Grace, joy and peace from God the heavenly Father, and our dear Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood; together with the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from both the Father and the Son, to comfort all them that are in tribulation and sorrow for His holy name's sake. To Him be praise, honor, glory, dominion, power, and majesty, forever and ever. Amen.
This, and other divine virtues I wish you as a friendly greeting, my dear beloved brother W., and your dear wife I.; informing you, that I am still tolerably well according to the time, for which reason I thank and praise the Lord for His great grace which He shows me, poor, weak and feeble servant; trusting that also you are well. Know further, that I learned in my bonds, that Fra. sent- word to Jo. Ca., that he should look to his advantage; and that they would do likewise. Having received this message, Jo. immediately fell sick, insomuch that he was paralyzed in one side, and also lost his mind, so that he took in and received the idol, and, consequently, received the extreme unction, as a good son of the Romish church. and died the 9th of August, for a perpetual warning to us and all the God-fearing. Oh! my soul was very sad when I heard it. It is just as Christ says, "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it." Luke 17:33. Hence, dear brother and sister. let us take diligent heed, that we have not received the grace of God in vain; for now is the accepted time,
now is the day of salvation. Let us therefore not give offense to .any one, but in all things approve ourselves as the ministers of God. II Cor. 6:1. Let everyone strive to excel in good works; for whatsoever good a man has done, the same shall he receive twofold from the Lord. Hence let us always take heed to and follow the words of Christ, where He says, "Fear not them that kill the body; but rather fear him, which after he hath killed hath power also to cast soul and body into hell." Luke 12:4, 5. Let us stand in awe of and fear Him, I say; for before Him ungodliness cannot stand. But few there are that lay it to heart, even as it has also been from the beginning, as in the time of Noah, when there were but eight righteous persons. Again, in the time of Sodom, when there were only three who could stand before the Lord. Likewise the children of Israel, who were God's peculiar people; the Lord did not spare them, but destroyed them in the wilderness, so that of six hundred thousand only two entered into the promised land, namely Joshua and Caleb. O my dear brother and sister, how many there are falling also in the wilderness of this world, though they were also delivered by the Red Sea, namely, by the blood of Christ. And this need not surprise us, since the Scriptures testify, that the present world was created for many men, but the future for few. For it is indeed just as the angel showed Esdras, namely, a city builded upon a broad field, full of all good things; the entrance thereof was narrow and steep, as if there were a fire on the right hand, and on the left a deep water, so that there was only one narrow path between them both, so small that but one man could go there at once; which city no man could or might receive for an inheritance, except he first pass that strait. II Esd. 7:6-9. O my brother, now we are on the narrow way, which is strait indeed, which no one knows better than he that is tried therein; for we are now under the test; the almighty God grant us His grace, that we may not be found to be hay, straw and stubble, but gold, silver and precious stones. I Cor. 3:12. O my dear friends, the flesh is indeed afraid; but when we consider and meditate on the beautiful promises which are promised to them that overcome and remain steadfast, they sweeten every pain; for now no chastening for the present, says Paul, seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Heb. 12:11.
Thus we must also rapidly bring our days of sorrow to an end; for we are sometimes as one that is in the throes of travail, and there are so many grievous woes come upon us, that we would almost seem to perish. Isa. 26:17. Hence pray the Lord for us poor, weak prisoners; we do the same also for you and all the God-fearing. Herewith I will commend you to the crucified Christ Jesus, and to the Word of His grace, bidding herewith adieu to my dear brethren and sisters. Greet in my name, with thepeace of the Lord, all my acquaintances, and also those not known by sight, but known before the Lord; and always remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them. And always persevere steadfastly, so that we may find one another under the altar. Amen.
Grace, joy and peace from God the heavenly Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own1blood, and hath shined in our hearts, and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son; together with the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from both the Father and the Son, to comfort all them that are in tribulation and sorrow. To Him be praise, honor, glory, dominion, power, and majesty, forever and ever. Amen.
