Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Benjamin Eby’s “Origin and Doctrine of the Mennonites” – part 4

Thomas Herman, a very earnest preacher of the Gospel, was arrested at Kitzipil in the year 1527, and was also sentenced to be burned. His heart they could not burn and at last threw it into the lake, which was near the place of execution.

Leonhard Schoner, a defender of the teachings of Christ, was, in the year 1528, at Rottenburg, burned to ashes.

George Blaurock, who spread the truths of the Gospel in Switzerland, journeyed to Tirol to preach the Gospel there too, according to his calling, but was arrested near Clausen in the year 1529 and was burnt alive.

All these and more others taught that they:

Firstly, regarded that the swearing of oaths according to the New Testament, was forbidden by Christ.

Secondly, they believed that war was contrary to the teaching and life of Christ.

Thirdly, they disapproved of the baptism of children.

This shows that the teachings of the Baptists was preached, believed and enacted from far back among many different nations, the beginners of which, since their formation, had many different names, and according to their confession, and pious course of life, can only be acknowledged as the true church of Christ.

From the following testimony it is brought to light that the Baptists, Waldensians, and Mennonites were like the early Christians:

T. J. von Braght (Martyrs’ Mirror, col. 1, page 154) recounts of the time of Sylvester, in the year 315, that the teaching which was maintained by an innumerable multitude through the Baptists and Waldensians, was already at that time preached and advocated, indeed, that the same congregation which during the llth, 12th and 13th, and the following centuries was called by the names of Waldensians, Albigensians, and finally as Mennonites or Baptists, already existed at that time and also long before.

Concerning this a certain prominent author of the Romans complained very much and said in a certain old book that these above-mentioned Christians always had many sects among themselves, but among all of them, which existed at that time, there was none as detrimental to the Roman Catholic Church as the Waldensians, or the Baptists, etc., because they existed so long, some say from the time of Sylvester; others place them as far back as the time of the apostles.

In another place, Jacob Mehrning writes about the above-mentioned people thus:

This is by no means a new sect, which first originated at the time of Peter Waldo, for the popish writers themselves acknowledge that they already existed in the time of the Pope Sylvester, indeed long before his time, at the time of the Apostles.

In another place he writes that Flaccius also mentions the same, out of an old papal book that existed at the time of Sylvester, and even from the time of the Apostles. Thuanus testifies that the teachings of these people lasted through many centuries.

T. J. von Braght (Martyrs’ Mirror, col. 1, page 184) makes mention of a conversation between the jailer of Leeuwarden and Jacques d’Auchy, a martyr.

The jailer called to mind the order of Emperor Theodosius and said, “It is at least 1200 or 1300 years since the Emperor Theodosius commanded that heretics be killed, namely those who at that time were rebaptized like your sect.”

When the jailer said that they were re-baptized like “your sect” he thereby let it be known that there were such persons as Jacques d’Auchy and those Baptists who at the same time, namely the year 1558, gave their lives for these truths.

T. J. von Braght (Martyrs’ Mirror, page 365, col. 2) gives a noteworthy description of the Christians of the East, up to the year 1540, when he says:

Likewise we have reports that to this day there are brother Christians at Thessalonica who are in accord in all points of religion with the Mennonites. Two of these visited in our fathers’ time, firstly among the brethren of Moravia, afterwards also in the Netherlands, and they partook holy communion with them. They positively stated that they had in Thessalonica, St. Paul’s two original epistles or letters to the Thessalonians in good condition.

Moreover, they stated that many of their brethren still reside in Moravia, Greece, and other Eastern countries spread here and there, who from the very first apostles’ time maintained steadfastly the same teaching and the right method of baptism to the present day, etc.

About the year 1530, the greatly enlightened Menno Simons stepped out of his Catholic priesthood as the reformer of the Baptists.

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