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Martyrs, Jan Woutersz van Cuyck
THE FIRST LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, TO HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW AND HIS SISTER, WHICH TREATS OF HIS EXAMINATION AND TORTURE
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.
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 anxietssy; but I unworthy one have tasted this, the Lord be glorified therein.
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 ma Eter 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 * Behold the man I John 19:5. 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 SECOND LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, WRITTEN TO HIS BROTHER AND HIS SISTERS
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.
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.
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 tribulation to 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 believe 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.
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.
THE THIRD LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, TO THE CHURCH OF GOD AT DORTRECHT, WHO WERE SCATTERED EVERYWHERE FOR THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
THE FOURTH LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, TO HIS WIFE
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.
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 anxietssy 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 quietss 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.
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.
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.
JAN VAN KUYCK.
I salute you cordially in the Lord with the love and peace that shall endure forever.
THE FIFTH LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, TO HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTER
The unfathomable grace and mercy of our heavenly Father, the abundant love of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the co-operation of His Holy Spirit, always be multiplied to you beloved, my chosen on earth, for consolation on your pilgrimage, for the steadfastness and confirmation of your faith, to the praise of God, and to the salvation of your soul; that you may always be a light in this world, and also edify your dear, only daughter, and your neighbor, in that which is good; so that you may always be like unto fruitbearing branches, for to this are all believers appointed. if another decreases and becomes weary, do you constantly increase, and let your increasing become manifest before God and men, knowing that the good works will follow you; and it will be an ornament to your wedding garment when you shall appear before the supreme Bridegroom; when the slothful, the sleepers-who are sufficiently awake to seek that which is perishable only too much-shall stand naked, then you shall be gloriously appareled.
Therefore, my dearest sister above all men weary not, though you must still walk in this pilgrimage; always trim and fill your lamp in simplicity with oil, and keep it constantly burning, and thus with patience wait for your Comforter and Bridegroom. Then He shall for a little season of faithfulness bid you a glorious and joyful welcome; for He has opened the way, for you and all believers, who use diligence, and add to their faith, virtue; to virtue, knowledge; to knowledge, temperance; to temperance, patience; to patience, godliness; to godliness, brotherly kindness; to brotherly kindness, charity. If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Hence Peter further admonishes: Wherefore the rather give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things (mark), ye shall never fall (mark still more): for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. II Pet. 1:5-11.
Oh, it is very evident from this, how one falls, and how one gets into the way of life; hence, diligence is a good thing. For David says, "Thou hast commanded us to keep the precepts diligently!" Psalm 119:4. And Paul says, "Be not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit." Rom. 12:11. He further writes, "These things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God may excel in good works." Tit. 3:8.
Oh, how well it goes when one heeds this! He further also says, "O that it were the will of God, that those whom I have instructed might minister to the furtherance of the truth of the Gospel, and become diligent in the works of eternal life." O they who lay to heart these divine Scriptures of admonition and warning, will not easily grow weary; when others will halt, they will go on with a faithful heart, as long as they can draw breath, and constantly make no account of what they do, because of the divine nature that is in them, which love is without measure. Namely, when one considers in his heart, that Christ, by His great agony of death made us dead men alive, and aelivered us from the power of the devil, and translated us into the kingdom of Christ; that fie has taken and chosen us poor sinners from so many thousands, and enlightened us. W hen they shall go into eternal fire, we shall go into everlasting joy, and our vile body shall be like unto Christ's glory. Oh, who can tell that great joy which shall endure forever? Everyone who truly tastes said love and goodness of God does not easily weary in well doing; the same, Paul also says, shall reap without ceasing. Gal. 6:9. And Christ says, "A good tree bringeth forth good fruit." Matt. %:N. He also says, "'They that have done good shall arise unto the resurrection of eternal life." John 5:29; Dan. 12:2. O my very dear and beloved wife, though I must now leave you, and see you no more, yet by the grace of the Lord I hope to see you in the resurrection, but with a glorious and incorruptible body. Therefore, my dearest lamb, always go on in virtue, according to your ability, as I trust with all my heart, my dearest, you will do. Hold fast the truth wherein you stand through the grace of God; for it is the rignt truth, and there shall no other be found; of this I am sure in my heart. Hence be firmly rooted therein, that you may be able to stand against all tempests, and not fall through persecution, or through being robbed of your goods, or your beloved, nor through false Christs, of whom, alas! there are many abroad, who disturb and deceive many hearts and minds, under the semblance of truth, which is adulterated by them; so that much bitterness has sprung up, and love has waxed cold in a very great measure.
Yea, I fear, that it will go yet as Christ says, "When the Son of man shall come, will he find believers on the earth?" Luke 18:8. O my most beloved wife, I can no longer watch over you by the help of the Lord, nor strive for you; strive now for yourself, with earnest prayer to God. He will not forsake you, though I must leave you. Trust firmly in Him, and always adhere unwaveringly to the doctrine of Christ. Fulfill that which you have heard and accepted, in the fear of God, and you shall have eternal life; for God is able to perform and to accomplish the same good work which He has begun in you, without delay.
Finally, be strong in the Lord, through the power of His might, and be well armed against all adversity, and you shall triumph by the help of the Lord. Set your affection on divine things, and overcome that which is human. Col. 3:2. And I beseech you as affectionately as I can, be resigned in the Lord, and constantly be mindful of your redemption, and of the treasure that surpasses all treasures, which has been given you out of grace; and have in constant remembrance the glorious promises; and I hope by the grace of the Lord, that the bitter cup and the bitter water Mara, which you must now also drink for the Gospel's sake, will be, in a measure, sweetened. For, my dearest, you are certainly well aware that these are our meat and promises, and that ever since we accepted the truth we expected to become a spoil to everyone; for the servant is not better than his lord, and we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And consider, from Abel to the present time, how the righteous had to suffer. The Scriptures must certainly be fulfilled; for if I were not apprehended, nor another, how should the number of the martyrs under the altar be fulfilled? for they wait for the fulfillment. Hence console yourself, my dearest, and comfort one another; for I suppose when one weeps the other weeps, too. For I can comfort you with the holy Word of the Lord; and I am still more assured that I am not a bastard, because the merciful Father has been pleased to chasten me poor sinful man, and to receive me unworthy one as His dear son; His will be done. Therefore pray, and cause prayer to be made for me, that I may with my death praise the name of the Lord, to the edification, emboldening and joy of my neighbor, for a light to the world, for the awakening of those who are still in the sleep of sin, and to the salvation of my soul.
I must also inform you, my dearest on earth, that it is a great alleviation to me in my bonds, that you are not in custody. Oh, I also cannot fully thank my God on account of our poor little daughter, who saw her father bound, as though he were a murderer; however, the strong and faithful God gave me such grace, that I was hardly frightened at all, only I said, "O my lords, why do you bind me thus, as though I were a wicked man?""Oh," said they,"you inflict this upon you yourself;" hence there was much lamenting among them. When he asked me concerning you, I spoke in a very loud. tone to the bailiff, in order that you should flee, so greatly was I concerned for you. The Lord be praised, that He so graciously chastens me.
O dearest lamb, you were certainly very near, as may be imagined, if one leaves the cloak behind and flees without it. Now, dearest, be of good cheer; true, you leave more yet; but if you leave much you shall receive much. And always possess yourself in patience, and you shall by the grace of the Lord overcome everything that comes upon you; for patience is a special gift of God. Patience is the Christian's strength; this I, unworthy one, have discovered indeed, and I also experience it best in my bonds which I suffer for Christ's sake. I cannot fully thank His grace for His consolation. I experience how a man feels that is not imprisoned for any evil doing. I experience the Lord's faithfulness, which He has promised His own. I trusted in His Word, that He would keep it, before I was apprehended; for the Lord says, "Though a mother forget the son of her womb, yet will I not forget thee." Isa. 49:15. He is certainly the strength of the poor, .and a true helper in time of need.Oh, I was in hopes that I should alone seal it with my blood; but another weak lamb has fallen into the hands of the wolves, and this very strangely. One would have thought that she was certainly not in much danger. She came into my master's house, and was held. When my time was fulfilled, I also fell into their hands; I believe that the good God has ordered it so for my salvation; for He knows better than I, what is necessary for me; hence His will be done. O my dearest, be also resigned thus, and offer me up, your most beloved, into the will of the Lord, as is our daily prayer; for I had many times before prayed the Lord, that He should give me, and let come upon us, what is for my salvation. I therefore see that the Lord wants to take me away from the evil to come, and to bring me into rest; for he that loves the Lord and the church from the heart is. seldom without sorrow of heart, but frequently in travail. But now, I am also ofttimes, it seems to me, like a woman in travail, when I think of your and my daughter's grief, and of the sorrow of my old father and my old mother; then I indeed could cry, but the Lord gives me consolation again by His Holy Spirit; praise to Him forever.
