The Word of God having, according to His will, been proclaimed in many and various countries, and attested and confirmed by the blood of many Christians, it came to and was accepted also atWormer, in North Holland, where, among others, there were Dirk Pieters Krood, Pieter Trijnes, Claes Roders, Pieter Claes Jans. These turned their ears away from the papistic fables, amended their corrupt life, and, in place thereof, through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, willingly received the Word of God into their hearts, and regulated their whole conduct according to it. I Thess. 2:13. And even as Christ predicted, "The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (John 16:2), so it was also very clearly manifested in the case of the aforesaid persons; for because they lived according to the Word of God, they were brought prisoners to Enchuysen, and being built upon Christ, they all remained steadfast and faithful in all this trial and severe temptation; for which reason they were sentenced to death at said place, and offered up their bodies as a sweet savor to the Lord, thus obtaining a glorious crown.
With regard to this offering, we have not been able to ascertain the year in which it took place.
Among many others who voluntarily forsook and delivered up their property and life for the truth of the holy Gospel, there were also a brother at Wormer, in Waterlandt, named Jacob, and his wife Seli. These sought and also found the pearl of great price, which was hid in a field and for joy thereof renounced all earthly riches, the lusts of this world, and the papal superstitions, which militate against God, and sought to order and regulate their whole life according to this precious treasure of the divine Word. Thus it came to pass, that the envious papists, in order to stop this, apprehended them, and brought them to Amsterdam, where they had to suffer much for the truth. And as they could by no temptation be moved from it, but unto death adhered to Christ and His holy Word, they were condemned to death at said place, and burned, suffering it with great steadfastness. Thus they delivered their bodies up to the fire, and commended their souls into the hands of God, and are now waiting under the altar, until the number of their fellow brethren will be fulfilled.
As the Word of God was proclaimed in many places, and received with great thankfulness by many, it was also heard, believed and accepted in Waterlandt, on Krommeniersdijck. It wrought so effectually, that some were by it drawn away from their sinful life and dumb idols, and converted to the true and living God; which, among others, ap-
peared in the case of Jan Egtwercken, Claes Meliss, Aecht Meliss, William her husband, Heyne Walings, Trijn Amkers, Cornelis Luyts, Ciaes Dirks, Claes Claess, and Jonker Dirk Gerrits van den Busch. These together separated from the pope and his adherents, and put themselves under the faithful Shepherd Christ Jesus, inclining their ears to His heavenly voice, and preparing their bodies for His service. Rev. 18:4; II Cor. 6:17; John 10:4; 15:20. And as Christ predicted the cross and persecution to His faithful followers, so the abovementioned persons also richly experienced it; for they were apprehended and tormented by the bloodthirsty papists, and, after suffering many assaults, put to death, all of which they suffered in patience for the name of Jesus, thus obtaining the crown of life; and are now waiting for the revelation of Jesus, their Saviour for their full and eternal reward.
At the time of Zwinglius there was also one Balthasar Hubmor of Friedberg, whom the papists called a doctor of the Holy Scriptures, a learned and eloquent man. He was first a teacher and preacher at Ingolstadt, and subsequently came to Reinsburg, where he preached mightily against the Jews and their usury. Through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, the abomination of popery was made manifest to him, in consequence of which he, according to the counsel of God, separated therefrom. Subsequently he rejected, together with other errors, the self-invented infant baptism, and taught with all his might the baptism of believers, as commanded by Christ. But as the eyes of this dark world can not bear the clear light of the holy Gospel, and since in this way their false faith and evil works are testified against, the above-mentioned Balthasar Hubmor, together with many others, was hated and persecuted by the world. After many temptations, expulsions and imprisonments, he came to Nichlasburg, in Moravia. Afterwards they apprehended him and his wife, and brought them to Vienna, in Austria, where, after manifold trials and long imprisonment, he was burned to ashes, suffering it with great steadfastness, and his wife drowned; and thus both steadfastly confirmed with their death the faith which they had received from God. Eph. 2:8.
Read also Sebastian Franck, on the Roman Heretics, letter B.
