Hands were now laid in the Hague, on the beloved friends of the Lord, so that they did not hesitate to deprive them of their lives with flaming fire.
This became apparent in the case of two very pious and God-fearing men, one of whom was named Jan Thielemans, the other job Jans. To both of them, at that place, because they faithfully adhered to the Lord their God, and could by no torture be moved from the steadfastness of their faith, their sentence of death was read in court, namely, that, in pursuance with the decrees of the Emperor, and the King of Spain (who called himself Count of Holland), they should be put to death with fire as heretics; which was executed on the 18th of December, A. D. 1568, on both of them, after they had committed their souls into the hands of God.
We have this year, 1659, on this occasion, through some of our friends in the Hague, requested by way of authenticated copy, the use of the proceedings of the court, from the criminal records of the year 1568, but especially of the death sentences of the aforementioned martyrs (as recorded by the papists), which, as appears, are still extant in the original; but as A. D. 1648 peace was made with Spain, with condition of forgiving each other all previous wrongs, and consequently, to mention them no more, the actuary was afraid to make out a copy of these particulars, as well as concerning others of our fellow believers that were put to death during the papistical reign, fearing it might tend to their reproach, and prove detrimental to the peace concluded.
This aim of the actuary was not bad, since it springs from carefulness in regard to a matter of great importance; but in the meantime these holy martyrs must suffer abridgement, since their matters, which otherwise necessarily (even out of the mouth of their adversaries, might be made known to every one), must thereby remain hid. This by way of notice.
I wish you, my dear friends, grace and peace from God the heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ His dear Son our Lord, as a friendly greeting. Amen.
Further, after all good and proper greetings that are Christian-like, I, in my unworthiness, have felt greatly prompted in my spirit, to write you something yet, since I cannot orally converse with you all; seeing I had laid the first foundation in some of you (I Cor. 3:10), and, according to my humble
gift, withheld nothing from you, and though I am now removed from you, I have nevertheless, because of the great love which we in great fellowship and peace have mutually had, remembered you in my last adieu with a little draught out of my rivulet, from which I have poured out for you; yet not I, but the grace of God through me. For thus it is written,. Gen. 17, that God spake to our father Abraham, saying, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me, and thee, and wi11 multiply thee accordingly, so that kings shall come out of thee. And I will give unto thy seed the land of Canaan for an inheritance. And this is my covenant which I will make with you: Every man-child ye shall circumcise." Thus Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness
and he was called the Friend of God: James 2:23. So God then gave Abraham a son; who was called Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs envied Joseph, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. The Ishmaelites sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and he found favor in the sight of king Pharaoh, and became governor over the land of Egypt. And it happened that there came a dearth over Egypt, so that Jacob and his sons found no sustenance. And they heard that corn was sold in Egypt. Hence Jacob sent out his sons the first time; and the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. And Joseph sent for his father Jacob. And Jacob went down into Egypt, and with him threescore and fifteen souls; and he dwelt in Egypt, and he and his sons died there. Acts 7:4, etc.
Now when the people began to multiply, there arose another king, who oppressed the people of Israel, and commanded that the young children should be cast away. Mark well, my good friends, how did the children of Israel get into this distress, great misery and sorrow, on account of which they lamented and groaned to God? who had brought them into this? It was their father Jacob that had done it; yet with God Almighty the promise remained as firm as ever, which He had made to our father Abraham, namely, that his seed should inherit the land of Canaan; but now they were in great affliction. Now, what did all. those inherit that were born there? the good and faithful land of promise? No, but they inherited bondage under the cruel King Pharaoh, and still found themselves in the land of Egypt; this is certainly the truth.
