This Jan Bosch, commonly called Jan Durps, was a pious, honorable man, and a linen weaver by trade. He lived at Maestricht, and though the divine knowledge of the truth was greatly es tranged and obscured, the light of divine grace appeared unto him, and the true evangelical truth was presented to him, and he thus joined the church of the Lord, fulfilling the obedience instituted and commanded by Christ, the Son of God (Mark 16:16); and as he for a time gave good heed to his calling, it was entrusted him of the church, and he was ordained, that he should take the oversight somewhat of the church, and minister to her with the Word of the Lord, by reading as well as exhorting; which, when he, though with much reluctance, had consented, he faithfully did, putting his talent to usury, to the best of his ability.
As this tended to the glory of God, and to the edification of the church, Satan, who is ever the enemy of everything that is good and God-pleasing, sought to destroy this good work, and to this end inspired his ministers to report this good man to the authorities, as a heretic and Anabaptist. The authorities, deceived by this spirit, thought they were doing God service, and proceeded with rashness. One of the burgomasters, in broad daylight, went with the constables to the place where Jan Durps, under his master, was working at the loom
he apprehended him, and, leading him through the city, brought him to the Landtskroom (the city hall), and imprisoned him there. He was immediately examined by priests and monks, who approached him in many ways. He plainly confessed his faith to them, and that he was baptized upon faith in Christ Jesus; also, what he thought of the sacrament. All this he confessed according to the Scriptures, reproving the idolatry which they committed therewith.
When this petty council and the priests had examined him, and he had confessed his faith, and immovably adhered to it, they deemed the case so grave as to be criminal in its nature; 'hence they delivered him to the lords through the bailiff. These took him, and put him in prison, in which Jan remained for a time in confinement. In the meantime his wife sent him a letter, in which she exhorted him, to be of good cheer in his sufferings, and to adhere faithfully to the truth unto death; which he very thankfully received, comforting, in return, his wife, and exhorting her, and the friends together, that they should adhere to the truth, and continue therein unto the end; he also earnestly requested the prayers of the faithful. He suffered many tortures, because they sought to extort from him who, in the city, were his brethren and fellow believers. But the Lord kept his lips, so that not a single name could be obtained from him, however greatly he was tortured for it.
The time having arrived, sentence was pronounced upon him, namely, that he should, according to the imperial decree, be burnt alive to ashes; to which he listened with good cheer, and submitted to it, suffering himself to be bound, and led between many sergeants armed with sticks and halberds, which now and then descended upon the
head of some individual approaching Jan too closely, in order to hear his words; for on his way from the prison to the hrijtho f, Jan spoke much to the people, telling them to remember that a man had been among them, who had told them the truth. He urged them hard to repent, amend their life, and seek God's grace. When he arrived in the Vrijthof, where the scaffold had been erected, said place was found to be filled with arquebusiers fully armed, all the four companies of arquebusier s of the city having been commanded to appear there with their arms. Jan artlessly ascended the scaffold, too, and was led into a hut by the executioner, who then set fire to the same in several places. As Jan stood in the flames, he cried aloud several times, "O Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit" and was thus burnt to ashes as a faithful witness of Jesus Christ. This took place on the 23d of September, in the year 1559.
Confession of Hans Vermeersch, written: by him while imprisoned at Waesten in Flanders, A. D. 1559
In October, A. D. 1559, I was brought before the inquisitor to confess my faith before him. He demanded to know my age, my name, and'where I had been; he then asked me whether I was rebaptized. I said, "I know but one baptism, as is written in Ephesians (4:5); which is the baptism of believers, as is stated by Matthew and Mark, in their gospels. And also as Peter said (Acts 2:38, 41) to the people that heard it, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized." Mark, in the same chapter, and read with attention, "They brake bread; fear came upon them; they were all of one soul, and had all things common;" all of which an infant cannot do. Verses 42, 43; and 4:' 32. He then asked me why I believed that the Gospel was true. I replied, "Because every word is established in the mouth of two or three witnesses." Deut. 17:6; Matt. 18:16. Now there are four evangelists, as Matthew; Mark, Luke and John; who all together testify and speak of one Christ and Messiah, who is the Son of God, and God is His Father. That there is a God, is also clearly seen from the creation of the world, and the signs. and wonders which we daily behold, as causing corn, grass, apples, cherries, nuts, etc., to grow as may be seen. That the Gospel is true may further be seen from this: I have read that Christ says, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely; for my name's sake." Matt. 5:11. Christ also says "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake," 10:22. When I read this, I believed it, and now I find it to be true in me and in others, and believe that the Gospel is true. Now everyone may know, see and: understand that it is as Paul says, "All that will live godly: shall suffer persecution." II Tim. 3:12. Hence I say, "By all these witnesses, who cannot lie; we may boldly say that the Gospel is true, let every one take good heed." With this they: tormented me greatly.
