JOHN CLAESS, AND LUCAS LAMBERTS, AN OLD MAN, CALLED GRANDFATHER; TOGETHER WITH SEVERAL TESTAMENTS WRITTEN BY JOHN CLAESS, WHILE IN PRISON AT AMSTERDAM, TO HIS WIFE, CHILDREN, AND OTHER FRIENDS, IN THE YEAR 1544A testament to his wife
An affectionate salutation in the Lord, to my beloved wife, whom I no longer love after the flesh, but after the soul. Hear my admonition
You know that as long as we enjoyed prosperity with Israel according to the flesh, we were ignorant of ourselves; but now that the good Father lays His hand upon us, we feel that we are sick, weak, miserable, poor, and naked. Therefore, my dear wife, take Jesus Christ for an example, and behold the way in which He went before us, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jas: 5:10; II Tim. 3: 12. Forget my flesh and all your sensuality and all your carnal desires, and pray to God for faith that you may overcome. And I will willingly give myself to the Lord in the same manner as He comforts my heart by His grace. You have yet time for amendment, but I am bound to His grace, in which I trust. Hence think not of what is past, but persevere with a firm confidence in the Lord; He will help you in everything for the best; give yourself up to this and always join yourself to those who fear the Lord, for this will be for your best interests. For”blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Ps. 1:1,2.
My beloved wife, the God-fearing speak of it, and thereby men depart from evil; for by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil, and through love every good thing is accomplished. Prov. 16:6: Awake, for we have both been negligent. Let the word of the Lord incite you to all good. Ask Him for His holy Spirit; who can comfort you; for the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18. For this is the trial which must be found in our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire. I Peter 1:7.
My dear wife, if we might have entered into the kingdom of God as we began, and have so long been doing, the way would not have been narrow. But our Saviour had to enter through suffering and anguish into His own glory,-how then will we enter by the broad way? For narrow is the way, says the Lord, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, and still fewer who rightly walk in it. Matt. 7:14. The good Father did indeed show me this way, but my evil flesh was too powerful and forced me away from it. Nevertheless, I hope to be saved through the grace of the Lord; for Paul says, “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” Eph. 2:4; I Cor. 13:3.
Consider what this charity is, and you shall be able to accept for the best whatever the Lord sends you. How should I be able to express it,..love is the nature of God; may it be with you and us all. I give it to you as an affectionate salutation: May the good and merciful Father shed it abroad into all our hearts, through His beloved Son. Amen.
Salute all dear friends in the Lord. Pray the Lord for me; all that He gives me, I will impart again. III John 14; I Thess. 5:25.
Another testament of John Claess, to his wife, A. D. 1544
Know, my dearly beloved wife, that it is my will and testament to you in no wise to depart from the word of the Lord, but always to comfort yourself with it; for the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, if we continue in the faith. Oh, let us thereby overcome, and not turn away, and we shall receive the crown which the good Lord has promised unto all that love His appearing. II Tim. 4:8. If we desire to remain
here, we do not love His appearing; but if we ask Him for the Holy Spirit; the same will teach us in all things, and comfort and strengthen us through His grace, O let us pray; for through prayer we must receive everything. Hence, my dear wife, take no thought for the things that concern the body; but seek the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Herewith I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to strengthen and keep you in all temptation. The grace of the Lord be with you and us all. Amen. Bring up my dear children in the admonition of the Lord, this is my will to you; and associate with the good, for they prosper. Care not for temporal things; for that which is visible must perish. What you can get take with you, and commit the rest to faithful friends; and remove with your little ones far enough to be out of danger, from men. Bring them up in the admonition of the Lord, and keep with those that fear the Lord. Deut. 6:20. My dear wife, be well contented; if the Lord had taken me away by a sudden sickness, it would have been your duty to thank Him; do so now. I’ leave you this as a testament. Watch every day of your life for the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. I Tim. 6:14. The grace of the Lord be with you. Amen.
A testament to his children, and then to his wife
My dear little children, Claes Jans and Gertrude Jans, I leave you this as a testament when you come of age. Hear the instruction from your Father. Hate all that the world and your carnal nature love, and love the commandments of God. I John 2:16. Let this instruct you, for it teaches, “If, any marl will come after me, let him deny himself;” that is; let him forego his own wisdom and earnestly pray, “Lord, Thy will be done.” Luke 9:23; Prov. 3:5; Matt. 6:10. If you do this, the Holy Spirit will teach you all that you ought to believe. Believe not what men say, but obey the commands of the New Testament, and ask God to teach you His will. Trust not to your understanding, but trust in the Lord, and let all your counsel be in Him, and ask Him to direct your paths.
