AN ANABAPTIST MARTYR
BRANDT, in his “History of the Reformation in the Low Countries,” gives a fine illustration of Baptist patience and boldness in the face of death, which it would be unjust to withhold from the readers of this volume.
The scene was in Holland, the period preceded the year 1551. An old man of seventy-five was brought before the bloody tribunal; his hair was white, his body thin with age, and his manners, which sprung from a heart fearing God, were irreproachable. He had been baptized in his old age, and then had found, though late, a home in the church. Knowing well the character of those before whom he stands, he feels himself as sheep bound for the slaughter house, and, surrounded by a number of the criminal magistrate to pronounce the sentence of death.
An officer speaks to him. “Good father, why do you continue thus obstinately in your cursed error, do you think there is such a place as hell?”
OLD MAN. – Sir, I believe in a hell, most certainly; but I know nothing of the errors you mention.
ANOTHER. – Yes, you are in an error, and in so dreadful a one, that if you die in it you will be damned for ever.
OLD MAN. – Are you sure of that?
OFFICER. – Yes, it is as sure as anything in the world.
OLD MAN. – If it is so, then are ye murderers of my soul.
There was deep silence in the multitude as the old man thus discoursed; their attention became more earnest, and the officer, half enraged, and ashamed, loudly continued,
OFFICER. – What do you say, you impertinent fellow? Are we the murderers of your soul?
OLD MAN. – Do not be angry, sir, at the sound of truth. You yourself know that faith is the gift of God, that neither I nor any other can extort this saving gift out of God’s hands; that God bestows his gifts on one man early, on another late, just as he called the husbandmen into the vineyard. Suppose now that I had not yet received this gift, as you have, ought you to punish me for this misfortune? Might not God, in case you suffered me to live, impart to me, as well as to you, this excellent gift in a week, a month, a year? If then you hinder me from sharing therein, by depriving me of this time of grace, what are you otherwise but murderers of my soul?
The officer of justice hurried him away; no hearts were moved by his courage and his words. His condemnation did not linger, neither did the sun reach his meridian till the glory of the Lamb burst upon the vision of his martyred servant. He was beheaded for his testimony to Christ.
Re 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.