Translation:The Last Will and Testament of the Dying Mother The Unity of Brethern

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The Last Will and Testament of the Dying Mother The Unity of Brethern by which (in the middle of its nation and in its specificity) treasures entrusted to her by The Lord God divides among its sons and daughters and heirs.  (1650) 
by John Amos Comenius, translated from Czech by Wikisource
Published in Brno, 1935 by Dr. JOSEF STANĚK, who wrote the original introduction and annotations. Published by The Havlíčkovo dědictví in Brno, HUSOVA 5 printed by F. Obzina in Vyškov in Moravia

All footnotes are by the translator.

The Year of Our Lord 1650. [1]

    1. K.

Introduction[edit]

The treatise of Jan Amos Komenský, “The Last Will and Testament of the Dying Mother, The Unity of Brethren,” although not large, yet deserves to be counted among his most important works. In the first chapter of his book, “The World Revolution,” [2] President Masaryk indicated the famous prophecy in Komenský’s Testament was his guide in the foreign resistance.

The Testament was created after the Thirty Years War, which brought a yoke of foreign rule over the Czech nation after the Peace of Westphalia (1648) thwarted all hopes of return for our exiles. Despite all the promises of the Swedish chancellor, Axel Oxenstierna, and despite Komensky's pleading letter to the chancellor before the peace was agreed, the Czechs were abandoned by the Swedes and nothing happened to help the exiles. There was still a weak hope they would take care for the exiles, when the warring sides talked about the execution of the peace agreement in the beginning of the year 1650 in Nürnberg. When even this hope was frustrated, Komenský understood that the Unity was sentenced to die in foreign countries without hope of returning home. Komenský became the bishop of the Unity of Brethren in Leszno in 1648. Therefore, he writes in the name of his Unity [3] a moving and heartfelt Testament in the beginning of the year 1650, where the Unity bids farewell to its believers and to the Czech nation. It was also necessary to provide instruction to the members of the unity on how to behave if the Unity was indeed dissolved. (The Unity had not dissolved yet, because the council in Leszno that same year (1650) decided to continue.)

The outline of the Testament, having 20 chapters in total, will come out best from the following table of contents:

  1. People are fleeting: they linger on this earth for some time and then leave. Similarly, all kingdoms, nations, languages, religions and unities.
  2. The Unity of Brethren will perish for its sins. Therefore, she wants to make this last will and testament following the example of prudent people.
  3. The Unity calls upon her sons, so they stand up by her death bed.
  4. (This chapter and the fifth one indicate the outline of The Testament, but that is interrupted by the grand finale and conclusion in chapters 19 and 20, where The Unity turns to the Czech nation.) She divides them into four groups and wants to talk each of these individually; then she plans to speak to other churches as well. She does not have earthly estates, because if she had any they were taken away from her by her enemies. However, she has spiritual riches and she wants to divide these among her sons and friends.
  5. Some sons of The Unity, the unfaithful ones, broke faith and left her. Others, the timid ones, joined enemies of The Unity, but they long for her in their hearts. Third, the faithful ones, unshakably stick to the Unity in her persecutions; but some succumb to suffering and they are near to death, some are perhaps protected for the future.
  6. First the Unity turns to those who remained faithful to her and consoles them with many statements from the New and Old Testament, that they will achieve the kingdom of heaven after their deaths. They should not grieve the loss of their earthly homeland.
  7. The timid ones, who did not stand the test, should cry over themselves as St. Peter did when he betrayed Christ, and they should return to the Unity of Brethren.
  8. To other remains of her people (i.e., the unfaithful ones?) the Unity bequests tears and penitence so they may reform.
  9. The Unity commands her children to weep for priests who sinned by allowing worldly futility, splendor, and vice into the Unity.
  10. The Unity commands penitence and prayers, fasting and weeping to all its children, old and young, and calls priests to follow examples recorded in the Old Testament. They have not done such penitence yet. If at least they turn now to God with their whole hearts, perhaps deliverance will come for them.
  11. The Unity remembers the virtues which decorated all her members: it was love of God, simplicity and honesty, and hatred towards worldly vanity. In place of virtue, discord, selfishness, pride, miserliness, laziness and begging brought disgrace to the whole nation. The Unity reminds that we do not live for the earthbound life, but for life eternal.
  12. The Unity thanks the Polish Unity for accepting her children, expelled as they are from their homeland. At the same time, she asks her always to remember her origin from the Unity of the Czech Brethren. She criticizes the Polish Unity for a decline in discipline and particularly the custom of sending youth to study in schools overseas, where they loose their good moral lifestyle. The Polish Unity should take care to remedy this issue.
  13. If the Unity dissolves, all its preachers could serve in any Evangelical [4] church; the faithful should join an evangelical church as well.
  14. The Unity then turns to other Christian unities, first of all to the Roman Unity from which all others arose. She was not a true mother to them, but like a stepmother. She should repent and reform; if she will not, she will perish.
  15. The Unity joyfully greets other evangelical unities, which are true brides of Christ. Christ sent as a bridegroom John Hus to the Unity of Brethren, Martin Luther to the German unity, and Jean Calvin to the Swiss Unity.
  16. The German Unity (i.e., the Lutheran Unity) was the first sister of the Unity of Brethren. The latter leaves the former more order and discipline and better understanding of the article on the justification by faith. She should finish Luther’s work and not settle on mere faith, but should do good deeds as well.
  17. The Swiss Unity is bequested by the Unity of Brethren more genuineness and less meditation about faith, as this leads to the endless creation of religious sects.
  18. The Unity leaves to all Christian Unities the longing for unification, which has to start with agreement on substantial matters.
  19. This chapter, where The Unity turns to the Czech nation, whom it leaves all spiritual treasures, is the most important of the whole Testament. Komenský pronounces in the introductory paragraphs a memorable prophecy about the renewal of Czech independence (Even I do believe to God, that after the end of the gales of anger … the government of your own matters returns to you, O the Czech nation!) The Unity leaves to her beloved nation:
    1. Love of the pure Truth of God
    2. The Kralice translation of the Holy Bible
    3. Love of the church discipline and orders
    4. Effort to unify all Czech evangelical Unities
    5. Love of the mother tongue
    6. Better ways to educate youth.
  20. In the end The Unity bids farewell to the Czech nation and blesses Him with the words of Moses. It wishes Him strength, plenty of men, happiness in the fight and in work. His enemies should be always humiliated!

