By J. W Allen
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Extra resources for A History of Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century
Each of the Anabaptist sects tended to regard itself as the true Church and refuse communion with others. They say, says Franck, that God has stopped the ears , of all who do not agree with them. They excommunicated, that is ' expelled, all erring brothers. ' There is a daily purging of members among them,' records Kessler, of those of St. l But in an Ana baptist society what would this expulsion mean for the heretic ? It · would not mean fire or the gallows : it might mean starvation. I do not think that in a commonwealth of Anabaptists there would have been any real toleration for the heretic.
Many have indulged in this dream ; but /' it would be difficult indeed to show that there is or ever has been any appreciable tendency in such a direction. The Munster plan of · proceeding, by short cut, to the millennium by way of the extermination : of the ungodly, hardly needs comment. If the prophets had not been insane, they would have known that, in such a conflict, it would not ; be the ungodly who would be exterminated. I do not think it can be said, even, that the Anabaptists proclaimed .
To all such authorities we owe complete obedience, as far as the law of God allows. That this was what Calvin con sistently taught I do not think that anyone who carefully compares what he wrote on the subject in 1539 with what he wrote in 1559 can have any doubt. Almost everything that he had to say on the question is contained in the sixteenth chapter of the Institute of 1539 and repeated verbally from revision to revision. Calvin conceived of the State as consti tuted by a grant of authority from God.