BIOGRAPHY OF MENNO SIMONS, continued
After the death of the blessed Menno, the work of the Reformation, which he had started in the Netherlands was continued strenuously with the labour and service of Dietrich Philip (who also died, however, six years after Menno, namely in 1567), and others of his helpers, Congregations were founded not only in Groening, East and West Frisian, Holland, Brabant, and at the Baltic Sea, but also in Germany at many places.
In Switzerland, in Alsace, in the Palatinate, Wurtemburg, Austria, Bavaria, Moravia, etc. there were from far back many Baptists, descendants of the old Waldensians, and these were greatly increased at the beginning of the Reformation through the work of Felix Manz, Michael Sattler, Leonard Kaiser, Georg Blaurock and others. These congregations in due time, through Menno’s above mentioned Reformation, received the name of Mennonites from their honoured government, instead of their false and hated name of anabaptists.
From all this we see that Menno was a precious tool of the Reformation, and the foremost founder of our Mennonite religion. Moreover, he was especially prepared for it by God; he was of meek, and loving disposition, and sincere and very witty, and besides the common language there, also understood Latin and Greek. The people had an especial affection for him before the Reformation, while he was yet a Catholic priest and he himself says in his “Meditation”: “Everybody sought and wanted me, the world loved me, and I the world, the first place was mine as guest, also in synagogues; I had the preference of all men, also of the gray-headed of many years; everybody honoured me; if I spoke they held their peace; if I beckoned they came; if I sent them away they went; what I loved they did; my word triumphed in all things; the desire of my heart was given me.” When, however, he left the ways of the world and sought Christ and His kingdom, he found the opposite everywhere.
He mentions in a letter to Martin Micron how very much they thirsted after his blood, but God destroyed the schemes of his enemies. It happened, he says, that a highly esteemed man, greatly respected by the world, advised maliciously and venomously that they should exterminate me along with all the pious. However, he had hardly spoken his word and godless thoughts, when the punishing hand of the Almighty terribly attacked him, for he was thrown down at the table and thus ended in a moment his unrepented and bloodthirsty life. O terrible judgment! This happened in the year 1539.
The same fate met another at about the same time, who allowed himself to think that he wanted to set the net so suddenly that I could not easily escape him. He likewise was taken with a dreadful sickness at the very meal when he spoke these words and also by the Almighty punishing God called to account and within eight days was buried.
Many more like judgements are mentioned by Menno. He closes his list of tyrants with the following words: “If I were to tell all the incidents that occurred in my time to the enemies of the holy, they would make a book of chronicles.”