Consider now this age of the world, and those who are at the present day born unto the world; if they ascertain it from the Scriptures, who brought them into the world? Adam their father. So they now still find themselves in the spiritual dark Egypt, under Pharaoh, the devil. Mark now, my good friends, what they inherit, and how they boast in vain. They, inherit a naked body when they are born, without raiment and food; for if hey inherited raiment and food, there would not so many people go naked and suffer.hunger. But now excellent and thankworthy gifts are proffered by the Lord. But if we will not use these excellent means according to the rule and truth of Christ, in order to get to the spiritual promised land, we must remain without; even as there are many who do not use the means for obtaining food and clothing, and must therefore go without them, suffer cold and hunger: thus, my good friends, it will also go with all those who here vainly boast of the kingdom of God.
I will now return to my previous theme. Consider now Israel, who were dwelling in Egypt; they began greatly to multiply, and wax mighty, and numbered six hundred thousand men. This great power was nevertheless beaten and compelled to labor by King Pharaoh. They groaned and complained, and though there was such a great multitude of them, yet it was not possible for them to get out of the country, and enter into the land of which they were to be heirs, as God had promised Abraham. Thus, also, my friends, it is impossible for man to, get out of spiritual Egypt, and to be delivered from. King Pharaoh, namely, the devil, in order to enter into the spiritual country, namely, the kingdom of God; for men universally inherit a depraved.nature, and in accordance with it they act, and live after the flesh, wherefore they die, and do not inherit the kingdom of God. Now, my dear friends, when they were thus in Egypt, and had dwelt there four hundred and thirty years, and complained, groaned and sighed, it came before the Lord. And the Lord God Almighty remembered Ibis covenant which He had firmly made with our Father Abraham, and God raised up and chose a man named Moses. Behold, my good friends, through this man God intended to deliver all the people, and He did many wonderful signs and mighty works before the king of Egypt, as we may read. Finally this Moses brought them out by the mighty hand of God; but before they left the country, Moses went many times to Pharaoh and said, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may serve me." But Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord, that I should let the people go? I will not let the people go." Now, even as the people that were in Egypt could not serve the Lord, unless they left Egypt and journeyed towards the promised land, so can now those likewise riot serve the Lord, who are in the spiritual Egypt; for one cannot serve two masters at once; one must leave Pharaoh and Egypt; for Pharaoh dwells in Egypt, but the Lord God dwells in the spiritual promised land. My kind friends can now easily perceive that it is the truth what I write, that one must leave the spiritual Egypt, even as Moses by the mighty hand of God delivered the people out of Egypt, from which they went out in one day, and came to the sea, whither Pharaoh with his servants pursued them, thinking that they could not escape out of the country. But little did they know that
the Lord was with the children of Israel; for Pharaoh thought to smite them. But the Lord divided the sea, so that the waters stood like walls. And thus Moses and the people of God passed through, but Pharaoh with all his servants remained in the sea, so that not one of them escaped to go and tell the tale in Egypt. Thus also, my dearest, when men want to serve God, then they forsake Egypt and Pharaoh, and when Pharaoh sees this, he bestirs him with his servants. But the spiritual Moses has gone before his people, and helps them through the sea, namely, through the wilderness of this world, and Pharaoh and his servants diligently pursue to the end, which is death.
Furthermore, my friends, when Moses had now succeeded in bringing them across the sea, they saw their pursuers drown before their eyes. Then they rejoiced greatly, and with songs thanked God, who had so mightily helped them. They were, however, not yet in the promised land, but on the way to the same. And Moses their leader went before them, and brought them to Mount Sinai; and he, the faithful servant of the Lord, went up into the mount and there received the law of the Lord, which was written with the finger of God in two tables of stone. When Moses had received these two tables of stone from the hand of the Lord, to lay them before the people, that they should do according to them, for now the service of the Lord commenced; and as yet they had received no ordinance from God, save circumcision; hence, if they were now to serve God, they must also have the commandments, the Lord said to Moses, "Go, get thee down from the mount; for the people have corrupted themselves." Ex. 32:7. Now when Moses went down from the mount, and saw the people dancing around the calf, rejoicing in the work of their hands, he cast down the two tables of stone and brake them beneath the mount, and with a grieved heart addressed Aaron, saying, "What hast thou done, that thou hast brought this people to so great a sin?" Aaron excused himself before Moses, and said, "My lord, thou knowest that this people is a stiffnecked people. They fell upon me and I demanded of them their golden earrings, and other gold; and I received it from their hands, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and hence this calf came." Moses took the calf, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. And Moses addressed the Levites, and said to them, "Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor." And there fell three thousand men. Behold now, my dear kind friends, these three thousand had left Egypt and Pharaoh, and were gone out of it, in order that they should possess the goodly land; now if they had boasted themselves of the goodly land (promised by God to Abraham and his seed), would it not have been vain boasting? Certainly.