This I wish you as a friendly greeting, my dear and beloved wife and sister in the Lord, together with all fellow believers of our most holy faith; informing you, that our mind is still fixed, to adhere to the eternal truth, and to the faith once delivered to the saints, trusting thereby to obtain eternal life, not through our own merits, but through pure grace, and also because of the hope, that Christ with His faithful mouth says, "Whosoever loseth his life for my sake and the Gospel's the same shall find it hereafter in life eternal." Matt. 10:39; Luke 17:33; John 12:25.
O my dear brethren and sisters, let everyone follow the advice of Christ, and search the Holy Scriptures; for they are they which testify of Him. John 5:39. And Paul says, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." Rom. 15:4. And let us not fear men, which must perish like grass; but let us fear Him which, after He hath killed, hath power also to cast soul and body into hell; fear Him. Isa. 51:12; Luke 12:5. For heaven and earth shall pass away, but His Word shall abide forever. Matt. 5:18.
Know further, that on the 17th of August we were both called down to speak with the bishop's commissary; and having come down we courteously greeted him, and bade him good evening. He did likewise, asking, "loos, to what conclusion have you come?" I replied, "I pray the Lord night and day for my greatest salvation, and the more I pray, the greater my assurance becomes that I have the truth." He said that it was true I was seeking my salvation, but ignorantly, like the Jews, who wanted to be justified through the law. And, with folded hands, he made a long speech and highly extolled and thanked the name of God, and of Jesus Christ, that He had done all things so well, and had given
the holy church so many good ordinances, and promised to abide with it even unto the end of the world. Then Lauwerens asked, where his church suffered persecution. He answered, "That was seen three years ago, when some of our people were killed by the Protestants." I said, "My lord, if the authorities did not protect your church with the sword, it would soon come to nought, for it has no strength." He said, that it was of God, and had continued from the time of the apostles to Timothy and Titus, and thence to all the holy teachers even to the present day. I asked, whether the apostles had so observed or instituted them [the ordinances] as they were now used by them."Yes," said he,"as regards the faith." I said, that they were far from the right way; for I had previously shown him, that their ordinances were but commandments of men; and Christ says, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. [Let them alone:] they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." Matt. 15:13, 14. I showed him, that Israel was forbidden to follow their own opinions, but were to observe only what the Lord had commanded; and I told him how severely Saul was punished by the Lord, because he, following his own mind, had spared the king of the Amalekites, and the best of the oxen and sheep. He answered, that Saul did this contrary to the command of the Lord, but they did not; for it was all instituted on account of certain causes that had arisen in the church: even as in the time of the apostles; when there were some that contended, a council was held. Also, that Paul commanded Titus, to set in order the things which he had left uncompleted (Tit. 1:5); and other words. Thereupon I told him of the pious king Josiah
that he did not regard the ancient customs and ceremonies of his forefathers, but that he destroyed all that had been instituted contrary to the law, and commanded the law to be observed aright. II Kings 23. To this he had but little to say. I also asked him, saying, "My lord, I am much surprised, that you do not banish us, as they do in Germany the Eastern country,* and England." He said, "Whither would you go? for whithersoever you go there you corrupt and seduce the people." I told him, that faith was the gift of God, and also, that not all men had it. Eph. 2:8. He said, "You did have the faith, but now you have adopted another; and he added a simile: that we were like soldiers that had run away from their lord without a passport, who were nowhere f ree. I asked him, whether infant baptism was a taking in into his church. He said, "Yes." I asked again, why they did not go to Turkey to take in children. He answered, "Nay, this does not belong to them, for they are a rejected people. I further asked him, by what scriptures they might put us to death; which he assayed to show with the law; but I said, that we were under the law of grace, namely, under the
Gospel; and Christ says of the tares, that they should be suffered to grow up with the wheat until the harvest. Matt. 13:30."He said we have other scriptures, that the magistracy has not received the sword in vain" (Rom. 13:4). I showed him, that the sword was given to the magistracy for the punishment of the evil, and the protection of the good; moreover [I said] I have not been disobedient to the magistracy, but have obeyed it in all according to the power which it has received from God. And when I had asked him, whether he had no other scriptures, he said, "Peter slew Ananias and Sapphira." I said, "With what, and why?" He replied, "Because they lied.""That is true," I said;"for they lied to the Holy Ghost, and had kept back and said nothing about part of the price of the land which they had sold." He said, "Nevertheless; he slew them with the sword of his mouth." And though I told him it was done for evil doing, and without the sword, it was of no avail, he would therewith prove his point that we might be put to death, and also added the words of Paul, "I would they were even cut off which trouble you." Gal. 5:12. I replied, that Paul did not mean such cutting off as they were now doing. He said, "Paul then did not yet have the magistracy on his side."
