In the year 1529, Brother Vigil Plaitner, a minister of Jesus Christ, at Scharding, in Bavaria, was condemned and executed, after great steadfastness (Matt. 24:13), for the faith and the divine truth. He would depart neither to the right hand nor to the left, and did not love his life unto death (John 12:25), but surrendered it for Christ, in order that in the abode of the righteous above he might receive it again forever with all the saints and pious. II Peter 3:13.
In this year also a brother named Louis,* a minister of Jesus Christ, learned and well versed in the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages, and experienced in the holy Scriptures, was executed with the sword, at Constance, on the lake of the same name, after being long imprisoned there. At his departure he gave many excellent instructions, so that many were astonished, and were moved to weep with him.
In this year, John Hut,** a faithful minister of Jesus Christ, was apprehended for the divine testimony, at Augsburg, in Swabia, where he was brought into a tower. Finally.they ceased their severe questions and tortures, and he was left lie as one dead. Then they went away, leaving a light in the prison, near the straw, by which the straw was set on fire. When they returned to the tower they found him dead. They then carried him, dead as he was, in a chair on a wagon, before the court, where he was condemned to be burned. His son, Philip Hut, fell asleep in the Lord, in the church at Heim. This John Hut composed a hymn of thanksgiving, which we sing at the memorial or supper of the Lord; besides this he composed one or two other hymns.
In this year, also Brother Wolgang Brandhuber of Passau, and Hans Niedermair, both ministers of the Word and Gospel of Christ, were apprehended, together with many of the pious at Lintz, in the country above the Enns, for the divine truth; they were condemned to fire, water and the sword, and were immediately executed, in all over seventy persons. Among these also Peter Niedermair of Hirschberg, at Gminden, was apprehended, on St. Andrew's eve, A. D. 1529, and though, in the extreme fear of death, he was tempted in various ways, yet he remained faithful and constant. Rev. 2:10; Matt. 10:22. Ultimately, through the providence of God, he was set free, after being imprisoned there for over three years.
Concerning said Wolfgang Brandhuber, writings are still extant in the church, how faithfully he taught the Christian church, and also said, that in everything which is not contrary to God, we should be obedient and subject to the authorities, and that he strictly held to the true baptism of Christ, and to the true Lord's Supper, rejecting infant baptism, the sacrament, and other antichristian abominations and anathemas, as is shown by his writings, which are still extant.
About this time also Carius Prajer, a minister of the church of God, in the country of Salzburg, and several other persons were shut up together in a house and burned. A hymn is still extant in the church which this Carius composed.
These seven brethren were executed together on the same day, with the sword, for the evangelical truth, at Gmuend, in Swabia, and thus steadfastly testified with their blood to the name of Christ, A.D. 1529. The account of it is as follows, "I could not forbear to acquaint my brethren with What is taking place here in Germany, even as it is known to many how the world rages and storms against the true believers, and how she robs the servants of God of life and property. For God, graciously looking down upon the children of men, gave them, in the midst of their blindness, His brightly shining Word for a light, that believing it, we should avoid all sin and shame. Many recognized this Word as the truth, accepted it with the mouth, and were called Christians, but continued nevertheless in their sinful life, supposing that the bare name was sufficient, if only the semblance existed. Afterwards the Lord so ordered it that His Word did effectually work in some, so that, in the language of the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 55:11), it accomplished that whereunto God sent it, and did not return unto Him void, but guided many into the right way. And thus, those who sought to live faithfully, were hated, and despised as anabaptists by the rest, just as though they had apostatized from God, and turned to Belial; while they earnestly sought and desired nothing else, than to keep God's commandments with His assistance, according to all their ability (I Cor. 7:19); and,yet they were reproachfully stigmatized as anabaptists, -they who sincerely forgave every one, assisted their neighbors by lending to them without usury, and prayed for their persecutors and enemies (Matt. 5:44), as was seen at the hour of their death, and who thus attested their faith with the deed, as was publicly witnessed, A. D. 1529, in the town of Gmuend, where the enemy employed manifold wiles with some of them, to terrify them, without being successful however. There they had
apprehended a lad only fourteen years old, whom they put into the tower, where he lay very severely confined almost a year, suffering many an assault, but always remaining immovable, however frequently they came to him, to induce him to forsake his faith, with him six other brethren, pious men, were apprehended and imprisoned in the tower for life. There they together praised God (Acts 16:25 ), and comforted one another; and God assisted them with His grace, so that they faithfully adhered to the faith, and did not allow themselves to be moved either by threats or terrors. When the time of their departure from this world drew near, their death sentence was read to them, and it was added, that if they would desist from their faith, they need have no fear, but might return home to their wives and children. The prisoners turned to their enemies, and replied, "We have committed our wives and children to God, who is well able to preserve them; hence cease these words; for we are willing and ready to die." A ring was then drawn on the spot, as is customarily done at executions, with the sword. As this lad stood in the ring, to be beheaded, a count rode up to him into the ring, and thus addressed him, "My dear child, desist from this error, and I will give you a prebend, and always keep you with me." The youth replied, "Should I love my life (John 12:25), and therefore forsake my God, and thus seek to escape the cross? this I must certainly not do; thy wealth can be of no help to either of us, but I expect a better in heaven." Thus the youth fearlessly replied, adding,"in the kingdom of my Father, who has chosen me, and who can order and equalize all things as is best. Hence cease these entreaties; to Him who has always fed and sustained me, I desire to show obedience also in this my last distress. To Him we must call from the bottom of our heart, when the hour is at hand, that we may depart with good cheer out of this world. If we do not depart from Him, He will give us the everlasting, glorious crown."
