The Writings Of Ulrich Stadler
Ulrich Stadler was a leading minister (Servant of the Word) in the Hutterian Brethren church. After suffering much tribulation, he died in 1540 at the Butschowitz church community, which was located about 100 miles north of Vienna, Austria.
Table Of Contents
Introduction to Ulrich Stadler
The Living Word and Its Work
How God's Scripture Should be Understood
The Covenant of our Lord Jesus Christ with His Bride
What Baptism Is
Who and What the Body of Christ is
The Fellowship of Christ in His Sufferings and Blood
Order in the House of God
What Obedience is
What Disobedience is
Administering Punishment in the House of God
Justice and Judgement in the House of God
Confession of Sins in the House of God
Concerning Judgement in Temporal Things
Avoidance of False and Excluded Brothers
The Perverse Shall Not Be Heard
What Marriage Is
How Matrimony is Observed to the Honor of God
What Marriage Signifies and Shows Us
What will Separate such a Marriage
What Passion is and Where it comes from
Speaking Foolishly in the House of God
The Children of God Speak Truth with Neighbors
No One should Depend on His Own Understanding
A Man of God has a Constant Struggle with the Devil
A Teaching of Stadler about Sin
Loosing and Binding in the House of God
The Community of Saints
How the Holy live in Community
Another Letter Concerning Original Sin
Entrance into Christianity
Letter to the Church at Grosnikau
Second Letter to the Church at Grosnikau
Letter to Authorities in Poland
Speaking Foolishly in the House of God
By Ulrich Stadler
A God fearing man will always speak from a clear conscience and understanding, his words are carefully weighed. For in a multitude of words there is no want of sin. Every idle word shall be called to account on the Day of Judgement.
Therefore, all filthiness, foolish jesting, or corrupt talk, such as is not fitting, shall be shunned by Christians, for the idle or vain gossip encourages the ungodly nature and life.
Therefore, whosoever can not control his tongue deceives himself and his religion is in vain. For evil communication corrupts good manners. There is more hope for a fool than for a man who is too swift to speak. In the mouth of the ignorant are many corruptible words but the wise will have not pleasure in it. He who hates loose talk suppresses sin.
Therefore, the Christian's speech should be friendly and gracious, and flavored with salt, that he may know what he says and how he answers, that he may not speak evil. For by his words, a man shall be justified or condemned, says the Lord. (Mt 12:37)
Whosoever is modest and moderate in his speech, and keeps the spirit of his words as precious, is an understanding man and preserves his soul from fear.
Therefore no Christian should let foul words proceed out of his mouth but allow only that which is good and edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers and does not grieve the Holy Spirit, whereby he is sealed unto the day of redemption.
For out of corrupt and idle words arise and grow evil thoughts and temptations, says the Holy Spirit.
The Children of God Speak Truth with Neighbors
In the House of God, each one is to speak the truth with his neighbors, and not to be in the habit of telling a lie. For to be in the habit of telling lies is evil. It is shameful and disgraceful, not something that a wise man would do.
Truly, a thief is better than he who pours out lies, but both will inherit nothing but corruption in the end.
A man with the habit of telling lies is killing his soul, for whoever lies and uses deception can not live or remain with God. He will perish and not escape corruption. This man will not inhabit the New Jerusalem, but will remain outside with his father, the devil, who from the beginning did not abide in the truth, for he is the father of lies.
Therefore shall every Christian speak the truth with his neighbor. Let your yes be yes and your no be no, as it is in Christ Jesus, in Him is found the yes to all God's promises and his followers should be the same.
Whosoever remains in the truth shall dwell in His holy mountain, he shall be blessed of the Lord and receive righteousness from the God of his salvation.
No One should Depend on His Own Understanding
No one should rely on the understanding of his heart or in his wisdom or be proud of his knowledge. For this reason, God spoke to Israel through His prophet Isaiah: 'Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and think that they have understanding. He shall make their wisdom foolishness and their understanding useless'.
