The letters of John Hus/Letter 31, To Master John Sybart in the University of Vienna

XXXI. To Master John Sybart[1] in the University of Vienna

(July 1, 1413)

He deserveth no greeting, who defames his neighbours with grievous falsehoods, but is marked out as one worthy of correction, that, when his falsehood is recognised by him, he may the more quickly turn into the way of charity. To think that you are a professor, not of theology, but of lying information! Why do you state[2] that Master Jerome is not the least of the disseminators of heresy when you know nothing about his beliefs? Why do you add the notorious lie that he went on a visit to the King of Cracow and to his brother in order to subvert their views? Are you a searcher of hearts? Do you know a man’s mind at such a distance?[3] Are you a professor of Christ’s law, when you defame your neighbour with a lie? It must be Antichrist who hath taught you to talk in this mad strain. What of Christ’s law, Judge not, and you shall not be judged?[4] What of this: If thy brother sin against thee, reprove him?[5] Why, instead of giving your brother in the first place a loving reproof by your self alone, you publish a damaging calumny![6] And you have had the audacity to put your sharp teeth not only into an honourable master, but into great communities. Bohemia did not suffice you but you must fix a charge of heresy (which I trust is a false charge) upon the Slavonic people before the students with diabolical rashness, and with no firsthand knowledge. Judging the hidden things of the heart (forsooth!), you wrote that they were “heresiarchs and schismatics,[7] carrying honey on their lips and holding the fatal poison of asps in their hearts.”[8] This is the way you unjustly judge your neighbours, supposing also that they are attempting to stir up a mad revolt against the clergy. God is standing ready to judge. Granted that in name you are a professor of theology, yet if you do not in very deed confess the truth and do penance for this offence, you will have to give an account for every word to the strictest[9] of all judges. Is it part of your professorial calling[10] to fall into confusion as to individuals, to charge your brothers with heresy, and to gather together lies in different quarters against your neighbours? Surely you have been badly instructed in the theology of love! May God grant you the spirit of truth to speak that which is holy and right before the Lord and not what is calumnious and defamatory, the offspring of the spirit of falsehood and error. I am writing without words of flattery, to prevent you sowing the seeds of detraction and scandal among your neighbours, and from the desire that you may abstain from such behaviour and do penance for the offences you have committed. Written on the octave of John Baptist, by the hands of Master John Hus, in hope a servant of Jesus Christ.

  1. Höfler (ii. 209) calls him ‘Sigwort de Septemcastris.’ But for the name, see Doc. 512. That he was from Siebenburgen (Transylvania) we may well believe. See infra.
  2. In a letter to the Bishop and Chapter of Zagrab (Agram) (see Doc. 512), whose bishop appears to have been from Siebenburgen; see Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica, or Gams, s.v.
  3. Read with H.: Numquid . . . cordium? Per tantam, etc.
  4. Matt. vii. 1.
  5. Luke xvii. 8.
  6. Read with H.: injuriosa diffamacio.
  7. P. omits.
  8. Evidently a quotation from the letter (see Doc. 512).
  9. P.: districtissimo. H.:discretissimo.
  10. H.:Estne professoris in officio personas confundere. P.:Es ne tu professor, in incerto personas oonfundere.