NOTE.-When this great heat of persecution which the papists had kindled everywhere as far as their jurisdiction extended, began to abate in several cities of Holland and Zealand, and especially in the town of Middelborgh, where the Prince of Orange, William 1, of worshipful memory, had granted liberty of conscience, for the Anabaptists as well as for others, so that many of the innocent and defenseless lambs of Christ settled down there, and in quietness served God with a thankful heart; some of the citizens of said city, though they had previously themselves been under the galling yoke of popery, envied them for this, and obtained so much from the magistrates .there, that there was announced to all Anabaptists that sojourned there: That they should have to swear allegiance to said city, in the.form of an oath; and, moreover, arm themselves, together with other citizens, with external weapons, to resist the enemy; and that if they did not do this, they should be obliged to cease from their trades and occupations tending to the sustenance of the body, to close their houses, etc.
This announcement having been made, the Anabaptists, since they did not think it right to swear any oaths, nor to arm themselves with external weapons, had recourse to the afore-mentioned Prince of Orange, humbly requesting of him, that they might enjoy the liberty of their conscience, in practicing their faith; and to be permitted faithfully to pay all civil imposts, taxes, and the like, together with others, to be believed on their yea, and nay (according to the doctrine of Christ), in place of the oath, and to keep this truly, without evasion, guile, or subtlety.
Thereupon, the Prince, not long after, consented to it, commanding the magistrates there, not to ensnare these people with the afore-mentioned announcement, nor to oppress their consciences with such burdens. These things, as we have obtained full information in regard to them, we deem profitable and expedient to add here, to the praise of the princely house of Nassau, in the hope that it might prove an example for other magistrates which have not yet attained to this gentleness of disposition to follow.
Whereas, in behalf of certain citizens of this town of Middelborgh, a supplication has been presented to His Excellency, m which they complain that the magistrate of said city recently caused their shops to be closed, and consequently pro hibited their occupation, which is nevertheless their only means of supporting their families; they proceeding to this prohibition, for the reason that they should render the customary oath, as others have done; the aforesaid citizens remonstrating the more, because they now for certain long years, without ever having rendered the aforesaid oath, have willingly borne, together with other citizens and inhabitants of said city, all civil imposts, contributions and taxes, without ever having been found in any default, and wherefore also they ought still to be left unmolested, seeing they thereby request nothing but to live in the liberty of their conscience, in respect to which this present war has been undertaken against the King of Spain, by his subjects, and all ceremonies that militate against it are resisted; wherein, by -the help of God, it has now come so far, that the aforesaid liberty of conscience has been conserved, and it would therefore be unjust to take it away from the petitioners, who helped to gain the same, not without great peril of body and life, by taxes, contributions, and bearing other burdens; which, after they had presented it in the form of a request to the aforesaid magistrate, it was answered them, that they had to regulate themselves after the institutions and ordinances of the aforesaid town; whereby the aforesaid magistrate seems to endeavor, by the oath, to drive out of the country, to their total destruction, not only their petitioners residing in Middelborgh, but, consequently, innumerable others in Holland and Zealand, who, pursuant to his decrees, have betaken themselves under His Excellency's protection, whereby no one can derive any profit, but there should only great and signal damage result to these countries, and trade everywhere become greatly diminished; wherefore they humbly petition His Excellency, to consider the matter with compassion, and to take the necessary steps, particularly, seeing the aforesaid petitioners offer to tender their Yea in place of oath, and that the transgressors thereof are to be punished as perjurers: therefore, His Excellency having considered the foregoing and caused it to be duly deliberated upon, has, by the previous advice of the Governor and the Councilors of Zealand, ordained and decreed, and ordains and decrees by these presents, that the aforesaid petitioners shall be allowed to use, with the magistrate of the aforesaid town, their Yea offered by them, in place of the oath; provided, that the transgressors thereof are to be punished as perjurers; His Excellency commanding and charging the magistrate of Middelborgh, and all others whom this may concern, not further to oppress the petitioners, contrary to their conscience, with regard to the oath and otherwise, but to allow them to open their shops, and to pursue their ocupations, as they have previously done.
All with this provision and understanding, that when greater tranquility of affairs exists, and the matter has been considered with mature deliberation, proper measures shall be enacted.
Thus done, under his Excellency's name and, seal, in the town of Middelborgh, the 26th of January, A. D., 1577. Sealed with a red wax seal pending from it. Signed
WILLIAM OF NASSAU.
