At this time yet another pious brother, named Maerten van der Straten born at Kortrijck in Flanders, with his wife, named Beliken van der Straten, fell into the hands of the enemies of the truth, so that after manifold temptations their faith was found much more precious, than perishable gold, which is tried by fire. Hence Maerten van der Straten, and two other brethren and a sister (who are separately mentioned in this book), on the 4th of December, A. D. 1572, in the city of Ghent, steadfastly delivered up their bodies as a sacrifice acceptable unto God, and were together burned in the Friday Market, with balls in their mouths; and Beliken van der Straten was subsequently, in 1573, in Lent, offered up in the same place for the truth; having thus fought a good fight, finished the course, kept the faith, and, notwithstanding the opposition of the tyrants taken the kingdom of God by force.
Concerning these two pious witnesses a separate book has been printed, containing many excellent letters by Maerten van der Straten, and several hymns, which these persons composed and addressed to each other, and to others in prison. Of these letters we communicate to you several, as follows.
I Maerten van der Straten, your dear husband and brother in the Lord (both unworthily, however) wish you, my affectionately beloved wife, Beliken van der Straten, who are with me, according to Paul's writing, in the mouth of the lion (II Timothy 4:17), and wounded by Babylon's watchmen (Canticles 5:7), much grace and mercy from God our heavenly Father; and may the love of His Son be multiplied to you, and may the power, of the Holy Ghost richly dwell in you, that you may to the praise of the Lord bring forth good and meet fruits, and let your light shine before men, even as a city that is set on a high hill, that you may leave behind you a good name among the heathen, and a good memory in Israel; and the God of our fathers grant you grace, and prosper what you undertake, that Israel may rejoice over you, and that your name may be reckoned among all the saints, and that you may hereafter play the new song, before the throne of the Lord, forever and ever. Rev. 14:2, 3. This I wish you, my chosen love, with all the strength of my soul, and from a heart full of love.
Out of a fond heart permeated with love, an affectionate greeting to you, O my dearest 'love, whom I love with all my heart, in accordance withthe Word of God, that a man shall leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife. For you, O my dear lamb, are flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bones; and no man, says Paul, ever yet hated his own flesh.; but nourisheth and cherisheth it. Eph. 5:29. Hence I have good reason to love you, as I also do, this the Almighty Lord- knows, who, according to the words of Jeremiah, tries men's hearts and reins. Jer. 17:10.
Further, after this my proper and Christian salutation, know, my affectionately beloved wife, that I, according to the words of Sirach, add day to day through much tribulation, as one that lodges in the field, and receives, many a storm, hail and rain on his body. But God, who kills and makes alive, will, I hope, preserve me, that I shall with Eleazar prefer an honorable death to an ignominious life.
Furthermore, my dearly beloved, whom I took by the hand with tears of joy, I hope and trust that you are alsowell in soul and body, ready with Susanna rather to fall into the hands of men, than to sin in the sight of the living God, who, with His eyes, which are like a flame of.fire, penetrates all things. Sus. 23; Rev. 1:14. The Almighty Lord of lords, who, .according to Paul's writing, is rich in goodness, and abounds with grace and mercy, look upon you and us all with His gracious eyes, and deliver us from this misery; for I, like you, am at this time in great distress, besieged as those of Bethulia (Judith 7); my enemies have turned away the water with which I was formerly wont to refresh my heart, and they have compassed about the fountains where I was accustomed to quench my thirst. But the Almighty King is the true fountain, who, as Jeremiah says, with His learned tongue comforts the weary soul, and, according to the words of the prophet, in time of need gives bread, and in thirst water; Him, I hope, they shall not intrench or compass about; for He regards neither grated windows nor bolts, neither locks nor doors; and He, I hope, will visit us before long, for He knows that we are most sorely smitten and wounded by Babylon's watchmen, in a dry and dark land, far and deep in Babylonia, where neither His word nor His beautiful songs of praise are heard. Jer. 31:25; Isa. 30:20; Cant. 5:7; Ps. 137:1.
