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
Concerning Original Sin
A Short but Thorough Account
By Ulrich Stadler
We pray that God's grace in Christ shall increase with you, beloved brother Michael. You requested my opinion concerning original sin, which I will do for you and all the children of God, by the grace of God.
Original sin is such that we are all children of Adam, that is, by nature, children of wrath, shaped in iniquity and conceived in sin. What is born of flesh is flesh. We are born in lust, lust of the flesh, by which we are tempted.
If man had remained pure and good as when he was created by God, insemination would have occurred without evil desire. But that is not the way it is. But God, because of our perishable body, and for the sake of the children, is not too strict. He winks at our marital work and will not hold it against us if it is performed in fear and modesty.
Therefore the Spirit of God 'sighs' in all children of God because man has become so deranged that this act of propagation (which is not given to everyone) does not occur without evil desire.
In short, original sin is the prize that all flesh born of Adam inherited so that all the imaginations of man are evil from his youth. The Lord God Himself attests to this, and our own experience shows it is true that our flesh is evil, malicious, deceitful, ruined and destroyed by lust. Of its own, it can do nothing but sin against God in disobedience. For that reason, death came upon all flesh born of Adam.
So that I can describe this better, I will present Adam in his innocent state, how he was before and after the fall.
First, God created man in His own image, as Paul states, in the sense that we are wise, intelligent and of a godly nature.
Second, God created man of dust, a pure work of His own hands, indestructible, good without evil lust or carnal pleasure, for the immaculate God can not create anything unclean. Therefore all His creation was good and without blemish.
Third, God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils and man became a living soul. That is the third part of man. The soul stirs and moves all his members, gives them life, and, through his mind, leads him to do natural deeds. Therefore the soul is the natural life.
Man, created pure and good by the hands of God, was appointed to rule over all creation because he was the image of God. So that he would remember the Lord whom he must obey, follow and serve; yes, to serve and live for Him, God gave him a commandment, not to make him more devout, but that he would show loving obedience to his Lord. If man should decide to disobey his Lord, God imposed the punishment and wages thereof, e.g. if you eat you shall die.
God will not only be honored but He also shall be listened to and obeyed, so that nothing, regardless how little it may seem, shall be done against His will and command.
But Satan and our own flesh, which has become evil, questions God's command: Would God be angry? Will He punish such a small deed? This type of reasoning is typical of the slanderous spirit of the Serpent.
In a word, regardless of how small a commandment may seem, we must honor God and obey Him.
Thus far we were concerned with the good part of man. Now we will describe his nature after the fall.
Because Adam and Eve listened to the Serpent and transgressed the command of God, God's judgement came upon all flesh. Here we can see how, and from whom, sin came into the world, or if God created sin and what sin is.
How true are the words: Disobedience is sin. What results from disobedience?
First, the tempter, who is a murderer and liar from the beginning, did not challenge Adam but the 'weaker vessel', the Woman. She yields to his offerings and promises, disregards God, oblivious of any evil.
Consider what a magnificent creation man originally was, pure and innocent, yet the Woman did not fear the Serpent. How easy we fall when we become careless and secure and listen to the Serpent.
Second, the Serpent says you will not die, for he is a liar and shameless, and audaciously accuses God of lying. Such tendency is characteristic of his vessels and members. Beguiled by him, they knowingly dare to call godly truths lies. He robs Eve of the fear of God and His word, and suggests that she lie and defame God as if He had imposed His commandment in hatred. The devil promises opened eyes, as if they were blind, and wants to create gods who know both good and evil, as if salvation depended on knowing good and evil.
Eve listens. The lust of the eyes and of the flesh are aroused, she disregards God and His word, recognizes how pleasant eating of the fruit would be, that makes man wise. That is the perception Eve had from Satan.
Oh brothers, see here what lust does and where it comes from so that you can understand John when he writes that what to the world is lust of the eyes is not of God.
First of all, Eve should have resisted and not submitted to the Serpent while she was still strong. But when it was no longer in her power to resist, she is taken in by lust, because she ignored God and ate of the fruit.
Thus deed follows sin. When lust has conceived, sin is born. She gave to her husband, and he ate, out of love for his wife, but contrary to God's commandment.
Satan dealt with the Woman outwardly, he tempts man both inwardly and outwardly. First comes the evil thought, imaginations, and then, if there is no resistance, desire and feelings. The longer man tarries in resisting, the weaker he becomes.
