The first letter of Reytse Aysess, written in his prison, how he was betrayed, apprehended and put into bonds by the bailiff, called Andries Grief, and boldly and fearlessly acknowledged and confessed his faith
It happened in the year 1573, the 18th of September, that I came to Oldenborn, where I met the bailiff, who requested me to go with him, saying that he had something to tell me. When we had entered his house, he asked me where I lived: I replied, "In Bechsterswaegh." He then asked me how old I was; I said that I did not know it accurately. He further asked me where I had stayed over night. I said, "In my father's house." He asked me whether H. had not been there; to which I made no reply. Then he urged me so hard in regard to it, that I finally said,"Yes." He then asked me concerning many others. I kept silence for a long time. Finally, after many temptations, I said that W. had also been there, and that formerly we had been very intimate friends; and after some other conversation which we had together I was silent. He then put fetters on me, and wanted to instruct me from the ancient fathers of fifteen hundred years ago, and from other writings not contained in the New Testament. I said that I would accept no other writings than the New Testament.
The next day, in the morning, the substitute of Leeuwaerden came, who tempted me very much, to tell who all had been at my father's house; but the almighty God kept my lips. Hence .they took me to Leeuwaerden, and cast me into a dungeon, in which there were eight who cared nothing for God. There I at first became very sorrowful, and day and night called upon the Almighty God, that Hewould keep me; and He enlightened my heart, for which I praise and thank the eternal Father for His great benefits shown me. After I had been confined there five days, they brought me into another prison, to a lord, for which I praised and thanked God.
On the sixth day they brought me before the commissary, and in going thither there met me an old man, who bade me"good evening." I returned the compliment, however was frightened when I saw him. But he said to me, "You have a bad commissary"; and he conversed much more with me, and instructed me how I should answer the commissary; and so I went in.
The commissary bade me"Good day," and 1 wished him the same. He then asked me, "What is your business here?" I replied, "I have been brought here against my will." He further asked what I believed. Ans."I believe in God almighty; and that there is but one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, by which we can be saved." He said that he also believed that, but that I was seduced. I said, "Is God then a seducer?" Conantissary."No; but you have been seduced by Menno and other seducers." I said that I did not rely on men, but on the word of the Lord. He said that I should suffer myself to be instructed by the holy Catholic Church, since God Himself had ordained apostles, doctors [teachers] and pastors. I said that I believed nothing but the Word of God and the New Testament. He then asked me, whether I was baptized. I said, "Yes, upon my faith, as Christ has commanded." He then made a long speech, that Christ had received flesh and blood from Mary, and that I must believe this; and many other words we had together. He then asked me, when I had been to confession and the sacrament the last time. I replied, "Never in my life;" and many other remarks we had together. Thus he admonished me, that I should suffer myself to be instructed by the holy church, and then he went away. This occurred on Friday.
After I had been in confinement six weeks and a 'half, they took me to the Poorte, where was the pastor of Nyehoof (who was pastor of Enchuysen) with an advocate. These asked me on what I had determined. I said that I would adhere to the word of the Lord. They then produced a letter; in which was written all that I had confessed. Thereupon they asked me, whether I considered the church of the Mennists a true church. I said, "You call it so, but I regard it as the true church of God." This they Wrote down. Then they asked me, whether I was baptized upon my faith. I said, "Yes." They also asked me whether I had not been baptized in my infancy. I said: 'Yes; but that was no baptism as Christ commanded, for
Christ taught to repent, amend, and then to be baptized for the remission of sins. See, so I was baptized." Then they said that infants were born in original sin; hence they had to be cleansed by baptism. I replied, "Christ has redeemed us from the fall and transgression of Adam; hence He says Himself, that to the children belongs the kingdom of heaven." They said, "Yes, those were circumcised children." Then they asked whether I had been in the church of the Mennists. I replied that I had been in the church of God. This they wrote down. Ques. "What do you hold concerning the Roman church?" Ans. "Nothing." Ques. "What do you hold touching the sacrament?" Axis."I have never in all my life read of a sacrament, but of the Lord's Supper; and this I indeed want to observe, as Christ has commanded it; but of your I think nothing." Ques. "Do you believe that God is almighty?" I said, "Yes.""And whether God therefore should not come into the bread which they break?" Ans."This I never believed." They also asked whether I did not believe that Christ had received flesh and blood from Mary. I briefly said that I did not believe it. These are principally the articles which they asked rne, and they noted down every thing. I then asked the Priest, "If I- should fulfill your will, would you be willing to be responsible for my soul?" He said, "Yes, for ybu and the whole world." I said that this was as the apostle says: While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption (II Peter 2:19). He said that this was not spoken to them. And after some more conversation which we had, they told me to go, and we bade one another adieu for this time.
After I had been in prison seven'weeks, I was again taken to the Poorte, into a large hall, where were three priests, one of whom was the one of Nyehoof, with whom I have often been; the other was a Friesian. These asked me what .I had de-. termined on. I replied that by the help of God I would adhere to the word of the Lord. He said that it was not the Word of God, and that I was seduced; he was sorry, because we were both Friesians;"for," said he,"when one has temporal matters on hand that he does not understand, he seeks. advice from those that are wise and knowing in such matters, and suffers himself to be instructed; hence it is necessary that one also suffer himself to be instructed by wise men of the holy Church, in matters from which depends eternal salvation." Ans. "Whoever rightly instructs me with the word of the Lord, him I will gladly; hear;but by your instruction I should be seduced." They said that I was already seduced; but if I would suffer myself to be instructed by the holy church, they would pledge their souls for nie at the last day. I replied that they should have enough to,do with their own souls. But with them it was a settled thing, that I was seduced. So we finally came to infant baptism.
They said that infants were born..in original sin. I said, "Christ made us free, and called the children to. Him, declaring that to such belongs the kingdom of God." Priest. "Flesh or blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; hence we must be born of water and of the Spirit; therefore it follows that infants must be baptized, if they are to be regenerated and inherit the kingdom of,God." Reytse. "Children are in the grace of God as long as they are in their ignorance, and .they, are washed through the blood of Christ; hence baptism in their case is vain and to no purpose." Priest."How do you understand regeneration?" Reytse. "A man must truly repent and amend his life, with a contrite heart confess his sins before God, that he is sincerely sorry for them, and with confidence call to God for forgiveness, and thus believe in God's Word and submit to it in all obedience; upon such confession he is to receive baptism for the remission of sins; this certainly cannot be done by infants." Priest. "Nevertheless, infants must be baptized; for the apostles baptized entire households, and there doubtless, were also children." Reytse. "The house of Stephanas addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints, which no children can do." (I Cor. 16:13) . They then asserted that first the apostles, and after them the holy fathers, had instituted it, fifteen hundred years. ago. I said that the pope had instituted it; who wanted to improve on Christ.
