At Antwerp there was one Abraham Picolet, who was very intimately acquainted with Henderick van Etten, born at Breda, and a certain Herman N. Now it happened that as said Henderick intended to go home, he requested his companion, that they would yet once before his departure enjoy and rejoice themselves together (walking) by singing and speaking of the word of the Lord, as a leave-taking from the good fellowship which they had had together in the Lord. But as there was a great persecution at that time under the government of the Duke of Alva, these two young men, while walking in a forest in the vicinity of Wilrijck,
near Antwerp, were apprehended by the bailiff of Borgerhout, who searched them, and finding in their possession several books, as, a New Testament and others, he strictly examined them; and asked them where they had last been to confession and to the sacrament. Thereupon Abraham answered, that it had been in Italy. He further asked, how long ago it had been, whereupon he replied, "Four years." Learning these and other things from them, he on the second day of Whitsuntide brought them prisoners to Antwerp. But as the aforesaid Herman was not firmly built upon the cornerstone Christ, his building did not stand, for his sandy foundation could not endure these storms. When examined, he confessed that he had been to confession and to the sacrament last Easter, though this was not true. And in order to confirm this, the parish priest or pastor of St. George's church testified to it, and by this means he was released from prison. But the other two, adhering to their faith, had many conflicts and disputations during their long imprisonment, with the blind sophists, who went to great pains and labor to draw them from the truth. But as they fled for refuge to the Captain of the faith they were not forsaken, but their assurance waxed stronger and stronger, so that they constantly wished for the day of their deliverance. Rom. 7:24. They were also very diligent, constantly to edify their neighbors by writing an exhortation, so that by their letters and steadfastness in the faith they gained some yet in their bonds. Philem. 10. After they had lain in confinement for a while, the tyrants, seeing that there was no hope of moving them from the truth, proceeded further to deprive them of their lives, and as the bailiff held his court near the Kroonenburgh gate, he had them brought there twice before his judges, but this leading to no result, they were put the third time into a wagon and thus again placed before the judges. But as they were of good cheer and strong in the faith, Abraham, as he stepped to the wagon said, "Let no one among you," says Peter,"suffer as a thief or robber or as one that seeks other men's property; but if any man suffer as a Christian let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf." I Pet. 4:15, 16.
Henderick spoke very little, yet nothing but boldness could be seen in him. As they stood before the judges, their sentence was read to them, namely, that they should be burned alive. When the reading of the sentence was finished, Abraham said that he thanked the lords for having been troubled with him, and that he prayed God to enlighten them. They were then put back into the wagon, and brought to the prison, where some more God-fearing persons were confined, of whom the margrave caused a woman to be sentenced to the same death, namely, Maeyken van der Goes, who valiantly followed her husband, jasper the Taschrinekmaecker, who had been offered up before. Thus the tyrants satisfied their desire onthese three lambs for the slaughter, and had them burned alive the following day, after they had fastened their tongues out of their mouths with screwplates to prevent them from speaking. But in all this they valiantly overcame through Christ, who was their strength; and went boldly onward with Joshua and Caleb, to possess the land of promise, to the comfort and strength of many witnesses who beheld it. After they were burned, the bodies of the two men were given as food to the birds (Ps. 79:2) on the way from Wilrijck because they had been apprehended under that seignioralty.
These two valiant heroes and champions, though they had not yet received water baptism upon confession of their faith, showed that they had nevertheless been baptized by Christ with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
They wrote many letters full of comfort and earnest exhortations, especially Henderick, who, having formerly been a soldier, exhorted the brethren much to fight manfully in the spiritual war, to keep good watch, and to persevere unto the end, in order to receive from the spiritual captain Jesus Christ, as wages and reward, the crown of eternal life. But all these letters have remained undiscovered, on account of the severe persecution; only one by Abraham Picolet has fallen into our hands, which we have added here for the satisfaction of the sincere reader.
Love God above all, attend to the Word of the Lord, and have your delight therein. Matt. 22:37; Ps. 1:2.
