At Meenen, in Flanders, on the 5th of December, A. D. 1572, there were sentenced to death as heretics, two pious witnesses of God, named Willem de Rijcker and Christoffel Fierens. When they were brought out to die, they came fearlessly, like two sheep for the slaughter. A brother said to Willem, "Dear brother, strive valiantly for the truth." And a sister also cried, "O yes, dear brethren, strive valiantly." Christoffel said, "O men, think of your salvation; for this is the way of truth unto life." They were quickly conducted to the hut, without being able to speak much; but they cried to God for help and assistance, and said, "What we suffer is for the right truth." Christoffel also said, "Sell your clothes, and buy Testaments; attend therein to the words of God: for therein you will find life; and fear not them that kill the body, but fear him that hath power to cast soul and body into hell." He also thanked God, that He had permitted him to see this day, for which he had so greatly longed, and said further, "These members, which Thou, O Lord hast given me, I will gladly deliver up again for Thy doctrine." Willem said, "I have been in many perils by sea and by land, and God has always helped me; hence I trust that He will also not leave me in this extremity, but succor me unto death." They then offered up their prayer to
God, in which they said with Stephen, "O Lord, forgive them what they do unto us, and do not lay this sin to their charge." Willem then said, "I have now with Paul fought a good fight, kept the faith, finished my course," etc. Finally they cried, "O heavenly Father, into Thy hands we commend our spirits." Many other words were spoken, which have partly been forgotten, and it would also take too long to write them all. The executioner then asked, whether they were ready; whereupon Christoffel replied, "Yes, my dear friend." While Christoflel was being strangled, Willem cried, "O dear friends, my brother is now forbidden to speak." After that he cried once more to the Lord, and then also inherited the crown of life. Thus did these two die for the name of the Lord, being first strangled, and then burnt, after Willem had been confined in prison for more than twenty-two months; and thus they became heirs of the promised land, in which all those that here lay down their lives for the word of God shall find it again.
During the time that Willem was imprisoned, one Cornelis van Eeckhoute was burgomaster at Meenen, who would very gladly have seen him released; he therefore sought to persuade the priest and others, that he [Willem] was half-wetted, whereupon Willem was examined once, and his views asked respecting purgatory. Willem answered that he had once lived in a convent, where on Saturday always meat and other things were cooked for Sunday, and that the monks, sweeping together the fire by which they had cooked, called it purgatory.* Then the burgomaster said, "Do you see my lords, by this you may perceive that the man is only half-witted, for these are not the words of a reasonable man." But Willem said that he did not want to be released from prison as halfwitted, but that they should ask him concerning his faith, and that he should confess it to them reasonably enough. Thereupon he had to remain in confinement, and was finally, as already stated, sentenced to death, this burgomaster pronouncing the sentence. This man, some time after, driven away through war, fled to Bruges, where he, however rich he was, had to live very frugally, and nearly all the time borrow money to defray his household expenses, which when it became too great a vexation for him, he resolved to go home to Meenen, but he died very suddenly on the way.
About the year 1572 there was also another pious, God-fearing brother, named Jan Smit, a native of the country of Marck, but at that time residing in North Holland, near Munnekendam; he was afterwards brought a prisoner to Munnekendam, for the testimony of Jesus. But when after a certain time Munnekendam was taken by the
Protestants, he was released by one of their captains. When subsequently engaged in a boat, on the Zuyder Zee, he was again apprehended by a Spanish captain, and brought to Amsterdam. There he remained in confinement, until it was determined, that these prisoners should be used as oarsmen on the Haarlem Lake, against those of Haarlem. But when this pious Jan Smit came to the place where he was to row, he declared that he did not feel free in his conscience, thus to row, seeing he had no enemies; they might deal with him according to their pleasure. Thereupon he was brought into the camp before Haarlem, where he was sharply examined in the faith, and found to be of the Mennonistic religion. And as examinations and severe threats could not move him to apostatize, since he was founded upon the firm Rock, and therefore overcame all by faith, Don Frederick, son of the Duke of Alva, sentenced him, there to be suspended by one leg to the gallows, which was done, till death ensued. And thus this hero and soldier of Jesus Christ, by saving faith overcome the world, sin, flesh and blood, and all tyrants, and, through God's grace, obtained the crown of eternal glory.
