The eternal, incomprehensible God, who is alone wise, grant you His grace, mercy, and peace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and fill you with all wisdom, knowledge and understanding, through the Holy Ghost, that you may walk worthily before God, to do His will, to the praise of His holy name, to the edification of His church, and to the salvation of your soul; this I wish, my much beloved and very dear brother Pouwel, as a friendly greeting and for a parting farewell.
After all proper greetings, I inform you, my dear brother, that I understood from your letter, that you request of me, that I should write to you, for a remembrance, concerning all the articles of faith; which I would willingly do for your sake, but I do not think that I shall have the time. In the second place, I understood, that after the writing of the first letter you saw the articles of faith which I briefly wrote to my children.
In the third place, I understand from the little note which you wrote subsequently, that you particularly desire to know my views as to what is to be done with persons who will not avoid those whom the church has excommunicated according to the Scriptures, and are not willing to confess to guilt in the matter. I am greatly astonished that this spirit also manifests itself; but I fear that he is different in his nature from what he pretends to be; for the avoidance is very much in the way of Satan, yet the apostle teaches that it is a good means to make the excommunicated ashamed, that is, to bring him to humility or repentance. II Thess. 3: 14. But now I hear that the defect in regard to this avoiding lies chiefly, not with those that are avoided, but with those that should avoid. From this it is quite evident, that the reason why they will not avoid, lies with them, and not with those that are avoided, which also appears so to me, since I have noticed and feared that there was a covetous, selfseeking spirit with many, so that the mind was far more exercised in temporal business, traffic, and the like, than in godliness; yea, that they sought more to lay up treasures on earth, than in heaven. And this avoidance is often greatly in the way of this spirit, for it inconveniences him sometimes in his business; hence one begins to consider, whether this cannot be set aside, and this with Scripture; for this spirit is of such a nature, that he does not like to make himself known; but he seeks to cover himself with the cloak of righteousness. He is also not reproved much in the church, or if he is to be reproved, he must be called by another name; for he is sometimes reproved as a heretic, sometimes as a juggler, sometimes as an idolater. And this is
the reason, that he can conceal himself so well, but yet manifests his nature in this wise; for wherever he goes he does not go to be idle. Hence the apostle writes, "The love of money is the root of all evil." I Tim. 6:10.
The apostle further writes, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received from us." II Thess. 3:6. And he further writes, "If any man obey- not our word, signify that man by an epistle, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." II Thess. 3:14, 15. With this the apostle indicates, that the church is as much bound, to have nothing to do with the disobedient, as she is bound to withdraw herself from such . as walk disorderly, even though the word withdraw might be understood only with reference to excommunication; for as the church must withdraw herself, lest she should be leavened or defiled by such persons, so she must have nothing to do with them, that they may be ashamed. Again, the church defiles herself, when she does not avoid, since this is commanded and taught her by the apostle, for he taught this, that it should be done, as may be perceived in his epistle to the Corinthians;..for he writes, "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators." I Cor. 5:9. From this it seems that he had written them before that time; but as they did not observe it, he explained it to them more fully, for he says, "Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world; or with the covetous, or extortioners or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But I. have written unto you, not to keep company with these." See, he says again, "I have written unto you."
From this it can well be seen, that he repeats it, in order that they should observe it better, than they had done before; for they did also not observe excommunication, because they could not avoid; for where no excommunication is, there is also no avoidance, for avoidance springs from excommunication. Hence he reproved them as being puffed up, and that they did not mourn that such heinous deeds were committed among them; and determined concerning him that had done this deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, when they were gathered together, with His spirit, and with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver him unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus. Hence it is evident from this, that for whatever excommunication is good, avoidance is also good, and that they serve the same purpose. For the apostle says, that he delivered him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that is, for the mortification of the flesh; and concerning avoidance he says, "And have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." Mark, for what this shame serves; for it serves a woman to wash herself when she is toldthat she is begrimed; a man, also, that is disrobed, does not want to be seen in his nakedness, for he is ashamed; hence, when someone comes that would see him, he immediately puts on his clothes, that he should not be seen in his nakedness. As Adam, when he knew that he was naked, he forthwith sought to cover himself, for he was ashamed; and he made an apron of fig leaves, to cover his shame. Now we must, according to the words of the apostle, avoid the excommunicated, that they may become ashamed; for if we withdraw ourselves from them, and avoid them, they have cause to consider why this is done, and through this considering to know . their nakedness; and become ashamed before the Lord their God, against whom they have sinned, and are thus smitten in their conscience, so that in this condition they dare not appear before the Lord, and hence seek a means to cover their nakedness, but not with fig leaves, as did Adam, .but with the skin of the Lamb Christ Jesus, who must be received through faith with a broken and contrite heart. As Adam, when he humbled himself, God put a coat of skins on him, to cover his nakedness. Thus, dear brother, excommunication and avoidance have the same purpose, and they .are not contrary to each other; hence the apostle says, "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." Admonition is not contrary to avoidance, for admonition serves to amendment, even as avoidance and excommunication serve to it. Hence the apostle does not prohibit it, but teaches that they are to be admonished as brethren; for all that is not contrary to them, namely, excommunication and avoidance, they do not prohibit; but where excommunication is, there must also be avoidance, for it proceeds froth excommunication. Hence, when he wrote to the Corinthians, how they should deliver the fornicator to Satan, and purge out the old leaven, he also wrote to them, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that it called a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?" Mark, he says, judge; yet he had not written anything from which they might have understood, that the world should be excommunicated; but he had written that they should have no company with fornicators; and m order that they should not understand it with reference to the fornicators of the world, that one should have no company with them, he says, "Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous; for then must ye needs go out of the world. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?" See, he calls it judging, that, as he said, one should have no company with them; although avoidance is not excommunication or the judgment itself, but it confirms the judgment; for when I say: You must have nothing to do with that man, I thereby declare that he is excommunicated, and all that avoid him
show that he is judged. Hence he says, "Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person."