We then also spoke of infant baptism, which he would prove to be a command of Christ, namely, because Christ says, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5. In this passage he would also include the children, namely, in the expression, a man.* I then made him read that chapter, in a Bible which was there, namely, "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." I then asked him, whether he knew and understood what it was to be born from above; and also said, that a child could not be born from above; but that Christ thereby meant persons that had understanding."Yes," said he,"and infants too," and fell back on his old proposition, and held fast to it, namely, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit," etc. And he also quoted Paul and Titus, that Christ cleansed His church with the washing of water by the Word. Eph. 5:26. Thereupon I answered that Paul thereby did not mean children. He would also establish it with John's epistle, namely, that there are three witnesses in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost
and these three are one; and three witnesses on earth: the spirit, the water,:and the blood: and these three are one (I John 5:7, 8); to which he added, that infants must be cleansed from original sin
through baptism. I told him, that infants are cleansed from their original sin through.the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. For Paul says, "Even as by the unrighteousness of one man death entered into the world, so grace much more abounded by Christ Jesus; and as in Adam all die, even so in Christ are all made alive again." Rom. 5:17; I Corinthians 15:22. Also, that the prophet says, that the child shall not bear the iniquity of its father. Ezek. 18:20. He said, "It is true, this grace has come upon all men: but that children must nevertheless be baptized, if they were, to be saved;" and he made a great many words which had a fair semblance. Then I asked him, whether infants were saved by the water. He replied, "When they are baptized with water, they receive the Holy Ghost, and are then redeemed by the blood of Christ; which he established with the three witnesses on earth, namely, the spirit, the water, and the blood"; and upon this he strenuously insisted. I told him, that he rejected and disesteemed with his infant baptism the blood of Christ, with which he was not well satisfied. I then asked him, whether baptism was not a burial of sin. He replied, "Yes." I said, again, that infants had not committed sin, and that they were simple and innocent. But it was all of no avail; children must be baptized, for this had been practiced from the time of the apostles. I asked him again, whether the apostles had baptized children. He answered, that they had baptized entire households, among which there might probably also have been infants. I said, that the households had addicted themselves to the ministry ( I Cor. 16:15), which children could not do, but it is necessary to minister to them; nevertheless he adhered to what he had said.- I asked him, if there were a woman that had two infants, and one of them were baptized, and the other died without baptism, what he held in regard to this. He answered, "The baptized infant would be saved, and the unbaptized one not." I said, that the blood of Christ had more efficacy than their baptism, and that they also baptized those to whom it did not belong; for Christ has commanded to baptize believers, and not infants, and has also commanded the baptized to keep His commandments. I also said that they were dear with baptism, but that it had no efficacy. He therefore made many words, for he wanted to establish infant baptism also with circumcision. But I proved to him, that the figure was not applicable thereto: also, that only the male children, and not the female, were circumcised. But it was all of no avail, it had to be a figure of baptism, and as the uncircumcised soul had to be cut off from the people of Israel, he said, so should also the unbaptized be damned; which I contradicted him with divers Scriptures. He said, "Joos, it seems to me, that you understand it better than you pretend; for I have certainly proved to you plainly enough that infants must be baptized." I answered him and said, "My lord, think not that I would contradict you against my mind and un derstanding, when I am in such severe confinement." And thus we had to be poor and miserable men; and we had many other words together regarding baptism; but we could not agree on this point. When he had waited a little with speaking, he said, "Joos, you have suffered yourself to be lamentably deceived." I told him, that I had the truth, nor had I suffered myself to be deceived; asking him, whether it was not his opinion, that we should f rom this fire go into the eternal."Oh," said he,"that is beyond a doubt.""I have a better hope," said I,"and should fain see also you come to a better knowledge." When he heard this, he ceased a little, as though -he were startled and terrified, and he pitied us greatly, and I saw that he meant it from the heart.
