In the year 1576 there were apprehended at Ghent, in Flanders, for the firm foundation of the truth, a God-fearing pious brother, named Raphel van den Velde, and with him a brother named Jeronymus Schepens, and other persons. At said place they were confined in a strong tower with seven doors, and very strongly guarded. There they remained imprisoned seven weeks, and were dreadfully tormented by thp bloodthirsty ministers of antichrist, with manifold temptations and threats, which they, through the grace of God, resisted. Thereupon the servants of Baal sentenced them to be executed with fire. But as they suffered all this for the testimony of Jesus, and not for any crime, there is prepared for them the crown of eternal glory in heaven. And thus they were burnt alive at said place, confirming the faith of the eternal truth with their death and blood, as a perpetual and instructive example to all true believers, to follow them in the footsteps of the faith.
Here follow the letters which Raphel van den Velde wrote from his prison, and sent to his wife and friends. Let the reader please read them with attention.
Grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, be with you, my dear and in God beloved wife; and the supreme Comforter, the Holy Ghost, be with you and console you, and lighten your heart in all your tribulation and affliction, which I well know, are exceedingly great. Hence I hope to write your love a little, for your consolation; for I hope that it will be a great comfort to you, when you will read it, even as also my heart was exceedingly comforted and rejoiced, when I received your letter, on Wednesday, about five or six o'clock [ P. M. ] , when in the morning. I had been tortured from about eight until ten o'clock. I thank the Lord, that He kept my mouth, so that no one need be troubled by it; for when I had been laid upon the bench, I did not open my mouth to criminate any one, but cried, sighed, and prayed to God. The lords said, "Hearken to us, and we will shorten the pain.; yea, we are sorry that we must inflict it upon you." But when I would not listen to them, lying there bound and ropes tightly twisted around my shins and thighs, and over my heart, and my arms tied together behind my back; so that they lay under my loins, and a cord with knots having been put around my head, which lay on a pebble-stone, they began winding it with an iron chain, so that I thought nothing . else but that they were winding
and crushing my head all to pieces; and on my thighs and shins, so that it seemed to me, that all my bones, flesh, veins, and sinews Were going to pieces. Then thought I: O Lord, what torture this is! O Lord, I shall not be able, to endure it. O Lord, succor me now, for the distress, is great. Then .I composed myself, and committed the matter to God; and .instantly all. my members became as dead, and the lords kept calling;, "Tell, tell,; and we shall shorten your pain." .And when I, would still not tell, they spoke in Latin to Master Hans, and then the latter went and made- two cords fast to my great toes, in the form, of a double knot, and stretched me out thereby, which caused me exceeding pain. When I would yet not tell, they caused the cords on my thighs and shins to be twisted still more tightly, and the knots pained me so, that I thought that I must die. And still they kept calling, "-Speak, speak; and we shall shorten your pain." Then thought I, "O Lord, .how shall I be able to endure this; must it fast long yet?"' Then the thought came into my mind, that the eternal pain should be still greater, and should last forever. Then I took courage again, and cried to God, "Help me in this distress, that I must not bring my neighbor into the same affliction." And the .Lord gave me such courage, that I resolved rather to die on the bench, and kept silence.. And as they did still not obtain anything from me, to the implication of my neighbor, Master Hans took water (during the entire time a cloth had lain on my face), and holding my nose shut with one hand, began to pour water on my abdomen and thence all over my breast, and into my mouth; even as one should drink when he is very thirsty. I think that the can from which he poured out -the water held about three pints. And when I was at the end of my breath, and wanted to fetch such, I drew the water all into my body, whereupon I suffered such distress, that it would be impossible for me to relate or describe it; but the Lord be forever praised: He kept my lips. And when they could still not obtain anything from me, they caused the cord which was on my thigh to be loosed and applied to a fresh place, and wound it much tighter than before, so that I thought he would kill me, and began to shake and tremble greatly. He then proceeded to pour water into me again, so that I think he emptied four such cans, and my body became so full of it, that twice it came out again at the throat. And thus I became so weak. that I fainted; for. when I recovered from my swoon; I found myself alone with Master Hans and Daniel de Keyser. And Master Hans was so busily engaged in loosing all my cords, that it seemed to me that they were concerned over me. But the Lord in a large degree took away my pain every time; whenever it became so severe that I thought it was impossible to bear it, my members became as dead..;Eternal praise, thanks, honor, and glory be to the -Lord; for when it was over I thought that, by the help of the Lord, I had fought a good fight.
I would write you much mare about it, but I leave it till another time. Hence, my dear wife, let us thank God for His grace. On Monday I did not think that I°was approaching such a happy week, and as regards the bruises from my torture, I- hope that it will be well; but it must have its time. Be not grieved on account of my sufferings; but praise God in this matter, for my mind, I4 hope, is unchanged and immovable; for though they should torture me twice yet, I hope to endure all they inflict upon me. But it may indeed be called torture, for it is a great pain. I also am ready not only to stiffer thyself to be tortured, but also always to let my flesh to be burnt alive at the stake for the truth. I must also write you something about the joy and gladness which I now have in the Lord; how the Lord strengthens, comforts and rejoices my heart, when I consider the Scriptures, that I, who am such an unworthy man, may be a partaker of Christ's sufferings; I can now say with the, apostle, that I bear the marks of Christ in my members. Gal. 6:17.