NOTE.This Balthasar Hubmor published a small book, in which he complains of Zwinglius and his followers. He writes that they brought about, that at one time twenty persons, men, pregnant women, widows, and young girls were miserably cast into a dark tower, and this sentence passed upon them, that they should never more, in their lifetime, see either sun or moon, and conclude their last days on bread and water; so that they all,. deadand alive, should remain and decay together in the dark tower, until none should be left alive.
Thus some did not taste a morsel of bread for three days in order that the others might have something wherewith to sustain their lives., "O God," he further writes,"what a terrible, severe, and rigorous sentence against pious Christian people, of whom none could say any evil thing, only that they, according to the command of Christ, had received water baptism!"
O, sad deformation, we say, of the so-called Reformed! May the Lord forgive them and be gracious to their blindly zealous souls. See complaint o f Balthasar Hubinor, against Zwinglius, throughout; also, the Preface to the of erboeck, A. D. 1615, letter I., etc., also, Chron. van den Ondergdng, etc., p. 1031, col. 2.
In the year 1542, Brother Leonard Bernkop was apprehended for the faith, at Salzburg. Much was tried to induce him to apostatize, but as he steadfastly persevered in the narrow way of the truth of God, and there was no hope that he would apostatize; they condemned him to death, led him out to the place of execution, and built a fire close to him, at which they immediately roasted him; but he adhered firmly to the Lord, and said to the bloodhounds and executioners, "This side is roasted enough; turn me around, and scorch and roast also the other; for through the power of God this suffering is insignificant in comparison with the eternal." Rom. 8:18. Thus he gained the victory over the beast and his image, over the abomination of desolation and his mark. Rev. 15:2. Rather than receive his mark, or do aught which was contrary to God His heavenly Father, he, like the seven valiant and God-fearing sons (II Macc. 7), gave his body to be roasted and executed by fire, which could in no wise separate him from the love of God (Rom. 8:39), hence he shall also have in his hands the harp of God, and, together with all conquerors in the faith, who have come out of great tribulation, shall have his mouth filled with laughter, and his tongue with praise, and shall sing the new song with the servants of God, and the song of the Lamb, yea, he shall forever behold the Almighty God. Rev. 15:2; 7:14; 14:3. I Cor. 13:12.
In this year, Brother Hans Huber, or Schumacher, was imprisoned at Waserburg, in Bavaria, under the Count of Oting. Much having been resorted to, to draw him from the faith, but he remaining quite steadfast, constantly confessing and testifying, that this wherein he stood was the true ground of truth, and the true faith in Christ Jesus our Saviour wherefore he also said that it was not hard for him to suffer this for Christ's sake, and
was sentenced to death, and led out to the place of execution. The fire having reached his face,so that his hair and beard were singed off, they asked him whether he would recant, and they would let him live. He, however, would not recant, but remained steadfast in Christ. Hence he was immediately burnt alive, and thus faithfully paid his baptismal vow unto the Lord Christ, and delivered up his life as a true burntoffering for the Word of God; for he would rather lose this temporal life, than become unfaithful to the Lord, thus showing himself to be a steadfast lover of God.
About this time, a brother named Damian, from Algau, was apprehended at Ingolstadt, in order to draw him away from the faith; but when he could in no wise be turned from it, he was condemned to death. On his way to the place of execution, he admonished the people, and gave answer concerning his faith, so that a student said that one of two things was certain: that this man had his faith either from the wicked devil, Or from the Spirit of God, since his knowledge was so extensive, because to all appearance he was a!!!!simple man. Someone also admonished him, and asked him whether he would die as a pious Christian.
He again asked him, "What sign will you give us by which we may know this?"
The brother said, "Pay attention when they burn me; the smoke shall ascend straight to heaven."
This also came to pass.
When he was executed, the executioner. inquired the direction of the smoke, whether he had justly executed him. The judge answered, "You have, executed him according to your pleasure; I did not judge." Thus this witness of God and Christ obtained the martyrs' crown.