Hence I hope that He will exercise mercy above justice over us, since He sees our tribulation, and knows that I, for my part, am not able to bear it, because, my weakness is so great; for among all that fear God there is no one so imperfect as I am. For -my miserable weakness is so manifold, that I often bewail it with tears, and I am so despondent that it seems to me that my heart is convulsed, because the Lord does not take away my reproach. Hence I may well say with David, "O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee: let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my"cry; for my soul is full of troubles
and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. I am counted with them that go down into the pit; I am
as a man that hath no strength: free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves" (Ps. 88:1-7); for all my persecutors hold counsel against me, utterly to starve my hungry soul, and to deprive my thirsty soul of drink. Hence I may well say with the prophet, "My enemies wait for my soul, and they render me evil for good, to bring me into sorrow." Ps. 56:6.
Hence, O my love, my dearest love, I cannot forbear to utter my complaint before you, to ease my sorrowful heart, which is often so disconsolate, yea, so disconsolate, that I might well say with David, in my despondency: O Lord, I am cut off from before Thine eyes (Ps. 31:22); yet I trust that He will before long hear the voice of my supplication. Hence I pray you, my dear lamb, let not your ears become weary of hearing my sorrowful complaint, nor let your eyes tire of beholding my afflicted countenance. I hope that the Lord will so order it, that it will not last much longer; hence bear patiently with me for a little while yet, even as you have always done towards me. For when it did not go well with us according to the flesh, you always showed more patience than I, for which I heartily thank you. For your hands were more diligent than mine to maintain the household; and you walked more piously by your faith before God, than I; and your patience is greater even until this present day, than mine. Hence I have good reason to love you more than Paul loved the church at Ephesus, which he yet for three years warned night and day, with anxiety, with watching, and with tears. Acts 20:19, 31. O my lamb, my love, my dearest love, I have now, God be praised, also had you for about three years, and have in these our bonds of tribulation had great anxiety day and night for you, and have sighed so many a sigh, and wept so many a tear, which I would not have wept, had I been able to speak to you. But now, my affectionately beloved wife, since God has so ordered it, that I must leave you, and, as it seems, go before, I say thus: Though I am not worthy to exhort you, I yet exhort you in this letter with tears, and beseech you, always to have the Lord before your eyes, and to cleave to Him with prayer and fasting. For I know that if God takes me out of the flesh before you, that you will after my departure be severely assailed; and therefore I beseech you, O my only lamb, for the Lord's sake, that you will watch circumspectly, as did the good and wise virgins, who expected their bridegroom every hour. And I pray you, O my love, my dearest love, if I have found grace before your eyes, remember me, even as the pious, God-fearing Judith remembered her husband. Jud. 16:22. O Beliken, Beliken, my dearly beloved, the three years which we have lived together do not seem to me to be three days; hence when I think of the parting, my heart is troubled.Yet I would, if it must be, that the Lord would come speedily. For I have, the Lord knows, so many sore vexations, so that I may well utter my complaint with David, and say, "O Lord, my chastisement is ready every morning" (Ps. 73:14); for he that seeks my soul, as a bird without cause, neither sleeps nor slumbers day nor night, evening nor morning; but I expect with Paul, that God, before long, will deliver me and us all out of the mouth of the lion. II Tim. 4:17. Further, my affectionately beloved wife, Beliken van der Straten, whom I love from the heart, let me, please tell your love, that I do not know much more to write at this;' time, but I commend you to Almighty God, and to His comforting Word. Moreover, I take leave from you, even as bound Israel, who gave their children the last milk; however, God who made the heavenly host, is well able to turn the elephants back again. III Macc. 180. His will be done, and not ours. Nothing more. The Lord be with you. Greet them that are with you, from me. Adrian also greets you much.
Written by me, your dear husband and brother in the Lord. MAERTEN VAN DER STRATEN.
I Maerten van der Straten, your dearly beloved husband and brother in the Lord, wish you my affectionately beloved wife and sister in the Lord, Beliken van der Straten, much grace and mercy from God our heavenly Father; and may the love of His Son always be multiplied to you, and the power of the Holy Ghost dwell in you richly, that you may thereby lead a chaste conversation among the heathen, and be a light for them that sit in darkness, so that you, according to Isaiah's writing, may see the King in His beauty (Isa. 33:17) and be numbered among the royal host that have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ, who bore our reproach, healed our wounds, and restored for us that which He had not taken away, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God His Father; to whom be honor, power, glory, and praise, for ever and ever. Amen. Ps. 69:4; Gal. 1:4.