I further cannot forbear, but must greatly thank you, my dearest, only wife, for having been such a dear, faithful wife to me, for more than nine years; the time has passed away so rapidly, that I am surprised. I have had such joy in my heart because of your love, that I could never fully thank the Lord for His grace; yea, I thought, that though the hairs of my head and the grass of the earth were tongues, I could not fully thank His goodness; I should remain His debtor. But however much I loved you, I had to limit it, in order that if it should come to what it has now come, I might overcome the parting.
Again, I loved my daughter rather more than I showed; I dared not set my affection too much upon her, in order that when I should have to part from her, as the Lord has ordered in regard to me, unworthy one, the bitter parting should not overcome me. But now that the Lord has called me to this state, I will commit you both, my dearest lambs, to the Lord of lords, and beseech His grace to keep you both from the evil, and to bring you into His everlasting kingdom.
But, alas! I have often regretted, and do still regret, that I, miserable man have not walked more holy and perfectly with you. Do as I would, I always fell far short; so that I did not struggle through all the years of my faith without stumbling or falling. But the rich God, seeing my good intention, according to His mercy lifted me up again, for He is willing to forgive, as I also gladly forgive and His promise is sure, "If we forgive men their trespasses, he will also forgive us our trespasses." Matt. 6:14. When I thus felt my own deficiency, it caused me to keep myself in humility, and to bow myself under the mighty hand of God, and it was an admonition to me to be zealous in my calling. While I was in a good determination, the Lord of lords came, for which eternal praise be to Him; and I often pray Him to forgive those who named, delivered, and apprehended rne; I forgive them all. O my beloved wife, this I must also heartily pray you yet, that.you will likewise thus forgive them that have sinned against me, and caused your grief; for if you forgave not, I think you should prevent the Lord your and my God from forgiving your debt; hence I beseech you to forgive it from the heart. And pray for them that afflict you, and you will be a good sister in Christ. Make God your debtor, and He will also forgive your debt; for we need daily forgiveness, because we are frail.
But I am also daily afflicted in this, that our dear church-many poor souls-are scattered so, and must wander about in foreign Countries, yea, some of them having nothing to lay hold of, and yet the poor children must be fed. Oh, there is a lack of cheerful givers in this distressing time.
Nothing special further for this time; but I commend you now and forever to the Lord, and to the rich Word of His grace, who is so able to keep you from the evil, and to bring you into His everlasting kingdom. Amen. I greet you most affectionately in the Lord with the kiss of love and peace, and this in the heart, as present with you in spirit. Bid our beloved daughter much good night in my, name., and tell her to comfort her mother, and if she is an obedient daughter, learns diligently to read, and then also to write, and then helps her dear mother to gain a livelihood, I shall love her. Greet much in my name, in the Lord, all the God-fearing that ask you concerning me; tell them to be of good cheer all of them, and to hope and trust in the Lord, for His hand is not shortened, this I now realize. Let therefore no one fear mortal man, but much rather the immortal God. I have confessed the faith, not sought my life, freely and openly confessed Christ before this sinful people, for a testimony unto them, that they may have no excuse to make in the day of Christ.
The bailiff asked me, whether I would not renounce my faith; that they would then give me back my liberty, -so that I could gain a livelihood for my wife and child as before, "you are yet a young man," said he,"you can raise children yet, and increase the world." I answered, that .I did not wish to renounce. The bailiff said, "Do you not want to live then?""Yes, my lord, but I will not renounce my faith for anything in the world." In going he said that I erred; he would prove to me from history, that the doctrine which I said in the time of the apostles was called the sect of the Nazarenes, is openly contradicted; you must see that our faith has existed for so many centuries, and been handed down from generation to generation. I said,"I do not look at the years, but at the truth." Thus we parted.
Go not around much with my letter, lest I lose my liberty [of writing]; the Lord be praised for it. If any one feel constrained by love to write a little, send it; put into it, a little color, and soil it a little, and it will be noticed the less. Write me how you and my daughter are; send it with color, or some spice, if it be only fennel seed, or a piece of cake; it shall be acceptable to me. Salute cordially your brother and his wife.
THE SIXTH LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, TO HIS ONLY DAUGHTER IN PARTICULAR
The eternal, almighty, good God, who by His word created heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that therein is, be with you. Because I sought Him in my simplicity, for the salvation of my soul, I am imprisoned by His enemies, which I will forgive them.- But though I am imprisoned, and have also suffered for it, 1 have never yet regretted that I sought, in my simplicity, my salvation; for unto salvation I am created through Jesus Christ, unto good works, that I should walk in them, and hereafter arise to everlasting life, Eph. 2:10; John 5:29. Therefore, my only daughter, attend to the instruction of your beloved father. Thus, what I tell you according to the Scriptures is this, "Consider the wickedness of the world, the learned with the magistrates, and their adherents, how they shed the innocent blood; they are called spirituals and Christians." Hence I beseech you, my dearest daughter, do not follow them, for they walk not in the right way, to this I bear witness. And read the holy Scriptures, and when you have attained your years, consider and ponder it well; and pray the Lord for understanding then, and you shall be able to discern good from evil, lies from truth, the way of perdition, and the narrow way that leads unto eternal life. And when you then see pomp, boasting, dancing, lying, cheating, cursing, swearing, quarreling, fighting and other wickedness, such as drinking to intoxication, kneeling down before wood, stone, gold, silver, or bread, think then, "This is not the right way, these are not the works of Christians, as the holy Scriptures teach. Such works proceed not from the Spirit of God, but from the spirit of Satan." The Scriptures testify that they are Christ's who have the Spirit of Christ or are led by the same. Rom. 8:9, 14. And in order that you may be found a true Christian, do not follow those people; follow them not, though they allure you in an inviting manner, and promise you fine things; do not regard that, but depart from the broad way on which they are, that you do not become a partaker of their eternal plagues. Consider the examples of the Scriptures in regard to this, which happened in the first world; for all who had departed from God, and did not believe Noah's preaching, and did not regard his words, were drowned. Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah, who daily vexed righteous Lot; they who would not go out with him, were burned. Thus it shall also go with those who do not believe the true Noah, that is, Christ Jesus; for He preached it in this world, saying first, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Mark 1:15. Even as Noah had warned and preached, before the flood came, so Christ preached, and caused His apostles to preach, repentance, and still causes it to be done daily, by rye, unworthy one, your beloved father, and by other servants of Christ. But what does it avail them? not many repent; they remain with the great multitude; we are lightly esteemed, for we are a plain, small and unlearned people. But Christ could well foresee the hardness of the people; hence He says in the Gospel, "As it was in the days, or times, of Noah; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until Noe entered into the ark; so shall it also be in the coming of the Son of man," that is, Jesus Christ. Matt. 24:37. Then shall the day of the Lord be as a burning oven. Mal. 4:1. Crying and lamenting will then avail wicked, unbelieving men nothing, for then there shall be no time to obtain grace. But now is the acceptable time, the day of salvation, now is the time of grace, the jubilee of the Lord, until the terrible day of the Lord comes. Isa. 49: 8; Deuteronomy 15:1. Then He shall say to those who would not believe the Gospel, but followed the multitude: Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. But to those who followed Him in this life unto the end, He shall say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Matt. 25:41, 34.