They .then- asked me concerning the Roman church, whether I did not believe that it was the true church, which is built upon the rock which is Christ: I said, "No." Then he asked me which church I believed to be the true church. I replied, "The congregation of believers in the name of Christ, as Christ said to Peter: 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church' (Matthew 16.:18); that is to say: those who have such a faith as Peter had, as can easily be seen in the second epistle to the Corinthians, (6:16), where Paul says: 'What agreement hath the temple of God with' idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will be their God, and they shall
be my people?'Thus, all believers who assemble in Christ's name are the true church."
They also asked me whether the sacrament used by' the church in the mass is not flesh and blood after the consecration by the priest-whether it is not the body of Christ in flesh and blood. I replied, "How should, this be possible; for it is written in Acts (1:9); that He ascended to heaven; and in the seventh chapter -(v. 56) Stephen says: 'I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the' right -hand of God.' And Peter, in his first epistle, third chapter, says that He is risen, and gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; hence He is not here." He then asked me, whether He was not able to be here by His divine power. I said, "He can do nothing contrary to His word; He is Almighty', 'I know; but He does not act contrary to His word." They further said that when He held His supper with His disciples, He gave them His body as is written in the text, since He said, "Take, eat, this is my body." Matt. 26:26. But I replied that He did not give His body, but a morsel of bread'; for it is obvious that it [the body] was immediately delivered into the hands of the Jews, and suffered, and was hung on the cross; hence' He certainly could not give His body to eat, as -He says; Himself, "I will not henceforth drink of this fruit of the vine;" namely, the wine which He before called His blood. Read the tenth and eleventh chapters of the first epistle to the Corinthians, where you can obtain a fuller understanding. Hence He did not give His apostles His body; but it represented His body. He then asked me what I thought of the service performed in the church. I said I regarded it as a great and abominable idolatry. Thereupon he said, "Then you consider her the whore of Babylon?" I replied"Yes; as it is written Rev. 13:4, of the beast that
caused himself to be worshiped; hence. as many as would not worship him, or receive the mark in their hand. or in their foreheads. etc., who opposeth himself against God in His elect." He then told me that we could not show that our church, namely, that of the Anabaptists (as they called it) had been in existence forty years ago; and that their church had continued. etc. I replied, "We do not keep a register for our church, as does the Roman church; she would soon be discovered; for everyone seeks to destroy or kill her, and she has not (as has the Roman church) the emperor or the king for her helper, but emperor, king or prince diligently seek to destroy her. But I will show you that she is fifteen hundred and fifty-nine years old. For Christ is the foundation stone and it is that long since He was crucified." They rejoined, "Yes. the Roman church; for she was instituted by Peter; he was the first; after him all the holy popes, and all the holy doctors [teachers], as Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose, Bernard, who are the four doctors of the holy church, will you not believe these, who were such learned men?" I said, "I believe only the Word of God."
They also asked me whether I did not believe in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost; three persons, and one true God. I said, "I find but one person in the Scriptures." They asked me who it was. I said, "Christ, who was seen and heard; but the Father no one has ever seen. Who then can say what person it is? for He is invisible. John 9:37; 1:18. Neither has any one ever seen the Holy Ghost. True, He has been seen to descend as a dove upon Christ, but a dove cannot be a person." Then they said, "You do not believe that there are three persons?" I replied, "No, unless it be shown me by the Scriptures; but I confess that they are three in essence, yet only one true God. The Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Holy Ghost. The Father I confess as the Father; Jesus Christ as His Son, who proceeded from Him; and the Holy Ghost, as proceeded from both the Father and the Son; yet, inseparably one true God." John 17:8; 15:26.
