At Kortrijck, in Flanders, there were two Godfearing and simple brethren, one named Jelis de Groot, the other Mahieu van Halewijn, who would much rather suffer affliction with the people of God, than enjoy every vain pleasure with the wicked world; which affliction they also could not escape; for in the year 1559 they were apprehended, and immediately examined concerning their faith,
which they freely confessed, and adhered to unto the end, notwithstanding the threats made against, and the torments inflicted upon, them on this account, so that they were finally sentenced to death for their steadfastness, and, as valiant heroes of God, publicly, in the sight of many, passed through temporal death, to await, with their fellow brethren, gone before, under the altar, the day of their avenging. Rev. 6:9.
About the same time there was also apprehended at Kortrijck, for the love of God, and living according to His Word, a brother named Karel van Tiegem, who was not ashamed freely to confess Christ his Lord before men, and to make a good confession of his faith, in which he also persevered unto the end; but however greatly he was tormented, he would not implicate others; hence the rulers of this world seizing occasion against him, as Pilate, instigated by the priests to remain Caesar's friend, did against Christ, condemned him to death, and caused him to be burnt with fire; wherefore they must expect the sentence of eternal fire, which shall have no power over him.
In this year 1559, two brethren, named Wolfgang Mair and Wolfgang Hueber, were apprehended for the faith, in the district of Lutzenburg, and taken to Titmain, whence they were brought to Saltzburg, in both of which places they had to suffer and experience great torment and tyranny. Wolfgang Mair was twice brought to the rack, stripped each time, and severely tortured; but he could not be induced to say aught that was contrary to his faith. The secretary said, "You must tell who took you into his house or lodged you; or you will have to die upon the rack." He replied, "If I die, I die; I will nevertheless not say aught against my conscience, nor betray those that have done me good." Then they left off torturing, and priests came to them with manifold allurements, and labored long and much with them; they also sought to turn them with many threats and entreaties, and denied all hope to them, with many blasphemies, all of which they earnestly contradicted, defending the truth with great zeal, since the Lord gave them such strength, that they had already surrendered their lives for the truth.
After this there was much consultation concerning them, especially among the priests; once it was resolved to imprison them for life; but God brought to nought this purpose. Afterwards they were much tempted yet by one and the other, of those who wanted to make them renounce their faith; but it was in vain, they put them all to shame with the Word of God, and freely declared to them, that their faith was the way of divine truth in Jesus Christ, to which they would steadfastly adhere by the help of God, no matter what anybody should say or undertake against it. Thereupon they were taken back from Saltzburg to Titmain, to be sentenced to death. When their sentence was read they vigorously contradicted it, saying that it was not true, and that their faith was profitable unto all things, and that it was neither heresy nor deception.
When they were led out of the city, some women wept for compassion, that they were thus to be put to death on account of the faith; but they said, "You need not weep on our account; but weep for yourselves, and for your sins." They also sang for joy that their end and redemption were so near at hand.
When they were at the place of execution, brother Wolfgang Mair cried to the people, "Today I will offer unto my God a true burnt sacrifice, pay my vows, and testify with my blood to the divine truth." Thus they were executed with the sword, and then burnt with fire, cheerfully, valiantly and boldly resigning their temporal life, to inherit eternal life.
Some who were the principal cause of their imprisonment and death were signally smitten by the judgment of God, so that some of them died soon after, while others did not meet with a natural death, but were so touched by God, that it was easy to see that they were visited by the wrath of God.
In the year 1559, on the 9th of November, it happened that a brother by the name of Jan Jans Brant, was apprehended for following Christ and the Gospel, at Geervliet, in South Holland. When he was examined by the learned, he steadfastly adhered to his faith, and confessed' it freely, saying further, "This is the true way to eternal life, which is found by so few, and walked by a still smaller number; for it is too narrow for them, and would cause their flesh too much pain." On account of these and like words, they became embittered against him more than against any malefactor, so that they would have made away with him in a fortnight, had not his life, through the intercession of certain persons, been spared a little longer, so that in all, he lay in prison one month. Afterwards they sentenced him to be drowned in a sack, for which he was well prepared. The executioner tied him into a sack, and cast them from the high Hofbrugh.* The sack bursting open, the executioner struck him with a stick on his body, so that he called from the water, "Oh, how you murder me!" Many were moved to pity, that he had to die so miserably. Thus he offered up his sacrifice, and rests now from his labor, and is awaiting the glorious Sabbath spoken of in Isaiah, yea, the rest with Christ in Paradise. Phil. 2:17; Rev. 14:13; Luke 23:42.
