MARTYRS MIRROR

Discussion in 'Christian / Church Histories' started by turnorburn, Jun 23, 2016.

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  1. turnorburn

    turnorburn Member

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    Therefore Solomon says, "Beware of murmuring, which avails nothing, for though we had spent all that we have in the world, and the Lord would prove us with poverty, as he did Israel, our anxiety could avail us nothing." Hence we must cast our care on the Lord, who cares for us; for He permitted Israel to suffer hunger, to prove them whether they loved Him or not, and to try whether they should be patient. Hence my dear wife and sister in the Lord, always possess your soul with patience, and you shall overcome with all the pious witnesses of God, and inherit salvation, and say with the prophet Baruch, "O Israel, happy are we; for God has revealed to us his will." Bar. 4:4. Even as Moses says, "O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency!" Deut. 33:29. Therefore, my much beloved sister in the Lord, though we must suffer for His sake, we must nevertheless possess our soul with patience, and remember that the apostle says, "That it is acceptable with God, to suffer for well doing." I Pet. 2:20.

    Notwithstanding that the world does not deem it acceptable, as Paul says, "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness: but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God;" which power God works in them by His Spirit, to the comforting and strengthening of their minds, so that they, by their God, leap over a wall; and, with Caleb and Joshua, devour their enemies as bread; and, with Jael, drive a nail (that is, the enemy of the house of Israel), through Sisera's head, with the hammer of the divine word (Judg. 4:21); and, with David, overcome, with the stone, Christ Jesus, the giant Goliath, that is, the devil and Satan who fights against Israel (I Sam. 17:50); and say with the apostle Paul, "Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Cor. 15:57.

    And he further says, "Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." II Cor. 2:14. They also say with David, "The Lord is my life and strength." Ps. 27:1. As the prophet writes, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isa. 40:31.
    Hence, my much beloved wife and sister in the Lord, the world cannot partake of this comfort, because they do not believe in the Lord and thus deem the word of the cross foolishness, as is written, "We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness." I Cor. 1:23.

    But they that believe and will be saved regard it as the power and wisdom of God, that they are worthy to suffer shame for the name of the Lord, as did Peter and John, when they had been scourged by the Pharisees. Acts 5:41. Hence Peter writes, "What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall-take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called." I Pet. 2:20, 21. Paul also writes, "Those of old time had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, affilicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy." Heb. 11:36-3$.

    See, my dear and in God beloved wife, how the world cannot become a partaker of this grace, since it does not esteem the Lord worthy to suffer for His name; for no one can suffer for the name of the Lord, except he have through faith obtained power to become a child of God. John 1:12. Hence, my cordially beloved sister T. H., let us never be grieved by what we must suffer for the name of God, but willingly and lovingly endure it, and look to the reward; for such as seek to live unto the Lord, and to promote His glory, and do not seek their own, but much rather what is to the praise of the Lord and to the edification of their neighbor. Oh, what glorious promises of salvation are theirs, and what ,great riches are promised them! Romans 24:8; I Cor. 10:24; Matt. 10:22. But we must know that if we would come to honor, we must first suffer, for thus it has been from the beginning with all the righteous children of God.

    Hence John writes that the Lamb was slain from the beginning. Rev. 13:8. Not that Christ Himself was slain according to His flesh from the beginning; for Paul says that Christ appeared in the end of the world, to put away the sins of many by the sacrifice of Himself. Heb. 9:26. But He was slain from the beginning in righteous Abel; and thus He still daily suffers in all believers; hence it is evident that they suffer for His name, whereto the world is unworthy yet, for they do not have Christ, and hence they cannot surer for His name; hence their suffering is nothing but vexation, for the sorrow of this world worketh death. II Cor. 7:10. But godly sorrow worketh to salvation, whether it be outward or inward; if inward, that one is sorry for sin, it is to amendment; if outward, because one suffers for the name of Christ, it is to consolation, for Paul says, "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." II Cor. 1:5.

    Therefore Peter says, "If ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye." I Pet. 3:14. He further says, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified." I Pet. 4:14. O my dearest, consider what precious words these are, for us to whom these promises, without any doubt belong. For though Christ by the Spirit of God cast out devils, yet, according to their saying, He had to do it by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Matt. 12:24.

    Therefore Christ rightly spake, "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also; for the servant is not greater than his lord, nor the disciple above his master." John 15:20; Matthew 10:24. For the angel said to Tobit, "Since thou didst please God, thou couldst not remain without temptation." Tob. 12:13. For it is written, "Temptation alone teaches to observe the word." Isa. 28:19.

    Therefore, my dear wife, take these words to heart, and mark them well, namely, how the Lord has visited His own in many ways, and how well He is pleased, when His children show obedience in all things, and willingly receive chastisement, and do not seek to escape from the cross of Christ, but gladly and willingly take His yoke upon them; and who are so minded, that through the great love and firm confidence which they have to Christ Jesus, they will far rather forsake all that they have in the world, father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife, children, yea, even their own life, with all that they possess, and, moreover, endure and suffer all that comes upon them, tribulation, distress, persecution. sorrow, and affliction. Oh, how gloriously will God receive those who have become so poor for Christ's sake.

    Oh, how rich shall He make them; for as they are humbled with Him, and for His sake, so shall they be exalted and made glorious with Him. As they have confessed Him in the world, so shall He also confess them before His Father which- is in heaven; and they shall shine forth with Him as the sun in the Father's throne (Matt. 13:43) , and shall be clothed in white raiment, because they have overcome through their faith (I John 5:4), even as John writes, "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

    And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:9-17.
     
  2. turnorburn

    turnorburn Member

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    O my dear sister, this is a sure sign that we must here weep first, if the Lord is to wipe away the tears; as Esdras also saw upon the Mount Sion a great people, whom he 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 every one of their heads He set crowns, and was more exalted; at which he marveled greatly. Then he asked the angel and said, "Lord, what are these?" He said, "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? Then the angel spake: 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 Esd. 2:42-47. Behold, my dear and in God beloved wife and sister in the Lord, here you hear the beautiful promises of the Lord, which He has promised all them that suffer for His holy name, and endure it with patience. Hence Paul has truly written, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him." II Tim. 2:12.

    Therefore, my dear sister, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. I Cor. 15:58.

    Herewith I commend you, my love, to the Lord, and to the rich word of His grace, who is able to keep your treasure, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified. Acts 20:32. Adieu, my dear and in God beloved wife and sister in the Lord; adieu, adieu. Finally, rejoice, be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Amen. II Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:4. Greet my son and Tanneken, in my name, and tell him that I command him, always to be obedient and subject to his mother, in all things, always with reverence; adieu, adieu, farewell.

    Written with my blood, for a seal and testament; an affectionate adieu to you, my love.

    By me, your dear husband,


    RAPHEL VAN DEN VELDE.
     
  3. turnorburn

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    ANOTHER LETTER FROM RAPHEL, VAN DEN VELDE, WRITTEN TO HIS SON

    The same God that blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, bless also you, my dear son, with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, that you may from your youth learn to know, fear and obey the Lord all .the days of your life. This is my most special prayer, will and desire from the depths of my heart, which I ask of God, that you may be eternally saved, and the name of the Lord be glorified through you; unto which great and glorious name be praise and glory now and forever. Amen.

    See, my dear son Raphelken, since the Lord has so ordered it, that I must be taken from you, though I would most gladly have remained with you, to help you on, and to bring you up in the fear of God, but it was not the Lord's pleasure, for if it were not for the Lord's sake, it were impossible for me, thus to leave your mother and my dear son, for I know of no person, nor any treasuses so great in the whole world, that for it I should be willing to leave you, but for the salve of Christ Jesus all must be forsaken; for Christ says, "If any man forsake not all, father and mother, sister, brother, husband, wife, child, yea and his own life also, with all that he possesses, he is not worthy of me; and if any man love aught more, he cannot be his disciple"; since it is the will of God, that we must part, and I cannot speak with you orally, I would write a little for instruction in the fear of God, as the wise man says, "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother."

