In the year 1561 several brethren and sisters, after suffering much persecution, took up residence near Ypres in Flanders, at a place called ten Hoogensiecken. Having left money, property, friends and kindred, to follow Christ, and live there in quietness, engaging in tape-weaving, in order to
gain a living by their trade, they were spied out while they sat and worked together, and the inquisitor came to apprehend them. He was accompanied by a large force well provided with sticks, swords and ropes, and they arrived just at the time when Antonis, who had made them a visit, and had taken leave, stood at the door, ready to go.
As they thus arrived with great noise, Stijntgen Potvliets (who was pregnant) ran out of the house first, and was apprehended. Karel N. also ran out at the door, and master Klaas (who was a great persecutor, and fellow helper of the inquisitor) pursued him, struck at him with a bare sword, and though Karel was wounded by it, yet he escaped. Maeyken Kocx (who was also pregnant) was attacked by the inquisitor, who held a naked sword in his hand, and as she cried aloud to him to spare her child, and he acted in a very bloodthirsty manner, he, like a madman, wounded himself.
Lauwerens van de Walle, Antonis Schoonvelt, and Kalleken Strings were also apprehended, but Hendrick N. made his escape.
While they were being bound, they comforted one another much with the Word of God, and when they were brought out of the house, they cheerfully spoke to the neighbors, saying, "Can any one complain of us? It is for the name of Christ that this is inflicted upon us; we need not be ashamed of it." Matt. 10:22; I Pet. 4:16.
On their way to town, Kalleken commenced to sing a hymn. Then said master Klaas, "The apostles did not sing, as you do; nor do I want to dance; why then do you sing?" Antonis said, "Sister, do not fear these; just sing as much as you. want to;" and Lauwerens helped her sing. When they came into the city, there was a great concourse of people, and they made known the Word of God by singing and speaking. Among other things, Lauwerens said, "That we are apprehended, is not on account of evil doing, but because we live according to the word of God."
Kalleken Strings said, "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life (Matthew 7:14); repair to it, do good and forsake evil, and fear not the rulers of this world, but buy Testaments, read therein the counsel of God, and follow it." They were then confined in the court of the prison, .where they remained for several months and days, patient and of good cheer, waiting until they should offer up their sacrifice, and being visited and comforted in the meantime by many brethren and sisters. They were also sometimes examined in regard to their faith, which they freely confessed, and from which no pain or suffering could induce them to depart.
Finally, having suffered many tortures, on the rack as well as elsewhere, Lauwerens van de Walle, Antonis Schoonvelt, and Kalleken Strings, as they adhered valiantly and steadfastly to the truth, were delivered by the inquisitor into the hands of the secular authorities, to be dealt with according to the import of the royal decree. In delivering them, the inquisitor also, in the hearing of the ignorant people, read severe charges (as he thought) against them, as, among other things, that they confessed the Pope of Rome to be the antichrist. I John 2:18. That they held the Roman church to be the whore of Babylon. Rev. 17:5. That they pronounced the sacrament to be an abominable idol, etc.
Thereupon Lauwerens commenced to say that he had not said or confessed this without a fuller explanation. He was instantly and savagely told to keep silence, but he said, "Thieves and murderers are allowed to have some one who speaks for them; but you have brought it about that neither a procurator nor an advocate may speak for us; hence we must speak for ourselves."
Kalleken Strings also, who sat there with her head resting on her hand, exhausted from excessive torture, let her voice be heard boldly.
On the testimony of the inquisitor, Lauwerens van de Walle and Antonis Schoonvelt were both sentenced by the authorities, to be publicly strangled and burnt at the stake, and to this end a scaffold with two stakes, as also wood and straw, was prepared in the marketplace.
They were brought out with their arms tied together, and coming to the place where they were to be offered up, they fell down upon their knees, and prayed to God. When they had arisen, the executioner asked their forgiveness for what he was about to do, and they kindly forgave him, according to the teaching of Christ. Matt. 6:14.
Lauwerens said with a loud voice to the authorities, that of a truth he would gladly forgive them and all who were guilty in the matter. He also boldly said, like the third of the Maccabean brethren, "These limbs God from heaven gave; therefore I will willingly surrender them for His law's sake." II Macc. 7:11. As they went into the but, both cried farewell to all the brethren and sisters scattered in many countries, cities and villages, and with this commending their spirits into the hands of God, they departed this world.
