Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Literary notices of the Reformers before the Reformation

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LITERARY NOTICES

OF THE

REFORMERS BEFORE THE REFORMATION,

BY

MON. DE BONNECHOSE.

 

THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY—JOHN HUSS—AND THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE.


 

TRANSLATED PROM THE FRENCH
By CAMPBELL MACKENZIE, B.A.,
TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN.

 

 

“In its tone and spirit it is truly Protestant, while the narrative is rich in heart-stirring incidents, gathered from the best authorities,. . . . What he relates of Huss is beautiful. The three rival Popes, the resolute, but bigoted Sigismund, and others, stand out in high relief upon the canvass; and at times both style and subject-matter approach D’Aubigné’s immortal work.”—Christian Lady’s Magazine, April 1845.

“The Catholic spirit of the writer,— his keen eye for moral excellence and intellectual greatness, let them be found on what side they may,—his devotional fervency of feeling,—the soundness of his principles,—will strike every reader. To the studious man, the author’s extensive reading,—the clearness and facility with which he musters his facts,—the minute exactitude of his portraitures, and the effective manner in which he recreates the various scenes through which he follows his personages, will be equally apparent. In reviewing the labours of the Council of Constance, the writer brings out the great principles involved with much skill, and in a beautifully philosophic manner. Then, coming to the condemnation of John Huss and Jerome of Prague, he rises into his fine strain of dignified eloquence. The book will be found an invaluable preparative for the reading of D’Aubigné’s History of the Reformation, with which it is worthy to rank,—no mean praise.”—Derbyshire Courier, January 25. 1845.

“It is impossible for us here to give any thing like an analysis of M. De Bonnechose’s book; to learn its merits, it must be read; and we are sure no one will rise from its perusal without deriving no ordidinary amount both of pleasure and edification.”—Edinburgh Advertiser, November 12. 1844.

“We cordially recommend this volume as a valuable contribution to our ecclesiastical history.”—Scotsman, 21st November 1844.

“The work does all that is here represented; and in a manner, too—in a purity of style, and a force and eloquence of expression, that we have never seen surpassed in any work of history.”—The Scottish Herald, 28th November 1844.

“This is an excellent book, and one which we are glad to see in English dress. The preface, or preliminary essay, is itself an admirable work. The Frenchman writes in the spirit of Milton and Channing. His discourse is an able and eloquent argument for the fundamental principles of the Reformation,—namely, freedom of conscience, freedom of inquiry, and freedom from the sacerdotal yoke. It is, in one word, written in the spirit of the most Catholic Christianity. . . . We regret that we have not the power of speaking of this work with the fulness due to its merits.”—Tait’s Magazine, December 1844.

“The subject of the work before us is the last part of the great Western Schism, and the religious wars in Bohemia, which were the result of the fatal decrees of the Council of Constance. The task which the author has undertaken is well and ably executed.”—Banner, December 6.

“This work of M. De Bonnechose sets before us events in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, which not only prepared the way for the great movement of the sixteenth, to which Luther and Calvin have given their names, but rendered such movement inevitable, even though these great leaders had never been.”—Athenæum, December 14.

“The incidents connected with the history of John Huss, with his trial, conviction, and death, are brought together with spirit and effect; and the character not only of Huss, but of the principal personages mixed up with his trial, is sketched by the hand of a master.”—Oxford University Herald, December 21.

“We gave, a few numbers back, a passage from this thrilling history, relative to the martyrdom of John Huss. The work itself is translation from the French, and is apparently the first of a series, by the same author. What D’Aubigné has done for Luther and his associates, Bonnechose has succeeded, although with less poetic imagery, in doing for Huss. His work, although but lately published, has at tracted much attention, having been favourably noticed by some of the principal London and provincial journals. We have much gratification in introducing it to our readers, a duty which we should have discharged sooner, but that we had intended to bestow upon it a more extended notice. Finding this impossible in the mean time, we are unwilling to withhold our commendation longer, satisfied, as we are, that those who will peruse it, will unite with us in bearing testimony to its intrinsic excellency.”—Banner of Ulster, December 24, 1844.

“The account given by De Bonnechose of those illustrious martyrs, the pioneers of the Reformation, who preceded and paved the way for that grand event in the history of European civilization, is compiled with singular ability, and distinguished by the impartiality of an historian whose aim is the elucidation of the truth. . . . The period the author has selected for illustration is full of the most eventful and interesting circumstances; and his work will be found to comprise a very complete history of the persecuted precursors of the Reformation.”—Morning Herald, December 24.

“In reading De Bonnechose’s pages, you find yourself listening to the great Reformer’s words. You see Sigismund with the blush of shame mounting on his cheeks; you perceive, within the walls of the same dungeon, the inoffensive and heroic martyrs; and John XXIII., charged with every crime, deposed and condemned. Your admiration is excited by the generous sympathy of the manly Bohemian noble, John de Chlum. . . . . We cordially recommend the work.”—The Critic, January 1845.

