Front Page Titles (by Subject) Part III.—: Letters Written during the Exile of Hus ( September 1412— August 1414) - The Letters of John Hus
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Part III.—: Letters Written during the Exile of Hus ( September 1412— August 1414) - 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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Letters Written during the Exile of Hus
Hus, as we have seen, had left Prague in the early autumn of 1412, but soon returned. On his final retirement in the December, Wenzel, who had insisted on the step, fulfilled his part of the unwritten compact by giving orders for a Synod to meet on February 2 at Böhmish Brod, a small town belonging to the Archbishop. In reality the Synod assembled at Prague on February 6, at the very time at which in Rome the works of Wyclif were being publicly burnt in the great square of St. Peter’s, on the orders of John’s Lateran Council (February 10, 1413). Before this Synod all parties laid their memorials—the theological faculty, the artists, and the Reformers. The opponents of Hus, chief among whom was “the Iron Bishop,” John Bucka of Leitomischl, insisted that the papal decisions and the excommunication of Hus must be upheld, ‘that a vice-chancellor be appointed to search out and punish the errors of masters and scholars,’ and that ‘the Czech writings of Hus—the stalks of these accursed tares and schism—be placed under an anathema.’ Obedience, they claimed, was the first duty of all, nor was it their business to consider whether the excommunication of Hus was just or unjust. Hus on his part—he was not there in person—both in his appeal to the Synod (infra, p. 115) as well as in his ‘conditions of peace,’ demanded the upholding of the decision of Zbinek of July 6, 1411. He harped much on the injury done to the realm by the accusations of heresy. Let the heretic be named, if known. On the personal charge he was prepared to defend himself under penalties against all opponents, but demanded in return that his calumniators, if they failed to substantiate their charges, should not escape scot free. Hus’s most important condition, one that shows also the influence of Wyclif, is his claim that the Civil Courts must be supreme ‘in all approbations, condemnations, and other acts concerning Mother Church.’ Hus was followed by Jakoubek, who put in a plea that peace without a real reform would he valueless. Finally, the masters of Prague, the artists, wrote an elaborate reply, in which we may detect the inspiration of Jesenicz, to the claims and arguments of the theologians. The Synod was dissolved without result, and Hus retired once more to his asylum at the castle of Kozi hradek, near Austi.
Meanwhile Wenzel made one more attempt at compromise. A Commission of four was appointed, with the ex-Archbishop Albik at the head. Both parties bound themselves ‘under a penalty of a thousand guineas and exile from the realm’ to accept its verdict. Hus himself again was absent. He was represented by ‘his proctor, John of Jesenicz, with him Jakoubek of Mies and Simon of Tissnow,’ while on the Commission was his friend, Christian Prachaticz, rector of St. Michael’s, Prague, who in the October of 1412 had been chosen, after a somewhat disputed election, the rector of the University. We have accounts of this Commission written by both parties; by Hus in a letter to Christian Prachaticz (see infra, No. XXVII.), and by Palecz to his colleagues in the theological faculty. At the first meeting, in April, in the usual resort of the advanced party, the parsonage of Christian Prachaticz, it was evident that neither side would accept anything less than a verdict in their favour. Stanislaus said that he was wishful for peace, but the others must agree to the declaration of faith put forth by the theological faculty, ‘that the Pope is the head of the Roman Church, the cardinals the body, that all its decisions in matters of faith are true, that the contrary opinions of the Wyclifists are false and erroneous.’ The other side thereupon, adds Palecz, ‘horribly yelled against us for two days.’ The ‘horrible yelling’ was really an effort to accomplish the impossible, to mix oil and water, the principles of Rome and the Reformation. Jesenicz was willing to yield to Stanislaus’s definition of the Church, provided he were allowed to add to the statement of the faith and obedience due a saving clause, ‘such as every good and faithful Christian ought, or is bound to give.’ This loophole for private judgment was of course impossible. Even this concession, on reflection, seemed to Hus to be granting too much. In his letters to Christian he points out the difficulties of such a view of the Church. These difficulties, chiefly copied from Wyclif, he afterwards expanded into his De Ecclesia. We see, in fact, in these letters to Christian, especially Nos. XXVIII. and XXIX., the larger treatise in process of becoming. But we are anticipating. The immediate result of the gathering was the formal decision by its president that the two parties were really at one. ‘Be it then announced in the name of all that neither party is permitted in future to wrong the other in word or writing.’
Such official declarations of peace where there was no peace were of course valueless. The meeting was a failure, but the Wyclifists retained the ear of the King. Wenzel relieved his disappointment by at once banishing Stanislaus of Znaim, Stephen Palecz, and two other opponents of Hus as the ‘authors of dissension.’ Stanislaus—‘out of whose head,’ says Hus, ‘the greater part of this nonsense had come’—retired into Moravia as the chaplain to a widow lady. He spent the rest of his days in writing numerous bitter tractates against Wyclif and Hus. He died at Neuhaus, in Moravia, from abcesses, when on the point of setting out for his revenge at Constance. Hus and Palecz were destined to meet again.
This victory for Hus was followed by a political success. Hitherto in the Old Town of Prague the council consisted of sixteen Germans and two Czechs. The Germans were on the side of the papal party, and had attempted, as we have seen, the destruction of the Bethlehem. On October 21, Wenzel issued an order transferring to the Crown the “pricking” of the eighteen councillors, nine from each nation. In the New Town the Czechs had long possessed the control. The whole of Prague was now committed to Hus’s side. The Church authorities were powerless. Albik had resigned (February 10, 1413), or rather exchanged his archbishopric with Conrad of Vechta, Bishop of Olmütz, who in later years became a Hussite. His creed at this time was probably opportunism; at any rate he had but recently been inducted (July 17, 1413). Nevertheless, Hus deemed it well to stay in the country, first at Kozi hradek—not far from the later well-known Tabor—then, that he might be nearer the capital, at the castle of Krakowec, which belonged to his friend Henry Lefl of Lazan. ‘Here he remained,’ says the chronicler, ‘until such time as he went to Constance.’ This statement must not be pressed. In the early months of 1414 Hus tells us that he visited Prague repeatedly. One of his visits was on the Feast of Relics (April 20), an incident that sheds light on certain features of his character and letters (infra, p. 249, n). On another occasion he even preached in the Bethlehem, whereupon the clergy at once renewed the interdict. Apart from these visits and his preaching tours, Hus spent his time in a lively correspondence with his friends, especially Christian Prachaticz, and in composing, as his answer to recent charges, his great work On the Church. Of this famous treatise, Dietrich Niem, the historian of the Schism, remarked at Constance that it ‘attacks the papal power and the plenitude of its authority as much as the Alcoran the Catholic faith’—a statement usually attributed, but wrongly, to Cardinal D’Ailli. But the De Ecclesia of Hus, as Loserth has shown, contains hardly a line, local colouring and polemics apart, which does not proceed from Wyclif. On its completion the volume was sent to Prague and publicly read (July 8, 1413) in the Bethlehem Chapel, on the walls of which the main positions of Hus’s pamphlet, De Sex Erroribus, had already been set up in large text. With the publication of this treatise there is for a while a gap in the letters of Hus. But one letter, in fact, has been preserved for us (No. XXXII.) between this event and the preparations of Hus, in the August of 1414, for his journey to Constance.
The literary labours of Hus, among which must be reckoned many treatises in Czech, whose alphabet he reformed by his invention of diacritical signs, did not interfere with his toils in the gospel, for on leaving Prague he had felt driven by his conscience to resume his sermons (infra, p. 97). ‘Hitherto,’ he writes, ‘I have preached in towns and market-places; now I preach behind hedges, in villages, castles, fields, woods. If it were possible, I would preach on the seashore, or from a ship, as my Saviour did’—an interesting passage with which we may compare a statement in his Letters (infra, p. 101). He specially mentions as a favourite pulpit ‘a lime-tree near Kozi.’ One thing gravely distressed him. ‘Jesus went to preach on foot, not like our modern preachers, proudly carried in a carriage. I, alas! drive.’ His excuse is necessity. ‘I could not otherwise possibly get in time to places so far distant.’ In the stress which he laid upon preaching, both in his Letters and in his other writings, Hus again followed Wyclif. ‘Preachers,’ he said, in words which are an echo from England, ‘in my judgment count in the Church for more than prelates.’ But his power in the pulpit itself Hus owed to no man, and his love of preaching was the gift of God. ‘By the help of God,’ he said, ‘I have preached, still am preaching, and if His grace will allow, shall continue to preach; if perchance I may be able to lead some poor tired, blind, or halting soul into the house of Christ to the King’s supper.’
As the result of these labours, the doctrines of Hus spread on every hand, both in cottage and castle, in Prague and in the country. We see this consciousness of success in the proud answer the Reformer made at Constance to the questions of D’Ailli: ‘Yes, I have said that I came here of my own free will. If I had been unwilling to come here, neither that King (Wenzel) nor this (Sigismund) would have been able to force me to come, so numerous and so powerful are the Bohemian nobles who love me, and within whose castles I should have been able to lie concealed.’ At this the bystanders began to grumble. D’Ailli, with a shake of his head, cried out, ‘What effrontery!’ ‘He speaks truth,’ said John of Chlum. ‘I am a poor knight in our realm, but I should have been glad to have kept him for a year, whoever liked it or disliked it, so that no one would have been able to get him. There are numbers of great nobles who love him, who have strong castles. They could keep him as long as they wished even against both those kings.’ This consciousness of a national party at his back explains the readiness with which Hus went to Constance, and his strange optimism as to the result.
The letters of Hus written during his exile, when read in the light of this introduction, will explain themselves. They are of very diverse interest and value, some chiefly polemical, others exhibiting the tenderest side of a pastor’s care for his flock. The exact order of the letters is largely conjectural, the following letter, for instance, presumably being written on receiving the news of the attempted destruction of the Bethlehem. Though this letter is written in Czech, Hus seems to have had no rule on the matter, the letters that follow, though addressed to the same people, being in Latin. Letter XVII. is a remarkably dignified and interesting pastoral, probably intended to be read from the pulpit of the Bethlehem, as we know from other sources was the custom (infra, p. 172). So too in the case of others of this series. Letters XX. and XXII. are beautiful Christmas addresses, which even in a translation will give some idea of Hus’s powers as a preacher. In Letter XXVI. we have a wistful, tender strain in the first part of the letter, passing into a fighting spirit towards the close. As a revelation of the man this letter (XXVI.) is invaluable. We may add that the letters written during the exile are not easy to translate, while the references they contain to current polemics do not always add interest for a later generation.