Further, my dearest, I inform your love, that I received your letter, whereby my heart was greatly comforted and rejoiced, so that for joy I could not refrain from weeping; which was a sure sign of godly sorrow, and the same worketh to salvation. II Cor. 7:10. Thus i understood from it your great grief, much greater than you can say or write. But, my dearest, I pray you by the mercies of God, that you will to some extent lay aside your grief concerning me, and remember how, or in what manner we received each other from the hand of the Most High; was it not under the condition, that the Lord slhduld always be the dearest, and that we must leave each other, if it be His holy will? And now your love well knows, that this is certainly the will of the Lord, and nothing else; for if it had not been the will of the Lord, I would have escaped as well as you. Hence, my beloved, let us be moderate, and be content with such things as we have (Heb. 13:5), as I hope from your love that you will do; and, if you think it well, rather let the girl go, and keep your child with you. And in the meantime, teach him something yourself, and diligently keep him busy at something with you. But above all, I pray you, take good heed to yourself, for the proctor general questioned me much in regard to you, and at divers times they asked me concerning my brother, but I did not answer them thereupon; but they knew it well already, as they said. And Daniel de Keyser came into my cage, and also asked me much in'regard to my brother. They also questioned me concerning my child, and whether he was not baptized, which I told them; hence take good heed, or peradventure they might take him, and greater trouble might result .from it. We shall probably have time to write more about this matter; but now I write only a little of this and a little of that; for my head is not in a condition to write much, but I hope that it will improve. Today I have been greatly tired with speaking against two Jesuits concerning our faith; in the
presence of the clerk of the criminal court, and Master Jacob Hesseling, the proctor general, and a councilor; but the Lord be forever praised and thanked, they had to give up with ignominy.
I hope by and by to write more fully about every thing. Tell my dear brother, also to write something, and greet him much for me, as also his wife, and my dear sister, with the peace of the Lord, and that they write me something, since I am exceedingly much burdened and concerned for them. And take good heed, for no one knows what bonds are, except he that tries them, this I may well say, for which I thank and praise the Lord with a joyful heart. I hope that I am over the worst and my heart is much resigned in suffering or affliction, and in death, but when I begin to think of parting from my love, and my dear son, then I cannot compose my heart so easily. But this comforts me much, that my child can keep his mother. And be not over-careful, my love; the Most High cares for you and also for your child; and our dear Lord has shown us much grace, that He has permitted us to live together so long. Yea, be not too careful, this I pray you, my love; but cast your care entirely and gladly upon the Lord; He will provide for you, and give you another husband in my place, if it be for your good. Ps. 55:22; I Pet. 5:7,; Phil. 4:6.
Herewith I will commend you, my dearest wife and sister in the Lord, to the Almighty God and to the rich word of His grace; adieu, my love.
Oh, you have been such a good and excellent housekeeper to me; O my love, I thank you from the depths of my heart for your great faithfulness and willing service, which you have so faithfully shown me in all obedience. And I pray you all, dear friends, that you would diligently help me pray to the Lord, for it is now time, the conflict is nearing its height, this I well experience, and I apprehend that Jeronymus, our brother, will also experience it; the Lord be gracious unto him; I comfort him now and then, as best I can.
Greet Vintgen from me with the peace of the Lord, and let me know, how it went with'them all. Greet Jan and Klaerken from me; and K., and tell him to write me something. And also greet in my name all those that fear God, and always associate with the righteous, and you will become more righteous still. Adieu, adieu.
Written in the dark, on the 24th of May, A. D. 1576. Adieu, my wife, adieu, my child.
On Thursday the 24th of May I was brought before the lords once more, and there sat two Jesuits. I was very feeble from the torturing. They began and asked me, why I had suffered myself to be so long seduced, and questioned me concerning my faith. Then I said, "Have I come here to teach you? by no means. Do you confess your faith to me? I am come to be instructed." Then he began to confess his faith, just like children that are learning."Well, this is my faith," he said. Then I said, "Prove it with the Word of God, and I will also believe it." Then he began from John 3, that he children must be baptized; also from Mark 16 and Matt. 28, where he so entangled himself, that he did not see how he could get out of it; and went from there [he went on] to circumcision, where he likewise knew not what to do. Finally they had to confess that it did not apply to baptism which greatly surprised me. And when they saw that all that they did went backwards, they all began to talk Latin at the same time, and I sat there and looked on. Eamus (let us go), they said, and wanted to go, for it struck eleven and we had come together a little after eight. And when they were determined to go, I said, "I pray you, my lords, write your faith down for me, so that I can consider it." But they would not do it."If you do not believe our words," said they,"you would not believe our writing."
Oh, thought I, if I could get that, I should have you; I should soon show to you, that your faith is not contained in the Scriptures.
Further, on the 25th of May there came the penitentiary from the bishop, and another, and Friar Pieter de Backer, and they approached me very subtly. They led me upon a very high mountain, and [said that] if I would yield just a little, all should be well. Master Jacob Heyselinck said,"Yes," he should help me, and the matter was in his power; that I should only seemingly recant a little, "'Dear Raphel, how sorry I am; it pierces me to my very heart." Then I said, "O my lords, you say that I should recant a little. This I will gladly do; yea I will recant altogether, if you can show me something better than the Word of God; but not otherwise, or my faith should not rest upon the Word of God, but upon the words of men, and I well know what the prophet says: 'Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.' Jer. 17:5. O my lords, that would not be converting; you would have to prove it to me with the holy Scriptures, or we shall not do it." And after many words we parted once more, and I thanked them for their trouble. Sometime afterwards the clerk of the criminal court, the proctor, and Friar Pieter de Backer came and entreated me again. I said I was sorry that they entreated me. They said, "But we shall show it to you very clearly;" and commenced another mystery concerning the incarnation of Christ. And when I began to answer, he put his Testament away. And many other things they said. Then I said, "If it is your pleasure, I shall reply to you upon every thing, one after the other;" and when they heard how I began to answer them, they slipped away and said adieu, and I did the same. And Friar Pieter said, "I shall come again in a day or two.""If you please," said I."Oh," said he,"how sorry your mother must be." But I said nothing. And in the afternoon they sent me a book, entitled"The Shield. against the Anabaptists," which I should read; and in two or three days the penitentiary should come to see me again.
