Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, my dear and most beloved wife and sister in the Lord, according as His divine power bath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises. II Pet. 1:2, 3.
Thus, my most beloved, that by these you are a partaker of the divine nature, if you flee the corruptible lusts of this world, as you have also done, and by renouncing the same, and accepting regeneration, faith, and manifestation of obedience, which you proved by baptism, in which you put on Christ, and thereby became a partaker of the divine nature. And this was not done for works of righteousness which you did, but according to His mercy He saved you, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Tit. 3:5. If you continue herein unto the end, and are patient in whatever befalls you, you shall inherit what is promised you. Praise God, and thank Him for all His glorious benefits which you have received; and bless God the Father through Jesus Christ, though tribulation has now come upon you, through my departure for the Lord's sake; and know that according to His abundant mercy He bath begotten you again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved for you and all that are in the same faith, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, wherein you, my dear and beloved wife, greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: for, know, my most beloved, we are tried in manifold ways, in order that it may become manifest whether we truly love the Lord. I Pet. 1:3.
Hence be of good cheer, my most beloved, even though still much more tribulation should come upon you; for know that we must through much tribulation and suffering enter into the kingdom of God. And as also Ecclesiasticus says, in the second chapter, first verse, "My son, if thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation.
Set thy heart aright, and constantly endure, and make not haste in time of trouble. Cleave unto him, and depart not away . . . For gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity."
But, my most beloved, even as James writes in his first chapter, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing;" for when we are in tribulation, we need patience. Hence I entreat you from the bottom of my heart, and from my inmost soul, to be of good cheer, and with patience to let the trial of your faith become manifest, as Peter says, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls, I Pet. 1:7-9. Then all suffering, tribulation, reproach, persecution, sighing, weeping, and lamenting will have an end. Rev. 21:4. Therefore be of good cheer, and consider that the suffering which may happen to us here, will all pass away, and all the glory and pleasure of this world must also perish and come to naught; but look constantly to the future glorious promises that have been made us, and which shall be fulfilled to us that believe, if we remain steadfast, since He is faithful that promised, for the Lord is not slack concerning His promise. Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:23; II Peter 3:9. But be of good cheer, and trust in Him, for He will not forsake you; and cast your care upon Him, for He careth for you; for He that has called and chosen you hereto is a God of all grace, as Paul says.
But the God of all grace, who bath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a [little] while, (mark, He says: A little while) make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you in that which you have accepted, namely, the faith in Him, and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, unto whom be praise, honor and glory, now and forever. Amen. I Pet. 5:10.
After all heartfelt and affectionate greetings to you, my dearest, chosen and most beloved wife and dear sister in the Lord, I have received your letter, in which you write me to write you a testament, which I will not refuse to do, if the Lord gives me time; for if I could help you with my blood, I would do it. But now I cannot help you, save by writing, which I do to your comfort, out of true brotherly love, and from the bottom of my heart, intending to finish this, by the help and grace of the Lord, with the same mind with which I commenced it. Know therefore, my dear wife and sister in the Lord, how that God visited His people
in former times, when they were in Egypt, in the bondage of King Pharaoh, whom they had to 'serve for about five hundred years. And when it was His will to deliver them, He raised up Moses for, their leader, through whom God delivered them out of Egypt's bondage and led them through the Red Sea, to which He drowned and brought to naught King Pharaoh and all his host-with which the latter pursued them.-thus delivering them out of his hands. Thus they came into the wilderness, to go on to the land which was promised them; and the Lord God, through Moses their Leader, gave them laws and customs after which they were to walk. But they did not continue in His law; wherefore God became angry, and sware in His wrath, that they should not enter into His rest. Concerning whom did He swear, but concerning unbelievers? And we see that they did not enter therein, and this because of their unbelief. This having thus happened, the Lord spoke through the prophet, and said, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more." Now in these last days He has revealed this covenant, given through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the true Moses, who has taken us by the hand. and led us out of Egypt, wherein we all sat and served the hellish King Pharaoh, under whom we were captive by sin; from which bonds and slavery we are redeemed through Christ, who through His death and the shedding of His blood redeemed and reconciled us, and delivered us from the hellish King Pharaoh, whom He destroyed and suffocated in his blood, thereby fulfilling the Old Testament; for all.had to be fulfilled that was written in the law and in the prophets. Heb. 1:2; Matt. 5:17; Luke 24:44. Thus the fulfillment was accomplished, and the new testament confirmed with His blood; which, as already stated, He had promised through the prophets, and which is proclaimed to us .through the Gospel, and confirmed with signs and wonders by Him and His holy apostles, whom after His resurrection He sent out to preach to all nations, that whosoever should believe and be baptized, should be saved, also commanding them to teach them to observe all things whatsoever He had commanded them. Heb. 2:4; Matt. 28:20.
