The foundation of God standeth sure.-II Timothy 2:19.
Grace, peace, and the abundant love of our God, with the deep and unspeakable love of His Song our Lord Jesus Christ, and the chosen gift of faith, are revealed to us by God, the merciful dear Father, through Christ Jesus, and given' to His saints, whom He, through His fatherly love, has now chosen, called and ordained thereto, yea, delivered from the chains and heavy bonds of the perpetual darkness of unbelief, with which this evil, wicked and perverse world is bound; and has, according to His fatherly mercy, begotten us again unto a living, saving hope, and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have the forgiveness of our sins through His blood, that we my dear sheep, should henceforth serve Him without fear in all obedience, righteousness and holiness, all the days of our life. I Peter 1:3; Col. 1:13, 14; Luke 1:74, 75. To this end may the merciful dear Father help and strengthen us with the power of His Holy Spirit. Amen.
Since you people have requested me, through your letter, and through greetings heard from you at different itimes, as also previously, by the letter of your dead wife, who also requested the same of me [to write], know that I have frequently purposed in my heart to do so according to my little gift, although I trust it is not really necessary, yet I hope that it will nevertheless assure and confirm you the more. But as I had rather much writing to do, and was engaged also with other matters, I could not very well attend to it; yet I have constantly cherished a father's care for you, frequently beseeching my God with a fervent heart, according to my weakness, that He would preserve you both, under the shadow of His wings, in this horrible and perilous time full of all wickedness, and fill you more and more with His Holy Spirit, and open the eyes of your understanding, that you, my dear sheep, may learn to know well the snares and outspread nets of the devil, which he now in so manifold ways daily lays for the regenerated, though you are not ignorant of them partly, well knowing his devices; wherefore you have watched until the present time, in which I greatly rejoice, as also in this, that your faith grows and increases in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto whom I have begotten you and the others, in my bonds, by tears, with the power of the Holy Ghost. And you became followers of me, and of the Lord, and received the Word of the Gospel of the cross of Christ with much sighing and godly sorrow, and have obeyed it from the heart, in the form of the doctrine wherein you now stand, so that you have become ensamples to all those in Middelborgh, who want to amend their lives, and take up the cross of the Lord. I Thessalonians 1:6, 7. Not only these, but many saints are made to rejoice, beholding your obedience and humility in the fear of your God, which, I hope will increase and become manifest still more from day to day, so that, my dear sheep, it may be clearly evident, that you are truly born again from above, of God the Father, and renewed by the renewing of your mind. Rom. 12:2. Remember that your conversation must be heavenly, namely, according to the new man, who after God is created in all manner of righteousness and holiness; for since He who has called and chosen you to this service is holy, you must also according to your ability, lead a holy, chaste and godly life in the fear of your God. Eph. 4:24; I Peter 1:15. For to whom we have yielded ourselves, his servants we are, as the apostle says: whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto life. Rom. 6:16. God be praised and thanked forever, my dear sheep, that you were the servant and handmaid of sin, but are now washed and cleansed with me, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, whom God the Father shed on us abundantly through Christ our Saviour, not for the works of our righteousness which we had done; for we were by nature the children of wrath, even as others; but God, the merciful, dear Father, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, when we were dead in sins and unrighteousness, quickened us together with Christ, or by Christ, His dear Son, through faith. Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:3, etc.
Therefore, my affectionately beloved sheep in Christ Jesus, whose souls I love from the heart, and for whom I have a fatherly and godly care, I admonish and beseech you as a prisoner in the Lord, frequently to call to remembrance the day in which the merciful dear Father had compassion upon you, and took the vail from your eyes and hearts, which still hangs before the eyes and hearts of so many thousands, who walk such hard ways and know not the way of the Lord, becau e they are drunken with the wine of the Babylon' n whore, namely, the false doctrines, by which he whole earth is covered; but you, my sheep, ave become sober, and come out of her, and I also hope that you will no more touch her uncleanness, lest
you perish with her plagues. II Cor. 3:16; Wisd. 5:7; Rev. 17:2; 18:4.
Hence watch sharply in righteousness, so that you, my dear sheep, be not put to confusion after my departure in this horrible and perilous time, for you can plainly see and hear that now is certainly the time of which Christ Jesus and His holy apostles have so diligently warned us, even as Christ Himself said that the love of many should wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matt. 24:12, 13. O my dear sheep, ponder the words of Christ, and let them lodge in your hearts. It is indeed not spoken with regard to the world; for in the world the love of God cannot wax cold, since it has not received it, neither knows it; but it is spoken with reference to the true Israelites. And you see that this happens abundantly among them, which is certainly a lamentable matter, as that the devil and spirit of the old serpent has gained such strength and power in the present time, through the manifold, subtle and dexterous snares which he daily lays, to capture anew in his net of unbelief the souls of the regenerated, who have escaped him through the knowledge of God, whom he does capture again, my dear sheep, some of them through false doctrine, not only through the Roman antichrist, since now there are many antichrists in the world. For this reason he has put on another.cap, which is no longer like the Roman, well knowing that his game with it will soon be played; hence he has transformed himself, and appears now as an angel of light, and does his diligence to mingle with the children of light, there to set forth his wares anew. For, my dear sheep in the Lord, formerly he came with human ordinances and commandments, but now he knows that men want to hear Scripture; hence he now comes adducing many Scriptures, so that it seems to be all right, even as he presumptuously did with Christ, quoting to Him from the prophet David, that it was written that He [God] should send His angels, who should bear Him up in their hands, lest He should dash His foot against a stone. Matt. 4:6; Ps. 91:12. See, my dear sheep, he did indeed quote Scripture, just as it read; but it had not been spoken or prophesied with any such meaning; thus these also, though they quote many Scriptures, and presumptuously say, "Thus it is certainly written; by which he easily captures in his outspread net the wavering and those whose ears itch to hear something new."
