In the year of our Lord 1572, the lords of justice at Dortrecht in Holland, laid their hands on two very meek and dear friends Of God, who followed their Saviour, the slain Lamb of the cross, Jesus Christ, and were not of the.least of the membersof the church of the Lord scattered abroad in all countries, in showing forth, as lights in this world, their eminent virtues among this evil and perverse generation. They were both taken out of the fold like lambs for the slaughter, the circumstances being as follows
First, Adriaenken Jans' daughter was suddenly apprehended. She resided at blolenaersgraef, in the Papendrecht district; which was under the jurisdiction of the city of Dortrecht, and because she was said to be a heretic, she was seized and imprisoned in the Vuylpoort.
After that the plan was formed to capture Jan Wouterss van Kuyck, who resided in the city, but frequently changed his abode, so as not to be so easily recognized. To this end, the bailiff, having learned where he resided (namely, in the street leading to the Rietdijck, near the New Gate, in a room which was reached from the street by a flight of stairs), came with his beadles and unexpectedly, and without asking anything, ascended the stairs, where Jan Wouterss met him just as he opened the door. The bailiff said, since he did not know him, "Does Jan van Kuyck reside here?" to which this good, upright and very sincere man, not willing to speak contrary to the truth, answered yes, adding that it was he himself.
These words he spoke very loudly, in order that his dear wife, who was back in the room, should hear it and flee, which she did: his only daughter, however, a child of only about seven years, remained in the room and saw her father apprehended, to which no attention was paid. The ministers of justice immediately laid their hands upon this friend of God, and forcibly bound him, whereupon he said, "O my lords, how you bind me, as though I were a wicked man; however, you bind not me, but yourselves." Then a great lamentation arose among them; however, they proceeded, and led him, as a defenseless lamb that is overcome by wolves, from the Rietdijck to the Vuylpoort, about half an hour's walk through the city, where they put him into another cell than the one in which Adriaenken Jans was confined, though within the same walls and under the same roof of said prison.
In the meantime both had to suffer much temptation, according to the body as well as in regard to the soul; several times they were severely tortured, stripped, and scourged, so that almost the entire city spoke about their sufferings and misery, as Jan Wouterss subsequently also indicated in one of his letters.
The papist clergy also assailed them much according to the soul, in order to deprive them, by many wiles and snares, of the treasure of a true faith; but they were not able to accomplish anything with either of them; hence they [the two martyrs], were finally sentenced to death in ~~pen court, to be executed with fire, on the water front of the city, near a certain lime kiln, where now the new fortification is, between the mill that stands upon the bastion, and the rampart; however, with
the condition, that Adriaenken Jans should not really die by fire, but should prior to her burning be strangled at the stake, which lesser penalty of death we do not find to have been executed on Jan Wouterss.
In the meantime both prepared themselves for death with great desire and inward joy, unable sufficiently to praise God that they had been counted worthy to deliver up their bodies as a sacrifice for His holy name's sake.
When the hour of their departure had come, both were tied together; however, they fell upon their knees, and quietly offered up, before they were led forth, an earnest prayer to God the Lord, that He would strengthen them in their impending suffering, to persevere unto the end.
Thereupon their mouths (for fear that they should speak something to the people), were gagged with a piece of wood, or some other instrument made for this purpose, and they were thus led from the prison which presented a pitiful sight. Jan Wouterss, however, pulled out the piece of wood, or instrument, with one hand, which it appears was not bound, and cried with a loud voice, "O Lord, strengthen Thy feeble servant: and Thy poor handmaiden. It is for Thy name's sake that we have come to this for which we have willingly prepared ourselves."
When he had said this, one of his fellow believers, whose heart, as it seems, had been set aflame hereby mightily pressed his way through the people, and coming before him, said, "Strive valiantly, dear brother, you will suffer no more hereafter."
Thereupon Jan Wouterss instantly pulled open his jacket and showed him his breast bloody from the scourging inflicted upon him in prison and said, "I already bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus;" and he lifted up his eyes to heaven, looking longingly as it were to the heavenly resting place.
In the meanwhile, before all this was properly noticed, because of the surging crowd, said person went out of sight and disappeared among the people; whereupon some of the servants of justice murmured and sternly asked, where this man was. This occurred near the swine market, close by the New Haven.
They went on and soon arrived at the place of execution, where two stakes stood erected near,
and around which an innumerable multitude was gathered.
Having arrived there, they ascended the height, or erected scaffold, where they on their knees again quietly prayed to God, though Jan Wouterss only was able to speak, since the mouth of Adriaenken Jans was well gagged with the previously mentioned piece of wood, or instrument.
When they had risen, preparations were first made to strangle Adriaenken Jans, whereupon she placed herself at the stake.
Then Jan Wouterss said, "This is the day of salvation." But the underbailiff, hearing this, sternly cried, "Be silent." Thereupon Jan Wouterss said, "Why should I keep silent; I certainly speak nothing that is evil."
In the meantime Adriaenken Jans was strangled, who, according to the testimony of those who witnessed it, previous to her burning, remained standing at the stake a little while, dressed in a red petticoat.
The servants of justice then turned to Jan Wouterss, who cheerfully, yea, with a smiling countenance, placed himself at the other stake, which stood close by, where he while being fastened to it, noticed that some of his fellow believers stood among the people, to see his end; to whom, without naming any one, he cried aloud, "Adieu and farewell, my dear brethren and sisters, I will herewith commend you to the Lord, to the Lord who shed His blood for us." With this he made haste and prepared himself for death, commending his soul to God in these words, "O God, who art my strength, I commend my spirit into Thy hands."
Then fire was set to the wood piled around him, and this friend of God was burned alive, as it appears, with his dead sister, to the great sorrow of many that stood around and were filled with commiseration at the sight of it.
This was the end of these two dear favorites of the Lord, of whom no one spake any evil (touching their life), but whom every one praised on account of their virtuous walk.
When said two persons were led forth to death, the hall bell was rung (as was generally done at executions that took place in the name of the city), in consequence of which a great concourse of the common people gathered to the place of execution.
The gates of the city were closed, or at least guarded, that no one could get out or in, except with the consent of those who kept watch there, and their names were written down after they had stated whence they came, and whither they were bound.
When they had arrived at the place of execution, which was on the northwest side of the city, close by the water's edge, and had ascended the height,or scaffold, some among the bystanders called to these two valiant persons with a good intention, and comforted them, because of their courage, in their impending death. Jan Wouterss turned to them and exhorted them to amend their life, and to accept the true faith, declaring that they both were of good cheer and longed for this holy sacrifice.
Thereupon he was harshly reproved by the underbailiff, which displeased many, notwithstanding they had not attained to the true enlightenment.
Both of them were then stripped of their upper garments and also of their shoes, which were thrown among the common people, but picked up and taken away by a certain brother named Dirck Wouterss.
Forthwith Adriaenken Jans was first placed at the stake, and strangled without delay, seeing which and recognizing her, a certain sister of the church, whose name is well known, and who had come in the market boat from Rotterdam, fainted away, and was therefore not able to witness the subsequent death of Jan Wouterss.
This took place as already stated. In the meantime the hall bell was still rung, until about the time that the (so-called) justice was finished.
oTE.-We went to no little trouble to obtain at the archives of this city of Dortrecht, the old records of their examinations and death sentences, but were not able to procure them, as they are no longer extant; they were also, as it appears, never put on record in the ordinary's book of criminal sentences, which we searched for this purpose. It is our opinion that these sentences were simply put on loose sheets of paper and thus read in court and then destroyed, so that no remembrance of it should remain, as it seemed that the city should soon change her government and religion, as actually took place about three months afterwards, through the arrival of William I, Prince of Orange.
evertheless, we are not without other legal testimony in regard to this matter.