From this we can well perceive, that avoidance is as well founded in the Scriptures as excommunication; hence those who now reject avoidance, reject the Scriptures, since it is founded in the Scriptures. Therefore, they that will not avoid, sin, not against men, but against the Lord; hence the church may not tolerate such, who so sin against the Lord, and will not confess to guilt; for they are servants of the Lord, to punish all disobedience.
ow we perceive, in the first place from the words of Christ (Matt. 18:15 ), that if any one sins against his neighbor, by any transgression, he must be reconciled to his neighbor, or he cannot, after sufficient admonition, remain a brother, but he must be regarded as a heathen man or publican, who was excluded from the covenant of the Lord, and with whom the Jews would have no fellowship. John 4:9. And since they must be regarded as persons that are excluded from the covenant of the Lord, because they have only through weakness sinned against their neighbor, and will not confess to guilt; how much more shall they be regarded so who sin against the Lord, and transgress His doctrine-which is frequently done through heedlessness, or self-interest, or for the sake of friends or relatives-and yet will not become reconciled to the Lord?
In the second place Moses writes, that if any one touched a dead body, and would not wash himself the third and the seventh day, he was to be cut off. Yet the dead had to be touched, for they must be buried; and yet, if they would not wash themselves, they had to be cut off; and the priest might not defile himself with any dead person; he was not allowed to go to any dead, for he had the anointing oil on his head. Num. 19:11; Lev. 21:1; 8:12; EX. 19:10. Hence, if they in Israel had to be so punished who would not wash themselves with water from a pollution'which was caused by necessity how shall they now be tolerated in the church, who without necessity, yea, often for the sake of gain, or through the prompting of flesh and blood, defile themselves with these dead, after they have been separated from the church, and yet will not wash themselves, or bear or confess their guilt? These people may not thus be tolerated, according to the view which I have from the Scriptures: and if they are allowed to go unreproved, it must be declared as a liberty, and then perhaps tomorrow already another will arise and demand the abolishment of excommunication, and will prove to you, that you have just as much power to maintain avoidance, as you have to maintain excommunication; and then you will be beaten with your own staff, and thus the hedge will be completely broken down, and the wild boars will run into the vineyard of the Lord, and root it up. Ps. 80:13; Isa. 5:5. 0 dear brother, take heed; blow the trumpet onMount Zion; let Israel hear the word of the Lord; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering. Joel 2:1; II Tim. 4:2.
With the simple that are led astray in understanding, deal in a fatherly, longsuffering manner, if .God may haply yet enlighten them by His Spirit. Bind up the wounded; seek the erring; break not the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. Isa. 61:1; Luke 10:34; 15:4; Isa. 42:3. Always take heed unto yourselves, and to the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28. Hence feed the flock of Christ not by constraint, but willingly (I Pet. 5:2), and remember that the apostle says, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, a dispensation of the Gospel is committed unto me." I Cor. 9:16, 17. Hence he also says, "Though we might have used authority, as the apostles of Christ, we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children; so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. I Thessalonians 2:6-8. And he said, that as a father admonishes his children, so he had exhorted, comforted, and charged them, that they should walk worthy of God. vv. 11, 12; Phil. 1: 27; Col. 1:10.
Thus, my dear brother, take heed to your sheep, and tend to your flock with a ready mind, and, when the chief Shepherd shall appear ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. I Peter 5:4; Jas. 1:12. Thus, my dear brother, be watchful, and do the work of a true preacher; make full proof of thy ministry (II Tim. 4:5) and say like the prophet, "For Zion's sake will I rtot hold my peace and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." Isa. 62:1. Be on your guard, and watch over their souls, as one that must give an account thereof. Heb. 13:17. If you see the sword coming, blow the trumpet, and warn the people in the name of the Lord, that the drowsy may awake, and the feeble knees make straight paths, and the hands which hang down be lifted up, and you be free of their blood. Hebrews 13:17; Ezek. 3:19, 21; 33:3; Heb. 12:12, 13. To this end may the Lord grant you His grace, and strengthen you by His Spirit, that you may receive the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soul. Amen.