In Chronijk van den Ondergang, page 1104, col.- 2 and 3, we find these words
About this time the servants of antichrist caused a dreadful decree to be proclaimed throughout all West Friesland, in which all malefactors and murderers were promised pardon for their crimes, the favor of the Emperor, freedom of the country, and one hundred earl-guilders, if they would deliver vlenno Simons into the hands of the tormentors and executioners.
This decree, when properly considered, indicates the extreme wickedness and tyranny of the West Friesian Regents of those times, against those who maintained or, at least favored the true faith. Allmalefactors and murderers, who certainly, according to the laws of the country, were subject to very severe punishment, yea, to death, because of their crimes and murders, were here accounted better than a pious Christian, who injured no one; yea, their crimes were remitted them, and over and above this, ,a large sum of money, according to that time, was promised them, merely to deliver into the hands of the criminal judges, a single person, who maintained the true doctrine. How much may we suppose would they have promised them, had they been able to exterminate all orthodox believers, and, consequently, the entire church of God? We certainly have just cause for the belief, that this came down very severely upon the heads of the true witnesses of Jesus in general; that is, on those that resided in these regions; in regard to which we shall also show in the proper place, how very unmercifully the authorities there, through the instigation of some so-called spiritual persons, dealt with the innocent and defenseless sheep of the flock of Christ.
About the year 1544, George Libich was imprisoned for the faith and the divine truth, at Filleburg, near Innsbruck, and as this is a place of particular danger because of evil spirits, as is well known; this brother therefore had much to resist, and was:greatly tempted by the Evil One (I Peter 5:9), who tempted him in visible form. He especially tried him in various ways during the first year. Once he came to him in the form of a maiden, and, wanted to embrace him. When the brother knelt 'down and prayed, he put something into his way, to prevent his praying. He, also tried to take him off with him, but was not able to effect it. He further came to him in the form of a youth, and also in that of a soldier; thus trying many and various means; but when he could not accomplish anything; he went out of the tower at the top. He also told him much what happened among the church in the country; that he had conversed with such brethren. and that they had told him such and such things. But when brother George reproved him, he finally let him be in peace, and attempted but little with him afterward. But the enemy tempted him not only himself, but also though his children. Thus once there came to him one wearing the garb of a brother, and acting as one. He saluted him, saying, "The Lord be with us, my brother," and wished him peace, in order to seduce and deceive him by such craftiness. But George asked him whence and from whom he, came. He answered, "From Moravia, from the church of God." Then George asked him what message he brought, and how matters stood there. He told him that the church and the brethren were utterly driven away and dispersed; that each was separated from the rest, and that it was all over with
them. Then George perceived that it was deception, reproved him for his craftiness, of which he was well aware, and drove him away by his earnest admonitions, which in all probability he did not soon forget. Over and above all this, when all temptation from Satan and his children was about to come to an end, a sister named Ursula H-ellrigling, a beautiful young woman, who had also been apprehended for the faith, was put to him in prison, placed at the feet of George, and much of the tine left with him. It is easy to imagine, what the devil and his seed would have liked to see. But they [these two pious witnesses of Christ] were valiant and God-fearing; and could by no allurements be moved or caused to fall.
This George Libich knew beforehand the day and year when he was to be released. There were several others imprisoned near him, who were all liberated on the same day, returned to the church, and afterwards fell asleep in the Lord.
Sister Ursula, who was imprisoned with him, through the providence of God, also obtained release, and unharmed in her faith and conscience, returned to the church, and there fell asleep in the Lord.
