As this Matthias Servaes was an elder and teacher of the church, it happened, A. D. 1565, that one evening he had met with some friends at a certain place in Cologne, to minister unto them with the Gospel. But there was a Judas, to whom this was known; the same went and fetched the double watch, who immediately came fully armed, and entering the house in which the meeting was held from the rear, broke up the meeting and captured the flock, with beating, raging and fury; but those assembled went with them like sheep, to the Beyen tower. There all their names were taken down, and they were brought into other, separate places. They were asked with great importunity, who their teacher was; in response to which question, Matthias Servaes himself confessed that he was the man. They sought to draw him from Christ and His holy Word, attempting it in various ways, with deception and subtilty, with entreaties and threats; and as he repelled all these wiles, he was severely tortured; however, he was not terrified by any torture or pain, but firmly kept in his heart that which God had revealed to him. Afterwards, in the morning, he was taken to prison, where also many a snare was laid to catch his soul. From prison he was brought bound before the penal court, where the imperial mandates were read to him, and he was delivered into the power of the executioner, to be put to death by the latter, according to the mandate.
Matthias was ready, and suffered himself to be led like an innocent lamb to the slaughter. He lifted up his eyes toward heaven, folding his hands, and said, "O my Father, I praise Thy name, that I am counted worthy of this."
Much people flocked together, to see this; some of them felt sympathy for him, and said, "It is a pity indeed, that this fine man has to die for such a deed."
On the way a young woman happened along, who wanted to speak to him; but they apprehended her, and thrust her from him. Afro a lad wanted to greet him, whom they seized likewise, but the count commanded them to let him go. Before he arrived at the place of execution, he looked around him and said, "I have many people present on my day. It were a pity indeed, if all these should perish." And when he was now about td die, he said aloud, "O God, Thou dost know iull well, for what I have striven and what I have sought in my life, from the beginning, day and night." And to the count he said. '£i'ou well know, sir count, how you have treated me; but I have forgiven you all; it is all out of my heart." And thus terminated the life of this pious man, he being executed with the sword. Now, as to what was his confession before and afterwards, what he met with in prison, and how he admonished, comforted and strengthened his brethren, all this may be found in the following letters written by him.
The saving grace of God and the peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, be multiplied to all believers, through the ministration and unction of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Further, my most beloved brethren in the Lord, I inform you that I am still very well, both according to the flesh and the spirit, in body and in soul, outwardly and inwardly. For I esteem it all very good whether it be joy or sorrow, yea, life or death; for I live not to myself, nor do I die to myself; for whether I live, I live unto the Lord, and whether I die, I die unto the Lord; for I am in His hand, and I am sure that no man shall pluck me out of it; yea, I now look upon death as gain; I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, my Lord; for whatever I meet with, all tends to my comfort. Romans 14:7, 8; II Cor. 5:15; John 10:28; Phil. 1: 21, 23. I am now confined here for the promotion of the Gospel, and my bonds become manifest only to the praise of the Lord, I trust, and not to mine own, and to the consolation of all the pious that are under like chastisement, and to the strengthening of their purpose. Hence I rejoice in my sufferings, that I am counted worthy by the Lord to suffer reproach for His name (of which I nevertheless count myself unworthy), to fill up that which is behind of His afflictions, and entailed on His members. Colossians 1:24. And as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so I find my consolation abounding much more by Christ, who abundantly comforts me in all my sufferings, and by His help I shall succeed, and also all those who recognize Him as the supreme good, and are thereby induced to love Him above all, so that they gladly hate and depart from everything for His sake, that they may be loved only by the Lover. That we may do all this from filial love, this I wish you and me, and all those who sincerely desire it, through Jesus Christ, firmly and unwaveringly unto the end. Amen.
Further, my L: B. H., and all that are appointed to watch over the souls of men, exercise your office with diligence, that you may not be found slothful, drowsy or negligent in it; but that you may be faithful watchmen, who truly and honestly lead out and feed the flock of Christ, and this with all humility and meekness; yea, as a father over his children who severely reproves the wrong-doing of his children; and though he cannot bring them to the point where he would like to have them, yet his fatherly nature will not allow him to forget them, ro that he should not regard them as his children; and though his heart is often grieved by their disobedience and folly, he does not cease to chasten and instruct them, hoping that they will yet become obedient; and though it causes him much sadness and sorrow, he does not regard it, nor ceases to admonish, chasten and correct them. Thus do also you; give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to reproof, and this with all discretion, in the fear of the Lord, not too severely, lest they become embittered; neither too leniently, lest they wax slothful and negligent. I Tim. 4:13; Col. 3:21. Hence apply to them oil and wine, as did the true Samaritan to the wounded man. I think you understand what I mean. Be therefore not slothful or careless with the gift that has been bestowed upon you; be faithful to Him that has esteemed you faithful, and accepted you as His ministers, and stewards of His mysteries. But it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. Hence be diligent laborers of the Lord in His vineyard, and faithful builders in His house. And put the pound which you have received from the Lord diligently out upon usury, and remember the punishment of the slothful servant, who did not give his money into the bank, but put it into a napkin and hid it in the earth.
Remember it, I say, my dear brethren, and let it be a warning to you, even as Solomon says that the field of the slothful, and the vineyard of the man void of understanding were a warning to him, when he says, "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it and received instruction." Prov. 24:30-32. Thus also you, my dear brethren. be careful, and diligently dig through the vineyard of the Lord, with the plow or the hoe which breaks in pieces the hard stones, which is the word of God. (Jer. 23:29); so that the nettles and thorns may not oppress, destroy or choke the good seed that has been sown. Take also the sharp,
two-edged sword (Eph. 6:17) , and cut off clean the unfruitful, evil and dry branches, that the others may be more healthy and vigorous to bring forth fruit. Inspect also carefully the wall of the vineyard; if it begins to give way anywhere, prop up that part; if there are any openings in it, go to work and close them; and if it has. fallen down in any place, build it up again speedily, that the little foxes may not run into the Lord's vineyard, and dig up and spoil it. Cant. 2:15. And what more shall I say? Faithfully feed the flock of Christ, and watch with all carefulness over the souls of men. I Pet. 5:2. Take heed also, that you administer needed reproof, and act and judge without respect of persons, and remember that judgment is God's and not yours. Deut. 1:17. Weigh, therefore, every matter in the balance of the divine Word: so that when you reprove, judge, or forgive anything, it may be truly reproved, judged or forgiven also before the judgment of God, and thus your reproof agree with God's reproof, your judgment with God's judgment, and your forgiveness with God's forgiveness. Take heed also, that you do not carry avoidance too far, lest it prove a stumbling-block to you. For avoidance is good indeed if it is not abused; however its purpose is solely to avoid offenses (to which end it is instituted);' hence we must take heed that we do not, while seeking to avoid little offenses by it, cause greater ones. Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:11; II Thess. 3:14. Bestow great attention upon the first commandment with promise, namely, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord." Eph. 6:1. This is an express word; hence be careful herein. Show a friendly face to all apostates, and admonish them with all kindness to that which they have surrendered and forsaken, and from which they have fallen: I mean such as receive admonition; for blasphemers and mockers are to be left alone. II Thess. 3:15;, Tit. 3:10.
Dear brethren, I do not write you this as something new, but to remind you of the old; for I should like.to see carefulness exercised, and that one Scripture should not be observed so strictly and rigidly as thereby .to violate another. For sometimes some resort to avoidance all on a sudden, without the least discretion, and pity for the fallen. Hence I advise carefulness. For if we are to have the mind of our Lord Jesus; yea, are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, then let us from the heart consider His longsuffering, and how He has borne with us, and let us also show ourselves thus toward our fellow servant, that we may give offense to no one, neither to the world, nor to the church of God. Phil. 2:3, 5; Matt. 5.:48; Col. 3:12; Matt. 18:29; I Cor. 10:32. And be also not slothful in seeking .men's souls; wherever you have some hope, there go. Say not, "It will be labor lost." Put your hand to the plow first, in the fear of the Lord, and ask Him to give the blessing; but you do the planting and watering. Pray the Lord to give the increase. And if then your endeavors are unsuccessful, you are free. For I have often felt accused, that we have not much more sought men's souls, to the praise of the Lord.