Others he gets through deceitful riches that come to them, which bring men into destruction and perdition, since covetousness is the root of all evil. I Tim. 6:9, 10. Nevertheless, some yet desire that their temporal possessions increase, and are so busily engaged therewith, that in the meantime they forget the exercise of godliness, and bring upon themselves many sorrows. Alas, my dear lamb, it shall go with them as it went with certain of the Israelites; they that had gathered much had nothing over; and they that had gathered little had no lack. Ex. 16:18. Hence, if we have food and raiment, O that we could therewith be content; for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. I Tim. 6:7. For we see, dear sheep, that the words of our dear Lord Jesus Christ are true, namely, that the deceitful riches choke and suppress the good seed, namely, the Word of God, whereby many also come to shame.
The third class [he deceives], through the loss or spoiling of their goods, who do not rightly consider that, like the merchantman, they have found the most beautiful pearl, which is certainly well worthy of all this, and far above comparison with it. The fourth, through crosses and suffering, namely, persecution. The fifth, through the entreaties and solicitations, of father and mother, friends and relatives. The sixth, through wife and children. The seventh, by their own evil, subtle flesh. The eighth, because they become weary of the way of righteousness, and turn back to Egypt and Sodom, to live at ease and peace for a short time with the Babylonian whore, and afterwards to be tormented with her in everlasting pain.
Behold, my most chosen and beloved sheep, all this is wrought and set in motion by a single spirit, the old serpent, who neither sleeps nor slumbers, but constantly walks about us, seeking whom he may devour: I Pet. 5:8. Hence resist him manfully and with a believing heart, and let it not terrify you, though they so lightly forsake the commandments of the Lord. Oh, regard not the negligent, slothful and unfaithful; but let all faithless servants and false disciples forsake their Lord and Master, yet we hope nevertheless to adhere to Him, and you with me, and are ready to suffer whatever He imposes upon us. Ahl what should we do or undertake, if we should forsake His commandments? whither should we flee, where He should not find us? Oh! heaven and earth must obey Him with trembling; mountains and caverns must quake before Him, and can not stand in His presence; how much more the children of men, who dwell in houses of clay. Ps. 114:7; Job 4:19. O my dear sheep, wherewith shall they excuse or justify themselves when He shall visit them, who now so unfaithfully depart from Him?
Alas! alas I it is indeed a lamentable matter, that they have conceived such a loathing for the noble heavenly bread, and that the only medicine by which all the souls of the regenerated have been restored, is become such a deadly enemy to them. Yea, my dear sheep, we may well sigh and lament with the prophet over the destruction of Israel, and over Jerusalem the fair city of God, and this the more because so many Israelites drift into the wilderness of this wicked world, and are again destroyed and slain by the subtle spirit of the serpent. Also, because some of the watchmen are become apostates, and the citizens of Jerusalem, too, are becoming slothful and drowsy, though he who walks around the camp neither rests nor pauses,
but diligently seeks day and night, whom he may find idle or sleepy, to sow his tares into the field of the heart, even as he, alas! did not a little in my time, and will still do, the longer the more, according to my opinion. For the more the people of God increase, the more will he reign among them; nor will he rest until he succeed in getting some of them to submit to his will again; and God permits him to torment the pious, and also to seduce them, that the others may be tried. See, my dearest and much beloved children in the Lord, it i's therefore my fatherly entreaty and humble request of you, for the sake of the eternal salvation of your souls, that you will henceforth exercise great care that you may remain in the way of righteousness, and always be mindful how you from this time on ought to walk in the house of God, which is the church of God, unto which you have come, whereof I was very glad, when I heard it, and thanked and praised my God for His great fatherly goodness and grace which He has shown you, and has received you as His son and daughter, yea, as heirs of His heavenly riches, on which account. you have so voluntarily betaken yourselves under the yoke and rod of the cross, and, with the holy apostle Paul, counted your- gain loss, that you might gain your souls in Christ, even as you have done. Hence, take heed to yourselves, and depart or waver neither to the right nor to the left, lest you fall from your own steadfastness, and eternal fire be your inheritance; but as you, my dear sheep, have now put on the Lord Jesus Christ, so continue to walk in Him, and remain firmly established and rooted in His doctrine, lest you wax cold or lukewarm in love, and thus lose what you have received and so willingly accepted. II Peter 3:17; Col. 2:6; I Cor. 4:7.
