In the year 1571, on the 11th of March, in the night, the Spaniards at Deventer (having held a tournament during the day) went out with swords,halberds, guns, and many other implements, to apprehend the sheep of Christ. They went through many houses, searching in some streets from house to house; and all whom they could find they apprehended, and fettered and ironed them, saying, "O you heretical dogs, because you deny the Roman Catholic faith you will have to die." For a few days the gates were closed, and there was read by the sound of the town bell, the proclamation, that no one should conceal any, and if any one should know of any that were concealed, that he should report them. But this order was not obeyed; for many were concealed, who secretly fled, and left their goods for a spoil. In all there were apprehended twelve, namely, Ydse Gaukes, Dirck van Wesel, with Anneken and Janneken, their wives; Harmen the dyer, Bruyn, and Anthonis the weaver, Claes Opreyder, Li j sbet and Catharina Somerhuys, Lijntgen Joris, and Trijntgen her daughter; all of whom at first when they were apprehended, were valiant, and confessed their faith; but some were greatly afraid according to the flesh, and abandoned the faith even before they were tortured. (In the torture they were drawn up, their hands tied behind their back and heavy weights of iron, or cannon balls, suspended to their feet). Several others did indeed remain valiant in the torture, but subsequently also apostatized from the faith; and four remained valiant throughout.
Thus it happened that they were frequently visited, and that they (who had denied the faith with the mouth) were very sorrowful, and promised and said, that if the Lord should grant them grace so that they should get out, they would return to the truth. And when on the 20th of May (when they offered up their sacrifice on the 25th) a friend came to them, they asked very closely what news he brought. The friend replied, that the news was bad; he feared that they all should have to die; in short, much was said, and the friend remarked, "I love you, so much that I would you were all out of all this, and that I could be imprisoned in your place;" so that the prisoners became very sorrowful, and wept most bitterly, and said to the friend, "It is best that you go, on account of the Spaniards."
Thus it came to pass on the 24th of May, in the evening, that monks came to them, to speak with them, that they should prepare themselves, since they were to die the next day. The monks went away at twelve o'clock in the night, but returned at four o'clock in the morning. There were two men, Dirck van Wesel and Harmen the dyer; and four women, Dirck van Wesel's wife, Ydse Gaukes' wife, and Somerhuys' two daughters, Lijsbet and Catharina; who did not hearken to the monks, but, according to all that could be seen and heard, cleaved to the eternal truth. First, when they came out of the prison, with a very joyful countenance and smiling, they, bowing their heads, said adieu to a friend whom they knew well, and who had visited them in prison; and he smiled to them in return.
Thus did at first the four women; but the two brethren, Bruyn and Anthonis the weaver, who were brought out with them, were very sorrowful, and did not speak; the women, however, spoke much and greatly reproved the monks that were with them; yea, they were heard to say, that Christ their Bridegroom and Shepherd had thus gone before, and they would follow Him as His own sheep, and they kissed one another very affectionately, the two sisters having hold of each other's hand, and began to sing, "My God, whither shall I go?" Then they had to separate, and six of them were put into the wagon. When they arrived at the scaffold, they brought Catharina, the younger sister, upon the scaffold first. She was very bold in speaking, and said, "Know, ye citizens, that it is not for any evil, but for the truth." When she had ascended the scaffold, her sentence was read, which was as follows, "If she would abide in the Catholic church, she should be executed with the sword; but if not, should be burnt alive." She was then asked, whether she would abide in the Catholic church. She answered, "No; I want to abide in the truth." They said, "Then you will be burnt alive." "I do not care for that," she said; "you deal in lies;" and she spoke very boldly. She was then taken from the scaffold again, and put into the wagon; and her mouth was closed, so that she could not speak any more. Then the two brethren (namely, Bruyn and Anthonis) were one after the other brought upon the scaffold, and were both beheaded, without speaking anything, except that the one was heard to say, "O Lord, be merciful to me." They then returned to the tower, and fetched Dirck and Harmen. These both had their mouth gagged, so that they could not speak; but they made many signs on the way by nodding, and smiling and were very bold, so that the people were astonished.
