The eternal, unfathomable grace of God, and the power of the Holy Ghost, be with you all, my beloved friends and brethren. I let you know that I am well according to the flesh; but according to the spirit I might be better, for I find weakness in me; but my hope is fixed upon God, who strengthens the feeble, and comforts the afflicted. My heart constantly longs to be fit in His sight, that I might finish to His praise that which He has commenced in me. Therefore I pray you, my beloved brethren, not to forget me, even as I well perceive that you do not, for which I thank you very much, and hope that the Lord will preserve you in His holy truth. I further inform you that the lords wanted to know of me, who were baptized with me, and whether none were in the city, and what were their names and surnames. I said, "What I do not know I cannot tell." But it was all to no avail. They ordered the executioner to strip me. I felt very much ashamed, and I pleasantly entreated them to believe me; but it was of no avail. I then said, "Your will be done," and undressed myself. They led me to the rack and bound me to draw and rack me. The commissary said that I should name them. I told him that I could not do it; whereupon they loosed me, without my having named any one, for which God on, high be praised. However of Pieter and George they had knowledge already; hence I had to name them too, but their surnames I did not know. Herewith I will commend you to the Lord, and to the Word of His grace. May the Lord keep us all in one faith to the end of our lives. Amen.
I greet you from my inmost heart, my beloved father and my much beloved mother, with all that are in your house. Please know that I am well and unchanged in purpose, the Lord be praised forever, as I trust through the goodness of God it is also with you. Further, I thank you heartily for the kind greeting you wrote me, on account of which I greatly rejoiced, learning your feelings and affection for me; and for remembrance' sake I will write you something about my imprisonment.
In the first place the commissary asked me how old I was when I was baptized. I replied, "About twenty-three or four years." They asked me why I had it done. I said, "Because God had commanded it." They asked me whether I did not know that I had been baptized previously. I said, "I know nothing of it; neither, has God commanded it." They asked me whether I did not have sponsors. I replied, "It may be;-they may have died." They then said that they should send me learned men. I said, "You ought to be wise enough to talk with me;" but no, they would send learned men. They then sent the parish priest of our lady's church, who came and asked me why I had not been in his church so long, and that he had not known of me. I told him that I had quietly kept at home. They asked me where my church was. I answered, "My church is not known to you; for if you knew her, you would not let her in peace very long."
We had many words about baptism. I said that Christ sent out His apostles into all the world, and that they first taught all nations to observe ail things whatsoever He had commanded them, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Infants cannot learn; but he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Then they said that the apostles had baptized whole households. I said, "Yes, then they rejoiced that they were become believers in God; this children cannot do. Acts 16:34. Christ called the children to Him and said that to such belonged the kingdom of heaven, but He did not command that they should be baptized." They then brought forward Adam's sin, saying that they were born in it. I replied that Christ had died for them. I asked them whether they meant to remove sin by baptism; since infants can have no sin, therefore they cannot die unto sin, and rise through baptism into a new life. Then the lords said, "Your doctrine is: 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,' is it not?" I said, "Yes." They then asked whether Christ was not of Mary's flesh. I said that Mary had conceived Him of the Holy Ghost, even as the angel said to,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." Luke 1:35. They asked once more whether He did not assume flesh from her, since He had not brought it from above. I replied that I believed the testimony of John, where he says, "The, Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." John 1:14. They asked whether I did not believe that He is Mary's son according to the flesh, and the Son of God according to the spirit. I replied that He was God's own begotten and only begotten 'Son, without beginning of days, nor end of life, and was now at the last born of Mary, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Heb. 7:3. Hence He is not of the earth, earthy, like Adam, nor will He return to earth [dust]; for He is the Lord from heaven. I Cor. 15:47. Now if He had flesh of our flesh, He would have to see corruption, for God said, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return;" but
this was not spoken of Adam alone, but of all his descendants. Gen. 3:19.