So this is how and from whom sin came into the world. Now we will discuss the fruits, or consequences, of sin.
After Adam and Eve had transgressed God's command, their eyes were opened, they became aware of their nakedness for Satan had robbed them of their dress of innocence. They felt guilty and ashamed and so they covered themselves with fig leaves.
Oh God, what fine and alert eyes that can see their own shame. That is Satan's doing. He promises light but there is actually darkness, life and peace but there is actually eternal death and discord.
Therefore guilt and shame are the first results of sin. Don't we find it so, after we have sinned against God and the devil has beguiled us? After sin comes fear, anxiety and a guilty conscience. Man perceives his errors and flees from God. Gone is the grace and the loving Father. There is only a guilty conscience and anxiety. Man recognizes his sin and realizes God's hatred of sin. He awaits God's wrath, punishment and death. Man now has to appear before the Judgement. No fleeing or covering up helps, only accountability. 'I alone am God, to be honored and feared!'
Adam blames the Woman, the Woman blames the Serpent. But nothing helps. Both the advisor and the perpetrators are punished, but differently. Adam was burdened with distress in his labors, Eve with suffering in pregnancy and childbirth, and that until the day they die. Because of this, the entrance to the Kingdom of God is narrow, harsh, painful and perilous.
As the result of Adam's sin, the judgement of God came upon all mankind. Adam was banished from Paradise. The way to Life was guarded and access to the Tree of Life was blocked. Here we learn God's seriousness, wrath and punishment of sin. But through Christ, He protects us from eternal damnation and the second death. Amen.
But in all His divine seriousness, He indicates the hope of another life, for He promises the seed who will destroy the power of the Serpent. God reveals His mercy so that Adam will not despair. God covers and dresses them both with coats of skin, because their own covering was useless in God's eyes, by which He gave them hope and life in Christ.
Heaven is now closed because of sin, man is condemned to die. Where to now? If God, in His mercy in Christ, had not provided a way to life for His believers and chosen ones, we would all remain in the eternal wrath of God and would die, for there is no hope nor life outside Christ Jesus, the Son of God forever. Amen.
To return to the subject of original sin, it was first of all the wicked heart of Adam that prevailed. This wicked heart was inherited by all his descendants, out of which so much ungodly fruit grew and still grows daily, until the threshing floor is full.
The results of the waywardness of the flesh in its lusts and desires is enormous. Here we see the corrupted man. However, the inner man, the spirit within us which does not agree with sin, has a desire for the law of God (Romans 7) and agrees to its desirability. So we discover, if we follow and accomplish anything good and worthwhile, another law exists in our body, which opposes the laws of the mind which makes us a prisoner to the law of sin.
Paul set himself up as an example, as a child of Adam (although under the Law). But some try to distort this as if Paul was speaking of himself and of his faith in Christ, and not referring to himself as a Jew or carnal man (more of that later).
In summary, the spirit in us desires the law of God and perceives that it is proper to fear God and love your neighbor. It accepts this and agrees therein. But the flesh and the soul, in their imaginations and desires (for the flesh also has mind and wisdom) entice man to sin.
But God in Christ, through His Holy Spirit, helps and supports our spirit to achieve control of the flesh and to bring it under submission.
The inclination to sin is in us until we die and therefore we must always be on guard.
Now go and try to wash sin away with child baptism! We can well see what manner of Christian we are after the washing, who we resemble and take after - the flesh in its evil desires inherited from Adam or the Spirit in His fruits. Can the baptism of children wash away death? For death is also inherited from Adam.
Some say that conception is sin and the shaping in iniquity (Ps 51:5) is washed away by child baptism, else the child is robbed of the presence of God forever.
Answer: Water does not wash away sin, to claim that is blasphemy. As all this comes to the child from Adam, without its knowledge, in the same way the child will be accepted by God in His mercy as His own creation. God helps the child grow in knowledge and that in Christ.
We could discuss this further, but for now, commit all this to God. The baptism of children was invented and instituted by man, contrary to the Word of Christ. Oh God, give us understanding and have mercy in Christ on those leaders of the blind.
This is in response to your request. May the Lord keep you to the glory of the Father. Amen.
(Written from Ladomir, Poland, to Krassnichau on the border of Poland. Ulrich Stadler.)