Writing his Testament, Komenský used the form of a Last Will and Testament: The Unity, while dying, calls all her children to herself to make a Last Will about her spiritual property. Formally, the example for Komenský was the Old Testament Apocrypha “Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs” (Jacob’s sons) that was translated into Czech in the 14th century. However, the church opinion of Komenský is generously extended in the 19th chapter of The Testament, where The Unity, or perhaps Komenský himself, calls on the whole Czech nation. Moved to the depths of his soul, he escalates with the memorable prophecy of our national renewal “after the end of the gales”. In the 20th chapter the form of the blessing joins the form of prophecy: The Unity bids farewell to the nation and blesses him with the words of Moses' blessing from the Old Testament, because Komenský saw even the Czech nation as the chosen people and in the story of our exiles he saw the story of the Jews dispersed to all corners of the world.

The Testament is in accordance with the nature of the matter written in a serious style, which quite often acquires an excited, even dramatic character. Komenský here quite often quotes the Old and New Testament, although not so often as in his book “The Mournful.” In the same manner as in the Labyrinth, in the Testament Komenský uses quite often words contracted from German.

The original manuscript of the Testament has not been preserved. However, we have four transcriptions from the 18th century. The first print of the Testament, the Berlin one, is from 1757. The work was printed in Prague only in 1848. Important editions are: an edition by the bibliophiles club from 1909, by František Táborský and Em. Smetánka with the illustrations by Adolf Kašpar; an edition by the Czech Mission Unity from 1912 (faithful copy of the Berlin edition); Kobr’s edition from 1917 made by J. V. Novák; an edition by the Komenský society in Prague from 1918 by Jan Herben and with illustrations by František Bílek; a critical edition by St. Souček in the Reichl’s Block from 1927 (which is the foundation of our edition); then the edition by J. V. Klíma from 1928 in Prague, Rudolf Schams from 1930 in the Laichter’s collection Lights. There are two German translations: from 1866 and the second one by Dora Peřinová from 1907. There is a Dutch translation by the Amsterdam doctor R. A. B Oosterhuis from 1928.

I.[edit]

In the name of God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

My dear sons and everybody who hears my voice, listen to me!

It is proclaimed in God’s Scriptures that one era passes and another is coming, while the earth stays forever [5], so it has been fulfilled amongst us all: in those who were here before us, it is being fulfilled in us who are alive now, and it will be fulfilled amongst those who are coming after us. That is, that by coming to the world from the place where the omnipotent Lord lead us from, from the place of the eternal silence, and after staying here for a while, however long He does measure us to live, and we will go back to where he will lead us (O, let him lead us!) to the place of His stay. As much this is true for each person individually, the same is true for every human society - in households, cities, kingdoms and unities. Everywhere one passes away and another comes; you can see what’s even now going on under the heavens; some kingdoms are passing away and change together with their nations, languages, rights, and religions. Even congregations [6] of The Unity: it happens certainly because the new era is coming; it happens certainly because God wants to renew the face of his land [7].

II.[edit]

I see in the midst of all these changes my own change, my dying and passing away, and I have been put under God’s discipline when I have been pushed away into the middle of strangers. I have been abandoned by my neighbors (who build peace for themselves and forgot about me [8]). If The Lord affirms what people do, I see that while I served to the will of the God in my age, now I am going to fall asleep [9]. So I will do what the cautious, according to the wisdom of the World, do: if they have anything to bequeath, they establish their heirs and they divide among them the blessings of God, so that these will not be lost or become cause for division, that they will not leave fights behind. This is God’s order given to Hezekiah: “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.” [10], and whoever gets a house to steward from God should not leave the world without doing a Last Will and Testament.

