XVII A LETTER OF MENNO SIMONS TO A TIMID BELIEVER
The following letter is addressed to Menno's wife's sister, Margaret Edes.
Most beloved sister, whom I sincerely love in Christ. From your dear husband's letter I understand that during all the winter you have been visited with sickness and affliction, which I very much regret to hear. But it is our daily prayer: "Holy Father, Thy will be done," by which we commit our will to the will of the Father, to deal with us as is pleasing in His blessed sight. Bear your affliction therefore with a willing heart, for this is His paternal good will concerning you and all to your own good, that you may from your heart turn from all perishable things and keep your eyes fixed upon the eternal, living God alone. Be of good cheer in Christ Jesus for after the winter comes the summer and after death life. O sister, rejoice that you are a true daughter of your beloved Father. Soon the inheritance of His glorious promise shall be due. Only a little while yet, says the word of the Lord, and He who is coming shall come and His great reward shall be with Him. May the almighty, merciful God and Lord, before whom you have bent your knees to his Honor, and whom in your weakness you have sought, grant you a resigned and patient heart, not unbearable pain, sweet refreshment, a gracious restoration or a godly dissolution, through Jesus Christ, for whom we all daily wait with you, beloved sister in Christ Jesus.
Secondly I understand that you are often troubled in conscience because you do not walk in such perfection as the Scriptures direct us, nor have done so in the past; on which account I write the following to my faithful sister as a brotherly consolation from the sure word and eternal truth of the Lord. - As no one under the heavens has perfectly fulfilled the righteousness required of God, save Jesus Christ alone, therefore none, however god-fearing, righteous, holy and unblameable he may be, can come to God, obtain grace and be saved, than only (I say only) through the perfect righteousness, reconciliation and advocacy of Jesus Christ.
Be of good cheer, therefore, and be consoled in the Lord. You indeed can not expect greater or more perfect righteousness in yourself, than all the chosen of God from the beginning have had. In and by yourself you are a poor sinner and by the eternal righteousness banished from God, accursed and adjudged to eternal death; but in and through Christ you are justified, acceptable unto God, in eternal grace, and made His daughter and child. In this all the saints have found consolation, they have trusted in Christ and ever esteemed as unclean, weak and imperfect their own righteousness. Alone in the name of Christ they have with a contrite heart approached the throne of grace and with firm confidence have prayed the Father: O Father, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
It is a very precious word which Paul speaks: "When we were yet without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly," yea when we were yet ungodly; and thereby "God commendeth his love toward us." "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." Rom. 5:6-10.
Lo, my beloved child and sister in the Lord, this I write from the sure ground of eternal truth. I herewith pray you and desire that you commit yourself wholly and fully to Jesus Christ and His merits, believing and confessing that His precious blood alone is your cleansing, His righteousness your piety. His death your life and His resurrection your justification. For He is the forgiveness of all your sins. His bloody wounds are your justification, His invincible strength the staff and consolation of your weakness, as we have in former days, according to our small gift often shown and admonished you from the Scriptures.
Yea, most beloved child and sister, so long as you find and feel in yourself such a spirit which has an earnest desire for the good and abhors that which is evil, though the remnant of sin is not entirely dead in you, as also all the saints have complained of from the beginning, as already said, so long you may be assured that you are a child of God and that you will inherit the kingdom of grace in eternal joy with all saints, as John says: "Hereby know we that we dwell in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit." I John 4:13. I sincerely ask you that you may rightly accept this ground by faith to the refreshment, strengthening and consolation of your distressed conscience and soul, and hold fast to it to the end.
I commend you, most beloved child and sister, to the faithful, merciful and gracious God, in Christ Jesus, now and forever; may He do with you and with all of us according to His blessed will; either in the flesh, yet to remain a little while with your beloved husband and children, or out of the flesh, to the honor of His name and in the eternal bliss of your soul. You before and we after, or we before and you afterward. Separation must come once. In the city of God, in the new Jerusalem we will wait for each other, there sing the Hallelujah before the throne of God and the Lamb and praise His name in perfect joy.
Your dear husband and children I commend to Him who has given them to you, and He shall do all well for them. The saving power of the most holy blood of Christ be with my most beloved child and sister, now and forever. Amen.
Menno Simons, who sincerely loves you in Christ (434; II:40).