Cordially written to you, my chosen, dearest love Beliken van der Straten, whom I love from the heart, yea, more than my own life, for you are flesh of my flesh. In short, you are mine and I am yours. Hence I thank the Lord without ceasing, that He has given me you; for I would not have thought that God would have given me such a faithful helpmate, with whom I have found so much love and patience; but God has in every way shown me more mercy than I am worthy, and I hope He will do so yet, when I shall need it most, for He is a gracious God, who according to Paul's writing, is rich in goodness, and abounds in mercy. Eph. 2:4.
Further, my dearly beloved, after this my brotherly salutation, let me, please, inform your love, that my mind, God be praised, is fixed by His help, to live and die in the truth. However, my love, I trust that through the grace of the Lord you are also thus minded, by His help to fear His name all the days of your life. The Lord of lords, and God of gods, grant you and us all His grace to this end.
Furthermore, Beliken, my love, I understand it to be your request, that I shall write to you once more, which it is impossible for me to refuse you; yet I am unworthy to write to you, because of the thorn which I have in my flesh, for my weakness is so great, that I might well say, "Oh, that my head were waters, that I might day and night bewail my miserable weakness"; for my weakness is exceeding great, and my sorrow moreover is not small, for when I think, O Beliken, my only lamb, that I must part from you, and leave you among this adulterous generation, oh, then my heart is burdened unto death, and when I think; if God should take you out of the flesh before me, oh, then my heart is troubled still more, for I feel that after your departure, I should not see a single happy day. Thus my thoughts distress me from every side, so that I may well say with Susanna,"Oh, in what a great strait am I now!" Sus. 22. Yea, this miserable state has so laid hold on me, that I may well cry to God, and say with Hezekiah, "O Lord, ease me: for I suffer distress" (Isa. 38:14), yea, such distress as is suffered by the hinds, when they writhe to bring forth. Moreover, I am ofttimes more despondent than Jonah, when he was smitten down by the sun, Jonah 4:8. Hence I may also well say, "O tribulation and vexation, how long will ye live in me?" Yea, moreover. I may well say with David, "My enemies ploughed upon my back, and made long their furrows." Ps. 129:3. But then I console myself again, O my love, when I remember, that God, as Paul says, chasteneth whom He loveth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.; and with the temptation also makes a way to escape, that one may be able to bear it, which I have often experienced. Heb. 12:6; I Cor. 10:13. Hence I also thank the Lord, who has everywhere delivered me from the snare of the fowler. Ps. 91:3. Therefore I will also with David praise the Lord and glorify Him among many, for He stands at the right hand of His poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul. Ps. 92:1; 109:31. Hence, O my chosen, dearest love, let us firmly cleave to the Lord, and not stumble, though the wicked persecutes him that is more righteous than himself. For job says, "The ungodly pluck the child from the breast and make it an orphan in the city; they cause men to sigh, and the souls of the slain to cry out; and God troubleth them not." Job 24:9, 12. But it is nevertheless certain, that God will not always say amen to their course. For He says by the prophet, "I hold my peace for a time, and am still, but at the last I will avenge myself on mine enemies." Isaiah 42:1 S, For I lift up my hand toheaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh over the blood of the slain, and over the captives, and over the uncovered head of the enemy. Hence, Moses says, "Rejoice, all ye that are his people; for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and render vengeance to his adversaries; but he will be. merciful unto the land of his people." Deuteronomy 32:40-43. Thus, O my love, my only lamb, let us be of good courage: though we must now sow in tears, we shall in due time, I hope, reap an abundant harvest. For God says through the prophet, "Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her; that ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory." Isa. 66:10, 11.
Thus, O my chosen, dearest love, let us for a little while help the Lord bear His reproach: for it is a faithful saying, says Paul, "If we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with him, and if we die with him we shall also live with him; and then all tears shall be wiped away from our eyes, and all our tribulation shall be changed into eternal joy. Hence, O my love, let us diligently pray the Lord, that this promise may be fulfilled in us, and that we may be found citizens in the beautiful city where the walls are of sapphire and the streets pure gold." Rev. 21:18.
