[After the preceding, sixteenth century closed with the burying alive of Anneken van den Hove, in the year 1597, the following, seventeenth century commenced, not without threats, and the shedding of the blood of the pious witnesses of the Lord.
The first year of this century begins with a decree (though not unto death), published by those of Groeningen and Sneeck against the Anabaptists.
Huybert op der Straten, Trynken his wife, Pieter ten Hove, and Lysken to Linschoten, near Witgensteyn, for the afore-mentioned faith, led around the gallows, scourged and banished from the country, in 1601.
Hemes Nimrich, a teacher of the aforementioned people, and others, four years subsequently, namely, 1605, near Steyn, scourged out of the city, Hemes having first been led through under the gallows.
Marcus Eder and Hans Poltzinger apprehended on the 24th of April, of the same year, at Nimbach, in Bavaria, and on the 26th of the same month taken to Riet; and, for the steadfastness of their faith finally put to death with the sword, and burnt with fire, on the 26th of August, A.D. 1605.
Hans Landis beheaded in the city of Zurich; further observations touching the circumstances of his death; for the year 1614.
An account respecting a certain prohibition published by those of Aerdenborgh against the Anabaptists, and what was done by the Lords States General of the United Netherlands for the abolishment of the same.
An extract from certain letters of said Lords States to the Lords of Haultain, Governor of Sluys, as also to the bailiff and magistrates of Aerdenborgh, for the cessation of the oppression began A. D. 1619.
A decree of those of Deventer against the Mennists or Anabaptists, A. D. 1620.
A note touching severe slanders against the Anabaptists in Holland, and how they, by a certain con-
fession of faith, defended themselves before the States of said country, A. D. 1626.
The inauguration of the last Swiss persecution, as also the cause of the same, A. D. 1635.
The progress of the inauguration of said persecution in the castles Wadischwyl, Knonow and Groeningen, as also in the consistory, at. Zurich, A. D. 1636.
Concerning said persecution, and the manner in which twelve brethren were apprehended, and imprisoned in the place Othenbach, at Zurich, as also how it terminated, A. D. 1637.
Hans Meyli, Sr., and his son's wife conducted to Zurich and imprisoned A. D. 1638.
This year (1639), fruitful of martyrs and martyresses, many having suffered in prison, at Zurich, in body as well as in life; an account of whom is given in order, namely, Catharina Mulerin; the four sisters, Barbara Meylin, Ottila Mulerin, Barbara Kolbin, and Elizabeth Meylin; as also, Elizabeth Hilzin; the brethren, Hans von Uticken, Burckhardt Aman, Jacob Egly, Ully Schedme, surnamed Schneider, Jacob Rustenhel of Horgerberg, Stephen Zehender of Byrmensdorf, Ulrich Schneider, with his two sons, Henry Gutwol of Lehnmer, Hans Jacobs Hess, as also his wife.
A certain manifesto published by those of Zurich in excuse of the persecution commenced, answered and refuted by the persecuted; in the aforesaid year 1639.
Werner Phister, and his son's wife, as also Callus Schneider, Rudolph Bachman, and Ulrich Muller, put to death in the year 1640, at Zurich, in the prison Othenbach.
A supplication of those of Amsterdam to the council of Zurich, for mitigation of the persecution; as also the answer, A. D. 1642.
Felix Landis (the son of Hans Landis) dies of hunger and want in prison Othenbach, A. D. 1642; his wife delivered out of her bonds.
Rudolph Suhner, a young lad, follows in the footsteps of the aforesaid Felix, and also dies of want, A. D. 1643.
A number of women suffer much for the truth, namely, Elizabeth Bachmanni, Elsa Bethezei, Sarah Wanry, Verena Landis, Barbara Neff, and Barbly Ruff, about A. D. 1643.
Henry Boller dies bound in prison, A. D. 1644.
A certain letter from Switzerland, touching the threats made by those of Berne against the Anabaptists in those parts, A. D. 1645.
Mention is made, A. D. 1650, of a decree published by those of Schaffhausen against those called Anabaptists.
