It is important to be aware of our past. Our God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus is the Alpha (beginning) and the Omega (end). He starts it and He finishes it. So by knowing what He has done in the past, we can have faith that He is doing it today. Knowing He was involved in the past, helps us to understand that He is working today. The purpose of this retelling of a part of our history is to build our faith for today. He is still working out his plan.
There are many portions of history - HIS Story - that have been hidden for us. This re-telling of the Dutch Revival is one of those pieces that many of us are unaware of; I know I was in the dark about it. In history, we are aware of His intervention over and over again. It is almost as if, He has a plan; and that He is working to have it come to pass. And we know He does!! We see it over and over again in the Old Testament as He sets up kingdoms and he brings them down. After Bible times, many of us have limited knowledge in regards to His moving in the affairs of men; but the happenings of the Dutch Revolution very clearly show His involvement.
We were in Amsterdam in 2011 for a family vacation. While there, I was apprehended by the Lord with a desire to uncover what had happened in Holland (the correct name is Netherlands). When we toured the houses, they radiated richness and their art is the best. What had happened, how did this come to be? In my research, the book “Wonders of the Most High’’ written in 1675 was discovered on the internet. The book is 120 pages. The book is well worth reading andit can be found at http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/wonders.htm . The book is written about the time period - 1550 - 1675 and the author died in 1677, so it can inferred that the book was written in the 1670’s. It was translated to English in or around 1997 as the translator relates to a “recent” event in June 1997.
This treatise will be a synopsis of what I have read. I have also done a larger version of this write-up and that is a copy and paste of many of the more relevant texts of the original writing.
The “Dutch Revolution” or the “80 Year War” spans the years - 1568-1648. Prior to and during the first part of this war - Spain was the leading country in the world. They were the closest to World Domination and with the wealth they received from their South American colonies - the richest. The Dutch were ruled by Spain and the war was really a religious battle betwen “popery” (old expression denoting under the Roman Catholic Church headed by the Roman Pope) and the Reformation. Spain was the most feared nation in the 16th Century (1500’s). After they were being brought down, the Netherlands were number One - the Dutch Golden Age, the 17th Century (1600’s) and then the British Empire took over the number One position, mostly in the 19th Century. (This is my quick assessment of history and a more knowledgeable person might refute my conclusions).
In 1517 the Lord started the Reformation utilizing Martin Luther. This started a great change in the affairs of the Western Nations. The Lord shone His light and many people flocked to Him. The Reformation came to the Netherlands starting in the 1540’s. It was revival!!! We have read about many revivals and this story brings us to the conclusion - it was revival!!!! The next portions are quoted from the “Wonders of the Most High”. (Note: all font of this nature will be my comments - all font of this nature will be quotes from “Wonders of Most High”. Bold will be used for emphasis.
35 Conventicles (Field Preaching)
When our Fathers were yet in popery; at the time the pure
gospel began to be preached, they were so filled with joy that they
were not sufficiently capable to express themselves in praise and
J.H., writing his "Netherland History," in the year 1566, has this
to say, "When in Flanders, by Oudenaarde, they preached in public, the
people were so full of joy that he marveled at their abundant joy in
the Lord. Their mouth was filled with singing, filled with joy and they
were like the people of God who were delivered from Babylon, they were
like those who dream. They were so happy, they could not eat nor drink.
They went together, with their Bibles, Testaments and Psalm books, to be
taught in the truth. At times they had to go for three or four hours to
the place where the Word would be preached."
Preachers were sent from Germany, Friesland, England, Embden and
Wezel; at times they preached three or four times a day.
The testimony of J.H. is the more remarkable, for he lived during
those days and he himself attended the meetings of the Reformed. He
relates that the Reformed, before they enjoyed the freedom to do so,
met with thousands and by night. Bor also testifies that the Reformed
at first met secretly in forests and unknown places, until at last
they went more publicly to their meetings. At times they carried arms,
from fear to be attacked. Although they were often harassed, this was
not enough to quench their zeal, as he relates of the year 1566, lib.
2, fol. 47; where he writes that the Reformed went on foot and on
horseback, and met outside of Antwerp, not without arms. At different
places they had guards at the entrances; at one time there were
three preachers, and each preached three sermons. This shows the
great zeal of our fathers to hear and enjoy the Word of God.
Especially when we remember that in those dangerous times they were
not a few who came together, but several thousands, as we gather
from the above.
We are the more convinced of their zeal when we note what the
enemies of God's Church testified of this. According to the Jesuit
Strada, there were at one time more than eight thousand gathered at
Doornik to hear the Word. A still greater number gathered in a
district near Rijsel, in Flanders. Near Antwerp were thirteen thousand
gathered on one day (see Strad. de bell. Belg. lib. 5, ad annum 1566).
Prince William, in a letter written to the Princess of Parma, in which
he attempts to move her to give consent to have the Reformed meet
within the walls of Antwerp, testified that no less then 20,000 people
went without the city to hear the preaching. (Strada. Ibid).
It is remarkable what we read from Pers in his "Frightened Lion"
in the year 1566, page 242, "When it was decided to preach outside of
Haarlem's city walls, the burgomasters attempted to keep the people in
the city. Carts and boats were filled with people, and there were
hardly enough lodging places, so that multitudes slept out in the open
"Amsterdam warned Haarlem, and they closed the gates. Two
preachers who were in the city and lodged with a certain Ysbrant
Staetsz, were smuggled out of the city.
"Since the gates were now guarded, some climbed over the walls,
and swam the moat; others took to boats and rafts, and so came to
the other side. When the authorities saw that all efforts to keep the
people inside the city failed, they opened the gates, and a multitude
forced its way through the gates. They found a mighty gathering of
people, but no preacher. It was told the multitude that a preacher
was coming, and when he appeared around midday, a platform was build
on sticks that were put in the ground, from which he preached. They
sang their psalms, and after prayer was made, they listened to the
preacher for four hours. The preaching was done with so great zeal
that most returned full of joy, with tears running down their face.