Johan van Beverwijck, first physician and judge of the city of Dortrecht, writes concerning it, in the history attached to his description of Dortrecht, in the Dort edition, p. 348, for the year 1572, as follows, "In the city proper there was imprisoned, accused as a heretic, a man of blameless life and conversation, as I learned from those with whom he resided, by the name of Jan van Kuyck Wouterss, a skllful writer upon glass and painter., "The authorities, seeing the disposition of the people, were not in haste with his trial; yea, the bailiff, Jan van Drenckwaert Boudewijnss, who was still young and beardless, had himself painted by him, in the attitude of Solomon, where he pronounces his first sentence., "But the monks did nothing but vehemently preach against this slackness, and hesitated not to proclaim from the pulpit, that the bailiff had apprehended him merely. to have himself painted by him.
Hence the account of the death of these persons is certain and reliable, nor is it doubted by any one that we have ever heard here in this city; the welldisposed will therefore be satisfied therewith.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. II Cor. 4:17.
Jan van Drenckwaert Boudewijnss, aged between twenty-nine and thirty years, being then bailiff of Dortrecht.
Arent van der Mijle Sir Corneliss, burgomaster of the community, who had gone out of office about the close of the year 1570, but had now, the 6th of March, been re-elected.
Together with (according to the law of said city) nine judges: Cornelis Sir Hendricks; Adriaen van Mosyenbroeck Sir Govertss; Adriaen Koninck Dirckss; Arent Hendricks; Gijsbrecht Janss, treasurer; Michiel van Beveren Sir Pieterss; Mr. Jan van Muylwijck Sir Franss; Pieter Kool Sir Huygenss; Damas Sir Wouterss, surrogated by Jan Adriaenss.
There we have extracted from the register of the lords of justice of the city of Dortrecht, who reigned in the year 1572, according to the account of the aforesaid Johan van Beverwijck, in the book referred to, where he treats of the government of the city, for the year 1572.
But whether they all together concurred in this sentence, or only some of them, by a majority of votes among them, is not expressed, nor do we consider it of much importance to know, since it is sufficient for our improvement and edification to have learned the unwavering faith and steadfast death of the aforesaid martyrs, who died under their reign.
Concerning the death of these friends two hymns were composed at that time, in the first of which the following words among others were sung, touching the cause and time of their imprisonment
Terstond daer yaa zijn Brieven gekomen,
Te Dordrecht aen den. nieuwen Schout,
Die seer jonk is van jaren, etc.
Right after, letters came
To the new Bailiff at Dortrecht,
Who is very young of years, etc.
In the other this is sung concerning,their death:
Adriaenken Jans is eerst omgebrocht,
't Welck Schout Jan Drenkwaert heeft versocht.
First Adriaenken Jans was put to death
Who requested the bailiff Drenkwaert.
Java Wouterss sprak, met goed bescheyd,
Dit is den dag der saligheyd.
Swygt, sprak den Underschout.
Waerom soude ik (seyde hy) 'tspreeken laten,
Myn woorden zijn niet quaed, noeh stout.
Adriaenken look haer oogen voorwaer,
Om haren Bruydegom to behagen klaer;
Die rust nu in den Heer,
En is de pyn van den brand ontgaen,
Aileen door sijn genade meer.
Jan Woutersz heeft hem aen den pael garecht,
Doen lachre by [van vreugd] als een vroom knecht,
En beval soo God
Synen geest in Syne handen,*
Die was sijn Toevlucht, Borgt, en Slot.
Oorlof heeft by geroepen aldaer,
Aen Broeders en Susters in't openbaer,
Met woorden soet,
U wil ik den Heer bevelen,
Die voor ons heeft gestort sijn bloed.
Dees twee schaepkens zijn door, voort tempeest,
Wat heeft al [haer] hjden nu geweest?
Sy hebben de Kroon
Der Martelaren verworven,
Die hebben sy nu voor haer loon.
Jan Wouterss clearly spake
This is the day of.salvation.
Be silent, said the underbailiff.
Why should I, he said, forbear to speak?
My words are neither bad nor bold.
Adriaenken too looked forward,
To please her Bridegroom.
She rests now in the Lord,
And has passed the fire's pain,
Through His bountiful grace alone.
Jan Wouterss placed himself at the stake,
Then laughed for joy, as a pious servant,
And thus commended his spirit
Into the hands of the Lord,
Who was his Refuge, Fortress and Castle.
Farewell, he sweetly called
To the brethren and sisters openly
I will commend you to the Lord,
Who shed for us His blood.
These two lambs have now passed through,
What were now all their sufferings?
They obtained the martyr's crown,
Which now they hold as their reward.
In the same hymn is also mentioned, how their mouths were gagged, how they prayed to God, how they prepared themselves for death at the
place of execution, etc.; but we deem the foregoing sufficient for a memorial of their sacrifice.
NOTE.-As there have come into our hands all the letters, testaments and confessions, twelve in number, of Jan Wouterss van Kuyck, as also a letter of Adriaenken Jans of Molenaersgraef, with the answer of her husband, J. A. of Dort, all of which we have, upon perusing them, found to be full of sound and edifying teachings we have deemed it well to add the same here for edification and perpetual remembrance, so that every one may see the active and living faith upon which the afore-mentioned friends laid down their lives.
The abundant grace of God, the love of Christ, and the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, be constantly multiplied with you beloved, my dear brother-in-law and brother in the Lord, and your much beloved wife our dear sister, with all pious saints, who are zealous for righteousness, so that through this zeal and desire the name of God may be magnified; for they that are such are a light in the world, and a joy and pattern to their neighbor, for they constantly seek to please their neighbor in that which is good unto edification, that they may with all the God-fearing be found diligent followers of Christ. If we do thus, I have hope in the Lord, that we shall all get where Christ our Lord is, who strengthens us, and helps us to triumph, as may be read hereafter. Amen.
After this cordial salutation out of a pure heart, I unworthy one, and least member in Christ, can not forbear to write you briefly, for a remembrance to you all, and for your comfort and encouragement; for I cannot keep this unspeakable joy of the Holy Ghost to myself alone, but must impart something to your love. But how can joy be a remarkable thing, if one has not experienced anxiety; but I unworthy one have tasted this, the Lord be glorified therein. Amen.
First, when I was apprehended for the obedience of Christ, I was interrogated concerning my faith, which I plainly confessed; but afterwards they asked for certain names, namely, for my wife, my mother, my master, and who baptized, and married me, and for other things. Thereupon I replied, that I had resolved in my heart not to name any one, for I intended to answer for myself, and would not be a traitor. The bailiff threatened that he should make me tell, etc.
Having been confined there all the time during the cold winter, I was brought, the Saturday after St. Peter's day, up to the torture loft, where the instruments stood in readiness. The bailiff asked me first of all concerning my master, and then regarding others, and said, that I should also have to tell him what he should ask me. They entreated me;they threatened me; and said, "Though we know nearly all, and your maEter is possibly gone already, we will nevertheless hear it from your lips; hence do not suffer your limbs to be broken, but tell it voluntarily; else we shall deliver you to the executioner, and then you will have to do it." When they could obtain nothing from me, the upper part of my body was stripped, in the bitter cold, my hands were tied behind my back and made fast to the loft, and also my feet were bound, and I was thus, with my eyes blindfolded, drawn up by my hands, after I had been entreated to have a regard to my fine trade. And he said, that I should spare my members, my members which God had given me, for I had no power over one hair of my head.
As I kept silent, I was scourged with rods, and the stripes fell mostly on my abdomen. Having been thus treated, I was let down and again asked; but the Lord be praised, they obtain e~d nothing from me, though I had drank that bitter cup. I was then drawn up again, and scourged as before. O flesh, you must suffer now, I thought. While I was thus suspended in agony, a halberdier ran from the loft and said, "I would rather be dead than that man;" because he only stood there and beheld it.