Here, dear brethren and sisters altogether, you may have heard whether I surer temptation or not,
but I write it only very briefly, else it would take much too long to write it. But the Lord be thanked for His great grace, who so faithfully strengthens me and governs my mouth to His praise. Though the outward man perish, this is small loss; the inward man is renewed from day to day, for which eternal praise and thanks be to the Lord, for I may now well say with Pieter van Werwicke
"Noyt meerder vreught in my en was,
Als nu tot desen tijden,
Mijn treuren vergaet my alsoo ras,
Godts woordt doet my verblijden:
Als ick dencke op 't eeuwigh Goedt:
Och dan Krijgh ick sulck eenen moedt."
I cannot tell it (express the joy); yea, I think that if every one of the hairs of my head were a tongue, I could not express it. And that they torment me with examinations, this I deem a recreation, for I get out of my stinking hole every time, into the pure air, and this rejoices my heart.
Herewith I will commend you to the Lord, and to the rich word of His grace. Always endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and purify your souls before the Lord, if peradventure God be pleased to let you fall into the same trouble; if one is not a good Christian previously, one can hardly become one here, this I well experience, O dear brethren and sisters, I pray you by the love of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, that you will show love to my dearly beloved wife and my dear child, in all love, in unity, in kindness, and in patience. Bear one another in love, this I pray you from the bottom of my heart, and consider in what trouble she now is. Also, you are sorry on my account, for which I thank you, for it is godly sorrow; but she has the greatest reason to be sorrowful. Oh, she has lost so much, and my son too; but I must resign myself herein, for it is the will of the Lord; who will hinder it? Oh, when I think of her and her grief, and of my child, I cannot restrain myself; but I hope that the Lord will help me also in this. I beseech you by the love of God. O brethren, my dear brother, write me once how she is situated, how it is with her tribulation, and with my dear son.
O my dear son, I am taken from you too soon. O dear brethren, do this much for my sake; and for the Lord's sake; you will thereby afford such great comfort to my heart. Oh, it seems to me that I have not heard anything for such a long time, and of my son I do not know that I have had any intelligence; and of our Tanneken. O poor lamb I Adieu my dear brother; adieu my dear sister; adieu to all your little ones.
Adieu, adieu; may God grant grace, that we may rejoice hereafter. Written by me, Raphel, your weak brother in the Lord, with many tears and sighs; not on my own account, as though my mind were ill at rest-God forbid, it was in eleven years never better, the Lord be thanked; but it is my weak nature. If I have written too little or too much in any thing, excuse me, since my mind is much engaged, and my. mind is getting confused from all the troubles. Written the 25th of May, in the year 1576.
RAPHEL VAN DEN VELDE.
I Raphel, wish you my dear B. and C. and K. my dear sister in the Lord, a steadfast mind, constant, immovable in the fear and love of God, that you, by such a constant, strong, firm, and immovable faith, hope, and love to God and your neighbor, may continue in the love of God, and in the patience of Christ, so that you may possess your souls with patience, meekness and longsuffermg, in order that you may willingly bear whatsoever is imposed upon you by the Lord; and be not grieved nor faint because of the tribulation, which is very great now. And I thank your love, that you so faithfully exhort and comfort me by your consolatory letter; and I would do the same for you, according to my little ability, which is very little, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Prov. 27:7. Hence it is my hope and trust of your love, though it is not so consolatory, sweet or affectionate, that it will nevertheless taste quite sweet to your hungry soul. It is therefore my cordial and affectionate salutation and greeting to you all, my much beloved brethren and sisters, that my mind is still well composed and that I am also well content with whatever is at hand (Heb. 13:5) , whether it be suffering or dying for the Lord's holy truth; and I fear not what man shall do unto me, for I am willing rather to be present with the Lord in the eternal rest, than to live longer. II Cor. 5:8. For though I were free, as one would desire and wish, I find in myself, that I should many times also be sorrowful, when I well consider how perilous it now is to live in the world, which often heartily grieves me, when I think of you, and of my dear wife, and my child. Oh, it costs me so many a tear, since you are still in much the greatest distress and peril; may the Lord help, comfort, and strengthen you, so that you may overcome in everything, as I hope that you shall; for when the conflict is the severest, then the Lord helps the most, which I may well say, for I have surely proved it, for which I cannot now ever fully thank the Most High.
Hence, my heartily beloved friends, faint not because of the tribulation, nor for any affliction, for we must know this, and certainly trust in it, that He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape; and also that not a hair of our head shall be harmed, unless it be His will. I Cor. 10:13; Matthew 10:30. Understand well the expression, unless it be His will. Hence, my dear friends, do not despond nor grieve, nor grow weary in the way of the Lord, but endure willingly; for the Lord beholds all your steps, and all your distress, and
your labor which you do with all diligence, to magnify His holy name. Hence receive the chastening of the Lord with a' willing heart, for they that are partakers of the Lord's chastisement, are His children, sons and daughters; but those who will not endure it, are bastards, and a bastard has no part in his father's possessions. Heb'. 12:5.
Therefore, MY dearest, let unwillingly suffer all that comes upon us for His holy name; rather than that we should have to forego His eternal riches. Oh, think how great and glorious He will make us; if we continue steadfast unto the end. For once at all events we must die, and we cannot die.more blessedly or honorably, than for the name of our God, who suffered so much for us. I should have written you more, but I hope of your love, that you are all taught of God, much more than I can write you, and I also have not always convenient time to write you. I also trust to God and your love, that you have not begun this good work so far, to let it rest here; but that you will be diligent unto the end, so that you may receive a full reward. II John 8.
Further, dear B. and S. and K. S., I pray your love, that you will take good heed to yourselves, for this new president proceeds very severely-the Lord change his heart and open his eyes. Rather leave the city, for they will watch their time even if it should be a year after this. They have very many on paper, but who they all are I do not know. They read them all in an undertone, and questioned me in regard to some, but I did not know them by their names. And when jeronymus my friend was examined, they read aloud: Boudewijn. Tijncke, Pouwels Ketel, Gijselbrecht, and others, whom he did not know by name, and at last also they again read inaudibly. .
