Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Letter 15, The Priest Wychewitze to John Huss and his friends

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Richard Wyche to Jan Hus.



To you, dearly-beloved in the Lord, be salvation and all that is most precious in the bosom of Jesus Christ—to you whom I love in the truth, and not I alone, but all who have knowledge of the truth that dwells in you, and will always remain there, through the grace of God! I felt a most lively joy when our brethren came and bore testimony to your true doctrine, informing us of the manner in which you walk in the light. I have learned, dear brethren, with what rigour Antichrist is proving you, by inflicting on believers various and most grievous tribulations; and I feel no astonishment, if, amongst you, as already almost everywhere in the world, the law of Christ has such violent assaults to sustain from his enemies. Let us, then, strengthen ourselves in the Lord our God, and in his infinite goodness: and let us be confident that he will not permit his faithful followers to wander aside from their object, provided we love him as we ought to do, with all our heart. There would be no suffering borne by you, if iniquity did not abound. Be not, therefore, shaken by any tribulation, or any trial, supported for the sake of Christ; for we know with certitude, that they whom the Lord judges worthy to be his children, are proved by him in affliction: our merciful Father sends us persecutions in this miserable world, in order to receive us afterwards into his grace. The great Workman proves and purifies the gold, before he receives it into his incorruptible treasury: the period of our life here below is brief and transitory: the life which we hope for hereafter is full of delight, and eternal. Let us, therefore, labour whilst we can to secure our being admitted into this happy rest. What do we behold in this perishable life, if not grief and mourning, and what ought above all to afflict the faithful,—a too great abandonment and contempt of the law of God.

Let us, then, strive to attain, as much as is necessary, to durable and eternal things, detaching our souls from those which pass away and perish. Consider the ancient fathers, the saints of the old and new alliance: have they not all traversed this same ocean of tribulation and persecution? Were not some sawed in two, others stoned, others put to death with the sword? All have passed by a difficult road, and so followed the footsteps of Christ, who said, “Let him who serves me, follow my steps.” Wherefore, placing before you the example of so many saints who have preceded us, and being pressed on all sides by sin, let us patiently await the combat which is offered us, our eyes fixed on the foundation of our faith—on that Jesus who suffered the trial of the cross; let us implore him who suffered every indignity from the hands of sinners to support our souls; let us combat firmly against his enemies, loving his law, and not being false workmen; but let us act faithfully, and labour for the Lord, in the hope of an eternal reward.

Thou, my dear Huss, my well-beloved brother in Christ, although my eyes have never beheld thee, thy features are well known to me by faith and affection; for this world cannot disjoin those whom the love of Christ strongly binds together. Rejoice in the grace that has been accorded thee: exert thyself like a valiant soldier of Christ: preach and exhort, by thy word and thy example: recall all that thou canst into the way of truth; for the truth of the gospel ought not to be held back on account of some vain censures and antichristian excommunications. Impart, then, strength to the members of Christ that are enfeebled by Satan; and even should Antichrist be raised to the very topmost point of power, his reign will soon finish. I rejoice, above all, that in your kingdom, and elsewhere, God animates hearts, that support with joy, captivity, exile, and even death, for Christ’s word.

What more shall I say to you, dearly-beloved? I know not; but I confess that my heart would dissolve with delight, if I could thus strengthen and console myself under the law of the Lord. I salute, from the bottom of my soul, all the believers and faithful disciples of the truth; and, in particular, Jacobel, thy coadjutor in the preaching of the Gospel, requesting him to pray in his church to the Lord for me.

May the God of peace, who raised from the dead the Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ; our Sovereign Lord, render you capable of all well-doing, in order that by his acting with you as he may deem fit, you execute his will. All your friends, who have heard your constancy spoken of, salute you. I desire most ardently to receive a letter from you; for be assured that it affords me no trifling consolation.

Written at London, on the day of the Nativity of the Virgin, in the year of our Lord 1410.[1]

  1. The signature runs thus:—“Vester servus cupiens in labore fieri socius, Ricus Wychewitze, infimus Sacerdotum.”—This letter has been erroneously attributed by several historians to Wyckliff.