In the month of October of the same year, also Kalleken Strings, a very fine and well-bred maiden, was delivered to the secular authorities. She was modest, fearless and steadfast, so that neither many fair promises of riches and money, or temporal prosperity, nor pain or severe torments (though she was tortured to such an extent, that she was taken from the rack for dead), could in any wise draw her from her faith; yea, even her mother, when she visited her in prison for this end, could not move her; nor accomplish her purpose, but hearing and seeing her daughter's steadfastness and kind treatment of her, she said, "My daughter is better than I am."
Afterwards she was also sentenced to be strangled and burnt; whereupon she said, "You have now sentenced me to the fire according to the Emperor's decree; fear the judgment of God, which He shall hold, to condemn you to eternal fire.
When it was thought that Kalleken was about to be executed, a great multitude of people flocked together from far and near, to see it. Seeing this, and fearing a disturbance, the authorities did not have her brought forth; only the executioner came out of the city hall, and said to the people,. that she was dead already. Thus, the people went away, thinking that she had been privately beheaded.
But early the next day, and unexpectedly, no scaffold having been erected, but other preparations made, she was brought into the marketplace, and when she had offered up her prayer to God, and commended her spirit into His hands, sentence was executed on her, and thus she departed this world, going with a burning lamp to meet her bridegroom. Matt. 25:1.
In the meantime, Stijntgen Potvliets, not continuing steadfast, was set at liberty; but Maeyken Kocx, who remained immovable, was retained and kept until she was delivered of her child, and was out of childbed, whereupon (though her heart clung dearly to her husband and children, yet loving God above all, and, out of love to Him, adhering to the.truth known and accepted, esteeming this precious treasure of greater value than her own life) she was sentenced to be publicly strangled and burned at the stake, which was also executed. Commending her spirit into the hands of God, she joyfully departed this world, well knowing that she should inherit eternal joy, and be permitted to enter in with the five wise virgins, when the cry shall be made at midnight, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him."
About this time Orvel, Jan and Pleun were severally apprehended for the truth; at Cologne, and as they steadfastly confessed the truth, and could not be moved by any kind of torture or crafty seduction, but remained faithful, they were finally taken out on the Rhine, and drowned, having commended their souls into the hands of God, in the year 1561.
A brother, Franchoys van Elstlandt, also called France van Meenene; a mason by trade, went from Meenene to Arien in French Flanders; to work at his trade there, and thus earn his living. There, on St. Denis' day, the ninth of October, 1561, just as he was leading a horse to water for the master for whom he worked, he was apprehended, because he did no 'longer worship the priest's idol, and when he, after many solicitations, threats, and much suffering, would not renounce his faith, he was finally, on the. 21st of October, burnt alive, as a witness of God. On this occasion, a monk shamelessly cried, "Go thou accursed, from this into the eternal fire." But Franchoys bore it with patience, committing vengeance unto God, who will judge righteously in due time.
In the year 1561 another valiant hero and soldier of Jesus Christ, named John Schut, fell into the hands of the tyrants and persecutors, for following Christ, and living according to God's holy Word, in the city of Vreden, in Westphalia. There he suffered and, through the grace of God, endured, severe imprisonment and threats of death. When brought bound before the lords, to give an account of his faith, he freely confessed the same, saying that he believed according to the Word of God
1. They asked him. concerning his baptism, and what he held in regad to infant baptism. He replied that he was baptized upon his faith, as Christ his faithful Saviour has commanded us in Mark 16, that baptism is to be given only to believers, and not to ignorant children, and that he had never read of infant baptism in the holy Scriptures, and that it could therefore by no means be proved with the Word of God, but that baptism belonged only to those who had amended their sinful life. They angrily asked him, whether he would not give up these views. He answered that it were by no means expedient for him, 'to forsake the Word of God, and die an eternal death, but that he would rather suffer for the truth; though the pain should be as great again.
2. In regard to the Lord's Supper, he also thoroughly confessed before them that it must be observed according to the institution .of Christ, and that we must by it remember, with an humble heart, His bitter sufferings and innocent death, and how He shed His precious blood on the cross for us poor sinners.