To the People of Prague.
May God be with you, beloved lords and masters! I beg you in the first place to consider God’s cause, to which great injury is being done; for certain persons desire to suppress His holy word, to destroy a chapel1 that is useful for the preaching of His word, and thus to hinder men from salvation. Secondly, consider the disgrace brought upon your country and nation and race. Thirdly, consider the shame and wrong that are being unjustly done to yourselves. Fourthly, consider and endure it patiently, that the devil is raging against you, and Antichrist is showing his teeth; and yet like a dog chained up he will do you no hurt if you be lovers of God’s truth. Look! he hath been raging against me for a number of years, and hath not yet hurt a hair of my head, but is ever adding to my joy and gladness.
Moreover, you ought to know that to abjure is to be guilty of renouncing what you believe in. Thus, one who abjures either renounces the true faith which he held, or a heresy and an error. It is as if one were a Christian, and through fear or the devil’s enticement were to mix himself up with Jews or pagans and swear that he wished no longer to hold Christianity. Vice versâ, if a man holds a heresy—e.g., suppose he believes that the Lord Christ is not very God, as Jews and pagans believe—and then renounces this error, he is said to have abjured. Accordingly, be assured that if any of you abjure, as they suggest in their letters, he will abjure either the true faith and the truth, or—heresy and error. Accordingly, either after abjuring he will hold heresy or error—or before doing so, he will be proved to have held what he abjures. Therefore, understand that in their letters they judge you to be heretics and demand that you abjure the heresy which they suppose you to hold. From this it is evident that a son or friend of yours, if he abjure, can be disgraced for having consorted with a heretical father or friend. Further, it is evident that any other person can rightly say to any one who abjures, “You abjured the heresy which you held and you are not worthy of me.” In the third place, understand that if any one abjures and retains in his mind the truth he abjures, as they bid you do, he will be a perjurer. Let us then consider these matters and give the preference to the truth and to the promise of God. Let us live nobly in love and resist the lie of Antichrist to the end. Let us make the Saviour Almighty our Helper, Whom no man can overcome, and Who will never forsake us so long as we ourselves do not forsake Him. He will give us an eternal reward—to wit, the satisfaction of will, reason, memory, and all the senses of the body without stint. I write this to you (for I cannot conveniently come to you) that the priests may not thwart you in your religious duties and interfere with your good pleasure. Amen.
To the Same.
Master John Hus, a servant of Jesus Christ in hope, to all that love God and confess His law, looking for the appearing of the Saviour, with whom they yearn to live for ever: grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins, to deliver us from this troublesome world and from eternal damnation according to the will of God the Father, to Whom be glory for ever.1 Amen.
Beloved, I thank God on hearing of your desire for God’s word and your faithful progress therein; and I pray that it may please Him to give you a perfect understanding that you may recognise the wiles and deceits of Antichrist and his ministers and not suffer yourselves to be drawn away from God’s truth.
I trust that in His mercy He will fulfil the good work that has been begun in you and will not allow you to stray from His truth. Many have forsaken it in fear of danger, being in terror of miserable man rather than of Almighty God, Who hath the power to kill and make alive, to destroy and to save, and to preserve His faithful ones in divers sore perils, and to grant unto them the eternal life with joy unspeakable in return for a little momentary suffering.
Therefore, dear friends, be not afraid or disturbed with terror because the Lord tries some of you by suffering the ministers of Antichrist to frighten you with their tyranny. For God Himself, in Proverbs, third chapter, saith to one of His servants: Be notafraid of sudden fear, nor of the power of the wicked falling upon thee. For the Lord will be at thy side, etc.1 And by His prophet David He saith:2I am with him in tribulation: I will deliver him and glorify him, etc.
Knowing this, dear friends, count it all joy—as St. James saith—when you shall fall into divers temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience, and patience hath a perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing. And afterward he saith: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation. For when he hath been proved he shall receive the crown of life which God hath promised to them that love him.3 Stand, therefore, firmly in the truth which you know; do all things, whatsoever you do, as sons of God. Have confidence, because Christ hath conquered and you too will conquer. Remember Him Who endured many persecutions at the hands of sinners that you fail not in your good desires; and, at the same time, laying aside every weight of sin, let us run to constant battle, considering Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who having joy set before him endured the shame of the cross, despising confusion and sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God.4
Seeing that the Creator, the King and Lord of all the world, not being constrained by the necessity of His divinity, did humble Himself by His humanity, He, albeit without sin, faithfully ministered to us sinners, bearing hunger, thirst, cold, heat, watchings, weakness, toils in teaching, and suffered dreadful insults at the hands of the bishops,5 priests, and scribes, so that they called Him gluttonous, winebibber, possessed of a devil,1 and a blasphemer, saying: This man is not of God.2 Branding Him with heresy, they excommuicated Him, and leading Him outside the city, they crucified Him as a malefactor.
If, therefore, Christ suffered such things at the hands of the priests, He that healed all sicknesses by His word, and Who without money and without price,3 cast out devils, raised the dead, taught them the law of God, hurt no man in anything, and did no sin, except only that He exposed their wickedness, why do we wonder if to-day the ministers of Antichrist, who are more greedy, luxurious, cruel and crafty than the Pharisees, persecute God’s servants, insult, curse, excommunicate, imprison, and kill them?4
You will remember that our King and Lord said: If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.5
Mark! You have the prophecy of our Saviour that His elect will suffer persecution of the world—that is, of wicked men who know not God the Father and the Lord Jesus in truth. For though with their mouth they profess that they know God, yet by their evil works they deny him, as St. Paul saith to Titus:1Whose works are manifest,2 greed, simony, pride, luxury, the forsaking and despising of God’s word; who set also the traditions of men above every word of God, caring naught for humility, poverty, temperance, and the love of Christ.
Therefore the evil shall not cease to persecute the good so long as the war of Christ and Antichrist shall last in this world. For St. Paul saith: All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall grow worse and worse, erring and driving into error.3
St. Paul means by these words that all the godly shall suffer persecution for Christ’s sake. But evil men shall err and seduce others, and so shall fulfil their desires in evil-doing to their own destruction. Therefore, the Saviour prophesied of these in the words: Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men. For they will deliver you up in councils and they will scourge you in their synagogues. . . . The brother also shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the son, and the children shall rise up against father and mother and shall put them to death. And they shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake; but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved. And when they shall persecute you in this city, flee into another.4 But this persecution shall last till the day of judgment.
Therefore He saith further: Amen, I say to you, you shall not finish all the cities of Israel till the son of man come. The disciple is not above the master, nor theservant above his lord. If they have called the goodman of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household? Therefore fear them not.1
These words the Lord spake to His disciples that they might be able to escape such snares, cheering their minds that they might be wise and recognise by their works the ravening wolves that would swallow up the whole world in their greed.
Besides, He taught them how false prophets are recognised—namely, by the fact that they do not agree with the true prophets either in their writings2 or in their works. Thus, there are false Christs who assert that they are Christ’s chief disciples, while in their works they are His chief foes and adversaries. Therefore in all possible ways they attempt to crush God’s word, because it reproves their contumacy, pride, greed, luxury, simony, and other evil works.
They have accordingly attacked certain places of worship and chapels3 to prevent the word of God being preached in them; but Christ hath not suffered them to commit such a crime. I hear that they are now devising the destruction of the Bethlehem Chapel and are preventing preaching in other places of worship, where God’s word is wont to be taught; but I trust God that they will accomplish nothing. At first they laid their gins, their citations, and anathemas for the Goose, and now they are lying in wait for some of you; but since the Goose, a tame creature and a domestic fowl with no power to reach great heights in his flight, hath yet broken through their nets, we may the more confidently expect that other birds, which by God’s word and by their lives soar to high places, will break their traps in pieces. They spread out their nets and struck terror with their anathema as with a wooden toy-hawk and they shot their fiery bolt from Antichrist’s quiver, provided only they might hinder God’s word and worship. But the more they seek to conceal their true nature the oftener it betrays itself, and the more they strive to lay out their traditions like a net, the more they are broken through. In seeking to have the peace of the world, they lose both that and spiritual peace; in seeking to hurt others, they chiefly thwart themselves.
They suffer, therefore, the fate of the priests and high priests of the Jews, in that they lost what they tried to keep and fell into the pit they wished to escape in supposing that they could overcome and crush the truth, which always conquers. For its very property and nature is such that the more it is obscured, the more it shines forth, and the more it is laid low, the more it is raised up.
The high priests, priests, scribes, and Pharisees, the Herods, Pilate, and the people of Jerusalem condemned the Truth and gave Him to death and laid Him in the tomb; but He rose again, overcame them all, and gave in His own stead twelve other preachers.
And it is this same Truth Who hath sent to Prague, in the place of one feeble, weakly Goose, falcons and eagles, which surpass all other birds in the keenness of their sight. These, by God’s grace, soar high and seize other birds for Christ Jesus, Who will strengthen these His servants and confirm all His faithful ones. For He saith: I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.1 If then He, the true God, is with us, our mighty and righteous Defender, who in his malice2 would be able to withstand us? What fear shall part us from Him? or what death? What shall we lose, if for His sake we lose wealth, friends, the world’s honours, and our poor life? Surely at last we shall be delivered from this misery to receive wealth a hundred-fold more splendid, friends far dearer, and a joy more perfect. Death will not rob us of these things. For whoso dies for Christ, he is conqueror, and is delivered from all misery, and attains the eternal joy to which may it please our Saviour to bring us all.
This letter, dear brothers and sisters beloved, I write that you may be steadfast in the truth you have learnt and may have no fear of citations, and pay no less heed than before to the hearing of God’s word by reason of the cruel threats they utter. For God is faithful,3 Who will confirm and guard you from evil.
Finally, beloved, I beseech you to pray for them who proclaim God’s truth with grace. Pray for me also that I too may write and preach in fuller measure against the malice of Antichrist, and that God may put me in the forefront of the battle, if needs be, to defend His truth.
For be assured I shrink not from yielding up this poor body to peril or death for the sake of God’s truth, though I know that God’s word hath no need of us, nay, rather the truth of the gospel is spreading from day to day.
But I desire to live for the sake of those who suffer violence and need the preaching of God’s word, that the malice of Antichrist may be exposed in such wise that the godly can escape it. That is why I am preaching elsewhere and ministering to all such, knowing that the will of God is fulfilled in me, whether I die at the hands of Antichrist or on the bed of sickness. If I come to Prague, I am sure that my foes will be in wait for me and persecute you. For they do not serve God themselves, and they prevent others from serving Him. But let us pray God for them, that if there be any of the elect among them, they may be turned to the knowledge of the truth.