I also beseech you, by the mercy of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, that you neglect not, to thank and praise God the merciful dear Father day and night, through Christ His dear Son, for the great, unspeakable benefits which He has shown us poor, miserable creatures; and has foreseen and chosen us from our mother's womb, and this to the end that we should truly live and confess His name among this wicked and adulterous generation, and thus may hold fast unto the end, the beginning of the Christian life. For though, my dearest sheep and much beloved children, you are now become true heirs of eternal life, through obedience to the Gospel, and are written with me and all saints in the book of life, yea, have been brought to an innumerable company of angels, yet, O my dear sheep, he can soon blot us out again, and write our apostate names in the earth (Jer. 17:13), if we do not faithfully, according to our weakness, walk in God's commandments unto the end of our lives; for we know that the glorious promises given to the pious, and the crown of eternal life, lie neither in the beginning nor in the middle; but he that endures, and continues faithful unto the end, shall receive the same from the hand of the Lord. For it is evident, that it availed the outward Israel (in whom we have a clear example) nothing, my dear sheep, that they by the strong hand of the Lord, had been delivered out of Egypt from the service and bondage of Pharaoh; yea, all the benefits shown them on the way by the faithful, merciful dear Father, were certainly for the most part lost or in vain. Though He fed them with angels' food, and gave them all that their soul desired, yet they became impatient and murmured, and did not receive their trial in the fear of God, or in patience, wherefore the Lord was wroth, and destroyed twenty-three thousand at one time. O my dear, chosen sheep, think on it; it certainly occurred for our instruction and admonition, as the holy apostle says, that we should not fall into the same example of unbelief;for what could it avail us, that we have now also gone out from spiritual Egypt and Sodom, and been delivered from the service of the hellish Pharaoh, through the Red Sea of the blood of Christ Jesus, and been baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, upon the confession of our faith, and have thus, having renounced our own selves, entered into the true Noah's ark-Christ Jesus. O my dear sheep, it all cannot avail or save us, if we do not observe the fulfilling of the commandments of our God; for the apostle John says, "He that saith, I know God, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." I John 2:4. But you, my most beloved, have always obeyed not only in my, presence, but much more in my absence; therefore work out your salvation with fear, and constantly walk as becomes the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, after my departure, that you may always stand fast in one spirit and mind; and be not terrified in any wise by your adversaries, whether from within or without, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of eternal salvation, and that of God. For, my dear sheep, it is not enough that you believe on Christ, but you must also suffer for His name, if not in bonds or imprisonment, then in the daily conflict and temptations, which at the present time arise in many and various forms, and may come upon you still more. Phil. 2:12; 1:27. For God proves and tries His chosen in manifold ways. Bonds and imprisonment are regarded as the greatest trials of faith; but, my dear lamb, I write and confess to you at this time, that to me it is the least, compared with the perils and temptations I tasted and met with in the wilderness of this world, or which I saw before me, so that I often did not know which way to turn, for anxiety of heart and spirit, and sighed and wept to my God on account of the manifold subtle and adroit snares which the old serpent is now laying, fearing that I might yet become entangled in her snares of human weakness, and of the wisdom of my own flesh, because I saw and heard that such high, strong and firmly rooted trees were completely torn up by the roots, and such lofty mountains brought low most miserably. Besides,
I felt that in me there dwelt no good thing; moreover, I considered that at His righteous day much chaff will be found, when He will look over His own. O then He will see those who will not have on a wedding garment.
For this reason also I was in great anxiety, fearing that through my daily mistakes and polluted walk I should not be able to stand at His coming; hence I often besought Him with tears, that through His fatherly mercy He would make me, poor, miserable man, fit, that I might suffer for His name's sake, to go into bonds and imprisonment, and even into death, for His holy testimony;-- then I should be sure of my soul's salvation, and not fear to come to shame in the day of His wrath, whereto He, through His fatherly mercy, has now chosen me and made me worthy, to declare His holy testimony before this evil and adulterous generation, in my bonds; on which account I am greatly rejoiced in my soul, and sincerely regret that I cannot thank or praise my and our merciful dear Father enqugh. for His unspeakably great benefits which He has shown and is still daily showing me miserable creature; for I trust in His fatherly grace and mercy,' that He will further fit me and make me worthy to go into death for His holy testimony; for He knows that I have for a long time. longed to be at home, and this on account of the manifold dangers I behold in the way. Hence, my affectionately beloved sheep in the Lord, as I still have a fatherly care for you, and love you with a godly love, I cannot forbear, seeing I am still in this tabernacle for a little while, to admonish you a little by my writing, praying you not to think that I rule over you; but I seek to build you up with all kindness unto the full stature of the fullness of Christ, so that you, my dear sheep, may be found a true letter of Christ, not written with ink on paper, but by the Holy Spirit of the living God, whereby you are also sealed unto the day of your redemption, who has written God's statutes and laws into your hearts and minds, whereby you are now become an epistle of Christ, which is seen and read by all men who behold your holy, chaste conversation in the humility of your heart and depreciation of yourselves. II Cor, 3:2; I Pet. 3:2.
Therefore, my dear lamb, I beseech you once more, though you are humble, humble yourselves still more; though you are clean, cleanse yourselves yet more; yea, though you have become holy, sanctify yourselves yet more and more, that you may be found pure and blameless, the children of God, in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, so that I may not have labored in vain with you; for though I am to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand, yet I joy and rejoice in my heart, on your account, and of the others whom I have begotten in my bonds, who in time past were unprofitable to the house of God, but are now useful and profitable, whom I love for the truth's sake, and desire that they shall also have a part herein, hoping that it will also rejoice them in the spirit and faith, for an assurance and confirmation of all your minds in Christ Jesus. John 15:3; Rev. 22:11; Phil: 2:15; II Tim. 4:6; Philem. 10, 11; II Jno. 1, 2. Hence, my final and affectionate request to you all is, that you love one another with a pure heart fervently, being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, namely, by the living, powerful and saving Word. John 13:34; I Pet. 1:22, 23. And remember the words of Paul our fellow brother, where he says, "The end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience; yea, it is the bond of perfectness." I Tim. 1:5; -Col. 3:14. O how blessed is he who is truly girded about with this bond; for he does not live unto himself, but unto his Lord; and he observes the words of Christ in everything, also where He says, "Be merciful, as your heavenly Father also is merciful." Luke 6:36.
