The letters of John Hus/Letter 34, To his Bohemian Friends on Starting for Constance
XXXIV. To his Bohemian Friends on Starting for Constance
(Without place: near Krakowec; without date: October 12, 1414)
Master John Hus, in hope a priest and servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, to all the faithful and beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus who have heard and received the word of God through me, beseeching for them grace and peace from God our Father and from the Holy Spirit, that they may dwell undented in His truth.
Faithful and beloved friends! You know that I faithfully instructed you for a long period, preaching to you the word of God without heresy and without errors, as you are aware: further, I always sought your salvation; I seek it now, and will seek it unto death. I had resolved to preach to you before starting on my journey to Constance, and in particular to declare to you the false testimonies and the false witnesses who gave evidence against me. I possess all their signatures together with their depositions, and I intend to declare their names to you for these reasons—that if I shall be evilly spoken against or condemned to death, you may not be terrified when you know of it, as if I were condemned on account of any heresy that I hold; and also that you may persevere without fear and wavering in the truth which the Lord God hath brought to your knowledge through faithful preachers and through me, feeble though I be; and thirdly, that you may guard against crafty and pretended preachers.
Now, however, I have started on my journey, without safe-conduct, into the midst of many of my greatest enemies, among whom the most relentless are those of my own household, as you will discover from the depositions and will certainly learn at the close of the Council. I shall be opposed by more foes than our gracious Redeemer—bishops, doctors, princes secular, and canons regular. But I put my trust in my gracious, wise, and mighty Saviour that He will give to me, by reason of His own promise and your faithful prayers, the wisdom and constancy of the Holy Spirit; for only so shall I persevere and not be led astray by them to the side of evil, though I suffer at His will temptations, revilings, imprisonment, and death—as indeed He too suffered and hath subjected His own loved servants to the same trials, leaving us an example that we may suffer for His sake and our salvation. For He is God; we are His creatures. He is Lord; we are servants. He is King of the whole world; we are poor weaklings. He is without sin; we are sinners. He needeth nothing; we are needy. If He suffered, being what He is, why should not we? In truth our suffering by His grace is our cleansing from sins and our deliverance from eternal torments. Surely it cannot fall to the lot of His faithful servant that he shall perish, if with His help he shall persevere. Therefore, beloved brothers, pray earnestly that it may please Him to grant me perseverance and to keep me undefiled. And if my death contribute aught to His glory and your advantage, may it please Him to enable me to meet it without sinful fear. But if it shall be more to your advantage, may it please Him to bring me back to you, guiding me to and fro undefiled, that united a while longer we may be taught His gospel and tear asunder some of Antichrist’s nets and leave a good example to our brothers to come.
Perhaps you will not see me again at Prague before I die; but if it please Almighty God to bring me back to you, we shall be all the more joyful when we see each other again, and assuredly so when we meet in the joy of heaven. May it please the merciful God, Who giveth to His own a stainless peace both here and hereafter, who brought again from the dead the great pastor of the sheep after He had shed His blood, Who is the eternal witness of our salvation, to fit you in all goodness that you may do His will in harmony, free from all dissension, and that in enjoyment of peace you may by your good deeds attain to the eternal peace through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is God eternal and true man, born of the Virgin Mary. Unto Him there is praise and ever shall be with all the company of the elect, with Whom, if here we shall persevere in the truth, we shall dwell in the joy of heaven. Amen.
- As Lea has shown, Hist. Inquis. ii . 477, any knowledge by a prisoner of the Inquisition of the names of the witnesses was a most unusual advantage. But there was no papal Inquisition in Bohemia, only the more lax episcopal.
- This was much twisted and made into a further charge at Constance. See pp. 173, 180, 207. Hus complained more than once that his enemies treated his Czech writings very unfairly.
- For explanation, see supra, p. 146. This fixes the date.
- Matt. x. 36. These depositions are printed in Doc. 174 ff., and bear out Hus’s contention. Hus was probably thinking most of all of the deposition of his former friend Andrew Brod.
- Heb. xiii. 20.