Michael Sattler was one of the most well known Anabaptists and he even drafted the very first document recording the beliefs of the Anabaptists (specifically the Brethren). This document is called The Schleitheim Confession and it had 7 main points that the Brethren based their movement on. He was also the first of the Brethren to be martyred by the hands of the Catholic church.
Michael Sattler was born about 1495 at Staufen near Freiburg in Baden. Educated at the University of Freiburg, Sattler entered the cloister of St. Peter near Freiburg as a monk, advancing to the position of prior of the cloister. Through his studies of the scriptures and, no doubt, influenced by the new reformation theology in circulation, Sattler left the monastery in 1523 and was married.
Sattler joined with the Swiss Brethren in Zurich, from which he was banished on November 18, 1525. He labored in the faith in Horb and Rottenburg in Wurttemberg, later going to Strasburg in Alsace. Returning to Horb and Rottenburg, “on February 24, 1527, Sattler presided over a conference of Swiss Brethren held at Schleitheim in Canton Schaffhausen. He presented to this conference a confession of faith which was approved and adopted without a dissenting voice, and was later printed under the title, “Bruderliche Vereinigung etlicher Kinder Gottes” (Brotherly Agreement of Some Children of God), as the confession of faith of the Swiss Brethren.” The confession was considered important enough to be refuted by both Zwingli and Calvin in separate works.
Sattler’s execution was rather violent and nasty compared to other Anabaptists due in part to being the leader of the movement.
Testomony of Michael Sattler from The Martyrs Mirror
After a long trial an the day of his departure from this world, the articles being many, Michael Sattler* requested that they should be read to him again and that he should have another hearing. This the bailiff, as the governor of his lord, opposed and would not consent to it. Michael Sattler then requested permission to speak. After a consultation, the judges returned as their answer, that if his opponents would allow it, they (the judges) would consent. Thereupon the town clerk of Ensisheim, as the attorney of said Governor spoke thus, “Prudent, honorable and wise Sirs, He has boasted of the Holy Ghost. Now, if his boast is true, it seems to me, it is unnecessary to grant him this; for if he has the Holy Ghost, as he boasts, the same will tell him what has been done here.” To this Michael Sattler replied, “Ye servants of God, I hope my request will not be denied; for said articles are as yet unknown to me.” The town clerk responded, “Prudent, honorable and wise Sirs, Though we are not bound to do this, yet in order to give satisfaction, we will grant him his request that it may not be thought that injustice is done him in his heresy, or that we desire to wrong him; hence let the articles be read to him.”
ARTICLES OR CHARGES AGAINST MICHAEL SATTLER
- First, that he and his adherents have acted contrary to the mandate of the Emperor.
- Secondly, he has taught, held and believed that the body and blood of Christ are not present in the sacrament.
- Thirdly, he has taught and believed that infant baptism does not conduce to salvation.
- Fourthly, they have rejected the sacrament of extreme unction.
- Fifthly, they have despised and condemned the mother of God and the saints.
- Sixthly, he has declared that men are not to swear before the authorities.
- Seventhly, he has commenced a new and unheard of custom in regard to the Lord’s Supper, placing the bread and wine on a plate, and eating and drinking the same.
- Eighthly, he has left the order, and married a wife.
- Ninthly, he has said that if the Turks should invade the country, no resistance ought to be offered them; and if it were right to wage war, he would rather take the field against the Christians than against the Turks; and it is certainly a great matter, to set the greatest enemies of our holy faith against us.
He was also one of the Waldensian brethren, as Jacob Mehrning writes. Bapt. Hist., 2d part, page 748.
