through Luther's influence that he began to deviate from Roman Catholic doctrine. He was given, so he tells us, the name of an evangelical preacher. This name was generally applied to the priests who favored the Lutheran cause and preached to an extent the Lutheran doctrine although they may have continued in Roman worship and practice. As a rule the civil authorities who welcomed the endeavor for a reformation of the church permitted the preaching of the new doctrine for years before they consented to the introduction of new religious forms. The priests in these countries had liberty to preach Lutheran doctrine but not to introduce Lutheran worship. Those of the clergy who desired a reformation of the church and preached the new doctrine were willing to follow Luther's advice : To postpone the introduction of new religious forms until the civil authorities would permit such a change. This was at that time Menno Simons' position. He was in this period a representative of the state-church Reformation, or of the type of church reformation which, under the leadership of Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, consented to go hand in hand with the civil authorities and to continue in the practice of Roman Catholic worship until the state would permit the introduction of evangelical forms and scriptural worship. With joy Menno would have hailed the day of the abolition of Romanism by the state.
Both Luther and Zwingli, the leading state-church reformers, advised the priests in the states whose rulers favored their cause to continue in their office and say Mass "in appearance" until the governments of these states would decide to introduce the Reformation, establish the new creed and raise the new church to the position of the state-church. This principle has found classical expression in Luther's tract A Faithful Admonition published in January, 1522, in which the reformer advances the opinion that changes in worship and practice must not be made without the consent of the heads of the state. The secular authorities, he says, should take this matter into their hands. "every prince in his own land," and nothing in the way of actual reformation of the church should be done without the initiative of the authorities or the command of the government. Luther says further:
"Therefore, look upon the government, as long as they do not undertake anything and do not give a command, you should keep quiet with hand, mouth and heart and should not concern yourself about it. If you can persuade the government to proceed and give a command, you may do so. If the government be not willing, neither should you be. But if you proceed, you are in the wrong and are far worse than the other party [the Romanists]." (6)
It is probably unnecessary to say here that in all countries of western Europe church and state were united and the Roman Catholic Church was the state church. Adherents of other creeds were not tolerated. But soon after the rise of the reformers Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli the governments of a few states of Germany and Switzerland permitted the preaching of non-Roman doctrine and somewhat later, namely in the year 1525, the government of these states discarded Roman worship and practice and established new state churches. In Menno Simons' fatherland, the Netherlands, the hope for a reformation of the church was largely entertained. The regent of the Netherlands, Mary of Burgund, formerly Queen of Hungary, the sister of Emperor Charles V., had the reputation of being a secret adherent of Luther; (7) the Pope himself brought an accusation to that effect against her. (8) Those who disapproved of Roman Catholic teaching were not persecuted in Friesland, as long as they were willing to retain the old religious forms. Not a few priests openly favored Lutheranism. For twenty years, namely from 1516 to 1536 Jelle (Gellius) Faber, the pastor of Jelsum near Leeuwarden and later Menno's opponent, frequently preached Lutheran doctrine from the pulpit." With many other priests in Germany and the Netherlands Menno continued in his office hoping for better days to come, when evangelical practice should be introduced with the consent of the civil authorities.
Menno Simons continues his narrative as follows:
"Afterwards it came to pass, before I had ever heard of the Brethren, that a God-fearing, pious man named Sikke Snyder was beheaded at Leeuwarden for the reason that he had been baptized. It sounded to me strange indeed to hear of a second baptism. I examined the Scriptures with diligence and earnest application but could find nothing concerning infant baptism."
Sikke Frerichs, a tailor by trade, was a Melchiorite (Covenanter). He was baptized at Embden in East Friesland, on December 10, 1530, by Jan Volkerts. His Martyrdom took place on March 20, 1531 at Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland.
"Having made this discovery [that there is no Scripture foundation for infant baptism]." Menno says further. "I repeatedly conversed on the subject with the priest who held the office of the pastor of Pingjum and after much discussion he had to admit that there is no Scriptural ground for infant baptism. Notwithstanding this I had not the courage to trust my own understanding but consulted several ancient authors. They taught me that children were to be washed by baptism from the original sin. I compared this with the Scriptures and found that it made baptism take the place of the blood of Christ.
"Then I consulted Luther, desiring to know his grounds for infant baptism. He taught me that infants should be baptized because of their own faith." I perceived that this also was not in accordance with the Word of God. Thirdly, I consulted Bucer. (11) He taught, infants should be baptized in order that they may be the more diligently instructed and brought up in the ways of the Lord. I saw that this also was without foundation. Then I consulted Bullinger (12) who directed me to the Old Covenant and circumcision. This, as well, I found incapable of being substantiated by Scripture."