O brother, beware of contentious tongues. Wherever you go, there make peace, if it can be done by the grace of God. O my dear brother, how greatly I am grieved on account of what was done in.the upper country. Not, that you should think that I am doubtful; Oh, no, my brother; for I am still of the same mind as indicated in the letter which I wrote to them; but I am fearful simply of the discord, by which many who would like to see it remedied, and are innocent, might perish. I do not know what account can be given for this before God. Oh, that those who are found guilty in this matter might fall down, with weeping before God, and repent of their sins! I am also concerned about the' lower country, and should like to see them helped, and put under good order, for I find them still wanting in many things; yet I sincerely love them, but I should like to see them yet put off much of their pride, and that they would consider what kind of people they ought to be, and to what they are called, so as to govern themselves accordingly, and that. the. elders do not stay at home when meeting is held. I do not say that it can be remedied right away. Do you also heartily receive it? O my dear brethren, be little and low, in your own eyes, and be not self-complacent, so as to think: I have done this, and the like. It is nothing; the Lord, and He alone, does all things, and this by man. Hence, give Him alone the praise. And let no one esteem himself better than others; yea, let each esteem other better than themselves. And let all submit one to another, and in lowliness of mind let each serve the other. Phil. 2:3; Eph. 5:21. .And I desire of all brethren and sisters, that they beware of all,those who leave the church. And if you can tell L: to advise with himself in the time of grace; for how shall he be able to give an account in the day of judgment? For his own conscience, if he properly considers the matter, will accuse him. O L., O L., come back; for you are not in the best way. O my brethren, how much I had to suffer on account of the many factions! Hence beware of
divisions. Seek peace, if you can, and ensue it. I Pet. 3:11.
O my dear brethren, what liars I have had before me! Cassander, a man little and feeble of body, who led astray Joachim Suycherbacker, visited me, and laid many. little snares, to take captive my mind. He read to me a book printed in Latin, which stated that infant baptism was considered a clear commandment and a unanimous practice throughout the whole world, no one gainsaying it, and he declared, though not with power of divine Scripture, that they had received it from the apostles; and when I denied this with the New Testament, they asked me, how, if I denied and did not believe this, I could believe that the New Testament was true; for, said he, we had the latter from them, who recognized infant baptism as right; and that there had been many other writings that
were also called apostolical, but were nevertheless not acknowledged as authentic, but rejected by them, but that they testified that all teachers confessed that this (namely, the New Testament,) was the true apostolical doctrine, as also their baptism. They wanted to know, how, if we meant to reject one, we would maintain the other; for, said they, you must believe it from them, else you could not know it. Thus, also with baptism; and he further said that if we were right, it would follow from it, that there was no church for 1,500 years.
Of this nearly all treated who conversed with me: for many and various persons visited me. There was there one who, as they said, had just come from Egypt; him they also brought to me, and he claimed that in Egypt they had received infant baptism from the eunuch who was baptized by Philip, and that he knew of no other baptism; but that if an adult person that had not been baptized desired baptism, the faith should first be presented to such an one. This, they said, had always been the sole practice there, and that if any one opposed it, they said to him, " We have this practice from the apostles." But I denied it all with the New Testament, and said, that whatever agreed with the same, I would gladly accept, and believe by the help of God; and nothing else. Then I had to hear again, that the New Testament had been handed down to us by the teachers; otherwise, if we did not have it from them, we could not tell whether it were true or false. This they said many times. I replied to them: It did not avail the King of Assyria anything, that God used him for the conversion of his people, since he did not become converted himself. Isaiah 10:5. Thus also it did not help Pharaoh, in his wickedness, that the power of God was made known and manifest to him. Thus, also, Caiaphas was not benefitted by his prophecy concerning Christ (though the same was true), because he himself was not ebedient to the doctrine of Christ. With this I gave God alone the praise, saying that we had His Word from Him. Thereupon they began to seek to move me by many entreaties and solicitations; but when they could accomplish nothing thereby, they commenced to threaten me severely; and when they perceived that all this was of no avail, but only labor lost, they tortured me and our Brother Herman, which happened on the 17th of July. But thanks be to the good God-who does not forsake His own, but, in time of suffering and affliction, comforts them at the right time-He kept our lips, so that they did not obtain one word (according to their will) from us, concerning what they asked us. Herman, however, was soon released. The chief reason why we were tortured, was, that we should tell how many teachers there were, what their names were, where they lived, where in the city I had taught, how many I had baptized, where the ministry was imposed upon me, and what teachers were present upon that occasion; and that I should acknowledge the magistrates as Christians, and infant baptism as right. Then I pressed my lips together, committed it to God, and suffered patiently, remembering the words of the Lord, where fie says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." John 1 5:13, 14. I also remembered that John says that we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren, I John 3:16. It seems as though I must suffer much yet; however, the Lord alone holds it in His hand; nor can I pray otherwise than that the will of the Lord be done.
O my brethren, knowledge or talk is of no account here, but a living faith which is adorned with the power of love, patience, hope, and with obedience, and that through the power of faith one can say with the three men Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer-thee in this matter. If it be so, our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, (O antichrist) that we will not serve thy god, nor worship the image, or the two golden calves which thou hast set up.,Dan. 3:16-18. And that, if they should attempt to instruct one with high-sounding words of human wisdom, yea, with soft words and entreaties (Col. 2:4, 8), we could say through the power of .faith, "Begone, I want none of your advice: and should then keep his lips sealed. But if one enters into more discussion with them than necessity requires, he will not escape unharmed. Hence I wish that all prisoners were instructed in this matter."
Few days pass that we do not talk together; yet, I observed as much brevity as possible in confessing and speaking, though frequent three or four hours were spent in this manner. ~ warn all prisoners, whenever you can, that they refuse everything; and remember us day and night, by praying to God. Thus we are also minded toward you, and I desire that you greet all believers much with the kiss of love, in our name.
Oh, how all believers lie at my heart, so that I very seldom forget them; yea, I remember them with earnest prayers and requests (as much as is possible to me through the grace of God) before the Lord. I cannot write you much, for writing is more precious than gold with me. Do not write us; as to the reason why, ponder it yourselves. The God of Israel keep you and us. Amen.
Matthias Servaes, your brother and prisoner of the Lord for the truth's sake. As regards the children the bringing up of whom devolves upon the church, I adhere to the opinion you have heard of me. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with,us all. Amen.
The saving grace of God be with us all. Amen. I desire that as soon as possible a Dutch Testament be procured for my wife (who then was not imprisoned), for she cannot read the German print.
Further, my dear brother, I inform you that I am. alone now, but the Lord is with me. It seems evident to me, that I shall have little opportunity of seeing our brethren that are also imprisoned, and it is quite probable that for the first my condition shall not be the best. Hence I know not how to thank God enough, and though I should like to be with my brethren, yet I prefer it much more as it is; for since it pleases God thus, I also deem it the best and most conducive to my salvation. And though it grieves me not a little, yet I do not count it pain, because the Lord has so ordered it with me. The following Thursday, the same morning that they brought me, at a very early hour, from the Franken tower, to our prison, our brethren were also to be tortured, for the tapers and candlesticks stood near the rack, and everything was ready; but when they brought me there, they began to talk with me, and to question me; and before they had done questioning me, and I had confessed my faith and office before many of them, and, in turn, had also put many questions to them, to which I was impelled by certain reasons, half the day had slipped by, and after long and much talking, when they could not answer me any further (for which I gave the praise to God alone, and not to me), one of them (he who had chiefly done the questioning and talking) said to me that baptism was our greatest error. Thereupon I replied, "If that is our greatest error, and you -therefore apprehend and rack us, why do you not first place the abominable errors and ungodly life of the priests by the side of ours, and then judge one against the other, without respect of persons, as before the eyes and the judgment of God; and, whichever error then be found the greater, visit summary punishment upon it (if you have any for it)." But he did not deign me a reply.