The abundant great grace and eternal peace of God our heavenly Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort may He grant you Christian wisdom, unchanging faith, a steadfast mind, and a true understanding of the divine word in truth; this I wish you, my beloved sisters, with all my heart. Amen. Rom. 1:7; II Cor. 1:3; Matt. 24:13.
Know, my sisters, that I, Abraham your brother, imprisoned for the Word of God, let your love know, that I receive such strength and courage from the Lord, that I hope not to depart from Him; and since He does not forsake me, I trust by the help of the Lord, to confess His divine Word before the blind men as long as there is breath in me, for He helps us remarkably, so that I see and feel it, thanks to Him for the grace which He shows me, poor sinner, for which I can never sufficiently praise Him. Acts 12:3; Rev. 1:9; Heb. 10:38; 13:5; Matthew 10:31; II Cor. 2:14; Ps. 37:39. After all proper and friendly greetings, know, my sisters, that it rejoiced me very often, to have heard from you, that you also trusted to follow the Lord, to adhere to the eternal truth all the days of your life, and to serve and fear Christ; for He is the way, the truth and the life. John 14:6.
He that obeys Him shall inherit eternal joy, since He promises eternal joy to them that love Him and keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous, and His promises are true. I John 5:3. Hence, my beloved sisters, since you know His will, and the great grace which He has given your love, take heed that you may keep His commandments according to your weak ability; for He does not require more than that you do what you can. O dear lambs, believe the Gospel, and walk the narrow way, which is but a foot wide, and which leads to eternal life; for many shall seek for it, and shall not be able to get there. Luke 13:24. For not all that cry, Lord, Lord shall enter in; but they that do the will of the Father which is in heaven. Matt. 7:21. My beloved sisters, strive for the strait gate, namely, eternal life. Since you hear the voice of the Lord (John 10:27), see that you obey His words, and put off all concerning the former conversation, namely, the old Adam (Eph. 4:22), that is, the works of the curse, all uncleanness, evil desires, pride, presumptuous conceitedness, lying, cheating, strutting and boasting, evil speaking, guile, hatred, envy, and the like. For, dear lambs, this is idolatry, and upon such come the wrath and anger of God, and they shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, nor inherit the same, but everlasting destruction and eternal damnation are their part (if they do not become converted), in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death; where there will be only weeping and gnashing of teeth, and where their worm shall not die, but they shall be tormented forever and ever, Eph. 5:6; iI Thess. 1:8, 9; Rev. 21:8; Mark 9:46.
O my dear lambs and sisters, depart therefore from evil, for God shall hold judgment. without mercy upon all unbelieving and disobedient men who have not obeyed the Word of the Lord, but rejected and condemned it, yea, have persecuted and killed them that would fear the Lord. For, my beloved, 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, nor Sodom and Gomorrah, but turning them into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that commit ungodliness. II Peter 2:4-6.
Therefore, my beloved sisters, let us not be weary in well doing, though we must suffer a little for the name of the Lord. Blessed are ye, and rejoice, says Christ, if you suffer for righteousness' sake: for great is your reward in heaven. Matt. 5:10, 12. For, my beloved sisters, thus did they to the prophets that were before us. Suffering and affliction in the flesh are promised to all the Godfearing, as the apostle Paul says, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." II Timothy 3:12.