What ensued thereupon, shall be shown for the following year, 1578. In the meantime, the papists proceeded, as ravening wolves, with all cruelty and tyranny, wherever they bore rule, against the lambs of the flock of Christ; so that many among them had to lay down their lives, as can be seen from the following accounts.
After manifold persecution, slaying, and burning of the true followers of Christ, there was also a pious brother, by the name of Louwerens Janss, a shoemaker by trade, who.chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of'"God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season with the unbelieving; hoping hereafter to enjoy liberty in heaven, with all the true children of God; yea, rather to die here for a little while unto his flesh and the pleasures of this world than hereafter to have to pay for it with an eternal lamentation in the torment of hell. He was therefore apprehended by the persecutors and enemies of the truth, in the month of August, in the year 1576, at Antwerp, where he endured severe imprisonment, and, through the grace of God, resisted much temptation. And as he could by no means be brought to apostatize, but was firmly built upon Christ, the lords and rulers of this world, through the instigation of priests and monks, condemned him to death. And thus, in the month of January, A. D. 1577, he was burnt alive at said place, and testified and confirmed the genuine faith of the truth with his death and blood; wherefore he has obtained, through grace, for this his broken, earthly house, a building of God, a house not made with hands, but which shall endure forever in heaven. II Cor. 5:1.
And since this friend of Christ could obtain no writing materials, he wrote and made known to his beloved friends, his affectionate mind, upon two tin spoons, with a pin.
Upon the one spoon was the following: I wish all my brethren and sisters much grace from God our Father; and the peace of our Lord Jesus
Christ, which passeth all understanding, rule in all your hearts; and the love of God, which passeth all knowledge, increase with you all, that you may abound and be steadfast, and continue in the work of the Lord. O my dear friends, take good heed to yourselves, this I!!!pray you, I unworthy prisoner m the Lard. II Cor. 1:2; Phil. 4:7; I Cor. 15:58; Heb. 10:24.
Upon the other spoon was written: Grace and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be with you my very dear and in God beloved sister in the Lord, Weyndelken and her daughter M.; this I wish you from the depths of my heart before God, who searcheth the hearts and reins, that you may walk before- Him unharmed and unhindered, in His truth, to which He has called you; and always look to Christ and to all the righteous. Adieu, in this time, adieu.
LOUWERENS JANSS NOODTDRUFT, of Delft.
At Antwerp there was imprisoned for the sake of his faith, with his wife and daughter, in the year 1577, the brother Hans de Ruyter, a minister of the church of God, and a very experienced man in the Scriptures. But when he was assailed with many severe trials, and many fair promises of release and other things were held out to him, he suffered himself to be moved to renounce his faith; yea, so that he even exhorted his wife thereto; but hearing afterwards, that he should have to die nevertheless, it produced such terror and dismay in him (seeing how he had suffered himself to be seduced with lies by the blind leaders, he who ought to have been a leader of others), that with a distressed heart and anxious mind (perceiving whereunto he had suffered himself to be brought, and what was approaching him), he turned himself to the Fountain of grace, and prayed with scalding tears, from the bitterness of his soul, that this apostasy from, and denial of his Lord, might be forgiven him, and he be received back into favor, with the prodigal son; and he would steadfastly adhere thereto all the days of his life, and suffer nothing again to turn him away therefrom. This he not only promised with words, but also proved it indeed, for whatever temptation, pain, or torture was afterward inflicted upon him, he steadfastly adhered to his reaccepted faith, so that he was finally burnt for it, with his wife and daughter; and they are now waiting under the altar, till the number of their brethren is fulfilled.
NOTE.-In the beginning of the preceding year, 1577, we showed the perverse zeal of certain followers of the Calvinistic doctrine, who, at Middelborgh in Zealand, had obtained so much, that the Anabaptists, who having fled out of the Romish Babylon, and settled there, were prohibited from exercising their temporal occupation or trade by which they had to sustain their life: and this, be cause they refused the swearing of the civil oath, and the use of external weapons of war.
Thereupon, as shown in that place, the Prince of Orange commanded the magistrate of said city, to allow the afore-mentioned people to live in quietness, and not to oppress their consciences.
But the magistrates there, instead of heeding this, as coming, from high authority, acted entirely contrary; insomuch that the Anabaptists that lived there, and especially those in the country, were compelled again to betake themselves with an humble supplication to the Prince, to obtain their religious liberty; who thereupon, the second time, wrote and -sent the following charge to said magistracy
The Prince of Orange, Count of Nassau, Lard and Baron of Breda' Diest, etc., to the noble, pious, honorable, wise, particular, etc.
