About two weeks after the death of the aforementioned hero of God, Pieter Pieterss Beckjen, there was also (entirely for his sake) put to death, in the same place at Amsterdam, another valiant champion and soldier of Christ, who loved the truth mare than his own life, named Willem Janss, born in Waterland, and residing at Doornickendam, the circumstances which led to his death being as follows
This Willem Janss having heard that his dear fellow brother Pieter Pieterss Beckjen was about to offer up his sacrifice, and to deliver his body to the fire, for the truth, at Amsterdam, he made great haste also to appear at this time at the place of exe-
cution, at Amsterdam, in order that he might witness the death of his brother, and, if possible, strengthen him in the faith in his extremity.
However, when he arrived at the city, he was a little too late, the bar having already been let down on account of the execution. But his zeal was so great, that he had no rest till he might see his beloved friend either alive or dead; hence he, for a certain sum of money, had the bar unlocked and made haste to be present at said offering.
When Pieter Pieterss Beckjen was brought forth to die, this valiant hero and friend of God, standing over against the place of execution, on the steps of the weighing office, called to him with a loud voice, saying, "Contend valiantly, dear brother."
He was immediately also seized by the persecutors, thrown into prison, twice severely and horribly tortured, and, when he would in no wise apostatize, he was two weeks after the death of his dear brother, sentenced to the fire, to be burned alive, at the same place where his brother had died; which was also done to him after he had commended his soul into the hands of God.
The foregoing was recorded long ago, from credible witnesses, though the date, or time when it occurred was not correctly stated,* which we have corrected according to the import of the following sentence, which was pronounced upon him on the day of his death, in the court at Amsterdam, in which also all the circumstances upon which the rulers of darkness at that time founded his death are expressed. It reads as follows
Whereas Willem Janss, from Waterland, residing at Doornickendam, present here as a prisoner, unmindful of his soul's salvation, and the obedience which he owed to our mother the holy church, and to His Royal Majesty, as his natural lord and prince despising the ordinances of the holy church, has never been to confession; and only once in his life, about eight years ago, to the holy, worthy sacrament; has further undertaken several times to go to the assembly of the reprobated and accursed sect of Mennonists or Anabaptists; also, about six or seven years ago, rejecting and renouncing the baptism received by him in his infancy of the holy church, been rebaptized, and afterwards received the breaking of bread three or four different times, after the manner of the afore-mentioned sect, has also exhorted said sect as a teacher; and on the 26th of February ultimo, when one Pieter Pieterss Beckjen, bargeman, was to be executed in this city, on account of said sect, he, the prisoner, standing among the people, undertook yet to strengthen said Pieter Pieterss in his obstinacy, calling with a loud voice these or similar words, "Contend valiantly, dear brother," and though he, the prisoner, by my lords of the court as well as by divers clerical
persons, has been urged and repeatedly admonished to leave the afore-mentioned reprobated sect, and to return to our mother the holy church, he nevertheless refuses to do the salve, continuing in his stubbornness, and obstinacy, so that he, the prisoner, according to what has been mentioned, has committed crime against divine and human majesty, as by disturbing through said sect the common peace and welfare of the land, according to the import of the decrees of his majesty existing in regard to this, which crimes, for an example unto others, ought not to remain unpunished; therefore, my lords of the court, having heard the demand of the lord bailiff, and having seen the confession of the prisoner, and having had regard to his stubbornness and obstinacy, have condemned said prisoner, and, by these presents do condemn him to be executed with fire according to the decrees of his majesty; and declare all his property confiscated for the benefit of his majesty aforesaid. Done in court, the 12th of March, A. D. 1569, in presence of all the judges, by advice of all the burgomasters.
This delinquent was tortured twice, according to the sentence of the judges, namely, the 26th of February, and the last of the same month, A. D. 1569, as appears from the records of the confession.
Thus extracted from the book of criminal sentences of the city of Amsterdam, preserved in the archives of said city.
