Grace and mercy from God the heavenly Father, and the merits of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, who redeemed us on the tree of the cross by the shedding of His precious blood, when we were yet His enemies, together with the consolation of the Holy Ghost, who comforts all afflicted hearts; all this I wish you together as a friendly and heartfelt greeting. I wholly commend myself to you, and also thank you all for the love shown me, and the exhortation and consolation in my present great tribulation, which I must now receive as permitted and foreordained by the Lord. For Christ says, "The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30. Nevertheless, in going out I was apprehensive of meeting the officer, which also happened, since the plan of meeting together at that time was not well-timed; however all things must have a cause. I must relate to you something about our apprehension, how the bailiff with some of his servants met me and Lauwerens and asked, "Whence do you come? and whither are you going?" Hearing this we were both greatly consternated, so that they instantly perceived what kind of people we were. They immediately bound us, and conducted us above; and while they were leading us they greatly cursed us and called us rogues. Having arrived at the prison, they forthwith examined Lauwerens alone. Afterwards I was also brought before them, and was asked, whether I had received another baptism besides the one received in my infancy. I asked him in return, what he had to say against me. He said, "You are rebaptized; your servant has told me." I answered, "Let me alone; I shall tomorrow confess my faith before
the margrave." But he was not satisfied with that, for he had a notebook to write in; and when he could obtain no other information from me, he became angry and said, "I shall make you say yes or no." I said, "My lord, be satisfied for this time." And when he saw that he could not obtain anything further from me, he made me sit in the emperor's chair, and thus they left me, I thinking that they were going for the executioner. While lying there alone I was troubled by various thoughts; moreover Satan greatly tormented me with wife and children, sustenance, and many other temptations, on account of which I heartily wept, calling to God for succor, and began to measure my life and conversation with the Word of God, from the beginning of my Christian life up to this present day, and found no cause just enough to cease from all the severe labor which I had done. Though I have often transgressed the commandment of God, yet it was not done wantonly and I found grace with God.
The next day we were both brought into the tower where Lauwerens was tortured. They further asked me concerning my age and faith, all of which I freely confessed to them, and was not ashamed. They asked whether I had a wife. And when I had said,"Yes," they asked whether I had children. I said, "Two." They asked what their names were, and whether they were baptized. I answered, "They are not baptized, for I recognize no infant baptism; we also find in the Scriptures but one baptism upon faith, as Christ left it to us, and His apostles practiced." When I pronounced the names of the children, they laughed, because the children had names without being christened. We further had many other words, which it would take too long to relate; hence I write this to you very briefly for I am so closely guarded, that no one can speak with me; nor have I ever conversed with Lauwerens alone. Hence, keep quiet about everything, for I am apprehensive of being tormented still much more, of which I am greatly afraid according to the flesh; for they have here so many tortures, chains for suspending, pulley, cords, and rack, on which I was tortured, as you know.
O friends, let all of you heartily entreat the Lord for me, and cause prayer to be made for me. Acts 12:5. O I pray the Lord with tears; yea, I water my couch with my tears before the Lord (Ps. 6:6), that He should make me worthy of Him through His grace.
Herewith I commend you to the Lord and bid you all adieu.
Written in bonds by me,
Unworthy prisoner in the Lord.
NOTE.-He was apprehended on the 30th of May, and put to death on the 13th of September of the same year.
Grace, mercy and peace from God the heavenly Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood; together with the consolation of the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, to comfort all them that are in any tribulation and affliction for His holy name's sake. To Him be praise, honor, glory, dominion, power and majesty, forever and ever. Amen. This we wish you all as a friendly greeting, my beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord. We prisoners for the testimony of our dear Lord Jesus Christ inform you, that it is still tolerably well with us according to the flesh; but as regards the spirit, we would that it were better, for we are compassed about with such a vile, evil flesh, which always lusts against the will of God, and shrinks much from suffering; however we must suffer and fight, if we are to overcome. For, dear brethren and sisters, the crown lies not at the beginning nor in the middle, but at the end; there the conflict lies; then the gold is tried by the fire of affliction, which no one knows better, than those who have been tried therein.
It is indeed true what the apostle says, "No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Heb. 12:11.
