The letters of John Hus/Letter 18, To the People of Prague

XVIII. To the Same

(Without date: October (?) 1412)

Master John Hus, a servant of Jesus Christ, to all who are at Prague, grace and peace from Jesus Christ! With my whole heart I earnestly desire that you may be free from all sin through Jesus Christ, and overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, setting at naught the vanities of this world. May you, through the grace of Jesus Christ, in a spirit of goodwill suffer all things for salvation’s sake, and so be able to persevere in your afflictions, even to the end. This is the burden of my entreaty on your behalf, for I always make mention of you in my prayers. It was for this that I laboured among you in the word of God for more than twelve years,[1] as God is my witness; and it was the best comfort I could have, when I learnt of your diligence in hearing God’s word and marked the real and sincere penitence of many among you.

Therefore, dear friends, I beseech you, by the passion of Christ, to keep His gospel and hold it fast, and to bring forth fruit as you advance in all the things which in those days I rehearsed to you. Do not vacillate and waver in your minds. Moreover, give no heed to those who have entered upon an uncertain path and have taken a different turning, and who are now the keenest opponents of God and of my actions.

But you know, dear friends, that Christ’s disciples, who dwelt in His company, turned aside and walked no more with Him.[2] Christ, indeed, came to separate men from another. As He Himself saith: I came to set a man at variance against his father and the daughter against her mother.[3] And again: You shall be betrayed for My name’s sake by all men.[4] And that we may not be moved by their rejection and terrified by persecution or death, the Saviour presently adds: But a hair of your head shall not perish: in your patience you shall possess your souls.[5] If then a single hair shall not perish, how then can the faithful perish? Therefore, dear friends, study to keep the true faith and the sure hope. Stand firmly in the love of God’s word and cleave to it with earnest desire, listening to those whom the Saviour hath sent, that they may preach His gospel to you with fearless constancy, and withstand ravening wolves and false prophets. It is concerning these that Christ speaks to the faithful ones in the words: Many false prophets shall arise and shall seduce many.[6] Christ bids the faithful beware of them, and teaches how they can be recognised—to wit, by their fruits, which are pride, fornication, greed, simony, contempt of God’s word and persecution of the faithful, backbiting, sycophancy; zeal for the traditions of men, etc.

Now, such wear sheep’s clothing;[7] they put on the name and office of the Christian; and being within ravening wolves,[8] they mangle and tear the flock of Christ. It was of these wolves that Christ spake to His disciples: Behold (saith He), I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.[9] They had to be wise as serpents, He said, so as not to suffer themselves to be deceived and to slay within them Christ their Head; and simple as doves, so as to endure with patience the cruelty of wolves. Mark, dear friends, what a clear exposure of the wolves we have here, ay, and of their doctrine, so that we may not suffer ourselves to be enticed by them from the way of Christ, whereby we hasten to attain the joys of heaven. Preserve and guard faith, hope, charity, humility, gentleness’, justice, modesty, temperance, sobriety, patience,[10] and the other virtues which adorn our lives with noble conduct and works. Rejoice in that you suffer persecution.[11] For Christ saith: Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.[12] Blessed are ye when men hate you,[13] excommunicate and cast you out with anathemas for the sake of God’s word. Rejoice in that day: for great is your reward in heaven.[14] Who, then, having faith, hope, and charity, would not for the Saviour’s sake undergo all such insults and shame, when he is sure of receiving a hundredfold in life eternal?

Looking, therefore, as you do for these things, you will remember what Christ said: There shall be tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be.[15] How so? The apostle himself gives us the reason: For (saith he) there shall be a time when they will not endure[16] sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will join themselves[17] unto fables.[18]

This prophecy of St. Paul you now see with your own eyes already fulfilled. For elsewhere He saith: All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But impious men and seducers will grow worse and worse.[19]

Therefore, dear friends, as St. Peter exhorteth: Take heed lest, being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own steadfastness; but grow in the grace of God and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.[20] Pray God for me that it may please Him to grant me prosperity and success in preaching His word in all places where necessity shall demand—in cities, towns, villages, castles, fields, forests—wherever I can be of help, that the word of God may not be put to silence within me.[21]

Salute[22] one another and comfort one another in the grace of God the Father and of His dearly beloved Son and of His Holy Spirit. He can guard you from sin and settle you in eternal joy: to whom be praise and glory for ever. Amen.

  1. According to Hus’s own statement, the first year of his preaching was 1401 (Mon. i. 39b). He was elected to the Bethlehem March 14, 1402. Hus is here reckoning, therefore, from his appointment to priest’s orders in 1400.
  2. John vi. 67 (A. V. vi. 66).
  3. Matt. x. 35.
  4. Luke xxi. 17.
  5. Luke xxi. 18, 19.
  6. Matt. xxiv. 11.
  7. Matt. vii. 15.
  8. Ib.
  9. Matt. x. 16.
  10. Gal. vi. 22–3.
  11. Matt. v. 10
  12. Matt. v. 5.
  13. Luke vi. 22.
  14. Ib.
  15. Matt. xxiv. 21.
  16. Mon. P.:m non recipient; read with Vulgate: cum.
  17. Connectent.
  18. 2 Tim. iv. 3–4.
  19. 2 Tim. iii. 12–13.
  20. 2 Pet. iii. 17–18; very inexact.
  21. Cf. supra, p. 86.
  22. P.: Salcats; read with Mon.: Salutate.