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MARTYRS MIRROR

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WOLFGANG RAUFER, GEORGE PRUCKMAIR, AND HANS AICHER, A. D. 1585

In the year 1585, three brethren, namely, Wolfgang Raufer, George Pruckmair, and Hans Aicher were apprehended for the faith, while on a journey, half a league from Riet, they having taken some refreshments in an inn, and after eating returned thanks. Hence, immediately beadles were sent for, and it was told that there were people there like Anabaptists. While they were then counting out the money for what they had received, and the innkeeper took it, the wicked men came, apprehended all three of them, and took them to Riet. A few days after, they were taken from Riet to Berckhausen, where the council and the judges sent eminent doctors to them, who were to speak with them, and if possible to overcome them and turn them from their faith; but they could accomplish nothing, nor were they (neither the doctors nor the priests) able, by disputing, in any wise to turn these brethren. In the meantime they executed the aforementioned Brother Leonhart Sumeraver, with the sword, on a Friday, about eight o'clock in the morning.

Afterwards the judge and other lords went into the castle, and announced it to these brethren, and told them that if they would not renounce, that they should share the same fate with him; whereupon they replied, "We are ready to die; whatever be God's will with us, we will patiently suffer." Now when they had been imprisoned for a considerable time, about fourteen weeks, at Berchhausen, and they could not prevail upon them, nor intimidate them, they were separately placed in carts, on the next following day of execution, namely, the 3rd of August, led forth from prison, and about four o'clock brought before the council house, where the royal decree was read to them, according to which they were to be dealt with. In the meantime the judge called the executioner, and commanded him, that he should bind these three persons and convey them out to the usual place of execution, and then (since they had been sentenced from life to death) to execute them with the sword, and afterwards lay them upon a pile of wood and burn them with fire.

Thereupon, Brother Wolfgang replied, "Not from life to death, but through death into eternal life." Then George and Wolfgang said, "Now since we must die, we die solely for the sake of the divine truth, for we have done no evil or wrong to any one, and here is not a single person to whom we have done any injury, or who can complain of us; since we then must lose our lives for the faith and for the Word of God, we shall find it again in eternity, as the holy Gospel testifies." They then said to the authorities that they should henceforth take better heed, for the innocent blood should cry for vengeance upon those that were guilty of it; but since it was the will of God concerning them, they would willingly die, since our Lord Jesus Christ had to suffer the same death in this world. Then Wolfgang said to George and Hans, "Now my dear brethren, we will take leave from one another; and let us be joyful, for the Lord is with us."

Thereupon, Brother George, requested the executioner, that he would loose their hands a little, so that they could give each other the hand, and thus take leave; to which the executioner consented, doing it willingly. Thus they took joyful leave from one another. In the meantime a priest came to Brother Wolfgang, and admonished him to renounce. But Brother Wolfgang briefly answered him, that he should himself renounce his ungodly life and fornication; and would not tolerate the priest with him. He then went on, and when he came into the marketplace, he commenced to sing joyfully, and then gave praise and thanks to God, that they had come to this, that they might be truly refined. And he further said, "Would to God, that among this multitude of people there might be some one from our country that could inform our brethren of this; then we would greatly thank God for it. However, we trust that God will send some one that will notify them of this, whether it be orally or by writing; and this causes our heart to rejoice." This wish was also fulfilled, as the facts show.

Then Wolfgang said to the executioner, "Now, Master Christoffel, I shall henceforth be more quiet, and contain myself a little; but my heart experiences no anxiety at all, but there is only laughter within; and if- my brethren, my wife and child, knew this, they would rejoice for our sakes, though they might otherwise, according to the flesh, weep and mourn. And I pray, and also hope, that God will send some one to our country, to our church, who will for us take leave from all brethren and sisters, our wives and children, and all our acquaintances according to the flesh."

While Wolfgang was thus speaking, they were led out and came to the place of execution. The other two brethren, George and Hans, had mostly been silent; but when they arrived at the place of execution, all three of them were joyful, again took leave from one another, and offered up their prayer together in quietness.

They were then beheaded, and their bodies laid upon piles of wood and burnt.

When the executioner had performed this, he said to the people, "These persons would not desist from their faith, nor would they tolerate priests; they also have a much stronger faith than I and all that are here. I would rather execute thirty robbers than these."

Thus these dear brethren testified to the faith in Jesus Christ and the divine truth with their blood, to which end God gave them power and strength, for which praise be to Him forever. Amen.
 
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OF THE MANDATE PUBLISHED AGAINST THE AN ABAPTISTS IN THE DUCHY OF PRUSSIA (BUT NOT UNTO DEATH), ON THE 12TH Ox NOVEMBER, A. D. 1516

When on account of the terrible burning and scorching of the pious witnesses of Jesus that were called by the name of Anabaptists, many of them went from papistic regions, where the distress was greatest, to the. Prussian countries, in the hope that the rulers there, who boasted of greater discretion and mercy than those of general popery, should grant them liberty to live according to their conscience, it came to pass, that when they came there they found themselves deceived in their opinion, inasmuch as the prince of that country, who then reigned at Brandenburg, ordered them, by a public mandate, to leave.

Concerning this, P. J. Twisek has given this account:

George Frederick, Margrave'of Brandenburg, commanded in a public mandate, on the 12th of November, A. D. 1586, that the Anabaptists must leave this whole Duchy of Prussia. Chron. van den Ondergang, edition 1620, 2d part, 16th book, for the year 1586, p. 1401, col. 1.
 