When I did not reply in regard to anything, the executioner said, "What, will you not answer my lords? Reply to my lords; or have you a dumb devil in you?"
They asked me whether I would advise with myself until Monday, and then tell them the truth (as they call it), in regard to all. I kept silent and thought, why should I advise with myself; I do not want to tell you anyway. I prayed within myself, that the Lord should not suffer me to be tempted above that I was able. I also openly called upon the Lord, and prayed that He would forgive them. The jailer once thought that I was beside myself; but I know nothing about that. The executioner imagined he would make me tell; he had had [he said] so many of our people under his hands, who eventually had to tell everything; but the faithful Helper in distress kept my lips. They then released me, and themselves gave me a respite that I should advise with myself until Monday; but if I should then not do it, I should be dealt with in an extraordinary manner; and they threatened me much, so that it was dreadful to hear. They said this was yet of the least, that it was only child's play compared to other, future tortures. But when I looked at myself, and beheld my body which was bloody from the scourging; for that was certainly one of the severest pains, I thought to myself: Is this only child's play? The jailer went away, and said to his wife, "They will torture the man to death." In short, I was so tortured that they had to dress and undress me. All this the vile flesh had to bear, which has so often grieved me, and would constantly walk in the crooked path, to gratify its lusts; it had deserved yet more. This having taken place in the afternoon, I was not well able to sleep in the
night, but counted the striking of the clock all night, and during the night I moaned most lamentably. But afterwards I received a great, peaceful joy and gladness of the Holy Ghost, so great that I cannot adequately describe it; because the Lord had so faithfully kept my lips, and not suffered me to be confounded in my confidence, which I poor, simple servant had already before I was apprehended; but herein the Lord proved me unworthy servant, praised be His name for evermore.
Now when my sufferings became noised through the city, there were worldly people who rejoiced that I had kept my lips sealed: and if such people can rejoice, how much more shall the God-fearing rejoice, and praise God.
Further, the appointed day drawing nigh, I earnestly prepared myself for it, and made supplication to my God, that He would not chasten me unworthy servant according to my sins, according to His justice, but according to His fatherly mercy, that He would keep my lips, and alleviate the pain, as He had done the first time.
When the hour approached, my flesh feared, and my soul was afraid, for it had tried it; but I comforted myself as much as I could, thinking, "You will not suffer hereafter, where it will last forever; and this is but a little time." When I came upon the torture loft, on Tuesday (it was delayed a day), I was asked, to what conclusion I had come. I said, that my conscience would not allow it; I could not do what they requested.
They said, "You can; we take that upon ourselves." I said, "Everyone must stand for himself." They said, "How can your master or your wife get into trouble; for they are gone already; what harm can it do the place where you were baptized?""I think," said the bailiff,"that it took place at your master's; but I do not know it for certain; and he that baptized, and he that married you, has left the king's country, for it was so long ago." The secretary's servant also said to me, "Why will you conceal it? the pains are too great and in the end you will do it after all, as those of Breda."
They concluded, that they would send me a learned man. who should prove to, or instruct, me with the Scriptures, that I could do it.
When they were assembled together in another place, the bailiff asked, in what I was troubled. Thereupon the prior said, "You can well do it, and name your neighbor, for if you are the true people, thev will then with you receive the crown of martyrdom;but since you are not, then also hate the wicked, even as God hates them.".
O abominable expositor! whose exposition tends only to destruction. O Lord God, convert their hearts, who thirst so greatly after innocent blood. As we could not agree, we separated.
The following day (which was Wednesday) I was brought forth again, and asked as before. I said, that I could not do it; my conscience did not allow it; if I did it, I think my heart would never be at rest; hence I would rather die with a peacefulheart, than live with a troubled conscience. The Scriptures teach us, "Do to men as you would have them do unto you; love your wife; love your neighbor as yourself." Matt. 7:12; 22:39.
The bailiff said, "You love your neighbor more than yourself." I rejoined that one ought to lay down his life for his brother. I John 3:16. When with many words, entreaties and threats they could get nothing out of me, the executioner again seized me, and I again humbly entreated my God, as before in the first conflict.
I was then stripped, and my hands tied behind my back; and I was much entreated, that I should do it. Thus I was drawn up, but not fastened below; I expected to be laid upon the rack.
When I had been drawn up and could not answer according to their will (for the seed of God remained in me), he scourged me upon my lacerated skin, which caused me great pain. And he said, "How does this suit you? thus I will tear open your old wounds;" and he threatened me in an extraordinary manner. He then let me down again, and placed me before the lords, upon the rack, sitting with my eyes blindfolded, as an Ecce Homo.* And he asked. whether I would not yet tell it to my lords. I replied, that I could not do it; hence he drew me up again, which caused me great pain; and when he shook me, and jerked the rope, the pain was increased. When they could obtain nothing from me, they let me down, and gave me time for consideration till the next day. But while I was suspended, the bailiff said, "Your face is as sweet as that of an angel. but your heart is harder than Pharaoh's heart." I said, "This is not so: and the Lord will make it manifest hereafter; I have in my simplicity sought my salvation."
And when the executioner began to dress me, I said to him, "O friend, how you have treated me; you have not for a long time thus treated a rogue, who felt it so long afterwards as I." Then he answered, saving, "They confess, but you will not confess: and the weather is cold, and it cannot come so quickly."
When the bailiff heard this, he said to me, "You are worse than a rogue;for these have sinned. but you have apostatized from God, and denied Him; hence He forsakes you in your distress." I said, "If this is true. I am a poor man; but I have a better hope.""Yea." said he,"you are a strayed sheep: the wolves have taken you away, and devoured you," etc. He also told me, that we people did not get baptized until we were first tried between two nuked women. I said. that no such thing obtained with us. They also talked to me about David Toriss. I disavowed him and all his adherents. The executioner said that we held the belief, that infants that died in their mother's womb cannot be saved. I denied it. Another said, we had to give a pound Flemish when we were baptized. whether we had it or not. I think the bailiff said
this, for besides he said that in the church only three stivers or thereabouts are given, when one has a child baptized. I denied that too. O offense, offense! what have you done already, whereby the innocent have had to suffer? for the wicked soon take cause, though they should hear false testimony, even as was the case with regard to our Lord Himself, and Stephen. In short, the number of the infamous things said was exceedingly great, and, I suppose that to some the infamous speeches and their threats, are almost as grievous as the tortures. Hence patience is especially needful, in order to overcome in this conflict. Christ may therefore well say, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matt. 11:29. That this is a true doctrine, I indeed now experience. He, the Lord Himself from heaven, who was mightier than all men, suffered shame, reproach and contempt, and thus took possession of His own kingdom (Luke 24:26); how then should we not bear it, who are but for a litle time subjugated by our enemies.
Hence I unworthy servant beseech all the Godfearing, that you forget not, constantly to learn of Christ, for He is meek and lowly in heart; and also possess your souls in patience, and you shall find rest, for patience is our strength. To be patient, and thus wait for the help of the Lord, is a good thing; for in Proverbs it is written, that a patient man is better or greater than a strong man. Lamentations 3:26; Prov. 16:32. Take for an example, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the three youths, Daniel, the seven brothers and their mother, job, the prophets, and the end of our Lord.
Thus, my most beloved, trust God, and believe in Him, He will help you since He has promised it. But if you do not trust Him, consider whether you also believe, that God is almighty and true, even as you believe, that by His Word He created heaven and earth, and the sea and all that in them is. David testifies, and rejoices in it that He is a God who is ready to help. He further says, that He is a buckler to all those who trust in Him. Yea. His angels encamp round about us, to keep us. But if we do not trust Him, how then shall He help us?