Further my love, I will commend you to our dear Lord; may He keep and govern you as His daughter, for I take leave now and bid you adieu.
Oh, adieu, my affectionately beloved, for we must part in tears. Oh, adieu, Beliken van der Straten, my very dear wife, whose hand I took with tears of joy. Oh, bitter parting, how hard it is for me! Once more I say adieu. O Beliken, my chosen, dearest love, I thank you most affectionately for all your pure love. May the Lord recompense you. Greet from me those that are with you. Adrian also greets you much. The Lord be with you.
Written in my bonds, by me, your weak brother and servant, as much as I am able.
MAERTEN VAN DER STRATEN.
I Maerten van der Straten your affectionately beloved husband and brother in the Lord, yet both unworthily, wish you my very dear, beloved wife and sister in the Lord, Beliken van der Straten, much grace and mercy from God our heavenly Father, and may the love of His Son be multiplied to you, and may God, moreover, fill you, like Jeremiah, with His Holy Spirit, that you may thereby withstand all the subtle assaults of the devil, and after the victory, with all God's children, receive
the crown of glory upon the pleasant mountain where, according to the writing of Esdras roses and lilies grow. II Esd. 2:19. And, my dearly beloved, I pray the Lord, to make you meet and worthy to play the new song before the throne of His glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Cordially written out of tender love, to you Beliken van der Straten. O my love, my chosen, dearest love, which through God's providence was given to me before His church by my father, and whose hand I took with tears of joy, for which I also thank the Lord, that He gave me you, for I would not have thought myself worthy of you. Hence this is also a reason for me, to love you the more. Yet, I call God to witness, that I love you as my soul, yea, more than the heart in my body, which I am bound also to do according to the demand of the Scriptures, for, since I, according to John's writing, am bound to love my brother, how much more then must I love you since you, according to the Word of God and Paul's declaration, are flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bones. And the apostle also says, "No man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it." Eph. 5:29. In short, he that loves his wife also loves himself.
Further, Beliken, my beloved, after this my proper and Christian salutation, let me, please, inform your love that I, the Lord be praised, am in tolerably good health according to the flesh, and according to the spirit, God be praised, my mind is still fixed to fear the Lord, all the days of my life, according to my weak ability. Furthermore, my dearest, I have the same confidence concerning you, that you are well both in soul and body, prepared to live and die to the glory of the Lord. This worshipful, good God, who has broken the bow of the mighty, and according to the word of the prophet, through the gracious goodness gives both wine and milk without price (Isa. 55:1), may strengthen and confirm you and us all in this lion's den, where we, on every hand, are so severely assailed and so greatly distressed, like Israel, when they were compassed about by Holofernes. Jud. 7. Yea, the false elders do so distress us, that we can with Susanna find nowhere a place of escape, but behold death before our eyes on every hand; for our persecutors are evening wolves, that leave nothing over till the morning. Hab. 1:8. Hence we may well say with David, "They break in pieces thy people, O Lord, and afflict thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood." Ps. 94:5, 6, 21.
But, my dearly beloved, let us not therefore despond, though we are now tried in the furnace of affliction, for the prophet says: ."Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law, that he may have patience in the day of adversity, until the pit be digged for thewicked. For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will forsake his inheritance. For he regardeth the prayer of the destitute, and doth not despise their petitions; for he looketh down from the height of his sanctuary, and from heaven doth the Lord behold tie earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner." Ps. 94:12-14; 102:17, 19, 20. For Sara said, "This I truly know, if a man serve God, he is comforted after temptation, and delivered from affliction, and after chastisement he findeth grace. For thou, O Lord, delightest not in our destruction; for after the storm thou causest the sun to shine again, and after weeping and mourning thou dost give us joy abundantly. Eternal praise to thy name O God of Israel, for with thee is the fountain of life, and in thy light we see light." Tobit 3:11; Ps. 36:9.
Hence, my love, O my dearest love, let us patiently drink the cup of the Lord, for we know, according to the words of Isaiah, that truth is fallen in the street, and that he that turneth from his evil ways is the spoil of every one. Isa. 59:14, 15. For Esdras says, "For there shall be in every place, and in the next cities, a great insurrection upon those that fear the Lord. They (the ungodly), shall be like mad men, sparing none, but still spoiling and destroying those that fear the Lord. For they shall waste and take away' their goods, and cast them out of their houses. Then shall they be known (says the Lord); who are my chosen; and they shall be tried as the gold in the fire." II Esd. 16:70-73.