Thus, my dearest daughter, lay it to heart, despise it not, for it is of great importance to you; and diligently search (when you have received understanding from the Lord) the holy Scriptures, and you will find, that we must follow Christ Jesus, and obey Him unto the end; and you will also truly find the little flock who follow Christ. And this is the sign: they lead a penitent life; they avoid that which is evil, and delight in doing what is good; they hunger and thirst after righteousness: they are not conformed to the world; they crucify their sinful flesh more and more every day, to die unto sin, which wars in their members; they strive and seek after that which is honest and of good report; they do evil to no one; they pray for their enemies; they do not resist their enemies; their words are yea that is yea, and nay that is nay; their word is their seal; they are sorry that they do not constantly live more holily, for which reason they often sigh and weep. Let not this, however, be the only sign by which you may know who follows Christ; but [they are] also these, namely, who bear the cross of Christ, for He says, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23. For He has said, "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." John 15:20. But now someone might say, and persuade people, that He said this to His apostles. But the apostle Paul declaresto them and says that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 11 Tim. 3:12. The prophet, also, says that he that takes up the truth becomes everyone's prey; for that which is pure and clear cannot come forth. Isa. 59:15. Hereby you may understand, my dear daughter, who follow Christ, to be saved through Him. Beware of sin, that you do not commit it; and join these cross-bearers, that you may come to Christ, who bore the cross for us; for we must follow His footsteps, and be like our Lord, the disciple like his master; and as we suffer with Him, so shall we forever rejoice with Him. But, my only daughter, whom I love from the heart, I beseech you, fear not this present suffering, so that you do not, on this account, forbear to seek your salvation; this would be too great a folly; for now that I have suffered the same, I say with the apostle, that the suffering which comes upon us for Christ's sake is light and temporal, and works for us an exceeding weight of glory. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ, and He always helps us to triumph, so that we keep the faith in a pure conscience; for it is blessed, says the apostle, if we endure stripes for well doing. Hence rejoice, that your dear father has suffered and endured threats, contempt and stripes for well doing; I say for well doing, because I would not with the world walk the broad way to everlasting torment, which all shall receive who do not turn and follow Christ in the narrow way. The Word of Christ is always the judge; hence let no one think hard of me. John 12:48.
In the second place I also suffered because I loved my neighbor as myself, and would not name him. Be therefore resigned, and always think that your beloved father did not suffer as a thief or murderer, but as a Christian, of which I need not be ashamed, nor need you; but let them be ashamed themselves who do evil; one needs not be ashamed of that which is good. Though we are despised of men, .who perish like grass, and vanish as a vapor, what care we for mortal man: if w e only please the immortal God, all is well, for He will praise us. The praise of men is perishable. Hence we do not regard it, and look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; after these we follow and strive, and choose with Moses rather to suffer affliction with the children of God, than to live in the lusts of the world, for we have respect to the reward of Christ. Thither I will now go before, and wait for you and your dear mother a little while. Hence I pray you very affectionately, my dearest, only daughter, take the words of my letter to heart, so that you seek your salvation with all your heart, in following Christ. He will help you as well as He helps me, and has helped others who lived in my time and before. Christ is the way to eternal life; hence keep His commandment, which is life everlasting. John 12:50.
I further pray you, my dearest daughter, that you first of all love and obey your dear, beloved mother. If your beloved mother gets to be an aged woman, always show her great honor; and always do your best with her; it is a commandment of the Lord which has a promise. For if you do not love your dearest, beloved mother, how can you love our dear Lord, whom you do not see. But I hope and trust, my only, dear daughter, that you will do the best; and I was very .glad to hear in my bonds, that you conduct yourself so well, and are so resigned. Thank the Lord, that He has spared your beloved mother, so that you should get along better. But, as the time of the saints, of the prophets, of Christ, the apostles, and other saints, is fulfilled, so my time is also now being fulfilled, according to the providence of God, that I should henceforth rest in Christ. Thus I go the way of the prophets and apostles, believing what the holy Scriptures say, that Christ Jesus alone is our Saviour, and seeking to be saved by His blood, His merits, and His sufferings alone. Many evil things are said of us, of not one of which are we guilty; but we must suffer all for Christ's sake, and take His kingdom by force, for the violent take it by force. Matt. 11
12. Our enduring all things is our power and force, and by patience, meekness and longsuffering we
Tt through everything by the help of the Lord. ayMe grant you, my beloved daughter, and your dearest mother, the same patient, good spirit, to overcome in all tribulation which you have together, or may yet have, for the name of the Lord, to His praise and your soul's salvation. Amen.
Herewith, adieu in this wicked world,- and be of good cheer together. Written and completed this 4th of March, A. D. 1572. By me your beloved father, imprisoned at Dortrecht for the obedience of Christ, and this to the praise of God. Amen.
O merciful heavenly Father, who hast so specially chosen and loved me unworthy one, I, who am but dust and ashes, commend to you my dearest wife and my dearest, only daughter.
Written by me in bonds, at Dortrecht.
JAN WOUTERSS KUYCK.
THE SEVENTH LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, TO HIS FATHER AND MOTHER
The eternal merciful God, full of all comfort, grant you, my dearest, beloved father, and my dearest, venerable mother, His grace through Christ, and confirm the love of you both through His Holy Spirit; so that you may pass this short time to the praise of God, as a light. to the world, a pattern to your children, and to the salvation of your souls.
After this my cordial wish. I beseech and exhort your love, that you henceforth yield your members as weapons of righteousness, and not as formerly in the old man; but mortify the old Adam; that is, put off the old man with his evil deeds, and put on the new man, in true righteousness and holiness, asthe holy Scriptures teach, which serve us to eternal life. Rom. 6:13; Col. 3:9, 10.
For His commandment is life everlasting. And remember, how diligently you walked in the commandments of men, by which they have made the commandment of God of none effect for themselves; they also worship God in vain, teaching and observing the commandments of men, which have no promise in the Scriptures, but shall be rooted up, because our heavenly Father has not planted them. Yea, the same is accursed by Paul. Gal. 1:8. Oh, that you may now also be found very diligent, yea, much more diligent yet, in the unadulterated truth of God, which is revealed to you both through the grace of God, through Christ, in your old age.
Oh, this is such a great joy to me, that the Lord has spared you both so long, and that I have seen the day that my beloved father, and my beloved mother, and my only brother (I hope the best in re gard to my dear sisters) have had their blind eyes enlightened, so that they are now able to distinguish light from darkness, that is, evil from good, and are determined to forsake that which is evil, and do what is good.
If you go on together in this, and persevere unto the end, I hope that we shall rejoice with one another in the resurrection of life.
When the righteous shall be raised up, Oh, consider what great gladness and joy we shall then have, when the dear father, mother, and their children, shall hear the voice of our Bridegroom, saying, "Come, ye beloved, and possess the kingdom of my Father." But, dearest father and mother, brother and sisters, you must first think that Christ before that said, "Narrow is the way and strait is the gate which leadeth unto eternal life." As the prophet Esdras testifies, who speaks of a city full of all good things, to which leads a way which is but the width of a man's footstep; on one side is water, and on the other fire; how is one to receive this city for an inheritance, except he first pass through the strait? II Esd. 7:6.
Hence Christ, the supreme Prophet (who could well foresee the wickedness of the world) said, "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake, and this because they have known neither me nor the Father." Matt. 10:22; John 16:3. He further says, "Because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you, for the world loveth his own." 15:19. Further, "If they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also; if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call you?" 15:20; Matt. 10: 25. For the servant is not better than his lord; hence, he that would follow Christ in order to get where He is must deny himself, daily take up his cross, and follow Him in affliction, for He further says, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33. Ye shall (He also says in the same chapter) 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 away.
From this it is sufficiently obvious, that the way is very narrow for the flesh, which must remain here; this must be ventured, or one cannot be worthy of being a disciple of Christ.
But I trust that with Jacob we shall all desire the beautiful Rachel, namely, the kingdom of heaven, but this cannot be, we must first have Leah with her running eyes. For our trying, also the head was tried, who had done no sin; how then should not the members be tried? for then only He thoroughly sees whether a man fears, loves and trusts Him from the heart; whether he does not love his life more than his salvation. Concerning this necessary trial to which many saints of God were subjected, we have many examples in the holy Scriptures; as Abel, Jacob, Moses, David, job, the three young men in the furnace, Daniel, Susannah, the seven brothers with their mother, many prophets, apostles, and many saints after them, and also in my tithe.