I Raphel, imprisoned for the truth, wish my dear and in God beloved wife (who next to God is the dearest of all that I know, yea, if I could help you, though it were by dying the death, I should so gladly do it; and my dear, son, I wish you, my love, as you wish me in your letter) a steadfast mind in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, an ardent love of God, and invincible strength from God our heavenly. Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, so that you may overcome all your enemies, and preserve moderation in your tribulation, so that you will not grieve more or further than godly sorrow goes, as I hope that you will also do, and willingly be resigned in all wherein God tries you, that you may thus receive the crown of life at the hand of the Lord. This is my cordial prayer and great petition to God for you my dearest love on earth; the Almighty God.grant His great mercy thereto. Amen. .
After all affectionate salutation and respects to you my dear and iii God beloved wife, let me please inform you, that my mind is unchanged and resigned in God, to serve the Lord, to testify to the truth, and to suffer for His holy and high name all that come upon me in His account; and I do not fear in the least, the Lord be praised and glorified for His grace.
On Monday afternoon, from soon after three till about six o'clock, as I think, I was with three priests, who wanted to tell me so much; but I first made them confess their faith, since they had come to instruct me. Then they began to confess some things of infant baptism, of the incarnation of Christ, and of their host or wafer, that Christ (after the words were pronounced), was present there in flesh and blood, even as He was when they ate the supper: When they were to prove. it with the Scriptures, they were in a strait, for I insisted so firmly, and would not leave a single point before they had proved it to me with all that they could; and when they had proved it all, I 'went and confounded them with their own words, so that at times they blushed and did not know what they had better say, so that it seemed to me, that they finally became afraid to speak any more with me. And now and then they all three talked, and then I sometimes forgot what had been said before. Then I said;"I am not good at disputing; my memory is too poor." Then one of them said, "Yet I think that it is tolerably good;" and he looked at me sharply. Well, my love, we will let it rest here for this time; for if I were to write to you all that has befallen me, I think I should cover six sheets of paper; the Lord be thanked, who always helps His followers. This new president is so bloodthirsty, and severe with us; he has all of us confined separately, one here, and the other there, and we can scarcely leave our cage long enough to attend to the calls of nature; and no one is allowed to come to us. And I have understood that we shall not be confined long, which I would gladly see verified, for the long confinement is too vexatious, always alone; but the Lord be thanked, the, time has not been very irksome yet to either myself or Jeranymus, my brother and fellow prisoner, for it surprises us when we think that we have been confined eight days already. And I hope that the Lord will further comfort us, and not forsake us. Adieu, adieu, till another time. Farewell.
I Raphel, your husband, imprisoned for the Lord's sake, wish you my dear wife and sister in the Lord, much grace;,Mercy and peace, from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true Father over all kindreds that are in heaven and upon earth; that Ho would grant you, according to the riches of. His; goodness, to be strengthened with might by His holy Spirit in the inner man; and that Christ Jesus may dwell in your heart by faith, and be rooted in through love; and
that He may abide with you unto the end of your life, to the salvation of your soul. Eph. 3:14. This I send you, my dear sister in the Lord, as a testament and affectionate adieu.
My dear and in God beloved wife, for a sure token of the love which I have had to you, I could not forbear to send you a letter, for I think that the parting is very near at hand. But: my very dear and beloved wife, it is not a writing of divorcement,* as Israel wrote a writing of divorcement, for the hardness of their hearts; that I should thus leave you, my love. Oh, no! for this leaving is done for the love of God, for the parting must take place for His name's sake. For, my dearest (always next to God), it is He that joined us together, and it is He that parts us again, which I willingly accept from His hand, for my mind has never been in a better condition in this respect, than it is now, the Lord be thanked. And I now commit you, my dearest, and your child, to the Lord, as to a faithful Father; cleave faithfully to Him, this I pray you my dear wife; and He shall, without any doubt, provide for you in soul and body. For Peter says, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us by his glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." II Pet. 1:3, 4. For if we remain entirely faithful to Him, so that we keep ourselves unspotted from the world, He will be a faithful Father unto us, who will provide for us, for it is He that giveth food to all flesh, and the eyes of all wait upon Him, says David, and He gives them their meat in due season. James 1:27; Ps. 136:25; 124:27.
Thus, my dear and beloved wife, I now commit you and your child to the Lord, by faith, to confirm the covenant which we made with the Lord, even as Abraham by faith delivered up his son Isaac to the Lord, and jephtha his daughter, to prove and confirm his promise thereby. Thus I also, out of love, deliver you and my child over to the Lord, hoping and trusting that He will well provide for you, if you remain obedient and faithful to Him.
Herewith I bid you, my dear and in God beloved wife, a final adieu, till we see each other in eternal joy; the Lord grant His grace, that this may come to pass. And I greatly and heartily thank you for your faithful, willing, and obedient service and love shown me in all subjection and kindness towards me; and, my love, I thank you (God shall recompense you for it) for your pious and good conversation and walk with me, whereby my heart was often relieved, comforted and, rejoiced, which truly causes me yet the more to trust in God, and which is also a sure seal in my heart that we have walked unworthily in the love and fear of God before the Lord according to our weak ability; and once more I thank you, my dear wife, for all the kindness and friendship shown me, and heartily entreat you by the great love of God, if I have grieved you in anything, or done amiss to you in any wise by word or deed, that you will readily forgive me; this I pray you in this letter, with many tears. I know nothing against you, my love, but what I gladly forgive you; may the Lord forgive us all our sins.