* Name of a bridge.
Trijnken Keuts was a widow who lived in the city of Maestricht. Having come to the knowledge of the divine truth through the holy Gospel, she in her simplicity laid the matter to heart, and continued day and night in earnest prayer, until the Lord further enlightened her with the clear, shining light of His divine grace, and endowed her with power of faith, so that she; believing and penitent, had herself baptized, upon the true faith, in the name of Jesus Christ, a member of the body and church of Jesus Christ; and as she lived according to her faith and no longer resorted to the papal idolatries, but abstained from every abomination, and entered upon a new life, the venomous beast could not endure this, and she was therefore accused and reported as a heretic to the authorities of said city. Thereupon the burgomasters cited her to appear in the Landtskroon (the house in which the burgomasters and the council hold their court). When she received this summons, through a servant of the burgomasters, she went to- the Landtskroon. Arriving there, she was asked and examined by the burgomasters, in regard to what had been reported to them, as to whether it was so with her; and when she frankly answered them, and confessed the truth, they imprisoned her there. Having been confined for a time, in the meanwhile undergoing many importunities and conflicts, she was finally caused to be rigorously examined by the priests (one of whom was a Dominican monk), before whom she freely confessed her faith. When asked whether she was rebaptized, she replied, "I was baptized upon my faith according to the doctrine of Christ;" in regard to which they had yet many more words together; but she adhered to the truth. The priests also questioned her concerning the sacrament, whether she did not believe that when the priest had pronounced five words over the bread, Christ was present in it, essentially with flesh and blood, just as He had hung on the cross. Trijne said that she believed that Christ had ascended to heaven, and was sitting on the right hand of God, His heavenly Father. And she asked, saying, "How should He come into the bread?"
When she thus steadfastly adhered to the truth, these priests condemned her to be burnt to ashes here, and to burn forever in hell. Trijne said, "When you, in a few days, will follow me before the judgment seat of God; you will find it to be otherwise." Upon this judgment, Trijne was delivered to the bailiff and the judges, by whom she was sentenced, that she should be led forth, according to the imperial mandate; and be burnt to ashes; which Trijne gratefully received, willingly submitting to it. She was therefore, with her mouth gagged, led to the Vrijthof, where she put off her tabernacle, and was burnt to ashes, having commended her soul into the hands of God. I Pet. 1:14. This occurred in the year 1559, on Palm Eve, in Lent.
It was currently reported as true, that one of the afore-mentioned priests, namely, the Dominican monk, three days after Trijnken was offered up and burnt, was unexpectedly (he not having been known to be sick), and secretly found dead in his cell, and that he was being eaten up by lice; but what part God had in this matter, this we leave to His righteous judgment, who will give to everyone his merited reward.
There were also at Antwerp three sisters, namely, Fransken Vroevrouwe, Naentgen Leerverkoopster, and Pleuntgen van der Goes, who were kindled with the love of God, and, as lambs and sheep of Christ, heard and followed the voice of their Shepherd, so that, having been apprehended on this account in the year 1559, they steadfastly adhered to the truth amidst all solicitations, tortures and sufferings; hence all of them finally died for the name of -Christ, being drowned in a vat, in the prison.
But those who condemned them to death, must therefore expect from the Lord the severe judgment that shall come upon them on this account. Matt. 7:2.
In this year also three other sisters, namely, Betgen, Neelken, and Mariken Franss, were apprehended at Antwerp, for living according to their faith in God, and as they, with a firm confidence, as those that were born of God, steadfastly contended for the accepted. truth, they were finally sentenced to death and drowned. Thus they had to press their way through the strait gate, this temporal death, in order to enter in, and inherit, together with all the valiant witnesses of God, His eternal and imperishable kingdom.