When I again expected the hour of my temptation, I, unworthy servant, besought the Lord my refuge, that He would also keep me the third time, as He, through His grace, had done twice; so that I should not be confounded, and that they should not deprive me of my boast (that is, the good purpose of my heart in the beginning), so that I might keep the faith in a pure conscience. Then I hope to praise, glorify and magnify Thy holy name, to the joy of the pious saints, and to the babes, as a comfort and a sweet savor of life, that, smelling it, they may thereby be refreshed and strengthened, to become the bolder in the truth, which is the strongest of all, and will always conquer (I Esd. 4:38); and not regard what men, who must perish like grass, may do to us. since it is manifestly found, that the Lord's hands are not shortened, butthat He also assists the pious, as David testifies. For, dear Lord, if I did not continue valiant, what a great sorrow would it be for the young babes, and to what great blasphemy it would give rise. I beseech Thee, O heavenly Father, have compassion on me, poor sinful man, and remove from me the rest of the cup, if it is possible; and if it is not possible, Thy will alone be done. Lord, help me to triumph, for Thou knowest how the stripes of men taste. I commit myself into Thy hands; though they exceedingly threaten me, they have not power to harm one hair of our head, Thou must first permit them; but Thy holy will be done to my salvation. O Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. Acts 7:60.
Now when I had thus prepared myself, I heard that they were torturing our beloved sister, my fellow prisoner. It seemed to me, that she was also drawn up, and let down again. When she would not confess, she was drawn up again, and was then also made fast below by her feet. When she had suffered the anguish for a while, she was let down again, and carried away. Then thought I: Now comes my turn; now they will come and take me poor lamb out of the pen, to the slaughter. While thus waiting, I much consoled myself, thinking, how soon a man is unmade; for it seems to me that she scarcely suffered the torture half an hour.
When I had thus with Abraham delivered up my only son, that is, my flesh, the Lord suddenly interposed and turned my tribulation into great joy. In the first place by this, that the Lord had also kept the lips of that weak lamb; and in the second place. that it seems that they are satisfied with the sufferings which I have undergone before my sacrifice.
I have written this, not to cast you down, but for the reason that you saints of God should rejoice with me in the Holy Ghost. and help me thank the Lord, that He has so faithfully helped me; and that you may know how wonderfully God works in His elect; as also a pious witness of Christ, Karstiaen L., has testified in his letter, and Joris the dyer, who was a witness of the truth with me here; and would not name those that were dead, for he said in himself, "If the devil comes upon the first step, he also comes higher." Oh, I think one loses his strength, in a measure, thereby; for I thought, though they do not know my master, and though I also know that he is gone, together with my dear, beloved wife, and others, yet they would not be satisfied, they are determined to torture me, and I want to be silent in regard to the one as well as to the other; it will now be made manifest, how the Lord helps those that trust in Him. Oh, what a joy is the victory through Christ; now my faith in Christ is tried, my fear of God, and my confidence which I had already before I came into bonds, my love to God and to His holy church, as the gold in the furnace and upon the touchstone; for other trials can be borne tolerably well, when one has enough and can go where he pleases; but when one, with job, is touched in his skin (Job 2:4, 5) .
when the skin is lacerated, so that the blood flows, and this is repeated after four days, that touches the quick. O thou daughter of Zion, thou bride of the Lamb, be not dismayed, the Lamb shall gain the victory; be of good courage in the short conflict that is set before you, for all things are promised to him that overcometh; he that continueth faithful unto death shall receive the crown of life, and shall not taste eternal death, or the everlasting torment. I do not know that my torture lasted over two hours in all; but the threatening, the contempt, and the tormenting lasted somewhat longer. My most beloved, is this not a small torment? should one therefore forsake the truth? should one therefore deny the Lord, and burden his conscience by mentioning names? nay, when one is nevertheless frequently subjected to suffering. Oh, no; the Lord Himself fights the battle for us; to Him alone be praise forever. Amen.
Thus, you beloved and saints of God, who have become partakers of the heavenly calling through Jesus Christ, despond not, nor be afraid of them that kill the body, for they have no power over the soul. I unworthy one, have espied for you the help of the Lord; hence I bear witness of Him, that He is a faithful helper in distress, as is written of Him; yea (He says by the prophet), though a mother forget the son of her womb, whom she brought forth, yet will I not forsake nor forget thee. Isa. 49:15; Heb. 13:5.
Hence, all you that believe the Lord's promise, continue steadfastly. Oh, that no one from despondency may keep back for any calling or ministry of the saints, according to ability; for no one may live to himself, or withhold himself; so that the work of the Lord may always be carried on with readiness; and help bear one another's burden; if it goes thus, it is a joy, and the work can be carried on without murmuring; and know, whatsoever good thing any one does, the same shall follow him. Eph. 6:8.
Excuse me for writing in general; I hope that the fainthearted will hereby gain a little courage and confidence through my bonds; yea, I hope, that the afflicted will become more cheerful because such great help is found with the Lord, who is nevertheless not seen, for I testify to you with the apostle, "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." II Cor. 4:16-18. Now I can write and testify to the same with regard to this, that the suffering is light, because it is short; for when all my tortures were over, I do not know that I felt as much pain afterwards as I once suffered for a time from a little ulcer, of which my dear wife well knows, and that I had to bear and found no promise for bearing it. But if we bear this suffering for the Lord's sake, all the principal promises are ours; yea, there are no more glorious or greater promises than these, amely: that they who submit to the sufferings of Christ, and through Christ overcome, to them the crown of life is promised; and there is also this testimony in our hearts, that we are not bastards; yea, we shall be honored and crowned by Christ Himself. For this holy estate I know that I am not worthy; but the merciful, good God does nevertheless count me worthy to bear this reproach for His name's sake; praise to Him forever. Amen.
Herewith I will conclude this, asking you to excuse my simple letter; and I will commend you all, and particularly my most beloved brother-m-law, and my dearest sister, to the Lord, who is able to finish the good work which He has begun in you, that you may receive a full reward with Jesus Christ our Lord, whither I will go before, and await you there, that we may then live together in eternal joy.
To this end may the good God grant His grace, so that no one, because of this little torment, may forsake the way of eternal life, and thus become like the fearful and fainthearted servants (Judg. 7:3), who cannot go into battle with Gideon, who do not believe in God, nor can set their seal to it, that God is faithful, almighty, and true. What there is promised to such in the Scriptures is manifest, namely, eternal torment, as to sorcerers and idolaters. Rev. 21:$. What will it avail them to have borne the name of a Christian, if one does not continue steadfast? then we must ignominiously perish, like the ten unbelieving spies. Num. 14:37. What does it avail to have been delivered out of Egypt, if one does not believe; for the unbelieving will all be destroyed? What did it avail Lot's wife to have gone out of Sodom: for she looked back? Hence, all you beloved saints of God, strive valiantly for the truth unto death. And always have such a mind in you; and the Lord shall fight your battle, and you shall then, if you wait with patience for it, rejoice in the end, even as I do now. For a confirmation of the truth, read the holy Scriptures; there you will find how the Lord fought for Israel. for Daniel, Gideon and Jehoshaphat, and for others; though they had but little people, yet such great numbers were slain, that they could not take away the spoil in three days. II Chron. 20:25.
Furthermore, it is necessary and verv profitable, to write comforting letters and send them to the miserable, forsaken ones, for they are greatly comforted thereby. Let everyone do his diligence in this resoect, as much as possible, and put forth your best endeavors herein. and pray the Lord for suitable means. without detriment to any one; likewise also, to visit them: but above all, constantly to prav for them, and to lift up holy hands with Moses, till thev have finished the fight, and overcome agair.st their flesh. against the stint of sin, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world. wherein Satan works. Hence let everyone lay to heart what the apostle says, "Remember them that are in bonds,
as though ye were in bonds." Heb. 13:3."When one member suffers, the other members suffer with it." I Cor. 12:26.