Now it is my time, the Lord be praised, for I know that I am unworthy that I should place myself among this number, but the good, merciful God Counts me worthy, to fulfill the number of the martyrs who rest in Christ, and are waiting for their number to be fulfilled by those who should also be slain as they, for the testimony of Christ which was in them, and is in me, through Christ; which Christ has always, from the beginning of the world, been despised, evil spoken of, and cast out. Therefore I suffer for a little while; otherwise there is nothing for them to take exception to in me; they know nothing evil to allege against me, the Lord be praised. Hence I suffer now with Christ, as a Christian, for well doing, that my faith may be found much more precious than gold which pensheth. Thus does God try His chosen; but in time of need He faithfully helps us; this (how wonderfully God works in His chosen) I have experienced in my distress. Yea, I have very great joy, that He has kept my lips from beginning to end, this alleviated my sufferings, when my filthy, stinking carcass (evil in its nature) was suffering, being suspended and scourged two different times; but now that it is over, I have joy in my heart. The first time that I was tortured, was the last Saturday in February; and the other the Wednesday after. But, dearest father and mother, be not dismayed on this account, but rejoice with me, that we have such a strong God, who so faithfully helps us; for He fights our battle, He will not let us be confounded. For, consider the ancient times, whether any one was ever confounded that trusted in Him; for He hears. says David, the cry of the poor, and their heart is sure that His ears attend unto their prayer. Thus, firmly believe God's Word, and trust in Him, and He will keep His promise; for this you must know, that though the outward man perish, yet the inward man is re ewed day by day. Moreover, our temporal affliction is brief and light; of this I can now write; and it works for us a far more exceeding weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.
We endure the visible, and wait with joy for the invisible, eternal joy, in firm confidence and a living hope, which shall not make us ashamed.
Then shall they who were faithful unto death in the truth, confessed the name of Christ before the world, and put off the mortal clothing be crowned; these shall be honored by the young man, Christ Jesus, as Esdras testifies. II Esd. 2:43. Hence, I am of good cheer in the Lord, be also of good cheer. For when the suffering was over, I was as though I had had a fall; so that I can say,"What is suffering when it is over? it is not to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18. Oh, how joyful we shall be when we shall see that the children of God are such glorious kings, shining forth as the sun. Then shall the rulers of this world see whom they have pierced, whom they have mocked, despised and tortured; then they shall bewail it, but it shall then be too late. Hence I beseech you, be resigned, and thank the Lord, that you have raised such a son who is called to such a holy state.
It is no wonder, that this happens to me; consider John, than whom a holier has not been born of women, and who lived so austere a life, but yet was imprisoned and put to death; yea, Christ Himself, Stephen, Peter, James, who did so many miracles, and so many good works, and were nevertheless put to death. Hence Christ says, "The servant is not better than his lord." Thus there must be striving, and the kingdom of God must be taken by force, for the violent take it by force; for we are called, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for Him, and to help bear the sufferings and reproach of Christ. Though our earthly tabernacle perish, we doubtless expect a better in heaven. We are as sheep for the slaughter; who are not worthy of the world, we are to them filth, offscouring, and fools, for Christ's sake; but we are God's elect out of grace, through the blood of Jesus Christ, which alone cleanses us from all our sins, who alone by His sufferings and merits makes us worthy of His eternal kingdom; to Him be praise, glory, honor and power for ever and ever. Amen. By me your beloved son, after I had striven unto blood against my enemies, this first day of March, A. D. 1572.
My suffering sounds fearful, but I do not think that it lasted more than two hours in all. I do not know that I was in torture two hours; should one therefore deny the Lord? God forbid!
Finally, I pray your love, that you mourn not for me, but rejoice from the heart, and praise God, that He separated your firstborn son from the womb, to bear His great and glorious name before the rulers of the world, and that the faithful God has so faithfully helped me, for I was scourged thrice, and suspended four times. But Christ had suffered still more. And after the suffering I received great joy of the Holy Ghost, yea, that I wept for joy, because He has kept our lips, and does not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear. I have deemed it necessary to write of those wonderful deeds of God, and to spread them, in order that you should also become bold in the truth; and I leave you this as a testament in remembrance of me, that the Spirit of God, which makes me strong and bold, may also thus confirm and lead you according to His will, who created you, and that you may love each other: for if you loved each other, and lived peaceably, when you were in blindness, how much more ought you to love each other, and to live peaceably, now that your eyes are enlightened through the grace of God. And always pray the Lord, to give you still more grace, which He will also do; if you are found faithful in the little which you have already received, He will trust you with still more. Yea, He will give the Holy Ghost to all who ask Him for it; but one must first depart from evil, deny himself, and say with Paul, "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" When the heart is thus entirely surrendered, the Lord will further work and fulfill in you, because there is a good will in you. And always humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and He shall exalt you in due time, as He has promised in many places; so that we may together be exalted by Christ our eternal Saviour, whither I will now go before, and will much rather first give the mortal mantle of flesh, than that I should consent to the whore of Babylon. I will rather be slain by Cain, than on his account leave undone that which is pleasing to God. I will rather be stoned with Naboth, than sell my heavenly Father's inheritance, as Esau sold his birthright. Rather be stoned with Susannah, than do the will of the false rulers. Rather go with Daniel in the lion's den, than that I should kneel down before wood, stone, gold, silver, bread, wine or oil. Rather go with the young men in the fiery furnace, than worship the image, which was set up, since it is written, that the Lord God alone is to be worshiped. Deut. 6. May the same purify you, my much beloved father and my much beloved mother, and through Christ His beloved Son, and the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, make you meet for His eternal kingdom, so that we may hereafter in the future world see one another with eternal joy. O heavenly Father, I who am but dust and ashes, beseech Thee here in my bonds through Jesus Christ, grant hereunto Thy unfathomable grace.
Adieu in this transient world. Oh, that you knew what joy I have; you would, I hope, be still more resigned. Finished this second day of March. My hand is somewhat better again; I bear in my body the marks of our Lord. The faith is kept. I have striven unto blood; in this the holy name of the Lord be glorified forever.
JAN WOUTERSS VAN KUYCK.
Imprisoned in the Vuylpoort, at Dortrecht.
THE EIGHTH LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, TO HIS SISTER-IN-LAW, WHO WAS STILL AMONG THE PAPISTS, AND IN THE ROMISH FAITH.
Affectionately written to you, my much beloved sister Neelken, Jacob's daughter, mother in the convent: I Jan Wouterss van Kuyck, your beloved brother-in-law, imprisoned at Dortrecht, not for any evil, but for the obedience of the Gospel of Christ; which is no shame before my supreme Lord, who created us, but a great honor to Him, that one for His name's sake, yea, for well doing, endures contempt and bloody stripes; such are accounted blessed by the holy Scriptures, which blessedness [salvation] Christ has merited by His great sufferings.
And since I sought my salvation in Christ, I have fallen into affliction, but I do therefore not regret it, for salvation is dearer to me than this transitory life, and I will give my life for it, knowing and believing that I shall, according to God's promises, which will not fail, receive an eternal one, which is better.
Hence, I beseech you most affectionately, grieve not on my account; I thank you very kindly for all the great friendship you have shown me and my dearest wife, and also my only daughter, and which you may have further shown while I have been in bonds.
Henceforth I know of no greater friendship to show you, my beloved sister; than that I must at my end invite you yet to the marriage of the Lamb, which is Christ; yea, heartily entreat you, to prepare yourself for it during this short time. Hence put off the old man with his evil deeds, and put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge of God, of Him that created him. Put off the old Adam, and put on the new, and walk therein, and you shall henceforth not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Col. 3:9, 10; Rom. 12:2.
See, beloved sister, I declare to you with the holy Scriptures, that you cannot come to Christ, the Bridegroom, unless you sincerely follow Him in His footsteps, in the narrow way which He walked; and I pray you, lay it to heart, for it is of great importance to you. I say and declare unto you, that neither you nor any one (I do not mean infants) can follow Christ, except you first deny yourself and deliver up to Him your own understanding, reasons, opinions, and your own life, even as He delivered up His life for us, that all who believe in Him, and do not live to themselves, should not perish, but have everlasting life through Him. Suffer to be told and have mercy on yourself, and trust not in the learned or that you bear the name of a Christian; to the learned, God's wisdom is hid. and the name does not make a Christian. But if you would nevertheless trust in the learned, perceive by their fruits what kind of trees they are, as Christ taught, that every tree shall be known by his fruit. Consider how Christ condemns them in the Gospel, and how they were enraged against Christ and His apostles, and how they laid hands on them; and though the heathen judges found no cause of death, yet they had to put to death the innocent, if they wished to remain the friends of the scribes and of Caesar. Thus it is still; think not that it is better now; they fill up the measure of their fathers, that the righteous blood may be found.on them. I have worked or labored for my. necessities, for my widow, and for my orphan child; they will not work themselves, and rather live off that which is other people's and cannot bear that another works; hence the bailiff forbids me to work, on their account. Again, when I was to be tortured the second time, in order that I should betray my neighbor, which I could not do, on account of my conscience, they brought to me the superior, who was to prove to me the Scriptures that I might do it. The superior said that I might do it, for; said he,"If you are the true people, your fellow brethren will with you receive the martyr's crown. How can one attain to greater honor:.hence you may name them. But since you are not the true people, you ought to name them, for. God hates the wicked." This the superior said to me. -O dear, consider in your heart what spirit actuates these learned men, how they expound-the ultimate object is nothing but murder. O dear Lord, forgive them. Thou teachest us better, namely, to love our neighbor as ourselves, yea, to lay down our lives for the brethren.. Hence separate-from them, you have long been one with them; lest you partake of their sins and abominable plagues.