A certain mandate proclaimed against the Anabaptists, three years later, namely, 1653.
Ully Wagman and another brother, both imprisoned; Ully dies A. D. 1654, while the other brother remained in prison long afterwards.
A certain letter from Mackhenheym, in defense of the brethren persecuted in Switzerland, sent to Amsterdam, A. D. 1658.
Seven -teachers apprehended at Berne, namely, Ully Bogart, Anthony Hinnelberg, Jegly Schlebach, Hans Zaug, Ully Baumgartner, Christian Christians, and Rudi Peters. See year 1659.
A decree published by those of Berne, against those called Anabaptists, on the 9th of August, A. D.;1659.
A record of what the Lords States of the United Netherlands did with those of Berne,_ for the mitigation of the aforesaid decree, by letters of recommendation, as also of letters of recommendation of some Dutch cities in particular, for the same purpose; A. D. 1660.
Herewith this whole work, and consequently the whole Book of Martyrs, is abridged and concluded.
This century will be brief, and extend not over much more than half a century. Neither will the martyrizations that occurred in it be so severe as those in any of the preceding centuries. Beheading people, or suffering them to die of want in prison, will be the severest punishments that were inflicted according to the body upon the following witnesses of the Lord. In the meantime, when the north wind of persecution began to blow its fiercest, according to the course of the times, the pleasant south wind of rest and liberty from persecution intervened. The most, however, mischief in this brief century, in the parts of Zurich and Berne, was caused by such as called themselves Reformed; others, who bore the same name, and especially the rulers of the United Netherlands (as being friends of peace, and enemies of constraint of conscience), opposed it, and kindly and in a fatherly manner protected the innocently persecuted ones, according to all their ability.
This work begins with Groningen and Sneeck in Vriesland, and ends with Zurich and Berne, in the confines of Switzerland. This is the order which we shall follow.
With the beginning of this century, when the constraint exercised by the papists upon the faith and conscience of the pious, began to cease somewhat, some who had separated from popery, and yet nevertheless retained the disposition of the papists, in the matter of oppressing others for their religion, poured out their bitterness not only upon those who had formerly oppressed them, but principally upon such as had never done them evil, but always good; however; not unto death, nor severe punishment of the body,. but lighter and lesser penalties, of which those of Groningen and Sneeck were the inventors, and inaugurators. Which decree, as far as it is directed against the Anabaptists, we shall copy literally.
The burgomasters and the council make known: Whereas it has come to our certain knowledge that not only many in the city and in the jurisdiction of the same presume to exercise and practice, contrary to the treaty sworn to and made with the city, A. D. '94, another religion than the Reformed, to the adulteration of the Word of God, to the misuse of His holy sacraments, and to the offense and seduction of many persons; but that also nearly all disorders and abuses in and without the marriage state, and also others contrary to the Christian church regulations established and customary here, creep in and are practiced; and we by virtue of our office recognize it our duty to meet and check all this with proper penalties: therefore, we have ordained, and do ordain and decree by these presents, as follows
Firstly, that the exercise of all other religions than the Reformed is herewith again strictly prohibited.
And if any one be found to allow his house or place to the Anabaptists, contrary to the church regulations of this city, for the purpose of preaching or holding meetings therein, he shall each time be fined ten dollars.
The preachers, as aforesaid, if found to be preaching, shall for each offense be fined ten dollars, or be imprisoned two weeks on water and bread; and when detected in thus preaching the third time, shall be expelled from the city or the jurisdiction of the same.
And all that shall be found attending such preachings or gatherings, shall each time be fined two dollars.
Whoever shall be found to have rebaptized any one, shall be fined twenty dollars; and when detected the second time, shall be imprisoned on water and bread, and expelled as aforesaid.
Again, unbaptized children shall not receive inheritance, according to the city statutes.
No one also shall be admitted to any administration or office, public or private, nor be accepted as a witness, except he render the solemn oath required for it.
And all that refuse such oath shall be punished as a witness, except he render the solemn oath required for it.
And all that refuse such oath shall be punished as is proper according to law.