“We give our readers to understand, that this very valuable work of M. De Bonnechose does not confine itself to a mere history of John Huss; on the contrary, it contains a full history of the Papal Schism from its commencement down to the period of the election of Martin V. The importance of this volume cannot be too highly rated; and happy should we be to hear that a copy of it existed in every house in England.”—Church and State Gazette, January 3. 1845.

“Next to D’Aubigné, this is one of the most interesting and able histories we have read since the life of John Knox and Andrew Melville. . . . . With scarcely less eloquence and vigour, it opens up the condition of the Church in those days when Huss and Jerome witnessed a good confession before many witnesses. It is altogether a most remarkable book, and destined to occupy no inferior place in our historical and ecclesiastical literature.”—Presbyterian Review, January 1845.

“This is truly a valuable and instructive work, eloquently written, and detailing circumstances and events of surpassing interest. The author seems quite equal to the task of discussing the occurrences of this momentous period in the history of Christendom. His views are liberal and enlightened. To both the author and the translator we tender our thanks, and trust the public will patronise this well-timed and useful work.”—The Patriot, January 9, 1845.

“This historical work embraces a period of between 70 and 80 years,—that is to say, from the commencement of the Great Schism of the West, in the year 1378, to the end of the war of the Hussites, towards the middle of the following century. A considerable portion is, as might be expected from its subject, devoted to a biographical account of John Huss, the famous Reformer, of whom the biographer writes in a spirit of animated panegyric, though we are not aware that his praises are, in any one instance, unduly exaggerated. It is pervaded throughout by a fervent religious spirit.”—The Sun, January 10. 1845.

“In the present state of religious controversy, especially as it shews itself in this country, we consider the publication of Bonnechose’s work as peculiarly opportune. The great principles for which the earliest reformers contended,—and which, now that they are clearly developed, seem as natural to man’s mental constitution as the air which he breathes is to his physical existence,—are in this volume elaborately expounded, and the causes which called them into being, and aided their development, carefully and impartially traced. We take leave of this excellent work, (here follows a quotation.) It is as truthful as it is eloquent.”—The Atlas, January 18.

“The present volume is devoted principally to Huss, to Jerome of Prague, and to our own Wycliffe; but it is also plentifully interspersed with historical and biographical anecdotes, which cannot fail, in the present day especially, to draw attention to those principles of sound and holy truth, on which our own Church, emerging from the dark and gloomy errors of Papacy, was at last led firmly, and we trust, permanently to rest.”—Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal]], January 18. 1845.

“The author has performed the same service for the age of Huss and Jerome, as D’Aubigné has done for that of Luther and Calvin; and the one production will form a meet and appropriate introduction to the other. M. De Bonnechose brings a prodigious amount of historical research to bear upon his task; and if he exhibits less perhaps of the profound spirituality of D’Aubigné, he possesses no small share of that eminent man’s Christian philosophy and glowing eloquence of style. The extreme candour and catholicity of feeling evinced by the author, combined with the literary merits of the work, seem peculiarly fitted to gain access for it amongst many of the author’s countrymen, who might be repelled by a more formal and direct defence of Protestantism; and his repeated allusions to the condition of France, as a nation without a faith, shew that he is deeply affected with the state of his country in that point of view, and impressed with the necessity of embracing the present opportunity, which is in many respects so favourable and inviting, of replacing the cast-off doctrines of Popery with the pure faith of the gospel, and rescuing his countrymen from the prevailing infidelity in which Popery has ingulphed them.”—Scottish Guardian, January 28. 1845.

“This important work, which is published at a time when it is sought by some portion of the so-called ‘Reformed Church,’ to throw discredit on the noble struggle which broke the adamantine fetters of Roman despotism, deserves well of the friends of religious freedom. The work is important and interesting, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the writer and to the translator for its production.”—Cheltenham Free Press, February 1. 1845.

“There is something striking in the title-page, as well as the contents of this book. The author is a Frenchman, and while the fear entertained in England is a tendency of Protestantism to Romanism, this book indicates the formation of a body of churchmen in France whose tendency is from Romanism to Protestantism. The principal object of the work is to celebrate the Reformers who lived before the Reformation, and chiefly him who stands most prominent on the canvass, John Huss, the disciple of Wycliffe, and the forerunner of Luther. But the accessary objects of the work are scarcely less important. The object of the author, as he avows, is not to engage in proselytism, at the expense of any church;—to advance no creed, and no particular formula, as the only true one; but to serve the only universal Catholic church, and that ‘one religion above Roman Catholicism as above Protestant ism; and that religion is Christianity.’ In this bond of faith all good Christians will concur.”—Cambridge Advertiser, February 5. 1845.