Thus these two were brought upon the scaffold, and they frequently smiled and nodded to those whom they knew, and who stood before them. Harmen then fell upon his knees and prayed to the Lord; but as he made it too long for them, the executioner pulled him up, and he boldly placed himself at the stake. While the executioner was fastening Harmen, Dirck kneeled, and called upon the Lord from the heart; for they could not speak.
Then Dirck arose and affectionately embraced Harmen as he stood at the stake, kissed him, and pointed with his hand up to heaven. Thereupon Dirck went with a joyful and smiling countenance, and stationed himself with his back to the stake, and cast up his eyes to heaven. When they had been thus fastened to the stakes, the four women were brought from the wagon to the scaffold, and saw the two standing at the stakes. They were very glad and smiled, folded their hands, cast up their eyes to heaven, kissed one another, and all of them fell upon their knees, and each placed herself very boldly with her back to the stake. While they thus kissed one another, there came a noise almost as if it had been thunder or a wagon without horses, and it seemed to come from the Brink, and roared before the wagon, so that the people fell over one another, and no one knew what it was, so that a great fear arose. The Spaniards said that it thundered. Previously, when the two were beheaded, the monks made a speech, that everyone should keep his children away from this people, and that no one should become offended, though they should now be burnt, which was the pleasure of the royal majesty; and that no one should make any ,disturbance. They had no sooner concluded this speech, than there came such a noise, even as though it came from the main street beyond, so that the people did not know what to do with themselves for fear. Hence the Spaniards began to cry alarm, and the drums also began to sound the alarm; but it all passed off without any harm being done. Some said that they saw a light over the scaffold, like a dark sun; this, however, I did not see, but I saw and heard the noise. Moreover, when they were standing at the stakes, straw and wood were laid around them, so that only their heads were visible. While thus standing at the stakes, they made many a friendly sign to those whom they knew, by smiling, by nodding, and by casting up their eyes to heaven; so that the Spaniards said, "To whom may they nod thus?" And the one to whom they nodded stood by the Spaniards in front of the scaffold, and heard the Spaniards say it. This brother also nodded and smiled, and pointed with his hand on high, that they should take God for their helper. Thereupon thev cast their eyes up to heaven, except Dircks van Wesel who was unconscious already when the wood and straw were laid around him; for the chains that were around his neck choked him, for he had been greatly tortured, so that his arms had been much injured; and when the executioner fastened his arms behind around the stake, a faintness seized him, so that he became unconscious, and was not seen to manifest any further signs of life. The executioner then lighted the fire, and all six were burnt alive (together with two baskets full of books), some almost to ashes. The bones and bodies were buried near the gallows.
This was thus done at Deventer, on the Brink, the 25th of May, A. D. 1571.Subsequently, on the 16th of July of the same year, the other valiant heroes, namely, Claes Opreyder, Ydse Gaukes, Lijntgen Joris, and her daughter, named Catharina, were brought from the tower, with their mouths gagged, so that they could not speak, and passed along the streets very boldly, smiling and nodding to many. Thus Claes was brought upon' the scaffold first, and he fell upon his knees, to prayer; but the executioner lifted him up, for the Spaniards would not tolerate it, and cried, "Villains, Villains I" But the six preceding ones, who had been offered up first, had performed their prayers, and had not been prevented from it; for they had been allowed to come together, and also to kiss one another; but since the people said so much about it, how they had prayed, and so lovingly kissed one another, they had resolved to bring only one at a time on the scaffold. Now when Claes stood at the stake, they also brought Ydse upon the scaffold. and he forced his way to Claes and kissed him. Hence the Spaniards clamored again, and were enraged. While thev were fastening Ydse, a Spaniard, one of the ehiefest, together with a monk, stood by Catharina; but her mother stood at some distance from them, so that she could not hear what thev said to her daughter. Then the monk said, "Your mother has recanted, for she has confessed that she was seduced; and will be executed with the sword; and if you will recant too, you shall not die, because you are young yet; but you shall be married and receive a large dowry, and be helped on." But in reply to all this she shook her head. And then the Spaniards also said much to her, that she should recant, and she should save her life. But others said, "Do not tell her this; but say, that if she will renounce her heresy. she shall die as a pious Christian and be executed with the sword." And others said, "She must onlv be made to believe, that she will save her life; when she has recanted she shall die nevertheless." But she shook her head to all this, so that they became discouraged. Then the monk said, "Dear sister, recant, or you will go from this fire into the eternal, upon this I will pledge my soul." In the meantime the mother also was brought upon the scaffold, and placed at the stake. Then Catharina was seen to rejoice greatly; for she found that it was nothing but lies. what they had told her concerning her mother. Then Catharina was also brought upon the scaffold, and she ascended the steps very rapidly, since she, as also the others, had greatly longed for the hour of her redemption; and thus all four were placed to stakes, back to back, so that they could neither see nor nod to one another. While thus standing at the stakes, they smiled and nodded to several yet. Then the Spaniards said, "There are some more of this people; if we only had them too."
