The scriptural paternal farewell, testament and an earnest instruction from Hendrick Alewiins to his children
Hear me, your father, O my own, well-disposed, dear and greatly afflicted orphans, my three motherless and soon also fatherless children, of ten, eight, and six years, deprived of me, and without property, alas, O God! Once more I tell you, O my dear children, from one dear mother I received and kept you all; who most solemnly charged me at her end, as also the holy Scriptures teach and enjoin me concerning you, that I should, as becomes a father, bring you up in divine instruction (Eph. 6:4), to be good and orderly children and men of
God, which I have hitherto, as became me, done with great carefulness and earnestness, but have not yet completed it. And behold, now my labor is taken away, and I cannot under these circumstances further fulfill towards you my fatherly love and debt of discipline. I have therefore now faithfully commended you henceforward to the God of heaven and to my fellow believers, the friends; and I am fully confident that you will be well, very well, taken care of, out of love, for God's sake and mine.
Be subject most obediently, as dear children, to the friends, and you will endear yourselves to them all. I have charged them with the guardianship over you, as though they were your parents; hence be very obedient; fear words, and you will not need stripes. Otherwise you will have to be beaten and chastised much, as the holy Scriptures require and teach, of which I shall write more explicitly hereafter.
My dear little children, it is true, it is true I say, you are yet too childish, the oldest as well as the youngest, to understand the holy Bible, and also that which I shall teach here; but I hope you will delight in reading in it frequently, and to have others read it to you. I also trust that your understanding will increase from day to day and that you will yourselves discern good and evil, and will wisely learn to know who are the true believers, and who the unbelievers; which are the children of God, and which are the children of the devil and the world; who bear the name of Christ justly, and who unjustly. I therefore write in this hope, and to acquit myself of the duty of fatherly instruction, which is still to be discharged towards you, and to the fulfillment of which much is lacking on my part, since I am taken away from you too soon, fully to discharge it. Nevertheless, I cannot forbear, through love, to offer and send you this from afar, my dear children, if peradventure I must shortly go with David the way of all this mortal earth. I Kings 2:2. Hence I instruct, enjoin, and counsel you after my departure, as many patriarchs and holy fathers did to their children, that you will be of good cheer and courage in patience, and that you will follow the ways, commandments, laws, and ordinances of the Lord, and do His whole will. Always do what is right and good; love honesty, modesty, courtesy, shame-facedness, virtue, praise (Phil. 4:8); and whatsoever is Christian-like and of good report, that do and think on it, and you will be holy and Christians. Then you shall have everlasting life and the beautiful heaven, that you may be with God and His angelic host, with all the elect of God, in eternal rest and joy of your souls; and you shall then not have to fear the second death, the fiery lake, eternal fire, the wages of sin, disinheritance from Christ's kingdom, or exclusion by Christ. Matt. 25:10.
My dear children, lay this to heart. As soon as your little understanding can comprehend it, think of returning from the old rebellious man into the new man (Matt. 18:3); of the heavenly regeneration of water and of the Spirit (John 3:35); of the grace of God and improving the right time (II Corinthians 6:1, 2); of living peaceably with all men, if it be justly possible and lying in you (for the other half of peace lies with the other party); and also of holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord, or enter into Christ's kingdom. Rom. 12:18; Hebrews 12:14.
This, my dear children, is my careful counsel and command to you, after my decease.
The first foundation of virtue, or instruction concerning the beginning of wisdom in childhood - Government of children
Behold, my dear children, since you are still children in understanding, young in years, and little fitted for the knowledge of God, I now show you for the first, how you may attain to the foundation of virtue, and the beginning of wisdom, that is
Give good audience, and cry earnestly for wisdom, and ask for it; and gladly receive all good instruction from those who advise you for the best. For, behold, thus Sirach teaches, "Keep only with such as fear God, whom thou knowest to keep God's commandments, who are minded as thou art, who have compassion on thee, if thou stumble; and abide b their counsel [he says, abide by their counsel, for thou shalt find no more faithful counsel, and such an one can often see something better than seven watchmen that sit about in a high tower, Sir. 37:12. Again, "The true beginning of wisdom is the desire of discipline." Wisd. 6:17. And again, "Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish." Prov. 12:1. Again, "The ears that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. And he that refuseth correction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding." 15:31, 32. Moreover, "He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth." 10:17. Again, "A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool." 17:10. Behold, my dear children, open your ears, and receive instruction, and you shall become wise and honorable; if not, you must remain unwise, ungodly, worldly and in error, as follows here, "Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honored." 13:18.