It is now, out of great love, declared to you beforehand, by your very familiar brother-in-law, before that day comes upon you as a thief in the night; as the warning came in the first world, so it does still. Hence, if you would with Noah and his house be saved and protected, betake yourself under the protection of the true Noah, and observe His commandment, which is life everlasting; He calls you and all men; He knocks; He stretches- out His hand to you; refuse Him no longer, and do not rely on this, that you are called a Christian, and that God is merciful. Remember with it, that neither the name, nor the water, nor the sponsors make a Christian, but he that doeth righteousness is righteous; they that are led by the Spirit of Christ are His. And remember also that God is just, as-David declares, saying, "God is a righteous God, or a righteous judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword, he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors." Psalm 7:11-13. Attend well unto every word, for he is a strong archer when he lets fly his arrow, none can evade him. Hence consider his arrows which he let fly at the first world, at Sodom, Gomorrah and others. These accounts have been left us in writing that we should fear the Word of the Lord more than the aforesaid learnedmen; and if we, through fear and love, observe His commandments, then the Word, that God is merciful, will avail for us. For His divine nature is such; that His wrath and His mercy proceed together from Him, and this on this wise, that if the righteous forsake the way of the Lord, his righteousness shall not be mentioned, but he shall die for the sake of the blasphemy. Ezekiel 18:24.
Again, if the sinner turns away from his evil ways, does that which is good and right; and walks in the way of the Lord, his sins shall be remembered no more, for the Lord has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that he turn from his way and live. Ezek. 18:21; 34:11. Hence I beseech you, that you will free yourself from all the ways of the world, of the carefulness, and of the old things, of which your heart may be full; so that the Word of God may be planted in you with meekness and you may be found good earth bringing forth fruit abiding unto life eternal. God's judgment is now declared that every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire. Matthew 7:19. Let therefore the hammer of the divine Word break your heart into pieces; remember the words of the prophet, "Rend your hearts; and not your garments: for God is longsufffering and merciful and of great kindness, who forgiveth sin." Joel 2:13; Ps. 103:3. Hence, dear sister, remember that the longsuffering and daily kindness invite you to salvation; refuse it no longer,.for thereby you would wrong your own self.' Therefore amend your life and ways, and believe and obey the Gospel and you shall be saved through Christ for this is the promise, even eternal life. I John 2:25. But if you want to continue in the ordinances of men, and to be led thereby as the ox to the slaughter; you will find yourself deceived in the end; for in vain do you observe the commandments of men, which have no promise from the Lord, as I also said to the superior. He said that what God has not forbidden he permits. Oh, is this not a feeble reed in which to trust; but Christ teaches differently, saying, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." Matt. 15:13. And the apostle says that no other foundation can be laid, than Christ alone. I Cor. 3:11: In the second place the anostle has declared all the counsel of God and withheld nothing from us. Acts 20:27.
In the third place, he says, "If any preach any other gospel than I have preached, let him be accursed." Gal. 1:8. Yea, though it were an angel from heaven (mark well) yet his doctrine must not be received, if it is anything different. How should we receive for the purpose of honoring God with it, that which has proceeded from men, who are prone to wickedness from the cradle, and drink iniquity like water? Hence, what man institutes is like 'the labor of the spider; it can be used neither for covering, nor for clothing; but everyone that hears a.n~d keeps the Word of God for his salvation need add nothing to it.
Finally, I declare unto you once more in the name of my Lord, "Amend your life and ways, believe the (zospel, and flee idolatry." But if you yet think that you do not worship them, it is at least evident, that you serve them, kneel before them, and honor them, which God has forbidden, who requires His true statutes to be kept, and says by the prophet Jeremiah, "Obey my voice, and I will be your God and ye shall be my people." Jeremiah 7:23. And another prophet, "A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master: if I then be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear?" Mal. 1:6. Hence, if God is our Father, we must obey Him more than men; if He is our Lord, we must honor Him with that which He commands us. Then if we be reproached we will think, "The servant is not better than his lord; if they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, why should they not call them of his household so?" In short, he that would follow Christ to His marriage feast, must deny himself, take up the cross, and prepare his heart to suffer with Christ, in order afterwards to rejoice with Him. And this suffering is short, hence it is light
do not on this account remain behind. The Lord will help me and all the God-fearing through, and He will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able to bear, but will help you to triumph, though your enemies be never so many; God is our shield, who can overcome Him? Dear beloved sister, it is nothing strange that I suffer; it is a sign that the Lord loves me, and I Count it for my salvation. He tries me as gold is tried in the fire; thus He tried many chosen saints of God before my time, as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Caleb, Joshua, Daniel, John the Baptist who was the holiest of those born of women; Christ Himself and His apostles and others, were tried, as Job; but if we adhere to the Lord in temptation, the crown of eternal life is ready for us.
Herewith I will conclude this letter, kindly asking you not to reject my humble labor to you, which I have done out of great friendship. Search the Scriptures in regard to these things, and see whether they are not so. If you cannot understand or comprehend it, I kindly ask you, love your dear sister nevertheness, for she has been to me a very affectionate and faithful wife, so that I cannot thank her enough for her friendship and good company. Likewise love our only daughter, for I think that she has prolonged her beloved mother's life, the Lord be praised. But do not lead our child to dumb idols; by so doing you would sin still more against God. Take my letter in good part; for it has been done out of a faithful heart. O Lord, grant our beloved sister Thy holy knowledge, as Thou didst to Saul, who also had a zeal without knowledge.
Herewith I bid you, my beloved sister, adieu. Farewell.
Written in my bonds, on the fifth day of March, A.D. 1572. By me, your beloved brother-in-law, (in the Vuylpoort at Dortrecht).
JAN WOUTERSS KUYCK.
THE NINTH LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, TO HIS YOUNGEST THREE SISTERS
Affectionately written to you, my three beloved sisters, by me your beloved imprisoned brother, imprisoned for well-doing, and for the obedience of the Gospel, which is no shame to me before the Almighty, who has created us, but is a great honor to Him, for His power is made manifest, through us poor men, who suffer and endure stripes and contempt for His name's sake, and adhere nevertheless to the truth. Hence we do not regard these wicked men, who are nothing but dust and ashes, and shall vanish away as a vapor; but they that do the will of God shall abide forever. Though our earthly tabernacle perish, which must perish once, we look with patience for a better one in heaven, which is imperishable. And since we are assured of this in our hearts, we faint not, willing to be freed from this vile flesh,.which is prone to sin from infancy and to be at home, resting with Christ our Lord. But before we attain to this rest, we must first labor a little and fight against our enemies, who have been, and are still, very many. Understand this well, we get through this, and this through Him who strengthens us, which is Christ our Lord, who fights for us, so that we keep the faith, and see our desire upon our enemies; and we can rejoice in our sufferings, because of the victory which we obtain through Christ. And striving thus, we enter into rest. Yes, our dear Lord so strengthened me, that I was not disturbed by all the torturing. It seemed to me that I could embrace the bailiff, so friendly was my heart towards him, when I was not yet dressed after the torture.
See, my dear, beloved sisters, I have discovered it for you in advance; that the Lord of lords is a faithful helper in time of need. Hence I beseech you together, fear not men but this almighty Lord; for they cannot harm one hair of the people of God, except they first receive the power from our Lord on high, and He will not permit them more than we are able to bear, and will always with the temptation make a way to escape so that we shall be able to bear it. I Cor. 10:13. The souls of the righteous are ever in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. Wisd. 3:1. He is able to alleviate the pain, as He did to me. Praise to Him forever for. His great faithfulness.
Mark thereby the wonderful deeds of God, that He so faithfully helps them that believe and firmly trust in Him, whom they yet do not see.