There were also on the scaffold the provost and the quartermaster to assist the executioner; and the provost wanted to lay the wood about three or four feet from them, in order to roast them from a dis-
tance; but the quartermaster said, that the sentence was to burn them like the first; hence they had hard words. The Spaniards also cried, that they should be put to death slowly. However, the wood at least was laid around them like around the former; but little straw, with which they ignited the wood; in order that they should die the more slowly; however it was soon over. Thus these four offered up their sacrifice, and were burned to ashes, on the 16th of June, A. D. 1571; from whom many took a good example, who recognized them as the true people, and endeavored to follow them, by the grace of God, in a righteous and God-fearing life, which these four evinced unto death, and thus confirmed that which they had said and written in prison.
Grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, this I wish to all my dear brethren and sisters in the Lord, and especially to you, my brother according to the flesh, and your beloved wife, and my sister according to the Spirit. I wish you the true, penitent faith, that works by love.
Furthermore, dear friends, there were twelve of us brethren and sisters apprehended; there was also a new convert. We men were confined together eight days; then the women were examined, and they renounced the faith, especially your mother and her daughter. After that I was brought before the lords, when they asked me my name, and how long ago I had been baptized. I said, "About four years." And I said, "How do you know that it was done?" Then they said, "We cannot be satisfied, but you must swear us an oath.""No," said I,"I must not swear." They said, "We may." I said, "We may not, " They said, "Where is it written?" I said, "Matt. 5." They said that I had read it erroneously. Then one of them said to me, "What a lamb you are." After that he said, "What a devil you are." Then they asked, how many children my wife had. I said, "One of about nine weeks." Then they asked, "How many did you have?" I said, "Six.""And there is none of them baptized?" said they."That is true, my lords," I replied. Then they asked me concerning the man that had baptized me. I told them, that he was dead. And who had thus led me astray? I said, "My former life;" and that God had revealed it to me. They then wrote, that we had despised God's Spirit. And they read it all out of a letter, as it seemed to me. I said to them, "It seems to me, that you know it well.""We do," said they. It seemed to me, that they wrote more than I had confessed. Then I said, that they should not write more than I had confessed."We do not," said they. And they had it read to me again. And I was satisfied with it. Then they asked me concerning my father and mother and sister, and how many brothers I had. I said, "Two." And they asked me closely concerning their names. I said, "Pieter is the younger, and Symon.""Where does he live?" said they. Then I told them, "He is of your belief.""He is not," said they. I said it was true. And I much excused them both, and said, that they were not so bad. I then entreated them, that they should not touch the innocent. Now they said, "Then the woman lied; we must have her brought up." I said, "My lords, I did not say that I do not have more." They said, "Have you more then?" I said, "One." Then they interrogated me closely whether I did not have more. I replied, "No." Then they wanted to know his name. I told it to them. Then they asked me, whether he was baptized. I told them, that they should ask him himself. Then they said, "You do not know how to speak before the court; how will you speak before God? We shall make you tell it." I said, "The body is at your disposal."
