In the summer of 1556 there was in the city of Nimeguen, a
faithful brother, named Gerrit Hasepoot, a tailor by trade.
Having fled from the city, on account of severe persecution, he
secretly returned, since his wife and children were still
living there. He was seen by the bailiff's guard, who reported
it to their master. The bailiff, a very bloodthirsty man;
immediately went after him, and took him with him. Thus this
friend of Christ had to separate from his wife and children,
and go into prison, tribulation and misery, for the name of
Jesus. When very severely examined by the lords of this world,
he freely confessed his faith, and was not ashamed of the
truth. Rom. 1:16. He was therefore sentenced to death by them,
that is, to be burnt at the stake, which sentence he received
very bravely. This having taken place, his wife came to him,
into the city hall, to speak with him once more, and to take
leave and bid her dear husband farewell. She had in her arm an-
infant, which she could scarcely hold, because of her great
grief. When wine was poured out to him, as is customary to do
to those sentenced to death (Prov. 31:6), he said to his
wife, "I have no desire for this wine; but I hope to drink the
new wine, which will be given to me above in the kingdom of my
Father." Thus the two separated with great grief, and bade each
other adieu in this world; for the woman could hardly stand on
her feet any longer, but seemed to fall into a swoon through
grief. When he was led to death, and having been brought from
the wagon upon the scaffold, he lifted up his voice, and sang
the hymn, "Father in heaven, I call
Oh, strengthen now my faith."
Thereupon he fell upon his knees, and fervently prayed to God. Having been placed at the stake, he kicked his slippers from his feet, saying, "It were a pity to burn them for they can be of service still to some poor person." The rope with which he was to be strangled, becoming a little loose, having not been twisted well by the executioner, he again lifted up his voice, and sang the end of said hymn
"Brethren, sisters, all, good-bye!
We now must separate,
Till we meet beyond the sky,
With Christ our only Head
For this yourselves prepare,
And I'll await you there."
The executioner again twisting the rope, this witness of Jesus fell asleep in the Lord, and was burnt, voluntarily surrendering for the truth, his perishable body, which he had received from God, and thus fought the fight, finished his course, and kept the faith, and there is now laid up for him the crown of eternal glory.
Previous to the year 1557, under the reign of the Palsgrave of the Rhine, several of those baptized according to the ordinance of Christ were cast into prison, and exiled from the country, as appears from the preface to the Frankenthalische Gespraech, and also in the preface to the Oude O,ferboeck, of the year 1616, letter Y, on the other side.
From this it appears that the Baptist Christians at this time had to suffer not only f rom the Romanists, but also from those who had forsaken the Roman church and many of her superstitions; from which it may be seen what great distress the church of God then had to suffer, insomuch that freedom of conscience was nowhere to be found, since among the papists they were deprived of their lives, and among other denominations of the liberty to practice their religious worship.
In the year 1557, a few days before Ascension Day, Brother Hans Brael, while on a journey, was apprehended in the Pusterthal, for the faith and testimony of Jesus Christ. Nearly a league from the castle, he met the judge, who not knowing him, rode past him, and saluted him, Hans Brael thanking him: but the actuary rode up to him, and asked him, "Where are you going and what have you been doing here?" He replied that he had been with his brethren. The actuary asked him whether the Baptists were his brethren."Yes," he replied. He then seized him, and the judge turned about, dismounted, and taking the brother's own girdle from his body, bound him with it and made him walk like a dog alongside of his horse, through mud and mire, for a whole league, until they arrived in the castle. He was so fatigued from walking, and from being bound so hard, that he could stand no longer, but fell down in the field, so that even the lord of the castle reproved the judge for having bound him so hard. There they examined him, taking from him whatever they found on his body, and put him into prison. The next day he was forthwith brought out, and the lord of the castle examined him himself, and asked him concerning his faith and baptism, and what he thought of the sacrament. When he made confession of his faith and the divine truth, they abandoned everything, and pressed him hard to recant. But when he plainly told them, not to count on his renouncing the truth confessed, they brought him back into prison.