Therefore, O my chosen love, my lamb, let us give our back to the smiters for a little while yet, and look to the author of our faith, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who for our sakes was so maltreated and disfigured, that He Himself says, "If they have done these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry." Luke 23:31. Hence, O my love, my dearest love, let us think as Paul, that our light affliction, which is but for a moment, will hereafter work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. II Cor. 4:17. For Solomon says, "But the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the Most High. Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord's hand: for with his right hand shall he sever them, and with his arm shall he protect them." Wisd. 5:15, 16. Therefore, O my dear lamb, let us diligently pray the Lord, that we may be worthy at His coming, to live with Him for ever and ever.
Further, my chosen, dearly beloved, know that I do not know much more to write you, but I commend you into the hands of the Lord, and bid you adieu if I should write you no more; for our enemies are now so greatly incensed at us, that they gnash on us with their teeth, even as they did on Stephen in the judgment hall. I therefore yet give you this letter, even as Israel, when they were bound, gave their children the last milk. And fur-
thermore, I thank you, O my love, for all your pure love and sincere friendship, and I also thank you much for the sleeves you made me; they stand me in better stead than the coat which was sent me. Rightly did Sirach say, that one friend helps the other in time of need, but much more yet husband and wife.
Once more I take leave, and bid you adieu; O adieu, Beliken, my dearest. Greet from me them that are with you. Adrian also greets you much.
Written by me, your dear husband and brother in the Lord.
MAERTEN VAN DER STRATEN.
Pray for me.
I, Maerten van der Straten, your unworthy friend and brother, wish you, my beloved, dear sister in the Lord, Anna Servaes, much grace and mercy from God our heavenly Father; and may the love of His Son be in you as a burning fire, that you may become perfect unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, having your conversation honest among the Gentiles, and bearing good fruits, as a tree planted by the rivers of water, so that you may be numbered among the royal priesthood, the peculiar people, which God, according to the writings of Moses, bore on eagle's wings; so that you, when the land shall again be divided to Israel, may possess an inheritance full of joy, for ever and ever. Amen. Eph. 4:13; I Pet. 2:12; Ps. 1:3; I Pet. 2:9; Deut. 32:11.
A cordial, fond and affectionate greeting to you, my dear and much beloved sister in the Lord, Anna Servaes, whom I love with a pure love out of a pure heart, of which God be my judge, who, according to the word of Jeremiah, tries men's hearts and reins. Further, after all proper and Christian salutation, let me, please, inform your love, that I and my dear wife are in tolerably good health according to the flesh, and according to the spirit we hope by God's assistance to keep the covenant which we once made with the Lord our God, when we bowed our knees before Him and His glorious majesty. Yes, we moreover trust that also you are well in soul and body, ready to perform your journey to Bethel, and to prophesy against Jeroboam and his altar. I Kings 13:1. To this end, may you and we all be strengthened by the only and eternal, almighty God, whose tabernacle is on high, and who lives far above all heavens, in a light which, according to the words of Paul (I Tim. 6:16), no man can approach unto; that we may fear and love Him above all. For He is a jealous God, who would dwell alone in man's heart; for thereunto we have been delivered out of the hand of our enemies, and from them that hate us, that we should fear and serve Him without fear, in true righteousness and holiness, all the days of our lives, as good and faithful servants, seeking the praise of God, and, with Paul, counting our gain loss for Christ's sake, lead ing a chaste, honorable life, and setting up an ensign for the nations, that we may not make the blind to wander out of the way, but that we, according to the words of Peter, through a modest and good conversation, may win the unbelieving without the Word; which Christ also teaches us in the Gospel, saying, "Let your light shine before men, that they may behold your good conversation, and glorify God our Father in the day of visitation." Ex. 20:5; II Cor. 6:16; Luke 1:74, 75; Phil. 3:7; Isa. 11:12; Deut. 27:18; I Pet. 3:1, 2; Matt. 5:16; I Pet. 2:12. Hence, O my dear and much beloved sister in the Lord, let us with all humility follow the Lord's footsteps, that in every respect we may adorn the doctrine of the Gospel, shining as a bright morning star among this evil and perverse generation; then shall the King, as David writes, greatly desire our beauty. Ps. 45:11.