Then they let me go down, and brought up the men, one after the other, and they all freely confessed the faith. And we were put together again; then we rejoiced, that we were allowed to be together again; this continued several days. Then Anthonis was tortured, but remained valiant. After that they fetched me, and asked, whether I would name those whom I knew. I said, "No." Then they said, "We shall make you tell it; but if you ask grace, we shall grant it you, as we did to the girl in the Norenburger street. That was Mariken Backers, who said like Peter, that she did not know the man; this I did not want to do. Master Pouwels was standing there, and they said, "Do you know this man?""I saw him yesterday," said I. Then the commissary said, "Take him, Master Pouwels." Then I went to the rope. The executioner entreated me much;"You are still a young man," he said. I then divested myself of my upper garments, and the shirt was pulled off by the sleeves, and tied around the middle of my body, and I had to stand there naked, until the captain and the inspector came; and my hands were tied behind my back.
They then drew me up, about a foot from the ground, and in this manner left me suspended. I suffered great pain; I had intended not to open my mouth, but I cried out thrice, and then kept silence. This is only child's play, they said, and letting me down again they placed me in a chair, and neither asked nor said anything to me. I had an iron bolt with two rings on my feet, and they tied three cannon balls to the rings. When they drew me up again, a Spaniard with a gold chain wanted to strike me in the face, but he could not. While thus suspended, I worked hard and drew one foot through the ring; then the whole weight was on one leg. They would have tied it again but I forced it through. Then they all laughed, and I had great pain.
Then they placed me in a chair, and I named
several persons whom I thought they knew, for they could name others to me. Concerning Claes Opreyder I have no certainty; for one says this, and another that. I hope by the grace of the Lord to give my life for it; I say, by the grace of the Lord. My mind is still unchanged; I pray the Lord night and day, to give me strength. Do you also heartily pray the Lord for me; for the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much. James ~ 16.
Afterwards I had great conflict from my wife, because she frequently sent monks to me; but God helped me. After that I was brought above before the bishop and the pastor, and they talked much with me, that I must believe more than was written in the Gospel."For," said they,"how do you know that I am a man?" I said, "How should I not know that?""Where is it written," said they,"and in what chapter?" And they also asked how I knew that she was my wife; and other such sophistries, but little from the Scriptures.
Then I went back to my castle, in which I had to be confined. My mother also visited me once; I greatly pitied the woman. I said that God would comfort her. Then they said, it was the last day of grace. On the same day the bishop made an exhortation to the apostates. Then came the superior of the Franciscans and said, "I run down here for your sake, it was the last day of grace, but God's grace is always open." After the exhortation was over, they took me above, where stood my wife, crying bitterly; but I said, "We must not forsake God.""You are not to forsake God," said the bishop, and she wept much. But turning my heart to God, I thought, the suffering after this life would be too long. Katelijntgen was also greatly tortured, and drawn out and suspended with two irons to her legs. Then came the executioner, and said that though the woman had been drawn limb from limb, she would not have said one word; this was a joy for me to hear. Trijntgen, too, was subjected to many assaults, by comfort and promises, and by threats that she should be severely tortured. They compared her to a dog, who, they said, was better than she. The Lord helped her. But (as a warning) she was not prudent in speaking; for, the pastor speaking of the Old Testament, she would not listen to it, which was speaking foolishly on her part; but she wanted to adhere to the New Testament. This Gijsbert told me, and he says that he is innocent with regard to us, for there were read to him at least a hundred [names] from different places; and through him I obtained these [writing] materials. And, dear brother, see to my poor little orphans. I wish all the God-fearing the fear of the Lord. Written in great fear and distress. I commend you to the Lord; take good heed to yourself.
Written by me, your dear brother, from prison, the twentieth day of our imprisonment.
We prisoners in the Lord for the testimony of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, of which we are not worthy to boast ourselves; grace and peace from our dear Lord Jesus Christ be with our very dear and chosen, beloved brethren and sisters, through the obedience of the Gospel. We wish you, our much beloved, the true penitent faith which works by love. To this end may the power of the Holy Ghost strengthen you. Amen.