(NOTE.-Here follow two other articles, which do not properly belong to this matter; hence we have omitted to place them here; but proceeding we read thus:)
As regards the disposing of the aforesaid fines, one half shall go to the informer, and the other half, like other fines, fall to the city and its jurisdiction.
Thus resolved on the 5th of September, to be published by the bell on the ensuing Monday.
The aforewritten, touching the exercise of religion, was published by the bell, the 7th of September, 1601, old style.
See Chronijck van den Ondergang, edition 1620, page 1539, col. 2, compared with the apology of the decree, letter A., fol. 4; also, Tegenberacht, letter A., 3, 4.
Whether this decree by those of Groningen and Sneeck caused any serious oppression, then or about that time, by way of banishment or the like, to those baptized according to Christ's ordinance, we have not been able to learn; but that they afterwards in those places proceeded much more severely than the decree justified, by hard imprisonment, etc., against those people, we have found only too much to have been the case; however to the great good and happiness of those who suffered this for the testimony of the Lord and His holy truth.
Moreover, said year did not end without the shedding of blood of the saints, and the spoiling of their goods, in the parts of Witgensteyn, as will appear from the following account.
In the year of our Lord sixteen hundred and one it occurred that Johann von Steyn, Count of Witgensteyn, Lord of Hamburg, being a member of the Calvinistic Church, purposed to abolish the Romish and Lutheran doctrine, and at the same time laid his hands on the defenseless sheep of Christ, which were contemptuously called Anabaptists, and put them in prison.
Among these are mentioned by name, Huybert op der Straten, Trijnken his wife, Pieter ten Hove, and Lijsken to Linschoten, which latter, as we have learned, was an aged woman of over seventy years.
The first three mentioned were imprisoned twelve weeks, the latter seventeen days, she having been apprehended much later.
They suffered much temptation, by way of bitter threats as well as by entreaties, in order to cause them to apostatize; but when they (the persecutors) could not destroy their souls, or cause them to apostatize or depart from the truth all four were finally condemned upon a false accusation (namely, that they had been convicted with the holy Scriptures, which was altogether untrue, and that they would nevertheless continue in their deceptive heresy of Anabaptism, etc.) in this manner
That all their property should be forfeited, and that each should be scourged with rods, to the
number of about forty stripes, and moreover be forever banished from the country; which was accordingly done.
Thus, say the authors, they stripped these innocent, pious persons, led them around the gallows, and scourged them, spoiled them of their property, and shamefully drove them forth with empty hands, and sent them out of the country. See preface to the old Of f erboeck, of the year 1615, letter iij, Col. 1.
Under the afore-mentioned Count of Steyn (or Witgensteyn) in Germany, though he was called Reformed, the Anabaptists also at this time, had to suffer much persecution for their faith.
A teacher of said faith, named Hemes Nimrich, was apprehended together with several others."He was led to the gallows," writes P. J. Twisck,"not knowing but he was to be beheaded; but when he arrived there, he was (as had been done to the preceding persons) led through under the gallows, and severely scourged; the other prisoners were scourged out of the city." Chron. van den Ondergang, page 1590, Col. 2.
On the 24th of April, A. D. 1605, two brethren, named Marcus Eder, a cartwright, and Hans Poltzinger, a tailor, were apprehended for their faith and for the sake of the divine truth, at Nimbach in Bavaria, where they were traveling through and were betrayed. Early in the morning on the 26th of April both were taken prisoners to Riet, where they remained in confinement until in the fifteenth week. In the meantime they dealt with them in many and various ways, seeking to make them apostatize from the faith. Two Jesuits were also brought to them from the town of Oting, who were to instruct them, and teach them their faith. But they continued firmly and steadfastly in the true faith, and would not hearken to the voice of strangers. The priests at Riet often came to them, and wanted to persuade them to their faith; but the brethren said, "It is a faith of idolatry and fornication, a faith of sin and blasphemy, as the fruits testify." And thus they did in no wise suffer themselves to be moved, but always defended themselves well according to the truth and the simplicity of Christ, concerning what God had made known to them; and thereto they would adhere unto the end; and though they, by God's permission, should deprive them of their lives, they could not harm their souls.