"Having thus observed that the most noteworthy authors differed so greatly among themselves, each one following his own reason [instead of the Scriptures], I saw clearly that we were deceived with infant baptism."
It will be observed that Menno Simons in this account of his own renunciation of the Roman Church dwells on baptism more intently than on any other point of doctrine. The reason is obvious. At the time when he wrote this account Menno recognized the great importance of the Scriptural practice of believers' 'baptism. To reject infant baptism was to lay the ax to the root of the distinctive doctrines, as well as of the ecclesiastical order of the church in which Menno was born and held office. Neither Luther nor Zwingli questioned the validity of Roman Catholic sacraments and ordination. If infant baptism was unscriptural and invalid, the Lutheran and Zwinglian reformation of the Roman Church was clearly inadequate.If the sacraments and ordination of the Church of Rome were unacceptable, a mere reformation of that church along lines approved by the civil authorities was insufficient; a regeneration or renewing of the church along New Testament lines was in order. The restoration of Scriptural baptism was in fact the most fundamental requirement for a true New Testament church.
Through the study of the Scriptures, in consequence of reading Luther's writings and of hearing of Sikke Snyder's martyrdom, Menno Simons received light on various points of doctrine. He knew at that time of no denomination which was orthodox on these points, with which he could unite. To defy the world and step out in the light which he had received required nothing less than a thorough change of heart. To this Menno had not yet attained.
Menno writes further:
"Shortly after this [namely after having made the discovery that infant baptism is without scriptural foundation] I received a call to the village in which I was born, called Witmarsum, and from motives of covetousness and ambition I accepted the position [in 1531]. Here I spoke much concerning the Word of the Lord, but without spirit and love, as is the manner of all hypocrites; and by this means I made disciples of my own stamp, namely vain boasters [who desired to be called evangelical Christians although they observed the forms of Romanism], light-minded talkers who, alas! cared in fact little about these matters, as was also true of myself [who continued in the office of a priest notwithstanding my evangelical knowledge]. And although I could talk much of the Scriptures, I did not order my life in accordance with my knowledge, but led an impure, carnal, fruitless life in youthful lusts, seeking nothing but earthly gain, ease, the favor of men and a great name, as all generally do who take passage on the same ship."
In Pingjum Menno Simons had been a vicar; in Witmarsum he held the office of a pastor or parish priest which meant a considerable enhancement of his income. (13) In later years he looked back only with remorse to this time of inconsistency. One of his first books, viz. the Meditation on the Twenty-fifth Psalm, is largely a contrite confession of his sin in a period of his life when he professed to serve the Lord but was not willing to keep His word lest he be subjected to persecution. While retaining the office of a priest he probably attempted to ease his conscience by similar arguments as were advanced by the leaders of the state-church Reformation. Luther and Zwingli were of the opinion, as has been pointed out, that from motives of consideration for "the weak" who must not be offended, unscriptural religious forms may be observed for a time. When Menno speaks of his "impure life" it is not to be supposed that he has in mind offensive sin. He testifies to the contrary that he always led a strictly honorable, moral life in the eyes of men. In his Meditation on the Twenty-fifth Psalm he says:
"Relying upon grace I did all evil. I was as a carefully whitened sepulcher. Outwardly before men I was moral, chaste, generous; there was none that reproved my conduct; but inwardly I was full of dead men's bones. - On the outside my platter was clean but within it was full of extortion and excess." "I sought mine own ease and my praise more zealously than Thy righteousness, honor, truth, and Thy Word." (172; I:223. 168; I:217).
Menno relates further:
"Afterwards rose the sect of Munster by whom many pious hearts in our village were deceived. My soul was in great sorrow for I perceived that they were zealous and yet erred in doctrine. I opposed them, as far as I was able, by preaching and exhortation. Twice I debated with their leaders, once in private and again in public. But my admonitions availed nothing because I myself did that which I well knew was not right. The report spread far abroad that I could readily silence them. (14) The people in general looked to me. I saw with mine eyes that I was the champion and refuge of the impenitent who al depended upon me."
"Afterwards the poor straying sheep who erred because they had no true shepherds, after many cruel edicts, after much killing and slaughter, came together at a place called the Old Cloister, near my place of residence and, sad to say, through the ungodly doctrines of Munster, contrary to the Spirit, word and example of Christ, drew the sword in self-defense, which the Lord commanded Peter to put up in the sheath."