My children, how you are to love God the Lord, how you must honor and love your mother, and love your neighbor, and fulfill all other commandments required of you by the Lord, the New Testament will teach you. Matt. 22:37, 39. Whatever is not contained therein, believe not; but obey everything that is embraced in it. Associate with those who fear the Lord, who depart from evil, and who do every good thing through love. Oh, look not to the multitude or the’ old custom, but to the little flock which is persecuted for the word of the Lord; for the good do not persecute, but are persecuted. When you have given yourselves to this, beware of all false doctrine; for John says, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ he hath both the Father and the Son.” II John 9. The doctrine of Christ is: Love, mercy, peace, chastity, faith, meekness, humility and perfect obedience to God. Gal. 5:22, 23.
My dear children, surrender yourselves to that which is good, and the Lord will give you understanding in all things. I give you this as my last farewell. Regard the chastening of the Lord; for if -you do evil; He will punish you in your souls. Job 5:17. Hence desist, and cry to the Lord for help; and hate that which is evil, and the Lord shall deliver you, and you shall prosper. May God the Father, through His beloved Son Jesus Christ, give you His Holy Spirit, that He may guide you into all truth. Amen. John 16:13.
I, John Claess, your father, have written this while in prison for the word of the Lord. May the good Father grant you His grace. Amen.
MY DEAR WIFE, I request you to bring up my children, in all good instruction, to have my testament read to them, and to bring them up in the Lord, according to your ability, as long as you remain with them. And I desire of you, that you love neither, yourself nor your children more than the Lord and His testimony. Luke 14:26. Suffer not your flesh to overcome you. I Peter 2:11. If they do not tolerate you in this city, remove into another. Matt. 10:23. But this I earnestly request of you: always keep with the good; for blessed is he that associates with them. He who has always been the helper of the lowly, that is, the good Father, will help you. Luke 1:48. If you cannot stand alone, take a husband that fears the Lord (I Corinthians 7:2); but whatever you do, forsake not the Lord for a little mess of pottage. Gen. 25:34. May your excuse be never so great, but not for all Amsterdam forsake the Lord. By His grace I will not forsake Him for the whole world, and do you also likewise. Matt. 16:26. Oh, let us press our way through by force; I must, through the grace of the Lord, lose my flesh; forsake yours also. Matthew 11:12;16:25.
My dear wife, if we should consider suffering, we would never get out of it; but we must look beyond it to the eternal reward. I joyfully comfort myself in the Lord; do so also. The Lord might have taken me from my bed and you would have had to content yourself; how much more now, for you know not how long you will remain here? Therefore do as the Lord counsels you: be always ready for His appearing, and you shall be able to overcome all things, to those that overcome everlasting rest is promised. Rev. 21:7.
A firm faith, a sure hope of the eternal reward, and a burning love to God and our neighbor be with you and me, and us all. Amen. Matt. 21:21; I Peter 4:8.
Write to me immediately how you are, and I shall be the more comforted if you comply with my request. Pray; the Lord will be entreated; this I now experience. Pray together all of you, that the will of the Lord be done in me and in us all. Amen. Matt. 6:10; 7:11.
A testament of John Class to his brothers and sister after the flesh
Know, my dear brothers, Cornelis Claess, and Gerritt Claess, and my dear sister Adriaentgen Claess, that I affectionately desire of you, that you turn to the Lord, and forsake all your pride, covetousness, and all wickedness, as also all bad company, and be quiet, and associate with the good. Search the Word of the Lord, and ask Him for His Holy Spirit, and the same shall instruct you in everything which is needful for you. This will come to pass, if you deny yourselves and forego your own will; for the Lord says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Therefore die unto all your lusts, and you shall never die, for the wages of sin is death. Col. 3:5; Rom. 6:23. But ask God for His Holy Spirit, who will so change your minds, that you will hate evil and shun it. Oh, my most beloved, hate that which is evil, and love the good, and God, who alone is good, will be with you. But if you will continue in your wicked sensuality, I testify to you from the mouth of the Lord, that you will condemn yourselves. Rom. 8: 13. But I am persuaded better things of you, though I thus speak. Heb. 6:9. Oh, keep what the Lord hath made known to you, namely, “Whatsoever’ ye would that men should do’ to you, do ye even so to them,” and it will be well with you, and you shall prosper in every good thing. To this end may the good God help you, through Jesus Christ His beloved Son. Amen.