They then asked me whether I did not believe that in the sacrament there were Christ's flesh and blood. I said, "No; He is ascended, and sits on the right hand of God His Father." They then asked me whether I would not believe that all the saints are in heaven. I said, "What I have not read I cannot answer; but this much I have read; 'The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them.'"
Wisdom 3:1. To this they did not say much, but asked what I held with regard to Mary. I replied that she was a pure and holy vessel, and blessed above all women, since she was worthy to conceive and give birth to the Son of God.
They asked whether I did not confess that there is a purgatory. I said, "I find two ways on record,
the one very broad and leading to damnation, the other very narrow and leading to eternal life." They also asked what I held in regard to the pope. I said, "The pope I do not know; but if this is his doctrine, which is observed here, I hold him to be like his doctrine." Much more was spoken, but I only write this to while away time. Farewell.
My dearest and much beloved brethren in the Lord, I let you know that my heart is of good cheer and courage, the Lord be forever praised, for He preserves us by His right hand, and delivers us out of the midst of our enemies, for without Him I would be lost, since they, both spirituals and seculars, come to assail me in manifold ways, as could be seen this Sunday, when Mr. Massaert, with a judge and a secular, a learned man, held me to be the vilest sect that ever was under heaven. But when I told them my faith, I moved them all to tears, so that they could scarcely speak, and ultimately left me in a friendly manner.
No more for the present, except that I commend you to the Lord; may He constantly keep and preserve you in His holy truth. I hope it will soon be over with me; for I desire nothing so much, than that I might please the Lord, and die a blessed death. Amen.
A heartfelt and affectionate greeting to you, my beloved children. Give ear to your mother, who is now in bonds for the truth; for it has pleased God, that all who will live godly must suffer persecution. Hence I am well satisfied and of good cheer, that the servant must follow his lord. His blessed will be done with me; if it had been His pleasure, He would have prevented these bonds. My dear children, it has been so from the beginning, that the righteous must suffer, and that the unrighteous always prevail. But their day shall soon come, that they will lament and cry out in their distress, "Mountains, fall on us, and hills, cover us from the face of the Lord." Luke 23:30. Alas! when the righteous shall shine forth as the sun, and the ungodly shall go into eternal fire. O beloved children, search the Scriptures, and conform to~them, that you may hear the blessed words, "Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom of my Father." Pray the Lord for wisdom, and learn to fear God, and you will get true understanding. Do not conform to the world, in pride, dancing, running, and idle gossip; but evince by your walk a godly life, adorn yourselves like the holy women, accept the Scriptures and live according to them, that your souls may be saved, and that we may meet hereafter. May the Almighty God, the King of. kings, grant you His grace according to the riches of His goodness, to be strengthened in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts; and may He guide you into all truth. I pray you, my dear children, be peaceable among yourselves, for this is a fruit of the Spirit. Willingly help one another, without gainsaying, and always remember the poor; communicate willingly of all that you have; make yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; love that which is eternal, and not what is temporal; seek the heavenly, and not the earthly, for all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; the glory of man perisheth, but the Word of the Lord abideth forever. Isa. 40:6. Love not the world, neither the things that are in it, namely, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, which are not of God, but of the world; and the world shall perish, with all that is in it; but he that doeth the will of the Father abideth forever. I John 2:15; I Cor. 7:31.
My children, do according to the will of the Lord; I, your mother, hope to walk the way before you. Mark wherein and how I go before you, and regard not the honor of the world, but esteem it an honor, to suffer for the name of our God. For He who was King over all was not ashamed to leave His glory, and came into the world, and suffered the most ignominious death for us, and, though He was innocent, was beaten and marred, that there remained not one sound spot on His blessed body. Thus did He love us, thereby leaving us an example that we should follow His steps. He is the light that came into the world, that all who follow Him should not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. John 8:12. The Lord grant that that light shine also around you, and that you walk in it. Amen.
