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MEMOIR OF MR. HANSLO,
To the Editors of the Baptist Magazine.
Having in my possession a scarce print of “ REGNIER HANSLoe, an Anabaptist Minister, and his Wife," engraved by Boydell, in 1781, from a celebrated painting by Rembrant, I desired my friend, the late Rev. W.H. Rowe, of Weymouth, to furnish me with some account of Mr. Hansloe, if he met with any, in the “ Dutch Martyrology:" a work which I knew he was consulting to ascertain the history of baptism among the Mennonites in Holland.* After some time, he sent me the following, dated October 31, 1816. “I enclose you the Memoir of Mr. Anslo. There is but little said of him generally; and the Socinian dispute in which he was engaged with Obbentz is not of much importance to us, It is scarcely worth your perusal: but I could not go beyond my means. The translation is a hasty one: I have merely conveyed the sentiments, without regard to elegance of language.” I think it desirable that this should be printed in the Magazine just as Mr. Rowe sent it: from which the reader will discover what a loss the denomination has sustained by the premature removal of this excellent man.
Tue Rev. Mr. HANSLO was born he was called to the ministry, is in 1592, and died 1646, conse- not accurately known. quently lived fifty-four years. He This reverend man bore the was a very zealous and faithful affixed name of Anslo, [the oriteacher in those united churches ginal name was Klaas,] as I am of the Mennonites, in which the informed by his highly respectfamous Lubbert Gerritsz (as we able descendants, who now reside have mentioned in its place] had in Amsterdam; from the circumbefore exercised the ministry of stance of his ancestors coming the gospel; and was colleague of from Anslo, or Aslo, or, as it is Mr. Huseling, of whom we have sometimes called, Obslo, and Opspoken in the preceding chapter, slo, a town in Norway, over against who, however, was called to the the castle of Aggerhuys, whence ministry later than Mr. Anslo. tbe bishoprick of Obslo, the most The day of his birth, as well as south-easterly of Norway, derives that of his death, as also, when its pame. This town, Anslo, or
* Mr. Rowe had compiled a volume on this subject, of considerable size. Query., Could not this be published by subscription for the benefit of his Widow ? VOL. X.
Obslo, was destroyed by a dread- very showy sort of style, and also ful fire in the reign of Christian of 29 questions, designed as an IV. king of Denmark, which inquiry into the nature and power prince rebuilt it, and from that of the sacred scriptures, or of time has been called from him, the written word of God. . To Christiana and Christianstad. which is affixed, a number of
Klaas Anslo was a very grave, instances, of all descriptions of devout, virtuous, and persevering writers, with which the author teacher; orthodox in doctrine, of this work strives to confirm his and sound in life; edifying every opinions on this point, being of an one whose heart was interested opinion directly opposed to that of in religion, by his exemplary John Rees, Wybrandez, Huseling, walk; favoured by God with and Klaas Anslo, and likewise of superior talents, and endowed all' orthodox and scriptural dirichly with temporal goods, of vines, that there was no other which he made a becoming and wordof God thanthe written books Christian use, in relieving the of the sacred scriptures, that is, poor and the distressed in their the spoken word of God, by which pressing needs and distresses, God brings men to repentance judging that his office and his and the new birth, denying morepreaching united to do to his over the efficacious co-operation neighbour what he was preaching of the Holy Ghost, and holding, to others, and what he should that what is otherwise understood, wish, were he in distress, that are the sentiments held by the others would do to him. Thus Swinterveldians, enthusiasts, and he has left behind him a' good followers of Thomas Munzer. report with all godly persons ; This work, together with its moreover, like all pious witnesses singular title, and the florid style for Christ, he had to endure the of the writer, discovering, obreproaches of depraved and ill-viously, the unspiritual, erronedisposed persons.