Another testament of John Class, to all his kindred
Be it known to you, dear brothers and sisters, cousins and relatives, and all my kindred, that I do not suffer as a thief, murderer or evildoer, but for the ordinance which the apostles of the Lord taught and instituted, namely the ordinance of the holy church, made fifteen hundred years ago, which Jesus Christ enjoined upon His dear disciples, and sealed with His blood, and which the apostles preached and taught, and confirmed with their blood. I Pet. 4:15; Mark 16:15; Heb. 9:14; Acts 2:14; 7:58; 12:2. My dear friends, do not be dejected or cast down on my account, because men say that I died as an Anabaptist and heretic. There is but one baptism given, and that upon faith; before faith God has not commanded baptism. Now someone might ask, “What I ought infants not to be baptized?” No; but they are nevertheless saved through the merits of Jesus Christ, and are baptized in His blood; for it is written, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” I Cor. 15:22. This is done through pure grace, without any sign. Acts 15:11. But my dear friends, the Lord has commanded to preach the Gospel, and they that believe it, are to be baptized.
Mark 16:16. He also commanded that the believers should observe His Supper, in remembrance of Him, in such a manner as He instituted, and the apostles practiced it. Matt. 26:26; Acts 2:42. Besides these, He.did not command them anything; no mass, no infant baptism, no auricular confession, nor any other outward worship. But He commanded to love God alone, to obey His Word, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Luke 10:27. Oh, where are they to be found who do this? Search the Word of God; there is no Christian who does not know this. You cannot maintain thereby, what they teach, namely, that you should continue in the holy -church. You must know what the holy church is, namely, the assembly of believers born by the Word of God (I Pet. 1:23); for you well know that no one can come into this world without being born, so no one can come into the future world, unless he is born -again as Peter declares, “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” John 3:3; I Pet. 1:23. Oh, well for him who is born’of it! they that are thus regenerated, practice the true baptism and the true Supper. They also separate themselves from all who teach a scandalous doctrine, or live disorderly; they do not destroy their bodies, for this is not taught in the Word of God; but they avoid their company.until they repent (II Thess. 3:6); for they are the Christian church, the community of the saints; they have forgiveness of sins; for there is none other name given in heaven or on earth whereby they can be saved, but the name of Jesus; that is, through His merits. Acts 4:12. They believe and live only according to His ordinances. He did not kill those who did not believe in Him, neither did His holy church do this. But He and His own have been slain from the beginning, and thus it shall continue. Rev. 13:8. By this you shall know who are His own. Not those who boast of His name, and maintain their cause with the sword; but those that live according to the example of their Lord, and confirm their cause with the Word of God, which is the sword of the true believers. I Pet. 2: 21; Eph. 6:17. Now some might say, “What has become of the forefathers, who did not know better?” We leave this to God. It might also be said that the Lord promised to be with us even unto the end of the world. Matt. 28:20. He is always with believers-but never with unbelievers-namely, with His word and the right use of Iris signs, that is, baptism and the Supper, and will always be with those who walk aright, and live conformably to His Word.
Dear friends, at the time of the apostles there arose seven different sects among them, but the true doctrine was therefore not to be rejected. Now, though many wicked miscreants have arisen under the Gospel, the Word of God has not depreciated
he that would be saved must submit to it. Romans 9:6. In the time of the righteous Tobit all Israel worshiped golden calves, which king Jeroboam had caused to be made; he [Tobit] alone adhered to the Lord his God, and did what He had. commanded him.
Friends, look not to the multitude, but to the Word of God, which will not deceive you.”Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm; but blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord.” Jer. 17:5, 7. I trust in this, that He prays to His Father, not only for those who were with Him, but also for. all them who shall turn to Him through the word. John 17:20. May the good Father, through His only San Jesus Christ, give you a true understanding, that you may henceforth learn to know Him. II: Tim. 2:7.