Whereas, certain residents, living there, said to be Anabaptists, have at divers times indicated to us by way of complaint, that you daily molest them, and deprive them of the means, in peace and quietness to gain a living for themselves and their families, prohibiting them from opening their shops, under the pretext that they refuse to render the oath in such form as other citizens; which we have duly considered; and since the aforesaid people offer to bear in equity all burdens, together with other citizens (however, in the matter of arms, which chiefly moves them to take this course, levy upon them such a contribution as you, or those who may have charge of it, may find to be proper in all justice and equity); hence we think that you are doing very unjustly, in not letting them live in peace and quietness, according to the dictates of their conscience, pursuant to the act which we, with the advice of the governor and the councilors, have previously granted them, which they say they have exhibited to you; and yet, as we learn that you have hitherto not been willing to regard it, nor our previous letters, we have been compelled to write you this final act, by the which we openly declare to you, that it does not behoove you, in particular, to concern yourself with any one's conscience, as far as there is nothing done that might tend to any one's offense, in which case we wish to regard or tolerate no one: and therefore, we expressly command and ordain you, in future to desist from molesting the aforesaid people, that are Anabaptists, or from preventing them to exercise their traffic and trade, to gain a living for wife and children; allowing them to open their shops, and to work as they have previously done, at least until the time that the generality, whose province it is to do this, shall have decreed otherwise. Hence beware of attainting anything contrary to this and the act granted them, and to take from them any fines for the above cause; because there is nothing attainted
with them, except what might tend to the offense of any one; and because they shall also, together with others, bear all civil and reasonable burdens. Herewith, noble, pious, honorable, wise, discreet, dear, particular, I commend you to God. Written at Antwerp, on the sixteenth day of July, 1578.
PAR COPIE DE BAUDEMONT.
The aforegoing copy was certified to as follows
Written by the secretary Baudemont, and found to agree with it. By me Jacob Masureel, notary public of the town van der Vere, the 15th of November, 1579.
J. MASUREEL, Notary
REMARK.-Notv'vithstanding the P r i n c e of Worshipful Memory, had now the second time so strictly commanded this liberty of conscience in the practice of the worship of God, the true fruit did still not follow, notwithstanding it was obeyed for a few years immediately afterwards; for after the decease of that good prince they began again; however, to the salvation of the defenseless church of God, it was terminated by a third prohibition, by his son, as shall be stated in the proper place.
In the year 1582, in the first week of September, the dear and faithful brother Hendrick Sumer, a minister of the Word of God, still under trial, and with him Jacob Mandel, were apprehended for their faith and the testimony of Jesus Christ, at Torzag, in Switzerland, and were then conducted into the town of Baden, where they; by the high bailiff of the country, and the judges, were publicly examined in the presence of the people, in the council house, and interrogated concerning their faith, which they freely confessed. At this examination were present twenty-four priests, who tried whether they could not cause them to apostatize and err in their faith: but they could accomplish nothing, nor were they able to convict them of any wrong or error, much less perceive in them a just cause of death.
Now when these brethren and Christian heroes were quite steadfast in the faith, and boldly testified and proved by the Word of God, that they were on the true, narrow way of the truth unto the eternal life in Christ Jesus, from which they would in no wise depart, though it should cost them their lives; then the priests were at their wits end, and said to the councilors, that they could not do anything further; since they remained obstinate, they must now deal with them as they deemed proper.
They were then to be sentenced to death; but the councilors could not agree, for some among them would not take the responsibility of their death upon themselves, nor be guilty of it, because it was on account of matters of faith, and they knew them to be good men. But as the majority of the voices were for putting them to death, they determined hat their sentence should be proceeded with, which when the brethren learned that their time had come that they should depart out of the world, they rejoiced from the heart, and were glad and of good cheer; they also said that it was a greater joy for them than if they were to go to a marriage; yea, they were of very good cheer, that God had counted them worthy, that they should glorify His name through such a righteous death-which many righteous ones and friends of God had done before them, and thus obtained the heavenly crown.
When they were led forth, they spoke boldly to the people, and exhorted the great multitude that had gathered, that they should repent and turn from their sinful life to God, and then both joined their voices in raising a joyful, sweet, and heartfelt song of praise to the Lord.
There was present a great number of people, and many among them shed tears, when they heard them sing and saw that they were of such good cheer in the hour of death. But the eternal joy was before their eyes, and they rejoiced in the inner man, that they should go to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, to all the patriarchs and the whole number of the saints, to all the prophets and the apostles of the Lord, and to their pious fellowbrethren and sisters that had recently died, yea, to Jesus Christ Himself, their Saviour. Thus they sang till close to the water's edge, where they were to be drowned.
