heareth thee not, take with thee one or two, so that all things may be established from the mouth of two or three witnesses. If he will not hear, tell it to the church. If he will not hear the church, hold him as a heathen and publican."—Matt, xviii., 15-17.
From this passage the brothers raise a grievous outcry against me and say: "If a magistrate were allowable among Christians, then the Christian excommunication would come to nothing and be disused. For when one punishes the evil-doer with the sword, the church may not use the ban." Answer: Excommunication and punishment with the sword are two very different commands given by God. The first is promised and given to the church by Christ (Matt. x., 14; xviii., 18; John xx., 23), for the admission of the pious into their fellowship and the exclusion of the unworthy, to use according to its will. So, whatsoever sins of men the Christian church forgives on earth, the same are surely forgiven also in heaven; and what sins are not forgiven here on earth the same are not remitted in heaven.
Since Christ delivered, entrusted and committed to his bride, the Christian church, his command to loose and bind in his bodily absence, as he had received it from his Father, therefore the Christian church may and shall in the meantime teach the people all that Christ has commanded her to teach. Also she has the authority and power to sign all men with the water-baptism, if they are willing to receive, believe, and order their lives by such doctrine, and to inscribe and receive them in her holy fellowship. For all that she rules and governs on earth, the same is done, performed, delivered and finished in heaven also. At some distant day this Christ, her Bridegroom, will come again in corporeal and visible form, in his glory and majesty, and will take again in person his