This account we received from old Simon Fijtsoon, teacher [minister?] and elder of the church of Tessel. He declares that this Jan Smit was his special friend.
At the close of the year 1572, there was apprehended at Meenen, in Flanders, for the truth and the Word of God, a spinster, about forty-three years old, named Pierijntgen Loosveldt, or Neckers. While kindly ministering to a sick person, she was walking out at a certain time, when she met the chief bailiff, Joncker Jan de Carmago, who apprehended her, and asked where she resided. She pleasantly replied that she did not live very far off, and gave him the fairest words, in order to be released. But it was all of no avail; she had to go to prison, and on the second day, when she had not had much time for consideration, she was summoned before the lords, and examined concerning her faith, which she freely confessed.
In the first place she was accused that she had attended imroper assemblies, contrary to the emperor's decree. But Pierijntgen held that she had used diligence to follow Christ, and to shun the evil, and go out from them, and join the good, knowing that Christ says, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt. 18:20. And these assemblies she could not forsake, though it should cost her her life.
In the second place she was asked whether she had not had herself rebaptized. She confessed that she had suffered herself to be baptized according to the command of Christ, which they considered Anabaptism, not at all regarding the instance of the
disciples who, though they had received John's baptism, did nevertheless, after they had heard the preaching of Paul, suffer themselves also to be baptized in the name of Jesus. And that one must first believe on Jesus Christ, and be baptized upon such faith, according to the teaching of the Scriptures, which also say, that baptism is a burial of sin and the answer of a good conscience.
When they asked her, who was present when she was baptized, she did not confess it, however hard she was threatened.
In the third place they asked her, whether she did not regard the priests as the vicars of Christ, who had power to forgive sin; and that whatever they bound or loosed had to remain bound or loosed. But she could not confess that they are such vicars of Christ who are not minded as He is; for He is the true Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep, while the priests do the. very opposite. He is the true Mediator between God and men (I Tim. 2:5) , and His Father's vicar. He is the open, clear Fountain (Zech. 13:1), who calls to Him all those who are burdened and laden with sin. He is the true pool with five entrances, of which John tells (John 5:2), and all who truly repent shall receive the forgiveness of their sins. Luke 24:47. No one was found worthy to open the book with seven seals, but the Lamb Jesus Christ. Rev. 5:1. He is the right door; it is of no avail whether any one will open or shut, the ungodly must remain without. John 10:9; Rev. 22:15.
In the fourth place she was asked, whether she did not confess that the body of Christ was in the sacrament or wafer, when the priest had pronounced the words over it, and consecrated it in the mass. But she could regard the mass, with all that pertained to it, for nothing more than a plant, planted by men, which God should root up. Matt. 15:13. But she confessed that Christ had left us the Supper to be observed in remembrance of Him, according to Paul's doctrine, and thereby to shew the Lord's death. I Cor. 11:25, 26.
In the fifth place she was also asked whether she did not confess that infant baptism was necessary for salvation, and for the washing away of the original sin which has adhered to us from Adam. But her confession was, that one could receive but one baptism, and that only they are worthy of it
who forsake sin, or repent, and believe in the name of Jesus Christ; and that it was also not a washing away of sin, but the answer of a good conscience, and that the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin. Ephesians 4:5; Acts 2:38; I Pet. 3:21; I John 1:7.
In the sixth place she was asked whether she did not believe that Christ had assumed His flesh from Mary. But she confessed that He was from above, and had come down from the Father; that the Word had become flesh, even as John says, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." And as He Himself says, that He is the bread which came down from heaven. That He was also the only reconciler, redeemer and advocate. To investigate further, was not necessary to her salvation. John 8:23; 1:14; I John 1:1; John 6:31; Rom. 5:10; I John 2:1.
