This Jacques Mesdagh was apprehended (with three others; as he writes) on the lst of March, 1566, and was afterwards, on the 8th of November, 1567, burnt with three others, for the Word of God, at Kortrijck, in Flanders, in the marketplace before the city hall, having been confined, with iron fetters on his feet, for more than twenty months. He was from Capelle, to Poele, a league and a ,half from Ypres. With him died a young single man, named Willem Aerts, and two other men, one of whom was Joos Kasteel, from the vicinity of Kortrijck, and. the name of the other was Karel, All four were of very good cheer and valiantly testified to the truth, and confirmed it with their death.
I, Jacques Mesdagh, imprisoned at Kortrijck for the Word of God and the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ, apprehended the 1st of March, 1566; wish you my dearest and- much beloved chosen sister, from the bottom of my heart and from my inmost soul, that you may always prosper, and be'well in soul and body; and grace, mercy, peace, joy, love, a living spiritual hope, a true evangelical mind and trust, a true unfeigned faith which works by love, and the illumination, comfort and communion of the Holy Ghost, be unto you as a grace from God the heavenly Father, and through our Lord Jesus, by whom this grace has come to us; for Paul says, "The grace of God [that bringeth salvation] hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Tit. 2:11-14). For He came and preached the Gospel of peace to us who were afar off, and to them that were nigh. Therefore we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, whom the builders rejected (Eph. 2:17, 19, 20; Matt. 21:42); who His own self bare our sins, in His own body, on the tree, that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteous ness; by whose stripes we were healed. For we were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be praise, glory and dominion, and thanks for ever and ever. Amen. I Peter 2:24, 25; I Tim: 6:15; Revelation -1:5, 6.
This I wish you, my dearest chosen sister in Jesus Christ our Saviour, whom I love from the depth of my heart and from my inmost soul, as an affectionate and friendly greeting, and for a perpetual remembrance, my dear lamb, since it may easily happen that we shall soon have to separate here; for it seems that the abominable beast thirsts greatly for our blood. Rev. 13:1. But I hope that though we must now separate here for the Lord's name, we shall nevertheless hereafter meet together in life eternal, where there will be nothing but joy and gladness, which will endure for ever and ever; there tyrants will not be able to separate or harm us; for when they have killed the body, they have no more that they can do, as Christ Himself says. Luke 12:4.
Hence, 'my affectionately and much beloved sister, be not afraid of their threats, neither be troubled. Even as the Lord also spake through the prophet Isaiah, "Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation." For"I am he that comforteth you: 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?" Isa. 51:7, 8, 12."For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea. and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise." Malachi 4:1, 2."And everlasting joy shall be upon their head, they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away." Isa. 51:11."Yea, the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their. Father." Matt. 13:43."And they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Rev. 7:16, 17."And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither.shall there be any more pain." Rev. 21:4.."For he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second. death; and he shall inherit all things, and receive the crown of life."
Therefore, O my dear and chosen sister Susan-
nah, let us always faithfully adhere to Christ our Bridegroom, even unto death, so that hereafter we may altogether receive the crown of life, and may hear, in the great day of the Lord, the welcome voice, "Come, ye blessed of my Father:, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;" when He shall say to the others, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:34, 41.
Oh, what a great difference will then be between them that obeyed and feared the Lord, and those who did not obey or fear Him; the latter will have their part in the lake which will burn with fire and brimstone: which is the second death; but the former in eternal life. Rev. 21:18; John 3:16.
For he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. Christ also said, "Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find [or keep] it." Hence, my dearest and much beloved sister, whom I love from all my heart, let us herein always be of good courage and cheer in the Lord, though the tyrants deprive us of our temporal life for the Lord's name, and separate us; for we know, says Paul, that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, whose builder and maker is God. II Cor. 5:1; Hebrews 11:10.
O my dear and much beloved sister, that we had put off this body of our earthly house in Christ Jesus, and were thus at home with Him, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body; for here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come, as the apostle says. Phil. 3:21; Heb. 13:14.
Oh, that we were there in the beautiful and delightful city, which is full of all good things, where they will need neither sun nor moon, nor the light of a candle, to give them light, for the glory of God shall lighten them, and they shall reign for ever and ever. Rev. 21:23; 22:5. But we must here first go the narrow way, as Christ Himself said (DUtthew 7:13, 14), before we can enter there; far wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; but strait is'the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it; and still fewer, alas! who desire to walk it, since sometimes it is so hard for the flesh. For here in this wicked world not much besides tribulation and suffering is promised to those who desire to walk the narrow way, to follow Christ, and to live godly, in this vale of tears, according to their weak ability, for, in the first place Paul expressly says, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." IT Tim. 3:12."For truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter; yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey." Isa. 59:14,15.