Further, my dear friends, brethren and sisters, we pray you by the great love of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you be all of the same mind, and let there be no discord among you nor any strife about any matter; but let each seek to be wise and prudent in that which is good, and simple in what is evil, remembering the words of the apostle where he says, "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Yea, let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, though he was rich, became poor for our sakes, that through his poverty he might make us rich, and purify unto himself a holy church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; which he hath purchased with his own blood, that they should be holy and without blame, and walk in love." Phil. 2:1-5; I Cor. 10:24; II Corinthians 8:9; Eph. 5:26, 27; Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:4.
This church has now for a time suffered much sorrow; may the complaint ascend to the merciful Father in heaven, concerning the misery and sad-
ness that have come upon Zion. But the God of all grace be praised for His great mercy which He has yet shown the church at Antwerp, which continues still in good peace and unity (as I think); wherefore there is great joy ar_d gladness there according to the spirit, but great distress according to the flesh. For the Lord tries His people with tribulation and distress, as Christ says, "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known my Father, nor me." John 16:2, 3. For if they had known Him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. I Corinthians 2:8. And though the persecution is not so severe in some places, the Lord can nevertheless try men by other means, by strife, discord, strutting and boasting, reveling and banqueting, in short by carnal works, all of which are not according to our vocation. Not, dear friends, that I would here accuse any one; but out of brotherly love we exhort every one; for before God nothing can be hid, for He will bring to light all that is done in secret. I Cor. 4:5.
Therefore, my dear friends, let us not deceive the Lord; for His eyes are as a flame of fire, and He is a mighty, powerful and strong God; and sees everywhere in secret and openly; hence He may well be feared, for He has not spoken a single word in vain, as He says by the prophet, that the Word which goeth forth out of His mouth does not return unto Him void, but does accomplish all that He pleases. Rev. 1:14; Isa. 55:11.
My affectionately beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord, receive this letter from your poor, weak brother in good part; for it has been written at the request of some brethren, if peradventure you might be comforted and refreshed a little by our simple epistle, for we have written these few lines out of cordial affection, and because we should exhort one another while it is called today; for we hope soon, by the grace of the Lord, here to put off our flesh. Heb. 3:13; II Pet. 1:14.
O friends, the way that leads into life is so strait and narrow; but the way that leads into hell is so broad and easy for the flesh. Truly indeed does the prophet Isaiah say, that hell has opened wide her mouth, and both princes and the common people descend into it, yea, they go to hell like sheep to the slaughter. Isa. 5:14.
Hence, my dear friends, let us take diligent heed, that we may not have received the grace of God in vain; but let us constantly remember the days of our illumination, and how little we then were in our own eyes, when we humbled ourselves under the mighty hand of God, yielding up ourselves entirely, to serve the Lord in holiness and righteousness acceptable before Him. Heb. 10:32; I Pet. 5:6; Luke 1:75. For we were then all like Saul when he was anointed king, who was of the least of the tribes of Israel and little in his own eyes. But when he became proud, the Lord rejectedhim. For the Lord said to Samuel, "Go and tell Saul to destroy Amalek from the earth, both man and beast." But Saul followed his own judgment and spared the king, and the best of the oxen, and of the sheep, to sacrifice them to the Lord; whereby he transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and was disobedient to His voice, notwithstanding the Lord ,desired obedience and not sacrifice. I Sam. 15,
Behold, dear friends, for what a small matter Saul was rejected; hence let us take good heed, for He is still the same God. This is also the case with part of us, that we take too great liberty in our faith, in consequence of which we are rejected, and then do not know ourselves where the fault lies. Now a spirit of contention comes upon us, causing the pious to sigh and mourn: so that thereby division and schism are wrought in the church of God, which mostly occurs where Christians have great liberty. How much it is now like it was in the days of Israel; when they were in peace [from without], they waged war against one another, so that many thousands fell, when they fought against the Benjamites. Judg. 20. Hence, my dear brethren and sisters, let Christ Jesus be an example unto you, who has called us in peace. I Cor. 7:15. For the fruit of the Spirit is all manner of goodness, righteousness, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Eph. 5:9. And let us take good heed that we do not become like the church of Laodicea, which was neither cold nor hot, and thought she was rich and increased with goods, and had need of nothing. But the Spirit answered her, saying, "I commend thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." Rev. 3:18. Hence, it is daily necessary to exhort one another with the word of the Lord, which is the true mirror and plumbline by which to measure our life and conversation according to our weakness. I say according to our weak ability; for if God should enter into judgment with us, no one could stand before Him. Ps. 143:2. Hence, no man may or can justify himself before God. But we must always remain debtors, remembering that we come short in many things. Matthew 6:12.