In the seventh place she was also asked whether she did not confess that three persons constituted one true God. Thereupon she confessed that there were three names in one Divine Being, namely, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. But the Father who sent the Son she could not regard as a person; for the heaven is His throne, and the earth is His footstool; Christ also calls Him a Spirit, and a spirit, He says, has neither flesh nor bones. The Holy Ghost, who manifested Himself upon Christ in the form of a dove, and upon the apostles in the form of tongues of fire, and sat upon each of then, Him she could also not understand to be a person. But the Son, who became man for us, was visible, palpable and passive, walked much among the Jews, did many signs, suffered hunger and thirst, wept, etc., Him she could indeed confess to be a person. I John 4:9; Isa. 66:1; John 4:24; Luke 24:39; Matt. 3:16; Acts 2:3; Matt. 17:12; 11:5; 21:19; John 19:28; Luke 19:41.
In the eighth place they asked her, whether one might not swear, or take an oath, before the authorities, to defend justice and establish the truth, but she esteemed Christ's commandment more than that of men; for He teaches, "I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." Matt. 5:34-37.
In the ninth place it was told her that good works did avail, also for them that had died. But she asserted that neither soul-masses, obsequies, pilgrimages, the burning of tapers, nor anything else could help or benefit the dead; for the Scripture says, "If the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be." Eccl. 11:3. Christ also tells of ten virgins, of whom the five who had wisely kept theirlamps burning, and provided their vessels with oil, went in with Him; but the others, who had neglected their time, had to remain without. Even as the angel said, that hereafter time shall be no longer. Rev. 10:6.
In the tenth place she was asked whether the saints had not ascended up to heaven. But she confessed that no one has ascended up to heaven, but Christ our Protector and Saviour, not even Mary His mother; but that they all rest in the hand of God, waiting for the judgment of the last day. John 3:13; Acts 1:10; W isd. 3:1. As the Scripture says, that the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of God, and they that have done good shall enter in unto life eternal, but the ungodly into eternal damnation. John 5:28, 29. The resurrection is for both the just and the unjust, as Paul says: We must all appear before the judgment seat of the Lord, to be rewarded according to our works. Acts 24:15; II Cor. 5:10. We also read of the souls of the righteous that are under the altar, and wait till the number of their brethren shall be fulfilled. Rev. 6:9, 11.
After she had thus been most rigidly examined, they sought through the learned of this world to instruct her for the purpose of causing her to recant; but when neither entreaties or threats could move her, but she declared herself willing rather to die, than to apostatize, she had to go upon the rack stripped of everything but an apron. There she was severely racked, with a stick in her mouth, so that her teeth broke in pieces; but she would not recant, nor betray any of her fellow members. And when she requested that the torture be discontinued, the burgomaster said, that she should recant and confess. But God kept her lips, and helped her so that she was released from the torture; for she would rather with old Eleazar die this temporal death, than by denying Christ forfeit His eternal kingdom. Divers times they threatened her with death, but this could not intimidate her. Sometimes she feared that, because she was very sad, she might not be able to refrain from weeping when she should be led to death; hence she turned to God in prayer, who did not leave her prayer unheard, for when she received the intelligence, that she should have to die, her heart was especially filled with joy and good cheer. On the morning when she was to die, the bailiff asked her, whether she had not yet considered the matter. But she said, "He that would obtain the precious prize that is set before us, must run without ceasing." I Cor. 9:24. She was then brought into court, and sentenced to death. In her sentence the foregoing ten articles were read to her charge, and that she therefore, and because of her obstinacy, should be burned as a heretic. This did not make her despondent, but she thanked the Lord, and wished them grace from God, that they might turn from idolatry to the true worship of God. I Thess. 1:9.
When she came out and went forth to death, she
said to the people, "Go, buy Testaments, and read therein, that you may find why I am sentenced to death, and have to die." Thereupon the executioner, greatly incensed, and threatening to strike her, told her to be silent, and without saying much more she went into the hut, where the executioner hastened his work, and commending her spirit into the hands of God, she was burned, on the eve of Epiphany 1573, and prepared herself to go forth with the wise virgins, to meet the Bridegroom.
The burgomaster, or president of the court, at Meenen, named Jan de Drijver, who had pronounced the sentence on Pierijntgen, was afterwards severely punished of God; his flesh decayed, so that in consequence of it one ear dropped from his head, and he died a most miserable death.