After all proper salutation, be pleased to know, our much beloved, that we are still in good health according to the flesh, and also according to the spirit, and unchanged in mind and faith, and, moreover, have a peaceful conscience, and are sure that it is the truth, and that no other shall ever be found, though there are many subtle spirits, who seek another way than taught by Christ, and in which He went before them. Hence, rejoice with us, our much beloved, that our Father has helped us to triumph. Truly indeed did He say, "Though a mother forsake her child, yet will he not forsake us." You must confess with us, that He has done this; for which we cannot thank Him enough, since we well know, that of ourselves we have nothing at all but wickedness: as the apostle says, "I know that in my flesh dwelleth no good thing." Rom. 7:18. Further, my much beloved chosen brethren and sisters, know that the Lord can still order it well; though we are here in the tyrants' hands, yet we fare better here than you people think; for the Lord still sends us every day a Habakkuk (H. Drag. 34), which is my sister, who can still come to us every day, and she does not tire of it either; besides, every third day we have a kind guard, so that many people can speak with us. Furthermore, dear friends, I cannot conceal from you the joy which we have, that they have confined us together in the tower, each in a small cell about eight feet square and made of two thick planks. In this place we are confined; but we see and often speak with one another, which is a great joy to us, and for which we are also envied by him who used to be my best friend on earth, who said that we were confined too close to one another, and that we strengthened one another still more. Hence the Lord may well say, when an unclean spirit his been cast out, he comes and looks at the house; if he finds it empty and swept, he takes with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself. Matt. 12:43.
Furthermore, my dear friends, be not proud, and trust not in yourselves, but commit your cause to the Lord. He who was the strongest and of the best courage when we were first apprehended, and with whom to be together was a joy to us, moreover, who remained very valiant in the torture, lies now also in the mire; hence trust not in yourselves. Further, dear friends, they let us lie here, so that in six weeks no one looked after us, save that the commissary had our sister Trijntgen brought above,
to ask her concerning one from Ghent whom they did not know; they also inquired after other friends from Ghent, but did not obtain their wish. Then we expected our sentence since we knew nothing else but that we should offer up our sacrifice. At the last two Franciscans came to me; however they had not been sent. They unlocked the doors, and asked how it was with me."As God will," said I."Yes," said they,"and as you will too." We talked of the Gospel; they asked, "How do you know that it is the Gospel?" I said, "I know this well, for Christ has sealed it with His blood." One of them became angry. I said, "Be still, or wait a little; you treat us worse than Jews; for the Jews are tolerated for tribute, but us you put to death." Then he became angry again and said, "Your rascality puts you to death.""We have done nothing amiss," said I. He wanted to go away, and cried aloud."Be meek," I said."Yes," said they,"this is your word: O Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Then he went off. Once there came also two Beguines,* who wanted to say much to my fellow prisoners. I said, "May one also baptize something else than men?""No," said they,"no beasts." I said, "Why then do you baptize bells?" That was customary they said;"it is an old custom that when there is a bad storm we ring the bells; then it passes away." I said, "Yes, when the worst is over, you begin to ring, and thus you think that it helps." Then they said, "It is not good for the people to come to him."
I can also not hide from you, how unmercifully they dealt with our sister: they tied her clothes together in the middle, but completely bared the upper part of her body. Then said our sister (who is still a young girl), "Never yet was such shame inflicted upon me.""You inflict it upon you yourself," they said. Further, my dear brethren- and sisters, who shall see or hear read this our brief letter, we inform you all thereby, that our mind is still valiant and unchanged; that we do not exhort you more, is attributable to our little knowledge; for which I hope you will excuse us. Know, my beloved friends, that we greatly rejoice with exceeding joy, because we received letters from you; for it refreshes our inward man.