Let us therefore take diligent heed, and have our predecessors constantly before our eyes, namely, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and all the prophets, who were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and sought a country, a city that had foundations, whose builder and maker was God; and experienced tribulation and affliction, stripes and imprisonments; of whom the world was not worthy. Heb. 11, And Christ Jesus Himself had not so much in the world as upon which to lay His blessed head, for He says, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Matt. 8:20. But He had to flee away everywhere (Matt. 2:13), even
also, with much sighing and mourning, traveled through the wilderness of this world, compassed about with an evil flesh, which has never yet advised me to anything good: yea, if I had not fled for refuge to the word of the Lord, I would have been utterly overthrown in the wilderness of this world, for flesh and blood greatly desired to be one with the world, since they always shrank from suffering. But when I with David went into the sanctuary of God, and there beheld the recompense of the world, and how soon they are cut off, and that they were blots, and not children; and also remembered that it is written, "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm; yea, cursed be their going out and coming.in." Ps. 73: 17; Deut. 32:5; Jer. 17:5; Deut. 28:19. However fine a captain one may choose, to prosper in the world, flesh and blood are nevertheless the ultimate object herein; for experience has taught me this; nor am I surprised at it, since men are now of no other material, than were the children of Israel. How often did the Lord sigh over them, and what great trouble did He have with them? Hence we may daily take good heed, and be up and doing, that no one may take our crown.
Therefore, my dear brethren and sisters, be not troubled, that Fra. Ha. Jo. Ta. have gone back to Egypt, which does not surprise me. But let it be an example unto you, that they were overthrown in the wilderness of this world (I Cor. 10:5); and do you take better courage (as I trust you will), and constantly keep before your eyes the pious that were before us; for he that flees opt of the conflict, does not get the crown, for there is but one victory comprised in the Scriptures by which we are to be crowned. I Cor. 9:25; II Tim. 2:5; Rev. 2:10.
O dear brethren and sisters, we now look through quite different eyes as to what salvation depends on than when we were out of bonds; for out of bonds I never could pray to God as I now sometimes do.
Further, my dear brother, I commend to you my wife, whom I love from the heart; desiring and requesting of you, that you will exercise Christian care over her, the more so, since she desires to remain a widow; for the holy Scripture commands us to visit the widows and orphans in' their affliction. James 1:27. Hence, be the more diligent to aid her in everything wherein she may need your counsel, in order to gain a livelihood for herself and my children; so that she may not become despondent.
O my dear brethren, this I exhort you with tears, for if the Lord had not taken me from them, J could have provided for them myself according to my weakness; but now the Lord has ordered it otherwise with me, since He knows best what we need, and what is for our best. Hence, I will also leave them for the Lord's sake; for, dear brother R., my wife has been with me, and we ate together a parting meal, and thus took final adieu from each other. Think for yourself, how bitter a parting it was, for I know that she also loves me from the heart.Hence, if the Almighty Lord did not give strength and power, it would not be possible to endure and overcome it; but through Him we can do all things. Phil. 4:13. Hence, I commit my cause now as before to the Lord, declaring that it is not on account of any crime, heaven and earth bear me witness herein, and God, who searches heart and reins, also knows very well my object in this matter.
Furthermore, dear W., if it were possible, and you should be in the city, I should from the heart like to converse orally with you, which (as it seems to me) could very easily be done, by giving a piece of money. But as you live so far away, I fear it cannot well be done since it is so inconvenient for you; and in such case I hope to be patient herein; for we neither know nor hear when we are to die, nor have any priests assailed as yet; but a secular man came to see us once and assailed us. Neither have we been spoken to by the authorities, since we were tortured the first time; for as we hear, the margrave has had a sore leg. Thus we do not know if we shall be tortured any more or not. They would indeed like to find out much from us, but I hope that the Most High will keep our lips; for though one were to tell them something, they are not satisfied with that, but want to know more and more.