And Korah, Dathan and Abiram, with two hundred and fifty others, who offered incense before the Lord, perished from the multitude, together with fourteen thousand and seven hundred that murmured against Moses, and said, "Ye have killed the. people of the Lord." Num. 16.
See, my good friends, they claimed to be the people of God, though they were not it; and again, Moses the faithful servant of the Lord was said to have done it, though it was not he, but their own sins that did it. And if the truth had been told, it would also have been so said; but the truth is also now at the present day often perverted, and things are asserted to be true when they are not. Again, if the twenty-four thousand whoremongers (Numbers 25:1), together with three thousand more and many others, who all perished in the wilderness because of their sins and transgressions, had all greatly boasted themselves of the goodly land, would this not have been vain boasting? Certainly. Hence, it is vain to boast of one's self; but to boast according to the truth is right. For Moses said to them, "Hear, O Israel: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy might. These words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy doors; talk of them when thou walkest by the way with thy children; and let them be for a memorial in thine hand." Deut. 6:4, etc. Thus Moses strictly exhorted the people, and most diligently presented the law of the Lord to them; and the people said, "Yea, but did not do it."
Hence, my good friends, take heed, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief [in departing from the living God]. But exhort one another daily while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For ye are made partakers of Christ, if ye hold the beginning of your confidence steadfast unto the end. Therefore, today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, when He was grieved forty years with that generation, and sware in His wrath, that they should not enter into His rest. Heb. 3. Therefore, my good friends, let us give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? 2:1-3. Let us therefore fear the Lord, that we may enter into His rest, and that none of us remain without. For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them. 4:1, 2. Thus, my good friends, it does not profit to hear the word of God, if it is not mixed with faith; for unto them that believe, as the Scripture says, the kingdom of God is promised by the mouth of Jesus. Hence let us not neglect the grace of God, who says, "I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold,
now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation"-which is neglected by many. Hebrews 12:15; II Cor. 6:1, 2.
Therefore let us in all things approve ourselves as the ministers of God, serving Him all the days of our lives in holiness and righteousness, which are acceptable before Him. Hence I say with Paul, "Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; that ye stumble not, as do the lame; but make straight paths for your feet; for I fear that there are now many lame, and many hands which hang down. Therefore follow peace and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews 12:12, 13. I beseech you therefore, my good friends, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Rom. 12:1, 2. Hence, remember the words which were formerly spoken to you in the name of the Lord, "Therefore abide in that which you have heard from the beginning. If you abide in that which you have heard from the beginning, you shall continue in the Father and in the Son. And this is his promise, even eternal life." I John 2: 24, 25. For we have a sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the daystar arise in your hearts. II Pet. 1:19.
My dear friends, what a dark place it was formerly with you, when the light was hid from you; and what dark places there are still; but you have obtained mercy. Hence Jesus Christ says in the Gospel, "I am come a light into the world, that whosover believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting." Jno. 12:4650.
Hence it is our concern that we through the cordial grace of our Lord Jesus Christ may receive the same at His hand; for the Lord also is concerned to have a.people that fear and love Him. And this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous, to them that love Him. I John 5:3. Therefore, the law of commandments is good, and will abide forever; he that receives it, shall obtain life; but he that receives it not shall obtain death.