When they came outside, Hendrick said, "Now, my brother Jacob, since we have traveled together so long, let us now also journey together further, through this temporal death into eternal life." Brother Jacob Mandel was the first one. The executioner took him and drowned him in the water. When he was dead, he drew him out and laid him before Hendrick's eyes, and said, "My dear Hendrick, behold thy brother who lost his life, and renounce yet, or you will have to die too, there is no other choice." But he said, "You need not think that I shall renounce, and forsake the divine truth; I will adhere to it though it cost body and life." A priest also begged him very earnestly and said, "O my dear Hendrick, desist from this new infidelity, and from this evil sect." But brother Hendrick turned to him and said, "What sect? I believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, and in His holy Word and divine commandment; in this I stand-do you consider this a sect? Dare you call the true Christian faith a sect? what kind of faith have you then? If you have another faith, you are in a sect and in a new faith yourself; desist from it, and forsake your sinful, vicious and ungodly life." Thus the priest was put to shame and ridicule, and had to keep silence. When they saw that he continued steadfast, the executioner took him and drowned him too, like the other. This took place on the 9th of October of the aforesaid year 1582, at Baden, in Switzerland, after they had been imprisoned four weeks and a half.
In the year 1583; on the Friday after Whitsuntide, Melchoir Platser, who had been an apothecary, was apprehended for the faith's sake, in the: village of Rankweil; in the Feldkirch, bailiwick. There he was put, in irons and taken to Veldkirch into the castle; and imprisoned iii' a deep tower, whence he Was several times taken before the.authorities and the priests. He was always prepared, to give an answer concerning his faith and to resist their false doctrine.
There was then brought to him from the town of Bregenz a special priest, whom they .regarded as very wise and learned. He undertook to dispute publicly with brother Melchoir, hoping to get h6nor and glory by it; but he was very soon put to shame, so that he- himself said-"Did the devil bring me here for this purpose; that I should be convinced by an Anabaptist?" Now when they could accomplish nothing with him, they sent (since that region is completely papistic) for Lutheran parsons, and brought them to him, [to see] whether they could instruct him: But they were no better in his eyes; he convinced them, that they were both in unrighteousness and unjustly upheld and maintained their doctrine. This is the cause why, at the present day all sin, vice; and idolatry are so prevalent, because the priests themselves are the greatest rogues and. knaves.
Now when they could in no wise ,seduce or deceive him, they delivered him over to the authorities and accused him as a traitor that had merited death. However, they offered him that, if he desired mercy, and would .swear an oath that he would leave their land and dominion, they would suffer him to live and go away. But he answered that before he would swear such an oath to them, and consent to renounce, he would rather await what God should permit them to do with him, though it should cost his body and life. He also told them that their threats did not terrify him, and that he did not care for it, for at all events he had once to die.
Then the lord at Feldkirch was touched, and requested that .they should conduct him back to Rankweil, into the same village where they had apprehended him, as though he thereby wanted to wash his hands in innocence from his blood.
over him, pursuant to the order of the great Hannibal, to whom he had been delivered by the prince of Innsbruck, to deal with him according to his pleasure. There they passed sentence, that he should be put to death.
When the brother heard that he was to depart out of this world, he faithfully thanked God the heavenly Father, and rejoiced that God was willing to make him worthy, that he should testify to the truth with his blood, which he regarded as a great benefit from God.
Shortly afterward he was delivered into the hands of the executioner, who conducted him to the usual place of execution. The people were very sorrowful and compassionate; but Brother Melchoir began to speak to the people with great zeal, and exhorted them to think of their ungodly life in which they were sunk, and that they should no longer thus perversely boast themselves Christians."O what woe" said he,"and eternal suffering will come upon such men that kill an innocent man because he has separated and turned from the ungodly, shameful life of the world. But I will commit this to God in heaven who will give such mouth-Christians their reward." The priests also came, as he was being led out, and wanted to comfort him. But he said, "You priests are the serpents and scorpions, against whom Christ has warned us; that are full of abomination and destruction." Thereupon, they commanded him to keep silence, if he wanted to speak so scornfully to them. Then he began to sing with a loud voice, till he arrived at the place where he was to be executed. He then again warned the people that they should beware of the false prophets who thus uphold, comfort and strengthen them in unrighteousness, and promise them liberty and life, in order that they should the less desist from wickedness. He spoke so earnestly and much to the people, that the sweat rolled from his face. The executioner dried off his face and said, "Speak freely, I shall not hurry you." A little after the executioner said to him, "If you will consent to do according to the mind of the lords, and acknowledge their doings as right, power has been given me to release you." Melchoir replied, "I will not do this; hence go on, and do what you are commanded." Thereupon, the executioner forthwith executed him with the sword and speedily cut off his head. Not far from there was a pile of wood, upon which he laid his body and burned it, after he had been imprisoned about twenty-six weeks. Thus he kept the confessed truth, as long as he was in life and had breath in him.