May God grant to you understanding in the things I write, and perseverance withal! May it please Him to fulfil your desires with every blessing by the merits of Jesus Christ, who suffered for us a most shameful and cruel death, leaving us an example1 that we should suffer in like manner according to His will. Amen.
To the Same
Master John Hus, a servant of Jesus Christ, to all who are at Prague, grace and peace from Jesus Christ! With my whole heart I earnestly desire that you may be free from all sin through Jesus Christ, and overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, setting at naught the vanities of this world. May you, through the grace of Jesus Christ, in a spirit of goodwill suffer all things for salvation’s sake, and so be able to persevere in your afflictions, even to the end. This is the burden of my entreaty on your behalf, for I always make mention of you in my prayers. It was for this that I laboured among you in the word of God for more than twelve years,1 as God is my witness; and it was the best comfort I could have, when I learnt of your diligence in hearing God’s word and marked the real and sincere penitence of many among you.
Therefore, dear friends, I beseech you, by the passion of Christ, to keep His gospel and hold it fast, and to bring forth fruit as you advance in all the things which in those days I rehearsed to you. Do not vacillate and waver in your minds. Moreover, give no heed to those who have entered upon an uncertain path and have taken a different turning, and who are now the keenest opponents of God and of my actions.
But you know, dear friends, that Christ’s disciples, who dwelt in His company, turned aside and walked no more with Him.2 Christ, indeed, came to separate men from another. As He Himself saith: I came to set a man at variance against his father and the daughter against her mother.3 And again: You shall be betrayed for My name’s sake by all men.4 And that we may not be moved by their rejection and terrified by persecution or death, the Saviour presently adds: But a hair of your head shall not perish: in your patience you shall possess your souls.1 If then a single hair shall not perish, how then can the faithful perish? Therefore, dear friends, study to keep the true faith and the sure hope. Stand firmly in the love of God’s word and cleave to it with earnest desire, listening to those whom the Saviour hath sent, that they may preach His gospel to you with fearless constancy, and withstand ravening wolves and false prophets. It is concerning these that Christ speaks to the faithful ones in the words: Many false prophets shall arise and shall seduce many.2 Christ bids the faithful beware of them, and teaches how they can be recognised—to wit, by their fruits, which are pride, fornication, greed, simony, contempt of God’s word and persecution of the faithful, backbiting, sycophancy, zeal for the traditions of men, etc.
Now, such wear sheep’s clothing;3 they put on the name and office of the Christian; and being within ravening wolves,4 they mangle and tear the flock of Christ. It was of these wolves that Christ spake to His disciples: Behold (saith He), I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.5 They had to be wise as serpents, He said, so as not to suffer themselves to be deceived and to slay within them Christ their Head; and simple as doves, so as to endure with patience the cruelty of wolves. Mark, dear friends, what a clear exposure of the wolves we have here, ay, and of their doctrine, so that we may not suffer ourselves to be enticed by them from the way of Christ, whereby we hasten to attain the joys of heaven. Preserve and guard faith, hope, charity, humility, gentleness, justice, modesty, temperance, sobriety, patience,1 and the other virtues which adorn our lives with noble conduct and works. Rejoice in that you suffer persecution.2 For Christ saith: Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.3Blessed are ye when men hate you,4 excommunicate and cast you out with anathemas for the sake of God’s word. Rejoice in that day: for great is your reward in heaven.5 Who, then, having faith, hope, and charity, would not for the Saviour’s sake undergo all such insults and shame, when he is sure of receiving a hundredfold in life eternal?
Looking, therefore, as you do for these things, you will remember what Christ said: There shall be tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be.6 How so? The apostle himself gives us the reason: For (saith he) there shall be a time when they will not endure7sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will join themselves8unto fables.9
This prophecy of St. Paul you now see with your own eyes already fulfilled. For elsewhere He saith: All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But impious men and seducers will grow worse and worse.10
Therefore, dear friends, as St. Peter exhorteth: Take heed lest, being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own steadfastness; but grow in thegrace of God and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.1 Pray God for me that it may please Him to grant me prosperity and success in preaching His word in all places where necessity shall demand—in cities, towns, villages, castles, fields, forests—wherever I can be of help, that the word of God may not be put to silence within me.2
Salute3 one another and comfort one another in the grace of God the Father and of His dearly beloved Son and of His Holy Spirit. He can guard you from sin and settle you in eternal joy: to whom be praise and glory for ever. Amen.
To the Same
To the faithful who are zealous for the Lord Jesus Christ and His word, dwelling in the city of Prague: Master John Hus, a priest unprofitable, yet having a desire for their perseverance in the love of God.
Dear friends, it is because of my strong desire that I beseech you not to draw back from the truth, the knowledge of which the Saviour in His mercy hath generously bestowed upon you. I trust indeed that the Lord will perfect what He hath begun in you the elect, and will grant unto you perseverance when you are tempted. For myself, likewise, I trust in the kindly goodness of our Saviour, although now I can say with the apostle, that to me to live is Christ and to die gain: and if to live in the flesh, this is to me the fruit of labour: and what I shall choose, I know not. But I am straitened between two, having a desire to be dissolvedand to be with Christ, a thing by far the better. But to abide still in the flesh is needful for you.1 So wrote the apostle to the Philippians, when confined in a Roman prison. In like manner, dearly beloved, I say to you, though not yet shut up in prison, that I would gladly die for Christ and be with Him; and yet I desire to labour for your salvation and what I shall choose, I know not,2 awaiting the mercy of God. I fear, however, that much ill may be wrought among you and that the faithful may suffer, while the wicked may lose their souls. The latter are now rejoicing and demanding that not only should the word of God be silenced within me, but also that the place of God’s word—the Bethlehem—should be closed by force.3 But is it possible that the Lord Almighty will grant them what they are asking for? Even though He suffer them by reason of the crimes of wicked men, as He did in Bethlehem, where He was born, and in Jerusalem, where He redeemed us, let us still sound abroad the praise of His glory, humbling ourselves under His power; He is with those who love Him, and delivers them that suffer in His behalf and reserves His scorners for perpetual fire. Hence it is, dear friends in the Lord, that I beseech you not to fail through weariness, but rather to entreat the Saviour to grant to us perseverance in that which is good. Let us trust His unbounded goodness that He will liberate His word and give us help against Antichrist, against whom by the help of your prayers, please Christ, I will wage war with God’s word for my weapon. Peace and love, advancement in all that is good, and hereafter eternal life in glory be unto you from our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
To the Faithful Bohemians
Master John Hus, priest and servant of the Lord Jesus Christ in hope, to all the faithful who are doing penance in grace and in suffering, waiting for the Advent of the Son of God;2 for the Son of God, when He cometh with the holy angels, will render to every man according to His merits.3
Dear friends, strengthen your hearts, since the Advent of the Lord will soon be drawing near. You know, dear friends, that the Lord Jesus hath come once already. Knowing this, ponder upon it in your hearts and stablish yourselves in grace and patience. Ponder, dear friends, upon the fact, that the Founder and Lord of the world, the Word of God, God eternal and immortal, humbled Himself and was made man for us sinners, Himself to be unto such as are faithful a faithful servant. The great Physician came to heal our monstrous wound. The Lord omnipotent came, not to put the living to death, but to raise to life the dead, and to deliver the elect from everlasting death. The King of the world and the great High Priest came to fulfil the law of God by His works. He came into the world, not to lord over it, but to give His life a ransom for many.4 He came not as a merchantman laden with the profits of greed, and not to heap together worldly goods, but to deliver from the devil with His own blood a people that had been sold under sin. He came, the All-powerful, to suffer under Pilate’s power at the hand of bishops,1 priests, elders, and religious men the most cruel and shameful of deaths, and to snatch us from the power of the devil. He came not to destroy the elect, but to save them, as He Himself saith: I am come that they may have life and may have it more abundantly,2 that they may have a life of holiness and peace, and have it more abundantly, after death, in joy eternal. It is My elect—not the proud, the fornicators, the greedy, the wrathful, the envious, the world-sick,3 the foes of My word and My life—but it is My elect that hear and keep My word and suffer with Me in grace.
Such is the dignity of the Saviour’s Advent! Ponder upon it, dear friends, in the depths of your hearts. Strengthen your hearts in grace and patience, if haply the Advent of the Lord leading on to judgment draws near. Stablish your hearts, dear friends, in grace, patience, and virtue. For the judgment is at hand, and the Judge is the most wise, just, and awful—wise, because His wisdom is never deceived4 —just, because He is not moved aside by gift, fear, or favour. And there will come with Him the apostles, sworn to be just, and appointed here with Him to a death that was no death. Ay, and there is at hand the judgment of a Judge most awful, at Whose bidding necessity will be laid upon all men to publish their evil deeds to the whole world,1 and by Whose will their souls and bodies will be burned in everlasting fire. What He wills, He will behold2 —to wit, their everlasting perdition in darkness and in the abode of devils, while they will also hear from His own lips the just sentence: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.3 Here, then, dear friends, are the two things to be pondered—the dignity of His first Advent, the justice and awfulness of His second Advent! Strengthen your hearts in grace and in suffering. If you suffer aught, consider what I have said. Lift up your heads—that is, your purposes—because your redemption draweth nigh,4 your redemption from every misery. The just Judge will call you away from it all when He utters the words: Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom.5 Which kingdom may it be yours and mine withal to receive at the good pleasure of the Lord Jesus, the merciful, awful, comforting Judge, very God and man, blessed for ever. Amen.
To the People of Prague
Master John Hus, in hope a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, to all His lovers. May it please God the Father, blessed for ever, to grant unto you the forgiveness of sins, confirmation in that which is good, and eternal salvation hereafter.