Hence, my friends, be mindful of the Lord our God all your days, and let not your will be set to sin, or to transgress the commandments of the Lord our God (Tob. 4:5); for He has commanded the people to come, charging them, when they came, what they should do, that they might live; and what they should observe, that they might not be tormented. But they have rejected His laws; therefore they shall also be in great misery, who have abused His ways. Though He gave them an appointed time, they understood it not, to show repentance; and must therefore know it after death in torment. II Esd. 9:9. For, for this cause was the gospel' preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. I Pet. 4:6. Therefore, the hour is now come, that the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God
and they that hear shall live. And there shall an hour come, when the dead that are in the grave shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have done good shall rise unto life eternal; and they that have done evil shall rise also, however, not unto life, but unto damnation. John 5: 25, etc. Hence, my good friends, look to yourselves, that you lose not those things which you have wrought, but that you may receive a full reward. For whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. But he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. II John 8, 9."Ye are of God, little children, [and have overcome them:] because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us." I John 4: 4-6.
Thus, my good friends, I have written you a little, and now begin to draw to a close with my letter; for we have little time for writing, since there are so many people coming and going. Openly I dare not write; so that I sometimes can scarcely write a line in solitude. Hence excuse me, in case there be any blunders. Thus, my dear friends, I have written you a little, because I felt prompted in my mind to do this, and could find no rest.
Herewith I will commend you to the Lord, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. And remember me, your poor unworthy brother, in your prayers, that I may finish this to the praise of the Lord, and to your confirmation; so that my soul may find rest with the Lord; for I, in my insignificance and unworthiness, do not forget you here, where I also entreat the Lord. Furthermore, I greet you all especially much with the salutation of our dear Lord Jesus Christ when He, having been removed by wicked men from His disciples, for a little while, returned to them (as they sat with doors closed) and said, "Peace be unto you all." John 20:19. Thus I also say: Have peace with one another, and the Lord will be with you. II Cor. 13:11.
I wish you, my much beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord, and all those who shall see my letters, or hear them read, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the communion of the Holy Ghost, for a friendly and worthy greeting. Accept it in love. Amen.
After good and proper greetings, I undertake to write a little to you, my beloved, dear friends. I beseech you all by the mercies of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, that you would all diligently take heed to yourselves* In all love, peace and truth, according to the words of the Gospel, while, dear children, you still have time from. the Lord, through His great love shown you; since the time is so precious, for when it is past, and one has not taken good heed, it is lamented with sorrow. Hence Paul says, "Let us take heed to ourselves to provoke to love in good works." Therefore let us be the least, meanest, and lowliest, to bear all that is consistent with love and truth. For thus said Christ Jesus, the eternal truth, Himself; when the disciples asked who should be the greatest among them, He took a child, and set it In the midst:of them, and said, "Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdomof heaven." Matt. 18:3. Hence we may well perceive from the words of Christ, that we are to be, and must be, a prepared people; or we are not what we think ourselves to be, or, for what people take us.
Hence, my much beloved friends, we must approve ourselves in all things as the ministers of God. Now, no more is required in them, than that they be found faithful; for God is not unrighteous to forget your love, and your good and kind works. I Cor. 4:1, 2; Heb. 6:10. Therefore be steadfast, and immovable in the work of the Lord, always knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord;
hoping by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that it will yet be most richly rewarded to you, when He will say, "Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom of my Father." I Cor. 15:58; Matt. 25:34. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Matt. 13:43. Then shall it be seen what difference there shall be .between the righteous and the wicked, and between, them that have served God, and them that have not served Him. Mal. 3:18.
Therefore, my greatly beloved in the Lord, take diligent heed to yourselves. Rather- suffer from another-even though it should be one friend from another-than that another should suffer from you. Rather bear from another-even though it should be a friend-if it be consistent with the truth, than that a friend should suffer from you. Hence it is written, "If thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation." Sir. 2:1. For it will come very convenient even if one has put himself in the lowest place.