Thereupon Michael Sattler requested permission to confer with his brethren and sisters, which was granted him. Having conferred with them for a little while, he began and undauntingly answered thus, “In regard to the articles relating to me and my brethren and sisters, hear this brief answer,
“First, That we have acted contrary to the imperial mandate, we do not admit; for the same says that the Lutheran doctrine and delusion is not to be adhered to, but only the Gospel and Word of God. This we have kept; for I am not aware that we have acted contrary to the Gospel and the Word of God; I appeal to the words of Christ.,
“Secondly, That the real body of Christ the Lord is not present in the sacrament, we admit; for the Scripture says: Christ ascended into heaven and, sitteth on the right hand of His heavenly Father whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead; from which it follows, that if He is in heaven, and not in the breads He may not be eaten bodily. Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9; Col. 3:1; Acts 10:42; 11 Tim. 4:1.,
“Thirdly, As to baptism we say: Infant baptism is of no avail to salvation; for it is written, that we live by faith alone. Again: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Peter likewise says, The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1 7; Mark 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21.,
“Fourthly, We have not rejected the oil; for it is a creature of God, and what God has made is good and not to be refused; but that the pope, the bishops, monks and priests can make it better, we do not believe; for the pope never made anything good. That of which the epistle of James speaks is not the pope’s oil. Gen. 1:11; 1 Tim. 4:4; James 5:14.,
“Fifthly, We have not condemned the mother of God and the saints; for the mother of Christ is to be blessed among all women; for to her was accorded the favor of giving birth to the Saviour of the whole world. But that she is a mediatress and advocatess, of this the Scriptures know nothing; for sh¢ must with us await the judgment. Paul said to Timothy: Christ is our Mediator and Advocate with God. As regards the saints; we say that we who live and believe are the saints; which I prove by the epistles of Paul to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians; and in other places where he always writes: To the beloved saints. Hence we that believe are the saints; but those who have died in faith we regard as the blessed. Luke 1:28; Matthew ‘ 1:21; I Tim. 2:5; I Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1; Rev. 14:13.,
“Sixthly, We hold, that we are not to swear before the authorities: For the Lord says: Swear not; but let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay. Matt. 5:34; James 5:12.,
“Seventhly, When God called me to testify of His Word, and I had read Paul, and also considered the unchristian and perilous state in which I was; beholding the pomp, pride, usury, and great whoredom of the monks and priests, I went and took unto me a wife, according to the command of God; for Paul well prophesies concerning this to Timothy: In the latter time it shall come to pass that men shall forbid to marry, and command to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving. I Cor. 7:2; 1 Tim. 4:3.,
“Eighthly, If the Turks should come, we ought not to resist them; for it is written: Thou shalt not kill. We must not defend ourselves against the Turks and others of our persecutors, but are to beseech God with earnest prayer to repel and resist them. But that I said, that if warring were right, I would rather take the field against the so-called Christians, who persecute, apprehend and kill pious Christians, than against the Turks,was for this reason: The Turk is a true Turk, knows nothing of the Christian faith; and is a Turk after the flesh; but you, who would be Christians, and who make your boast of Christ, persecute the pious witnesses of Christ, and are Turks after the spirit. Ex. 20:13; Matt. 7:7; Tit. 1:16.,
“In conclusion: Ye ministers of God, I admonish you to consider the end for which God has appointed you, to punish the evil, and to defend and protect the pious. Whereas, then, we have not acted contrary to God and the Gospel, you will find that neither I nor my brethren and sisters have offended in word or deed against any authority. Therefore, ye ministers of God, if ye have not heard or read the Word of God, send for the most learned, and for the sacred books of the Bible, of whatsoever language they may be, and let them confer with us in the Word of God; and if they prove to us with the Holy Scriptures, that we err and are in the wrong, we will gladly desist and recant and also willingly suffer the sentence and punishment for that of which we have been accused, but if no error is proven to us, I hope to God, that you will be converted, and receive instruction.” Wisd. 6:4; Acts 25:8; Rom. 13:4; Acts 25:11.
Upon this speech the judges laughed and put their heads together, and the town clerk of Ensisheim said, “O you infamous, desperate villain and monk, shall we dispute with you? The hangman shall dispute with you, I assure you.”
Michael said, “God’s will be done.”
The town clerk said, “It were well if you had never been born.”
Michael replied, “God knows what is good.”
Town Clerk, “You arch-heretic, you have seduced the pious; if they would only now forsake their error, and accept grace.”
Michael: “Grace is with God alone.”
One of the prisoners also said, “We must not depart from the truth.”
Town Clerk: “You desperate villain and archheretic, I tell you if there were no hangman here,
I would hang you myself, and think that I had done God service.”
Michael:. “God will judge aright.”
Thereupon the town clerk said a few words to him in Latin, what we do not know.
Michael Sattler answered him Judica.
The town clerk then admonished the judges and said: -“He will not cease from this talk today; therefore my Lord judge, proceed with the sentence; I will commit -it to the law.” The judge asked Michael Sattler whether he also committed it to the law.