Dear friends, the commemoration of our Lord’s Nativity is at hand. Therefore, cleanse the inward parts of your house1 from sins in so far as you are able. Diligently and thankfully listen to God’s word; give no heed to our carping critics who forbid you from attending the Bethlehem to listen to sermons.2 Formerly, however, they used to draw you away on my account. Now they are without a reason, but assert that I have taken to flight, which I did of my own will in order to stablish the word and example of Christ. His “word”—because He said: If they will not receive your word in one city, flee into another, and going forth out of that city shake off the dust from your feet3 as a testimony against them. And elsewhere He saith: When you are persecuted in one city, flee into another.4 Again, when they drove Him from their midst and sought to slay Him, He several times fled; and especially when they wished to take Him, John, tenth chapter, writes how he escaped out of their hands and went again beyond the Jordan into that place where John was baptising first, and there he abode.5 Also in chapter xiii.6 the same John writes that while they were devising to put Him to death He walked no more openly among the Jews, but he went into a country near the desert unto a city that is called Ephrem, and there he abode with his disciples. The Jews also sought for him,7and theydiscoursed one with another, standing in the temple: What think you, that he is not come to the festival day? And the chief princes of the priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment that if any man knew where he was he should point him out that he might be apprehended. This is how John writes.
It is not, therefore, wonderful that I followed His example in fleeing, and that the priests are inquiring and discoursing with one another and others in like manner, as to where I am. Besides, dear friends, if I have fled in accordance with Christ’s teaching, it is that I may not be an occasion of eternal damnation to the wicked and a cause of suffering and tribulation to the good, and also that madmen might not hinder the sacred work. But as for fleeing from the truth—why, I trust that the Lord will give me an opportunity of dying in the same truth.
You know that it behoved Christ to suffer,1 as He Himself testifies, at the time appointed to Him of His Father. Therefore, hold to it firmly that it shall be done as it pleases the Lord to work with me, so that if I shall be found worthy of death, it will please Him to call me to this; but if it shall please Him to prolong my preaching to His people, why, all these things are stored up2 in His power and will.
Perhaps they would be glad to see me in the city of Prague that those who are touched to the quick by holy preaching against greed, luxury, and pride might find excuse for neglecting the hours, the masses, and the other offices;3 but you who are zealous for God’s word, to which you are being conformed, would be glad in your love to see me a neighbour, so to speak, to you, for your good.1 In like manner I too would like to see you and preach God’s word to you, for it is in this that the other priests also ought to show their greatest earnestness. Woe to the priests who count the word of God as naught! Woe to those who are supposed to preach and do not preach! Woe to those who hinder from preaching and hearing! But praise be to those who hear the word and keep it, for it is Christ that gives to them His indulgences, saying: Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.2 May this blessedness and this hearing be granted to you by the good pleasure of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, eternally one God, blessed for ever. Amen.
To the Same
Dear friends, although I am now separated from you, because perchance I am unworthy to preach much to you, nevertheless the love which I bear towards you urges me to write at least some brief words to my loved ones.3
Lo! dear friends, to-day, as it were, an angel is saying to the shepherds: I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all people.4 And suddenly a multitude of angels breaks into praise, saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill!5
As you commemorate these things, dear friends, rejoice that to-day God is born a man, that there may be glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of goodwill. Rejoice that to-day the infinitely Mighty is born a child, that there may be glory to God in the highest, etc. Rejoice that to-day a Reconciler is born to reconcile man to God, that there may be glory to God in the highest, etc. Rejoice that to-day He is born to cleanse sinners from their sin, to deliver them from the devil’s power, to save them from eternal perdition, and to bring them to eternal joy, that there may be glory to God in the highest, etc. Rejoice with great joy that to-day is born unto us a King, to bestow in its fulness upon us the heavenly kingdom, a Bishop to grant His eternal benediction, a Father of the ages to come, to keep us as His children by His side for ever: yea, there is born a Brother beloved, a wise Master, a sure Leader, a just Judge, to the end that there may be glory to God in the highest, etc. Rejoice, ye wicked, that God is born as a Priest, Who hath granted to every penitent absolution from all sins, that there may be glory, etc. Rejoice that to-day the Bread of Angels—that is, God—is made the Bread of men, to revive1 the starving with His Body, that there may be peace among them, and on earth, etc. Rejoice that God immortal is born, that mortal man may live for ever. Rejoice that the rich Lord of the Universe lies in a manger, like a poor man, that he may make us rich. Rejoice, dearly beloved, that what the prophets prophesied has been fulfilled, that there may be glory to God in the highest, etc. Rejoice that there is born to us a Child all-powerful, and that a Son is given to us, all-wise and gracious, that there may be glory to God in the highest, etc. Oh, dear friends, ought there to be but a moderate rejoicing over these things? Nay, a mighty joy! Indeed, the angel saith: I bring you good tidings of great joy, for that there is born a Redeemer from all misery, a Saviour of sinners, a Governor of His faithful ones; there is born a Comforter of the sorrowful, and there is given to us the Son of God that we may have great joy, and that there may be glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of goodwill. May it please God, born this day, to grant to us this goodwill, this peace, and withal this joy!
To the Same1
Master John Hus, priest and servant in hope of the Lord Jesus Christ, to all the faithful ones that hear His word in the city of Prague: grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear friends, I beseech you to fail not through weariness, because I am not with you and because of my excommunication, if they carry it out. I, indeed, trust in the kindness of the Saviour that all this will work out for good2 both to myself and you alike. Only let us guard ourselves from sin and be deeply concerned about those who thwart God and His word, supposing that they are doing right after the manner of the Jews, who crucified Christ and stoned St. Stephen: of whom Christ, nay St. Stephen also, saith: They know not what they do.1 Am I hurt at all because in a blasphemous back-hand fashion they preach a crusade against me,2 make a covenant with Judas, throw stones at the Host, and so beget vexation for themselves? May the Lord God grant that they do not excommunicate themselves. They planned out these devices in order to frighten the simple and lead them away just as they pleased; but the Lord Almighty will give the faithful to know what it all means, so that they may recognise that it is a mere invention of their minds and not a command from the Lord: so that also they may pray for those who are in error and proclaim that they will be excommunicated of God: only they must not behave in God’s temple in this blasphemous way towards those who do them no harm. They pick up stones not knowing what they mean by so doing; but they throw stones, as is recorded in their own writings,3 in memory of the eternal damnation of Dathan and Abyron,4 who thrust themselves into the priesthood, though of inferior dignity; and who therefore by their overthrow foreshadow the overthrow of all priests that have thrust themselves into the priesthood for the sake of riches, luxuries, and honours. They make a covenant with the sons of Judas, so that they become notable sons of Judas themselves. They are all guilty of simony, excommunicated of God, Who looks upon those whose own downfall will be caused by the excommunication they themselves pronounce. And seeing that there is a multitude of people excommunicated of God, therefore it is, dear friends, that we should flee His excommunication and entreat His grace, that it may please Him to keep us in His benediction. Any other excommunication cannot harm us one whit: but rather will the Bishop Who is above all bishops1 grant us His benediction, saying: Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.2 Which benediction, dear friends, let us pray for, seek, and await by living good lives, that we may withal abide for ever in infinite joy, through the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is God and man, blessed for ever.3 Amen.
To the Same
Master John Hus, an unprofitable servant of God, to all the elect and to those who are zealous for the Lord Jesus Christ and His word, dwelling in the city of Prague: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
Dear friends, I greatly rejoice in this, that you constantly attend the preaching of God’s word, and that the merciful Saviour is granting to you leaders powerful in the truth. May it therefore please the Almighty to bestow upon you grace, mercy, and peace through our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; grace for your good, that you may make good progress in that same grace, in like manner as you have begun, and come to a profitable issue therein: mercy to be kept in your remembrance and gratefully received, seeing that the Eternal God, the supreme Goodness, for us sinners deigned to become man, afflicted, spat upon, shamefully entreated, condemned of His own, vilely rejected in such wise that the common people, led away by the counsel of the priests and having to choose between two, chose, instead of Jesus the innocent Saviour, a robber and villainous homicide, and placed the Saviour in such derision and shame that He uttered a lamentation in the words of Jeremiah: Hear, I pray you, all ye people and see my sorrow. And again: O all ye that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.1 Also He cried to His Father saying: O God, why hast thou forsaken me?2 Such was indeed His cry, as He hung on the cruel and shameful cross and suffered the blasphemy of the priests, who surrounded the cross and shouted and hissed out the mocking words: He trusted in God: let him now deliver him.3Vah,4thou that destroyest the temple of God . . . come down from the cross!5 But His cry was: O God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? It is that cry that calls upon us to mark His boundless mercy, to suffer blasphemy in the spirit of love along with Him, and to be thankful for the mercy wherewith He redeemed us from everlasting damnation.
Such, then, is the mercy that comes to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour, Who grants you also peace. Our Master, the Peacemaker, taught His disciples to be peacemakers, so that, in whatsoever house they entered, they were to say: Peace be to you.1 When He rose from the dead and entered into the midst of them, He said: Peace be to you.2 When, too, He was minded to depart from them to His death, He said: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.3 After His manner, therefore, I desire peace for you also, dear friends—peace to you from Him, that you may live virtuous lives and overcome the devil, the world, and the flesh—peace to you from Him, that you may love one another, ay, and your enemies4 —peace to you, that that you may peaceably hear His word—peace to you, that you may speak with discretion—peace to you, that you may know how how to be silent with advantage. For he that hears in a humble spirit, doth not contend in a cause with malice; he that speaks with discretion, overcomes the contentious; he that keeps silence to good purpose, doth not quickly wound his conscience. For these reasons peace be unto you, grace and mercy—grace that preserves from sin; mercy that delivers from eternal fire and the peace of eternal repose in the eternal joy, which comes to all the faithful after this paltry life—from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, to whom be praise for ever and ever.5 Amen.
To the Synod of Prague in the year 1413
Against the Judgment of the Doctors.2
The persons who have falsely defamed Bohemia, both before the Pope and in other quarters, or are doing so even now, declaring that in Bohemia there are many heretics or wanderers from the faith of Christ, ought by right to point out these wanderers from the faith and prove their guilt. If they fail to prove their guilt and do not withdraw their defamation of the kingdom, they ought to be punished as betrayers of the fair fame of the Bohemian people. For whereas the doctors in their judgment record that the Bohemians who utter the calumnies, are certain clergymen in Bohemia that hold views concerning the sacraments differing from the Holy Catholic Church; secondly, whereas they assert that some persons in Bohemia refuse to abide by the faith and law of the Holy Catholic Church; thirdly, whereas they assert that certain persons do not obey their prelates and persuade the people not to hold in honour the authority of the Pope, bishops, and priests (though they ought to judge as in error or a heretic a man who holds a different opinion concerning the sacraments, and refuses to think or believe as the Holy Church doth); whereas, then, the doctors assert that there are certain heretics or persons in error in Bohemia, therefore they ought to point them out clearly and prove their guilt, and, failing this, to undergo punishment as guilty of defamation and betrayers of the fair fame of the kingdom of Bohemia.
