Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER IV: To Master Zawissius, Rector of Prachaticz ( Late autumn, 1408) - The Letters of John Hus
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LETTER IV: To Master Zawissius, Rector of Prachaticz ( Late autumn, 1408) - Jan Huss, The Letters of John Hus 
The Letters of John Hus. With Introductions and Explanatory Notes by Herbert B. Workman and R. Martin Pope (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1904).
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A few weeks after the release of “Abraham” (supra, p. 12) and on the eve of the outbreak of the “neutrality” complication, the clergy—most of whom, as we have seen, were Germans, out of touch with the Czech population—accused Hus before the Archbishop of preaching ‘in the presence of a vast multitude of both sexes’ ‘scandalous sermons, which made clerks hateful to the people.’ He had gone so far, they said, as to ‘deal with the matter not in general terms, but by descending to particulars.’ They further raked up an incident of which Hus was destined to hear much for the rest of his life: that in the presence of Zbinek he had said ‘he wished his soul might be where rests the soul of Wyclif.’ That Hus still felt confident of his position is evident not only from the reply he made to this last charge, but in the contempt, not infrequently degenerating into quibbles, with which he overwhelmed his accusers. Zbinek, in fact, was powerless and scarcely needed the array of quotations from Gratian’s Decretum upon which the Reformer fell back in his more serious argument. Hus reminded him of his recent declaration ‘that he could find no heretic in Bohemia.’ The opponents of Hus were caught ‘in a trap of their own making.’
The date of this complaint of the clergy is uncertain, but may be ascribed with confidence to the autumn of 1408, though it would appear to have been repeated in the following year. To this same period (autumn 1408), certainly before the expulsion of the Germans from the University, to which no allusion is made, we assign the following letter to Zavis of Zap, a canon of Prague and non-resident rector of Prachaticz. As Zap had taken his Master’s degree at Prague in 1380, he must have been at least ten years or so older than Hus. We judge from the letter that he was one of the leaders in the complaint of the clergy. In the previous June he had acted as one of the judges in the trial of “Abraham” (Doc. p. 342).
To Master Zawissius, Rector of Prachaticz
Greetings from the Lord Jesus Christ! Reverend sir, it hath come to my ears that you have spoken of me in plain words as a heretic. If this is so, I beg you to send me a reply. You will then see, by God’s grace, that I will publicly confess and defend the faith I hold, not by detraction in nooks and corners, but in manner becoming a true Christian. I would that you knew yourself and the way you have been shearing the sheep in Prachaticz this thirty years or more! Where do you reside? Where do you work? Where do you feed the sheep? You forget the Lord’s word: Woe to the shepherds . . . that feed themselves, but the flock they did not feed.1 Where, pray, is your fulfilment of this gospel of Christ: The good shepherd goeth before the sheep and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice?2 In what way do you pass before the sheep, and how do they follow you or hear your voice when for many years together they rarely set eyes on you? The day will come when you will give an account of your sheep and also of the plural livings you have held. Of this last you read in your canon law that he who can get a competence out of one, cannot hold another without committing mortal sin.3
You ought to take these things to heart and not charge your neighbour with heresy. At all events, if you are certain he is a heretic, you ought to admonish him once or twice according to the apostle’s precept, and if he will not receive the admonition, then you may reject him as a heretic,1 the more so as you are a master and doctor of the law able, nay bound, to occupy your master’s chair for the public defence of the truth.
I write these words by way of brotherly advice according to Christ’s precept: If thy brother shall offend against thee, rebuke him between thee and him.2 Therefore, brother, receive me; and if you have spoken in this way about me, say so in your reply. If you prove me a heretic, I will humbly make amends and you will receive the reward of restoring a sinner from the error of his way.3 Yet by the grace of God Almighty I hope I hold the same faith in the Lord Jesus as yourself and as truly, seeing that I am ready to suffer death on its behalf in humility and hope.
[1 ]Ezek. xxxiv. 8.
[2 ]John x. 4.
[3 ]See Gratian, Pars II. C. 21, q. 1, also ib. C. 12, q. 1. Hus dwells on this in his sermon before the Synod (Mon. ii. 39b), where he quotes the above passages from Gratian.
[1 ]Titus iii. 10.
[2 ]Matt. xviii. 15.
[3 ]James v. 20.