Now, my very chosen dear brethren and sisters, we prisoners, beseech you most earnestly, that you will now take heed to yourselves, and to your walk; for my much beloved brother and sister; when one comes to be thus confined, then only he finds, that the way is narrow and the gate strait, that leads unto life; yea, many shall strive for it, but not enter in, because they are not of the right number. Therefore, my dear and in God beloved brother and sister, examine daily the inmost of your heart when the daily fear comes upon you, and do not hide your sins, lest you sink under them; for you cannot conceal them from the Lord-He has eyes like flames of fire. O my chosen, you can deceive no one but yourselves. We have an example in David, when he sent the man into the battle, and wrote that he should be put in the forefront of the hottest battle, and where there were valiant men opposed to Israel; in order that he might obtain the wife. What did Nathan say to the king? There was a man who had many sheep, and there was a man that had one only sheep; and he that had many sheep took from the man that one sheep, and slew it. Then David himself judged that he [David] was worthy of death; but he went and watered his couch with his tears. II Sam. 11:14; Ps. 6:6. See. my dear brother and sister, let us ever watch and take heed, and if we are overtaken by any evil, let us not be too good to repent, but with David and Manasseh (II Chronicles 33:12) confess our sins, and we shall find grace before God. O my dear and chosen brother and sister, had this been done in Friesland, and everyone looked into his own heart, it would never have turned out so badly. But when everyone is proud and says, "Show me my guilt;" thinking, I will not yield, what should the people say? yea. I will resign my honor and ministry. O friends, had they taken heed, and everyone examined his own heart, and willingly repented, no one would have fallen into such great trouble.
Hence, my beloved, always keep in the obedience of the Gospel, and do not suffer yourselves to be moved by every wind of doctrine, but abide in that before which you have bowed your knees; remember that Paul says, "Though an angel from heaven should come and preach any other gospel, let him be accursed." Gal. 1:8. And beware of the abominable marrying out of the church, which some of you would introduce: and behold Israel, how they had to forsake the heathen wives. Therefore, my dear friends, take diligent heed, as long as it is called today; and let us always diligently build on the temple, with the sword of the Spirit at our side, that we may resist the enemies, lest they take our glory. For we have received a talent, which the Lord shall require again at our hands; and if He finds us faithful, He will make us rulers over many thins. Hence, my chosen, let us ever take earnest heed, always diligently to keep the pearl of great price which we have found, lest robbers take it from us; for if it is taken from us we are ruined. Hence keep good watch, and think, dear brethren and sisters, that if a piece of gold were given you not larger than a penny, and it were said to you, "Keep this but three or four years, and there shall come a dearth, which shall last a year; and keep this piece so long, and you shall buy for it enough to keep you from want; but if you lose it, you must die of hunger;" how closely would you guard it-would you not every day, when the time drew near that you would be in need of it, see whether you had not lost it? I think, every hour. See, my chosen, you that have received the faith, to you this money is given, to keep it as long as you live;
and if you keep it unto the end, you shall receive eternal life for it.
Thus, my much beloved, now that you know that the day is approaching when you must have it, take earnest heed lest you lose it; for if you should lose it the last day, it could avail you nothing; though one had kept it a hundred years, it could not avail him anything; as the prophet says, "If a man hath done good all his life, and walked uprightly, and turned himself to unrighteousness, all the good that he hath done before shall avail him nothing." See, how the Lord requires obedience of us, as the prophet Samuel said to Saul, "The Lord delighteth more in obedience, than in sacrifices." I Samuel 15:22. And consider also the man of God, how he was punished by the Lord because he had hearkened to the false prophet, and not done what the Lord had commanded him. I Kings 13:24. Behold Israel, when they had sinned, they had to turn their backs before their enemies: Josh. 7:12. And Christ Himself says, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." John 15:14. Yea, he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:22); for it lies neither in the beginning nor in the middle. Hence, look diligently before you, lest ye be deceived; for Christ has truly said, that many false prophets shall rise and cry, "Here is Christ, there is Christ." Matt. 24:11, 5. Therefore, my chosen, beware, lest you be deceived. They went out from us, says the apostle; but if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us. I John 2:19.
Herewith I will commend you to the Lord, and to the rich Word of His grace. Know, that our brother Claes still suffers great pain in his limbs, on account of his age; and our sister Lijntgen has also great pain in her shoulders; but Trijntgen and I do not ail. Now we prisoners greet you very cordially; also all the churches and lovers of the truth in the neighborhood; by name, P. J. and your wife; and I thank you most heartily for your letter. Greet W. in my name, and send it to L. J. in Molqueeren, in Friesland, and also to Jan de P. and to those of Amsterdam; I have also written something for him, which put with it, and see that this a .3o gets to Embden, to my beloved brother and his wife. My dear brother, and dear sister, grieve not for us, for your mother and sister are of very good cheer; and tell Machtelken, rather to beware of Harmen; he seeks to bring her into the mire; if he can get out, I have heard him say, he will make a good Christian of her. We also salute our scattered fellow believers. Now, my affectionately beloved brethren and sisters, remember us prisoners in your prayers and assemblies, for the earnest prayer of the faithful avails much. We expect from day to day to offer up our sacrifice. And, dear friends, do write us.