In the year 1559, also Adriaen Pan, the faithful friend of Christ, and his wife, were in the claws of the wolves, at Antwerp, in Brabant, where they, through the grace of God, endured severe imprisonment and cruel examinations; but through true faith and living hope they were so firmly united to their Captain, Christ Jesus, that they could by no means be brought to apostatize. Hence they were condemned to death by the rulers of darkness, who knew not the light of truth; and thus Adriaen Pan was most miserably put to death with the sword, his wife, who was pregnant, bearing it all for Christ's sake, however much it pained her. After she had given birth to her child, she was drowned, suffering it with great steadfastness. And thus they entered into eternal rest with the Lord.
Grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, through the merits of Jesus Christ His beloved Son, with the true illumination of the Holy Ghost, we wish all lovers of the eternal truth. Amen.
My dearly beloved and longed-for brethren, whom we love from the bottom of our hearts, and bear in our hearts, as those with whom we are one soul and one body, though we are now apparently deprived of you, you are nevertheless the more in our hearts, and we entreat you, that no one will faint at our tribulations to which we are now subjected; for we hope that you will be rejoiced to hear it since we know for certain, that it is for the truth. II John 1:1; Acts 4:32; Eph. 3:13; I Thess. 3:3.
Peter says, "Let none of you suffer as an evildoer, or as a thief; but if you suffer as a Christian, happy are you; for the glory and Spirit of God rest upon you; but on their part he is evil spoken of." Paul says that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us; yea, that eye hath not seen, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. My dear brethren, how should we not be of good courage, when we hear such comforting words! My dear friends, the more tribulation there is to try us, the more we are comforted. This we experienced at the start, when we were apprehended, when they assailed the house, as though they meant to destroy it with all that was in it. Then was my heart strengthened, ,as though I was a different person. True, my wife was somewhat distressed before they laid hands on us; but when she saw that it had to be, fear left her, as a garment put off, and she began to sing.
"Dus weest bedacht, ende op hem wacht;
Want by sal komen als een dief in der nacht."*
For we had not expected them yet, and had packed our things, intending to depart soon; but the Lord ordered it otherwise, praised be He forever. As they were busily engaged in plundering, I would fain have sung: Noyt meerder vreught in my en was, dan nu is in desen tiiden.t But I restrained myself from singing, because I thought that many more trials were awaiting me yet; but the Lord be praised, who does not suffer us to be ashamed. Ps. 25:3. They began to upbraid us much concerning Munster and Amsterdam; but I told them that I was innocent in.the matter, and that it was for the truth that we suffered. I also said, "I am not yet thirty-three years old; how then could I have.been there?" Some railed, others
* Take heed therefore and watch for Him; for He shall come as a thief in the night.
** I never had greater joy than at this present time.
lamented: but I said, "Weep not for us, but weep for yourselves,. and for your children." Methinks, we could well have said with David, "Though I were compassed about by ten thousands of people, who should come upon me, I should not fear them; yea, they have compassed me about; they compass me about like bees, but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them." Psalm 3:6; 118:12.
My dear brethren, we.do not say this to boast but for joy, and to thank God for the great power and strength which He grants us; and for the joy of all lovers for the truth, who may hear this. Pray for us that we may continue steadfast unto the end. We beg you to receive our few lines in good part. The 15th day of our imprisonment, and the 9th of May. My wife and I salute you much, and all with whom we are acquainted, or who may inquire after us.
Grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, through the merits of Jesus Christ, with the true illumination of the Holy Ghost, we wish all lovers of the eternal truth. Amen.