About the year 1573, there were imprisoned for the testimony of Jesus, at Ghent, in Flanders, Michiel van Bruyssel and Barberken his wife. Because they were not of the world, but had by God been chosen out of the world, therefore the world, which only loves its own, hated, persecuted and oppressed them. But they, as wise builders, had built their foundation upon the cornerstone Christ Jesus, who was able to keep their treasure until the day of their redemption. Thus they, after manifold temptations and trials of their faith, were, by the blinded, God-opposing papists, put to death, not on account of any evil deed, but only for the obedience of the truth of Jesus Christ. Michiel van Bruyssel was burned in the Friday Market, and Barberken his wife was beheaded with the sword, in the count's castle. And thus they remained faithful unto death to their Redeemer and Saviour; hence they shall receive an eternal and glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown, from the hand of the Lord, which no one shall be able to take away from them.
After manifold persecution, murdering and burning of the Christians, there also fell into the hands of the tyrants, in the city of Antwerp a valiant hero and soldier of Jesus Christ, named Jan van Ackeren born near Ypres. The sole cause of his apprehension was, that he in accordance with the counsel of God, had separated from the wicked world and all her false worship militating against the Word of God and had yielded his body and spirit under the banner and obedience of Christ. And as the light does not unite and mingle with darkness; but is hated and persecuted by the latter, therefore the rulers of darkness examined and tried said sheep of Christ, with severe imprisonment and many sore tortures. And as he could by no means be brought to apostatize, since he was founded upon the Rock he was put to death by fire at said place, suffering it with great steadfastness. And thus he testifiedand confirmed the belief of the truth with his death and blood, and trod the wine press of suffering with Christ. Hence he was not rejected as a bastard, but much rather, through grace, acknowledged and received as an acceptable son by Christ, into his eternal inheritance, where he with all God's chosen, shall live and reign forever and ever.
This friend of Christ sent several letters from his prison, but they did not come to our hands.
A letter from G. Kleeymaecker, imprisoned at Antwerp with Sijntgen van Rousselare, wife of Jeronymus, where they laid down their lives for the truth
The abundant grace of God, the great love and mercy of His Son, and the power, operation and illumination of the Holy Ghost, this, my very dear and beloved sister in the Lord, I wish you as a cordial and affectionate greeting, whereby we, unworthy ones, are born anew of God, to serve the Lord in righteousness and holiness, to the praise of the Lord and to the salvation of our souls. Hereunto fit, strengthen and confirm us, the Lord, the Father of all mercy, to whom alone be praise, glory, and honor, forever and ever. Amen.
After this salutation, my very dear and beloved sister in the Lord, I inform you, that I am, the Lord be praised forever, still tolerably well according to the flesh, and also as regards the mind; and I trust by the grace of God to go with our true Captain, Joshua to the promised land (which has been promised us unworthy ones out of grace, and shown us through faith) hoping and trusting by the grace of God to pass unharmed over Jordan; yet I would from the depth of my heart, that my mind were more valiant for it.
Further, my very dear and beloved sister, I inform you, that at the visit my heart was greatly rejoiced by you, because I saw your great joy and gladness in the Lord, your complete self-renunciation, and the resignation of your heart and mind, in the Lord, for which we cannot thank and praise the Lord enough, that He has given you such a treasure in earthen vessels, that you do not want to forsake the Lord, for neither life nor death, nor for any torment which the tyrants might inflict upon you my very dear and beloved sister in the Lord. The Lord, the God of all grace, strengthen and confirm you unto the end, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness in you, and the work of faith with power, that the name of our dear Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and that you may fight the good fight of faith; and lay hold on eternal life, whereunto we are called, if we hold the beginning of the Christian life steadfast unto the end. II Thess.1:11,12; I Tim. 6:12; Heb. 3:14. For, dear sister in the Lord, if we properly