Next day this was repeated, in a company of approximately 5,000
Who will not marvel at the perseverance of our Fathers, how
they conquered the greatest handicaps to hear the Word? More so,
because just then it was the time that martyrs burned at the stake,
but they nevertheless went to hear the Word preached. While they saw
the flames rise, and the light of the fires of their persecutors, a
holy fire was lit in their hearts that burnt in the service of their
God. (J. Lydii, glorios. Belg. page 32).
By this, their zealous bravery, and their brave zeal, the truth which
glorified the name of the Lord advanced with power, and in all this
the Lord manifested that He is ever mighty in His saints.
A very important part of life is those days, was that up until the time of Martin Luther in 1517 most of the world was in “darkness” and all were part of the Roman Catholic Church. And those who received the Lord’s Light, usually had to be willing to give their lives for the revelation. Their were wars and many martyr’s crowns were won. To accept the new re-found truth of the Lord resulted in being willing to give all for the “Pearl of Great Price” up to and inculding life itself. As the Dutch were accepting the Lord and His Reformation, the Catholic’s were starting their Counter-Reformation - bringing the sinners back to Mother Church even if it killed them. The Reformation reached the Netherlands in the 1540’s and by the 1560’s the revival was in force. I find it hard to imagine, preaching the gospel with the light of the fires burning martyrs in the background!! The commitment, the zeal for the Lord!
A major event was the Beeldenstorm - Iconolastic Outbreak in 1566. (Iconoclasm is the destruction of religious icons and other images or monuments for religious or political motives.) Quoting from “Wonders of the Most High” -
Right at the beginning of the irregularities in this nation, we
previously saw the hand of the Lord in the iconoclasm which took
place in all cities and villages of the Netherlands. From Churches,
Chapels and Cloisters: images, paintings and ornaments were cast out.
As we have said, in this we saw God's finger. Truly when something is
marvelous in what happened in our Fatherland, it is this iconoclasm,
and that for many reasons.
1. Reason number one is that it went so fast. Hooft writes in his
3d book, that it went through the Netherlands like lightning; for in
the time of three days, more than 400 churches were plundered. It was
not like an infection that slowly destroys the body, but like the
Jesuit Strada wrote, it was like an earthquake, where everything is
destroyed at once. Bor writing in his second book in the year 1566,
relates, "that before they knew who did it, it was done." Strada
writes that in the great Church of Antwerp all images and altars were
broken down by less than 100 people, from evening until midnight,
although the building was full of images, and contained more than 70
altars. Following this, according to Van Meteren, they went to the St
Franciscan church, St. Jacob, St. Andries, St. .Joris, St. Michiel in
Peter Pots, de Borght, Fakens, White Sisters, Black Sisters, the Third
Order, the Nonnen, to Bogaarden, to Prekaars, and to all the church
buildings and chapels of the city, and had most all of these destroyed
That is how it went in other cities. Lydicus, in "Glorios Belg"
relates that carpenters openly acknowledged that fifty experienced
men could not have done in eight days, what a few boys and children
performed in one, or mostly two days.
2. It is also a wonder that although this work of tearing down
images and altars was largely the work of boys, women and children,
mostly from among the common people, nothing was done by the
authorities to stop the abuse. The Reformed as well as Popish
citizens, were silent onlookers. Both parties were evenly concerned.
The Papists were afraid they would be blamed, the Reformed that they
would be accused and attacked, as related by Emanuel van Meteren.
3. It is also a wonder that no one was hurt during the
performance. The Churches were filled with onlookers, and great
statues, made of stone, were hurled down from great hights. We should
remember it was night and therefore dark. According to Van Meteren in
his second book, 1566, "With regard to the circumstances, it was a
great and strange work; for no one knew the culprits, no one was
known to boast about it later; there was no fighting among them, no
one was hurt, which was a wonder, because it was dark and there was
so much wood, stone and other building materials that were sent a-
All these things that happened during the iconoclasm are very
remarkable. The Lord showed hereby the insignificance of images.
Furthermore, the iconoclasm was a sign of things to come. It was a
sign of how fast new truth would break forth, and the idols disappear.
This “Beeldenstorm” caused the Spanish to take drastic steps against the Dutch. Quotes from “Wonders of the Most High”.
Holland was now a convicted criminal, and could expect nothing
but death. The sentence also declared that possessions and life were
forfeited. Very few were seen as still innocent, for not only those
who had taken part in the iconoclasm, but also those who had not
hindered the devastations were declared guilty by this cruel tyrant.
Vargas, the president of the Blood Council, who spoke only Latin
was wont to say, "Haeretici fraxerunt templa, boni nil fecerunt contra,
ergo debent omnes partibulare", i.e., "The heretics destroyed the
Churches, the Roman Catholics did not stop them, so all of them shall
hang." Concerning the sentenced Catholics, they were said to pretend
to be Roman Catholics, but they came much short of the reverence
they owed the King and their religion, and should therefore partake of
the same punishment as the heretics. In short, all had sinned, and it
was the oppressor's purpose to exterminate the inhabitants, or to
make them into slaves, as Prince William wrote in his Apology (page
72). He also testified that the Spanish commanders clearly said that
this was decreed in the Spanish Council long before this. In executing
that cruel command, they decided to send Alva with a strong army into
the Netherlands. Alva was a man of whom it was alleged he was so
cruel, that his evil intent not only surpassed the human, but also the
demonic. He was therefore a fit person to oppress these lands.
“It was as Prince William testifies in his Apology (page 72), "that
all over, blood was shed in such abundance that it could be seen to
flow in the streets of cities and towns. And who could without
sadness and heartache tell of the pain and sorrows endured by these
poor inhabitants who were tortured by the tyrants of the nation"?
Many a time it happened that a man would attempt to save his
wife from their violations, that they howled like dogs, calling: Spain,
Spain, and so killed several people. Many pregnant women were ripped
open, and the fruit of the womb they killed; yes, some men were
skinned alive, their skins they put on their drums; others were burnt.
Some were burned with red hot fire-tongs until they died, and
others were tortured in many ways unto death. Parents lost their
children, children lost their parents. Many bodies were exhumed and
hanged in spite of God and nature.