When I perceived this, I said, "We are nevertheless also human beings, and you no more; nor can I, from fear of God, esteem you more than men. Hence, consider fhe matter well, and do not deal so cruelly and tyrannically with us; for the Lord will visit and punish all violence, and He is the judge over all this. Amos 5:12. Remember also, that in due time you will have to let us stand by the side of you, when the Lord will judge you and us together; for, as the Scripture says, we shall all stand before the judgment.seat of Christ; and there everyone shall receive in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Rom. 14:10; II Cor. 5:16. Yes, then your judgment will appear again, and be sifted there by the Lord. And I desire of you, my dear sir, that you do not take this as an insolent answer or threat, but accept it as a warning; for as such I say it to you, because I wish you eternal rest, as well as I wish it to my own soul. Therefore lay it well to heart, and take good heed how you deal with us." Here it rested, and thus our brethren were for this time exempted from torture, and I put in their stead. They led me to the rack (where I still lie) and wanted to torture me simply because I would not tell where I had been with Henry last, .and how many teachers there were, and where they lived. When they had asked me this many times, I wanted to know of them the reason, why they were so anxious to know it; whereupon the count replied to me, "If we were to tell you this, you would probably answer that you did not want to betray any one." Then I said, "You answer yourself;" after which I spoke several times with him yet. As they persisted in demanding to know this, and the sole object was treachery, I determined to give the matter into their hands before proceeding to confess; hence I told them to retire into their own hearts and confess the truth, as before God in heaven, and then to say whether they would or dared advise me this. In this manner T asked them several times, but received no answer; and thus they desisted and turned away from me, and said among themselves, "The matter were well enough, if it would not finally give rise to an insurrection."
I commend you all to God. I have not the time, for the present, to write you more. Remember us always before the Lord. Amen.
Peace and joy in the heart, through the operation of the Holy Ghost, be multiplied unto you, and unto all believers that are in Christ Jesus. Amen. Yea, also unto those who are willing to recognize God as the supreme good, and desire, solely from love, as an obedient child his father, to serve and follow Him with a true and firm confidence, through faith in Jesus Christ, steadfastly and immovably unto the end. Amen.
Dear brethren, we have received the breakfast you sent us, thanks to God for it. I send you in return a little out of my poverty; receive it also with thanks, and communicate it to our other fellow members, wherever it is profitable for edification and improvement, wherever it is needful, wherever it is edifying for the hearers. Whenever you compose, write or speak anything, do all to the praise of the Lord, and compose it for a hymn of thanksgiving, through Christ, to the God of heaven, that He has given His people such a faith, which is not dead, but works by love, so that they have forsaken and hated everything, and out of love (such as a child owes to his father), adhered faithfully to their God even unto death. But leave out the count and everything else, as much as possible; for he
says that he has been villified in the hymn of Thomas the printer which was certainly not the intention, though it is taken thus. He says that though he meant it well, he was reprehended for it by many. Therefore, my brother, whatever you do in word and in deed, do all to the praise of the Lord, and give thanks to God the Father through Him.
Furthermore, my dear brother, I inform you, that Henry Altruyscher, who resides in the Egelstein, and generally retails red wine there, has been here to see me. He entered into conversation with me, and wanted to know whence I had my office or ministry. But I recognized him, and wanted him to tell me his name. He said he did not know that. But I asked further, and said, "Do not people call you Henry?" He said several times that he did not know: Then I told him to go away and repent, since I did not want to talk with him. The count was displeased, and incensed at me, and determined to persuade me to engage in conversation with Altruyscher; but I said, "No; I will not do it."
I wanted to inform you of this very briefly, my dear brother; for I have not time to write much; besides, I am closely watched. And I desire that you walk steadfastly in the fear of God, with all humility, meekness, kindness, and goodness. And do not please yourself; but much rather endeavor to please your neighbor for his good to edification; and tell this also to the others. Herewith I commend you to the grace of God. Remember us in your prayers before the Lord, as also we, through the grace of God, are purposed to do for you and all men, as much as the Word of the Lord teaches us. But the God of peace and of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, make us perfect in every good work, to do His eternal, immovable will, and cause that our works may be pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Yea, may the same also confirm, strengthen, stablish, and prepare us who are ready here to suffer, through Him, reproach for His name's sake, if this is to be. To Him be honor and might forever. Amen. Otherwise, we are still well in body and soul. We are in good hopes that we shall help fulfill the number of those that lie under the altar, and shall rest with them, and wait for the glorious reward of all the pious. Greet the brotherhood in Christ Jesus, in my name. The grace of God be with us all. Amen.
The grace of God that bringeth salvation, and the peace of Jesus Christ; be multiplied unto all believers that are scattered here and there, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, sanctified and justified through faith in Jesus Christ His dear Son, and washed in His own blood from all our sins, in order that we should henceforth be holy and without blame before Him in love, to His praise and honor, now and forever. Amen.
O my most affectionately beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord, we ought justly to thank God the Father without ceasing day and night, through Jesus Christ His Son, for our salvation, yea, for the fatherly grace He has shown us, and has foreseen and ordained us from the beginning, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, which latter He did not forget to show us. Though for a time we regarded Him but little, yet He, according to His goodness (as He alone is good) did not forget us. Yea, when we were dead through infirmities and sins, He called us to life; and this not according to our works (for these were evil), but according to His great mercy he saved us; and while we were sinners, He reconciled us by the death of His Beloved. And though we have set at naught and disregarded all this, He notwithstanding, at the end of the world, yea in these evil days and deplorable times, now that wickedness is at its height, has manifested His longsuf£ering toward us, and not desired our death (nor that of any sinner), but that we should be converted, and live, and commit the keeping of our souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator and Shepherd. Hence it behooves us, dear brethren and sisters, that we attend in the fear of God to the calling wherein we are called; for we are called with a holy calling; mark, to what: not to uncleanness, not to lasciviousness, not to fornication, not to gluttony, not to carousing, not to pomp and pride, that one should please himself, or put on a pleasing appearance before others, in order thereby to seek praise with men, which praise is not of God, but contrary to God;' for all the above-mentioned points, if we practice them, shut us out from the kingdom of God. Neither are we called to covetousness, which is idolatry, that we should lay up treasures for ourselves, and seek riches, that we should prepare an earthly, present kingdom, or to trust in uncertain riches, and thus be conformed to the world. Mark, he says: to the world. But whom does the world serve? Who is its lord? Who is its prince? What does Christ say on this subject? He calls the devil the prince of this world. What is it like, with all its glory, the iust of the eyes, and its pride? It is like the grass with its beautiful flowers, which today is pleasant, green and glorious to behold; but in the morning, yea, also in the evening, all its beauty and all its glory are vanished. Thus it is also with all the comeliness of man; but few know themselves. I speak not only of those that are without, but include also ourselves. For who is there that, if riches come to him, does not to some extent set his heart upon them? Or who does sincerely pray with King Solomon, "Lord, give me neither riches nor poverty; but give me only that which I need." Prov. 30:8. Oh, consider it well,
all you who profess to be Christians, and give diligence to walk with a pure conscience in the truth before God, that in the melting furnace (if you should get into it yet) you will have no regrets to cause you to prove dross, or to look back. For, my dear brethren, in this trial a dead faith is of no account, however glorious the same may seem in the eyes of men, and with however many Scriptures it may be clearly demonstrated, and professed with the mouth; much less will it avail before a strict God and His righteous judgment; for whatever is to stand here and there must be genuine; yea, it must be done through a living faith which works by love. And such a faith is not in him who does not firmly grasp God, and believe and confess that heaven and earth, and all creatures, the sea and all that therein is, owe to Him praise and blessing, thanks and honor (to Him alone, and to none else, I say, it is due).; and who does not write it in his heart and inmost thoughts, and learns to know himself, that he is preeminently created and made exalted and glorious, namely in the image of God and after His likeness, a possessor and ruler of the things that in this world are created for Him; yea, adorned and endowed with reason and knowledge, to discern between good and evil, and to know Him who is the Creator of all things, and who has given us our free will, whereby we present ourselves to Him, not by constraint, as other creatures, but in voluntary surrender, and from pure, filial love, thus, "Lord, here am I; what wilt thou have me to do? For I acknowledge that I owe it to serve Thee, and to do only Thy will, with all my ability, yea with all my strength, so that I am to withhold nothing in this earth, whatever it be, not even my life, nor to refuse in my thoughts to pay Thee the willing debt of obedience, which I owe to Thee, and am to give Thee, not because I expect a reward from Thee, but only that I show thereby that I love Thee; so that we learn to hate all visible things for the Lover's sake, that we may love Him alone above all, and may also be loved by Him."
