Guy (Guido) de Brès, the author of the Belgic Confession was arrested in 1567. While in prison he wrote his wife as he awaited to seal his confession with his blood.
Wes Brendenhof explains the import of this letter:
Today, we need to recover a sense of this theology of the cross. We live in a comfortable world. We don’t suffer in any meaningful way. The temptation is great to turn to a theology of glory like that preached by Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. The way to resist this temptation is to turn again to what we confess from the Scriptures.
We need especially to turn to the Belgic Confession. The Belgic Confession is entirely unique – it is the only Reformation confession written by a martyr. As you read through the Confession, you know that it comes from a world where believers were regularly dying for their faith. This is our confession and because we confess a Catholic church, one that stretches not only through the world, but also through the ages, we are brought into fellowship with the suffering body of Christ then and now.
To help us in developing that sense, let me share a letter written many years ago. It was written by the author of our Belgic Confession, Guido de Brès. It was written in April, 1567. He was in prison and he knew that he was going to die for what he had confessed.
This is one of the most moving letters I have ever read. It’s filled with profound theology yet pastoral simplicity as he encourages his wife with sweet gospel truths. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
- “I pray you not to be troubled too much over this, for fear of offending God. You knew when you married me that you were taking a mortal husband, who was uncertain of life, and yet it has pleased God to permit us to live together for seven years, giving us five children. If the Lord had wished us to live together longer, he would have provided the way. But it did not please him to do this and may his will be done.”
- “This is not the place of our habitation – that is in heaven. This is only the place of our journey. That is why we long for our true country, which is heaven. We desire to be received in the home of our Heavenly Father, to see our Brother, Head, and Saviour Jesus Christ, to see the noble company of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and many thousands of martyrs, into whose company I hope to be received when I have finished the course of my work which I received from my Lord Jesus Christ.”
- “I am practicing now what I have preached to others. And I must confess that when I preached I would speak about the things I am actually experiencing as a blind man speaks of colour. Since I was taken prisoner I have profited more and learned more than during all the rest of my life. I am in a very good school: the Holy Spirit inspires me continually and teaches me how to use the weapons in this combat.”
- “Since such things have happened, my dear sister and faithful wife, I implore you to find comfort from the Lord in your afflictions and to place your troubles with him. He is the husband of believing widows and the father of poor orphans. He will never leave you – of that I can assure you. Conduct yourself as a Christian woman, faithful in the fear of God, as you always have been, honouring by your good life and conversation the doctrine of the Son of God, which your husband has preached.”
(HT: Wes Bredenhof)