On the 26th of May, in the year 1584, Andries Pirchner was apprehended at Laitsch, in Vintschgau, his fatherland, and thence taken to Soltrain, where he was thrice put upon the rack and severely tortured. For they wanted to know of him, where and with whom he had lived and had intercourse, and that he should mention them. But he answered that he would not be a Judas, to betray those that had done good to him, so that any harm would come to them he would rather lose his life and body, yea, one member after another; nor were these matters that concerned the faith or any article of the same; but in regard to his faith, that he would willingly and gladly declare and not keep silence about what he had done or not done; he had made God in heaven a promise in Christian baptism, to which he would adhere, and not be found a liar before God. Moreover, he would (if it could not be otherwise) patiently suffer death, and also request nothing else, than that by his blood and suffering he might induce some poor souls to repentance and to the confession of the truth. Thereupon priests were sent to him, that they should dispute with him; but these, no matter what they commenced with him, accomplished nothing at all, for he forthwith upbraided them with their sinful and lascivious life, showing them, that they could not lead or point others to a virtuous life, because they were blind themselves. And he further said that they should consider their own ways and desist from their sinful life; he also presented to them several passages from the Old and New Testaments, so that they could accomplish nothing with him according to their will, but he constantly persevered firmly in his faith. He 'was also. greatly admonished and entreated by many, privately in the house, and also in public, that he should desist from his faith, since he must see that there was nothing else left for him, or he should have to die. Thereupon he answered, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, as the Scripture says. And to the same I will adhere, and I daily pray to God, my heavenly Father, that His will be done. Now if it be God's will, He can order it that I shall be released; but if it is not His will, I will die patiently." They entreated him, that he should only once renounce and recant, and they should let him go; he might then adopt it again. But he replied, "No, that cannot be; may God keep me from breaking my promise and being found a liar before Him; for that were acting like the dog that swallows again that which he has once vomited. So it would also go with me; I would have to recant and stamp as a lie that which I have long known and confessed as the truth and the will of God; of which I should not be able for a long time truly to repent, and who knows whether I should be able to repent and obtain grace? Hence I neither will nor can do it, and I will rather die, and hope by the help of God to be a living martyr for His truth." After that he was brought from Soltrain to Schlanders, and there, according to the princely and old imperial command and decree sentenced to death and delivered to the officer, who conducted him to the place of execution.
When he was led forth he spoke with a joyful heart, "God be praised, that it has come so near
to the end with me, and since it is thus His will, I will also patiently die." And thus he honored his end with many thankgivings, Christian teachings and remarks to the people, after which he knelt down; and though it had on that day been cloudy weather until that hour, the sun commenced to shine brightly, right into his face, at which he rejoiced, and said, "God be praised, that He shows me His bright sun yet before my end."
When the executioner had drawn out the sword, and was about to make a stroke, they called to him to hold still, and the brother was very earnestly entreated, that he should renounce, and they should let him live. But he would not; he valiantly lifted up his head, and thus the executioner beheaded him; joyfully offering up his spirit unto God. Afterwards his body was singed with a little fire of straw.
This occurred on the 19th of October of the aforesaid year, after he had been imprisoned for about twenty-two weeks.
In the year 1584, about eight days before Saint Martin's day, brother Leonhart Sumeraver, from the country of Saltzburg, was apprehended, as he was about to leave the country and had embarked at Titmaing. The boatman learned of it, and landed at Berckhausen, at the bridge, in order that they should not come to grief. There a rope was thrown them, and the matter became known, for the boatmen cried that they had an Anabaptist on board. The clerk, who stood there, went to the chancellor and told him that an Anabaptist had arrived. The chancellor had him apprehended, and he was forthwith brought to the rack and five times dreadfully tortured, also twice suspended by a rope; but they could obtain nothing from him, nor accomplish anything with him. Hence, he had to suffer much pain and sorrow during the time of his imprisonment, and also much temptation and conflict on account of his faith, and because he would not accept their doctrine.
After he had been in prison almost half a year, he was led to the place of execution. There went with him four priests, who tenaciously urged him to renounce: but he said that he had already renounced his unrighteous life, more than twenty years ago. When he was led through the town, they admonished him the second time to renounce. But he replied, "Should I depart from God? Christ does not teach me this when He says: 'Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."'