On the same day that the afore-mentioned friend of God, Willem Janss, from Waterland, was put to death by fire, there was also, in the same city of Amsterdam, by the same judges, in the same court, and for the same reason, sentenced to death and the fire, a certain pious brother, named Jan Quirijnss, a native of Utrecht, and by trade a skipper; who, though he was a citizen of the city of Amsterdam, had nevertheless his citizenship in the new and heavenly Jerusalem, to obtain which, he pressed through the strait gate, so that he left his flesh on the posts, all of which appears from the following sentence, which was pronounced about an hour before his death; and which, though drawn up very odiously by the papistic rulers who then reigned at Amsterdam, nevertheless, when considered impartially, sufficiently shows the truth of what we have just said. The contents of it, except the title, are word for word as follows
Sentence of death of Jan Quirijnss, of Utrecht, skipper
Whereas Jan Quirijnss, skipper, born at Utrecht, citizen of this city, at present a prisoner, unmindful
of his soul's salvation, and the obedience which he owed to our mother, the holy church, and to his royal majesty, as his natural lord and prince, undertook, contrary to the ordinances of the holy church, and to the great contempt of the holy baptism received by him in his infancy, to have himself baptized by the teachers of the reprobated and accursed sect of the Mennonists, about seven years ago; also, afterwards, at two different times, according to the manner of said sect, to receive the breaking of the bread; and several times attended the assembly of said sect, and this even within a year: and, moreover, has always so despised the ordinances of the holy church, and does still despise them, that he has been neither to confession nor to the holy, worthy sacrament, except once about twelve years ago; to which reprobated and accursed sect he, the prisoner, still persistently clings, refusing to return to our mother, the holy church, notwithstanding he has repeatedly, by divers clerical persons, and also by the court of this city, been urged thereto and thus instructed; so that he, the prisoner, according to what has been mentioned, has committed crime against divine and human majesty, as disturbing by his sect the common peace and welfare of the land, according to the decrees of his majesty; therefore, my lords of the court, having heard the demand of my lord the bailiff, and seen the confession of the prisoner, and having had regard to his great stubbornness and obstinacy, have condemned him, and by these presents do condemn him, to be executed with fire, according to the decrees of his majesty; and declare all his property confiscated for the benefit of his majesty aforesaid, without prejudice to the privileges of this city in all other matters. Done in court, in presence, etc.
How said martyr was twice tortured,
to the record of the secretary of said place
The aforesaid person was twice tortured, namely on the fourth and fifth of March, A. D. 1569, and this according to the sentence of the judges, as appears from the records of the confession.
Thus extracted from the book of criminal sentences of the city of Amsterdam, preserved in the archives of said city.
At the same time, and in the same court, there also received his sentence of death, Cornelis Janss, a sailor, a native of Haerlem according to the body, but born again of God from heaven according to the soul. However, he had not yet received baptism upon his true faith, which (though he had not been able to find an opportunity for it) he greatly deplored even at his very last, since the Lord has said, "Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." Matt. 3:15.In short, sentence was pronounced upon him, that he should like the preceding martyrs (Willem Janss and Jan Quirijnss) be put to death with fire; concerning which we have obtained, from the book of criminal sentences, of the city of Amsterdam, a true copy of his sentence of death, as also, how he was twice examined by torture, or on the rack, and when all this took place; which copy we will faithfully annex here, for the greater confirmation of this matter; it reads as follows
Sentence of death of Cornelis Janss of
Whereas Cornelis Janss, sailor, born at Haerlem, citizen of this city, at present a prisoner here, unmindful of his soul's salvation,* and the obedience which he owed to our mother, the holy church, and to his imperial majesty, as his natural lord and prince, has apostatized from the holy church, so that he, despising her ordinances, has never in his life been to confession, nor to the holy worthy sacrament; and has also several times attended the assembly of the reprobated and accursed sect of the Mennonists, in this city, as well as lately, before the last frost, in the town of Middleburgh, in Zealand, being then so hardened in said sect, that he still, as prisoner, declares that he regrets that he is not rebaptized, and has not received the breaking of bread, adding that he would have done this if he had had a convenient time for it; to which reprobated and accursed sect, he, the prisoner, still persistently clings, refusing to return to our mother, the holy church, notwithstanding he has repeatedly, by divers clerical persons, and also by the court of this city, been urged thereto, and instructed; so that he, the prisoner, according to what has been mentioned, has committed crime against divine and human majesty, as disturbing the common peace and welfare; therefore, my lords of the court, having heard the demand of my lord the bailiff, and seen the confession of the prisoner, and having had regard to his great stubbornness and obstinacy, have condemned said prisoner, and by these presents do condemn him to be executed with fire, according to the decree of his majesty; and declare his property confiscated without prejudice to the privileges of this city in all other matters. Done in court, in presence, etc.
Touching the two torturings of the aforesaid
tyr, according to the record in the book of
criminal sentences of the city of Amsterdam
The aforesaid person was twice tortured, according to the sentence of the judges, namely, on the fourth and the sixth of March, A. D. 1569, as appears from the records of the confession.
Thus extracted from the book of criminal sentences of the city of Amsterdam, preserved in the archives of said place.