And now, my most beloved, are we the people which God chose before the foundation of the world, and made a better testament with us, than He made with Israel, who daily had to oiler up sacrifice for sins, by which they could nevertheless not atone? Eph. 1:4; Heb. 7:22, 27. For burnt offerings and offering for sin He would not, neither did God have pleasure therein, which were offered by the law; then said He (namely Christ),"Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." He taketh away the former, that He may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest then stood daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us
for after that He had said before (as is written Jer. 31:31). This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds Will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin, as Paul writes. Heb. 10:8-18.
Therefore, my dear and beloved wife, we have (verse 19) a free and secure entrance into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, His flesh; and we have a high priest over the house of God, which is the church, which He cleansed with His blood, that it might be holy, without spot or wrinkle; of which you are a member, for it is the body of Christ, and we the members of that same body, and Christ the head and priest of the house of God, as stated. Eph. 5:26, 27; 1:22. Hence, my most beloved, adhere to it diligently, and let us always, draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and let us wash our bodies with pure water, that is, put off all uncleanness of the heart and the flesh, and perfect all righteousness and holiness; and hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering, for He is faithful that promised; and always consider yourself-this I entreat you, my most beloved -to provoke unto love and to good works. Hebrews 10:22-24; II Cor. 7:1.
Since you are a child of the New Testament, I write you this for a testament according to your request. Hence it is my request of you, my dear lamb, despised of men, but chosen of God, and called to His Testament, since He left us the Testament, that we should thereby remember His death; namely the breaking of the bread, showing by it that He was broken for us on the tree of the cross, and that we should also remember thereby, that we are delivered through Him from the hand of our
enemies. This He left us for an everlasting Testament, to observe it, even as the children of Israel were commanded to eat the Passover, and to observe it yearly for a memorial of their having been delivered from King Pharaoh; all of which was a figure and shadow, of which we now have the true substance, in the true observance of our redemption through the true Passover Christ, and His .communion, in which you are certainly included, since it is but a short time ago that we showed it among the others by the breaking of bread, and drinking of wine, that you are a partaker of the New Testament, and of all the glorious promises which are f omised the children of the New Testament. Hence it is my request that you will faithfully continue therein unto the end, so that you may inherit all the promises, for he that overcometh shall inherit all things; to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne; he that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; he that overcometh, him will I confess in heaven before my Father, and will write his name in the book of life; and other beautiful promises that, as you well know, are promised to all that overcome. Revelation 21:7; 3:5, 21.
Therefore, my most beloved, see that you remain faithful; for you are still in the wilderness, where you must be proved yet, even as Israel was proved in the wilderness forty years, that God might make manifest thereby, what was in their hearts. Hence know that all perished who did not remain steadfast, and that they could not inherit the promises, as stated before. But now we have a better testament, which is for ever, and not as Israel, a law written in tables of stone, but written in the tables of our hearts. Heb. 8:6.