3. They all asked him with many words, whether Christ our Saviour was not of Mary's flesh and blood. But as this point is a principal article of our Christian faith, he likewise answered thoroughly upon it; saying that he had never read this assertion of theirs in the Word of God. He asked them, "How could He be of the earth whom God the Father sent down from heaven? But He was conceived of the Holy Ghost by the pure virgin Mary, and became man through the effectual power of the Most High, so that the holy thing which was born of her is called the Son of the most high God, without partaking in the 'least or most of man's polluted or sinful flesh. But the Word, according to the testimony of John, became flesh or man, so that the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father was handled and seen. Thereby the promises of God concerning His proceeding from the seed of David, are completely fulfilled in Christ, through whom we all who were lost have been redeemed and reconciled to God.
4. They asked him concerning their magistracy, whether they were not of God. He replied, "Yes,
for the protection of the pious, and the punishment of evil-doers; they are ordained of God to rule their dominions in peace."
5. They asked him what he held in regard to marriage. He replied that a man and a woman are united together in marriage, and that such union may riot be dissolved, save on account of adultery; following herein the teaching of Christ. Matt. 19.
6. They asked him concerning uproar and sedition. But he answered that he did not approve of such evil things; but that he and his fellow brethren, on the contrary, were taught to love their enemies, and to do good to them that do us evil and persecute us. And that with truth nothing else should ever be heard of him and his fellow brethren.
7. They asked him who his captain was. He replied that it was Christ with His doctrine, who had called him in peace. And to this his faithful Saviour, and his blessed doctrine he hoped to adhere, and to confirm it with his death and blood.
Thereupon he was sentenced by these tyrants, and executed with the sword. The chief judge who had passed this sentence, riding by the body of John Schut, a few days after his execution, called out mockingly, "Schut, sing us a song;" for Schut had been cheerful in his tribulation, and sung much in prison and on his way to death. Upon this the judge was struck with apoplexy, and never spoke again, but died in a short time; which by many was looked upon as the vengeance and punishment of God upon him.
Concerning this account, read his own hymn, in the old hymn book; it begins: "O Heer ick magh wel klagen."
A. D. 1561, there were imprisoned at Antwerp in Brabant, for the testimony of Jesus, seven pious witnesses of the truth, named Jan, Hendrick, Bastiaen, Hans, Mariken van Meenen, Beetken van Brugh and Lijntgen. All these had the house of their faith built so firmly and immovably upon their head and cornerstone Christ Jesus, that neither the philosophy and crafty seduction, nor the tyranny and violence of the papists could in any wise bring them to apostatize, but their faith was found much more precious than gold that erisheth, though it be tried with fire (I Pet. 1 ); so that they, on the 15th of August of said year, at said place surrendered their lives for the truth, and obtained the end of their faith, eternal salvation, through the grace of God, and are waiting now to receive, together with all the pious, the crown of everlasting glory, in eternity.
Read, concerning this, the beautiful long hymn composed for the comforting of these prisoners, and dedicated to them, in the second hymn book. It begins: "Lieve breeders wy groeten a met sangcn."
In the year 1561, on the evening before St. Martin's day, some Christians were assembled together, at Bruges, in Flanders, who instructed one another with the Word of the Lord, concerning the amendment of life. When the lords learned of this, they sent thither the servants of the bailiff, who came running in, and cried, "Surrender, or we will run you through; and deliver up all your arms and books." They replied, "We are not a people who seek to avenge themselves; but we leave vengeance to God, who will avenge it in due time." They were then fettered, two and two together, and taken to prison; they walked on boldly, comforting one another with the Word of God. Three escaped, namely, Rutsaert, and his wife, and one named Maeyken; but the others who were imprisoned were joyful. Francijntjen Meulenaers said to Maeyken, "Dear sister, let us remember that the kingdom of heaven is .nigh, and let us be sincerely faithful to our Bridegroom."
Jelis and Hansken Parmentier each sang a hymn for joy. On St. Martin's day they were brought before the lords, where they boldly confessed their faith, as also, that they had been, baptized aright according to the command of Christ.
These ten brethren and two sisters remained in prison for about thirty days, where they praised and thanked God, and prepared themselves to suffer for His name. During this' time they were once more brought before the lords, where they again confessed their faith, and said that they would firmly adhere to it.
