This Sunday in Baptist History
On Easter, April 3rd 1594, seven Dutch Anabaptists, praying and studying God’s Word at Aldgate, in London were arrested for their worship. It was said that they were “licentious and fanatical sectaries, whose excesses afforded a plausible pretext for punishing,” but those were outright lies. When the constable broke in on their peaceful meeting, twenty-seven names were taken, and it was demanded that they point out their leader. The police expected one pastor or teacher, but seven were identified. The whole church was then driven cruelly towards the courthouse, and they were arranged. As the charges were read, they were told that they must renounce their faith on penalty of banishment or death. When they refused they were remanded to prison. For three months they were repeatedly mistreated in order to drive them into recantation, but they meekly and faithfully refused. Finally most were condemned to banishment, but five were told that they would be burned to death, if they didn’t sign the Articles of the Church of England. The five were given one month to recant, but three of them died before the month expired without signing the papers. The two remaining were tantalized with their executions, only to have it delayed. Finally, on this day in 1594, they were bound together at the same stake, and while the Anglican priest hurled his accusations upon them, they affirmed their faith in God’s mercy through Jesus Christ, and triumphed over His enemy through their deaths.