My dear N., I still remember you at the end of my life, and pray Almighty God to comfort you with His Spirit, and instruct you with all spiritual wisdom and understanding that may conduce to your salvation. Col. 1:9. I further inform you, that I was on the rack the 2d of June, and on the 16th day I was brought into court, where they asked me whether I was baptized, or rebaptized. I asked whether I was permitted to speak. They consented. I said that I believed all that was written in the law and in the prophets, and would live and die by what Jesus Christ and His apostles taught and commanded; and that I was baptized upon acknowledgement of my sins, that I was sorry for them, and upon confession of my faith, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Thereupon they sentenced me; hence I expect nothing else than that they will do their will with the body; may the Lord receive the spirit. I am quite ready to live and die for the name of the Lord. I cannot sufficiently praise and thank God, that He has called me to suffer for His name. O my dear N., I am, of good cheer; the Lord, I trust, will give me strength unto the end. I cannot say that I ever had a happier day in prison, than when I was apprehended, and when I was sentenced. My dear N., be of good cheer; it will soon be over here; and let us not fear them that kill the body; but Christ tells us whom we shall fear. I and my wife salute you most affectionately with the peace of the Lord. Receive my brief letter in good part; I would fain have written you more, but I am not much gifted for it; however, I thank the Lord for all that He has given me.
Greet the dear friends much, with whom we are acquainted, or who inquire after us. Farewell!
Written by me,
A confession written by Hans de Vette, at Ghent, where he was imprisoned with eleven others, in the year 1559, touching his examination
On the first Friday after Whitsuntide there were imprisoned at Ghent for the Word of the Lord, the following named persons: Pieter Coerten of Meenen, Kaerle Tanckreet of Nipkerck, with Proentken, his wife, of Belle, Jacob Spillebout, Abraham Tanckreet, and Maeyken Floris of Nipkerck, An,honis van Cassel, Hans de Smit, Marcus his brother, Hans de Vette, with Maritgen, his wife, of Waesten, and Tanneken, the wife of J. de S. These had been delivered by treachery to the Procurator General, who, with three thief-catchers, took them away prisoners from their lodging place, in the evening.
The next day we were visited by the authorities, who asked us, each separately, for our names, and where we came from, which we told them. They then asked us whether we confessed another baptism.than infant baptism, and whether we had also received another. We all renounced idolatrous infant baptism, and confessed that we had received Christian baptism, except Marcus de Smit, who confessed that he had not yet received it, but that if he had opportunity, he wished to receive it with all his heart. They then asked us whether we desired learned men to instruct us; that they would send us some, and just such as we wanted, ecclesiastics or secular men; they also said that they should not hurry us. But since they almost always asked us separately the same questions, I, the writer of this, said that by the grace of the Lord I wanted no other instruction than I had received, though an angel should come from heaven. Gal. 1:8.
Besides this, they nevertheless, about eight days afterwards, sent one Friar Peter de Backer (who had partly spied us out), with one of his companions,-two false prophets, called jacobines, as I believe. After we had appeared before them, and exchanged a few words, we came to infant baptism, which he declared to be a divinely instituted doctrine, saying that circumcision was a figure of it; also, that the apostles had baptized entire households, and that Christ had commanded it, John 3. But when I had proved to him, that he had not spoken the truth, and that the apostles had baptized none without faith, as is clearly found in the Acts of the Apostles, he endeavored to speak about another article, saying that we should not be able to agree. But I 'told him that I desired to see the first finished before proceeding further, and begged him to repent, proving to him, that their -worship was a rotten and putrid idolatry, contrary to all the commandments of God, and a human plant; and that God's commandments were sufficient for us, that no lies need be added to them, and that it availed nothing to regard what God has not commanded. Then he said that I was deceived, and had looked too much at their abuses: that it was true there were some abuses in their church, but that the principal of what was observed in it, was good. After many words we parted.