ous author, and that his ignoOf his writings, concerning the rance of the subject of divine ministry and divinity, nothing influence was equal to that of more has come to hand than what Nicodemus, occasioned great conwas published by him, in conjunc- fusion in the church. Hence, tion with other ministers, on the the other ministers, with the mifrequently mentioned affairof Nit- nisters generally of other churches, tert Obbensz. The vain notions judged it best, in order to the and restless conduct of this Nit- promotion of rest, and the welfare tert Obbensz, made in 1625, and of the society, to have an intersome following years, very many view with Nittert Obbensz, in disturbances in the united Water- order to converse in a friendly land churches of the Mennonites, way on this subject; and we meeting at Amsterdam, in the will give some detail of the mauSpyker (warehouse,] when Ob- ner in which these divines conbensz published a writing under ducted themselves. the title of " Raag-bezem (the Nittert Obbensz observing the broom), &c. made by Nicode dissatisfaction occasioned by his mus, letter slave of legal mind." writings, made some sort of comThis work consists of a very long plaint, as if his book was printed preface, in which the reasons of without his consent, at least, that the publication are stated, in a the title was affixed wholly with
out his knowledge, by Theunisz, serving as a precursor to the exone of his principal defenders. posure of what is treated in a He published a second time, un certain book called Raag-bezem der the title “A few Questions, (the broom), &c. serving to an investigation of the In this treatise, Frederic comes nature and power of the sacred forward, as an impartial man, scriptures, or the written word and examines into the real truth of God:” together with a letter of the case, which had occasionaddressed by himself to Hans de ed so much disquiet and difficulty Rys. [This letter was precisely in the church. The Waterland the preface of the former edi- brother (representing Mr. Anslo] tion.]
informs him, that the difference The work closed with the fol- respected the word of God, whelowing brief address :
ther there was more than one “ Nittert Obbensz to Hans de word of God; the ministers of Rys.
the Waterlander churches main“ Do you suppose I am in an taining that the word was twoerror, I will with pleasure receive fold; but their antagonists conyour mild reply and parental tended that there was but one instruction, and, as a good dis- word of God, that written in the ciple of Christ, bend to the truth.” | books of the Old and New Test
In the mean time, Nittert Ob-taments. This he further exbensz did not desist, with the as- plains by stating, that by the sistance of one or the other of term, word of God, he meant, his friends, to bring forward, by 1. That Jesus Christ, the Son of the press, his opinions, under God, the Eternal Word of the Fa. the veil of anonymous writings, ther, was indeed the true God and in the most shameful way, to himself, by vhom heaven and slander his colleagues, Wybrandez, the earth, and all things visible Huseling, and one Klaas Anslo, and invisible were made, who as if they had treated him in the was the word of God, at the most unbecoming and inequitable same time the Son of God, and
a literal or written word, One of these writings was so and shall remain eternally, when exceedingly calumniating, that all our Bibles shall have perished. his colleagues perceiving no good This he proves from John, i. 5results from a viva voce dispute 14; 1 John, i. 1, 2; Rev. xix. with Obbensz, were necessitated 11-13. 2. He maintained, that to defend themselves by the the holy scripture is God's litepress, and to lay a fair statement rally written word, in which of the business before the public. God's will and pleasure were
To this end Mr. Anslo pub- clearly revealed, which also abunlished A Dialogue between a dantly testifies of the Eternal truth-seeking Neutralist, (which he Word, Jesus Christ, the Son of names Frederic,) and A Water. God, our Lord and Saviour. In lander Brother, in which he this sense he contended, the briefly and undisguisedly demon word of God was two-fold, and strates the difference existing that between both, when cach is between the ministers of the distinctly considered, there is as united churches and Nittert Ob- great a difference in power and bensz, concerning the word of ability as between the Creator God, and adherence to the same; and his creature.