Married woman were taken from their husbands under the guise of
saying they were heretics; and against all divine and human
institutions some of the richest and most beautiful of them were
given to the soldiers for loot.
In short, we are told, all love and reverence that we owe one to
another was brought to nought, or openly defied by killing children
who helped parents in their great need with some money, or had
written them a letter for their comfort. How could a people be more
oppressed, and suppressed then in this manner?
Dutch historians, and among them in the first place, Emanuel
van Meteren, relates that in Maestricht a father was killed because
he lodged a son who had been away for a long time; another because
he gave some grain to a widow whose husband had been killed for his
faith; still another, because he had sent a little money to a relative
Hooft, in his fifth book (1567), remarks that listening to a
sermon was considered to be a great crime. Yes, Prince William says in
his Apology (page 48), if one looked at an image with less than a
reverent look, it was enough to burn at the stake.
As the Jewish midwives in Pharaoh's day had to drown the male
children, so the midwives in Holland were committed by oath to take
newborn children to the R.C. priest to be baptized before the children
were 24 hours old.
The tyrant, Alva, after he ruled these lands for six years
(1567-1573), boasted that he killed 18,600 people by the executioner,
except those who died by the siege and capture of the following
cities: Antwerp, Mechlin, Maastricht, Doornik, Valenciennes, Yperen,
Oudenaarden, Aalst, Dendermonde, Heerlen, Rotterdam, Oudewater,
Zutphen and Deventer. Yet, Spanish cruelty was not satisfied, for
Vargas, president of the Bloody Council was of the opinion, "that the
Netherlands were lost (for Spain) by 'charitable folly'."
How bad did it get? It got so bad that Prince William of Orange (who became the Leader of the Rebellion), advocated for the people to open the dykes and leave the land. From “Wonders of the Most High”,
We will now deal with one remaining cause we have not touched
upon as yet. It is that these lands descended in such deplorable
state, in such a miserable and wretched condition, with the
impossibility to save themselves, that the most desperate proposals
were made by the most prominent and stouthearted among us. If in our
Netherland history someone was ever praised for wisdom, extraordinary
bravery and valour, and unswerving loyalty, it was Prince William,
whose cheerful countenance encouraged the States General during
these most trying and difficult times. His motto was, "Saevis
tranquillus in undis" (calm in the midst of the tempest). But so fierce
were the winds, so brutally high the waves that beat against the ship
of the Republic, that this pious Prince, and Father of the Fatherland
became so discouraged that seeing the ship was sinking, he advised to
forsake the country, and give the land back to the sea.
According to Hooft in his 10th book, the Prince advised that men,
women and children who loved liberty, board ship with whatever they
could take with them, burn the wind mills, break dikes and dams, spoil
the country by flooding, and like other peoples had done before them,
go to another place in the world where they could live in freedom.”
The state of the land got worse and worse. The nation was offered to the King of France and the Queen of England - but they refused it. Probably because they did not want to anger Spain. Here are quotes from “Wonders of the Most High”,
When we look at succeeding times, it seems unbelievable that the
kingdoms of England and France refused to accept the rule over this
country, which we, when we were oppressed by Spain's great might, by
stately embassies at several times presented to them. According to
Hooft the rule of the nation was offered to England in 1575, 1585, and
1587; and to France in 1585. We all know how desirous monarchs are to
enlarge their domain; and how often they do this at the cost of the
blood and goods of their own subjects. The emblem of Emperor Charles
V was, "Plus Ultra." Others had the symbol of a waxing moon with the
added words, "Donec totum compleat orbem." The King of Spain, in his
pride, established an emblem of a painted globe in the sea, out of
which ascends a horse, above which the inscription, "Unis non sufficit
orbis", (One world is not sufficient for me). This can be found in van
Meeteren's 25th book (1602). All this to feed the King of Spain's
arrogance and pride.
But see, here Kings refused the rule that was extended to them,
even though they were humbly asked to accept this rule.
In the book, the author starts to talk about how low they were and how there was no help - execpt from the King of Kings, the Lord Almighty!!!
It is the way of our God to help when there is no help of men,
and the gathering of straw is added to the number of bricks made (Ex.
5: 7), to send deliverance. Or as it was said by the ancients, "In the
mount of the Lord it shall be seen (Gen. 22: 14), meaning that the Lord
waits until the utmost before helping out, and the Lord is seen to
work in marvelous ways for the escape of His people at times when
there is no more hope. All this has been the experience of the
Netherlands during the rise of this Republic. The miserable state of
this nation can without doubt be seen by what we have related thus
“This Republic was first brought down to hell and thereafter
exalted to the heavens. It may justly be said of us, what the Lord
said to the prophet, "And I will gather her that was driven out; and I
will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put
to shame" (Zeph. 3: 19).
We talk of how when there is no more humanly help, that we turn to the Lord. In this case the Lord allowed them to be brought down, so far down; that other rulers would not accept their country. It was said that 100,000 fled the land. From the “Wonders of the Most High”,
Our God commanded the curse over the Spanish (Southern)
Netherlands. It wasted away and became very poor. As Van Meteren
wrote in his 16th book, in the year 1590, "Their decline was cause for
our rise and prosperity." We will add here what the same writer
states of the year 1587, for it establishes what we have said before
and is therefore important, "The misery, poverty, famine, pestilence,
by which they were visited is unbelievable. The cities of Brugge,
Yperen, Kortrijk and many other cities and towns in Flanders and
Brabant, were almost completely destroyed by the war, and died out by
famine, poverty and pestilence. "Many towns in which were up to 3000
houses were completely left desolate, the best houses served as
living quarters for wolves and other wild animals. Beasts of prey
multiplied so much in Flanders and Braband, that they not only
devoured animals, but by lack of them also devoured children, and
even attacked men and women. It is said that in a radius of two miles
from Gent, 100 people were torn in pieces by wolves. "The roads were
unsafe, and by lack of people the wolves were not killed. Dogs ran
around the country in great packs, attacking men and beast. Fields lay
waste, so it was difficult to distinguish fields from forests, neither
could ditches beside roads be seen anymore. People could not find the
place anymore were their house had been. "Everything was wasted and
overgrown by weeds and brush. The famine was so great, that by
evening, well to do people begged for bread in the bigger cities."