He replied, “Ye ministers of God, I am not sent to judge the Word of God; we are sent to bear witness of it, and, hence, cannot consent to any law, since we have no command from God concerning it; but if we can not be discharged from the law, we are ready to suffer for the Word of God whatever sufferings are, or may be imposed upon us all for the sake of the faith in Christ Jesus our Saviour, as long as we have breath within us; unless we be dissuaded from it by the Scriptures.”
The town clerk said, “The hangman shall convince you; he shall dispute with you, arch-heretic.”
Michael: .”I appeal to the Scriptures.” Then the judges arose, and went into another room, where they remained for an hour and a.half, and determined on the sentence. Matt. 6:10; John 16:2; I Cor. 4:5; John 1:8; Job 27:3.; Acts 25:11.
In the meantime, some in the room treated Michael Sattler most unmercifully, heaping reproach upon him. One of them said, “What have you in expectation -for yourself and the others, that you have so seduced them?” With this, he also drew forth a sword which lay upon the table, saying, “See, with this shall they dispute with thee.” But Michael did not answer. upon a single word concerning his person, but willingly endured it all. One of the prisoners said, “We must not cast pearls before swine.” Matt. 27:14; 7:6.
Being-also asked, why he had not remained a lord in the convent, Michael answered, “According to the flesh I was a lord; but it is better so.” He did not say more than what is recorded here, and this he spoke fearlessly.
The judges having returned to the room, the sentence’was read. It was as follows, “In the case of the Governor of his Imperial Majesty versus Michael Sattler, judgment is passed, that Michael Sattler shall be delivered to ‘the executioner, who shall lead him to the place of execution, and cut out his tongue; then throw him upon a wagon, and there tear his body twice with red hot tongs; and after he has been brought without the gate, he shall be pinched five times in the same manner.”
After this had been done in the manner prescribed, he was burned to ashes as a heretic. His fellow brethren were executed with the sword, and the sisters drowned. His wife, also; after being subjected to many entreaties, admonitions and threats, under which she remained very steadfast,was drowned a few days afterwards. Done the 21st day of May, A. D. 1527.
A LETTER WRITTEN BY MICHAEL SATTLER, IN
PRISON, TO THE CHURCH OF GOD AT HORB
My beloved companions in the Lord! grace and mercy from God our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, and the power of ,their Spirit, be with you beloved of God, brethren and sisters.
I can not forget you; though I am not present with the body (Col. 2:5 ), yet I continually care for and watch over you, as my fellow members, lest the body be taken away, and the whole body tthe church], with all its members be overwhelmed with sorrow, especially at this time, when the ferocity of the ravening wolf has risen to such a pitch; and increases in power; so that he has aroused also me to fight against him; – but eternal praise be to God, its,head is completely broken, and I hope that his whole body shall soon be no more, as is written.
Dear brethren and sisters, you’well know with what ardent love I admonished you the last tune 1 was with you, that you should be upright and godly in all patience and in the love of God, by which you may be known among this ‘adulterous and ungodly generation, as shining lights (Matthew 5:14) whom God the heavenly Father has, illuminated with His knowledge and the light of the Spirit. With like fervency I now beseech and admonish you; that you walk surely and prudently towards those that are without as unbelievers, that our office, which God has imposed upon us, may in no wise be profaned and justly reproached.
Remember the Lord, who has given you the talent, for Ile shall require it again with usury: That the one talent rnay not be taken from. you, put it to usury, according to the command’ of the Lord, who has. given you the talent. Matt., 15:19.
I say to you through the grace of God, that,ye be valiant, and walk as become the saints of God. Consider what the Lord metes out to idle servants; namely, to utterly lukewarm and slothful hearts; unfit and cold for all love to,God and the brethren. You have experienced what I .now write.
Be admonished by this, lest God let a like punhment come upon you. Beware, beware of such as as act contrary to the command of God lest ye learn their abominations; but reprove it with strict attention, and excommunication, according to the command of Christ, yet with all love and compassion for their cold hearts. Matt. 18:17. If you do this, you shall readily see how the flock of God dwells among the wolves (Acts 20:29), and shall witness a brief and speedy separation of those who will not walk in the right paths and living, ways of Christ, namely, through crosses, misery, imprisonment, self-denial, and ultimately through death. Then you can present yourselves to God’ your heavenly Father, a pure, godly, true church of Christ, which
is cleansed through His blood (Eph. 5:26), that it may be holy and unblamable in the sight of God and men, separated from all idolatry and abomination, and redeemed, that the Lord of all dominion may dwell in it, and that it may be a tabernacle unto Him. Beloved brethren, understand whether what I write unto you be truth, and use diligence to walk according to it. Let no one divert you from your aim, as has been the case with some even until now; but go straight on in all patience, without deviating, that you do not take up the cross which God has laid upon you, only to lay it down contrary to the honor and praise of God, and to the transgression and violation of His eternal, true, just, and life-giving commandments.