When he was led forth before the stone court, they said to him, "Behold, there is the image of our Lord; bow down before it." But he replied that he dared not do it; that they should proceed with him. The priests asked him, why he had gone out from the Christian church, and betaken himself to this heresy (as they call it). But he said, "Nat so; but I went out from ungodly idolaters, fornicators, blasphemers, and all the unclean, and have betaken myself to the good, to God, and His church." But they said, "He is possessed of the devil, who causes him to speak thus"; even as also the Jews accused Christ. Afterwards they entreated him thrice for God's sake, that he should renounce; but he would not. The executioner also begged him the very best he could. But Brother Leonhart said, "O dear, be silent, and do not beg me, but proceed, for I want to die as a good Christian; I stand in the true faith and upon the firm foundation, which is Christ my Lord, from which I shall never depart." When they saw that all their efforts were in vain, the executioner took his collar from his neck and said to him, "If you would renounce but the two articles, they would release you." But he said, "Let me alone and proceed as you please, for I want to die valiantly upon my faith.'.' Thereupon, the executioner said, "I do not like to execute you, but if I do not do it, another will." And he drew out the sword before him, in order to frighten him; but he was not terrified in the least by it. Thus he was beheaded, and buried in the place of execution.
This happened at Berckhausen, on the 5th of July 1585, that this lamb of the Lord was torn by the ravening wolves.
About the year 1585, there were imprisoned, at Sint Vyt, in the country of Lutzenborg, three women, having been brought from a village called Nieuwstadt. Among them were a mother and daughter; the mother's name was Anneken Botson, and that of her daughter Janneken Botson; the other woman was named Maeyken Pieters. All three of them were simple, God-fearing persons, who had forsaken popery, and through the grace of God, betaken themselves to the obedience of the holy Gospel. This the priests could not endure, but they manifested their envy and reported these persons to the authorities; and thus they were apprehended and put in prison at Sint Vyt, as already mentioned. There they were not confined long, but were forthwith examined concerning their faith, which they cheerfully and in simplicity confessed, and to which they also constantly adhered, though they tried in many ways to make them recant the truth; but when they could not prevail upon them they were sentenced that they should be burnt to ashes. As innocent sheep for the slaughter they went to the place where they were to be offered up, and died thus a valiant death, offering up their bodies as a sacrifice to the Lord.
In the year 1585, three brethren, namely, Wolfgang Raufer, George Pruckmair, and Hans Aicher,
were apprehended for the faith, while on a journey, half a league from Riet, they having taken some refreshments in an inn, and after eating returned thanks. Hence, immediately beadles were sent for, and it was told that there were people there like Anabaptists. While they were then counting out the money for what they had received, and the innkeeper took it, the wicked men came, apprehended all three of them, and took them to Riet. A few days after, they were taken from Riet to Berckhausen, where the council and the judges sent eminent doctors to them, who were to speak with them, and if possible to overcome them and turn them from their faith; but they could accomplish nothing, nor were they (neither the doctors nor the priests) able, by disputing, in any wise to turn these brethren. In the meantime they executed the aforementioned Brother Leonhart Sumeraver, with the sword, on a Friday, about eight o'clock in the morning. Afterwards the judge and other lords went into the castle, and announced it to these brethren, and told them that if they would not renounce, that they should share the same fate with him; whereupon they replied, "We are ready to die; whatever be God's will with us, we will patiently suffer." Now when they had been imprisoned for a considerable time, about fourteen weeks, at Berchhausen, and they could not prevail upon them, nor intimidate them, they were separately placed in carts, on the next following day of execution, namely, the 3rd of August, led forth from prison, and about four o'clock brought before the council house, where the royal decree was read to them, according to which they were to be dealt with. In the meantime the judge called the executioner, and commanded him, that he should bind these three persons and convey them out to the usual place of execution, and then (since they had been sentenced from life to death) to execute them with the sword, and afterwards lay them upon a pile of wood and burn them with fire. Thereupon, Brother Wolfgang replied, "Not from life to death, but through death into eternal life." Then George and Wolfgang said, "Now since we must die, we die solely for the sake of the divine truth, for we have done no evil or wrong to any one, and here is not a single person to whom we have done any injury, or who can complain of us; since we then must lose our lives for the faith and for the Word of God, we shall find it again in eternity, as the holy Gospel testifies." They then said to the authorities that they should henceforth take better heed, for the innocent blood should cry for vengeance upon those that were guilty of it; but since it was the will of God concerning them, they would willingly die, since our Lord Jesus Christ had to suffer the