Hence, my dear sheep, I beseech you yet, by the mercy of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, and also for the sake of the eternal salvation of your souls, that you forget not to do good and to communicate; for the administration of this service supplieth not only the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; for by such offerings God is pleased. II Cor. 9:12. Remember also the words of the wise man, where he says:'"He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord: and that which he hath given will he pay him again." Proverbs 19:17. He further says, "He that giveth unto the poor shall suffer no sorrow; but he that turneth away his eyes shall decrease." 28:27."The righteous useth his wealth to life, but the wicked useth it to sin." 10:16. He also says, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." 11:24. Tobit,.also, commands his son to remember the poor, saying, "Turn not thy face from the poor, and the face of God shall not be turned away from thee. Wherever thou be able, help the needy. If thou hast abundance, give alms accordingly; if thou have but little, give according to that little with a faithful heart." And he adds, "For alms deliver from death, and blot out sin." Tob. 4:7. With regard to this, also Sirach says, "Alms maketh an atonement for sin." Sir. 3:30. Alms also preserve the giver in everlasting habitations; wherefore Christ commanded, "Make to yourselves friends of the mamman of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Luke 16:9.
Christ has well said, "For the poor always ye have with you." John 12:8. Hence He shall say at His righteous day, "All that ye have done unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done unto me." Matt. 25:40: From this it follows, my dear sheep, that the words of Paul will also be verified, namely, "He which soweth sparingly (here) shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bounti-
fully shall reap also bountifully . . for God loveth a cheerful giver." II Cor. 9:6, 7. My affectionately beloved sheep in the Lord, though I thus write, I nevertheless know that you are taught of God and His Holy Spirit, and that this will do more for you than all I can write; yet, from heartfelt Christian love, I write it to you; for the reason, that you may remember the former times, when you were so diligent in all manner of unrighteousness, sparing no expense in the way of numerous costly banquets or feasts, yea, in pomp and display, which God abominates. Oh, think once, my dear sheep, what delight you then took [in these things]. Oh, should you now not give the much more diligence in the things which God has commanded you, to lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt. Oh, we should be able now to spare a bit of money occasionally, to give to poor saints, just as easily as we formerly could provide large amounts, to spend in unrighteousness. O my dear, beloved children, I do not write this to oppress your hearts, but that your love may increase yet more and more from day to day: for you know not how much time you will have yet, or when robbers may get possession of your treasure. Further, my faithful sheep, it is my fatherly request, that you live together in peace, harmony and unity. Help to bear in love one another's burdens, since you know not how long you will live together; and remember that you are called children of peace, since your King and Prince is the King and Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6); hence you must be found children of peace, as I also trust you are, though I thus write.
Herewith I will commend you to the great Shepherd of the sheep, who, I faithfully trust, will keep you under the shadow of His wings; if you only continue in His statutes .and commandments, and depart on no account out of His hand, then I am certain that no one shall pluck you out of His hand. Once more I beseech you, and this by the wounds of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, and also for the sake of the eternal salvation of your souls, that you will take to heart my letter and faithful admonition written at the close of my life; and do not let it lie unused among you after my departure, nor look upon it then as a dead history or fable; but receive it as a testament, and let it be a perpetual memorial to you, and remember me by it, how I was an example unto you, according to my weakness, and follow my footsteps which I trust to walk before you through the power of my God, namely, to adhere to the truth unto the end, to testify to you and to all who seek to fear God with a pure heart, that this is the true grace of our God, as Peter says, yea, the sure road and highway to eternal life; wherein you now stand. I Pet. 5:12; Ps. 25. Hence, let no one divert you from your present purpose, or cause you to waver, but give more and diligence to make your calling and election sure. Oh, if you do these things, my dear sheep, you shall never fall; but an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. II Peter 1:lU, 11. Watch rigidly therefore in righteousness all the days of your life; for it is necessary indeed. I also kindly request that you receive this prescription in love; for I have certainly written it out of Christian love. Herewith I want to bid you all adieu, until in eternity. Amen.
Furthermore, my affectionately beloved sheep in the Lord, as regards how it is with me and my fellow combatants, know that it still tends to the promotion of the Gospel. Know also, that the Lord faithfully succors me in my conflict and defense, and has given me strength to gain the victory, and delivered me out of the mouth of hell, and the teeth of the lions. I believe I have been in combat with them ten or twelve times; the others, however, they did not torment so much. In short, I hope that the fight is fought, the course finished, the life [faith] kept. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of glory, which, I hope, no creature shall ever take from me; for faithful is He that has begun this good work in me; He will doubtless help me finish it, according to the good purpose of my heart, so that I may pass through Jordan unharmed. Phil. 1:6. May God grant us His grace. Amen.
Communicate this among yourselves. commend it to God, meditate upon it diligently, understand it wisely. Oh, if you do this, it will be evident that you seek your salvation and esteem my letter.
Finished the 6th of October, in the twenty-third month of my imprisonment. Once more, my dear children, valiantly adhere together to the cross of Christ, and do not depart from it.
I wish unto my flesh and blood, strength of spirit and a steadfast mind in all her tribulation and severe distress. Amen.