"Rich people begged for bread and sold their jewels and
furniture to buy bread. People looked for peelings and anything edible
in the piles of garbage.
Then as the people turned to the only help left, the Lord Most High; miracles started happening. The book talks of so many battles, where the wind and the waves fought for the Dutch - a few examples will be shared here. Remember there are more in the main text. From “Wonders of the Most High”,
By the courage, with which it pleased the Lord to equip many of
our people of all ranks, few have neglected to fight the enemy until
death, or until, by the grace of God, they gained the victory. In 1570,
24 Dutchmen fought 150 Spaniards, fighting till death. In 1573, 18
footmen attacked a detachment of 150 Spanish cavalry and finished
them off. It was the lion hearted Prince Maurice, who in 1593, with
5,000 men dared lay siege to Geertruideberg, in spite of the fact
that the enemy came against him with 14,000 man. In 1598 he defeated
the enemy who had 28,000 men in the field, with 6,000. In 1597 he
defeated with 800 horsemen, 4,000 of the best and most experienced
soldiers of the King of Spain. We must not forget his unflinching
gallantry in the battle of Nieuwpoort, for in spite of the fact that
the enemy had already beaten 17 companies of his best soldiers,
Maurice was not discouraged, but by a heroic decision attempted to
encourage his soldiers. According to van Reyd (1600), and Bor in his
28th book, "he commanded that all ships in which the Prince and his
soldiers could escape, must depart from the seashore. So standing
between Pharaoh and the Red Sea he attacked with so great courage,
that historians described this victory, which was so important for the
country's well-being, beside the mighty hand of God, to the wisdom,
valour and prudence of Prince Maurice. But who girds Princes with
valour? Is it not the Lord? Psalm 18."
“What happened in 1606 at Sluys is even more amazing. When the enemy succeeded and
went with 3600 men over the bridge into the city, only 16 soldiers
kept back this multitude with great courage until the rest of the
army had time to compose itself, and expelled the enemy who lost four
or five hundred men. God had, as it were, in that battle confounded
the enemy with blindness, for although the bridge was full of soldiers,
they did not use their muskets, but no other than javelins and
swords. See van Meteren in his 27th book. How manfully, and with what
extraordinary courage the garrison of Rijnbeek expelled the enemy,
who were already in the city, master of the walls and the artillery,
can be read by van de Sande. For time's sake we will not relate what
happened during the siege of Bergen op Zoom in 1621, and what
happened when in 1629 Wezel and Maestricht were taken.
We will testify that as our lion-heart was marvelous at land,
the Lord our God did not less for our heroes at sea, and blessed
them with the same undaunted spirit of bravery. To relate everything
is not possible, and not necessary for proof. But we must say
something to remember the wonders of the Lord, and boast of His
How great courage was shown by the Zealand fleet when they
attacked the mighty Spanish fleet, can be read by the same author in
the year 1574. For although, the enemy came with two mighty fleets
filled with soldiers, the Zealander admiral Boisot attacked him with
such courage, conquered, and after a cruel and bloody fight captured
the admiral, the vice-admiral, and took besides those which they
burned, 9 or 10 of his best ships. D.P. Pers says the following
concerning this battle: "The greet courage of the Zealanders was
exceedingly praiseworthy, for mainly by their courage, the land was
They knew very well that it was the hope of the Spaniards to
win the war by remaining masters at sea. Had the Spaniards been
enabled to execute their intention, the country would have been lost.
However, in all this, the Lord was willing to show His marvelous
leading, it was the Lord Who gave lion hearts to the Zealanders that
they feared not death, but subjected themselves to many dangers. This
in spite of the fact they were not at all times sufficiently paid, and
complained about this. This victory aroused in the hearts of the
allies a general rejoicing, they thanked God, in many places bonfires
were lit. By all this the Hollanders and Zealanders were again
encouraged, as if they had been re-created.
At the same time the city of Middelburg came into our hands; and
that because of among other things also the prayers of our Prince,
who, to have all things ordered well, traveled from Delft to
Vlissingen, where he, according to Press was in great anxiety, for he
feared that the two enemy fleets would unite, and so gain the
victory. Having done all he could, he went to his room, to give himself
to prayer and wrestle with God for good success. This prayer was
heard before he prayed. For when according to Hooft in his 4th book,
the Prince received the message that the Spanish fleet was anchored
before Breskens, anxiety left him, and he went to the harbor to be
convinced of the truth with his own eyes. When he noticed the mistake
of the enemy, who made no use of the favorable tide, he thanked God
for His grace.
In these special circumstances it may be seen that anxiety and
courage, humiliation and bravery, pleading and fighting, prayer and
victory went together. The first is cause of the second; the second
cause of the first. The one demonstrates what is proper for princes
and rulers when their country and their subjects are in danger; the
other, which is the duty of those who for the good of God's people
under their government attack the enemy in a just war, and how both
together are a blessing for the people. Fervent prayer and courage in
acting, are as a rule successful, and are followed by rejoicing and
thanksgiving. 2 Chr.13-16; and 32: 6, 7, 20, 21; Neh. 4:9.
When in 1573, the Lord blessed the courage of the Zealanders
and they gained the victory; the Prince, filled with joy, wrote to all
the cities in Holland and admonished the people, to "fervently praise
and thank Almighty God, and furthermore pray that God would bring
their cause to a good end; that after so many afflictions, the Lord
would grant them to live in peace." (See also Bor in the same year).
In 1601, three Dutch ships commandeered by Wolphert Hermansz.,
partly destroyed, and partly forced a mighty Portuguese fleet to
flee, near Bantam (East Indies), consisting of several galleys and
other ships, thirty in number. (Dyonisius Sprankhuizen in his TRIUMPH,
1629). He adds that this was such a great wonder, as of four or five
mosquitoes gaining the victory over an army of elephants.
