After manifold persecution and fearful tyranny against the flock of Christ, there was also apprehended, in the year 1565, at Oudenaerde, in Flanders, a faithful brother named Adriaen den Burry, who, after undergoing and enduring manifold temptations, and severe conflicts against the devil and his tools, was burnt at said place, in the year 1565, and testified to and confirmed the upright and genuine faith of the truth with his death and blood, to the true conviction of all bloodthirsty tyrants and persecutors, and all carnal men, who seek to walk the broad way to eternal damnation, according to the lusts of their flesh, and to the consolation and strengthening of all true believers, that they might follow this friend of God in true obedience, even as he followed Christ, wherefore his name is written in the book of life, and worthy to be recorded in this book, for long remembrance.
In the year 1565, at Ghent in Flanders, Brother Willem de Duyck, after much tribulation and unwavering steadfastness, being not willing to apostatize in any wise, also had to bear witness with his blood to the name of Christ, and suffer temporal death for it; wherefore he shall also, at the resurrection, with all the children of God, hear the blessed words, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Matt. 25:34. Then shall he as one of the righteous enter into life eternal.
This Conrad Koch was kindled with the light of the knowledge of God, when this light, in these latter days, began to rise again, along the River Rhine as well as in the country of Berg, and the truth of the holy Gospel commenced to shine. Hence he sought, by the divine help, to leave the darkness, and to walk in this brightly shining light; he forsook popery and the worldly and ungodly life, and betook himself to the church of the Lord, heard and laid to heart the Word of the Lord, believed the Gospel, and was baptized, according to the command of Christ, upon faith in Christ Jesus, and confession of his sins, and accordingly, conducted himself in a brotherly and Christian manner in the church, and, in weakness, showed himself edifying and honorable toward all men. But as lie that walks in darkness cannot bear or endure the light, and the envy of the adversary works in his
followers, this man was envied by the papists, and accused to the intendant of the revenue; who was judge and ruler of the country in the name of the prince of Juelich. Thereupon the intendant sent his servants to Houf, where Conrad lived, and they apprehended him; he was ready, and as a lamb, willingly went with them to Loewenburg, one of the seven castles which, on account of their high situation, can be seen from a .great distance. There they brought Conrad into the tower, and placed him in severe confinement, in which he remained nearly half a year; however, he was greatly comforted by the Lord, though he had to suffer much hunger.
The intendant ofttimes browbeat him and threatened him most severely, that his life should be taken if he should refuse to renounce his faith. They tried him very hard with entreaties and solicitations, then with hunger, and also with threats to put him to death; but he remained inmovable. His heart was of good cheer.
Now when he had boldly confessed his faith, and no tortures could intimidate him, and the time drew near that he was to die for the truth and depart from this world, the door of his prison was opened, and he went of his own accord, free and unfettered, from the tower of Loewenburg to the village of Houf. His guide was Barabbas, that is a malefactor who went with him. His departure took place in great secrecy; and thus he came to Houf, which is some distance from Loewenburg. But even as Christ was crucified, and Barabbas released, so it was also here. Conrad was taken to the town hall of Houf, where it was proposed to him, that if he should renounce his faith, his young life should be spared, and his liberty be given him.
Manifold wiles were employed against him with great deceitfulness. The sophists sang things sweet and sour, saying, "Go to church at least once a year and if they do not preach the pure and clear truth, stay away from it thenceforth." One of these hypocrites said to Conrad, "My dear Conrad, though we be false, subtle and evil, it cannot harm your soul; do you only fear God and keep peace with all men; what is it to you if our faith is little." Conrad replied to the magistrates, "O you ministers of God, you must know that God wants no hypocrites. This was seen exemplified in old Eleazar, who would rather surrender his life than dissemble. II Macc. 6:24. Therefore .I also hope to die before I go into your congregation." Conrad further said, "Christ is the Head of the church; he that would please Him must show himself a member of His body; now, one must not sever, himself from Christ the Captain. With this Head I want to remain, though it cost my flesh and blood." They asked Conrad what he thought of infant baptism. He said, "Of this I can only think that it is also one of the pope's greatest abominations; however if you can prove it by the Word of God, I will suffer myself to be instructed by the church of the Lord.""O God," said Conrad,"to Thee I bring my complaint; O God, what calamity this, that they put to death those who speak the truth! They can certainly not allege that I have committed anything criminal, and yet they malignantly seek to kill me. O Lord, forgive them." The mandate of the prince of Juelich was then read to him, whereupon the judges passed sentence, upon which the intendant broke the staff. The sentence was, that Conrad should suffer death, if he did not recant. And when he had been thus sentenced twice, they took him out [ to the place of execution]. When he arrived there, he began to sing, "O God, how gently Thou dost chasten me. Reach me Thy gracious hand, that my flesh may now shun all sin, vice and shame, that I may rend the old garment, and have eternal joy with Thee. Christ, I praise Thee, O my supreme God, that I have lived to see this day and hour, that I may now testify to Thy name with my blood. My dear brethren and sisters, I commend you all to the Lord. Keep the Gospel of Christ firmly fixed in your hearts; this I leave you for an admonition: fear God, and be valiant; be my followers, even as I am willing to follow Christ the Lord, and to deliver up my life." And thus they put this pious man to death with the sword secretly, so that many did not hear of it. When thieves and murderers are condemned there it is customary to let the whole land know it; but the pious are murdered in secrecy, which is a shame for the judges. Thus Conradwas beheaded with the sword standing and proved himself a faithful witness of the sufferings of Christ, at Houf, in the land of Berg, which belongs to the prince of Juelich and Cleves.
