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tured her to such a degree that she could not raise her hands to her head. Thus was she treated in the inhuman rack, chiefly because she would not give evidence against her brethren. For these wolves were in no wise satisfied, but thirsted still for more innocent blood. But the faithful God, who is a refuge in time of need and a shield for all those who trust in him, guarded her mouth, so that no one suffered through her. After all means had thus failed to separate her from Christ, she was condemned at the place above named, and like a brute beast was put into a sack, and plunged into the water until life was extinct. All this cruelty did this sheep of Christ endure, patiently and unmoved, for the name of the Saviour, and was faithful unto death. Wherefore she was worthy to receive from God at last, and to enjoy for ever, the crown of everlasting life.
On the 15th of January in the year 1549–reckoning the beginning of the year from new year's day—Elizabeth was apprehended. When they who were to take her came into the house (namely where she lived), they found there a Latin Testament. And having apprehended Elizabeth they said, “We have, we have the right person, we have now the teacher;” and asked, “Where is your husband, the teacher, Menno Simons?” &c., and they brought her to the council-house. The next day two white Capuchin friars took her between them and led her to the Block-house.
She was then placed before the council, and they asked her upon her oath, if she had a husband 1 Elizabeth answered, “It is not permitted us to swear; but our words must be yea, yea; and nay, nay. I have no husband.
Council. We say that you are a
teacher, who mislead many, and this we have been told concerning you by others. We wish to know who are your friends. Elizabeth. My God has commanded me to love the Lord my God, and therefore to honour my parents. I will not thus tell you who are my parents; for to suffer for Christ's name, is to the dishonour of my friends. Council. On this we will not further press you, but we would know what people you have taught. Eliz. Oh no, gentlemen, excuse me herein, and ask me concerning my faith, that I will most readily confess. Council. We shall use such severe measures as will make you confess. Eliz. I trust through the grace of God, that he will keep my tongue, so that I shall not become a traitor, and deliver my brother to death. Council. What persons were present when you were baptized Eliz. Christ said, “Ask those that were present, or that heard it.” Council. Now we see that you are a teacher; for you wish to make yourself like Christ. Eliz. No, gentlemen. God forbid I should ; for I esteem myself no better than the sweepings of the house of the Lord. Council. What then do you hold concerning the house of God? Do you not consider our church to be the house of God 7 Eliz. No indeed, gentlemen, for it is written, “Ye are the temples of the living God;” as God says, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them.” Council. What do you think of our mass 1 Eliz. I do not approve of your mass, but whatever agrees with God's word, that I highly esteem. Council. What do you think of the most holy sacrament 7 Eliz. I have never in my life read in
holy scripture of a holy sacrament; but I have read of the supper of the Lord. (She repeated the scripture which referred thereto.) Council. Be silent ; for the devil speaks by your mouth. Eliz. This indeed, gentlemen, is but a small matter ; for the servant is not better than his Lord. Council. You speak with a proud spirit. Eliz. No, gentlemen ; I speak with freedom of spirit. Council. What did the Lord say when he gave the supper to his disciples Eliz. What did he give them, flesh or bread 1 Council. He gave them bread. Eliz. Did not the Lord then continue sitting there 7 Who then could eat the Lord's flesh Council. What do you hold concerning infant baptism, that you should have had yourself baptized again } Eliz. No, gentlemen; I have not been baptized again ; I was baptized once on my confession of faith ; for it is written that baptism belongs to believers. Council. Are our children then lost, because they have been baptized ? Eliz. No, gentlemen; far be it from me that I should condemn the children. Council. Do you not expect salvation from baptism 2 Eliz. No, gentlemen. All the waters in the sea cannot save me; but salvation is in Christ; and he has commanded me to love the Lord my God above all things, and my neighbour as myself. Council. Have the priests power to forgive sins 1 Eliz. No, gentlemen; how can I believe that " I say that Christ is the only Priest through whom is the forgiveness of sins. Council. You say that you believe all that agrees with the holy scripture:
do you then agree with the words of James 7 Eliz. Yes, truly, gentlemen. How could I not agree with them : Council. Has he not said, “Go to the elder of the church, that he may anoint you and pray for you ?” Eliz. Yes, gentlemen. Do you then mean to say that you are of such a church 1 Council. The Holy Ghost has already saved you ; you need neither confession nor sacrament Eliz. No, gentlemen. I acknowledge indeed that I have transgressed the command of the pope, which has been confirmed by the emperor's proclamation. But show me any article in which I have transgressed against the Lord my God, and I will say, “Woe is me, poor miserable creature.” This is recorded as the first confession. She was afterwards brought again before the council, and led into the torture tower, the executioner, Hans, being present. The council then said, “We have thus far proceeded with mildness, and if you will not confess, we will treat you with severity. The procureur-general spoke : “Master Hans, lay hold of her.” Hans answered, “Oh no, gentlemen, she will confess voluntarily.” And as she would not make a voluntary confession, he put thumb-screws on both her thumbs and fore fingers, so that the blood sprang out from her nails. Elizabeth exclaimed, “Oh, I cannot longer bear it !” The council said, “Confess and we will ease your pain.” But she cried to the Lord her God, “Help O my God, thy poor handmaid: for thou art a helper in time of need.” The council cried out, “Confess, and we will ease your pain; for we spoke to you of confessing, and not of calling on God the Lord.” And she continued stedfastly calling upon the Lord her God, as