Our mariners, according to van Sande, showed the same courage
in 1612, when eight of our ships on their way to the East Indies,
attacked 17 Spanish galleons near the Salt Islands. They destroyed or
captured all but four ships that escaped.”
14 Martin Tromp was of the same courage when with twelve ships he
occupied Dunkirk, in which city were twenty two Royal ships ready for
battle. The governor of the city had received liberty to attack our
admiral, "For" he said, "it was a shame that so great a royal might
was restrained by so few ships", the Spanish ships were received by
ours in such a way, that they surrendered two ships, each with 250
men. The ship of their vice-admiral with 24 guns stranded, and was
set ablaze by the enemy themselves. Eight or nine ships were so
damaged that they could not reach harbor. This fight, v.d. Sande says,
was terrible. Commelin in his book entitled "Frederick Hendrick" vol. 2
(1639) states, "Concerning this battle there went up a great cry in
the city, for the number of dead, wounded, and those taken prisoners
was estimated to be 16 or 1700." In this fight which lasted from eight
in the morning until three in the afternoon, Tromp was at one time
surrounded by five large Dunkirk ships, against whom he fought alone
for three hours, and according to the witness of the mentioned
author: the Spaniards were well aware of his courage.
Why did the enemy depart from Leyden, yes, take to flight as if
he was conquered? Nothing but the collapse of a part of the city
wall. According to van Reyd this was something that should have put
fear in the hearts of the besieged, because the city-wall, their
defense, was now gone. Nevertheless, the enemy was so frightened
when they heard the noise of the wall collapsing and falling in the
water of the moat in the darkness of the night, that they left their
siege, and even the castle of Lammen. They were in so great haste
that they never took time to investigate what happened. In his ninth
book (1574), Bor remarks that all that was brought to play to relieve
Leyden, would have been lost, had not the Lord given a faint heart to
Van Reyd relates how remarkable the Lord dealt with the siege
of Leyden, matters that seemed to be to their disadvantage turned by
God's Fatherly Providence into advantages. 1. The most eminent
citizens had left the city. 2. There was only a small garrison. 3. The
city was visited with the plague. All these things, he wrote, were to
aid the city; for the citizens who left the city could do much more to
aid the city, than when they had remained. The English sent by the
Prince to aid the city, but through carelessness left outside, without
a doubt would have hastened its surrender. They gave sufficient
evidence of this, when after having received powder and bullets from
the burgomaster, they threw away their arms as soon as they saw the
Spaniards approach, and went over to the enemy. Concerning the
plague: the death of so many citizens saved enough food for the city
so they were able to hold out that much longer. As we mentioned
above, the collapsing wall, whereby the city lay open for the enemy,
frightened them so much, that they fled.
But what is much more miraculous, and in which our God bared His
arm, is that again the Lord used wind, weather and water, like He did
in 1572. For the only way to deliver the city was by way of the fleet.
At Prince William's command the Meuse and Ysle dikes were broken
through, the sluices opened, and the land inundated. In spite of this,
only nine inches of water covered the land. The boats needed at least
from 15-18 inches. Again this was the time for our God to work. For
what happened? The Lord sent a storm from the North-West, the water
went inland and rose from nine inches to twenty-eight inches.
After the Lord sent His host, the water, into the land, the
water could not reach Leyden. Then the Lord sent a storm from the
South-West and now the water flowed straightway to Leyden, in spite
of the fact that the Spaniards attempted to stop the flood. Now our
fleet could reach the Spaniards, but the Spaniards dared not wait for
them, for when they saw the fleet and the water, the Lord made their
hearts into water, and so the city was delivered. Now the cry was
heard in the streets, "Leyden, Leyden is relieved! For ever praise our
God!" God was thanked in all Churches. The Prince who seemed so far
that same morning, was that same afternoon in the French Church (in
Delft), where he received tiding of Leyden's relief. After the service
he had it announced and the Lord was instantly glorified with
thanksgiving. According to Hooft, "The emotions released by the shock
of such a sudden and great joy was unbelievable. The sound of bells,
the flames of bonfires, and young people's shouts of joy, prepared
from all places a way up to heaven."
According to Bor in his seventh book, the States of Holland
testified to those of Leyden, "That the relief of Leyden, was
paramount to victory over the rest of Holland." If ever our God
showed that He fought for us, and used His waters, winds and terrors
to redeem us from the Spanish yoke, it was here.
However, to relieve the city, holes had been made in the Meuse
and Isle dikes, whereby thousands of people received damage, and now
there was great concern how to relieve this fertile land that was
made into a great sea, of this surplus water. But what happened? The
day after Leyden's relief October 4, the State was again favored with
another work of wonder and benefit, of which Bor said, "We may not
forget to tell of God's wonderful works so clearly revealed; for on
that day, the fourth of October, the wind turned from South-West to
North-East, while it blew so hard that it was difficult to travel from
Leyden to Delft, whereby the water that had served its purpose,
flowed back to sea.
"O wonderful God! who is like unto thee, there are no works like
unto Thine; great and mighty Thou art, O Lord! and faithfulness is Thy
cloke. Thou art a very present help in time of trouble unto Thy
people. Thou hast redeemed the broken hearted from one that was
mightier than he, and set the oppressed in a high tower."
What compelled commander Taxis to leave Friesland, which he had
suddenly occupied in 1586? Nothing but heavy rains, which began to
fall when he was still gaining on ours. The rains made him so afraid
that he fled the country as if he were defeated; he left his dead
with the conquered guns; he did not take time to plunder the higher
land where was much wealth. Emanuel van Meteren in his 25th book
wrote of this, "We can see what great things the Lord does by little
What drove the enemy from the Catherine entrenchment in
Flanders? Nothing but the shouting of sailors who had lost a gun in
the morass, that they attempted to retrieve. The enemies became
faint-hearted, and were frightened so much so that they left the
entrenchment, and it came into the hands of the Prince.