Hence, my dear brother and sister in the Lord, we pray you, and all them that inquire after us, to remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Heb. 13:3. And pray the Lord heartily for us; we will also pray for you. Lauwerens, my fellow prisoner, and I, greet you all with the peace of the Lord, together with all our acquaintances in the Lord that are over there from here. Let all of you remain like minded, and the God of peace will be with you; and let there be no strife among you. Rom. 12:16, 15:5. Remember me, my dear brother and sister; I hope to wait you under the altar, where all tears shall be wiped away from our eyes. Herewith I will commend you to the crucified Christ Jesus; may He strengthen our hearts and minds, and direct them into all that is acceptable before Him. Herewith I bid you adieu. Adieu, my beloved brother and sister.
Grace, joy and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ; together with the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from both the Father, and the Son, to comfort all them that are in any tribulation and affliction; may He be multiplied in you, to whom be praise, honor, glory, dominion, power, and majesty, forever and ever. Amen. This I wish you as a cordial and friendly greeting, my dear, beloved wife and sister in the Lord, whom, with my children, I love from the
depth of my heart, whose absence is to me such a great affliction in my bonds, that I many and many a time call upon the Lord with .weeping eyes, to take from me that which is too heavy for me. But I remember the words of the apostle, where he says, "Let my grace be sufficient for thee; I shall not leave thee, nor suffer thee to be tempted above that thou art able." II Cor. 12:9; I Cor. 10:13. For I know, that as long as man is in this life, he cannot be without conflict. Job 7:1.
Further, my beloved, I have heard that we may probably soon offer up our sacrifice; but we know not the time. Hence, I very often pray the Lord with tears, to take from me the snare of death, in order that I may offer up my soul with joy to the Lord. And I hope through the great and unspeakable grace of God, that my soul shall be received in safe hands, not through my merits, but out of grace and because of the hope, that Christ with His faithful mouth says, "Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake or the gospel's the same shall find it hereafter." Mark 8:35; Matt. 10:39. And, "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my heavenly Father, and before his holy angels; but whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny in the glory of my heavenly Father." Matt. 10:32, 33. Thus, my most beloved, there is no better advice for us than to cleave to the truth, so that we may hereafter receive the eternal crown from the hand of the Lord. Know, furthermore, that I am much surprised that my brother W. does not write a letter: for if he, or any one else should desire to write-'us something, you could easily send it to us, as you also do; for it can be done quietly. I also hear that mother is in H., with whom we would so gladly have spoken once more, since it is very easy to come to us here, if one will not begrudge the money. For though the lord does not come into the prison, he does not trouble himself with anything but simply that for which he comes. Furthermore, my beloved, J. de B. told me that he had been with you, and that you wept much on my account; wherefore, when I heard this, I was also filled with much sorrow. But, my chosen, comfort yourself in the Lord, and let us commit the matter to Him, and pray for those who afflict us with this; for,"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." Rom. 12:19. O my beloved, I feel indeed, that as long as I live I must bear you in my heart, but nevertheless, God above all; for God is a jealous God (Ex. 20:2), and I also give Him the praise for the kindness which He has shown me poor, weak servant, and still daily shows me.
Herewith I will commend you to the crucified Christ Jesus, and to the Word of His grace. Lauwerens, my fellow prisoner, and I, greet you and all our acquaintances in the Lord very much with the peace of the Lord. Write to me occasionally, for a letter from you is more pleasing to me than gold and silver. If time should overtake us, I bidyou' adieu. Adieu, my beloved, and always persevere steadfastly. Written in my bonds, by me,
Your dear husband.
Grace, joy and peace from God the heavenly Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, together with the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from both the Father and the Son, to comfort all them that are in any tribulation and affliction for His holy name's sake; may He be multiplied in you; unto whom be praise, honor, glory, dominion, power, and majesty, forever and ever. Amen. This and all divine virtues, I wish you as a cordial and friendly greeting, my dear and beloved mother and sister in the Lord. I inform you by this that I am still tolerably well according to the time, and I trust that you are well, too. My mind also is still fixed to adhere to the eternal truth, and not to forsake the same, whether it mean life or death; for Peter says that there is none other name under heaven, given to men, whereby to be saved, than only through the name of Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12; 10:43. Therefore, my dear mother, it is necessary that we constantly, according to our weak ability, seek to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ; for John says, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, hath both the Father and the Son." II .John 9.