He then asked me whether Christ did not assume His flesh and blood from Mary. I replied"This will have to be shown to me." They said"He is of the seed of David." I said, "That He assumed His flesh and blood from Mary, this the Scriptures do not say. Read Luke, first chapter, where the angel said: 'Thou shalt conceive in thy womb;' and, further on, when Mary said: 'How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? The angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.' Consider these words; he says: 'that holy thing.' And Paul says that the first Adam is of the earth, earthy; but the second is the Lord from heaven. Read in the first epistle to the Corinthians, in the fifteenth chapter (verse 47), where you can see it clearly. Also, Heb. 10:5, where Paul says 'Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.' Again, John 16:28, where Christ says that He came forth from the Father, and came into the world; and many other places, as in chapters eight and nine. Examine the Scriptures, John's Gospel, and the epistles." He then asked me, whether He took no substance from Mary, in the way of nursing, etc. I replied that she offered Him up; when He had been brought forth she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger. We further find that she cared for Him; as when at the age of twelve years He was lost, they sought Him, when they returned from Jerusalem. It says that they sought Him diligently, and sorrowing (Luke 2:48). He then asked, whether she did not suckle Him. Ans. "Christ spake (when the woman said: 'Blessed are the paps which thou hast sucked'): Yea, woman, blessed is he that heareth my word, and keepeth it." Luke 11:27, 28. Ques."What do you think; tell us your opinion?" Ans."I must not speak of that concerning which the Scriptures give me no information; suppositions are of no value." He also asked me, whether Christ was not of the seed of David. I said, "How should He be of the seed of David; for Christ said Himself (when the Pharisees asked whose Son He was, whether He was not the Son of David): 'How then doth David call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?"' Matt. 22:42, 45. They did not know what to say. I then said, "I know that He is born out of the seed of David, but not of the seed of David." Rom. 1:3.* They replied, "Gal. 4:4 it is written that He was made of a woman." I said, "It is preposterous, that a woman should make a child. Do not all the other Scriptures say: 'Born of a woman?"' He said, "I could show in forty places, that He is of the seed of David." But he would not show it. I then said, "If she conceived Him of the Holy Ghost, He cannot be of the seed of David."
He also asked me, where men went to, when they leave this world. I replied, "They fall asleep in the Lord, as the Scriptures testify, namely, the believers." Acts 7:60. He asked whither the souls went. I replied, "Paul said that he was willing to fall asleep according to the flesh, and to be present with the Lord; and thus am I minded." II Cor. 5:8. He then asked where the other souls went to. Ans. "The Scriptures say nothing about it; neither can I say whither they go." Ques."What do you think about it? They go somewhere." Ans. "I leave this to Divine Providence."
He then asked what I thought of the resurrection
* The author of this confession apparently bases his argument upon a version of the Scriptures in which the preposition, or prepositions, on which his argument hinges, are different in signification, at least in his view, from those occupying corresponding positions in our English translation.-Trans.
of the dead. I replied, "As is written I Corinthians 15:53, where Paul says that this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruptible, incorruption, and that this same body shall rise." He was unable to reply to this. He then asked me whither children went that died without baptism. I said, "Where it pleases God." He asked whether they were saved. Ans."Christ blessed the children, and said: 'Of such is the kingdom of heaven."' Matthew 19:14. Ques. "Then you say that they are saved?" Ans. "If they have the kingdom of heaven, they are happy enough." Ques. "Behold, they are damned, this is clear." Ans. "Read Romans 5:17-19, where it says that as by one man's disobedience death comes, so by the obedience of one life comes upon all men." He further asked me whether I would not be obedient to.the magistracy. Ans. "Yes, my lords, so far as it is not contrary to the command of God; for Peter says we ought to obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29. He then asked me whether I would not swear before the lords. Ans. "No." Ques. "We must obey the magistracy; Paul and Peter teach this." Ans. "Christ says: 'Swear not at all; neither by thy head, etc.; but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."' Matt. 5:34; Jas. 5:12. Also II Cor. 1:17. He then asked me whether we were not bound to tell the truth. Ans. "Yes." Ques. "Tell me who your accomplices are?" Ans. "To accuse our neighbor is not the truth; Christ does not teach that." He then adjured me by Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, that I should tell him. I said, "I care not for your adjuring; it is sorcery." Then he said that we were bound to act contrary to the command of God, on account of the adjuration.
They greatly tormented me with those who brought the man that was sick of the palsy; they said that his sins were forgiven through the faith of those who brought him; and that thus it was, through the faith of father and mother, with infants, in baptism. But he does not say: through the faith of those who brought him; it simply says: seeing their faith. Matt. 9:2; Mark 2:5.
I have written this much out of love; if I have not written you truly, bear with me; but I think I have written according to the Scriptures; receive it kindly. Farewell. I must affectionately greet the friends everywhere, requesting that they pray for me. Know that I am of good cheer, the Lord be praised. The grace of the Lord be with you all. Amen.