We further had some words concerning the incarnation of Christ, who he said had assumed flesh and blood from Mary. I told him, that he should prove it to me. He quoted Rom. 1:3, that He was David's son according to the flesh. I said, "I confess this too." He then quoted Paul to the Hebrews, where he says, "He taketh not on angels, but he taketh on the seed of Abraham." Hebrews 2:16. He also quoted Matt. 1, of the generation. Thereupon I asked him, whether he did not believe that the Word became flesh. He replied,"Yes, for Christ assumed flesh and blood from Mary." I quoted to him Luke 1, that the angel came to Mary, saluted her and said, that she should conceive in her womb, and bring forth a son, who should be called Jesus, and the Son of the Highest. Mary answered and said to the angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." I added also Matt. 1, that the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." I also quoted Paul, where he says, "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven." And that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. I Corinthians 15:47, 50. But no matter what I proved to him, he persisted that Christ must be of the nature of Mary, so that after many other words which we had together, concerning the incarnation of Christ, we could not agree. He then took up the Supper, saying that it was true flesh and blood, which he would establish with the words of Christ, where Ire says, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life." John 6:53, 54. I replied to him, that Christ did not speak these words with reference to the Supper. He rejoined, "Is it not written: Take, eat; this is my body?" (Matt. 26:26). I replied, that it signified His body: for it is also written: I am the true vine (John 15:1) though
He was not a natural vine. Moreover, Paul states it clearly, where he says, "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat, this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come," (Mark, till He come). I Corinthians 11:23-26. Hence, I said, He is not present there bodily, as you say, my lord. I also told him of the paschal lamb, proving to him, that it was a true figure of the Supper; but we could agree in no point. The subject of monasteries was also brought up all of which I called sects, and asked him, whether God's children must not all be spiritual. He answered, "Yes." I asked again, why they were not all of one kind since there were many and various monasteries manifestly differing from one another in caps and ceremonies. He answered and said that the Holy Ghost wrought manifold gifts, with which He wanted to establish the monasteries. I also asked him whether he had not read the prophet Baruch."Very likely," he said. Then I told him, how the prophet there warns Israel that when they should be in Babylon, and should there see them bear idols upon their shoulders, and much people running before and behind, they should think in their hearts, "O Lord, thou alone art to be worshiped." Baruch 6:3. And I asked him, whether the same ought not to be done on Sunday. He answered and said, "That is to be only an image." I said, that the image makers are cursed. Ex. 20:4; Deut. 27:15. He said, "They are the books of the simple," and maintained, that the images were like letters, and would also prove that images might be made, and this with the cherubim that were on the ark. We also had many words together concerning the worshiping of the saints; but we could not agree. I have been before him three different times. O dear brethren and sisters, let each persevere steadfastly: and heartily entreat the Lord for us; that we may be able to stand against all the gates of hell; for our conflict is not little, for we are in the midst of our enemies. Farewell all of you, and adieu till a better time.
Written in my bonds, by me,
Unworthy prisoner in the Lord.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matt. 5:8.
The unspeakable grace of God the Father, the love of His beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ, together with the comfort, joy and gladness of the Holy Ghost; this I wish you for a cordial and friendly greeting, my very dear and beloved wife and sister in the Lord. I inform you that I am still tolerably well according to the time, for which reason I thank and praise the Lord for His great grace, trusting to hear the same from you.