O my chosen sister, whom I love in Ged since the Lord has given us so much grace that we have found the way of peace, this is the true grace' of God wherein you stand, says Peter. Oh, let us always walk faithfully therein unto the end, according to our feeble ability, though we must here for a short time have tribulation and suffering for the name of Christ; for we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14':22. And also Christ Himself says, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33. He also 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. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." Verses 20-22. Thus are also we with child, and in travail. so that we can scarcely draw our breath, as is also written in the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 26:18);* but when we too have here brought forth all tribulation and sorrow, and have put off our body in the Lord, we also shall hereafter rejoice with tongues unspeakable, though we are now here in the pangs of delivery, my dear and much beloved sister, for the name of Christ, namely, in tribulation and suffering for a short time, and hated of all men; for Christ Himself says, "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." Matt. 10:22. And Paul, also, says, "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." Phil. 1:29.
But, my very dear and chosen sister in the Lord, whom I love from true, unfeigned, godly and brotherly love, it will hereafter not be to our detriment, all that we have suffered here for the name of Christ; for He will reward us for it with joy most abundantly; for as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. II Cor. 1:5. For it is a faithful saying. Paul also says,"If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us." II Tim. 2:11, 12. And Christ Himself says,"If we confess him before men, he will also confess us before his Father, which is in heaven."
Hence, my dear lamb, let us always give diligent heed, that we here, in no wise forsake Christ our Bridegroom, on account of the sufferings which men may inflict upon us; for the time that we have to spend here is very short, compared with eternity. Though we should be compelled all the days of our life to lie in a dark dungeon for the name of the Lord, it could not yet be compared to eternity, and to the glory which shall be revealed in us; for
Paul says, "I reckon that the sufferings of .this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us; for our light affliction; which is but for a moment,worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at. the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." Rom. 8:18; I I Cor. 4:17,.18.
Therefore, O my most beloved sister, let, us not look at that which is temporal and perishable; but let us always wholly renounce ourselves, and daily take our cross upon us, to follow Christ faithfully and willingly in all that may come upon us for His holy and glorious name's sake; and think and look on the reward and the beautiful promises, which will endure forever. Let us herewith always comfort ourselves with the beautiful promises of the Lord, which He has given His own who fear and love Him, and obey Him in everything unto the end.
Thus, my dear and much beloved sister Susannah, let us constantly obey Him in all things, to do His divine will unto the end, according to our weak ability, and always wait with great patience for His beautiful promises, as did all the pious, holy men who died according to faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted; tormented; of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth, and were obedient to their God. For by faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. And by faith, Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. Heb. 11.
Thus, my affectionately and much beloved chosen sister, let us, too, always be obedient to God our heavenly Father, even unto death, and also rather choose, as did Moses, to suffer affliction with the people of God for a little season, here .in this vale of tears, and to look at the beautiful promise which is to be realized hereafter; 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. I Cor. 2:9.
Oh, see, my dear sister, how richly those are rewarded who love and fear God. Oh, why should we not fear and love the Lord with all our hearts, who .will so richly reward us for it, since not a single word of His promises shall fail, for He is so faithful that promised it; though we must suffer tribulation and persecution here for a little while, for the name of Christ our Lord. For if the holy men and prophets, and the apostles, had to suffer, yea, Christ Himself, who is one Head and Master, how much more ought we, who are poor, sinful and frail men to suffer, if we want to be found little members of His body; for the members are surely not better than the head, nor the servant greater than his lord, says Christ Himself. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my sayings, they will keep yours also. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. John 15 20, 18, 19. And John, also, says in his epistle"Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life." I John 3:.13, 14.