Eight days after, he was brought out again, and the lord with six others examined him; but being unable to accomplish anything, they remanded him to prison. After another eight days they arraigned and examined him before the whole council, and the judge called his faith a delusion, and his church a sect. Acts 24:14. But Hans said, "It is neither a sect nor a delusion; but it is the church of God." The judge said, "It may be the devil's; how could it be God's church?" and became angry over it and said again,"On what account should it be called the church of God?" But Brother Hans boldly adhered to it, that it was the church of God. Then said the judge, "Since he knows who has come from the seignioralty of Innsbruck, we also want to know where those are whom they send out into this country, what their names are, who has fed and harbored them; all this we want to know." But he answered them, "We are not sent out to the harm or detriment of any one; but our calling is, that we shall seek the salvation of men and exhort them-to repentance and reformation (Matt. 10:5; Acts 2: 38); but the things that are asked here are not articles of faith, nor are they necessary to know; hence I do not wish to tell them, nor to accuse any one." The judge admonished him urgently, to spare himself, since his body should be tortured, if he refused to name the persons, and to confess who had harbored him. Hans asked the judge and the whole council, whether he could be considered good if he adopted the proposed means, and betrayed those who had shown him such kindness, by feeding and lodging him. The members of the council looked at each other, and said themselves that they should not consider it good, if it were done to them. But the judge became enraged, and asked whether he meant to charge the honorable council with requiring treachery of him, and again admonished him very solemnly, to spare himself, or they should deal very severely with him. But as he would not confess to them, they remanded him again to prison, to see what he should resolve upon.
After this they brought him forth again, and took him to the rack, where he himself took off his clothes, lay dawn before them, and patiently submitted to the!torturing ropes, so that the eyes of the bystanders filled with tears, and they could not refrain from weeping.
The executioner suspended him by the rope, but the judge earnestly admonished him to spare himself, and to indicate the persons required; but he said he would betray no one but would bide whatever God permitted them to inflict upon him. Then they tied a large stone to his feet. The judge became angry, when he perceived that he could accomplish nothing, and said, "You swear to each other that you will not betray one another." He replied, "We do not swear, but we do not betray any one, because it would be wrong." Then the judge said, "You are a rogue; I have detected you in a lie; why will you suffer yourself to be tortured." The brother said, "I am no rogue, and in what lie have youdetected me?" The judge said, "You said that you were no teacher, but we find that you certainly are one." He answered, "I am no teacher; but if I were one, I would not be ashamed of it; for it is an honorable thing before God." I Tim. 3:1.
Thereupon they left him hanging by the rope, and went away; but the executioner staid with him. In the meantime the officers assembled, and he was admonished to confess; or they would not cease racking him until they should have rent his limbs asunder. He replied that he would bide what God should permit them to inflict upon him, since they could do no more than God permitted them. The executioners said, "Are you not a fool, to think that God looks down to see what we are doing in this hole; for this would be ridiculous." Then the council returned and said that the lady of the castle had interceded for him, that they should torture him no longer, and, hence, they would let it rest; and they sent him back to prison.
Thereupon the lord very joyfully rode to Innsbruck, to the government, and when he returned, he had the priests dispute with and examine Hans for two days in succession, namely Saturday and Sunday, he himself being present. But when they could accomplish nothing by their various disputations, and false and deceitful doctrine, which it would take too long to relate, and he remained steadfast, and constantly confessed that that in which he stood, and would remain steadfast, by the protection and help of God, was the truth, the lord at last became exasperated at him, and said, "O you obdurate dog, I have tried all possible means and ways with you, and will still do so, and place you on a sharp pile, and see how you will trust your God in this trial." But he answered, "I shall not suffer on account of any wrong-doing, but only for the truth and the faith; and God will overlook no wrong." After three days they put him into a deep, dark and filthy tower, where he could see neither sun nor moon, nor daylight, so that he did not know whether it was day or night, only he perceived now and then that it was night, when it was a little colder in the tower than at other times. It was also so moist and damp in the tower, that his clothes rotted on his body, so that he became almost naked, and was without a single garment for a long time, only he had a coarse blanket that had been given him, which he wrapped around his body and thus sat in misery and darkness. The shirt on his body had so rotted, that he had not a shred left of it, except the collar, which he hung on the wall.
At one time when these children of Pilate had him brought out to try him whether he would not apostatize, the light so hurt his eyes, that he was glad when they let him down again into the (lark tower. There also proceeded such a fetid stench f rom the filth that was in this dark hole, that no one could stay in his presence; when they brought him in, they instantly had to go away from him again; yea, the councilors said themselves, that they had
never smelled such a horrible stench. Thus he lay in this filthy tower, in which were also many vermin and loathesome reptiles, so that at first he for a long time protected his head, with an old hat, which had been thrown to him out of pity. The tower, for a long time had not had an occupant; hence the vermin were very numerous, and they caused him much terror, until he got used to it. The vermin sometimes also ate his food, so that when they let down his food, he had to eat it all up, before he set down the dish; otherwise the vermin so covered it, that he could not well eat it. When he got a dish of soup, and set it down but once, they ate it up. in a moment in short, he could keep neither bread nor anything else; for as soon as the vermin smelled it, instantly they were at it. However, this was his least care, inasmuch as he was so tormented with hunger, no great abundance being given him so that he could easily eat it up, if he was only well. The vermin sometimes got also in his drink, and drowned therein, until he finally obtained a large stone, which he placed on top of his pitcher.