The awful fury and bloodthirstiness of the papistic rulers in the city of Amsterdam continued, and on the same day pronounced sentence of death upon a fourth person of said Anabaptistic religion, named Clement Hendrickss, a sail maker by trade.
He, though possessing a living, effectual and holy faith, yet through want of opportunity or some other reason had also, like the preceding martyr, Cornelis Janss, not yet received baptism upon his faith, which grieved him not a little when he was in bonds; but he did not on this account cast away his hope in the grace of God, since this had not been omitted through contempt of this holy ordinance of Christ, but from want of opportunity, on account of the pressure of persecution.
The authorities of the above-mentioned city also viewed it in this light, and sentenced him to the fire, according to the imperial decree, as though he had already been baptized upon faith, because he confessed being desirous of it. This severe punishment of death he valiantly and steadfastly endured, and was thus numbered by the pious, with the number of the faithful martyrs of Jesus Christ, though according to, the judgment of the papists he died as a heretic, as appears from the following sentence which was publicly read to him in court, just before his death, by the rulers of darkness, in these words:
Sentence of death of Clement Hendrickss,
Whereas Clement Hendrickss, sail maker, citizen of this city, at present a prisoner here, unmindful of his soul's salvation,* and the obedience which he owed to our mother, the holy church, and to his imperial majesty, as his natural lord and prince, has so apostatized from the holy church, that he, despising her ordinances, has for five years and longer been neither to confession nor to the holy sacrament, and has at three different times attended the assembly of the reprobated and accursed sect of the Mennonists, the last time about a year ago; and is so hardened in said sect, that even while a prisoner he has declared that he is sorry that he is not rebaptized, and has not received the breaking of bread; and has also repeatedly attended the meetings; to which above-mentioned reprobated sect of Mennonists, he, the prisoner, still persistently clings, refusing to return to our mother, the holy church, notwithstanding he has repeatedly, by divers clerical persons as well as by the court of this city, been urged thereto and instructed; so that the prisoner, according to what has been mentioned, has committed crime against divine and human majesty, as disturbing by his sect the common peace
and welfare; therefore, my lords of the court, having heard the demand of my lord the bailiff, and seen the confession of the prisoner, and having had regard to his great stubbornness and obstinacy, and duly considered everything, have condemned said prisoner, and by these presents do condemn him to be executed with fire, according to the decrees of his majesty; and declare all his property confiscated for the benefit of his majesty aforesaid, without prejudice to the privilege of this city in all other matters. Done in court, in presence, etc.
The aforesaid person was tortured, according to the previous sentence of the judges, on the fourth of March, A. D. 1569, as appears from the records of the confession.
Thus extracted from the book of criminal sentences, preserved in the archives of the city of Amsterdam.
Here follow several letters from the aforementioned martyrs, the first from Jan Quirijnss, and the other from Clement Hendrickss.
The eternal, almighty and merciful Father, who by His mighty arm led His chosen out of the house of the bondage of Pharaoh, keep and confirm you, my beloved sister in the Lord, with the power of His Holy Spirit, to so do His will that you may be found spotless and blameless in all peace, and in all righteousness, truth, zeal, and love, unto the end; this grant you the almighty and strong Lord, who is alone wise and just; to Him be praise, honor, glory, and gratitude, now and forever. Amen.
Very dear and much beloved sister in the Lord, whom I greatly love according to the spirit, I have undertaken, by the saving grace of God, to write you a little, as you requested of me poor servant; for I deem myself unworthy of writing to another -it were more necessary that some ogle should write to me. For, dear sister, I find so much lacking in me, that, when I call upon the Father, I fear that I am not His child, for I do not half His will. But, dear sister, though we are compassed by vile flesh, we will not give up courage, but firmly keep on, and always pray without ceasing, and give Him the praise, and constantly thank Him for His unspeakable kindness which He has shown us simple.children. Eph. 2:7. Oh, what great grace has appeared to us! Oh, what love has been shown us .1 Oh, what light has arisen to us! Oh, what excellent, precious, hidden treasure has been given into our earthen vessels! That which is hid from the wise and prudent, He has now revealed unto us poor, simple children. Matt. 11:25. The clear
truth is now made known to us; the beautiful, shining light has shined into a dark place; the clear radiance has been given into our hearts, whereby we are illumined with the uncovered, clear light, through Christ Jesus, this gracious Lord of lords. II Pet. 1:19; II Cor. 4:6.