Afterwards, on the 10th of December, six of them were offered up, namely Adrian Brael, Lucas Hendricks, Marijn Amare, Nikasen Amare, Hansken Lisz, and Andries Meulenaer, who, boldly comforting one another, said, among other things, "Now the fight is fought, the course almost finished, the faith kept, and henceforth, as Paul says, the crown 9f life .is prepared for us." I Tim: 4:7, 8; Jas. 1:12.
The following day, the llth of December, the other six were put to death, namely, Teunis Keute, Hansken Parmentier, Jan, Jells Outerman, Francijntgen Meulenaers, Maeyken Trams, who.also boldly and joyfully, with ,their lamps, and adorned with their wedding garments, went to meet their. Bridegroom, with such great love that for His sake they did not fear bitter, death. Francij'ntgen called to one of her acquaitances, enjoining her cordially to greet the brethren and sisters in the
Lord, and to tell them that she so gladly suffered for the name of the Lord, and would boldly fight, together with her Bridegroom.
Thus all these, the first as well as the last six, were strangled and burnt for the name of God and His truth. They are now at rest, and wait for the coming of our Lord, who will avenge their sufferings.
As it is found that the wolf will generally follow his innate ravenous nature, and therefore the sheep can make no firm compact with him, but stand in constant danger of being devoured by him, so it appeared in the year 1561 in the city of Ypres, in Flanders, where a God-fearing lamb of Jesus Christ, namely, an old man named Jan Hulle, was seized and apprehended by these devouring wolves. He there had to undergo and endure many severe conflicts with them, not on account of any crime, but only for living according to the Word of God, from which they by tyranny sought to draw him and make him apostatize. But as he, as behooves an obedient follower of Jesus Christ, had yielded himself under the voice of his only Shepherd, he fled from these strangers, and would not hear them. On this account he was condemned to death by the lords of this world, and was thus burnt at said place. In all this he, as a valiant soldier of Jesus Christ, armed himself with patience, and, through faith, steadfastly endured all these sufferings inflicted upon him. And as he herein was not ashamed of Christ and His truth but openly confessed Him before lords and princes, and testified and confirmed it with his death and blood; therefore Christ, when He comes in the clouds of heaven, in the glory of His Father, will not be ashamed of him, but confess him before His Father, and set him on His right hand, and bid him with all the blessed to enter into the kingdom prepared for them from the beginning, that is, into the eternal glory of heaven.
In the year 1562 four brethren, named Pieter van Maldegem, Pieter van Male, Jacques Bostijn, and Lauwerens Allaerts, were apprehended at Ghent, in Flanders, because they no longer sought to follow the Roman church, but the commandments of God. When they were examined, they freely confessed their faith, and valiantly contended for the truth, with the spiritual sword of the Word of God; and as they in no wise could be moved therefrom, they were sentenced to death, and had to testify with their blood to the name'of Christ. They now rest under the altar, and wait until the number of their brethren be fulfilled, that they may be rewarded, and vengeance taken on their enemies.
In the same year there were also apprehended at Ghent three sisters, namely Vijntgen, Goudeken, and Janneken de Jonkheer, and two others, namely, Betgen van Maldegem, and Sijntgen van Gelder. All five freely confessed their faith, and undauntedly adhered to it unto death-which they had to suffer for it-and firmly clung to the love of their Bridegroom Jesus Christ. Hence they shall also, when the cry is made at midnight, go to meet Him with their burning lamps, and with oil in their adorned vessels, and shall, as ready virgins, go in with Him to the marriage of the Lamb.
Shortly after, also an imprisoned brother named Guljame van Dale, who adhered so firmly to the truth and love of God that he feared no pain, suffering, fire or sword, had, for following Christ (whom he thanked that he had made them worthy for it), to taste bitter death, at Ghent. Hence Christ shall exalt him, and give him to inherit His eternal kingdom of heaven full of imperishable joy.
Jelis Strings, a thoughtful young single man, and a man named Pieter Potvliet, with his brother Jelis Potvliet, a young man, all three natives of Tielt, in Flanders, having come to the knowledge of the divine truth, and joined the church of God, finally, after suffering much persecution, took up residence at Wervijck, where they supported themselves by tape weaving. Thus it happened about the middle of the summer of the year 1562, that one night the inquisitor came with many servants, surrounded the house, entered the same, and apprehended these three brethren.