His chief affliction, however, in this great trial was, that he could get no tidings from the church or the brethren. At that time there was in the high country one Hans Mein, a servant of the Lord, who also had a great desire to hear some tidings from him. He sent word to him in the tower, that if it were still well with him, and his heart adhered firmly to God and his church, he should send him a certain token: and if he had nothing else, he should send him a little bit of straw, however little it might be. But such was the misery and poverty in which he sat that he could not even find that much in the tower. Then he bethought himself of his rotten collar which he had hung on the wall; lie was glad of it, and took the collar and sent it from the tower to his brother, as a token that he was still unchanged in his faith in God, and in peace with the church. When the brother received the collar, and thereby perceived his misery and poverty, he and his church felt great compassion for him, and after weeping bitterly and sorrowfully, they sent word back to him, that they were very willing to send him clothes or anything else, in his great poverty, if he only could get it. But he would not have it, because that if they had discovered it, they would have thrown him on the rack and tortured him again,. in order to get the names of others. Hence he sent them word, that he should let the garment ,of patience do him.
Thus he lay in this filthy tower all summer, until after Michaelmas, in autumn, when they saw that the frost was approaching; then they took him out, and put him into another prison, which could likewise not have been worse. There he had to sit, with one hand and one foot in the stocks,.for thirtyseven weeks, being unable to lie or sit properly, but only to stand; besides, he had to endure much reproach and ridicule from the ungodly, who said, "There lies a holy man; nobody is as wise as he; there he sits as a light of the world, and as a witnessof the people of God and His church," and such like taunting remarks.
Again, since he could get no comforting tidings from the church, God so ordered at that he was comforted. by the unbelieving; for on a certain occasion a nobleman came to comfort him, telling him to be courageous, and not to suffer himself to be intimidated since he well knew that he had the truth on his side, and that his faith was the true one, but that it were impossible to follow it, or to suffer what he suffered; whereupon the brother earnestly admonished him. Once it also happened that his soul was kindled in God, and he sent for the actuary who had, apprehended him, that he should come to him in prison. The latter very quickly came to him, sat down, and asked him what he wished, that he had sent for him. The brother said, "The sole reason is; that I cannot forbear showing you, that, as you well know, that you are the chief cause of my imprisonment and miserable sufferings, though I have never in all my life done you an injury." The actuary sat there frightened and dumb, saying not a word, save that he had to do it."The brother said: 'Yes, the judgment of God impelled you to it; because you were so bloodthirsty against the pious, it also fell to your lot to fulfill your judgment thereby. You have incurred a heavy judgment; God will certainly find you for this, require it at your hands, and punish you for your sins."' The actuary was dumbfounded and could not utter a word; so frightened was he; and thus he went away. About a fortnight afterwards he died very suddenly in the night, being both well and dead within a quarter of an hour. God had smitten him with great fear, so that he cried and moaned terribly, and lamented that he had done wrong and sinned.
Thus it goes with those, who will serve the devil and his minions. I say nothing of the fact that he was severely reprehended for this by his master and his mistress, and reaped the devil's thanks for it from his own; for they said to him, so loud that the brother heard it himself, "How came the devil so to possess you, that you would not let this man go, though you might easily have done so?" and they wished that the devil rather had carried him off, since he had committed this deed, for which he -at last had to pay so dearly.
In the same night that he died, a great joy came over the brother, so that with praying and thanksgiving he could not praise God sufficiently; for on that night it came into his mind that he should yet return to the brethren and the church. In the morning a servant came to him, and told him, that the actuary had died very terribly and suddenly during the night. Ps. 73:18. This having transpired with the actuary; the lord and his spouse were seized with great terror.
About eight days afterwards, the servant who attended to the tillage of the land came into the castle, and, towards evening, came to the brother, with the keys, and asked whether he hoped to get out.. He
replied, "I will see what you will do with me." The servant wanted to open the stocks, but could not find the right key. The brother told him not to do it, since it might go ill with him. But when he could not find the right key, he told him that he could set him at liberty, but it would probably not be at that time. The lady of the castle also sent a servant before the prison, who called to the brother, and said, "The gracious lady would have me tell you, that she will send for the judge and the jurate, and if you will say but two words, that you will suffer yourself to be instructed, and confess that you have erred, you will be set at liberty, and she will take upon her the sin which you commit by it, so that no guilt will fall upon you." But he replied, "She has sins enough already, let her desist from them: she needs no sins from others." I Tim. 5:22, 1. Hence he had to lie in prison and sorrow for another winter.
