Joris Wippe, when he still lived in the darkness of popery, was a burgomaster at Meenen in Flanders, his native place; but having subsequently come to the knowledge of the Gospel, he had to flee the country, and went to live at Dortrecht, in Holland, where he established himself as clothdyer. When he had lived there for a while, and was becoming known, he, through the instigation of the enemies of the truth, was summoned to appear before the lords in the large church. Somewhat alarmed on this account, Joris consulted with several drapers, for whom he dyed, and who were men of influence, as to what he should do. They, placing entire confidence in the magistracy, deemed it advisable that he should appear before them, and hear what they had to say to him.
When he came there, and the lords saw him, they were filled with consternation, and would have preferred that he had taken their summons as a warning to secretly make his escape, since they did not thirst much for innocent blood; but as he had appeared, the bailiff, when Joris was about to leave the church, seized him as one who, according to the imperial decree, had forfeited life and property. This happened on the 28th of April, 1558.
After his apprehension, the lords tried every means to save him from death; he was sent to Gravenhage (that is, to the court of Holland), and there examined; but as he was a resident of Dordrecht, and had been apprehended there, he was sent back thither, and ultimately put to death there.
He left behind him a good testimony as regards his liberality to the poor; for when he was sentenced to death, the executioner lamented with tears in his eyes, that he had to put to death a man who had so often fed his wife and children, and would rather forego his office, than put to death this man, who had done so much good to him and others, and had never harmed any one. Hence he was finally drowned, in the night, in a wine cask filled with water, by one of the thiefcatchers, who, at the command of the lords, performed the executioner's office on him, pushing him backward into the water. Thus he offered up -his life to the Lord, on the first of October, being forty-one years old. The next day he was hung by his feet to the gallows, in the place of execution, as an object of derision to the people, being thus, like his Master, numbered among the malefactors. The day following, several criminals were scourged and banished; whereupon the executioner, after he had executed this punishment, still lamenting the death of Joris Wippe, said, "They have crucified Christ, and released Barabbas."
He wrote several letters in prison, three of which have come into our possession. He doubtless would have written more; but great watchfulness was exercised that he should have no ink, so that
he wrote his last letter (to his children) with mulberry juice.
NOTE.-Inasmuch as we, after long search in the archives of this city, found the sentence of death of this friend of God, Joris Wippe, and copied it ourselves from the criminal records of this city, we deem it well to add it here, so that the truth of the above account concerning the death of this man may appear the more clearly and incontrovertibly.
Sentence of death of Joris Wippe done and pronounced in the chamber (of justice), the 4th o f August, 1558
Whereas Joris Wippe, Joosten's son, born at Meenen, in Flanders, has dared to have himself rebaptized, and has held* pernicious views concerning baptism, according to testimony and truth, and all the evidence which the judges and the council have seen and heard with regard to it, and according to his own confession, therefore, he shall, to the honor of God,t and the edification of the lords and the city,*** be drowned in a cask, and his body then be brought to the place of execution, and there be hung to the gallows, and his property shall be confiscated, and placed in the lord's exchequer.
Extracted from the book of criminal records of the city of Dortrecht, commenced on the last o f October, 1554, and ended on the 16th of June, 1573
This is the first sentence of death publicly pronounced upon any one with regard to matters of faith, which we found in this book. As to whether it was pronounced in the chamber of justice, in the presence of the lords alone, or publicly proclaimed in court, before all men, is not expressed; nor is it of much importance to know. This much is certain, that his death resulted in consequence.
But since, according to the testimony of old writers, the executioner was not willing to execute this man, and the lords of justice themselves were not a little troubled in this matter, though they had allowed themselves to be persuaded by the priests and monks, the execution of the sentence pronounced was postponed for over seven weeks, namely, from the 4th of August until the first of October, A. D. 1558.
The following night, having commended his soul into the hands of God, he was drowned in a wine cask, by,one of the thiefcatchers, as related above, in the Vuylgate at Dortrecht, where he was imprisoned.
Further Observation.-According to John van Beverwijck's account of the government of the city of Dortrecht, the following persons sat in court when sentence of death was passed upon this pious man
Adriaen van Blyenberg Adriaens (who also sat in court when sentence was passed upon Digna Pieters), bailiff of Dortrecht; together with nine judges: Mr. T. Schoock Sir Pieters; Cornelis Krooswijck Jans; Frans Anthoniss; Mr. Aert van der Lede Sir Staess; Willem Boucquet Blasiuss; Adriaen van Nispen Gerrits; Frans Adriaens; Heyman van Bleyenbergh Adriaens; Cornelis van Beveren Claess.
But whether they all unanimously passed this sentence, is not stated; however, it appears that the majority concurred therein, which can not have taken place without grief and compunction of conscience on their part, since but a short time before they had sought to get rid of the doomed man, and for this purpose had sent him to the Hague, to the court of Holland, that he might be judged there; but when he returned they sentenced him to death -certainly a lamentable matter on their part; but on the part of the martyr a matter of rejoicing, since death was for him the entrance to an eternal and blissful life.