Another Letter Concerning Original Sin
Pros and Cons
By Ulrich Stadler
The word Original Sin has no basic foundation as it is not mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. That all children in the world, yes all creatures, were created good and pure by God is stated very clearly in Scripture. In Genesis chapter 1, He states what He has made was all very good. In another instance, He says 'None of this evil generation shall see the land I have promised to their fathers. But your little ones, which have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in and onto them will I give it and they shall possess it.'
Newborn children know neither good nor evil. It is said of the King of Tyre that he was found perfect from the day of his birth until iniquity was found in him. (Ezek 28:15) Peter said that we are to be like new born babes. Christ himself said, 'Whosoever will not receive the Kingdom like a little child shall not enter therein. Allow the little children to come to me, do not forbid them, for of such is the Kingdom of God.'
Objection: The adversary, who will make sinners of all children, says that all imagination and thoughts of men are evil from his youth.
Answer: The newborn child can not think nor imagine. Youth is not childhood.
Objection: They quote David in Psalms 51, 'Behold, I was shaped in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me'.
Answer: It was not the child, but the father and mother who sinned in conception.
Objection: 'They are all corrupt, they have done abominable works. There is none that does good.'
Answer: There is no knowledge of good and evil in the newborn child, let alone to think or do evil. Therefore David refers to persons like himself that are of age and able to sin.
Objection: 'Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.' So they conclude that children's sins must be covered.
Answer: Newborn children can neither transgress nor uncover any sins. Therefore they require no forgiveness nor covering.
Objection: 'We are all children of wrath by nature as are all others.'
Answer: Paul does not refer to newborn children but such as who practices the lust, deeds and will of the flesh, and are capable of anger, which is impossible for newborn children.
Objection: 'All men are liars.' With this statement they evaluate children as sinners.
Answer: Newborn children are not capable of lying, but are able to live according to God's rule and, for through divine power they came on this earth, will live according to His will until they follow their own evil desires.
Objection: They say all people are hypocrites, act badly with one another and talk nothing but foolishness.
Answer: False pretense, talking and evil deeds are impossible for underage children, therefore the prophet does not refer to children but as a rule to all men.
Objection: 'They have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.'
Answer: Paul refers to those that are capable of hearing the Law and are justified through faith in Jesus Christ. That is impossible for little children.
Objection: 'What is not of faith is sin.'
Answer: Paul refers to those who desire to believe. Yes, if deeds, works and words are not of faith, it is all sinful, regardless of how nice and good it may seem. But for children to say or do anything where faith or unbelief could be noted is impossible.
Objection: 'A corrupt tree cannot bring good fruit.'
Answer: Christ refers to fruits by which we recognize a tree. You can not judge a tree before it brings forth fruit. So it is with children. Lets wait for the fruit, then judge if they are good or evil.
Objection: 'There is no truth nor mercy or knowledge of God in the land.'
Answer: All this does not refer to children but to those who are able to accomplish wickedness.
Objection: God has included them all in unbelief that He might have mercy on them all.
Answer: Inasmuch as good or evil, faith or unbelief can be found among children, for faith must be recognized by its fruits or works, which is impossible with little children. None are condemned unless they sin voluntarily. The little children cannot consent to sin, therefore they are created good by God, so we will leave it at that. Amen
Entrance into Christianity
By Ulrich Stadler
May God's grace, mercy and peace in Christ Jesus our Lord be with you, our beloved brethren in the Lord. The brothers have requested that I compose a letter concerning the foundation of divine doctrine. So I have agreed to write something about it.
First of all, the Gospel of Christ reveals the wrath of God on all ungodly conduct and behavior of man and on all idolatry, be they Jews, Gentiles or anti-Christians. It destroys all superstition, makes man conscious of himself, that he recognizes his actions and conduct, his imaginations and self conceit in which he presumes to serve God. Therefore all their customs and manners of worshiping before their conversion are only a shadow, for true life is in Christ.
It was much easier to persuade the Gentiles, because they were visibly idolatrous and ungodly. It was much easier to convert them to the living God as Paul has written. However, in our present time, where abomination reigns, it seems much more difficult, because they all suppose that they are Christians, but they are in deception and delusion, however well meaning.
First of all, child baptism, with its abomination and sin, must be rooted out of the hearts of men, through the power of God's Spirit. The whole Roman church is under the influence of the devil. The papacy, the real Antichrist, the true adversary and child of abomination, should be fearful of devising such lies in the name of Christ.