Do not become weary, if you are chastened of the Lord (Heb. 12:5); for whom God loves He chastens, even as a father that is well pleased with his son. To what will you have recourse, if you would flee from God? What can help you if you forsake God? Is it not God who fills heaven and earth? Does He not know all the secrets of thy vain heart, and the lasciviousness of thy reins? All things are manifest to Him, and there is nothing concealed from Him. Vain man, whither will you go, that God shall not see you? Why do you flee the rod of your Father? (Heb. 12:8). If you will not be chastened according to the will of the Father, you cannot inherit His riches. Why do you love a short and transient rest more than the godly and moderate correction and chastisement of the Lord to your salvation? How long will you eat flesh of the fat of Egypt? How long will you be carnally-minded? (Rom. 8:8). The flesh perishes, and all its glory; the word of the Lord alone abides forever.
Beloved brethren, mark what I write to you; for it is necessary, since you see that there are but few who will endure the chastening of the Lord; for by far the greater number when they suffer a little in the flesh, become faint and weary, and do no longer look unto Jesus, the Captain and Finisher of our faith. They also forget all His commandments, and esteem the jewel which the calling of God every where presents and points out to those that overcome of small value; but they regard this temporal rest, which is before their eyes as far better and more profitable, than the eternal for which we must hope. Moreover, there are some who, when this is presented to them, accuse God, though very unjustly, of not being willing to keep them under His protection. You know whom I mean, take heed that you have no fellowship with them.
Furthermore, dear fellow members in Christ, be admonished that you forget not charity, without which it is pot possible for you to be a Christian flock. You know what charity is, from the testimony of Paul our fellow brother, who says, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” I Cor. 13:4-7: Understand this passage, and you will find the love of God and the love of your neighbor; and if you love God, you will rejoice in the truth, and believe, hope and endure all that comes from God. In this way the aforesaid failing will be removed and avoided. But if you love your neighbor, you will not punish or excommunicate with fire, you will not seek your own, think no evil, not vaunt yourselves, and, finally, not be puffed up; but will be kind, just, liberal in all giving, humble and compassionate with the weak and imperfect. Rom. 13:8.
This love has been adulterated by some brethren (I know who they are); they have not been willing to edify one another by love, but are become puffed up and unprofitable with the vain knowledge and understanding of things which God would have remain hidden to all but Himself alone. I Cor. 8:1. I do not censure nor reject the grace and revelation of God, but the puffed up make use of this revelation. What would it profit, says Paul, if I should speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and understand all mysteries and knowledge, and have all faith, tell me, what profit is all this, if love be not exercised? You have experienced what such presumptuous speaking and ignorance has produced; you still daily see their false fruits, though they have given themselves to God.
And let no man remove you from the foundation which is laid through the letter of the holy Scriptures, and is sealed with the blood of Christ and of many witnesses of Jesus. Hear not what they. say of their father, for he is a liar; and do not believe their spirit, for he is entirely swallowed up in the flesh. Judge what I write to you; take these matters to heart, that this abomination may be separated far from you, and that you be found humble, fruitful and obedient children of God. Beloved brethren, marvel not that I treat this matter with such earnestness; for I do so not without reason. The brethren have doubtless informed you that some of us are in prison; and afterwards when the brethren at Hbrb had also been apprehended, they brought us to Binzdorf. At this time we met with various designs of our adversaries. Once they threatened us with bonds; then with fire, and afterwards with the sword. In this peril I completely surrendered myself into the will of the Lord, and together with all my fellow brethren and my wife, prepared myself even for death for His testimony and then I thought of the great number .of false brethren, and of you, who are but few, namely, a little flock; and also, that there are but few faithful laborers in the Lord’s vineyard (Matt. 9:37); hence I deemed it necessary to stir you up by this admonition, to follow after us in the divine warfare, in order that you may comfort yourselves with it, that you may not become weary of the chastening of the Lord.