The eternal joy and gladness which ear has not heard, nor eye seen, nor has entered into the heart of man, this same joy and gladness I wish you my dearest wife and sister, whom I love in God, for a heartfelt salutation. Amen.
My most beloved wife and sister in the Lord, I wish you the joy of the Holy Ghost in your heart, for a heartfelt greeting in God our Saviour and Lord; which joy of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law; and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Gal. 5:22-24.
Therefore my dear wife in the Lord, take heed to yourself, that you abound with this precious Spirit; for of that with which one is filled He will bring forth. Regard not the joy and pleasure of this world;"for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Gal. 6:7, 8. O dear sister in the Lord, let us"no be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Gal. 6:9. Hence, pray always with all prayer, watching and supplication in the Spirit, in all your requests to the Lord (Eph. 6:18), and let your modesty and obedience, and your love to God, be an example and pattern to all our dear obedient children, whom the holy Lord has given us, to the praise and glory of His Father. And use diligence in teaching and admonishing them; and chastise them, lest the Lord requires them at your hands. Do your very best, so that I may see you all again at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:14. Be
well content, and always fix your heart and mind upon the living God; for He will not forsake the widow and the fatherless; but His eyes behold the afflicted widows and fatherless, and His ear is open unto their prayer. Hence, be patient, and commit all your concerns to the Lord; He will be a kind Protector to you. If you remain faithful to Him, He will be faithful to you; He will not be wanting on His part.
I further let you know, that my mind and heart are still fixed upon the living God, and I trust by His great mercy not to separate from Him, and I daily wait for my redemption. I thought that your sister had just come in time to witness my offering. I knew nothing to the contrary for a time; but my hour had not come yet- the Lord knows how to reserve His own for the proper time. O dear wife, pray the Lord for me as long as I am in this poor, weak flesh. I trust to remember you also in my prayers, and I most affectionately thank you in the Lord for sending me so kind an exhortation, which is food for the soul; I also thank you for the temporal things.
Herewith I commend you to Almighty God, and to the Word of His grace. Amen. Greet all the brethren and sisters much in the Lord.
Written by me, Joris Wippe, your husband and brother in the Lord, imprisoned at the Hague, in Holland, for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Everlasting joy, grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, and the joy of the Holy Ghost in your heart and conscience, be with you, my most beloved wife and sister in the Lord;J wish it to you as an affectionate salutation in the Lord, and to all our dear children, whom God has given us; to Him be praise forever and ever. Amen.
My most dearly beloved wife and sister in the Lord, I salute you with a loving heart in the Lord with the salutation of Christ, and also all my dear obedient children, whom the holy Lord has given us to the Oraise .and glory of His. Father. My most beloved wife in the Lord, I also inform you with joy that my mind, heart and soul are still fixed upon the living God and Father, through Jesus Christ His dear, beloved Son, our Saviour; and I trust, through His fatherly lave, which He shows to me poor, unprofitable servant, through His great mercy, not to separate from Him and His holy Word; for His Word is truth, and His commandment, life everlasting. He went before us with much misery and tribulation; we must follow His footsteps, since the servant is not above his Lord. For He has so kindly admonished us with regard to this, saying, "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you, if they have excommunicated me, they will also excommunicate you; and all these things will they do- unto you, becausethey have known neither me nor my Father." John 15:20, 21.
Hence, my dear wife, whom I love in God, be well content, and fix your whole heart and hope upon the living God; He will not leave you an afflicted widow, with all your fatherless children; for His eyes are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry, and He will succor the cause of the widow and the fatherless. Ps. 34:15.
Therefore, my dearly beloved wife, take the Almighty God for your Protector, and plant a valiant spirit into your heart, like the Maccabean mother with her seven sons. II Macc. 7. Pray the holy Lord for wisdom and understanding, and in all your concerns pray God with supplication in the Spirit, that you may bring up all our olive plants (Ps. 128:3) to His honor and the magnifying of His holy name, so that they may not be required at your hands. So far you have done your best with admonishing and chastising; keep them thus with the Lord's help. Always submit yourself to the elders of the church; for they watch for your souls [as they that must give account] that they may do it with joy. Heb. 13:17. And if you need counsel or help in any matter, consult with the elders, as we have hitherto done. Use hospitality and forget not to communicate. I Peter 4:9; Heb. 13:16. Think often of the poor, afflicted widow (Matthew 12:42; 43), who threw but two mites into the treasury;-Verily, said Christ, she hath cast more in, than they all-that you may be found a true widow before the Lord, who has washed the saints' feet, relieved the afflicted, brought up children in the fear of God, and diligently followed every good work. I Tim. 5:10. Pray the Lord diligently to rule you with His divine Spirit, since He is the true Comforter of all the children of God; that you may live your widowhood to His praise and honor, as long as it is His pleasure. I sincerely thank you people much for the love you have shown me in the kind exhortation you have sent me. I have also very earnestly prayed the Lord for you, and hope to do so .as long as I shall be in this temporal life. Remember me also in your prayers, until I have put off this mortal clothing. II Esd. 2:45.