Hence, my most beloved, since we have a better testament, walk the better in it, and continue steadfast in the faith, and let this be manifested by the fruits of faith, and the law which is now written in your heart, by the Spirit of God; let him be read from you, and this by fulfilling the works of the Spirit, that you may thus be an epistle of Christ, which may be read by all to whom you are manifest as Paul testifies of the Corinthians (II Cor. 3:3), that they were the epistle of Christ ministered by them, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables in their hearts; for Christ also says (Matthew 5:16), "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father." For if we now have a new testament given by Christ, who is our Leader and Lawgiver, we must keep His commandments, follow Him (as I wrote to you in the other two letters), and show forth His image, even as the image of the Father was shown forth through Him, as He said to Philip, "Philip, he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself,: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." John 14:9, 10.
Now, my most beloved, since through the grace of God you have heard the Gospel, which has been preached in all the world (Rom. 8:18), and believe in it, and have been obedient to it, and are yet, as I trust through the grace of the Lord, and have put on Christ, let Him therefore be shown forth in you, even as the image of the Father is shown forth in Christ, through words and miracles, as you have also always shown Him forth by a pure Christian conversation; and thus truly follow Christ, since He is the true Moses, who went before us. Follow Him valiantly, no matter what you meet with in this wilderness, whether it be tribulation or affliction, suffering or persecution; be of good courage, Christ is gone before; follow Him boldly, for the servant is not better than his lord; nor the disciple above his master, nor the wife above her husband, nor the maid above her mistress; but it is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, the servant as his lord, the wife as her husband, the maid as her mistress.
Therefore, dear sister in the Lord, be of good cheer, and consider the long suffering and patience of Christ, and all the pious witnesses who from the beginning until now have followed Christ. Jas. 5:10. He did not leave them without comfort, nor does He leave,us, who are imprisoned here for the same testimony's sake, without comfort, but wonderfully comforts and strengthens us through the power of the Holy Ghost, eternal praise to Him for it.
Hence be of good courage, continue without ceasing in prayer and supplication, and thus show that you are a child of the New Testament, that the law of the Lord is written in your heart, and is thus read. May the merciful Father strengthen you to this end, through His Son, and the power of His Holy Spirit. Herewith (since my paper is exhausted) I commend you, my dear wife, to the Lord, and to the word of His grace.
Written in my bonds, on Monday, by me,
JELIS BERNAERTS, your dear husband.
Grace and peace from God the Father, which has come to us through Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord. May He comfort you in all your tribulation by the power of the Holy Spirit, which spirit is the comforter of all the afflicted, and is sent us from the Father through Jesus Christ His Son,as the teacher of all believers, and comforter of all the afflicted, who are in godly sorrow, which sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. II Cor. 7:10. This same only, undivided, unchangeable, eternal almighty, strong God, expressed in three names, namely, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in one Being, as is written. John 5:7: There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father,
the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one; may He be your Comforter unto the end; this I pray from the bottom of my heart, through His dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
After all heartfelt and affectionate greeting which I have written you, my dearest and beloved wife, and sister in the Lord, whom I love as my own soul, according to the spirit and the flesh, since you are flesh of my flesh, and I with you, I cannot (perceiving your sorrow) omit or neglect always to comfort you by my writing, as long as I have time. And know, my most beloved, that my parting from you is hard for me; but I console myself with the Word of the Lord, who has said that we must hate and forsake everything: father, mother, wife, children; and that he who does not take up his cross daily, cannot be His disciple. Luke 14:26; Matt. 16:24. And when I also consider that the union of the flesh which we have formed together, cannot last forever, and as the parting does thus take place according to the will of the Lord, I renounce my own will herein, and submit myself to the will of the Lord. Thus you also, my most beloved, I entreat you, give yourself over to the Lord, for He is your life and your death, as we read Rom. 14:8: Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; for we are the Lord's. And when I, my dearest, contemplate the unity in which we still stand, namely, in the spiritual body of Christ, since by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, then I rejoice that you also stand in communion with me, and have become a partaker of the divine nature, yea, that we have become branches on the vine, which is Christ, sheep of the true Shepherd, children of the promise, born of the free woman, heirs of God's kingdom, with Christ in the kingdom of His Father, since we are born of God through Him, by the incorruptible seed, the word of truth, which He is, since He is the Word of the Father, and the Word became flesh, through which Word and Spirit we came into this communion, and became flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bone, and are members of His body, namely, of His church, of which He is the Head; and when I -contemplate that we both stand herein, I rejoice, as also you, my most beloved, this I pray you; for this union shall endure forever, if we remain faithful to Him with whom we are united herein, and do not commit adultery, and we shall enjoy hereafter all the glorious riches with Him in His Father's kingdom. But know, my dear lamb, that Christ, when He had forsaken the glory of His Father, and came upon earth, had to take it again by much tribulation and suffering; and if He, who is the Head, went thus before, we, the members, must follow; and as there is but one way, and one door, the members must follow in and through the same -the body cannot enter the house divided. Hence, my most beloved, if we would be members with the Head, namely, enter with Christ into His Father's house, and enjoy the glorious riches, we must enter by the same way, and accept all that may befall us; for if we would reign with Him, we must suffer with Him.