See, my dear lamb, how it has been told us before that we must be hated and reviled of the world. Hence, let us not be surprised, though this comes upon us in this evil, wicked, perverse, and blind world for the name of Christ; but let us rejoice therein, that we are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, we may be glad also with exceeding joy, as the apostle Peter says, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye." I Pet. 4:13, 14. And Christ says, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven." Matt. 5:11, 12. He also says, "Blessed are they that weep now: for they shall laugh." Luke 9:21. Oh, see, my dearly beloved chosen sister, what consoling words, again, these are, for -those who are here reviled and persecuted for the name of Christ, and have tribulation.and suffering. Oh, how can we grieve on this account, or become weary or faint, when this comes upon us for the name of Christ; seeing so great comfort and reward are promised hereafter to those who are faithful to Him unto death, as is written. Rev. 2:10, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." O my dear lamb, console and rejoice yourself with the comforting Scriptures left us for the refreshing and strengthening of our mind and faith, when you are persecuted and driven from city to city, and they inflict tribulation and suffering upon you for the name of Christ, as may easily happen yet, since I hear that
the cruel and abominable beast begins to exalt itself greatly again over the little flock of the Lord. But they have no more power than the Lord permits them to have, though they- greatly exalt themselves, and rage, as though they were determined utterly to annihilate the little flock, as is evidently their purpose. But the Lord holds everything in His hand; He that can bring to naught the counsel of the ungodly, will, I trust, order it all well, according to His divine will. Let us always firmly trust and hope in Him, and cast all our care upon Him; for it is He that careth for us, says the apostle Peter. I Pet. 5:7. For, whom did the Lord ever forsake, of those who firmly trusted in Him? and did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded? or did any abide in His fear, and was forsaken? or whom did He even despise, that called on Him? Sir. 2:10. 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, says the Lord through the prophet. Isa. 49:15. And Christ says: I will not leave you comfortless. John 14:18.
Therefore, my most beloved, let us always be content with such things as we have; for He hath 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.'' Hebrews 13:5, 6. For whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."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?" says Paul. Who shall lay anything to' the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who then 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: For no creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." Rom. 8:31. Hence, 0 my affectionately beloved sister, who is he that will harm you, if you' be a follower of that which is good? And be not afraid of their threats, neither be terrified, if they persecute you, and inflict suffering and tribulation upon you; for it is better that you suffer for welldoing; if it be God's will, than for evil doing. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward' God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, continues Peter, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, 1Pavina us an examr~le that we should follow F-Tic steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously. I Pet. 3:13, 14; 2:19-23.
Hence, my dear sister, let us always take diligent heed unto ourselves, to walk in Christ's footsteps unto the end;- according to our poor, weak ability; and when they persecute and afflict us for the truth, let us also commit vengeance* unto Him who will judge righteously, and before whom all things are naked and opened (Heb. 4:13): and, as Christ Himself teaches us, pray for those who persecute and afflict us, that they would repent, and turn from all this wickedness to the truth, so that they might also all be saved, and lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth, says Paul, I Tim. 2:3, 4; for He- is longsuffering; and. not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. II Pet. 3:9.
But now they will not repent nor turn from all evil to the knowledge of the truth; for they still delight in persecuting the people of the Lord, and in shedding innocent blood, even as the prophet Isaiah says, "Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not, and there is no judgment - in their goings; they have made them crooked paths; whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace." Isa. 59:7, 8. And Paul also says, "Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their-tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their tongues; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: 'and the way of peace have they not known
there is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom. 3:13-18), as may be seen and. heard in every direction, so that it is lamentable that so many are deceived, and walk in the broad way; erring so deplorably from the true way of truth which leads to life everlasting; and, what is more, those who want to turn to the way of truth, they would gladly prevent from it were they able. But they shall exceedingly rue it hereafter, if they repent not; but alas! it will be too late then, when they shall say to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" Rev. 6:16, 17; Hos. 10:8; Luke 23:30."And they shall [says Isaiah 2:19], go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty; when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth." And in John's Relevation it is further
* In regard to the passage here alluded to (1 Pet. 2:23) see German version of the Bible. Trans.
written, "In those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them; and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in ,the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb, and ,the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night who worship the beast and his image: and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name, and whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 9:6; 14:11; 20:15. Then they will get their reward for having thus lorded it over the little flock, and lived after the thoughts of their wicked hearts, and tormented and persecuted the people and slain those who desired to live, according to their weak ability, according to the word and doctrine of the Lord. But they who have suffered for the truth and the Word of God, shall then be much better off and happier than those who have persecuted them, and inflicted tribulation and suffering upon them, and lived in wickedness and iniquity; for when the Lord will begin to say to them, "I know not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity," there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth;"for not every one," Christ further says,"that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Luke 13:27, 28; Matt. 7:21.
O my affectionately and greatly beloved sister, let us always well see to it, and take good heed to ourselves; that we always do the will of the Father, according to our weak ability even unto the end, so that we may not - hear with the others, "Depart from me, all ye that work iniquity," and thus with them receive reward in the fiery lake which will burn with fire and brimstone; which is the second death (Revelation 21:8); but that we may enter into the kingdom of heaven with all the elect children of God, where it will endure forever and ever. All that we have suffered here, and this for a short time, for the name of the Lord, namely, persecution, tribulation, or affliction, will then in no wise be to our detriment. Matt. ,5:11, 12.