My children, I greet you most cordially, and send you back your letters, that you may fulfill the promises you therein made to me. Always be subject to those who instruct you in righteousness, and reprove you when you transgress. Farewell, and
herewith adieu to you in this world. My dear children, fear God, and eschew all evil.
My most beloved father and mother, I commend myself to you from my inmost heart, praying the Lord that He will comfort you and me with the consolation of the Holy Ghost-the promise of the Lord, whom He promised to send to His disciples, saying, "I go unto the Father, and shall send you another Comforter, whom the world cannot receive, for it knoweth him not." John 14:16, 17. Hence, my dear father and mother, be of good cheer and await with patience what the Lord wills to do with me. I, too, wait patiently for His comfort. What has passed I esteem not more than a breath of air, and it gives me no trouble, the Lord, in whom I hope, be praised; for He it is who comforts the humble, and puts down the proud from their seats. Luke 1:52. Though there is now tribulation before us, yet we know full well that the day of the Lord will soon come, and that all ungodliness will be brought to nought. And God shall judge them without respect of persons, and reward every one according to his works. Therefore, my dear and much beloved father and mother, worry not on my account; let the Lord finish His work. I hope that He has predestinated me poor unworthy one for an offering acceptable unto Him, for I have hoped in His mercy; and that He will not enter into judgment with me, for if He should judge me according to my deserts, I should be worthy of eternal death; but the Lord, I hope, will have mercy upon me.
I further let you know that I was brought before the dean once more, but neither of us yielded, and as he was leaving he said to me, "If you persist in this belief, you are eternally damned." I said, "How can you speak so? seeing God shall judge.""Yes," said he,"I dare indeed say it, for it will be so." Then Master Klaes followed me and asked, "Where have you kept yourself so long? I have long sought you." I replied, "You have me now, sure.""I have not," he said;"If you were in our hands, we should keep you longer than these will, I think." Herewith, my dear father and mother, I will commend you to the Lord; may He preserve you and me unto the end. Grieve not for me, but rejoice that the Lord counts me worthy; for I will cheerfully resign for His sake these my members, which He has given me. Farewell always.
O my dearest and much beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord, I greet you once more with the peace of the Lord, that the same may remain with you forever. Amen.
I let you know that these my enemies still keep tormentine me about baDtiSm:but of the incarna tion of Christ they say nothing to me. The dean told them my faith, and they asked me nothing except whether I believed that Christ was David's son. I replied that He was the Son of the living God."Oh! ohl" said the dean. The lords asked, "Is it not written: 'Out of the seed of David according to the flesh'?" Acts 13:23. The dean answered them, for there was no hearing; he frequently told me I lied, because I withstood him, that he could not show me that the apostles had baptized children. They all fell upon me at once, and said that no one could enter the kingdom of heaven, except he were born of water and of the Spirit. They hastily asked me whether I did not confess this too. I said, "This Scripture belongs not to children, but to the adult, who have ears to hear." Then they arose and said, "You labor under an opinion."
Thus, my dear friends, I expect to be brought before them once more tomorrow. Hence I pray you to entreat the Lord for me, that He would direct my mouth to His praise and glory. Herewith I will commend you forever into the hands of God, and kindly ask you to receive my simple writing in good part, for I seek nothing but to please God, from the simplicity of my heart; and I wish nothing, alas! save, that I might please the King of kings and Lord of lords in my calling; then I should indeed have been born at a blessed time. Herewith peace; farewell; nothing more after this. Take this for an eternal adieu.
After this, Maeyken Boosers was burnt to ashes, at Doornick, having commended her soul into the hands of the Lord.
A letter of Willeboort Corneliss, written from his imprisonment at Middelborgh, and which he sealed with his blood
The grace and peace of God the heavenly Father, which have come to us through Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, comfort you in all your tribulation, my dearest sister in the Lord; and the Holy Ghost guide you into all truth and righteousness unto the end; and the mighty hand of God keep you and me in the straight way, that we may walk aright unto the end. Amen.