Yes, all who exalt themselves in their understanding shall be brought low and made ashamed, and those who think themselves wise shall be made foolish and darkened in their useless scheming.
Therefore, the Holy Spirit says, 'Do not exalt yourselves in the council of your soul, do not eat up your leaves and destroy your fruit and leave yourself as a barren tree. Do not follow your own council, be not so wise that you destroy yourself.'
Paul admonished the brethren: 'A man may think that he has full knowledge of something yet not know it as well as he should.' (I Cor 8:2) Yes, when one thinks himself wise, says the Holy Spirit, there is more hope for a fool than for him.
Therefore, O devout Christian, seek with humble heart after that which God reveals, for secret things are not necessary for you to know.
Depend not on your own understanding, and do not think that you are wise, but acknowledge the Lord in all thy ways and He shall direct your path. (Prov 3:6)
Gideon made an ephod and all Israel prostituted themselves to it, and it was a snare for Gideon and his family. (Judges 8:27)
What flesh and blood devises is always evil. (Ecc 17:30)
A Man of God has a Constant Struggle with the Devil
A godly man has a constant fight to wage against evil desires and thoughts of the flesh which are inspired by Satan.
Christ teaches His followers how they are to conduct themselves in this struggle. They are to watch and pray as He Himself did. Being in agony, He prayed more earnestly so that His sweat was great drops of blood falling down to earth as He confessed the weakness in His flesh.
That is how all who struggle with him must be armed with instruments of righteousness to withstand the wiles of the devil and to quench the fiery darts which Satan, the Old Serpent, fires at us. He goes around like a roaring lion seeking to devour the Lambs of Christ, to hinder them in the work of God. He seeks to root out the seed of God and divert them from Him, as he tried with Job and with Christ Himself.
Only through much prayer can the devil be resisted. When Paul was smitten, he knelt down and prayed three times to the Lord that the wicked one would depart from him.
The devil seeks at all times how he may again enter the house from which Christ has driven him. He seeks and rages, and inspires evil desires in a man that he might separate the man from God. This he did with David and many others when he tempted David to take a census of Israel against the wishes of God. He also tempted Saul and prevailed with his craftiness.
The Holy Spirit teaches all the righteous that they should not give place to nor follow after the carnal pleasures, desires and thoughts, but to earnestly withstand them for they will always beset the child of God. These are the fiery darts of the wicked one, as mentioned above, against which we must strive with diligent attention, so that all transgressors, and all who would hinder us in the work of God, are driven from us.
Christ acted in this way when He rebuked Peter who tried to prevent Him from going to Jerusalem where he would struggle and endure all disgrace, abuse, affliction and pain for our sake.
All this He has placed before us, that we should willingly, diligently and faithfully strive for the truth until death. For all whosoever will do so, will be crowned with the unfading crown, that Christ has prepared for his disciples.
May God help us in this constant warfare on earth!
Are not a man's days like the days of a hired laborer, like the servant who seeks the shade or the hireling who seeks the end of the work day? All must bear a heavy yoke from their birth until they are buried in the earth: thoughts, plans, anxiety, schemes, goals, desires, yearnings, wrath, passion, fear, contention, death and dying.
If a man is overcome in his conflict, he suffers destruction. But when he overcomes, he receives life and joy among all those who accepted instruction for their salvation.
Therefore whosoever is fearful and fainthearted, let him return to his house, for he is not fit for this war and struggle.
A Teaching of Stadler about Sin, and about Exclusion and how he regards this, also about Community of Temporal Goods, disproving by the true witness of Holy Scripture those who attack and abuse the Lord's work.
Firstly of sin:
God lets His truth be proclaimed to all men in His Son's Gospel, but before He comes to punish the earthly Kingdom with everlasting judgment, He offers all men repentance, that is His grace and mercy. He truly longs to bestow His gift on all broken and contrite hearts that have dedicated themselves in faith and have yielded themselves for correction and obedience in Christ, and become thereafter in Christ, His Kingdom, His property and His temple in the Holy Spirit, and serve Him in holiness and righteousness.