O my most beloved, always be resigned and patient in all. tribulations and sufferings which may come upon. you for the name of Christ; and let us ever diligently watch and pray, and prepare ourselves, till Christ comes, and constantly"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; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself," lest ye faint in your distress, and be wearied in the way of truth, and in the love of Christ, on account of all that men may do unto- you. But always think of Christ's great love toward us, how much He suffered for us poor sinful men on the tree of the cross, and shed His blood for us, as the four evangelists testify in order to redeem and save us; for, surely He"hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . . the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Isa. 53:4.
O my dear beloved sister, if Christ so loved us that He suffered for us in the flesh, let us arm ourselves likewise with the same mind, as Peter says, I Peter 4:1. And also Paul, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2:5-8. And"though he was the Son of the living God, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;" for He said Himself, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent .me" (John 6:38); and though He prayed His Father to take the bitter cup from Him, He nevertheless said, "Not what I will, but what thou wilt." Mark 14:36.
Behold, my dear lamb, how Christ our Head abased and humbled and utterly renounced .Himself, and was obedient to His heavenly Father, even unto the death of the cross, and became poor for our sakes (II Cor. 8:9), that He might in all things be an example unto us (I Pet. 2:21), and redeemed or reconciled us in the body of His flesh through death (Col. 1:21, 22); and we have the forgiveness of sins, through His blood, according to the riches of His grace. Eph. 1:7. Hence my dear sister, let us also, in return, love Christ even unto death, and always walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. Eph. 5:2. Therefore let us also willingly deliver up ourselves for His holy name; always wholly forsake ourselves; renounce our own will and mind; abase and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God; no longer live to ourselves, but unto Him who died for us and rose again (II Cor. 5:15) and always be obedient to Him,. constantly fearing and serving Him all the days of our life, in all righteousness and holiness (Luke 1:74, 75), as obedient children, so that we may not resort to former lusts, in which we were when we did not yet know Christ, even as Peter says, "But as he which has called you is holy, so be ye holy , in all manner of conversation; because it is written: Be ye holy; for I am holy." I Pet. 1:15, 16; Lev. 19:2."For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace," says Paul. For, know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey; his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Hence, as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members
servants to righteousness unto holiness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death, says Paul. For the wages of sin is death. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. And ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Rom. 8:6; 6:16; 8:13, 14; II Corinthians 6:16-18.
Therefore, O my most beloved sister in Christ Jesus, let us always separate ourselves entirely from all worldly lusts and desires, and touch nothing unclean, but constantly cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and continue in the fear of God, according to the Spirit, constantly to serve and honor the Lord all the days of our life, that we may be of His sons and daughters; for if we are His sons and daughters, we shall also be heirs in His eternal kingdom and possession. Rom. 8:17. Hence let us always give diligent heed, constantly to fear and serve Him alone, according to our weak ability, unto the end; for we cannot acceptably serve two masters, that is, God and the world, for,"Know ye not," says James,"that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." Matt. 6:24; Jas. 4:4. John, also, says, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." I John 2:15-17. Paul, also, teaches us, "And be not conformed to this world
but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2.
Therefore, my affectionately beloved sister, let us by no means love this world, nor be conformed to it, nor again lust for this wicked world, to run with it to the same excess of riot (I Pet. 4:4), lest we perish with it; but let us constantly go on in the true way of truth, in newness of life, to serve the living God all the days of our lives (Heb. 9:14), without looking back to Sodom; and let us always well heed and do what the holy Scriptures teach and admonish us to, so that we may in eternity rejoice with God our heavenly Father, and with the Lamb on Mount Sion; for"all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable- for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." II Timothy 3:16, 17. Therefore let us always take good heed to the holy Scriptures, and accept them for doctrine, reproof and correction, that we may thereby fit ourselves for every good work; and let us always exhort one another with them, and take heed, as the apostle teaches us, where he says, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end." Heb. 3:12-14. O my beloved sister, always be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,"forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord," says Paul. I Cor. 15:58. John, also, says."Look to yourselves, that you lose not those things which ye have wrought, but that ye receive a full reward. For whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; but he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." II John 8, 9. Oh, hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown; and always be faithful to Christ your Bridegroom, unto death; this I pray you, my dear lamb. And ever -be patient in all your tribulations and sufferings, and stablish your heart; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Behold, the judge standeth before the door, and we count them happy which endure, says James. Jas. 5:8.