What was it that made the enemy in the winter of 1624 leave the
Veluwe, where according to van Sande the enemy terrorized the
population with an inhuman thirst for vengeance, and had already
shelled Arnhem? Nothing but fear. It was the Lord Who in His grace
heard our prayers, and gave marvelous relief. Baudartius in his
"Memories", book 16, 1624, states, "As long as the enemy was in the
Veluwe, daily prayers were sent up in all cities. Publicly in the
Churches, and particularly in the homes by families. He wrote, "Daily
in the Churches, in the homes and on the walls they called upon the
Lord with groanings, offering our prayers unto the Lord, sad about
the misery of our neighbours." It is said of Spinola that he used to
say, "Watch out for the geuzen (beggars or Lutherans) when they
pray," because the Lord often so noticeably heard us.
It was then that the Lord truly 'put a bridle in the jaws of the
enemy (in the Veluwe), causing them to err' (Is. 30: 28). Baudartius
continues, "During the night they became so frightened, they left food
and drink, even silverware at their tables, and fled in the greatest
confusion. Baggage and arms were found in the houses, and on the
roads on which they fled, in order to get away faster. There was no
one that persecuted them, except the hand of the Lord. Van Sande
writes that the cause of their flight was none else but a trumpeter,
who had blown the national anthem.
Let us now return to the previous subject, for we must never
forget the wonderful works of the Lord. The following is one of God's
wonder works in the Zuiderzee. The whole fleet of Northern Holland
was solidly frozen in the ice, and they expected the enemy to come
and put fire to our ships. Alva's son came with a strong army to
Naarden and ours already talked of leaving the ships and sinking the
guns. But our God wonderfully supplied in our need, and how? He sent
a strong North wind which split the ice, and there was water for the
fleet to escape. Neither was this the end of the Lord's wonder works,
for a second followed the first. The waters rose so much that the
ships could sail through the Zuidergat, near Enkhuizen, in spite of the
fact that there was never enough water in that place for ships of
war. All this to the great joy of ours in Northern Holland.
Our Fathers saw this as a great wonder work of our God, for
such was never seen before or after. Yes, they concluded that the
Lord would maintain their cause since He put His attendants, wind and
water, so clearly at our disposal. And what made this wondrous work
of the Lord so much greater is the fact that as soon as our ships
were in a safe haven, the ice immediately closed itself. That is how
the Lord added a third wonder to the previous two. It was clear that
this wind, thaw, and flood was sent by His Majesty. Emanuel van
Meteren writes, "This was such a great wonder for those of Enkhuizen,
that they doubted not but the Lord had adopted them, and would
lawfully protect and bless them." By proclaiming Days of Thanksgiving
our people joyfully glorified the Lord for the many times He delivered
There was great fear for this Spanish fleet (Armada) in Holland.
The year was 1588. The fleet consisted of 145 or 150 mighty ships (110
were as big as castles). That fleet was put together with unbelievable
sums of money. Nobility, and the greatest lords of Spain were part of
its entourage. A particular description is found by Bor, Reyd, van
Meteren, van Sande and others, in the year 1588, and is almost
unbelievable. Strada, the Jesuit writes, "There never was anything in
preparation to which more nobility joined themselves, and more sure of
victory than this fleet." Historians testify that there were 20,000
soldiers and 10,000 sailors on board. Pamphlets were printed and said
that the fleet was manned with 40,000 soldiers, who regarded men,
neither the devil. They were the same who in India, Portugal and in
other countries made the blood of its inhabitants flow like water;
they were experienced, they understood how to destroy countries and
cities, torture and plunder its citizens (Lydius in gloriose Belg. pag.
55). The King had to lay out 30,000 ducates daily, for this fleet.
The Prince of Parma had above this, thirty-two ships of war, and
many others ready to move his army of almost 40,000 men from Holland
to England. He was planning to join the mighty fleet, which the Spanish
For a long time rumors of such a great fleet did the rounds in
Holland and England, it seemed almost unbelievable. Van Meteren wrote,
"but when they saw what was almost unbelievable, the population,
greatly upset, called upon the Lord. In particular the Dutch
Congregations in England, who felt threatened above others, held
continuous days of fasting and prayer and entreated the Lord to turn
His wrath from them". Days of prayer were held in Holland also.
Let us now see what happened. The so-called invincible fleet,
shortly after lifting anchor, on the 29th of May 1588, was met by the
Lord with His winds, and they were compelled to put into port. From
thence it went under sail again and was seen by the English on July
22. The English attacked with such courage that the English Admiral,
in a letter to the Queen, praised it as a special work of the Lord.
The courage of the English was as great as the fright of the Spanish.
When lying at anchor near Calais, they saw seven or eight fire-ships
coming their way, and were taken by such great fright that they
lifted anchor, cut the cables and sailed into the North-Sea. Here, the
Lord sent another storm, which lasted two or three days. They did not
only suffer much damage, but were driven off course along the coasts
of Flanders, Zealand, Holland and Friesland, to the river Eems. Van
Meteren wrote of this, "The Lord wanted to show this great fleet not
only to England, but also to Zealand, that they should acknowledge how
little they were over against such a great force."
However, the Zealanders and Hollanders prevented
Parma from leaving Dunkirk, whereby all hope to unite was taken from
Medina Sidonia and the latter decided after having lost twelve great
ships and 5000 men, to sail around Scotland and return to Spain. At
that time especially, Almighty God showed that He fought for us, and
could destroy the courageous Spaniard; for He ordered His winds and
they so disjointed the fleet, that the fleet was dispersed. Near
Ireland about thirty-two ships were shipwrecked, ran ashore or were
taken by the Irish, at which time almost 1000 men lost their lives.
Some ships were lost and never heard from again.
It is said that of the whole fleet only 31 ships, among which
only one ship in good repair, returned to Spain under Duke Medina
Sidonia who was witness of God's judgment and the general mourning in
Spain. The story goes that he said after he came back, "The King told
me to fight his enemies, and not the elements." (bold type mine).
When we were in one of the museums in Amsterdam, we saw a medallion minted to commerate the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The Medallion was dedicated to the Lord for providing the wind to wreck the Spanish fleet.