Then they were mad, and said that I was seduced, and should plunge my soul and body into perdition. I said they might take my life, but my soul I should save unto life eternal. Priest."What do you think of the holy Roman Church?" Reytse. "I do not believe in it." Priest. "Do you not believe that the priests can forgive sin?" Reytse. "No; for it is God alone that can forgive sin." This they. wrote down. Priest."Do you not believe that God's flesh and blood are in the bread which we break?" Reytse. "No." Priest. "This is clear enough; for Christ says: 'Take, eat;, this is my body;' this you cannot contradict." Reytse. "Christ gave His disciples bread to eat and wine to drink, as the evangelists testify, and not His body, for He still sat there bodily at the table with them. And to His disciples who understood His words carnally, as you do, and murmured at it, He said
'The flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.' John 6:63. His flesh and blood He gave as a redemption for many, and not that His flesh is to be eaten. He is sitting at the right hand of God His almighty Father, and shall not come thence, before He shall judge the quick and the dead; hence He shall not come under your teeth." Priest. "Nevertheless Paul says: 'The bread which we break, is it not the body of Christ? and the cup which we bless, is it not the blood of Christ?' hence we must believe that God's flesh and blood are in the holy sacrament." Reytse."I have not read of a sacrament, but of the Lord's Supper; this I indeed want to observe with the church of God, but yours I do not desire."
They said much more with regard to it, which is too lengthy for me to relate. They esteemed the sacrament so highly, that whenever they name it, they raise their caps, and they looked sharply at me, because I would not show it reverence too. They also asked me whether I did not believe that Christ had received flesh and blood from Mary. I said that Christ came by His divine power out of heaven, was conceived in Mary through the.Holy Ghost, and born of her, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and became like unto us in all things, except sin, so that He was not born of the blood, nor of the will of the flesh, and did not receive flesh or blood from Mary, which came to pass in such a manner, that Mary at first could not understand it herself, for she asked the angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" The angel answered her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Luke 1:34, 35. Against this they did not say much. Priest."Do you not, believe that the saints in heaven are to be honored and worshiped?" Reytse. "I indeed desire to honor the saints, for men are honored; but not to worship them. But I want to, worship God alone, for it is written: 'Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."' Matt. 4:10. Priest. "What do you believe of purgatory?" Reytse."I have not read that there is a purgatory; where is it written?" Priest. "In the books of the Maccabees."
He further admonished me, that I should suffer myself to be instructed by the holy church, which had stood for fifteen hundred years, while our sect had existed only fifty years, for Menno Symons had first introduced it. Reytse. "There were from the beginning of the world two classes of people, a people of God and a people of the devil. But the children of God have always been persecuted and dispersed, so that they have always been in a minority, and sometimes very few in number, so that they had to hide themselves in caves and dens, and as they are not of the world, the world does also not know them; but the ungodly have always been powerful, and have prevailed, and therefore you do not know the children of God, neither did your fathers know them, and you think that they have only now arisen."
They said that I was seduced; their church had always existed from the beginning. I said, "When we shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ, it will be found otherwise; then you will say: These are they whom we had in derision: O how they are now numbered among the children of God." Wisdom 5:3, 5. They also told me that I should not concern myself with the Scriptures, but simply go to church, and suffer myself to be instructed there, and not be obstinate, since the Scripture says that every word is established in the mouth of two or three witnesses, and hence I was bound to believe them. Reytse. "I believe the word of the Lord farmore than your testimony; I do not want to depart from it, and hope by the help of God to live and die for it, because Christ says: 'Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven."' Matthew 10:32.
We had many other words, which it would take too long to relate. They approached me so with sophistry, that if. the Lord had not been on my side, I would have had to succumb; so that I may well say,"The Lord is my helper, of whom shall I be afraid?" Ps. 56:11.
After I had been in prison nine weeks, I was again conducted to the Poorte, where were two priests and the bishop's commissary; one was the priest of Nyehoof, the other was from the country: When I came to them, I uncovered my head, and greeted them. They first asked me on what I had determined, whether I would not amend. I said, "Yes, as much as is in my ability." They then produced a letter, which contained the article which I had previously confessed; this they read to me and asked whether I would adhere to it. I said;"Yes." They said, then I was damned, and should plunge soul and body into eternal perdition. Reytse. "How dare you condemn me so dreadfully, whereas judgment belongs to the Lord?" Priest."You have offended against the Scriptures, and apostatized from the holy church, which has stood for fifteen hundred years, while your sect has not existed more than forty years; and you have suffered yourself to be rebaptized, whereas you had been baptized before."
Then we had many words again concerning,baptism; his conclusion was, that children which die without baptism are damned forever. Reytse. "And are you not afraid, so dreadfully to;condemn the innocent children, when Christ has promised them the kingdom of . heaven, so long as they remain in their innocence?" Priest. "No one can enter into the kingdom of heaven, he must first be born of water and of the Spirit; hence children must be baptized, if they are to be saved; the apostle also baptized many households, where certainly there were also children." Reytse. "So far as the households are concerned, it is written that the house of Stephanas addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints, which is certainly not a work of children. I Cor. 16:15. And of the house of Cornelius it is written: 'That when Cornelius, the centurion of Caesarea, had called together his friends and kinsmen into his house, he said among other things to' Peter: Thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. And while Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them, which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with
tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?' Acts 10:33, 44-47. From this you can easily perceive, if you are not entirely struck with blindness, that this is not spoken of children. Again, Paul preached the word of God to. the jailer and to all that were in his house, and after they were baptized he rejoiced with all those that were in his house, that he had come to believe in God (Acts 16:34), which is above the understanding of children, for to understand the preaching of the Word of God, to believe in it, and to rejoice on account of the faith, this is far from children." Then they said that there were many other writings that testified with regard to it; but I did not want to receive any writings except the New Testament, which Christ sealed with His precious blood. Then they asked me, whether the children of the heathen and the Turks should also be saved. I said, "Yes, as well as your baptized children." Then they were greatly astonished, and spoke scornfully to me and damned me. One of the priests sat by me, and asked me how I dared speak such words; he knew that I was damned, as well as he knew that I was sitting by him. I laughingly said "How could you know it better?" And after many words which we had about infant baptism, I finally said that I believed nothing but what I had confessed. They again asked me, whether I did not believe that our Lord is present in the form of bread. I said, "This I do not believe; for He will not come under your teeth." I asked the priest whether he believed it. Then he held out his finger and said he believed more certainly that God was in the bread, than he believed that that was his finger. And after other words which we had together, they got some clean paper and asked all the articles of me anew
whether I acknowledged the church of the Mennists as a true church, and how long it was since I had been baptized. I said: - About four years. And so on, they asked all the articles of me again. I answered them in the same manner as before, and they noted down everything exactly, to deliver it to the lords. Finally, when all the remarks had been concluded, they produced a letter, which was the sentence which the bishop had concluded over me, in which they damned me as an unbelieving, disobedient and obstinate heretic, and delivered me into the hands of the secular judges. Since he had sufficiently admonished me, and I would not let myself be instructed, he, like Pilate, took water and washed his hands, and also thought that he was clear of my blood; hence I had to expect the sentence, and many other words. Then they told me to go.