At this a great tumult arose among the people, r*h spears and other weapons, and each spoke of the hatter as he understood it. And thus they died through the sword, as pious heroes, and became a sacrifice unto the Lord, as faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ, A. D. 1529.
While these seven brethren were still in prison, they together, each giving his own mind, wrote and practiced the following, and sent it to their brethren.
The first made the following prayer, "Out of the depths of my soul I cry unto Thee, O God; hear my cry. Send Thy Holy Spirit, even as Thou, Ch Christ, hast until now not withdrawn, but graciously imparted Him to me. We rely on what Thou hast commanded us; .but the heathen seek to kill us." Ps. 130:1.
The second prayed, "The flesh is weak, O Lord; Thou well knowest that it fears the least pain; hence, fill us with Thy Holy Spirit, which we entreat of Thee from the bottom of our hearts; so that we may continue steadfast unto the end, and cheerfully and valiantly enter upon the suffering which now awaits us, and that we may fear no agony or pain." Matthew 26:41; 10:22.
The third prayed, "The spirit is willing and ready to desire the suffering. O Lord, hear our prayers, through Jesus Christ Thy Son. We also pray for our enemies, who, alas! are so ignorant, that they do not know what they are doing, and are not mindful of Thy wrath." John 15:16; Matt. 5:44; Luke 23:34.
The fourth prayed, "We beseech Thee, O Father, and dear Lord, through Christ Thy Son, increase Thy little flock. Kindle in them and also in us Thy divine life, and our hearts will rejoice; for after this our hearts do hunger and thirst." Matt. 6:9; Luke 12:32; I I Cor. 3:18; Matt. 5:6.
The fifth prayed, "O God, Thou hast received us in grace, and made us Thy ministers. Through Thy divine assistance we have also willingly fulfilled Thy ministry in our weakness. Preserve us still further firm in Thy Word; we desire to obey Thee also henceforth; come to our aid, and be our Comforter." I Cor. 1:4.
The sixth prayed, "Thou Lord God art my Protector; we will cleave to Thee, and then pain will not seem severe to us; though they deprive us of our life, Thou hast prepared it for us forever in heaven, and though here we suffer reproach and pain, it shall not be in vain."
The seventh said, "The body, life, soul, and all members we have received from Thee O God; these we will now offer up to Thee, to the praise of Thy holy name. It is only (lust and ashes. We commend our spirits into Thy hands. Amen." Romans 12:1; Gen. 1:7; Luke 23:46.
This Anna of Freiburg was zealous in the fear of the Lord and as she believed in Christ, and, was baptized upon faith in Him, and thus sought to arise with Christ; and walk in newness of life, the adversary could not endure it; therefore Anna was envied, accused, 'apprehended by his ministers, and after steadfastly suffering many torments, sentenced to death, and drowned in the water, and afterwards burned with fire. This happened at Freiburg, in the year 1529. When she was about to die, she spoke the following prayer to God, and left these admonitions to all descendants., "Dear, eternal heavenly Father, I call upon Thee, from the depths of my heart; do not let me turn from Thee, but keep me in Thy truth unto my end. O God, keep my heart and mouth; guard me, that I may never separate from Thee, on account of impending sorrow and anguish, or any manner of distress; keep me cheerful and glad in my sufferings: Eternal God, my dear Father instruct and teach -me, Thy poor, unworthy child, that I may heed Thy ways and paths. 0 Father, this is my
sincere desire, that through Thy power I may press even unto death, through all sorrows, sufferings, anguish and pain, and in this let me persevere, O God, that I may not be separated from Thy love. There are many who now walk in this way; but the cup of suffering is given them to drink. We are also accused of false doctrine, in order to draw us from Christ our Lord. But O God, I lift up my soul unto Thee and trust in Thee in every adversity; do not let me be confounded, lest my enemy exalt himself over me in this earth. I am now imprisoned here by him, but, O God, I sincerely wait for Thee with great desire, until Thou wilt awaken, and deliver Thy prisoners. O dear heavenly Father, make us prepared with the five wise virgins (Matt. 25:2), that we may prudently wait for the bridegroom with .His heavenly host. 0 heavenly King, feed and refresh us according to the spirit with Thy heavenly meats, which never perish but abide in life eternal; for if Thou shouldest withdraw Thy food from us, all that we do, would with ourselves be in vain and perish. But, through Thy grace, we trust in Thee, that we shall not fail. I do not doubt in the least, the power of God; for His judgments are honored. He will forsake no one who firmly holds to Him in faith, and seeks to walk in His true ways. Heb. 13:5; Matt. 7:14. 0 ye Christians, rejoice (Phil. 3:1), and always be of good cheer in the Lord Jesus Christ; may He increase love and faith in us. God comfort us by His holy word, irl which we may firmly trust. I commend myself to God and His church; may. He be my Protector today, for His holy name's sake. O my Father, let it be done through Jesus Christ, Amen."