Hence, O love, let us each seek to be the chiefest in virtue, and patiently wait for the Lord, our Comfort, who alone can help us, as David says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God." Ps. 40:1-3. Therefore, O dear lamb, let us thank the Lord, and pray that we may not be caught through our tongue, saying with Jesus Sirach, "O Lord God, Father and Lord of my life, let me not fall among the slanderers, and perish among them. Oh, that I could bridle my thoughts, and discipline my heart with the word of God, and that I might not spare myself, if I erred, lest I should cause sin, and create great error, and commit much evil, and perish before my enemies, and become their sport." Sir. 23:1-3. Hence, O dear sister, let us seek God's face day and night with tears, that we may not perish with the wicked under the wrath of God, but that we may continue obedient in Christ unto the end of our lives, so that we may be saved in the day of the Lord, which, according to the words of Christ, shall come as a thief in the night; in the which according to Peter's writing, the heavens shall be dissolved with fire, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. And if all these things are to come to pass, O how ought we to be meet and adorned with a good, chaste and holy conversation! For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it now begin at us, and if the righteous shall scarcely be written in the book of life, what shall the end of the ungodly be? Matt. 24:42, 43; II Pet. 3:10-12; I Pet. 4:17, 18. Oh, well may I sigh and say with Solomon, "O Lord, wink at the multitude of my sins." Wisd. 11:23. Hence we may also with David say, "O Lord, enter not into judgment with us, or, thou, O Lord, shalt be justified. And render us not according to our deeds, neither reward us according to our works, nor chasten us, O, Lord, in thine anger, but be merciful unto us, O Lord, according to thy goodness, which is great." Ps.
143:6; 6:1, 2. Therefore, O dear lamb, let us cleave to the Lord with prayer and supplication, with a broken heart and contrite spirit, that we may be saved, not through our merits, but through the grace of God, and thus live with the Lord in His eternal kingdom.
Further, my dear sister, I do not, because of my small gift, know much more to write you, but commend you to the Lord, and to the rich, comforting Word of His grace. I moreover pray you to excuse the plain, simple letter which I, your unworthy servant, have written, who am the weakest in Israel, yea, not worthy to unloose your shoe's latchet; however, I yet trust in the grace of God.
Furthermore, my dear sister, greet your dear husband, and also the acquaintances, in my name. My dear wife also greets you both, and the acquaintances much. There also greet you much, Adriaen, Grietgen, Hansken, and Dingentgen; and all of us prisoners jointly request of you, that you will diligently pray the Lord for us. Nothing more. Farewell, and do the best in the beginning and in the end.
Written in my bonds, by me, your weak brother . and servant, as much as I am able.
MAERTEN VAN DER STRATEN.
I, Maerten van der Straten, imprisoned for the Word of the Lord, wish you my dear and much beloved brother in the Lord, Servaes Janss, much grace and mercy from God our heavenly Father, and also to all that have been redeemed from the earth, and cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to the word of the prophet, bore our reproach, took upon Him our sins, and restored to us that which He had not taken away, that He might deliver us from this present evil world; according to the will of God His Father; to whom be glory, power and honor forever and ever. Amen.
Out of a fond heart a loving greeting to'you, my beloved, dear friend and brother in the Lord, whom I love according to the peculiar privilege of Israel, this the Lord knows, who according to the words of Jeremiah, tries men's hearts and reins, and according to David, knows men's thoughts when they are yet afar off. Jer. 17:10; Ps. 139:2.
Further, after all proper and Christian salutation, let me, please, inform your love, that I, the Lord be praised forever, am in tolerably good health according to the flesh, and according to the spirit my mind is still fixed to serve God all the days of my life. I have moreover the undoubted confidence concerning you, that you are also well in soul and body, ready to keep the covenant which you once made with the Lord our God, when you bowed your knees before God and His glorious majesty; may this only, eternal, and only wise God, endow you, according to the word of the prophet(Joel 2:28), with His Holy Spirit, that you, led by Him, may lead a good and chaste conversation among the Gentiles, as Christ teaches us in the Gospel, saying, "Let your light so shine before men, that they beholding your good conversation, may glorify God your Father."
