Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Letter 1, To Master Martin

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LETTER I.

 

TO MASTER MARTIN.

 

[John Huss wrote this letter previous to his departure from Bohemia; and left it sealed up in the hands of the person to whom it was addressed, requesting it not to be opened until after his death.]

 

Master Martin, my much beloved brother in Christ, I exhort thee to fear God, to keep his commandments, and to watch over thyself when in female company. Be provident in listening to their confessions, that Satan may not deceive thee by honied words; for Saint Augustin has said—“Trust not thyself to devotion; for corruption is sometimes the greater in proportion as the devotion is apparent; and disordered passions may conceal them selves under a mask of piety. . . Beware, then, of incurring an irreparable loss: and I trust you will remain pure from all commerce with women, for I have taught thee, from thy youth upwards, to serve Jesus Christ.[1] Know, therefore, it is for having condemned the avarice and disorderly life of priests, that, by the grace of God, I suffer a persecution, which will soon be extinguished by my death. I do not fear to be confounded for the name of Jesus Christ.

I conjure thee not to seek after benefices. Nevertheless, if thou art called to a cure, let the glory of God, the salvation of souls, and labour alone, occupy you, and not the possession of riches. If thou shouldst obtain a church, take not a young woman for servant, and avoid ornamenting thy house more than thy soul; above all, bestow thy cares on the spiritual edifice; be pious and humble with the poor, and consume not thy estate with feasting. If thou dost not amend thy life, and abstain from sumptuous clothing and superfluities, I fear that thou mayest be chastened, as I myself am,—I who have used such things, seduced by the custom and approbation of the wicked, and troubled by a spirit of pride which is in opposition to God. From thy youth, thou hast known my preaching and private exhortations; it is, therefore, useless to write thee more; but I conjure thee, by the mercy of our Lord, not to follow me in any of the vanities into which thou hast seen me fall. Know, alas! that before receiving the priesthood, I lost much time in playing at chess, and through this game often suffered myself to be provoked, as well as provoked others to anger. I recommend myself to thy prayers before God, for this sin, and for my other innumerable transgressions. I invoke his mercy for me, that he may deign to direct my life, and that after the victory over the perverse powers of this age, over the flesh, the world, and Satan, he may open to me at the day of judgment the celestial country. Adieu, then, in Jesus Christ, with all those who keep his laws. Receive my grey gown as a mark of my remembrance of thee; nevertheless, if thou art ashamed of the grey colour, dispose of it for the best, and as thou thinkest proper. Thou wilt give my white gown to the Curé, my disciple; thou wilt also give to George or to Suzikon, sixty silver groschen, or my grey gown, because he has faithfully served me.

Outside the letter, Huss wrote

I conjure thee not to open this letter before thou hast ascertained the certainty of my death.

 

 
  1. Ergo cave ne irrecuperabilem perdas, quam spero retines, virginitatem; memento quia a juventate tua docui te servere Christo-Jesu.