Quote, from the book “The Armada” by Garrett Mattingly - “....the defeat of the Armada began to be ascribed in Spain to the winds of God”.
It is easy enough to see why the English and Dutch should so ascribe it. “God breathed and they were scattered”, runs the legend on one of Queen Elizabeth’s Armada medals.”
Before we go back to land, we will relate one more remarkable
story from the sea. In 1632 Don Pedro de Toledo appeared
unexpectedly with a strong fleet in the English channel. This was most
likely to hinder our ships from passing between England and France
through the narrow channel. But again the Lord was on our side and
that fleet was destroyed by violent winds and thunder storms. The
same thing had happened before this (1626), when the King of Spain
sent 20,000 men, a million of gold and forty-two small ships to
Dunkirk, according to van Sande in the same year.
Much was attempted by the Spanish in 1631, for they intended to
separate Holland from Zealand by taking Willemstad. No cost was
spared. A fleet was brought together consisting of 50 big barges with
sail, ten pontoons, eighteen other ships, besides them a large number
of row boats without sail. According to Commelin they worked with such
great zeal that they laboured on this fleet during Sundays and other
holy days. Beside a lot of guns of divers descriptions, they had
about 6 or 7000 men on board. On September eight of that year they
sailed in presence of Infante Isabella, the Queen mother Maria de
Medeci and the pontifical Nuntius, who blest her with the words, "Go,
thou blessed, and slay the cursed ones". But this Balaam cursed those
who were blessed by the Lord. That is why their curse returned upon
their own pate, and the Lord, for our good, dealt wonderfully.
For what happened?
1. It was fair weather when the enemy sailed, the sea was calm and
the wind from the east. That is why our fleet which was toward the
west could not harm him.
2 When he came to the land of Bath, some of his best ships ran
aground, and moved no more. Here is where the Lord began to work
against their might.
3. The Lord deprived our enemy of wisdom, for they remained to
wait for their ships that ran aground; had they continued on their
course they would have been twelve hours ahead of our fleet. About
11 o'clock they could have been in Stavenisse, and next in Willemstad
to complete their mission. Or by failure they could have escaped to
Prinsenland where they had 7000 men in garrison.
4. Although high tide waters were receding, the Lord gave a very
strong current, so that all our ships sailed through the land of Bath;
yes, some say that there was a stronger current than at other times.
5. What the Lord did from hereon was mostly to their destruction.
It was first of all their intention to continue their journey and
execute their attempt; they avoided contact with ours, instead of
attacking our fleet. But see, toward evening the Lord sent a fog,
which according to Commelin came up fast and prevented them from
continuing their journey. When they became dispersed because of the
fog, it added greatly to their fears. Ours attacked their fleet on
September twelve in such a way that several of their ships sank, many
of their men jumped ship and drowned. The rest of the fleet escaped
to Nieuw-Vossemeer, where the multitude sought to escape on water
as well as on land, but all the enemy ships with the commanders and
4000 prisoners, and all that pertained to that fleet fell into our
hands. That is how they who were cursed by the pontifical nuntius,
were truly blest.
But did the Lord contend for us only at sea? Let us relate
what the Lord did for us on land in 1600, at the battle of Nieuwpoort.
It was judged at that time that success in this battle was paramount
to the salvation of the country. That is the place where the Lord did
battle for us with sun, wind, sand and smoke; where He took wisdom
and understanding from the enemy, when he neglected to do that which
would have defeated our forces.
According to Van Sande, "This battle took place July 2, 1600,
exactly 302 years after Adolf van Nassau was defeated by Duke Albert
of Austria. He continues, "The glory of this victory belongs to
Almighty God, Who worked above what we could think and delivered our
army when it was caught like Israel between Pharaoh and the Red Sea."
The States were poorly prepared and knowingly they went into a place
that was a trap, there was no food, no means to cover a responsible
retreat, neither means to fight. Had the enemy known this and not
risked to fight a desperate enemy, but had kept his ease (as was the
counsel of some of the best experienced commanders of the day), ours
would in few days have been defeated by hunger and thirst. According
to van Reyd, ours had by lack of drinking water already dug holes and
pits. Ours were in great danger, and this was aggravated by the fact
that the enemy was assisted by the counsel of the most experienced
commanders. But our God turned Ahitophel's counsel into foolishness.
Prince Maurice had given command for our ships to leave shore and
lay at anchor some distance from shore. The Spanish seeing this
attacked ours without delay. They did not heed the counsel of their
advisers, and God Who turns the hearts of men like water courses
made this a cause to reject good counsel, and they began the battle.
According to Bor in his 37th book in the year 1600, the States
were in Ostende, they could see nothing but the future of the
fatherland hanging on a thread, and called fervently upon God. They
did as it were force heaven, showed their strength in prayer and
inclined the Almighty to help them. The Lord did more for them, for
the enemy rejected the best counsel given him and began the fight.
The situation was grave indeed, yes, it was already gone so far, that
our cavalry was retreating, and by other disorders the enemy was
certain the victory would be his. But Prince Maurice did his duty by
admonishing his men, pleading with them rather to die fighting
courageously, than drown in the sea. Whenever he saw some of his
horsemen together he would send them wherever he thought they were
needed most, calling on them to do their utmost, for it was not
hopeless; and so he continued to encourage his men.
Bor is of the opinion that if the cavalry of the enemy would
have fought as valiantly as his footmen, he would have been
victorious. "But" he continues, "it was God Who turned the battle to
our good; He is the God of hosts, for nobody could ascribe the
victory to people who were already confused and fleeing." Truly, it is
God to Whom all glory is due; it was He, Who through sun and sand
bared His arm for our good, for He sent a favorable wind and used
His sun to blind the eyes of the enemy. Van Meteren wrote, "Prince
Maurice marched to the East, he had the sea on his left, and since
the wind blew from the West, it was on his back; and since it was
midday when the battle ensued, -- by which we could see God's
Providence,-- he had the sun also behind him, all these things kept
sand, dust, smoke and the sun from our eyes, and all this was of
great advantage to our troops."