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CHRISTIAN GASTEYGER, A. D. 1586

In the year 1586, an the Friday after Whitsuntide, which was the 3rd of June, Christian Gasteyger, a blacksmith, was imprisoned, at Ingolstadt in Bavaria. On the following Sunday two Jesuits, with their town judge came to him, and talked with him concerning his faith; but they soon left him again, for they could not agree with him. Nine days after, the two Jesuits came again to talk with him, and began with many words to revile the church; but the brother contradicted them, and thus they spent almost an hour and a half together, and then left him with dissatisfaction. Three weeks afterwards, again two Jesuits came to him, who wanted to instruct him; but when he would not dance as they piped, they left him again; and after two days the judge came to him, with a .doctor in the Scriptures, to speak with him concerning infant baptism. They said, "Children were damned, if they were not brought to baptism." Thereupon, brother Christian replied, "They are not damned therefore;" and he proved it to them with many Scriptures which he adduced. On this account they called him a heretic and said further, "Children have the devil in them; hence they must be baptized." Then he asked how the devil got into the children. They said, "He comes into the child from the mother." But he contradicted them also in this.

Nine days afterwards the judge and his council came to him, and they said, "You are well aware why you are imprisoned here; you have been confined here for some time already, and priests have came to you; but you would not hearken to them, for I have been told by them, that there is no hope of you any more; and'the order has come, that I am to speak with you once more, and that if you will not be converted to that which your parents believed, you shall be placed upon a stack of wood and burnt; and let us see then how God will be with you." But he replied, "I am ready every day to die, and I hope to God in heaven, that He will keep me valiant and faithful unto the end, so that I shall not depart from the truth; and may His will be done concerning me."

The next day again two Jesuits came to dispute with hm, and asserted that he had no faith. They also began of infant baptism, saying that the child had to be baptized, else it were damned. But he contradicted them. And when they had spent three hours with him, and he had sufficiently replied to them and valiantly resisted their false doctrine, they left him. He also let us know that, as he was now imprisoned for the truth's sake, he would also firmly adhere to the truth; though it should cost him his life, he should not depart from it; they should have all good confidence concerning him, for he would valiantly fight for the eternal crown, and he well perceived that God faithfully succored him in his bonds, for which he also praised and thanked Him, and prayed that He would keep him even unto his temporal death. He moreover sent us and all believers a Christian greeting. Afterwards, when he had been confined for over twelve weeks at Ingolstadt, and all the priests and Jesuits there had become tired of him, and yet could accomplish nothing with him, he was, on the 25th of August, placed upon a cart and conducted from Ingolstadt to Munich.

Finally, on the 13th of December, sentence was requested concerning him. The prince was not at home, and the supreme judge had died; the under judge would have had to pronounce the sentence; but he would not, and said that it was not his office. The burgomaster and several others in the council would also not consent to it, but the Jesuits strenuously insisted upon it, so that the sentence proceeded nevertheless.

He was led forth from prison before the council house, and sentenced to the sword. He was then led to death, and since he was very joyful and of good cheer, and spoke very much to the people, the Jesuits became very angry and spat into his face, so that the executioner himself wiped it off. The Jesuits also held before him an idolatrous crucifix and spat again into his face, which vexed the people greatly.


When he arrived in the place of execution, he was very joyful, because he saw that he had so nearly gained the crown.


The executioner stood there with the drawn sword, afraid and begging him to renounce. But he said to the executioner that he should execute his sentence on him; and to the Jesuits he said, "Though there were a thousand of you here, and multiplied thousands, you should not be able to seduce me." Then the executioner executed him with the sword, and thus he persevered steadfast and joyful in the faith.
 
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CONCERNING THE DECREE EMITTED AGAINST THE ANABAPTISTS IN THE JURISDICTION OF-KOENIGS BERG AND ITS CITIES AND SUBURBS, ON PAIN OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT AND LOSS OF THEIR PROPERTY, A. D. 1587

Even as it had gone the year before in Prussia, with the Anabaptists, so it went now also in the dominion of Koenigsberg, which was carried out by the same prince, who was also the lord of this territory.
The afore-mentioned author, having related their departure from Prussia, immediately adds that on the 1st of March, A. D. 1587, they were ordered to leave not only the liberties of Koenigsberg and the cities and suburbs of that country, but also all the territories and dominions belonging under the reign of George Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg, and this on pain of corporal punishment and loss of their property.

This was done because they spoke most offensively* (as it was said) of infant baptism (which the learned of that country considered the door and entrance into the kingdom of God). Compare the sixteenth book of Chron. vary den Ondergang, 2d part, edition 1620, page 1501, col. 2, with Johan. Behin, fol. 72, 73.
 
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MICHAEL VISCHER, A. D. 1587

In the year 1587, about Whitsuntide, Michael Vischer was imprisoned for the faith, at Ingolstadt, in Bavaria, and when he had been confined about twelve weeks, and much had been tried with him by monks, Jesuits and otherwise, and he would also not follow their false doctrine and idolatry, but firmly persevered in the faith which he had accepted, acknowledged and confessed, he was finally sentenced to death, that he should be executed on Friday the 6th of August, if he would not renounce; but since he looked for a better and eternal life, he continued immovable and steadfast in the faith.

Thus he was on the afore-mentioned day, about eight o'clock in the morning, brought from the prison before the council house, and sentence was there read to him, that since this anabaptist had for about twenty years adhered to Anabaptism (so they call it), and also seduced several others thereto, and would in no wise allow himself to be moved from it, he must die for it.

For the imperial mandate and decree is, that such shall not be suffered or tolerated, but punished with fire and sword. Thereupon he was led out to the place of execution, to which he was willing and ready, going there with alacrity. A Jesuit and a monk went with him, and wanted to instruct him; however, he did not hearken to them, but told them to go away from him. Thus they went in advance to the place of execution, and there said to him, that since he had to die, he should prepare himself for it, and they held a crucifix before his face, saying, that he should behold Him that had died for us. But he shook his head and said, "Christ my Redeemer is in heaven; therefore I deny all human handiwork."