Hence, my beloved, let us take heed that we may always be found to be of the little flock (Luke 12:32), that our sheaf may be gathered with all the elect saints of God into one barn for there is a great storm at hand. Oh, that we were all worthy of the Lord; then we should indeed have been born at a blessed hour! Oh, I pray the Lord most heartily for you, to keep you in His holy truth; so that we may hereafter be crowned with praise and honor. O my beloved, the bringing forth is so grievous to me; truly indeed does Christ say, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33. And also, further, "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." vs. 20, 21. We have now also much sorrow, and the world is glad and joyful, and they do not once think how lamentably they are under the wrath of God, as long as they do not become converted, and show true repentance before the Lord. How applicable are the words of Isaiah, "Hell hath opened wide her mouth, that
there may go in both their princes and the common people: yea, they go to hell like sheep to the slaughter." Isa. 5:14. May the complaint ascend to the Lord of heaven, that the false prophets so lamentably seduce the poor blind people (Ezek. 13:10), and, what is still more, so miserably oppress, persecute, rob, and make a prey for every one, those who seek to amend their lives. Truly indeed does Isaiah say, "Holy and pious men are taken away, but no man layeth it to heart." Isa. 57:1. Hence, my beloved, let us not fear men, who must perish like grass; for the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool. 51:2, 8. O clear mother, they forbid the reading of the holy Scriptures, while Christ says and exhorts us, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they that testify of me." John 5:39. For Paul also says, "Whatsoever things were written beforetime were written for our learning." Rom. 15:4. Oh, how hard will it go with those who so little esteem the Scriptures; they are those that call good evil, and evil good. Isa. 5:20. Oh, that they might once consider, how grievously they have incurred the wrath of God. I pray the Lord most heartily, to open the eyes of their understanding, that they may see against whom they are fighting, that it is against God and the Lamb; but the Lamb shall overcome them. Rev. 17:14. For Isaiah says, "Though a mother should forget her child, and forsake the son of her womb, whom she brought forth herself, yet will I not forsake thee." Isa. 49:15. Yea, the Lord further says through Zechariah, "He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of mine eye." Zech. 2:8. And again, Isaiah says, "Fear not, O Jacob; when thou walkest through the fire, I will preserve thee; and when thou art in the water, it shall not harm thee: for I the Lord will keep thee." Isa. 43:1, 2. My beloved, His hand is not yet shortened; He is still the same God that delivered Israel out of the land of Egypt, and out of the hand of Pharaoh: who made the Red Sea a way so that the ransomed of the Lord passed over. He is also still the same God that fed them for forty years with bread from heaven, as is written, "He fed them with bread from heaven, and with angel's food." Psalm 78:25. He is also the same God that preserved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, and delivered Daniel out of the den of lions,and many other holy fathers, concerning which an abundance is written in the Scriptures.
Therefore, my affectionately beloved sister in the Lord, my heart felt prompted once more to exhort you a little with the Word of the Lord, though you are yourself abundantly taught of Him; for Paul says, "Exhort one another [daily,] while it is called today" (Heb. 3:13), for the Lord cometh as a thief in the night, as you may well perceive in our case.
Further, dear mother, I thank you for the affectionate love which you have shown me at all times;yea, even before I obtained your dear daughter to wife you were always kind to me. I also thank you for the good intercourse which we have always had together in peace (the Lord be praised); for I have often rejoiced my soul with you. And now, my beloved, I commend to you my dear wife and her two little orphans, desiring that you will help exercise a Christian care over them, and do not spare the rod on the children. Associate with R. as much as is possible for you, lest she becomes despondent; for I know that I am dear to her heart, and that she will therefore sorrow for a long time. But exhort her to be patient in her tribulation; for every dispensation of God toward us I hope will turn to the salvation of us all; for the Lord knows what we need. My beloved, receive this brief exhortation in good part as a testament, since it is written with a humble heart and mind. Herewith I will commend you to the crucified, bleeding Christ Jesus, and to the Word of His rich grace. Amen. Adieu, my dear mother, until another time, if we should here see each other no more. Lauwerens, my fellow prisoner, and I, greet you and our acquaintances in the Lord most cordially with the peace of the Lord.