My dear and beloved wife, whom I wedded before God and His church, as the time of my departure is now at hand, may you people know that my heart and mind are concerned about you, being indeed desirous of writing you something, but having so ill an opportunity for it, because it stands thus with us that we are now watched and guarded by eight or ten servants, so that I feel little strength of spirit in me, to write anything to you, love, as it comes upon us so unexpectedly, since we had not heard a word. Willeboort, my faithful comrade, had partly undressed already, when our host and hostess came up stairs, saying, "Mr. Jelis and Willeboort, come down." When we came down, we saw the stadtholder, and the bailiff also came and upbraided us with this, whereupon I had a few words with him. In short, my dearly beloved chosen flesh and blood, I shall now go the way of all the prophets and witnesses of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, in which I greatly rejoice and am of good cheer at the present time; yea, I find such joy and comfort in me, that I cannot well describe it to you,
and I do not as yet experience the least fear; but am concerned most about you, because of the excessive grief which oppresses you, but I trust to my, and your God, that with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, through the consolation of the Holy Spirit, whereby He will comfort you. I Cor. 10:13.
O my flesh, my blood, I beseech you by the bleeding wounds of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, be patient in your tribulation, that you be not found as one who would fight against God, but rather say with Mary, "Behold, Lord, be it unto me according to thy will." Luke 1:38. For at the very hour of meeting, the hour of separating was known to the Lord, and He in His fatherly mercy has foreseen and chosen you, also to suffer tribulation and pain now for His name's sake. And though, my chosen lamb, I now experience greater joy, because my pilgrimage has come to a close; yet I beseech you, be of good cheer in the Lord, and receive it in patience and sorrow. Humble your heart, and endure it. Sir. 2:2. Oh, I know that your grief is very great. Oh, if it were God's will, and I might die for you, yea though I were to taste a twofold death for you, I should not shrink from it, since it does not come hard to me. Oh, then I should certainly have the assurance that you should not be deceived by strange lovers (Jer. 2
25), nor by the noonday devil, nor by your own flesh; however, I trust nevertheless from the bottom of my heart, that you will follow the footsteps of my faith, that is, to adhere to the truth unto the end. Oh, the reason of my writing and my last and great request is, that you adhere to what God, out' of great grace has given you. Oh, do not yield nor waver on account of your great grief, or because of any conflict that may arise, not known to you as yet; but in all your concerns pray with confidence to God the merciful dear Father; He will not forsake you, I am sure of it. Eph. 6:18. And though, my dear chosen lamb, we shall now be separated for a little while, we shall meet each other again hereafter in the resurrection of the dead, and shall forever be with the Lord. I Thess. 4:17. Oh, then qur small sorrow shall be changed into eternal, unspeakable joy, and all tears shall be wiped away from our eyes, and we shall hear the words, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world." Isa. 25:8; Rev. 7:17; Matt. 25:34. O my dear lamb, comfort yourself with these promises, and with the words of the Gospel, where Christ Himself says, "Blessed are they that weep now; for they shall be comforted. But woe unto them that laugh now, for they shall weep. For the time shall come when they shall cry out: O ye mountains and hills, fall on us, and cover us from the face of the Lord." Matt. 4:5; Luke 6:25; Hos. 10:7.
Oh, then it will be at an end with all our persecutors, executioners, and rackers, and with all destroyers; yea, then shall be fulfilled the word of the prophet Isaiah, where he says, "O ye destroyers, think ye that ye shall not also be destroyed? and ye despisers, think ye that ye shall not also be despised? When ye shall have made an end to destroy an end shall also be made with you." Isa. 33:1. But unto you, my flesh, my blood, and unto me, and all saints, shall the Sun of righteousness arise, and happiness and eternal prosperity shall encompass us. O my dear sheep, [flock], how gladly would I comfort you and come to your aid in your tribulation; but it cannot be at this time. But I sincerely pray you, remember my words which I spoke to you in times past, and follow them, this I pray you, and let them be a perpetual foundation stone. Further, I cordially entreat you, and this for the eternal salvation of your soul, that you live in quiet and bring up your child (my own offspring), in the fear of the Lord, as I trust you will. Once more, my dearest, chosen lamb, I entreat you from the bottom of my heart, and my inmost soul, remember frequently what I said to you in times past, and also wrote in some measure, namely, that you adhere all the days of your life to that which you voluntarily so willingly accepted, since it is the true ground, foundation, and way to eternal life. Oh, there shall never be found another, than this way of the cross, and if it should be withal the will of your merciful, dear Father, to prove you with His fatherly rod of the cross, that is, with bonds or imprisonment, I pray you for the sake of the eternal salvation of your soul that you will not fear our enemies; for it is impossible to write or express, how God the merciful, dear Father comforts those who have entirely committed themselves to the Lord; so that I should not have thought that I could have such a heart and mind, so that I almost wondered how they could depart from the word of God; but they forgat the comfort of the future glory, and became heedless, and the oil of righteousness and love failed their earthen vessels. Matt. 13:43; 25:3.
Hence, my faithful, dearest flesh and blood, be warned, that you may not, through slothfulness and heedlessness, find yourself deceived with the heedless, foolish virgins. Therefore be watchful in the spirit, and give diligence still from day to day, to put off more and more (Eph. 4:22); for, my dear lamb, it is necessary that you watch, since not all shall enter into the promised land, who have gone out of this present spiritual Egypt and Sodom; and this because of the power and aright of the old serpent, who does not rest nor pause day or night, but goes around the camp, seeking whom he may find drowsy; whom resist stoutly in the faith take upon yourself a valiant and believing heart.
