The misery of the beloved children of God had not come to an end yet at this time, since the words spoken by the Lord, "They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service," were still being fulfilled, which among many other instances, also appeared in the year 1572, on the third day of September, at Amsterdam, in the case of two pious and valiant champions of Jesus Christ, named Sander Wouterss, of Bommel andEvert Hendricks of Warendorp, both of whom at that time, voluntarily exchanged their life for death, and surrendered it to the Lord as a burnt sacrifice, the Romanistic rulers effecting this through their malice, with fiery flames in the place of execution in front of the city hall at Amsterdam.
But between those who did this, and the others who suffered it, there shall hereafter be a great difference, when there shall be said to those who suffered it, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," but to those who did it (if they have not sincerely been converted from this wickedness);"Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matt. 25. Oh, what an exceeding great difterencel our reason is utterly powerless to grasp this, our mortal and frail tongue cannot express it.
NOTE.-The sentence of death of the aforementioned two persons was sent us from the original book of criminal sentences of said city, through the instrumentality of the clerk of the court there
hence we will add the same here, just as it reads; in it may be seen how perfidiously the papistic rulers of that time misinterpreted the good confession of the pious witnesses of Jesus Christ, and how dreadfully and horribly they proceeded against and dealt with them.
Whereas it has appeared to my lords of the court that Sander Wouterss of Bommel and Evert Hendrick of Warendorp, both tailors and inhabitants of this city, prisoners at present, unmindful of the obedience which they owed to our mother, the holy church, and to his royal majesty, as their natural lord and prince, and rejecting the ordinances of the holy church, have for many years past not been to confession, nor to the holy, worthy sacrament, and have further dared repeatedly to attend the assembly of the reprobated sect of the Mennonists, or Anabaptists, and also to permit preaching after the manner of the aforesaid sect to be done in their houses; and the afore-mentioned Sander Wouterss, twelve years ago, and the aforesaid Evert Hendricks, seven years ago, renouncing and forsaking the baptism received by them in their infancy from the holy church, have also suffered themselves to be rebaptized, and afterwards repeatedly received, the breaking of the bread, according to the manner of the afore-mentioned sect; and though they have been repeatedly urged and admonished, by divers spiritual persons, to forsake the aforementioned sect, and to return to our mother, the holy church, they nevertheless refuse to do the same, persisting in their stubbornness and obstinacy, disturbing by said sect the common peace and welfare of the land,* according to the import of the
decrees of his majesty existing in regard to this, which crimes, for an example unto others, ought not to go unpunished; therefore, my lords of the court having heard the demand of my lord the bailiff, and having seen the voluntary confession of the prisoners, and having had regard to their stubbornness and obstinacy, have condemned, and do condemn by these presents, said prisoners, and each of them severally, to be executed with fire, according to the decrees of his majesty, and declare all their property confiscated for the benefit of his majesty aforesaid. Done in court, this 3d of September 1572, by all the judges, and with the advice of all the burgomasters, in presence of me the secretary.
Signed, W. PIETERSS.
Thus extracted from the book of criminal sentences of the city of Amsterdam, preserved in the archives of that city.
As is known to many, the world has become so corrupted through the false teachings of antichrist, and iniquity has, according to the prediction of Christ (Matt. 24:12), so gained the ascendancy, that the princes and kings of the earth have become utterly perverted, through her seductive wine of fornication (Rev. 17:2; 18:3) , from their native reasonable nature, who usually are wont to show some love and mercy to their own friends and kindred, and also to those who love and do good to them. This reasonableness seems to have almost ceased in many princes and rulers of this world, so that in place of their native reasonableness they are now like irrational beasts, who by nature are born for taking and slaying. II Pet. 2:12; Jude 1:10. This, among many other instances, appeared also, about the year 1572, in the city of Antwerp, where they apprehended a pious follower of Christ, by the name of Hans Knevel. He was a young single man and a clothshearer by trade. The circumstances that led to his imprisonment were as follows: It happened that one of his chief friends became known to the margrave and to some one of his servants, whereupon they laid plans to apprehend him. This plot was made known to Hans Knevel, in his shop where he worked. He therefore very earnestly warned his friend with regard to it, and advised him to go away from there, saying that he would go with him. Thus they went together and took up residence at Hamburg, where, after residing for a time, Hans Knevel went back to Antwerp again, there seeking to make a living by selling wool. Hence, about ten o'clock, the margrave with his servants came into the inn where he lodged and asked him, "Is not your name Hans Knevel?" He answered, "Yes," They said, "You are an Anabaptist; you must go with us." And he was also able to tell him, that he had gone from there to Hamburg with his special friend Steven