A few days afterwards the Dean of Ronse, an inquisitor in the country of Flanders, came, and with him, said Peter de Backer, who had visited us first, and other false prophets. When I appeared before them, the Dean asked my name. I replied that my name was Hans de Vette. Then he asked me whether I was married. I replied, "Yes." He then asked me whether my wife was also of Waesten. I replied, "Yes." He asked me how long I had been married. I said, "Not very long." He asked me, in what church and by what parish priest I had been married. I asked him whether we found anything said in the Scriptures, that a parish priest was required for it. He said that in the world whores and knfiLves come together without parish priests. Then I said that I had done this according to the direction of the Scriptures, as permitted by Paul, in order to avoid fornication, it being better to marry than to burn (I Cor. 7:2, 9); whores and knaves on the contrary will much rather burn than marry, as is abundantly seen and heard in this wicked world in many thousands of instances. He then said that this was a small matter, and that if I had done nothing more, it could easily have been arranged; however, I should only tell him where it took place. I told him that I did not intend to tell him. Then he adjured me by the living God, that I should tell him; but I made no reply. Thereupon he asked me why I had not continued in the faith of the Roman church, and in her worship. My reply was, that I had separated from her so as not to become a partaker of her plagues, since darkness can have no communion with light, nor Christ with Belial, nor the righteous with the unrighteous, etc. Hence we must come out from among her. Rev. 18:4; II Cor. 6:14, 17.
He then asked me what I thought of the seven sacraments, part of which he named to me. I replied that I considered them utterly worthless, because of all the abominable idolatry observed by them; but since the Lord has commanded us to confess His name before men, I said that I would confess my faith to him. He said that I should. I then began to make my confession; as that I believed in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, sea and waters, and all there is therein; and who created man after His image. Him alone we must serve, honor, worship, and love with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our thoughts, since He alone is good; forsaking all idols, whether of gold, silver, stone, metal, wood, bread, or of whatever other make or substance they may be, even as they are rejected and
prohibited in the holy Scriptures; for we know that an idol is nothing in the world. I Cor. 8:4.
As I continued to speak, the Dean of Ronse said to me that I was making it too long, to write it all down."You would make us too much work," he said,"if you should thus confess your faith from the beginning of the Bible.""I also believe," said he,"what you have said here; but what do you say of the sacrament of baptism as used in our church, to which everyone must come, in order to be saved?" I replied that I considered infant baptism worthless, since it was not commanded of God. He said that circumcision was a figure of it, and that all the children that were not circumcised in the Old Testament, or are not baptized in the New Testament, must be damned. I then said, in accordance with his own words, "Then the female children in the Old Testament must all be damned." He became angry, and said that what I advanced was only sophistry. I told him that he should be ashamed to say that children were damned, to whom as the Lord says, the kingdom of heaven belongs. He said that I lied in this. And another priest told me that one of Paul's disciples writes that he had learned infant baptism from his teacher, Paul. Thereupon I said that Paul writes that we should not be shaken in mind, neither by spirit nor by word, nor by letter, as sent from them; or even though an angel from heaven should come, and teach us anything different from what is written in the holy Gospel, he should be accursed. II Thess. 2:2. I also asked him to show me where the Lord had commanded to baptize children, or to prove that the apostles baptized infants; which he could not do.
Again, he asked me how long ago I had been baptized. I replied, "Not yet a year." He asked me where and by whom I had been baptized; but I did not tell him. He then adjured me three times by the living God, and by the baptism which I had received, that I should tell him. I said that Caiaphas so adjured Christ. He replied that Christ spoke. I said that Christ spoke for Himself; but that when He was questioned concerning His disciples, He did not speak.
He then a~ked me what I held concerning the sacrament of the altar. I told him that I considered it nothing less than an unclean, rotten, putrid idolatry, and an abomination before God. He asked, "How? Do you not believe that He is present in it in flesh and blood, just as He walked upon the earth, or as He hung upon the tree of the cross?""Far be it from me," said I,"that I should believe that Christ's flesh and blood are here upon earth; for Christ Himself said to His apostles, that we should always have the poor with us, but that we should not always have Him." Matt. 26:11.