On the other hand, to unbelieving and unrepentant hearts which do not desire truth, but cling to deceit, God's testimony points to anger and grim wrath.
Yes, eternal banishment and pain for all those who obstruct the truth with lies, righteousness with unrighteousness, and whose reward shall be everlasting death which is determined in Christ.
Now men may choose which they will go; God implants this free will in every man.
If he grasps the truth, he finds poverty, misery, the cross and suffering, with Christ, and hereafter eternal life, which God has promised to all who are proved in Christ and overcome by Him.
If, however, men do not desire the light, but remain in deceit and in the works of darkness, everlasting death is their appointed and just reward.
These are the degrees of sin: first if a man knows the truth and does not follow it, even if his life is not amended immediately, God waits before judging such a man, and bears with him in patience that he might turn to repentance.
Secondly if a man knows the truth and is convinced of it in his heart, and blasphemes it and gives himself to the devil; this man sins against the Holy Spirit, and will not be forgiven in this world or the next; he is a temple of the living devil, blinded and made impenitent by him.
Thirdly if a man is once enlightened, believes and follows, and tastes the sweetness of God in the Holy Spirit and in Jesus Christ who received him among His children, and made him pure from sin, and this man wantonly departs from this and gives himself again to uncleanness, and forgets the first purifying; he shames the Spirit of grace, which is the deadly sin; it were better for him that he had never known the truth, then that he should turn from the holy commandment given him in Christ, and his last state is worse than his first, never having opportunity for repentance.
So I say that if a man sins knowingly and wantonly after he has first been shown the pure light through Christ, if a man determines in his heart and chooses, through the meditations of his soul, disunity, deceit and wickedness, he allows the seed of God's Word and Will to pass out of his heart, and yields himself knowingly to the devil's will and to sin, for this there is neither intercession nor sacrifice in Christ; it is eternal death. Such are insolent blasphemers and wanton sinners after they have known the truth.
He who is born of God does not sin, but keeps himself secure and the evil one will not touch him; he who sins is of the devil. Blessed are they whose hearts are pure! It is well for the man in whose spirit there is no guile!
The difference between the last two degrees is that one would rather blaspheme the recognized truth which he cannot or may not follow because he is blinded by Satan, while the other has once received grace, and has turned away from it knowing what he was doing, and this too is sin against the Holy Spirit, and means to shame the Spirit of grace, to tread the Son of God underfoot, and is the sin even to death for which nothing is too bitter.
It amounts to this, Oh you holy children of God in the faith presented to the saints in Christ, that we struggle and endure in the will of God to the end, never to lust after evil. The temptations that we run into from our own flesh and through Satan's inspiration must be crucified and not consented to. For sin can never conquer nor overpower the children of grace.
Further, Concerning the Shortcomings and Defects of God's Children:
Whatever happens through rashness or weakness or in ignorance or error finds intercession, sacrifice, grace and forgiveness in Christ the High Priest. Such sins and shortcomings do not pass without the prescribed judgement of God, that they may not be condemned with the world.
If God punishes the sins of His children that were done in ignorance and haste after they made a covenant with Christ, what will happen to the foolish rogues, knaves and evil doers?
In the Law of Moses, God provided no atonement for insolent, wanton and self-willed sin, but the sinner must die without any mercy on the judgment of two or three witnesses. This is shown through Christ in the New Testament of the faithful, purified children of God, when they turn insolently and willingly away from those who follow God, and give themselves over to sin anew.
It is impossible for a truly enlightened child of God, who has God's love in his heart and reverences that love, that he should give himself knowingly to sin, which his spirit abhors and loathes. Yes, it longs to be out of the body, it groans because it is thus corrupted, praying that natural acts, and especially propagation, should not be wrongly done through evil desire; which he cannot completely master and dispense with on this earth. Therefore such a child of God always suffers the deathly striving of his corrupt body, which is overborne by evil desires, and in faith and trust to God, he fights and grapples with it to the end until it brings him to the ground and complete peace is achieved.