The doctors also state that each person is bound to obey his prelate, provided that he command not what is really bad, or forbid what is really good. This very thing they themselves failed to do, when the Pope commanded them to elect Master Maurice into their order.1 They would not obey the Pope in this matter. Moreover, they themselves and the other priests will not obey the King of Bohemia, their chief prelate,2 or give a tenth, although he neither commands what is bad in itself nor forbids what is really good. His Majesty also can, by rights, give orders that the sacred offices are not to be interrupted on account of the preaching of Master Hus; and the priests ought to obey in this matter, for it is not an action bad in itself to serve God.
Furthermore, they censure the forty-five articles against the ecclesiastical order, though no one is allowed to censure an error, except the Holy Church alone. Master Stanislaus and Master Palecz formerly held and defended many of these articles, until they became afraid of the secular arm.
They state also that because they excommunicate Master Hus by the Pope’s authority, he is justly excommunicated, although they know that the priests drew up the excommunication acting on false counsels. Furthermore, they state that though the rector excommunicates some of the doctors, they themselves are not involved in the excommunication, thereby defaming others and exalting themselves.1
Their judgment, therefore, inasmuch as it is disgraceful, should be rejected.
To Master Christian of Prachaticz, Rector of the University of Prague.
Worshipful rector, gracious master and father, I am greatly comforted by your letter, in which among other things you write: Whatever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad.2 And again: All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.3 From these words you infer that I am not broken, cast down, and saddened, but strengthened, uplifted, and gladdened by the tribulations of the moment and the absence of my friends. Very thankfully do I welcome this comfort, as I ponder the first sentence of the Scriptures you have quoted. For if I am just, nothing whatever shall make me so sad as to cause me to fall from the truth. But if I live godly in Christ and will so to do, then I must suffer persecution in Christ’s name. For if it behoved Christ to suffer and so to enter into His glory,4 it must needs be that we poor creatures should bear a cross and so imitate Him in His sufferings.
I assure you, therefore, worshipful lord rector, that persecution would never make me weary, if only I did not feel my sins and the confusion of Christian people. For what harm can I suffer by the loss of this world’s riches, which are but dung?1 Or by the withdrawal of the world’s favour, which makes us fall away from the path of Christ? Or by the attacks which, when humbly endured, cleanse and purify the sons of God, so that they shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father?2 Or by the taking of my poor life, which is but death; for he that loses his life in this world puts death away and finds3 his true life.
Yet men do not think of these things, being blinded by pride, fame, self-seeking, and greed; and some have been turned from the truth by fear, when there was nothing to fear. For bereft of patience, and thus of love and every virtue, they waste away in strange perplexity of mind, because they feel constrained on the one hand by their knowledge of the truth, on the other hand by the fear of losing their good name and risking their poor body even to death. I will risk my own, I trust, for the Lord Jesus, if in His mercy I have opportunity. I have no wish to live on in this evil world, if I cannot call myself and others to repentance according to God’s good pleasure. This is the burden of my prayer for you also, and I beseech you in Christ Jesus, with all your fellow-members of the University, to be prepared for a battle; for the reconnoitres of Antichrist have already begun, and the fight will soon follow. The Goose also must needs flap his wings against the wings of Behemoth, and against his tail, which always conceals the abomination of the beast Antichrist. Who is the tail? The prophet showeth in the words: The prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail; the aged and honourable, he is the head. The Lord shall destroy the head and the tail1 —that is, the Pope2 and his prophets, masters, doctors, priests, who under the false pretext of sanctity conceal the abomination of the beast. Pray, what greater abomination can there be than a harlot who should parade herself and offer herself publicly? Yes, there is the still greater abomination of the beast sitting in a place of honour and offering himself for worship to all comers, as though he were God: ready to sell whatever a man may wish to buy in matters spiritual.3 Yea, he sells what he doth not possess. Woe be to me, then, if I shall not preach, weep, and write against such an abomination! Woe is me! See to it yourself also. To whom is there not woe? The flying eagle4 cries: woe, woe, woe to the men that dwell upon the earth!
To the Same
Greetings from the Lord Jesus Christ! Christ the Lord helping me, I will not accept the judgment of the theological faculty, though I stand before a fire prepared for me. I hope that death will take either me or the two who have deserted the truth, to heaven or to hell, before I agree with their views. For I know that both in previous times loyally confessed the truth according to Christ’s gospel; but, stricken with terror, they turned to flattery of the Pope and to lies. Palecz calls us Wyclifists,1 as if we were straying from the entire faith of Christendom, and Stanislaus calls us infidels, traitors, madmen, and an accursed clergy. But I would pay no heed to this, provided they were not confirming Antichrist in his wickedness. But I hope with God’s grace, if needs be, to set myself against them even to the lighting of a fire. And if I cannot deliver the truth in spite of all I do, at least I refuse to be the enemy of the truth and will resist to the death all agreement with falsehood. Let the world run its course, as God permits. It is better to die well than to live badly. We must not sin to avoid the punishment of death. To end in grace the present life is to be banished from misery. He that adds knowledge, adds labour. He that speaks the truth, is smitten on his own head. He that fears death, loses the joys of life. Above all else, truth is conqueror. He conquers, who is slain: for no adversity hurts him if no iniquity hath dominion over him. For the apostle Peter saith: Who is he that can hurt you, if you be zealous of good?2Blessed are ye when men shall revile you,3 saith the Truth. My brethren, count it all joy when you shall fall into divers temptations:4blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he hath been proved heshall receive the crown of life.1 These are my foundations: these the dishes with which my spirit is revived so that I may be courageous against all adversaries of the truth.
As for these doctors whom you mention, they refuse to act against their consciences. You know how Palecz used to talk in the old days at your house. And I know for a fact that Stanislaus held the remanence of the bread and recorded his views in a treatise; and he asked me before he began this disturbance if I would hold the same view along with him.2 Subsequently he swore to it and then abjured it; and two years afterwards,3 when Stiekna came with his treatise,4 in his terror of the Archbishop and not knowing how to escape, he asserted on oath that he had not finished the treatise. Before he was summoned to the Archbishop’s court, he said, “The monk Stiekna must go on his knees before me and beg for his life, because he dared to charge my treatise with being a fresh graft of heresy.” How, then, can I believe that they would not be ready to act against their consciences? Is it to save their consciences that they call us infidels, traitors, madmen, wanderers from the entire faith of Christ, and an accursed clergy? Let God be the judge of this.
As to your proposed change of benefice. It seems to me in all conscience you should on no account give it up; for I hope that you are a shield where you are, against Antichrist. It is on this account in my judgment that God hath decreed that, as there was a rector in that parish who was the greatest enemy of the truth, so you, on the other side, should be the friend of God’s word. As to the parochial clergy and their unwillingness to receive gratefully all the spiritual oversight which they enjoy, you have in Ezekiel, chapter iii.,1 a full verdict for your own justification. Read the passage. I will write to those whose names you give, and I will forward you the treatise, pending their reply to the charges of Stanislaus. Farewell in Christ Jesus. I think I sinned in giving up my preaching at the King’s wish: therefore I am not willing to live any longer in this sin.
To the Same
Greetings from Christ Jesus, the true Head of the Church;2 for He it is that truly gives to His members spiritually to live, move, and have their being, since it is in Himself that we live, move, and are, as Paul asserted in the schools of Athens before the philosophers (Acts 2a).3
My lord rector, you have put this among the chief points—namely, whether I am willing to agree to the proposition that the Pope is the head of the Holy Roman Church, and the cardinals the body, and, further, to abide by all the rulings and decisions of the Holy Roman Church.1 Truly here latet anguis in herba!2 For if the Pope is the head of the Roman Church and the cardinals the body, then they in themselves form the entire Holy Roman Church, as the entire body of man with the head is the man.3 In fact, its own disciples, the satellites of Antichrist, use interchangeably the expressions “Holy Roman Church” and “Pope and cardinals.” Suppose that Satan incarnate, together with twelve of his proudest devils, were to sit in Peter’s place, and suppose that his rule and first principle were that whatever he and his monstrous body laid down must be held as the faith! For this was how the devil tempted Christ, declaring that he had power to grant to Him all the kingdoms of the world, if He would fall down and worship him.4 It is passing strange, moreover, that the disciples of Antichrist now wish to lay down a ruling in the matter of the sacraments. Hath not the Church existed for 1413 years without this ruling which is now to be? I am aware that they wrote to the Curia about the judgment of the doctors and the prelates. They reserve these matters for Antichrist’s assent, in order to lead us astray. They admit him to be the more important, that1 they may reach this conclusion: “You are a heretic! For it follows that whatever the Holy Roman Church rules (that is, the Pope along with the cardinals) must be held as the faith; but the Pope, along with his associates, rules that indulgences ‘by pocket and purse’2 are Catholic: therefore this must be held as the faith. But you, Hus, have preached the opposite. Abjure, therefore, your heresy, or be burned.”
Item, whatever the Pope rules, etc. But he rules that Hus is an obstinate fellow under ban of excommunication, and thus is a heretic. Therefore he must be condemned.
Item, whatever the Pope rules, etc. But the Pope rules that the decision of the doctors, alias the enemies of the truth, arrived at in the court, is just and holy. Therefore it must hold good.3
Item, whatever the Pope rules must hold good. But the Pope rules that all who have Wyclif’s books should give them up to be burnt, and must abjure. Therefore this also we must hold.4
Item, whatever the Pope rules, etc. But the Pope rules by an edict that preaching is not to take place in any chapel. Therefore, etc.5
Item, whatever the Pope rules must hold good. But Boniface with the cardinals solemnly decreed that Wenzel, King of Bohemia, is not King of the Romans, nor Sigismund of the Hungarians. Therefore we must hold this.1
And which of us can search out the number of decisions that Antichrist might aim at us at his own sweet will? Thus I observe that the doctors would like to compare Christ to Belial, on the ground, however, that Christ doth not nominate the head of the Holy Church. So also they make no mention of Christ in their written judgment. I should like to know if Pope Liberius the heretic,2 Leo the heretic, and Pope John,1 who was delivered of a boy, were the heads of the Roman Church. If that be the case, then it matters not if some time afterwards a harlot or an Antichrist of the first order should be the head of the Holy Roman Church. Then, of course, Antichrist wishes to be placed on an equality with Christ. But what fellowship hath Christ with Belial?2 It is not sufficient for him and his satraps3 that he is Christ’s vicar (at all events, if he strenuously fulfils Christ’s law), and that they themselves are the ministers of the Church, performing regularly the duty of preaching the gospel after the manner of the holy apostles, who claimed to be the ministers given to the Church to teach the very law of Christ.
