Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Letter 33, To his Friends

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LETTER XXXIII.[1]

 

TO HIS FRIENDS.

 

[He relates the frightful visions which diversely affected him, although events have confirmed the truth of all his dreams.]

 

The Lord be with you! The warning of the Lord is more precious to me than gold and topaz. I hope, then, in the mercy of Jesus Christ, that he will grant me his Spirit, that I may hold fast in the truth. Pray to the Lord; for the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak. May the Almighty God be the reward of my well-beloved Nobles, who with a constant, fervent, and faithful heart, persevere in justice. God will enable them to know the truth in the kingdom of Bohemia. But that they may cling to it, it is necessary they return to Bohemia, forgetting vainglory in order to attach themselves to a King who is neither mortal nor subject to our miseries, but who is the King of Glory, giving eternal life.

Oh! with what sweet pleasure did I press the hand of the Seignior John, who did not blush to offer it to me, an unfortunate man—to me, a heretic, in chains, despised and loudly condemned by all. I shall not much longer hold discourse with you; salute, therefore, our faithful Bohemians.

Paletz came to visit me in prison, and accosted me in my deep distress, by telling me, in presence of the Commissioners, that since the birth of Christ, there had risen no heretic more dangerous than Wycliffe and myself. He further declared, that all those who have listened to my preachings are infected with this heresy, which consists in affirming that the material bread remains in the sacrament of the altar. “O Paletz,” I answered, “how cruel are these words! and how much thou sinnest against me. I am about to die; perhaps when I rise from my bed I shall be conducted to the stake. What reward will they give thee in Bohemia?” I should have perhaps abstained from writing these things, for fear of appearing to hate them.

I have ever kept in mind these words, “Put not your trust in princes;” and this other text, which says, “Cursed is he who trusts in man only.”

Be prudent, for the sake of God, whether you should remain in this place, or whether you return; do not carry about you any of my letters, but disperse my writings amongst all our friends.

Learn that. I have had a great combat to sustain, in not wondering at my dreams. I dreamed of the Pope’s evasion before it took place, and after the event being related, I heard, in the night-time, the Seignior John say, “The Pope will return to you.” I have dreamed of Master Jerome’s captivity, but not in what way it should occur; and likewise of the different prisons to which I should be conducted, such as they were afterwards assigned to me, but without any particular details. . . . . A multitude of serpents often presented themselves before me, rolled up into a circle, the head forming the tail. I have seen many other things besides.

I write this, not that I consider myself a prophet, or that I should exalt myself, but in order to tell you I have experienced both mental and bodily temptations, as well as great fear of transgressing the precepts of our Lord Jesus Christ. I think now of these words of Jerome, who said to me, “If I go to Constance, I do not believe I shall return thence.” A worthy shoemaker, André Polonus, said, whilst bidding me farewell, “May God be with you: I can hardly hope that you will return safe and sound, very dear Master John, you who cling with so much force to truth. May the King, not he of Hungary,[2] but of Heaven, bestow on you his blessings for the true and excellent doctrines I have learned from you.”

 
  1. Hist. et Monum. Johann. Huss, Epist. xxxiii.
  2. The Emperor Sigismund.