He thereupon told me that He was not thus present in the sacrament, but that it was in spiritual substance, and that I did not understand the matter; but that this argument had been established many centuries before my time; for when Christ held His supper He said, He took the bread and gave it to His disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." I replied that the bread which Christ gave to His disciples, He gave them as an emblem of His body which was to be broken for them; even as He has represented Himself by figures in many places of Scripture. In John (15:1) He says, "I am the true vine;" yet in reality He was no vine, but He compared Himself to a vine. Thus the bread which Christ brake for His disciples, was spiritually a figure of His body; for He says in John 6;"Flesh and blood profit nothing; but the words that I speak are spirit and life." He said that this was irrelevant;"for if Christ were not present," said he,"how could we eat damnation thereby?" But I replied, "If it were the flesh and blood of Christ, we would not eat damnation thereby: for Christ says Himself; 'Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life.' John 6:54. Hence these words must not be understood literally, but spiritually, namely, that if one who was still a drunkard, or covetous, or an idolater, or the like, should go to the Lord's Supper with the church of Christ, whose head is Christ, such an one would be unfit to break bread with the members of Christ, not discerning Christ's body." I Cor.11:29. Then he said that there were many among us, who were drunkards, adulterers, and the like, and that they were well known to him. I then asked him, "Who are they?" He said, "J. de R." I then asked him where he lived. He replied, "I shall not tell you." I said that I well knew if there were such in our church, and were known, they would, according to the Scriptures, be put away and excluded. I Cor. 5:11.
He then asked me, who had baptized me. And when he could not learn it from me, he adjured me, but I did not tell him. Then his secretary said, "I will wager you a pot of wine, that you will tell it before a fortnight has passed;" but I would not bet. He then asked me how often I had observed the Supper. I replied that I had sometimes observed it, when opportunity offered itself, with many dear brethren and sisters. He asked, "With whom? What are their names?" I gave him the name of one of them, whom he specially named in his question. He then inquired concerning others, whether I regarded them as my brethren, or whether they were only friends or novices;"for I have learned all this Flemish," said he,"about novices [encomelingen, i. e., newcomers] friends and brethren." I said, "I thought you were from Brabant; do you understand so much Flemish?""I hardly know what I am," he said;"perhaps Z am a foundling.""Yes," said I, "John's Revelation (13:1) speaks of a beast, which rose up out of the sea; you may belong to that race."
He then asked me whether I did not believe that Jesus Christ had assumed flesh and blood from Mary. I replied that I believed that the Word which was in the beginning with God, and by which the world was created, became flesh. Then he said
that according to the flesh He was David's son. I replied, "If He is David's son, Christ Himself says: 'How then doth David call him Lord?"' He said that Christ only adduced this to the Pharisees by way of argument; but Matthew, said he, describes His generation from Abraham to Mary. I replied, that Matthew traces the generation of Christ only to Joseph, the husband of Mary of whom Christ was born; and Luke says that Jesus was supposed to be the son of Joseph."But," said he,"do you not believe that Mary is the mother of Christ?" I said, "Yes; Christ says: 'Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, the same is my mother, sister and brother."' Matt. 12:50.
He then said that Christ was of the seed of the woman. But I told him, that women had no seed themselves; for as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman. I Cor. 11:12. Then he said that He was of Mary's substance and blood. But I replied that Christ said to the Jews, that He was from above, but they from beneath;"ye are of this world," He said,"I am not of this world." John 8:23. Moreover, the apostle says, "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven." I Cor. 15:47. I then told them that they should repent of their unrighteousness, persecution, and false, idolatrous doctrine. They said, "We have the true doctrine." I said that Paul nevertheless commands us to avoid such as command to abstain from meats, which God has created for the use of them that believe; and who forbid to marry, and have their conscience seared with a hot iron; for it is better to marry than to burn; but you people, contrary to the Scriptures, command to abstain from meats, and forbid to marry, and will rather burn than marry. I Tim. 4:2, 3; I Cor. 7:9.
Dean. "We do not forbid to marry."
Hans. "Certainly you do; you know that because of your commandment a person may neither eat meat nor marry, in Lent, and on many other days; and you have entered into a covenant that restrains you from marrying; but you commit such fornication that it is a shame to speak of it, as is daily seen from the bastards that are brought to your houses, and Paul says that we shall not cat with such, namely, fornicators, drunkards, etc., but that they are to be delivered unto Satan, for the destruction of their flesh." I Cor. 5:5.