Then an order came from Innsbruck, from the council, which the lords came to read to him. It contained the following: Since he was so obdurate, and would receive no instruction, he should be sent to sea.; and thither he should go the next morning; there he should find out, how evildoers are stripped and scourged. But he replied that he would trust in God his Lord, who was on sea as well as on the land, to help him, and give him patience. II Cor. 1:9; Matt. 14:31.
They then let him out of prison, and walk about in the castle for two days, that he should learn to walk again; for he was not well able to walk, so greatly had he become impaired in the use of his limbs by imprisonment, stocks, fetters and bonds, in which he had lain for two years, less five weeks, having not seen the sun for about a year and a half.
He was then given in the custody of one of the servants, who was to take him to the sea. Hence he took leave from everyone in the castle, and exhorted them to repentance. The lady of the castle sent word to him that he should come to her, which he did. She called him into her study, where he took leave from her, and exhorted her also to repentance, and entreated her not to molest the pious (who do no hurt, in the exercise of their religion) and not to apprehend any more of them, to which she consented, and began to weep, so that the tears flowed down her cheeks, and said, "Nevermore in my life shall I lay hands upon them." She gave him some money for the journey, and dismissed him.
This servant then took him away with him. The servant was a wicked man; he called the brother a rogue on every occasion, or applied some other opprobrious epithet to him.
Having led him two days, the servant so filled himself with wine, in a tavern, at Niederdorf (for those present had so often drank his health), that, instead of going to bed to sleep, he stretched himself upon the table, and instantly falling asleep like a dumb beast, he rolled off the table.
Seeing this, the brother opened the door of theroom, and also that of the house, locked them again, and went away.
Thus did God help him to make his escape that night, which took place in the year 1559, and thus he returned in peace and with joy to the church of the Lord, his brethren. Subsequently he again went up into the country, several times, as the ministry of the divine Word had been committed to him.
From this it may be seen how God succors and helps His own, and how He can give to those who cleave to Him with a true heart, much strength and patience in suffering, through their strong faith, which would otherwise be impossible. II Tim. 4:17; Philip. 4:13; Matt. 17:20. And it is also seen how He casts out His enemies and adversaries, and knows where to find them; for not only did the actuary die a very dreadful death, as has already been stated; but, while Hans Brael yet lay in prison, the lord of the castle died suddenly; and the servant who was to take Hans to the sea, also died miserably, even before the brother left the country; and about two years afterwards also the judge died, yet not an ordinary, but a most miserable death. II Macc. 9:5.
In the year 1557, on Pentecost eve, there was burnt alive, at Antwerp, in Brabant, for the immovable foundation of the truth, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, Janneken Walraven, the mother of Jacques Walraven, who was a minister of the Word at Amsterdam, among the Baptists, and, consequently, well known to many. His mother, though one of the weaker vessels, I Pet. 3:7, was nevertheless not weak in faith, but valiant and steadfast, and fought the good fight of faith, and gained the victory through the grace of God, who never forsakes His own, but succors them, and goes with them through water and fire, lest they should suffer detriment to the salvation of their souls. Therefore, since she conquered with her bridegroom, by suffering and dying for His holy name, her immortal soul is under the altar with all the holy martyrs, and is patiently waiting for full salvation at the coming of her Bridegroom, when He shall appear in the clouds of the sky, to unite and glorify body and soul, and to make them like unto His own glorious body, that she may rejoice with Him forever.
At this time three other pious witnesses of the truth fell into the hands of the tyrants, at Haarlem, in Holland. They were Joriaen Simons, Clement Dirks, and a woman named Mary Joris. They all, as faithful servants, through the grace of God, steadfastly endured, at said place, hard imprisonment and severe examinations for the truth of
Christ, and did not, with the slothful servant, hide the talent which they had received, into the earth, but did very earnestly put it out upon usury, and boldly proclaimed from the door of their prison the Word of the Lord to the edification of everyone, and, moreover, through a hymn composed by them, made known the cause of their imprisonment; namely, that they did not suffer as thieves and murderers, or as such as coveted other men's property, but that they suffered only for the faith of the truth, and a pure conscience; and that they, on the other hand, because of the pure fear of God, could not follow falsehood. Of this they set forth the principal points in a hymn, as follows
1. That they with all true witnesses of God believe and confess, by virtue of the holy Scriptures: That Jesus Christ, blessed forever, came from above from heaven, and proceeded from God His heavenly Father, and is therefore pure and spotless, and is not of Adam's sinful and corruptible nature.