I pray you, dear brother, receive my brief exhortation in good part, for it has been written out of love; and here you have my simple views with regard to avoidance, and briefly what is to be done with those who do not avoid, and will not confess to guilt. I should have written more fully concerning it, but there was no good opportunity. Herewith I will commend my dear and much beloved brother, whom I love with all my heart, and his
dear wife, to the Lord and to the Word of His grace. Pray the Lord for us. I thank you heartily for what you sent me; thank Peter very much in my name, this I ask of you. Written on the 17th and 18th of May by me, JACOB DE Room
I wish that you would send a copy of this letter to one of the ministers at Armentiers, or to my wife for this is my desire. Dear brother Pouwel, if you desire anything further, and I have the time, I am at your service, though there is little to be obtained from me. Greet your ministers very much in my name, and all them that fear and love God, where it is convenient.
Alle die lijden na den wille Godts, wilt hierop
Die bevelen haer Zielen den getrouwen Schepper
met goede Wercken.
I Pet. 4:19.
I, Jacob, imprisoned for the Lord's sake, wish my dear brother much grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He would strengthen and enlighten you by His Spirit, according to His pleasure, to the revelation of His knowledge, that you may do His will, so that you, according to the true judgment of God, may be found worthy for His kingdom, through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise forever and ever. Amen. Eph. 3:1; II Tim. 1:8; Eph. 3:16; Rom. 16:27.
Very dear and in God beloved brother, as I have remembered by writing many of the God-fearing, I can finally not forget to write a little to you in token of the good fellowship which we had together for a time, in Christ Jesus, through faith, but which must now for the Lord's sake be broken and severed. For, as a wife must, for the husband's sake, leave all good acquaintance and fellowship which she has besides her husband, and go with him where he pleases, so we must also for the Lord's sake, forsake all good acquaintance and fellowship which we aside from the Lord have with any person and this through faith in and love to Christ Jesus; for we have not seen Him with our bodily eyes (I Pet. 1:8); hence it is evident that it must be done by faith. For if we love a thing because we see it, it is not done by faith, for this love results from sight, but if we love a thing for what we hear of it, love arises through faith in what we hear of it. As Rebecca, though she did not know Isaac, and, as may be perceived from the Scriptures, had never seen him, yet she, through the words of Abraham's servant, so loved him that for his sake she left all that she had in Syria and went to meet Isaac. So we must also for the Lord's sake, through faith, and not through sight, forsake everything that we have in this world, notonly in spirit, as may have been done by us for a time, and which is the smallest part; but now everything must be forsaken indeed by me, unworthy one, in the hope of meeting Him in the air, and being ever with the Lord. I Thess. 4:17.
Hence Peter writes, "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. Behold, dear brethren, then we shall walk no more by faith, being absent from the Lord, but by sight; then shall the pilgrimage be over, then hope shall cease, then shall we receive what we now hope for, namely, we shall inherit all things, for the marriage shall then be at an end, for the bridegroom shall come for His bride, which is His church. Then shall the vision which John writes be complete, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." Revelation 21:1. Mark, dear brethren, he says, "There was no more sea;" for it is much understood to relate to this present time. But we still have a sea, whether this be meant in a natural or a spiritual sense, however one may understand it. For in the fourth chapter (v. 6) we read of a sea of glass, but as I understand it, John speaks of the natural sea, and of the natural heaven and earth. And at the last day, when heaven and earth, according to the words of Peter, shall be dissolved by fire, and be renewed, we find nothing about a natural sea, but it says, "Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, " for God faithfully keeps His promises. II Pet. 3:12, 13,; Isa. 65:17. Then shall His righteousness be revealed; for when God shall give to everyone in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad, then shall God's righteousness be manifest in righteousness as well as in unrighteousness, since He will faithfully keep His promise to everyone. Jer. 17:10; II Corinthians 5:10; Rev. 2:23.
And John further writes, "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;" which, dear brethren, has not vet been done, for the tears are still flowing here from the eyes of those who are renewed by Christ. Revelation 21:2-4; II Cor. 6:16; Jer. 24:7; Zech. 8:8; Isa. 25:8; Rev. 7:17; John 16:20. But when the righteous shall stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted them (Wisd. 5:1) , then shall the tears be wiped from the eyes; for there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the
former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said,"Behold, I make all things new." Revelation 21:4, 5; II Cor. 5:17. Hence Peter writes, "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the Lord." II Peter 3:11, 12. For if we are to inherit the new things, we must here be renewed in spirit; for otherwise we cannot arise to eternal life, for they that have done evil shall come forth unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:29. Therefore Peter writes, "Wherefore, beloved, seeing, that ye look for such things (namely, since you expect to inherit the new heavens and the new earth, according to God's promise), be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord Jesus Christ is your salvation; for God is longsuffering, and not willing, that any should perish, but that they should come to repentance." II Peter 3:9, 14, 15; Ezek. 18:32; I Tim. 2:4. For if the Lord had come eighteen or twenty years ago, we would, it is to be feared, not have been prepared yet; therefore His having been longsuffering to usward will be for our salvation, if we are now found without spot and blameless in the peace of God.