III.[edit]

Go, my children, because I am a widow and forsaken. I brought you up with gladness; but with mourning and sorrow I have lost you, because you have sinned before the Lord God and have done what is evil in my sight. But now what can I do for you? For I am a widow and forsaken. Go, my children, and ask for mercy from the Lord. [11]

IV.[edit]

I will divide you into four groups, and will speak to each group individually about what is needed. I will turn my speech to other unities, my sisters, older and younger [12], with whom and amongst whom I was cared for by The Lord. Now when he calls me to himself before all of you, I divide amongst you what The Lord gave me to administer from His Mercy. So, although my external likeness was such that I could say with the Apostle [13]: “I have no silver or gold” [14], because I did not have on Earth a place to lay my head, in the same manner as my Lord; whatever I had, from these smaller earthly things, homes and congregations, fields and vineyards, they were taken from me (when I was forced into exile) in the same manner as they robbed my Lord of his gown and divided it among themselves when they have nailed him to the cross; but I can boast in the Christ Jesus in God’s matters, because he gave me spiritual riches in order that His Word could stay with me. Therefore, I will bequest as I see fit those treasures given into my care, to give each of you sons and my friends what you need.

V.[edit]

You, my sons, whom I gave birth and brought up, I do not see each of you as the same; therefore I cannot speak to each of you in the same words, but in different manners. Because some of you betrayed me and The Father of Spirits, to whom I gave you birth, because you did not stay with me in my trials, but left me. Others of you persisted, and some of you may even persist now, but in a half-hearted manner. You flatter my enemies and warm yourself at their fires, yet you still long for me, your mother, and desire the Lord to liberate me from the siege of my enemies so that you may return to my bosom. Others have more courageous spirits and followed me, even as I was falling down under the cross, and have not hesitated to share my sufferings, even drinking with me the chalice of bitterness, which is poured for me by the Lord, who leads us from the bitterness of the current age to the sweetness of the world to come. But still, I see some of you either because of your age or because of destitution languishing and dying; about others I still have hope that the Lord will care for them until the better time arrives.

VI.[edit]

I want to delight you who are still faithful and remain in that faithfulness, those arriving at the result of their faith, with the delight which delighted our most faithful Lord, with these holy words: “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.” [15] Accept this delight, O my sons, and do not grieve any more for the loss of your earthly fatherland or the tabernacles of your home or the tabernacles of the Lord here on the Earth; we are led to more glorious things by the One who said: “Tell my people that I will give them the kingdom of [eternal] Jerusalem, which I was going to give to Israel. Moreover, I will take back to myself their glory, and will give to these others the everlasting habitations, which I had prepared for Israel. The tree of life shall give them fragrant perfume [16], and they shall neither toil nor become weary.” [17] Be ready for the rewards of the Kingdom, because perpetual light will shine on you forevermore. Flee from the shadow of this age, receive the joy of your glory [18] knowing that you shall be attached after your release from here to the great crowd before the throne and before the face of the Lamb, dressed in white and having palm branches of Victory; about those the heavenly voice says: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple …” etc. [19]

VII.[edit]

You have disposed of delight more precious than the whole world (because what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his life, what shall a man give in return for his life [20]), you fearful ones. When you could not stand your test, you fell; cry and groan over yourself! Is it right to keep faith for a time and leave it at the time of temptation, and show yourself to be of those who fell on the rock, not having roots? [21] Ah, not many of you declared with Peter: “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” [22] and what remained from these declarations? All of you fled away, when the gale hit the Lord and His gospel [23]. Consider the generations of old and see: has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed? Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord and been forsaken? Or has anyone called upon him and been neglected? Woe to timid hearts and to slack hands, and to the sinner who walks a double path! Woe to the fainthearted who have no trust! Therefore, they will have no shelter. Woe to you who have lost your nerve! What will you do when the Lord’s reckoning comes? [24]

Here is advice: Do, what Peter did after his fall: recall who you are, leave the bishop’s palaces [25] and flee somewhere, to a corner, where other disciples are sheltered. Cry and howl more than the others, so long as the rooster of God still crows and as long as the Lord still tied is standing in front of his false judges looking at you: when did you leave? Do you want to wait until your conscience lashes at you as Judas' one did? It will be too late. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, but soften them: humble yourself, turn. And while you are on the path, walk on the path of the Truth! Such are Peter’s footprints for returning to the flock, which you left. I bequest [these footprints] to you, O my wandering sons!

VIII.[edit]

What should I bequest to the other remnants of the Unity in whatever number you still remain? Weeping, I bequest to you penitence and reform in front of the face of the almighty Lord.

IX.[edit]

I command you cry, like the command which the Lord God gave to the whole family of Israel when he burnt His priests with fire in His tabernacle, because they sacrificed unauthorized fire before the Lord God; where the Lord God did not let the remaining priests cry, but He let the people cry [26]. Even my first-born sinned, guardians [27] of my tabernacle, they brought or allowed foreign fire into the tabernacle of the Unity: the fire of human wisdom, the fire of bodily vanities, the fire of pride, splendor, jewels, debauchery, your own will, miserliness, indifference, etc. See, they died and are dying in front of you for their sins; but you cry because this wound is injuring you and your descendants.

