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VOL. XIII.-FOURTH SERIES.
THE BAPTIST MARTYRS OF 1675.
An Historical Fragment.
BY THE REV. BENJAMIN EVANS.
EVERY day is throwing new light them. “We had to forsake our friends," upon the great events of the past. saysoneof the sufferers,“our country, our From various causes, we are able to form possessions, on account of tyranny, and a more accurate estimate of the trans-fled as lambs from a wolf; only because actions of our ancestors than those who of the pure evangelical truth of Christ, immediately succeeded them. We can and not for uproar's or faction's sake, in spirit mingle with them, and from like those of Munster, whose views are the increasing light which history is an abomination, of which we have been shedding upon the social and moral slanderously accused.” Most of them condition of many of those early breth settled in London, with the hope of ren in this country "of whom the world protection, and for some time pursued was not worthy,” we can understand their calling in peace. But this was of their difficulties, and more fully appre- short continuance. Popery had altered ciate the noble triumphs many of them only in name. Its spirit was rampant won. In few instances is this more in episcopal bosoms, and history has remarkably the case than in that inter- given a full record of its fearful deeds. esting company of Christian sufferers These simple-minded people soon felt mentioned at the head of this paper. its power. They had continued to meet The detail in the pages of our historians for exhortation and prayer, and sought is very brief; but, happily, more abun- the edification of one another in the dant materials are within our reach. | Lord. The morning of the sabbath had All our writers concur in stating, that dawned, and these devoted servants of those brethren had fled from the Low Christ sought their accustomed place of Countries, to escape the misery to which worship. Doubtless it was some retired the avowal of baptist principles exposed house, or an upper room in which they
VOL. XIII.-FOURTH SERIES.
met for holy service. What elevated terror were mingled. The episcopal feelings would animate them! What smile was first exhausted, and then a conflict between hope and fear! How came the terrible frown. These sturdy pure, how tender, but how unearthly, confessors were assured that their rethe devotion of such a meeting! What cantation would have the most healtha power of principle they would unfold! ful influence upon the state of their All the dignity of Christian manhood souls, and be hailed as a special token would be seen. They knew the power of God's great goodness by the whole of suffering; they were prepared again church; whilst the alternative in this to brave its fury, if necessary, for the world would be banishment or death, truth. Imagination will realize more and in the future hopeless misery. The than this, as by an effort it tries to following graphic description is from identify itself with this little band of the pen of Von Byler himself, and will Christian disciples. The hour of trial show us the nature of the charge upon was at hand. “It happened,” says a which these holy men were tried, and deeply interested witness of their sub-throw a gleam of light upon the mode sequent sufferings," on Easter, the 3rd of their procedings. of April, A.D. 1575,* that thirty ana- | “When we came before the bishop, baptists, of both sexes, had assembled there were present, Master Joris,* together in a house near Alligator,+ on James de Koninck, John de Rodethe road leading to Spiegelzhof, for the maker, two members of the council, purpose of mutual exhortation and and a French clergyman. We were prayer ; but, being detected by the placed before those lords, and their serneighbours, they were nearly all taken vants, who propounded four questions then to prison, by so small a guard that to us, to which we were to give either some could easily have escaped, if they an affirmative or a negative. could have felt liberty of conscience to ""1. Whether Christ did not assumé do so." Noble men! Even your mis- his flesh from the body of Mary ? takes proclaim your greatness. The “We replied, 'That he is the Son of names of five of them are preserved. the living God.' They deserve to be remembered. They "2. Whether infants should not be were, John Pieters, Henry Terwoort, baptized ? Garret Von Byler, John Von Straaton, "We cannot understand matters só, and Christian Kemels. From the cus- for we read nothing of it in the scriptody of the sheriff they were soon tures.' transferred to the tender mercy of my "Whether it was lawful for a Chrislord of London. Their final examina- tian to attend to, or discharge the tion was at the episcopal palace. Igno- duties of, a magistrate's office ? rant of their language, the bishop was “We replied, "That our conscience assisted on this momentous occasion by would not suffer us to do so; but we a French and Dutch minister. Their considered the magistracy as a minister reconciliation to the Dutch church, and of God, for the protection of the serthe cure of their pestilential heresy, vants of God.' was the avowed end of this imposing "4. Whether a Christian was allowprocedure. The usual course was ed to take an oath ?' adopted here. Blandishment and “We again replied, our conscience Christ said, 'Let your communications | individuals. The whole of them, howbe yea, yea, nay, nay. We then kept ever, in the course of two or three days, silent. The bishop said that our mis- returned to the prison, partly in order deeds were very gross, and we could not to acquit their bail, who were bound in inherit the kingdom of God. 0! Lord, the sum of £100, and partly because avenge not! The bishop then remand- the bishop, as a man of honour, promised us to prison. A young brother who ed with an oath, that he would set them was first interrogated, boldly confessed all at liberty in the course of five or six the truth; and was on that account days if they would return; but if not, sorely accused, and led to Westminster, the rest should remain in prison till where he was imprisoned by himself. Candlemas," This caused us much grief.”
would not now allow us to do so, for • The sixteenth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.-ED. Aldegate. Faller, Church Hist.
* Probably the minister of the Dutch church.
The dreary solitude of their prisonSome additional information may be house was soon disturbed by their gathered from an interesting letter officious opponents. Again and again written by a countryman of these per- they were visited by many Netherlandsecuted saints, to his mother, then resi-ers, and twice they were summoned into dent at Ghent. She was a woman of the august presence of the London great piety, and had requested her son pontiff. To one of these visits the folto supply her with all the information lowing extract refers,“When we were he could procure. His name was all lodged in prison, came Master Joris, Somers, a resident in London, a member and said, if we would join the church of the Dutch church there, and subse- he would set us at liberty--for these quently, on his return to his native are the bishop's orders. But we conland, raised to the highest honours of tended yaliantly for the truth in Christ the state. * " It is probable,” he says, Jesus—for he is our Captain and none that I am better acquainted with the else; upon him we put all our conficircumstances than the generality of dence."* These means, sooner or later people, inasmuch as I have had frequent to some extent, were successful. For intercourse with them, and have re- soon " after this, five of the men were ceived information from all of them : converted (through much disputation 80 I cannot forbear giving such an with these Netherlanders who belonged account of it as accords with the extent to the church) before they were conof my information in reference to the demned as heretics ; nevertheless, they matter. In connexion with which, I were placed before a rostrum in St. send you a copy of their confession; on Paul's Churchyard, in a large assembly account of which some died, and others of some thousands of Englishmen, and are retained in prison.” We have a bundle of faggots was laid upon each given this, that our readers may see one's shoulder, as a sign that they dethe trustworthiness of his narrative. served to be burnt. In addition to
On their return from their examina- which they inflicted many other injuries tion to their place of confinement, Mr. and ignominy upon them, though the Somers says, “ That ten or twelve of bishop had promised that he would set them made their escape, as they were them at liberty without any incumaware of the danger to which they were brances if they would only sign the exposed, and perceived the fine oppor- four articles; but the event proved the tunity of escape that presented itself; contrary. This transpired the 25th of the guard consisted but of one or two May, A.D., 1575." +
* Benedict's History of the Baptists, pp. 313, 314.