Hence I know of no greater friendship to show you for this time, than to reveal to you the wonderful deeds of God, that you may rejoice therein with me, and that you may also be awakened to your salvation, to seek it alone in Christ Jesus, through His holy Word, which teaches us, in the first place, repentance, and to believe in the Gospel, in which Christ has said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink for nought. He that believeth on me, as the Scriptures hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This spake he of the Holy Spirit which they that believe on Christ should receive." John 7:37. Hence I entreat you most affectionately, to betake yourselves to the clear wine Christ Jesus; you shall receive it without price. Hence, constantly lead a penitent life, and pray with a longing heart for saving faith; so hunger and long to receive it from Christ, as you would long to receive bread, when you are hungry; and you shall receive it, and shall bring forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit, namely, love, peace, gentleness, patience, longsuffering, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance and thus in all the virtues you are to approve yourselves in obedience and in a meek and quietss spirit, as dear children of God, and always prepare and adorn yourselves thereto, and not with gold, silver, or costly apparel, for thereby one conforms to the world, to please her. But I counsel you for the best, that you do not do these things, lest you be punished with the world by the future judge, Jesus Christ, whom they despised and cast out, together with the prophets, apostles, and many saints, and also your brethren. Hence do not seek to please the wicked world, but Him who created you, that you may be saved through Jesus Christ.
Hence exercise yourselves and read the Word of the Lord, which will profit you in all things, how you may walk circumspectly in order to please the living God, and to be saved. And then the Spirit of Christ will guide you into all things, and you shall yourselves be taught of God. And He shall with the finger of His Holy Spirit write inwardly upon the tables of your heart.
Therefore always hearken to Him, and you shall be His friends, yea, He shall be your brother; and if you follow Him to the end, you shall possess what Christ possesses. Thither I will now go before, and wait for you there a short time, hoping that you will follow for your salvation's sake. When then our beloved father, and our beloved mother, my dearest and beloved wife, and my dear, only child, my only brother, my dear, beloved sisters, and other familiar friends, when we shall meet together (as I hope) in God's kingdom, what greater joy could we have? Hence take heed that this do not fail us, and that none of us be found to remain without. Love one another; set one another a good example; let each seek to be the first in good works and in the fruits of faith. Be diligent in reading, and warn one another against sin, for the other, crooked serpent* is very subtle in drawing off, and in exhibiting the lusts of the world, thereby to allure you, in order to keep you from God. He will lay his ambushes and manifold nets and snares; but continue always steadfastly in the
* Evidently an allusion to Isaiah 27:1, where (see German version) two serpents seem to be indicated.
fear of God, and do not listen to him, and he will flee from you; and think how he deceived Eve and Adam, and the whole first world, with the exception of eight persons. And it is still the same spirit: hence keep diligent watch, often resort to fasting and prayer, and always live soberly, that your flesh do not overcome you; for this is the worst enemy, for wherever we be, he is always with us, and is constantly advising us to evil. He ever strives against the Spirit; for it is very painful to the flesh, that it cannot fulfill its lust, and that it is subjugated by the Spirit. But, dtiarest sisters, if it should happen that Satan should take you una,%~ares (since he never rests, but is always seeking whom he may devour) always rise again, and do not yield yourselves to become servants or handmaids of sin, but take better heed;1it is for your warning. Hence humble yourselvles under the mighty hand of God, and seek henceforth to purify your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, and run henceforth in the conflict that is set before you and all the God-fearing; that you may not be found as those who become weary and dissatisfied in the way of the Lord, as I have known many to do. For by conflict all the God-fearing are tried; for how should they overcome, if there were no conflict? but to them that overcome the kingdom and an eternal crown are promised as a reward. And the holy Scriptures also teach you to honor father and mother; hence do not forget this, but help them in everything wherein they may need you, and always proffer your willing service; for this will be pleasing to the Lord, and our dear, beloved, venerable father, and our dear, beloved, venerable mother, can then rejoice, because their children have found delight in keeping God's commandments, whereby one can escape the future wrath of God. And when their days are fulfilled, they can depart in peace and tranquility, and commit the keeping of their souls in well doing unto a faithful Creator, and this because this good Lord has also called their dear children to the faith, and they have lived to see that they have found delight in the truth, to take it up, which has so long been trampled under foot, even as the whole world still does in its ignorance. Again, because they leave behind them believing children, for a child that fears God is better than a thousand that are ungodly; for children that do not fear God are to believing parents an affliction from the Lord, which cannot well be healed.
Thus, my dearest, beloved three sisters, I will commend and trust to you and my only brother, that you will fear and love God all your life which will last but a short time when compared to the ages of eternity. The fear of God teaches to beware of evil; and to love God is to keep His commandments, as Christ says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
The Scripture also says, "The fear of the Lord driveth out sin; it is also the beginning of wisdom."
Sir. 1:21, 27. Hence I entreat you all, love the wisdom of God above gold, and it shall come and meet you; and when you have received much understanding and wisdom, do not exalt yourselves therein, as though you were somebody; but thank the Lord for it, that He gives it into your keeping, and always apply it for the purpose, for which He has given it you, for He appoints you only stewards over it. And when the Lord then sees that you are faithful over His property, that you do not suffer it to lie idle, nor squander it, but that you are lights in the world, as pleasant, olive twigs of Christ, pleasant branches, beautiful stones in the temple of the Lord, He can entrust to you much more still, so that you may bring forth fruit more abundantly, bride of Christ, as a people of God, as members, as sisters and brethren of Christ, yea, as a royal priesthood. But when the other, crooked serpent sees this, he will envy you most, and work against you through the children of unbelief, in whom he now works, and in whom he has always worked. But, my dear sisters, always be of good courage, and take faith for a shield, with which always to protect yourselves and you shall quench and resist his fiery darts; and be armed also with the other spiritual weapons of God, as the apostle teaches, Eph. 6, and you shall remain steadfast, and be saved. May the good, eternal, almighty God, who lives in eternity, who rejoices with His holy angels over one sinner that repents with all his heart, make you all, my beloved sisters and brother, meet and perfect for His heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ His only Son, and by the co-operation of His Holy Spirit, that you may always have your delight in the right way of the Lord as David says; for they [His judgments) are true and righteous, and more precious than fine gold, and sweeter than the honeycomb (Psalm 19:9, .10); use all diligence to perform this, and this to the salvation of your, souls. Amen.
Herewith I will bid you my much beloved three sisters, adieu in this sorrowful, transient world, and I thank your love for all your friendship.
Written in my bonds, and finished on the, sixth day of March, by your beloved brother, for a remembrance to you all. A. D. 1572.
J. v. K.
THE TENTH LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, TO HIS OLDEST BROTHER-IN-LAW AND SISTER
Grace and peace from God the heavenly Father., through Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord and Saviour, and the co-operation of His Holy Spirit, always be multiplied to you both, for the confirmation of your faith, and for consolation ,on your, pilgrimage, that you may not weary in the only way of life, but may unwaveringly go on to your rest, so that you may together receive.the end of your sure faith, namely, the salvation of your souls. Amen.After this my cordial brotherly salutation and good wish, be pleased to know, my most cordially beloved oldest brother-in-law, and my most heartily beloved sister, that in this conflict I have constantly remained unchanged in the faith of the truth, once delivered to the saints; for which I now suffer vexation from mortal men, enduring it with a patient heart.
I cannot fully thank the Lord for this great grace that He has thus preserved us as the apple of His eye. Hence I beseech you both, be not dismayed on account of my transient tribulation, but be the bolder in the living faith, which worketh by love, knowing that your labor will not be in vain, but that it will follow you, clothing and adorning you in the day of Christ. Hereunto look constantly, and always follow His footsteps, in humility and meekness of heart; and be ever resolved the longer the more to live still more holy, remembering that we always fall short in many things, as I also experience in my own case; but my hope and refuge is Christ Jesus, who is our salvation, righteousness, perfection, eternal priest, propitiation, and intercessor. I would further inform you my specially beloved brother and sister in the Lord, that I your beloved brother-in-law and weak, unworthy brother, could not well refrain from writing your love a little, though I am conscious that my gift is simple and small, and you have an abundance of Scripture, and also the anointing, which always teaches you what is right, so that I deem it unnecessary to write you much; but I feel nevertheless constrained thereto, in order that I may, in some measure, show you my unchanging love before I put off this tabernacle; it serves for your consolation and for the strengthening of your faith, and I am confident in my heart, that it will be acceptable to you, though it be little. Thus, my dearest, I present to you nothing new, but beseech and exhort you both, that you take diligent heed to keep the pearl of great price, and to preserve the precious treasure in your earthen vessels. For you know how much it cost you, before you found and obtained it; and in confirmation of it that it still is and remains in you; let your light shine before your enemies, who are terrified thereby, and vanquished before your eyes by the Lord, without your help, as we have an example in Gideon, and others, wherein it is fully shown to us, that the Lord fights His people's battles. And since it is certain that the almighty Lord is with us, who can be against us? He that spared not His onlv Son. how should He not with Him give us all things? Thus He is a shield to them that seek and trust Him with all their hearts, and believe His Word to be sure, that He will not forsake us, but [that the Lord Almighty will be with us unto the end of the world.