Hence, O my dear brother, let us, according to the writing of the apostle, diligently strive to be the chiefest in virtue; as Paul also says, that we should approve ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the Word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed: For God can wound, and heal again, as is written in the Book of Kings, "The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up." Tit. 3:8; 11 Cor. 6:4-9; Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6.
Hence, O my dear brother, if you be visited at any time, out of bonds as well as in, be not grieved, nor, become weary in the way of the Lord, though it is narrow and straight; for it is better to suffer affliction for a little time with .God's children, than to possess all the, treasures of Egypt; for though man, as Christ says, should gain the world, and lose his own soul, O what would he have then,. that he could give in exchange for it? Heb. 11:25, 26; Matt. 16:26.
Therefore, O my dear brother, let us seek the kingdom of God above all things, and let us not follow after that which is earthly, as is written in the epistle to the Colossians, by the holy apostle Paul, where he says, "If ye then 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, For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.", Col. 3:1-4. For it is a faithful saying, "If we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with him." II Tim. 2:12. Hence let us not be weary in well doing, for according to Paul's writing, in due season we shall reap a most abundant harvest. Galatians 6:9. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. II Cor. 4:17,18.
Hence, O my dear brother, let us help the author of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, bear all His reproach, and let us, as Paul says, follow after holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
Heb. 12:14. And let us seek the Lord with tears, while He may be found, and let us bring forth genuine fruits of repentance, that the tower of Siloam may not fall upon us, for we have done evil long enough before the Lord. Isa. 55:6; Luke 13:4. Hence let us now, as Paul says, use our members, which we have heretofore used from iniquity, unto iniquity, still more abundantly from righteousness unto righteousness. And let us, moreover, praise the Lord, because He has revealed to us the pearl of great price that lies in the field, and is yet still hid from so many. Matt. 13:46. Therefore, O my dear brother, let us now, as good and faithful servants, put our talent out upon usury, that, when our dear Lord comes, we may have gained something, and may hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things
enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Matt. 25:23. Thus, my dear, let us diligently look before us, and watch circumspectly, that we do not defile our wedding garment, but may much rather be adorned with the five wise virgins; with the oil of love in our lamps, so that we, when our Bridegroom comes, may enter in with Him into His eternal kingdom, where, according to the word of Isaiah, and of the apostle, incomprehensible joy and gladness shall endure forever. Amen.
Further, my dear brother, I do not know, because of my small gift, much more to write you, but commend you to the only, eternal, almighty God, who according to the word of Isaiah, hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance; that he may keep you, so that you may receive a crown of glory. Isa. 40:12; I Pet. 5:4.
Furthermore, my dear brother, I pray you, that you will excuse this simple letter which I, unworthy one, have written, for it were better that you would write to me; but in order to fulfill your request I could not forbear to do it.
Greet your dear wife, and also the acquaintances in my name. Beliken van der Straten, my dear wife, also greets you and Tanneken much, and also the acquaintances. Further, all of us prisoners greet you from the heart. Pray the Lord diligently for us. Nothing more. Farewell, and do the best.
To your benefit as much as lieth in me, by me your weak brother and servant.
MAERTEN VAN DER STRATEN.
I, Maerten van der Straten, and Beliken van der Straten, my most dearly beloved wife., both of us prisoners for the word of the Lord, wish our very dear brother and sister much grace and mercy from God our heavenly Father, who dwells on high, in alight unto which, as Paul writes, no man can approach. We moreover wish, that you may have the love of His Son, that you may be a light for them that sit in darkness, and that you may shine as a bright morning star among the blind that err in the way, so that you may hereafter, as Isaiah writes, behold the King in His beauty, and meet with that perfect and unspeakable joy and gladness that shall endure forever and ever. This we wish our dear friends in the Lord, with all the strength of our souls, out of an affectionate heart.
A: cordial, loving greeting to you our very dear brother Adam V. L., and to Mariken, your very dear wife. We two prisoners, as said above, love you, as Paul says, with a godly love, and out of a pure heart as Peter writes; this the Almighty Lord knows, who penetrates every thing with eyes which are as a flame of fire.