Know further, that in the letters mentioning the disputations with the priest not all the words are contained which we had together, for he also quoted, "He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death" (Jas. 5:20); telling us, that if we would be converted, we should be set free, and suffered to go where we pleased. He spoke with an angelic mien frequently with folded hands, adding virtually, that he would stand in our stead at the judgment of God and that we had not the truth; so that it seems to me, that if a man were not firmly built upon Christ, he would have to perish. But the almighty God be praised and thanked, that all his sharp arrows which he shot did not harm or injure me, for God was with me. He also said, that not many rich followed Christ, but many poor and plain people; but by the apostles many signs and miracles were wrought, whereby, he said, the rich, and also kings and princes came to the faith, and since he is very profuse in words, he quoted many other fragmentary passages of Scripture, and gives himself very plain. In short, he made a fair display, but did not sell anything. If we however, had sought the temporal life, he indeed represented it to us in very fair colors; but the almighty God be praised and thanked for His great grace, for my mind is still determined at this day, rather to die honorably than to live ignominiously. For there is none other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved except only the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12); for He alone is the way and entrance to life eternal. O my beloved, this way has no bypaths, but those that depart from it go to death. Flesh and blood would indeed live still longer, but the spirit would rather be unfettered and present with Christ (II Cor. 5:8); for as long as we live we are in many dangers; for in a short time we may lose that for which we have long labored.
Therefore, we may indeed constantly cry to God, to preserve us poor pilgrims in this dismal wilderness, where serpents spew fire, yea, where wolves run swiftly until evening to shed innocent blood; but, my beloved, He that is with us is much mightier than he that is with the world; for God is with us, but with the world, an arm of flesh. Oh, that we might be found one of those of whom John writes, saying, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made
them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Rev. 7:14-17. And also, "These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." And again, "These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb." 14:4. Also, "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." 3:10.
O my beloved, if we were there, the journey would have been safely accomplished. Nevertheless, I have a living hope; for God does not desire our death. Hence, let us always be bold, and comfort ourselves with the words of Christ, where He says, "They shall put you out of the synagogues
yea, 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."For if they had known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." I Cor. 2:8. Let us take for an example all the holy fathers, who met with all sorts of tribulation and affliction, and proved themselves a sweet savor of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish a savor unto death. II Cor. 2:15, 16. For the Lord has appointed a day in which He will render to every man according to his works (Ps. 62:12); and it seems to me, that the day of the Lord is at hand; hence let us possess our souls in patience, so that we may be able to stand before Him in that day. Luke 21:19.
Herewith I will commend you, my beloved, to. the crucified, bleeding Christ Jesus, and to the rich Word of His grace. Lauwerens, my, fellow prisoner, and I, greet you and all our acquaintances very cordially with the peace of the Lord. Do the best with my little orphans. By me,
Your dear husband, and unworthy prisoner in the Lord. Written in my bonds, on the 20th of August.
The grace and peace of God the heavenly Father, the love of His beloved Son, together with the comfort, joy, and gladness of the Holy Ghost, this I wish you as a friendly greeting, my very dear and beloved wife and sister in the Lord. Be pleased toknow, that I am still tolerably well according to the time, for which I thank and praise the Lord for His great goodness and grace, trusting to hear the same from you. Know further, that I received your letter, and thank you for your good exhortation and Christian solicitude for me in these my bonds. O my beloved, this indeed may truly be called the narrow way, for we are assailed from every side, namely, from flesh and blood; and Satan rests not day or night, by some means to bring us into error or unbelief; for the enemies of the cross of Christ approach us very subtilly. Now they have compassion for us, saying, "I will be innocent. of your blood." Then they say, "If you die in your belief, you must from this fire go into the eternal. Thereupon I replied to him, that we had ,a better hope, and were not as those that beat the air." I Cor. 9:26. He said that we were possessed of the devil, and were so firmly bound or held of him, that we would not let ourselves be moved. We replied that the Jews also said to Christ, that He had a devil. John 7:20; 10:20. I wonder, said he, if it would do some good to exorcise you; and other blasphemous words. We told him to go and seek souls, and to reprove harlots and rogues, drunkards, and the ungodliness of the people, since to such the kingdom of heaven is denied. He answered, that he exhorted them to repentance. Lauwerens told him, that all their things and ceremonies were nothing but hypocrisy and abomination, and that they sold masses to the people by the dozen. He replied to Lauwerens, saying, "If you were a wise man, I should take this ill of you." I asked