above related. And the Lord relieved her pain, so that she said to the council, “Ask me and I will answer you; for I feel no longer any pain in my body as before.” Council. Will you not yet confess Eliz. No, gentlemen. They then put on two iron screws, one on each ankle. She said, “Oh, gentlemen, put me not to shame, for my person has never been touched by man. The procureur-general said, “No, Miss Elizabeth, we shall not treat you indecently.” She then fainted; and they said one to another, “perhaps she is dead.” Coming to herself, she said, “I am alive, and not dead.” They then loosened all the iron screws, and spoke to her with entreaties. Eliz. Why do you thus entreat me ! They deal so with children.
Thus they drew not from her a word to the injury of her brethren in the Lord, or of any individual. Council. Will you recant all the things you have before confessed ? Eliz. No, indeed, gentlemen ; but I will seal them with my blood. Council. We will no longer distress you, if you now freely tell us who it was that baptized you. Eliz. Oh no, gentlemen. I have already told you that I will not confess that to you. After this, the sentence was pronounced upon Elizabeth, in the year 1549, the 27th of March, and she was condemned to death by being drowned in a sack. And thus she offered up her body a sacrifice to God.
THE UNION OF DIVINE INFLUENCE AND CHRISTIAN DILIGENCE.
BY THE REW. Bl:NJAM in COOMBS.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”—Phil. ii. 12, 13.
THERE are two perilous extremes, to one or other of which professors of religion are continually exposed, and against both of which it behoves us prayerfully and vigilantly to guard. These are, on the one hand, the rock of pharisaical pride; and, on the other, the gulf of antinomian presumption. In the one case, the individual relies wholly on his own works for salvation; in the other, he does nothing. The former excludes the doctrine of Divine grace from his creed; the latter admits, but perverts it. The one attempts to build without a foundation; the other raises no superstructure. The one, in short, thinks of inheriting heaven by virtue of his own performances, regardless of the declaration of Him from whose decision there is no appeal, “Without
me ye can do nothing;” the other concludes that, because apart from the Redeemer's gracious intervention we can do nothing to merit the divine favour, we are under no obligation to spiritual activity; that because it is the righteousness of Christ, by which alone we can be justified in the sight of God, our salvation is therefore altogether complete and already certain, irrespective of internal holiness and personal obedience. Against each of these fatal errors we would earnestly and affectionately warn you. And nothing can supply a more effectual antidote to each than this solemn exhortation of the great apostle of the Gentiles, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good
pleasure;” in which we see how closely Christian doctrine is associated with Christian duty, and are reminded of the inseparable union subsisting between divine influence and personal diligence in the work of salvation—a subject this always, and especially in the present day, of paramount importance, and one which naturally suggests the following observations. I. That our salvation involves a great moral change. This change, or salvation, is here represented as a work; and it is confessedly the greatest of all works, comprising, as it does, deliverance from hell, the enjoyment of God, and dwelling for ever in his high and holy place. Now, this great salvation, in so far as it requires and involves a substitutionary atonement, has been fully accomplished. “It is finished 1" exclaims the dying Conqueror; and all heaven echoes with the reverberated and enrapturing word, “finished,” in joyful attestation of the perfection of the work to which it refers ; whilst hell trembles to its centre, and all the powers of darkness confess in mute despair that they have lost, for ever lost, the battle-field. Inexorable justice, in view of that one offering, instantly relaxes his rigid frown and sheathes his avenging sword; divine law, honoured and magnified by the great propitiation, involuntarily opens the prison door and lets the insolvent debtor go free; every obstacle, in fine, is taken out of the way of the sinner's access to the throne of infinite mercy. That work, therefore, admits of neither addition nor diminution; it is complete. But, then, there must also be an application of that atoning sacrifice to the heart as a cleansing fountain, and, in consequence, a thorough transformation of character induced. The change, or work, therefore, to which the apostle refers, is spiritual, visible, progressive. 1. It is spiritual and radical.