Hence, beloved friends in the Lord, abide in that which you have heard from-the beginning. If you abide in it, you shall continue in the Father, and in the Son. And this is His promise, even eternal life. I John 2:24, 25. What do we care for the world, or for what there is in it; for the world shall pass away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. And it is certainly our, chief concern to be saved; as Peter says, Acts 15:11, "We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved." Even as he says also in another place, "I have briefly written to you, by our brother Silvanus, namely, that this is the grace of God wherein ye now stand. Therefore hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown." Rev. 3:11. If you overcome, you shall inherit all things. Hence add to your faith, virtue; to virtue, knowledge; to knowledge, temperance; to temperance, patience; to patience, godliness; to godliness, brotherly kindness; to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall, be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. II Pet. 1:5-11. Having therefore such great and glorious promises, dearly beloved, let its cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness. II Cor. 7:1. As .John also testifies, saying, "Let us purify ourselves from sin, even as he is pure. For whosoever comrriitteth sin doeth wrong; for sin is wrong. Therefore came he into the world, that he might take away sin; for in him is no sin. Whosoever siiineth hath not seen him, neither known him." I John 3:3-6. The same John further testifies, and says, "Ye are of God, little children, [and have overcome them:] because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; but he that knoweth not God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." I John 4:4-6. With this Christ agrees, saying, "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that, the works thereof are evil." John 7:7. As He further says in another place, "Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou bast given me: thine they were, and thou gayest them me. Not, Father, that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep
* The reader will observe that this rendering of the passage, alluded to here (Heb. 10:24), does not fully coincide with the one found in the English version of the Bible; which may be attributed either to the authors having used an imperfect translation, or, to an error on his part, in quoting said passage from memory.-Trans.
** See preceding foot note.
them from the evil." John 17:11. In another place Christ says, "Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." 3:20.
Thus, my much beloved friends, while we are yet in this sad world, and the Lord still grants us time, we must take most diligent heed to the word of the Lord, and do our very best to follow the same; for thus Paul teaches us, saying, "As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy." Gal. 6:16. For thus we read in another place, "This people doth not understand, neither lay they to heart, that the grace and mercy of God are over his chosen and over his saints;" even as Moses says, that His mercy is shown to thousands of them that love Him, and keep His commandments. Ex. 20:6. True, there are many in the world, who say that they love the Lord; but they do not show it by their works, for their works show well enough whom they love; for Christ says, "He that loveth me will keep my word, or obey my commandments." These are they who can stand before Him; for thus also says Christ, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." John 14:21. But he that does not keep His commandments, does also not love Him; for John in his epistle declares, "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh . the world, but he that believeth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." I John 5:3-5. Therefore"love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, namely, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth .away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." I John 2:15-17. Hence, my much beloved friends, be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable will of God. Rom. 12:2. Even as Paul says also in another place, "Grace be to you, and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world." Galatians 1:3, 4. Thus, my dear friends, this grace has been given you, namely, that you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, to whom you are come as unto a living stone, which was disallowed of men, but before God was chosen and precious. Therefore, be ye built up a spiritual house, and a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through our Lord Jesus Christ; that you may lift up holy hands to the Lord, without strife and discord (I Tim. 2:8), and make intercession and give thanks for all men; and the Lord of peace shall be with you. II Cor. 13:11. But if God be with you, who shall be against you, who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all? Who shall lay anything to the charge of His elect? It is God that justifieth them. Who shall condemn them? It is Christ that died and is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, and also maketh intercession for us. Hence Paul says, "Who shall be able to separate us from the love of God? tribulation, or persecution, or death," etc. Rom. 8:31.
Thus, my much beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord, I will shorten my simple letter which I have written in bonds, in which we daily look for the redemption of our bodies. Hence receive this letter kindly, and think of what has in times past proceeded forth from my unworthy lips (not I, but the grace of God through me, I Cor. 15:10).
Herewith I bid you an eternal, Christian adieu, and expect you all in the second resurrection, that we may meet Him in the air, and ever be with the Lord. Comfort one another with these words. I Thess. 4:17, 18. Once more I bid you adieu, my dear friends. Herewith I commend you to the Lord, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Amen. Acts 20:32.
Written in bonds, by me, JAN THIELEMANS,
Your weak brother in Christ.