Thieleman J. Van Braght, Martyrs Mirror

Martyrs Mirror: Invocation

To God, my Lord, the Creator, Preserver and Redeemer of my soul, be praise, honor and majesty, forever and ever.

Pardon me, O my Lord and my God! that I, who am but dust and ashes, approach Thee. Gen. 18:27. I fear to come to Thee, because Thou art a consuming fire, while I am wood, hay and stubble, subject to be burned; yet I must not remain away from Thee, because I have that which is Thine, yea, which is Thy most precious treasure, even the blood and offering of the saints; I must needs come and offer it to Thee.

May it be well-pleasing to Thee, my dear Savior, that I offer that which long since has been offered up to Thee. But I have full confidence that Thou wilt not reject me. I believe I have the assurance that this will be acceptable to Thee, for Thy servant David, a man after Thine own heart, sang, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Ps. 116:15

Moreover Thou knowest, O my Saviour and Redeemer, the steadfast faith, the unquenchable love, and faithfulness unto death, of those of whom I have written, and who gave their precious lives and bodies as a sacrifice to Thee.

Besides, Thou hast.spared my life, that I unworthy and weak as I am for such a task, might yet perform it; for snares of death had compassed me, keeping me bound nearly six months during last fall, winter and spring, so that I often thought I could not survive; nevertheless Thy power strengthened me. Thy hand rescued me and by Thy grace was I led safely through, so that in the midst of my difficulties and contrary to the advice and opinion of the physicians (for the zeal and love of Thy saints had taken complete possession of me), I wrote and finished the greater part of this work.

The sacrifices which are acceptable unto Thee are a broken spirit, etc. Ps. 51:17. But this offering, O God, was accompanied with many tears, caused partly by my distress, as I, on account of the weakness of my nature, called upon Thee for help, partly through joy, as I found and experienced Thy comfort and help.

Yet that which more than all else caused my tears to flow was the remembrance of the sufferings and the death of Thy martyrs, who altogether innocent, as defenseless lambs, were led to the water, the fire, the sword, or to the wild beasts in the arena, there to suffer and to die for Thy name’s sake. However, I experienced no small degree of joy as I contemplated the living confidence they had in Thy grace, and how valiantly they fought their way through the strait gate.

Ah! how often did I wish to have been a partaker with them; my soul went with them, so to speak, into prison; I encouraged them in the tribunal, to bear patiently, without gainsaying or flinching, their sentence of death. It seemed to me as though I accompanied them to the place of execution, scaffold or stake, saying to them in their extremity, Fight valiantly dear brethren and sisters; the crown of life awaits you. I almost fancied that I had died with them; so inseparably was my love bound up with them; for Thy holy name’s sake.

I therefore entreat Thee once more, O my God, to let this sacrifice be well-pleasing in Thy sight, and to accept it from me, Thy most humble servant, as a token of love towards Thee as well as toward Thy blessed martyrs.

But before I leave this, strengthen me with Thy good Spirit, and arm me with the consolation of Thy grace, that I may not only confess Thee here with my mouth, but also honor Thee by a virtuous and pious conversation (Ps. 119:5), in the most holy faith, not refusing, if necessity require it and Thy honor be promoted thereby, to give my life and body into suffering and death, so that I may become like unto Thy dearest friends, my slain fellow brethren and sisters, and receive with them the same reward in the great day of Thy recompense. Song of Sol. 1:4.

This is the desire and petition of him, whose name is known to Thee, and who entreats Thee for grace now and in the hour of his death, and in the ages of eternity. O Lord, so let it be! For Thine, O God, is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

T. J. Van Braght. Dort, July the 23rd, 1659.

Thieleman J. Van Braght (1625-1664) was an Anabaptist who is best known for writing a history of the Christian witness throughout the centuries entitled “The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians who baptized only upon confession of faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Saviour, from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1660” (1660).

Thieleman J. Van Braght, Martyrs Mirror