The letters of John Hus/Letter 20, To the Faithful Bohemians

XX. To the Faithful Bohemians

(Without date: December 1412[1])

Master John Hus, priest and servant of the Lord Jesus Christ in hope, to all the faithful who are doing penance in grace and in suffering, waiting for the Advent of the Son of God;[2] for the Son of God, when He cometh with the holy angels, will render to every man according to His merits.[3]

Dear friends, strengthen your hearts, since the Advent of the Lord will soon be drawing near. You know, dear friends, that the Lord Jesus hath come once already. Knowing this, ponder upon it in your hearts and stablish yourselves in grace and patience. Ponder, dear friends, upon the fact, that the Founder and Lord of the world, the Word of God, God eternal and immortal, humbled Himself and was made man for us sinners, Himself to be unto such as are faithful a faithful servant. The great Physician came to heal our monstrous wound. The Lord omnipotent came, not to put the living to death, but to raise to life the dead, and to deliver the elect from everlasting death. The King of the world and the great High Priest came to fulfil the law of God by His works. He came into the world, not to lord over it, but to give His life a ransom for many.[4] He came not as a merchantman laden with the profits of greed, and not to heap together worldly goods, but to deliver from the devil with His own blood a people that had been sold under sin. He came, the All-powerful, to suffer under Pilate’s power at the hand of bishops,[5] priests, elders, and religious men the most cruel and shameful of deaths, and to snatch us from the power of the devil. He came not to destroy the elect, but to save them, as He Himself saith: I am come that they may have life and may have it more abundantly,[6] that they may have a life of holiness and peace, and have it more abundantly, after death, in joy eternal. It is My elect—not the proud, the fornicators, the greedy, the wrathful, the envious, the world-sick,[7] the foes of My word and My life—but it is My elect that hear and keep My word and suffer with Me in grace.

Such is the dignity of the Saviour’s Advent! Ponder upon it, dear friends, in the depths of your hearts. Strengthen your hearts in grace and patience, if haply the Advent of the Lord leading on to judgment draws near. Stablish your hearts, dear friends, in grace, patience, and virtue. For the judgment is at hand, and the Judge is the most wise, just, and awful—wise, because His wisdom is never deceived[8]—just, because He is not moved aside by gift, fear, or favour. And there will come with Him the apostles, sworn to be just, and appointed here with Him to a death that was no death. Ay, and there is at hand the judgment of a Judge most awful, at Whose bidding necessity will be laid upon all men to publish their evil deeds to the whole world,[9] and by Whose will their souls and bodies will be burned in everlasting fire. What He wills, He will behold[10]—to wit, their everlasting perdition in darkness and in the abode of devils, while they will also hear from His own lips the just sentence: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.[11] Here, then, dear friends, are the two things to be pondered—the dignity of His first Advent, the justice and awfulness of His second Advent! Strengthen your hearts in grace and in suffering. Ifyou suffer aught, consider what I have said. Lift up your heads—that is, your purposes—because your redemption draweth nigh,[12] your redemption from every misery. The just Judge will call you away from it all when He utters the words: Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom.[13] Which kingdom may it be yours and mine withal to receive at the good pleasure of the Lord Jesus, the merciful, awful, comforting Judge, very God and man, blessed for ever. Amen.

  1. This is labelled in the Ep. Piissimæ and Mon.Secunda Epistola.” It is, however, evidently written after his second departure from Prague (supra, p. 83). The text in the Monumenta has been hopelessly doctored. Better in Höfler, ii. 215.
  2. P.: In adventu filii Dei; read in adventum.
  3. Matt. xvi. 27.
  4. Matt. xx. 28.
  5. Episcopis (sic).
  6. John x. 10.
  7. Accidiosii.e., those suffering from the mediæval and monastic vice acedia. It is difficult to translate, as we have lost the (Chaucerian) English equivalent, “accidie.” It is significant that the Reformation Monumenta omits this clause. Acedia was much dwelt on by monastic writers as one of their besetments. A full discussion of its nature will be found in Cassian, Instits. x.; Aquinas, Summa II. ii. q. 35; Paget, Spirit of Discipline.
  8. The Mon. paraphrases quem Philosophi et scientuli hujus mundi non fraudabunt. This is characteristic of their whole text.
  9. P., H.: ad cujus nutum necessitabuntur omnes nequitias suas universo orbi propalare.
  10. The text seems hopeless. P., H.: quorum velle perditionem æternam in tenebris ad cohabitandum dæmonibus intuebitur.
  11. Matt. xxv. 41.
  12. Luke xxi. 28.
  13. Matt. xxv. 34.