Nittert Obbensz, and his par- the word of life, by whose spirit ty, on the other hand, assert that and power, in believers there are there is no other word of God by excited spiritual feelings, inward which God addresses men ; the desires, and hungerings after the Holy Ghost unites faith and re- girds, consolations, joy, and generation, &c. then the written gladness in the Lord, according and preached word. Which to the doctrine of Paul, that those statement, if distinctly considered, who obey Christ, are led by the and with the included inference spirit of Christ, which dwelleth of the same, that Jesus Christ in them. For our teachers mainis not the Eternal Word of the tain, that as the spirit of sin has Father, since they acknowledge his work in the children of unno other than the written word, belief, and leads them from one the Waterlander brother wholly sin to another, so much rather rejects, as contradictory to the ex- the spirit of Christ, who dwells press doctrine of the sacred scrip- in the faithful, has work in the tures. He moreover demonstrates, souls of believers, exciting and Nittert Obbensz attributes differ- inspiring them to all Christian ent things, which the Holy Ghost duties, from one virtue to anexclusively applies to Christ, to other. This inward inspiration the written word, and thus robs and influence of the Holy Ghost Christ of his honour, and gives they condemn as enthusiasm, that to the letter of the sacred teaching that there is no inward scriptures which belongs to him, work whereby God can speak to John, vi. 35, 51, wbich place the his people, inspiring them by his orthodox Waterlander ministers Holy Spirit to good. believe to belong alone to Christ. “Thus this people seem to for
The Waterland brother proves sake the doctrine of the operaalso fully, that they, in teaching tion and enlightening of the Holy that there is a two-fold word of Ghost, as it appears, that they God, namely, a speaking and a feel very little of the inhabitation spoken one, the latter being con- of God, or taste the anointings firmed and rendered fruitful by of the Holy Ghost; his influence, the first, under the enlightening teaching, consolation and wituess, co-operation of the Holy Ghost, of which Paul says, “The Spirit to the souls of believers, are by of God bears witness with our no means to be considered as fa- spirits, that we are the children natics, enthusiasts, or the fol- of God.' For how otherwise lowers of the Munster rebels, or could they reject and oppose the the night runners of Amsterdam, influences of the Spirit as the as they are most unrighteously most injurious enthusiasm ? It accused of being, even by some appears, also, that they would who pretended to belong to their conclude, from 1 Cor. iv, 15, that churches; but that they, in this ministers by the letter, or audible their opinion, fully agree with all preaching of the word, could orthodox divines of every society, alone beget sinners, and that the and of all times. “ Our divines,” minister becomes a spiritual fasays he," teach according to the ther in that respect only. This, sacred scriptures, and all Christian however, proceeds from their igministers, that God not only ad- norance of the meaning of Paul; dresses us by the outward letter that they do not understand what of the word, but also by Christ, he means by begetting,' or wherein the new birth consists. request its printing, yet he knew For the new birth is nothing short of it while passing through the of a new creation, by which the press; and confessed, that the old man is destroyed, and the common opinion of Christ being new man is formed, &c. Eph. iv. the word, &c. was, as he thought, 24. This regeneration is not of one of the greatest absurdities in man, but of God through Christ, Christianity. see Psalm li. 12. God appropri- He likewise disputed concernates it to himself, see Jer. xxxi. ing a sermon preached by Huse33; Ezek. xi. 19; and xxxvi. ling just before, on Matt. vi. 17, 26, and in many other parts. and stated, that Huseling had
Yet this people dare to ascribe preached more nonsense in treatthat to themselves, although they ing of conversion and exhorting cannot create a flower in the to repentance, and, among other field, or the least blade of grass !!!" things, in demonstrating the ne,
This work was soon after fol- cessity of conversion, and the little lowed by another, the joint pro- power of sinners of themselves and duction of Wybrandez, Huseling, with respect to their own strength, and Anslo, in vindication of the by which true conversion could truth and their own characters, not be effected ; but that it was which Obbensz bad so shame requisite for the sinner to pray to fully aspersed.
God for help, and to ask his grace This was a very valuable apo- and the Holy Spirit, by whose logy, composed in the spirit of assistance conversion was effects Christian meekness. It gives an ed, and which God would give accurate statement of the contro- him if he sincerely desired it. versy; by which it appears, that This Obbeņsz pronounced mere Obbensz had charged on his own party the enthusiasm of Muoster, It was, in consequence, upaSwinckfeld, &c. because they nimously determined at a church contended for the scriptural no- meeting, that Obbensz should be tion of divine influence.
exhorted to peace, and be ex. After this publication, they cluded from the Lord's suppet remained silent for a considerable while the controversy stood open, time, to see if Obbensz would until Hans de Rys should have perceive the imprudence of his replied to his book. This de conduct, after having witnessed cision of the church was commu. the confusion, and injurious re- nicated by Anslo and another, ports he had occasioned against one of the deacons, in the most the whole party. Obbensz did friendly manner; but was not pot alter in his couduct or senti- received in a Christian spirit. ments; and it was at length These divines then published judged expedient and necessary a full confession of their faith on to cite Obbensz before the church. the eternity and true divinity of It was stated to him, how much Christ, the Son of God, who, grief and painful disturbance had being truly God, became also a been occasioned in many, in child of man, in one and the consequence of the publication same person truly God and truly of his book, and a discussion of man, having a true divine and a the subject followed. He af- true human nature; who, refected surprise, but at length maining what he was, namely, confessed, that though he did God, and the Son of God, be.