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15
Anabaptists and the Reformation

generation, are necessary to produce this intimate personal relation with Christ. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom: to enter it one must be born again.

This notion of the essential nature of Christianity led them to their idea concerning the Church. This outward embodiment of the kingdom should be, so far as is humanly possible, composed of those only who have been regenerated by the Spirit, who have become vitally one with Christ by faith, and are continuing in such union with him, as is shown by their bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit. Such a Church could not possibly exist if it were ruled by princes and town councils; hence the Anabaptists insisted on the sharp separation between the secular and the spiritual—as we should say, between Church and State. The civil magistrate, in their view, had nothing to do with matters of religion. He had discharged his full duty when he had protected the innocent and peaceable, and punished the evil-doer. For this he bore the sword and was a minister of God; anything more was a usurpation. And it equally followed that entrance into such a Church as they contemplated must be made by the voluntary