In the year 1544, there was a sister in the Lord, named Maria van Beckum, whom her mother had driven from home on account of her faith. This. having become known in the Bishopric* of Utrecht, and reported to the Stadtholder, he sent one Goossen van Raesveldt with many servants,. to apprehend this maiden at her brother's, John van Beckum, whither she had fled: She was compelled to rise from her bed, and accompany them; and when she saw the great number of people who had come on her account, she asked Ursula, her brother's wife, whether she would go with her and keep her company. The latter answered, "If John van Beckum is satisfied, I will gladly go with you, and we will rejoice together in the Lord." When Maria put this request to her brother, he consented, and Ursula went with her. Here love was stronger than death, and firmer than the grave. Cant. 8:6. Her mother and sister had come from Friesland to see her; but this.could not move her, she took leave of them, for she chose to suffer affliction, rather than to have worldly joy; hence she went with her sister Maria. They were together brought to Deventer. There blind leaders came to them, who with subtlety sought to win them to human institutions. But they answered, "We hold to the Word of God, and do not regard the dictates of the pope, nor the errors of the whole world." Friar Grouwel also sought to teach them much, but was not able to prove his assertions by the Scriptures.
Now as he could not overcome them, he said"The devil speaks through your mouth, away with them to the fire.".
They greatly rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, and to help bear His reproach. Acts 5:41,
They were then brought to the house at Delden; where many efforts were made to cause them to apostatize, yet all in vain. A commissary came from the court of Burgundy, who greatly extolled the mass and all the institutions of the pope; but he could not prevail against the Scriptures which they adduced. He then asked them whether they were rebaptized.' They replied, "We have been baptized once according to the command of Christ and the practice of the apostles; for there is but one true baptism, and he who receives it, has put on Christ, and leads an unblamable life through the Holy 'Ghost; in the answer of a good conscience." Eph. 4:5; Gal. 3:27; I Pet. 3:21. He also asked them, whether they believed that Christ was wholly present in the sacrament. This they considered a blind question, and said, "God will have no likeness or image, neither in heaven nor on earth (Exodus 20:4); for He says through the prophet: 'I, even I am the Lord; and beside me there is no Saviour.' Isa. 43:11. But as regards the Supper, we find that Christ left it as a memorial of His death, with bread and wine; as often as we commemorate it, we are to show forth His death till He come." I Cor. 11: 26.
Now as Maria and Ursula regarded all the institutions of the pope as heresy, they were brought into open court at Delden, on the thirteenth of November, before the children of Pilate and Caiaphas, where they were sentenced to death, in which they rejoiced, praising God. When they were led to the stake, many of the people, seeing their steadfastness, wept. But they sang for joy, and said, "Weep not, on account of what is inflicted upon us.""We do not suffer," said Maria,"as witches or other criminals, but because we adhere to Christ, and will not be separated from God; hence be converted, and it shall be well with you forever."
When the time of suffering drew nigh, Maria said, "Dear sister; heaven is opened for us; for what we now suffer for a little while, we shall forever be happy with our bridegroom." They then gave each other the kiss of peace. Thereupon they prayed together to God; that He would forgive the judges , their sins, since they knew not what they were doing; and that as the world was sunk in blindness, God would have compassion on them, and receive their souls into, His eternal kingdom: They first took Maria; who entreated the authorities not to shed any more innocent blood. Then she fervently prayed to God, and also prayed for those who put her to death; whereupon she joyfully arose, and went with such great gladness to the stake, that it cannot be told, saying, "To Thee, O Christ, I have given myself; I know that I shall live with Thee forever. Therefore, O God of heav-
en, into Thy hands do I commend my spirit." The executioner swore because the chain did not suit him; but she said, "Friend, consider what you are doing; my body is not worthy that you should blaspheme Christ on account of it; repent, lest you burn for it in hell." The preacher, a teacher at Delden, turned Ursula around, but she turned back again, and urgently said, "Let me behold the end of my sister, for I also desire to receive the glory into which she shall enter."
After Maria was burned, they asked Ursula, whether she would not yet apostatize."No," said she,"not for death; I will not thus forsake the eternal riches." They would also honor her with the sword, but she said, "My flesh is not too good to be burned for the name of Christ." To one of her relatives she said, "Bid John van Beckum good night, and tell him to serve God, to whom I am now about to be offered." When she came to the wood, she clasped her hands, and said, "Our Father which art in heaven.""Yea," said the priest,"there you will find Him.""Because I seek Him there," she said,"I must die this temporal death. If I should confess Him in the bread, I might live longer." When she stepped upon the wood, her foot slipped."I think I am falling off," she said."Stop," cried the tyrant;"she means to apostatize.""No," said she,"the block slips from under me; I will not faint in the Word of God, but constantly adhere to Christ." Thus both remained steadfast unto the end, and sealed the Word of God with their death, in great patience and boldness, leaving us a good example.