Herewith adieu on this earth to all the God-fearing; be of good courage; for courage lost, battle lost, I cordially greet you all in the Lord, but particularly my dearest brother-in-law and his beloved wife I thank you heartily for all your great friendship.
Commenced the last Thursday in February, and finished the first of March. I unworthy servant bear the marks of the Lord above both my hands and on my body; the name of the Lord be praised forever.
By me confined as a prisoner in the Vuylpoort, for the obedience of the gospel, I said to the jailer, "Though I could knock the jail into pieces with my fist, I should not want to do it, lest he should get into trouble on my account.
JAN VAN KUYCK
The eternal and merciful God grant you, my only brother and my beloved sisters, His grace through Jesus Christ, that you may together get a desire, taste and longing for your salvation, unto the end of your life. Oh, that this would happen, dear Lord, what a joy would it be to us hereafter; which I hope will be so, that our old, venerable beloved father, and our venerable mother and their children, will find one another in life eternal. Amen.
In the first place, I hope in the Lord, that you with me have received a desire, taste and longing for salvation. Hence, I now exhort you a little, that you will increase therein, since the Lord has granted you His grace, and opened your eyes, so that you can discern good from evil.
Thus, my dearest, beloved brother, since you have received this grace, that you know and believe (as I trust you do) that God hates evil and loves righteousness, thank the good and omnipotent God for it, and particularly, that He has delivered us from the hands of Satan through Christ Jesus, and has according to His mercy begotten us again by the word of life, and has helped us in this acceptable time; in which time He has caused His saving grace to shine upon all men; and you, my dear brother, have taken heed to this saving grace, you have received, as I trust, this light, which is Christ Jesus. The Scriptures testify that to them that have received Christ (that is, who believe in Him), power is given to become the children of God. John 1:12. Hence suffer yourself constantly to be governed. directed and guided by Him, through His Spirit; for these are the true children of God, that are led by His Spirit; they are Christ's.
Now, my dearest brother, be careful all your life, to guard well this good and most precious treasure: that you may live of it, and ever followwhat the saving grace of God (namely, Christ Jesus who is our light), teaches us.
In the first place, the saving grace of God teaches us to deny the ungodliness of this world, and its lusts and desires; as Paul says, "And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that is, after the mind of Christ." Tit. 2:11, 12; Rom. 12:2. If you do this, you will walk in the light, and not in darkness, wherein the world walks. Beware, my beloved brothers, of the works of darkness, and have no fellowship therewith, but always separate from them, and touch not the unclean thing, namely, all evil; and you shall be a child of God and remain one if you abide in Christ unto the end. Eph. 5:11; II Corinthians 6:17.
I unworthy one imprisoned for His name's sake, affectionately beseech you, always adhere to the Word of the Lord, and you shall never fall, and whatsoever you shall ask the Father in His name, that will He give you; though one thereby incurs suffering, we must not faint on that account, for it is made manifest thereby, that the. way is narrow, and the gate strait, which leads unto life eternal. But this suffering is transient, and if we suffer with Christ, we shall also be glorified together; for the sufferings which men can inflict upon us, are short and light, and work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for though our outward man perish, which at all events must perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. II Cor. 4:17, 18, 16, and when the faith has been kept, and we have overcome, all is sweetened by Him who strengthens us, which is Christ; He helps us to triumph; this I experience best now that I am in the trial; to Him be praise forever and ever. Amen.
But, my dear brother, think not that something new has happened to me, just as though it had not always been thus.
Read of righteous Abel, and you will understand the Word of Christ, that the servant is not better than his lord. Matt. 10:24; John 13:16. Dear brother, the head, which is Christ, suffered Himself; the members must follow; and it is a special sign of love, that He sends me this chastening, to prove me, whether I indeed fear, love, and trust Him from the heart. In short, I deem it to be for my salvation; His holy will be done to my salvation. Amen.
Hence I now declare to you, my dearest brother, that this is and shall ever remain the only right truth, for which I now suffer for a little while. Thus, my dearest brother, diligently read the Word of the Lord with devotion, and meditate well upon it, and always pray the Lord in every concern, with prayer and supplication in the Spirit, with perseverance; for if you live according to the Word of the Lord, you shall prosper, and never fall (II Pet. 1:10) , for in the Word of the Lord is our light, which is Christ Jesus. Let us follow Him,
and we shall get to Him where He is; by our High Priest Christ Jesus, there I will await you, my dear wife, my daughter, our father, and mother, and sisters, if you all die in the Lord, namely, if you adhere to the truth unto the end and follow the Lord, as I hope that you with all the saints of God will do, I will. go before, and herewith write to all of you in this short time. Adieu; the Almighty God grant you all His grace, that you may always have good courage to obtain your salvation through Christ Jesus; and be diligent in love, and be a pattern to one another in every good work unto life eternal.
Thus, my only, dear brother, I have now written you a little, for your remembrance, and to stir up your minds (II Pet. 3:1) , and for your consolation, that you fear not men, but only the Almighty God, who is eternal. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone. Ps. 103:15, 16; Isa. 40:6. Men are perishable; they cannot harm a hair of our head, unless the Lord permit them. And He will not permit them more than we are able to bear and keep the faith.
Oh, it affords such peace, when one by the help of the Lord has kept his lips. Praise ye, all my friends, our strong and faithful God, who kept my lips in the first torturing. I hope and trust that He who helped me first is able to help me again, for He has promised it to us unworthy creatures (His words are yea in Him; He is a faithful helper in distress, as David says, "With the Lord help is found, he is our shield, our fortress, and the strength of the poor"). But we must also trust Him; who was ever confounded, that trusted in the Lord? Hence cease not to seek your salvation, and be not slothful in your business, but be fervent in spirit, patient in tribulation, and continuing instant in prayer. Rom. 12:11, 12. But if you feel no fervor in you, pray the Lord for it, and He will give it you, if you only sincerely seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, as I trust you do. But beware of trusting in the world; possess your souls in patience; the Lord can easily in due time give you a God-fearing person for a companion; but first diligently pray the Lord, to so order it that you will first unite with the God-fearing. Write my brother-in-law a letter some time, and he may be prompted to write you also, and to advise you wherein you may need advice. I thank you for the friendship which you have hitherto shown me.
Written the second day after Matthew, in Lent, on which day I was again suspended twice and once scourged; but, my only brother, the strong God again kept my lips. Hence I pray you, rejoice with me, and praise the Lord, since I have great joy now; and be not dismayed in your mind because my flesh has suffered a little while; for now the good heavenly Father has tried my faith, as gold in the fire, whether I would also trust and fear and love Him in the severest conflict. And now that He has found me faithful, from one tribulationto the other, so that through the grace of God I have overcome the rulers of this world (wherein I have greatly rejoiced from the heart), and this by the prayer of the faithful, and the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of eternal life, to receive the same from Christ through grace. Thither I will now go before (and first put off this mortal clothing of the flesh), with the prepared burning lamp; for I have kept, and trot denied, the faith, nor love, nor Christ. The faith is the oil, a pure heart and conscience the wick; and fervent love .the light.
Do you also daily adorn yourself therewith, to meet Christ our Bridegroom; and take possession of the promised land, that is, the everlasting kingdom of God. But be not afraid on the way because there are many enemies, robbers and ~volves in the wilderness, namely, in the world; and be not dismayed on this account, for I have passed through it all by the help of the Lord, and have spied out the country in advance for you and many of the Godfearing, so that I can now write you that you need not stay back on account of the peril, and this because the Lord Himself conducts our conflict; He fights for us, and He is certainly the strongest; for He said to Abraham, "Fear not; for I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Gen. 15:1. Was this said to Abraham alone? Paul says, it is written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Rom. 15:4.