He also said to the executioner, "Come hither; there is nothing else left to do, I will valiantly adhere to the faith and die upon it." And with this he knelt down, boldly and undismayed. God granted him such power and strength, that he persevered steadfastly unto the end, in the way of truth unto eternal life in Jesus Christ. The executioner became terrified by his undauntedness, so that he could not properly execute him, but had to cut off his head as it were,* in consequence of which he was in no small peril of his life.


 
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CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN, A. D. 1588

This Christiaen Rijcen lived still in these latter days as a faithful witness, at Hontschoten, in Flanders, where he, as a true Christian, was imprisoned for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, in December of the year 1587. And after suffering much trial and temptation there, he was very cruelly tortured, and burned to ashes there, the seventh day of April, 1588, under the bloody tyranny and reign of the Prince of Parma. And thus he steadfastly delivered over unto death his corruptible body, for the truth of Christ, and expects now a new house in heaven, which God shall prepare for him, that it shall endure forever. II Cor. 5:1.
Of this friend of God a book has been published, containing fifteen letters, with some hymns, which this true witness wrote from prison to his wife and his friends, for comfort and encouragement; of which the following few are here communicated to the reader.

A STATEMENT HOW HE WAS EXAMINED BY THE MAGISTRATES, AND HOW THE PASTOR WANTED TO PROVE INFANT BAPTISM TO HIM, AND HOW SEVERELY THEY ASSAILED HIM

Grace, peace and love be unto you, from God our heavenly Father, through His Son Jesus Christ. Amen. This I wish you my dear and beloved wife, for an affectionate greeting.

And after all salutation, I inform you, my very dear wife, that it is still tolerably well with me, according to the flesh; and according to the spirit it is my mind and purpose, by the help of God, to adhere to the Lord unto the end of my life.
The reason of my writing is further to inform you, that I have been before the lords once, and they questioned me concerning my faith, which I confessed to them. And they asked me whether I had had myself baptized. I said, "Yes." They asked me how long ago it was. I said, "About eight years." They then asked me concerning my children, whether they were not baptized. I said, "No." They asked whether my wife was like me. I said, "Yes." Then they asked in what house I had been baptized. I told them that it stood in the South East corner. They asked me what the name of the man was that lived in it. I said"Pieter.""And his surname?" said they. I said"We do not inquire much after surnames." Thus they wrote down all that I told them.

And they sent for the pastor, and read to him what I had confessed before them. And the pastor spoke much to me about baptism, and said that the children must be baptized, in order to be cleansed from original sin. I said that Paul, Romans 5, says that as death passed upon all men through Adam, so righteousness came upon all men through Christ Jesus. Yea, even as we all die through Adam, so we are all made alive by Christ. This he would not accept, but said that John says, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." Hence the children must be baptized, if they are to be delivered from original sin. I said to him, "The Scripture does not say in John 3: 'Except a man be baptized of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;' but the Scripture says: 'Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,' and this the children cannot, and need not do, since they have not committed sin, that they must be born again." Thus, my dear and beloved wife, we had many other words also, which I have forgotten, and which do not deserve to be written.

Thus, I know not what they will do with me, whether they will pursue their old course, or not. But, my dear wife, though they deal with me as they have been accustomed to do in old times, let us therefore not be surprised, even as Peter writes, "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings. For if ye [he says] 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. 4:12-14.

Not, my dear wife, that I have heard as yet, that they shall kill me; but though they should do it, it were nothing new, for Christ Himself has foretold, "The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me." John 16:2, 3. Thus, my dear wife, be of good cheer in the Lord, and let us commit our cause to Him, and from Him expect a day that shall comfort us. For this is what is first promised here upon earth, namely, weeping and lamenting; but the world shall rejoice; we must now be sorrowful, but our sorrow shall be turned into joy. And Paul says, "I know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Rom. 8:18. Thus, my dear wife, be of good cheer in the Lord; I hope that He will help us; and do the best with the children, to nourish them up in the fear of God. And since your burden is great, it oppresses me so much, when I think of you and the children; the tears often flow from my eyes, because I have had to leave you under so great a burden and with little temporal substance.

But, my love, when I think that we must leave each other for the Lord's sake, or we cannot be worthy of Him, I hope that the Lord will care for you, because it is written, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all that ye need shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. And Peter says, "Cast all your care upon the Lord; for he careth for you." I Pet. 5:7. Thus, my dear wife, since the Scriptures comfort me, that we have such a good Provider, I hope that He will provide you and me and our children with all that we need. Hence, my dear wife, faint not. Write me how it is with you and with the children, according to the flesh and according to the spirit. But, my dear wife, I must also inform you, that the pastors have often talked with me here in prison; but we cannot agree. Sometimes they use harsh words, and sometimes fair words, and they always want to prove their infant baptism from John 3, adducing yet many other Scriptures, as Romans 6; Col. 2; Eph. 5; Tit. 3, and others, which do not serve their purpose, but treat of regeneration, of the burial of sin by baptism, or that

God has cleansed His church by the washing of water in the Word. These Scriptures, which do not serve their purpose, they quote to prove their infant baptism. Hence, I have a great conflict here; it seems to me that I am in the wilderness at Marah, where the children of Israel were, at the water of Meribah,* where the waters were bitter; but the Lord showed them a tree, which they were to cast into the waters, to make them sweet. Ex. 15:23-25. So the Lord has also shown me a green tree which sweetens all this water; which is Christ Jesus, the true green tree. When I think of Him, how He was delivered over by the chief priests and the scribes, to be crucified and put to death, it makes it very sweet for me; for I think that the servant is not better than his master, but that it ought to be enough for the servant, that he be as his master.

Herewith I will commend you, my dear wife, for this time, to the Lord, and to the rich Word of His grace; who is able to keep your treasure, and to give you His eternal kingdom.

Written on the 2d of January, A. D. 1588, by me, your husband.

CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN.
 