An affectionate salutation in the Lord, to my beloved wife, whom I no longer love after the flesh, but after the soul. Hear my admonition
You know that as long as we enjoyed prosperity with Israel according to the flesh, we were ignorant of ourselves; but now that the good Father lays His hand upon us, we feel that we are sick, weak, miserable, poor, and naked. Therefore, my dear wife, take Jesus Christ for an example, and behold the way in which He went before us, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jas: 5:10; II Tim. 3: 12. Forget my flesh and all your sensuality and all your carnal desires, and pray to God for faith that you may overcome. And I will willingly give myself to the Lord in the same manner as He comforts my heart by His grace. You have yet time for amendment, but I am bound to His grace, in which I trust. Hence think not of what is past, but persevere with a firm confidence in the Lord; He will help you in everything for the best; give yourself up to this and always join yourself to those who fear the Lord, for this will be for your best interests. For"blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night." Ps. 1:1,2.
My beloved wife, the God-fearing speak of it, and thereby men depart from evil; for by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil, and through love every good thing is accomplished. Prov. 16:6: Awake, for we have both been negligent. Let the word of the Lord incite you to all good. Ask Him for His holy Spirit; who can comfort you; for the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18. For this is the trial which must be found in our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire. I Peter 1:7.
My dear wife, if we might have entered into the kingdom of God as we began, and have so long been doing, the way would not have been narrow. But our Saviour had to enter through suffering and anguish into His own glory,-how then will we enter by the broad way? For narrow is the way, says the Lord, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, and still fewer who rightly walk in it. Matt. 7:14. The good Father did indeed show me this way, but my evil flesh was too powerful and forced me away from it. Nevertheless, I hope to be saved through the grace of the Lord; for Paul says, "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." Eph. 2:4; I Cor. 13:3.
Consider what this charity is, and you shall be able to accept for the best whatever the Lord sends you. How should I be able to express it,..love is the nature of God; may it be with you and us all. I give it to you as an affectionate salutation: May the good and merciful Father shed it abroad into all our hearts, through His beloved Son. Amen.
Salute all dear friends in the Lord. Pray the Lord for me; all that He gives me, I will impart again. III John 14; I Thess. 5:25.
Know, my dearly beloved wife, that it is my will and testament to you in no wise to depart from the word of the Lord, but always to comfort yourself with it; for the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, if we continue in the faith. Oh, let us thereby overcome, and not turn away, and we shall receive the crown which the good Lord has promised unto all that love His appearing. II Tim. 4:8. If we desire to remain
here, we do not love His appearing; but if we ask Him for the Holy Spirit; the same will teach us in all things, and comfort and strengthen us through His grace, O let us pray; for through prayer we must receive everything. Hence, my dear wife, take no thought for the things that concern the body; but seek the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Herewith I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to strengthen and keep you in all temptation. The grace of the Lord be with you and us all. Amen. Bring up my dear children in the admonition of the Lord, this is my will to you; and associate with the good, for they prosper. Care not for temporal things; for that which is visible must perish. What you can get take with you, and commit the rest to faithful friends; and remove with your little ones far enough to be out of danger, from men. Bring them up in the admonition of the Lord, and keep with those that fear the Lord. Deut. 6:20. My dear wife, be well contented; if the Lord had taken me away by a sudden sickness, it would have been your duty to thank Him; do so now. I' leave you this as a testament. Watch every day of your life for the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. I Tim. 6:14. The grace of the Lord be with you. Amen.