Written in great fear and distress, in the prison at Deventer, after having been imprisoned nine weeks.
The grace of God our heavenly Father, who created and made heaven and earth; and the love of His beloved Son, our Lord, Redeemer and Saviour, which is Jesus Christ, by whom He has delievered us from eternal enmity and the torment of hell; and the power of the Holy Ghost, who works in all His elect; this we wish all our known, and also our unknown, brethren and sisters, and all lovers of the truth, as a most cordial and affectionate salutation. Amen.
Further, my very elect brethren and sisters, fellow believers of our most holy faith, by the grace and mercy of God, branches on the vine of the Lord; we prisoners, confined for the testimony of the truth, intend to write you et a little) by which you may remember us; if the Ord permits it that you may get this little out of the lions' den; for we think and trust that our Lord will soon deliver us, and that we shall have no time any more to write to you. If we did not have my sister, we would fare very meagerly and suffer hunger; but now we have a sufficiency; may the Lord reward it, and recompense it a hundredfold to them that show us mercy.
ow, my dear and much beloved brethren and sisters by the obedience of the Gospel, know that according to the flesh we are still tolerably well, and in the faith unchanged, and are sure that it is the right truth, and that no other will ever be found neither now nor in eternity, for we are sure, and find the Lord faithful in all His promises; as He says, that He will not forsake His own, but keep them as the apple of His eye; and that He will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape; wherein we also firmly trust. Hence, my dear chosen brethren and sisters, beseech the Lord heartily for us, that He will give us power and strength when the hour of suffering is at hand; for our persecutors greatly threaten us, that they will torture us in this and that manner, and roast us alive with a large fire placed at a distance from us.
Therefore, my dear brethren, and sisters in the Lord, help to pray the Lord for us, since of ourselves we have nothing but all weakness, and are compassed about with frail flesh. But we find abundant comfort when we consider the Word of the Lord, and His promises to those who strive valiantly unto death, and cleave to them; for he that remains steadfast shall receive the promises, since He never yet has forsaken any that trusted in Him, and who think of the fight which our captain Christ Jesus fought for us, so that they willingly follow Him. Hence, we joyfully wait for our redemption, though they threaten us much, they can do us no more than what the Lord permits them; and whatsoever the Lord permits them, to that we will resign ourselves, for our flesh, with which we have offended the Lord so often, has merited it more than a thousand times. Furthermore, my dear
brethren and sisters, we expect from day to day to be offered up, for we thought we should offer up our sacrifice when our fellow prisoners offered up theirs. Now, my much beloved brethren and sisters, you that have submitted to the obedience of the Gospel, and have with Noah entered into the ark, and are with Lot gone out of Sodom, and with Moses out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and choose rather to suffer affliction with the children of God, than to enjoy, with Pharaoh, the pleasures of sin for a season; therefore now, my dear friends, be valiant with righteous Noah, who firmly trusted in the Lord's promises, and with patience waited for the day promised him by the Lord, namely, an hundred and twenty years. See, my dear brethren and sisters, who are still in this tabernacle, and have with Noah received a promise, that there shall come a day that will be upon all flesh; if you are then found upright before the Lord, you shall with Noah be forever saved. And obey the Lord with Lot, and firmly believe what God commands you, for He wants His co mandments kept, as we have an example in Lot's ife, that she was turned into a pillar of salt; and further in Israel; when they observed His laws an commandments, no one was able to harm or hinder them; as we have an example in the children of Israel, to whom the promised land was promised; but they did not obtain it, because they did not trust in the Lord; for of six hundred thousand not more than two entered into the promised land; but their descendants were led through Jordan by Joshua, and the Lord mightily helped them, so that they according to the Lord's command went around Jericho with the ark of the covenant, and the walls fell.