Furthermore, dearly beloved lamb, it is my request that you conform to all humility, and be little in your own eyes, and mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Rom. 12:16. Always be ready and anxious to hear the Word of God, and remember the words of Christ, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt. 18:20. 0
my dear lamb, have fervent love for the church of God, and forget not to communicate of that which the merciful, dear Father has given you. Remember that mercy glorifieth against judgment, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Jas. 2:13; Hebrews 13:16.. But I know, my beloved lamb, and have confidence in you, that you will herein follow the teaching of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. Matt. 6:1. Herewith, my dearest, I take farewell and leave from you, my flesh and blood, on this earth, and commend you into the hands of Almighty God, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is able to preserve and build up you and your child (Acts 20:32), and to strengthen you in every distress, even as He is faithful, and will do it, if you, my dear lamb, only continue in His statutes and laws, and do not become weary in the way of the cross, though it be full of anxiety and hardship for you. Oh, that you, my dear lamb, could take courage and praise and thank your God, that you are found worthy also to suffer for His name. Oh, think of the words of the wise man where he says, "Having been a little chastised, we shall be greatly rewarded; for God trieth his chosen as gold in the furnace." Wisd. 3:5, 6.
Therefore, my dearly beloved lamb, let the trying of your .faith work patience, and let patience have her perfect work (Jas. 1:3, 4), and remember the words of the wise man, "A patient man is better than a strong man; and he that ruleth his spirit (mark) than he that taketh a city." Prov. 16:32. Further, the prophet Jeremiah says, "It is good and a great thing to be patient, and that one that is forsaken wait for help of the Lord." Lam. 3:36. Hence possess your souls in patience for a little while yet, this I beseech you from my inmost heart. Luke 21:19.
O my dearly beloved lamb, once more I entreat you, acquit yourself valiantly. Oh, if you love me (as you abundantly. do), follow the footsteps of my faith; for the time is fulfilled, the days are spent, my years are ended which I lived in this wilderness amidst many dangers. I have not run or fought as uncertainly; hence I rejoice in the spirit, that God the merciful dear Father has been with me, so that I have fought the fight, and finished my course. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of eternal life which God, the merciful, dear Father, shall give me, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.. I Con 9:26; II Tim. 4:7, 8. And I shall now enter into the precious land, which I have tasted and seen by faith, wherefore my inner man, has a desire for it, so that I am not afraid of my enemies, nor shrink back from Jordan, which though it is most terrible to behold in the eyes , of some, we are certain and assured that our faithful God of Israel will be with us, and will make it ready with His strong arm, so that we shall pass through unharmed, and thus encourage the young valiant Israelites. In short, to all who want to fear God from the heart we are, through the grace of God, a savor unto eternal life; and those who hate us, a savor of death. II Cor. 2:16. Adieu, my flesh, my blood; under the altar I hope to wait for you all. Rev. 6:9. Let my blood be a perpetual testament and memorial unto you. Farewell, until we meet in eternity. Amen.
Oh, keep valiantly, I pray you in the way of righteousness; for I testify unto you with my blood, before God and His angels, that it is the true road and highway, yea, the true grace of our God, on and in which you stand. I Pet. 5:12. The grace of God be with you. Amen. The 24th of October, five o'clock A. M., A. D. 1564.
My clearly beloved chosen wife and sister in the Lord, I wish you folks much strength and comfort from God the merciful dear Father, through the consolation of the Holy Ghost, whereby He comforts all afflicted, sorrowing hearts that are oppressed for His testimony, even as is the case with you at this present time, so that it troubles you greatly though you have been so much taught by the Holy Ghost, that you well know that it is the will of our Lord and Master to whom we have bowed our knees, to serve and be faithful to Him in every distress, tribulation and temptation; for He has chosen and called us both to the end that we should keep His name amidst much tribulation and pain, and should not become weary of these few stripes and fatherly chastenings (Job 5:17); for thereby He makes us true heirs of His heavenly kingdom, if we receive them in resignation and patience, and are exercised thereby; to which may the merciful, dear Father strengthen us with the power of His Holy Spirit. Amen.
Further, my dearly beloved wife, since I presume that your heart is much troubled and sorrowful on my account, and you, as I believe, would like to hear and know how it is with me, I cannot forbear to write you a little about how it went with us. I did write to you on our last night (as I thought), and asked the bailiff whether I might write a little yet to my poor, sorrowing wife. He said,"Yes." But we were not allowed to go upstairs again, and had to remain in the kitchen; and Huyge would not consent to my writing, except he might hold it, and hand it to the bailiff, as I think he has done; yet I hope that you will yet get it. Further, my dear lamb, know, first of all that my purpose is still unchanged, and I am ready to await in patience all that God the merciful, dear Father and the enemies of the truth. will impose upon me. Further know, you folks, that we had not heard of any trouble of the flesh; but in the evening, about nine o'clock, Huyge came up stairs with his wife, saying, "Mr. Jelis and Willeboort, come down; there is somebody that wants to speak with you." Then our women, especially Maeyken, began to cry and weep greatly. I asked him whether we were not to come
up again, to which he gave me but little reply. Hence I immediately divested myself of my cassock, and put on my old jacket. I then kissed my blood, namely, the child, took off my hat, and briefly addressed myself to God, the merciful, dear Father, that He would preserve the child all the days of its life; my heart experienced some sadness over it, but it did not last long. When I came down, the stadtholder was standing there, and a short time afterwards also the bailiff came, and catching sight of me said, "Well, Mr. Jelis, the time has come," or some such words. I then stepped up to him a little closer, my heart being quite joyful, and said to him in a very friendly manner, "My lord, I have known you for eight or ten years, and looked upon you as an honest man; how comes it that you want to take us in this manner by surprise? We certainly have not heard a word of it.