After I had been in prison twelve weeks, they led me into the castellan's house, where were the bishop with a councillor, the pastor of Oudenhoof, the pastor of Nyehoof, the pastor,;of Jorwert, and the bishop's commissary. After.they had taken their seats, they called me, and when I carne in I took off my hat and sat as a sheep in:the midst of atroop of wolves. They looked at me sharply and earnestly; but the Lord my God, in whom I trust, strengthened me and: gave me a bold heart, so that I was fearless before them all. The bishop commenced, and asked me whether I would still continue in the faith. I was silent for awhile, for it seemed unnecessary to me to answer that question; but he had so much to say, that I was finally compelled to defend myself; for I had resolved not to dispute any more. Thus I occasionally reproved and contradicted their foolish ignorance, for I was grieved that the truth should be so blasphemed; and that they should not think that I would listen to them. The sum and substance of what they said was, that I was seduced, and that those who had taught me had been seducers, as Menno, who was a vagabond. I said that I did not rely upon Menno, or human doctrine, but only upon the Word of God; in this I desire by the help of the Lord to live and to die. We also had many other words, as, of infant baptism. I said, "It is not contained in the Scriptures, that the children are to be baptized; if this had been the will of the Lord, He would doubtless have commanded it: but since there is nothing written concerning it, and neither our Lord Jesus Christ nor His apostles have made mention of it, it is a great presumption, that we poor, vain human creatures want to improve it, whereas it is written, that we are not to add to, or take away from the Lord's commandments: he that does this, upon him eternal woe is pronounced" (Debt. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; Revelation 22:18).
Finally the bishop said that none of all the articles so surprised him, than this: That I did not believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is now personally man in heaven, just as He was upon earth, with wounds and stripes which He received from, the Jews. This I would not accept because I had not read of it, but I said, "I believe that He is now in the Divinity, sitting at the right hand of the Almighty Father, in His glory, and shall come again with power and majesty, as the Scripture testifies with regard to it." Then the bishop took the Bible, and read the vision which John had seen in the Island of Patmos, of one who was like unto the Son of man; and when he had read it, he closed the book, for it contradicted him. A man can certainly not be of such a nature in his members, as John declares of that vision.
They then rehearsed the articles of my faith anew, and I confessed as I had always confessed before; and after they had noted it down, they went away. The councillor said that I had forfeited my life, according to the decree. They then took me back into prison.
I would have related all these matters at length, but my gift is small, and my hand heavy for writing; hence I must run over them very briefly.
After I had been imprisoned about thirteen weeks, they conducted me once more into the castellan's house, where was the pastor of Nyehoof, who again began to say that Christ is now person-
ally in heaven, as He was upon earth, in like form as we are. I defended myself, and, proved into him from John's Revelation. He said that no one could understand John's Revelation, which surprised me. And in all his remarks he called me brother. I said, "Why do you call me brother?. I do not want to be your brother." He . answered that he hoped that we should yet become one fold. And after some more conversation he left me.
The love of God, the communion of the Holy Ghost, and the love of the Father, who gave His only Son for us all, keep, strengthen and confirm you and us all unto the end, that we may hereafter come to the Shepherd Jesus Christ. My affectionate request of you, my cordially beloved friends, is, that you make haste to enter into his rest. Heb. 4:11.
After all proper salutation, let me inform your love, that on the fifth day of this year, 1574, I was before the bishop, who said, "Good-day, and a Blessed New Year. Will you not yet give yourself to the holy Catholic faith, in which all your forefathers believed, and in which we still believe?" Ans."A blessed New Year I indeed desire from the heart; but in your faith I do not wish to believe, but I want to believe in the holy Scriptures." The bishop said, I had built upon men, and upon the doctrines of men. Reytse."I have not built upon men; I have built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, yea, upon the rock; therefore my house shall stand. Behold, these are now the tempests that assail my house; had it such a foundation, it would fall; but now it' is founded upon the rock." Bishop. "What is the reason that you went out from us, for you have confessed that you have never heard our doctrine?" Reytse. "Hear me; I shall tell you: When I was a child, I went there as others; but my parents kept me from the sinners' path, for which I am very thankful to them. But when I attained to my understanding, I read in the holy Scriptures that the way to the kingdom of God is narrow and strait, and that flesh and blood must remain on [the posts]; that we must be well fitted; that there must be a pure church; that the stones must be hewn and squared, before they may be put into the house of God, of which Christ Jesus is the cornerstone; and that there are to be no whores, rogues, drunkards, covetous, or idolaters in the church of God. But I found that your church of which you are the head or ruler is such a church; and I am concerned for you, because you are a meek man; hence I pray you, that for once you will search the holy Scriptures; for it seems to me that you know better than you speak; you have a soul to lose as well as I." He said that as regards drunkenness, fornication and other sins that were in their church; they had ordained that one should pray for it, and the priests would forgive the sins. I said, "The priests cannot forgive sin, but to pray God to forgive sin, is very good
but a man must pray from the heart, that he may never during all the days of his life sin any more. But I must ask you once, whether you think, that if a man sins today or tomorrow, and asks the Lord for forgiveness, and does so every day, the Lord will forgive him?" He said this could be. I said it could not.
