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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Martyrs 15: Nicolaus of Antwerp: example for youth

      This continues from Part 14 (Table of Contents in Part 1a and Part 1b) publishing the book of Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  —  Part 15 presents the essay on Nicolaus of Antwerp.  It is a short story, but it highlights his youth in his zeal for the Lord.
      Martin Luther referred to St. Augustine on the subject of martyrdom:
St. Augustine often gives the fine saying: Suffering makes no martyr, but the right cause of suffering makes martyrs. – "Non poena, sed causa facit martyrem", (StL ed., vol. 10, para. # 77, col. 900; not in Am. Ed.)
Some highlighting added hyperlinks added for reference.
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by C.J. Hermann Fick
(tr. by BackToLuther)
XV.
Nicolaus of Antwerp.
"He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
(The Lord Jesus, Matt. 10:39)
When the gospel through the ministry of the man of God, Dr. Martin Luther, rang again all over the world, it also found a ready reception in the Netherlands.  As early as 1524 there were in Antwerp and the surrounding towns in all ranks a large number of people, who had won a heartfelt love for the sacred, pure Word of God.  At that time now preached in Meltza or Melß [Metz, Melsele?], a city which is two small miles from Antwerp, a former Roman Catholic priest named Curio.  The crowd who heard him was so numerous that he often had to hold the church service in an open field. While he so freely and fearlessly proclaimed the Word of God, he also publicly rebuked and rejected the false and ungodly doctrines.  In one of his last sermons in which he spoke of the Mass, he publicly complained of themselves before all [page 116] people: "We are much more evil and worse than the traitor Judas, because Judas sold the Lord Christ, and finally handed Him over.  But we sell the same to you, and yet do not give Him to you, just as do all priests of the Mass in their Spectakel- (drama) Masses, show of the host and yet they give to no one."
But the Roman Antichrist persecuted the church of God here. For when his servants, the monks and priests, saw this enormous rise and inflow of the holy Gospel, they were angry about it, because they feared that their power and their kitchen would thereby suffer great harm.  Therefore they worked out with the emperor a mandate or requirement against Curio and the evangelical Lutheran Augustinians who preached there and also in Antwerp.  In this the power was given, to take off the best dress, skirt or the coat of those which would be seized at these meetings, and a reward of 30 guilders of the emperor would be promised to those which saw the preachers.  
However, the Imperial edict could not carry away the people.  On a Sunday they were gathered to hear the Word of God, in the place where they make the ships, and waited for the arrival of the Augustinian of Antwerp.  But he did not come.  As Nicolaus, a master of degrees and a young man who was well taught and instructed in God's Word, saw this, he said it was not fair that such a large gathering of people would go again from thence hungry without drawing nourishment from the food of the divine Word.  Thus, driven by love for his brothers and the spirit of God, he climbed onto a ship and with the assistance of the Lord, he showed them from the holy Scriptures much more than they had previously heard.  When he had but finished his sermon, two butcher’s servants took him and handed him over to the civil authorities, before which he powerfully and steadfastly confessed and defended the truth of the holy Gospel. Wherefore he was sentenced to death for fear of the people without any judicial process, and before an assembly, early in the morning before daybreak, was stuffed into a sack and, with a crane at the approach at Antwerp, thrown into the river Sheldt, in the year 1524.  Thus, the dear Nicolaus for Jesus' sake may have lost his temporal life, but on the other hand found eternal life full of infinite joy and glory, and thus gave to all [page 117] youths a wonderful example, with the same joy to sacrifice for the sake of the pure evangelical Lutheran doctrine their body and life and all earthly things.
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15. .Nicolaus. Sources: Crocius, p. 165. [Ggl Books]  Rabus, Th. 6, p. 36.
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I have had some European history in my youth, but after reading of these Lutheran martyrs across Europe, I feel as if I know Europe inside out.  I knew practically nothing of what Luther called the "Low Countries", Belgium, Holland, etc., but now I have an approximate idea where Antwerp is in the world.  But more importantly, I know that Antwerp saw God's hand when He sent to them Nicolaus with the pure evangelical Lutheran teaching.  Fick encourages his readers to read this to the youth.  Indeed with all the worry by parents for their children, for their spiritual and mental health, I say, where is any worry if the pure evangelical Lutheran truth is taught them and these examples of the martyrs are held before their eyes?  —  In the next Part 16 is the story of Matthais Waibel.

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