Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXXII.: To the People of Prague ( Without date: early in 1414 1 ) - The Letters of John Hus
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
XXXII.: To the People of Prague ( Without date: early in 1414 1 ) - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
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.
Letters Written on the Journey to Constance
On October 30, 1413, Sigismund, at that time at Como, had summoned, as ‘the defender and advocate of the Church,’ all princes and prelates to a General Council to be held at Constance on November 1, 1414. The affairs of Christendom which led to the calling of this Council, the failure of the Council of Pisa, the ambition of Sigismund, and the struggles of the three rival Popes, must not now detain us. But it is important for the student of the life of Hus to realise that when Sigismund summoned this most momentous Council the termination of the schism was not his only object. As heir to the throne of Bohemia, he felt the need of removing from the land the stain of heresy. He realised keenly that ‘throughout the whole earth resounded the rumour that the Bohemians are sons of heretical baseness.’ Unfortunately, but one letter of Hus for the year between Sigismund’s summoning of the Council and the following August has been preserved for us (supra, p. 137). A fuller correspondence would have been invaluable in giving us some insight into the popular anticipations as regards this great event.
Whatever steps Wenzel might take, Sigismund, as the heir to Wenzel’s domains, determined to bring the matter before the Council. He was persuaded that the affair could be peaceably settled, and that he would win the gratitude of Bohemia. He accordingly despatched from Friuli, in Lombardy, three of his court to bid Hus present himself at Constance, and to act as his escort. The good intentions of Sigismund are evident in his choice. John of Chlum, surnamed Kepka, and Wenzel of Leštna, of the house of Duba, were both adherents of Hus, who had served with Sigismund in 1413 in his Venetian war. The third, Henry Chlum of Lacembok, was John of Chlum’s uncle. Sigismund also promised that he would obtain for Hus a full hearing and send him a safe conduct ‘written in Latin and German.’
Hus at once prepared to obey. In view of his own appeal to a General Council, he could not do otherwise. He was too unconscious of his real dissent from Rome to know the risks he ran. His next move was not without worldly wisdom. On August 26, 1414, he posted up notices in Latin and Czech throughout the whole of Prague offering ‘to render an account of his faith and hope’ before the Synod that would open on the following day. Numerous copies of this notice have been preserved. The Latin Notice1 ran as follows:—
[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.
[1 ]The Czech Notice is similar, but differs in the conclusion: ‘ . . . And if any one is able to prefer a charge of error or heresy against me, let him get ready to set out thither, that he may accuse me there, after giving out his name before the aforesaid Council. It will give me no trouble to reply in due order as to the truths I hold, both to small and great. Therefore, good sirs, lovers of justice, consider carefully whether I make any demand in this letter which is contrary to divine or human law. If, however, I shall not be allowed a hearing, let it be known to the whole kingdom of Bohemia that this occurs through no fault of mine.’