2. Because they were baptized upon their faith, according to the ordinance of Christ, and, on the contrary, confessed that infant baptism was not of God, but contrary to His Word; and that it is well known, from Christ's own words, that infants are fully in the grace of God, and in a saved condition, without baptism or any other ceremony having to be administered to them, they therefore hold, that all that is done by such means, as being necessary for the salvation of infants is nothing but vain human presumption.
3. Concerning the Lord's Supper, they confess, that they also observed it, according to the command of the Lord, and according to the institution of Christ, as He, blessed forever held it with His apostles; in which each is to examine himself well, before he goes to this table, and that Christ did not hold His supper with drunkards and adulterers, or with such of whom evil things were known, as is customary with the papists.
4. On the contrary, they emphatically rejected the papists' little piece of baked bread, or consecrated host, which they recommend to people as the true, essential Son of God, from whom to entreat grace and salvation in time of need; and confessed that they do grossly err, who worship such bread, or put any divine confidence in it.
5. Because they could not recognize the pope and the Roman church as the church of God, but opposed it and all its ceremonies; neither could they hold the traffic which they carry on therein, to be of God.
6. Because they recognized no other punishment of transgressors in the church, than evangelical separation; by which the evil can be kept away from the good, in order to present to the Lord a pure church, in which none that are unclean or polluted may dwell, but from which they are expelled. This church they confess to be the queen and bride of Christ.
By this and the like the fire of the Gospel burned so mightily in Haarlem, notwithstanding the violence of these tyrants, that in the very night when they were thus accused, a glorious exhortation was fearlessly preached to the edification of all, by the God-fearing Bouwen Lubberts, in Schouts' street; which exhortation did much good.
When, on the 26th of April 1557, the abovementioned Joriaen and Clement were brought forth to death, the common people greatly commiserated them; but they said, "Weep not for us, but for your sins, and repent truly." After they had offered up their prayer to God with a fervent heart, each was placed at a stake, and they said, "We suffer not for evildoing, but only for the obedience of the truth." And having, with a firm trust, commended their spirits or souls into the hands of God, they courageously offered their necks for the truth, and were first strangled, and then burnt; and thus they, to the consolation and joy of many pious persons, continued steadfast unto the end in the accepted truth of the holy Gospel.
When they had finished their tyranny by strangling and burning, they, in order to quench their doctrine, also thought to burn their books (for as old writers tell us, Joriaen Simons was engaged in selling books); but when the books were perceived to be on fire, there arose such an uproar among the people, that the lords took to flight, whereupon the books were thrown among the multitude, who reached for them with eagerness; so that, through divine providence, the truth, instead of being quenched, as it was sought to do, was spread the more, by the reading of so great a number of these books.
The above-mentioned Mary Joris also remained faithful in this trial, and likewise confessed her faith boldly before the lords, and was ready to surrender her life, together with her brethren, for the name of the Lord. But being pregnant, she had to wait until her delivery; however, the Lord ordered it otherwise-she died in travail, and was thus released from the flesh, so that these tyrants could not fulfill their desire with her. And thus she fell asleep in the Lord, with her brethren.
If any desire, let him read this account in the old hymn book, as put into verse by these witnesses themselves, in prison, as also by the pious Bouwen Lubberts.
May God through His great mercy grant to my son Simon, to grow up virtuously, and if the Lord permit him to reach the years of understanding, to confess Him, and having learned His will, to order his life in accordance with it, in order to
obtain eternal salvation, through His beloved Son Jesus Christ, together with the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My child and dear son, incline your ears to the admonition of your father, and hearken to my account, how and in what manner he commenced and finished his life.
The beginning of my life was unprofitable, proud, puffed-up, drunken, selfish, deceitful, and full of all manner of idolatry. And when I attained maturity, and began to be my own master, I sought nothing but what pleased my flesh, an indolent and luxurious life. I was greedy of filthy lucre; I sought to bring my neighbor's daughter to fall, as, alas! appears from my work; and what I did in secret, is too shameful to mention; yea, I was a vessel full of iniquity. But, my dear child, when I betook myself to the Scriptures, and searched and perused them, I found that my life tended to eternal death, yea, that everlasting woe was hanging over me, and that the fiery pool which burns with brimstone and pitch was prepared for me. This, I say, was approaching me, according to the words of Paul, who says, "They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal. 5:21.