same death in this world. Then Wolfgang said to George and Hans, "Now my dear brethren, we will take leave from one another; and let us be joyful, for the Lord is with us." Thereupon, Brother George, requested the executioner, that he would loose their hands a little, so that they could give each other the hand, and thus take leave; to which the executioner consented, doing it willingly. Thus they took joyful leave from one another. In the meantime a priest came to Brother Wolfgang, and admonished him to renounce. But Brother Wolfgang briefly answered him, that he should himself renounce his ungodly life and fornication; and would not tolerate the priest with him. He then went on, and when he came into the marketplace, he commenced to sing joyfully, and then gave praise and thanks to God, that they had come to this, that they might be truly refined. And he further said, "Would to God, that among this multitude of people there might be some one from our country that could inform our brethren of this; then we would greatly thank God for it. However, we trust that God will send some one that will notify them of this, whether it be orally or by writing; and this causes our heart to rejoice." This wish was also fulfilled, as the facts show. Then Wolfgang said to the executioner, "Now, Master Christoffel, I shall henceforth be more quiet, and contain myself a little; but my heart experiences no anxiety at all, but there is only laughter within; and if- my brethren, my wife and child, knew this, they would rejoice for our sakes, though they might otherwise, according to the flesh, weep and mourn. And I pray, and also hope, that God will send some one to our country, to our church, who will for us take leave from all brethren and sisters, our wives and children, and all our acquaintances according to the flesh."
While Wolfgang was thus speaking, they were led out and came to the place of execution. The other two brethren, George and Hans, had mostly been silent; but when they arrived at the place of execution, all three of them were joyful, again took leave from one another, and offered up their prayer together in quietness.
They were then beheaded, and their bodies laid upon piles of wood and burnt.
When the executioner had performed this, he said to the people, "These persons would not desist from their faith, nor would they tolerate priests; they also have a much stronger faith than I and all that are here. I would rather execute thirty robbers than these."
Thus these dear brethren testified to the faith in Jesus Christ and the divine truth with their blood, to which end God gave them power and strength, for which praise be to Him forever. Amen.
When on account of the terrible burning and scorching of the pious witnesses of Jesus that were called by the name of Anabaptists, many of them went from papistic regions, where the distress was greatest, to the. Prussian countries, in the hope that
the rulers there, who boasted of greater discretion and mercy than those of general popery, should grant them liberty to live according to their conscience, it came to pass, that when they came there they found themselves deceived in their opinion, inasmuch as the prince of that country, who then reigned at Brandenburg, ordered them, by a public mandate, to leave.
Concerning this, P. J. Twisek has given this account:
George Frederick, Margrave'of Brandenburg, commanded in a public mandate, on the 12th of November, A. D. 1586, that the Anabaptists must leave this whole Duchy of Prussia. Chron. van den Ondergang, edition 1620, 2d part, 16th book, for the year 1586, p. 1401, col. 1.
In the year 1586, an the Friday after Whitsuntide, which was the 3rd of June, Christian Gasteyger, a blacksmith, was imprisoned, at Ingolstadt in Bavaria. On the following Sunday two Jesuits, with their town judge came to him, and talked with him concerning his faith; but they soon left him again, for they could not agree with him. Nine days after, the two Jesuits came again to talk with him, and began with many words to revile the church; but the brother contradicted them, and thus they spent almost an hour and a half together, and then left him with dissatisfaction. Three weeks afterwards, again two Jesuits came to him, who wanted to instruct him; but when he would not dance as they piped, they left him again; and after two days the judge came to him, with a .doctor in the Scriptures, to speak with him concerning infant baptism. They said, "Children were damned, if they were not brought to baptism." Thereupon, brother Christian replied, "They are not damned therefore;" and he proved it to them with many Scriptures which he adduced. On this account they called him a heretic and said further, "Children have the devil in them; hence they must be baptized." Then he asked how the devil got into the children. They said, "He comes into the child from the mother." But he contradicted them also in this.
Nine days afterwards the judge and his council came to him, and they said, "You are well aware why you are imprisoned here; you have been confined here for some time already, and priests have came to you; but you would not hearken to them, for I have been told by them, that there is no hope of you any more; and'the order has come, that I am to speak with you once more, and that if you will not be converted to that which your parents believed, you shall be placed upon a stack of wood and burnt; and let us see then how God will be with you." But he replied, "I am ready every day to die, and I hope to God in heaven, that He will keep me valiant and faithful unto the end, so that I shall not depart from the truth; and may His will be done concerning me."
