Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Letter 4, To the Rector of the University of Prague
TO THE RECTOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PRAGUE.
Venerable Rector, I have received great consolation from your letter, in which you declare, amongst other things, that “the just man shall not be afflicted, what ever may befall him;” from which you infer, that temporal tribulations, and my separation from my friends, ought not to discourage me, neither sadden nor cast me down, but, on the contrary, should fortify and make me glad. I accept with gratitude this consolation. I cling to the words of Scripture, and say, If I am just, no trouble, what ever it may be, could sadden me, so as to turn me from the path of truth. If I live, and wish to live holy, in it is necessary that I suffer persecution in the name of Christ; for as it was necessary that Christ should suffer in order to enter into glory, we also should bear our crosses, miserable beings as we are, and should imitate him in his passion.
I protest, then, venerable Rector, that I have never felt myself overwhelmed by persecution; that I am only borne down by my sins, and by the errors of the Christian people. What, indeed, are the riches of the world to me! What affliction can their loss cause me? What is it to me to lose the favour of the world, which makes us swerve from the path of Christ? What signifies infamy, which when supported with humility, proves, purifies, and illuminates the children of God in such a manner, that they shine and radiate, like the bright sun, in their Father’s kingdom? And, lastly, what is death, if this miserable life be torn from me? He who loses it in this world triumphs even over death, and finds true life in the next.
But men, blinded by luxury, vainglory, and ambition, understand not these things. Others are turned away from the truth by fear, and languish on in a strange perplexity, deprived of charity, patience, and of every other virtue. On the one hand, they are urged on by knowledge of the truth; and, on the other, by the fear of losing their reputation, or of exposing their wretched bodies to death. For my own part, I will expose mine to it (I trust with the assistance of our Lord Jesus Christ), if his mercy comes to my assistance; for I do not desire to live in this corrupted age, unless I can lead to repentance myself and others, according to the will of God. This is what I ardently desire for you; and I exhort you, as well as all those united to you, to hold yourselves ready for the combat; for behold already appear the preludes to the beginnings of Antichrist: the combat is near, and the poor bird must flap his wings against the wings of Behemoth, and against this tail of Antichrist, that always engenders abominations.
The prophet has shewn it to us when he declares, that he who teaches falsehood is the tail of Antichrist, and a grave old man is the head. The Lord will confound both one and the other; he will confound the pope and his preachers, his officers and his doctors, who, under a false name of holiness, conceive abominations. What greater abomination is there than that of the prostitute, who abandons herself publicly to every comer? Nevertheless, the abomination is greater still of him who, sitting in high places, offers himself, as if he were God, to the adoration of all; traffics in spiritual things, and sells all that he possesses not. Woe, then, unto me if I preach not against such an abomination! Woe unto me if I weep not, if I write not against it! Can you find one man for whom such things are not a calamity? Already the great eagle takes its flight and cries to us: “Woe! woe to the inhabitants of the earth!”
- John Huss alludes to his name, which, in the Bohemian, signifies goose.
- “Adhuc major est abominatio bestiæ, quæ parata est a quocumque veniente adorari.”