Thereupon she voluntarily submitted to death, and was drowned in the water, as mentioned above.
Daniel Kopf, a minister of the Word, was apprehended with six other persons, at Bairisch-Graitz, in Steyermark; he and two brethren were sentenced to the sword, while the four sisters were drowned. They testified with their body and life, that this is the true way (Matt. 7:14; John 14:6) to eternal life in Christ Jesus, and though the executioner, fire, water and the sword sought to turn them away, they would nevertheless adhere to it as long as breath remained in them. Of this Daniel, writings are also extant in the church, concerning baptism: and other points; as well as four hymns composed by him.
In the year 1529, four brethren, named Wolfgang of Mos, Thomas Imwald of Aldein, George Frick of Wirzberg, and Mankager of Fuessen also four sisters, Christina Tolinger of Penon, a widow, Barbara of Thiers, Agatha Kampner ofBreitenberg, and her sister Elizabeth, were apprehended in the Ful, in Elschland, and led up to the castle, where they died on the sixteenth of November. Each: was separately examined concerning their faith in the following articles
Brother Wolfgang of Mos confessed that on the Sunday after the feast of our Lady; it was just one year that one Michael (who was afterwards executed with fire for this matter, at Goffedaum, and testified to the truth) presented and taught to me, Wolfgang, Martin . von Neck, and another, the Gospel and the Word of the Lord, and then rebaptized all three of us according to the command of God. Matt. 28:19. He further said that he did not believe in infant. baptism, that God the Lord had said nothing of it, nor had Christ commanded it. Matthew 15:13; 28:20; Mark 16:19. He also confessed that Christ is not bodily in the host, when it is consecrated by the priest. Furthermore; he said that. he did not believe in fast days, Sunday, and other feast days, otherwise than in the manner spoken of in the New Testament.
Thomas Imwald of Aldein confessed that he had been baptized before St. Ulric's day, at Breitenberg by a teacher who had formerly been a priest, but had forsaken his office as priest, and whose name was George Blaurock, from Switzerland. Of .the mass, also, he, believed that it is nothing but a human invention , and institution, and not a commandment of God. Concerning the sacrament he did not.believe that the priests, by their consecrating or blessing, could bring our Lord God into the host, or change it; and he also showed them, that Christ was to be received in the Word, .and that the bread is only a sign and memorial. Neither does he believe in the confession as it is instituted by the priests; as it is not used according to-the command of God. Again, to our Lady he assigns the,position to which God has chosen her; he believes that she was a virgin and, the mother of, our Redeemer. He was furthermore asked whether if their number had become great, they would not have attempted to bring someone's country or people over to their faith by force. He answered, "No, that they did not believe in compelling any one to it; since God desired a willing and unconstrained heart; and Himself had constrained no one, but the Lord gave it into their minds." .
George Frick of Wirzberg, a tailor, confessed thation last St. Gallus' fair he was rebaptized by one Benedict, who belonged to their faith,- at Philip Kopfler's in the Ful. He also did not believe that the priests could bring our Lord God into 'the host, or change Him into bread, since God had neither commanded nor instituted the mass, but the sacrament was only a bread of, remembrance. In confession he likewise did not believe; for how can one forgive sins, who is himself _a whoremonger and idolater. II Pet. 2:19. Concerning our Lady he believed that God favored her and that before and after the birth she was a virgin; for God is able to do more than this. Again he would adhere to his
God, and not depart from this faith, but that the will of God should be done. Matt. 6:10.
Mankager of Fuessen, a journeyman shoemaker, confessed that in the forepart of the summer, about St. James' day, he was baptized, at George Karniter's of Kunen, by one George of Chur, in Switzerland, who had been a priest, but had resigned said office, and was burned in the summer, at Clausen. He did not believe in infant baptism, nor in the mass; neither did he believe that our Lord God is in the sacrament. He believed that Mary the mother of Christ, was a pure virgin; but the idea of her intercession, as well as that of the saints, he rejected, since Christ is the Mediator, between God and men. I Tim. 2:5. In the auricular confession of the priests he did not believe at all. Again, concerning Sunday he said, that God Almighty, in the beginning, in six days, created the world, and rested on the seventh; hence the origin of Sunday; there he would let it rest,-work was not prohibited, but we should rest and fast from sin. He further declared that in the forenoon the priests committed idolatry, and in the afternoon fornication, and what he confessed with the mouth, he would testify to with his blood, and would not depart from the faith, but firmly adhere to it unto his end.
Christina Tolinger, of Penon, confessed that Brother George Blaurock baptized in her house with the true Christian baptism. Concerning the sacrament as used by the priests, she did not believe at all, that they can bring our Lord God into the host or wafer; it is only bread, and the performance of the priests is in every respect a deception. As to whether infants were worthy of salvation without baptism, the Lord said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 19:14. The priests baptize the infants, and have much unnecessary care while they are in their infancy; but though they wash them from sin, they do not attempt to draw them away from sin. Regarding our Lady she believed that she is the mother of Christ and a pure virgin. Matt. 1:23. In confession as used by the priests, she did not believe; if one confesses his sins, and forsakes and desists from them, it is a true confession. Concerning holidays and Sundays she said that in six days God the Lord created the world, and rested the seventh day; and that the other holidays had been instituted by popes, cardinals, and archbishops. and that she did not believe in them. Since she lived in the world, she observed them as others did, to avoid giving offense; however, none is condemned for working. Again, the priests commit idolatry in the forenoon, and fornication in the afternoon. With the help and grace of God she intended to die in this her resolution.