Consider former examples, how God fought for Gideon, David, Jehoshaphat, and others; the people [the hostile army] were slain without their having to lift up a hand. Oh, my only dear brother, put your whole trust in the Almighty, for with Him help is found, He is a true helper in distress, He does not forsake His own in all their tribulations; so that we may say with the apostle, "If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:31, 32. If He has manifested such great love towards us, how should He not preserve us in every extremity.
Believe this, that the good God is our debtor; if we unwaveringly continue to walk in His way, and cleave to Him, and not forsake Him, He will also not forsake us.. This is certainly a sure promise; but if we deny Him, He also will deny us. II Tim. 2:12; Luke 12:9. O how thoughtless, how unwise, yea, how unmerciful toward their poor souls, are they, who, because of this little, short suffering, through fear, forsake the way of life and choose another way according to their own mind, to escape the cross of Christ, and comfort themselves with a vain consolation in the way which they have found according to their own views; whose end is destruction. But, my only dear brother, do not follow these, for they that are such do not believe that God is almighty and true. Hence the Scripture says, "Woe unto the faint-hearted 1 for they be-
lieve not; therefore shall they not be defended. Woe unto them that persevere not! how will it go with them when the Lord shall visit them? (Sir. 2:13, 14), yea, their part will be with sorcerers in the lake that shall burn forever." Thus, take courage with Joshua and Caleb; but you must firmly believe in God's promises, even as you believe that God has created heaven and earth by His Word; and you shall then devour all your enemies like bread, and through patience finish your conflict with the help of God, and take the promised land by force, for the violent take it by force. Num. 14:9; Matt. 11:12.
But, dear brother, the apostle testifies, and I unworthy one also, that we wrestle not only against the rulers of the world, but also against the spirits that are under heaven (Eph. 6:12), and as Christ says, that in the latter days many false Christs shall arise. Matt. 24:5, 11. This I have also espied for you; for in the time of my faith many false prophets or false Christians have assailed me; now they came with this fair appearance, now with another. But the Lord, who would have all men saved, delivered me from all this and I cleaved to the Word of God, as I heard and accepted it in the beginning; and my faith weakened not, though many apostatized who had seemed to be the most valiant. See, thus our faith is tried in many ways, and besides by the daily conflict that never ceases; for it is a lasting conflict; the Spirit wars against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit. Gal. 5:17. Herein I find myself troubled the most; my own sinful flesh was my most inveterate enemy, which has cost me many a bitter tear. Satan thereby sought to sift me as wheat; but now falling, now stumbling, I have come thus far through the grace of Go( f; for I always struggled up hard by the grace of the Lord. But what was it, I would so fain have been perfect, but this weak flesh was always in the way; which must now suffer, and I hope to offer it up as a burnt sacrifice.
Thus, my dearest brother, I have explained to you a little what conflict a Christian must wage, namely, against flesh and blood, against false spirits, who have laid their subtle arrows upon the bow, to shoot in secret at the pious. Hence take unto you the armor of God; that you may be able to stand against the subtle assaults of the devil; and be girded with the girdle of truth: above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and have your feet shod so that you may always be well prepared for the Gospel of peace; and take the helmet of salvation, the living hope, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; and pray always with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:13-1$. Behold, with these weapons of the Spirit we can overcome, and then the crown is promised us. But forget not that Jesus Sirach says, "My son bast thou sinned? do so no more, but ask God for pardon for thy former sins. Flee from sin as from the face of a serpent: for if thoucomest too near it, it will bite thee: the teeth thereof are as the teeth of a lion, slaying the souls of men. All iniquity is as a two-edged sword, the wounds whereof cannot be healed." Sir. 21:1-3. Paul, too says, "Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry. In short, live according to the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the works of the flesh." Col. 3:5; Galatians 5:16. To this end the good God grant His grace, that you may grow up in faith, in love, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that you may become a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and thus wait for the coming of Christ. Eph. 4:13.
O my dear brother, take care for your salvation; the time here is so short, and eternity is at hand. O heavenly Father, I humbly beseech Thee, that Thou wilt keep my only brother from all evil, and sanctify him in Thy name through Christ Jesus, and ever guide him by the Holy Spirit, that we may rejoice together hereafter. Amen.
Adieu, my only brother on this earth; with Christ I will await you. I wrote the first page just after I had been tortured; hence it is somewhat badly written. Now my hand is a little better, but I still have the marks of the sufferings of Christ; His name be praised forever.
This I have written you in my bonds, the second day of March, A. D. 1572'. By me your only brother, unchanged in mind, imprisoned for the testimony of Christ: hence be of good cheer; the faith is kept, I have striven unto blood, in the Vuylpoort at Dortrecht.
To the scattered saints and the others at Dortrecht, grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, and the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, ever be multiplied to you all, for consolation on your pilgrimage, so that ,you may be patient in your tribulation, that patience may have her perfect work in you, so that you may neither weary nor faint in that which you have accepted for the salvation of your souls, which has come and been brought to us by Christ; therein we are glad, so that we can rejoice in our temporal affliction. Remember Christ's prophecy, where He says, "Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy, which no man shall be able to take from you." John 16:20, 22. O dearest, if we could enter the kingdom of God with ease, how could we speak of the narrow way and the strait gate; but because of the tribulation we can say this, that one must walk in the same, and press through the strait gate, and take the kingdom by force, through much affliction and
adversity; which confirms the word that the servant is not better than his lord. If our Head had to take His own kingdom through much suffering and contempt, if they called the master of the house Beelzebub, should they not call them of His household likewise? Luke 24:26; Matt. 10:24, 25.
In order to pass through all this, and to continue steadfast unto the end, trust in God, and believe His Word, even as you believe that He has created heaven, earth, the sea, and what therein is; and He will help you, and fight the battle for you, so that you will not be confounded. For if God be for us, says the apostle, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? The almighty, good God grant His grace to this end, that you may neither waver in nor doubt God's promises; and fear shall depart from you, and you will not care what men can do to you, and will possess your souls in patience till the day that shall comfort you. Amen.
After this cordial wish to all you beloved, I unworthy servant could not forbear, though my gift is small, to write your love a little, to strengthen the older, and to give courage to the younger, so that every one may persevere steadfastly in the conflict that is'set before us, always to make sure, by the fruits of your faith, your calling and election; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly in the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. II Pet. 1:10, 11. What more would you have?
Therefore, thou beautiful daughter of Zion, fear not, since your entrance is prepared so abundantly.
O thou fairest among women, therefore the filthy wrinkles that disfigure thee must be put from thee. Cant. 1:8. O thou fair bride of Christ, constantly adorn thyself more and more with the wedding garment of righteousness, and also trim your lamps with glorious faith and imperishable love, that you may not lack these, as did the foolish virgins, but that you may ever possess them abundantly, that thereby the light of Christ may shine in you, and be manifested by you, to the praise of God, the edification of your neighbor, the salvation of your souls, and as a light to the world, and for a testimony unto them. Although they then hate you, because the bright, morning star, Christ Jesus, has arisen in your hearts, bear it, and be not surprised at it, for Christ, who is the light Himself, was hated and cast out by the darkness before you. II Pet. 1:19; John 1:5.
It does not care for your person, but because the truth is in you, which the darkness, that is the world, tramples under foot, wherefore you become a prey to every one. But fear not therefore; O thou warrioress, go on to your promised reward; the truth that is in you shall overcome, for it is the strongest. O thou fair queen, remember at all times, how loathful and unwashed thou didst lie in thy blood as an outcast, and that the most mighty, richest and eternal King, the fairest above all men,chose thee, washed thee, purchased thee with His own blood, and accepted thee as His queen. And if we always think of our redemption, it is, or ought to be, an admonition, to cleave to the royal Bridegroom alone, and not to forsake Him through wantonness or presumption, and run to others; for he that forsakes Him, him He will also forsake. His jealous love cannot bear or tolerate it, that one loves another more than Him; such a one is not worthy of Him. Oh, not so; not for anything; though you be surrounded as a lily among thorns, and though the bramble has usurped the government of the world (Cant. 2:2; Judges 9:14), cease not thE.'efore to give forth your sweetness, the fair fragrance of the lily, your beautiful grapes, and your fatness as olive branches; so that everyone may be found a sweet savor of Christ in His calling; the poor, that they be diligent in their labor, if they can earn a stiver or a half, so that they may have a clear conscience before the Lord.
