The letters of John Hus/Letter 16, To the People of Prague

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Jan Hus to the People of Prague (November 1412).

XVI. To the People of Prague.

(Without date: early in October 1412).

May God be with you, beloved lords and masters! I beg you in the first place to consider God’s cause, to which great injury is being done; for certain persons desire to suppress His holy word, to destroy a chapel[1] that is useful for the preaching of His word, and thus to hinder men from salvation. Secondly, consider the disgrace brought upon your country and nation and race. Thirdly, consider the shame and wrong that are being unjustly done to yourselves. Fourthly, consider and endure it patiently, that the devil is raging against you, and Antichrist is showing his teeth; and yet like a dog chained up he will do you no hurt if you be lovers of God’s truth. Look! he hath been raging against me for a number of years, and hath not yet hurt a hair of my head, but is ever adding to my joy and gladness.

Moreover, you ought to know that to abjure is to be guilty of renouncing what you believe in. Thus, one who abjures either renounces the true faith which he held, or a heresy and an error. It is as if one were a Christian, and through fear or the devil’s enticement were to mix himself up with Jews or pagans and swear that he wished no longer to hold Christianity. Vice versâ, if a man holds a heresy—e.g., suppose he believes that the Lord Christ is not very God, as Jews and pagans believe—and then renounces this error, he is said to have abjured. Accordingly, be assured that if any of you abjure, as they suggest in their letters, he will abjure either the true faith and the truth, or—heresy and error. Accordingly, either after abjuring he will hold heresy or error—or before doing so, he will be proved to have held what he abjures. Therefore, understand that in their letters they judge you to be heretics and demand that you abjure the heresy which they suppose you to hold. From this it is evident that a son or friend of yours, if he abjure, can be disgraced for having consorted with a heretical father or friend. Further, it is evident that any other person can rightly say to any one who abjures, “You abjured the heresy which you held and you are not worthy of me.” In the third place, understand that if any one abjures and retains in his mind the truth he abjures, as they bid you do, he will be a perjurer. Let us then consider these matters and give the preference to the truth and to the promise of God. Let us live nobly in love and resist the lie of Antichrist to the end. Let us make the Saviour Almighty our Helper, Whom no man can overcome, and Who will never forsake us so long as we ourselves do not forsake Him. He will give us an eternal reward—to wit, the satisfaction of will, reason, memory, and all the senses of the body without stint. I write this to you (for I cannot conveniently come to you) that the priests may not thwart you in your religious duties and interfere with your good pleasure. Amen.

  1. The Bethlehem: supra, p. 87.