Finally the bishop made a long speech, that I would not obey my superior, and had thus apostatized from their holy faith, and joined the Mennists and Tibbites. I said I had never been disobedient, and had never opposed the king, and did not want to bear the sword against any one, as Christ teaches. Then the bishop said he would take the clearest of that which I could say nothing against, and that I should suppose myself to be ignorant, and he would suppose that he was ignorant, and so the Scriptures should judge between us. I told him to say on; if it would agree with the Scriptures, I would hear him. He said the Lofd spoke very clearly in the Gospel, where He says, "Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you; likewise the cup;" hence we must eat His flesh; and drink His blood, as He said; this you cannot contradict. I said I well knew that it is written that the Lord said, "Take, eat; this is my body"; but I know that the Lord is in high heaven and does not come under men's teeth for your own people do not believe that you give them flesh and blood. He said they had to believe it. I said that the Lord spoke thus, "Take, eat; this is my body which shall be broken for you." This is what the Lord said, but the disciples asked, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" But the Lord said that flesh and blood profit nothing, but the words are spirit and life (John 6). Hence it is clear enough, that we are not to eat and drink Christ's flesh and blood, as He said, but that we are thereby to remember His death and sufferings; for the Lord gave His body for the whole world, and for the original sin in which we were born. If the Lord had not redeemed us from the sin imposed upon us by Adam, we could not have been saved; but now the Lord has redeemed us with His flesh and blood, and made us free from all sin, and shed His blood for many; hence we cannot eat His flesh, because He made us free with it. Gal. 5:1.
The bishop said that Christ did not say of His own flesh. that it profiteth nothing, but of other flesh; hence, since the Lord so clearly says it, we must eat His flesh, and drink His blood if we are to be saved; for he said that Paul says, "Is this not the cup of blessing?" Hence you cannot contradict what Christ .and Paul have so clearly expressed. Reytse."My lord, I well know what Christ and Paul said, for the apostles brake bread from house to house, as we clearly read, in proof of it, and as Christ. has left us." But he kept insisting that we, had to eat the Lord's flesh, if we are to be saved..
The bishop further made a long speech concern-
ing the resurrection of the dead, how we shall die, and rise again with this flesh, and many other remarks which he made about the resurrection. I finally said that I indeed believe that there is a resurrection of the dead, for if there were no resurrection of the dead, Christ would profit us nothing and I would in that case .not suffer thus; but that this was a useless disputation. Then he dropped the matter, and made along speech, how it was written of one Lord, one faith -and baptism; hence I had transgressed this, having suffered myself to be rebaptized, when I had been baptized once, and that I had transgressed the holy Scriptures, and been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is contrary to the ordinance of the holy Church. Reytse."I have not been rebaptized, having been baptized once; for I well know that there is written of one Lord and one faith; hence I betook myself to one baptism as the Lord teaches in many places, that the believing are to be baptized: I therefore betook myself to the baptism of repentance, as is proper according to the Scriptures, and according to my human weakness. But what you say, that I have been rebaptized, this I deny; for I do not recognize the baptism of infants as a baptism, but as a human institution, as is obvious enough, since there is no Scripture that children ought to be baptized."
The bishop said that we must be born of water and of the Spirit, if we are to be'saved; hence children must be baptized, if they are to be saved. Reytse. "No; this is no Scripture, that children ought to be baptized; for the Lord called the children to Him, that they should not be turned away, for theirs is the kingdom of God; hence they are already saved." He said that they were believing [believers?] children, that were circumcised, and he made a long speech about the circumcision of Abraham, that the children had to be circumcised, or they were damned; and as then was circumcision, so now' baptism has been ordained 'by the holy fathers, as is now the case. Reytse."To this I say no; it is not so-, that the children that were not circumcised were damned; for it was a command of God, that they should be circumcised. They were to be circumcised because they were Abraham's seed; the Lord had so commanded it, because they should be His people, and not for the reason that they that were not circumcised should be damned. For they were circumcised on the eighth day, and many must have died before they reached the age at which they received the sign of circumcision; hence great injustice would certainly have been done the poor children, 'and in such a case all the female children would certainly have been damned, who are heirs of the kingdom of God as well as we." To this he said the children had nevertheless to he baptized, if 'they were to be saved. Reytse."No; I further"say, that the children are in the hands of God, so long as they are ignorant, and baptism does not' belong to them; but to those that have repented'; for John preachedrepentance and amendment, and only those [the penitent] to be baptized, for the remission of sins as he also says: O generation of vipers, who hatl• warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Repent, therefore, and save yourselves from this untoward generation." Luke 3:7, 8; Acts 2:40.
The bishop said that I could not prove it with John's baptism. I said that Christ Himself came to John, and requested it of John. John refused it to the Lord. The Lord said, "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness;" and John suffered him. Why do you say that I can not prove it with John's baptism? for Christ Himself requested it. The bishop made but little reply to it. I said, "I will show you still more Scriptures, that it belongs to believers, as the eunuch to whom Philip came. Philip said, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" He said, "How should I understand it, except some one instruct me?" Philip preached unto him from the beginning, and he believed it. He said, "Here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Philip said, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." The eunuch replied, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God." Then he baptized him. (Acts 8). Here we see that faith was before baptism nor was he a child. Further, in like manner also Paul was baptized, when he had become a believer. Pray, read. the Acts of the Apostles through. The bishop said, they also did want to baptize such adults that had not been baptized in their infancy, as the heathen or Tibbites, who were not baptized in their infancy; hence they would also baptize adults; for he said that it was written, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Though faith is mentioned before baptism, it is all the same; hence children must be baptized: for there are many that do not become so old that they attain their reason; hence they certainly die without baptism and are as certainly damned. Children must therefore be baptized, that they may ail be saved. I said, that the children are in the hands of God, and baptism does not pertain to them, for there is no Scripture which declares that it does. Had it been the will of the Lord, He would have commanded it; but now He has commanded that the believers are to be baptized, as He taught, and as His apostles practiced. Hence prove to me with the Scriptures, that it is commanded to baptize poor innocent infants, which have done no sin; for though I had never so many children, I would not have them receive your baptism. He said, though it was not commanded to baptize children, neither was it forbidden to baptize them; hence there is no Scripture prohibiting it. I said, "All that the Lord has not commanded He has forbidden. Hence, if He has commanded to baptize the believing, men ought not to do differently from what the Lord Himself has commanded, for we everywhere read of a baptism of repentance, and not of a baptism of infants, as you teach and do. Why do you do that which ought not to be? For it
seems to me that you know better; tell the truth." But he made me no reply to it; except that I was seduced; if I adhered to this faith I would be damned; hence I should betake myself to the holy Catholic faith. And we had many other words, but it grew late, and he went out, and said to the castellan, that there was no hope for me, and that I would not suffer myself to be instructed; and told me to consider the matter further. I said that I wanted to do that; but in this respect I have already considered; but do you consider it, I pray you.