If we are children, we are also heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Rom. 8:17, 18. And Christ says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. John 16:20, 21. Thus, my most beloved, take these words of Christ, for an example, that it must be thus with us until we have born Christ.
Therefore, my most beloved, consider well the Scriptures, how He constantly speaks of tribulation and suffering in this present time, always, however, adding comfort, even as He says, "Blessed are ye that mourn; for ye shall be comforted." Matt. 5:4. Again, "In the world ye shall have tribulation., but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33. And again, "Fear not, I will not leave you orphans." John 14:18. And even as He speaks through the prophet Isaiah, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Isa. 49:15.
Hence, my most beloved, be comforted by these words, and by all the glorious riches of which you have become a partaker through faith, and you need not be astonished that you now weep, since you certainly well know, that in this present time nothing is promised us, but tribulation, suffering, persecution, and weeping, but it is written, "Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Woe unto you that laugh now!for ye shall weep." Luke 6:21, 25. Hence it is better to weep now, than afterwards, since the time is coming which will endure forever; and the things which now are must soon perish. Therefore, my most beloved, cast your care upon the Lord, for He cares for you; and be strengthened with all might, ,according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering, with joyfulness: giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, through His beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord, unto whom be praise, honor and glory, now and forever. Amen. Colossians 1:11-13.
Herewith, I your faithful husband, commend you, my most beloved wife, to the Lord, and to the word of His grace. Amen. May the Lord strengthen and stablish you by His Spirit, that you may keep unto the end that which you have and
thus receive the crown of life, and wait with patience for the time of your redemption. The peace of the Lord be with you, and with all that fear and love the Lord, and keep His commandments.
The grace and peace from God the Father, and the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, by which Spirit we are all baptized into one body, of which Christ is the Head, and we members together, flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bone, and He is the Saviour of His body, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against or withstand it, if we remain firmly united in love among ourselves, and do not suffer ourselves to be deceived, but hold fast the faith in Christ Jesus, and do not neglect the grace given us of God through Christ Jesus, His only begotten Son, our Lord, unto whom be praise, honor, glory, and thanksgiving now and forever. Amen.
After all heartfelt greeting written to you my beloved wife and sister in the Lord, of whom I am now deprived through the bonds in which I now am for the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the faith in God, which I hope to seal with my blood and death, and thus to enter into rest with all the saints of God under the altar-which altar is Christ-and wait for all my fellow brethren and sisters, where we shall be gathered together and remain forever and ever, and thus be in everlasting joy, where parting will be heard no more, but we shall reign forever with God and the Lamb, and all the saints. There neither sighing nor weeping shall be heard any more, but all tears shall be wiped away from our eyes; our tribulation shall be turned into joy and gladness, our weeping into laughing, our parting into eternal gathering, where there will be nothing but joy and gladness."For eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." I Cor. 2:9. Therefore let us be of good cheer, and patient in tribulation, knowing that we must through much tribulation and suffering enter into the kingdom of heaven; and let us continue instant in prayer, and firmly persevere with prayer and supplication in the Spirit, that He will always comfort, strengthen and stablish us, so that we may always be steadfast in all tribulation and suffering that may befall us; in which suffering He will not leave us without comfort; for as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation aboundeth by Christ. II Cor. 1:5.