Bor wrote, "All these things were a great hindrance to the
enemy, the sun in his eyes, while the wind blew dust and sand in his
face; and more than this it was our God Who showed mercy to His
Through all this our State became a great victory, while the
enemy was sure the victory was his. The Infante had said she was
curious to know how Prince Maurice would act when he was brought
before her as a prisoner. Several thousands were killed during the
action, and among the 600 prisoners was the Admirant of Arragon, yes,
even Albert himself was in danger of falling into our hands. There was
unbelievable joy throughout the land. The Lord was thanked with tears.
Van Reyd wrote about this in a touching way.
It is remarkable what van Meteren related of Prince Maurice;
"When the battle was won, Prince Maurice descended from his horse and
bursting out in tears said, "O Lord, we are poor sinners, and who are
we, that today, to the glory of Thy name, Thou shouldest impart so
great happiness to us? To Thee be glory and thanksgiving for ever."
He continued saying that if darkness had not come upon them, so he
could not gather his troops, he would have ordered a general
thanksgiving that night. This was observed the following day in the
city of Ostende, in the presence of the Prince and all the lords of
the States General.
The States General ordered that a special Thanksgiving Day
should be observed in the United Netherlands. Bor relates how the
States General being assured of this glorious victory, had Rev.
Uytenbogaard lead in a service of thanksgiving to God Almighty; and
the Prince coming into Ostende on July 3, desired that again another
thanksgiving service should be held, which was done in the French
language, from Psalm 116. From this it is evident how thankful the
Prince was, and how he ascribed all the glory to God.
Thus far we have seen how the Lord ruled wind and rain, frost
and warm weather, fog and sunshine, smoke, sand and sea for our good.
In this account we see God's mighty arm dealing with the rivers, the
walls of our country, to stop the power of the enemy. That is how
the Lord helped us in 1632 when we besieged the city of Maestricht.
When Prince Frederick Hendrick came to the city of Maestricht,
the river Meuse was so low that a man could ride or walk through the
river. However when the enemy came to the river and desired to cross
it, to the end to relieve the city; as Van Sande says, "by God's
decree, the water rose to a hight of seven feet." The water was too
high and the enemy could not cross it. Commelin in his book "Frederick
Hendrick", in the year 1632, states that much rain had fallen, whereby
the water level so increased, that the Spanish could not cross the
river, and the State troops had time to strengthen and secure their
battlements and they were without danger. The same author writes
that in 1641 the Spanish under commander La Fountaine came to
Aardenburg, as it was their purpose to go to Cadzand, and how
unfavorable weather frustrated their purpose.
Do some believe that all these stories of wind, weather, sea and
rivers are no more than the workings of nature? I answer, "It is God
Who has nature in His hand, and He makes use of it by special
occasions and important situations for the good of a nation, by
showing His help and great might to the same. In particular when they
1. Unusual works that were at other times not seen, like that
marvelous work of the Lord in the Zuiderzee in the year 1572, and
2. When they follow times of fasting and prayer, as happened on
3. When the workings of nature turn in an unknown direction,
agreeing with the desires and designs of a nation, as we have seen
with the siege of Leyden and others we have mentioned. When even
pagans see in such disposal the hand of God, how much more must we
Christians see them, for we know, "Are not two sparrows sold for a
farthing? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your
Father" (Matt. 10: 29). How visibly the Lord heard our prayers, and
showed His wonders in the rivers of our country, is emphatically
related by N. Wassenaar in the year 1627.
But also things that happen in a natural way can show God's
particular help and power, as we see in Josh. 10: 11; 1 Sam. 7: 10 and
12: 17; Job 37: 11-13. Truly, the Lord did things among us which must be
seen as wonders. He has shown His Providence to this nation in such
marvelous ways, that I must say, it is above many great wonders!
The Lord did wonderous works in their midst to make them the head and not the tail. In the 1600’s the windmills were used to power sawmills and make the lumber to make the best ships and they started to dominate the seas. They started the Dutch West Indie Company and the Dutch East Indie Company. These succesful corporations caused great wealth to pour into the Netherlands. So much so that they became the richest nation. In 1602, the Dutch East India Company officially became the world’s first publically traded company when it released shares of the company on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. Stocks and bonds were issued to investors and each investor was entitled to a fixed percentage of East India Company’s profits.
Tulip mania or tulipomania (Dutch names include: tulpenmanie, tulpomanie, tulpenwoede, tulpengekte and bollengekte) was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed.
At the peak of tulip mania, in March 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble
One of our observations on our Amsterdam Trip was seeing the Dutch Masterpieces. For me the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, - Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Vermeer, etc. are the best. Because of their world wide trade they had access to best materials for making their paints and these vibrant colours are reflected in their art. These visual creations are a testimony to their great wealth.
Perhaps there are too many examples included in the above quotes of the Lord’s intervention in the affairs of the Dutch people, but it helps to build our faith for our daily affairs. If He did these great wonderous things in the past; then surely He is doing them today - our Day, our present. Our God is not asleep, but continuing to work out His wonderous plan.
The bottom line from my perspective of what happened in the Netherlands was that the Lord determined to provide more revelation. He revealed more of His wonderous love for His people. In doing so there was a price to be paid. To move on in God, there is a price to be paid. With the early Reformers it was literally their life. They had to be willing to lay down all in order to receive the new revealed truths. We have to be willing to give up all. As the people embraced their new found truth, the old move of God; attempted to put out the fire by snuffing out the heretics. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” . We did not realize that the persecution would come from the old move of God, but so it has always been. Saul and David - all through the ages. Who persecuted the Latter Rain Movement? - the Pentecostal Movement did.
But the Lord began the Reformation and when the old move - Catholicism tried to extinguish the new Light; the Lord intervened with wind and wave to ensure His next steps in His plan would succeed. Even today our Lord is intervening to continue the advancement of His plan. There is no doubt that He is continuing to work in the affairs of men and His plan will go forward. HE IS VICTORIOUS!!!!! We sometimes say “He will be victorious!”, but let us all cry out -
“HE IS VICTORIOUS!!!!!”
Amen and Amen!