Letters of John Huss Written During His Exile and Imprisonment/Letter 42, John Cardinal to John Huss

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of the "Father" to Jan Hus.


John Cardinal to John Huss.

[The Father insists on the counsel which he has given: “whoever thou mayest be who readest these pages, see how the false title of the Church deceives the excellent Cardinal.”[2]]

In the first place, my well-beloved brother, do not let yourself be troubled by the fear of condemning truths; for it is not you who will condemn these, but those who are your superiors and ours. Meditate on these words, “Rely not on your own prudence.” There are many wise and conscientious men in the Council: “My son, listen to thy mother’s law.” This is my point.

I come to the second, concerning the perjury of the matter. This perjury, even if it be one, will not fall on you, but on those who exact it. Heresy ceases where obstinacy ends. Augustin, Origen, the Master of the Sentences, and many others, have erred, and returned with joy from their errors; I also often thought that I perfectly understood certain things, in which I was mistaken. When better informed, I returned with eagerness to a different opinion.

I write briefly; for I write to an intelligent man. Do not stray from the truth, but arrive at it; you will not perjure yourself but will become better. Do not offend, but edify. The Jew Eleazar obtained a great glory, but Judas with his seven sons, and the eight martyrs, obtained much greater. Paul did not hesitate to be let down in a basket in order to propagate a better law. May Jesus Christ, the Judge of your appeal, accord you apostles like these.[3] Some combats for the faith of Jesus Christ are still due from you.

  1. Hist. et Monum. Johann. Huss, Epist. xl.
  2. Luther falls again into the same error; see note 2 of page 159.
  3. This passage is exceedingly obscure. It may be seen that it relates to what John Huss had said that he would appeal to Jesus Christ. In law are called apostles certain letters which the appellant ought to obtain from the judges to whom he has appealed; because, if they are not obtained after a certain delay, he is supposed to have renounced his appeal, and is obliged to submit to his first judgment.—Lenfant, History of the Council of Constance.