Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Preface of Martin Luther to the four letters of John Huss, which he caused to be translated into Latin, and which he published separately in Wirtemberg

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NOTES.

 

 

Note A., p. 2.

 

PREFACE OF MARTIN LUTHER TO THE FOUR LETTERS OF JOHN HUSS, WHICH HE CAUSED TO BE TRANSLATED INTO LATIN, AND WHICH HE PUBLISHED SEPARATELY AT WIRTEMBERG, IN THE YEAR 1536.

 

Of these four Letters, written by John Huss in the Bohemian tongue, I have procured a Latin translation, with the view of publishing them forthwith, in the same year fixed for a General Council, at the earnest request of our illustrious Emperor Charles. I have not taken this trouble with the view of calling down indignation and contempt upon the Council of Constance. This, on account of its culpable acts, I have done elsewhere, and will always be ready to do, in defence of the interests of the whole Church. My motive in publishing these Letters, is, if God permits the said Council to assemble, to warn the members to take care not to follow the example of the Council of Constance, in which the Truth was exposed to such lengthened and violent attacks; and yet, nevertheless, now triumphs, and, raising its victorious head, shews this unworthy assembly in its naked aspect, and stripped of its tyrannical authority. In this Council, indeed, the cardinals and most distinguished men aimed principally at extinguishing schism; they abandoned the cause of religion as below their notice, and left it to the perverse race of monks and sophists; from whence has sprung, as formerly from Babylon, all the evil which has produced, in Germany and in Bohemia, so many calamities, wars, massacres, and inextinguishable hatreds. The Papacy, freed from schism, did not afterwards behave less cruelly towards the world, filling the churches with false doctrines, indulgences, mercenary masses, and all sorts of inventions of priests and monks. Such are the fruits of this sacred Council; it would, therefore, be dangerous to trust again, at this time, the interests of religion to the rage of these perverse men; but it is of consequence that kings, princes, and bishops, combine all their energies, in order that similar calamities, and more frightful ones, be not the result of the new Council now summoned.

Certainly God has sufficiently shewn, in the Council of Constance, how he resists the proud, how he confounds the lofty in their own designs, without regard to the external dignity of any one.

I publish, therefore, these Letters with the design of giving salutary warning. He who, having been thus warned, will not listen to advice, will perish dreadfully, but not through my fault. May Jesus Christ give us the spirit of prayer, and grant to those who are called to direct this Council, to seek first the things which are of God, and to neglect and undervalue those which concern themselves.