Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Letter 36, To the Faithful of Bohemia

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LETTER XXXVI.[1]

 

TO THE FAITHFUL OF BOHEMIA.

 

[John Huss wrote this letter in his own handwriting in his prison at Constance, to console the king and kingdom of Bohemia, and to warn them not to abandon the true Evangelical doctrine, nor the Chapel of Bethlehem, nor the faithful doctors of the Gospel, notwithstanding the rage of Satan and of the world, but to live in piety and justice, each one according to his calling.]

 

I, John Huss, in hope servant of God, desire, that the believers in Bohemia who love the Lord, may live and die in grace, and at last obtain eternal life.

You who are high in dignity, you who are rich, and you who are poor, you all who are the faithful and well beloved disciples of the Lord, I conjure you all to obey God, to glorify his word, and to elevate yourselves by listening to his precepts. I conjure you to cling to the divine word, which I have preached according to the law and after the testimony of the saints; I conjure you, if any amongst you, either in public meetings or in private conversations, have heard any words from me, or read any writings of mine contrary to God’s truth, not to attach yourselves to such, although my conscience does not reproach me with having said or written any thing of the nature to which I refer. I conjure you besides, if any one has remarked any thing trifling, either in my discourses or my writings, not to imitate me in that, but to pray to God that he may pardon my frivolity; I conjure you to love priests of good morals, and to honour, in preference, those who exert themselves in diffusing the word of God; I conjure you to beware of deceitful men, especially impious priests, of whom the Lord has said, they are outwardly dressed in sheep’s clothing, while within they are ravening wolves; I conjure the powerful to treat their poor servants with kindness, and to command them with justice; I conjure citizens to keep a good conscience in their profession, artizans to apply themselves carefully to their callings, and to keep before their eyes the fear of God, and domestics faithfully to serve their masters; I conjure the masters of arts to live honestly, to instruct their pupils faithfully; first of all, teaching them to fear God, afterwards exerting themselves for the glory of God, the good of their country, and their own salvation, and not to attach themselves strongly to mere rules of propriety, whether for the sake of riches or for worldly honours; I conjure the pupils of the public school, and all scholars, to obey their masters in all lawful things, and to labour with the greatest zeal, in order to advance one day the kingdom of God, their own salvation, and that of other men. I conjure you all to bestow your thanks on the generous noblemen, Wenceslaus Duba, John of Chlum, Henry Plumlovic, Wylem Zagee, Nicholas, and the other Bohemian, Moravian, and Polish Seigniors, who, as zealous defenders of God’s truth, opposed this Council with all their power, endeavouring to obtain my deliverance; in particular, I mention Wenceslaus Duba and John of Chlum. Believe all they may report to you, for they were present at the Council on the days when I replied. They know what Bohemians have risen against me; they are acquainted with the unworthy deeds which were imputed to me by them; they are aware how the whole assembly vociferated against me whilst I was answering all the questions that were asked. I conjure you to pray for the King of the Romans, and for your own, and for the Queen, in order that the God of mercy may dwell with them and with you, now and for ever.

I write you this letter in my prison and with my fettered hand, expecting after to-morrow my sentence of death, and having an entire confidence in God that he will not forsake me; that he will not suffer me to renounce his word, or abjure errors wickedly ascribed to me by false witnesses. When we shall meet again in a happy eternity you will know with what clemency the Lord deigns to assist me in my cruel trials.

I know nothing concerning Jerome, my faithful friend, unless that he is detained in a wretched prison, waiting, like myself, for death, on account of that faith which he so courageously spread through Bohemia. But the Bohemians, our most cruel adversaries, have delivered us to the power of other enemies and to their chains. Pray to God for them. I conjure you, inhabitants of Prague, above all to love my Chapel of Bethlehem, and to have the word of God preached there, should God permit it. The fury of Satan is stirred up against that place. Seeing that the power of darkness was weakened in it, he has excited the parochial clergy against that temple. I hope God will protect it, and that his word will be preached there with more success by others than by me, a weak and in firm man. Lastly, I conjure you to love one another, to shut out no one from the path of divine truth, and to watch that the upright be not oppressed by violence. Amen.

Written on the night of the Monday before Saint Vitus, and sent by a good and faithful German.

 
  1. Hist. et Monum. Johann. Huss, Epist. xi.