Further, my dear wife, I cannot forbear to write your love briefly also, though it is done with many tears, to comfort and rejoice your heart, and this by the Word of God, for this rmust now be all our comfort, even as the prophet David says, "O Lord, unless thy law had been my delight, I should then have perished in mine affliction." Ps. 119:92. And as also the prophet Jeremiah says, "Thou knowest, O Lord, that we suffer reproach for thy sake; but. thy word sustains us, since we have received it; and thy word is the joy and comfort of our hearts." Jer. 15:15, 16. Hence, my dear wife, we must have our delight in the word of the Lord, and meditate upon it day and night (Ps. 1:2) , even as a rich man has his delight in his treasure, meditates upon it, and often counts it to rejoice his heart. Hence, David also says, we must meditate upon the law of the Lord with delight, and we shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper, v. 3. Hence I pray you, my dearest, be patient in all wherein you are tried by God, and do not grieve too much, but think that it has been so ordered by the Lord, that we must part now; and console yourself thereby, though it is grievous for you, and goes contrary to our flesh, will and desire, we must nevertheless be patient: and if we suffer willingly, we shall be richly rewarded; but woe to us, if we do not suffer willingly, nor are willing to be patient, though it is hard for the flesh. O my love, it is a little matter to be patient; so long as it goes well with a man-that cannot be called patience; but to be patient when it goes ill with one, and then to be able to preserve moderation, this is certainly a great power of faith. Hence, my dearest, I pray you once more, that you would be patient, and thank God with resignation of heart, saying, "Lord, thy will be done;" but, O Lord, strengthen my faith and confidence, that I may never become fainthearted, disconsolate, despairing or doubtful concerning Thy promises, but may trust God, for His promises shall never fail; He is much too faithful that has promised it, and there will never be any failure on His part, for He will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will always with the temptation make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it. Heb. 10:23; I Thess. 5:25; I Corinthians 10:13.
Hence, my love, be patient and endure it willingly, and pray the Almighty God. with whom all
things are possible, that He will cause the sorrow and trouble that have come upon you on account of my bonds, and because we must part, to melt, diminish and vanish away; and that you may henceforth only be concerned as to how you can in all things please- the Lord best, and spend the time of your life in the fear of God, and also care for your child; the Lord grant you grace, that this may come so. Cast your entire care upon the Lord, and always hope the best of Him; for we must know that if we forsake much for the name of the Lord, we shall receive much again; and that if we suffer much for His holy name, we shall also rejoice in much, when the Lord shall come in His glory; for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Matt. 19:29; II Cor. 5:10. Therefore, dearest, let us always seek to excel in all good works, and let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap without ceasing. And let not your heart be afraid, or moved, nor become weary in the way of the Lord. Though the waters become bitter, murmur not; and never turn back to Egypt with your heart, as Israel did. When they began to think of the fleshpots which they had left behind, and because the waters were bitter, they wanted to choose themselves captains, and return to Egypt. They said to Moses, "Hast thou therefore brought us into the wilderness, to destroy us here, except thou have rule over us? How finely hast thou brought us into a country that floweth with milk and honey I" Hence the wrath of the Lord arose over them, and He destroyed many of them. Ex. 15:23; 16:3; Num. 11:4; 14:4; 16:13.
Therefore Solomon says, "Beware of murmuring, which avails nothing, for though we had spent all that we have in the world, and the Lord would prove us with poverty, as he did Israel, our anxiety could avail us nothing." Hence we must cast our care on the Lord, who cares for us; for He permitted Israel to suffer hunger, to prove them whether they loved Him or not, and to try whether they should be patient. Hence my dear wife and sister in the Lord, always possess your soul with patience, and you shall overcome with all the pious witnesses of God, and inherit salvation, and say with the prophet Baruch, "O Israel, happy are we; for God has revealed to us his will." Bar. 4:4. Even as Moses says, "O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency!" Deut. 33:29. Therefore, my much beloved sister in the Lord, though we must suffer for His sake, we must nevertheless possess our soul with patience, and remember that the apostle says, "That it is acceptable with God, to suffer for well doing." I Pet. 2:20. Notwithstanding that the world does not deem it acceptable, as Paul says, "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness: but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God;" which power God works in them by His Spirit, to the comforting and strengthening of their minds, so that they, by their God, leap over a wall; and, with Caleb and Joshua, devour their enemies as bread; and, with Jael, drive a nail (that is, the enemy of the house of Israel), through Sisera's head, with the hammer of the divine word (Judg. 4:21); and, with David, overcome, with the stone, Christ Jesus, the giant Goliath, that is, the devil and Satan who fights against Israel (I Sam. 17:50); and say with the apostle Paul, "Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Cor. 15:57. And he further says, "Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." II Cor. 2:14. They also say with David, "The Lord is my life and strength." Ps. 27:1. As the prophet writes, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isa. 40:31.
Hence, my much beloved wife and sister in the Lord, the world cannot partake of this comfort, because they do not believe in the Lord and thus deem the word of the cross foolishness, as is written, "We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness." I Cor. 1:23. But they that believe and will be saved regard it as the power and wisdom of God, that they are worthy to suffer shame for the name of the Lord, as did Peter and John, when they had been scourged by the Pharisees. Acts 5:41. Hence Peter writes, "What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall-take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called." I Pet. 2:20, 21. Paul also writes, "Those of old time had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, affilicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy." Heb. 11:36-3$.
See, my dear and in God beloved wife, how the world cannot become a partaker of this grace, since it does not esteem the Lord worthy to suffer for His name; for no one can suffer for the name of the Lord, except he have through faith obtained power to become a child of God. John 1:12. Hence, my cordially beloved sister T. H., let us never be grieved by what we must suffer for the name of God, but willingly and lovingly endure it, and look to the reward; for such as seek to live unto the Lord, and to promote His glory, and do not seek their own, but much rather what is to the praise of the Lord and to the edification of their neighbor. Oh, what glorious promises of salvation are theirs, and what ,great riches are promised them! Romans 24:8; I Cor. 10:24; Matt. 10:22. But we must know that if we would come to honor, we must first suffer, for thus it has been from the beginning with all the righteous children of God.