The Munsterites advocated enthusiastic and revolutionary doctrines. Many were in a measure influenced by them who did not follow them on all points. Among these were the above mentioned "Oldcloisterites," as Menno speaks of them, who differed from the Munsterites on various points, as will be shown in another place. They took the sword to defend their lives, entrenching themselves in the Old Cloister near Bolsward. The place was besieged by a contingent of troops and taken by storm on April 5, 1535. (15) Of the 300 inmates 130 fell in battle, the rest were nearly all executed. Among those who lost their lives was Menno's own brother. Some of these people had heard Menno's testimony against certain doctrines of Romanism. They had forsaken the national church, and somewhat later, contrary to his advice, had taken the sword. He attributed their errors to the fact that they were without true shepherds. Although they erred, they had the courage of their conviction, while he himself was yet connected with the state church, hoping for a time when unscriptural forms of worship and unevangelical ceremonies could be abandoned with the consent of the worldly authorities and when he himself would be better established in the truth and more sure of his ground.
Menno Simons continues his narration as follows :
"After this had transpired, the blood of these people, although they were deceived, became such a burden to me that I could not endure it nor find rest in my soul. I reflected upon my carnal, sinful life as well as on my hypocritical doctrine [testifying against Romanism, but as yet observing its forms] and idolatry which I daily practiced in appearance without satisfaction and against my own soul. I saw with my eyes that these zealous people willingly gave their lives and their possessions for their doctrine, although they were in error, while I who was one of those through whom they had in part been brought to a recognization of the popish evils - I continued in a life of ease and in the outward practice of known abominations, and this I did [not out of consideration for 'the weak,' but] only for the reason that I might live comfortably and shun the cross of the Lord."
Menno Simons says here that he "in appearance daily practiced idolatry." All the reformers held the Roman Catholic Mass to be idolatrous. According to the teaching of the Church of Rome to celebrate Mass is to repeat the great sacrifice of Christ. In every Roman Catholic church the sacrifice of Calvary is supposed to be daily repeated in Mass. The bread and wine of the sacrament is believed to be Christ Himself who in the form of the bread and wine is offered anew by the priest to atone for the sins of the people. This together with prayer to the saints, etc., is spoken of by Menno as idolatry. In his Meditation to the Twenty-fifth Psalm he says :
"To a weak perishable creature which grew out of the earth, was broken in the mill, was baked at the fire and which I have bitten with my teeth and consumed by my stomach, namely to a bit of bread I have said, 'Thou hast redeemed me,' as Israel said to the golden calf, 'These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.'" (171b; I: 222a).
But at the time when Menno was reputed to be "an evangelical preacher" he, as stated above, said Mass in appearance only. Apparently he was influenced by Luther on the point in question. Luther advised the priests of the countries whose rulers did not consent to abolishing Mass, to omit, in saying Mass, the passages which have reference to the sacrifice, in other words to celebrate Mass in appearance but not in fact. Mass being said in Latin, the people would not know the difference. Luther writes in his Opinion Concerning both Kinds of the Sacrament," in April 1522:
"In the second place the priests who say Mass must omit the words which treat of the sacrifice. And to omit this is not a thing that may be left to any one's judgment, but those words must not be used, even if some people were offended by the omission. But it is not a difficult matter for the priest to avoid those words without the common people ever knowing it; it may be done without offense." (16)
While this was Luther's advice to the priests of Saxony and Hesse at that time, he held that in their teaching and sermons they should vindicate evangelical truth. This was apparently also the position of Menno Simons.
"Thus reflecting upon these things," Menno says further, "my soul was so grieved that I could no longer endure it. I thought to myself, I, miserable man, what do I? If I continue in this way and do not follow the Word of the Lord; if I, to the best of my limited ability, do not rebuke the hypocrisy of the theologians, the impenitent, carnal life and the perverted baptism, Lord's supper and false worship of God; if I through fear of the flesh do not set forth the true principles of the truth, neither do what is in my power to direct the wandering sheep, who so gladly would do the right if they had the knowledge, to the true pasture of Christ - Oh how shall their shed blood rise against me at the judgment of the Almighty and pronounce sentence against my poor soul."
Under the marginal title, "My Change of Heart," Menno continues :
"My heart trembled in my body. I prayed to God with sighs and tears that He would give to me, a troubled sinner, the gift of His grace and create a clean heart in me, that through the merits of the crimson blood of Christ, He would graciously forgive my unclean walk and ease seeking life, (17) and bestow upon me wisdom, Spirit, candor, and courage, that I might preach His exalted and adorable name and Holy Word unadulterated and make manifest His truth to His praise.