X.[edit]

I order you repent and pray, such as God ordered in the time of his great wrath: so that everyone will turn to the LORD God with their whole hearts, and with fasting and crying even with howling. Tearing their hearts, not only their robes; the solemn assembly is proclaimed, so that both elders and youth are assembled, even the ones feeding on breasts; let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber; let the priests, servants of the LORD God, cry etc. [28]; let repentance be done, as it was done in times of Ahasuerus in the city of Susa, when they were afraid of extermination, when they were not eating or drinking day and night for three days [29], or such as the repentance done by all citizens of Nineveh, from the king to the last shepherd, from humans to animals, from elders to babies, doing nothing other than crying to heaven with fasting and weeping [30], and again Jews had sought the merciful Lord with weeping and fasting and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing [31].

O sons, you never did such repentance and you never had such an amount of fervor, but you behaved like many Judeans in their exile, that even in the places where you were dispersed by the Lord, you still sinned and defiled His Holy Name in front of those for whom you should sanctify him. The Israelites, just after being twice defeated, sat down in front of the LORD God and cried, fasted, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings [32]. You were not defeated twice, but more than twenty times during those thirty years [33], but still you fell into the pit, from which you could not and cannot get out, you still have not figured out how to manifest your repentance. And therefore at least now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent [34], so that there will be liberation, as the LORD God said, in the remnant who will be called by the LORD God [35].

XI.[edit]

I bequest you even this: if you want to enjoy the mercy of the Lord, you and your descendants will put real effort into your correction and return to your first abandoned love. I recall now with tears that which I lost, how the Lord honored me above other unities and what jewels decorated my sons and daughters.

Because of fervent love for God and His honor, hatred of the world and its futility, meekness shared by all children and honesty towards yourself left you; on the other hand unfaithfulness, suspicion, differences and conflicts, seeking your own things, pride over and against yourself, and discord sneaked in and now stands between you forever. In this same manner in which you started at home, you have not stopped behaving in exile. Your thinking has stretched even more in exile. Some of you have fallen in places where you are honored, and you have become full of pride and boasting; some have become stingy, worse than in your homeland, and forgot why you left it, that is for the Word of God. Others have fallen into disgusting malady. You gave yourselves into vanity, idleness, laziness, even into begging, which leads to the ugliness and defames not only the fate of the other exiles, but also of themselves, and what is even worse, of the whole nation. Some of you have already unhitched yourself from the yoke of discipline, settling in places where you can do whatever you feel is right.

Oh, my children, is this how you remember what you were called for and what path you were lead to? We are not here for this life and its things, we are just pilgrims and we have just the ordinary things pilgrims have; our home is in the heavens, and so we should be concerned only with heavenly matters. Just Lebanon [36] is here, Succoth and Zarethan [37], where the Heavenly Salomon [38] collects and prepares for His Eternal Temple the living wood and stones that he logs, cuts, chops, chisels, and planes - them and us. Its metals he dissolves and casts into proper vessels on this side of Jordan, in the country of clay earth, where we roll in mud; but this Eternal Salomon leads us to the Upper Jerusalem, where, if we let him form us well, everything will fit.

XII.[edit]

Especially you, my beloved daughter, The Polish Unity, whom the Lord God gave me, born in the middle of my life when I was strong, so that (as I can see it now) when grown up you could be a nurse of my other children: you did well to accept them in your lap when they had to leave their country. You brought them up. God give you reward for it! [May God] not allow you loneliness and protect you from being abandoned! I ask you, however, to remember from which trunk you came, so that you take care to be a good grape in a well-planted vineyard, and do not change into a wild grape [39]. Christ told us about those who fell apart: “They claim to be Jews, but they are not, they are mistaken.” [40]. Take care therefore so that it is not said about you “They claim to be the seed of the Czech brethren, but they are not.” This is the time, my beloved daughter, to prevent such disappointments; because such disappointments truly happen, when not a few of your sons are wild in their flesh, leaving the yoke of the discipline and enjoy the freedom of the flesh, those temporary comforts and plentiful rents and collecting of money, so that for many the office of the shepherd (pastor) turned into mere tenancy, with you as it is elsewhere; you have not learned how to keep the church in order [41] against God’s prohibitions and against the examples of your fathers following the examples of others; even when the young ones live with the old ones, sons stay with their fathers, you still want their salary and you take it. [42] And what about elders? It is clearly obvious, that the spirit of my fathers left you, my sons; you have lost the keys of art, which Lascius wrote about [43], that your fathers were special masters of maintaining order, discipline, holiness and love towards one another, without compulsion and without the help of the world's arm. But you, O my descendant (being from the Polish, as well as Czech and Moravian nation), have become so that you cannot keep in order neither yourself, nor your priests, nor the people, not even the younger ones; whom, so that you do not have to labor with them, you sent (and you still do so) to foreign schools, that they may purify themselves, but they bring back only the wildness, foreign customs, awful styles of clothes, wiseacres in their brains, and everything in style other than what the Christ’s and our ancestors’ simplicity sought; they do what they do, so that everything lost the original style and not much is recognizable. Therefore, even people and listeners and patrons are mostly void and cold, and mostly disassociated by the winds of many temptations from their roots, uprooting yourself, so that everything with you slowly gets tired and is in danger of falling. Therefore, recall yourself, my sons, before you will be also uprooted by the Lord, and by true correction, repair to everything good to prevent His anger, so that he will not move even your lampstands from their places!