Again, "He that hateth to be reproved is already in the way of the ungodly." Sir. 21:6. Again, "An ungodly man will not be reproved, but excuseth himself by the example of others .in what he doeth." 32:17.
Behold, my dear children, what excellent instructions these are. Here you hear good counsel, how you can attain to virtue. And this you can do without many stripes of the rod, if you but attend to words, and fear your people in all they command
you. Be very obedient to the people with whom you live, and beware of your innate evil nature, your wildness, your foolishness and childishness. Abandon that for which you are chastised; else you will have to be severely beaten without ceasing; for this belongs to foolish, froward and disobedient children, as follows here, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Prov. 22:15. The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame." 29:15. Again, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." 22:6."Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." 23:13, 14. Again, "Hast thou children? instruct them, and bow down their neck from their youth. Hast thou daughters? have a care of their body, and do not spoil them." Sir. 7:23, 24."He that loveth his son causeth him oft to feel the rod, that he may have joy of him in the end. He that chastiseth his son, shall have joy in him, and shall rejoice in him among his acquaintance." 30:1, 2.
Behold, my children, this is what is said with regard to disobedient children. Thus must children be brought up by God-fearing parents, the good with words, the evil with rods. Thus did 7'obit with his son; thus was Susannah from her youth brought up in the fear of God; and to Abraham it was counted for righteousness that he should admonish his children to the fear of God after him. Sus. 2; Tob. 1:9; Gen. 18:19.
In short, this is the conclusion, "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord. And, ye parents, be not bitter against them, lest they become dull, shy, or discouraged." Col. 3:20, 21; Eph. 6:1.
See, my dear children, learn here what is becoming to you; see here, with what heavy duty of instruction and correction Christian parents are charged with regard to their children.
Those who neglect their children in regard to this discipline, and are too indulgent toward them, may remember the terrible example of evil recompense exhibited in Eli, the priest, who for this reason, by the hand of God, fell from off his seat backward, and brake his neck. I Sam. 4:18. Hence it is a grievous matter badly to bring up froward children, concerning which Sirach says, "He that is too indulgent with his child lamenteth his stripes, and is terrified as often as he cries. A wanton child becometh willful, like a wild horse. Cocker thy child and he shall make thee afraid: play with him, and he will bring thee to heaviness. Laugh not with him, lest thou have sorrow with him, and lest thou gnash thy teeth in the end. Give him no liberty in his youth, and wink not at his follies. Bow down his neck while he is young, and beat him on the sides [he says beat him on the sides] while he is a child, lest he wax stubborn, and be disobedient unto thee. Instruct thy child, and suffer him not to go idle, lest thou be brought to shame through him." Sirach 30:7-13. Behold, what a solemn charge the believer has concerning his children, and also those that are committed to him as his own children. Hence, dear lambs, endure kind correction, and be afraid of words, and you will not have to suffer this severe cruelty: otherwise you must suffer it, as has been heard.
Behold, my children, in these holy instructions in correction I acquit myself of my duty towards you; and in all this I admonish you not only in your youth, but also in your riper years, to give ear to the advice of the wise and pious, and always to love the Christians, God's dear children, the holy church, which by all men is considered a heresy, because they so firmly hope in the living God. Acts 24:14. Learn to know early in the Scriptures this living God of them that believe; for, says the apostle Paul, he that cometh to God must believe that there is a God, and that He will greatly reward those who, through the strait gate, seek Him with such hardships, on the narrow way of tribulation. I Tim. 4:10; Heb. 11:6.
Brief instruction concerning God, to learn to know Him, by His written name, glory, handiwork, wonderful deeds, voice, omnipotence, omniscience, by His enemies, and the enemy of His enemies, and the faithful succorer of the pious, etc.