Barbara of Thiers, wife of Hans Portzen confessed that about last St. Michael's day she was baptized with the true Christian baptism, at Craum on the Moss, near Eintempichel, by a teacher ofthe Word of God, named Benedict. Again, she did not believe in the idolatrous sacrament of the priests, nor in the mass; since the priests commit idolatry in the forenoon, and fornication in the afternoon. In confession as used by the priests, she did not believe. Concerning our Lady, she had nothing to say. Regarding Sundays and holidays, she said that God the Lord had commanded to rest the seventh day, and there she would let it rest. With the help and grace of God she intended to adhere to this, and to die therein; since it was the true faith and the right way in Christ.
Agatha Kampner of Breitenberg confessed that next Christmas it would be about a year since she was baptized, in Switzerland, in a place called Auf der Tiefe, near St. Gall, by one Brother Topigh, a teacher of the Word of God. She did not believe in infant baptism, though they had all been baptized. If children die in or before baptism, they die in innocence, and are the Lord's. She did not believe in the mass, since Christ did not say to His disciples, "Go and read mass;" but, "Go, and preach the gospel." Matt. 16:15. Concerning the sacrament she said that since in the creed it is confessed that He (Christ) sitteth at the right hand of His heavenly Father, whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead, she believed in no wise that He permitted Himself to be changed by the priests, into the host or bread. Regarding our Lady she said that she believed that she brought forth Christ the Lord, who alone has redeemed us, and that the Word of God became man in her and suffered for us on the tree of the cross. John 1:14. As regards holidays, she said that one day is not any holier than another, and that Sunday was ordained for the purpose of assembling together, preaching the Gospel, and speaking of it; but that it was abused through drunkenness and other forms of wickedness. With the help and grace of God she would steadfastly adhere to this her faith.
Elizabeth, sister of the afore-mentioned Agatha, confessed that in the early part of the summer she was baptized at Breitenberg, by Brother Blaurock, according to the command of the Lord Christ, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. In the sacrament and mass of the priests she did not believe, since it is not found that God commanded it. Concerning our Lady she believed that she brought forth Christ our Redeemer, and was a virgin; and that the saints had indeed to enter [into the kingdom] through tribulation (Acts 14:22), like we and others; but that they are intercessors, she did not believe; since Christ has reserved to Himself all power in heaven and earth. As to holidays, she esteems none more highly than the rest, but that we should always wait for the great day of the Lord, and rest from sin. To this she would constantly adhere. Thereupon they were executed as those who truly loved God (Luke 10:27), and as innocent sheep of the Lord; and their names are written in heaven.
In the year 1529, two sisters, Anna Maler, and Ursula, were condemned to death for the divine truth, and drowned in the water, at Hall, in the valley of the Inn, and thus, though women, they were manful and valiant in God, so that many were amazed at their steadfastness, that thus in life and death they testified to the divine truth, as is declared by those who knew them, and are still alive:
About the year 1529, the knowledge of the truth began to shine also in the places on the river Rhine, so that divine zeal and the fire of God arose, which the priests, by instigating the authorities, strenuously attempted to stop. First nine brethren and several sisters were apprehended for the faith, in the city of Altzey, without the order of the Elector or Palsgrave, simply through the instigation of the priests, and the aid of the nobility. They lay in prison for a considerable time, and as they were waiting how to deal with them, the Burgrave at Altzey inquired of the Palsgrave, his prince and lord, what he should do with them. The prince answered him that they had a court of justice at Altzey, and that he should let them examine and judge them. The Burgrave did so, and brought
them before the court of justice, which, however, would not sentence them, because they had been apprehended simply for the sake of their faith, and no other cause of death existed. Acts 18:15, 16. In the meantime an imperial diet was held, at which the Pals-rave, stated that he had some prisoners who had been apprehended on account of their faith for Anabaptism; and asked how he should deal with them. The matter was committed to the four inquisitors, as they are called; whom, however, they referred to the mandate of the Emperor, where they would sufficiently find what imperial constitutions, institutions and ordinances were made concerning such; according to which they should deal with them.
For the constitution clearly implies that each and all Anabaptists and anabaptized, whether men or women, if possessing reason, and of adult age, are to be executed with fire, the sword, or some other way according to the character of the persons; and that wherever they were found, they should be brought before the court, accused, and convicted, and be judged or dealt with in no other way, on pain of severe punishment.
Moreover, when they would not apostatize, the mandate was also read to them; upon which without further sentence, they were led out to death, by virtue of the imperial mandate. The brethren were executed with the sword, but the sisters drowned in the horse pond. While they were yet imprisoned, a sister came to them, and comforted the sisters (Matt. 25:39); she told them valiantly and firmlyto adhere to the Lord, and not to regard these sufferings, for the sake of the eternal joys which should follow. II Cor. 1:5. When this was noticed she was also very speedily apprehended. She was afterwards burned, because she had thus comforted and strengthened the others.