I write this, my brethren and sisters, in order that we may learn to know God, and why He created man, yea, what He requires of him that he shall do and not do, and why we are to show Him love and obedience; so that we may not seek righteousness or salvation from our works, from what we do or not do; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified before the Lord, as Paul says. Gal. 2:16. Nor shall we be able to pay what we owe; but we hope to be justified and saved only through the grace of God, through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 15:11. . Hence let everyone take heed that (as said above) he so love God, that he obey Him only from such love, without hoping for a reward for any works or merits of his own; but let him commit everything to Him, so that He may give us what He will, and do with us what is well-pleasing to Him. If we are thus resigned in everything, we shall not miss it, and our hope will not be vain, but sure. But if this (as said) be not found thus with us, though we speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have a faith so that we could remove mountains, and bestow all our goods upon the poor, and give our bodies to be burnt, what is it all if it is a work of constraint, and not a voluntary work of love?
Therefore wake up, all you that have to be driven to piety like horses and mules, that must be driven and beaten to the field. As soon as driving and beating is left off, there is no more work. Oh, the unfaithful Christians and slothful servants, who have in their faith no more force to work than that if they are told, "Do this and leave undone that;" they are impelled to take a few steps forward. I say, alas! for such poor Christians, that do not drive themselves! Hence let also those 'take good heed who show liberality or minister of their substance, that the Pharisaical trumpet of boasting be not blown or heard before them; for if any showeth mercy, let him do it with cheerfulness and gladness; and if any giveth, let him do it with simplicity (Rom. 12:8) without seeking any glory, for it is a work which we are in duty bound to show to our neighbor out of love. Therefore, all our works are to be done in love, that we may not show such ministration through hope of reward, but from sincere love and mercy. For it is not man's but the Lord's. I Cor. 10:26. Hence I believe that if righteousness came by our works, then Christ would have died in vain; but God forbid. Gal. 2:21. Therefore let also every one that receives such benefactions, take heed, for Christ says, "Ye gave me meat, ye gave me drink, ye clothed me, ye took me in." Matt. 25:35. Hence if we give food or drink to Christ, they who receive such benefaction must be ingrafted members of Christ. And if one receives the ministration who is none of His, how will he be able to answer for it when he is placed before Him?
Hence, you that receive the alms dispose of them in the fear of the Lord, that you may be able to stand before God; for there account and answer must be rendered for everything. And watch diligently over the poor, and over the forsaken widows and orphans, and let them have a place in your heart, as your own children.
Remember the words of Sirach where he says, "Be as a father unto the fatherless, and instead of a husband unto their mother: so shalt thou be as a son _of the Most High, and he shall love thee more than thy mother doth." Sir. 4:10. Beware also with all diligence that no discriminating may be found to exist among you, in the matter of bringing up, and of showing love; for herein some err greatly so that it is not a service of love, but of constraint; which is not pleasing to God.
And I desire of the widows, that they be quiet and attend to their business, and not think that they are more than others. No, that is neither the meaning nor intention of Paul (I Tim. 5:3), but this is what is meant."That they should be watched over,
and counsel and instruction given them, if they need such, and that they should also follow brotherly advice, and beware of unprofitable conversation, of wantonness, and of the lust of the flesh; also of slothfulness, and going about from house to house, for this, first of all, ought not to be, and she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, will also beware of it; and she trusteth in God alone, and continueth in supplications and prayers to God day and .night; but she that liveth in pleasure is dead while,she liveth."
I also sincerely desire of all believing brethren that have wives (over whom they are placed as the head, even as Christ is the Head of His church), that you watch over them; and diligently attend to your office, so that you may rule your house, and your wives, even as Christ His church.
Thus also, you wives, watch with all carefulness, and attend with discreet prudence to youri office,into which you are placed by the.Lord;-that you be obedient unto your husbands as unto the Lord, so that you may be able to stand, before the righteous God; and, bring up your children in such a manner that you can account for it before God; and beware of being too indulgent towards them, lest you. incur the same punishment before the Lord as did Eli, who also was too indulgent towards his sons. Ephesians 5:22; Sir. 7:23, 24.
Likewise you children, obey' your parents in the fear of God with all humility; and do not set yourselves against them, lest you incur the wrath and displeasure of God, like the sons of Eli, like Absalom, Esau, and others like them.
In like manner, I also desire of all manservants and maidservants that you be obedient in all things to your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, and in the fear of God; and remember that you are serving the Lord and not men, for of the Lord you shall receive the just reward. Eph. 6:5-8.
Thus also, you masters, forbear your, threatening, and do to your servants whatever is right and equitable, and know that you also have a Master in heaven with whom there is no respect of persons. Eph. 6:9. Consider if you were servants as you then would have your masters do unto you, even so do now to them. Matt. 7:12. But finally, dear brethren, order your lives and strive to walk only so that it will be conformable to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And since we are to be a chosen generation, and a holy nation, acceptable to the Lord as His peculiar people (I Pet. 2:9), that we should walk. before Him as lights, and should also be a light unto the world; therefore it is necessary for us to give diligence that we may in every respect be found holy and blameless before Him, so that we may see the city of God exalted above all the mountains of unrighteousness that are seen in righteousness, and that it may in no wise be hid: Hence, let also become manifest now the holy radiahce of the divine brightness, before all that are still walking in darkness and show yourselves to all men a pattern of good works, and do not suffer the gift given you by God to remain idle or unemployed but put it out upon usury with the greatest diligence; for the Lord, from whom you have received it, will, at His coming, require it back from you with gain and usury. Matt. 25:14. O my brethren, and all fellow members in Christ, watch diligently, and have your ears open to learn when something may be gained, and grudge not to toil and labor for it, for you will also partake of the gain, yea, you will as faithful servants, be adjudged to eternal joy. But a servant should nevertheless be prudent, that he do not carelessly invest his Lord's money, but with all prudence, yea, with fear and trembling, and he should always before he invests it, consider and calculate whether it may bring gain or loss, lest the Lord's money be eventually lost through carelessness. And since the Lord will require His own with usury, how could we account to the Lord, if we did not have the sum received, nor were able to produce it.
O my dear brethren, let it become manifest who dwells in you (Rom. 8:9); let love and your faith become manifest before all men, and love one another, with 'a pure heart as members of one body, of which Christ is the Head. And forgive one another, if any one have a complaint against any; and even as God; in Christ forgave you, so also do you. -Col: 3:13. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal. 6:2. And be not pleased with yourselves. Let each esteem other better than themselves. Phil. 2:3. Diligently beware of frivolity. And all young brethren and sisters I would faithfully warn against wanton scoffing and mocking; spiteful words and foolish babblings, which are not becoming.