Hence John writes that the Lamb was slain from the beginning. Rev. 13:8. Not that Christ Himself was slain according to His flesh from the beginning; for Paul says that Christ appeared in the end of the world, to put away the sins of many by the sacrifice of Himself. Heb. 9:26. But He was slain from the beginning in righteous Abel; and thus He still daily suffers in all believers; hence it is evident that they suffer for His name, whereto the world is unworthy yet, for they do not have Christ, and hence they cannot surer for His name; hence their suffering is nothing but vexation, for the sorrow of this world worketh death. II Cor. 7:10. But godly sorrow worketh to salvation, whether it be outward or inward; if inward, that one is sorry for sin, it is to amendment; if outward, because one suffers for the name of Christ, it is to consolation, for Paul says, "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." II Cor. 1:5. Therefore Peter says, "If ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye." I Pet. 3:14. He further says, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified." I Pet. 4:14. O my dearest, consider what precious words these are, for us to whom these promises, without any doubt belong. For though Christ by the Spirit of God cast out devils, yet, according to their saying, He had to do it by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Matt. 12:24.
Therefore Christ rightly spake, "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also; for the servant is not greater than his lord, nor the disciple above his master." John 15:20; Matthew 10:24. For the angel said to Tobit, "Since thou didst please God, thou couldst not remain without temptation." Tob. 12:13. For it is written, "Temptation alone teaches to observe the word." Isa. 28:19. Therefore, my dear wife, take these words to heart, and mark them well, namely, how the Lord has visited His own in many ways, and how well He is pleased, when His children show obedience in all things, and willingly receive chastisement, and do not seek to escape from the cross of Christ, but gladly and willingly take His yoke upon them; and who are so minded, that through the great love and firm confidence which they have to Christ Jesus, they will far rather forsake all that they have in the world, father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife, children, yea, even their own life, with all that they possess, and, moreover, endure and suffer all that comes upon them, tribulation, distress, persecution. sorrow, and affliction. Oh, how gloriously will God receive those who have become so poor for Christ's sake. Oh, how rich shall He make them; for as they are humbled with Him, and for His sake, so shall they be exalted and made glorious with Him. As they have confessed Him in the world, so shall He also confess them before His Father which- is in heaven; and they shall shine forth with Him as the sun in the Father's throne (Matt. 13:43) , and shall be clothed in white raiment, because they have overcome through their faith (I John 5:4), even as John writes, "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:9-17.
O my dear sister, this is a sure sign that we must here weep first, if the Lord is to wipe away the tears; as Esdras also saw upon the Mount Sion a great people, whom he could not number; and they all praised the Lord with songs. And in the midst of them there was a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest, and upon every one of their heads He set crowns, and was more exalted; at which he marveled greatly. Then he asked the angel and said, "Lord, what are these?" He said, "These be they that have put off the mortal clothing, and put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God: now are they crowned, and receive palms. Then said I unto the angel, What young person is it that crowneth them, and giveth them palms in their hands? Then the angel spake: It is the Son of God, whom they have confessed in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them that stood so stiffly for the name of the Lord." II Esd. 2:42-47. Behold, my dear and in God beloved wife and sister in the Lord, here you hear the beautiful promises of the Lord, which He has promised all them that suffer for His holy name, and endure it with patience. Hence Paul has truly written, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him." II Tim. 2:12.
Therefore, my dear sister, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. I Cor. 15:58.
Herewith I commend you, my love, to the Lord, and to the rich word of His grace, who is able to keep your treasure, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified. Acts 20:32. Adieu, my dear and in God beloved wife and sister in the Lord; adieu, adieu. Finally, rejoice, be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Amen. II Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:4. Greet my son and Tanneken, in my name, and tell him that I command him, always to be obedient and subject to his mother, in all things, always with reverence; adieu, adieu, farewell.
Written with my blood, for a seal and testament; an affectionate adieu to you, my love.
By me, your dear husband,
RAPHEL VAN DEN VELDE.
The same God that blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, bless also you, my dear son, with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, that you may from your youth learn to know, fear and obey the Lord all .the days of your life. This is my most special prayer, will and desire from the depths of my heart, which I ask of God, that you may be eternally saved, and the name of the Lord be glorified through you; unto which great and glorious name be praise and glory now and forever. Amen.
See, my dear son Raphelken, since the Lord has so ordered it, that I must be taken from you, though I would most gladly have remained with you, to help you on, and to bring you up in the fear of God, but it was not the Lord's pleasure, for if it were not for the Lord's sake, it were impossible for me, thus to leave your mother and my dear son, for I know of no person, nor any treasuses so great in the whole world, that for it I should be willing to leave you, but for the salve of Christ Jesus all must be forsaken; for Christ says, "If any man forsake not all, father and mother, sister, brother, husband, wife, child, yea and his own life also, with all that he possesses, he is not worthy of me; and if any man love aught more, he cannot be his disciple"; since it is the will of God, that we must part, and I cannot speak with you orally, I would write a little for instruction in the fear of God, as the wise man says, "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother." Prov: 1:8. Be ever ready to do what is commanded you of God, that is, that you are to learn from your youth to know, fear and obey Him; for obedience proceeds from the fear of God, and the fear of God proceeds from the knowledge of God. Hence Solomon writes, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Proverbs 1:7. For a child that knows his father, that he is so honest and righteous, that he'will not have his children to run with other children in the street, fight, quarrel, and speak bad words, or bring home stolen things; children that know their father thus, are afraid to do such things, thinking, "If I do this, I shall be beaten." Prov. 13:2'4. Thus also, my dear son, the Lord is a righteous God, who will riot tolerate sin; but He will punish them that commit it; hence we mustfear Him, and not commit sin. For the fear of God. drives out sin, and he that fears God Will do good. Prov. 16:6; Sir. 15. As' Solomon says, "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of wisdom, to depart from the snares of death." Proverbs 14:27. For, my dear son, the wages of sin is death. Rom. 6:23.