"In consequence, I began in the name of the Lord to preach publicly from the pulpit the word of true repentance, to direct the people unto the narrow path and with the power of the Scriptures to reprove all sin and ungodliness, all idolatry and false worship, and to testify to the true worship, also baptism and the Lord's supper according to the teaching of Christ, to the extent that I at that time had received grace from God. I also faithfully warned every one of the Munsterite abominations, (18) viz., king, polygamy, earthly kingdom, the sword, etc., until after about nine months [i. e., in the month of January of the year 1536] when the gracious Lord granted me His fatherly Spirit, aid, power and help, that I voluntarily forsook my good name, honor and reputation which I had among men and renounced all the abominations of Antichrist, Mass, infant baptism and my unprofitable life, and willingly submitted to homelessness and poverty under the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ; in my weakness I feared God, sought out the pious and, although they were few in number, I found some who had a commendable zeal and maintained the truth.
"Behold thus, my reader, the God of mercy, through His abounding grace which He bestowed upon me, a miserable sinner, has first touched my heart, given me a new mind, humbled me in His fear, taught me in part to know myself, turned me from the way of death and graciously called me into the narrow path of life, into the communion of His saints. To Him be praise forevermore. Amen."
Menno Simons renounced Romanism in the month of January, 1536, the date is probably January 30, a Sunday. (19) He was "a lord and prince in Babel," and, as he himself says, "voluntarily, from my own choice" (20) he forsook his position in the world. To do what he perceived to be his duty and to follow the word of his Lord meant nothing less than to lay all on the altar.
In his Meditation of the Twenty-fifth Psalm Menno describes the consequences of his conversion as concerns the changed attitude of the world toward him. In connection with verse 9 ("He will guide the distressed in right paths and will teach the distressed his way," Dutch translation) he says:
"O Lord, Thy divine grace has shone around me. Thy word has taught me, Thy Holy Spirit has influenced me till I forsook the counsel of the ungodly, the way of sinners and the seat of the scornful. I was ungodly and carried the banner of unrighteousness for many years. The first one was I in all manner of folly, idle words and vanity; playing, drinking, eating to excess were my daily pastime. The fear of God was not before my eyes. Besides I had become a lord and prince in Babel; every one sought and desired me; the world loved me and I the world. - My words prevailed in all things; the desire of my heart was granted. But as soon as I, with Solomon, saw that all was vanity and, with Paul, esteemed all as nothing, when I renounced the haughty, godless life of this world and sought Thee and Thy kingdom which will abide forever, I have found everywhere the counterpart and reverse. Before I was honored, now I am dishonored; before all was love, now hatred; before I was a friend, now an enemy, before wise, now foolish, before pious, now wicked, before a Christian, now a heretic; yea, an abomination and an evil-doer I have become to all." (168a; I:218b).
"As long as I served the world, the world rewarded me well. - But now I am hated of the world in such measure that not only I but also those who show me love, must be subject to the danger of apprehension and death. Am I not regarded more evil than a thief and a murderer? Am I not in the wilderness of this blind world as a lonely sheep which on all sides is threatened by ravenous wolves?
"O Lord, my enemies are powerful and great. My flesh does not have rest before them. - I know not whither to turn, but I say with Jehoshaphat, the king, We lift up our eyes unto Thee, and our help is from Thee alone. I depend on Thy grace alone, as Abraham in Gerar, Jacob in Mesopotamia, etc.; yea all the pious fathers have hoped in Thee and were assured that all who trust in Thee shall not be made ashamed." (21)
It has been repeatedly asserted, since Menno remained in the national church for some time against better knowledge, that compared with the great state-church reformers, above all Luther, he was lacking in resolution and courage. But did it ever become necessary for any one of these reformers to lay down his position of honor among men and become a fugitive, one of a people who were put to death as the catch polls found it possible to apprehend them? Was not Menno following the advice of one of the foremost of these reformers when he remained in office, saying Mass "in appearance" and waiting for the time when the unscriptural ceremonies might be abandoned by the order or consent of the heads of the state? Luther as well as Zwingli did not forsake the Roman Catholic Church, but reformed it. They were willing to retain the unevangelical forms until the state ordered their abolishment. In the matter of the reformation of the church they took only such steps as would meet the approval of the state. Thus they enjoyed the protection of the state and were never subjected to persecution. (22) Menno Simons on the other hand united with a people who had been summarily condemned to death in the Netherlands as well as in the German Empire.