Further, after all proper and Christian salutation, let me, please, inform your love, that I and my dearly beloved lamb, whose hand I took with tears of joy are still, the Lord be praised forever, in tolerably good health according to the flesh, and according to the spirit, God be praised, our mind is still fixed, by the help of the Lord to prefer with Eleazar, an honorable death to an ignominious life. But, dear brother and sister in the Lord, we are also confident beyond a doubt, that you both are well in soul and body, ready to keep the covenant you made with Almighty God, concerning which we are exhorted by Moses, that we should always be mindful of the covenant which we once made with the Lord of lords. Deut. 4:9. And Paul instructs us still more fully, that we are to call to remembrance the day in which we were illuminated. Heb. 10:32. The merciful King, and God of gods, who. according to the word of the prophet, in time of need gives bread, and in thirst water, and in the day of tribulation forgives sin, may strengthen and confirm you and us all with His Holy Spirit, that we, as Luke writes, may serve Him in true righteousness and holiness all the days of our lives. And let us, O dear friends, always have the Lord before our eyes, even as David, who says, "I have set the Lord always before me." Ps. 16:8. And again he says, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock." 27:4, 5. Hence, dear friends, let us always seek the face of the Lord with humility, and take good heed to our vocation, redeeming the time, because the days are evil, as Paul says (Eph. 4:1; 5:16); for the tongues of the builders of the tower of Babel have come to disagree. For David says, "Violence and strife are in the- city. Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it. Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her
streets." Ps. 55:9-11. And, as the prophet says, "They fear not God; for they lay their hands on his peaceable ones, and break his covenant," verses 19, 20."Their mouth," as David says,"is smoother than butter, but they have war in their hearts: their words were softer than oil, yet are they drawn swords," verse 21. Hence, O dearly beloved friends, let us always watch circumspectly in the spirit, and fear our God from the heart, and cleave to Him with prayer and supplication, even as the royal prophet David says, "As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice," verses 16, 17.
Thus, dear friends when you are distressed, call upon the Lord, and do not let the waters of Marah (Ex. 15:23) become too bitter for you, but remember, that according to Paul's words we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Even as also Christ teaches us in the Gospel, saying, "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Matt. 11:12. Hence, dear brother and sister, let us willingly bear our cross, and give our back to the smiters, and not regard it however great the heat of the sun, for the servant is not above his master or lord; for if they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household? Matt. 10:25. For Peter teaches us saying, "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries," I Pet. 4:1-3.
Hence, O dear friends, let us no longer live according to the wisdom of the flesh, to indulge its lusts, but let us walk, as Paul writes, only as becomes the Gospel, and do not let us be unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what similarity or fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are, says Paul, the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Phil. 1:27; I I Cor. 6:14-18.
Therefore, O my dear brother and sister, let us serve the Lord with a faithful heart, and refrain our foot from every evil way, and let us lead a chasteand pure conversation among the Gentiles, that we, as Paul writes, may not give the slanderer an occasion to speak evil; but let us in all things seek the glory of the Lord with a simple heart, so that we, according to the word of Paul, may adorn the Gospel by good works. Tit. 2:8, 10. Hence, O dear friends, be not weary in well doing; for what you now sow in tears, that shall you in due season, as Paul writes, reap with joy in great abundance. Hence let us with fasting and weeping entreat the Lord, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, so that we may live with Him forever and ever. Amen. John 3:8; Eph. 6:13.
Further, my beloved friends, we do not know much more to write you for this time, because of the simplicity of our understanding; but We commend you to the Lord, and to the word full of consolation, and bid you adieu.
I Maerten van der Straten, and Beliken van der Straten, my love, have written this little out of affection and according to your request, and we beg you to accept it in good part. We also request the aid of your prayers.
Farewell; greet the acquaintances in our name, we thank you for all the good you have shown us. Adriaen also greets you much; and also Hansken, Margriet and Lou greet you much; Dingentgen and we all jointly request you to pray for us. Nothing more, but do the best first and last.
From us your dear friends,
MAERTEN AND BELIKEN VAN DER STRATEN.