For, my dearest and beloved sister in the Lord, in this miserable and sorrowful world we are counted a prey to every one, as the prophet tells us. Isaiah 59:15. Yea, Christ Jesus Himself says, "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake." Matthew 10:22. Yea, we are counted as deceivers, and yet are true; we are become a spectacle; we are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. II Cor. 6:8: 1 Corinthians 4:9: 11 Cor. 4:8. 9. We are
accounted as sheep for the slaughter; but in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Rom. 8:36, 37. For, my dear lamb, we know that we must through much tribulation and suffering enter into the kingdom of heaven; knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. Acts 14: 22; II Cor. 5:6. Hence Peter says, "I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." I Pet. 2:11. Therefore, my dear lamb, though you have now with Abraham left our fatherland, be therefore not slothful in your business; but be fervent in spirit; redeeming the time; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation: continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints;' and see that you are given to hospitality. Romans 12:11-13. For, my dear lamb, though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." II Cor. 4:16.
Therefore, my dear sister, look constantly unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied in your distress, and faint in your mind. For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He loveth, and receiveth. Heb. 12:2, etc. For our Saviour Himself suffered so much for our sakes that Isaiah may well say, "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him." Isa. 53:2, 3. So that He may well say through the prophet, "They gave me gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me gall and vinegar to drink; and all men laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, and shake the head." Yea, as He says through the prophet, "I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." Ps. 69:21; 22:7, 6.
My dear sister in the Lord, if the head thus suffered, the members must follow. Grieve not that you must wander about yet in this world or wilderness.; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do, according to the good purpose of your mind. Phil. 2:13. My dear lamb, always let your light shine among this wicked and perverse generation, that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. I Peter 2:12.
My dearest sister in the Lord, wait patiently for the time; be patient unto the coming of our Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Therefore be patient, and stablish your heart; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. My dear sister, you have heard of the patience of job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. Jas. 5:7, etc.
My dear lamb, let us keep unto the end that which we have; He is faithful that promised it us. Heb. .10:23. My dear sister, humble yourself always; cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you, and for us all (I Peter 5:6, 7); for we know our reward beforehand, if we hold fast His commandments unto the end, according to our weakness, and we wait for it with patience. Hence Paul says that love is the bond of perfectness. Col. 3:14. And Peter says, "Have perfect charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins." I Pet. 4:8. My dear sister in the Lord, though we must now be the laughing stock of the world, and wander about in foreign lands, we will be none the worse for it when the Lord shall say, ".Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" Matt. 25:34. Then shall the child be born; then there shall be no more reviling; then shall all our enemies be conquered; then shall the tears be wiped from our eyes; then shall no harm happen to us any more; then shall we drink of the fountain of life, without price; for whatsoever things were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have before. Rom. 15:4.
The God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify .God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus -Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also .received us, to the glory of God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Farewell, my dear sister in the Lord. Amen.
By me, WILLEBOORT CORNELISS.
Written in bonds.
On the 12th of November A. D. 1564, there was beheaded with the sword, at Ghent in Flanders, one Prijntgen Maelbouts, widow of Jacob de Backer, brother of Pauwels van Meenen, and with her, her sister, Martijntgen Maelbouts, a young girl, a native of Thielt; not for any reported evil deeds, but simply for the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ, in a good conscience, since they, according to the teaching of the holy Scriptures, had separated from the papal church of antichrist-as being polluted with much uncleanness of the impure works of darkness, and the doctrines and commandments of men, militating against the holy Word of the Lord-and united with the true members of Christ, and sought with them, according to their weak ability, to observe the commandments and
ordinances of their Lord. On this account the persecutors and enemies of the truth deprived them of their lives, which, to please their Lord and redeemer, they willingly resigned, in the living hope and firm faith, that at the resurrection of the just, they should receive back into great glory these their corruptible members, which they here resigned for His name's sake, and reign with God and His saints in eternity. II Maccabees 7:11, 14; 1 Cor. 15:43.