He replied, "There is time enough; it will not be yet; but make yourself ready for tomorrow at five o'clock." I then exchanged a few more words with him, saying, "O man, man, what a great burden you put upon yourself; I would from my heart, that you were not a judge over us, not however for our flesh's sake, for we are of very good cheer as regards that;" and I took up a tankard that stood there, and drank his health. When he had gone away, I began to write, and wrote until about five o'clock, when he returned and gave orders that the servants should take us up; and as to how it went up in the city hall, you probably have heard. When we came away from there, we were both locked up in a room, and as I was fettered, I could not write to you.
I inform you further, that the next day, that is, this morning, the bailiff and the stadtholder, summoned us down, and brought us both into a separate subterranean dungeon, which was very dark, and they had also darkened the window. They said, "You will have to remain here until it will be otherwise." The stadthokler said, "We are all mortal, we do not know ourselves when we are to die." I said- nothing. When I stood in the dungeon, the bailiff looked at me, and I cast my eyes up heavenward, and said, "O God, preserve us," or such a word or two.
It seemed as though the bailiff wanted to say, "Yes, it comes through you;" however, he did not give utterance to it, and went away with the other, and our God was not far from us, with the consolation of His Holy Spirit, and made my heart joyful, so that I could not refrain from singing a hymn.
In the afternoon we were given a bit of a candle, and I commenced to write this, which I should have liked to send to you before night, but I was not able to do so; hence, accept it in love.
O my affectionately beloved lamb, I think our hour is fast approaching; for it seems that the ruler of this world will come this night. Hence I beseech you by the bleeding wounds of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, and for the sake of the eternal salvation of your soul, that you will never let it leave your heart, how I walked before you; and when my blood-which I hope you will bring up in the fear of God-has attained to years of understanding, admonish him with it, and do you, my most beloved, not forget it either; but let my blood be a perpetual testament and memorial to you, how I, according to my feeble ability, have been an example to you. Still, I would that I had been able to walk more holily and blamelessly before you; but you know that according to my feeble ability I sought .to please the Lord, and, according to my weakness, walked with boldness in the way of the cross, which it is my heart's desire, that also you will do; and do not forsake it; but it is my fatherly entreaty, that you give more diligence to make your holy calling and election surer and surer; for the day of the Lord is not far off, in which He will reward every one according to his works. Then, my faithful lamb, He will find the lukewarm, slothful and heedless, who now bear the name of Christians, and do indeed bear the vessels, but have not the oil of love and righteousness in them. Hence, my flesh, my blood, I entreat you kindly, not to regard the lukewarm, slothful, heedless, and fearful; but prove yourself, and daily examine yourself, whether you are truly walking.in the, faith of the Son of God. If .you thus examine yourself, you may prove and know what is yet necessary for you to put off. II Cor. 13:5.
Oh, always .strive for humility, since a humble heart is in the best condition for self-examination; for such an one constantly bewails his weakness and insignificance before the Lord, fearing lest at last he might yet come to shame in this perilous, fearful time, through the manifold and subtle snares and nets; wherefore such a regenerate child of God has a heartfelt desire to be at home, and to'be delivered from this miserable, spotted garment of the flesh, knowing full well that he is walking amidst great perils; hence he rejoices when he hears of the cross of Christ.; he is not minded, lightly to flee before the ungodly, except when necessity demands it. But the lukewarm, slothful and heedless, who sometimes think that they are rich enough, and have need of nothing, they in the meanwhile, as soon as they hear aught that the ungodly only form a compact to extirpate the righteous, are greatly disconcerted or are more fainthearted; and this sometimes is not yet all, but they come to their neighbor, whose heart they ought to encourage, and make him fainthearted too.
But you, my faithful lamb, be courageous, this I heartily entreat you, and look not to the aforementioned, nor to those who now so unfaithfully depart from the Lord, whether through cross, or persecution, or false doctrine. Oh, if they previously had daily examined themselves, and had had a taste for heavenly things, they would not have suffered themselves to be deceived so easily, or have dreaded the cross so much; but they would heartily desire to confess the name of their God among this wicked
and perverse generation, and entreat their Lord from their hearts, that they might be strangers in the land, to the praise of their God, and the edification of their neighbor.
Further, my dear, faithful, beloved, and chosen wife, whose soul I love as dearly as my own, it is yet my Christian and fatherly .request, that you will take care all the days of your life, that you may come to the place where I shall soon be, so that we may not be separated in the eternal habitations. O that it might be God's holy will and pleasure, and be possible, that I might drink the cup of bitterness for you. Yea, though it were thrice, I think I would most willingly do it, from the heart, so that you might also be saved.