Mark, my beloved, how Christ was treated, who never had sinned, neither was guile found in Hismouth; how He suffered, and all this for our sakes, who was the Lord of lords, and the King of kings. I Peter 2:22'; Rev. 19:16. O dear sisters, consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, who, when He was smitten, did not threaten, but committed vengeance to God, who j udgeth righteously. Heb. 12:3; John 18:22; I Peter 2:23. And He that was rich, for our sakes became poor; yea, He left His divine habitation, took upon Him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, and was more like a worm, than like a man. II Corinthians 8:9; Phil. 2:7, 8; Ps. 22:6. Therefore, God hath given Him a name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of them that are in heaven and on earth. Phil. 2:9, 10. The apostle Peter says, "Beloved brethren, forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us, arm yourselves with the same mind; for hereunto we are called, that we should follow his steps." I Peter 4:1; 2:21. As also Christ says, "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." Matt. 10:25; John 15:20. Mark, my dear sisters, whether more comes upon us, than has been promised us. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, says Christ. Matt. 10:22; John 15:21. And further, "The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me." John 16:2, 3. The Lord also says, "But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them." v. 4. See, my dear sisters, thus nothing comes upon us, than what has been promised us, and what Christ Himself had. Hence we must put off all that is a hindrance to the salvation of our souls, namely, all the lusts of the flesh, all the works of darkness (I John 2:16; Rom. 13:12; Col. 3:8), and follow the crucified Jesus Christ, our Saviour, and obey Him; for he that saith that he knoweth God, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; and he that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as Christ walked. I John 2:4, 6. Mark, my sisters, fear the Lord, take courage in the Word of the Lord, search diligently the Scriptures, and entreat God the Lord, yea, importune Him day and night with prayer and supplication, and He will grant you to understand and to do what is necessary for your salvation. As Christ said, that His Spirit shall teach us, and we shall be taught of the Lord; for of ourselves we have nothing but all manner of weakness.
Thus, my sisters, pray the Lord, who says, "Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; seek, and ye shall find; seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all that you need shall be added unto you." Matt. 7:7; 6:33. Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call
ye upon Him while He is near; the Lord is so merciful toward them who seek to fear Him (Isa. 55:6; Jonah 4:2), my sisters, as He says Himself, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30);"and his commandments are not grievous."
See, my beloved, how the Lord calls us to repentance, hence follow Him; for if one does what he can, the Lord is satisfied. He can well preserve him that trusts in Him. Repent therefore of your sins which you committed in your ignorance, before you knew the Lord (I Tim. 1:13; I Peter 1: 14); mourn and weep to the Lord, and He will have compassion on you. For the time past of your life may suffice you to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when you knew not God, and were very far from Him, when you walked in your lusts, in lasciviousness, in revelings, banquetings, in strutting and boasting. I Peter 4:3. Therefore, my sisters, since the Lord has revealed His truth to you, see now that you serve Him faithfully, and fear not men, who kill the body; for after that they have no more power, and all the evil which they can do us is that they can help us into rest through the great grace of the Lord. Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4. Confess Christ before men, and He will confess you before His Father in heaven, and say, "Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Matt. 10:32; 25:34. Hence be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which is created after Go-d. Put away lies, and speak the truth. Be followers of God, as His chosen children, and walk in love, in quietness, in kindliness, in gentleness. Eph. 5:1, 2. Flee youthful lusts, and follow righteousness, love and peace, with all them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart; for the servants of the Lord must not be contentious or quarrelsome but gentle unto all men. II Tim. 2:22, 24.
Adorn yourselves then, my sisters, with a chaste conversation. I Peter 3:2, 3. Be gentle unto all men. Be subject to your Lord, for He shall most gloriously reward you. Choose rather to suffer a little affliction with God's children, than to enjoy a little of the pleasures of this world for a season; for the end of these is eternal perdition. Heb. 11: 25. Let us then help bear the reproach of the Lord; it will through His great grace be most gloriously rewarded to us, when He will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Heb. 13:13; Matt. 25:21.
Mark, my dear sisters, how gloriously it shall then be rewarded to us. Hence make great haste to fear the Lord; for we live today, but do not know whether we shall live tomorrow. Be thereforewatchful to fear the Lord; take courage; life up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees; and take diligent heed, for we know not when the Lord will come. Heb. 12:12; Matt. 24:42. The day of the Lord draws nigh; it comes as a thief in the night, when it is not expected. I Thess. 5:2. Look therefore not to men, for there are few that fear the Lord. Think how many there were when the whole world perished, and yet there were but eight who feared the Lord. Also, how many were saved when Sodom and Gomorrah perished. O think how few entered into the promised land, only Joshua and Caleb; the rest all perished because of their wickedness (even as it still goes with many on account of their wickedness), and because they would not believe God's words, but resisted, vexed and persecuted the righteous; and if these will also not repent, they shall all likewise perish, for all those are for an example to us. Luke 13:3.