Hence, my dear brethren, take heed to yourselves, and prepare yourselves for the Lord; for our dear Lord stands perhaps also before your door, with the ring in His hand ready to knock. Therefore, dear brethren, prepare your hearts for the Lord, so that, when He comes and knocks, you may stand ready to open to Him; for He comes at a time when we least expect Him. Hence be sober and watch, and gird up the loins of your mind, and always act manfully in truth, as a valiant hero, to oversee our poor little flock; and lead them into the true pasture of the divine Word that they may be fed; for man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4. Hence David says, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want; he feedeth me in rich pastures, and leadeth me to the refreshing waters."
But though Christ is the true Shepherd, He has ordained divers ministers in the church (I Corinthians 12:5) to oversee the sheep, and to lead them to the pasture; for though the children have bread, someone must cut it for them. Hence, dear brother, do the best in this time of need, and stay with them, and, when the chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. And always see diligently to it, that the church be not left uncared for, but that she may always be served with all the ordinances. Abandon excessive subtilty and human opinion, and tell the people to act according to God's truth; even as I briefly wrote to our church, and would have written more yet, if I had had more paper. Thus, my dear brother, always act wisely, and keep yourself pure; beware of meddling with the strife of others;examine a matter well, before you meddle with it, for he that meddleth with the strife of others is like one that taketh a dog by the ears. Prov. 26:17. But whatever you can speak to promote peace, that do; but speak not what tends to division, for then is not the time. But if a false doctrine arise against the established and well-tried articles of the truth, act as a man, yet with kindness and longsuffering; defend the truth, and turn the foxes out of the vineyard of the Lord, that the tender branches may not be bitten off or torn from the vine, Christ Jesus, but that it may remain sound and fruitful in the Lord.
Therefore, dear brother, exercise yourself in the Scriptures, and give up a part of your temporal business, that through habit your mind may be practiced in discerning good and evil; foritemporal business is a great hindrance to spiritual' gifts, for thereby the thoughts are filled with anxiety, and become widely scattered. Hence, dear brother, remember that the apostle says, that bodily exercise profiteth little; for it profits the body, but not the spirit. The Lord has blessed you much according to the flesh, so that you are not urged by necessity. But godly exercise is profitable unto all things, for it profits the spirit and the body, since it cares for both, remembers the inner man, and does every thing that tends to his salvation. Such is the nature of godliness; and it does not neglect the body, but knows how to use the temporal things with moderation. And it casts its care upon the Lord, knowing that He cares for it. Hence the apostle says, that it has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Therefore, dear brother, if you be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth; and be not like a mole, whose mouth is always digging and rooting in the earth, and which, moreover, is so blind, that he hardly sees the heavens. Not, dear brother, that I say, that you are so; by no means, for I have a better confidence concerning you. But when we thoroughly examine ourselves, we find ourselves to be of such a nature, that we are earthly-minded, and blind in divine things; and though we are enlightened through Christ Jesus, that we have obtained sight in divine things, and been renewed through Him, we nevertheless sometimes follow too much our innate nature, by which nature faith must sometimes bow and show its back, for it is crushed down by the innate nature, which through unbelief and want of confidence toward God still bears its fruits, whence it comes that men make shipwreck in the faith; for when two vessels that are enemies to each other meet on the sea, one is seen to vanquish the other. Thus also, faith and unbelief coupled with man's nature, are enemies to each other, so that they conquer each other. Hence, if we do not by faith firmly resist with the inner man, we shall in the course of time be overcome; for unbelief has much support, in the first place, from
Satan, who works in the children of unbelief (Eph. 2:2), in the second place, from our own flesh. Therefore consider, dear brother, if a city is betrayed from within, how great resistance must be made, before the enemy can be put down, and the city possessed in peace. Thus also must we show great diligence, before we overcome all these enemies. In the first place, our own flesh, which is prone to all evil, for it lusts against the Spirit. Gal. 5:17. Hence we must observe how prudent the kings of this world are. When they feel that their enemies begin to bestir themselves, they make provision and strengthen themselves, to resist those enemies. But we, who like kings and men, ought to be prudent in that which is good, and simple as children in that which is evil, when we feel that our enemies begin to bestir themselves, go to meet them; but it is not done through faith, but through unbelief, namely, when we feel that our own nature, which is earthly minded, is not content with a fair profit, but would rather have still more-for it loves money, and hence will not soon be sated therewith-we meet it-we set up two or three additional looms and do not rightly consider how hurtful it is to our faith, and how widely our thoughts are thereby scattered; so that we become much more concerned with temporal, than with the spiritual things; and thus the spiritual gifts decrease, while they ought to increase, and we have no desire to offer our hand to the flock of Christ, and to feed it with what we have received from the Lord. Truly does the apostle say, "Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." I Timothy 6:6, 7; Heb. 13:5.