I would like to see the argument of that doctor4 —what he would prove by the fact that Christ was the Head of the Church, as without doubt He was, for the three days He was in the tomb.5 For from the beginning of His incarnate life He was the essential Head of the Church by virtue of His humanity,6 which He did not lay aside during the three days.7 The consequence was that he was the Head of the Holy Church for three days, as being the most worthy Person in the human race, excelling the angels and all men, and the holy fathers in Limbo, who were all members of the Church, and who were led forth by their Head behind Himself from Limbo, and thereafter placed by Him in glory.1 The virgin mother of Christ was then in a sense the Church militant in her own person by virtue of her faith and love.2 Now, she had more worth than all the apostles, and consequently more than all the prelates of to-day, including the Pope.
As for the dictum of the doctor that the Catholic Apostolic Church and the Roman Church are one and the same: if by the “Roman Church” is understood the Church universal of which the apostles form a part, then it is true. If, however, “Roman Church” means in that context “Pope along with the cardinals,” then the Roman Church is not identical with the Catholic Apostolic Church, just as no partial Church is the universal Holy Apostolic Church.
I would like the doctors to tell me what the Roman Church stands for in the passage where (Cause 24, question 1, chapter headed “This is the Faith”),3 on the authority of Jerome, the Holy Roman Church is said to be that which has remained ever immaculate, and in the providence of the Lord and by the help of the blessed apostle Peter will abide for all time unviolated by heretics.4 For there it cannot stand for the Pope and the cardinals, seeing that they are stained with more vices than other men, as Stanislaus and Palecz bore witness. There have been many heretical popes, and many of very doubtful character. A woman hath sat in the chief seat of the Church. How, then, hath the Roman Church—that is, cardinals and Pope—remained always without a blemish?1 Would that the disciples of Antichrist were content to believe that the Holy Roman Church is the whole body of Christ’s faithful saints militant in the faith of Christ!2 This doctrine Peter, Bishop of Rome, and, above all, Christ, the Bishop of our souls, taught. Though we could conceive of Rome as overthrown, Pope and cardinals included, as completely as Sodom, still the Holy Church would remain. . . .3
To the Same
I wish to abide by this: I hold the Pope to be Christ’s Vicar in the Roman Church; but it is not the whole of my faith. Item, I abide by this: if the Pope is predestinate and in the exercise of the pastoral office follows Christ in his own life, then he is the head of so much of the Church Militant as he rules over; and if he accordingly rules as head over what is now the entire Church Militant according to Christ’s law, then he is the true representative of the Supreme Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. If, however, his life is contrary to Christ, then he is a thief and robber climbing up another way1 and is a ravenous wolf, a hypocrite and at this moment among all the pilgrims2 the chief Antichrist.3 They ought therefore, according to the forewarning of Christ, to beware of such a wolf and attend to the prophecy of Christ, Who said: If any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ or there, do not believe him. And why? For there shall arise false Christs—that is, popes bearing Christ’s name—and shall show great signs. There shall arise false prophets—that is, the doctors of the popes—and shall show great signs and wonders in so much as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.4 Blessed therefore is he that shall not be afraid of their terrors that come as lightning from heaven—that is, excommunications whereby they terrify the righteous and provoke marvelling among the peoples; nor of their wonders—that is, miracles wrought at a distance (for they act from the Roman Curia to Prague, a distance of two hundred miles!5 ) such as neither Simon Magus nor the apostle Peter wrought. Blessed is he that considers the abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place. He that readeth, let him understand,6 saith Christ, the Head of the Church. For what greater abomination can there be in the holy place—that is, the holy office—than that in the place—that is, the sanctity—where the holiest, most gracious, gentlest, humblest, poorest, most untiring, most patient, most chaste of all men hath sat, there is now sitting one in name the holiest, but in reality the worst, the most cruel, the most vengeful, the proudest, the richest in this world’s wealth, the most indolent,1 the most impatient, and the most unclean?2 Is it not an abomination of desolation in a place apart? Truly is Christ set forth by the false prophets to be in a desert place, which is left forlorn of all the virtues. Christ the Lord prophesied and forewarned His own: When you shall see the abomination in the holy place: he that readeth, let him understand. And afterwards: If they shall say to you, behold Christ (sic) is in the desert, believe it not: go ye not out3 —that is, from the right faith which I have declared to you—saying that he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven who is the more humble; and he that exalteth himself, is the more abased.4 Believe not everything which the false prophets shall say to you when they set forth that Christ in person sits at Rome as the Head of the Church. Blessed is that man who shall not be offended!5
Item, I abide by this: whatever the Holy Roman Church or the Pope along with the cardinals shall decree or order to be held or done according to Christ’s law, that in a humble spirit, as a faithful Christian, I wish to respect and reverently accept. But not whatever the Pope along with the cardinals hath laid down or ordered universally.1 For I have taken up the opposite position and abide by it: it is for this reason, as you know, that I am now under excommunication.
Hostiensis2 in his gloss on the fifth chapter of the decretals (‘A nobis’3 ) holds that the Pope (as also the whole Roman Curia) can err in the way of morality, just as he often errs in his judgment of the truth. I hold boldly to his reading. For if the twelve apostles erred in their judgment of the truth and in the way of morality, how is it that the Pope and cardinals cannot fail in their judgment of the truth and in the way of morality? This actually happened when Pope John—the woman Agnes4 —and all the cardinals, nay, those belonging to the Roman Church, were deceived in the judgment of the truth: for this same John, Agnes herself, said she was the Holy Father; and the cardinals, together with the others, affirmed that very same thing. May Christ Jesus then be blessed for having suffered this to take place in His Church for our instruction and warning!
To the Same
Worshipful lord rector, reverend father and master! I do not believe that the schism of the people can be lulled to sleep: for Christ’s prophecy must needs be fulfilled, Who came not to send peace, but a sword, to separate father from son and mother from daughter, etc.2 The prophecy of Paul also saith that the son of iniquity shall not be accomplished unless there came a schism first.3 As to the disgrace of the king and his kingdom,4 what matters it to us, if the king is good, and provided at least some of his subjects are good? Christ in His earthly course suffered deep disgrace along with His elect, to whom He said: They will put you out of the synagogues, and will slay some of you, thinking that they are doing a service to God.5And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake,6 you shall be delivered up by parents and kinsfolk. Now this is worse than to suffer at the hands of Stanislaus and Palecz! But as to my victory, it depends not on the world’s good report; for I know that he is conqueror, who is slain.
You know the subject-matter of the dispute: first, the condemnation of the articles; secondly, as you have heard, the robbery connected with the indulgences; and now a third objection has been added by the counsel of the Pharisees.1 In the first place, it is concerned with the point that my fellow-preachers and I are a pestiferous set of clerks, in error as to the sacraments; secondly, with the heretical dictum, “There cannot be found or given upon earth any other successors of that order than the Pope, who is head, and the College of Cardinals, which is the body of the Roman Church”; thirdly, with this point of the judgment, “The Pope is the head, while the College of Cardinals is the body, being clearly the true successors of the chief of the apostles”; and fourthly with this point, “The Apostolic Seat—that is, the Pope with the cardinals of the Roman Church and his prelates—must be obeyed in everything whatsoever, if what is purely good is not forbidden nor what is purely evil enjoined.” By God’s grace I trust I have never disseminated such gross errors, nor ever will do so! For what can be a greater exaltation of Antichrist above all we speak of as God—that is, above the deity and humanity of Christ—than to say that God cannot have any other successors in His Church than the Pope along with his cardinals? If they had laid it down that God cannot have worse people belonging to His Church than the Pope and the cardinals, they would have had greater evidence for their words. Methinks therefore that God from time to time by their inventions reveals to us Antichrist and his disciples. But He will give to us knowledge and a spirit of courage to wage war on all such deceivers!
In Letter XXXI. we are reminded of the connection of Hus with that stormy petrel of the Bohemian Reformation, Jerome of Prague. The incessant travels of this rich young noble would take us far afield. The results of his journey to Oxford we have already seen (p. 8). Wherever he went, his militant Wyclifism brought him into trouble with the authorities. In Paris, Gerson the Chancellor was taking measures for his arrest when he ‘secretly slipped away’; on a second visit to Oxford in 1407-8, he was charged with heresy, and only obtained his release through the intercession of Prague. Similar troubles and similar escapes attended his visits to Buda-Pesth (October 1410), to Lithuania (March 1411), and Cracow (March 1413).
This was not the first time that Jerome had met with opposition at Vienna. In September 1410 we hear of his preaching Lollardism in that newly founded University, and being excommunicated by the clergy of St. Stephen’s. But on September 12 he escaped, ‘like a sparrow from the net of the fowlers,’ to the castle of Bietow, in Moravia, which belonged to a friend of Hus. Whether Jerome had recently visited Vienna it is impossible to say, but on his arrival, in March 1413, at Cracow at the court of Ladislaus of Poland (Jagiello), he found letters of accusation from the University already awaiting him. Jerome, who had allowed his beard to grow in Lithuania, shaved, and presented his passports to Ladislaus, clothed in the red gown of his degree, but in a few days, at the instance of the clergy, was put over the frontier ‘that he might plough in his own country, for our soil seems too dry to receive his seed’ (Doc. 506).
Between the Czech University of Prague and the German University at Vienna, which owed its somewhat struggling existence to the jealousy of the Habsburgs, little love was lost at any time, nor was the rivalry lessened by Prague’s expulsion of the Germans. On the occasion of Jerome’s first trouble at Vienna, the University of Prague had at once petitioned the civil authorities for his protection (September 3, 1410). Now the new rector, Michael Malenicz, hastened to support the letter of Hus by a letter dated a week later (July 8, 1413), the similarity of whose language1 shows that it was inspired by Hus.
The text of this letter in Palackẏ and Höfler differs considerably; and, on the whole, the better readings will be found in Höfler (ii. 209). To some of the differences we draw attention in the notes.