Therefore, my dear sisters, take heed that it come not also thus upon us; for men are punished for sin, as the prophet says, "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God." Isa. 59:2. Behold, thus men are condemned for their wickedness and unbelief. Mark 16:16.
O my dear sisters, it is true there does some suffering come upon us for the name of the Lord; but as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Jesus Christ, and this little suffering is not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. II Cor. 1:5; Rom. 8:18. O dear friends, how delightful it will be there where the mountains drop with sweet wine, and are covered with lilies and roses; with all this joy the Lord will fill His children. II Esd. 2:19. Hence let us fear and love the Lord without wearying; for he that loves God will do good and hate evil. Ps. 34:14.
O dear lambs, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him and keep His commandments. I Cor. 2:9; I John 5:3. Oh, consider what great joy there will then be for them that have loved God and confessed Him in the world. II Esd. 2:47. Oh, that this joy were rightly considered; I think we would use more diligence to fear the Lord, and not be afraid of men, that kill the body. Oh, how many there would be who would follow the Lord's steps; for He is not willing that any should perish, but that they should. repent, and that He might save them. II Peter 3:9. But it is, my dear sisters, as the prophet says, "With seeing eyes they see not, with hearing ears they hear not, nor do they understand, for their hearts are hardened, their ears they stop, and their eyes they cover; lest they should see, or hear, or understand with their heart." Isa. 6:9, 10; Matt. 13:14, 15; Acts 7:57.
Oh, mark, my dear lambs, whether it is not so also now; they love and prefer much rather fighting, strutting, boasting, banqueting, drinking, and to commit all kinds of abominations, than to re-
pent and that the Lord might save them. These are cursed children, says the apostle; they forsake the right way, and what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves; they deceive and are deceived. I I Peter 2:14, 15; Jude 10; I I Tim. 3:13.
O dear lambs, turn from all the lusts of the world, for their damnation slumbereth not. II Peter 2:3. Take heed, now that the Lord has made known His truth to you that you obey Him and walk as obedient children of light in love and peace. Eph. 1:13; 5:8. Love one another, and always admonish one another with the word of the Lord. What is there that surpasses love? (I Cor. 13) what greater joy can men have, than to love one another. Always forbear one another, and accept everything in good part, and the Lord will also love you. Eph. 4:2. Be kind to one another. Give diligence to fear the Lord, and to search His divine Word. Importune Him with supplication and prayer, and fear not men, who today are lords, and tomorrow are eaten by worms. The Lord will not forsake you, as you can well see in my case, and also in the case of all those that have feared Him with all their heart. The Lord preserves His own, even as He says, "Can a woman forget her child? though she forget it, yet will he not forget us." Isa. 49:15. Nay, who can pluck these out of His hand whom His Father has given Him. John 10:28, 29.
O dear sisters, adorn yourselves, and put on the armor. Eph. 6:11. Gird to your side the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; be well shod, and have on the armor of righteousness; and put on your head the helmet of salvation, that you may be able to resist the subtle assaults of the devil, since he walketh about day and night, as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I Peter 5:8. Hence be followers of God; the Lord will preserve you.