He stands constantly in zealous watchfulness that he may never surrender his members to weapons of uncleanness and unrighteousness, but to holiness, serving God in this with spirit, soul and body, and all his members, that God prepared for him in his mother's womb, so that he presents these again as pure as when he first received them.
Should he somehow fail, it is because of rashness or ignorance or he is overpowered by great temptations. If he has good intentions, resists and watches, even if he sins knowingly, it is done contrary to his spirit, heart and mind because he abhors sin.
He must therefore live, act and walk in the holy fear of God; yes, with trembling because we dwell in these poor decaying huts, in which lust and evil desires ever again rise up against God's will.
We must kill all these evil desires by the power of the Holy Spirit; yes, tame our bodies and keep them disciplined so that they are not proud and wanton, and shed God's grace and treasure, and oppose God, whom we are obliged to serve, and never to cleave to the lust of the flesh and to sin, and to follow this and bring forth fruit unto death as he did before he knew God.
When we were of the flesh, the lusts of the flesh were powerful in our members, to bring forth the fruit of death, but now we are made free in Christ and dead to whatever held us in bondage, and that in the new life of the Spirit we may serve God. We shall no longer let sin rule, obedient to fulfill its lust in our corrupt bodies, but we must put a bit in the mouth of the old Adam so that he works for us as servant and is obedient, and we do not follow him or hold by him in his desires, but give him only what is necessary for his maintenance that he may minister to us and be our servant.
We don't say that it is unavoidable to be tempted and enticed by our own flesh, but it is not of God. We must not consent, but must resist our flesh. Walk in His Spirit, says Paul, and we will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.
Dearly Beloved, abstain from fleshly lusts which still war in your members against soul and spirit, to kill you, for when lust conceives it brings forth sin, and sin when it is finished, brings forth death. Let every man take heed that sin does not come alive again in his flesh and as such, serve sin in the lust of the flesh, to which he has died and been buried in Christ, and not die in the spirit as some already have.
Let each man who has the companion of faith, fight in this knightly battle, and give his body little wine or rest or leisure; let the outward members, the instruments of reason, the eyes and ears, take little account of the world's luster, that we may not conceive sin through the lust of the eyes and fall because of this.
Men should abstain too from all tempting dainties and from good eating and drinking, which only stir up pride in the flesh, especially wine, for whosoever does not drink moderately carries all the more fiery coals in his heart, and should take good heed that the fire does not spread to his heart and burn him.
Be watchful, ye children of God, keep yourself from all evil, put your trust in the Lord, who in His Kingdom is stronger than Satan. If, in the world, sin should and could rule over God's children, it would follow that Satan had greater power in his kingdom than Christ in His. But men are banished from the Lord if they teach that it is impossible for believers to do what is right and not to sin.
Finally they say that there is always room and time for repentance, and even if a man always blots out his way to this, it does not fail him, God is always merciful. However often a man falls away from Him, however horribly he sins afterward he is received as a child in Christ, and the like. This is said without taking any notice of the answer, as if men could not let God's grace pass by them, as if the door to grace always stands open for them to enter in if they will.
It is not so, however! If a man does not want to hear, and will not let our Lord in when He knocks, the Lord will turn away, and will not let Himself be found in time of need, and the man becomes so blinded and hardhearted that he can no longer see nor hear.
Thus men are not taught to correctly understand the pure fear of God and His Godly authority in His judgment, for although He is merciful and gladly pardons the sinner and helps him on, and in Christ raises him from his filthiness as the prodigal son, yet He is a pure and holy God, and wills that men shall sin no more but love and serve Him, and He is a consuming fire to all those who sin against Him and befoul themselves after He has purified them.