My dear little children, Claes Jans and Gertrude Jans, I leave you this as a testament when you come of age. Hear the instruction from your Father. Hate all that the world and your carnal nature love, and love the commandments of God. I John 2:16. Let this instruct you, for it teaches, "If, any marl will come after me, let him deny himself;" that is; let him forego his own wisdom and earnestly pray, "Lord, Thy will be done." Luke 9:23; Prov. 3:5; Matt. 6:10. If you do this, the Holy Spirit will teach you all that you ought to believe. Believe not what men say, but obey the commands of the New Testament, and ask God to teach you His will. Trust not to your understanding, but trust in the Lord, and let all your counsel be in Him, and ask Him to direct your paths.
My children, how you are to love God the Lord, how you must honor and love your mother, and love your neighbor, and fulfill all other commandments required of you by the Lord, the New Testament will teach you. Matt. 22:37, 39. Whatever is not contained therein, believe not; but obey everything that is embraced in it. Associate with those who fear the Lord, who depart from evil, and who do every good thing through love. Oh, look not to the multitude or the' old custom, but to the little flock which is persecuted for the word of the Lord; for the good do not persecute, but are persecuted. When you have given yourselves to this, beware of all false doctrine; for John says, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ he hath both the Father and the Son." II John 9. The doctrine of Christ is: Love, mercy, peace, chastity, faith, meekness, humility and perfect obedience to God. Gal. 5:22, 23.
My dear children, surrender yourselves to that which is good, and the Lord will give you understanding in all things. I give you this as my last farewell. Regard the chastening of the Lord; for if -you do evil; He will punish you in your souls. Job 5:17. Hence desist, and cry to the Lord for help; and hate that which is evil, and the Lord shall deliver you, and you shall prosper. May God the Father, through His beloved Son Jesus Christ, give you His Holy Spirit, that He may guide you into all truth. Amen. John 16:13.
I, John Claess, your father, have written this while in prison for the word of the Lord. May the good Father grant you His grace. Amen.
MY DEAR WIFE, I request you to bring up my children, in all good instruction, to have my testament read to them, and to bring them up in the Lord, according to your ability, as long as you remain with them. And I desire of you, that you love neither, yourself nor your children more than the Lord and His testimony. Luke 14:26. Suffer not your flesh to overcome you. I Peter 2:11. If they do not tolerate you in this city, remove into another. Matt. 10:23. But this I earnestly request of you: always keep with the good; for blessed is he that associates with them. He who has always been the helper of the lowly, that is, the good Father, will help you. Luke 1:48. If you cannot stand alone, take a husband that fears the Lord (I Corinthians 7:2); but whatever you do, forsake not the Lord for a little mess of pottage. Gen. 25:34. May your excuse be never so great, but not for all Amsterdam forsake the Lord. By His grace I will not forsake Him for the whole world, and do you also likewise. Matt. 16:26. Oh, let us press our way through by force; I must, through the grace of the Lord, lose my flesh; forsake yours also. Matthew 11:12;16:25.
My dear wife, if we should consider suffering, we would never get out of it; but we must look beyond it to the eternal reward. I joyfully comfort myself in the Lord; do so also. The Lord might have taken me from my bed and you would have had to content yourself; how much more now, for you know not how long you will remain here? Therefore do as the Lord counsels you: be always ready for His appearing, and you shall be able to overcome all things, to those that overcome everlasting rest is promised. Rev. 21:7.
A firm faith, a sure hope of the eternal reward, and a burning love to God and our neighbor be with you and me, and us all. Amen. Matt. 21:21; I Peter 4:8.
Write to me immediately how you are, and I shall be the more comforted if you comply with my request. Pray; the Lord will be entreated; this I now experience. Pray together all of you, that the
will of the Lord be done in me and in us all. Amen. Matt. 6:10; 7:11.