In short, beloved brethren and sisters this
letter shall be a farewell to all of you who truly love and follow God (others I do not know); and also a testimony of my love which God has given into my heart towards you, for the sake of your salvation. I did indeed desire, and it would have been profitable, I trust, if I had labored a little while longer in the work of the Lord; but it is better for me, to be released, and to await with Christ the hope of the blessed. The Lord is able to raise up another laborer to finish this work.
Pray that reapers may be constrained into the harvest; for the time of threshing is nigh at hand. Luke 10:2. The abomination of desolation is manifest among you; the chosen servants and handmaidens of God are marked with the name of their Father on their foreheads (Rev. 13:16); the world rises up against those who are delivered from its error; the Gospel is proclaimed before all the world, as a testimony against it; therefore it will be necessary that the day of the Lord do not tarry.
You know, my most beloved fellow members, that it becomes us to conduct ourselves in a godly and Christian manner. II Tim. 3:12. Take heed, watch and pray, lest your wisdom bring judgment upon you. Pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17) that you may stand worthy before the Son of man. Remember your forerunner Jesus Christ, and follow Him through faith and obedience, with love and patience. I Peter 2:20. Forget that which is carnal, that you may in truth be called Christians, and children of the Most High God. Endure the chastening of your father in heaven, and turn neither to the right nor to the left, that you may enter by the door (John 10:1), and will not have to walk in a strange path, in which sinners, sorcerers, idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie, must go. Rev. 22:15. Remember our assembly, and strictly follow that which was resolved on therein; and if anything has been forgotten, pray the Lord for understanding. Be liberal towards all that are in want among you (Heb. 13:3), but especially towards those who labor among you in the Word, and are driven about, and cannot eat their bread in peace and quietness. Forget not to assemble yourselves together, but give diligence that you constantly meet together, and be united in prayer for all men, and in breaking of bread; and this with the more diligence, because the day of the Lord is approaching. Heb. 10:25. In this assembling you will make manifest the hearts of the false brethren, and will speedily rid yourselves of them.
Finally, beloved brethren and sisters, sanctify yourselves for Him that has made you holy, and hear what Esdras says, “Look for your Shepherd; he shall give you everlasting rest; for he is nigh at hand, that shall come in the end of the world. Be ready to the reward of the kingdom, . . . . Flee the shadow of this world, . . . . Arise up and stand, behold the number of those that be sealed in the feast of the Lord; which are departed from the shadow of the world, and have received glorious garments of the Lora. laKe my numuci, v JLVIL, and shut up those of thine that are clothed in white, which have fulfilled the law of the Lord. The number of thy children whom thou longedst for, is fulfilled . . . . I Esdras saw upon the mount Sion a great people; whom I could not number, and they all praised the Lord with songs. And in the midst of them there was a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest, and upon everyone of their heads he set crowns, and was more exalted; which I marveled at greatly. So I asked the angel, and said, Sir, what are these? He answered and said unto me, These be they that have put off the mortal clothing, and put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God: now are they crowned, and receive palms. Then said I unto the angel, What young person is it that crowneth them, and giveth them palms in their hands? So he answered and said unto me, It is the Son of God, whom they have confessed in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them that stood so stiffly for the name of the Lord.” II Esdras 2:34-36, 38-47; Rev. 19:12; Matt. 13:43.
Bear in mind most beloved members of the body of Christ, what I indicate by this scripture, and live according to it, and if I be offered up to the Lord, do for my wife what you would for me. The peace of Jesus Christ, and the love of the heavenly Father, and the grace of their Spirit, preserve you unspotted from sin, and present you glad and pure for the beholding of their glory, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may be found in the number of those called to the feast (Luke 14:15) of the one essential, true God and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom be eternal praise and glory, Amen.
Beware of false brethren (Acts 20:39); for the Lord will perhaps call me to Him; so take warning, I wail for my God. Pray without ceasing for all that are in bonds. God be with you all. Amen.
Written in the tower at Binzdorf. Brother Michael Sattler of Staufen, together with my fellow prisoners in the Lord.
Of this hero and witness of Jesus Christ there are also other writings extant in print, treating of the atonement of Christ; brotherly union; divorce; of evil overseers, and the hearing of false prophets.