Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Letter 14, To the Inhabitants of the town of Luna
TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN OF LUNA.
[recommends union, and teaches them to endure insults rather than to avenge them.]
Master John Huss, an unworthy servant of God, to the believers residing in the town of Luna. Peace, and the protection of our Lord Jesus Christ, be with you! My very dear brethren, Although I cannot see you externally with my eyes, but only with my mental vision, I am nevertheless acquainted with your charity and your constant faith in God and in his Gospel. I know that the Saviour has united you in faith, peace, charity, and attention to his word, so that I find amongst you, more than in any other town of Bohemia, that concord which so deeply rejoices my heart. I conjure you, therefore, dearly-beloved,—I whose features are unknown to you, but who am attached to you sincerely in God—I conjure you, in the interest of your salvation, to love one another; to remain united, and to let no man come between and divide you; for this precious unity, which subsists between you by the true faith, will save you in the presence of God; and God, through his mercy, will, in return, give you strength to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Meditate on these things, dearly-beloved, and allow no schisms, or treachery, or jealousy, or violence, to spring up amongst you. Should any obstinate disseminator of disturbance and discord arise amongst you, warn him like a brother, but do not enter into any disputes before the judges or courts of law; for that would cause the destruction alike of your fortune, body, and soul. Study to avenge the insults offered to God, rather than your own. Alas! it is in this point that the whole world is mistaken; for all men are more ready to avenge their own injuries than those of God. And that is the broad path opened by Antichrist; and, above all, dangerous to us who are priests, and who desire to see the ordinances of men more rigorously observed than the commandments of God. Such, or such a priest, monk, or prelate, is a fornicator or adulterer with impunity, and yet he insists on having his own ordinances observed, under pain of excommunication! In like manner, they do not inflict punishment on the laity who sin against God; but should one of them presume to say—“My brethren, you have unjustly condemned me!” they at once strike with the sword, because any one has raised his voice against the injustice of his clerical judge.
I have full confidence that the Lord will keep you free from these evils, so that you may observe his word rather than the ordinances of men. As long as you observe his word, no one can do you harm. Wherefore, dearly-beloved, meditate deeply on these two things, which are eternal and imperishable—condemnation and ever lasting life. The former will draw you into fire that lasts for ever, dreadful torments, and a devouring and endless sojourn with devils; but in eternal life all will be perfect joy, absence of affliction and suffering, and a residence with God himself and his angels. For, as St Paul says—“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
We shall, therefore, be indeed blessed when we enjoy this beatitude, of which the delights will be perfect and without drawback, and we shall then behold who shall be condemned;—there all sins hidden in the hearts of men shall be laid bare; there we shall reap a joy and a consolation of which we shall never be deprived; there, in fine, we shall be happy if we suffer anything here for Jesus Christ; for, as gold is tried by fire, so shall we be proved by the cross and by affliction, under the hand of Him that has produced the world from nothingness. We shall therefore be happy, if we persevere to the end in well-doing.
Let us bear in mind, dearly-beloved, that the world is wasting away, that death is at hand, and that we are here only on a pilgrimage. Live, therefore, first of all piously, renouncing your sins; next, aspire to heavenly joys; and, lastly, love God with all your heart, and hare confidence in him, that he may deck you out with his glory, through the merits of Jesus Christ, and may make you sharers in his reign. Amen.