    Prov: 1:8. Be ever ready to do what is commanded you of God, that is, that you are to learn from your youth to know, fear and obey Him; for obedience proceeds from the fear of God, and the fear of God proceeds from the knowledge of God. Hence Solomon writes, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Proverbs 1:7. For a child that knows his father, that he is so honest and righteous, that he'will not have his children to run with other children in the street, fight, quarrel, and speak bad words, or bring home stolen things; children that know their father thus, are afraid to do such things, thinking, "If I do this, I shall be beaten." Prov. 13:2'4. Thus also, my dear son, the Lord is a righteous God, who will riot tolerate sin; but He will punish them that commit it; hence we mustfear Him, and not commit sin. For the fear of God. drives out sin, and he that fears God Will do good. Prov. 16:6; Sir. 15. As' Solomon says, "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of wisdom, to depart from the snares of death." Proverbs 14:27. For, my dear son, the wages of sin is death. Rom. 6:23.

    Hence, since the fear of God drives out sin, we avoid by it the cause through which we incur death, that is, sin.
    Therefore, my dear son, endeavor from your youth to walk in the fear of the Lord, so that you will at no time consent to sin, and not forget the commandments of the Lord your God. But fear the Lord, while He may be feared; for they that fear the Lord walk in the right way. Prov. 14:2."For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." Job 28:28.

    Hence, my child, fear the Lord and depart from evil; for the prophet Jeremiah says, "How good it is for a man, to take upon him the yoke of the Lord from his youth; and for one that is forsaken, to be patient, when.he meeteth with adversity." Lam. 3:27, 28. And. Ecclesiasticus says, "My son, gather instruction from thy youth up; so shalt thou find wisdom till thine old age." Sir. 6:18. And beware of all evil companions, that might seduce you to affiliate with the world; for the world lieth in wickedness, and shall perish with all its lusts. I John 5:19; 2:17.

    Therefore, my dear child, love not the world, neither the things that are therein; for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world, vs. 15, 16. Hence abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. I Pet. 2:11; Gal. 5:16. Paul also says, "Flee youthful 'lusts." II Tim. 2:22. For youthful lusts have plunged many into perdition.

    My child, heed the instruction of your father, and forget it not. Prov. 4:1. Refrain your tongue from backbiting, and beware of lying. Ps. 15:3. For the mouth that lieth slayeth the soul. Wisd. 1:11. For liars have no part in the New Jerusalem, but their part is in the fiery lake that shall burn with fire and brimstone.: which is the second death.

    And the backbiter causes much contention and strife; he also. raises discord and envy, and separates good friends: Moses writes, "Let. there be no backbiter or slanderep among you." Lev. 19:16. Hence, my son, beware of backbiting; and wherever you live or go in' and out in a house, be reserved, and tell not ,out ~of the house what happens within; and keep silent about all that ought to be kept secret, and you will make yourself beloved. And always be faithful, to people, and beware of stealing, for it is a great sin, for thieves have no part in the kingdom of God: nor is a thief trusted or loved by any one, but wherever he comes his hands are watched.

    Thus, my dear son, always acquit yourself honestly in the fear of God, and beware of all sin and transgression; and it shall be well with you at the last day, when the Lord shall reward every one according to his works, such as he has done, whether it be good or bad. My son, remember that it is written, "Honor thy father and mother; that thou mayest live long on the earth." Ex. 20:12; Ephesians 6:2, 3. For this is the first commandment with promise in the law. But the greatest honor which children show their parents, is that they are obedient to them, in all that is not contrary to the Lord and His commandment. Hence, my dear son, though you lose me, be not impudent to your mother, but obey her the more; for the sole care will now be upon her. Therefore, my child, grieve her not in your life, for in Ecclesiasticus it is written, "He that forsaketh his father is as a blasphemer; and he that angereth his mother is cursed of God." Sir. 3:16. Hence love her, and remember how much pain she suffered for your sake, and how she bore you, under her heart, and shall have much to suffer yet, to bring you up, and to earn a livelihood.

    Hence, my dear child, apply yourself from your youth to labor and industry, and when you are grown up and can earn something, let your mother profit by it; and always labor diligently and willingly, and do not think it irksome to do your best, to help your mother gain a livelihood, for before she has done it for you. 'And beware of being idle or slothful, for from idleness proceeds much evil; and slothfulness makes thieves of children, and thus they finally come to a bad end, Hence, my son, never desire it, but labor, working with your hands that which is honest, that you may have to give to him that needeth. Eph. 4:28.

    Herewith I will commend you, my dear son, and your mother, to the Lord-O bitter parting; yet for His sake who is able to provide for you, and to keep you from all evil I hope to leave you. The Lord grant you His grace, that you may grow up in the knowledge of God, through the Holy Ghost; so that you, according to the sentence of the righteous judgment of God (Rom. 2:5), may be found righteous for His kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, to whom be praise and glory forever and ever. Amen.

    Written by me, your father. Adieu, my dear son, whom I love more than any silver or gold or precious stones; but God ~ .must be the dearest.

    Adieu; love conquers all things; once more adieu, my dear son; read over often this which your father has written you out of love; and comfort your mother, and always be kiid.to her in all subjection in the fear of God; the Lord grant grace, that this be so. Amen.

    RAPHEL VAN DEN VELDE.
     
  4. turnorburn

    turnorburn Member

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    THE LAST LETTER FROM RAPHEL VAN DEN VELDE, WRITTEN TO HIS WIFE AFTER HE HAD RE CEIVED THE. MESSAGE THAT HE WAS TO DIE

    Grace and peace, love, patience, longsuffering, kindness, power and strength in your faith, this I, Raphel wish you my dear and in God beloved wife and sister in the Lord, as an affectionate adieu; the Lord grant you and us all grace, that we may hereafter see one another in the eternal joy. My love, I thank you for your letter, which you sent me for a comfort in my last extremity. And I also thank Kestijntgen heartily; and her dear husband also thanks her, and now bids an affectionate adieu; the Lord grant you grace, that you may follow Him at the proper time; and he also thanks you, that you the last time so cheered and rejoiced his heart; adieu, adieu. I wrote this after I had received the message that I must die, which was to me a joyful message, according to the spirit. But it seems that .the flesh now and then is inclined to shrink back, which is not surprising, for it is touched by it.

    Herewith, my love, I will commit and commend you and my dear son to the Lord; He will provide for you in soul and body, this is my confidence to God. My love, be resigned to my sufferings and death, for all men must once die, and many a man loses his life in an ignominious, dreadful and unhappy manner; but this is for the most glorious cause that one can find, and the most blessed work that one can do, and though it is attended with distress, yet the reward will make ample amends.

    O my love, be resigned and ~of good cheer, and Kestijntgen our sister too; and thank God, that you had such husbands, who confessed the truth, with all might and great power, and with much labor. Thanks be unto God, who has helped us to triumph. II Cor. 2:14. We may now say with the apostle Paul., "The fight is fought, the course is finished, the faith is kept; the crown of life is now ready for us." II Tim. 4:7, 8. O Lord, what a glorious comfort. O my love, remember frequently what I have written you for the edification and consolation of your mind; and forget me, for it is a sealed fact, that the dead will not return.

    Herewith I bid you adieu, adieu, adieu, flesh and blood, adieu, adieu, farewell.
    Written in my extremity, by me, your dear husband and brother in the Lord.

    RAPHEL VAN DEN VELDE.
     
  5. turnorburn

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    TO CLAES SCHEPENS

    The eternal grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, and the kindness and love of His Son, and the fellowship and consolation of the Holy Ghost, be with you my dear brother and sister in the Lord, as an affectionate greeting and perpetual adieu in this time. The Lord grant His grace, that we may hereafter see one another in eternity. Amen.

    After much affectionate greeting and loving reverence to you, let me please inform your love, that my mind is still unchangeably fixed, to confess and serve the Lord, according to my weak ability, all the days of my life; and I also have the same good confidence concerning you; which I also partly understand from what you write in your letter, by which I was comforted, when I heard it read. May the Lord always grant you to grow up, and to be strengthened and increased in the same, to His praise, and to the salvation of your souls. Amen.

    Further, dear brother and sister in the Lord, I inform you how it goes with me in my bonds, namely, that I am very much resigned, the Lord be thanked for His great grace; the Lord comforts and strengthens me so and makes my bonds so light, that I sometimes scarcely know that I am imprisoned; and He takes away my fear, and rejoices my heart, and gives me new strength. II Cor. 1:5; Isa. 40:31. And though the false prophets shoot their deadly arrows at me, the Lord so faithfully preserves me, that it does not harm, but rather rejoices me, though they have assailed me very subtly, with many fair words, and I had to resist very many, and to hear from my father, and Lieven de Kroock, and Maeye Moeye, and our cousin Pieter, and Daniel de Keyser. Those who apprehended me were with me on Ash Wednesday, and they led me upon such, a high mountain, and offered me so many fair promises without power, if I had wanted to listen to them; but thanks be to God, who always helps us to triumph: Yea, they said so much to me, that I think it could not be written on four sheets. Lieven de Kroock, said at first, that I had devils in me by the score, and that he saw them sitting on my shoulders: Then said I, "Will you not take down one?"