Shortly after there came a priest, who was very arrogant; he asked me what I had determined with regard to the letter which the bishop had sent me. Reytse."I have determined even as I said to you the last time. For by what he writes I have not been made weaker, but stronger, he foolishly writes that no sin hinders or prevents a man, and that we may observe the Supper with whores and rogues, and that also no sin is so great that it can prevent a man; all of which he wants to prove with the eighth chapter of Mark, where the Lord fed the great multitude." Reytse. "What do you want to prove thereby? O how blind you are!" He became angry, and would not understand Scripture, but blasphemed and spoke very ugly, and said that I condemned and rejected the Lord's death with my second baptism. But I said that I did not condemn the Lord's death, but deemed it good;"for, if I should confess this as you say, woe would be to me; for I do not recognize your baptism as a baptism, since there is no Scripture for it. But with your infant baptism, you reject Christ's sufferings and death, for Christ has redeemed us; but you say that the children are damned, which you cannot prove with Scripture. But those who live in sin, who, the Lord says shall not enter the kingdom of God, these you say are saved; drunkards, covetous, and fornicators, and whatever sins they may do, who the Lord says shall not inherit the kingdom of God, these you say are saved. But the poor children, who are already saved, as the Lord has said, these you say are damned. Is it not a lamentable matter that you are so blinded? Hence wake up once, I pray you, for it will ruin you." He said that I had a faith like a Turk. I said, "What is the Turk's faith?" He said, "The Turk believes in a piece of wood, or in whatever suits him." I said that they [the papists] believed in a piece of bread, which they held up as God, worshiping it, and falling upon their knees before it, and regarding it as God. Likewise, the idolatrous infant baptism, is that any better than the Turk's faith?" He became angry, and reviled us much, and did not think that we were the right people, I said, "If I should tell you what I consider you to be, you would not likeit." He said tell it. Reytse. "Well then I shall tell you; I consider you the vile world, the congregation of the dead, and heathen and Turks according to the spirit, and that you are alienated from the life of God (Prov. 21:16; Eph. 4:18); and as is written concerning you in Daniel 12, and in Revelation, so it shall be found in the day of the Lord. Repent therefore, and come out from her, that ye be not partakers of her sins" (Rev. 18:4).
Then he arose and hastened away, but I overtook him in another room, where we conversed for a little while about infant baptism and other things. Finally he said that he could not remain any longer, since he was to stand godfather to a child, I begged him not to do it;"for" said I,"The child is as good as you can make it." He said that he would do it, nevertheless. He also spoke much about the war, and about the Gueux* that their cause was a bad one, and that we aided them with money and property. I told him what he said was not true; for we did not want in anywise to defend them with money or blood,"for I think nothing of the Gueux, neither of you, for you cannot stand before God, miserably as you are betraying and slaying one another. However, the Gueux are not as bloodthirsty as you are, for if they had apprehended me, they would let me go, but you want to shed my blood." He became angry and said, "You desperate miscreant, should we not kill you? we should not be able to answer before God [if we should allow to live] such a heretic as you are; for we do so much running on your account that no money could hire us to do it; hence you shall here receive the temporal fire, and hereafter the eternal, because you will not suffer yourself to be instructed, as much as we have done for you."
I talked to him very gently, but he said that I had the devil in me, and that he transformed himself into an angel of light, and had seduced me, that I could. not remain in the true way. Reytse. "I have no devil, but I speak with a free and glad heart." He reviled much; adducing no Scriptures but only saying that they had done much for me, and were always on the run to win my soul and save my life, and now there was no prospect that I would renounce my heresy; hence the bishop had to cut me off, as was right. Reytse."I never desired that you should come to me, and you may stay at home for I do not wish to hear you, nor to believe you, and you might have saved all your running, for the reward which you earned by me will not be great."
Finally he spoke about praying, and boasted much of his praying; he said that he prayed more in one week, than I in three months, and he had much to say about praying, and that Christ prayed in the temple. I said that he was like the Pharisees, who boasted themselves so much of their praying, and stood in the, temple, and on the street corners, to be seen of men. And in all your words you are like them; hence take good heed how you boast, for a tree shall be known by its fruit; for I do not like
your fruit. He said that I had the heart of a Pharisee, and he their clothes; which is the better. Reytse. "No; it seems to me you have both, the heart and the clothes, for the Lord did not act thus, neither did His apostles lead such a life, nor have such clothing in their time, as you have, which is contrary to the Scriptures, hence take heed what you put on, for I beseech you to repent; for you cannot stand before the Lord with your faith, nor with your walk, nor with your church, for which you want to be responsible in the day of the Lord." Finally he went away. I told him to tell the bishop that he did not need to come again on my account, since I would in no wise hear him. He bade me good day, and they brought me back into prison. About three days after, a messenger came from the bishop, and said that I should hear my sentence in three days from that time. On the appointed day they came and transacted their business, as they understood it, and passed judgment upon me, being very pompous and verbose in their sentence. When they had finished their business, they went away; but there remained a priest, who reviled much and talked improperly and unfitly. I would not talk with him, because they had delivered me over, and also because he spoke so ill and unseemly. Then he went away. A considerable time elapsed before I wrote this down, for I could not well recollect it because of my fellow prisoners. And my memory also is rather short; some remarks I have forgotten; and if I were to write all, it would be far too much, for I have been before the bishop and his colleagues eleven times at least, and I talked much with them concerning all the articles of the faith.
Written by me, your beloved brother in the Lord.