Here we need men who are wise in the Lord, who can set men straight in these matters, for the old traditions are not easy to forsake. Yes, our life depends on that.
Now the Spirit of God commands all who would be saved to leave Roman Babel and all her daughters and sisters (that live as harlots in idolatry and ungodliness) and commit themselves to Christ, leave all falsehood and follow the truth.
Therefore we must be very careful that men are properly informed in what is right. That is the work of the Gospel. The judgement of God comes upon all flesh, but not all can tolerate it. To the righteous, it is good, to the wicked, it is for destruction. However, their abominable nature grumbles, for it too wants to enter the Kingdom of God and heaven.
But the Spirit of God doesn't leave His children without chastisement, which the world and the devil will not accept. That is the beginning of suffering and sorrow for the saints. Therefore the witnesses of God must so strongly depend on God. For that reason we must pray for faithful workers in the Lord's harvest.
Secondly, through the Gospel all men are called to repentance from their dead works and abominable idolatry, for the Word of the Lord says, 'Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near.' God does not desire your destruction or death, but will accept you through the grace of Christ. Therefore, convert to Christ with all your heart, for God's Word proclaims undescribable love, goodness and mercy, which He pours out over all flesh and helps all believers in Christ. The mysteries of God's Will is revealed to them in Christ, that they may be enlightened and come to the knowledge of God in Christ.
Christ and His Word must be properly proclaimed so that we may understand only Him and through Him, the Father, for that is eternal life. The doctrine of Adam and Christ, which all descendants of Adam, all young Christians, must properly understand, is the sum of the whole Gospel of Christ. Knowing the reason and foundation of His incarnation, life, doctrine, death, resurrection, ascension, His kingdom and future judgement, is important for proper behavior in the Church of God. That way faith in Christ is proclaimed to all men, plus the voluntary sacrifice in the Lord to obey the Word of Truth and to surrender to God in Christ.
The gospel also proclaims that God wants no filthiness in His Kingdom, but that we should live soberly, righteously and godly, to follow Christ in His suffering through the narrow gate into the Kingdom of God. For when we surrender to God, deny the world, the cross and misery follow. We must walk on the narrow and straight way of the Lord only, where there is water on one side and fire on the other. Whosoever will not take the risk, in his faith and confidence in God, to reach this destination, will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Jesus told us, 'Whosoever would be my disciple must take up his cross and follow me.'
Here the carnal nature begins to question, who can live and suffer like that? For one feels that it is impossible. The world says that no man can live that way. Some will mock, slander and still don't believe. Such we leave alone and pronounce eternal judgement.
But some are moved and God reveals Himself to them, for they foresee death and life, hell and heaven. They would rather live, but find that they are imprisoned in death and sin and therefore are helpless.
But God enlightens them and says, 'Oh man, what is impossible for you is possible with me. I will help you that you may believe, that you may voluntarily surrender and trust me. I want persons who come of their own free will. But you have a choice, if you remain in sin, death awaits you, surrender to me in faith and trust and it will become much easier. What seems impossible before will be easy and small.'
If man believes divine preaching and sincerely surrenders and obeys the truth, forsakes the world, turns to Christ, voluntarily sacrifices himself in Gelassenheit, bears His will patiently, according to the strength and power that is faithfully given him, God will work mightily in such a person to help him forsake his own will. Only then can God work in man and prepare him to be a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Then the covenant in Christ is made and accepted through the sign of baptism by which he confesses his faith and is incorporated in the Church of the saints. Through this he is bound and obligated to live a godly life in the Lord, and to accept punishment when he errs.
He surrenders to God in Christ and afterwards, in obedience and service to all the children of God, according to the will of the Father in Christ. He is then sealed by the Father with His Holy Spirit in Christ and is assured in his heart of the truth, life and God's Kingdom.
Then God's Kingdom, righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit begins in us. Who serves the Lord that way is pleasing to God. They devote themselves, through God's grace which disciplines them, to please the Father who has redeemed them from destruction and has planted them in His Kingdom. God's love is in their hearts and they rely on Him in complete confidence in Christ. They yield when He cleanses and refines them in affliction and await help and redemption in patient hope and silence. They will be given the crown of life after they have been tried and found faithful unto death. They have washed their garments in the Blood of the Lamb, followed Him, having buried their sins in baptism and arose to a new life. They have never surrendered any part of themselves for wicked purposes, but surrendered unto holiness with fear and trembling, to live, serve and die only for God. Blessed are those who have part in the first resurrection, on such the second death has no power. Amen.