Menno was baptized by Obbe Philips. Presumably his baptism closely followed his renunciation of the national church. He testifies in later years that he found it difficult to accept the doctrine of the Incarnation as advocated by the church with which he united. For weeks and months he was in great perplexity, finding it impossible to recognize this doctrine as orthodox. Probably this was previous to his renunciation of the national church (it was previous in part, at any rate, to his baptism, as he expressly states), and had a tendency to make it the more difficult to decide upon forsaking that church.
Obbe Philips by whom Menno Simons was baptized was the principal leader in the denomination named after him - the Obbenites - with whom Menno Simons identified himself. They were the Netherlandish wing of the great Anabaptist party afterwards named Mennonites by their opponents. In South Germany and Switzerland the Anabaptists were known by the name of the Swiss Brethren. The Obbenites and Swiss Brethren agreed virtually in doctrine and principle although there were some differences as will be pointed out. At the time of Menno's conversion the Obbenites had existed only a short time and were few in number while the Swiss Brethren were far stronger numerically and had even then a great and interesting history.
(1) In the Netherlands children, as a rule, did not inherit the family name of their father but used the father's first name with the appendix zoon or dochter (daughter), e. g., Obbe and Dirk Philipszoon, Jan Volkertszoon, David Joriszoon, Leonard Bouwenszoon, etc.
(2) Vos, Menno Simons, p. 166 seq.
(3) Vos, Menno Simons, pp. 166-188. Gerrit Roosen, a well known Mennonite author, recorded in his own copy of Menno's works various data concerning Menno Simons, giving the years 1492 and 1559 respectively as the dates of his birth and death. These notes were made in 1671, in the sixtieth year of the writer. The book containing these records is in the library of S. W. Pennypacker, former governor of Pennsylvania. Compare D. B., 1881, pp. 34-39. It may be of interest to notice that of not a few prominent men of the Reformation time the birth-days are unknown. Martin Luther was uncertain about the year of his birth. His mother was asked by Melanchthon concerning his birth-day. The answer given was that Martin was born on the day before St. Martin's day, but concerning the year it was impossible to answer with certainty: 1483 is generally accepted as the year of Luther's birth, but according to the testimony of his mother it may have been 1482 or 1484.
(4) Menno does not refer to himself as an evangelical preacher at this time, as is said by S. Cramer, R. E., vol. 13, p. 588, but clearly insists that this name was, in his instance, misapplied.
(5) D. B. 1865, p. 112.
(6) Erl. E., vol. 24, p. 49. Compare American Journal of Theology, April 1907, p. 310.
(7) Koestlin. Martin Luther, vol. 2, pp. 105, 224.
(8) D. B., 1906, p. 21. Mary was made regent of the Netherlands in Summer of 1531.
(9) De Groot, C. P. H., Hundert Jahre aus der Geschichte d. Ref. i. d. Niederlanden, p. 74.
(10) That infants have faith was the foremost argument advanced by Luther for infant baptism.
(11) Martin Bucer in Strasburg was one of the leading Zwinglian reformers.
(12) Heinrich Bullinger, the successor of Zwingli at Zurich.
(13) There is documentary proof to the effect that the income of the vicar of Pingjum was about sixty gold guilders, while the salary of the parish priest at Witmarsum amounted to about one hundred gold guilders. (Vos, Menno Simons, p. 224).
(14) The insinuation of K. Vos (Menno Simons, p. 29) that this expression shows Menno to be "not a little conceited of his eloquence" is unacceptable. Menno's point is that even as a priest he had the reputation of being an opponent of the Munsterites.
(15) Not 1534 as stated in Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 7. p. 61, note.
(16) Erl. E., vol. 28, p. 304.
(17) The assertion that Menno's conversion "has nothing to do with accepting God's grace in Christ in consequence of conviction of sin and repentance" (R. E. vol. 13, p. 589) is quite unfounded.
(18) Menno wrote his tract against the Munsterites previous to his renunciation of the Roman Catholic Church and it is quite possible that he thus attracted the attention of the people with whom he afterwards identified himself. It is doubtful whether this treatise was printed before a much later date. At first it seems to have been circulated in manuscript.
(19) Vos, Menno Simons, p. 166 seq.
(20) Meditation to the 25th Psalm, 1539 fol. C6b; compare A7a.
(21) Meditation, etc, fol. C5b and A4a.
(22) Martin Luther was protected by the Saxon government. His sovereigns, the rulers of Saxony, were his friends and patrons. The emperor's attempts to compel the government of Saxony to silence Luther proved a failure.