    And it seemed to me, they sought to make me drunk, but I would not drink, though they tormented me greatly to do it; but the Lord gave me strength to resist it. I further inform your love, that my father was with me again today alone, and tormented me greatly; but I told him, that he should be satisfied, 'since I did in no wise wish to forsake the Lord. And he told me, that you were also spoiled of and driven from your possessions, which greatly grieved me when I heard it. But, my dear brother and sister in the Lord, be of good cheer, and patient in your tribulation and affliction; for we must know, that it is given unto us, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His name. ,Phil. 1:29. And Christ Himself says, "If any man forsake not all for my name's sake, he cannot be my disciple; and if any man love aught more than me, he is not worthy of me." Luke 14:26, 27.

    Hence, my much beloved friends, think of the words of Tobit, when he had also become so poor, for the Lord's sake, "My child," he says,"true, we are poor; but be of good cheer, we shall have much wealth, if we fear God, do good, and shun sin." Tob. 4:21. For, dear and in God beloved friends, we are children of the saints, and hope for a life which God shall give to those who stand up for Him and continue steadfast in the faith. Therefore do not become weary in the way of the Lord, and do not faint because of the tribulation, but persevere firmly, until you are taken hence. I further understand from your letter, that it is your intention to remove; which I pray you myself to do, since they greatly seek your life, and, ask you much concerning me. And Maeyken Moeye said, that it was your fault, that I was here; but I said, "No." Furthermore, dear brother and sister, I entreat your love, that you would remember me with a fervent heart in your prayer to God, that I may fight a good fight, and finish my course, to the salvation of my soul; I hope to do the same also for you, and that the Lord will prosper you on your journey, in soul and body. b now bid your love, my dear and in God beloved brother and sister in the Lord, an affectionate and perpetual adieu.

    The same great, omnipotent, Almighty God, who led Jacob, when he had to flee, guide also you, and bring you into everlasting rest. Amen. Adieu, farewell, farewell, adieu, adieu.

    I Raphel van den Velde (the writer of this) also greet your love most heartily with the peace of the Lord.

    Love overcomes all things.
    Your beloved weak brother.

    JERONYMUS SCHEPENS.
     
  6. turnorburn

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    LOUWERENS THE SHOEMAKER, A. D. 1576

    In the year 1576, at the time of the Spanish Fury (on the 4th of November), there was in confinement at Antwerp a God-fearing, pious brother, named Louwerens the Shoemaker, for no other reason, than that he would not follow the world and all its false inventions and wickedness (in which she lies), but forsook it, and sought with the people of God to lead a godly life, and to follow Christ in the regeneration. He was therefore apprehended and tormented with great and dreadful tortures, by the enemies of the truth, the bloodthirsty papists. They tortured him in such an unchristian-like and tyrannical manner, that his body was completely crippled, for in the Spanish Fury the prisons were opened, and the prisoners ran out, so that the jailer said, "Louwerens, run out too."

    He answered, "Whither shall I run? for I am so crippled, that I cannot earn my bread." And remaining thus in confinement, he was, after the Spanish Fury was over, brought forth, and confirmed the faith of the truth with his death and blood, at said place. Therefore, at the glorious appearing of Christ from heaven, he shall receive the glorious crown, which no man shall ever take from him; and having been thus planted with Christ in the likeness of His death, he shall also forever be a partaker with Him of .the glorious resurrection. Rev. 20:4; Acts 1:11.;JI Thess. 1:10; II Tim. 4:8; John 16:22; Rom.; 6:5.
     
  7. turnorburn

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    HANS BRET, A. D. 1576

    Hans Bret, who was about twenty-one years old, and the son of one Thomas Bret, an Englishman, was (besides his daily labor which he performed in the service of his master) very diligently concerned and engaged with the study of the word of the Lord, in which he constantly exercised himself in the morning and evening also, ,generally, exhorting with edifying, profitable and instructive passages from .the holy Scriptures, those with whom he had intercourse, to a virtuous and godly life.

    He would also not spend Sunday idly, but truly sanctifying and observing it, generally sought together a number of new converts, to whom he diligently went in all kindness, giving out to them in the fear of God some edifying questions from the Scriptures, whereby he exhorted them to repent and desist from their sinful life, showing them the indignation which God shall pour out upon the children of unbelief and unrighteousness, and the gracious promises of salvation which are promised in eternal life to the penitent children of faith. This his exhorting he did with such becoming earnestness and edifying doctrine, that many sought to be with him, perceiving in him the powerful work of God and his advancement in the knowledge of Christ, with which he, though so young in years, was very richly filled, and which he, also did not keep to himself alone, but allowed it to break forth and flow from him without fear to the profit and advantage of his neighbor. II Cor. 3:5; Phil. 3:8; I Tim. 4:12; I Cor. 10:33.


    But the devil, the enemy of righteousness, and envier of the increase of virtue and, of the church of Christ, could not long tolerate or endure this; for, perceiving in this servant the godly zeal in the truth, and assiduity to convert the erring, he, by his instruments (bloodthirsty men, who always have dishonored the temple of God, murdered His sheep, slain His saints, shed their blood, and given their flesh as meat to the beasts of the field), sought to trouble this servant of God with affliction, and to hinder the brightness of his light, which he also partly effected and accomplished; for about two months after he had been baptized upon the confession of his faith, according to the command of Christ, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, there came, an the sixth day of May, in the year 1576, about nine o'clock in the evening, the bailiff of Antwerp, with many servants, to the house of Hans Bret's master, who had been betrayed with all his household. They closely guarded this house from behind, where it had two exits, as well as in front, with armed men and beadles, and then knocked at the front door, which Hans Bret came to open (not knowing that those who thirsted for the blood of his master and his household, and far his own, stood before it), and asked who was there.

    They said, "Open," and pretended that they wanted to buy something. In the meantime, hearing that they had inserted an instrument in the door, to open it from the outside, he began to think that they were the wolves and tyrants, who came to devour the innocent and harmless sheep of Christ, and did not open the door to them; but they managed to open it from without, which perceiving, Hans Bret ran into the house, where his master with his wife and several- other women sat eating, and warned them of it, who all quickly rose up and ran to the rear, thinking (as also Hans Bret) to escape by the back door; but when they opened this, the bailiff's beadles showed themselves with great cruelty, speedily apprehending and capturing all whom God permitted them, among whom there was also this servant of God; but his master and several others with him were wonderfully and remarkably delivered and preserved through the hand and assistance of God. Jer. 1:8; Acts 26:17. Behold, thus did this innocent sheep of Christ fall into the hands of the wolves, and was confined in prison, only for the faith in the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the practice of the same.

    Now, how he conducted himself in his bonds; how they, through wiles and snares, fair promises and severe threats, sought to move him from, and despoil him of, .the salvation of his soul; and how they, because he had written some letters to his brethren and friends, cast him into a loathsome dungeon; together with the various disputations which he had with the priests and soul-seducers, and also how he answered them, and what boldness he manifested through the help of God; all this you will find fully treated and revealed in the following letters written by him.

    When he had been confined about eight months, the tyrants finally went to the utmost of their power in the case of this servant of God and faithful follower of Christ, and, on Friday before DerthienAvondt, in the year 1577, had him brought into court, whither he went, very boldly, since his bonds were not for any crime, evil, or unrighteousness, but for the doctrine of his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, for righteousness and truth, for which, the children of God have always had abundantly to uffer, who have helped Christ to bear His cross, as a true ensign that they are Christ's servants, disciples and followers.

    Being brought before the lords and judges, he was asked, whether he had been baptized upon his faith, which he finally confessed and acknowledged, not ashamed of what he had done by the command of his Lord and Master Christ Jesus, though he certainly knew that they did not ask him to be taught of him, but only to get a word from his mouth by which they might sentence him to death. When the lords and criminal judges had heard this Christian confession, they rose up and went to sentence him to death; and having returned from their evil consultation, they pronounced and declared their sentence over this servant of God: that he should publicly be burnt alive at the stake till death should ensue.