Know, my dear brothers, Cornelis Claess, and Gerritt Claess, and my dear sister Adriaentgen Claess, that I affectionately desire of you, that you turn to the Lord, and forsake all your pride, covetousness, and all wickedness, as also all bad company, and be quiet, and associate with the good. Search the Word of the Lord, and ask Him for His Holy Spirit, and the same shall instruct you in everything which is needful for you. This will come to pass, if you deny yourselves and forego your own will; for the Lord says, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me." Therefore die unto all your lusts, and you shall never die, for the wages of sin is death. Col. 3:5; Rom. 6:23. But ask God for His Holy Spirit, who will so change your minds, that you will hate evil and shun it. Oh, my most beloved, hate that which is evil, and love the good, and God, who alone is good, will be with you. But if you will continue in your wicked sensuality, I testify to you from the mouth of the Lord, that you will condemn yourselves. Rom. 8: 13. But I am persuaded better things of you, though I thus speak. Heb. 6:9. Oh, keep what the Lord hath made known to you, namely, "Whatsoever' ye would that men should do' to you, do ye even so to them," and it will be well with you, and you shall prosper in every good thing. To this end may the good God help you, through Jesus Christ His beloved Son. Amen.
Be it known to you, dear brothers and sisters, cousins and relatives, and all my kindred, that I do not suffer as a thief, murderer or evildoer, but for the ordinance which the apostles of the Lord taught and instituted, namely the ordinance of the holy church, made fifteen hundred years ago, which Jesus Christ enjoined upon His dear disciples, and sealed with His blood, and which the apostles preached and taught, and confirmed with their blood. I Pet. 4:15; Mark 16:15; Heb. 9:14; Acts 2:14; 7:58; 12:2. My dear friends, do not be dejected or cast down on my account, because men say that I died as an Anabaptist and heretic. There is but one baptism given, and that upon faith; before faith God has not commanded baptism. Now someone might ask, "What I ought infants not to be baptized?" No; but they are nevertheless saved through the merits of Jesus Christ, and are baptized in His blood; for it is written, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." I Cor. 15:22. This is done through pure grace, without any sign. Acts 15:11. But my dear friends, the Lord has commanded to preach the Gospel, and they that believe it, are to be baptized.
Mark 16:16. He also commanded that the believers should observe His Supper, in remembrance of Him, in such a manner as He instituted, and the apostles practiced it. Matt. 26:26; Acts 2:42. Besides these, He.did not command them anything; no mass, no infant baptism, no auricular confession, nor any other outward worship. But He commanded to love God alone, to obey His Word, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Luke 10:27. Oh, where are they to be found who do this? Search the Word of God; there is no Christian who does not know this. You cannot maintain thereby, what they teach, namely, that you should continue in the holy -church. You must know what the holy church is, namely, the assembly of believers born by the Word of God (I Pet. 1:23); for you well know that no one can come into this world without being born, so no one can come into the future world, unless he is born -again as Peter declares, "not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." John 3:3; I Pet. 1:23. Oh, well for him who is born'of it! they that are thus regenerated, practice the true baptism and the true Supper. They also separate themselves from all who teach a scandalous doctrine, or live disorderly; they do not destroy their bodies, for this is not taught in the Word of God; but they avoid their company.until they repent (II Thess. 3:6); for they are the Christian church, the community of the saints; they have forgiveness of sins; for there is none other name given in heaven or on earth whereby they can be saved, but the name of Jesus; that is, through His merits. Acts 4:12. They believe and live only according to His ordinances. He did not kill those who did not believe in Him, neither did His holy church do this. But He and His own have been slain from the beginning, and thus it shall continue. Rev. 13:8. By this you shall know who are His own. Not those who boast of His name, and maintain their cause with the sword; but those that live according to the example of their Lord, and confirm their cause with the Word of God, which is the sword of the true believers. I Pet. 2: 21; Eph. 6:17. Now some might say, "What has become of the forefathers, who did not know better?" We leave this to God. It might also be said that the Lord promised to be with us even unto the end of the world. Matt. 28:20. He is always with believers-but never with unbelievers-namely, with His word and the right use of Iris signs, that is, baptism and the Supper, and will always be with those who walk aright, and live conformably to His Word.
Dear friends, at the time of the apostles there arose seven different sects among them, but the true doctrine was therefore not to be rejected. Now, though many wicked miscreants have arisen under the Gospel, the Word of God has not depreciated
he that would be saved must submit to it. Romans 9:6. In the time of the righteous Tobit all Israel worshiped golden calves, which king Jeroboam had
caused to be made; he [Tobit] alone adhered to the Lord his God, and did what He had. commanded him.