Again, that those who have abundance give abundantly; but those who do not have it in abundance, that they communicate the same with a faithful heart. If this is done, and every one proffers his assistance, the ministers can serve with a joyful heart, especially if there are few ministers.
Further I write, unto you, you threescore valiant men (Cant. 3:7), always have strong courage, always be well prepared with the sword of the Spirit at your side, to protect this lovely bride from all harm or nightly terror, bringing into captivity every thought that exalteth itself against the obedience of Christ. II Cor. 10:5.
Guard well, with a faithful heart, this pleasure garden of the Lord, that the cunning foxes that creep in may not nestle therein, that the rooting swine do not come and dig it up, whereby the young sprouts often lose their strength and wither. Psalm 80:13. Though you then may sometimes have to meet false brethren, turn not back on that account, nor faint; for if you turn back, what should the others do?
Hence be of strong courage in the Lord; since the Spirit of the church r..s chosen you for the work of the Lord, offer your heads, and take your life into your hands, and go forth in the name of the Lord. If they threaten you, think, "We are in the hand of the Lord; you are but dust and ashes; the Lord will preserve us." Think, "We are not better than our brethren." Though it then comes to pass, that one's time is fulfilled, that his course is finished, that he must be tried as gold, before kings, lords, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, to praise the name of the Lord; go forward nevertheless, and take for your example those valiant heroes, as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Samson, Gideon, David, the prophets and the apostles and consider the former times, how mightily the Lord trampled upon the necks of their enemies, as Joshua said to his valiant men, that the Lord should do to all that did set themselves
against them; hence He said, "Fear not." Josh. 10:25.
Most beloved, excuse my simple letter; though it is very simple, yet, whatever its defects, think that I hereby manifest in a measure my boldness and my affection towards you, which, I unworthy one, have had and still have towards you; yea I have this confidence by the grace of the Lord, that no one shall be able to separate me from the great love which I have towards you and the Lord.
Hence I am of good cheer in all that comes upon me, for I find our Lord very faithful; that He is a true helper in time of need, who does not forsake His own; for 1 have now by the help of the Lord striven unto blood, kept the faith, and received great consolation in my heart, so that I can rejoice in my suffering, and this through the aid of your prayers, and by the co-operation of the Holy Spirit. Yea, I cannot tell you the great joy which I now have because the Lord has kept my lips.
Hence I beseech you all most affectionately, rejoice, and praise the Lord with me, that He has so faithfully succored His poor servant, and has alleviated my pain, and made a way to escape, so that I was able to bear it.
O most beloved, is this not a great consolation, that the holy and good God has made Himself our debtor, and has promised us (mark, by promising an obligation is incurred), saying, "Though a mother forget the son of her womb, yet will I not forget thee?" says the Almighty Lord, if we do not forsake Him, and do not Sell our birthright as lightly as did Esau, for a little life; concerning which Christ says, "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it." Luke 17:33. Alas! he loses it badly that-will not find it again; but well does he lose it who will again find an imperishable one.
This is certainly the promise of Christ, this He has merited for us by His righteousness and suffering; but we must also faithfully strive unto death for the truth, and purify our souls by obedience to the truth, to persevere in this short conflict, "Therefore take unto you the armor of God, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery and subtle darts of the wicked. Gird your loins with the girdle of truth; put on the breastplate of righteousness; have your feet shod with the gospel of peace, so that you may be ready in all things; above all, take the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation [that is, the living hope] and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; and always pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." Eph. 6:13-18; Luke 12:35; I Thess. 5:8. With these weapons you can overcome all your enemies, in patience and meekness.
To this end you have many testimonies in the Scriptures, and also I unworthy one, your known weak brother, bear witness, that these are the true weapons; for I can now write of this because of the victory that I have gained through Christ Jesus,who always helps me to triumph. To Him alone be praise, honor and might forever and ever. Amen,
Herewith I will commend you my dearest fellow helpers, brethren and sisters to the Almighty God and the rich Word of His grace, who is able to strengthen you all, and to finish the good work that He has begun in you, and to bring you into His everlasting kingdom. Amen.
Herewith I bid you all adieu in this evil world full of all wickedness, with Christ Jesus our bridegroom I will await you, and there meet you again in fullness of joy; the Lord grant His grace hereunto. Amen.
Finally I humbly make this request, that if I have grieved any one by word, conduct, or deed, you will heartily forgive me; I likewise do so from the heart, but I wish that it had been better with me in this respect. Farewell, be of good courage.
Written by me, your weak brother and humblest member, imprisoned for the testimony of the Gospel of Christ, at Dortrecht, on the 3d of March, in the year 1572.
I was tortured a week ago Saturday, and again the following Wednesday. Thus I now bear in my body the marks of the sufferings of Christ; which I might have easily escaped, had I been willing to tell what was demanded of me. I should in that case have acted contrary to the Scriptures, contrary to love and my conscience, and should die with a troubled heart; many hearts should have been grieved; but now I trust that many will rejoice with me, and be glad and bold, and praise God.
Thus, let all of you firmly resolve in your hearts to do those things that are of good report, honest, and pleasing to God (Phil. 4:8); call upon the Lord for strength, and be assured in your hearts, that He hears your prayer. Ps. 145:19. Present to Him in your prayer His own promises, and you shall not be confounded, for He hears the prayer of the poor, says David. Also rejoice together, that our enemies obtained nothing by the torture from our dear sister, my fellow prisoner. Therefore praise the Lord, ye saints. Ps. 147. I unworthy one cordially greet you all in the Lord, in His name, with the love and peace of Christ. I thank you all for your Christian fellowship. O most beloved, let that which you have heard and accepted from the beginning abide in you, and beware of those that would take it from you; for I unworthy one testify that you stand in the unadulterated truth; fulfill the same in the fear of God, and you shall have peace.
Writen by me, in bonds,
JAN WOUTERSS KUYCK.
Grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, and the co-operation of the Holy Ghost constantly be
multiplied in you my most beloved wife, for consolation in your pilgrimage, for the strengthening of your faith, for comfort in your tribulation, to the praise of God, and the salvation of your soul. Amen.
After this my cordial salutation to you my chosen sister and most beloved wife my love towards you is great, but my love for the eternal truth is greater yet; the same helps me to overcome all my enemies. In this great victory I greatly rejoice, since I have now been in the conflict twice. For the sake of this victory: in which Christ alone, who is the genuine truth, helps us so valiantly to triumph, heartily rejoice with me, and magnify and thank the name of the Lord. I now know how the cup of suffering tastes, but I did not know that the good God works in us with such wonderful power; for I received such peaceful joy in my heart that I was amazed. This was shortly after I had been tortured; yet I was greatly threatened that I should be tortured again the following Monday, but I thought that the faithful God could keep my lips also a second time; and I prayed and entreated Him greatly to manifest it on me (as it is a small matter for Him), that I should not be confounded in my first boasting, or purpose of my heart, so that my neighbor should not be grieved, nor any one open the mouth of slander on my account.