XIII.[edit]

If he moves and lets you vanish (the One who is starting judgment in the household of God, demolishes what he does not like, and concludes the demolition, so that he may start afresh on new foundations), so that all my order, discipline, apostolic succession and all religious service terminates, what will you do, my last remainders, being priests or lay persons? I give you this advice, sons!

If any preachers remain, who will have nobody to preach to or serve at home, serve the Christ where you can, in any Evangelical church which would ask your service; just remember, that you should take care for your simplicity, which I bore you in and which I have led you in, walking on the middle road, don’t flatter one or another, and discourage any newly created division. But rather encourage love, concord, and common good in the Church; develop in people only a faith in Christ, pure and religious, passionate and hopeful of the sweet future age, so that you may be witnesses of where you came from.

You then, orphaned listeners, if it comes that you are not able to attend pure religious services built on the orders of the Unity unviolated, take the advice that you care for those who still walk in our example [44], meaning those who will not teach you to make on Earth masters, fathers, leaders, but who lead you to the only one who is master, father, and leader in the heavens [45]; join the unity where you will see the truth of the Christ's gospel, pray for the peace [of this unity] and take care for its good building, also by example shine to others, also by true prayers, so that at least on me and you, my sons, the Almighty wrath will stop, which is justly imposed on the Christianity so fallen into many heresies and divisions [46]!

XIV.[edit]

I cannot forget you, my beloved sisters, evangelical unities, but even you, our mother, from which we came from, the unity of Rome! You were our mother, but you turned into a stepmother, or even a female bison [47], sucking the blood of your children. I wish that you at least in your old age would turn to repentance and leave the Babylon of your hideousness. What I bequest to you, if it is of any use, is my example, paying honor to God who remembered us even in my vices. Following the light of His word I left, through His mercy, the haze of your idolatry.

If you do not want, I will not bequest you anything, only the worm of a bad conscience within; from the outside I declare as my witness the blood of my sons and the other witness of Jesus Christ, whom you killed between the sanctuary and the altar. You make yourself to be the spiritual Jerusalem, and you are that, but Jerusalem it was in the times of the prophets, Christ and the apostles, to whom the Lord spoke as a witness, that I bequest as your inheritance: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matt. 23:37). Now you have your judgment, Jerusalem of the New Testament; wait for its enforcement. To your sons I bequest the right, which they were given by God, to take care of the glory of the Eternal Father (to whom they were born to by you; Ezech. 23:37), to raise the resistance against you, their mother, proving that you are not his wife, but wash your harlotry from your face (Hoseah 2:2). If you do not even then correct yourself and you will not please your sons by returning to their Father, I bequest to the kings of the Earth, who until now have carried you on their backs, God’s zeal, by which they find you ugly and burn you as a dirt with fire (Rev. 17:16).

XV.[edit]

I speak to you also, my beloved sisters, who lead the uprising according to the will of God (Hosea 2:2) against our mother, and who (against the will of our unfaithful mother) betrothed yourself to the Eternal Bridegroom in faith, as I did as well, so that we may know the LORD God (Hosea 2:20). Rejoice with me, that we obtain the mercy of Christ not only to trust in Him, but also to suffer for Him (Phil. 1:29)! Grace, grace, grace happened to us that the Eternal Bridegroom through his best man invited us and betrothed us to be his bride.

To me the faithful friend of the bridegroom (John 3:29) was sent, Master John Hus, whose testimony I accepted even more gladly, because he sealed it with his martyrdom.

To you, the German Unity, was sent the doctor Martin Luther, in the spirit and power of Elijah (L 1:17), and you did well to not reject his burning and shining candle, but you have celebrated in his given light (J 5:35).

And to you, the Swiss Unity, was sent John Calvin, to betroth you and marry you as a pure virgin to that one man, Christ (2Cor 11:2); and you did well that when hearing the voice of the turtledove, you got up and prepared yourself and your fig tree ripened its figs and the wines were in blossom and gave forth fragrance. (Song 2:12f)

Let us greatly rejoice in the Lord; let us exult in our God, for he has clothed us with the garments of salvation; he has covered us with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself as a bride adorning herself with her jewels. (Izai. 61, 10)! However, I, your departing sister have something to tell you, my beloved sisters, listen to me!

XVI.[edit]

You, the German Unity, were my most beloved sister, who when I was alone the Lord brought you to life for my pleasure, and who I loved from all my heart, although your love cooled because of my simplicity. What I hold as my most precious jewel given to me by the Lord I have not forgotten to give you from the beginning, hoping to share with you my blessing; and I still wish to benefit you even while dying, and I wish to bequest to you what will help you most: more order than you have, and more orderly discipline and better wisdom concerning the article of faith on justification, without so much shameful misuse of it, which I can see happening with your sons.