Mark, beloved, my simple children, this in the God of your father, the God of all the faithful, from the beginning of the world until now, the God of Abel, the God of Noah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, the God of Jesus Christ, and of all the saints. And this is the God that is not made or worshiped by any man or by human hands, but the God that was from everlasting and before all things, and shall be forever, the God of whom and by whom all things are created and made, yea, heaven, earth, sea, and all the works that therein are, were made by His word, Spirit and omnipotence. This our God is good to the good, and very terrible to His enemies. His power extends over all kingdoms and kings, and He is the Lord of lords. There is none like unto Him. Thou art great, and Thy name is great, and Thou canst show it by the deed. Who should not fear Thee, Thou King of the heathen? Thou shouldest certainly be obeyed. His name is Governor, Lord, Lord Sabaoth, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, and of the fathers; this is His name. His name is Wonderful, Counsellor, Power, Giant, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, His government abideth upon Him forever. Isa. 9:6, 7. His name is Immanuel, that is, God with us. 7:14. It is not possible fully to express His name; hence, for the completion of His impossible, unmention-
able, inexpressible exalted name, He is further called Jehova, Shadai, Addonai, and by other names. Besides His general appellations, He is also called: Righteous, Merciful, Gracious God, Truth, Light, Right Hand, Holy consuming Fire.
See, my dear children, here you have heard of your father's God, of His eternity without beginning and without end, and of His glorious and exalted names in the Holy Scriptures. There follows further now, of His glorious, incomprehensible, immeasurable greatness, glory and the invisibleness of His divine shape, form and image; for God is a Spirit. Think, how great He must be
heaven is the throne and the earth His footstool. Acts 7:49. He sees, hears, and is, everywhere, and in all places: for thus He says through Jeremiah, "Am I a God at hand, and not afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord." Jeremiah 23:23, 24. And in another place the Scripture declares, "He spanneth heaven with his three fingers." Isa. 40:12. When He walks, the mountains tremble, and the foundations of the earth quake. When He manifests Himself, or permits Himself to be heard, He causes fear and terror to come upon all men, as we read in Ex. 3, that the thorn bush seemed to burn as a flame of fire when He called Moses to Him, to make him a prince over Israel, to lead them out of Egypt. And again, when Moses, while receiving the law of God, spoke with God on Mount Sinai, the mount smoked, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And the voice of the trumpet waxed louder and louder, with thunders and lightnings, which frightened the people. And also Moses was terrified, and trembled. No one was permitted to touch the mount; no one could endure His voice, save Moses, however, with fear. Ex. 19. Thus does God show Himself, says Moses, that His fear should be before your eyes, and you might not sin. Well may Moses say, "The Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward." Deut. 10:17.
Behold, my dear children, this great God alone is worthy to be feared, who can kill soul and body. Sirach says, "The whole heaven everywhere, the sea and the earth tremble; mountain and valley quake, when he visiteth them; and shall he not see thy heart?" Sir. 16:18.
Again, "God is witness of all thoughts, and knoweth the conscience of every heart, and heareth every word. For the circuit of the world is full of the Spirit of the Lord [he says that the circuit of the world is full of the Spirit of the Lord], and he that knoweth the voice is everywhere; therefore he that speaketh unrighteous things cannot be hid." Wisd. 1:6. Yea, my dear children, He knows who serves Him in appearance and in. the sight of the eyes, and who with a sincere heart. For the wisdom of God is great, and He is mighty, says Sirach, and beholdeth all things; and His eyes are upon them that fear Him, and He knoweth well, what is done in righteousness, and what is hypocrisy. Sir. 14: 18. I say He is worthy that men should fear Him, keep His commandments, love Him, be very small and humble before Him, and this is what He requires of His people. Read Mic. 6, the law of Moses, and the Gospel of Christ. For He would have obedience, and not the pomp and deceitful semblance of sacrifices, as is exemplified in Saul, I Sam. 15:22."Will ye not fear me, saith the Lord, who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, that it cannot pass it?" Jeremiah 5:22.
Ali, ah, dear children, how good is this fear of the Lord, for it is the beginning of wisdom. It is the root of wisdom, and its branches flourish forever. Wisd. 1:20.
This fear of the Lord driveth out sin; for he that is without fear cannot be justified. Wisd. 1: 21. For by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. Proverbs 16:6. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life to depart from the snares of death, 14:27. For those that fear the Lord, my children, walk in the right way; but he that feareth Him not, or despiseth Him, departeth from His way. 14:2.