He took away the great darkness out of our dark hearts and yielded Himself, this merciful Jesus Christ, to be a shining light unto us, as John says, "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." 1 John 1:5, 6. Therefore, dear sister, take heed to the light, and let it be a lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path, as David says (Ps. 119:105), that you may not stumble by clay, but may always see before you wherever you go; for the darkness is passed, and the true light now shines. I John 2:8. He has delivered us from the power of darkness [and called us] into His marvelous light, who, as Peter says, in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God. Col. 1:13; I Pet. 2:9, 10. For this reason we may well be glad in our hearts, and rejoice, and say with David (Ps. 124:7), "The snare is broken, and we are escaped; we are delivered out of the jaws of the lion, in which we were imprisoned," that is, in this dismal, abominable, subtle, wicked world, which lieth in wickedness. I Pet. 5:19.
The God of this world, that rules in the children of unbelief, has so blinded the minds of them that they believe not, and so stopped their hearts, that they cannot see or perceive in the least, nor taste that the Lord is gracious. II Cor. 4:4. With them we all had our fellowship, and had our conversation in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. Eph. 2:3. But the rich, merciful and kind God looked with His gracious eyes upon us poor sinners, and stretched forth His blessed hand, and has now extended it to us, and has delivered and brought us out of the pit of death and tied up and healed our wounds; our hungering and thirsting souls He has satisfied with the bread of life, and refreshed with the water of the Holy Ghost; He did not let us lie in our blood, He did not desire to pass by us, He did not let us perish with hunger; when we asked for bread He did not give us a stone; neither did He let us go thirsty, but refreshed our famishing souls from the clear fountain of living water. Oh, that we had never spent money for that which is not food I but we have largely spent our money for bitter gall and vinegar, and for false, corrupt leaven. Oh, that we had thought of this gracious host, who gives it for nought to all that ask Him (Rev. 21:6); and none that come to Him will be cast out. Hence, my dear sister, let us desire the rational, unadulterated milk, as new born babes, that are born again from above of God, through JesusChrist. 1 Peter 2:3; John 3:3. Let us take good heed to and firmly keep our new birth; for John says, "Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." John 3:9.
Oh, that we might take an example from Esau, who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Oh, how little (lid he esteem his salvation; but afterwards, when he sought it with tears, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance. Gen. 25:33; 27:38; Heb. 12:17. But, dear sister, let us diligently take heed, that we hold fast that which we have, which has been given us from above of Him who is the giver of all good. Rev. 2:25; James 1:5; 17. And if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hears us, in whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petition that we desire of Him. I John 5:14, 15. Is this, not a gracious Lord? Yes, assuredly, and He is a Lord rich over all them that call upon Him; only place your trust firmly upon Him, and put your will into God's will, and all will be well.
Therefore, my dear sister in the Lord, be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. I Cor. 15:58. For you shall receive reward by it. Matt. 20:9. I f you sow to the Spirit, you shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Gal. 6:8. If we sow in tears, we shall reap with joy; for our shame we shall receive honor, and for confusion we shall rejoice, says the prophet. Isa. .61:7. Oh, let us be content then -we shall be such a glorious people; and with patience wait for it, and think of the glorious promise that He has promised us. I John 2:25. He also will do it, He will not delay His promise (1I Peter 3:9); only let us continue valiantly, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer, not slothful in our business, but fervent in spirit, a burning love in our hearts (Romans 12:10, etc.), and the Lord through love grounded and rooted in us (Eph. 3:17), so that no one may be able to separate us from the love of God, nothing of all that may come upon us for the name of Jesus Christ, and for His testimony. Romans 8:35. Let therefore no one beguile us of our reward, but let us evince from our faith virtue, and let our moderation be known unto all men. Colossians 2:18; II Peter 1:5; Phil. 4:5. The Lord is at hand, be careful for nothing; for it is soon over; our time, dear sister, is so short, if we well consider it. I Cor. 7:29. Hence let us pass our short time in the fear of God, and be sober and vigilant; for our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour
whom resist steadfast in the faith. I Peter 5:8, 9. As James says, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7. Yes, dear sister, he walks about us very craftily; now with this, now with that, whether outwardly or inwardly with our evil flesh, which is our greatest enemy, with whom we
have most to contend; the Spirit against the flesh, the flesh against the Spirit: these are contrary the one to the other, so that we do. not the things that we would. Gal. 5:17. But Paul gives us comfort, when he says, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." v. 16. Oh, that we were as fervent in spirit, as diligent in good works, in seeking eternal life, as we are in seeking earthly treasures, worldly things, which must nevertheless perish and remain here; and that we might love God's commandments above gold or precious stones; we should be such blessed children, we should continually have less and less conflict. But alas I it is sometimes the case, that greater endeavors are made for these temporal things, than for the abiding riches that are in heaven, which shall nevertheless endure forever. In writing this I do not mean that this is the case with you; for I well perceive that you seek the Lord with all your heart. Hence, my dear sister, let us lay to heart the words of the apostle, who warns us against the tempter; lest we also be deceived by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his devices (II Cor. 2:11), that is, that he aims to capture God's children in his net by lies and envy, since he has been the father of lies from the beginning (John 8:44), as he has shown in the case of the first man, as is written in Wisdom, "God created man for eternal life; but through the envy of the devil death came into the world; and they that are of his part do follow him." 2:23, 24. Thus he also comes to us with his emissaries, with whom we have a hard conflict, yea, those who went out from us being the most troublesome to us, so that we find that the Scripture is fulfilled, namely, that in the latter days it should be as John says, "Little children it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." I John 2:18, 19. See, dear sister, thus the apostle warns us; for they are not all Abraham's children that are of Abraham's seed. Rom. 9:7.