consider the life of Christ, we find nothing but tribulation, suffering and distress. He who was the Lord of lords, for our sakes left His Father's kingdom; He came into the world, to call our guilt upon Him, and paid the debt with His bitter suffering and death on the tree of the cross, leaving us in all things an example, as the apostle says, that we should follow His steps, who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered He threatened not; but committed. Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. And in another place the apostle says, "Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Heb. 12:3. And thus also the prophet utters his complaint for him saying, "I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head." Ps. 22:6, 7. In still another place Isaiah says, "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid, as it were, our faces from him . . . . He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." Isa. 53:2, 3, 7. Besides this, my much beloved sister in the Lord, consider Christ's entire life how He begun, lived, and, ended it; you will find nothing but suffering, humiliation, misery and contempt, which He suffered for our sakes in humility, so that the apostle says of the Lord, that in the days of His flesh He offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto God who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because He honored God. Heb. 5:7. Hence, my dear sister in the Lord, this beginning of the Christian life must abide with us unto the end, as said before, and we shall then also be partakers of Him, and with all God's children inherit His kingdom through grace, for which reason He went hence to prepare us a place there, even as He says, "I go to your and my Father, to prepare a place for you; and if I go, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also," John 20:17; 14:3. Therefore, my dear sister in the Lord, though our God does now hide His face from us for a little while, yet will He gather us again with everlasting kindness, as the prophet says, "I will lead you into mine house, and give you a place within my walls, and a name better than of sons and of daughters; yea, I will give you an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Yea, he will lay our stones with fair colors, and lay our foundations with sapphires, and will make our windows of crystal and our gates of carbuncles." Isa. 54:7, 8; 56:5; 54:11, 12."Yea, there is a city built," says John,"of pure gold, where, my very dear sister in the Lord, you shall see the King in his beauty, whose head is as the finest gold, and his locks are curled and black as a raven; his eyes are as the eyes of doves; his cheeks are as growing beds of spices of the apothecary; his hands are as gold rings set with turquoises, his body is as pure ivory. His legs are as pillars of marble set upon sockets of gold; his mouth is sweet, and his word is lovely." Rev. 21:18; Cant. 5:11-16. In short, we shall find more there, than it is possible to tell us or to describe.
See, my dear sister in the Lord, suich as our Friend and Bridegroom; hence rejoice, you betrothed of the Lord, for He that has chosen you from among many thousands is fairer than all the children of men.
Therefore, my dear sister in the Lord, adorn yourself with the fine linen of righteousness (Revelation 19:8) in honor of your Bridegroom until the days of tribulation shall be at an end, and the Lord shall turn again the captivity of Zion, and wipe away all tears from your eyes, and make perfect our joy, so that for our mourning and sighing we shall sing as in the night of a glorious feast, and shall, with the hundred and forty-four thousand virgins, that were redeemed from the earth, stand before the throne of God, having the name of our God written in our foreheads, having harps in our hands, and singing a new song. Rev. 7:4; 14:1-4.
Behold, dear sister, this our enemies shall see and be confounded, who now say to us, "Where is your God?" Our eyes shall then behold them trodden down as mire in the streets, and be ashes under the feet of the righteous. Mal. 4:3. Hence, dear sister in the Lord, let us be sincere in love, and obtain the victory in the Christian's conflict; to him that overcometh He will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Rev. 2:7. This grant us the only wise God, the Father of grace and mercy, who alone has power in heaven and on earth, that we, justified through His grace, may become heirs of eternal life. Unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, to Him alone be praise, glory and honor, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20, 21.
Faithful is He, who also will do it, according to His promise; for I am God, He says by the prophet Malachi, and change not, namely, in His promises. I Thess. 5:24; Mal. 3:6.
Herewith, my very dear and beloved sister in the Lord, I will commend you to the Lord, and to the rich Word of His grace. Adieu, adieu, if we should see each other's face no more in this world, yet I hope that we shall see each other in eternity with our God, where parting will be no more. Once more, adieu, and take my simple letter in good part, this I humbly pray: and if I have in anything
written too little or too much, I beg you to excuse me for it. Herewith I cordially salute you and also my wife cordially greets you with the peace of the Lord; and Sanderijntgen, and another maiden from Zealand, named Magdaleentgen, also greet you most cordially. I ask you very kindly, my dear sister, let me have a letter from you, for this will be very welcome to me and more agreeable than I can write you. Farewell.
By me your weak brother and servant, to the utmost of my ability.
G. KLEERMAECKER, V. S. B.
A LETTER FROM SIJNTGEN VAN ROUSSELARE
Grace and peace. Written at Antwerp, in prison, I, Sijntgen, who am unworthy, am imprisoned for the testimony of the Lord, and daily expecting my sentence; the Lord grant us, that we may offer up our sacrifice to His praise and glory; and to the salvation of our souls. Amen.