The next day again two Jesuits came to dispute with hm, and asserted that he had no faith. They also began of infant baptism, saying that the child had to be baptized, else it were damned. But he contradicted them. And when they had spent three hours with him, and he had sufficiently replied to them and valiantly resisted their false doctrine, they left him. He also let us know that, as he was now imprisoned for the truth's sake, he would also firmly adhere to the truth; though it should cost him his life, he should not depart from it; they should have all good confidence concerning him, for he would valiantly fight for the eternal crown, and he well perceived that God faithfully succored him in his bonds, for which he also praised and thanked Him, and prayed that He would keep him even unto his temporal death. He moreover sent us and all believers a Christian greeting. Afterwards, when he had been confined for over twelve weeks at Ingolstadt, and all the priests and Jesuits there had become tired of him, and yet could accomplish nothing with him, he was, on the 25th of August, placed upon a cart and conducted from Ingolstadt to Munich.
Finally, on the 13th of December, sentence was requested concerning him. The prince was not at home, and the supreme judge had died; the under judge would have had to pronounce the sentence; but he would not, and said that it was not his office. The burgomaster and several others in the council would also not consent to it, but the Jesuits strenuously insisted upon it, so that the sentence proceeded nevertheless.
He was led forth from prison before the council house, and sentenced to the sword. He was then led to death, and since he was very joyful and of good cheer, and spoke very much to the people, the Jesuits became very angry and spat into his face, so that the executioner himself wiped it off. The Jesuits also held before him an idolatrous crucifix and spat again into his face, which vexed the people greatly.
When he arrived in the place of execution, he was very joyful, because he saw that he had so nearly gained the crown.
The executioner stood there with the drawn sword, afraid and begging him to renounce. But he said to the executioner that he should execute his sentence on him; and to the Jesuits he said, "Though there were a thousand of you here, and multiplied thousands, you should not be able to seduce me." Then the executioner executed him with the sword, and thus he persevered steadfast and joyful in the faith.
Even as it had gone the year before in Prussia, with the Anabaptists, so it went now also in the dominion of Koenigsberg, which was carried out by the same prince, who was also the lord of this territory.
The afore-mentioned author, having related their departure from Prussia, immediately adds that on the 1st of March, A. D. 1587, they were ordered to leave not only the liberties of Koenigsberg and the cities and suburbs of that country, but also all the territories and dominions belonging under the reign of George Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg, and this on pain of corporal punishment and loss of their property.
This was done because they spoke most offensively* (as it was said) of infant baptism (which the learned of that country considered the door and entrance into the kingdom of God). Compare the sixteenth book of Chron. vary den Ondergang, 2d part, edition 1620, page 1501, col. 2, with Johan. Behin, fol. 72, 73.
In the year 1587, about Whitsuntide, Michael Vischer was imprisoned for the faith, at Ingolstadt, in Bavaria, and when he had been confined about twelve weeks, and much had been tried with him by monks, Jesuits and otherwise, and he would also not follow their false doctrine and idolatry, but firmly persevered in the faith which he had accepted, acknowledged and confessed, he was finally sentenced to death, that he should be executed on Friday the 6th of August, if he would not renounce; but since he looked for a better and eternal life, he continued immovable and steadfast in the faith. Thus he was on the afore-mentioned day, about eight o'clock in the morning, brought from the prison before the council house, and sentence was there read to him, that since this anabaptist had for about twenty years adhered to Anabaptism (so they call it), and also seduced several others thereto, and would in no wise allow himself to be moved from it, he must die for it. For the imperial mandate and decree is, that such shall not be suffered or tolerated, but punished with fire and sword. Thereupon he was led out to the place of execution, to which he was willing and ready, going there with alacrity. A Jesuit and a monk went with him, and wanted to instruct him; however, he did not hearken to them, but told them to go away from him. Thus they went in advance to the place of execution, and there said to him, that since he had to die, he should prepare himself for it, and they held a crucifix before his face, saying, that he should
behold Him that had died for us. But he shook his head and said, "Christ my Redeemer is in heaven; therefore I deny all human handiwork." He also said to the executioner, "Come hither; there is nothing else left to do, I will valiantly adhere to the faith and die upon it." And with this he knelt down, boldly and undismayed. God granted him such power and strength, that he persevered steadfastly unto the end, in the way of truth unto eternal life in Jesus Christ. The executioner became terrified by his undauntedness, so that he could not properly execute him, but had to cut off his head as it were,* in consequence of which he was in no small peril of his life.