Now, my most beloved, we may be of good cheer, and have good courage, and rejoice in hope, that we have obtained such glorious promises, and expect so unhoped for a salvation. For we who sometime were far off, are now come nigh: yea. we who sometime were strangers and foreigners, are now become fellow citizens with the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, and are thus framed together unto a holy temple, even as Peter says (I Peter 2:5), "Ye also, as lively stones, be ye built up a spiritual house, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ; for He loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father (Revelation 1:5, 6); even as Peter also writes in his first epistle, second chapter;"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the virtues of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God
which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." Verses 9 and 10. For we must know that we were without God in the world, when we served the lusts of our flesh, and walked according to the course of this world, whose friend we were, yea, what is more, we were praised by the world; but, alas I despised by God; for, even as James says, "Whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." James 4:4. Then we were of those who had~not obtained mercy of God; for, even as Christ says, "Ye cannot serve two masters: ye must hate the one, and love the other." Matt. 6:24. And if we renounce the world, and forsake our own life, to live no longer according to the will of our flesh, but according to the will of God, He will have mercy upon us; and turn us from lies to the truth, from darkness to the light, from the serving of idols to the worship of the living God. Then we who were not a people, become the people of God, and can proclaim all the virtues and glorious benefits which the Lord has shown us, having also adopted us as His children; for it was such a people, converted and changed into newness of life, to whom the apostle Peter wrote, "Ye are a chosen generation," etc. And observe, my beloved, that he commences his epistle as to a people who were scattered abroad everywhere for the faith in Christ Jesus; hence it need not surprise us, though we are dispersed, scattered, apprehended and put to death; for thus, as you .may hear and read, it has been from the beginning, and will be made unto the end, since darkness does not love the light.
Thus, my most beloved, let us not fear; God is our Leader; and 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? It is God that justifieth. Who is He that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is arisen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. This we know, yea, what is more, we know that He preserves us as the apple of His eye. and has said, "I will never leave thee,
nor forsake thee." So that we may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me," (Heb. 13:5, 6), even as He has also admonished us, not to fear them that can kill the body; since after that they can do no more. But let us fear Him who has power to cast soul and body into hell. Even as He also says through the prophet, "Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass?" Isaiah 51:12.
Hence, my most beloved, fear not that which may befall you yet: neither be without comfort: but be of good cheer out of bonds, and be patient in tribulation, even as I am by the help of the Lord, in my bonds; and let us firmly continue in faith and love, and say with St. Paul, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written; for thy sake we are killed all the day long: we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Rom. 8:35-37.
Therefore, my most beloved, have good courage, and be of good cheer and patient in all your tribulation, and stand firm in the faith, steadfast unto the end, so that, even as we are now separated f rom each other by much tribulation and suffering, we may meet in the day of resurrection, and thus rejoice forever with one another, and reign with the Lord and all the saints, and all the angels of God, forever and ever. Amen.
To this end, may the Almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you, and me (and all that love the Lord and keep His commandments) througli the power of His Holy Spirit. Amen. Herewith I commend you to the Lord, and to the word of His grace. Amen. The peace of the Lord be with you.
Grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of His Father; to Him be praise, honor, glory and thanksgiving, now and forever, Amen. Gal. 1:4; Revelation 5:13.