If a man after he has once been helped, knowingly, gladly and wantonly sins again, after he knew the truth, let him seek help where he can, I know of nothing to bring or lead him to the Lord, the High Priest; for God's Spirit testifies that a terrible judgment and fiery indignation that will devour him, is waiting for him.
Once punishment through the Lord's Word is accomplished, then afterwards the Lord always sends His rain. If the earth is sown and always receives rain, and bears only thistles and thorns, it must at last be burnt. As we have patience with a tree for a few years, cultivate and tend it in the hope that it will bear fruit but if there is no hope of fruit, it is cut down.
The Lord says that "the Father will cut away every branch in me which bears not fruit, and he who does not remain in me will be cast away like a branch and withered, and shall be gathered and cast into the fire and must burn."
He who turns away and does not continue in Christ's teaching has no God.
If a man, therefore, preaches and promises grace to a wanton sinner such as this, who despises God's Spirit, and tramples the Son of God underfoot, he answers for it himself, as God's Spirit advises us otherwise.
They say, as long as he can come to repentance, God will not fail him. Yes, but it is not just a case of wanting and running towards it, in short, it is not in men's power to change, but comes of God's mercy. That God, however, may be merciful to those who desecrate the blood of the New Testament or Covenant, in which they have been purified, is not shown by God's Spirit which says the direct opposite: it is impossible that atonement shall be given them anew.
Therefore, ye holy, chosen of God, be vigilant, watch and fear God, for the time is at hand when the Lord shall purge His own through distress, and afterwards receive them into everlasting joy and glory, to the praise of the heavenly Father, as is affirmed in Christ.
Loosing and Binding in the House of God
Since I am being accused of not accepting everyone into the community of the saints of God in Christ, I will therefore state my understanding.
It is proper for a true servant of the Lord to have clear sighted eyes in these matters and to manage and direct everything in God's house according to Christ's mind and Spirit in His church, and that we do not accept or promise life to anyone who has not been accepted by God. And also that we do not bind anyone who has been loosened by God and is His child, for truth itself testifies and gives witness toward one who has stumbled unknowingly or in haste. If, therefore, the children of truth all witness or testify the same way, then this one can be heard and, with the consent of the whole brotherhood, be accepted again.
The children of truth therefore tell us too, that men should be accepted with the agreement of the whole Brotherhood. Paul therefore impresses on the Corinthians that every matter shall be established in the Lord on the witness of two or three speakers.
Moreover evil, impure, shameless and impenitent hearts know well how to weep, howl, mourn and recognize their faults, and scourge themselves, but show no increase in strength, and therefore deceive the simple children of God. Men like this I exclude because the servants ought to administer authority in the House of God, and seriously punish all who are disorderly and disobedient and obstinate. He should not suffer them in the Lord's house and should ban in the Lord, with the free consent of the whole people of God, all sinners who do evil, for what shall a servant and shepherd do in the Lord's church who has neither the sincerity, the power, nor the strength to punish and exclude in the Lord and in His holy name! He bears the name "Servant of the Lord" without any sap or strength.
But the people, as those dedicated to God, should agree unanimously, and the Servant shall administer judgment and punishment regardless of who slanders and blasphemes.
It is said: We have robbed the church of her true authority. I would rather be a swineherd than a servant of the Lord, if I had no authority or power to punish as the Lord's servant, yet as a swineherd I could beat a straying pig and drive it back to the herd. If it is recognized that a man is capable of holding such an office in the Lord, and that the Lord honors him with the gifts of His Holy Spirit, and he is loyal and likewise lives purely, then he should be trusted completely in that office, as it is bidden; where not, let it be abandoned.
If Servant and Church should not want to live and die together, there would never be peace and unity among them, but the Church would be suspicious of the Servant and the Servant would have an evil heart towards the church -- Oh God, protect us from this! I know partly what sorrow it brings.