It was a good beginning by the one whom God gave you to lead you out of your faint; however those who came to his place are not fighting well. His work for almost all his life was to destroy Babylon; it could not be otherwise (because no work of human construction could endure in a place where the city of the Most High was to be revealed; 2. Esdras 10:54 NRSV) However, when Zion should have been built and the Lord called Him from his work to rest, his helpers, who should have built, let it be, and kept only what he did, and whatever he did, they decided to live in the ruins. Therefore, you don’t have much more than what he did not destroy from Papism, and what he thought could stay; those are your palaces, those are your triumphs. What others considered and consider to be destroyed yet, you don’t want to finish, you don’t want to even hear about it, and even less you care about building the new beautiful order of the whole Church and founding it on that foundation of unity, and building for it fortifications of order and raising up gates and attaching to them doors and bars and locks with the keys of Christ, but having started with the Spirit, you are ending with the flesh, as those formerly enthusiastic Galatians (chapter 3:3), but in another direction. They started their Christianity with faith, but wished to end with the acts of the Law; you started with the living faith, but finish with the dead one, the one without any deeds.

Oh my friends, I am being disciplined by the God Almighty to teach you (Job 27:11) and I wish that you would understand that knowledge of Christ without the following of Christ and having delight in the gospel without following the law of love which aims towards the gospel is nothing, just misuse of the Gospel and certain (although opposing that first one by the Papacy) temptation and deceit.

XVII.[edit]

To you then, the Swiss Unity, who was added to me as a lover of order and discipline, what should I bequest? Intent to be constant, growing in all good according to the orders of the Christ, so that the justified one justifies himself even more, and the saintly sanctify himself even more (Rev 22:11; translated according to the Comenius text), and the promise that those who have more will be given more, and they will have an abundance (Matt 13:12).

If then, my beloved sister, you are getting gifts and mercies from God, let even me add to you something more: I wish that you, thinking to have something precious, had it truly, but not being misled by your thoughts were not feeding on shells, but broke into the kernel. I ask for you first of all more diligent acts of unanimity in taking care for the religion and the acts of guarding the discipline supporting it, so that it would be not only surface but the thing itself. Concerning theology, I wish you more simplicity, less contemplation, more careful talk about God and His deeper secrets than some of your sons did, which lead to the pitiful tearing of yourself, gathered against you and against each other: Anabaptists, Socinians [48], Arminians [49], and other bugs coming out of you (especially now in England, when the dread of the worldly power discontinued [50]; it is clear how your sons, who are always seeking new things and who are unable to agree on anything, made sad and outrageous theater of the Church of God, and a bad name for you among all nations).

Oh my beloved sister, let God gives something to all your sons, so that we can learn to pray together with David: “Simplicity and honesty let them guard me.” (Psalm 25:21)!

XVIII.[edit]

To all Christian unities I bequest a yearning for the unity of thoughts and reconciliation and unity in faith and love leading to the Unity of spirit. Oh if only that spirit, whom I got in the beginning from the Father of all spirits [51], could come to all of you, so that you would long with all your heart, as much as I was longing, for the true unity in Christendom with all those confessing the name of Christ in truth! Oh, if only God would give you to find the foundations of all things essential, things of service, and accidental, as he did to me, so that all of you would know what is necessary to enthuse about and what not, what to be enthusiastic about more or less, knowing, when to avoid the enthusiasm which is without wisdom and which does not bring building and improvement, but which brings destruction to the Church, where the enraged enthusiasm is necessary, where to venture to fight in rage for the Glory of God (all the way to sacrificing your lives)! Oh, if only all of you longed for true participation in the Mercy of God, for true participation in the merits of the Christ, for true participation in the sweet inner gifts of the Holy Spirit, which you can achieve through the true faith, true love and true hope in God, which is the foundation of Christianity! These you can then achieve by the services ordained by God for service to us: Word, Keys, and Sacraments, whose power is most certainly proved by the inner power of the Spirit, when they are being used simply and honestly, humbly and in faith as if given by God, without the human-invented beauty of rites. Oh, if only you would understand what Our Lord said: “The Kingdom of God is not coming in things that can be observed, but it is among you.” (Luke 17:20,21 NRSV); also “there is need of only one thing” (Luke 10:42 NRSV), that is being wholly invested into the one (that is the good part, chosen by Maria [52], sitting silently at the Lord’s feet and letting go all anxious activity), so that you would hit at least sometimes something which would make happy the heart of Our Compassionate One, who prayed for all of us to the Father, saying: “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (John 17:21 NRSV), so that all of you claim allegiance to the house of the Church were only one house of God, well ordered and joined together, and only in that house the one family of God, under the unanimous order of God in concord, loving and helping one another, standing as one body, although consisting of many members, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promoting the body’s growth in building itself up in love (Eph 4:16 NRSV), so that one day the Christian Church and angels can sing: “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

XIX.[edit]