But if we do not trust Him, and forsake Him, and are afraid of the manifold enemies of the truth, and flee on this account, as did the ten spies, He will also forsake us. But if we have a manful spirit. with Joshua, Caleb and David, and remember in our hearts, that God is true, that His hand is not shortened, that He is a faithful succorer of the miserable, who has delivered us from the hand of Pharaoh, from the specious deceptive and insinuating sedition of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, from the strange fire, and from other enemies and perils, and who, according to His promise, for His name's sake, and for our salvation, will help us further; not only in the beginning, or in the middle, but unto the end will He bruise the head of our enemies, so that through the help of the Lord we shall overcome our enemies. Hence have good courage, and be of good cheer; He who through His great grace began the good work in you, the same is also able (this is certain) to perform it in you, and in all that believe in Him and are of good purpose. And consider, do we not see our desire upon our enemies, that, however they stir, labor, strive, despise, beat, threaten, and slander, we through the grace of our Lord nevertheless remain unchanged and undisturbed? I certainly believe that steadfastness is the desire of Christians for it has the promise of salvation. Thus I unworthy one, in a small degree hereby minister to you, that I may spread and magnify the name of the Lord, and His faithful daily help and power. I also counsel all Christians, when they go walking in their pleasure garden, namely, in the holy Scriptures, that they forget not the Psalms of David, which are left us by the Spirit of God, they serve us especially to righteousness, boldness, a firm confidence, a living hope, and for consolation in our pilgrimage. In short, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. II Tim. 3:16, 17. Again, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Rom. 15:4. Hence adhere thereto; you will therein find all that will be necessary to your salvation, as I trust from the heart that there will abide in you that which you have heard and accepted from the beginning, nothing strange, but as declared in the holy Scriptures. For you know what it has wrought in you, how through this heavenly trial you are delivered from your vain conversation, in which the whole world is still sunk; how you have turned from dumb idols to the living God, yea, are passed from death unto life, so that you are enlightened, and your hope made alive, and all this through Tesus Christ. And loving His appearing, we patiently wait for Him in good works, which live in us, so that we love our neighbor as ourselves, seek his advantage more than our own, yea, when necessary lay down our lives for the brethren. This is a seal and sign that we love Him whom we do not see, and that we yet believe in Him, as though we saw Him. Again, if we did not love the brethren, whom we see, how could we in truth love God,whom we do not see? But that we from the heart and fearlessly love the brethren and sisters, by this it is known that we are Christ's disciples; and they that are Christ's disciples are sometimes tried, as gold in the fire; yet not to destruction, but to purification and greater perfection, for He chastens every son whom He wants to receive and loves. Heb. 12:6. And it is nothing strange to us, that this now in these latter days happens to us unworthy ones; for it has always been so from the time of Abel-darkness has always hated the light, for they will not be reproved in their darkness, but resent it, and in order to defend themselves, and to continue in their own way, they say,"Judge not, that ye be not judged;" but what the apostle says, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11); this they passed by.
Thus drunkards, idolaters, and the like, know how to help themselves with the Scriptures; but alas! with such fig leaves they wrong themselves, and suffer themselves to be led by the learned like the ox to the slaughter. O dear Lord, I heartily pray Thee, enlighten the eyes of our enemies, as Thou didst to Paul, who also persecuted the church of God. Take this brief letter in good part, for I trust that you are yourselves taught and strengthened. Be manful therein, watch, stand fast in the faith, be strong in the faith, and let all your things be done in love, and as I sincerely trust concerning you both. Herewith I will commend you, my much beloved brother-in-law and brother in the Lord, and my greatly beloved sister in the Lord (and by marriage), to the Lord of lords, and to the rich Word of His grace-, which is able to keep you from all evil, and to make you zealous in that which is good, and meet for His eternal kingdom, to give it to you, the incorruptible inheritance among them that are sanctified. I also thank'you both as much as I can, for your great friendship and affection to me unworthy one.
Herewith I bid you adieu; there in the presence of Christ Jesus I will await you, and my very dear wife, and all the God-fearing left behind.
Written shortly before Easter, when I hourly expected to be notified that I was to offer up my sacrifice, to the praise of God, and to my salvation. Amen.
Herewith I bid my nephews and nieces adieu on this earth. Oh, that they would also follow Christ, when they have attained to understanding; then they would also come where He, namely, Christ, is; and they that repent and keep His commandments, these are His friends and disciples who follow Him.
Hence I beseech you, my dear, beloved niece, to shun evil, diligently to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and to work to satisfy her hunger with bread, and quench her thirst with drink. If you do this, my dear niece, you will be one who with Mary has chosen the good part; and I will then await you there with Christ Jesus, whither I will go a little beforehand; and all that love the truth will follow. To this end may the good Lord grant His grace, that this my heartfelt wish may be realized, to the salvation of my nieces and nephews.
Written in my bonds, by me,
JAN WOUTERSS VAN KUYCK.
THE ELEVENTH LETTER FROM JAN WOUTERSS, TO P. J., HIS YOUNGEST BROTHER-IN-LAW
Grace and peace from God the Father through Jesus Christ, and the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, be multiplied to you, my much beloved brother, and to all that seek their salvation with all their heart, in the name of Jesus Christ; that we may be able to stand, by the help of the Lord, in this last conflict that is set before us, and may patiently finish it, for an example to our neighbor, for a light to the world, to the salvation of the soul, and to the praise of God.
After this my heartfelt wish, I cannot forbear to write you a little, if peradventure I and you may be refreshed somewhat thereby. In the first place, know that I cannot fully thank our God for His grace, that He has called me, unworthy, poor vile man to this state, whereby I perceive the great love which He has to me, unworthy one; He chastens me according to His mercy, thereby confirming that I am not a bastard. O what great grace is this, that the good God seeks my salvation, which salvation has been, and still is, the sole object of my seeking and praying, as I wrote to you before my imprisonment, to help me to pray; that the Lord would give and let come upon me what is for my salvation, which I trust His grace that He, out of great mercy, does, and will do according to His promise and goodness, and not according to my righteousness, for His grace knows better than I what I need. Hence His will be done for my salvation, to take me away from the evil, which frequently arises through the work of Satan, which he works in the children of unbelief; for I have found from my youth, that one trouble and difficulty follows upon the heels of another. And he that from the heart seeks his salvation and the welfare of the church, often has to suffer the pains of travail. Moreover, one has much to die unto and mortify in himself, and constantly to fight, so that one is seldom without conflict, even as Paul and also many pious witnesses of God; but all who do not become weary, and who overcome, shall inherit all things, and to them that overcome the crown is promised. Let therefore no one become faint or weary, knowing and believing that we have such a strong champion, who cannot be conquered, but from whom the wicked must flee. Paul says, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Rom. 8:31. The Lord said to Abraham, "Fear not; I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Gen. 15:1. The Lord said, yea, commanded him, that he should be of good courage, and not be afraid ordismayed; He promised always to be with him, wherever he should go (thus He was also with His faithful servant Moses), and [told him] that he should meditate day and night on the law of God. (Oh! herein I fall far too short, which I heartily regret), that he should not depart therefrom either to the right or to the left, and his way should be prosperous and full of blessings, and he should trample his enemies under foot and devour them as bread. Yea, God sent His angel, as He had promised, as a champion, so that the Lord Himself fought the battle. Oh, is this not a faithful God! who should not trust in His powerful Word? And though we do not see Him externally, yet we daily behold His creation, which through the power of His Word still stands in its strength, though it be but a little flower out of the earth.