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ANOTHER LETTER FROM CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN WRIT TEN TO A BROTHER, THAT HE WOULD AID HIS WIFE (IF HE SHOULD BE PUT TO DEATH) IN GETTING TO HOLLAND; TOGETHER WITH OTHER COMFORTING RE MARKS

The eternal, imperishable wisdom of the Father, and the love of the Son, and the illumination of the Holy Ghost, this I wish my very dear and beloved brother N., as an affectionate greeting in the Lord. Amen.
And after all salutation, I inform my dear and beloved brother, that I am still in tolerably good health according to the flesh; and according to the spirit, it is my purpose, by the help of God's goodness, to adhere to the Lord as long as I live.

Further, my beloved brother, I have learned that my children are at your house, that you are to keep them till my wife comes home, whereby you show me great friendship, that you have done this; and I also pray you, my dear brother, that if you should have a small chamber that you could spare, that my wife might also live with you until the Lord bring about a change with me; and if they should deprive me of my life, I should like it very much, if you would aid her in getting to Bruges, there to make her living, or back to Holland, wherever it should please her to go. For, my beloved brother, women that are thus situated, have need of help and comfort; hence I pray you, do your best in this matter; remember that James says, that true religion is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27. And, my dear brother, though I must now suffer a little for the Lord's sake, let this not deter you from following the Lord, but let it make you the more zealous to build the house firmly upon the rock, so that when such storms come, it may stand.

And neglect not to exhort one another with the gifts that the Lord has given you, so that no one may be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin; also to provoke one another to love and good works, so that should it be tomorrow or the day after, that any of you should come into bonds, you may then be strong through the Lord, and through the power of His might, to resist all those that exalt themselves against the knowledge of Jesus Christ. For Paul makes known how we are to arm ourselves with the armor of God, saying that the loins must be girt about with truth, and the breast protected with righteousness, and the feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; and above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. Eph. 6. Thus, my beloved brother, such weapons are of good service to him that is tried as I am now tried.

Hence, my dear brother, I beg you pray the Lord for me, that I may overcome all; and do also in my place assist my wife and children, this I pray you; and greet N. N., and above all, greet your wife much in my name.
Written on the 17th of January, by me,

CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN.
 
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ANOTHER LETTER FROM CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN, WRIT TEN TO HIS WIFE, IN WHICH HE WRITES THAT HE HAS LEARNED THAT NO COMFORT HAD COME FOR HIM FROM THE COURT, THOUGH THE RECORDER HAD COME HOME; WHERE FORE HE CONSOLED HIMSELF IN THE LORD

Grace, peace and love be unto you from God our heavenly Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, Amen. This, I Christiaen Rijcen, wish you my dear wife, as an affectionate greeting in the Lord.

And after all salutation, I inform you, my very dear wife, that I am still in tolerably good health (praise and glory to the Lord for His grace), as I trust is also the case with you and the children.

I further inform you, that I received your letter, and I thank you for the treasure you sent me. I further also learn that you live in N's house, and that he has provided you with wood, of which I am very glad, that you find some comfort there yet. If it should please the Lord, to deliver me out of this again, I hope that we shall repay it to him; but so far I think there is little prospect for me to get out. For I have learned that no advice has come from the court as yet. Though the recorder has come, there has no comfort come for me with him, except that I thank the Lord, who comforts me in this tribulation. And I hope to approve myself as a minister of Gad, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet known before God; as dying, and behold, we live. II Cor. 6 .

Thus, my dear wife, I hope to approve myself in all things as the minister of God; for I often hear evil reports, and sometimes good reports, and so the time passes away; and I think that it may probably be so also with you. Hence, my beloved wife, let us be patient in tribulation, fervent in hope, and continuing instant in prayer; and remember me in your prayers, for I do the same for you. For there passes not much time that I do not think of you and the children. I pray you, do the best with them, and if you have some work, make them labour diligently. Tell them that I command them to this; and wren you have some leisure, teach them in the book; this I pray you; so that hereafter, when they sh:1l have lost you and me, they may search, as to what tends to their salvation.

I furthermore also learn from, your letter, that you desire me to write your landlord a short letter; which I have done. However, I wrote at the top of the letter, to N. N.; but it does not matter to me who has it; may the fruit of righteousness spring from it. But I hope to write another yet, if the Lord permits me. Nothing more for this time, but be commended to the Lord, and greet all acquaintances in my name.

Written the 27th of February, by me,

CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN.
 
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ANOTHER COMFORTING LETTER FROM CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN,
WRITTEN TO HIS WIFE, IN WHICH HE EXHORTS HER TO PERSEVERANCE IN THE FEAR OF GOD, AND INFORMED HER, HOW THE PASTOR OF HOUTEN HAD TEMPTED HIM, PROMISING HIM TO HELP HIM OUT, IF HE WOULD HEARKEN TO HIM


I, Christiaen Rijcen, imprisoned for the Lord's sake, wish my very dear and beloved wife, the eternal wisdom of the Father, and the love of the Son, and the consolation of the Holy Ghost, as an affectionate greeting.

And after all salutation, I inform my very dear and beloved wife, that I am not very well at present, for I have pain in the head, and am in great tribulation for your and the children's sake, that I can not assist you in helping to gain a living. Yet I hope that the Lord, who has taken me from you, will assist you and provide you with what you shall need, for faithful are the promises which He has made, saying, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." And Peter says, "Cast all your care upon the Lord; for he careth for you." Hence, my dearest love, flee for refuge solely and entirely to the Lord; for he that gives seed to the sower will also give you bread for food.

