By J. W Allen
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Additional resources for A History of Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century
Wherefore, if we are cruelly vexed by an inhuman Prince or robbed and plundered by one prodigal or avaricious or despised and left without protection by one negligent : or even if we are afflicted for the Name of God by one sacri ligious and unbelieving, let us-first of all remember those our own offences against God which doubtless are chastised by these plagues. ' 1 Such prayers, he proceeded to show, are not always unavailing. God has, time and again, interposed to free His people from tyranny.
The Anabaptist principle involved toleration, not only of heresy, but equally of theft and murder. of redemption is complete, a new humanity will include no thieves . or murderers, but all will live in brotherly love, offers no remedy for present discontents. Nor does such an assertion seem to give much rational ground for hope. 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.
I do not see, indeed, how such an idea could have existed among them. It certainly could not exist among people who did not believe in coercive govern ment. At most such people could imagine that, in a world ruled by the Spirit, every one would be ready to share all goods with others. The ordinary Anabaptist group may have practised such sharing more or less : there was little enough to share ! In doing so they were, perhaps, trying to follow the example of the earliest Christians as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
A History of Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century by J. W Allen