And you older ones, lay this to heart, too, and let neither m your words nor in your works any hypocrisy be found, for I have perceived that some are very subtle or cunning of speech, which I cannot praise, nor have I praised it; for if we are to be simple, we certainly must lay aside craftiness, for, mark, whatsoever is more than yea and nay cometh of. evil. Matt. 5:37. However, hereby is not meant that we should not say more than yea and nay, but that we should end and confirm our words, without anger or dissimulation simply with yea and nay, and thus use moderation, and cut off all excess; that is, we should deal with the simple truth. If one, when asked in regard to something, does not reply with reference to this, but to something else, and then says that he did not err, since what he replied was true, such action is not noble, my brethren. It also happens, now and then that when one has erred in some matter and is then reprimanded for it; lie gives a reason, but which, in fact, is not the reason, doing this to cover himself, and to prevent the error from coming to the light. This is the nature and disposition of the old Adam (which ought justly not to obtain with Christians regenerated by the word of truth), that he would always cover his nakedness with fig leaves; for when he was ad-
dressed by the Lord on account of his transgression, a reason immediately presented itself by which he thought to cover himself; namely,"the woman whom thou gavest me," he said,"gave it me, and I did eat." Gen. 3:12. And, likewise, when Eve was addressed, she laid it to the serpent. But if they had wanted to plainly tell the fundamental cause of their transgression, it would have been"Our curiosity and pride brought us to it, namely we desired to have our eyes opened; to be wise, to know good and evil, to be like God; in short, we saw that the tree was good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, hence we allowed ourselves to be persuaded, and did eat of it." Had they thus answered the Lord, it would have been a true answer. The answerwhich they gave was true; but it was not yet the true kernel or fundamental cause of their fall and transgression. But in order that you may thoroughly comprehend the true sense and meaning of what we have written here, we will present to you a single comparison by way of example. Suppose a believing husband had an unbelieving wife, who should give birth to a living child; and the husband would fain retain the friendship of his neighbors and the world, and remain in possession of his house and home, and yet wished also to be at peace with Christ and His people (though. this, according to the Word of God, is impossible, for no one;. as Christ says, can serve two contrary masters at the same time). Hence he should say to his wife that he did not intend to consent that the abomination of antichrist, (you understand what I mean), should be applied to the child. And though. he could change it, and persuade his wife to obey im in the matter, yet he should allow it to be done without himself taking any notice of it, thinking with himself, "If she does it, I can notwithstanding remain at ease, and in the enjoyment of my possessions: and shall not be persecuted by the world, and if the brethren take me to task for it, I can say that it was done without my consent by my wife." See, my brethren, this would certainly not be a true, simple answer, as you may judge for yourselves. Many other like Oxamples and comparisons might be adduced; however, for the sake of brevity 1 will forbear for the present. I desire that you will yourselves meditate more deeply on this, than I have shown you here; and be warned hereby to beware of such dissimulation. For though a man cover himself before his fellows (with such fig leaves, made by him into an apron), so that his nakedness is not seen, yet God beholds his reins and can search the heart, and He knows the thoughts and intents of all men, and will also judge all works and purposes; also, all secrets and hidden things, whether they do good or evil. Therefore give diligence that in all your words and works, in all your walk and conversation, you practice simple sincerity, as becomes the children of God, and our calling demands. And if any among you be overtaken by a fall, let him confess it simply and truly, without dissimulation, just as it is, and let him not be ashamed to confess it, since he was not ashamed to commit it; else it might be to his sorrow. He that covereth his sins, it is written, shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Prov. 28:13. T have told you before, and tell you again, that before men one can sometimes justify himself with a fair pretense, and cover himself with an apron of fig leaves; but whether it shall stand the test when brought to the touchstone, each may see for himself.
This ought to be well considered by those whose daily business is that of trading, whom I would rather see engaged in some honest kind of labor, than in trafficking, and this not without reason. For as a nail sticketh fast between the joinings of the stones, so doth sin stick close between buying and selling, as Sirach says. Unless you hold yourself diligently in the fear of God, your house shall soon be overthrown. Sir. 27:2, 3. And in whatever I may in all these things have erred, or grieved any one, I am sorry for it from the bottom of my heart. But thanks be to God in heaven, who has given me poor weak servant an unwounded or uncondemned conscience (of which I acknowledge myself unworthy); for I never had greater joy on earth as long as I can remember, than I now have. May the Lord preserve me from speaking boastingly; however, I have no doubt that He, whose unworthy servant I have been in my weakness, will not suffer me to be confounded. I have heartily desired, and so still heartily desire it, if I, of God, should be counted worthy, I might be led through the whole city of Cologne, and scourged with rods, and then cast back in prison. Not that I seek any merit by it, Oh no, but that what the Lord has put into me might become known and manifest before all men, to His praise, and not to mine. However, the will of the Lord be done; nor do I wish anything else, the Lord knows, cost what it may. And I desire from the bottom of my heart, yea, command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep that which God has entrusted to you, for it is the truth; this I testify before God and man. No matter who shall approach you, do not listen to them. Let the Hutterites* slander as much as they please. God keep me from them, namely from the doings of their teachers. I am free in my heart on their account, in regard- to all the dealings I have had with them. And if they say that I dared not renounce because of the people (as I understand that they have said concerning our brother Thomas), I reply,"No;" for I know no man on this earth, so dear to me that without the faith I would lay down my life for him. But thanks to the Lord I have found this in me, and do still find it strongly in me, that I will much rather lay down my life for my brethren, than bring into trouble or reveal any one, in order thus to save my life; this I say, God knows, from faith, and not in
* Or Moravians.
a spirit of boasting. But as many among them as please God, whether I have seen them or not, these, as also others, I do not judge, for they stand to the Lord. Rom. 14:4.
I likewise tell you to leave the others be where they are except they sincerely come back in the matter of marriage, and the other articles, and humble themselves before God, and also use a little more restraint in their lives than they now do; for pomp and pride stink before the Lord. Therefore they are also not acceptable or pleasing in my eyes. Hence put them off, for they are an abomination unto God; and let not pride and presumption have dominion either in your words or actions; for in pride has originated all destruction, as Tobit teaches his son. Hence humble yourselves from the heart under the mighty hand of God; for He giveth grace to the humble, but resisteth the proud. I Peter 5:5. As regards how it is with me, I inform you that I have entirely committed myself into the hand of the Lord. What His will is, is mine also. I know of nothing better to choose for .myself, than that I might be an acceptable offering to Him, and. might offer up my sacrifice without the gate, in the daytime (Heb. 13:12); Oh, how greatly would I thank Him. Oh my dear fellow members, out of what great sorrow the Lord has delivered me, which I carried in my heart day and night, on account of the Nederland journey: but Oh, what a faithful God! how well He knows how to deliver out of temptation, at the right time, those who can trust Him for it from the heart. I Cor. 10:13; II Peter 2:9.
.It often occurred to me that I should not get away-that the Lord should order it otherwise; as my dear wife and sister in the Lord well knows, for I often conversed with her about it, the Lord be thanked forevermore. I took leave from all the churches, and heartily asked every one among them to forgive me if I had grieved them. I did the same towards them, and then went away. Brit a far better journey was in store for me, on which I now ,am, the Lord be praised for it, for I am in good ,hope that, through the grace of God, it will tend to my great advantage. Oh, my brethren, my heart ,is full of joy, yea, it is running over with it. It seems to me, for very joy, that I see the heavens opened. Oh, that I might by writing (since I am prevented from conversing with you), pour out my heart to you and refresh it. My ink is almost exhausted. As it is with me, so it is also with Joosken. and Herman, my dear fellow prisoners and brethren. We wait for our God, and greet you all with a holy kiss. And the salutation with mine own hand is this, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be .with all believers in Christ unto the end. Amen." I Cor. 16:26, etc.
Care for my young orphan children, as also all other orphans, as you would for myself; bring them up with reproof and correction, to piety; teach them to read, and when the time has come, keep them at work. Get Aelken cured, if you can; Z bequeath to him the three pieces of money, the silver piece and the two others; also a Testament ,to each; this shall be their inheritance from their father.
I likewise commend to you my wife, as long as she fears God, as I hope that she will do unto the end, if she gets out. The Lord own what I have told you, and what I have sought concerning all believers,-not riches or treasures on this earth, but the salvation of men's souls. And I desire that you firmly keep together, with teaching, admonishing and reproving. And follow your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls. Heb. 13:17. And you ministers, show yourselves a pattern of good works to all believers, not in semblance only, but in sincerity. Read how Paul admonishes Timothy and Titus; be you also admonished by it. May the Lord give you understanding. Amen.