Friends, look not to the multitude, but to the Word of God, which will not deceive you."Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm; but blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord." Jer. 17:5, 7. I trust in this, that He prays to His Father, not only for those who were with Him, but also for. all them who shall turn to Him through the word. John 17:20. May the good Father, through His only San Jesus Christ, give you a true understanding, that you may henceforth learn to know Him. II: Tim. 2:7.
When John Claess, and. Lucas Lamberts, an old man of eighty-seven years, called grandfather, came into court, they greeted each other with a kiss.
John Claess said to the grandfather, "My dear brother, how do you feel?"
The grandfather replied pleasantly with a glad countenance, "Quite well, lily dear brother."
Then said John Claess, "Fear neither fire nor the sword; Oh, what a joyful feast will be prepared for us before the clock strikes twelve I"
Upon this they were separated.
The bailiff then said, "You are rebaptized."
John Claess answered, "I was baptized upon my faith, as all Christians ought to be, according to the Scriptures; read this." Matt. 28:19.
They said to 'him again, "You belong to the accursed Anabaptists, who originate strange sects, opinions, errors and contention among the people." Acts 16:20; 17:6.
John Class': "We are not such people; we, desire nothing else than the true Word of God; if I am to suffer therefore, I demand the seven judges."*
He was then asked whether he did not confess that he was rebaptized four years ago or thereabouts.
John Claess replied, "Three years ago or thereabouts I was baptized as all Christians ought to be."
The court said, "You acknowledge, it then?"
John Class, "Yes."
Court, "Well, since you confess it, we have full power from the seven judges."
John Class: " Can I not obtain the full court? it is granted even to thieves and murderers, why should it not be granted to me?",
The four judges then went out to pronounce the sentence.
Lifting up his voice, John Claess said, "O merciful Father, Thou knowest that we do not desire revenge" (Rom. 12:19), and he wrung his hands, saying, "O merciful Father, grant them Thy Spirit, that. Thou mayest not count this to them as wickedness." Acts 7:60,
The four judges now returned into the court, and sat down to declare the sentence, saying, "John Ciaess, a native of Alkmaar, who has taught the people false doctrines, errors and new opinions-"
Upon this John Claess answered, "It is not so."
The lords of the court then forbade John Claess to speak, and good John Claess observed silence, that he might hear his sentence. They then proceeded with their sentence, and said to the clerk, "Read his crime." He read that he had caused to be printed at Antwerp six, hundred books, which he had concluded with Menno Simons, and scattered abroad in this country, containing strange opinions and sectarianism, and had kept school and held meetings, to introduce errors among the people (Acts 17.:6), which is contrary to the decree of the Emperor, and our mother the holy church, and which it is not proper for my lords of the court to tolerate, but to correct.
Here John, Claess reproved them as before, saying, "They are not sectarianisms, but it is the Word of God." Acts 24:14,
Then the lords of the court said, "We sentence you to death, to be executed with the sword, the body to be placed on the wheel, and the head upon a stake; we do not sentence you, but the court does."
As John Claess went out of the court, he said, "You citizens bear witness that we die for no other reason than for the true Word of God." This occurred in the court. Having ascended the scaffold, John Claess audibly addressed the people with these words: ,"Hear, ye citizens of Amsterdam; lie it known unto you, that I suffer not as a thief or murderer, or because we have sought the property or life of others. However, do not understand me as justifying or exalting myself; but I come with the prodigal son, and depend only on the pure Word of God."
Upon this the executioner struck him on his breast. John Claess turned around, and exclaimed with a loud voice, "O Lord, forsake me not, now or in eternity. Lord, Thou Son of David, receive my soul."
Thus the dear brother John Claess confirmed the Word of God with his crimson blood, his head then being placed upon a stake, and his body on the wheel, as food for the birds and wild beasts. And the old grandfather of eighty-seven years, also willingly, for the truth of Christ Jesus, yielded his hoary head and beard to the sword of these tyrants. They now rest together under the altar.