Know further, that I received your letter, and I thank you from the heart for the comforting treasures you sent me. Knowing that they greatly rejoiced me, when I heard your mind, and that you still confirm me in the truth, to continue valiant in the Lord unto death. I hope so to do by the grace of God, and to obtain the glorious 'promises. And I also pray you, my dear wife, always take heed to yourself, so that we may hereafter, by the grace of the Lord, rejoice together where joy shall endure forever. If it can be no more here in this world, that it may certainly be hereafter, that we may then rejoice eternally; though we must now sow in tears, that we may then reap with joy. Hence, my dearest love, be of good courage, and thank God, that we are worthy to suffer for His name; for thus the saints went before, and we must also through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. It is now my turn; it may perhaps soon be your turn. Hence, my dear wife, endeavor diligently to please the Lord and to serve Him faithfully, that when He comes to you, you may be watching; for blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find so doing: He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. Luke 12:37.

Hence, my dear wife, always continue steadfast in the word of the Lord, and faint not at my tribulation which is now present; but be the more diligent to serve the Lord, and always keep yourself pure, my dear wife, this I pray you, as. I hope that you will do. And take great pains to set the children to work, the best you can; and always conduct yourself discreetly toward them, so that they may learn discretion; and thus do in all things the best, this I pray you. I do not know ygt what they will do with me. I now hear reports sometimes, that they will leave me in confinement till I turn and adopt the Romish religion. But the Lord, to whom I have committed the matter, can soon , bring about a change, if it is His will; hence. I commit my cause to Him. Last Tuesday I had the pastor of Houten here with me, and we had many words together, but he did not know much to say .from the Scriptures. However, it would be too long to write all that we said; but in parting, as he was leaving, he said that if I would hearken, he would soon help me out. I said that I would do the best; so we parted from each other.

Thus, my very dear and beloved wife, my hope and confidence are fixed upon the Lord, to serve and obey Him all the days of my life, by His divine help and power.

Herewith, I commend you and my children to the Lord and to the rich Word of His grace. Amen. Greet much in my name all the acquaintances that live near you, and give this letter to N., your landlord, and greet him much from me. Nothing more for this time, but farewell. In haste, on the 5th of March. By me, CHRTSTIAEN RIJCEN.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his, glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye. I Pet. 4:12-14.
 
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ANOTHER LETTER FROM CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN; HE THANKS- HIS WIFE FOR THE COMFORTING PAS SAGES OF SCRIPTURE WHICH SHE HAD SENT HIM, AND INFORMS HER THAT THE BAILIFF CAME, AND THAT HE CLEARLY UNDER STANDS FROM THE PRIESTS THAT THERE IS NO HOPE OF FREEDOM, FOR IN THE COUNCIL OF TRENT ALL COUN TRIES WERE DENIED US, AS BE ING THE WORST SECT UNDER HEAVEN

Grace, peace and love from God the heavenly Father, through His Son Jesus Christ. Amen. This I wish you, my dear and beloved wife, as an affectionate greeting in the Lord.


And after all salutation, I, Christaen Rijcen, inform you, my dear wife, that I am in tolerably good health (praise and glory to the Lord for His grace), as I trust that is the case also with you. Only that I have a little pain in my throat so that by reason of it my appetite is not very good, but otherwise it still goes very well with me; it is still my purpose (the Lord be praised) to obey the Lord and to continue in His commandments all the days of my life, by the help of the Lord. Know further, that I received your letter and I rejoice that you always. comfort me by the treasures which you send me; and I thank you greatly from the heart, that you write these treasures for my consolation, for they come very convenient to me, since I am thinking a great deal daily, because of the long time that I must remain here: sometimes sorrowful, sometimes of good cheer, and thus time passes away with great desire.

O my dearest love, I think that this is also the case with you. But my dear wife, let us firmly persevere till we are taken hence, for now is the time of which it has been told us, that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God, and that we must weep and lament, but the world rejoices; we must now be sorrowful, but our sorrow shall be turned into joy. And Paul also tells us, "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." II Cor. 1:5. And Paul further says, "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for. a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." II Cor. 4:16-18. Hence, my dear wife, we must now have respect unto what Moses had respect, and esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, and always have respect unto the reward, and by faith forsake the Egyptian nation, and not fear the cruelty of the king, but always cleave to the invisible God, as though we saw Him.

Thus, my dear wife, I commend you and my children to this same God, that He will keep you, and provide for you in all your needs, for I do not know whether I shall be able to write you any more; I now expect a change soon, for the bailiff is come, so that it seems to me, that there may probably be a change in my situation. You wrote me about that man at. Cassel: but I do not think that he was of our faith, for the priest considers us the worst sect under heaven. Hence, it may turn out differently with me, than with the man at Cassel, for we are the filth or offscouring of this world. For the priests said to me that in the last council of Trent we were denied all countries, and had no liberty. Hence, my dear wife, if I must also be one to fulfill the number, be patient, this I pray you, and do the best with the children, and commit your matters to the Lord, and hope in Him; He will bring it to pass for Sirach says, "The Lord never forsook any that abode in the fear of God, nor that put their hope in him." Eccl. 2.

Herewith, I commend my dear wife to the Lord, and to the rich Word of His grace. Amen.

Greet the acquaintances that are with you much in my name, and always keep yourself pure in the fear of God.

Written on the 12th of March, 1588, by me, your husband.

CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN
 
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ANOTHER CONSOLATORY LETTER FROM CHRIS TIAEN RIJCEN, WRITTEN TO HIS WIFE, WHEN HE SUPPOSED THAT HIS CASE SHOULD BE DISPOSED OF; AND HOW SOME CONSOLE HIM WITH THE CONCLUSION OF] PEACE THAT HE SHOULD THEN BE RELEASED

Grace, mercy, peace and love be unto you from God our heavenly Father, through His Son Jesus Christ. Amen. This I wish you, my dear and beloved wife, as an affectionate greeting.

And after all salutation, I, Christiaen Rijcen, inform you, my dear wife, that I am in tolerably good health (praise and glory to the Lord for His grace), as I trust is also the case with you and the children.