In conclusion, there is praise, honor, eternal peace and glory for those who seek after life in Christ with patience and good works. Wrath and eternal sorrow await for all who do evil, yes, for all unbelievers, unrepentant who remain in falsehood and will not yield to the truth in Christ. It is certain, in Christ, that all who will not forsake the Roman harlot and follow the Lamb of God, who drink of the cup of horror, filth, abomination, including all unrighteousness, they will inherit pain and torture for all eternity, before God and His angels.
May God enlighten all distressed, hungry souls and keep and strengthen all committed poor orphans in Christ. Amen.
Praise, honor and glory in His Church in Christ eternally.
Letter to the Church at Grosnikau
By Ulrich Stadler
Ulrich, a servant of the Lord and His Church, also your brother in the Lord, I hope, to my loving brothers and pilgrims of the Lord at Grosnikau. Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to the chosen strangers.
I have heard of the afflictions that have come over you. I therefore admonish you in the Lord to consider our departure from the world, how we committed ourselves to the Lord of Heaven, and suffered for His Name's sake. For we did not know His way with us. We were only aware of distress and bonds everywhere. You should remember in these troubled times that all this has been decreed by the Father to establish and confirm you, to make you more complete, patient, free and willing to bear the cross of Christ in patience and longsuffering, in silence, hoping and waiting for the Lord. Yes, in sighing and groaning to Him day and night that He may accomplish everything according to His will, and that He will strengthen you and all the surrendered children in Christ, that His name may be sanctified in your weak vessels.
Oh dearly beloved brothers, submit to the Father and trust Him for, of ourselves, we can not accomplish anything. Yes, the Lord hinders everything so that we may learn to trust Him and to call upon Him more fervently. Beloved children of the Lord, become as true Lambs of the Lord, suffer what He sends, sacrifice yourselves, submit yourselves wholly to the merciful and kind Father in Christ, that is, if you want peace and rest in the Lord. Otherwise nothing helps, we only fool ourselves with our scheming.
I know of no other way for you in your affliction and distress but that you be true and surrendered Lambs, committed to the Lord, that you not be overly concerned with temporal affairs, but sanctify yourselves with prayer and fasting. Seek the Father's countenance in Christ, who has exalted us all to the glory of His Name. Be prepared to leave this world and adorn yourself with pure, bright shining silk to meet the Lord with peace and willing hearts.
Be prepared to drink the cup of suffering in His Name, which is imposed by the Lord, that you may have peace and joy with all the elect when the Lord comes. He will come with flaming fire to bring vengeance on the ungodly, anti-Christian world.
The Lord will delight Himself in you, who have believed His testimony and followed Him until death.
Oh dearly beloved, be happy in all your afflictions and in the hope that is stored up for you in heaven that waits to be revealed to you. Then you will rejoice with unspeakable joy and receive the goal of your faith which is the salvation of your souls. When you have endured the chastisement of the Father, you have been purified, preserved and refined. Blessed are you who have endured to the end.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious King, shall crown you and lead you into the Kingdom of His Father. Comfort yourselves with these words of hope and place your confidence in the Father as His beloved children in Christ.
In addition, beloved brethren, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, brotherly, meek and gentle, so that you may live peacefully and in unity and endure His will in the strength of Christ. May the gracious God stand by you in your troubles and may He strengthen you so that you can remain firm to the end to the glory of His Name, in Christ. Amen.
May God our Father bring the light of His countenance upon you and bless and protect you from all evil, in Christ.
Second Letter to the Church at Grosnikau
By Ulrich Stadler
Ulrich, your servant and brother in the Lord, to the sanctified brethren in God in their distress at Grosnikau. The grace of the Lord be with you, the church community of the Lord Jesus Christ with whom you are wedded in faith. I will speak to you from my heart, to praise you in the Lord. We have surrendered and committed ourselves in our departure from the world so that He might lead us for the glory of His Name. He can naught but establish His witness with us and place us in great affliction and distress in order to preserve and purify us.