When I took this to heart, I began to be greatly alarmed and frightened, and took the Word of God for my counselor, as to which should be the more advisable for me: to lead here, for a little while, a voluptuous life, and to expect the everlasting pains of hell; or to suffer here a little misery (if misery it can be called), and then to enjoy eternal happiness. I found in the Scriptures, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matt. 16:26. Hence, my beloved son, I deemed it better, like Moses, to suffer affliction with the children of God for a little while, than to live in every luxury with the world, which will perish. Thus I abandoned my ease, voluntarily and uncompelled, and entered upon the narrow way, to follow Christ, my Head, well knowing that if I should follow Him unto the end, I should not walk in darkness. Now, when I had partly forsaken and cast from me the old damnable practices, and wanted to be a new divine creature, and to lead a pious, penitent, godly life, I was immediately, like all the pious that had been before me, hated, yea, imprisoned in Haarlem, in St. John's gate.
This, my beloved.son, was my life till the Lord enlightened me. First of all, my dear child, I would affectionately warn, admonish and entreat you, to beware of and shun all wickedness, and to walk from infancy in the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom; and if God reveal His wisdom to you, hesitate not to walk in it, since death pursues the young as well as the old. Improve the time given you by God for repentance. Have your intercourse with the good, and beware of the perverse. If sinners entice you, consent not, and have no fellowship with them; refrain your foot from their path, for their steps take hold on hell. Hence, touch not pitch, lest you be defiled; for an evil enddraws nigh to the wicked, which will bear the burden everywhere. Of this and every evil, my dear son, beware, and remember that Paul says, that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (II Cor. 5:10), but the flesh will advise you to nothing good. Hence Paul may well say, "To be carnally minded is death, yea, they that are in the flesh, cannot please God." Rom. 8:6, 8. Therefore, mortify your carnal members here on earth. Read Paul, or have him read to you; he will tell you, which are the works of the flesh. Gal. 5: 19. If you have time and opportunity, use diligence to learn to read and write, that you may learn and know the better, what the Lord requires of you.
Beloved son, my heart's desire and prayer to the Lord for you is, that your soul may be protected from the deluge of God's wrath, that shall come upon all the ungodly who did not care for the Lord, and walked not in His commandments. This impending wrath of God you can escape in no better way than by looking to Jesus Christ, the Son of the Almighty and eternal Father, who is the Head and Pattern of all believers, yea, the Captain and Finisher of the faith, that is, Jesus Christ. Ask Him for counsel, as to what is best and most necessary for you to do, and He will tell you, knock at the door of His Holy Trinity, and worship Him; He will open to you, and give you what is needful for you. Have a desire and appetite for the truth, and you shall be satisfied. Seek not high temporal things; though they that obtain them, are called and commended as happy by the common people; they are nevertheless unhappy and rejected before God. Hence humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that you may be exalted in eternity. I Peter 5:5.
Behold how He fared, and likewise all the pious before and after Him; His birth was poor and miserable; immediately He had to flee from Herod, who sought His life; when He suffered, He had not where to rest His head, and the thanks for all His great and glorious benefits were that they called Him a deceiver, wine-bibber, Samaritan, and one who had a devil, besides, He had to expect being stoned by them, until they, when the time was fulfilled, condemned Him to the most shameful death. And previous to the law, pious Abel had to suffer from his brother Cain, who killed him, out of pure hatred and envy, because his brother's works were good and acceptable to God, and his own evil and rejected. And all the dear prophets, who practiced and maintained the Word of God, had likewise to suffer much, without any respect of persons. Micaiah, who alone was found true among four hundred false prophets, in the days of King Ahab, was beaten by Zedekiah, and afterwards cast into prison. I Kings 22:24. Elijah, the only true prophet among the four hundred and fifty false priests of Jezebel (I Kings 18:19), also had to suffer much; so that Paul may well say (for
he had experienced it himself) that all that Will live godly in Christ.Jesus, shall suffer persecution. II Tim. 3:11.
This also all other pious witnesses of Christ experienced, and remained steadfast unto the end; wherefore, according to the Scriptures (James 1
12), the crown is prepared for them, since Christ's own mouth declares that he that shall endure unto the end, shall be saved; he that overcometh shall inherit all things, shall be clothed in white, and shall eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of paradise. Matt. 24:13; Rev. 21:7; 2:7.