    When he had received his sentence, he was conducted back to prison, undismayed and of good courage, where he doubtless addressed some Scriptural remarks to the common people, as setting forth the cause of his imprisonment and suffering not to be any evil or crime, but the faith of the pure and saving truth, which the world cannot endure. Romans 10:9.
     
  8. turnorburn

    turnorburn Member

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    Thus he (Hans Bret) was brought back from the court into prison, and confined and held there till the following day, which was Saturday; then, in the morning, the executioner came to him into prison, in order to screw fast his tongue, close his mouth, and prevent his speaking. O miserable work!

    Murderers, and the very worst criminals have the privilege and permission of freely using their tongue; but, behold here a follower, of Christ, a child of trod, a servant of faith, one separated from the world, in whom dwells righteousness and , no cause of death 'is found-behold, how he is prepared for .death by,closing his mouth and screwing fast his tongue, that the truth may not be proclaimed, righteousness not heard, nor any testimony be given of the name of Christ. O Christ, look down, and succor Thy saints.

    When the executioner had come to him, he commanded him to put out his tongue, which he (faithful and pious servant of God), willingly did, since he had not a member on his body, which he was not willing to deliver up to suffering for the name of Christ, being well assured that all the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the joy and glory which God has promised them that overcome. Matt. 10:22; Romans 8:18; Rev. 2:7.

    And when he put out his tongue, the executioner fastened it with a piece of iron, and screwed it very tight with a vise or screw, and then touched the end of the tongue with a hot iron, that swelling, the screw might not slip off or become loose. O bitter cruelty and great tyranny.

    When they had thus closed his mouth, and screwed fast his tongue, the fire with which he was to be offered up being already prepared in the market place, they led him forth, with his hands tied together, from prison, and placed him into a wagon, to convey him to the marketplace, to the spot where his sacrifice for the Word of truth was to take place.
    It is said that they took this wagon for the reason that the way that leads from the prison to the market place, could not well be walked, because of the burnt: houses which had been set on fire by the Spaniards, at the taking of Antwerp.

    When he stepped into the wagon, he saw several persons of his acquaintance, whom he boldly and joyfully beheld, showing by his actions the desire which he had to come to the place where his sacrifice was to take place. He affectionately bowed his head, and greeted divers persons with the head, expressing and manifesting his steadfastness by his countenance and actions, all to the praise of God, who bestows such strength and power upon His saints, as being their protector, refuge, help, power, strength, and strong bulwark in all distress, tribulation, sorrow, and suffering inflicted upon them by the world for the true saving faith in Jesus Christ. Matt. 28:20; Ps. 18:2; Matt. 16:16.
    When he had been brought into the marketplace, near the stake and the fire, he lifted himself up, and being clothed with Christian glory, descended from the wagon, being of good courage in God, strong in faith, and persevering in the conflict.

    With folded hands, he bowed his knees to the earth, humbly casting his eyes up to heaven, thus preparing himself to worship his Lord and God, and to commend himself to Him, even as behooves every Christian believer. Luke 23:46. But when those bloodthirsty men saw this, they could not tolerate or endure it (which they nevertheless permit criminals to do, who are put to death for their evil deeds); but very hurriedly and quickly pulling him up from the ground, they prevented him from calling to God upon his knees, and with great cruelty conducted him to the stake. To suffer all this, he went into the but (constructed of straw and wood), humbly and meekly stepping to where they placed him at the stake, and made him fast by putting chains around his body, all of which he endured with great steadfastness for the Word and truth of Christ.

    And as he thus stood in the hut, at the stake, they finally kindled the fire, thus burning alive and devouring this lamb, whose body, indeed, was burnt, but whose soul was received into paradise, into joy and blessed rest, because he confessed Christ, who has promised salvation to them that endure.
    Thus did this young and pious Christian, aged about twenty-one years, end his life, and offer and deliver up his body for the Word of God, in the year 1577, on Derthien-Avondt, and thus he became a witness among the witnesses of Jesus, a confessor among the confessors of Christ, a Christian conqueror among the soldiers of the Lord, a soul among the souls of Christ at rest under the altar, a faithful servant among the servants of Christ, whose reward is the crown of eternal, imperishable life.

    Here follow some letters which Hans Bret wrote during his imprisonment.
     
  9. turnorburn

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    THE FIRST LETTER OF HANS BRET, WRITTEN ON MONDAY AFTER WHITSUNTIDE, A. D. 1576, AT ANTWERP, IN PRISON; TO HIS DEAR AND BELOVED MOTHER

    Grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, through His only Son Christ Jesus, and the comfort of the Holy Ghost, for the increase of your faith, and to the salvation of your soul, this I wish you; my heartily beloved mother, from' the very depth of my soul. Amen.

    Most dearly beloved mother, let me please inform you, that I am well according to the flesh, thanks to the good God; but according to the spirit, I thank the Lord, and praise Him for His unspeakable grace, that He gives me strength by His Holy Spirit, so that my mind is unchanged, the Lord be thanked. And I trust in the Lord that He will give me strength by His Holy Spirit, even as He through grace has hitherto done to this hour, to me poor man, for which the Lard be praised forever. For from Him alone we expect our strength, to withstand these cruel wolves, so that they can have no power over, our souls, for they are more cruel than wolves-they are 'not satisfied with our body, that they tear that; but they seek to devour and kill our souls, as I told three priests. Isa. 40:29; Zeph. 3:3.

    However, according to the words of Christ, they cannot harm our souls; for when they have done all that they can (however, not without the Lord's permission), they can but kill our body, which I gladly suffer for the name of Christ, and have a desire to be delivered from this flesh, and to be in joy with Christ, who has prepared for us a dwelling not made with hands, but which is eternal in the heavens. Rom. 7:24; II Peter 1:14; Phil. 1:23; II Cor. 5:1. We now look not at the things which are seen, but hope in the things which are not seen-in the imperishable, to be crowned with the crown of eternal life, yea, to be clothed in fine, white linen, and to rest with the souls that are under the altar, that were slain for the word of God, until the number of our brethren is fulfilled, who shall also be killed, according to the testimony of John in his Revelation. II Esdtas 2:43; Rev: 19:8; 6:9,11.

    Therefore I long, dear mother, from one Saturday to another; to offer up my sacrifice. I had so fondly hoped, that I should this day offer up my sacrifice, but it has not pleased the Lord; hence I hope to offer up my sacrifice next Saturday, if it please the Lord, and to have with the Lord that joy and gladness which ear has never heard, and of which the heart of man cannot conceive, yea, which is prepared for the righteous, who were not ashamed to confess the name of the Lord before this adulterous generation, as long as they had breath to speak, in their bodies, yea, until they were deprived of speech. I Pet. 1:8; I Cor. 2:9; Mark 8:38. Therefore, my dearest mother, rejoice, and thank the Lord, that He counts me, your son, an unworthy man, worthy to suffer far His name, and to offer up my body to Him, to the praise of His holy name. Acts 5:41; Rom. 12:1.

    For, my dear mother, there happens to me nothing but what has happened to all God's righteous ones, from the beginning of the world until this present day. If they killed Christ, the Author of faith, in whom was no sin, what shall they do to the servants? for the disciple is not above his master, says Christ. Hence console yourself, my dear mother, and rejoice therein; for they can do no more to me, than the Lord permits them. For the Lord says that the very hairs of our head are all numbered. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without His will; but of how much greater value are we than the sparrows. Matt. 10:29-31. Yea, He says that we are not to fear them that kill the body, for they have no power over the soul. Hence be resigned, and pray the Lord for me and my fellow prisoners.

    My mother, I would write you more for your consolation, but I hope that you are better comforted of the Lord, than I should be able to comfort you with my writing; and I also forbear so that you may learn something about how it goes with our imprisonment, for otherwise my paper would not suffice. For I presume that you greatly desire to hear it, even as I desire to hear from you, as to how you are. I hope that you, as also all of you, are well, both according to body and soul, for which I pray the Lord, and remember all of you in my prayer to the Lord. Remember also, in your prayers, us poor prisoners according to the flesh, but rich according to the spirit, as I also hope to remember you, for James says that the prayer of the righteous avails much (James 5:16); that we may finish our conflict with joy, for we have to strive not only against flesh and blood, or the priests of Jezebel, but against invisible spirits, namely the enemy, who always seeks to hinder and quench that which is good, with deception and lies; yea, I fear that you will hear, or have already heard, through the great falsehoods which the enemy of the truth is spreading, that I wanted to listen to the priests.

