About the year 1574 there was another pious brother, named Hendrick Pruyt, born at Harderwijck, in Guelderland, and a seaman by occupation, who came and sailed in the Zuyder Zee, on the coast of Friesland. And as a Spanish colonel was stationed at Wurekom, who was a zealous servant of the King of Spain, and a great war was carried on at that time between Holland and the King of Spain, the soldiers of the latter came in a yacht, on board of said Hendrick Pruyt's vessel. And as he saw no way of escape, he said to his wife, "Trijntjen Jans, lamb, there comes the wolf;" exhorting her to boldness and to answer without dissimulation to whatever she might be asked. When these robbers came on board they asked, "Where does
this craft hail from?" They answered, "From Harderwijck." Though that place was at that tithe at peace with the king, 'they nevertheless had to go on shore with them, and Hendrick Pruyt was put in prison at Wurckom. His wife, who came to him, was greatly concerned how to obtain his release for they were young people who greatly loved each other: and' as Hendrick Pruyt had little hope of being released, he asked his wife not to go to much trouble on his account, but that she should travel to her brother and friends, who were principally interested in the vessel, that they might see how to get the vessel released, which wasalso done. While she went home, they in the meantime examined Hendrick Pruyt and found that he was a brother of the Mennistic persuasion.
On account of this they dealt with him so. cruelly and tyrannically, that they,cbuld not, wait until the return of his wife, whom they might hen also have made to tread this way of suffering. But they took this pious man and cast him into a boat which they had well smeared with tar. They also tarred the prisoner's body, and'bound his outstretched hands to the ends of the mast-thwart, and took him thus without the harbor, set fire to the boat, and started him burning seaward. But as his hands through the fire had become. loosed or disengaged from their bonds, it seemed probable that he might yet deliver himself from the fire; but these murderers, seeing this, hastened to him, and thrust him through, and ended his life. Thus this friend of God passed valiantly through the conflict, and the seed of God, which he had received in his heart through the preaching of the divine Word, remained in him unto the end, whereby he through patience overcame his enemies, kept the faith, and through God's grace obtained the crown of eternal glory.
When this colonel perceived that Trijn Jans, his wife, hearing this report, would not readily be willing to run into the ands of these wolves, he was very much dissatisfied with it; saying, "If I had her here, she would have to go the same route" and that if he could at any time get hold of this woman, though. she were buried somewhere in a city, he would nevertheless dig up her dead body and burn it.
Consider, beloved. reader, how such awful bloodthirstiness and tyranny accord with the Word,
spirit and example of Christ and His apostles, whose followers they, without shame, still dare call themselves.
Olivier Willemss, born at Nimeguen, educated in the schools, and having become pastor of Leeuwen, a village between Nimeguen and Tiel, began at times to evince scruples in reading the mass, and about other Romish institutions. This exciting suspicion, he, by the advice of well meaning friends, fled to the country of Cleves, and having entered into the communion of the Anabaptists there, married a certain widow from Antwerp (likewise a fugitive on account of persecution), and in the hope of greater freedom through mitigation of the bloody decrees; returned with her to Antwerp and settled down in the Steenhouwdersvest.
His wife in the meantime giving birth to two sons, the report of it, together with the. circumstance that the children were not brought to baptism, brought them into rumor and suspicion of heresy, so that they, 'after accusation, in the beginning of the year 1574 (the children being then a year and three months old), were put into prison.
A few days afterwards, on Friday, the 22d of January, this good and upright man, Olivier Willemss, was, because of his faith, because of -having received baptism in adult years, and because of having sold certain good and edifying books, proscribed by the papists, condemned to death and the fire, to be burnt alive, which he steadfastly suffered the following day, having commended his soul into the hands of God.
His wife, through a certain occasion, not necessary to be related here: escaped out of prison, and ultimately fell asleep in the Lord, a God-fearing and godly woman, in the eighty-fifth year of her age.
It is stated of him, that besides his upright faith and virtuous conversation, he had a very sagacious and penetrating understanding, as also, that he was so well versed in the three chief languages, namely, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, that he daily read them at home; and explained them to his household.
In prison great threats of the torture were made against him, which he bore steadfastly, immovably and unchangingly before- God and men. He had been in prison only three days, when his trial was concluded; whereupon sentence followed, and the next day, death.
He was burnt alive between two young maidens, who to all appearance had confessed the same truth, according to the testimony of those who said that they witnessed it with their own eyes.