him, where there was anything written [in the Bible] concerning his mass. He said it was a sacrifice, and made many words with regard to this matter, so that it was astonishing where he got it all; much of it had a fair semblance. Among other things he said, that he would shed his blood for us, to gain our souls. I told him, that he would nevertheless be loth to die for us, and set us free. He said that we were too pernicious to live. I said, "My lord, I am much surprised (since you say, that if we die in this belief we are damned) that you will not rather suffer us to live; for as long as a man lives, he has time for amendment and repentance, " But to this he had little inclination, saying, that we were of the worst persuasion on the earth; for the Calvinists and Martinists, he said, were more easily moved than we; so that we could not agree, but he said, that he daily prayed for us. Oh, said he, I remembered you this very day in my mass. We said, that we also prayed the Lord day and night for our greatest salvation. He said, that we sought salvation, but ignorantly. He would also have the flesh and blood of Christ really present in the bread or Supper. In regard to this we made but few words, but I said to him, "Even as Israel made a golden calf, which served as an idol, to whom they said, that these were their gods which had delivered them out of Egypt; so it is also with your people; for they say: 'This is our god which has redeemed
us on the tree of the cross."' He said, that if He were not present in the bread, it would be idolatry; but when the priest has pronounced the words over it He comes sacramentally into it, and hence it is also not idolatry. And when he could not move us with Scriptures, he held out to us release and pardon, to lure us, so that my conflict thereby becomes the more grievous to me; yet I hope that the Lord will help us to triumph, for without the help of God it were impossible to stand.
Hence, my beloved, help me heartily to entreat the Lord, that He will preserve me through His great goodness and longsuffering as the apple of His eye, that I may not be seduced through philosophy or carnal liberty, nordepart from my God, of which I have a great terror; but that He will comfort and strengthen me in my good purpose, to the praise of His holy name, and to the salvation of my soul.
Herewith I will commend you to the crucified, bleeding Christ Jesus, and to the rich Word of His grace; who is faithful in what He has promised. I greet you, my beloved, with the kiss of peace; and Lauwerens and I also greet all our acquaintances very cordially with the peace of the Lord. Amen.
Written in my bonds, by me,
Unworthy prisoner in the Lord.
May God the Father, and our dear Lord Jesus Christ, give you a heart and mind, to walk in His holy truth all the days of your life, to the salvation of your poor, naked souls, that they may be saved, when the Lord shall visit them at the last day, when we shall all be placed before the judgment seat of Christ, where everyone shall receive reward according to his deeds, whether they be good or bad. II Cor. 5:10. To God the Father be praise and honor through Jesus Christ; may He give us His Holy Spirit for a Comforter in all our tribulation, in which we now are, for Christ and the Gospel's sake. To the Lord be praise, honor and thanks forever and ever. Amen.
This I wish you, my dear and beloved brothers, Michiel and Pleun, as a heartfelt and friendly greeting, from the inmost of my soul. Be pleased to know, that I am still tolerably well according to the flesh; and as regards the spirit, my mind is still fixed, to adhere to the eternal truth with the help of the Most High, to whom I must look for comfort and help; for of myself I have not one good thought but only aversion; for the flesh always shrinks from suffering. Nevertheless, my dear brothers, there must be suffering, either here or hereafter, for Christ says that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent must take it by force.Matt. 11:12. O dear brothers, I pray you from the heart, that you will take heed to yourselves, to obey the voice of the Lord, so that you may not be found to be of those who had buried their talent in the earth, and of those who want to put a new piece upon an old garment, and of those who put new wine into old bottles. Matt. 25:18; Luke 5:36, 37. O my dear brothers, if you do not take heed to yourselves, God will require a strict account of you, for Christ says, "All those who will not have me to reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before mine eyes, and cast them into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Luke 19:27; 13:25. And further, Luke 12:47, Christ says, "That servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.", O my dear brothers, accept this my warning in good part, for it is done out of pure brotherly love, and this because I so well know, that without Christ and without His Word there is no salvation. For I also, for a number of years knew better than I did, the Lord forgive me; and if I could have served the world and the Lord, I would not be in bonds. O dear brothers, flesh and blood did not bring me to this, but the Word of the Lord, which is sharper than any two-edged sword. For no man can serve two masters at the same time; he must despise the one, and hold to the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon together. Matt. 6:24. And Oh, it (the Word) also calls to the children of Israel and says, "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him; if Baal, then follow him." I Kings 18:21. O dear brothers, these and other Scriptures compelled me to renounce my own will, in order to escape the great deluge and punishment that shall come upon those who have not obeyed the Gospel of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. II Thess. 1:8, 9.