Consider this, my beloved son; meditate night and day, how to die unto the world, and to fulfill the will of Christ. In the first place, and before everything else, beware of all false prophets and hypocrites, which in my time were the priests and monks, and who, I apprehend, will not be lacking in your time, so long as rich emoluments follow them. Do not believe them, for they deceive men, and murder their souls. My son, he that wrote you this, learned it by his own experience and investigation; he drank of this cup himself. Neither live among any sect, of whom there were many in my time already, as Lutherans, Zwinglians, and others, who, though they have a good semblance, yet, in fact, are evil and deadly poison. Look for the little flock, whose entire rule of life agrees with God's commandments, and whose ordinance or sacrament is in conformity with the command of Christ and the practice of the apostles; this is the true church of Christ, without spot or wrinkle; this church is flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bones. These also have teachers according to the teaching of Paul (I Tim. 3:2), blameless in everything, who have obedient children and believing wives, who are strangers to litigations and processes, to cursing and swearing, to hatred and envy, to lying and cheating, to lasciviousness and adultery. There everything is love. peace, unity and truth, as Paul will teach you, which are the fruits of the Spirit.
My dear son and beloved child, this is my chief and last will, my testament to you, which I desire you to rea diligently, to meditate well upon it, and to compar~ it to the Scriptures, in order to govern your steps in accordance with it. Mark well, my son, what I write: many will appear in the garb of good teachers, saying that they have medicine for your sick soul; but the ones that will profit you, are those who have the truth; adhere to them. Water and fire are set before you: stretch forth your hand unto whether you will, unto death or life. Sirach 15:16. This, my dear son, will at first be very hard f or you to hear, since it is contrary to your first birth, which is of the flesh; but you must be born again, and converted, if you would enter into the kingdom of God. You cannot understand this so long as you are carnally-minded, yea, so long as you do not become the fool and enemy of the world. Dearly beloved son, I entreat you again, as I did before, to consider this, and to govern yourself, in accordance with it. Out of a faithful father'sheart I have left you this, when about to depart from this world, and to die for the Word of the Lord. May the Lord grant you, and all who read this, or hear it read, that they may take it to heart, act according to it, and be eternally saved.
My son's testament, written in the year 1557, the first Monday in April, and confirmed by death, the 26th day of the same month.
May God grant peace, joy and consolation in all trouble and suffering to all those who have to suffer for His Word, through His beloved Son, in the power of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
We would inform our most beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord, and all who seek to fear the Lord with the whole heart, that we are all (the Lord be praised forever) of very good cheer, and hope to adhere to the Word of the Lord, and not to depart from it, for any visible thing, yea, neither for life nor death, since there is nothing, we trust, which shall be able to separate us from the love of God; we shall be able to do all things through Him who strengthens us; we trust by our God to leap over walls. Rom. 8:35; Phil. 4:13; Ps. 18:29.
Dear friends, rejoice with us; why should we fear, when there are so many in the world, who, for a little gain, expose themselves to the greatest danger, both of soul and body, on water and on the land, not knowing withal, whether in case of success there will be gain or loss? But we know that when we have completed this journey by the help of the Lord, all is gain, and there can be no loss; for we run not as uncertainly; we fight not as one that beats the air; but we are assured by the grace of the Lord, that, if we fight through valiantly, as we trust we shall do, we shall receive that which is promised us. We intend to return to them fourfold; we shall not keep silence, but proclaim aloud, what the Lord gives and reveals to us. Our Sister Mariken is also of very good cheer, and has rightfully confessed her faith, to which she wants to adhere as long as there is breath in her; she is of such courage and good cheer, that she delights and rejoices us all. We exhort each other with the Word of the Lord, as much as God gives each to speak, now by words, now by hymns; yea, I have many hours in which I never once think of it that I am prisoner; such is the joy which the Lord gives us. I thank you with all my heart, that you have fulfilled my request,. also for your affectionate exhortation. Do the best you can as regards my H. F. I commend you to the Lord, and to the Word of His grace.