Dean. "We are not so bad; we do not want to deliver them to Satan, we are so much the better."
Hans. "Poor man, would you be better than Paul? But all that is told you is of no avail; for you will not repent; but if you want. to dispute with us in the market or any other public place, we are ready, in hopes that some of the ignorant might be drawn thereby."
Dean. "This shall not be; who should judge there? boatman, fish-mongers, and the like? That would be just the way to excite a tumult; but we are fools that we dispute so much with you; the proper way to do would be, simply to tell you our faith, and if you will not believe it, pass sentence."
We had many other words yet as about the worshiping of saints, the Pope of Rome, confession, fasting, purgatory, and the sleeping of the saints, which it would take much too long to write. The foregoing I have written down from memory, even as they often occurred; but since it happened long ago, I should not be able to write it down word for word. But since I well know that it is of no avail to tell them anything, and that they are arrogant and shameless. I sometimes give them very brief answers, offering to dispute with them in public, which they refused. They often put the same questions repeatedly to our brethren and sisters that are in bonds with us, who are all still of good cheer, the Lord be praised; for we feared the false prophets much more before we spoke with them, than afterwards. But the Lord knows how to give His chosen a mouth in such hours as He has promised, better than we can imagine; for those who seemed weak when not in bonds, are ,so courageous, that it is astonishing to see and hear it. The Lord alone be praised forever and ever. Amen.
The Dean also asked me whether we did not pray for him. I said, "Yes," "What do you people call me?" said he, "Do you call me Saul?" I replied, "I have sometimes heard you called the Inquisitor (they all laughed); sometimes the Dean of Ronse." He said, "That is my name." We had many more words yet; however partly from lack of paper, I forbear writing more; but I beg all who see this, to receive it in good part, and if possible, let a copy of this be sent to our acquaintances at Antwerp, and one to our acquaintances in the West.
Thereupon these twelve friends (whose names are mentioned in the beginning of Hans de Vette's letter) all courageously laid down their lives for the truth. First four valiantly passed through the conflict, who offered up their burnt sacrifice in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a short time afterwards, six others, who, after steadfast confession of their faith, were also brought forth, and being asked whether they would not yet recant, they answered, "No," but if they had committed any crime, they should be dealt with accordingly. They were speedily sentenced to death as heretics, and when they were taken out to death in two wagons, two monks sat beside them, who prevented them from speaking much, so that they could only with great difficulty speak a word or two, namely," 'Fear not them that kill the body; for after that they have no more that they can do.' but, O men repent, for the apostle says that he that lives after the flesh shall die." Rom. 8:13.
When they were led into a but of wood and straw in which they were to be burnt, they manifested great joy, and commending their souls into the hands of God, they put off the corruptible, to put on the incorruptible.
There remained yet two pregnant women, who, after giving birth to their children, and lying in,
were both secretly beheaded in the count's castle. Thus all these, continuing steadfast.unto the end, went to rest with the Lord and shall also enter into eternal joy with Him, in the company of all the dear children of God. Matt. 25:21; John 1:12.
On the 20th of May, 1559, the Margrave of Antwerp, seeking one upon whose head a price of three hundred guilders was set, went forth with many servants, and surrounded and entered two houses, in which they found six sisters, namely, Maeyken Kats, Magdaleentken, Aechtken of Zierickzee, Old Maeyken, Grietgen Bonaventuers, and Maeyken de Korte. But however much they searched the houses they could not find the one whom they sought. Then the Margrave wished these women in Hoboken Heath. But nevertheless, when he could not accomplish his purpose, he took all six with him, and shut them in a dark prison. Afterwards they were examined. They freely confessed their faith, and could not be brought to recant, neither by the imperial decree, nor by threats or torture; nor did they betray any one. Hence, on the 8th of June; the first three were sentenced to death, and drowned in prison by night.