Herewith I commend you people to Almighty God, and to the Word of His grace, and take leave forever until at the resurrection of the just. Then, I trust, we shall meet in. one fold. Then shall we hear the sweet voice of our Bridegroom, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Matt. 25:34. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power. But we shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years; for Christ is the resurrection and the life, and we must be partakers of Him, if we are to hear that voice. Rev. 20:6; Rom. 8:11.
Salute me the friends much in the Lord, especially those of Meenen, and Claes Moykaert and Janneken his wife; and greet Victor Martens-I
saw him at Dordrecht, when I lay in the den of lions-and greet all that fear the Lord, and exhort them to diligence, that we may all meet together in the new Jerusalem. The God of peace be with you. Phil. 4:9. Greet your sister much and all that are with her.
Written by me, Joris Wippe, your husband and brother in the Lord, in bonds at the Hague, in Holland.
My dearly beloved and obedient children, I wish you an honorable, virtuous and godly life in the fear of God, all the days of your life, to the praise of the Father, and the salvation of- your souls, as an affectionate greeting. Amen.
My most beloved sons, all three of you, you are well aware now, I trust, that I am in bonds here for the testimony of Christ our Saviour, to the praise of His Almighty Father, and wait with patience daily, when it pleases Him to offer, up my body and soul to the magnifying of His holy name. I entreat you, my dear sons, with aged Tobias, that you will honor your poor bereaved mother, who is deprived of everything for the name of the Lord, all the days of your life; for she brought you forth with great suffering and pain, which I well know, and has with great care and diligence helped to bring you so far with the help of the Lord. Tob. 4:3. I have also been your protector hitherto, with great care and diligence to bring you up in the fear of God, to His honor. Now it is the will of the Lord, that we must part; but let it not grieve you. For if you pursue virtue, and walk in the fear of God, and keep His commandments all the days of your life, we shall hereafter, meet in one fold (John 10:16) with all God's chosen children, at the resurrection of the just. And I admonish you with Tobias, that you will fear God all the days of your life, never consent to sin, nor transgress God's commandments; and that you will eat your bread with the hungry, and give alms of that which the Lord gives you. In short, I give you the same testament which Tobias gave his son; you are able to read. I pray that you will often read it. And all that our holy fathers commanded their children, I also leave unto you; may you diligently observe it. And I now bless you all my obedient, most dearly beloved children, with that God with whom Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all God's chosen friends, blessed their children. Further, I admonish you Joos, as my eldest son, that you and Hansken, my second son, will be the protectors of your poor mother, in the fear of God, all the days of your life. And I also charge you, Barbertgen, my dear daughter, to be obedient to your mother, and to help care for all your little sisters, and for Pierken. Learn also to read, and be diligent in every good work, that you may, spend your life in holiness and in all thefear of God, like Sarah, the wife of young Tobias (Tobit 3:15), and associate not with the wanton and frivolous daughters of this world, whose end will. be destruction; but be sober, honorable and just in all your dealings, so that you may be prudent, being adorned with every virtue, and that where Christ our Bridegroom comes you may be ready with the five wise virgins, to enter with the Bridegroom into the kingdom of His Father. And now I charge you, Joos and Hansken, that together with Barbertgen, your obedient sister, you will care for your three little sisters, and for Pierken, and teach them to read and to work, so that they may grow up in all righteousness, to the honor of God and the salvation of their souls. Be diligent to work with your hands that which is honorable, remembering the words of the apostle, "It is more blessed to give than to receive;" so that you may not be burdensome to any through idleness. Eph. 4:28; Acts 20:35. Remain with your mother as long as it please the Lord, and in all things show yourselves a pattern of.good works. Tit. 2:7. But if ye be servants, I exhort you, to be obedient to your lord or master, and to please them in all things, not answering again, not purloining, but showing good fidelity in all things; that you may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. For the grace of God .f that bringeth salvation] hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Tit. 2:914. I admonish you all, my dear children, that you will do this; and comfort your mother, and often, when you have time, read to her a chapter or two. And spend the -time which God gives you, in all sobriety and righteousness, with prayer and supplecation to God, that He would keep you from the evil. Have no fellowship with the children of this world, that you may not become partakers of their evil deeds; always walk with wise men, and you shall become wise, namely, strong and very bold, so that you may eschew evil. Do all things according to the law of God, and depart neither to the right nor to the left; neither add nor take away therefrom, so that you may walk wisely whithersoever you go. Be not terrified; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go, and will be your Protector. Always speak the truth, and let not your mouth become accustomed to lying, for the mouth that belieth, slayeth the soul; but when you speak, speak the Word of God, and .the Lord your God will bring you from righteousness to righteousness; for nothing is hid before Him; His eyes are as a flame of fire. Zech. 8:16; Lev. 19:11; Rev. 1:14.
Herewith I take leave from you forever, my dear children, until at the resurrection, and commend
you all to Almighty God and to the Word of His grace. Amen. And may God's Spirit ever be present with you, to comfort and strengthen you in all righteousness.
Written by me, Joris Wippe, your father, imprisoned at Dordrecht, in the huylgate, for the testimony of Jesus Christ.