Now when all the false doctrine of the priests could accomplish nothing with them. they gave hem over to the executioner that he should try his skill on them, and had them twice very cruelly tortured, wanting to know of them, who had lodged them, and who they were to whom they wanted to go; the brethren however would not tell them, but said that it was not necessary for them to know.
Now when they could in no wise accomplish their purpose with them, there came, after much proceeding, an order from the government at Berckhausen, that they should be executed with the sword, and then burnt with fire.
When they arrived at the place of execution, Brother Marcus requested the executioner, that he should first execute Hans, which he also did; and when this had been done, Marcus said to the people, of whom there were many present, "God be praised, my brother has overcome; and I will do likewise." After these words Br6ther Marcus was also beheaded, whereupon both were burnt together. This occurred on the twenty-sixth day of the month of August of the aforesaid year. The executioner had received orders, that if he should perceive that one of them wanted to recant, though he should already have drawn forth the sword, he should yet forbear and not proceed with it; but in this hope they were disappointed. Thus these two brethren testified to the faith and the divine truth valiantly and steadfastly unto death, with their blood; God, who gave them power and strength thereto, be praised and thanked forever.
The following brief account, which is found in the Chronijck van den Ondergang, page 1590, Col. 2, will serve as a confirmation of the foregoing.
In the year 1605 (says the writer), on the 24th day of April, Marcus Eder and Hans Polzinger, Anabaptists, were apprehended for the faith, at Nimback, in Bavaria, and taken prisoner to Riet, where they remained in confinement until the fifteenth week.
When they could neither by the Jesuits, nor by the priests, move them from the faith, they gave them over to the executioner to try his skill on them, and had them tortured twice very cruelly, wanting to know of them, who had lodged them, and who they were to whom they wanted to go; but the brethren would not tell them. Thereupon both of them were executed with the sword, and their bodies burnt together, on the 26th of August, of the same year. Compare the afore-mentioned chronicle with Jac. Th. Oal., and W. Att. letters.
That the bloody constraint or dominion over the consciences of men still obtains, is a sad thing, and especially is it to be deplored, that those who boast of being, more than others, followers of the defenseless Lamb, have not more the nature of the lamb, but much rather that of wolves in them. It certainly cannot stand as an excuse, that such a course is conducive to the maintenance of purity of the church; but it appears to be a hot zeal to weed out the tares (or what thev iudLye to be tares):
whereas the servants of the lord, when their zeal urged them to root out the tares, did not venture to do it; but asked permission, and when they were forbidden to do it, they forbore. If these would also ask, or examine the law book of their Lord, they would find there, that the Shepherd does not teach His flock to devour, but sends them as sheep among wolves; that it is also not His will, that the erring should be destroyed, but that they should be .guided into the true way; and that He also does not desire the death of the sinner, but that he should repent and live. And many other similar doctrines, all of which tend to the salvation and not the destruction of men. But it is very evident that there is still a veil before their hearts, so that they cannot understand this; or that a frantic zeal has inflamed their hearts to such bloodthirst, that they cannot tolerate it, that any one should walk the way to heaven in any other manner than just as they have chosen it, and in which they want to compel every one to walk, as was seen in the year 1614, at Zurich, in Switzerland, in the case of a pious witness of the divine truth, named Hans Landis, a teacher and minister of the Gospel of Christ, who had gone up the river Rhine, where he had his place of residence, to feed and refresh with the Word of the Lord some souls that were hungering and thirsting for righteousness.