Our most beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord, and all who desire to fear .and follow the Lord with all their heart, we, the prisoners in the
Lord, wish you a valiant and.steadfast mind, and perseverance in the truth, unto the end; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Saviour and Redeemer, in the power of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Greatly beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord, be it known to your love, that through the grace of the Lord we all strive for the best, seeking it with the whole heart, so that we want to offer ourselves up into the hands of the Lord, whether it bring . us life or death. We also seek with the whole heart, that the Lord will magnify His glorious name through us, and we keep before our eyes the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus. We know that the servant is not greater than his lord. It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that if we suffer with Him, we shall also rejoice with Him. To this all the pious witnesses of Christ had respect, and unto His great promises, which we have in the Old Testament, and which were given to the pious fathers, who hoped for the grace that should come, and therefore valiantly fought for the law of God; and would have no intercourse with the surrounding nations, and there fore voluntarily surrendered their lives, because they would not worship or honor their molten or carved images; even as pious Eleazar, who would not eat swine's flesh, contra to the law. II Mace. 6:18. By the grace of the Lord we hope to take His salutary words for our pattern, namely, that it is best to adhere to the Lord; for though through hyp9crisy (from which God preserve us) we should save our lives, yet should we not escape the Almighty hand of God, neither alive nor dead. Therefore we will surrender ourselves entirely into the hands of the Lord, as did the pious Maccabean mother and her seven sons (II Mace. 7:1); and as did all the pious witnesses of Christ, who 'even rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. Acts 5:41: Thus, beloved brethren, we are minded in the Lord, and not otherwise. We trust by the grace of the Lord to be unto the weak babes that still feed on milk, an example of piety and steadfastness.
This was written by me on Monday, after I had been before the lords twice, and been interrogated whether I would adhere to my confession.
Our greatly beloved brethren. and sisters in the Lord, and all who want to fear and follow the Lord with the whole heart, we, the prisoners in the Lord, wish you that the gracious heavenly Father will preserve you from all harm from within and without, through His dear, beloved Son Christ Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Dearly beloved brethren in the Lord; faint not, though you now have to wander from friends and kindred, house and home, not knowing whither you shall go, since the heat of the sun now begins everywhere to scorch the seed that has sprung up. Matthew 13:6. Brethren, be not cast down; let the seed in you get.and retain moisture; sit under the shadow of the Scriptures, and they will be a glorious protection unto you. We know that we mustthrough much tribulation enter into the kingdom of heaven. When the head suffers, all the members suffer with it; hence, if we would be members, of Christ, we must also be partakers of the sufferings of the Head; if we, then, suffer with Him, we shall also rejoice with Him.
Therefore, dear brethren, if the Lord suffer you to live for awhile longer among this wicked generation, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear; stand out as lights in this evil, wicked world, and let your faith manifest itself in works, else it is dead. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the Captain and Finisher of the faith; He is the only cornerstone in Zion, and other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown. We commend you to the Lord; may He.guide you into all truth.
I, Joriaen Simons, your dear brother, and my dear fellow prisoners, wish you every good thing, and we seek the best with all our heart.
As we, through the secretary of the city of Haarlem, have come into possession of the sentence of death passed upon the afore-mentioned friends Joriaen Simons and Clement Dirks, we deem it well, here to adduce the same, so that everyone may be fully assured with regard to the foregoing account. It reads (except the title) as follows:
Sentence o f death of Joriaen Simons of Hallmen,
and Clement Dirks of Haarlem
Whereas. Joriaen Simons, of Hallmen, in Friesland, and Clement Dirks, of Haarlem, both weavers, and now prisoners, have confessed, without torture and iron bonds, to have been rebaptized, and to hold most pernicious views with regard to the worthy, holy sacraments of the altar and confession, and to the circumstances and ceremonies of the holy church, and have:also undertaken, said Joriaen to sell and distribute divers false books, and Clement to read and teach them, and since both continue stubborn, obstinate and hardened in said errors and pernicious views, therefore, the lords of the court, having heard the address and conclusion made by Pieter van Zouteland, bailiff of this city, against and concerning these persons, pursuant to the decrees and edicts of his Royal Majesty, last confirmed by his Royal Majesty, our gracious lord, have condemned said Joriaen Simons of Hallmen, and Clement Dirks, as rebaptized heretics and disturbers of the common peace and.of the Christian religion, and hereby sentence them, each to be placed at a stake, and executed with fire, pursuant to the aforesaid decrees and edicts, and, declare the entire property of said Joriaen, and the property of said Clement Dirks to the sum of sixty pounds, and no more, if it exceed said sum, confiscated and forfeited, according to the privilege of this city, for the benefits of his Royal Majesty. Thus resolved, the 26th of April, A. D. 1557, by Joost van Hitgem, and Dirk van Berkerve, Burgomasters, Wilm Harmans Ramp,
Jan Koninks, Jan Matthijss, Jan Raet, and Adriaen Willems, judges, and pronounced in the court the same day in the presence of the bailiff and the afore-mentioned judges.
Extracted from the first book of criminal records, beginning the 29th of November, 1539, and ending the 27th of October, 1582, in the keeping of the secretary of the city of Haarlem, with which book this copy is found to agree.
By me, the undersigned secretary of said city, the 10th of July, A. D. 1659.