The Community of Saints
It is the Church of all the believing saints of God in Christ, and is a community of all of them, for all those who are called as children of God have one Father in heaven, one Lord Christ, are fed with one Spirit and are sealed to one Spirit in their hearts. They have one mind, one understanding, one heart and one soul, as those who have all drunk from one spring and have the same battle, cross and proof of faith, and lastly they have one hope in the Lord and one glory for which they wait in expectation.
In this world, however, they must wander in poverty, need, lowliness and contempt, but the world is not worthy of them. He who strives for greatness [in the world] does not enter this church, for all in this church must live as equals, and there must be community of everything, as well in the material gifts from their Father in heaven which He gives them daily, to use His own according to His own will.
For how could they be in fellowship, if they, who have to wait for their inheritance in their Father's riches, should not now share in this provision from their Father's material goods and gifts?
Decide, you saints of God, for all who are truly engrafted in Christ are dead to the world and its sin, and to themselves, that from now on they may not live for the world according to it wishes, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
For Christ they have dedicated themselves in Christ to God the merciful Father, sacrificed and trusting with inward certainty, willingly, naked and stripped of everything, surrendered to Him that they might bear and suffer His will, and fulfill it.
Hereafter they are all children of God, obeying and serving Him, so that they live side by side with one another, where ever the Lord grants them a place, in peace and united, rich in love, kind and brotherly as children of one Father who looks to their welfare. They live in God-fearing harmony, in true community where one is devoted to another, serves in the Lord, and works, where no one seeks his own ends, for he has his example in Christ.
For this too, they share their troubles, because they are all members of one body. If every member should this minute withdraw his help from the body, whenever we wanted to go, our feet would not help us, our eyes would not see, our hands would not grasp, but when every member gives help to the whole body through every kind of function, then the body will be built up and grow, and there is peace and unity, for one member cares for another with equal care, suffering and joy.
In Christ's spiritual body, therefore, if the Servant will not serve, the teacher not teach, the young brother not be obedient, the strong members of the community not work, but each one be taken up with himself and care for himself, (they really ought to seek what does away with self), then the body will be divided. A community, however, builds the Lord's House and is pure; a little of mine and thine divides the Lord's House, and is unclean.
Therefore he who is, has been and wants to be separate and not share in common with Christ and His people in life and death, he is outside Christ and His church, and has no Father in Heaven, and if he says he has, he lies. This is the life of the pilgrims of the Lord. He has redeemed them in Christ, and has called them to be holy in this life, to be His fighters and heralds, to whom He will give the crown of life, in the day of His glory.
Moreover, such community of God's children has an order of temporal welfare here, such that it frees its followers. However the evil among men has perverted everything. As the sun with her shining light is free to all, and is therefore for the use of all creatures, in the same way everything is freely provided for those in the church. But whoever would make the sun his property and shut it away is a thief and steals what is not his. The world is full of such thieves. God protect His people from them!
We affirm it is with human, not with Godly justice, that a man says, 'That is mine'.
In the House of God, it is necessary to insure that an unbearable burden is not laid upon the Lord's children. For in His grace He has opened the land to us, and it pleases Him for us to dwell therein, and there shall be gathered in much or little according to the opportunity given to the children of God.
They will have to appoint faithful householders and shepherds who act with loyalty towards God's children and deal with fatherly mildness, and who pray to God for wisdom in this task.
How the Holy live in Community
Their Daily Welfare in the Lord
All gifts and goods which God gives and dispenses to His people ought to be held in common with all children of God, and that must be with faithful and unburdened hearts in Christ, truly believing and trusting, and completely and entirely dedicated to Christ. He who is thus free from encumbrance and is inwardly certain in the Lord, gives up all possessions and goods, yes, brings them to be shared with all the children of God, and it is God's grace in Christ which prepares men and makes them ready, willing, free and unburdened.
If, however, a man is not free enough to surrender and bring everything to the Lord as it is written, yet he ought not to withhold or hide or deny anything, but willingly and freely give of his store wherever there is need; yes, let the servants take from him, so that they have free access to him in the Lord, and will always find and feel an open, willing heart and a common sharing in the Lord's service.