The Lord said to me, 'Oh you of little faith. Believe and trust in Me, commit yourself, destitute and naked and I will complete My work in you according to your prayers. But you must endure for your own good, and I will give you strength and power if you will trust Me in silence. Ignore the carnal inventions of the flesh, they can't help you anyway. Persevere and wait. I will lead you to your desired goal. You must be cleansed as gold in fire. Be faithful onto death and I will give you the crown of life.'
Therefore, beloved brethren, depend on the Lord. Every child has to endure the chastisement and bear the marks of the Lord on its body and when he is tried and pleasing to the Father in patience and endurance, he will inherit everything. God will be his Father. But whoever will depart, the Lord will have no pleasure in him.
Therefore watch and pray in the Lord with perseverance and keep on knocking. Even if He tarries just to try us, eventually He will open and deliver us from all our problems and distress and provide an acceptable solution as the Spirit in you requests, to the glory of His Name.
But the flesh is weak and must suffer under the cross, it would rather gladly cast the cross off. It is constantly devising schemes but finds no help. That is the struggle in us, with which we have to struggle to the grave.
Oh, beloved brothers in the Lord, you will find here no joy nor rest except in your submissive surrender to the mighty hand of God and when you joyously and willingly accept the cup of suffering and drink of it in the name of the Lord, and appeal to Him only.
But none should be forced in this, as we were before our calling. Whoever has no courage nor zeal and is not prepared to suffer for the Lord had better watch what he is doing, he should consider his situation in the fear of the Lord, for there will always be struggles. There will always be a Pilate, Herod, Caiphas, Jews, Gentiles and Antichrists who continue to challenge God and Christ. This has always been so.
If you confess the Lord, you will nowhere have [external] peace. The easiest way to prevail is with moderation in patience, to suffer everything and surrender and commit yourself to the divine Will. But you must bear it quietly and silently, waiting for the help of the Lord, in many difficulties, hardships and temptations.
Therefore be brave and strong to the end. The Lord will be with you and strengthen you, that your suffering will be dear and acceptable. The time of troubles of which you have heard is at hand. Where there is much trouble, there is also much comfort in the Lord.
Be bold, valiant and strong. Strengthen one another.
The Lord be with you all.
Letter to Authorities in Poland
By Ulrich Stadler
The Church of Jesus Christ, gathered in His name, addresses the following to you two governors:
God, the Almighty, knows the cruel way that you have treated His poor hunted children all winter. You made us stay here even though we wanted to leave, and you have abducted our faithful elders for no valid reason, we don't know if they are living or dead; you took our brothers by force without cause.
Now you are threatening us all, even though we have not harmed any of your people. You threaten us because we refuse to bow down to your idols (the idols that you worship are the work of your own hands) and because we refuse to obey your Roman church. We must obey Jesus Christ alone, in both life and death.
You have no other complaint against us, as we have lived among you as God-fearing people, working faithfully for you and spending what we earned by the work of our hands in Moravia.
You have falsely imprisoned us, saying that we have refused to obey the royal command to leave the king's land (this was reported to us by the provincial military governor). However, we are willing to comply with that order and do not refuse to obey the governing authorities, as has been falsely reported.
You have never treated us fairly, you continually threaten to divide and scatter us. You treat us as if we were prisoners that you have captured in battle, or as criminals under arrest or as slaves that you have purchased. You not only threaten to do these things, but you actually do treat us this way.
Are you willing to search your hearts, and consider, in all humility before God, who is the protector or widows and orphans, how unfairly you have been treating His poor, exiled children?
Yes, truly the Lord God, that Righteous Judge, will bring upon each one's head whatever he has done in this world, whether it was good or evil. On the Day of Judgement, it will be clear to all. Strict judgement, without mercy, will be dealt to everyone who has not shown mercy to his neighbor in this world.
God gave you power to protect the devout and punish evildoers but you misuse this power. God did not give you power in matters of faith. We only obey Christ in matters of faith, not your Roman pope nor your worldly power. Our Lord God does not want anyone forced in the matters of faith, much less killed, as the world does today.
Christ the Lord himself will come to inflict vengeance on all who do not want to obey His holy Gospel in this time of grace. We fear that you have done all these things and that you are not innocent.
It is not right that you call us to repentance, as if we did not know enough to discern whether or not your lives and deeds are of God. The apostle John writes that the man who is of God does what it right. The apostle Paul writes, 'Do not be deceived, dear brothers, those who do evil will not inherit the kingdom of God.'
