Sometime earlier this week, I came across one of the best blog posts I’ve read in a long time. Larry Kirk who is one of my professors at RTS wrote a post on Guido de Brès, the main author of the Belgic Confession. I urge you to read on and be inspired by de Brès, whose life so greatly demonstrates lion-like bravery and trust in God’s providence. Dr. Kirk writes,
…Guido became a Christian when he was around twenty-five years old. As a young man he had to flee persecution several times, going as far away and London England and returning eventually to the lowlands of France and Belgium to minister to various persecuted congregations . . . In 1566 de Brès went to Valenciennes in France to become a preacher in the church there, a congregation which called itself the Church of the Eagle.
While he was ministering to that church he was captured and imprisoned during the infamous Spanish Inquisition. He spent the first part of his captivity in a prison where he could receive visitors. Many of his visitors, however, were enemies who came to taunt him. But just as was the case with the apostle Paul (Phil 1:12-14), Guido’s imprisonment became an occasion for him to witness to the truth.
When a princess, along with many young court ladies, came to mock, the princess said in horror, “My God, Mr. de Brès, I don’t see how you can eat, drink, or sleep that way. I think I would die of fear if I were in your place!”
Guido responded, “My lady, the good cause for which I suffer and the good conscience God has given me make my bread sweeter and my sleep sounder than those of my persecutors.” And, then, still responding to the princess, “It is guilt that makes a chain heavy. Innocence makes my chains light. I glory in them as my badges of honor.”
Soon Guido was transferred to a dark, damp, rat-infested dungeon known as The Black Hole. In spite of the cold, the hunger, the horror of this hole, Guido wrote a tract on the Lord’s Supper and letters to his friends, his aged mother, and his wife. A letter to his wife is an especially moving testimony of his faith.
My dear and well-beloved wife in our Lord Jesus.
Your grief and anguish are the cause of my writing you this letter. I most earnestly pray you not to be grieved beyond measure . . . We knew when we married that we might not have many years together, and the Lord has graciously given us seven. If the Lord had wished us to live together longer, he could easily have caused it to be so. But such was not his pleasure. Let his good will be done . . . Moreover, consider that I have not fallen into the hands of my enemies by chance, but by the providence of God . . . All these considerations have made my heart glad and peaceful, and I pray you, my dear and faithful companion, to be glad with me, and to thank the good God for what he is doing, for he does nothing but what is altogether good and right . . . I pray you then to be comforted in the Lord, to commit yourself and your affairs to him, he is the husband of the widow and the father of the fatherless, and he will never leave nor forsake you…
Good-bye, Catherine, my well-beloved! I pray my God to comfort you, and give you resignation to his holy will. Your faithful husband, Guido de Brès.
Guido was publicly hanged on May 31, 1567 at the age of 47. He was pushed off the ladder while comforting the crowd which had gathered and urging them to faithfulness to the Scriptures...
After your heart has been stirred by the story of Guido de Brès, I encourage you to read the 13th article of the Belgic Confession, authored by de Brès himself. Not only did he not write a dry, abstract treatise devoid of heart-felt affection (on the contrary, the Belgic Confession is one of the most devotional of the Reformed confessions), but his life is a testament to the truths contained therein. The following is an excerpt from the 13th article, on the providence of God:
…This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father, who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under His power that not a hair of our head (for they are all numbered), nor a sparrow, can fall to the ground, without the will of our Father, in whom we do entirely trust; being persuaded that He so restrains the devil and all our enemies that, without His will and permission, they cannot hurt us…