The great grace and mercy of God the Father, and the great love of the Son, and the power of the Holy Ghost, confirm you, my very dear sister in the Lord, and us, unto the end, that we may be found worthy in the day of the Lord, through grace to receive the beautiful promises, when the Lord shall say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Oh, what great joy will then be prepared for us, if we only hold the beginning of the Christian life steadfast unto the end; hereunto confirm us the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, whose power is great, even as the prophet declares, that with His three fingers He encircles the whole earth; and unto His name every knee must bow in heaven and earth, and every tongue must praise Him; the Lord of hosts is His name, the Lord Sabaoth, the Mighty One in Israel, for whose name we are imprisoned here; to Him alone be praise and glory, forever and ever. Amen. Isa. 40:12; 45:23; 54:5.
For He has created and made heaven and earth out of nothing. This same bleeding, naked, crucified Christ I wish you, my very dear sister in the Lord, as an affectionate and Christian greeting; may He keep and comfort you in all affliction that may come upon you and us for His name. After all loving and Christian salutation, I inform you, my dear lamb and sister in the Lord, that my mind is still determined (eternal praise and glory to the Lord for His grace) as it was when I unworthily bowed my knees before the Lord, thereby showing that I desired to obey Him in every thing, in affliction as well as in joy, even as the apostle also admonishes us, that it is given unto us not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for Him. O my dear sister in the Lord, the servant is not above his Lord, nor the disciple above his master, and Christ has also told us, "The world shall rejoice, and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." And further, "Ye shallweep and lament, but the world shall rejoice, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:20, 33. And our faith is the victory that overcometh the world, by which we must overcome princes and magistrates, through the grace of the Lord. I John 5:4. O my dear sister in the Lord, it is true, we are here as sheep for the slaughter; but in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us, as the apostle says, "Who shall separate us from the love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or peril, or sword? As is written." Rom. 8:35.
O my dear lamb, He is such a faithful King whom we serve; He will not forsake us but assist us in water, sword and fire: for He says by the prophet Isaiah, "Though a mother should forsake her own child, yet will I not forsake thee, but keep thee as the apple of mine eye." Isa. 49:15; Zech. 2:8. O my dear sister, this is for us a glorious comfort in our present tribulation, and distress, which is temporal and light, says the apostle, and worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are temporal, but at the things which are eternal; for eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him. II Cor. 4:17, 18; I Cor. 2:9. O my dear siser in the Lord, let us choose much rather to suffer affliction with the children of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, and let us esteem the reproach of Christ great riches, and with the prophet David, much rather go into the holy sanctuary of the Lord, than in the path of the ungodly, for though he flourishes here, he must perish, for the wise man says that the hope of the ungodly is like dried thistledown. Wisd. 5:14. But we, dear sister in the Lord, have a sure hope; though here in the sight of the unwise we seem to die, we know that we shall live forever, for it is written: They that here sow in tears shall reap with everlasting joy and gladness, and bring their sheaves into God's garner. Wisd. 3:2; Ps. 126:5, 6. O my dear sister in the Lord, when this mortal shall put on immortality, how gloriously we shall then be crowned with glorious joy, for then our joy shall not be taken from us. I Cor. 15:53; II Esd. 2:45. O my dear lamb and sister in the Lord, let us freely trust in our King, for His promises will not fail, for He will not put us off, as do these carnal lords, all of which passes away, but He will out of grace give us life eternal.
O my sister in the Lord, my desire is, to go and rest under the altar, with all my dear brethren and sisters who freely delivered up their lives unto the death, and are resting under the altar; I hope that we shall soon come to them, for we are of good courage here, by the grace of the Lord, to take, with Caleb and Joshua, the promised land. Though our enemies are many, we hope to devour them like bread, for we have overcome nearly all our en-
emies, but now we have before us the greatest or last enemy, which is death, but we have a strong comfort, which is the God of Jacob, who gives us strength when the need is greatest; though the billows then come against us, we hope as David says, by our God to leap over a wall, and with Paul to say, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me;" and we hope thus to press through, even as Christ says: Strive to enter in at straight gate, for narrow is the way which leadeth unto eternal life. And Christ further says that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Num. 14:9; I Cor. 15:26; Ps. 18:29; Phil. 4:13; Luke 13:24; Matthew 7:14; 11:12.