In the year 1565, under the same intendant, who was a very bloodthirsty man, also seven other persons, four brethren and three sisters, had been previously apprehended. These four brethren were also sentenced that they should be put to death, if they refused to renounce their faith. But the Lord protected them, and delivered them all out of prison unharmed in their faith, for this bloodthirsty tyrant was smitten by God with sudden death, so that the prisoners were liberated from prison, keeping their faith, and adhering to the truth.
Grace, peace and mercy from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, is what I, Conrad Koch, a prisoner in the Lord, in Loewenburg, wish my dear brethren and sisters in the Lord. Amen.
I herewith inform you, that I had a call from the executioner, and they tried me hard with words, but did not torture me. The Lord kept me, so that I did not consent to them. Then they said that they would go to dinner, and then return and torture me. But before meal time was over yet, the intendant returned to me and told me much about the prince's preacher, that I should let him come
and see me once more, since he knew the errors which we held. I replied, "I do not want him; the Word of the Lord has taught me. Did I not tell you, that I want no preacher?" He said, "It is true; but still I wish you would do my will so much as to say that you want him to come to you. Though you do not agree then, all right; it does not matter, so we only get rid of the man." I replied, "I do not want to lay the cross of Christ aside." Then he said, "Then I cannot alter it," and left me.
Thus, my dear brethren and sisters in the Lord, did the Lord preserve me from them. Pray the Lord faithfully for me, to keep me in His faithful Word unto the end of my life, that I may adhere to it; for I am still of good hope, and willing with all patience to await, by the help of the Lord, all that He shall suffer to befall and come upon me for His name's sake. May He not suffer more to be laid upon me, than I am able to bear, that His name may not be blasphemed through me. Hence help me entreat the Lord; I expect also not to forget to remember all my dear brethren and sisters, nor all those that fear the Lord. May the Lord come to our*assistance, that we may pray according to His will, so that we may be heard with all the pious; to this end, may the Lord help us by His grace. Amen.
I have also been informed that our fellow members at Cologne have been released from prison; the Lord be praised for His great love which He manifests toward us in these latter days, preserving us so safely from the deceitful serpents, who come to us so subtly with fair words, which are nothing but mere hypocrisy employed by them to seduce us from the covenant of the Lord. From this, may the Lord preserve all those who have accepted 'His covenant. Amen. Herewith I commend you to the Lord.
Grace, peace, and a heart steadfastly fixed upon the Lord, is what I wish you, A. of B., my dear brother in the Lord, and I thank the Lord for the letter you wrote me. Thanks to the Lord for it, and I also request of you, my dear brother, that you help me to entreat the Lord, that I may become worthy of what you wished me, and desired of me. However, I still have a good hope, thanks to the Lord for it. I also am still willing to suffer -for His name's sake; but may He give me strength for it. Amen.
I also desire you, my dear brother, to wish our brother H. K. much good in my name. May the Lord make us worthy of every good thing; however, I cannot write you as much as I should like to see you have. May the Lord, according to His great mercy, give us what will tend to our salvation. Amen. And I ask you to wish all my brethren and sisters with whom the Lord will cause you to come in contact, much good, and to admonish them to faithfully pray the Lord, to uphold me in His faithful Word until death. I expect not to forget to remember you, as much as shall be possible for me. May the Lord assist us to pray in true love, so that we may be heard, and hereafter, with all the pious, inherit His kingdom; to this end, may the Lord help us. Amen.
I also inform you, that on Hallowe'en two priests visited me, who desired to take me to church; and when I did not consent to it, they commended me to the Lord; there were also three judges here, and did their best; but the Lord preserved me, praise and thanks to Him for it, and may He preserve you and me as long as we live. Amen. O my dear brethren and sisters, beseech the Lord diligently for me, that, since He suffers me, unworthy servant, to be cast into prison, it may redound to His praise, and to my salvation; this I desire with all my heart. May the Lord come to your and my assistance.
Herewith I commend you to the Lord, and to the Word of His grace. Amen.
I, Conrad Koch, have written this letter from Loewenburg, in prison, A. D. 1565.