    Yes, they do not hesitate to tell great falsehoods here in this prison, for they went twice in one day to N., and told her that I wanted to listen to the priests; yea, the great priest, the Dean, was not ashamed to speak abominable falsehoods to N., in order to rob her, by deception and lies, of her salvation,with these words, "Your servant wants to hearken to us, and to repent;" and other like words which Satan (who was a liar from the beginning) knows how to use; so that she has to endure no small conflict, from the priests, as well as from her brother, who causes her great conflict. As regards N., her friends exert themselves very greatly to procure her release; but in what manner, I do not know. I have exhorted her that she should take heed, which to rehearse here would be too long. She has told me, that her mind is unchanged, and that she does not want to be ashamed of the truth.

    Touching N., I know so far nothing but good, and that her mind is all right, the Lord be thanked; for she longs with me only for the day of our deliverance from this flesh, and to offer up our sacrifice. For yesterday evening, which was Whitsuntideevening, about eleven o'clock I spoke with N.; then she was somewhat grieved, because she had said to the priests, that she would listen to them in whatever agreed with the Word of God; because she thought that the priests had thereby gotten some occasion to say of her that she wanted to hearken to them. Hence I comforted her about this, and told her that I myself should say it, and that there was nothing evil in it, since their abominable idolatry is contrary to the Word of God, and can never agree with it, for there is a great difference between darkness and light. Isa. 5:20; II Corinthians 6:14.

    And as regards myself, I thank the good God, who beholds me, unworthy man, with His eyes of mercy, and gives me strength by His Holy Spirit, to confess His Word and truth before this adulterous generation; yea, who counts me, poor miserable man, worthy that I am to offer up my body to Him, to the praise of His holy name. Phil. 2:17. O my mother, thank and praise, with me, the good God, who looks upon me, unworthy man, with His eyes of mercy, through His Son Christ Jesus; who shows me so many benefits. How shall I be able sufficiently to praise and glorify Him for the unspeakable grace and mercy that He is showing to meward, here in this lions' den. Thank now the Lord with me for His goodness which He shows us through His Son Christ Jesus, for which praise be to Him now and forever. Amen.

    I hope now to write you a little, relating very briefly how my examination by the priests passed off. The first time that I spoke with the priests, which according to my recollection, was about eight days before Whitsuntide, there came the Dean, that great, large priest, with another priest, whom we are wont to call the inquisitor (my master knows him well), and who cries and storms the most.

    We talked for a long time, and I reproved their idolatry, as much as the Lord by His Holy Spirit gave me utterance. Hence this priest began to speak of the Supper, and asked me, whether that was not the real body which Christ gave to His disciples, and His blood. I said, "No." Then the priest began to clamor and to rave, and talked very abusively, saying that it were better if I had concerned myself with making my confectionery, or selling groceries, than with the Scriptures. I said, "I may concern myself with reading the Scriptures, for Christ says:

    'Search the Scriptures; for they are they which testify of me."' John 5:39. Then the dean said, "Hear those who have studied the Scriptures all their life.""Yes," said I,"they study amiss.""I ask you," I said,"where did Paul study or go to college? show me this with the Scriptures.""Did he not?""No.""Did he not go to Ananias?" said the dean."Yes; but he did not study there." Then he began again to talk abusively, and they said that the devil had me by the throat. Matt. 12:24.
     
  10. turnorburn

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    While we were thus talking, there came another priest, a Jesuit, so that there were three of them sitting there. Then the priest again commenced to speak of the Supper. Therefore I asked them, "When Christ gave the bread to His disciples, and said: 'Take, eat; this is my body: this do in remembrance of me;' whether Christ Himself remained sitting there?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Hence it is not to be understood so" (as you say); and I told him that he did not understand the Scriptures. I said that a carnal man cannot understand that which is spiritual, for, says Paul, it is foolishness unto him. I Cor. 2:14.

    Then he cried, "What can you say about me, am I a drunkard?" Ans."Your idolatries bear witness what you are, and also the Scriptures reveal your horrible idolatry, which is an abomination in the sight of God; yes, I am sorry that you are so in error." They cried, "You err." The Jesuit cried every time, that the devil had me by the throat, and that I was a proud fool; and other like words. I said, "I rejoice that I am thus despised for Christ's sake." They clamored so loudly, that one could scarcely utter a sentence. The dean cried to the others, "Domine, Domine;*[Lord, Lord] let him go, we shall gain no laurels with him." But the priest commenced again to talk of the Supper. I told him that he had to understand it spiritually, and proved it to him with several Scriptures, as, John 1:29, "Behold the Lamb of God.." Again, 15:1, "I am the true vine."

    If I were to relate all, though I had much more paper, I should cover it with writing. We then spoke of baptism; he asked me why children might not be baptized. [I replied], "Because Christ did not command it, nor the apostles teach it.
    Then he adduced several Scriptures that were quite to the contrary, John 3, and others. I showed him, that Christ there did not teach water baptism, but that He had taught it in Matt. 28 and Mark 16; and I stated what baptism signified; to whom it pertains, and that it is horrible to hear that they want to save children by baptism, whereby they deprive Christ of the honor. Rom. 6:3; John 3:16; Acts 4:12.

    When we had talked thus for a long time, the dean cried to the priest, "Hear, hear, Lord; Audi, audi, Domine; let him go; we waste our time with him, and he remained as obstinate as ever." I said, "I am sorry that you will not listen to the truth; it is all in vain, it is only casting pearls before swine." Matt. 7:6.
    Then the dean became very angry, so that I soon parted from them, for it was getting late. I must be brief, for my paper is giving out. Afterwards I talked yet with a priest alone, on Whitsuntide evening; so that the priest went away from me, when I told that he should show'to me, that Christ and His apostles, in this manner, went about the street with an idol, with torches, lanterns and bells. Ps. 112:4; Bar. 6:4. He would not talk with me long; we talked a little about the Supper and baptism, but not long, for the priest went away, and I began to admonish him a little. But I must be brief. Though you hear much said that I wanted to hearken to the priests, believe it not; but be fervent in prayer, for in the end it shall be made manifest.

    Mother, I pray you, that you will send the letter herewith enclosed, which I have written to my brother D. in England, to him; and if there be anything written in it that is not suitable, erase it. And I pray you, write him my faith. I would write it myself, but through want of paper I cannot. Write him that he may know for what I deliver up my body to the burning; for I presume that many will write that which is not the truth. Thus, dear mother, it is time to stop, for want of paper. I greet you, my mother, and also all my dear sisters, with a holy kiss of peace; and greet also from me those whom you well know, also my master, yea, and all the friends. G. and my sister K., the Lord be with you and us all, and keep you.

    Thus, my dearest mother, farewell, and the Lord be with you; for I think that you will see my face no more in this life, nor do I know whether I shall have another opportunity to write. Thus, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob be with you all. Amen.

    By me your son, imprisoned for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

    HANS BRET.
     
  11. turnorburn

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    LETTER FROM WILLIAM OF ORANGE

    NOTE.-When this great heat of persecution which the papists had kindled everywhere as far as their jurisdiction extended, began to abate in several cities of Holland and Zealand, and especially in the town of Middelborgh, where the Prince of Orange, William 1, of worshipful memory, had granted liberty of conscience, for the Anabaptists as well as for others, so that many of the innocent and defenseless lambs of Christ settled down there, and in quietness served God with a thankful heart; some of the citizens of said city, though they had previously themselves been under the galling yoke of popery, envied them for this, and obtained so much from the magistrates .there, that there was announced to all Anabaptists that sojourned there: That they should have to swear allegiance to said city, in the.form of an oath; and, moreover, arm themselves, together with other citizens, with external weapons, to resist the enemy; and that if they did not do this, they should be obliged to cease from their trades and occupations tending to the sustenance of the body, to close their houses, etc.

    This announcement having been made, the Anabaptists, since they did not think it right to swear any oaths, nor to arm themselves with external weapons, had recourse to the afore-mentioned Prince of Orange, humbly requesting of him, that they might enjoy the liberty of their conscience, in practicing their faith; and to be permitted faithfully to pay all civil imposts, taxes, and the like, together with others, to be believed on their yea, and nay (according to the doctrine of Christ), in place of the oath, and to keep this truly, without evasion, guile, or subtlety.