Hereby, and by the vain boasting or thinking of having the fear of God, you may perceive the fear of God, and know those who fear Him [and them that fear Him not].
Read who are the truly God-fearing; Ps. 1:2; 119:120; Sir. 2:17; 15:1; 16:2. Therefore, the fear of God is the sum and conclusion of all books. Read Eccl. 12:13. And as you have now heard of the great glory of God, which is well worthy that men should fear Him on account of it, so I will now briefly show that He is also a most awful, terrible and inexorably stern avenger and enemy towards His enemies; and, on the other hand, a faithful succorer of His afflicted friends, as is written in Exodus, "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me." And again, "Shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:5, 6.
Notice also the wonderful deeds of God in Egypt, on Pharaoh, who afflicted the children of Israel; how God afflicted the Egyptians in return, visiting their land with manifold plagues. Ultimately, how God delivered His people out of it, made a dry passage through the Red Sea, separated and protected them from Pharaoh by the dark pillar of cloud, and terrified Pharaoh and his host with a heavenly noise in the air, and drowned them all in the Red Sea, as a God of great power. Now when Israel had passed through the Red Sea, and was in the wilderness, King Amalek came to afflict them, whom God Himself resisted, however, through Joshua, and the enemy and his people were discomfited and destroyed. Thus, again, in the
days of Joshua, God fought with hailstones, and Israel with the sword; the sun and moon for their benefit stood still the whole .day, as long as the battle lasted. Josh. 10. Yea, God also fought from heaven against Sisera, and the stars in their courses fought. Judg. 5:20. Again, at another time, when Samaria was besieged by the Syrians, God fought for Samaria, and terrified the enemies with a noise in the air, as the noise of chariots, horsemen and hosts, in the night, so that they fled and left everything behind them. II Kings 7:6, 7. Thus read also of Zerah the Ethiopian, with his host . of a thousand thousand, of whom not one escaped. II Chron. 14:9. Thus also, the children of Ammon and Moab, from Syria, afflicted Israel; and God fought for Israel, while Israel stood still and he ordered it so that the enemies destroyed one another. II Chron. 20.
In like manner we read concerning Gideon, that God so ordered it that the enemies, the Midianites, fell upon one another with their swords, and destroyed themselves, through the direction of God. Judg. 7:22.
Behold, my dear children, what an awful, inexorable enemy of His enemies, and faithful and victorious protector of His friends He is; for when His people went to battle with God's consent, though they had neither bows, arrows, shields nor swords, God fought for them and gained the victory. No one could harm this people, save when they departed from the commandments of the Lord their God; then God delivered them into the hand of the enemy. We have a God that helps the Lord Sabaoth, who delivers from death; thus extol the saints the help of God. When the people of God, in former times, were encompassed and assailed with war, and by wicked nations and kings, and then cried with confidence to this their God for protection, behold, their God only sent an angel to their assistance, who was able to direct all and turned not away from thousands. Read II kings 19:35; Isa. 37:36. Read further II Macc. 11:10. We further read of five angels of God, armed and upon horses with bridles of gold, and what great execution they did. II Macc. 10:29. God sent two angels to Sodom, for the destruction of the wicked, and the preservation of the good. And other such examples; read II Macc. 12; Judg. 7:22; I Sam. 14:20; 17:52; II Chron. 20:23.