When daylight came, they were put into a wagon, securely bound, the inquisitor and his company riding alongside on horseback. They were thus taken through Meenen to Kortrijck, a distance of about three hours walking, where they remained in confinement for three months, very closely guarded, and had many discussions in reference to the faith, with the inquisitor and other ecclesiastics; but they valiantly and steadfastly adhered to the truth known and accepted. Hence, the inquisitor and the lord of Everbeke (in whose dominion they had been apprehended), and a great company on horseback and on foot, took these pious witnesses of the truth, in a wagon, back the same way, to Werwijck, where, in the marketplace, called the Steenacker, an enclosure had been prepared, together with stakes and wood, to burn them. But as it had rained excessively, while they were on the way between Meenen and Werwijck,
so that the wood and straw, prepared for the purpose, had become very wet, and as the bailiff also was averse to cause them to be burnt, all three were sentenced to be beheaded.
First Jelis Strings was brought forth, who, as he was going to death, said, among other things, "Because I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, born of the Virgin Mary, I' must die." Thereupon a monk, who walked at his side, instantly said, "You lie." Jelis further said, concluding his remark, "And because I believe that the pope is the antichrist." Finally, kneeling down, he' said with a trembling voice, "O heavenly Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." A few moments more, and the executioner had dispatched him, and covered the dead body with wood, that the others who were to follow should not see it lie there.
Pieter Potvliet was next brought forth, who, on his way to death, said, "It has been so before for the name of the Lord." He also quoted, in confirmation of his faith, from Eph. 4:5, that there is one Lord, one faith. one baptism, etc. And having kneeled down, he also exclaimed, "O heavenly Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." The executioner soon wielded his sword, dealing him five strokes, on shoulder, head and neck, before he finished his work on him; whereupon he covered the dead body, as he had done the others.
Jelis Potvliet (still young in years) was the third one brought forth, who, as he was going to death, quoted, among other things, the words of Christ, "Fear not them that kill the body," etc. And kneeling down, he also said, "O heavenly Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit"-but before he had fully uttered the last word, his head was off. Their bodies were placed upon wheels, between Werwijck and Meenen, but soon after secretly taken down and buried by some of their fellow believers.
Of Jelis Strings two letters are still extant, which he wrote while in prison at Kortrijck, and which we have added here for the gratification of the Christian reader.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the.Son of the Father, in truth and in love. May He strengthen and confirm you people, who now have to suffer persecution for a little while, and may He grant you to be strengthened with might in the inner man, and that Jesus Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, and you be rooted and grounded in love, so that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints of God, the height, and depth, and length and breadth of His mercy, and to rightly walk and remain immovable therein unto the end of your life; this we wish you all who love the Lord, for a cordial greeting, dear brethren and sisters in the Lord.
Further, after all greetings, be pleased to know that we are tolerably well yet, the Lord be praised forever for His grace. Pray the Lord for us that He will order it according to His will. We are of pretty good courage, the Lord be praised.
Further, I earnestly pray you, that you will rightly instruct the simple in the faith, concerning all things, and frequently speak of these things in the exhortation, for there is great need of it. They greatly torment those that are imprisoned, when they perceive that they are weak, yea, as much again as them that are sure of their faith. And you that are weak take it well to heart, and be not ashamed to ask questions for the benefit of your souls, until you have a good understanding, before it comes to the test. Take this warning to heart, for it is such a blessed assurance, if one is sure of his faith. For Sirach says, "A man whose heart is established is like a house which is firmly bound and nailed together; it feareth not though a storm arise." Sir. 22:16. Thus, dear friends, let us also build upon Christ Jesus; this must be the foundation, namely, His Word; for Christ Himself says, "He that heareth my word, and doeth it, I will show whom he is like: He is like a man who proceeded to build his house; but he digged deep, and laid the foundation upon the rock: though floods and rains come against it, it remaineth standing, for it is founded upon the rock. But he that heareth my word, and doeth it not, is like unto a foolish man that buildeth his house upon the sand
when the floods come, or the winds blow, it falleth, and great is the fall of it." Matt. 7:24-27. Observe friends, He says, "Great is the fall of it." Hence, dear friends, dig deep, which, according to my understanding, means, to examine and take well to heart, so that we may not be found fools; for James admonishes us to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving our own selves. For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso examineth himself in the law of God, and is a doer of the Word, and not a hearer only, this man shall be blessed. Jas. 1:2225. Yea, Christ Jesus says Himself, "Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." Luke 11:28. ,John also, admonishes us, "Blessed are they that hear the words of the prophets, and keep those things which are written therein."