    Thereupon, the Prince, not long after, consented to it, commanding the magistrates there, not to ensnare these people with the afore-mentioned announcement, nor to oppress their consciences with such burdens. These things, as we have obtained full information in regard to them, we deem profitable and expedient to add here, to the praise of the princely house of Nassau, in the hope that it might prove an example for other magistrates which have not yet attained to this gentleness of disposition to follow.
     
  12. turnorburn

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    LETTER OF PRIVILEGE GRANTED BY WILLIAM I, TO THE ANABAPTISTS AT MIDDELBORGH

    Whereas, in behalf of certain citizens of this town of Middelborgh, a supplication has been presented to His Excellency, m which they complain that the magistrate of said city recently caused their shops to be closed, and consequently pro hibited their occupation, which is nevertheless their only means of supporting their families; they proceeding to this prohibition, for the reason that they should render the customary oath, as others have done; the aforesaid citizens remonstrating the more, because they now for certain long years, without ever having rendered the aforesaid oath, have willingly borne, together with other citizens and inhabitants of said city, all civil imposts, contributions and taxes, without ever having been found in any default, and wherefore also they ought still to be left unmolested, seeing they thereby request nothing but to live in the liberty of their conscience, in respect to which this present war has been undertaken against the King of Spain, by his subjects, and all ceremonies that militate against it are resisted; wherein, by -the help of God, it has now come so far, that the aforesaid liberty of conscience has been conserved, and it would therefore be unjust to take it away from the petitioners, who helped to gain the same, not without great peril of body and life, by taxes, contributions, and bearing other burdens; which,

    after they had presented it in the form of a request to the aforesaid magistrate, it was answered them, that they had to regulate themselves after the institutions and ordinances of the aforesaid town; whereby the aforesaid magistrate seems to endeavor, by the oath, to drive out of the country, to their total destruction, not only their petitioners residing in Middelborgh, but, consequently, innumerable others in Holland and Zealand, who, pursuant to his decrees, have betaken themselves under His Excellency's protection, whereby no one can derive any profit, but there should only great and signal damage result to these countries, and trade everywhere become greatly diminished; wherefore they humbly petition His Excellency, to consider the matter with compassion, and to take the necessary steps, particularly, seeing the aforesaid petitioners offer to tender their Yea in place of oath, and that the transgressors thereof are to be punished as perjurers: therefore,

    His
    Excellency having considered the foregoing and caused it to be duly deliberated upon, has, by the previous advice of the Governor and the Councilors of Zealand, ordained and decreed, and ordains and decrees by these presents, that the aforesaid petitioners shall be allowed to use, with the magistrate of the aforesaid town, their Yea offered by them, in place of the oath; provided, that the transgressors thereof are to be punished as perjurers; His Excellency commanding and charging the magistrate of Middelborgh, and all others whom this may concern, not further to oppress the petitioners, contrary to their conscience, with regard to the oath and otherwise, but to allow them to open their shops, and to pursue their ocupations, as they have previously done.

    All with this provision and understanding, that when greater tranquility of affairs exists, and the matter has been considered with mature deliberation, proper measures shall be enacted.

    Thus done, under his Excellency's name and, seal, in the town of Middelborgh, the 26th of January, A. D., 1577. Sealed with a red wax seal pending from it. Signed
    WILLIAM OF NASSAU.

    What ensued thereupon, shall be shown for the following year, 1578. In the meantime, the papists proceeded, as ravening wolves, with all cruelty and tyranny, wherever they bore rule, against the lambs of the flock of Christ; so that many among them had to lay down their lives, as can be seen from the following accounts.
     
  13. turnorburn

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    LOUWERENS JANSS NOODTDRUFT, OF DELFT, A. D. 1577

    After manifold persecution, slaying, and burning of the true followers of Christ, there was also a pious brother, by the name of Louwerens Janss, a shoemaker by trade, who.chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of'"God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season with the unbelieving; hoping hereafter to enjoy liberty in heaven, with all the true children of God; yea, rather to die here for a little while unto his flesh and the pleasures of this world than hereafter to have to pay for it with an eternal lamentation in the torment of hell. He was therefore apprehended by the persecutors and enemies of the truth, in the month of August, in the year 1576, at Antwerp, where he endured severe imprisonment, and, through the grace of God, resisted much temptation.

    And as he could by no means be brought to apostatize, but was firmly built upon Christ, the lords and rulers of this world, through the instigation of priests and monks, condemned him to death. And thus, in the month of January, A. D. 1577, he was burnt alive at said place, and testified and confirmed the genuine faith of the truth with his death and blood; wherefore he has obtained, through grace, for this his broken, earthly house, a building of God, a house not made with hands, but which shall endure forever in heaven. II Cor. 5:1.

    And since this friend of Christ could obtain no writing materials, he wrote and made known to his beloved friends, his affectionate mind, upon two tin spoons, with a pin.

    Upon the one spoon was the following: I wish all my brethren and sisters much grace from God our Father; and the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which passeth all understanding, rule in all your hearts; and the love of God, which passeth all knowledge, increase with you all, that you may abound and be steadfast, and continue in the work of the Lord. O my dear friends, take good heed to yourselves, this I!!!pray you, I unworthy prisoner m the Lard. II Cor. 1:2; Phil. 4:7; I Cor. 15:58; Heb. 10:24.

    Upon the other spoon was written: Grace and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be with you my very dear and in God beloved sister in the Lord, Weyndelken and her daughter M.; this I wish you from the depths of my heart before God, who searcheth the hearts and reins, that you may walk before- Him unharmed and unhindered, in His truth, to which He has called you; and always look to Christ and to all the righteous.

    Adieu, in this time, adieu.

    LOUWERENS JANSS NOODTDRUFT, of Delft.
     
  14. turnorburn

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    HANS DE RUYTER, WITH HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTER, A. D. 1577

    At Antwerp there was imprisoned for the sake of his faith, with his wife and daughter, in the year 1577, the brother Hans de Ruyter, a minister of the church of God, and a very experienced man in the Scriptures. But when he was assailed with many severe trials, and many fair promises of release and other things were held out to him, he suffered himself to be moved to renounce his faith; yea, so that he even exhorted his wife thereto; but hearing afterwards, that he should have to die nevertheless, it produced such terror and dismay in him (seeing how he had suffered himself to be seduced with lies by the blind leaders, he who ought to have been a leader of others), that with a distressed heart and anxious mind (perceiving whereunto he had suffered himself to be brought, and what was approaching him), he turned himself to the Fountain of grace, and prayed with scalding tears, from the bitterness of his soul, that this apostasy from, and denial of his Lord, might be forgiven him, and he be received back into favor, with the prodigal son; and he would steadfastly adhere thereto all the days of his life, and suffer nothing again to turn him away therefrom.

    This he not only promised with words, but also proved it indeed, for whatever temptation, pain, or torture was afterward inflicted upon him, he steadfastly adhered to his reaccepted faith, so that he was finally burnt for it, with his wife and daughter; and they are now waiting under the altar, till the number of their brethren is fulfilled.


    NOTE.-In the beginning of the preceding year, 1577, we showed the perverse zeal of certain followers of the Calvinistic doctrine, who, at Middelborgh in Zealand, had obtained so much, that the Anabaptists, who having fled out of the Romish Babylon, and settled there, were prohibited from exercising their temporal occupation or trade by which they had to sustain their life: and this, be cause they refused the swearing of the civil oath, and the use of external weapons of war.

    Thereupon, as shown in that place, the Prince of Orange commanded the magistrate of said city, to allow the afore-mentioned people to live in quietness, and not to oppress their consciences.
    But the magistrates there, instead of heeding this, as coming, from high authority, acted entirely contrary; insomuch that the Anabaptists that lived there, and especially those in the country, were compelled again to betake themselves with an humble supplication to the Prince, to obtain their religious liberty; who thereupon, the second time, wrote and -sent the following charge to said magistracy
     
  15. turnorburn

    turnorburn Member

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    CHARGE OF WILLIAM I, TO THE MAGISTRATE AT MIDDLEBORGH

    The Prince of Orange, Count of Nassau, Lard and Baron of Breda' Diest, etc., to the noble, pious, honorable, wise, particular, etc.