Know further, that I received your letter, and I am much rejoiced that you are of such good cheer, and that you still comfort me, for which I heartily thank you. And I would also like to write something for your consolation, that you may be of good cheer; but, my dear wife, the greatest consolation is the Lord, who has taken me from you; who, as I hope, will assist you in all your need, and provided for you, if you do not forsake Him. For Paul says, "We are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken." II Cor. 4:8, 9.

Paul further says that He will not leave us.nor forsake us, so that we may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Hebrews 13:5, 6. Sirach also says, "Did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded? or did any abide in his fear and was forsaken? or whom did he ever despise, that called upon him?" Eccl. 2:16. Hence, my dear wife put your entire hope in God, and say with Jeremiah, "Lord, thou art my refuge, my strength, and my comfort in distress." Jer. 16:19. And also with David, saying, "If I only have thee Lord, I care not for heaven or earth; yea, though my body and soul should fail, thou art the comfort and portion of my heart." Ps. 73:2'5, 26. And remember also, that Sara, when she was in great tribulation, said, that she well knew that all those that will serve God, after temptation, are delivered, and comforted in sorrow, and after all correction, they find grace; and after the great storm He makes the sun to shine again, and after weeping and lamenting, He gives joy abundantly, Tob. 3.

Thus, my dear wife, console yourself with these words; though we must now mourn and weep, let us have good courage; for the Lord shall see us again, and our hearts shall rejoice, and no man shall take away our joy. And Christ says, "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets." Luke 6:22, 23. Christ further says, "Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh," v. 21. With these words comfort yourself.

Herewith I commend you to the Lord, and as regards my case, I know nothing special to write you. I expected this week, that they would dispose of the matter; but it seems to me, that God has not given them the power yet. There are some, as I think, that would have it; but it seems that the Lord does not permit them. Some console me with the [conclusion of] peace, that they shall then release me. Thus, my dear wife, I have committed it to the Lord. Do you so also, and greet all acquaintances much in my name, and always keep yourself pure in the fear of God, and always do your best with the children. Nothing more for this time, but farewell. In haste, this 19th of March, 1588.

By me, your beloved husband.

CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN.
 
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CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN EXHORTS HIS WIFE FIRMLY TO TRUST IN THE LORD, AND INFORMS HER, THAT HE WAS ASSAILED ONCE MORE THIS WEEK BY THE PASTOR AND A FRANCISCAN FRIAR, WHO TEMPTED HIM BY THREATS AND FAIR WORDS TO APOSTATIZE; AND OF THE TERROR THAT CAME UPON HIM THE FOLLOWING NIGHT

Grace, peace and love be unto you from God our heavenly Father, through His Son Jesus Christ. Amen. This, I wish you, my very dear and beloved wife, as an affectionate greeting in the Lord.
And after all salutation, I inform you, my very dear and beloved wife, that I am still well according to soul and body, praise, glory and thanks be forever to the Lord, for His great goodness, who has called me to this time, and kept me, that I am worthy to suffer a little for His name; and I also trust by the grace of the Lord, that you and the children are also well, though I understand from your letter, that you have had the ague. I hope in our dear Lord, that He will succor you; and not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but that with this temptation He will also make a way to escape, so that you will be able to bear it.

O my dearest love, trust with all your heart in the Lord, and do not forsake your friend, that loves your soul, since you have found Him, as the bride in Cant. (3:4); but cleave faithfully to Him, and take Him for your Husband, and for a Father for my children, and diligently instruct my children, that they obey this Father all the days of their life; and you too, my dear wife, be also faithful to your Husband Christ, and do not forsake Him in any distress, for His promises are, that He will also not forsake you. I must now leave you with sorrow; but, my dear wife, I hope that we shall find each other in life eternal, where we shall part no more. O my dear wife, I would like it so much, if the fight here were fought, so that I might say with Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for us the crown of life." II Tim. 4:7. Oh, then my heart would rejoice; but there is conflict here yet sometimes.

This week I have had with me the pastor and a Franciscan friar once more, who came to see whether I would not hearken. The pastor said that the recorder had told him, that letters had come from the court [to the effect that] if I would not hearken, and repent, they knew what they were to do with me. I told the pastor, that I wanted to wrong no one; but as regards my faith, I said, I have received it from the Lord, and I cannot forsake it. Then they used fair words and said, "If you will hearken, you may live here with us, and be a man of honor." I said, "I want to do well, like a man of honor, and to wrong no one; and that if I should do wrong to any one, that they should punish me twice as much as another that had done the same thing as L" Against this they did not say very much. We had many words, which it would take too long to write. I therefore do not know what they will do with me.

My dear and beloved wife, you must know yet, that the night after the pastor had been with me, a great terror came upon me, inasmuch as I thought that they should put me in irons, or place me upon the rack, which so terrified me, that the perspiration issued from my body, so that I was wet from it; which made me very sorrowful, but I remembered Christ, when His sufferings came upon Him so that His sweat rolled from Him as drops of blood, down to the ground; wherein I consoled myself a little, and it also seems to me, that the Lord sent it to me, that I should not boast of myself, but that I should rely only upon the Lord and not upon my own strength, as I also hope to do. And I pray my dear wife, that she will help me pray to the Lord, that the Lord will strengthen and confirm me with His Spirit, that I need not fear men, nor the children of men, since they shall perish as grass.

Herewith I commend you to the Lord, and to the .rich Word of His grace. Amen.

And greet your landlord in my name, and give him for this time this hymn; and greet from me also all the others that live near you. Nothing more for this time, except that I heartily thank you for your comforting treasures, which you send me to my great consolation, for they come very convenient to me. Farewell and console yourself in the Lord, for these, my bonds shall be no disgrace to you, for I have done nothing amiss to any one (the Lord be praised) that can say anything evil of me, wherein I greatly rejoice.

