The complete writings of Menno Simons, c.1496-1561 by Menno Simons, John Christian Wenger

By Menno Simons, John Christian Wenger

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It was true that he had spoken against some of the abominations of the papal system, but out of fear of the cross of his Lord he had not made a clean breach with the whole system. The tragedy of the Old-Cloisterites brought Menno to the parting of the ways; he now saw clearly his duty. As a servant of God he could not evade the responsibility to help the erring sheep, and as one who professed obedience and trust in God he dared no longer refuse to take up the cross of persecution and suffering whatever the cost might be.

He dared now to attack openly all the evils of the church, for he was done with all calculations to save himself. He apparently determined to use the Witmarsum church as the platform for his new message as long as possible, as Luther had done at Wittenberg, and Zwingli at Zurich. The marvel is that for nine months he was permitted to do this, according to his own statement. During these nine months he carried on a double campaign: on the one hand he was striving mightily to save his people from the Müinsterite abominations, and on the other hand he was seeking to lead them out of their old beliefs into the true faith of the Gospel.

He took his place in the regular worship of the church, performing the high ceremony of the mass as well as other rites and ceremonies. He offered prayers for the living and the dead, baptized the children of the parish, consecrated marriages, received confessions, administered discipline, and occasionally preached brief sermons in connection with the Sunday worship of the congregation. Like the typical Page 5 village priest of the time he did not take his office nor his life very seriously. He gave little time or effort to study, but rather, as he himself confesses, joined his fellow priests in playing cards, drinking, and frivolities of all sorts, as was the custom of such unfruitful men.

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