And the eternal good God kept my lips in the second torturing; and I was threatened again, but my determination never weakened, such grace did the Lord give me; but when I earnestly prepared myself for it, and with Abraham offered up my only son, that is, my flesh, that he should do His holy will to my salvation, the Lord turned my anxiety into joy; yea, that my eyes overflowed for gladness, because the Lord had kept the lips of our sister, my fellow prisoner, and, in the second place, that they were satisfied with my suffering. I also, a few days before I was tortured, had received the glad news that you were able to say with your mouth, though you could pull me out with your arm, you should not do it if I were valiant or resigned; which rejoiced my heart, that the good Lord thus strengthens and comforts you by His Holy Spirit. The eternal, good God be praised forever, that He shows to us unworthy ones such great tokens of mercy and love. O my dearest lamb, how shall we be able sufficiently to thank the Lord for it? Yes, I have joy in my heart, that the Lord has counted me, poor man, worthy to suffer so much reproach, and contempt, and so many threats and stripes. Herewith the Lord proves me, even as He proved His dearest chosen ones, as to whether I fear Him, sincerely, trust Him in the greatest distress, and love Him from the heart. My heart leaped up in my body, as it seems to me, for joy, because we have such a good dear God. I thought that I loved Him, but now that my skin is touched, He proves this best Himself. Job 2:4, 5.
But, my chosen, be not dismayed on this account; this vile flesh has merited yet much more, but theLord chastens us according to His mercy. Thus my faith is tried as gold in the furnace; now all the glorious promises of the Lord belong to me; henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of eternal life; yea, our King, Christ Jesus, will honor me Himself. Luke 12:37. Oh, alas! of this I know myself that I am unworthy; but our Lord has obtained it from His heavenly Father, that He may do this to us, our joy may be full, and that we should console ourselves with His promises in our tribulation.
O how inconsiderate are all those who lightly esteem, yea, reject all these glorious promises because of this brief suffering. Yea, what is this suffering when it is over, it is not to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. Rom. 8:18. I wrote the foregoing letter yesterday, and now I have just been before the bailiff and two judges and the secretary. The bailiff asked me whether I would not yet tell the truth. I said that I had done so."Yes," said he,"as much as you wanted to." Then the demand of the bailiff was read to me, setting forth that I had apostatized from the Christian Catholic faith or Roman Church, and had been rebaptized by the Anabaptists, and married my wife. That having been admonished by divers learned men in regard to this error, I persisted in the same; and he further added, that the royal decree prescribed that I should be punished by being burnt alive at the stake; but if I recanted, the sword, possibly also the churchyard should be my portion.
Then I replied that I had not (or never) apostatized from the Christian faith; nor do I know [said I J any Anabaptists; I have been baptized but once upon my faith; infant baptism I do not regard as baptism, and when I was a child I did as a child, even as my parents led me.
Further, I desire grace from the Most High, for if I apostatized from my faith, I think that I should be eternally lost; but if I adhere to it I hope to be saved by the grace of the Lord.
All this was written. I told them, that they should do as they expected to answer for it before the Supreme Judge. I demanded that they should tell me whether I had wronged any one; that I might defend myself. Then he said that I had seduced my wife, and my child, and had helped to seduce still others, and had held meetings in nooks and corners by night, and at unseasonable times, contrary to the royal decree. I said, "Who was injured thereby?" And I was led away again, for they could not bear my words My fellow prisoner was also brought forward then, but she too remained valiant.
I now hope that we shall soon be released from all our labor and vexation. Thus, my dearest upon this earth, I hope that you shall soon be rejoiced still more, when you will hear of my deliverance. What more can they do? they connot harm the soul; what more have they then, than that which must remain here? It is certainly very profitable
to me to be present with the Lord. Though this earthly house or habitation perish, we expect a better in heaven, which is eternal, yea, which is like unto Christ's glory. What greater eternal joy shall we then have, when we shall shine like sparks among stubble, yea, like the sun; then shall we leap like calves of the stall for joy. Wisd. 3:7; Matthew 13:43; Mal. 4:2.
Hence comfort yourself with these and other promises, and hold fast that which you have heard from the beginning, as I trust with all my heart that my most beloved lamb will do.
And when I have fallen asleep, then, my most beloved wife and dearest sister, you are released; conduct yourself in your widowhood to the praise of the Lord, to the edification of your neighbor, as a pattern to our most beloved, only daughter, and as a light to the world, and to your soul's salvation. Endure and persevere in the unadulterated truth wherein you stand; though you be tried so that one conflict succeeds another, count it all for your salvation; always prepare your heart for patience, and the day shall come that will comfort you.
The promises are thus, "Here tribulation, hereafter joy." Further, consider how joyfully you would have taken my hand, had my parents loved the truth; but now that you and I have seen the day that they love the truth, it is a special joy.
Hence I pray you, show them as much honor and friendship as lies in you, for my, for our little daughter's, and for the truth's sake, as I trust you will do; and if you engage in any traffic, see that you keep yourself 'unspotted from the world. Jas. 1:27. If they assail you with words, so that you are constrained to tell how much the goods cost you; tell it simply, without adding any further words, by yes, or by no for that would not become us. But if you do not find yourself strong enough herein, abandon that traffic, for you can get along with a little; if it is not fat it is lean; the godly are soon satisfied. But if you continue in any business, take care that it does not get too large, lest your heart become surcharged, so that you can ill perform your prayers. Luke 21:34.
Thus, remember what the Holy Scriptures counsel you for the best, and you will prosper according to the soul, as I trust you will. And continue instant in prayer, as becomes holy widows; pray for faithful laborers, for all the saints, for prisoners, for apostates, for kings, princes, the rulers of this world; especially when you see sects or contention arising in the church, which must be, in order that they that are tried may be made manifest. Although the elders should lose courage (which God forbid), continue in earnest prayer to God, as you have an example in the holy widow Judith (Jud. 8): and always adorn yourself with a meek and quiet spirit, which will adorn you more than all jewels, as Peter and the Scriptures teach you (I Pet. 3:4), and as you are taught of God Himself; and possess your soul in patience, and you shall find peace in the Lord, and in your heart. Be alsoof good courage your chief Captain and best Bridegroom still lives, and He will keep and feed you and our only daughter; for though 1 should have to wander about with you for a while yet, it must all come from Him nevertheless. My most beloved, I have shown you a little faithfulness in my bonds, by having applied my hands to labor, so that I might not be an expense to you, and that you might have a little left to meet you in your labor; which is a great joy.
For I hope and trust concerning you, my dear, chosen, most beloved wife, that you will not change your state; for the good God has given you a special gift for which praise be to Him forever.
But not, my most beloved, that I would cast a rope around your neck, as though I would forbid you it. Oh, no; the apostle counsels you what is best. I Cor. 7:40. I married you for;life, and thank you as affectionately as I can for your dear, good companionship, faithfulness and . love, of which I deem myself in a great measure unworthy. Now the only good, merciful God has called me, unworthy one, to a higher state, and you can offer me, your most beloved on earth, for no higher state to the Lord. Thus console yourself with the others, for your tribulation shall last for a short time only.
Thus I will write you, my dearest, adieu in this evil world, and will commend you to the faithful Almighty God, for He alone is able to keep you from the evil, and to bring you into His eternal kingdom.
O holy Father, I, Thy weak servant, humbly beseech Thee in my bonds, that Thou wilt keep my most beloved wife, and my only daughter, and all the God-fearing, from the evil, and sanctify them in Thy name. O heavenly Father, hear me, unworthy one, through Jesus Christ; that we may all enter into Thy eternal joy, and no one remain without. To this end, may the good God grant His grace. Amen.
Adieu, my only daughter; your beloved father shall be crowned ~a king by our dear Lord. Hence be resigned and be an obedient daughter, and diligently read the holy Scriptures. Live according to them, and we shall meet again and rejoice forever, without end. Amen.
Finished on the fourth day of March, A. D. 1572, by me, your dear husband, imprisoned for the testimony of the Gospel of Christ, to the praise of God. Amen.
JAN VAN KUYCK.
I salute you cordially in the Lord with the love and peace that shall endure forever.