The stewards in the households, who have dedicated themselves to the Lord and to His people with their body and possessions, serving and obeying in the Lord, if they are acknowledged as such and found to be loyal, should not be changed nor should their stewardship be taken from them as long as they deal faithfully.
If, however, avarice or selfishness is felt among those who should, of course, have shared the need wherever the servants of the Lord were in want, they shall be changed to loyal men who supervise and see that all is justly done throughout the Lord's household, and that everywhere in the houses no one has while another has not. The stewards should be fatherly towards all God's children.
In the common buying and selling, the children of God should act together, and when the pressure of need is taken from them, they should do the best they can, for it is good and beneficial not to make great piles of goods unnecessarily, but they should have many houses as needed, as opportunity allows.
In short, each one serves and works for the livelihood of all the children of God, and no one seeks his own profit, but that of others, for we are all the Lord's, and everything belongs to the children of God if they live in a true spirit.
Then too, brothers ought not to haggle with one another and buy and sell like the heathen, but have a single ownership in the Lord. Lastly, every possession which belongs to the holy ones of God will be ordered its office, place and time as it is suitable in the Church, for a rigid order cannot be established in any way whatsoever.
Those with free, willing, inwardly certain and unburdened hearts shall serve all the children of God, and have everything in common with them. Yes, continue loyally and constantly in their service, and shall always remain in the Lord.
Where there is this grace in the hearts, everything is soon set in order, but if a man behaves cunningly and deceitfully or lies among the community of the holy, the Lord will put him to shame as long as this continues. If a man seeks his own profit, or does not work honestly as if for the Lord Himself or with the Lord's goods, he does not act justly and in fear of the Lord.
Now follow attacks made on this.
It is said of quarrelsome and surly dispositions that it is better for them to be apart from one another, and that it is more peaceful for every man to live and care for himself.
Yes, for complaining and surly men who have not mortified their flesh nor tamed their lust and desire and have therefore lost the patience and true love of God. But if a man already has this love in his heart even now in this troubled time, God's love gladly bears with him among the faithful, so that he may not be lost too far in the world.
Yes, there are those whose dispositions make it difficult and quite impossible to dwell with one another in close contact, those who seek their own ends and want to maintain their own lives comfortably in this world and to pamper their bodies as is now the perverted way instilled and made habitual by many from youth up.
Yes, certainly, for such men who have surrendered nothing, are fleshly and led by their natural spirit, community life is a hard, bitter, unbearable life. These men seek after freedom, perhaps to live alone in one place by themselves, so that they may live comfortably as their bodies desire, to their own corruption, or otherwise they would be made captive with the bonds of God's redemption and love, and this is unendurable to men who have no love in their hearts because it might show them as they are. To these belong God's judgment.
Secondly it is said: God's children cannot all live in one place together, nor is there need, for the earth is the Lord's; it does not matter in what group a man lives as long as he lives completely in the fear of God.
That is true. But for as many men as can and may succeed in this, and long for it, it is very good and beneficial for those who were otherwise strangers to gather together in harmony and seek a home together. This is better than to live in the world, to keep apart from it to escape contamination. There are few who could survive this danger, and those who love danger are likely to perish in it, especially at this time which is more beset with danger than has ever been before, and at a time in which the Bride of the Lamb is given a dwelling place in the wastes of this world, that she may be clothed in fair shining linen and wait for the Lord until He shall lead her after Him in sorrow here, and hereafter receive her with eternal joy. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.
But if a man is with another in one place and is in common need, as a dispossessed child, and yet does not live in community, as friend and brother in the Lord, but rather seeks an excuse (Rom 16:18), one in his appetite, another in his wife and child, a third in some other excuse, which has been going on a long time now, then one man does not know the other's heart as he knows his own, and therefore does not love him as himself. If men loved like this, they would bear and forebear with one another, and the strong healthy man would care for the welfare of the ailing man with a weak stomach.