And now, dear brother, though we think, I do not seek to lay up treasures, I do not want to keep the gain for myself alone, consider also, that we are not for ourselves, for we are servants of a great king. Now, if you were a king, and had servants, and appointed one to be your chamberlain, and another to be your halberdier; suppose the chamberlain should forsake the office in which you wished him to serve you, and should want to be a halberdier; consider whether you would be well satisfied with that servant. Thus also, dear brother, the Lord has appointed you His servant, that you should serve Him with the spiritual gift which you have received from Him; and if you want to forsake that, and exercise yourself with that which is temporal, to serve Him with it, consider whether you will thereby please the Lord. And if you will assign as a reason, that it is not your office, know that they must not all be teachers who exhort the church; this is no rule laid down in the Scriptures. Therefore; my dear and much beloved brother, take heed to yourself, and surrender yourself to the Lord, and stay with the church; this I pray you with all my heart, that the little flock may remain together. I hope the Lord will help and keep you until the proper time, if you seek Him with all your heart; lay it to heart, this I pray you. Ishould have written you more concerning it, but there is no opportunity. I hope to write you another letter, if the Lord grants time; you may also lay that to heart. Herewith I commend my dear brother to the Lord, and bid you a cordial adieu. Receive my letter in good part, for it has not been written only for your sake; I wish that it might be read by M., or at M's., and by all our ministers.
Written in my prison to my dear brother, D. B., by me,
JACOB THE CHANDLER,
On the 29 and 30th of May, A. D. 1569.
Alle die lijden na den Wille Godts, wilt hierop
Die bevelen haer Zielen den getrouwen Schepper
met goede Wercken. (I Peter 4:19).
As he had himself been in Friesland, and had heard from the lips of both parties the difficulty that had arisen among the people of God, and understood that they had on both sides sinned against God and their neighbor, and made themselves blamable, he therefore made much mention concerning this matter in this letter, as you, kind reader, may see.
I, Jacob the Chandler, imprisoned for the Lord's sake (Eph. 3:1; II Tim. 1:8); wish all the elders and ministers of the churches in Flanders, who oversee the flock of Christ, and L. V. or A. D., wisdom, knowledge and true love from God the heavenly Father, grace, mercy and peace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and true comfort, strength and power, through the Holy Ghost, to serve and oversee the church aright, to be with her as a father, and faithfully to assist her in every need, to the upbuilding of the church, to the praise of the Lord, and to the salvation of your souls. This I wish you, my dear and beloved brethren, as a friendly greeting, and a cordial adieu.
After all proper and Christian greetings, I pray all my dear brethren, to consider my letter in love, even as I testified before the Lord and all the Godfearing, that it has been done by me out of love. For having heard that many who oversee and care for the church seek to be released, in order to journey out of the country, love for the people has prompted me to write you, in order to admonish you that you should rightly think of the poor children whom you would leave behind in great misery; whom you have begotten again through the incorruptible seed, and brought into the true way, yea, some of whom have not yet been fully regenerated, and can not rightly discern between good and
evil; and if you thus go away and leave the poor children, they are in great peril of perishing, and straying back into the world. Hence, dear brethren, consider how little joy it will be for you when you will hear this of them; for we would not like to leave our natural children in any need if we could with a good conscience help the matter. Now, you may think within yourselves, "I have served the church along time; another may now serve." But I say, dear brethren, with David, "Be not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, if they will not come unto thee." Ps. 32:9. For we must not render the service of servants, which is often reluctantly rendered, and who look to one another, for they serve for wages, and do not seek the advantage of the house. But we must render the service of children, which is given from love, for they live unto their father, and not to themselves, as Christ did not live to Himself, but to Him that sent Him to be a minister of the kingdom, and conducted Himself among them as one that serves (Matt. 20:28; Luke 22:27); which service was given from love, not a year or two, but all the days of His life, for He was obedient unto death. Phil. 2:8. And He appointed unto His apostles the kingdom, as His father had appointed it unto Him, so that they who according to the gift were the greatest in the kingdom, had to be their ministers and servants. And the apostles took help, and ordained in the church pastors, teachers, ministers, helps, governments, and the like (II Tim. 2:2; Tit. 1:5; I Cor. 12:28), and appointed unto them the kingdom, as Christ had appointed it unto the disciples, namely, to serve the kingdom from love, and to live therein to the Lord and their neighbor, and not to themselves. Hence the apostle complains of some, saying, "All seek their own, and not the things which are Jesus Christ's." Philippians 2:21. Thus let all that serve in the kingdom, who are chosen according to the rule and ordinance of the Scriptures to serve the church, give themselves to the church from love, yet, my dear brethren, with this understanding: if for the church's sake you suffer loss in temporal matters, it is her duty to assist you. Deut. 12:19; Sirach 7:31; Luke 10:7.
