IV MENNO SIMONS' MOTIVES, AIMS, AND ENDEAVORS
His Own Testimony.
Note. - The numbers given after quotations from Menno Simons' writings throughout the present book refer to his works, the first reference being to the Folio Edition and the second to the English Works. For example, in the first quotation on this page the numbers 449; 11:249 mean that the reference is to page 449 of the Folio Edition of Menno Simons' Works, printed in 1681, and to part 2, page 249 of the English Complete Works of Menno Simons, Elkhart, Indiana, 1871 (a=column 1; b= col. 2). In every instance the Dutch original has been followed in preference to the English translation. When the quotations are taken from the original editions in the "Eastern" and Dutch languages in which Menno wrote, the references are given in the notes.
"I seek and desire from my heart nothing (this He knows who knows all things) but that the glorious name, the divine will and the praise of our Lord Jesus Christ may be made known throughout the world." (449; II:249a).
"And although our persecutors say that we withdraw from them out of pure wantonness and obstinacy, it is before God who knows the hearts of all, false and unjust. For our separation [from the national churches] has no other cause or motive than that in our great weakness we desire with all our heart to be guided by God's word and commandment." (153; I:203).
"We seek and desire only that we might point the whole world (which lieth in wickedness) to the true way, and that many souls may by the Word of the Lord, through His help and power, be won from the dominion of Satan and brought to Christ." (498; II:302).
"I strive after nothing but that the God of heaven and earth, through His blessed Son Jesus Christ may have the glory through His blessed word; that all men may be saved, and that they may awaken in this acceptable time of grace from their deep sleep of sin; that they may lay aside their besetting sins and the damnable works of darkness and put on the armor of light; that they with us by true penitence, true faith, true baptism, the true supper, the true ban or discipline, true love, true obedience and consistent life may become a holy Christian church, the assembly and body of Christ." (522;II:328).
"My only purpose is this that I may be heir of heaven and many others with me. It is therefore unnecessary to use the sword against me. For if I have not the truth, I desire with all my heart to be taught it, as already said. - Again I say: With the Spirit and Word of Christ I desire to overcome or to be overcome. This is my only appeal. But contrary to it, the truth is rejected and false doctrine is defended with the sword " (164; I:214).
"This is my only joy and the desire of my heart, that I may extend the borders of the kingdom of God, make known the truth, reprove sin, teach righteousness, feed the hungry souls with the Word of the Lord, lead the stray sheep into the right path, and win many souls for the Lord through His Spirit, power and grace." (50; I:75).
"I labor with no other aim than that I may teach repentance to the ignorant, sinful world which neither knows nor possesses Christ and His Word, and may lead them to Christ and His doctrine, ordinances and example, that many might be saved. And it is obviously to be seen that many a sinner has amended his sinful, carnal life and accepted an upright, penitent, pious life in the fear of his God." (119; I: 162).
"We seek from our whole heart nothing but that we may effect the salvation of all mankind, and this not only by giving our possessions and labor, but also (understand it in an evangelical sense) our life and blood." (455; II:255).
"They [the true Christians] seek nothing on this earth but that they may teach the whole world righteousness, that many may be saved from eternal death through the grace, Spirit, power and word of the Lord, and be won for Christ, and that thus, by God's gracious help, the short time of our earthly life may be improved to the glory of God and the service of our neighbor and at last we may become heirs of eternal bliss." (328; II:111).
"In the second place, we seek and desire with yearning ardent hearts, yea at the cost of our life and blood, that the holy gospel of Jesus Christ and His apostles, which alone is the true doctrine and will remain until Jesus Christ will re-appear in the clouds, may be taught and preached throughout all the world, as the Lord Jesus Christ commanded His disciples in the last words which He addressed to them on earth. Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15." (444; II:243).
"Therefore I will not cease, all the days of my life, as far as God, the merciful Father, through His boundless kindness is giving me knowledge, spirit, grace and wisdom, to teach and admonish both verbally and by writing all who seek the truth, that they may awaken while it is yet time and seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him while He is near." (454; II:254).
"We say with David, 'I believed, therefore have I spoken; I was greatly afflicted' (Ps. 116:10). For since God, the merciful Father has granted us poor ones the gift of faith, has bestowed upon us the Spirit of His love from on high through His Son Jesus Christ, and has besprinkled our hearts with the heavenly dew of His love, has awakened us from the dead and brought us to life, has given us a new heart and mind, and nourished us with the bread of life and we thus through His grace found the pearl of great price, the precious treasure, and obtained the ever abiding peace, which we could not obtain through the deceiving doctrine and subtle sophistry and false comforts of the theologians, therefore we earnestly seek, to the extent of our opportunity, to make known and proclaim to all mankind the grace of God which has appeared, and His great love toward us, that they may experience with us the same joy and renewing of spirit and know and taste with all saints how sweet and good and kind the Lord is to whom we have come.
"To this end we preach as much as opportunity and possibility affords, both in day time and by night, in houses and in fields, in forests and wildernesses, in this land and abroad, in prison and bonds, in water, fire and the scaffold, on the gallows, and upon the wheel, before lords and princes, orally and by writing at the risk of possessions and life, as we have done these many years without ceasing. We are not ashamed of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, for we are its living fruit and mightily realize its moving power in our hearts, as may be seen in many places by the patience and willing death of many of our faithful brethren and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
"How gladly would we snatch away all mankind from the jaws of hell, deliver them from the chains of their sins, and by the gracious help of God win them for Christ through the Gospel of peace; for this is the true nature of love which is of God." (233; II:10).
"Consider, we pray you, that we can not possibly seek carnal profit in this matter, neither gold, nor silver, nor honor, nor ease, nor long life on earth; for it must be apparent to you that for this cause all must be sacrificed. We are constrained to this solely by the love of God and by a sincere faith which diligently heeds all the words of Christ and consecrates itself to God in willing obedience, knowing to a certainty that if we do not yield to Him nor obey in what the mouth of the Lord has commanded, we can not receive nor inherit the heavenly blessing and divine promise" (401a; II:195a).
"If you are of an honest mind, consider well what is our endeavor and aim, and think not that we are so completely deprived of reason that we walk this narrow way because of contentiousness and partisanship. O how gladly should we spare our weak bodies, our wives and small children, our possessions and lives, and live in peace and tranquility, if we were not constrained by the love of God and the salvation of your souls and our own." (286a; II:67a).
I doubt not that if those who now assiduously seek my life, could see my inmost heart, their hatred against me and my brethren would be changed into friendly love (1) to us." (444a; II :243a).
(1) The Folio Edition of Menno Simons' works has vreemdelijcke liefde, but the original edition has (Cc6a) vriendlicke which is obviously the correct reading. On the other hand, instances could be given that typographical errors in original editions were corrected in the Folio Edition, e. g. the Book on Baptism of 1539 has (Ba) goetwilligher sondaren while the Folio Edition has correctly moetwilligen.