Behold, my dear children; the faithfulness of God towards His people, and His terribleness to the wicked, as has been heard; and this is only a moderate portion; much still remains to be told of so many examples contained in the holy Scriptures, and left for our confirmation, that we might hope in this God, suffer for His sake, and obey Him. However, it must be understood with a due distinction of times and laws, as regards the ancient warfares of Israel, the taking of revenge on enemies, fighting and killing in the time of the law, and previous to it, which then was done by the will, command, permission, and also, help, of God, under he Old Testament, it must not be so, and is now plainly prohibited, by the Word and example of Christ, Himself God and the Son of God, whose word must be heard. Prohibited, I say, plainly and clearly enough, not by men's commandments, but by God Himself; His people are denied and forbidden all revenge, and commanded to commit all vengeance unto God; not to resist evil; to give to him that taketh away the cloak also the coat, and to turn to him that smiteth thee on thy right cheek the other also, and the like; yea, to love one's enemies, to pray for your persecutors, and to flee from them from one city into another. Matt. 5:39; Rom. 12:17; I Thess. 5:15. And they that are thus afflicted shall be blessed, and greatly comforted of God, with the promise of eternal life. In short, not to fight at all, and yet to fight, but this no longer with iron, steel, stone, wood, or any carnal weapons, but with spiritual weapons, mighty before God. II Cor. 10:4. Read, my children, what weapons and warfare Christians now wield, as is plainly and very clearly set forth. Eph. 6. Christians have no other warfare at the present time. For, understand, the prophecy is fulfilled which said with reference to this time, that such people have ,beaten their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles, rest from their works, and truly observe the spiritual Sabbath. Isa. 2:4; Mic. 4:3; Ex. 20:10, 11. Hence Christians may now not wage war any more. However I refer you to ancient warfare and God's succor, as these are a demonstration and proof to you of the greatness and the terrible deeds of God; in order that you may learn to know, fear and obey Him in whose presence the earth shakes, and the mountains tremble; for the disobedient toward His Word, will and commandment shall find no hiding place from His face when He shall appear with His angels, in flames of fire, to execute vengeance on all the disobedient. II Esd. 16:9.
Therefore, my children, learn to know and shun sin; for because of sin souls are damned forever.
What sin is, and whereby sin becomes sin; and what are and will be the wages of sin, befor God, or God's punishment of sinners hereafter
What sin is, is clearly shown by the holy Scriptures. The prophet Samuel said to Saul, when the latter had transgressed the commandment of the Lord, "Disobedience is as the sin [mark, sin] of witchcraft." I Sam. 15:23. John says, "All unrighteousness is sin." I John 5:17. James says, "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Jas. 4:17. (Mark what sin is). Paul says, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Rom. 14:23.
From this and the like, my children, learn to know sin; as Paul says, "By the law is the knowledge of sin. I had not known sin but by the law."
The law causes sin to become exceeding sinful; for when it says, "Thou shalt not covet," sin takes occasion, and works in us all manner of concupiscence. Rom. 3:20; 7:7, 13. From this we also perceive, whereby sin became sin, namely, by the command and prohibition of God.
Every one who transgresses the things which God has commanded, commits sin, and it is also called sin, and punished as sin, fully and abundantly, in both Testaments. The tree of knowledge was not unclean for Adam, except through the commandment; his transgression was also called sin. As regards the punishment for this sin, read Gen. 3:14. The heathen daughters and wives were not unclean for the Jews, save through the commandment of God, who would not have it. Concerning the punishment, read judges 3; Num. 25. The sanctuary, or ark of God, which was certainly clean, was not unclean for any tribe, to touch or bear it, except through the commandment. Num. 4:17. The gods of the heathen were not unclean for Israel, save through the prohibition and proscription of God, also the commandment and punishment. I Kings 15.
Behold, thus you can perceive whereby sin becomes sin, namely, through the commandment, and the transgressing of the commandment; for where no commandment is, there is no sin, for without the law sin was dead. Rom. 4:15; 7:8. For sin, or sinful action was in the world; but sin is 'not imputed when there is no law. Rom. 5:13.
Now, dear children, as soon as you know sin, learn to shun it as you shun fire; for if you approach sin, it will embrace you; but the stings and wounds thereof cannot be healed. Sir. 21:2, 3.
Therefore, learn now to understand further, what proceeds from sin, and what are the wages of sin, for these are damnation and death. Rom. 6:23. It is enmity against God, because it is not subject to the law of God. Rom. 8:7. Hence hear further the terrible, relentless and awful punishment of God upon sin and sinners, which has ever taken place and will yet take place. Take heed, my dear children, I counsel you, as much as you value your souls, to this special, eternal punishment of sin and sinners. Thus says the Lord, "I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once. Who among you, he says, will give ear to this? Who will hearken and hear for the time to come? The day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. It is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompense for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day." I sa. 42:14, 23; 13:9; 34:8, etc.
This impending calamity, the punishment and righteous judgment of God, was announced and promised a very long time; for when Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was upon earth, he said, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Jude 14, 15.