O dear friends, fear not, neither be surprised, when you are tried by manifold temptations which may come upon a Christian, and also do come upon him in bonds and imprisonment, as I now find, it is grievous according to the flesh, but very light according to the spirit, for it is the power of God. This I have experienced in these bonds, that the Lord is with those that seek and fear Him from the heart. Hence, my dear friends, who have received like faith with me, fear the Lord from the heart, that if it should be the Lord's will to have you here in such bonds or imprisonment, you may be able to withstand, for they employ much craftiness and subtlety, to draw us away from the truth, and they know how to exalt lies, and abolish truth, with feigned words of their own devising; sometimes with very gentle words, and sometimes with harsh ones, by which they think to weaken and discourage one, as they have done with me. And also Satan, as Peter says, walketh about us as a roaring lion, seeking where he can devour us; so he has also assailed me, but the Lord has hitherto kept me, for which I thank Him. But Satan ,once assailed me with a temptation which I must write to you, to show you how crafty the evil One is. I once spake with a priest, who reviled us and said that they sang the psalms of David, while we sang hymns which men had made. And when I came back into prison, the tempter very craftily assailed me, that it was true, that we did sing hymns which men had made. And I was grieved that I should suffer, and it might be wrong, and I was still young in years, and it grieved me much. Finally I thought: I know better; I know that the hymns aTe made from the holy Scriptures, and that it is right; if I could do according to them, I should be saved. Then I reflected on the priest's walk, and on their faith, and on the things which they had spoken against the holy Scriptures, which are lies, and I entreated the Lord, and it entered my mind no more. Hence, dear friends, Satan is very crafty; but we must always pray the Lord in every assault which he makes upon us, in manifold temptations, for the almighty, eternal, merciful God will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, as he has spoken (I Cor. 10:13); for He is our Captain, our Champion in all our distress. And do not fear though they place me at the stake, and burn me; but be strengthened thereby, that the Lord is still so powerful in His works; and. always fear Him, and praise Him, and thank Him, now and forever. Amen.
I further thank those who sent me that book, for it delighted and rejoiced me much in the Lord; and I commend all of you who fear Him to the Lord.
After I had been imprisoned nineteen weeks, I was brought
before the commissary of the royal court, who first demanded an
oath of me, that I should tell the truth. I said, "The Lord has
forbidden us to swear in anywise; hence I do not want to take
an oath." Then he said that I should answer to his questions
with yes and no. I said, "I do not want to do this, for you
might ask me something which it would not be proper for me to
tell; hence I must first hear what you want to ask me." He then
first asked me my age. I answered, "Twenty-four or five years." He wrote it down. He further
asked where I was born, where I had last resided, and how many
children I had. I said"One."
Com. "How old is it?" Reytse. "Half a year."
Com. "Is it baptized?" Reytse."No, not that I know." Cove."What is the reason that it has not been done?" Reytse. "Because it is not commanded in the holy- Scriptures."
Com. "Are you baptized?" Reytse. "Yes, upon my faith, as Christ has commanded."
Com. "Were you not
baptized in your infancy?" Reytse. "Yes, but I do not recognize that as a scriptural baptism."
He wrote it all down. He asked me who the one was that had baptized me, where it had taken place, and who and how many had been at my father's house. I said, "I do not want to tell you this; I hope you will not ask me concerning it. If you thirst so much for the blood and life of men, you have me in your hands; do with me according to your pleasure, I shall by the help of the Lord freely offer my neck for it; but I hope of your grace, that you will not question me so severely in regard to it." He said they should indeed question me more severely yet; hence you better tell me voluntarily, than involuntarily. I said, "The Lord my God will keep me, for this I trust His grace." And after he had written down everything, he told me to go.
Dear father, some time when it suits you, write me something concerning your intentions or purpose, as to where you intend to live, and how your temporal affairs stand, also in regard to my sister, and also some consolation, for this rejoices me much.
I further inform you that there are now two other prisoners with me; they are old men, and we agree tolerably well; for they have been confined with me for about a month, and we have spoken somewhat of the way of the Lord. They are willing to exchange that which they have for something better, and they think that they need salvation as much as I do. They have indeed formed the good resolve. to live no more unto sin, but to be transformed into newness of life, which I am glad to hear; but God knows the heart. I further let you know that one evening the colonel's wife came before the prison, just as we were about to he fed. She therefore first asked how many prisoners there were here. They told her. Then she asked what their crimes were. Then one excused himself, as best he could. She then asked me, what my crime was. I said that my crime for which they held me was not very great. She had heard of me, and said I should suffer myself to be instructed by those who were wiser than I. I said, I would suffer myself to be instructed with that which was right. She further said that people said that I did not believe in the Father, nor in the Son, and also not in the Holy Ghost; which I earnestly contradicted, and said that I thought much thereof, and that my faith was resting thereon, and that if I did not believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I should not be worthy to live. Then she inquired what it really was. The castellan's son said that I did not believe in the mass. Then she became angry, and I said that I did not believe in the ordinances of men, as, namely, infant baptism, and their sacrament-that the blessed Lord was not present in it, but I believed that He was in the hrone of eternal life. She became angry and said that if there were no executioner, she would rather put me to death herself, than that I should live, And she gave the two prisoners that are with me seven stivers, and forbade them to give me anything of it, and warned them, that they should not allow themselves, to be seduced .by me, and went away. Furthermore, dear father, deliver to my wife, at the. first, opportunity, the letter which I have written he, and exhort her to that which is good, this I affectionately pray you, .and all my dear friends; my dear old mother above all, and my two sisters, and my young brother, that he conduct himself well, when he gets a little more understanding
and also my poor child, for whose poor soul I am so greatly concerned, that it may please the Lord. But I hope the Lord will take it into His kingdom, before it commits sin. Walk in love. Eph. 5:2. Further, dear father, I would desire a Testament, if you could send me one; for I have had our brother's Testament for a very long time, and he needs it himself, and has it now again.
Written in my bonds, by me, your dear son.
My dear mother, I wish you the gracious, eternal, merciful Father, and the love of God, and the comfort of the Holy Ghost. as a greeting; and the Father of peace rule in your heart. Amen,
My very dear and affectionately beloved mother, who bore me in your own body, and brought me into the world with great pain, yea, whose breasts have nourished me and who nourished and instructed me in all truth, you have kept me ,from all sinful companions; yea, you have kept me from all false doctrine, yea, you have kept me from the whore of Babylon, . yea, you have brought me into the church of the living God. You have kept me from all sin, according to your best ability. You have brought me thus far with the help of the Lord, Behold, my very affectionately beloved mother; it is therefore my entreaty and request of you, that you will not fret and grieve on my account, for I hope that you have not brought me up to the reproach, but to the praise, of God and His church. After all proper salutation it is my request and entreaty of you, that you will forgive and excuse me, if I have in anywise grieved you, whether it may have been done in my youth or ignorantly, this I request of you. Further, my dearly beloved mother, I must write you a little from the bottom of my heart and the inmost of my soul, though you know it, and are taught of God, and are my dear mother, yet I write to you that in none of us there may be found an evil heart of unbelief, and that none may be entangled by the, deceitfulness of sin, and depart from the living God on account of any tribulation. II Peter 1:12; John 6:45; Heti. 4:12, 13,
Behold, my dear, beloved mother;-let us not be troubled, or become despondent; though they have touched you in property and blood [kindred], fear not, but be of good courage, for the Lord is our Redeemer. Behold the afflictions of job, how the Lord helped him. And behold the end of the Lord; for the Lord will not forsake you and. me, if we trust in Him, for the Lord has helped me to fight, for I have now been before them twelve times. The Lord is my Captain, He will not forsake me. Nor do I want to forsake Him, neither for life nor death. Hence, my dear and much beloved mother, let us go to and sincerely prostrate ourselves before the Lord, for all our lives end in death, and when we shall all be presented before the judgment seat of Christ, what manner of persons must we then be: Therefore, my beloved mother, who have obtained like faith with me, let us prepare ourselves, and gird up the loins of our mind. And let us lay aside every weight, and the sin Which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; and we shall receive a reward. Heb. 12:1, 2; I Cor. 3:14. Dearly beloved mother, though they have touched you in your property, and me in my life, what does it matter. The Lord our God will help us; but we must trust in Him. The world shall rejoice, and we shall be sorrowful; but our sorrow shall be turned into joy. John 16:20. But, dear mother, we must patiently wait for it. Though they speak evil of us, dear mother, they treated the Lord our God in the same manner before us.
