Page:The voice of an oppressed people.pdf/48

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ready rejected all Roman teaching and ceremonial; they even accepted women as preachers, and in their zeal for Christian equality they adopted communism as practised in the Apostolic Church. Hussitism reached its height in the Unitas Fratrum—the Church of Bohemian (Moravian) Brethren, the remnants of which are the English and Austrian churches of the Brethren, and the German Herrenhut Church. Their founder was Peter Chelcicky, who interpreted Christian love in its radical form of non-resistance, and thus fully anticipated Tolstoy's famous doctrine. Chelcicky rejected both "whales"—the Pope and the Emperor Church and State alike, the whole theocracy and its clerical and official organization. His followers in the next generation were obliged to modify his teaching; amid the horrors of the war against Bohemia they doubtless confounded legitimate defence with force and aggression, forgetting that Christ brought not only peace but also a sword to defend truth and justice against aggression. But humanitarian endeavour remained the lasting foundation of this Church, which historians praise as the truest realization of Christ's teaching. Amos Comenius, the great humanitarian teacher of the nations, became its last bishop, before it was crushed by the Austrian Counter-Reformation.

The Bohemian Reformation, as Palacky rightly observes, contains the germ of all modern teaching and institutions; it was an anticipation of the future, an ideal to be reached by future ages. But Europe did not understand Bohemia, and united, under the leadership of Pope and Emperor, to crush the nation which had dared to follow its own path.

Historians differ as to the origin and development of the Hussite Reformation. Some Russian and Czech writers see in it a revival of the Slav Church of Cyril and Methodius; others point to the great influence of Wycliffe and the West; while the Germans treat it as a national anti-German movement. This last explanation is quite wrong.