O my dear sister in the Lord, when flesh and blood must remain on the posts and stakes, then is the time of the severest conflict, for Satan also well knew to say this, when he tempted God-fearing job. Job 2:4, 5. When flesh and blood are touched, then the true faith is tried as gold in the furnace and then we must strive lawfully, to obtain through grace, the crown of eternal life, for it is written
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation. And I will not blot out his name out of the book of life. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and I will lead him to the fountain of living water. I Pet. 1:7; II Tim. 2:5; I Cor. 9:25; Rev. 3:10, 5, 12. O my dear sister in the Lord, what glorious promises are given us, if we only endure steadfast unto the end. To this end, may the Lord grant us and you His grace, that we may help sing the new song in Zion, with the hundred and forty-four thousand, which were not defiled with women: for they are virgins, because they did not commit whoredom with the daughters of Babylon. Rev. 14:3, 4. Herewith I will commend you, my dear sister, to the Lord and to the Word of His grace, which is able to keep you and us unto eternal life. And I herewith take leave from you, and bid you adieu on this earth, till we meet where parting will be no more, where the streets are of pure gold, and the gates of pearls and precious stones. Rev. 21. Adieu, adieu, my dear sister in the Lord. Written by me, Sijntgen van Rousselare wife of Jeronymus, your weak sister in the Lord; take my simple letter in good part, since it has been written out of true love; for my gift is not very great. And greet with the peace of the Lord, in my name your people where you live and all dear friends, known and unknown, especially your brother and sister Passchier my familiar acquaintances. My fellow prisoners greet your love cordially with the peace of the Lord. Pray the Lord heartily for us; we will most gladly do the same for you according to our weak ability. And let us always persevere steadfastly, that no one may take our crown, but that we may with the wise virgins enter into joyful rest. Amen.
SIJNTGEN VAN ROUSSELARE.
In, the year 1573, there were put to death at Ghet in Flanders, for the genuine faith of the truth, and for following Christ, Francoys van Leuven (the son of Willem van Leuven, separately mentioned in this book), the uncle of Jan Doom; Hansken van Oudenaerden, born at Geertsberge; and Grietgen van Sluys, born at Tielt, in Guelderland. These were at said place, by the envious and bloodthirsty generation of Cain, and not of Judah, put to death most ignominiously, as not worthy to be tolerated upon the earth, not on account of any misdeed, but only because they, according to the command of the eternal God, had separated from this corrupt world, which lies in inhuman wickedness, and sought, according to their weak ability, to follow Christ in the regeneration; and as the light can have no fellowship with darkness, this tyranny was inflicted upon them by the rulers of darkness, because they held the genuine faith of the truth, and thus they became partakers of the sufferings of Christ, wherefore they shall also with Christ, when His glory shall be revealed, receive great joy and gladness, and enjoy the same forever. I Peter. 4:13.
In the same year there were imprisoned at Ghent, in Flanders, for the truth of the holy Gospel, Lippijntgen Stayaerts, a native of Ghent; and Sijntgen Barninge, called Lame Sijntgen, born at Kortrijck in Flanders. As these had also betaken themselves into the way of righteousness, under the banner of their only and eternal Shepherd Christ Jesus, the ministers of antichrist inflicted upon them the same treatment which their Captain Himself had met with, and which He had also foretold and promised His followers: not to be loved and highly esteemed by the world but the very opposite, namely, hatred, tribulation, crosses, persecution and death. Thus it happened, after manifold trials and temptations which they suffered for Christ's sake, that they were sentenced to death by the rulers of darkness, and beheaded with the sword in the court's castle. And as Sijntgen was lame, she was carried upon the scaffold in a chair, and as she held up her folded hands rather high, a brother (named Natanael de Tollenaer, a brother of Joost de Tollenaer) cried, "Lamb, look out for your bands;" and so they also cut off her two thumbs. Thus they did not love their lives unto death, but willingly delivered up their earthly house for the heavenly; hence there is prepared for them a building of God, a house which, in unspeakable glory, shall endure forever in heaven. II Corinthians 5:1.