Therefore, dear sister, look to the pious, and not to the weak; look unto Jesus Christ the Author and finisher of the faith, as Paul says, and suffer not yourself to be led astray by certain vain talkers who undertake to turn you aside. Heb. 12:2; Tit. 1:10. Christ says that in the latter days many false prophets shall arise in His name (Oh, mark, in His name); insomuch that, if it were possible, even the very elect should be deceived. Matt. 24: 24. But he that endureth to the end shall be saved; the elect shall not be deceived. Be valiant in your mind, and always pray without ceasing, with prayer and supplication in the Spirit. Meditate day and night in the law of the Lord, that you may be a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his rich good fruit in his season; whose leaf shall not wither (Ps. 1:2, 3); and that you may be a fruitful branch in the vine Christ Jesus. For David says, "The righteous shall never fall, but shall stand forever like mount Zion; yea, the righteous shall never be removed," says Solomon. Psalin 125:1; Prov. 10:30.
Let us therefore finish our course with joy, and strive lawfully (II Tim. 2:5); for no one is crowned, except he strive lawfully, as did the pious forefathers, who placed their hope in God, whom they faithfully served. He did not forsake them, nor did they forsake Him; they bowed their necks under the scepter of Christ Jesus, as the pious Esther also bowed her neck. II Esther 14:2. Oh, take heed to this; though the righteous must suffer much here, and be deprived of all human help and comfort, let us turn our eyes to the succorer Jesus Christ, who will not forsake us. Can ~" mother forsake her child? Yea, though she forsake it, yet will I not forsake thee, says the Lord. Isa. 49:16. He that touches us, touches the apple of His eye. Zech. 2:8. Who should not fear such a God, who always preserves and protects His poor people? For the joy which He has promised us, sweetens everything. He that overcometh shall inherit all things. Rev. 21:7. They shall sit with Christ Jesus in His throne, even as He sat down with His Father in His throne. Revelation 3:21. Yea, He shall gird Himself, and go before us, and serve us at table. Luke 12:37. How the righteous shall shine forth then in the kingdom of his Father I How they shall leap up then as calves of the stall I How the righteous shall then shine, as sparks that run among the stubble 1 how they that did not love their lives unto death shall then triumph and sing the song, and, with palms in their hands and crowns upon their heads, thank, praise, and magnify the name of the Lord I In short, 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. Matt. 13:43; Malachi 4:2; Wisd. 3:7; John 12:25; Rev. 14:3; II Esd. 2:46; I Cor. 2:9.
Hence, let everyone that has this hope in him purify himself, even as He is pure. I John 3:3. But the God of all grace, who has called us by His glory and power, strengthen and confirm you, my beloved, dear sister in the Lord, with the power of the Holy Ghost, unto the end. Amen. I Peter 5:10.
Herewith I will commend you, my beloved sister in Christ, to the Lord, and to the Word of His great grace. Receive this my short, simple letter in good part, for I have written it out of true, unfeigned brotherly love, this the Almighty Lord knows. Hence I pray you, receive this from me in good part; for he that fears God receives everything for the best. Always hold fast your first love unto the end, and the fervent love to God and the brethren (Rev. 2:4; I Peter 4:8); may the Almighty, eternal and strong God grant you this. Amen.
Greet all my friends in my name, especially M.S's daughter, G. R. W., and further all that know me. Several that were with me when I wrote this greet you; also Cornelis Janss greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.