Dear brethren, concerning our examination and hearing, I wrote to you previously very briefly, as you know. But if I am to write to you, one by one all the questions they put to me, and the answers I gave them, I should require much ink, paper and time; especially, for what was spoken during the day between me and the count, in a friendly manner and also with sharpness; for it is very much. Yet, if we were where the count wishes us, we would be released. His conscience is not easy, but accuses him. May the Lord put true repentance into his heart, and give it a clear sight, to know the will of God, and to discern light from darkness, and that he, in consequence thereof, may hate and utterly forsake darkness and love the true light, and adhere to it with his whole heart, so that he may also, in that clay, with the true children of the light, receive his part from the hand of the Lord. This I wish him and all our enemies and opponents, from God (as much as possible) from the bottom of my heart. Otherwise, it goes still well with us in every respect, in body and soul. We hope to help fulfill the number of the righteous, and to rest with our fathers, and to wait for the glorious reward of all the righteous. .I greet all the believers with a holy kiss. Greet one another with a kiss of love. And do not forget us, nor any of the prisoners; but persevere in strong prayer for us to God, for this is highly necessary. For, it seems to me, it was an easy matter to be imprisoned in the time of our brother Thomas; for the subtlety of men increases every day. Hence, pray diligently for us; we trust also not to forget you; the Lord be with us all. Amen.
By me, MATTHIAS SERVAES,
Your weak brother, and unworthy minister and prisoner of Jesus Christ, whom I serve in the Gospel in my bonds. I hope that my dissolution is near at hand.
I desire of you, J. N. B., that you properly transcribe this, and see that my wife (who is also imprisoned) gets a copy of it. If it pleases you, it
may also be read before the brethren; but if you do not deem it expedient, or promotive of the glory of God, then dispense with it, for I do not in the least seek my own glory by it, but the praise of the Lord and the consolation and joy of believers. My mother I greet in particular, and desire that she serve the Lord without guile; the same I desire of my brother John and my sisters. Written and read with many tears; and this from the heart. You know my brethren, that I did not lightly take up my ministry, but with many tears; in like manner I now resign it. Then I wept for sorrow; but now I weep for heartfelt joy. With tears I received the ministry from you (I believe, also from God); but with many tears of great joy I surrender it back to the Lord (if it pleases Him) and to you. May the Lord manifoldly fill my place with faithful servants. Amen.
Oh, how my heart is in yours. Show a fatherly heart to all, with all humility; and whether it go well or ill with you, ascribe the praise to the Lord, for He causes and does everything, and not we. And do not, under any circumstances, forsake the people in the Nederland; reprove them sharply for pride'; this is my desire. H. and F. and all, keep well that which is committed to your trust, and do not forget it. Greet T. W., my dear brother, whom I love from the heart. Concern yourselves in a godly spirit in the affairs of the Upper Country; prevent divisions among the people wherever you can. This is written to all those who desire that I should write to them, for I cannot write to each individually. I do not seek any glory therein. The grace of God be with us all. Amen. Given the 9th day of July, 1565.
Grace and peace from God the Father, and the prompting of the Holy Ghost to all righteousness, I wish unto you all, my beloved, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Further, I inform you, dear mother, and brother John, and Frances and Barbara, my dear sisters, that according to the flesh it is very well with me (excepting these bonds which I nevertheless also deem good); and according to the soul it is still much better. Praise and thanks for it be to the eternal God, who has ordered it so well with me, unworthy, weak servant; for it had already been determined (as you.yourselves partly know) that I was to leave you; but of this journey, on which I now am, we all knew nothing. This was the journey which I was to take. I have now proceeded on it a little way, and am (thanks to the Lord), not yet worthy of it, though I have hitherto traveled a very dangerous and painful way, and it has cost me many a drop of sweat. I also well know that the delicate children of the Lord must go rough ways, and though I have suffered, and still daily suffer much, from robbers, evil workers, false brethren and deceitful, lying apostles, yet I trust that I shall not look back, but go on joyfully by the help and succor of God, till I come to the blessed end and inherit the beautiful city. Baruch 4:26; II Corinthians 11:26; Rev. 2:2. But He who sent a guide with Tobias, preserved the prophet Daniel in the den of lions, and deprived the fire of its power, so that it could not harm the three men in the fiery furnace, the same, and no other, has also mightily preserved me hitherto, and I feel confident that He will also safely keep me unto the end. Amen.
Hence, my dear mother, and John my brother, and my two sisters, it is my multiplied entreaty and fatherly and brotherly exhortation, that you steadfastly walk in piety before God; for it will avail nothing to cry, "Lord, Lord," if we do not diligently perform what He has commanded. Therefore put your own wisdom and your pride far from you, and beware of sudden anger and violent passions; for they produce no good, but pollute the mind, and defile prayer; and let each take heed that his conscience be not sullied with deceitful, malicious, and perverse thoughts; for they separate from God. And I desire of you, my dear mother, who are very dear to my heart, that you be content with humble fare, and not allow evil thoughts to come into your heart; but thank God for everything, and remember that at Kottenem you often did not have enough to eat. And if you now were still there, and held all the property still in your possession, and had to run and go day and night, laboring and toiling, you would scarce get a living from it. Receive this in good part, my dear mother, for it is all done for your good, that you may keep a pure heart, free from evil thoughts, and thus see God, and be saved. Matt. 5:8. Thus I also desire of you all, that whatever you do, you do voluntarily, without murmurings and disputings, that no one may accuse you. I Cor. 10:10; Phil. 2:14, 15. I had set apart three Kcenigs Thaler,* as a lesson for you brother John, for your and my mother. If you do not already have them, I think you will get. them yet. Keep Barbara at work, and admonish her to fear God from the heart; and this I desire of you all, for there is no one among you with whom I have had more trouble and anxiety: I wish my brother-in-law the highest good from God. Finally, I desire of you, my dear mother. that you do not complain, or grieve too much, on account of my bonds and imprisonment; but thank the Lord, who has kept me, that I have not come into these bonds and imprisonment for evil doing, but for His name's sake; hence neither I nor you need feel ashamed of it. Pray also diligently for me, that He would henceforth preserve me from all evil, and give me a steadfast mind, and true patience, that I may in all temptations and afflictions steadfastly adhere to His word unto the end. And
* King's Dollars.
take, my dear mother, for an example, the manfulness of the mother of the seven sons, of whom we read in II Macc. 7. For said mother of the seven brothers, from perfect wisdom, stirred up her womanly heart with manly thoughts, and said to her sons, "I cannot tell how ye came into my womb; for I neither gave you breath nor life, neither was it I that formed the members of every one of you; but doubtless the Creator of the world, who formed the generation of man, will also of His own mercy give you breath and life again, as ye now regard not your own selves for His law's sake." Behold, mother, what a manful spirit this was; hence be you also manful now, and surrender me willingly to the Lord, from whom you received me; for we are also sure that we shall receive again in that day, and keep forever, the life which we now gladly despise and lose for the name of Christ. This, my affectionate beloved mother, I wanted to present to you very briefly, so that you might be valiant and of good cheer while I am in bonds, and might also not love your life, but willingly resign it for the name of Christ, if it should come to that. And as the Lord has called you almost at the eleventh hour, and sent you into His vineyard, give all the diligence you possibly can, faithfully to do the work of the Lord for this one hour; and remember the .words of the prophet where he says, "Cursed be the servant that doeth the work of his Lord slothfully." Jer. 48:10. Hence be faithful, and wait patiently for the evening, and you will also receive the penny, yea, the beautiful crown, and the glorious kingdom, from the hand of the Lord, together with all the children of God. But may this God, who only is wise, make us prepared unto every good work, to do His will, and grant that our works be acceptable before Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be honor and might forever and ever. Amen.
I commend you all to God; we must part here; entreat God for me, as I for you. I salute all believers.