Grace, joy and peace from God the heavenly Father, and our dear Lord Jesus Christ, Who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood; together with the consolation and communion of the Holy Ghost; this I wish to be constantly multiplied in you, as a friendly greeting, my beloved wife and sister in the Lord, informing you that I am still tolerably well according to the flesh; and as regards the spirit, my mind is still fixed to adhere to the eternal truth by the help of the Most High, from whom we must expect comfort; for of ourselves we have not one good thought, but much rather an aversion; for the flesh loves life, since it is of the earth, and seeks nothing but what is earthly. But I hope in the goodness and langsuffering of God, that He will not forsake me, but will keep me, according to His promise, as the apple of His eye. My beloved, we are now put to a very severe test; for at no previous time was there before us such an opportunity of being released as there is now. For there are some that got out, who would have been put to death three weeks ago; but as one of them was confined to his bed by sickness, their day of execution was postponed, and in the meantime the pardon helped them out. This pardon is also held out to us as seductively as possible; they promise to restore to us that of which we have been despoiled, and, to set us free, provided we should renounce our second baptism, which we have refused, preferring rather with old Eleazar, to die honorably, than to live with ienominv (II Macc.
6:19): praying the almighty Father through Jesus Christ, to keep us in this purpose, .and to preserve us from evil. I also cannot keep from you what happened to me. On Friday last, about evening, I was taken down alone, to speak with one of the bishop's underlings, whom I saluted, and bade him good evening.. He did the same to me, saying, "Good evening, Joos." I remained standing with my head uncovered, and he also took off his cap, and made a long speech, and,began greatly to praise the name of God, since He left His saints the promise to abide with His church unto the end. Thereupon I asked him, whether the,apostles had put the church in the form and ordinances in which it now stood.
He replied, "Yes, that is as regards the faith; and as touching the ordinances, these the holy teachers instituted through counsels and decrees, on account of certain causes that arose, even as it also happened during the times of the apostles: that all the elders came together, because contention arose in the church." Acts 15:6. Then I said to him, that the Lord had commanded the children of Israel very strictly neither to take from nor add to the law; and how severely Saul was punished by the Lord, because he, following his own mind, had spared the king of the Amalekites, and the best oxen and sheep, contrary to the command of God. Deut. 4:2; 12:32; I Sam. 15. Thereupon he said, "The Lord had commanded him, to kill them all, and not to spare them, and for this reason he was punished; but we neither take from nor add. to the faith." I returned that they were nothing but human plants. And Christ says, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." Matt. 15:13. Then he said, that plants were not doctrines; but they are trees, said he, which are called men. I rejoined, that Christ, Matt. 15, did not speak of trees. He said, "Yes." I said, "No;" so that he finally said, "I will let you have it. - He then asked me, where I ,'bad learned the Scriptures, or by whom I had been instructed. I replied that I had taken my foundation from the Scriptures, as Christ teaches us, saying, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). Hence, I searched, and asked the Lord for a right understanding and wisdom. Then he said, "Oh, we must be instructed." I said, "We had also teachers." He asked of whom our teachers had received understanding. I asked him in return where the prophets and apostles had received understanding. He answered, saying, "We are the ancient church, from the time of Christ to the apostles, who first instituted the holy church, and established it with many signs and miracles; and from the apostles to Timothy and Titus, and to all the holy teachers, and thence to all the holy popes and doctors even to the present day." And we had many other words, concerningbaptism, which it would take too long to relate; but rye could not agree.
Finally, in parting, he showed me great friendliness, saying, "Dear Joos, you err, .and do not understand the Scriptures." I said, "My lord, even as, you think that I err; so I think that you err." He said, "Ask the Lord for understanding." I replied, that I did so. Guilliame, the thiefcatcher, was present throughout the whole conversation, and they were both very deeply moves! on my account, as I well perceived; and he spoke much of the great pardon which had come from King Philip and .the pope together. In parting, I asked him, whether any one might be put to death on account of the faith. He answered, saying, "What else is the magistracy for?" I said, "For the protection of the good, and the punishment of the evil" (Rom. 13:3). He rejoined, "Peter killed Ananias and Sapphira" (Acts 5:5, 9), and with this some persons came in, so that this remark received no reply.
Herewith I commend you to the Lord, and to the Word of His grace. Greet W. B. and all his acquaintances in the Lord, in my name, with the peace of the Lord. Lauwerens, my fellow prisoner, also greets you with the peace of the Lord.