When the council at Zurich learned of this, they, instigated by the disposition of the envious scribes and Pharisees, could not tolerate this, but instantly caused it to be forbidden him, as though they had thought thereby to hinder the true progress of the word of the Gospel. But he, who knew with Peter, that we must obey God's commands more than the commandments of men, had such love to the truth, and to the young sucklings on Zion's breasts, that no human threats could induce him to forbear feeding them with the true food of the soul. Hence the enviers of the same apprehended him, and sent him ironed from Zurich to Solothurm, to the papists, expecting that he should forthwith be sent to sea or upon the galleys; but through the help of goodhearted people he was there released; but subsequently apprehended again and taken to Zurich, where he was rigorously examined concerning his doctrine, and when he would in no wise desist from his godly purpose or from his faith, they showed in him, that their decree of eighty-four years previous was not yet forgotten, neither had the spirit of it died of old age; for, according to the import of the same, they sentenced him from life to death, and hence, in the month of September of the aforesaid year, 1614, for the sake of the truth he was beheaded as a true follower of Christ. Which they nevertheless would not acknowledge, but pretended, and persuaded the common people, to deceive them, that he was not punished and put to death for his religion, but for his obstinacy and disobedience to the authorities.
In this they evinced their old nature of Pharisees; who, when they condemned to death the inno cent Lamb, the Saviour of us all, did not say that it was for His virtuous doctrine by which He converted man to God, but that He had to die for His blasphemy. And this is the nature of all tyrants, to heap upon the innocent, besides sufferings and death, also false accusations. But when the last day of judgment shall come, when they must also expect and shall receive a sentence for their inconsiderate sentences, and shall lament in amazement, "Behold these whom we once had in derision, and a proverb of reproach, how are they now exalted"; then they shall too late repent of their wicked course, and lament it forever with gnashing of teeth.
But on the other hand, this pious martyr and witness of God, and all the righteous that are still under the altar and wait for the fulfillment of the number of their brethren who shall also make their robes white in the blood of the Lamb, shall receive a glorious reward, and shall then together, in shining raiment, with great boldness, as valiant heroes and confessors of Christ, with the wise virgins, be admitted by the Bridegroom to His marriage, where they shall enjoy eternal happiness, and possess the kingdom of the Father, prepared for them from the beginning. Amen.
Having through our good friends B. Louwr and H. Vlaming come into possession of a certain extract from a letter dated, A. D. 1659, July 19-29, from one of the preachers at Zurich, who witnessed the death of the afore-mentioned martyr, we have deemed it well to add it here, that is, as much of it as is necessary to be given here for fuller information., "Further you remember," he writes,"that Hattavier Salr. witnessed the beheading of Hans Landis, which I also still remember well, having seen it myself in the Wolfsstadt, the whole transaction being as fresh in my recollection, as though it had happened but a few weeks ago."
Continuing, he speaks of his personal appearance and the manner of his death, saying., "Hans Landis was a tall, stately person, with a long black and gray beard, and a manful voice., "When he, cheerful and of good courage, was led out, by a rope, to the Wolfsstadt (being the place made ready for his execution), the executioner, Mr. Paull Volmar dropped the rope, and lifting up both of his hands to heaven, spoke these words, "'O that God, to whom I make my complaint, might have compassion; that you, Hans, have come into my hands in this manner; forgive me, for God's sake, that which I must do to you.', "Hans Landis comforted the executioner, saying that he had already forgiven him: God would forgive him, too; he well knew that he had to execute the order of the authorities; he should not be
afraid, and see that there was no hindrance in his way., "Thereupon he was beheaded. After his head had been struck off, the executioner asked: 'Lord bailiff of the Empire, have I executed this man rightly according to imperial law and sentence?' Otherwise it was customary to say: 'This poor fellow,' etc. As though he believed that he died saved and rich., "The people were of the opinion, that the executioner by dropping the rope meant to indicate to Hans that he should run away, it was also generally said: that if he had run away, no one would have followed him, to stop him." So far the aforementioned extract.
Further Statement.-It is also appropriate to give here what has been stated to us through credible testimony, namely, that when the aforementioned Hans Landis was standing in the place of execution, to be put to death, his dear wife and children came to him with mournful crying and lamentation, to take a last and final adieu and leave from him. But when he saw them, he requested them to go away from him, in order that his good resolution and tranquillity of heart for the death awaiting him might not be disturbed or taken away by their weeping and grief; which having been done, and he having commended his soul into the hands of God, the quickly descending stroke of the sword put an end to his life.