Honor reader, the reason why we write is this: Because we and our ancestors, for many centuries, have sought the light in obscurity, the truth in falsehood, life in death, and the way among the deceivers; and have wandered about like a flock of sheep without a shepherd; and, alas, there was none who pointed us to the way of life and led us into the pasture of the Lord. The accursed doctrine of anti-christ had so drawn the shameful smoke of deceit from the bottomless pit; had so obscured the glorious dazzling of the divine word, nay, the just judgment of God was come upon this reckless world, on account of its sinfulness, so that, alas, there was neither true doctrine nor true knowledge of God and Christ, nor faith, baptism, Supper, ban in accordance with God's word, nor love, nor righteousness found among men, and of which very little is found as yet; for all over the world we find false teachers, hypocritical deceivers, and enemies of the cross, who diligently serve their own bellies, who by their tickling, erring doctrine proclaim peace to those who know of no peace, and thus strengthen the hands of the wicked so that none converts himself from his wickedness, as the prophet says.

Yea, they have carried on their wrangling, writing and preaching so far that they adjudge the Lord's express ordinances of baptism, Supper and ban, as commanded by him, and as taught, practiced and testified to by his holy apostles, not only as heretical, but also fiend-like, they upbraid and persecute those who keep them, as may be plainly seen; and have instituted a new baptism, which the Scripture knows not, which is more pleasing to the flesh than the baptism of Christ; a new Supper which is a false consolation to the ungodly; also a ban which serves for nothing but the destruction of the pious, and which is not founded on anything reasonable; for if they are not banished from city and country, they are sentenced to the stake or water; nor is it practiced sparingly upon the pious in many places.

In short, they have so led the common world from God, and so estranged them by their carnal doctrine and false sacraments, and led them into such unbelief and heathenish life, that all heaven must be afflicted and ashamed thereat. Say reasonable reader, who can enumerate the accursed, ungodly pride, pomp, adultery, fornication, idolatry, Roman and Spanish abominations, unfaithfulness, fraud, avarice, usury, unrighteousness, debauchery, luxury, hatred, envy, murder, thefts, robbery, incendiarism, treason, blood-shed, unmannerly, obscene words, the terrible lying, shameful diseases, lameness, suffering and wounds, which are found with this wicked, reckless world. Yet they claim to be the church of Christ. Yea, every thing is in such a condition that we may well say with the prophet Hosea, "There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land; but swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery; they break out, and blood toucheth blood," Hosea 4:1, 2; with Jereemiah, that "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land," Jer. 5:30; with John, that "The whole world lieth in wickedness," Jn. 5:19; and with John the divine that their "sins have reached unto heaven," Rev. 18:5. O, faithful reader, it is worse than I can express. Whosoever is reasonably disposed may realize the truth.

Inasmuch as the brightness of the sun has not shone for so many years; as heaven and earth have been as copper and iron; as the brooks and springs have not run, nor the dew dropped from heaven; as the beautiful trees and verdant fields have been dry and barren (I mean spiritually); but, inasmuch as, in these latter days, the gracious, great Lord, by the rich treasures of his love, has again opened the windows of heaven, and let drop the dew of his divine word, so that the earth once more produces its green branches and plants of righteousness, as before, which bear fruit unto the Lord and glorify his adorable name; and inasmuch as the holy word and sacraments of the Lord again lift up their heads from the ashes, by means of which the blasphemous deceit and abominations of the learned are made manifest - therefore all the infernal gates are opened in opposition; foam and rave, and that with such subtle deceit, blasphemous falsehood and tyranny that if the strong God did not interpose with his gracious power, no man could be saved. But they will never wrest from him his chosen ones.

Inasmuch as they so fearfully teach and strive against the truth, weigh out dross for silver, and, besides, accuse us of all manner of shame, blasphemy, roguery and profanity, as they did from the beginning to all those who fear the Lord - therefore we are forced, and constrained by the true love of the divine word and the salvation of your souls, to explain briefly to you according to the word of the Lord, the sure, divine foundation, and the pure, immutable truth of Justification, of the Preachers, of Baptism, of the Supper, and of the swearing of oaths, on account of which we are so much hated and slanderously belied by every person, and especially of the learned, that you may thereby acknowledge what the Holy Scriptures clearly teach us in regard to these articles; and to show whether we are such useless, ungodly people, as the learned incessantly cry against us and tell the people. If you have ears to hear, then hear the word of the Lord; and if you have understanding hearts, take heed, and follow the truth.

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