Hence, my dear brethren, let everyone of you take heed to himself; for we certainly believe that the choosing of the church is from God. Let us therefore consider; if the Lord has chosen us to serve Him in this way, we must give ourselves to the Lord, whenever we have good reasons for it, in this that we can satisfy the church, though we may say, "There are others to whom this belongs more properly than to me." This is no reason that avails before the Lord. If one might thereby excuse himself, Jonah could easily have found such a reason; but because he refused to go and proclaim to the Ninevites the will of the Lord, he had to go into the belly of the whale; even as I unworthy one have seen some in my time, who refused too much, but it did not turn out to their good. Likewise, Moses and others sought excuses (Ex 4:10; Jer. 1:6); but it did not avail them, the Lord said: Do not I know whom I will send? For He needs no counselors; He well knows for what He wants to use us. Nevertheless the example of Moses is much followed in the churches, and it is regarded as an honorable thing for a man to refuse; yet it does not please the Lord, for He was angry at Moses. But the prophet Isaiah did not do thus, but said, "Send me, Lord; and with this the Lord was not displeased." Isa. 6:8. Elisha, also, asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. Eli, ah said, "Thou hast asked a hard thing; nevertheless, it shall be so unto thee." II Kings 2:9, 10. And on this wise Paul says, "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." I Tim. 3:1.
See, dear brethren, thus we must follow what is honorable and praiseworthy before the Lord, and think, they that minister well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith. v. 14; Matt. 25:21. As the children of this world, when they can get into the service of any lord, they endeavor to serve faithfully, that they may obtain a higher office; so must we also endeavor to serve the Lord in that wherein we are called, that we may obtain power to rule the heathen with a rod of iron. Ps. 2:9; Rev. 2:27. Therefore, my dear brethren, remain together, as long as it is possible for you, and you can encourage one another; but when you begin to separate, you make one another weak; hence remain faithfully together, and take heed to your ministry. You that care for the poor, exercise diligent care over them, visit them frequently, and see how they do; admonish them with a fatherly heart to labor (Eph. 4:28; II Thess. 3:12), and comfort them in their tribulation, for a consoling word helps the afflicted more than the gift.. And cleave firmly with your heart in love to your ministers of the Word; for you must be one heart with them, and you will be the better able to keep the people in peace; for if the rulers of a country are not at peace among themselves, there cannot well be peace in the land. So also in the churches, if the ministers are at variance with one another, there cannot well be peace among the common brethren. Hence, dear brethren, remain at peace with one another; and you deacons, be a support to the ministers of the Word, and take their part; for they must blow the trumpet, that the drowsy may awake (Isa. 62:6; Joel 2:1); and some drowsy people are of such a nature, that they do not like to be waked up: so also some that have become drowsy in sin do not like to be waked up. Hence there is sometimes much talk behind the back of such; therefore you and all pious brethren must defend your man, and talk to the backbiters, and admonish them, and you will encourage your man. And you, dear brethren, who oversee the church with the Word of the Lord, remain with the church as long as is possible for you;
for if you want. to go away, you discourage the other ministers, and weigh them down completely, and scatter the flock. Hence I pray you, for the people's sake, as one that loves them with a pure heart, do not forsake them, but remain with them, and look at those unto whom Christ appointed the kingdom, as it had been appointed unto Him by His Father, how diligently they exhorted the kingdom, and. fed the flock. For they deemed it profitable to admonish and to strengthen them, and to stir up their pure minds, as long as they were in the body, that after their decease they might remember the same. II Peter 1:13. For the apostle had exhorted them for three years day and night with tears. Acts 20:31. And he taught the bishops of Ephesus, that they should take heed unto themselves, and to the flock. v. 28. Now you will perhaps say, "We are no bishops." Then I say that they must not all be bishops who exhort the church, or proclaim the Word of the Lord; but everyone must be faithful in his ministry." For there are manifold ministries (I Cor. 12:5); if any have a ministry, let him wait on his ministering; if any teach, let him wait on his teaching; if any exhort, let him wait on his exhortation (Romans 12:7, 8), and thus feed the flock of Christ, not by constraint, but willingly, for the Lord would be served from love, even as He served from love. I Pet. 5:2. Hence the apostle writes, "If I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the Gospel is committed unto me." I Cor. 9:17.
Therefore, dear brethren, accept them gladly, and bring them up with the rational, sincere milk (I Pet. 2:2), like a good nurse, who so loves her child which she nurses, though she has not given birth to it, that she cannot give it up without tears, when the father comes and takes it home, notwithstanding it is a stranger to her according to the flesh. How much more then shall you love your children, and not forsake them as long as you can remain with them, since you not only nursed them, but may have given birth to a great part of them; and they are your brethren and sisters in the Lord, whereby you are the more bound to them in love, to serve and protect them. As a hen protects her chickens under her wings from the birds of prey; so do you also protect them from evil, wild beasts that cause discord and offenses contrary to the doctrine of Christ; for their word will eat as doth a canker, and will destroy like the pestilence. Romans 16:17; II Tim. 2:17. Hence, protect them herein, and separate from such persons; keep the flock in peace as far as is possible for you, and avoid all strife, and do not meddle with it as far as you can keep out of it; for he that meddleth with strife not belonging to him is like one that taketh a dog by the ears, and by strife many a heart is polluted. Always speak, as much as you can, what tends to peace, and not to division, for that is not the time then; for a division is very soon made, which can only with great difficulty be healed, andso many a simple soul perishes thereby. And in my judgment it is no usage of the Scriptures, in times of decay to settle differences by excommunication, though this is sometimes done through zeal; but it is good to be always zealously affected in a good thing. Gal. 4:18. For he that transgressed the law of Moses died without mercy under two or three witnesses (Deut. 17:6; Heb. 10:28); for this example we have first in the Old Testament, where they also had an excommunication, to punish the wicked with death. Nevertheless, the Lord was not willing to use the excommunication, nor did He give the prophets any charge, that the excommunication should be used, but He called to them, that they should repent and be converted, and He would be merciful to them, and purge them most purely from their dross; for He can do this, dear brethren, without injuring the gold or silver Isa. 1:16; Jer. 4:14; Joel 2:12; Isa. 1:25.
