The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/A Letter of John Huss containing a confession of the infirmity of man's flesh

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Jan Hus to his friends (23 June 1415).

A Letter of John Huss containing a confession of the infirmity of man's flesh; how weak it is, and repugnant against the Spirit: wherein he also exhorteth to persevere constantly in the truth.
Health be to you from Jesus Christ, &c. My dear friend! know that Paletz[1] came to me to persuade me that I should not fear the shame of abjuration, but to consider the good which thereof will come. To whom I said, 'The shame of condemnation and burning is greater than to abjure; and why should I fear then that shame? but I pray you tell me plainly your mind. Presuppose that such articles were laid to you, which you yourself knew not to be true: what would you do in that case? would you abjure?' Who answered: 'The case is sore;' and began to weep. Many other things he spake which I did reprehend. Michael de Causis[2] was, sometimes, before the prison with the deputies. And when I was with the deputies, thus I heard him speak unto the keepers: John Huss prayeth for his enemies.'We, by the grace of God, will burn this heretic shortly, for whose cause I have spent many florins.' But yet understand that I write not this to the intent to revenge me of him, for that I have committed to God, and pray to God for him with all my heart.

Yet I exhort you again, to be circumspect about our letters, for Michael hath taken such order, that none shall be suffered to come into the prison; no nor yet the keepers' wives are permitted to come to me. O holy God! how largely doth Antichrist extend his power and cruelty! But I trust that his power shall be shortened, and his iniquity shall be detected, more and more amongst the faithful people.

A prophecy of John Huss.Almighty God shall confirm the hearts of his faithful, whom he hath chosen before the constitution of the world, that they may receive the eternal crown of glory. And let Antichrist rage as much as he will, yet he shall not prevail against Christ, who shall destroy him with the spirit of his mouth, as the apostle saith; and then shall the creature be delivered out of servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God, as saith the apostle in the words following: 'We, also, within ourselves, do groan, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.'

I am greatly comforted in those words of our Saviour: 'Happy be you when men shall hate you, and shall separate you, and shall rebuke you, and shall cast out your name as execrable, for the Son of man: rejoice, and be glad, for behold, great is your reward in heaven.' [Luke vi.] O worthy, yea most worthy consolation! which, not to understand, but to practise, in time of tribulation, is a hard lesson.

This rule St. James, with the other apostles, did well understand, who saith: 'Count it exceeding joy, my brethren, when ye shall fall into divers temptations; knowing that the probation of your faith worketh patience. Let patience have her perfect work.' For certainly it is a great matter for a man to rejoice in trouble, and to take it for joy to be in divers temptations. A light matter it is to speak it and to expound it; but a great matter to fulfil it. The example of Christ.For why? our most patient and most valiant Champion himself, knowing that he should rise again the third day, overcoming his enemies by his death, and redeeming from damnation his elect, after his last supper was troubled in spirit, and said: 'My soul is heavy unto death;' of whom also the gospel saith: 'That he began to fear, to be sad and heavy.' Who, being then in an agony, was confirmed of the angel, and his sweat was like the drops of blood falling upon the ground. And yet he, notwithstanding, being so troubled, said to his disciples: 'Let not your hearts be troubled, neither fear the cruelty of them that persecute you, for you shall have me with you always, that you may overcome the tyranny of your persecutors.' Whereupon those his soldiers, looking upon the Prince and King of glory, sustained great conflicts. They passed through fire and water, and were saved, and received the crown of the Lord God, of the which St. James, in his canonical epistle, saith: 'Blessed is the man that suffereth temptation; for when he shall be proved, he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.' Of this crown I trust steadfastly the Lord will make me a partaker also with you who be the fervent sealers of the truth, and with all them who steadfastly and constantly do love the Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered for us, leaving to us example that we should follow his steps. 'It behoved him to suffer,' as he saith; and it also behoved us to suffer, that the members may suffer together with the head. For he saith: 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'

'O most merciful Christ! draw us weak creatures after thee; for except thou should draw us, we are not able to follow thee. The prayer of John Huss to Christ.Give us a strong spirit, that it may be ready; and although the flesh be feeble, yet let thy grace go before us, go with us, and follow us; for without thee we can do nothing, and much less enter into the cruel death for thy sake. Give us that prompt and ready spirit, a bold heart, an upright faith, a firm hope and perfect charity, that we may give our lives patiently and joyfully for thy name's sake. Amen.

Written in prison in bonds, in the vigil of holy St. John the Baptist, who, being in prison and in bonds for the rebuking of wickedness, was beheaded.

Among divers other letters of John Huss, which he wrote to the great consolation of others, I thought also here to intermix another certain godly letter written out of England, by a faithful scholar of Wickliff, as appeareth, unto John Huss and the Bohemians; which, for the zealous affection therein contained, seemeth not unworthy to be read.

  1. This Paletz was the chiefest enemy of John Huss, and procurer of his death.
  2. Michael de Causis, another bitter enemy of John Huss.