Therefore be patient, and comfort yourself with the words of God; for it is becoming a Christian, that he should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. Lam. 3:2'6. Let .the peace of God rule in your heart. Col. 3:15. He which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation [and good hope] through grace, comfort your heart, and stablish you in every good word and work, and sanctify you wholly, that your whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it. And, may He grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your heart by faith; and that you may be rooted and grounded in love. Eph. 3:16, 17. This I pray Almighty God from the depth of my heart, to grant to you, and me, and all that fear and love Him.
O my dear chosen sister, whom I love so greatly with all my heart, I should not be able to describe to you, I think, with what true, unfeigned godly and brotherly love I love you. Oh, adhere always valiantly to the true, pure truth and doctrine of Christ, as I, through the grace of the Lord, most confidently trust you will do, though I thus write.
O my dearest sister, I also trust, through the great grace and mercy of the Lord, to do myself according to my weak ability, all that I have written you; for it is still my unwavering mind and
purpose rather to lay down my life, though it be tomorrow, than to forsake the truth. For I am still willing to resign my life for Him who gave it me, if it shall come to this; and, again, if it be His divine will, that I am to remain in iron bonds yet for a long time, I will also gladly suffer it for His holy name; for He suffered so much for us. And I cannot fully thank or praise the Lord for the great grace, mercy, and the benefits which He has shown me in prison; and for patience, that the lying in bonds has so little affected me-it seems to me that you could hardly believe how little it has affected me. I am not conscious, it seems to me, that I was imprisoned, or that it lasted too long, or that I was thus imprisoned; eternal praise, glory and thanks to the Lord, for His abundant grace and mercy. However I have sometimes wished, if it could have been, to be with you, if it had been for the good of my soul, and the Lord had permitted it; and this chiefly because of the love which I have towards you, and you to me. My dear lamb, the Lord be praised, I have never grieved much on account of it, since it was for the name of the Lord, and I know that we must once separate here. Though we should be together here a hundred years yet, the time of separation would nevertheless come, and it is better to die honorably than to transgress the law of God and live in disgrace, as is written in the second book of the Maccabees (6:19). And Christ, also, said, "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall preserve it. But whosoever loveth father or mother, or sister, or brother, or wife, or children, more than me, the same is not worthy of me." Luke 17:33; 14:26.
Therefore, my dearest, when it comes so far that we are apprehended and put into bonds, everything must be forsaken for the sake of His holy will and name, if we wish to be of His number (Rev. 6:11); for he that does not forsake all that he has cannot be His disciple.
Thus, my affectionately and so greatly beloved sister, when we think on and well consider, these words, why should we not gladly forsake all that we have for the name of Christ, and why should we be sad, urdened or troubled, when this comes upon us for the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, since Christ Himself has foretold it. I cannot fully thank,and praise Him for His great, unspeakable grace and mercy, which He daily shows me, that my mind and purpose are so gladly, joyfully and tranquilly fixed upon the Lord. It is at present as well with me according to the spirit, as it ever was, I think; praise, glory, honor, and thanks be forever to the eternal, almighty, merciful God, for His great grace and kindness, that He, through His Holy Spirit, so strengthens and comforts me, poor, simple, weak, frail servant, in my mind and purpose; and I pray God, always to strengthen, confirm and comfort me by His Holy Spirit, unto the end, and also all those who fear Him, and to give us what is most needful to us all for the salvation of our souls.
Herewith I will commend you to the Lord, and take affectionate leave, with the comforting and delightful Word of His grace, from you, in regard to this matter, for this time. 01 my dearest S.J.H., excuse my simple letter and the small talent I have received from the Lord; for I have written it from true, unfeigned, godly and brotherly love, which I bear to you, my dear, chosen sister, of which the Lord is my witness, who knows all hearts, and tries the reins, and before whom all things are naked and open. Jer. 17:10; Acts 15:8. And all that I have here written to you, my dear lamb, I wish also, from the bottom of my heart, as a heartfelt and affectionate greeting, and for a perpetual memorial, to my deeply beloved father and brother, whom I both love so affectionately. Let all of you pray the Lord for me, that I may accomplish and finish what I have begun, to my soul's salvation, to His praise and honor, and to the edification of my fellow men. I trust to pray the Lord most diligently for you, according to my weak ability. Greet one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen. I Pet. 5:14.
This last has been written in the year 1567, the ninth day of September, by me, Jacques Mesdagh, after being imprisoned for eighteen months, in iron bonds, for the testimony of Jesus Christ our Lord, for the sake of the Word of God, and for the right truth. Herewith I take cordial leave from you. Adieu, dear friends.