In the second place we have this example in the Testament, first in the case of John and the churches in Asia, how lamentably they had decayed; yet John did not make use of excommunication with respect to them, nor do we find that the Lord once asked him why he had not done this; but He called them to repentance through John, which if they would not do, He would remove their candlestick out of his place. Rev. 2 and 3. And whether the apostle insisted as strongly on excommunication, in regard to that one fornicator, in the second epistle to the Corinthians, as he did in the first, this every one may consider; for the apostles always had a godly care for the simple, and sought to prevent division, as far as was possible for them; hence they tried every means to allay strife, as can clearly be seen in the Acts of the Apostles. For when the Jewish brethren came to trouble the believers among the Gentiles, saying, "Except ye be circumcised according to the law of Moses, ye cannot be saved, " so that there was a great uproar among the people, there rose up also at Jerusalem certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses; which was certainly great injudiciousness. Yet the elders and the apostles did not persist in charging them with their unwise course, for fear of division, but met the Jewish brethren, to avoid division, and adopted certain articles from the law, which were not contrary to the evangelical truth, and determined that those who had been converted from among the Gentiles should not be troubled, and that no burden should be laid upon them, than that they should abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication. Acts 15; I Cor. 10:28; I Thess. 4:3; Gen. 9:4; Lev. 7:26. By this the Jews were pacified, for they might easily think that they were right in a measure at least, because some articles from the law were imposed upon the Gentiles. As also in the twenty-first chapter, how they allayed the strife or offense that was between the
Jews and Paul. They had heard that Paul taught to forsake Moses; hence the elders advised that Paul should take four men unto him, and go into the temple, and purify themselves and shave their heads. This they were not bound by conscience to do, but they did it for the sake of the Jewish brethren, for they [the elders] said, "They will know that those things whereof they were informed concerning thee are nothing." Then he went to signify to them the accomplishment of the days of purification. Acts 21. For when they were pacified it was easier to persuade them that the law had an end in Christ. Rom. 10:4. But they did not determine, that Paul should stand still in his ministry till he had pacified them; for this would frequently have had to be done, since there was often talk about him, as can well be seen in the epistle to the Corinthians but with him it was a very small matter that he should be . judged of them, or of man's judgment, for he says, "I judge not mine own self." I Cor. 4:3. Nor does this tend to peace, but to more strife; for a church cannot be kept in quietude when she has to lose her pastor, because there are persons that talk about him, and do not know what the matter is, nor whether they say it justly or unjustly of him. Hence the accuser must come before his church, and accuse him there; if they are matters of which they cannot agree together, the church may hear the matter, and if the accused is guilty, she may help punish him; thus she will be delivered from his hand, so that he can make no trouble. And thus the matter must first be proven, before the church can be helped, and also before punishment can take place. Hence Paul writes to Timothy, "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses." I Tim. 5:19. For he well knew that there is often much said about them. Therefore, dear brethren, continue steadfast, this I pray you for the sake of God's truth, and do not forsake them, namely, your men, before they are forsaken by the Lord; but always seek to build up one another, that the churches may be supplied, and the flock fed; that Jerusalem may have watchmen upon her walls who do not sleep or hold their peace day and night, but remember the Lord and their flock, and say, "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." Isa. 62:6, 2.
Thus, my dear brethren, do the best with the poor sheep, stand by them faithfully, and do not forsake them in this great need, but exhort and comfort them with these words: how our fathers were tried in many ways, and became the friends of God, since they had to overcome through much affiction. Judith 8:25; Deut. 8. Likewise, Isaac, Jacob, the prophets, and all that loved God, remained steadfast, as the angel said to Tobit, "Because thou didst please God, it was not possible that thou shouldst remain without temptation."Tobit 12*; Prov. 3:12. And if you fall into affliction for their sakes, think of what the apostle writes: Therefore, I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain salvationeven as has now fallen to me unworthy as I am. For if it had not been for the church, I think I would have remained in the country of Cleves; but I can with David say to the Lord, "My times are in thy hand." Ps. 31:15. And it was his will to bring my time to an end, as the facts show. But the apostle says, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the church." Col. 1:24; Rom. 12:5; Eph. 1:23. And if you suffer for the church, you have acted according to the love of Christ, given your life for the brethren and for the sheep. John 10:11; I John 3:16. Thus, my dear brethren, watch, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, and let all your things be done with charity.