    Whereas, certain residents, living there, said to be Anabaptists, have at divers times indicated to us by way of complaint, that you daily molest them, and deprive them of the means, in peace and quietness to gain a living for themselves and their families, prohibiting them from opening their shops, under the pretext that they refuse to render the oath in such form as other citizens; which we have duly considered; and since the aforesaid people offer to bear in equity all burdens, together with other citizens (however, in the matter of arms, which chiefly moves them to take this course, levy upon them such a contribution as you, or those who may have charge of it, may find to be proper in all justice and equity); hence we think that you are doing very unjustly, in not letting them live in peace and quietness, according to the dictates of their conscience, pursuant to the act which we, with the advice of the governor and the councilors, have previously granted them, which they say they have exhibited to you; and yet, as we learn that you have hitherto not been willing to regard it,

    nor our previous letters, we have been compelled to write you this final act, by the which we openly declare to you, that it does not behoove you, in particular, to concern yourself with any one's conscience, as far as there is nothing done that might tend to any one's offense, in which case we wish to regard or tolerate no one: and therefore, we expressly command and ordain you, in future to desist from molesting the aforesaid people, that are Anabaptists, or from preventing them to exercise their traffic and trade, to gain a living for wife and children; allowing them to open their shops, and to work as they have previously done, at least until the time that the generality, whose province it is to do this, shall have decreed otherwise.

    Hence beware of attainting anything contrary to this and the act granted them, and to take from them any fines for the above cause; because there is nothing attainted with them, except what might tend to the offense of any one; and because they shall also, together with others, bear all civil and reasonable burdens. Herewith, noble, pious, honorable, wise, discreet, dear, particular, I commend you to God. Written at Antwerp, on the sixteenth day of July, 1578.

    Subscribed
    PAR COPIE DE BAUDEMONT.

    The aforegoing copy was certified to as follows

    Written by the secretary Baudemont, and found to agree with it. By me Jacob Masureel, notary public of the town van der Vere, the 15th of November, 1579.

    Signed: J. MASUREEL, Notary

    REMARK.-Notv'vithstanding the P r i n c e of Worshipful Memory, had now the second time so strictly commanded this liberty of conscience in the practice of the worship of God, the true fruit did still not follow, notwithstanding it was obeyed for a few years immediately afterwards; for after the decease of that good prince they began again; however, to the salvation of the defenseless church of God, it was terminated by a third prohibition, by his son, as shall be stated in the proper place.
     
  16. turnorburn

    turnorburn Member

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    HENDRICK SUMER AND JACOB MANDEL, A. D. 1582

    In the year 1582, in the first week of September, the dear and faithful brother Hendrick Sumer, a minister of the Word of God, still under trial, and with him Jacob Mandel, were apprehended for their faith and the testimony of Jesus Christ, at Torzag, in Switzerland, and were then conducted into the town of Baden, where they; by the high bailiff of the country, and the judges, were publicly examined in the presence of the people, in the council house, and interrogated concerning their faith, which they freely confessed. At this examination were present twenty-four priests, who tried whether they could not cause them to apostatize and err in their faith: but they could accomplish nothing, nor were they able to convict them of any wrong or error, much less perceive in them a just cause of death.

    Now when these brethren and Christian heroes were quite steadfast in the faith, and boldly testified and proved by the Word of God, that they were on the true, narrow way of the truth unto the eternal life in Christ Jesus, from which they would in no wise depart, though it should cost them their lives; then the priests were at their wits end, and said to the councilors, that they could not do anything further; since they remained obstinate, they must now deal with them as they deemed proper.

    They were then to be sentenced to death; but the councilors could not agree, for some among them would not take the responsibility of their death upon themselves, nor be guilty of it, because it was on account of matters of faith, and they knew them to be good men. But as the majority of the voices were for putting them to death, they determined hat their sentence should be proceeded with, which when the brethren learned that their time had come that they should depart out of the world, they rejoiced from the heart, and were glad and of good cheer; they also said that it was a greater joy for them than if they were to go to a marriage; yea, they were of very good cheer, that God had counted them worthy, that they should glorify His name through such a righteous death-which many righteous ones and friends of God had done before them, and thus obtained the heavenly crown.

    When they were led forth, they spoke boldly to the people, and exhorted the great multitude that had gathered, that they should repent and turn from their sinful life to God, and then both joined their voices in raising a joyful, sweet, and heartfelt song of praise to the Lord.

    There was present a great number of people, and many among them shed tears, when they heard them sing and saw that they were of such good cheer in the hour of death. But the eternal joy was before their eyes, and they rejoiced in the inner man, that they should go to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, to all the patriarchs and the whole number of the saints, to all the prophets and the apostles of the Lord, and to their pious fellowbrethren and sisters that had recently died, yea, to Jesus Christ Himself, their Saviour.

    Thus they sang till close to the water's edge, where they were to be drowned.
    When they came outside, Hendrick said, "Now, my brother Jacob, since we have traveled together so long, let us now also journey together further, through this temporal death into eternal life." Brother Jacob Mandel was the first one. The executioner took him and drowned him in the water. When he was dead, he drew him out and laid him before Hendrick's eyes, and said, "My dear Hendrick, behold thy brother who lost his life, and renounce yet, or you will have to die too, there is no other choice." But he said, "You need not think that I shall renounce, and forsake the divine truth; I will adhere to it though it cost body and life." A priest also begged him very earnestly and said, "O my dear Hendrick, desist from this new infidelity, and from this evil sect."

    But brother Hendrick turned to him and said, "What sect? I believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, and in His holy Word and divine commandment; in this I stand-do you consider this a sect? Dare you call the true Christian faith a sect? what kind of faith have you then? If you have another faith, you are in a sect and in a new faith yourself; desist from it, and forsake your sinful, vicious and ungodly life." Thus the priest was put to shame and ridicule, and had to keep silence. When they saw that he continued steadfast, the executioner took him and drowned him too, like the other. This took place on the 9th of October of the aforesaid year 1582, at Baden, in Switzerland, after they had been imprisoned four weeks and a half.
     
  17. turnorburn

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    MELCHOIR PLATSER, A. D., 1583

    In the year 1583; on the Friday after Whitsuntide, Melchoir Platser, who had been an apothecary, was apprehended for the faith's sake, in the: village of Rankweil; in the Feldkirch, bailiwick. There he was put, in irons and taken to Veldkirch into the castle; and imprisoned iii' a deep tower, whence he Was several times taken before the.authorities and the priests. He was always prepared, to give an answer concerning his faith and to resist their false doctrine.

    There was then brought to him from the town of Bregenz a special priest, whom they .regarded as very wise and learned. He undertook to dispute publicly with brother Melchoir, hoping to get h6nor and glory by it; but he was very soon put to shame, so that he- himself said-"Did the devil bring me here for this purpose; that I should be convinced by an Anabaptist?" Now when they could accomplish nothing with him, they sent (since that region is completely papistic) for Lutheran parsons, and brought them to him, [to see] whether they could instruct him: But they were no better in his eyes; he convinced them, that they were both in unrighteousness and unjustly upheld and maintained their doctrine. This is the cause why, at the present day all sin, vice; and idolatry are so prevalent, because the priests themselves are the greatest rogues and. knaves.

    Now when they could in no wise ,seduce or deceive him, they delivered him over to the authorities and accused him as a traitor that had merited death. However, they offered him that, if he desired mercy, and would .swear an oath that he would leave their land and dominion, they would suffer him to live and go away. But he answered that before he would swear such an oath to them, and consent to renounce, he would rather await what God should permit them to do with him, though it should cost his body and life. He also told them that their threats did not terrify him, and that he did not care for it, for at all events he had once to die.

    Then the lord at Feldkirch was touched, and requested that .they should conduct him back to Rankweil, into the same village where they had apprehended him, as though he thereby wanted to wash his hands in innocence from his blood. over him, pursuant to the order of the great Hannibal, to whom he had been delivered by the prince of Innsbruck, to deal with him according to his pleasure. There they passed sentence, that he should be put to death.

    When the brother heard that he was to depart out of this world, he faithfully thanked God the heavenly Father, and rejoiced that God was willing to make him worthy, that he should testify to the truth with his blood, which he regarded as a great benefit from God.