Afterwards, on the llth of October, the other three were also condemned to death; old Maeyken, the honorable widow, who was worthy of double honor, was drowned, while Grietken Bonaventuers and Maeyken de Korte had to taste death by the sword (unusual with women) for the truth, for which their Lord, whom they loved and did not forget, will likewise not forget them, but gladly receive them into His kingdom and joyfully feast in paradise.
My dear sister, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be fruitful in all longsuffering and holiness, to wait for Him with patience; for He shall come quickly, and bring His reward with Him; He is faithful that promised, who also will do it. II Thess. 3:1; Rev. 22:12; I Thess. 5:25. It is as I say, "Our life is a continual conflict upon earth." Know that I am of tolerably good cheer; the flesh is pretty well, the Lord be praised. We are here indeed as the filth of the world, and constantly long to get home, and for a building not made with hands; eternal in the heavens. We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. I Cor. 4:13. How ought we to be prepared with a godly life I I often find myself cast down: I also discover so many shortcomings in me, and that there is so much yet to die unto; I have to commit it all to the Lord, with an humble heart, and trembling, contrite spirit, asking Him for grace, and not for justice. I feel that the more I humble myself, the more the mighty God works in me, and pours His grace into me. Then I cry most bitterly, fall upon my knees, and thank my God, and say, "O my Lord and God, what am I, child of Adam, that Thou art mindful of him,* Thou hast given him dominion over all Thy works. Whence is it that Thou dost visit us so abundantly, and dost so graciously open unto us Thy treasures, and causest the bright morning star to arise and shine in our hearts, and hast drawn us out of this dark night to the imperishable light?" What shall we render unto Him, my dear sister, but a penitent and contrite heart, and a broken spirit, with love and great gratitude, there rests the spirit of the Lord, says David. Let us love one another fervently, for God is love, and constantly exhort each other, lest we wax cold through the deceitfulness of sin; so that God may be glorified in us, and we may be delivered from pride, and from unreasonable and wicked men; for all men have not faith. The Lord is faithful; He will strengthen and keep us. I John 4:8; Heb. 3:13; II Thess. 3:2. Know, that my sisters were here, and desired to have a word of comfort from me. The Lord gained the victory. I do not know how it is with me, I do not feel drawn to them, just as though they were not related to me; I cannot rejoice, though I see them, and it seems to me that they are afraid of me. They caused me so much cross. They had sent a monk named Balten here, to examine me, and were willing to give him three caps, if he should be able to convert me. He came with fine words, but I would not speak, being sick at the time. Then my sisters said, "Why do you not speak?" I replied, "I have no desire at present; we have talked with him so often; he well knows our intention."
This irritated Balten, and he complained greatly of me, that I had strongly resisted the Scriptures, that I maintained salvation erroneously, and that I had no hope. Then they wept greatly, but it was all the same to me, whether he kept silence or spoke. He made all leave the room, only my two sisters; he and I remaining. He then entreated me much, saying, "My dear Maeyken, have compassion upon your poor soul." I boldly replied, "This I hope to do.""Say that you are sorry, and that you have erred; it is sufficient, and you need say no more; an instrument shall immediately be drawn up for you, according to my direction, and I myself and your two brothers-in-law, will sign it. It shall remain a secret, and all shall be done for you that is possible; give your consent to it, my dear sister." Then I was moved in my spirit, and said, "You may give your head rest, yours is all lost labor; I am not at all inclined to say that I am sorry. I am so sorry for it, that if I had not done it, I should yet do what I have in mind. I want to abide in it
* An implied substitution of gender, peculiar to the genius of the Dutch (as also, the German) language; the exclaimant, losing sight of her own individuality, views herself only as a representative of Adam's race, and recipient of God's munificence.-Trans.
by the help of God, neither entreaties, nor tortures, nor death, nor life shall turn me, and I want to die therein; hence do not torment me." Phil. 4:13. I wish I could speak with Lauwerens Huysmaeker, and see all of you; but I must be patient.
I commend you to the Lord, and to the Word of His grace; greet Andries, and Mattheus. I greet you both; greet Lauwerens, and Hans; greet Adriaen much, and Lauwerens' wife, and the wife of Lauwerens the broom-maker, and Hansken's wife.