Hence I am not surprised; they have condemned me so often; yea, [have said] that I shall here receive the temporal fire, and hereafter the eternal; yea, that the devil is in me. Yea, they say that if they did not put such as Douwe Eeuwoutss and I out of this world, they should not be able to answer for it before God. Hence, dear and beloved mother, fear not, for they know no better. But let us heed our lesson, for the Lord demands and requires more of us, than of them; hence let us take heed to the correction and chastisement, and receive it patiently and joyfully; and we shall receive a reward, for whom the Lord chastens, him He will receive. But if we are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are We bastards, and not children. Hence, my beloved mother, I rejoice from the depth of my heart, that the Lord our God has so loved me, as to have called me hereunto, that I may be found Christ's sheep for the slaughter. And I hope by His great grace and mercy, that He will make me fit, and shall receive me into His kingdom, as He promised those who seek Him from the heart. See, my very dear and beloved mother, let us not despise the correction of the Lord, but patiently receive it; and we shall receive a reward. Yea, hereafter all sorrow and tears shall be wiped away from our eyes. Yea, we shall stand upon mount Zion, with all the saints of God. Behold what great joy is prepared for them that have obeyed God. Therefore, dear and much beloved mother, let us take up our cross, and follow Him from the heart, as dear children, that we may not be blotted out of the 'book of life. My love, we must be holy and unblamable before Him in all our conversation. Our words must be seasoned with salt; as Paul says; that we may be able to stand before the almighty eternal God. Further, dearly beloved mother, as you have shown all love to me, it is my request of you, that you will love my dear, beloved child as you have loved me, as I trust you will do, and have a mother's heart for it.
O dear mother, take in good part what I have written here, for it has been done out of love.
Know, dear and much beloved parents, that in the eighteenth week of my imprisonment I was before the bishop, where were assembled at least eight or nine persons. The bishop spoke first, that I should betake myself to the holy Catholic faith, and he should set me at liberty; and other words that he said. If I would not do this, they would cut me off as a heretic and an obstinate and disobedient person, who is opposed to the ordinances of the Roman Church. Finally I opened my mouth, very joyfully, and said, "Do what you will and can answer for before God, for I do not want to forsake my faith, for either death or life." They said that I should advise with myself, or amend, since eternity was so long. Reytse. "Because eternity is so long, therefore I want to take heed; , if eternity were not so long, I would not sit in these bonds."
Finally they asked me all the articles anew, and I confessed them. Then they read the sentence to me, but I did not understand it well, as it was written in Latin. It was that they delivered me over as a heretic, who'would not suffer himself to be instructed with the ordinances of the holy Church; and they gave me over into the hands of the judges; together with certain documents pertaining to this matter. Finally I sat there with uncovered head, and defended myself with many remarks, speaking joyfully, that they should take heed not to bring harm to themselves by laying violent hands on me. The bishop said that he would rather fast two weeks with water and bread, than pass sentence upon me.
Finally, when they had finished their business, they went away. After they had gone, a priest remained, who reviled much, and had much to say, and wanted to dispute with me a whole night; but I would not, because they had delivered me over already; for he had come of his own account. Then he went away, and I had to go back to prison; nevertheless, I am not dismayed. The Lord God has brought me thus far; I hope through His great grace, that He will help me further, for I know that He is the One that helps me; without Him I can do nothing. Hence praise the Lord always, and glorify Him forever and ever. I commend you to the Lord, for He is our Redeemer and Helper in all our tribulation and distress.
Written by me in the twentieth week of my imprisonment.
Grace, peace, mercy, love, and unity from God our heavenly Father, be with you my dear and beloved wife; may the almighty God keep you and me, and bring us into eternal life. Amen.
See, my dear and much beloved wife, whom I took before God and His church, I am greatly troubled and grieved on your account, and pray the Almighty God day and night for you, that He will keep you in your steadfast faith; for when you were with me, you comforted me with the word of the Lord, wherein I greatly rejoice, with joy unspeakable, and praise the almighty, eternal God for your faith.
Behold, my dear and much beloved wife, be not troubled on my account, but console yourself in the Lord, for the Lord is my helper, and He comforts me. I sometimes scarcely know that I am in prison, when I think of the promises which God has given us, and thank Gad that He has chosen me thereto. If we continue steadfast unto the end, the crown of life is laid up for us, and we shall be clothed in white raiment, and shall stand upon Mount Zion, with all God's chosen saints, and sing the good new song. O my dear, beloved wife, I could not forsake you for any riches of this world, but Christ says, "He that forsaketh not father and mother, sister and brother, house and home, wife and child, and his own life, is not worthy of me." Luke 14
26. Behold, my dear, beloved wife, we have had each other two years, and have loved each other greatly; if I could die for you, I think it would not be too hard for me. My dear wife, though I am imprisoned here, it will not be to your disgrace, but to the praise of God. I am greatly troubled for you and my dear child. O that our dear Lord would take it into His kingdom; it would be such a great joy to me; but if not, may it grow up in the fear of God. My dear wife, be not troubled on my account, but console yourself in the Lord. May the Almighty God keep you and me, that we may hereafter appear in eternal life. The Lord keep you and me, and confirm us unto eternal life. Amen.
By me, your dear husband.
Grace, peace, mercy, unity, and love be with you, my dear wife and sister in the Lord; may the almighty God comfort you in your misery and tribulation which you have on my account.