Hence, though a storm come upon us occasionally, let us firmly rely upon the word and promise of the Lord; that we do not sink with Peter, but pass over this raging sea to the Lord, always praying Him, in faith, and with firm confidence in His Word, for strength, as those that are never sated. I, unworthy servant, now in this state well experience His faithfulness, praise to Him forever. He has promised to assist us, and not to forsake us, as He says by the prophet, "Can a mother forget the son of her womb, that she should not have compassion on him? though she do this, yet will I not forsake thee." Isa. 49:15. He is also the strength of the poor, a sure refuge, and a true helper in time of need. Yea, He preserves His own as the apple of His eye, in water, in bonds, and in the fire; hence, he that afflicts His chosen afflicts Him, as the Lord said to Saul, "Why persecutest thou me?" and he that does good to His chosen in His name, does good to Him. Hence let everyone persevere steadfastly, and do good cheerfully without wearying, for in due time we shall also reap without ceasing; and the good shall arise unto everlasting life. We are created unto good works through Christ. Hence let everyone bring forth good fruit, unto which he is appointed; and God our heavenly Father will be honored, and purify us still more, that we may bring forth fruit still more abundantly, and grow up unto the [measure of the] stature of the fullness of Christ; and so doing we shall wait for the coming of our Lord and Bridegroom, and this with patience, for patience is the strength of the God-fearing. Nothing special further for this time, but hold fast what you have, and be faithful unto death, for your and my faith is the unadulterated truth, which perform in the fear of God, by the help of the Lord, and you shall have peace with the Lord, according to His promise. Be of good cheer this short time of your pilgrimage; sorrow not for me; and though I am now baptized with the baptism of suffering, and drink the cup of affliction, it is for my salvation. Henceforth I expect through the grace of the Lord the crown of life. What does it signify? once we must part; if I had died of the pest, or of something else, all to whom my person is dear would certainly have to miss me; and it is manifest that I do not suffer as an evil doer, but because I have accepted Christ Jesus, and this I do not at all regret. I salute you, my dear wife, and yours, and all the God-fearing, cordially in the Lord. Pray for me, and cause prayer to be made for me.
A CONFESSION OF FAITH, TO THE BAILIFF AND THE COUNCIL THEN RESIDING IN DORTRECHT, BY JAN WOUTERSS; TOGETHER WITH A BRIEF EXPLANATION EXHORTING THEM TO REPENTANCE
To my honorable lord the bailiff, and my honorable lords the burgomasters, aldermen and the council of the city of Dortrecht. I, Jan Wouterss, your prisoner, not for any crime, but for the sake of my faith, which is nevertheless right before my God, wish you, you ministers of God, that He would grant you all a prosperous, peaceful, healthy, long life, and understanding rightly to use your office, in punishing the evil (that is, evildoers), and protecting the good. Rom. 13:3.
Further, the reason of my writing is, that I briefly confessed my faith, but did not add the explanation. Hence I put this in writing, in order not to summon my honorable lords again, and cause them trouble. I confess that I was a zealous papist in my youth, which I heartily regret, for then no good fruits proceeded from me. Afterwards God opened my blind eyes, to serve no longer dumb idols, but the living God alone, who created me. And He revealed to and gave me, poor, sinful man, the faith of the truth, by which' we are saved. This faith is, as- the Scripture says, "This faith and the inward baptism constrained me to the obedience of his word, to fulfill his righteousness." Hence I confess, that I was baptized upon my faith, and this with desire, according to the command of Christ, renouncing the devil, the world, the Pope, and his adherents.
I confess Christ Jesus alone as the way of the truth, and the life. And there is none other name given to men, whereby we can be saved, except through Christ alone. I further confess that it is certain that the customs of the priests and of all the"shaved" are the broad way to damnation. They are human institutions, an abomination to God, and plants which our heavenly Father has not planted; hence they are also cursed, for there can no other foundation be laid, than that is laid, which is Christ alone. Those of the Pope's adherents who undertake to be leaders are blind leaders, and if the blind lead the blind, says Christ, both shall fall into the ditch. Everyone that will not believe it, or cannot, because of his sins, the same must know it after death by pain (II Esd. 9:12); hence repent truly now. Further, my honorable lord bailiff thinks that I am in error, or that my faith is of no account. To this I reply, "If this were true, then my fruits Would be evil, which always prove more than'mereconfession; but now I have by the help of God walked therein for so many years, from my youth, even until now, according to my weakness, avoided all bad company, diligently and quietssly earned my living, and eaten my own bread, from which I am now taken away, as though I were a murderer." O Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do; I forgive them, O my dear lords, repent, for he who touches us touches the apple of the eye of my God.
I also confess that I have attended the assembly of the believers, so often that I cannot Count it. For the supreme King has given us a promise therein, saying, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt. 18:20. The apostle commands us in His name, not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but to exhort one another, and to provoke unto love and to good works. Heb. 10:25, 24. I confess that I have never been in an assembly to harm any one (think on this). I confess that I have not for many years been to the priests' confession and their sacrament, and .this because I do not think anything of it; moreover, I confess, that I am a sinful man, and need every day to confess my sins before my God, and daily to die unto sin, more and more, which I regard as the best confession. But the sacrament I recognize as a little baked cake, and wine, till it is consumed by the afore-mentioned of my [other] men, and nothing else, but, not as the flesh and blood of Christ; He comes no more into the hands of sinners. He dwelleth not in temples made with hands (Acts 7:48), but in heaven, whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead, that is, believers and unbelievers. But I confess that I am well satisfied with Christ's breaking of bread, the practice of the apostles among the believers, in remembrance of the body and blood of Christ, and this not with drunkards, proud, strikers, adulterers, murderers, idolaters, harlots, rogues, etc.
I also confess that I did not marry my wife secretly, that no one should see it, but before the church of God; for marriage is honorable, but whoremongers and adulterers God will punish. Heb. 13:4. O my God, Count it not sin to him who took me away; for it is a bitter cup to me to part from wife and child, because we love one another so much- I also confess that my child has not been baptized by the priest, neither by any one else, for thereby I 'Would despise the holy blood of Christ.* But this is my firm belief that Christ has made atonement for infants, and that Christ's baptism belongs to none but those who believe with all their heart, as Cornelius with his family, Paul, and others; of this afore-mentioned faith I am sure through the grace of God, and know certainly, that there is no other, nor ever will be. I have not founded myself upon the wind, but solely upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jesus
* Then I should sacrifice my child to the devil, the author had written, but this reads a little too harsh.
Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, to the wicked an offense, and to the good a defense and salvation. If I must innocently suffer for this unadulterated faith, I can think, that my Lord Jesus Christ, whose servant, I poor, sinful man am, fared no better at the hands of the authorities of that day and this through the instigation of the learned. O my honorable lords, repent, amend your ways and your doings. Jer. 7:3. And I also proclaim repentance to all my lords still living, who are guilty of the innocent blood of Joris de Ve.,* who shall soon come forth, shining in God's glory, with great joy. For the day of the Supreme judge is at the door: this is apparent from the pestilence, dearth, rumors of wars, and many other signs. O my honorable lords, be cordially warned of the evil which is to come upon you, for it is done out of love and friendship, and not through bitterness, for beyond doubt, we must all appear before the Supreme judge; there every one shall give account of himself, and receive according to that he hath done; there excuses or regrets will not avail. Rom. 14:12; II Cor. 5:10. Oh, reflect; it will soon come to pass, and none can escape it.
Further, I did not reply to all the questions of my honorable lord the bailiff, who demanded of me that I should tell the truth, which I have done in the confession of my faith, of this I am certain; but the other questions I dare not answer, for Christ has taught me, "Do to men as you would have them do to you; love your neighbor as yourself; love your wife, honor your parents," etc. For this reason I have foreborne, and I am sure that in this my Supreme judge will justify me, when we shall together appear before His judgment seat; for I have not done it out of any disregard for my honorable lord the bailiff. I also have refused your learned men the presentation, for I am so sure of my faith, that [I am convinced that] all those who speak against it are in error. Hence do not regard it as proceeding from obstinacy on my part, but from the assurance of my faith.
Finally, deal mercifully with me innocent one, and think that I too am a man; for hereafter he"shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy." Jas. 2:13. I confess one Lord, one faith, one God, one Father of all, who is above all, and in all believers. I believe only what the holy Scriptures say; and not what men say. Farewell. Written in my bonds.
* Hereby is meant Joris Wippe, who was put to death at Dortrecht, A.D. 1558.