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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Some Martyred Heroes of Our Faith

At the martyrdom of Joriaen Simons and Clement Dirks, at Haarlem, in 1557, there was a great burning of books. Joriaen was a colporteur, and had circulated a large number of Baptist works. But when it was observed that the books began to blaze, such a tumult arose among the people that the magistrates hastily departed. The people then threw the books amongst the crowd, who most eagerly caught them. Thus, through the providence of God, instead of the truth being extinguished, as was intended, it was the more spread by the reading of so great a number of these books.

At length, even magistrates and executioners grew tired of the work, and disgusted at the cruelty of the bloodthirsty inquisitors. An instance of this occurred in 1558. Joris Wippe was a burgomaster at Menin, in Flanders. When he became a Baptist, he was obliged to leave that place. He settled at Dort, in Holland, engaged in business as a fuller, and was much esteemed by his fellow-citizens. When the magistrates were informed of his being a Baptist, and were compelled to take proceedings against him, they did all in their power to prevent his death; but the higher authorities overruled them.

When Joris was sentenced to die, the executioner lamented, with weeping eyes, that he must put a man to death who had often fed his wife and children, and would rather be discharged from his office than execute a man who had done him and others so much good, and never any harm. Joris was finally drowned in the prison by night, in a cask filled with water, by one of the thief takers, who, at the magistrates' direction, performed the office of executioner, and threw him backward into the water.

Thus he offered up his body to the Lord on the 1st of October, in the forty-first year of his age. The next day his body was suspended by the legs on a high gibbet, at the place of execution, for the sport of the people. Like his Master, Christ, he had to be numbered with the transgressors. The day following, some malefactors were whipped and banished. The executioner, after executing justice on these, said, "They crucified Christ, but Barabbas they released.""

Sometimes the execution took place privately, within the precincts of the prison. Andries Langedul and two others were beheaded at Antwerp in 1559, "not publicly, but in the prison. The other prisoners, of whom there were then many, could see it through the windows of their cells.

When Andries knelt to receive the stroke of the sword, he put his hands together, saying, 'Father, into thy hands I commend' but 'I commend my spirit' was not perfectly uttered; the rapid stroke of the sword prevented it. "Several were drowned in the same city, the year following." Peter Gomer the mason and Jacot the goldsmith, for the name of Christ, were drowned to in a tub." Lenaert Plovier and two young females were trust into sacks, put into wine-casks, and drowned

Joos Verbeek, "a minister of God's word and his church," suffered at Antwerp in 1561. He was racked twice in 'four days. He was scourged till the blood flowed. His right hand having been "lamed by torture," his last letter to his wife was written with his left hand, "with great difficulty." He was burned in a straw hut, as was the common practice toward the end of the persecution. It was probably adopted to prevent bystanders from witnessing the manner in which the servants of God met death, and thus to repress all manifestations of sympathy. The martyrs were fastened to stakes inside the huts, and strangled, after which fire was applied, and the huts and the bodies were burnt together.

J. M. Cramp

From, Baptist History