Behold, my very dear and beloved wife and sister in the Lord, whom I took before God and His church, the eternal Almighty God, console you in your tribulation and distress which you endure on my account.
Behold, my beloved, though we are to suffer here (for in the world we shall have tribulation, but our tribulation shall be turned into joy), let us firmly cleave to the word of the Lord, and depart neither to the right nor to the left. O dear and much beloved wife, I am so greatly troubled and concerned for you, and pray the Almighty God for you day and night, that He will keep you, and that you may continue steadfast unto the end; for he that continues steadfast shall be saved.
My dear, beloved wife and sister, when you were with me you comforted me with the word of the Lord, so that the castellan's wife said, "I could not do this;" and you said I should cleave to the word of the Lord; wherein I greatly rejoice, and thank the eternal God for your strong faith. Pray the Lord who has begun this good work in you, that He will keep it in you unto the end, that you may obtain the salvation of your soul. My belovedbe of good courage, and be valiant in the Lord; and we may well say with the prophet, "O Israel, how happy are we, that God has made known His word unto us." Bar. 4:4. What thanks shall we render to the Lord for the good that He has shown us? for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. I Thess. 3:9; II Cor. 8:9. Hence, my dear and beloved wife, if we suffer with Him, we shall also rejoice with Him; if we die with Him, we shall also reign with Him. II Tim. 2:11, 12. O beloved, be of good courage, and cleave to the word of the Lord, and be firmly rooted in Him. Even as Jacob took hold of the angel, and wrestled with Him all night, until the breaking of the day. The angel said, "Let me go." Jacob said, "I will not let thee go, till thou have blessed me." Genesis 32:24.
Let us therefore be followers of God, as dear children in love. Eph. 5:1. O my beloved wife, I have such a great care for you, and am so much troubled for you. O love, I beseech you from the inmost of my soul, that you will not forsake the Lord your God all the days of your. life.. O love, I am so greatly troubled and grieved for my dear child, that I do not know whither to turn, and I pray the eternal, almighty God day and night in regard to it. O my dear and beloved. be of good courage, and console yourself in the Lord, and be not troubled on my account-the Lord is my helper. My beloved, if it should please our dear Lord, that we should meet no more, may we meet hereafter in eternal life. May the Lord help you and me to this end, and keep us, that we may be saved.
Written by me, your beloved husband and brother in the Lord.
After Reytse Aysess had confessed his faith with all boldness before the, lords and princes, and had taken leave from his ood friends, he was finally
brought before the lords and sentenced to death. His sentence reads as follows
Whereas it has appeared to the Court of Friesland, that Reytse Aysess, at present a prisoner, has, by the sentence of the high, worshipful Lord Bishop of Leeuwaerden, been condemned as an obstinate heretic in his opinions and errors concerning the holy church, and as such been committed into the will and hand of the secular justice, to be dealt with according to law, according to the full power of the sentence existing with respect to this; therefore, the aforesaid court, having duly regarded and considered all that ought to be considered in this matter, in the name and in behalf of the King of Spain, etc., Archduke of Austria,. Duke of Burgundy Brabant, etc. Court of Holland, Zealand, and Lord of Friesland, have condemned, and by these, presents do condemn the aforesaid prisoner, to be executed with water, and brought from life to death; declaring, furthermore, all his property to be forfeited and confiscated for the benefit of his majesty. Done the 23d of April,- A. D. 1574.
Upon this, Reytse was very bold and joyful, praising and thanking the Lord, that he had become worthy to suffer for His name; and in the evening, at nine o'clock, he was brought into the castellan's house by the beadles.
There were some monks there, who tormented and tempted him much, but they were not able to resist the spirit that was in him; he remained bold and fearless, and spoke with a person which bears this testimony concerning it, and sent greetings to all his good friends; especially to his parents, wife, and nearest kindred, informing them that he was of good cheer and in greater joy than he had ever been in his life. Thereupon, about twelve o'clock in the night, the castellan, the beadles, the executioner, the monks, and others, assembled and conducted him to the torture tower, whither he gladly went, singing
"I call upon Thee O heavenly Father,
Be pleased to strengthen my faith." etc.
When he came into the torture tower, he fell down upon his face, and called upon the Lord in fervent prayer, after which he rose, and offered up his sacrifice with all boldness, and was drowned there. He rests now under the altar, waiting for the number of his fellow brethren to be fulfilled.
How signally the faithful God is filled with compassion over His people, how He comforts and strengthens them by His Spirit, how He goes with them into water and fire, yea, He remains with them in the bitterness of death, never forsaking them; and how He also regards every injury inflicted upon His own, as though the apple of His own eye were touched; this can be seen and perceived, in both the Old and New Testaments, in the avenging hand of God, with which He many times smote bloodthirsty persecutors. Ex. 14:8; II Macc. 9:28; Acts 12:23.
The same can also be seen;in many tyrants and persecutors of these latter days, as, among other instances, may be seen in the case of a certain nobleman, named Andries Grijpen, who, searching for some thieves, laid his hands on this aforesaid God-fearing Reytse Aysess. And though their consciences (that is, his own as well as his wife's con science), greatly troubled and accused them with regard to this deed, so that they said they much deplored that these people were so exceedingly oppressed; these people who, he said, harmed no one, nor desired any one's property, but were well satisfied with what they had. That these were thus harassed, was a grievous cross to his heart; and though he felt thus in his conscience, he nevertheless, through the instigation of his secretary, and because he, like Pilate, would remain the emperor's friend, and not lose his office, set at naught this conviction of his heart, and bound and ironed the aforesaid Reytse Aysess, and sent him thus to Leeuwaerden to prison. But the righteous God, who is not mocked, very soon after this deed, sorely smote the said lord with His avenging hand, so that the freebooters, coming from Holland, fell upon his house and completely demolished it, and subjected him to much affliction and ignominy, taking him with them to Holland, and setting -a ransom of six thousand guilders upon him, in addition to which he had to give a hundred guilders each week as personal expenses, until the ransom had been fully paid. In consequence of this he and his family fell into extreme poverty, so that other people, filled with compassion, aided and fed him in this his great need. Besides this he was afflicted with gravel and consumption, of which he ultimately miserably died. Some others of his kindred also were taken out of this world in a miserable manner. Moreover, in these afflictions his conscience greatly accused him of this deed, so that he penitently prayed to God, desiring that through his temporal afflictions and suffering, he might, by the grace of God, escape and turn away the eternal torment of hell, which he seemed to experience in himself. Hence this ought to serve as an example to all tyrants and persecutors, carefully to beware of such deeds.