I cannot forget as well you, Czech and Moravian nation, my beloved country, even now when I have finished my farewell; to you in the first place I leave all my treasures, which I have been entrusted by the Lord. I make you the first beneficiary and heir, following the example of some rich burghers of Rome and kings living on their borders, who made their heir the Roman commonwealth, ruling to the end of the Earth, making testaments in its benefit. Even I do believe God, that after the end of all gales of anger (introduced on our heads for our sins) the rule of your things will return back to your hands, O Czech nation! And for this hope I make you heir of all I have inherited from my ancestors and preserved during the hard and difficult times, and even what I have acquired through the work of my sons and God’s blessing. All this I bequest to you and give you, namely:

First of all, love for the pure truth of God, which the Lord started to show us before other nations through the ministry of Master Hus, the ministry he together with his helper [53] and other faithful Czechs sealed by his blood, and from which we were lead astray by the smarts of the Antichrist, first during the Council of Basel, and now [54] through the brutal power of war, and which I still strive to hold together with my sons who wish to go after the light. That is your inheritance, given to you before other nations, O my beloved country, take over again your right as your own, when this grace will be given and the Lord, Your Compassionate one, will make way for his truth.

Second, commend you to the passionate longing for always fuller and clearer understanding of God’s truth, so that knowing the LORD, you will always try to get to know him more (Hos 6:3). And because the Lord ordered us to search the Scriptures (John 5:39 [55]) I bequest to you the inheritance the book of God, The Holy Bible, my sons, from the original languages (which God ordered them to be written in) into the Czech language translated with great diligence (several learned men spent fifteen years on this work) [56], and the Lord God so blessed this effort so much, that only few nations can listen to the holy prophets and apostles speak in their own language. Accept it as your own jewel, my beloved country, and use it for God’s glory and your own good education; and although our enemies burned copies of this book, wherever they could find it, by the mercy of the same God, who ordered Jeremiah to write again books once cut and burnt by the godless Jehoiakim [57] (Jer. 36) as well as soon afterwards He woke up the religious Ptolemaios [58] to translate it into the Greek language and make it known to other nations, even to you this book of God will be preserved; believe and do not doubt!

Third, I command you to especially love the Church orders and loving discipline (which should and must exist among the children of God), so that the Christ will have not only the pulpit as a prophet, or an altar as a priest and bishop, but the throne and staff to make judgments over the disobedient. That discipline which I got from the Lord I have never hidden, it was given in the light; use it, my beloved country, for your benefit, either according to my style, or whatever best can be found in the Holy Scriptures and in the example of the first apostolic Church, because it is the most safe to build on old foundations, whenever the temple of God is being restored (Ezra 3:3)!

Fourth, I give you passion for the service of the Lord God. Serve him in unity, as I have longed for always, evidenced by the memories of my ancestors [59] as well as the history written by Jan Lascius about my matters. I could use this longing much, except that I joined the common confession of the nation in 1575 and the common consistory in 1610. However, let be given by God for his mercy (the wish I am sealing either with my life or my death, as the Lord will call me), that the third link be the most perfect, of all my remains with other remains of faithful Czechs, so that the wood of Judea and the wood of Ephraim [60] be the only wood in the hand of God, when the Lord Almighty collects our scattered bones again, covers them with flesh and skin, and fills us with the spirit of Life. For Him, nothing is impossible!

Fifth, I give to you and your sons diligence in cultivation, cleaning and building up of the adored and beloved language of our fathers. My sons were always watchful and known for this in times past. So much so, that the wise told us there was no better Czech language than the one among the Brethren and in their books. But some are now even more diligent, after being expelled from their country, to create useful books written with even sharper pens for helping our sons with even more simple introductions to various noble graces and beauty in all matters of speech, to wisdom and eloquence, for a better-chosen replacement of the current disaster in times to come when the Lord will grant refreshing. So whatever books you find, old or new, accept it from my sons, have them as your own for the best use you can see!

Sixth, I bequest to you better youth, more diligent, better in exercise, than youth used to be. It was my mistake to entrust my youth to an alien, who inflamed my sons and ruined them. If it were God's pleasure to return me back to better times, I would take care to do better in this. However, I have lost all hope for myself, so I ask you, my beloved country, I beseech you to correct this yourself. Some of my sons worked on this [61] and prepared better methods of teaching our youth, which some other nations who share a similar religion are starting to use, but it belongs to you in the first place, do not neglect your inheritance, which my sons will be lead to when the time comes!!

In total, all my inheritance, as ashes after the fire, I bequest to you, my beloved country, so that you can make lye from it for the cleansing of your children, in the same manner as the Lord did for me in the beginnings when he raised us and our children from the ashes of Hus.