Oh, then I should accept my departure with a still much more joyful heart, and should certainly have no apprehension that you should ever be moved from the simplicity of our dear Lord Jesus Christ; however, I feel no apprehension, as long as you continue as I now leave you; for you fear the judgment of the ungodly. Hence I desire with Sirach, that you remember in all your undertakings what he says, namely, "My son, whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the end, and thou shalt never sin" (Sir. 7:36), namely, such sins as could keep you out of God's kingdom; for as regards your daily frailties and mis-steps before God, they will not condemn you or bar you out, for with reference to this the holy apostle John says, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with God the Father, who maketh intercession for us," which is Christ Jesus, the high priest, who entered in, namely, into the holy of holies, and made an eternal offering and atonement for His people and generation, and sat down on the right hand of God His Father, as an advocate and intercessor for our daily stumblings and fallings, as the apostles say, I John 2:1; Rom. 8:34; Hebrews 9:12; Ps. 110:1; Col. 3:1. See, my faithful and dearly beloved lamb, to this intercessor and advocate I direct you, and not to the deceased saints, as the blind leaders of this world do.
Therefore, flee to Him, for refuge in your great distress; remember that His car is not heavy that He cannot hear you, and His hand not shortened that He cannot help you; for His eyes are upon His saints (Ps. 34:15 ), whom He has so dearly purchased with His own precious blood; and He listens to their calling, sighing and crying: for He calls those blessed already, who here weep and suffer for righteousness' sake, of whom you are one now. Matt. 5:4. Hence, O my flesh, my blood, comfort yourself with these promises, this I pray you; for those who sow here in tears,shall hereafter reap in great joy. Ps. 126:5. Oh, therefore do not think, my dear lamb, that the tears you now weep will have been wept in vain; for they have already come before the face of the Lord. Hence, be patient yet for a short time, this I entreat you; for He will not have you here long, I hope, but will also take you away from the evil to come, and bring you to sure rest in His chamber, as the prophet Isaiah (57:1, 2) says, Because you, according to your feeble ability, desire to walk uprightly unto the end, to which may the merciful, dear Father help you, through the help and power of His Holy Spirit; faithful is He who will doubtless do it. I Thes. 5:24. Further, my dear, chosen and beloved wife and sister in the Lord, as I cannot yet draw my fatherly and solicitous heart away from you, but would so gladly from my inmost soul, present you, in and according to your weakness, perfect and blameless before God, it is my humble and kindly request, that you will sincerely love your neighbor, and always remember the poor saints of the household of God, even as you have hitherto had such a disposition. Let your love herein not grow less, but much rather increase. Always remember Christ's words, where He says, "The poor ye will always have with you." Matt. 26:11. And it is manifest that there are always poor among or in the house of God. Heb. 3:6. Bear in mind that it is a great and acceptable work before the Lord; wherefore Sirach says that the alms of a man is as a purse on the way with him; and it will spare him in the judgment. Yea, it blotteth out sin, and covereth the multitude thereof; for mercy glorieth against judgment, says James (2:13). Hence, give diligence also in this, as I am confident you will; and though there is no necessity for writing you this, yet I hope it will tend to your best interests, so that after my departure you will not grow slack. I furthermore, entreat you yet, my dearly beloved lamb, that you will always associate with the pious, that you may attain to greater piety and discretion. And desire the reasonable, sincere milk, namely, to hear the Word of God, that you may thereby grow and increase in every good work. I Peter 2:2. And live in quietness (you know what I mean); this I earnestly entreat you; and wait for the day of your redemption, which, perhaps, is not far off. Herewith I will take my leave and eternal adieu from you, my flesh, my blood, and humbly entreat you once more, for the sake of the eternal salvation of your soul, and by all the great love that you have ever had to me, that after my departure you will be mindful of my writing, and heartfelt entreating and admonishing; whether done by writing or orally; and do not let it remain with you as a dead letter or a fable, but make frequent use of it as a prescription tending to your health, and keep it in the strong box of your heart as a perpetual treasure and memorial; for it will bring you more profit than many pieces of fine gold and silver. Oh, the time is approaching rapidly, and I will therefore cease writing and everything else; hence it is my affectionate request, if you love me and the eternal salvation of your soul, fulfill my request, according to your feeble ability, and depart neither to the right nor to the left, whether through the cross of bonds or imprisonment, or any other cause; and if God, the merciful, dear Father makes you worthy to suffer for His name, be not
afraid; for I should never have thought that bonds and imprisonment could cause so little conflict to one that has renounced himself, and has a heartfelt desire to be at home; hence, fear them not. Now, my affectionately beloved, chosen lamb, and dear sister in the Lord, my time is fulfilled, the days are spent, the years are finished; I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (II Tim. 4:7); so that my enemies who set themselves against me have been put to shame (Psalm 53:5); for through my God I have gained the victory, who has delivered me out of the jaws of the lions and the mouth of hell, and shall also deliver me from every evil (II Tim. 4:17, 18), and save me at His coming, and give me the true promised land, which I have seen by faith, and tasted of its fruits, wherefore I have a heartfelt longing for it. Oh, assist me to thank and praise the merciful, dear Father, that I have safely come through the wilderness of this evil, wicked and perverse world, and am now standing before Jordan, through which only I have yet to pass. Though it is somewhat terrible to behold, yet I do not fear it at all, for I am sure that my God will succor me, and make me ready, so that I shall pass through it safely and unharmed; for faithful is He that promised it to me, and He will never leave me, nor forsake me, so that I may boldly say, "The Lord is with me; I fear not what man may do unto me." Ps. 56:4; Heb. 13:5, 6. They have come for me.