How do you dare to challenge us, saying, 'Repent, be converted and become Christians' while you yourselves lead heathen rather than Christian lives?
Therefore, with one accord and in the fear of God, we say to you, 'Turn away from your evil life and your unjust deeds, or you will inherit eternal damnation'.
Consider carefully what we are writing, the time will come when you will have to acknowledge the truth of our words.
Next we want to remind you that we came here in peace and have lived with you peacefully, offending no one. If you had not detained us unjustly, we would have moved on just as peacefully, wherever God leads us. It is true that God did not give the governing authorities their power in order to hurt peaceful people but to protect them. However, since you and we are not united in faith, you can not help us. Therefore we must leave everything in Christ's hands, for in His own time, He will judge between the sheep and the goats, for He alone is the righteous Judge.
Therefore, if there is the least fear of God in you, you should pay attention and stop your sinning against poor, peaceful strangers. If you do not stop your wanton cruelty towards us, we will have to wait patiently for Christ the Lord, who will come in His own time to rescue us from your hands.
If you insist on keeping us by force, we want you to know that we are being held against our will. We are here because of your desire to act with violence and cruelty towards us.
If you have orders from your king to keep us here (which we do not believe), then allow us to be in a place where we can provide for ourselves, like free people rather than like prisoners or slaves, for in God's eyes, we are free. If you allow us, you will learn that we will work for you or anyone else faithfully and diligently, as much as we are able, indeed, as if we were serving Christ himself, as the apostle Paul teaches us.
If, however, you persist in threatening us and treating us harshly, we will willingly endure it, trusting in our gracious Father to grant us patience, as He does to all who trust Him and believe in Christ. But you will not benefit from such action. Unless you keep us in chains and fetters, we will not stay here with you. You know that anyone kept like that will not be able to work joyfully and efficiently. In addition, your consciences will torment you for treating us so badly. Everyone will see your injustice and brutality, for even in this place, there are many people whose hearts are filled with pity for us, though they are quiet out of fear of you.
This letter is to make you aware of all of this, and we pray that God's eternal punishment may not overtake you, for it surely overtakes all those who do not love and fear God with a pure heart. However, all our wishes will not help you unless you repent wholeheartedly and change your lives.
Therefore, we sincerely warn you not to undertake further action but to fear God with all your heart. Since you have repeatedly challenged us, saying, 'Repent, repent and be converted', it is only fair that we in turn challenge you to repent. So we say, in all sincerity, renounce your evil ways and then you can point out to us what we have done wrong while living among you. We are ready to turn from any wrong that you know about us, yet at the same time, we must truthfully point out your evil actions to you. Do you think that we can keep silent about the way that you have been treating us?
Your Christianity consists of fasting on Friday, as is your custom, and then gorging at midday until your bellies can not hold any more. When you have kept Sunday, you think that you have done all that you should. Well, you are very much mistaken! If we could speak your language, we could clearly tell you and everyone of your sinful conduct.
We have written this in good faith. If the lord Wojewoda comes, we will write to him, also, what the Lord God has shown us. This letter is written in the Spirit by the entire church community of Christ. We hope that it will challenge you and call you to repentance. We have also pointed out what you have done to us.
May the gracious and compassionate God, the Father of all the devout, have mercy on you and grant you His understanding in Christ, if this is your desire. Amen.
If you are hurt by what we have written, remember this proverb: 'The truth gives rise to envy, and the truth stabs the liar.'
The Latin that we write is very simple, we are not able to express ourselves very well. If we could have written in German, we could have made it much clearer to you.
To God be the honor.
 - This is a letter written by Ulrich Stadler to the church at Krassnichau located on the border of Poland.
 - This is a letter written by Ulrich Stadler to another community.
 - A German word with no direct translation in English. It means complete surrender and yielding to God, accepting all that He sends without complaint.
 - This probably refers to the terrible persecution inflicted on the saints by the Catholic authorities.
 - 1536, as persecution in Moravia became more severe, Stadler led a small group of Brethren to Poland in the hope of more toleration there. But as they didn't fare any better there (their hopes were dashed), the whole group returned to Moravia where they united completely with the Hutterian Brethren.
 - During the tribulations of 1536, when there was no place in Moravia for the brothers to settle, Ulrich Stadler and a small group moved to Krasnik in Poland where they experienced new problems as this letter shows.
 - This letter was written in Latin.