Mark, that God threatens and gives sufficient warning before, as He did to Assur."Woe be unto thee, Assur, thou that hidest the unrighteous in thee! O thou wicked people, remember what I did unto Sodom and Gomorrah; whose land lieth in clods of pitch and heaps of ashes; even so also will I do unto them that hear me not, saith the Almighty Lord." II Esd. 2:8, 9.
The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire. Matt. 13:41, 42. Then shall the Lord say unto them on His left hand, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was a hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink." Matt. 25:41, 42. Behold, my dear children, thus shall it then go with those who do not now while it is time, regard this, being rich, filled and merry. For Christ says, "Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!" Luke 6:24-26. When they lived, says Esdras, and received God's benefits they did not regard it; they despised his counsel while they had yet liberty, and contemned repentance; therefore they must know it after death by torment. II Esd. 9:10-12. While we lived and committed iniquity, we considered not that we should suffer for it after death. 7:56. For the wages of sin is death. Rom. 6:23. But, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil. Rom. 2:5-9.
Understand again, my dear children, into what great danger our evil flesh plunges us here, slaying the soul. The lust and works of the flesh cause eternal sorrow and loss of heaven. As Paul says, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Now the works of the flesh are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, evil lusts"-(read to the end of the
seventeen points mentioned). And he says that they which do such things shall not inherit or possess the kingdom of God. Gal. 5:,16; I Cor. 6:9. Then it shall not be possible for any one to be spared from the vengeance of God, whether he know God, or whether he know Him not; if he has been disobedient to the Gospel, he must bear the severity of God. For Paul says, "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; [mark] who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." II Thess. 1:7-10.
To disobey the Gospel, is worthy of no small punishment; for he that, in the sight of two or three witnesses, transgressed the law of Moses (which is inferior to the Gospel in its saving power and operation, Rom. 8:3), had to die without mercy, says Paul, of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? Heb. 10:29. These must expect a terrible judgment, and the cruelty of the fire, which shall devour the adversaries. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; for God is a consuming fire. 10:31; 12:9. We know Him that hath said,"Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense." 10:30. See, since the Gospel is great of value and rich in saving power, therefore, on the other hand, the refusing, abusing, despising and transgressing of the same, is as much the greater crime and ingratitude, and deserving of sorer punishment, as Paul says, concerning Christ, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth." Heb. 12:25, 26.
O my children, therefore this time of the Gospel, in which we now are, is a very precious, valuable and acceptable time, as also the Lord Himself frequently declares in the Gospel, as, "Had such mighty works been done in Tyre and Sidon. Why do ye not discern this acceptable time for you? Blessed are the ayes which see the things that ye see." Luke 10:23. Jesus says, "Jerusalem shall be destroyed [on account of her sins]; because they did not know the time of their visitation." Luke 19:44.
O my dear children, learn to discern good from evil; learn to know the wicked world, who think that they are holy men, Christians and believers in God, but are the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9); which is evident from their whole spirit, life, and their wickedness; who because of their wickedness cannot bear, or tolerate among them, the lustre of he pious. But the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the evil and unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished; but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness. What God intends to do with such, He has typified and shown to us by sinners of former times [as we read], "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment, and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly." II Pet. 2:4-6.
Understand here, that God spares neither the angels, nor the whole world, because they were great in number or highly esteemed and chosen; and thus it has often gone with great numbers, for the ungodly are not the better for being many. As also Sirach well says, "Rely not upon this that the multitude of those with whom thou doest evil is great, but remember that punishment is not far from thee. Therefore humble thyself from the heart, for the vengeance of the ungodly is fire and worms." Sirach 7:17, 18. For as one that cometh nigh wild beasts, and is torn by them, so it also goes with him that attacheth himself to the ungodly, and mingleth in their sins. 12:13, 14. One child that fears the Lord is more acceptable to Him than a thousand that are ungodly. Hence let no one depend upon this that his companions in wickedness are many nor upon boasting of the mercy of God, before thy repentance; for when the fire of the punishment of God is kindled, it consumes all the wicked, great and small. Behold, the fire burned up the whole congregation of the ungodly; and wrath was kindled over the unbelieving. He spared not the old giants who perished with their strength. Neither did He spare those among whom Lot sojourned, but condemned them because of their pride, and destroyed the whole land without mercy, who had transgressed all bounds in sinning. Thus He took away six hundred thousand, because they were disobedient. How then should a single one that is disobedient escape unpunished? For though He is merciful, yet also wrath is with Him. He can be appeased, but He also fearfully punishes. As His mercy is great, so is also His correction; He judgeth a man according to his works. The ungodly shall not escape with his spoils, and the patience of the godly shall not be frustrated. Behold, before God a great multitude is of little avail. He that sinneth must die. For every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. Prov. 16:5. The strength of the ungodly is like a heap of tow which is consumed with fire. The way of sinners is made plain with stones (it is true), but at the end thereof is the pit of hell. Sir. 21:9,
10. Hell also hath opened wide her mouth, to receive great and small, prince and multitude. Isa. 5:14. Many be called, but few chosen: Wide is the gate, and broad the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which walk in it. I further say', "The great majority will be damned and lost. This is too clear to be denied." II Esd. 8:3.