[Israel:] the land is not able to bear all his words. Amos 7:10. And thus it was also said of Christ, "He perverts the nation." Luke 23:2. Janss Dilburgh. And thus he was confined in a dark dungeon, and on the following Monday brought before the lords, the margrave, bailiff, two judges, and the clerk of the criminal court. Now when this friend of God, Hans Knevel, out of modesty hesitated to sit down immediately, the bailiff said, "Sit down and do what you are told; you obey your people, you must also obey us." When he asked him what he held concerning their infant baptism, Hans answered that he had read nothing of infant baptism in the New Testament, hence he could hold nothing concerning it. Ques. "Were you baptized upon your faith?" Ans. "Yes." Ques. "How long ago?" He told them, and that it took place between Chronenburgh and the Oever. This they wrote down as he understood. Ques. "Where have you attended preaching, and whom have you seen there?" He named to them several persons, and some who had already been offered up. Thereupon they said, "You name to us persons that are out of the country, and such as have been burned; we want to know those who live in this place, and who are your teachers, ministers, and informants." And they said such people as he, the prisoner, was, had no liberty 'anywhere, and had to roam about everywhere. Hans replied that also Christ Himself had no liberty anywhere. This they took ill, that he the prisoner sought to compare himself to Christ. The margrave said, "At Hamburg you people have no liberty either." Hans replied, "There, however, they deprive no one of property and life, as is done here. Margrave. "What do they do there then." Hans. "They are sent out of the city." Margrave. "Then they have to go intd another again." Hans. "Yes, but they shall not have gone over all the cities of Israel, till their redemption shall be at the door." Matt. 10:23. At this they laughed. Margrave. "We will send you learned men, and if you will suffer yourself to be instructed, mercy shall be shown you." Hans. "Yes, you will show me such mercy that I shall have my head cut off." Margrave. "No, but we should release you." Hans. "Though it were as you say, you would love my body, but hate my soul." Margrave. "No, but I love your body, and still much more your soul, since you are young yet, and have been brought to it innocently; but if you will not hear; you shall fare like the rest."
Hans said that he was well satisfied, and thus they parted. Afterwards these prisoners of the Lord were for three consecutive days brought before a priest, who endeavored with all his might to make them believe his false doctrine, telling them many things concerning their old custom, which this friend of God did not deem worthy to write to his friends. The priest especially made many words over Rom. 13, by which he wanted to justify the murdering and slaying perpetrated by the Romish church, saying that the magistracy did not bear the sword in vain, and that it must therefore be obeyed. Hans replied that he was willing to obey the magistracy in custom, taxes and the like; but that the
priest ought to be ashamed, that he sought to justify their wicked murdering and burning even by the Scriptures; asking him where Christ and His apostles had ever done this. He further asked the priest why he had come to him. The priest answered, "" To win your soul." Hans Knevel told him, if he sought to win souls, to go around in the city, in the brothels, the tippling houses, tennis courts, and to those who shed so much innocent blood, and to seek to win their souls. His own soul Christ had already won. Thus this prisoner disputed five different times with the priest. Afterwards he was put upon the rack several times; but the Lord his God; in whose grace he trusted, faithfully succored him according to His promise. When he again appeared before the lords, he was severely upbraided, why he refused to hear the learned men whom they had sent. Hans replied"Your learned men wanted to make me believe in infant baptism, of which the Scriptures no where speak"; and he offered to show the lords the Scriptures relating to the true Christian baptism-,' but the lords did not wish to hear it, claiming not to understand the matter. Hans asked how they then dared judge such an important matter, involving body and soul, and which they, according to their own saying, did not understand.
Having been severely confined for about nine days in the Emperor's Chair, he was again summoned before the margrave, and the clerk of the criminal court. The margrave told him that he had received a letter from the Duke, with the import that the prisoner must be examined still further or more rigorously. Hans replied that he could not give them any further information. Hence he had to go upon the rack again. When they could obtain nothing else from him, they released him from, the rack. Hans said, "How can you torment us thus, when no one complains of us, that we have injured any one?" The margrave said, "You will not obey the authorities." Hans replied, "We will gladly obey the authorities in all taxes, customs and excises; yea, we should be sorry, if we should withhold from the authorities one stiver of what is their due." They then compared him to the Munsterites. Hans said that his faith was as different from the Munsterite sect, as heaven is from the earth. And after they had finished tormenting, tempting and otherwise maltreating him according to their pleasure, and he the prisoner,
was in no wise to be moved, since he was firmly built upon the cournerstone Christ Jesus, he was burned at the stake, in the marketplace at Antwerp, about the year 1572, confirming the faith of the truth with his death and blood, for an instructive and perpetual example to all true Christians; for he has fought the fight, finished his course, obtained the crown of eternal glory through the grace of God, and now rests with all his fellow combatants that have lawfully striven (II Tim. 2:5 ), under the altar of Christ Jesus.
This account we have chiefly taken from Hans Knevel's own letter, which he wrote at Antwerp, from prison, to his dear brother Steven Janss Dilburgh and his wife Leentjen at Hamburg; in which he communicates at length the firm foundation of his faith and living hope in God's grace and blessed promises, which we, to avoid prolixity, have omitted, even as we have also done with a large number of similar writings.
Persecuted, but not forsaken. II Cor. 4:9.