To Master John Sybart2in the University of Vienna
He deserveth no greeting, who defames his neighbours with grievous falsehoods, but is marked out as one worthy of correction, that, when his falsehood is recognised by him, he may the more quickly turn into the way of charity. To think that you are a professor, not of theology, but of lying information! Why do you state3 that Master Jerome is not the least of the disseminators of heresy when you know nothing about his beliefs? Why do you add the notorious lie that he went on a visit to the King of Cracow and to his brother in order to subvert their views? Are you a searcher of hearts? Do you know a man’s mind at such a distance?4 Are you a professor of Christ’s law, when you defame your neighbour with a lie? It must be Antichrist who hath taught you to talk in this mad strain. What of Christ’s law, Judge not, and you shall not bejudged?1 What of this: If thy brother sin against thee, reprove him?2 Why, instead of giving your brother in the first place a loving reproof by yourself alone, you publish a damaging calumny!3 And you have had the audacity to put your sharp teeth not only into an honourable master, but into great communities. Bohemia did not suffice you but you must fix a charge of heresy (which I trust is a false charge) upon the Slavonic people before the students with diabolical rashness, and with no firsthand knowledge. Judging the hidden things of the heart (forsooth!), you wrote that they were “heresiarchs and schismatics,4 carrying honey on their lips and holding the fatal poison of asps in their hearts.”5 This is the way you unjustly judge your neighbours, supposing also that they are attempting to stir up a mad revolt against the clergy. God is standing ready to judge. Granted that in name you are a professor of theology, yet if you do not in very deed confess the truth and do penance for this offence, you will have to give an account for every word to the strictest6 of all judges. Is it part of your professorial calling7 to fall into confusion as to individuals, to charge your brothers with heresy, and to gather together lies in different quarters against your neighbours? Surely you have been badly instructed in the theology of love! May God grant you the spirit of truth to speak that which is holy and right before the Lord and not what is calumnious and defamatory, the offspring of the spirit of falsehood and error. I am writing without words of flattery, to prevent you sowing the seeds of detraction and scandal among your neighbours, and from the desire that you may abstain from such behaviour and do penance for the offences you have committed. Written on the octave of John Baptist, by the hands of Master John Hus, in hope a servant of Jesus Christ.
To the People of Prague
Grace and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. Thus saith the Lord God in the verses of the holy Jeremiah: Stand ye on the ways and hear and ask for the old paths, which is the good way, and walk ye in it, and ye shall find refreshment for your souls.2 Stand ye in the ways of God, which are the great humility of the Lord Jesus Christ, His mercy, patience, and toilsome life, afflicted and sorrowing even to His foul death; for the blessed Saviour Himself saith: Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart.3 And in another place He saith: I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.4 Moreover, the Lord Jesus obeyed His Father even unto death: surely, then, there is all the more fitness for us sinners to do so. Stand in the ways, constantly asking which are those that lead from eternal death to eternal life, and from misery to eternal joy. And this way is the gospel of the Lord Almighty, the apostolic epistles, the Old Testament, the lives also of the saints which are contained in the sacred letters, saints who shine forth in their lives as the sun, moon, and stars. Therefore, dear brothers and dear sisters in the Lord God, I beg you by the martyrdom of God’s Son gladly to attend the preaching, to gather together and hear it diligently; to understand as ye hear, to observe as ye understand; to learn as ye observe; as ye learn well, to know your well-beloved Saviour (for to know God is the perfect righteousness); as ye know Him, to love Him with all your heart, and with all your will, and your neighbour as yourselves; and as ye love Him, to rejoice with Him, world without end. Amen.
For on these two commands hangs the entire law, old and new. Stand in the way and hear, that you may show a noble penitence; for thus will you attain the heavenly kingdom. For true penitence is health of the soul and restorer of virtue; as St. Bernard testifies, saying: O Penitence, health of the soul, restorer of virtue, scatterer of sins, overthrower of hell, gate of heaven, way of the righteous and satisfaction of the blessed.1 Oh, right blessed is he that loves the penitence of the saintly life and keeps it unto the end of his days! Stand in the way of God, dear brothers, ever moving forward in the holy life. Cease not to do well: for when the time shall come, you will live in heaven for ever. Amen.
[1 ]The Bethlehem: supra, p. 87.
[1 ]A paraphrase of Gal. i. 4-5.
[1 ]Prov. iii. 25-6.
[2 ]Ps. xc. 15.
[3 ]Jas. i. 2-4, 12.
[4 ]Heb. xii. 1-2.
[5 ]Episcopis; the reader will note this.
[1 ]Matt. xi. 19, 18.
[2 ]John ix. 16.
[3 ]A paraphrase of Isa. iv. 1.
[4 ]A reference to the Three Martyrs, supra, p. 78.
[5 ]John xv. 18-21.
[1 ]Tit. i. 16. P. following Mon. reads: cum negant. Ut sanctus Paulus etc. This punctuation is manifestly wrong.
[2 ]Gal. v. 19.
[3 ]2 Tim. iii. 12-13.
[4 ]Matt. x. 16-17, 21-3.
[1 ]Matt. x. 23-6.
[2 ]Scripturis. Either a loose use or false reading for scriptis, or else attracted, so to speak, by the preceding prophetis.
[3 ]Supra, p. 79. From the next paragraph we infer the date.
[1 ]Matt. xxviii. 20.
[2 ]P.: militia sua. Read with Mon., malitia sua, because of the sua. Otherwise ‘in this warfare’ would make a better reading.
[3 ]Heb. x. 23.
[1 ]1 Pet. ii. 21.
[1 ]According to Hus’s own statement, the first year of his preaching was 1401 (Mon. i. 39b). He was elected to the Bethlehem March 14, 1402. Hus is here reckoning, therefore, from his appointment to priest’s orders in 1400.
[2 ]John vi. 67 (A.V. vi. 66).
[3 ]Matt. x. 35.
[4 ]Luke xxi. 17.
[1 ]Luke xxi. 18, 19.
[2 ]Matt. xxiv. 11.
[3 ]Matt. vii. 15.
[5 ]Matt. x. 16.
[1 ]Gal. vi. 22-3.
[2 ]Matt. v. 10
[3 ]Matt. v. 5.
[4 ]Luke vi. 22.
[6 ]Matt. xxiv. 21.
[7 ]Mon. P.: m non recipient; read with Vulgate: cum.
[9 ]2 Tim. iv. 3-4.
[10 ]2 Tim. iii. 12-13.
[1 ]2 Pet. iii. 17-18; very inexact.
[2 ]Cf. supra, p. 86.
[3 ]P.: Salcats; read with Mon.: Salutate.
[1 ]Phil. i. 21-4.
[3 ]Fuste. For the incident, see supra, p. 79.
[1 ]This is labelled in the Ep. Piissimæ and Mon. “Secunda Epistola.” It is, however, evidently written after his second departure from Prague (supra, p. 83). The text in the Monumenta has been hopelessly doctored. Better in Höfler, ii. 215.
[2 ]P.: In adventu filii Dei; read in adventum.
[3 ]Matt. xvi. 27.
[4 ]Matt. xx. 28.
[1 ]Episcopis (sic).
[2 ]John x. 10.
[3 ]Accidiosi—i.e., those suffering from the mediæval and monastic vice acedia. It is difficult to translate, as we have lost the (Chaucerian) English equivalent, “accidie.” It is significant that the Reformation Monumenta omits this clause. Acedia was much dwelt on by monastic writers as one of their besetments. A full discussion of its nature will be found in Cassian, Instits. x.; Aquinas, Summa II. ii. q. 35; Paget, Spirit of Discipline.
[4 ]The Mon. paraphrases quem Philosophi et scientuli hujus mundi non fraudabunt. This is characteristic of their whole text.
[1 ]P., H.: ad cujus nutum necessitabuntur omnes nequitias suas universo orbi propalare.
[2 ]The text seems hopeless. P., H.: quorum velle perditionem æternam in tenebris ad cohabitandum dæmonibus intuebitur.
[3 ]Matt. xxv. 41.
[4 ]Luke xxi. 28.
[5 ]Matt. xxv. 34.
[1 ]So P., H.; Mon., as usual, paraphrases.
[2 ]P., H.: ne super sermone in B. ambuletis. Paraphased in Mon., which throughout is valueless.
[3 ]Matt. x. 14.
[4 ]Matt. x. 24.
[5 ]John x. 39-40.
[6 ]Really John xi. 54. Hus is evidently quoting from memory.
[7 ]Inaccurately quoted from John xi. 56.
[1 ]Heb. ix. 26.
[2 ]Reposita sunt; smoothed in the Mon., as usual, into situm est.
[3 ]i.e., by resuming the interdict.
[1 ]Hus is evidently hinting at an intended secret visit. See supra, p. 85, and cf. p. 147.
[2 ]Luke xi. 28.
[3 ]Verbula vestræ dicam caritati.
[4 ]Luke ii. 10; inexact.
[5 ]Luke ii. 14.
[1 ]Refocillet. Cf. Vulgate, 1 Reg. xvi. 23.
[1 ]The text of this letter is hopelessly corrupt, and the meaning in places is very obscure. The text in the Mon. is a mere paraphrase.
[2 ]Rom. viii. 28.
[1 ]Luke xxiii. 34; cf. Acts vii. 59.
[2 ]Quod blaspheme modo retrogrado crucem deferunt. The meaning is obscure, but seems determined by a complaint of Jesenicz written December 18, 1412; see Mon. i. 331a, Repetitio pro defens. Hus.
[3 ]P.: in cutibus; read codicibus.
[4 ]Sic, as in Vulgate, Numb. xvi. 1.
[1 ]There is of course a subtle reference to the Pope’s excommunication in this phrase.
[2 ]Matt. xxv. 34; very different from Vulgate.
[3 ]Rom. ix. 5.
[1 ]Lam. i. 14; i. 18.
[2 ]Matt. xxvii. 46.
[3 ]Matt. xxvii. 43.
[4 ]So Douai.
[5 ]Matt. xxvii. 40.
[1 ]Matt. x. 12.
[2 ]John xx. 26.
[3 ]John xiv. 27.
[4 ]Matt. v. 44.
[5 ]Gal. i. 5.
[1 ]See supra, p. 83. It is characteristic that this letter is written in Czech.
[2 ]This Consilium doctorum will be found in Doc. 475-85. It was put in, both in Latin and Czech, on February 6.
[1 ]Mařik Rwačka (Maurice) obtained a grace from Innocent VII. giving him the degree at Prague of S.T.P. The faculty at first was unwilling to grant the demand. Mauritius was one of the deputation sent in October 1408 to the cardinals at Bologna (supra, p. 73). On his return he became episcopal inquisitor at Prague.
[2 ]This phrase marks the influence of Wyclif’s De Officio Regis. Cf. op. cit. pp. 9-14.
