“Keep my fur cloak in memory of me”
John Hus (c. 1369–1415) cared nothing for talk of reform when it first came to Bohemia, but became impressed with the truth of much that the reformer Wycliffe had written. Following his change of heart, Hus became zealous for Christ. He was invited to the great Council of Constance, which ousted three popes and made a new one. Promised safe conduct to the council by the emperor, he was instead imprisoned and subjected to an unfair trial, then burned as a heretic. These letters are among the last he wrote from prison.
I, MASTER JOHN HUS, in chains and in prison, now standing on the shore of this present life and expecting on the morrow a dreadful death, which will, I hope, purge away my sins, find no heresy in myself, and accept with all my heart any truth whatsoever that is worthy of belief.—To the University of Prague, June 27, 1415
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The kings of this world do not act thus with their servants. They only care for them so long as they are useful and necessary to them. Not so Christ, the King of glory, Who hath to-day crowned the apostles Peter and Paul—Peter by crucifixion, Paul by beheading—and welcomed them into the kingdom of the heavenly fatherland.
Peter was four times imprisoned and was led forth by an angel. Paul was thrice beaten with rods, once stoned, twice suffered shipwreck, for two years bound with chains and in divers ways afflicted; who saith in his epistle: We were pressed out of measure above our strength, so that we were weary even of life. They have now passed their trials and torments, and there remaineth for them infinite bliss and the life of quietness that knows no suffering.
Now Peter and Paul reign with the King above, now they are with the choirs of angels, now they see the King in His beauty, now are they released from weariness and are full of bliss unspeakable. May those glorious martyrs, thus united with the King of glory, deign to intercede for us, that, strengthened by their help, we may be partakers in their glory, by patiently suffering whatever God Almighty shall ordain in this world for our greater good. Amen. —To John of Chlum, June 29, 1415 [feast day of Peter and Paul]
God be with you! May it please Him to bestow upon you the eternal reward for the many kindnesses you have shown me, and still do show, although perhaps in the body I am already dead. … Give thanks in my name to my gracious mistress the Queen for all the kindnesses she hath conferred on me. Greet your family and the other faithful friends, whose names
I may not mention. I entreat you all to pray to God in my behalf; by His help we shall soon meet together in His gracious and holy presence. Amen.
I write this in prison in fetters, which I am wearing, I trust, for the gospel of God, expecting every moment the sentence of death. For God’s sake, I pray you suffer not good priests to be oppressed. …
Peter, dearest friend, keep my fur cloak in memory of me. Lord Henry Lefl, live a good life with thy wife. My thanks to thee! God be thy reward! Faithful friend, Master Lideˇri and Mistress Margaret, Masters Skuoˇcek and Mikešk and others: may God grant you an eternal reward for your toils and the other kindness you have conferred on me. Master Christian, faithful and beloved, God be with thee! Master Martin, my disciple, remember those things which I taught thee. Master Nicolas and Peter, the Queen’s chaplain, and the other masters and priests, be diligent students of God’s word. Priest Gallus, preach the word of God. Finally, I entreat you all to persevere in the truth of God. [signed] On the feast day of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, about the time of the evening meal. —To his friends in Bohemia, June 29, 1415
These letters were translated by R. Martin Pope.
This article is from Christian History magazine #123 Captive Faith. Read it in context here!
By Jan Hus
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #123 in 2017]Jan Hus was a reformer burned by the Council of Constance.
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