Behold, dear friends, if we hear His word, and keep it well in our hearts, we are entitled to all these promises of blessedness; for it is the true food of the soul, by which all Christians must be fed, if they are to live; for Christ says that man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Matt. 4:4. Yea, as the prophet Jeremiah says, in the 15th chapter, verse 16, "Lord, thy word sustains me, since I have obtained it; and thy word is the comfort and joy of my heart." Solomon, also, says, "Every
word of God is pure, and they are a shield unto them that put their trust therein.'.' Prov. 30:5. Therefore, dear friends, let us always put our trust in God's Word; it will not deceive us; for John says: These sayings of God are true; heaven and earth shall pass away, but the words of Cod shall not pass away. Rev. 19:9. O dear friends, let us heed it well, for it is what will judge us in the last day; for Christ says, "I shall not judge you; but the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you in the last day." John 12:48. O dear friends, if it is that which will judge us, then we must well examine, and constantly prove ourselves, whether our life. accords with the Word of God; and carefully view ourselves in it as in a mirror, whether there is nothing condemnable in us; and if we find aught in us that is unclean, then let us do according to the counsel of the prophet, who says, "Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." He says, "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Isa. 1:16-20.
Dear brethren and sisters, let us not be disobedient, nor murmur against God, like Israel, who were rejected for it. I Cor. 10:10. If we have heard His voice today, let us not harden our hearts, but let us take care that we do not forsake the promise of entering into His rest, and that none of us be found to remain without; for we have been sufficiently admonished, and invited, as was also Israel; but the Word preached them did not profit them; because they did not firmly believe it. Hebrews 3:7, 6; 4:2. But let us have a steadfast faith, like Joshua and Caleb had, who feared neither the great stature of the Canaanites, nor the strength of their cities, though their walls reached up to heaven. Num. 14:30. Mark, their walls were high, and the inhabitants of the land were like giants; they were only grasshoppers in their sight. But Caleb and Joshua trusted in God, and, said, "God is with us; their defense is taken from them; we shall devour them like bread." Num. 14:9: And by their faith they overcame everything, and entered into the promised land. Joshua 3:17.
Thus, dear friends; also our enemies are great, strong and numerous; but if we have a faith like Caleb and Joshua, so that we do not see our own strength, but go out from ourselves, and rely upon Him with the whole heart, then we shall cone off conquerors; for David says, "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he sball bring it to pass." Ps. 37:5. Solomon, too, says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5,6. Yea, Paul, also, says, "Let.your conversation be without covetousness; and be conten with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man will do unto me." Heb. 13:5, 6; Deut. 31:6. Yea, David says, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. .Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Ps. 23:1-4.
O dear friends, where do we find such a God in Babylon? He says, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee,; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." Yea, He says, "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." Isa. ,43:2; 54:10. Brethren and sisters, if we have such a God, who helps thus in time of need, who are we, that, we should be afraid of men, and of the children of men that must perish like grass. Isa. 51:12. Yea, Christ Himself said, "Fear not them.that kill the body; but fear him that hath power to cast soul and body into damnation." Matt. 10:28. Behold, friends, though the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. II Cor. 1:5. Therefore, let us sincerely humble ourselves, and keep His commandments, and pray before Him with tears, that He will show us mercy according to His pleasure, so that, as we now have to mourn on account of their pride, we may rejoice after this distress, because we do not follow the sins of our fathers, 'who forsook their God, and went after strange gods, wherefore the Lord delivered them into the hands of their enemies.: I Pet. 1:6; Deut. 32:16. Therefore, dear brethren who are elders, comfort the people with your words, and admonish them to remember that our fathers were tried in many, ways, and had to overcome manifold temptations, in order that they might be proved whether they served God with their hearts. Thus, Isaac, Jacob and Moses remained steadfast, and had to overcome much .affliction; but the others, who would not accept affliction, but impatiently murmured against God,were destroyed by the destroyer and by serpents. But let us remember that we are chastised. of God, to make us better, and not for our destruction, and that the punishment is far less.than our sins. For whom the Lord loveth lie chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. But if ye be without chastisement,
whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Hebrews 12:6, 8. Hence, dear friends, let us be patient in this tribulation for a little while; for the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18. But the God of all grace stablish, strengthen and settle us all, this I wish you all for a greeting. I Pet. 5:10.