    Shortly afterward he was delivered into the hands of the executioner, who conducted him to the usual place of execution. The people were very sorrowful and compassionate; but Brother Melchoir began to speak to the people with great zeal, and exhorted them to think of their ungodly life in which they were sunk, and that they should no longer thus perversely boast themselves Christians."O what woe" said he,"and eternal suffering will come upon such men that kill an innocent man because he has separated and turned from the ungodly, shameful life of the world. But I will commit this to God in heaven who will give such mouth-Christians their reward." The priests also came, as he was being led out, and wanted to comfort him.

    But he said, "You priests are the serpents and scorpions, against whom Christ has warned us; that are full of abomination and destruction." Thereupon, they commanded him to keep silence, if he wanted to speak so scornfully to them. Then he began to sing with a loud voice, till he arrived at the place where he was to be executed. He then again warned the people that they should beware of the false prophets who thus uphold, comfort and strengthen them in unrighteousness, and promise them liberty and life, in order that they should the less desist from wickedness. He spoke so earnestly and much to the people, that the sweat rolled from his face. The executioner dried off his face and said, "Speak freely, I shall not hurry you." A little after the executioner said to him, "If you will consent to do according to the mind of the lords, and acknowledge their doings as right, power has been given me to release you." Melchoir replied, "I will not do this; hence go on, and do what you are commanded."

    Thereupon, the executioner forthwith executed him with the sword and speedily cut off his head. Not far from there was a pile of wood, upon which he laid his body and burned it, after he had been imprisoned about twenty-six weeks. Thus he kept the confessed truth, as long as he was in life and had breath in him.
     
  18. turnorburn

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    ANDRIES PIRCHNER, A. D. 1594

    On the 26th of May, in the year 1584, Andries Pirchner was apprehended at Laitsch, in Vintschgau, his fatherland, and thence taken to Soltrain, where he was thrice put upon the rack and severely tortured. For they wanted to know of him, where and with whom he had lived and had intercourse, and that he should mention them. But he answered that he would not be a Judas, to betray those that had done good to him, so that any harm would come to them he would rather lose his life and body, yea, one member after another; nor were these matters that concerned the faith or any article of the same; but in regard to his faith, that he would willingly and gladly declare and not keep silence about what he had done or not done; he had made God in heaven a promise in Christian baptism, to which he would adhere, and not be found a liar before God.

    Moreover, he would (if it could not be otherwise) patiently suffer death, and also request nothing else, than that by his blood and suffering he might induce some poor souls to repentance and to the confession of the truth. Thereupon priests were sent to him, that they should dispute with him; but these, no matter what they commenced with him, accomplished nothing at all, for he forthwith upbraided them with their sinful and lascivious life, showing them, that they could not lead or point others to a virtuous life, because they were blind themselves. And he further said that they should consider their own ways and desist from their sinful life; he also presented to them several passages from the Old and New Testaments, so that they could accomplish nothing with him according to their will, but he constantly persevered firmly in his faith. He 'was also. greatly admonished and entreated by many, privately in the house, and also in public, that he should desist from his faith, since he must see that there was nothing else left for him, or he should have to die. Thereupon he answered, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, as the Scripture says.

    And to the same I will adhere, and I daily pray to God, my heavenly Father, that His will be done. Now if it be God's will, He can order it that I shall be released; but if it is not His will, I will die patiently." They entreated him, that he should only once renounce and recant, and they should let him go; he might then adopt it again. But he replied, "No, that cannot be; may God keep me from breaking my promise and being found a liar before Him; for that were acting like the dog that swallows again that which he has once vomited. So it would also go with me; I would have to recant and stamp as a lie that which I have long known and confessed as the truth and the will of God; of which I should not be able for a long time truly to repent, and who knows whether I should be able to repent and obtain grace? Hence I neither will nor can do it, and I will rather die, and hope by the help of God to be a living martyr for His truth." After that he was brought from Soltrain to Schlanders, and there, according to the princely and old imperial command and decree sentenced to death and delivered to the officer, who conducted him to the place of execution.

    When he was led forth he spoke with a joyful heart, "God be praised, that it has come so near to the end with me, and since it is thus His will, I will also patiently die." And thus he honored his end with many thankgivings, Christian teachings and remarks to the people, after which he knelt down; and though it had on that day been cloudy weather until that hour, the sun commenced to shine brightly, right into his face, at which he rejoiced, and said, "God be praised, that He shows me His bright sun yet before my end."

    When the executioner had drawn out the sword, and was about to make a stroke, they called to him to hold still, and the brother was very earnestly entreated, that he should renounce, and they should let him live. But he would not; he valiantly lifted up his head, and thus the executioner beheaded him; joyfully offering up his spirit unto God. Afterwards his body was singed with a little fire of straw.

    This occurred on the 19th of October of the aforesaid year, after he had been imprisoned for about twenty-two weeks.
     
  19. turnorburn

    turnorburn Member

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    LEONHART SUMERAVER, A. D. 1584

    In the year 1584, about eight days before Saint Martin's day, brother Leonhart Sumeraver, from the country of Saltzburg, was apprehended, as he was about to leave the country and had embarked at Titmaing. The boatman learned of it, and landed at Berckhausen, at the bridge, in order that they should not come to grief. There a rope was thrown them, and the matter became known, for the boatmen cried that they had an Anabaptist on board. The clerk, who stood there, went to the chancellor and told him that an Anabaptist had arrived. The chancellor had him apprehended, and he was forthwith brought to the rack and five times dreadfully tortured, also twice suspended by a rope; but they could obtain nothing from him, nor accomplish anything with him. Hence, he had to suffer much pain and sorrow during the time of his imprisonment, and also much temptation and conflict on account of his faith, and because he would not accept their doctrine.

    After he had been in prison almost half a year, he was led to the place of execution. There went with him four priests, who tenaciously urged him to renounce: but he said that he had already renounced his unrighteous life, more than twenty years ago. When he was led through the town, they admonished him the second time to renounce. But he replied, "Should I depart from God? Christ does not teach me this when He says: 'Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."'

    When he was led forth before the stone court, they said to him, "Behold, there is the image of our Lord; bow down before it." But he replied that he dared not do it; that they should proceed with him. The priests asked him, why he had gone out from the Christian church, and betaken himself to this heresy (as they call it). But he said, "Nat so; but I went out from ungodly idolaters, fornicators, blasphemers, and all the unclean, and have betaken myself to the good, to God, and His church." But they said, "He is possessed of the devil, who causes him to speak thus"; even as also the Jews accused Christ. Afterwards they entreated him thrice for God's sake, that he should renounce; but he would not.

    The executioner also begged him the very best he could. But Brother Leonhart said, "O dear, be silent, and do not beg me, but proceed, for I want to die as a good Christian; I stand in the true faith and upon the firm foundation, which is Christ my Lord, from which I shall never depart." When they saw that all their efforts were in vain, the executioner took his collar from his neck and said to him, "If you would renounce but the two articles, they would release you." But he said, "Let me alone and proceed as you please, for I want to die valiantly upon my faith.'.' Thereupon, the executioner said, "I do not like to execute you, but if I do not do it, another will." And he drew out the sword before him, in order to frighten him; but he was not terrified in the least by it. Thus he was beheaded, and buried in the place of execution.

    This happened at Berckhausen, on the 5th of July 1585, that this lamb of the Lord was torn by the ravening wolves.
     
  20. turnorburn

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    ANNEKEN BOTSON, JANNEKEN HER DAUGHTER, AND MAEYKEN PIETERS, A. D. 1585

    About the year 1585, there were imprisoned, at Sint Vyt, in the country of Lutzenborg, three women, having been brought from a village called Nieuwstadt. Among them were a mother and daughter; the mother's name was Anneken Botson, and that of her daughter Janneken Botson; the other woman was named Maeyken Pieters. All three of them were simple, God-fearing persons, who had forsaken popery, and through the grace of God, betaken themselves to the obedience of the holy Gospel.

    This the priests could not endure, but they manifested their envy and reported these persons to the authorities; and thus they were apprehended and put in prison at Sint Vyt, as already mentioned. There they were not confined long, but were forthwith examined concerning their faith, which they cheerfully and in simplicity confessed, and to which they also constantly adhered, though they tried in many ways to make them recant the truth; but when they could not prevail upon them they were sentenced that they should be burnt to ashes. As innocent sheep for the slaughter they went to the place where they were to be offered up, and died thus a valiant death, offering up their bodies as a sacrifice to the Lord.
     
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