Thus, my dear wife, be faithful to the Lord, for He that shall continue faithful unto death, shall have the crown of eternal life.

Written on the 27th of March, A. D. 1588, by me, your beloved husband. CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN.
 
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CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN INFORMS HIS WIFE, THAT HE HAD EXPECTED TO RECEIVE HIS SENTENCE, AND THAT HE HAD AN IRON ON HIS LEG FOR EIGHT EEN OR NINETEEN DAYS, WITH A LOG, UPON THE STRAW, BUT THAT NOW AGAIN HE HAD A LITTLE MORE COMFORT

I must inform you of something yet, my dear wife, namely, that I constantly hoped last week, that I should receive my sentence: but it did not come; hence I longed much the more for it, so that I daily waited for comfort, which did not come, as I think, my dear wife, that you have also done. But I have now committed it to the Lord, and hope to wait with patience for the day that shall comfort us; and I pray you, my dear wife, that you do likewise. I further inform you, my dear wife, that about eighteen or nineteen days I was confined with an iron on my leg, with a log, upon the straw, which was quite uncomfortable, and always in my clothes. But the Lord be praised, it did not grieve me, but I thought that we must follow the Lord through want and adversity, even as the saints went before; but now I have good comfort and am very well according to the body, and Joost shows me great friendship, more than I shall be able to repay him.

And, my wife, I pray you, make as few words with those of Hontschote as you can, lest peradventure the authorities should hear that you were there, and send word of it to those of Bergen. But if you can speak to N. [do so;] he often comes to Bergen. But, my dear wife, if you have any word to send me, tell it to N. or N., who will deliver the message to me; and neglect by no means to write to me how it is with you and the children, and how you get along. Nothing more for this time, but be commended to the Lord, and to the rich Word of His grace. Amen.

By me, your husband.

CHRISTIAEN RIJCEN.
 
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PIETER SAYMER, A. D. 1588

In the year 1588, Pieter Saymer was apprehended at Freiburg in Bavaria; having staid there over night, in an inn, with a landlord, and about to proceed on his way in the morning, a beadle seized and apprehended him. He was then conducted. to Berckhausen, and very briefly examined, and continuing steadfast, was taken back to Freiburg. The third day after, the judge himself had him brought out of prison, and advised him to renounce. But he answered, "I cannot renounce the true faith in Jesus Christ, nor the keeping of Goal's commandments, though it should cost me body and life." Then his end was announced to him, and the staff broken over him, which caused his heart to leap for joy, and he greatly thanked and praised God, saying then, "I have one head, and if I had two, or still more, I would rather suffer them all to be cut off, than to renounce my faith."


There was much people present, and some wept over him when he was led out; but he said, "You need not weep over me, for I am of good cheer in God;" and he sang for joy, which the priests would not tolerate, neither the actuary. There came a simple man, a fisherman, to him and said"Dear Pieter, renounce, and spare yourself." But he said, "Be silent, you neither know nor are able to comprehend what there is at stake for me." He then knelt down and offered up his prayer .to God in heaven, and while he thus kneeling performed his prayer, the executioner struck off his head, which when it fell down to the ground, rolled about wonderfully, and finally lay still with the face turned toward the executioner, at which the people greatly marveled.

Thus, he testified with his blood to the faith and the divine truth, and obtained the crown of eternal life, which occurred on the 8th of July, 1588.

"My addition"

I Corinthians 2:9
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.


10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.



 
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JOOST DE TOLLENAER, MICHIEL BUYSE, AND SIJNTGEN WENS, A, D. 1589

On the 13th of January, A. D. 1589, at ten o'clock in the night, there were apprehended at Ghent, in Flanders, for the practice of the truth and following Christ, two brethren and one sister, namely, Joost de Tollenaer, Michiel Buyse, and Sijntgen Wens; who, after much temptation and torment (in which they constantly remained steadfast), were finally publicly sentenced to death as heretics, but secretly, with locked doors, in the count's castle, strangled at the stake, after which the two brethren were suspended from the gallows without, and the woman buried under it, which happened on the 13th of April of the aforesaid year 1589.

And as several letters of Joost de Tollenaer have come to our hands, we have added them here, for the benefit of the reader.
 
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THE FIRST LETTER OF JOOST DE TOLLENAER

Grace and peace from God our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ His beloved Son, our Lord and Saviour; may He, Lowijs, my dear brother in the Lord, and also Janneken, Jacomijntgen, and Sijntgen, my dear sisters in the Lord, together with all beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord, strengthen and confirm you with His Holy Spirit in the inner man, so that you may obtain the end of your faith, to the salvation of your souls, and to the praise, glory, honor of, and gratitude to, Him that lives forever and ever. Amen.


After all affectionate and Christian salutation to you my dear brethren and sisters in the Lord, I inform you, that I am in good health according to the flesh, the Lord be thanked; and according to the spirit, my mind is fixed, by the grace of the Lord, to adhere to the holy Christian truth, since there is no other salvation to be obtained, neither in heaven nor upon earth, than through Jesus Christ, who is the truth and the life. Hence, know, my dear brethren and sisters, that I am of very good cheer in the Lord, with my fellow prisoners, though all three of us are confined separately; and the jailer has strict orders, not to allow us to come together, nor to speak. It is a little close now, but there are Habakkuks who sometimes assist us, and though it is a little distressing, we have a very great consolation, namely, the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, the same helper and succorer that comforted the holy apostles in their tribulation.