Grace, peace, and joy in the heart, through Christ, be with you my dearly beloved wife, whom I love from the heart, yea, as my own soul and also with all the prisoners that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Further, my dear sister in the Lord, I reply to your first remark, by which you indicate that it grieves you that I am alone. But, my dear child. I am not alone, but have the comfort of all believers (John 14:26) with me. I do not know whether I ever had greater joy on earth; for I am certain and truly assured that the Lord will not lay on me more than I can bear; for I do not wish to be freed from suffering (if it be the will of the Lord that I suf fer); but may His holy will be done. Hence, my dear child, dismiss this grief from your mind, this I desire. In the second place, you lament your disobedience, that you have not been much more obedient to me; thus I also deplore it from the heart before my God, that I have not been more diligent than I have hitherto been; hence we have no cause for boasting, but much rather for lamenting, for I say with Solomon, "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" Prov. 20:9. And with this agree also the words of Esdras, where he says, "Let not the sinner say that he hath not sinned: for God shall burn coals of fire upon his head, which saith before the Lord God and his glory, I have not sinned. II Esd. 16:53. On this wise, also the apostle John speaks in his first epistle (1:8), saying, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Therefore, dear wife, we may well lament, and pray with David, "O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant, but according to thy loving kindness have mercy upon us, and according to the multitude of thy mercies blot out our transgressions." Ps. 143:2; 51:1. Yea, even though we have done all that we are in duty bound to do, it behooves us nevertheless to say, "We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." Luke 17:10. Hence we are not to place ourselves by the side of them that would be saved and justified by their works; but much rather by the side of those of whom the Scripture says, "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." Rom. 4:7, 8. Perhaps our appointed time upon earth will soon be spent, and the Lord wants to purify us before the end comes; or perhaps we, by reason of weakness, could not have truly known our transgression, except in this manner, in order that it may be truly repented of before we are taken hence. For one can work no truer repentance than thus in the chastisement of bonds. Of this we have a clear example in Manasseh, the King of Judah, who cared not how much the Lord warned him through the prophets; yea, all was of no avail, until he was carried to Babylon into captivity by his enemies. There he first learned to know his sins, and repented. II Chron. 33. The Lord certainly loves us, that He has called us to this place; do not doubt it, my dear wife. Heb. 12:6. Hence let us fully trust the Lord, and cast all doubt from us, lest we fall into greater sins. But if we have sinned, let us do it no more, lest something worse happen to us (John 5:14); and this is also the best repentance, namely to do it no more.
O my dear wife, be of good cheer, and cast.your sorrow or care upon the Lord, for He will care for us; despair not. Remember the kind words of the Lord, where He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28. For the Lord will remember us, and not forget us. Yea, He will forget us much less,
than a mother will forget her child which she has borne nine months. And though a mother .forget her child, yet will He not forget us, but will preserve us as the apple of His eye. Isa. 49:15; Zech. 2:8. But that the Lord permitted our imprisonment, is all for our best, that through such chastisement we may learn true obedience; for thus we can be truly cleansed, and also truly tried, whether we love aught more than our Lord Jesus Christ. It is comparatively easy to forsake husband, wife, children, father, mother, sisters, brothers, houses, or fields, for the name of Christ; but when it comes to a man's own person, and his life is concerned, then it is that he is truly tried and refined, for a man will give skin for skin, yea, all that he has, for his life, as is written in job. But Christ says that one must hate and forsake all this, and his own life also, and take up the cross, and follow Him. And whosoever does not do this, cannot, He says, be His disciple. Luke 14:26, 27. But we can hate or renounce ourselves in no fitter way than by fully surrendering ourselves into the hand of the Lord, so that we may say in truth, "Lord, Thy holy will be done, that is: Lord, what Thou wilt, that be done." Behold, my dear wife, this is true renunciation.
I further desire of you and all prisoners, that each, as much as he finds himself accused in his conscience, humble himself therefore the more before his God; for the time of grace, and the day of salvation, yea, the acceptable time, is still at hand. Let us not cease knocking, until He have mercy on us and open the door far us, and give us, because of our importunity the things we need. For He is a gracious God; He forgives very willingly, and soon repents of the evil; and from those who turn to Him from the heart He will not turn away His face; but they that depart from Him, their names shall be written in the earth. Jonah 4:2; II Chron. 30:9; Jer. 17:13. Therefore, the man that asks Him for grace ought to examine himself as to whether he does it from the heart; for though man lament with the mouth, the Lord knows the heart; hence let everyone be in earnest, for if this be not the case, he cannot succeed. Judith 8. Now let it become manifest whether you truly love God, yea, whether you love Him above all.
Oh, what a great word it is which Peter utters, "That our faith' might be found much more precious than perishable gold, which is tried,by fire." Show now the true virtue of faith, and pay what you promised and vowed to the Lord, and allow not yourself to be turned aside either to the right or to the left, but remain in the middle of the road, and you will enter in. For he that perseveres in the way of the Lord unto the end, he, and no other, shall be saved; to this end, may the gracious God help us all, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
I have to write in great fear. O my dear wife, and you altogether, I commend you into the hand of the faithful God; may He keep you and me stead fast unto the end. Amen. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Receive one another with a holy kiss of love, and remember .me from the heart, which I trust to do with regard to you. And if we may see one another no more on this earth, may the Lord grant us grace and strength, so to acquit ourselves here that we may see one another face to face hereafter, in the eternal joy, with all the children of God. Amen.
O my dear Aeltgen, do not forget what I have often admonished you, namely, that you should firmly keep God before your eyes, and walk uprightly before Him. I mean all of.you with this letter. O Lord, uphold us. Amen.
Now be of good cheer, my dear wife and sister in the Lord, and lay aside all grief; for what man is there (as said above) that can say: I have not sinned, my heart is clean, I am pure from sin, I also might have walked more diligently before you than I have done; however, may God take from us all that is displeasing to Him in us. Amen. Be watchful, my dear sister in the Lord; for the devil seeks to disquiet men.
I have written this in Cunebert's tower, but now we are in the count's house, namely, I Matthias and Herman, and are in daily expectation of being offered up, with which we are heartily satisfied, if God count us worthy. Preserve this letter very carefully from the eyes of those who sharply examine us, lest others get into trouble thereby. The peace of God be with us all. Amen.
Grace and peace be with all believers in Christ Jesus. Amen:
Know further, dear brethren and sisters, that it is still very well with us, namely, with me and Herman; for our hearts are full of joy, yea, running over with it. Time seems as short to us as it ever did. In the night we praise our God with one accord. We are now alone. Eberhard, the bishop's chaplain, visited me again, on the Saturday after St. James' Day, and conversed very affably with me about infant baptism and the resurrection of the dead. And the count entreated me, saying, "Dear Matthias, tell us your fundamental views concerning these articles, for I told you that your people in the other tower confessed that the dead bodies will not rise; but from you I have received no clear answer, and as you have taught them, they must have it from you." I replied, "It is true, Sir Count, you had such a conversation with me the last time, and I then answered to you, as also now, namely, that I call all the prisoners to witness, that I presented no further views in my doctrine (which is not mine, but Christ's), than that the time will came when all the dead will rise from their graves, the righteous
unto life, the wicked unto eternal death, and that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. But that this same flesh and blood which we now have should inherit the kingdom of God, this I did not teach, but the contrary, namely: 'That flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.'" I Cor. 15:50.
Then Eberhard, the chaplain, said that he too did not believe that this flesh and blood should inherit the kingdom of God. I also said, "We shall be changed." Now, he that would know how this will come to pass, and how the dead will rise, and with what bodies they will come, to him Paul says, "Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: but God giveth him a body as it hath pleased him." (I Cor. 15:35). This, I said, is my ground, Oh, that I might become worthy to rise .with the righteous, this is my care; as to how the Lord will give me a body, this I leave to Him, and am well satisfied therewith. More than this I shall confess to neither you nor any other man. Herein, he said, we do not differ much.
I then further said, "The cry now raised against us is: This one has confessed this, and that one, that, and another one something else. My good friend, go among the people, and interrogate each individual separately concerning all the articles; what do you think, would they answer or confess to you anything certain? Certainly nothing at all, or at least but very little.""It is true," he replied. We had much additional conversation yet, concerning what ancient writers say on infant baptism. I rejected them all, and left them to God; but he begged me to consider it. I put the same request to him, and said: ''I feel assured and confirmed in my heart, that it is the pure truth, and I want to live and die for it." I also told them something in regard to their unclean and defective church-the brothel, gambling-house, fencing-school, and their daily life, which they lead in an utterly heathen manner; and also concerning the injustice and violence they, by way of torture, had inflicted upon us, only because we would not be traitors; all this I told him to consider, if he were a shepherd of the sheep. He replied that he was heartily sorry for it, and the count's. countenance fell, as it seemed. to me. They arose, and Eberhard gave me his hand, and in a very friendly manner commended me to the Lord.