Hence, since the fear of God drives out sin, we avoid by it the cause through which we incur death, that is, sin.
Therefore, my dear son, endeavor from your youth to walk in the fear of the Lord, so that you will at no time consent to sin, and not forget the commandments of the Lord your God. But fear the Lord, while He may be feared; for they that fear the Lord walk in the right way. Prov. 14:2."For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." Job 28:28.
Hence, my child, fear the Lord and depart from evil; for the prophet Jeremiah says, "How good it is for a man, to take upon him the yoke of the Lord from his youth; and for one that is forsaken, to be patient, when.he meeteth with adversity." Lam. 3:27, 28. And. Ecclesiasticus says, "My son, gather instruction from thy youth up; so shalt thou find wisdom till thine old age." Sir. 6:18. And beware of all evil companions, that might seduce you to affiliate with the world; for the world lieth in wickedness, and shall perish with all its lusts. I John 5:19; 2:17.
Therefore, my dear child, love not the world, neither the things that are therein; for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world, vs. 15, 16. Hence abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. I Pet. 2:11; Gal. 5:16. Paul also says, "Flee youthful 'lusts." II Tim. 2:22. For youthful lusts have plunged many into perdition.
My child, heed the instruction of your father, and forget it not. Prov. 4:1. Refrain your tongue from backbiting, and beware of lying. Ps. 15:3. For the mouth that lieth slayeth the soul. Wisd. 1:11. For liars have no part in the New Jerusalem, but their part is in the fiery lake that shall burn with fire and brimstone.: which is the second death. And the backbiter causes much contention and strife; he also. raises discord and envy, and separates good friends: Moses writes, "Let. there be no backbiter or slanderep among you." Lev. 19:16. Hence, my son, beware of backbiting; and wherever you live or go in' and out in a house, be reserved, and tell not ,out ~of the house what happens within; and keep silent about all that ought to be kept secret, and you will make yourself beloved. And always be faithful, to people, and beware of
stealing, for it is a great sin, for thieves have no part in the kingdom of God: nor is a thief trusted or loved by any one, but wherever he comes his hands are watched.
Thus, my dear son, always acquit yourself honestly in the fear of God, and beware of all sin and transgression; and it shall be well with you at the last day, when the Lord shall reward every one according to his works, such as he has done, whether it be good or bad. My son, remember that it is written, "Honor thy father and mother; that thou mayest live long on the earth." Ex. 20:12; Ephesians 6:2, 3. For this is the first commandment with promise in the law. But the greatest honor which children show their parents, is that they are obedient to them, in all that is not contrary to the Lord and His commandment. Hence, my dear son, though you lose me, be not impudent to your mother, but obey her the more; for the sole care will now be upon her. Therefore, my child, grieve her not in your life, for in Ecclesiasticus it is written, "He that forsaketh his father is as a blasphemer; and he that angereth his mother is cursed of God." Sir. 3:16. Hence love her, and remember how much pain she suffered for your sake, and how she bore you, under her heart, and shall have much to suffer yet, to bring you up, and to earn a livelihood. Tob. .4:4; II Macc. 7:27.
Hence, my dear child, apply yourself from your youth to labor and industry, and when you are grown up and can earn something, let your mother profit by it; and always labor diligently and willingly, and do not think it irksome to do your best, to help your mother gain a livelihood, for before she has done it for you. 'And beware of being idle or slothful, for from idleness proceeds much evil; and slothfulness makes thieves of children, and thus they finally come to a bad end, Hence, my son, never desire it, but labor, working with your hands that which is honest, that you may have to give to him that needeth. Eph. 4:28.
Herewith I will commend you, my dear son, and your mother, to the Lord-O bitter parting; yet for His sake who is able to provide for you, and to keep you from all evil I hope to leave you. The Lord grant you His grace, that you may grow up in the knowledge of God, through the Holy Ghost; so that you, according to the sentence of the righteous judgment of God (Rom. 2:5), may be found righteous for His kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, to whom be praise and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Written by me, your father. Adieu, my dear son, whom I love more than any silver or gold or precious stones; but God ~ .must be the dearest. Adieu; love conquers all things; once more adieu, my dear son; read over often this which your father has written you out of love; and comfort your mother, and always be kiid.to her in all subjection in the fear of God; the Lord grant grace, that this be so. Amen.
RAPHEL VAN DEN VELDE.
Grace and peace, love, patience, longsuffering, kindness, power and strength in your faith, this I, Raphel wish you my dear and in God beloved wife and sister in the Lord, as an affectionate adieu; the Lord grant you and us all grace, that we may hereafter see one another in the eternal joy. My love, I thank you for your letter, which you sent me for a comfort in my last extremity. And I also thank Kestijntgen heartily; and her dear husband also thanks her, and now bids an affectionate adieu; the Lord grant you grace, that you may follow Him at the proper time; and he also thanks you, that you the last time so cheered and rejoiced his heart; adieu, adieu. I wrote this after I had received the message that I must die, which was to me a joyful message, according to the spirit. But it seems that .the flesh now and then is inclined to shrink back, which is not surprising, for it is touched by it.
