Guido de Bres, the author of the Belgic Confession, gave his life for the sake of the truth of God. Before he took his glorious, blessed place under the altar (Rev. 6:9), he penned a letter to his wife of seven years, saying his farewell. Facing death by hanging, the world knows nothing of the spirit that filled de Bres. The heart of the believing child of God thrills to read it:1
I call on you with all urgency that you not grieve beyond measure, so as to offend God. You have always known well, that when you married me, you have taken a mortal mate, who was uncertain of his life from moment to moment. Nevertheless, it pleased the good God to allow us to live together about seven years and to give us five children. If the Lord had willed to let us live together longer, he certainly had the means for this. But it did not please him. Wherefore let his good pleasure be realized, and may this be to you as a conclusive reason [for my imprisonment and death, and your widowhood].
As part of his letter to his wife, De Bres also wrote the following:
O God, thou hast caused me to be born at the time and at the hour that thou hadst ordained. During my entire life thou hast preserved and protected me in threatening dangers and completely delivered me from them. Thus today my hour has come, in which I must leave this life in order to go to thee. Thy good will be done. I cannot escape thy hand, and even if I could, I would not will [to do so], for my highest salvation consists in this, that I conduct myself according to thy will. All these considerations have made my heart very joyful and cheerful, and they do this still. And I call on you, beloved, faithful companion, that you rejoice with me and thank the good God for what he has done…Here is not the place of our dwelling, but in heaven. Here is our pilgrim-journey. Therefore, we must long for the real land, that is, for heaven, in order to be received there in the house of my heavenly Father so that we may see our brother, head, and savior, Jesus Christ, and so that we may see the very noble fellowship of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and so many thousand martyrs, into whose fellowship I hope to be received, when I shall have completed the course of my service. I beseech you then, my dearly beloved, that you comfort yourself in the consideration of these things. Consider with full consciousness the honor God grants you by having given you a husband who is not only a minister of the Son of God, but also so esteemed by God, and valued, that he deems him worthy to have a share in the crown of the martyrs. Such an honor God does not give even to his angels. I am overjoyed. My heart is aroused. In my trials, nothing is lacking to me. I am filled to overflowing with the abundance of the riches of my God…I experience today the faithfulness of my Lord Jesus Christ. I bring now into practice what I have preached to others. Certainly, I must confess this, namely, that I, when I preached, spoke as a blind man about colors, if I compare it with what I now feel by experience. I have made progress and learned more in my imprisonment than in all my life. I find myself at a very good school. I have the Holy Ghost, who continually inspires me and who instructs me to handle the weapons in the conflict. On the other hand, Satan encircles me, the opponent of all children of God, who is as a roaring lion in order to devour me. But the one who has said to me, “Fear not, I have overcome the world” [John 16:33], causes me to conquer…He comforts and strengthens me in an unbelievable manner. I am more comfortable than the enemies of the gospel. I eat, drink, and sleep better than they do. I have been put in the strongest and gloomiest prison, which itself allows [one] to think…I receive no air or light than through a small opening, through which one throws the filth. I have rough and heavy chains on my hands and feet, which are a continual torment to me. But despite all this, my God does not forsake his promise and comforts my heart and gives me a great contentment.