Dear children, he that does not fear or believe God, does not regard these awful assurances and sure threats, as also the Scripture says, "Such threatening is too far off, and when a wicked man heareth it, he yet cleaveth to his folly and error." How truly does Solomon say, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God. Eccl. 8:11, 12. I have long time holden my peace, says the Lord; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once. Isa. 42:14. When a child is about to be brought forth, the pains of travail slack not a moment; even so shall not the plagues be slack to come upon the earth; the world shall mourn, and sorrow shall come upon it. II Esd. 16:38, 39.
Oh, happy he who always fears; but he whose heart is hardened shall fall into misfortune, as has been sufficiently heard. Mark here the longsuffering of God toward sinners; but He nevertheless eventually punished them. How truly does Paul say, "God is not mocked." Thinkest thou that I shall always hold my peace, saith the Lord, that thou dost not fear me at all? But I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works, that they are unprofitable. Then when thou shalt cry, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them away, and vanity shall take them. Isa. 57:13. The holy Scriptures do justly call our God a consuming fire. As to what fire this is, read Isa. 10:16; Joel 2:3; Nah. 3:15; Zech. 11:1. Manasses truly says, "O God, thine angry threatening toward sinners is importable." Man. verse 5. Nahum speaks thus of the fierceness of the wrath of God, "The mountains quake before him, and the hills fear. The earth shaketh before him, yea, the whole circuit of the earth, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? And who can abide before his anger? His fury burneth like fire, and the rocks burst in pieces before him." Nahum 1:5, 6. Micah says, "The Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place. For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel." Mic. 1:3-5.
Oh, who could write enough of such scripture admonitions! Truly, my dear children, behold, he that recognizes the holy Scriptures, the Bible, as he sure word, testimony, word and sentence of God, and considers well worthy of belief what is written in the same concerning God, and especially regarding His faithful warning against all sin, the promised recompense for transgression, exemplified in His punishment of sin as exhibited in many, together with all His strict and solemn oaths in which He has denied His kingdom to the impenitent, as has already been mentioned here in part, and will yet briefly be pointed out; such a man, I say, may well tremble before God, and with David the skin and hair of his head may shudder. And if there be but one spark of the fear of God, and faith in His Word, in his inmost heart, his laughter may and must turn into weeping till he obtains peace instead of enmity with God. In the first place I will speak of God's warning against sin.
But, my dear lambs, I am deprived of time further to complete my purpose and intention. This however was almost finished, but I intended to improve it and to copy it in a far more legible and better form. However, it is now done, and I must and will now disengage myself, and prepare to die, as I think, in four days. And, behold, my dear children, I rejoice in this, and am of good cheer in the Lord, and trust not to spare my body for the truth, but to present it in worship as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. And I trust by the grace of God, that I have been to you, my dear children, a father who have set you a good example, in my life and death. When you attain to the years of understanding, think thoroughly on it and so follow Christ with me, as He has gone before us, in all suffering and holiness; and we shall meet again, and this in eternal joy and in the kingdom of heaven, forever.
My dear children, though you do not live together, love one another the more ardently, and show your love in whatever way you can, as by greetings and instructive letters to one another. Make copies of this little book, so that each of you three children may have one.
I first send it to you my dear son Alewijn Hendricks, because you are the oldest. Remember what I have written for your instruction; communicate it also to your little sisters. Farewell now, an eternal farewell, my three little orphans.
Written by me, your dear father,