Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Letter 2, John Huss to the Bohemians previously to his setting out for the Council
I, John Huss, in hope, priest and minister of Jesus Christ, to all our well-beloved and faithful brethren and sisters, who have heard from my mouth the divine word, and who have received the mercy and peace of God and of the Holy Ghost, I pray they may continue to walk without blame in the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.
You know, dear brethren, that for a long time I have instructed you in the faith, teaching you the word of the Lord, and not things foreign to the truth; for I have always sought, seek now, and shall seek unto the end, your salvation. I had intended, before I set out for Constance, to refute the false testimonies, and confound the false witnesses, who wish to bring me to the scaffold, but time has not permitted me, and I will do it at a later period. You, then, who know these things, think not, suppose not, that I encounter unworthy treatment for any false doctrines. Dwell in the truth, and confide yourselves to the mercy of God, who has given you the truth through me, his faithful preacher, to know and defend the truth, and beware of false teachers. . . . . . . As to me, I am setting out to travel with a safe-conduct from the Emperor, to meet and confound my numerous and mortal enemies, as will appear clearer than the day, when they stand before me and produce against me their false testimonies.
Mine enemies in the Council, more numerous than were Christ’s, are found amongst the bishops, and doctors, and also amongst the princes of this age, and the Pharisees. But I confide myself entirely to Almighty God and my Saviour; I hope, therefore, he will grant my ardent prayer, and put prudence and wisdom in my mouth, that I may be able to resist them; that he may bestow on me his Holy Spirit to fortify me in the truth; so that the gates of hell shall not be able to lead me from it, and that I may face, with an intrepid heart, temptation, imprisonment, and the sufferings of a cruel death.
Christ has suffered for his well-beloved; should we, then, be astonished at his leaving us his example, in order that we may patiently suffer all things for our own salvation? He is God, and we are his creatures; he is the Lord, and we are his servants; he is the Master of the world, and we are but frail mortals; he is not in want of anything, and we are utterly destitute; he has suffered, and should not we suffer also, especially when suffering is unto us a purification? Truly, he who confides in Christ, and dwells in his truth, cannot perish. Therefore, my beloved brethren, pray to him incessantly to bestow his Spirit upon me, that I may dwell in the truth, and be delivered from all evil; and if my death should contribute to his glory, pray that it may come quickly, and that he may give me strength to support my afflictions with constancy. But if it be better, in the interest of my salvation, that I should return amongst you, we will ask of God, that I leave the Council without a blemish; that is to say, that I may keep back nothing of the truth of the gospel of Christ, in order that we may distinguish its light more purely, and leave to our brethren a fine example. Probably you may never again see my countenance at Prague; but if the will of Almighty God should deign to restore me to you, let us advance, then, with a better heart in the knowledge and love of his law. The Lord is merciful and just, and gives peace to his children in this world and after death. Let him watch over you who has purified us by the sprinkling of his precious blood—of that blood which is the eternal pledge of our salvation! May he permit you to accomplish his will; and when you shall have accomplished it, may he bestow on you peace and eternal glory, through Jesus Christ, with all those who have dwelt in the truth!
- This letter was written in Bohemia by Huss; several translations of it were made by his adversaries to injure him before the Council.