Hence, I pray and supplicate day and night to the Lord my God, that He would graciously assist me, and help me to triumph, so that His holy name may be eternally praised through me poor one; and that He would take from me that which might hinder me; and thus I have committed myself to the eternal, almighty, strong God, through Jesus Christ our eternal Saviour.
Thus, my dearest friends, the Lord has heard my voice, and looked upon me miserable, imperfect man, who am but dust and ashes, and too unworthy for all this mercy, that He has called me to have tribulation, bonds, affliction, and temptation for His name; so that I have such courage and joy, that I could not express to you with the mouth the joy and gladness which the Lord is giving me by His Spirit, so that I often think in my heart, "O Lord, is this sorrow and tribulation, affliction and bonds, or grief?" For in all the time that I unworthily walked in the truth, I never had such joy and gladness.

But when I think of the eternal joy, of the great and comforting promises of happiness, which the Lord has prepared for His chosen, and for all those that continue steadfast unto the end-that they shall follow the immaculate Lamb Christ Jesus, with shining white raiment, and branches of palm in their hands, and shall moreover be crowned with the crown of eternal life; that He shall lead them to the fountain of eternal life, and thus wipe away all tears from our eyes; then it seems that my heart would burst with joy, when I behold all this in the spirit; so mighty is the Lord, and so can He comfort those that surrender' themselves with all their hearts. For', friends, it has now come so far, that -I count all that is temporal and perishable loss for Christ's sake, and the Lord has given me grace, so that I am not hindered by temporal affairs, which I accept as a great gift from the Lord.

Hence, my dear and beloved, rejoice with me in the spirit, thanking the Lord, that He so graciously assists your weak brother with His Spirit and Word. All those that shall read or hear read this my letter, I pray out of brotherly love; that you will bow the knees of your heart before the Most High, that He may strengthen us by His Spirit, so that we may finish to His holy praise the work which He has begun in us. For, friends, we expect nothing else, but that we shall be offered up, especially I and Michiel; and this on account of several things that we confessed in our examinations.

They first asked me my age. I said, "About fifty years." They asked whether I was rebaptized. I said, "No;" but told them that I had suffered myself to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son; and the Holy Ghost, upon the confession of my sins, for which I was heartily sorry, and upon the confession of my faith in Christ Jesus, that He is the Son of the living God. This was written down. They asked how long ago that was. I said, "Twenty-six years last Christmas." They wondered that I had ruled so long. Question, "Are you in the ministry of the deaconship, or have you been in it?" I freely confessed that I was in the ministry, .though I said I am not worthy of it. They further asked me whether I exhorted, or had exhorted. I said, "No."

They asked me whether not lately a man had been here, that had preached in the place. I was silent. After much questioning, however, I told them, that we were not allowed of God to implicate or accuse any one. Finally they told me all the circumstances, namely, that Jan de Wever had been in the city, and that on a certain night a receiving of members had taken place secretly, three or four having been taken in; and they briefly said that our sister who was confined with us had confessed it, for they had tortured her. And they asked me, whether Hans had lodged at my house; they knew all about it, I could not contradict it, but had to admit it. They said that this had been prohibited. I answered that I did not regret having lodged him, and if it were to do again, I should gladly do it. This that I did not regret it, was ill received.
 
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Continued...

They also asked me, whether I had advised, or consented, to send for Jan de Wever. I said, "Yes, with all my heart." This also was ill received; but I care little if they did receive it ill, for they receive everything in the very worst way. Thus they went with it to the lords of the council, according to what I have since learned; and besides, they must have fuller advice from the court.

I have written this briefly, for to write all would have been too long, because I have not enough materials to write everything. I should like it, if this letter or a copy of it would be sent to those of Harlem. There was once without my knowledge a letter sent by those of Harlem, and found in the house of Michiel Buyse; which brought severe charges against me, in regard to one hundred pounds which had been sent to the poor, and which I was said to have received; and also concerning a legacy of twenty-four, pounds, of Joost Daems. I replied thereupon, that I had never seen the letter, which is the case; but these letters cause great grief. I have received as many letters as any man in Flanders or Brabant; but I cleared myself from every important imputation. However, tribulation and bonds must come from somewhere; and, moreover, the Lord be thanked, I do not trouble myself about it.

I am satisfied with everything that the Lord has, sent me. . God the Lord suffers it to happen, that He may thereby prove, whether there is any thing in my heart that is displeasing to Him, or whether I love aught more than Him;: for the Lord is jealous, and He will be alone the dearest, of which He is also well worthy, for He has dearly purchased us, namely, with the precious blood of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; hence we must also prove in the power of our faith,. that we love Him above husband, wife or child; house, field, gold, silver, and the last and dearest pledge, that is our own life.

When one is thus brought to the touchstone, then it is made manifest upon what one has built, whether it be gold, silver, precious stones, or wood, hay, or stubble; for everyone's work shall then be made manifest, as by fire. Hence, I counsel my dear brethren and sisters in the Lord, that are now at liberty, that you will wake up manfully, for it may easily come to pass, that persecution will also arise among. you, as now in Flanders; for this liberty we also had about seven years. Hence, all true soldiers in Christ Jesus are always to equip themselves with the armor of righteousness, having on. the helmet of salvation and.the breastplate of righteousness, girded with the girdle of truth, having the sword, of the Spirit, and the shield of faith, wherewith one. is able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

But, friends, the slothful would sometimes allow their weapons to stand in a corner, and thus they would easily rust; and when there would be a necessity for conflict, that the enemy (who walketh about as a fierce lion) should, come upon us, then alas! they would have to be sought in the corner, completely rusted over, and thus the enemy should surprise us by strategy. Therefore Paul gives good advice, saying, "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong: Let all your things be done with charity." I Cor. 16:13, 14.

Friends, I should write more, but you are yourselves taught of God; and as the anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in it. I John 2:27. I will herewith commend you to the Lord, and to the Word of His grace. Take my presumptuous letter in good part.

Know, brother, that J have written my daughter a testament letter,.in case our life here should soon close.

By me, your weak brother in the Lord, on the 13th of January, 1589, imprisoned for the truth. Amen.

JOOST DE ToLLENAER.
 
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