Finally, I will address myself briefly to my dear sisters, namely, to your wives, to exhort and entreat them to be patient with their husbands, and not to importune them, in order to get them out of the country. But consider the great distress, and have pity and compassion with the people, and think, that we must help bear that with which the Lord tries our husbands, and by faith possess our souls in patience. Luke 21:19; Heb; 10:36. As when God tried Abraham, that he should offer up his son, Sarah had to help bear it, for she would have had to miss her only son, if the Lord had not given him back to Abraham. Yet we can not see that Sarah resisted Abraham; she obeyed Abraham as her lord, and suffered him to live by his faith in all in which the Lord tried him, and admonished him herself, that he should cast out the bondwoman and her son. Gen. 21:10. Thus also you, my dear sisters, obey your husbands, and let them live by their faith in all in which they are tried by the Lord. Genesis 3:16; Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18. And do not discourage them, but rather refresh their mind when you see that they are burdened through the trouble which they have with the people, and remember that you are Sarah's daughters, as long as ye do well, and are not"afraid with any amazement." I Pet. 3:6. Hence, dear sisters, be of good cheer, and trust your God; He
will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it. I Cor. 10:13, II Pet. 2:9. For God knows our strength, that it is nothing, hence He cares for us, for He bath 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. Ps. 37:25; Josh. 1:5; Hebrews 13:5, 6; Ps. 118:6. But we must slay and overcome them in the name of the Lord, for they are but dust and ashes, and shall perish as grass, yea, the moth shall
eat them like wool as Isaiah says; and he further says, "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. 40:6; I Pet. 1:24; Isa. 51:8, 12. For with them there is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord Himself, who will help us, and fight. our battles. II Chron. 32:8; Jer. 17:5; Wisdom 4:28. Although they are now like mad men, who spare none, but spoil and destroy those that fear the Lord, and exalt themselves very greatly, so that almost every one is afraid of and trembles before them, yet the Lord shall humble and destroy them when their spoiling and destroying shall have an end. II Esd. 16:71; Isa. 14:14. But now, dear sisters, we must be tried as gold in the fire, that our trial may work patience, and that patience may have her perfect work. Zech. 13:9; Wisd. 3:6. For when we are patient in our tribulation; we overcome and do not get weary or faint; yea, though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. II Cor. 4:16. And we choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; and esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, having respect unto the recompense of the reward. Heb. 11:25, 26.
See, dear sisters, take courage, and go forth with the widow Judith against the proud Holofernes, who had been sent forth by King Nabuchodonosor, to bring every country under his power. And he pretended that he was God; yet his servant, Holofernes, was slain by Judith. Judith 2:5; 13:8. Thus also has now the son of perdition, who is called God upon earth, sent forth a proud messenger, and thinks thereby to bring everything under his power. But, as I hear, he has been vanquished at Kortrijck, by a poor, simple widow, even as Christ vanquished the scribes and Pilate. Thus you must also go forth dear sisters, to overcome him by faith. And take an example also from the woman Jael, who slew Sisera, the adversary and enemy of the house of Israel. She took a hammer, and drove a nail through his head, so that he lay there dead. Judges 4:21. Thus must you also, my dear sisters, go forth by faith against the enemy and adversary of the house of Israel, who through his children and servants makes so much clamor and ado, namely, the devil or Satan, and must with the hammer of the divine Word drive the nail, Christ Jesus, through his head, and say with the apostle, "Thanks be to God which giveth us the victorp, through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Cor. 15:57. And he also says, "Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." II Gor. 2:14.
Thus, my dear sisters, be always valiant, and patient withal, and exhort your husbands to stay with the flock; and know that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, Eph. 6:8.
Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, alwaysabounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. I Cor. 15:58.
Herewith I will commend you, my dear and much beloved brethren and sisters, to the great Almighty God, who alone is wise, and pray Him to put into your heart to do that which is acceptable before Him. And I pray you to receive my letter which has been written out of love, in good part; and if there are any views in it that are not like your own suffer them in love, for we stand, I hope, in one faith. For I am not conscious of any change in me; what I unworthy one, have taught the church and the people, in that I still stand unchanged, the Lord be praised for His grace, who has for about eighteen years kept me therein. Greet all the brethren and sisters that live among you beloved very much in my name. Herewith I will bid you adieu; adieu, my dear brethren with your wives, till we see one another in eternal joy; the Lord grant you His grace, that we may find one another there. Written the 31st of May and the 1st of June, by me, JACOB DE ROORE, in my imprisonment.
Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their-souls to him in well-doing, as to a faithful Creator. I Pet. 4:19.
About the year 1569 there was imprisoned at Armentiers, in Flanders for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus, a brother by the name of Adriaen 01, who, as he could by no temptation or threat, inflicted upon him by the papists, be caused to apostatize, but remained faithful to his God, was condemned by those bloodthirsty men.. And thus he was not put to death at said place, for the testimony of Jesus, having offered up his corruptible body in great steadfastness for a sweet smelling savor unto God.
To this Adriaen Ol, Jacob the Chandler wrote his nineteenth letter, for consolation in his imprisonment.