Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Letter 18, John Huss to his Benefactors

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Jan Hus to his friends (after 18 June 1415).



[He returns them thanks; exhorts them to live purely; and reminds them of the conduct of the Council towards Pope John XXIII. after his flight.]

Most generous Lords, faithful defenders of the truth, and my consolers; you whom God has sent as angels to me, I cannot fully express to you how grateful I feel for all the constancy and charitable kindness that you have shewn to me a poor sinner, but a servant in the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ. I trust the Divine Jesus, our Creator, Redeemer, and Saviour, will reward you in the present life, and give himself unto you, as the most precious gift in the life to come. I exhort you, therefore, by his mercy, to bind yourselves strongly to his law and holy commandments.

Noble Lord Wenceslaus, in taking a spouse, live purely in marriage, and renounce the vanities of the age; and you, Lord John of Chlum, you who already serve no longer the kings of the earth, dwell with your wife and your children under the yoke of the Lord.

You behold how the wheel of the vanities of the world turns round, raising one man and depressing another, but giving to all whom it raises a fleeting joy; after which comes the eternal punishment in fire and darkness.

You know of what description are these spiritual princes who call themselves the true vicars of Christ and his Apostles; who proclaim themselves the Holy Church, and the very Sacred Council that is infallible; and which, nevertheless, transgressed in adoring John XXIII., and in calling him most holy, when they knew him to be a manslayer, impure, a simonist, and a heretic, as they have declared him to be in the sentence which condemns him. Behold how they have struck off the head of the Church; they have torn out the heart of the Church; they have dried up the inexhaustible fountain of the Church; they have violated and destroyed the imperishable refuge of the Church, where every Christian should find a refuge!

May God pardon Stanislaus, Paletz, and their brethren; for they thus designated the Pope in the sentence which they rendered by the mouth of Stanislaus.[2]***** And now Christendom is without a Pope; it has Jesus Christ for the Head, who directs it—for the heart that vivifies it by grace—for the fountain which waters it with the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost—for the imperishable and never-failing refuge, to which I have recourse in my misfortune, in the firm hope that there I shall always find direction, assistance, and an all-sufficient regeneration, and that God will fill me with infinite joy, by delivering me from my sins, and from this miserable life!

The Council erred several times in erroneously rejecting some articles from my books, as tainted with corruption, and mutilating several passages, as will be seen on comparing these articles with my books. It is there evident to both of us that Jesus Christ, the infallible Judge, will not sanction all that has been done and said at this Council. Happy, then, are they who, keeping his law, perceive, detest, and avoid vain pomp, avarice, hypocrisy, the fraud of Christ’s enemies, and who wait with patience the coming of the Sovereign Judge and his angels.

I conjure you, by the bowels of Jesus Christ, to avoid bad priests, and to love good ones, according to their works. I conjure you and the faithful Barons, not to permit, according to your power, worthy priests to be oppressed. It is for that purpose that God has raised you above others; and I think there will be in Bohemia a great persecution of the faithful servants of God, if he does not relieve them by the arms of the secular lords whom he has enlightened by his Word, more than by our spiritual chiefs. Oh! what madness to condemn as erroneous the Gospel of Christ and the Epistle of St Paul, who professes to have received the truth, not from men, but from God; and to reject the example of Jesus Christ himself, of his apostles, and of the other saints, in condemning the Communion of the Cup of our Lord, instituted for all adult believers. Do they not say, the permission given to devout laymen to participate with the lips in the Cup of Christ is an error! And if a priest presents them this Cup to drink of, he is reputed in fault, and, should he persist, is condemned as a heretic!

O, St Paul, thou hast said unto all the faithful—“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come,” that is to say, until the judgment-day, when he shall come; and, behold, already the custom of the Romish Church opposes the accomplishment of thy Word!

  1. Hist. et Monum. Johann. Huss, Epist. xix.
  2. John Huss repeats again here what he had previously said relative to the Pope. We omit it as superfluous.