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The writings of a good man, when read with an unbiased mind, and with a sincere desire to be profited and instructed, are always beneficial to those who read them; for "of the abundance of the heart the month speaketh," and "a good man, out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things."
Such writings may be the means of doing much good among men, especially in these times of worldly conformity, in which there is such a great opposition to the cross of Christ; in which men love ease and pleasure, and make many devices to avoid those self‑denying principles of the religion of Jesus, and hope to gain the crown of life in some other way than that in which he himself walked, and pointed out to all his true followers; in which mankind are so much given over to the pursuit of the perishable things of this world, to honor, wealth and power, and are so deeply sunk in sin and unrighteousness; in which error and deception are so prevalent that on every side we hear the cry, "Lo, here is Christ," and "Lo, he is there," so that sometimes it seems almost impossible, for those who are not firmly established in the faith, to maintain themselves unmoved, and remain unshaken in the midst of this "crooked and perverse generation."
We believe that these works of the zealous and pious Menno, in which he protests so powerfully against the prevailing corruptions of the times, both in the church and in the ordinary walks of life; in high and in low places, or wherever found, and advocates with such uncompromising firmness and devotion, the imperative necessity of a. true and sincere change of heart, through the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost, a new life, a pious and holy walk, which delights in good works, follows the footsteps of Jesus in love, humility, and meekness; is a light in the world, and labors for the glory of God and the salvation of all men, are well adapted to promote vital, Christian piety, to strengthen and confirm the faith of believers, to encourage and cheer the weary pilgrim on his journey Zionward; to instruct and teach us clearer views of duty; to set before us the true character of the truly penitent child of God, what he must do and how he must live to become an heir of the kingdom above; to show what the church, and what all believers should be; to warn the impenitent; to expose erroneous views; to teach sinners the way of life, and admonish them to turn from their evil ways, to flee from the wrath to come, and seek the Lord while he may be found; and thus believing, we have felt that these writings should be placed before the public in English, so that all who understand this language may have the opportunity to read and examine them for themselves.
These works were originally written in the Dutch language, only a portion of which have been previously translated into the English and German languages. Hence the greater portion of the book will be entirely new to most of the readers of the present day. And inasmuch as the church, bearing the name of Menno, has now so extended itself that it has become a body of considerable importance, and many of the members are much better versed in the English language than in the German, it is meet that the complete works should be published in the English language, so that those professing the same faith with Menno, may enjoy the benefit of his labors even at this distant day.
For the foregoing reasons we have undertaken the arduous and laborious task of translating from the original Holland or Dutch language the entire work, including all his writings, as far as known, with the exception of such of them as he himself rejects and of which he makes mention in his article on the Ban or Excommunication.
In the‑ translation, we have followed the edition of his works, published in the Dutch language by John Van Veen, in Amsterdam, in Holland, in 1681.
The first part of the writings of Menno Simon, with the exception of the "Account of the severe persecutions of Menno Simon," &c., and several letters in the latter part of the volume, were formerly translated into the German language and published in several editions; and from the German translation, they were again translated into the English language, by I. Daniel Rupp, and published by Elias Barr & Co., in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 7863. This translation has been followed in part in the present work, though the whole of it was diligently compared with the original Dutch language, revised and corrected.
The work has required a great deal of time, care, labor and expense. The original work being written in very old style language, on which account many passages were difficult to be understood, but the translators have worked faithfully, and by comparing such passages with different editions of the work, and using such other means as they could command, we feel assured that we can offer to our readers areasonably correct translation of the works of Menno.
We have found a few places where neither the English nor the German editions formerly published were entirely correct, and this will account for some differences which the reader may observe by comparing the different translations, and there map still, possibly, be some passages which could be greatly improved, but without boasting of anything that we have, humbly, in the fear of the Lord, sought to accomplish, we believe that, as the result of our labor, we are enabled to present to the reader, a book which gives a very correct expression of the writings of Menno, in the English language.
And if by the publication of this work we may be instrumental in doing good to the souls of others; if thereby the cause of Christ shall be advanced and the faith of believers confirmed; if thereby a single soul may be saved, and God glorified, then we shall feel that our labor has not been in vain.
May God bless the work; may it be the means of doing much good; yea, through it, may many souls be converted, and brought from the darkness of sin and error to the glorious light of the Gospel of Truth. May God be glorified and honored and mankind humbled and brought to Jesus. This is the prayer and sincere desire of your humble servants,
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