Thus they meant to extinguish the light of the truth and the fire of God; but it was kindled only the more. They then apprehended a man, a woman, a manservant and a maidservant. Whoever embraced the faith, and desired to separate from the ways, society and idolatry of the world, was apprehended by them. In several places they filled all the prisons with them, intending to deter them by fear; but they sang and rejoiced in prison, so that their enemies who had cast them into prison were more troubled and afraid than the prisoners. They knew not what to do with them, especially since it was only on account of the faith.
The Palsgrave, then, in pursuance with the imperial mandate, in a short time, caused about three hundred and fifty persons to be executed for the faith; especially his Burgrave at Altzey, namely Dietrich von Schoenburg, caused many in the town of Altzey to be beheaded, drowned and otherwise put to death; even as the lords who came to the church, and at that time were residents in Altzey, saw themselves how thev were taken from the houses in which they were known to be, and led as sheep to the place of execution. They could in no wise be persuaded to apostatize, but went joyfully to meet death; while the others were being drowned, and executed, the rest who were yet alive and waited for death sang until the executioner took them. They were very steadfast in the truth confessed, and, assured in the faith which they had received from God, conducted themselves as valiant soldiers. Matt. 10:22. All the learned and great of this world were confounded by them. I Cor. 1:25, 26.
Some whom they did not wish to execute they tortured and maimed their bodies; of some they cut oil the fingers, others they burned crosses on their foreheads, and subjected them to much wanton injury; so that even the aforesaid Burgrave said, "What shall I do? the more I cause to be executed, the more they increase." Ex. 1:22.
This Burgrave Dietrich, who had shed much innocent blood, died a sudden and terrible death, as he was rising from his table. Chron. van den Ondergang, page 1029, cot. 1, from the old History o f the Baptist Martyrs, lib. 1,
One of the last brethren whom they executed in the town of Creitze, was Philip of Langenlohsheim. When the executioner struck off his head, something flew into his face, so that he put up his hands to it, which was well noticed by the people; however they knew not what it was, or why he did it. Then the saying went abroad that something like a black hen had fluttered before his face, so that he defended himself with his hands; some said that the blood had squirted into his face; and though he himself knew best what it was, it was nevertheless seen afterwards, what it must have been: for the executioner's nose dropped off close to his face. Thus God punished and visited him, because of the innocent blood, with which he had stained his hands to so large an extent (Prov. 6:17); and God openly and palpably made known thereby, how greatly they oppressed the pious. The Palsgrave also was terrified and troubled in various ways, so that afterwards he had no longer a desire to wash his hands in innocent blood, and would have given much, if it had never taken place.
About this time, a brother named George Bauman was apprehended at Banschlet, in Wurtemburg, for the faith and the Word of God. The nobleman whose subject he was, kept him imprisoned for a time, and also 'had 'him dreadfully racked and tortured, and did so much to him, by imprisonment, torture and pain, and also by various promises, so that they persuaded him and gained his assent to follow them. They then demanded of him, that he should recant in church, and confess that he desisted [from his faith], which he did once or twice; went to church, and performed that for which his consent had been extorted from him. In the meantime he came to himself, and considered the honor of God and His holy name, and also whither he was going.
Hence, when he came to church the third time for recantation, he said to the priest and the bystanders, "You have condemned me and through pain and fear prevailed upon me to follow you; but now I renounce and revoke it all, and I am sorry that I did it." Thus he began, and confessed anew that this was the divine truth and the true faith; yea, the way to life in Christ, and that, on the other hand, the idolatrous life and ways of the world are a delusion and contrary to God. In this his faith and confession he intended to continue and persevere unto the end. For what should the priests and servants wait any longer? hence they quickly apprehended him again, and he was speedily sentenced to death. When he was led out to the place - of execution, he sang joyfully on the way. It' was very muddy in the village, but he walke.1 briskly nevertheless; so that his shoes remained fast in the mud; but he took no notice of it, left them there, hurried on to the place of execution,and sang for joy that God had again given him such courage and heart. Thus he was beheaded with the sword. The nobleman who caused his execution, and nearly all who had sat in judgment, and condemned him, died almost everyone of them a miserable death, and came to a dreadful end, so that their happy days in this world terminated in sorrow.
There has existed, writes a certain author, in the Zwinglian churches, from their beginning, a great hatred and bitterness against the Anabaptists, or more properly speaking, against those baptized according to the ordinance of Christ as history certifies; by which they commenced very early to tyrannize over them; for we believe the Zwinglian church was not yet ten years old when said abuse occurred. Yet it did not stop at this, but they proceeded, the longer, the worse, in this tyranny; so that those of Zurich, A. D. 1530, emitted an edict very much like the bloody decrees of the Roman Emperor, in which they write as follows, "Therefore we strictly command all the inhabitants of our country, and those who are in any wise united with them, particularly high and low magistrates, bailiffs, constables, judges, elders of churches, and ecclesiastical officers, that, if they hear of any Anabaptists, they give us information concerning them; by virtue of the oath with which they are bound to us; that they nowhere tolerate them, or allow them to multiply; but that they apprehend them, and deliver them to us; for we shall punish with death, according to the purport of our laws, the Anabaptists with all those who favor them or adhere to them; and we shall also punish without mercy, according to their deserts, as having violated the faith and oath which they swore to their authorities," those who assist, and do not report, drive away, or bring as prisoners to us, all such persons.
