The letters of John Hus/Letter 23, To the People of Prague

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Jan Hus to the People of Prague (To the Hearers of the Word of God at Prague).

XXIII. To the Same[1]

(Without date: January (?) 1413)

Master John Hus, priest and servant in hope of the Lord Jesus Christ, to all the faithful ones that hear His word in the city of Prague: grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear friends, I beseech you to fail not through weariness, because I am not with you and because of my excommunication, if they carry it out. I, indeed, trust in the kindness of the Saviour that all this will work out for good[2] both to myself and you alike. Only let us guard ourselves from sin and be deeply concerned about those who thwart God and His word, supposing that they are doing right after the manner of the Jews, who crucified Christ and stoned St. Stephen: of whom Christ, nay St. Stephen also, saith: They know not what they do.[3] Am I hurt at all because in a blasphemous back-hand fashion they preach a crusade against me,[4] make a covenant with Judas, throw stones at the Host, and so beget vexation for themselves? May the Lord God grant that they do not excommunicate themselves. They planned out these devices in order to frighten the simple and lead them away just as they pleased; but the Lord Almighty will give the faithful to know what it all means, so that they may recognise that it is a mere invention of their minds and not a command from the Lord: so that also they may pray for those who are in error and proclaim that they will be excommunicated of God: only they must not behave in God’s temple in this blasphemous way towards those who do them no harm. They pick up stones not knowing what they mean by so doing; but they throw stones, as is recorded in their own writings,[5] in memory of the eternal damnation of Dathan and Abyron,[6] who thrust themselves into the priesthood, though of inferior dignity; and who therefore by their over throw foreshadow the overthrow of all priests that have thrust themselves into the priesthood for the sake of riches, luxuries, and honours. They make a covenant with the sons of Judas, so that they become notable sons of Judas themselves. They are all guilty of simony, excommunicated of God, Who looks upon those whose own downfall will be caused by the excommunication they themselves pronounce. And seeing that there is a multitude of people excommunicated of God, therefore it is, dear friends, that we should flee His excommunication and entreat His grace, that it may please Him to keep us in His benediction. Any other excommunication cannot harm us one whit: but rather will the Bishop Who is above all bishops[7] grant us His benediction, saying: Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.[8] Which benediction, dear friends, let us pray for, seek, and await by living good lives, that we may withal abide for ever in infinite joy, through the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is God and man, blessed for ever.[9] Amen.

  1. The text of this letter is hopelessly corrupt, and the meaning in places is very obscure. The text in the Mon. is a mere paraphrase.
  2. Rom. viii. 28.
  3. Luke xxiii. 34; cf. Acts vii. 59.
  4. Quod blaspheme modo retrogrado crucem deferunt. The meaning is obscure, but seems determined by a complaint of Jesenicz written December 18, 1412; see Mon. i . 331a, Repetitio pro defens. Hus.
  5. P.: in cutibus; read codicibus.
  6. Sic, as in Vulgate, Numb. xvi. 1.
  7. There is of course a subtle reference to the Pope’s excommunication in this phrase.
  8. Matt. xxv. 34; very different from Vulgate.
  9. Rom. ix. 5.