XX.[edit]

But what more can I say? It is time to stop and part with you in blessing, my beloved country! But how? In the same manner Jacob the patriarch on his death bed blessed his sons; as Moses when he was leaving his people. From their mouth I take words and declare as a farewell a blessing for you, the Czech nation, from your LORD God, so that you may be and remain a growing branch over the wall. Even though they filled you with bitterness and shot at you, because archers hated you with a secret hate, may your bow remain unmoved, and your arms agile through the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, through the mighty God to whom your fathers serve, who helps you, and from the Almighty who will bless you with the blessing of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb! Let your blessings be mighty beyond the blessings of my ancestors, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. (Gen 49,22-26, translated according to the Czech text)

Be alive, nation blessed by God, and do not die; may your men be countless (Deut. 33:6 [62])! Bless, O Lord, your fighting, and may God accept the work your hands. Crush the loins of your adversaries, of those who hate you, that they rise not again (Deut. 33:11 according to the Czech text)! Let your time come, so that nations will say: Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs. (Deut 33:29)

Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah (Psalm 3:9)

  1. This translation is based on the electronic edition of the Czech text available at http://www.dkd.cz/dila/_Ksaft_umirajici_matky_Jednoty_Bratrske_9216.TXT, and corrected by checking against the 1928 edition by J. V. Klíma mentioned above. Biblical quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Quotations marked NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
  2. Published in English as The Making of a State (1927).
  3. The old Unity of Brethren and thus Komenský used intentionally term “a Unity” (“jednota”), where the current term would be probably “a denomination” or “a church”. They wanted to emphasize their persuasion that there is only one Church of Christ, comprised of all Christians, and all communities which comprise it are just parts of this large one Church.
  4. “Evangelical” was for Komenský more or less the same as what we would call “protestant” today.

  5. Ecclesiastes 1:4
  6. literally “churches”
  7. Psalm 104:30
  8. Here she talks about the Peace of Westphalia (1648).
  9. Acts 13:36
  10. Isaiah 38:1
  11. 2.Esdras 2:2b-4 NRSV
  12. “Younger sisters” means the Lutheran and Calvin unities, the “older sister” is the Utraquist unity.
  13. Meaning St. Peter.
  14. Acts 3:6
  15. Luke 22:28-30
  16. Tree of life symbolizes the eternal life, whereas fragrant perfume is a symbol of the earthly life.
    1. Esdras 2:10b-13 NRSV
  17. ibid v. 35-36 NRSV
  18. Revelation 7:9, 14, 15
  19. Matthew 16:26
  20. L 8:13
  21. Luke 22:33
  22. Gale means here the defeat of protestants in the Battle of White Mountains (1620) and following recatholization of the Czech lands.
  23. Sirach 2:10,12-14 NRSV
  24. Bishop’s palaces — Peter left the seat of the highest Jewish priest, where Peter denied Christ, here the palace means the Roman unity.
  25. see Lev 10:1-6
  26. Priests of the Brethren Unity.
  27. Joel 2:12-17
  28. Ester 4:16
  29. Jonah 3:5-8
  30. 2.Maccabees 13:12
  31. Judges 20:26
  32. That is, during the thirty years war.
  33. Joel 2:12-14
  34. ibid v. 32
  35. Lebanon - the mountain range, from which Salomon took the wood for the building of The Temple.
  36. Succoth and Zarethan - two cities near Jordan, where Salomon cast the vessels for his Temple (1.Ki 7:46).
  37. i.e., God himself.
  38. Revelation 3:9 translated from Czech
  39. Isaiah 5
  40. literally “you have learned neither to close nor to open God’s house freely”
  41. literally “even the young stay with older ones, sons stay with their fathers, you want your salary and take it.”
  42. Lasicius - the Polish noble Jan Lasicki (1534-1605) wrote a celebratory work about the Unity of Brethren.
  43. Phil. 3:17
  44. Matt 23:8
  45. 3. Maccabees 7:38, which is probably an incorrect quotation, 3. Maccabees 7 has only 23 verses.
  46. female bison — it was said about the Lithuanian bison that it deals badly with its offspring if they are touched by a human.
  47. Socinians: a sect, founded by an Italian Faustus Sozzini in the 16th century in Poland, which rejected faith in the Holy Trinity.
  48. Arminians: a Calvinist sect, founded by Jacobus Arminius in the 16th century in the Netherlands, which rejected the teaching of predestination.
  49. The allusion to the end of the Monarchy and beginning of the English republic in 1649.
  50. i.e. God
  51. Maria listened to the word of Christ, sitting at his feet, while her sister, cautious Marta, eagerly served to the Lord (see gospels).
  52. Master Jerome of Prague
  53. during the thirty years war
  54. In the Kralice Bible translation that Komenský used, the word “search” is in the imperative.
  55. The Kralice Bible was translated in the years 1579-93.
  56. Jehoiakim was the Judean king around the year 600 BC.
  57. Komenský reversed the actual historical order of Antiochos and Ptolemaios: Antiochos IV. Epifanes ruled in Syrian in 175-164 BC, Ptolemaios in Egypt in 285-247 BC.
  58. Czech brethren always very carefully kept detailed historical records, The Acts of the Unity of Brethren.
  59. Meaning the south and north kingdom of Judah and Israel.
  60. Komenský himself.
  61. Corrected according to the Czech translation Komenský used which has “countless, without measure”, i.e. many, where the English text has “few”, similar to KJV.
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