This we have taken word for word fronh the edict, as Bullinger (contra, etc.) has cited it. Compare the note in the preface to the Oferboeck der Doopsgesinde, A. D. 1615, letter Y, with P. J. Twisck's, Chron., p. 1031, col. 1, from different authors.
In the year 1530, Brother George Gruenwald, a shoemaker, and minister of the Word of God, and of His flock, wag apprehended for the divine truth, at Kufstein, on the Inn, condemned to death, and burned. Thus he valiantly testified with his blood, that which he had confessed and taught with his mouth, and confessed Christ, yea, His divine truth, before men, forsaking this earthly and perishable
praise, that Christ at His day should confess him before His heavenly Father, and, moreover, give him immortal life in the eternal- glory of heaven. Matt. 25:46.
A few days after the execution of the above person, Brother Alda was also executed for the faith, at Kufstein.
This George Steinmetz was apprehended and beheaded for the testimony of Jesus Christ, at Portzen, in Germany, A. D. 1530. He left the following admonition for consolation in suffering, to all believers, "We sincerely thank Thee, O God, .for Thy fatherly faithfulness. No one ought to mock at or despise His grace, lest at last, when his departure is at hand, he regret it. O Lord, help and assist us, through Jesus Christ. God has called many to His eternal light, whom He also visits with suffering and pain, as we see in this earth; ,for it seems that here we must be refined by the fire of affliction, since we must all enter through much tribulation into the kingdom of God, and be purified from all sin and vice (I Peter 1:7; Acts 14
22); .for he that herein follows Christ, walks in the true path. Christ says: I am the .Way and the Door, the Truth and the Life; enter in by me; before me there is yet a hedge; the cross, which each who would come to the Father must carry, stands in the way. John 10:9. And according to my experience, I must state the ti:uth, that the cross appears much heavier than it really is; which deters many a one, as though he 'should not be able to bear it, and hence would pass it by, and seek another way. But we cannot come to God unless we bear the yoke of Christ. Matt. 11:29. For he that.:would enter in by any other way into the sheep fold, than through this door, the same is a thief and a murderer (John 10:1), and shall have to suffer the vengeance of God-everlasting. pain. Christ would have such disciples as bear the cross after Him, follow Him in all His ways, as I hope to show, and carry his .yoke unto the end. Matt.:16:24. But he that will not bear his cross, but allows himself to be moved and hindered by Satan, inay take heed that Christ says, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 10:32, 33. O God, sustain us to Thy praise and honor, that love may not wax cold in us. Matthew 24:12. To this end give us strength, wisdom and understanding, through Thy holy spirit, who can guide us into all truth (John 16:13) , that we may never despond, but keep good courage, and remain steadfast and proceed straight on in the narrow way, and at the risk of body-life; goon through Christ to the Father. John 14:6. Praised be the Lord our God, who has called us to be His servants and children. Him we will constantly praise forever and ever, because we may wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14), and afterwards, from this brief death and suffering, go into everlasting joy with Him. With this mind this witness of Jesus Christ was beheaded and died at Portzen, as stated above.
In this year, Martin the painter, a minister of the Word of God, and six others from the Swabian church, were apprehended for the faith and the divine .truth. After long proceedings, they were promised, that if they would renounce, tl~ey might go home unmolested to their wives andi children. But they answered frankly, "No," but that they would willingly die, and not renounce. Afterwards, having been imprisoned almost a year, all seven were sentenced to death. They were led under the town hall, and several articles of their doctrine were read to them. When the first article was read Brother Wolfgang Eslinger said, "As you judge today so shall God judge you when you come before His face; God shall well know you." Matt. 7:23.
When the third article was read, Brother Pain said, "You stain your hands with our blood (Jer. 7:6); God shall certainly not remit it to you, but require it at your. hands."
When the fourth article was read, Brother Melchior said, "Today we will testify with our blood, that that wherein we stand is the truth."
When the fifth article was read, Brother Walfgang Eslinger said, "Forsake your sins and unrighteousness, and repent, and God shall never remember it to you." Jer. 26:13. All seven were then led under a guard, to the place of execution. There Brother Martin, and all the others commended themselves unto God their Lord, praying that .He would grant them a happy end, and care for,. His sheep. When they were brought to the field,:the miller's servant, who was about sixteen years old, said to the people present, that they should forsake their sins, and turn to God, since there was no other way to heaven, than through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, and redeemed us. Ps. 34:14; Isa. 45:24; John 14:6; Matt. 27:50. When they were brought into the ring, a nobleman rode up to said servant, admonished and entreated him, saying, "My son, desist from, your error, and renounce it. Why do you allow yourself to be thus persuaded? spare your young life. I will take you home with me, and always keep you; you shall enjoy good things with me all your life, if you obey me." But the servant said., "God forbid that this should ever come to pass; if I should keep thistemporal life (Jno. 12: 25), and lose the eternal, I would act foolishly. I
will not do it; your wealth can help neither you nor me; I expect one that is far better, if I persevere to the end. Matt. 10:22. I will surrender my spirit to God, and commend it to Christ (Luke 23:46), that His bitter suffering, which He endured on the cross, may in my case not be in vain." This servant was inspired by God in his purpose; for though he was younger in years than his brethren, they were nevertheless, as far as the purpose is concerned, of like age. Thus all seven valiantly and joyfully confessed God and His truth, even unto death and the shedding of their blood. The above-mentioned Martin, when he was led out over the bridge, said, "This once yet the pious are led over this bridge, but no more hereafter." This came true; for a short time afterwards, such a violent storm and flood came that the bridge was demolished and carried away.