See, my dear, beloved brethren and sisters, if we trust in the Word of the Lord, and keep His commandments, and always walk according to the Lord's rule, and call upon the Lord day and night, He will fight for us. Yea., our enemies shall not be able to harm us, but they shall be confounded. But if the righteous forsake the Lord, they must turn their backs before their enemies, as we read in Joshua, concerning Achan and others, also of Saul, who was the first king of Israel; when the Lord had commanded him, to go forth to fight against the Amalekites, and to spare no one, he went, but did not keep the Lord's command; hence the Spirit of the Lord departed from him, and the Lord set David in his stead; on which account he persecuted David. And thus the righteous have ever had to suffer from the unrighteous. Jacob, from Esau; Abel, from Cain, because his offering was acceptable before the Lord, and his brother's not; hence he was killed by Cain; and this generation is still in the world.
See, my much beloved and chosen brethren and sisters, to whom the truth, which is hid from so many thousands is revealed, and who have received grace from God; let us show obedience to the Lord, as did our father Abraham, who is the father of thefaithful; and Jephthah, who did not spare his only daughter, but willingly offered her up to the Lord. Judges 11:39. Hence, my dear brethren and sisters, let us diligently fear the Lord, and observe His commandments, and He will be gracious unto us. Therefore, my very dear and beloved brethren and sisters, only be faithful unto the end, and neither be terrified, nor fear; though this generation has now great power to crush and kill the people of God, they can do no more than the Lord permits them. Hence let us keep good watch for our souls, and always be vigilant; for the Lord says Himself, "Watch and pray; for the Lord shall come as a thief in the night." O, my dear brethren and sisters, that we might then not be found idle or drowsy, but with the five wise virgins always have oil in our lamps, and ever be ready and watch for the coming of our Bridegroom, so that with Gideon we may be found worthy; for they were not all accepted; only three hundred were found worthy. Judges 6:12. Even as also Christ Himself says, that many are called, but few chosen. Matt. 20:16; 22:14.
Hence, my dear brethren and sisters in the Lord, let us diligently pray to God with a fervent heart, that we may be known and reckoned with the little flock, and that we may be stones in the Lord's temple, and branches on the Lord's vine, and valiantly follow our Lord and Bishop even unto the end; and it shall be well with us; and walk 'in all righteousness and holiness, and always be mindful of the day of the Lord, and not depart from the Lord's way; and He will have compassion upon us and be gracious unto us. For He shall separate the sheep from the goats, and say to them on His right hand, "Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you." And to them on His left hand, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." Matt. 25:32. Oh, how lamentable will it then be with those who here have feared men more than the Lord; yea, who now say, "The Lord is gracious and merciful," which is true; but He is also righteous, and wants His commandments kept. Hence, O dear people, think of the day of which Peter says, "That one day is with the Lord as a thousand years." II Peter 3:8. How lamentably it will then be deplored! See, my dear brethren and sisters, my materials are about to give out; hence I must conclude. We prisoners will therefore herewith bid you adieu, namely we four; our names you well know; let this reach Jan de P., our sister Lijntgen's brother. We prisoners cordially salute you with the Word of the Lord, and are still of good cheer, and trust to offer up a willing sacrifice to the Lord; the Lord God strengthen us with His Holy Spirit. And, dear brothers Bauke, Symon, and Pieter, who are my brothers according to the flesh, take care for your souls; though you are young yet, do not depend on that: you know neither the day nor the hour, and enough is revealed to you that you well know that it is the truth. Herewith I will send you my last adieu, as I do not
think I will see you anymore; but see that we may meet one another again with joy.
Now, my dear brother Bauke and your wife, your mother and sister, and I your brother, salute you and all acquaintances most cordially; I send you our last salutation here, and may the Lord make us worthy, that hereafter we may meet one another again with joy. Claes greets you very cordially, and we also greet much all those that have remembered us by writing, and we are much rejoiced in this, that you still have such delight in the truth. Herewith we bid our dear brethren and fellow believers of our faith our last adieu; may the Lord keep you all in righteousness and holiness.
Written in our dark prison, with bad materials; hence receive it in good part. Given the ninety-fifth day of our imprisonment, the 14th of June, in the year 1571, in Deventer.