O dear brothers, be afraid of that day which shall burn as an oven, and when all the proud despisers, and all the wicked shall be as stubble; but they that have kept the laws of their God shall then grow up as calves of the stall, and they shall go in and out, and tread down the wicked like ashes under their feet. Mal. 4:1. O dear brothers, that we might all be found worthy to hear the pleasant voice of Christ saying, "Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom of my Father, prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Oh, then we should have indeed been born at a blessed hour I For there are so few that seek to follow the Lord with a whole and true heart, for everyone would excuse himself; the one says: I have bought five yoke of oxen; the second: I have married a wife; the third: I have bought a piece of ground; I pray thee, have me excused. Luke 14:18. O dear brothers, before the Lord no excuse shall be able to stand; hence let us take heed, if we have heard His voice, that our hearts do not become hardened or stony; for we
have many examples in the holy Scriptures, that the ungodly cannot stand before the Lord. For we read, how God punished the world with the deluge, because of their sins; but He saved Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, and brought in the flood upon the world, of the ungodly; and overthrew and condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins; but preserved just Lot with his two daughters, who were vexed with their improper and unchaste conversation. II Pet. 2:5. Thus, dear brothers, though the Lord does not outwardly comfort* you, as, He then did, yet He shall not let sin go unpunished, for the Lord is a righteous judge, who will judge the heart and thoughts. Oh, yes, man shall have to give account of every idle word that he has spoken. Matt. 12:36. O dear beloved brothers, go out from this spiritual Egypt, from the power of the hellish Pharaoh, and from this spiritual Sodom, where they crucified our Lord, and from this spiritual Babylon; so that you may live in Zion, and there behold the beautiful worship of God; for I warn you in the name of the Lord, and my conscience, that you will find it at the last day, as I have here written you.
O dear brothers, Michiel and Pleun, I also admonish myself hereby, for if I persevere not in this conflict, all that I have suffered is in vain, for the unsaved shall be written in the earth. Jer. 17:13. O so many times I feel a terror of apostatizing, for I am so certain and assured that I am on the right way. For, dear brothers, you well know, that no one can come into this world except he be born; so no one can enter into the future world, except he be born again, even as Peter clearly testifies, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth, forever. I Peter 1:23. O brothers, dear brothers, happy is he that is thus born: for such regenerated persons use the true baptism and the true Supper; they also keep aloof from all false doctrines, and also use the true excommunication and separation, for the maintenance of the purity of the church, or it would soon become a Babylon.
Dear brothers, I have been before a priest four different times, and we can agree in nothing. Oh, he uses such diligence to bring us to his church; and because we will not buy, or cannot accept with a good conscience, his merchandise, therefore he says that we have the devil in us, and that we are damned if we thus die in our belief. However, I am not terrified by his judgment, but I pray the Lord, to open the eyes of their understanding, that they may see against whom they are contending, that it is not against men, but against God and the Lamb; for Christ says, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, [but I have chosen you out of the world], therefore the world hateth you." John 15:19. And Christ further says, "If they have called
the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household." Matt. 10: 25. Oh, how truly it may be said at this time, that our life is accounted madness, our going out destruction and our honor shame. Wisd. 5:4; 3:3. Oh, how are the words of Christ fulfilled where He says, "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, 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. And also Paul says, "If they had known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." I Cor. 2:8. O my dear brothers, remove your feet from the paths of the ungodly, for they go to hell, like sheep to the slaughter. Proverbs 4:14. And look not to the multitude, for Esdras writes, "Even as there is found much earth of which to make earthen vessels, but little to make golden ones, so are the ungodly to the righteous." II Esd. 8:2. And again"Like as a flood is to a drop, so are the ungodly to the righteous." 9:16. And he further says, "What profit is it to man that there is promised a city full of all good things, if he cannot enter into it? or that there is promised an immortal life, whereas we do the works that bring death?" Hence we may well say with Esdras, "O Adam, Adam! what hast thou done I for when thou didst fall, thou didst not fall alone, but also we all that come of thee." 7:48. O my dear brothers, strive to become true sheep of Christ's flock, and true branches of the vine Christ, and seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; set your affections on things above not on things on the earth; and mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience. Col. 3:l, 2, 5, 6. Thus, my dear brothers, if you desire the truth, and to escape the punishment to come, seek to order your life according to the Gospel, and deny yourselves; for Christ says in the Gospel, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake and the Gospel's shall save it, For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? But whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Matt. 16:24-26; Mark 8:38.