WALTER MAIR, AND TWO OTHERS, A. D. 1531
In the year 1531, Walter Mair, a cooper by trade, and minister of the Word of God, was apprehended with two others, at Walsburg, in Kaernthen, and executed with the sword; and thus they steadfastly testified in death, to the truth, and gave their lives for the covenant of God, and for His holy Word; therefore their names shall also be found in the book of life, and the second death shall have no power over them. Phil. 4:3; Rev. 20:6.
In the year 1531, Brother George Zaunringerad, a minister of the Word of God, who, through the help of Jacob Huter, had been placed in the ministry of the Word of God, in the earldom of Tyrol, was sent by Jacob, with others, hither to the church in Moravia. Subsequently he, because of his office and ministry, was kept in Franconia, where he was executed with the sword, not far from Bamberg, for the divine truth; thus testifying with his blood to his faith and doctrine, from which he would in no wise depart, and suffering with Christ, in order that through His grace he might also be made an heir of glory with Him in the eternal kingdom. I Cor. 1:5.
There must by no means be omitted here the manly and divinely confirmed steadfastness of Veit Pelgrims, a German brother; who regarded nothing so much as he did the salvation of his soul. Notwithstanding the cruelty of those who follow the footsteps of Cain, in shedding innocent blood, he freely confessed the Gospel, and ordered his actions and conversation in accordance with it, in all uprightness and simplicity. But as the world, through his holy life, was reproved of its wickedness it could not endure it; hence he was apprehended in thewinter of A. D. 1532, at Glabbeck, in the Duchy of Juelich. He was ready to testify with suffering to his doctrine and life; however through the aid of his friends and relatives he was released from prison for this time. But as nevertheless undauntedly walked, in holiness and godliness, in the same heavenly way, he again fell into the hands of the bloodthirsty, and had to suffer much from the wicked; on the one hand, the priests and monks, by much crafty examining, and through wiles and strategies, sought, though in vain, to cause him to apostatize; on the other hand, they endeavored to deter him by severe tortures; but overcoming all these vexations and tortures, he valiantly confirmed the truth, and showed that above all temporal and visible things, he had in view something higher, that is, the eternal and heavenly riches; hence, regarding not his own life, and esteeming it blessedness to suffer for the name of Christ, he said with remarkable frankness, he hoped that the sheep was now ready and fat for the slaughter. The bloodthirsty, seeing they could in no wise prevail upon this unconquerable hero and soldier of Christ, resorted to the most extreme means which cruelty could invent. They brought it about that sentence of death was passed upon him. The hour having come for him to offer up his sacrifice, they (O inhuman tyranny I) opened his left side, and poured in boiling oil. Having then been contemptuously laid upon a sled, he was brought to the place of execution, where he commended his soul to God and was burned to ashes.
In this year six brethren, named Lambrecht Gruber, Hans Beck, Laurence Schumacher, Peter Plaver, his servant Peter, and Hans Taller, were apprehended for the divine truth, at Stertzing, in Etschland, and greatly tortured and racked, in order to compel them to apostatize; but they valiantly and firmly persevered in that which God had given them, and which they had promised God in Christian baptism. They were then sentenced to death and executed; all six valiantly testifying with their blood to the truth of God, and greatly rejoicing (Acts 5:41) over the day of their departure from this world, because of the suffering and pain in the abominable wickedness of the world, which they had to endure for a long time, also because of the awful blasphemy and contempt of God (which causes pain to all lovers of God), which they had to hear during their imprisonment. They took leave from us, and admonished us not to be dull or heedless in hearing and retaining the Word of God, nor in prayer and the worship of God; for if one comes to such places, it is necessary for him to have done so, and he regrets it if he has spent an hour unprofitably.
In this year, also Conrad Feichter was apprehended for the faith, at Stertzing, and much pain was inflicted upon him. He was so racked and stretched that the ungodly executioners and children of Pilate themselves thought that he could not endure it, but would be torn asunder. There were also some imprisoned with him, who were much tempted by a multitude of priests and others, by perversion of the Scriptures, with knavery, craftiness, deceit and delusion, in order to subdue them; it was. also tried to gain them by promising to leave them in possession of home, wife, children, and life, but as they could by no means turn them from the truth, they sentenced and forthwith executed them; and thus they steadfastly attested the truth with their blood.