I, Peter, greet you much, and earnestly desire that you would see to my wife; she hopes to do her best, she told me. We ask you to pray for us, that we may finish our course to the praise of God and the salvation of our souls. We also enjoin you, that if Pauwels has not moved, he would better do so; we advise it for the best. We would write more explicitly, but we fear that the letter might fall into wrong hands. I, Pieter Potvliet, greet you much, and give you a testament. Continue steadfast and immovable in the work of the Lord; see that your labor be not in vain. I commend you to God. By me, JELIS STRINGS.
Grace, mercy and peace from God the heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and in love. May He stablish, strengthen and settle you who have to suffer for a little while for Christ's sake; and many He grant you, according to the riches of His glory and power, to be strengthened with might in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, and you be rooted and grounded in love, so that you may all be bound together with the bond of love, and thus, through the uniting of the Holy Spirit, and obedience to the Lord, according to the Gospel, be built up together harmoniously a holy temple and city of God; this I wish you all who love the Lord, for a cordial greeting, dear brethren and sisters in the Lord.
Further, after all greeting, I hope to write a little again concerning the disputation we had with our adversaries, though it is not very much; for when we were apprehended, we resolved among ourselves, not to dispute, unless we might all come together, which was also observed, so that they should have nothing to lie behind our back, and that if they should hear a word more from one than from another they might not confuse the simple. On account of this they were much incensed; and said that they all depended on me. They often came to dispute; but we would not, unless we might all come together, and in the marketplace. This angered them much, and they said, "Where was it ever seen that a disputation was held in the marketplace? You people want to introduce new doctrines." Finally, we consented that we would dispute in prison, provided we might all come together; but they would not have it otherwise than each separately, and this we would not do. Thus they came twice or three times, and we had some conversation with them each time, in order that they might not say that we refused to hear them. Our conversation was about the three persons and the incarnation. The first question he put to me was whether I did not believe that if men believed in Christ Jesus, and henceforth forsook all evil they would be saved. I said, "Yes; all who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who died for us, and through this faith show obedience to the Gospel, shall be saved.""Well then," said they,"If they believe that children may be baptized, they will be saved, according to your own words." I said, "My lord, it seems to me, that you are like the scribes; they sought to censure Christ by subtlety, and it appears to me that you do the same." Matt. 22:1 5."Yes," said he;"Christ knew how to answer the scribes, and so will you, if you have the Spirit of Christ." I said, "If they show obedience to the Gospel, they will not baptize children, nor cause them to be baptized; for it is not instituted or commanded of God, to baptize children; but you people have planted it, and whatever men have planted shall be rooted up of God, and thus it will go with your infant baptism." Matt. 15:13. He forthwith said that the Anabaptists believed that Christ brought His flesh from heaven. I said that it was a lie;"are you not ashamed (I said) to sit here and lie in this manner in my presence?" He said, "What you believe, I know not; but others believe thus." I said that it was a lie;"I have never heard," I said,"of any that held such a faith; yet I have had more intercourse with them than you have; are you not ashamed to sit here and lie thus in my preesnce?" Then he became very boastful; three or four other priests and the bailiff were also sitting there, and they said, "Jelis, talk decently." I said, "Then do not lie so." I spoke loudly, that my comrades should hear it.
He then asked, "What is your faith, then?""I believe with all the apostles, that He is the Son of God, as Peter confessed" (Matt. 16:16; John 20; 6:69),"visible and invisible; that the Word by which all things were made became flesh in Mary, through the power of the Most High." He asked whether the Word became flesh like Lot's wife became a pillar of salt, or the water, wine. I said, "No." He asked, "How then?" I said, "It became man, and it continued to be the Word; that is, the Word which was invisible became visible; that which was impalpable became palpable; that which was impossible became possible." He said, "Was the Word not God?" I replied, "It is God and man.""Did God die?" he said. I replied, "He died according to His humanity, as Peter says
'put to death according to the flesh, but quickened according to the spirit.'" I Pet. 3:18.