And know, my sisters, that the sixth day of this month, in the afternoon, I was brought before N. N. (who I heard, certainly came in the name of the procurator general, or of his subordinates), and before the jailer and another man, where they were drinking wine at the table. As I came before them the jailer in the presence of them all, said to me, "Abraham, you must go before the court on Tuesday." His wife, who was also present with them that served at the table, said, "They have three weeks respite." The jailer said, "Because the Duke of Alva is coming here, they must go through." He did most of the speaking. I said that I was very well satisfied with it. He asked me whether I was well satisfied. I replied, "Yes, if it is the Lord's will, I am quite well satisfied." They asked me, whether I made so little of that at which Christ so greatly trembled, and said, "Father, if it be possible, take away this cup from me." Mark 14:33, 36. They further asked me, whether I did not wish that I were released, and if the doors were open, whether I would not go out. I said,"Yes," if they opened the doors I would go out; but as thiswas not the case now, that I thanked the Lord for all that He sends upon me. I also said that he, or they, had no power to release me without the consent of the Duke of Alva, or the like. They asked me whether I did not wish to break out. I replied that if I knew I should bring him into trouble I would have no desire to be out, or to break out. They said that.it would cost him his neck. I said that if this was the case I did not wish to be out. In the further progress of our conversation they asked whether they should not be saved, or something similar. I said, "The apostle John says: 'He that saith, I know God, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar."' I John 2:4. I could not properly finish what I wanted to say, for they so interrupted me, that I do not know myself what answer they gave me. I also said that the apostle says that whoremongers, drunkards, murderers, liars, proud, revilers, gluttons, and the like men, shall not inherit the kingdom of God, and that they have no God. I Cor. 6:9, 10. They again interrupted me, for the Lord gave me a mouth to say so much, that they could not well bear it. They said that what I said was true enough, if men died therein; but if they had time yet to call upon the Lord for forgiveness, then, they thought they should yet be saved. I replied that it was too dangerous a thing to depend upon such a calling; for frequently such entreaters for forgiveness, when they recover, go into their old ways; and I opined that they were probably such too. Then they again interrupted me, and I admonished them, that they should repent and feel sorry for their sins before they felt the day of their death approaching. They asked whether we were all saved. I replied, that the Lord promises salvation to them that do His will, and do not deny Him, though they have to suffer much here for His name. Matt. 7:21. Of such the apostle says, "By grace are ye saved." Eph. 2:8. For though we do all that we can, we are still unprofitable servants, and must rely upon the grace of God. Luke 17:10; Acts 15:11.
Here I should have liked to quote some more scriptures, but they interrupted me too much. I said that their hope was vain, or something similar, and this because of their sins, as the prophet says, "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God." Then they became angry, especially the jailer, and I thought they ought not to get angry. I further said that it now is as the prophet says, "He that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey," and, as Christ says, is hated by all men. Isa. 59:15; Matt. 10:22. They all interrupted me again, and finally said that I should be led away. And there sat a man there, who said to the jailer, that he would first give me a drink. Then we had many words again, but I could never quite properly finish what I wanted to say, though I would have liked so much to finish it, on account of an honest man that was there, who reproved the jailer himself, because he became so angry. Then the jailer brought me a glass of wine, and I thanked him,
saying, "To your health!" He asked me why I did not say, "God bless you." I replied, "We ought not to take the name of the Lord in vain, as the drunkards and fornicators do." This made them so angry that they had me led away without giving me the drink. God be thanked and praised for His great grace that He gives His own all that is necessary to their salvation. I am told, my sisters, that they only did this to see whether I would not depart from the Lord; yet I know that they did not once urge me to forsake my faith.
Excuse this simple letter. I greatly long for the day of our deliverance; I was so rejoiced the night that I heard that we were so near our deliverance., that for joy, the tears streamed from my eyes. The Lord be praised for His great grace. We trust to await our time with patience. They perhaps thought to frighten me by it; but I rejoice in it, God be praised, who gives me such strength. O my sisters, should one not rejoice at the prospect of so soon being delivered from all sorrow through the grace of the Lord? O that we were fit for it, what a great joy this would be for me! Yet I expect it through the Lord's great grace, though I am not worthy of it. Oh, that matters were so far, that the fiery furnace were prepared. Oh, that it were so far, that I were standing in the strait gate, where flesh and blood must be left behind; then it should soon be over.
O my dear sisters, I am of such good cheer, and I receive such strength from the Lord, that I can not express it, praise be to Him forever .for His great grace which He shows me. I find it to be true: he that trusts in the Lord alone has in his sufferings such joy of heart, that no one can know it, save he that experiences it.
Farewell; I commend you to God in grace. Pray God, the Lord for me; I will do the same for you.
Written by me your weak brother,