Christian love demands that every one avoid that which can offend or vex his neighbour, in so far,...

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 Christian love demands that every one avoid that which can offend or vex his neighbour, in so far,...

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Christian love demands that every one avoid that which can offend or vex his neighbour, in so far, however, as it does not injure the faith, of course you are to understand. Since the Gospel has been preached frequently in these years, many have therefore become better and more God-fearing, but many on the contrary have become worse. And since there is much opposition to their bad opinion and plans, they attack the Gospel, which attacks the good cannot endure but oppose. From which reason the bad cry out saying: "I wish the Gospel were not preached. It sets us at variance among ourselves." Here one should not yield for that reason, but should keep close before his eyes what Christ says [Matthew X., 32]: "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth (understand by this, peace with the godless or sinful): I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter- in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."

In these words Christ gives us strength not to consider the vexation of those who will not be convinced of the truth; and, even though they are our nearest and dearest, we are not to be worried, if they separate from us, as he says later. [Matt. X., 37:] "Whosoever loves father and mother more than me, he is not worthy of me; whoever loves his son or daughter better than me, he is not worthy of me, and whoever does not take his cross and follow me, he is not worthy of me." And also Luke [XIV., 26]. So wherever it is a matter of God's honour, of the belief or of hope in God, we should suffer all things rather than allow ourselves to be forced from this. But where a thing cannot harm the belief, but offends one's neighbour, although it is not a sin, one should still spare his neighbour in that he should not injure him; as eating meat is not forbidden at any time by divine law; but, where it injures or offends one's neighbour, one should not eat it without cause. One should make those of little faith strong in the faith.

But when one will not be referred to the divine truth and the Scriptures, when one says: "I firmly believe that Christ has never forbidden me any food at any time," and when the one of little faith will not grant it or believe it, although one shows him the Scriptures about it, then the one who believes in liberty shall not yield to him, although he should yield the matter of eating meat in his presence, if it is not necessary; but he should cleave to the Scriptures and not let the sweet yoke of Christ and the light burden become bitter, so that it may not be unpleasant to men or please them less, and thereby show that it is a human and not a divine prohibition. See how the Lord has come with his light and illuminated the world with the Gospel, so that Christians, recognising their liberty, will not let themselves be led any more behind the stove and into the darkness from which a schism has come about, so that we really see that God has uncovered the Pharisees and hypocrites and has made a separate division of them. Yes, in that case I venture to command you to fight against those who prefer to keep the heavy yoke of the hypocrites rather than to take the sweet yoke of Christ upon themselves, and in thus doing to be careful to offend no one, but, as much as is in them, to keep peace with all men, as Paul says [Rom. XII., 18].

- Huldreych Zwingli, On Choice And Liberty Of Foods.

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