It has to do with the heart. It is not correct action alone; but also willing the action according to the will of God. The mere performance of any work of benevolence, however beneficial to man, were not sufficient to ensure its acceptableness to the Searcher of hearts. It must proceed from love to him, and be in consequence the fruit of Christian principle ; the motive must be pure and evangelical. Hence our Lord's decided and uncompromising sentence, “Yemust be born again;"in perfect keeping with which is the statement of the apostle, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. The necessity of this universal, this spiritual and radical change, will immediately appear when we consider the appalling obliquity which in our native state characterises and deforms the whole of our motives and propensions; controling all the operations of the mind; influencing all the passions of the heart; swaying the will, by perverting the judgment, darkening the understanding, and corrupting the affections. How, then, can we be capacitated for communion with the Father of spirits, and the enjoyment of the inheritance of the saints in light, unless our faith in Jesus as an atoning sacrifice have a transforming influence over the whole of the inner man 7 2. It is visible and practical. The certainty of the commencement of this spiritual work, and the reality of the internal change it induces, are demonstrated by correspondent and external effects. Not only does it consist in willing, but in doing, likewise, that which is acceptable to God. Not only are there mental and ardent aspirations after holiness and heaven; but those aspirations, instead of evaporating in mere desire, are embodied in action; prompting their possessor to walk with God and work for him; to set out and persevere as a pilgrim towards the celestial city. Hence we are taught the way of ascertaining the actual possession of genuine faith. “Faith without works,” saith James, “is dead.” Andhere, too, we see the delightful consistency of divine grace. It raises a beautiful superstructure on an adequate basis. It removes the rubbish, clears away (so to speak) the ruins of the fall, lays a broad and firm foundation, and rears thereon a sacred edifice, a holy temple for the eternal celebration of His perfections and praises whose grace has planned the method, and will ultimately perfect the work of salvation. It fixes faith in the heart, and enables the believer to add to his faith fortitude (ãperov), for the exemplification of his faith to others; and to fortitude knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. Hence, 3. It is progressive and gradual. The apostle speaks of working out your salvation. The term (karspyáčedos), thus rendered, is very strong and beautifully significant; containing, as it does, a metaphor taken from agriculture, or other hard labour; and imports, as the great John Howe observes, “Labour it out even till it be finished; till you come to the very end of your faith, the salvation of your soul.” Now, there could be no propriety in such phraseology as this if our salvation were already and in every point of view accomplished. We have seen that there is a work, not only without, but also within us; that whilst the outer work of salvation, or that which relates to the satisfying of infinite Justice and securing the returning sinner's acceptance with God, is finished and in every respect complete; the result of that acceptance, or the sanctification of
our nature, is at present in an incipient and progressive state. That it is so may be argued from analogy. In all the works of God in nature, and in all the dispensations of his providence, we observe a gradual and beautiful development, a constant progress towards maturity and perfection. And can the work of divine grace be the only one to stand still, or at once to reach its meridian splendour ! Certainly not. “The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” As in nature, so in grace, there is first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. Scripture also speaks of babes in Christ, and of attaining the fulness of the stature of a man in Christ. Besides which, the spiritual experience and personal concessions of the most eminent saints tend to the same result. “Not as though I had already attained," saith Paul, “either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. The more a Christian knows of himself, of the Divine character, and of the spirituality of that commandment which is “exceeding broad,” the more is he convinced of his own defects, and of the consequent need, in order to his growth in grace, of the most assiduous attention to all the means which the God of grace has furnished. II. That to effect this great moral change, divine influence is indispensable. It is God that worketh in you. “From him all holy desires, good counsels, and just works do proceed.” It is he who gives the power both to will and to do. It is he who by his Spirit implants every spiritual principle, and prompts to every holy action. Without his intervention all human attempts to effectuate a transformation of the inner man were nugatory and vain.