NOTE.-As there have come into our hand, not only the foregoing copy and this last notice touching Olivier Willemss, but also the criminal demand of the bailiff of Antwerp, made concerning said person, and what the judges advised thereupon, according to the original record of the secretary there, we shall 'properly add the same here, so that every one may be fully assured of it.
The bailiff vs. Olivier Wilhemssen, of Nimeguen, since he has dared attend divers forbidden conventicles, to sell books that are proscribed, and to have himself, in said forbidden conventicles, rebaptized, though he received baptism in his infancy, all of which is contrary to the prohibitions and decrees of his majesty; concludit capitaliter, that the defendant be punished according to the aforesaid decrees, the defendant having openly confessed that with which he was charged by the bailiff. Judicatum, that the plaintiff have his full demand granted.
This copy having been compared, by us the undersigned, secretary of the city of Antwerp, with the aforesaid court records; is found to accord with it.
The words, concludit capitaliter, translated into Dutch [English], mean substantially, that the bailiff demands [the prisoner's] life and property forfeited in his behalf. The word judicatum means, that the lords pass sentence. This certifies the same.
NOTE.-I have another authentic copy of this demand made by the bailiff of the judges, against Olivier Willemss, on which is inscribed in the margin, Executio: as though it were said: Execute, or punish, him according to your demand, that is, burn him alive, for this was the punishment of steadfast Anabaptists, according to the imperial decree; upon which the bailiff had founded his demand.
In the year 1575, on the eve of Whitsuntide, there were also burnt alive, with their tongues screwed fast, atAntwerp, in Brabant, the following witnesses of Jesus: Jacob the Cobbler and his wife; Grietjen van Bruyssel, a widow; Anneken van Bruyssel, a young maiden; and Tanneken Walraven, the mother of Jacques Walraven, of Amsterdam. These died together, except the wife of Jacob the Cobbler, who, being enciente, had to wait until her delivery, and thus following the footsteps of
her husband, she willingly delivered up her life for the testimony of Jesus.
Every reader ought further to notice, how directly these papists followed the footsteps of the envious and truth-hating scribes and Pharisees, who stopped their ears, that they should not hear the words of truth which were declared to them by that faithful witness of God, Stephen. So did also these scribes, with still greater tyranny deal with these friends of God, taking instruments invented for this purpose by the monks, in which they screwed fast the tongues of these prisoners, to deprive them of the power of speech, that they, on their way to death, should not be able to proclaim to the bystanding people the truth from the Word of God, and the innocence of their death. How will these persecutors answer for their course before the judgment seat of Christ, who knowing that Christ pronounced so many woes upon the scribes and Pharisees, who killed and stoned the prophets sent to them, nevertheless followed their works; hence they may expect the same reward from the righteous judge, who shall reward every one according to his works.
On the other hand, these witnesses can in truth console themselves, that to them, whose tongues were bound here, and who had to suffer for the truth a little while, it will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness, when in the revelation of Christ their mouths shall be filled with laughter, and their tongues with praise, and they shall stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted them, and made no account of their labors, being thus under the blessed promise of Christ, who said, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." And Peter, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye." I Pet. 1:6; Heb. 12:11; Ps. 126:2; Matt. 5:10; I Pet. 4:14.
These witnesses wrote many letters from their prison, but they were lost through the Spanish insurrection, which occurred at Antwerp on the 4th of November, A. D. 1576.
In the year 1575 there was burnt alive at Antwerp, for the faith of the truth and the testimony of Jesus, a God-fearing, pious brother, named Claes van Armentiers, a lace-maker; and with him, a young maiden, named Lijntgen, a servant maid. Claes van Armentiers, having been imprisoned first, said Lijntgen called to him into prison, "Strive valiantly, my dear brother, for you have the genuine truth." Being apprehended upon this, she was offered up four or five days afterwards, both being burnt alive together. And as they, for the truth of Christ (as behooves obedient sheep of their only, eternal Shepherd), patiently and in true obedience suffered temporal burning in their temporal and corruptible bodies, they are hereby saved and delivered from the eternal and unquenchable fire of hell prepared for the devil and all his followers. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. II Thess. 1:9; Mark 9:44. On the other hand, these faithful followers of the truth may expect to hear from the mouth of Jesus, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." At that time they shall again in great glory, receive these members, which they here for the testimony of Jesus delivered to the burning, being like, in immortality unto the glorious body of our Lord Jesus, and shall live with Him in unspeakable joy and glory, forever and ever. Phil. 5:21; I Cor. 2:9; Wis. 5:16.