We ought to give each his portion according to his need, in this way strengthening the sick man's poor, wretched body. There may sometimes be gross absurdity in the church when men think that everyone has a good stomach and can digest anything and everything as well as they can themselves. The Servants of temporal need should oversee this justly and carefully, so that it is not carried too far in either direction, and the body is never pampered with an excess of food and drink.
In short, where it is a matter, as was said, of each man grabbing dainties for himself, it cannot truly be said that these men are of one heart, one soul and one body, yet that ought to and must be the case with God's children. The other is a fault that must be amended in the Lord.
Thirdly, men try to make a point of the time of the Apostles, saying that they did not order Christ's churches in this way, and were not together and did not have everything in common, except for the one exception of the church in Jerusalem.
We have in truth nothing of our own, but everything, whether it be spiritual or temporal, is a gift of God to the whole believing church, given only that they shall bring about an order for the good of God's children as the time, place, city and circumstances permit. The Church shall not rule over the children of God, but shall always be swayed and directed so that every order might be appointed in the way that is helpful for the good of the saints, and might be embraced in the fear and love of God, that God's strength might be shown in work, so that private property with its my, thy, his, will not be found in the Lord's church, but equal love, and equal care and sharing for all, and true community in all the Father's goods, according to His will.
I say too, that if, in our time, so many should become believers that they should be allowed to stay in their houses as it appears in the churches founded by Paul, then they should do this only as loyal stewards and distributors and everything should be ordered as Paul testified, but those with hearts that are free, unburdened and inwardly certain for community must, however, be and remain as those which have gladly shared and distributed all their possessions to all God's children, and gladly continue and suffer with the faithful.
Fourthly it is said that all are not so free and unencumbered that they can live in community with all who are called, and these ought not to be to tossed aside.
Such a man who is cumbered with possessions must be hewn and chiseled out so that he becomes a serviceable offering for the House of God, and we shall wait in the expectation of this, and faithfully show him the faults and needs which stand in the way, that there may be achieved a like-mindedness and one outward sign with all the saints, and the embrace of love.
It is said, moreover, that God loves a cheerful giver, and one that gives freely from love and desire, and not from force and compulsion.
Let men continue steadfastly until they find this grace in the Lord, and accept nothing that is given unwillingly or in dejection, but in this it belongs to the servants to learn, know and warn with all long suffering, neither cajoling nor spurning, as we have example in Paul.
Our one lack is free, willing, and inwardly certain hearts. In the beginning men were in the Lord; now, because they have a chance to have an easy life, they settle down comfortably again, so that few long to go away from the world; they long much more to live than to die. The saying 'To die is gain' has cost many a man dearly. (Phil 1:20)
In conclusion, it is now an immediate good for the children of God, because they are in need and misery, to act and keep together in the best way that can be achieved, in the Lord's service. They do not follow fleshly desires, for this never succeeds and only leads to self will and private property and does not make them one with the faithful.
In the same way we are attacked because we do not read anywhere that it is one of the Lord's command to gather goods together and appoint servants and shepherds over them.
It is true Gelassenheit to thus hand over and dedicate oneself with all goods and possessions in the service of the saints, and it is the way of love, for true friends have all things in common, they are known as two bodies but only one soul. Yes, we learn from Christ to lose one's own self in the service of the saints, to be and become poor, to suffer want so that only the other is served. Moreover to lay down all possessions and goods, to turn from them that they may be shared with the needy or indigent, is the highest degree of inward certainty, and free willing devotion to the Lord and to His people through the Lord.
In short, one brother shall serve, live and work for the other. No one is to have his own house but are to be assembled in one place as one body in the Lord, and one church of the Lord, and members one of the other, for we see in all the writings of the holy apostles, how one brother serves another, one church serves another, gives help and offers itself to the Lord. This is true way of life for those called to be God's holy children in their earthly lives.