O my dear brothers, consider well these Scriptures, and meditate on them, for Christ Jesus has brought them down here from high heaven, and lived and taught them, and sealed them with His blood, and became poor for our sakes, that through His poverty He might make us rich. O consider
once, how despised Christ was for our sakes. So that the prophet Isaiah laments and says, that there was no beauty in Him, which might have pleased us. Isa. 53:2. Yea, he [the Psalmist] laments, that he was a worm, and no man. Ps. 22:6. O dear brothers, let us take an example from Him, how admirably He went before us; for all those who do not accept Christ are not redeemed by Him; for Christ also says in the Gospel, "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? for whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.* And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man which built his house upon the sand
and the rain descended, and the floods .came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell: and great was the fall of it." Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:24-27. And Christ further says, of the sower, Matt. 13, that some seed fell by the wayside, some upon stony places, some among thorns, and some into good ground, and this brought forth fruit. Oh, ponder well this Scripture, in how many a one the deceitful riches suppress the Word of God, so that it does not bring forth fruit. Thus, my dear beloved brothers, this is written in my bonds for a perpetual warning to you. Oh, that God would grant grace, that His Word might lie in your heart, as it does in mine; then you should soon bid the world farewell, Yet, my flesh sometimes wonderfully shrinks back from suffering, so that at times I am as fearful as one that is in the throes of travail. Nevertheless, Christ Jesus also shrank from suffering. Luke 22.
Herewith I will commend you to the crucified Christ Jesus, and to the abundant Word of His grace, as a perpetual adieu upon earth if we should here see one another no more; for my mind is still fixed this day, to seal this letter with my blood, and, with old Eleazar, rather to die honorably than to live stained with ignominy. And, Michiel, I also greet your wife, sister Tanneken, very cordially with a perpetual adieu. My brothers always do good, and praise and thank the Lard, that you have a brother who is worthy to lay down his life for Christ and the Gospel's sake. Written to you in tears, for nature's sake. Assist Christian with the children, wherever it is possible for you; and keep this letter as a testament. By me, your dear brother,
God, who is the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them Which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God through Christ Jesus, to Him be praise, honor, glory, dominion, power, and majesty, forever and ever. Amen.
This I wish you as a cordial and friendly greeting, my dear and beloved wife and sister in the Lord, as a perpetual adieu upon earth; informing you, that I am still tolerably well according to the time, for which I thank and praise the almighty Father, my and your God, that He has chosen me hereto.
Hence, my most beloved, do not sorrow too much on my account, but praise and thank the Lord, that you have had a husband that is counted worthy to lay down his life for the truth.
O my beloved, I pray and exhort you once more, that you will keep yourself in quietness and in the fear of God, that we may together receive the beautiful promises, where neither cold, nor heat, nor hunger, nor thirst shall be any more, but such joy, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the great joy and gladness which God hath prepared for them that love Him. I Cor. 2:9.
O my beloved, this befell me, when we least expected it; but the almighty God be praised and thanked through Christ Jesus, that He still thus aids and succors me in my distress.
Herewith I commend you and my two little children to Christ Jesus, whom I commend to you for a husband.
O my beloved, never forsake this husband and bridegroom, for he is the Father of the widows and orphans. Ps. 68:6. Adieu, my most beloved, with mother and all our friends, whom I commend upon earth to the crucified, bleeding Christ Jesus. Adieu, adieu all together. Subscribed by me,
Your dear husband, written in my bonds.