My most beloved wife and sister in the Lord, and all dear brethren and sisters of the church at Gh., after I was sentenced to death, my heart felt inclined to write something to you, and to my beloved wife, whom I commend to you and to the Word of God, out of a true, affectionate heart, and genuine, unfeigned brotherly love, which I have to you even unto death. Hence it is my brotherly exhortation and epistle to you all, not to fear those who can kill the body; since after that they can do no more. And, as Peter says, "Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts." I Pet. 3:14, 15. And as he further says (dear brethren and sisters in the Lord), "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." I Pet. 4:12, 13. Well might the apostle exhort us to rejoice; for I can write it with truth, since everything has now befallen me, except death; however, sentence has been passed upon me. In the first place I had great joy according to the spirit when I was delivered into bonds; though many thoughts and misgivings came to the flesh, yet I rejoiced according to the spirit, that I had been chosen of God, to suffer for His name. In the second place, when I had confessed my faith before the authorities, and was then greatly tortured, I felt that God was with me; for He gave me such strength, that no matter what sufferings and tortures they inflicted upon me, they could get nothing out of me, but what ,tended to the praise of the Lord, and to my salvation; wherefore, they became angry, and asked me whether I would not yet tell; for, sail they,"We have power to torture you thus every day." I said, "My body is before you; do with it as you please." After all this had taken place, my joy was still greater; I could not express the praise of the Lord, nor sufficiently thank Him for the grace He gave me, that I was counted worthy to suffer for His name, and to seal His Word, with my blood; for the marks which I then received, and the pain, remained in my members unto the last day; the Lord be praised forever, since I well deserved to be chastised for my sins and transgressions. Afterwards I was twice brought before a monk. The first time he wanted to know my faith. I said, "Ask the authorities before whom I confessed it." He thereupon commenced to talk a great deal about incarnation, and baptism. When he had finished speaking, I asked him whether he meant thereby to maintain his ground; or if he meant, that I should interrogate him, and prove the contrary to him; but he would not hear my defense, and began to rail greatly against Menno and his books, which, as he said, he had read much, and found many lies in them. I said, "Bring them all here, and let us discuss them for a week." He replied, "You are not the man; so much trouble will not be taken with you." We had many other words yet about his doctrine and church, which it would take too long to write. And thus I left him.
Afterwards I was brought before him again, when another was with him. He wanted to dispute much about the sacrament, baptism, and incarnation. But I said, "You would not let me defend it, when I was with you the last time; hence I do not want to speak with you now." He was not satisfied
with this, and said he should compel me to speak, with the instruments of the Margrave; he also asked me whether I was ashamed of my faith. I replied, "I was not ashamed to confess it before the authorities; but I do not want to have anything to do with you people." We resolved among ourselves that we would all do so; and I would advise everyone, to observe this; for it profits nothing to dispute with them, since they are carnal men. I was then sentenced to death, when my joy became complete, so that I could not express it, since my deliverance was so nigh, and I considered the words of the apostle, where he says, "Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory should be revealed, I might be glad with exceeding joy;" and what he further says, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified." I Pet. 4:13, 14. When I thought upon this, and other passages of Scripture, and when I saw how transient tribulation and suffering were, and what beautiful promises were given me, and that I was to enter into rest with my dear brethren and sisters who went before and are under the altar, and wait for all our fellow brethren and sisters that must yet follow us, then all tribulation had to flee from me, when I beheld this with the spirit.
Therefore, my dear brethren, I do not write you this out of vain glory, but for the consolation and strengthening of your hearts, so that you may not be afraid of those who can kill the body, since after that they can do no more; but that you, dear brethren and sisters, may always be manful, and ever remember your leaders, who have spoken unto you the word of God, even as Paul says, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." Heb. 13:7. Hence, my most beloved, give attendance always among yourselves, to exhortation, to reading, to praying; and do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, but exhort one another to love and good works, and be firmly united in love, and use hospitality one to another; always be of one heart and of one soul among yourselves, so that when you get into bonds (if this be the will of the Lord) your heart may be unencumbered.
Herewith I commend you to the Lord, and to the Word of His grace. Amen. Farewell, farewell to you all, my dear brethren and sisters in the Lord.
Written by me, Jelis Barnaerts, to you, my dear brethren and sisters in the Lord, from the bottom of my heart, and out of true love. Amen.