When the Word of Gad, through the grace of the Lord, came again to the light, and was accepted with great desire by many, and attested and confirmed by the life and death of a great number, said Word of God was also received and accepted (Acts 8:14; 17:11) by one Hugo Jacob Kraen of Assersouw, his wife Mary, and two others, whose names we have not learned. And as it was foretold by Paul, that"all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Tim. 3:12); and by Isaiah that, "He that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey" (Isa. 59:15); so it was also seen in the case of these persons; for as soon as they renounced this dark world (Eph. 6:12; I John 1:5), with its carnal walk, and false, invented worship, and sought and followed the eternal light and glory of Christ Jesus (Matt. 19:28), they were hated, and persecuted unto death, by the children of darkness and Belial. John 15:18, 19. Finally Mary, the wife of Hugo Jacob, was apprehended at Haarlem, and after. suffering many trials, was drowned at said place, in the year A. D. 1532, enduring it with great steadfastness; thus confirming with her death the accepted truth. Rev. 2:10. But Hugo Jacob Kraen, with two of his fellow believers, were brought prisoners into Gravenhage, where they had to suffer much for the truth. But as they were founded upon a rock (Matt. 16:18), they could, by no torments, be brought to apostatize. Therefore the servants of antichrist condemned them to die, and this, such a terrible death, that all who saw it must justly have pitied them! for, in the year 1532, at said place, they were chained to stakes, a great fire built around them, and in this manner they were roasted until they. expired. And as they did not love their lives here, but obediently surrendered them for the testimony of Jesus, and died steadfastly: they, at the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, shall, for this mortal garmentof the flesh, be clothed with the immortal, and be rewarded by God with the crown of everlasting glory. Rev. 12:17; 2:13; II Tim. 1:8; Acts 22:18; 23:11; II Thess. 1:7; Phil. 3:21; Wisd. 5:16; II Esd. 2:43; I Cor. 9:25; I Pet. 5:4; James 1:12; Rev. 2:10.
In the year 1533, Ludwig Fest, a steadfast witness of the divine truth, was sentenced to death, and executed, at Schwatz, in the valley of the Inn, for the testimony of Jesus Christ. He admonished us not to be selfish. In the beginning of his tribulation he besought us, by the mercies of God, that we should not burden or grieve one another; for when one comes to this trial, it will cause him pain; and it is no wonder that then it should trouble him in his heart. He also desired that we should have a good assurance concerning him, since he hoped, with the help and power of his heavenly Father, to remain faithful, which he also did. Rev. 2:10.
In the year 1533, a sister, named Christina Haring, was apprehended, taken to Kitzbuehl, and there fastened to a chain; she, however, remained steadfast in the faith. But as she was with child, and was soon to be confined, they let her go home until she should be delivered of her child; and though she knew that she would be apprehended again, and might have escaped ten times, or even more, she did not flee, but boldly remained. When she saw the officer coming, she went out to meet him, and asked him what he desired. He said, "I have come to take you away again;" and thus they again took her to the town of Kitzbuehl, where shortly afterwards she was executed with the sword (which is not usually done with a woman), for the faith, to which she steadfastly adhered. Her body was afterwards burnt. Matt. 24:13. This courageous, heroic woman or sister in Christ, who forsook her husband, infant, house and home, and all temporal things, strengthened her womanly heart with such valiant manliness, and by the grace of God so armed herself in the faith, that she paid her vow unto the Lord, and joyfully went to meet Christ her bridegroom, with her lamp burning, and her light shining so that many were filled with astonishment. Matt. 25:1.
About the year 1533 there was another pious hero and follower of Jesus, named Sicke Snyder, who, according to the counsel of the Holy Ghost, separated from the Babylonian whore, and all her false, self-invented, imaginary worship, which was all contrary to God, and accepted Christ Jesus; seeking to follow the unblamable footsteps of this true Lawgiver (James 4:12), and to hear only His
voice as contained in the holy Scriptures: John 10:4. Therefore he obediently submitted to the example and ordinance of Christ, and in accordance with the doctrines of His Word received Christian baptism upon his faith, as the sign of a regenerated child of God, seeking thus to live and walk in obedience toward his Creator. For this reasbn:he was put into bonds and in prison at Leeuwaerden, in Friesland, and had to suffer much from the enemies of the truth. I Tim. 6:20. And as he could by no tortures be induced to apostatize, he was executed with the sword at said place, enduring it with great steadfastness; thus attesting and confirming the true faith with his death and blood.. Rev: 2:13; 20:4. Hence he shall, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, together with all true conquerors, be clothed in white, shining raiment, and inherit the blessing. II Tim. 2:3; Rev. 3:5; I Pet. 3:9.
Concerning this account see, besides this, Menno Simon contra Gellius Faber, fol. 98.*.
About the year 1534, a God-fearing pious brother, named William Wiggers, residing at Barsinghorn, a village in North Holland, hear. Sehagen, was brought thence to the castle at Schagen, for the true faith and the practice of it. In that place he was imprisoned for about eight days, and was then beheaded with the sword, at early dawn, in the gate of said castle, for the testimony of Jesus Christ, enduring it with great steadfastness. And as he was a Godfearing and an agreeable man, he was often employed by the lord of Schagen to transact his temporal business. Hence it came that when the servants of Schagen came to his house, for the purpose of apprehending him, he supposed they had come for former friendship and acquaintance' sake; hence he sent his wife to get some viands with which to treat these servants; but before she returned, the dean with his servants, sent by the Roman antichrist, came and took this defenseless sheep of Christ with them to Schagen, notwithstanding the bailiff of Barsinghorn offered himself as security for the prisoner. Wigger Hendericks, father of the before-mentioned William Wiggers, who was also secular magistrate, having seen, that his God-fearing son had, without right and reason, been thus secretly murdered with the sword, instantly forsook his office, and would no longer administer the secular power.