Herewith, my love, I will commit and commend you and my dear son to the Lord; He will provide for you in soul and body, this is my confidence to God. My love, be resigned to my sufferings and death, for all men must once die, and many a man loses his life in an ignominious, dreadful and unhappy manner; but this is for the most glorious cause that one can find, and the most blessed work that one can do, and though it is attended with distress, yet the reward will make ample amends. O my love, be resigned and ~of good cheer, and Kestijntgen our sister too; and thank God, that you had such husbands, who confessed the truth, with all might and great power, and with much labor. Thanks be unto God, who has helped us to triumph. II Cor. 2:14. We may now say with the apostle Paul., "The fight is fought, the course is finished, the faith is kept; the crown of life is now ready for us." II Tim. 4:7, 8. O Lord, what a glorious comfort. O my love, remember frequently what I have written you for the edification and consolation of your mind; and forget me, for it is a sealed fact, that the dead will not return.
Herewith I bid you adieu, adieu, adieu, flesh and blood, adieu, adieu, farewell.
Written in my extremity, by me, your dear husband and brother in the Lord.
RAPHEL VAN DEN VELDE.
The eternal grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, and the kindness and love of His Son, and the fellowship and consolation of the Holy Ghost, be with you my dear brother and sister in the Lord, as an affectionate greeting and perpetual adieu in this time. The Lord grant His grace, that we may hereafter see one another in eternity. Amen.
After much affectionate greeting and loving reverence to you, let me please inform your love, that my mind is still unchangeably fixed, to confess and serve the Lord, according to my weak ability, all the days of my life; and I also have the same good confidence concerning you; which I also partly understand from what you write in your letter, by which I was comforted, when I heard it read. May the Lord always grant you to grow up, and to be strengthened and increased in the same, to His praise, and to the salvation of your souls. Amen.
Further, dear brother and sister in the Lord, I inform you how it goes with me in my bonds, namely, that I am very much resigned, the Lord be thanked for His great grace; the Lord comforts and strengthens me so and makes my bonds so light, that I sometimes scarcely know that I am imprisoned; and He takes away my fear, and rejoices my heart, and gives me new strength. II Cor. 1:5; Isa. 40:31. And though the false prophets shoot their deadly arrows at me, the Lord so faithfully preserves me, that it does not harm, but rather rejoices me, though they have assailed me very subtly, with many fair words, and I had to resist very many, and to hear from my father, and Lieven de Kroock, and Maeye Moeye, and our cousin Pieter, and Daniel de Keyser. Those who apprehended me were with me on Ash Wednesday, and they led me upon such, a high mountain, and offered me so many fair promises without power, if I had wanted to listen to them; but thanks be to God, who always helps us to triumph: Yea, they said so much to me, that I think it could not be written on four sheets. Lieven de Kroock, said at first, that I had devils in me by the score, and that he saw them sitting on my shoulders: Then said I, "Will you not take down one?".And it seemed to me, they sought to make me drunk, but I would not drink, though they tormented me greatly to do it; but the Lord gave me strength to resist it. I further inform your love, that my father was with me again today alone, and tormented me greatly; but I told him, that he should be satisfied, 'since I did in no wise wish to forsake the Lord. And he told me, that you were also spoiled of and driven from your possessions, which greatly grieved me when I heard it. But, my dear brother and sister in the Lord, be of good cheer, and patient in your tribulation and affliction; for we must know, that it is given unto us, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His name. ,Phil. 1:29. And Christ Himself says, "If any man forsake not all for my name's sake, he cannot be my disciple; and if any man love aught more than me, he is not worthy of me." Luke 14:26, 27.
Hence, my much beloved friends, think of the words of Tobit, when he had also become so poor, for the Lord's sake, "My child," he says,"true, we are poor; but be of good cheer, we shall have much wealth, if we fear God, do good, and shun sin." Tob. 4:21. For, dear and in God beloved friends, we are children of the saints, and hope for a life which God shall give to those who stand up for Him and continue steadfast in the faith. Therefore do not become weary in the way of the Lord, and do not faint because of the tribulation, but persevere firmly, until you are taken hence. I further understand from your letter, that it is your intention to remove; which I pray you myself to do, since they greatly seek your life, and, ask you much concerning me. And Maeyken Moeye said, that it was your fault, that I was here; but I said, "No." Furthermore, dear brother and sister, I entreat your love, that you would remember me with a fervent heart in your prayer to God, that I may fight a good fight, and finish my course, to the salvation of my soul; I hope to do the same also for you, and that the Lord will prosper you on your journey, in soul and body. b now bid your love, my dear and in God beloved brother and sister in the Lord, an affectionate and perpetual adieu. The same great, omnipotent, Almighty God, who led Jacob, when he had to flee, guide also you, and bring you into everlasting rest. Amen. Adieu, farewell, farewell, adieu, adieu.
I Raphel van den Velde (the writer of this) also greet your love most heartily with the peace of the Lord.
Love overcomes all things.
Your beloved weak brother.
In the year 1576, at the time of the Spanish Fury (on the 4th of November), there was in confinement at Antwerp a God-fearing, pious brother, named Louwerens the Shoemaker, for no other reason, than that he would not follow the world and all its false inventions and wickedness (in which she lies), but forsook it, and sought with the people of God to lead a godly life, and to follow Christ in the regeneration. He was therefore apprehended and tormented with great and dreadful tortures, by the enemies of the truth, the bloodthirsty papists. They tortured him in such an unchristian-like and tyrannical manner, that his body was completely crippled, for in the Spanish Fury the prisons were opened, and the prisoners ran out, so that the jailer said, "Louwerens, run out too." He answered, "Whither shall I run? for I am so crippled, that I cannot earn my bread." And remaining thus in confinement, he was, after the Spanish Fury was over, brought forth, and confirmed the faith of the truth with his death and blood, at said place. Therefore, at the glorious appearing of Christ from heaven, he shall receive the glorious crown, which no man shall ever take from him; and having been thus planted with Christ in the likeness of His death, he shall also forever be a partaker with Him of .the glorious resurrection. Rev. 20:4; Acts 1:11.;JI Thess. 1:10; II Tim. 4:8; John 16:22; Rom.; 6:5.