Thus, it is: still very well with us, the Lord be thanked. Amen. Remember as day and night in your prayers, which we also intend to do for you. And I wish that all prisoners might be admonished and warned to decline all conversation: they are quite at liberty to refuse it. 0 brethren, how sub tilly and craftily they spread their nets, to chase my soul into them, but they shall not capture it, this I confidently hope; for in vain the net is spread in th46 sight of any bird. Prov. 1:17.
Hence, I desire of all prisoners, that they guard their lips, and bridle their tongues. While the wicked is before you, as David says (Ps. 39:1), snake not haste to speak, lest you deceive your heart; and wait with patience until Christ speaks in you, or His Spirit, according to His promise, through you. Matt. 10:20. And though you reply not to every question, you need not be ashamed of it, for He who was the wisdom of God, namely, Christ, was also not ashamed of it, as the scriptures of the Old and the New Testament sufficiently testify. And if you are asked concerning others who are still at large or in prison, as to whether they are of our number or not, or whether they are baptized or not, you may reply, "I am not imprisoned here for another, but for myself; hence, I may speak for myself, and not for another." And if they then threaten you with the torture or long imprisonment, let them threaten, let them torture; only do you firmly trust in the Lord, and they shall not be able to do more than God, who has the king's heart in His power, will permit. Prov. 21:1. If it then be the will of the Lord, that you suffer, remember that you often said, "Lord, Thy will be done." And, surely, if you firmly trust the Lord, the very hairs of your head are all numbered, and not one of them will fall from it without the Father's will. Matt. 6:10; 10:30; Luke 12:7.
Therefore, fear not their threats in the least, and be not terrified; but submit to the Lord with patience and longsuffering in all that befalls you on account of the truth. Trust God; He will not forsake you even unto death. Amen.
But if I could see, my dear fellow members, that it might promote the .glory of God, and your, and their salvation, if you should answer all their questions, -I would not only admonish you to wait until they ask you, but I would heartily urge you by entreaty and admonition, to tell and confess it to them of your accord, before they ask you. But how they herein seek the glory of God, and the welfare and salvation of your, yea, of their own, souls, this I will leave to the consideration and impartial judgment of every God-fearing lover of the truth.
Therefore guard your lips, my beloved, as said above. I have composed a hymn, doing it not from wantonness; hence I wish that it be sung not to my honor, but to the praise of God.
Dear brethren, faithfully remember me in your prayers. I greet you all with the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ; he that loves Him not is Anathema, Maran-atha. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love 'of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with its all. Amen.
The grace of God be and abide with you and all fellow believers in Christ that are with you and elsewhere; together with true peace, friendly love, constant patience, and steadfast perseverance, to bear unto the end all that is laid upon us of that which is still left of the afflictions of Christ. Amen.
Further, my dear wife, whom I from the very beginning of our coming together (of this I trust the Lord is my witness), have loved more according to salvation than according to the flesh, and have cared for your soul as for my own, and admonished you to that which we have now come. The Lord be praised for it forever, For, my dear sister in the Lord, you well know the grief I felt on account of the removal, and though some may perhaps have thought that I took delight in it, it is not so at all; for since that time I have often wished that, if it be for my salvation, I might through some means be relieved from it, whether it be through imprisonment or by death. But since it pleases the Lord, that we are here on earth first, through suffering, to be witnesses of His Word and name; as you, in a measure, have wished more than once, that I might through suffering be taken home to God, and I have desired that you might be apprehended with me, as has now happened; therefore let us also be patient, and thank the Lord, that He has heard us, and fulfilled our prayer, and let us not pray otherwise now than we have hitherto prayed namely, thus, "Lord, Thy will be done." Surrender me willingly into the hand of the Lord, whom I have served; and be not troubled on my account. But if you should perhaps think that we* may meet with much suffering yet (which, however, is in the hand of the Lord), think also that if there is much suffering prepared for us, there is also much more consolation in store for us, for as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. II Corinthians 1:5. I have not time to write more, except this, "Persevere steadfastly till you are taken hence. Then, and not before, the crown of life is prepared." This is also written to you, my dear sister Anna, and all that are with you. The salutation with mine own hand. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. Our brethren salute you all. Remember us, and be of good cheer for this is the first inheritance promised us here, which we must also possess, if we are to gain the eternal, where all tears that now flow from our eyes will be wiped away, and all sorrow be turned into everlasting joy; for our affliction, which is but temporal and light, compared with that which is eternal, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, who look not at the things
* The construction of this clause in the original seems to indicate, with great probability, a typographical error, consisting in the substitution, in the pronoun, of an"m" for a"w", and that, accordingly, it ought to read"I," instead of, "we."
which are seen but at the things that are not seen. II Corinthians 4:17, 18. Hence turn your eyes from all that is visible. Herewith I commend you all to the grace of God. Amen.
The saving grace of God be multiplied unto you and all the pious, through Jesus Christ; with the power of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
O. F., my greatly beloved friend* in the Lord, I cannot out of love to you forbear to inform you how gladly I would fulfill your request, but I lack many things, as for instance, paper and ink, and besides am watched as closely as gold, that I might neither receive nor send off any letters. Hence accept this brief letter in good part, for I have written it for your good. Therefore the heartfelt admonition and request I now address to you is, that you sincerely take heed to your life, and order it so that it is conformable to the Word of God, yea, to the example of Jesus Christ, and consider it diligently, as you said in conversation with me. Love God above all, and do not forsake the assembly (Hebrews 10:25) , as hitherto; for if you still love aught more than Him, you are not worthy of Him. Take good heed, my friend in the Lord; for a lip faith is of no avail, as you well know yourself; but it must be a living faith, yea, that works by love; if we are to stand here, and hereafter before God. May God Schadai (Ex. 3:14), work such a faith in you, and in all who heartily desire it. Amen. As regards how it is with me, I cannot write enough, for the Lord grants me great joy in my heart, so that I would desire of God, if it were His will, that I might- be led bound through Cologne, and beaten with rods from street to street, so that His name might become manifest; and that my body might be refined on the rack, only to the praise of God, and not to mine; which has also partly occurred. The Lord be praised, Amen; the Lord who sealed my lips, and endued me with strength, which He still daily increases; and who will sustain me unto the end. Amen.
Herewith I commend you to God. Remember us as we will you. Greet them that are with you, to whom my salutation in the Lord is acceptable. By me, MATTHIAS SERVAES, of Kottenem.
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you and all believers, from God the Father, through Jesus Christ; with the power of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
O my well beloved sister in the Lord, M. W., out of great love, which we have mutually felt through the knowledge of God, since we have known each other, I cannot forbear to tell you that
* The word used in the original denotes a female friend.-Trans.
I often think of you, and, likewise, of all the pious; for they lie at my heart day and night. I have been informed that you think of me with much sorrow, and that you wished, if it could be, that the Lord had ordered it otherwise, for which I do not pray, nor can I wish it, since I know not how He could have ordered it better for me; for great sorrow was resting upon me, as you also well know, and the good God has thus delivered and relieved me from this load: and not only this, but I am also free from all anxiety. Not that I am weary of laboring; Oh, no, for, if I could have been profitable to the Lord, how gladly I would have served Him, and would still gladly serve Him; but I deem it better thus, for we must go hence at some time. And I trust that the Lord will fill my place with faithful servants who may be more fully endowed of Him than I am. For the Lord knows with what anxiety, fear and solicitude I have served you, and esteemed myself little and unworthy before you and God, yea, so much so that I did hardly dare lift up my eyes in meeting. But by the grace of God I have been what I have been; and His grace, which was bestowed upon me was not wholly in vain among you. I Con 15:10. I also took up my ministry with many tears, as you know; but now, thanks to the Lord, it is all joy, indeed I cannot express all the joy.
O my dear sister, how sweet is the yoke of the Lord, how light is His burden upon my neck! By His help I will hold still to my God, may it cost what it will. But I desire that you and all believers entreat the Lord for us, which we also trust to do for you. I sincerely pray that His will be done. O my dear sister, walk steadfastly and quietly in piety, that you may be able to stand. Grace be with you all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. Eph. 6:24.
By me, MATTHIAS SERVAES,
Your brother in the Lord.