[1 ]John of Jesenicz had already (December 18, 1412) dwelt on this See Mon. i. 329a.
[2 ]Prov. xii. 21.
[3 ]2 Tim. iii. 12.
[4 ]Luke xxiv. 46; xxiv. 26.
[1 ]Phil. iii. 8.
[2 ]Matt. xiii. 43.
[3 ]Matt. x. 39.
[1 ]Isa. ix. 15, 14. This is a favourite thought in the writings of the times: cf. Milicz, Anatomia Antichristi (in Mon. i. 362b.); also Sermones de Antichristo, ib. ii. 82 (both works wrongly attributed to Hus); cf. Wyclif, De Antichristo, l. i. c. ix. (in Op. Evang. iii. 34).
[2 ]Wyclif calls the Pope “caput Antichristi” in Polem. Works, i. 243, Trialogus, 424.
[3 ]The allusion in this strong language is of course to John XXIII.
[4 ]Rev. iv. 7. Cf. De Evangelica Perfectione, c. i., in Mon. i. 479a, in which we have a lengthy allegorical interpretation of the “flying eagle.”
[5 ]i.e. after the fruitless meeting at the house of Christian; see p. 84.
[1 ]Loserth has shown (Wyclif and Hus, pp. 83-5) that until after the death of Hus this was the usual title of the Bohemian reformers.
[2 ]1 Pet. iii. 18.
[3 ]Matt. v. 11.
[4 ]Jas. i. 2.
[1 ]James i. 12.
[2 ]See supra, p. 9.
[3 ]i.e., in 1405.
[4 ]John of Stiekna was a Cistercian monk long confused by historians with the reforming preacher of Prague, Conrad of Waldhausen. In one of his sermons for the Commemoration Day of Charles IV., Hus speaks of him as ‘the excellent preacher with the trumpet voice’ (Mon. ii. 41b). Of his strong nationalist sympathies we have evidence in his association in 1397 with the citizen Crux as one of the proctors of Queen Hedwig’s Polish College; while at one time, it would appear, he was a preacher at the Bethlehem. But in later years his sympathies with the reforming party cooled down. It is said, though the evidence is somewhat doubtful, that in 1393 he championed one of Boniface’s indulgences, while Hus tells us here of his later antagonism to Wyclif’s doctrine. Stiekna’s treatise is now lost.
[1 ]Ezek. iii. 4-8.
[2 ]This sentence strikes the keynote of the letter: not the Pope, but Christ.
[3 ]i.e., xvii. 28. Hus was quoting by the pagination of a folio MS.
[1 ]The two chief demands of the theological faculty at the meeting of both parties before the Commission; see p. 84. The second demand is not accurately given by Hus, who leaves out the qualifying phrase ‘in omni materia catholica.’ See Doc. 508.
[2 ]Virgil, Ecl. 3, 93. Hus’s humanistic touches are rare.
[3 ]This argument is expanded in Hus’s De Ecclesia, cc. 7, 13, 15, the main theses of which are taken from Wyclif’s De Ecclesia, pp. 5, 14, 31, 86, 92, 93. See also Hus’s Responsio ad Stanislai, c. 2 (Mon. i. 267b).
[4 ]Matt. iv. 9.
[1 ]P.: et concludant; read ut.
[2 ]A pera et a bursa, a parody of a pena et culpa, which, as a matter of fact, was not in the indulgence in this bare form. See Lea, Hist. Auricular Confession, iii. 54-80, and cf. Mon. i. 171-91, for further strictures by Hus.
[3 ]P. 83.
[4 ]P. 26.
[5 ]P. 26.
[1 ]On August 11, 1400, the four Rhenish electors met at Loehnstein, and decreed the deposition of Wenzel from the empire, and on August 21 chose the Palatine Rupert in his place. Boniface IX. at first hesitated to commit himself to Rupert; but on the imprisonment of Sigismund by his Hungarian subjects (1401), Boniface felt free to drive a hard bargain with Rupert for his recognition. At the end of May 1403 Boniface declared Ladislaus of Naples to be the King of Hungary, and in the August of 1403 formally deposed Wenzel.
[2 ]A favourite argument with Hus, who repeats these illustrations, especially that of Pope Joan, more than once—e.g., in his De Ecclesia (Mon. i. 207a, 220a, 221a), Responsio ad Stanislai (Mon. i. 271a, 274b, 277d). He gives his authority as ‘Cestrensis, lib. 4, c. 14; lib. 5, c. 3’—i.e., the Polychronicon of Ralph Higden († ca. 1363), a monk of Chester. Hus would be introduced to Higden by Wyclif (cf. De Officio Regis, pp. 128, 146), but appears to have actually read this for himself—at any rate, I cannot put my finger on the connecting link, though the inaccuracy of the references (which should be iv. c. 14, v. c. 32) would point to one. Cf. infra, p. 131, n. 4.
[1 ]i.e., Joan, whose papal name was supposed to be John VIII., and whose date was given as between Leo IV. (855) and Benedict IV. (858).
[2 ]2 Cor. vi. 15.
[3 ]See p. 50, n. 7.
[5 ]An argument taken from Wyclif’s De Ecclesia, p. 403.
[6 ]See Thom. Aquinas, Op. v. 51 (ed. Venet., 1774), and compare Wyclif, De Eccles. 132.
[7 ]Wyclif dwells on this in his De Benedicta Incarnacione, cc. 3 and 4. The humanity of Christ was one of Wyclif’s strong points, in the clear realisation of which he seems more modern than mediæval.
[1 ]The famous mediæval conception of the harrowing of hell.
[2 ]Idea repeated in Responsio ad Stanislai (Mon. i. 285a).
[3 ]Repeated by Hus in his De Eccles. (Mon. i. 207a). In both cases it is taken word for word from Wyclif’s De Eccles. p. 87, who quotes Gratian’s Decretum, ii. C. 24, q. 1, cc. 6 and 14. Hus, in his De Eccles., gives, as often, a wrong reference.
[4 ]Hus, following Wyclif, who borrows from Gratian, who copied “Polycarp,” is wrong in attributing this to Jerome’s Ad Damasum in expositione symboli. The sentence is really from the Epistola Marci Papæ ad Athanasium. The last clause should run: manebit, . . . insultatione firma et immobilis omni tempori persisteret, and not as in Hus. See also Richter-Friedberg, Corp. Jur. Can. i. 970.
[1 ]Cf. Wyclif, De Eccles. 88.
[2 ]Ib. p. 86 et passim.
[3 ]The letter seems incomplete.
[1 ]John x. 1.
[2 ]Viantes. This word and viator are common mediæval words for Christians.
[3 ]Loserth (W. & H. 257) has pointed out that this passage is compounded from Wyclif’s Trialogus, 423 and 454, and his De Xto et Adversario, c. viii. (Polem. Works, ii. 673). See also his De Eccles. 19.
[4 ]Matt. xxiv. 23, 24.
[5 ]i.e., German miles.
[6 ]Matt. xxiv. 15.
[1 ]John XXIII. The passage is valuable as showing the popular estimate. But before his excommunication by John, Hus gave no sign that he knew that he was dealing with a moral monster. See p. 51, and for the character of John, my Age of Hus, App. C.
[2 ]Accidiosissimus; see note on accidia, p. 104.
[3 ]Matt. xxiv. 26.
[4 ]Luke xiv. 11; xviii. 14.
[5 ]Luke vii. 23.
[1 ]This is really the central position of Wyclifism, and springs from the further position that character makes office. Cf. Wyclif, De Eccles. 34, and cf. Doc. 299, 301. At Constance Hus tried to defend it by a fine distinction between quoad meritum and quoad officium (infra, p. 217). The whole position, of course, was absolutely incompatible with Romanism.
[2 ]Henry de Segusia, cardinal of Ostia (d. 1271), was the greatest canonist of the Middle Ages. On his relations with England, see Matt. Paris, Chron. Maj. iv. 33, 286, 351, 353. His work is entitled Summa aurea super titulis decretalium (ed. Basel 1573 or Venice 1605). See lib. v. De Penitentiis et Remissionibus, § 15, ‘Papa potest peccare.’
[3 ]The decretal ‘A nobis’ is dated May 6, 1199. See Richter-Friedberg, Corp. Jur. Canon. ii. 899, and cf. Wyclif, De Xto et Adv. (Polem. Works, ii. 676). Hus’s attention to Hostiensis’ comment would be drawn by Wyclif’s De Ecclesia, 522.
[4 ]Wyclif in his Cruciata calls her ‘Anna’ (Polem. Works, ii. 619), nor does he mention ‘Cestrensis.’ This again adds weight to the supposition that in this matter Hus was not following Wyclif. See p. 125, n. 2.
[1 ]This letter should be compared with the Responsio ad Scripta Stanislai in Mon. i. 265 ff., some arguments of which Hus here condenses. Its date is evidently after the fruitless conference of April and before the banishment of Stanislaus or the election of the new rector; cf. inscription in MS. ‘Mo Xo protunc rectori.’
[2 ]Luke x. 34.
[3 ]2 Thess. ii. 3.
[4 ]By the rumour of heresy.
[5 ]John xvi. 2.
[6 ]Matt. x. 22.
[1 ]In consilio. Perhaps we should read in concilio, with a reference to the Synod.
[1 ]See Doc. 512.
[2 ]Höfler (ii. 209) calls him ‘Sigwort de Septemcastris.’ But for the name, see Doc. 512. That he was from Siebenburgen (Transylvania) we may well believe. See infra.
[3 ]In a letter to the Bishop and Chapter of Zagrab (Agram) (see Doc. 512), whose bishop appears to have been from Siebenburgen; see Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica, or Gams, s.v.
[4 ]Read with H.: Numquid . . . cordium? Per tantam, etc.
[1 ]Matt. vii. 1.
[2 ]Luke xvii. 3.
[3 ]Read with H.: injuriosa diffamacio.
[4 ]P. omits.
[5 ]Evidently a quotation from the letter (see Doc. 512).
[6 ]P.: districtissimo. H.: discretissimo.
[7 ]H.: Estne professoris in officio personas confundere. P.: Es ne tu professor, in incerto personas confundere.
[1 ]For the gap in the correspondence, see pp. 86 and 139. Hus at this time was often in Prague. This letter is in Czech.
[2 ]Jer. vi. 16. Vulgate reads videte, not as Hus, audite.
[3 ]Matt. xi. 29.
[4 ]John xiii. 15.
[1 ]I have not traced this quotation, or its source.