I then asked him, how he confessed the unity. He confessed three persons and one God. I asked whether the Holy Ghost were a person. He said, "Yes." I said, "When Mary was greeted by the angel, that she should conceive, and she did not know how this should come to pass, as she had
never known a man, the angel said: 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee.' Luke 1:26. Now, if the Holy Ghost is a person, then one person conceived another. And in the Acts of the Apostles it is written that when the apostles received the Holy Ghost, He sat upon each of them. Acts 2:3. But a person can sit only upon one man. And in the first chapter (v. 7) of the Book of Wisdom it is written that the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world. To what person would you compare Him?" He did not know what to say. He then said, "I do not consider them persons such as Pieter, Klaes, and Jan." I said, "To whom then do you compare them?" They then exchanged a few words in Latin, and said, "We only call them persons: did you think that we considered them three human beings?" I said, "Yes." He said, "If you have taught men so, you must confess that you have slandered us, and that you are a false teacher." I said, "I am no teacher; I have enough to do to teach myself." I added, "You call them persons; are they not such? Why then do you call them three persons?" He said, "It amounts to the same thing." I said, "It does not; a person is a human being, and you certainly cannot compare them to human beings." Then he said;"God the Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Father; the Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son. And these are three; the one is what the other is not, and though they are three, yet are they but one God." I said, "This is also my faith, and in accordance with it I know but one person, that is Jesus Christ, who was visible and palpable; but the others I do not know what to compare them to." On this point we agreed, and he let go his persons. He then asked again whether God had died. I said, "You have sat here and acknowledged to me that you do not consider the Word to be the Father, nor the Father to be the Word, though they, according to the Godhead, are one God; but you regard them as three witnesses; and two of these witnesses did not become man, but the Word, by which all things were made, became flesh, as John says in the first chapter [of his Gospel]. Although this Word became man, it therefore does not cease to be one God with the Father; else it could not be God and man."
Then he said: -"Jelis, you err." And they adduced Rom. 1:3 in their Testament where it read"Who became of the seed of David according to the flesh, is declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit." I said that in rendering it became they had mistranslated the word; that it ought to read: born of the seed of David. "Go," I said,"and examine the Testaments which you had printed thirty or thirty-six years ago, see whether in them it reads thus. I have read it therein: born, as it ought to be; but you have now caused it to be altered thus, to deceive the simple hearts." This made them very angry. I then said"Say it as it ought to be: born; for a woman can certainly not make a child." Then he said, "Be came or assumed is the same thing; as it is written 'He took not on him (the nature of) angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham."' Heb. 2:16. I said, "This also is changed; it ought to read: 'He receiveth not angels; but he receiveth the seed of Abraham as his children; and believers are counted for the seed' (Rom. 9:8); for Paul says (I Cor. 11:8), that the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man." They said, "This is spoken of Adam and Eve." I said, "Here God has plainly shown that the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man, which is in direct opposition to your belief. Paul speaks still more fully on generation; for he says: 'As the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.' v. 12. This certainly has reference to generation, for Adam was not by Eve." He said that it had to be understood so. I said, "I do not understand it so." We had many more words yet concerning the promises; but I have not the space to write it.
All these words I had with the parish priest of St. Martins, a very crafty customer, craftier than any one I ever heard; all the others are as nothing compared to him. Written in haste, in the dark, with ink made of coals; bear patiently with it. The day before we were delivered to the secular lords, we were brought before the Dean of. Ronse. He asked us whether we had come to a determination. I said, "I am always determined to eschew evil, and to do that which is good, as far as I know." There were three or four judges present, and the under-bailiff. He said it was great arrogance that I pretended to be wiser than all the world; there were Ambrose and Augustine, and other holy men
and they understood it so. I said, "I do not pretend to know anything; but I know the faith to be the truth, and herein I want to abide." Farewell; I commend you to God.
Your weak brother in the Lord,