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763 [763]

K. Henry. 5. Jhon Hus. The councell of Constance.

der) iij. things. First, the goodnes of this gentle Lorde Iohn de Clum, being so feruent and zelous in the cause of Iohn Hus, or rather in the cause of Christ.

Secondly, the safeconduict graunted vnto the sayd Iohn Hus, vnder the fayth and protection of the Emperour, and of the Empire.

Thirdly, here is to be sene the contempt and rebellion of these proude Prelates in disobeyng the authoritie of their hygh Magistrate, who contrary to his safeconduct geuen, and the minde of the Emperour, dyd arrest and imprison this good mā, before the commyng of the sayd Emperour, and before that Iohn Hus was heard. Let vs now, as we haue promysed, adioyne some of the epistles of this godly man. 

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Letters of Hus

In the 1570 edition, Foxe expanded his account of Jan Hus, the Czech reformer, by including a series of his letters. These epistles were all taken from the two volume collection of documents on Hus, edited anonymously by Matthias Flacius and printed in Nuremburg in 1558. (Johannis Hus et Hieronymi Prgaensis confessorum Christi Historia et Monumenta, I, fos. 57r, 58v-59v, 60v-62v, 66v-69r, 71r, 72v - 73r, 75v, 101r-v and 418r). These letters elaborated further on the sensitive issue of Hus's safe conduct and portrayed the clergy as bloodthirsty persecutors. They also denounced the papacy as antichrist and contained several 'prophecies' by Hus of the eventual reform of the church. But above all these letters provide moral exhortation -particularly to priests and nobles - to constancy and godly living. As with the letters of the English martyrs, Foxe printed the letters of Hus as much for moral instruction as for their polemical content.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

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¶ An Epistle of Iohn Hus, vnto the people of Prage in his owne vulgare speeche.

GRace and peace from our Lord Iesus Christ, that you beyng deliuered from sinne, may walke in his grace & may growe in all modestie and vertue, and after this, may enioy eternall lyfe.

Dearely beloued, I besech you which walke after the law of God, that you cast not away the care of the saluatiō of your soules, whēas you, hearyng the word of God, are premonished wisely to vnderstand that you be not deceiued by false Apostles: vvhiche do not reprehend the sinnes of mē, but rather do extenuate and diminishe them: vvhich flatter the priestes, & do not shewe to the people their offences: vvhiche magnifie them selues: boast their owne vvorkes, and meruelouslye extoll their owne worthines: but followe not Christ in his humilitye, in pouertie, in the crosse & other manifold afflictions. Of whō our mercifull Sauiour did premonishe vs before, saying: false Christes & false Prophetes shall ryse, and shall deceiue many. And when he had forewarned his welbeloued disciples, he sayd vnto them: beware and take hede of false Prophets, which come to you in sheepes clothyng, but inwardly are rauenyng wolues: ye shall know thē by their frutes. And truth it is, that the faithfull of Christ haue much nede diligently to beware, and take heede vnto thē selues: For as our Sauiour him selfe doth say: the elect also if it were possible, shall be brought into error. VVherfore my welbeloued, be circumspect and watchfull, that ye be not circumuented with the crafty traynes of the deuill. And the more circumspect ye ought to be, for that Antichrist laboureth the more to trouble you. The last Iudgemēt is nere at hand: death shall swallovve vp many, but to the electe children of God, the kingdom of God dravveth nere, because for them he gaue his ovvne body. Feare not death: loue together one an other: perseuere in vnderstandyng the good vvill of GOD vvithout ceasing. Let the terrible & horrible day of Iudgement be alvvayes before your eyes, that you sinne not: & also the ioye of eternall life, wherunto you must endeuour. Furthermore, let the Passion of our Sauiour be neuer out of your mindes: that you may beare vvith him & for him gladly, vvhat so euer shalbe layd vpon you. For if you shal consider well in your mindes his crosse and afflictions, no thyng shalbe greuous vnto you, and patiently you shall geue place to tribulations, cursinges, rebukes, stripes and prisonement, and shall not doubt to geue your liues moreouer for his holy truth, if nede require. Knovve ye, vvelbeloued, that Antichrist beyng stirred vp agaynst you, deuiseth diuers persecutions. And many hee hath not hurt, no not the least heare of their heades, as by mine ovvne exāple I can testifie, although he hath bene vehemently incensed agaynst me. VVherefore I desire you all, vvith your prayers to make intercession for me to the Lorde, to geue me intelligence, sufferaunce, patience and constancie, that I neuer svvarue from his diuine veritie. He hath brought me novv to Constance. In all my iourney openly and manifestly, I haue not feared to vtter my name as becōmeth the seruaunt of God. In no place I kept my selfe secret, nor vsed any dissimulation. But neuer dyd I fynde in any place more pestilente and manifest enemyes then at Con-stance. VVhich enemies neither should I haue had there, had it not been for certaine of our ovvn Bohemiās, hypocrites and deceiuers, vvho for benefites receiued, and stirred vp vvith couetousnes, vvith boastyng and braggyng, haue persuaded the people that I went about to seduce thē out of the right . But I am in good hope that through the mercy of our God, and by your prayers, I shall persiste stronglye in the immutable veritie of God, vnto the last breath. Finally, I woulde not haue you ignoraunt, that vvhere as euery one here is put in hys office, I onely as an out cast am neglected. &c. I cōmend you to the mercifull Lord Iesu Christ, our true God, & the sonne of the immaculate Virgin Mary, vvhich hath redeemed vs by his most bitter death, vvithout all our merites, from eternal paines, from the thraldome of the Deuill, and from sinne. From Constance, the yere of our Lord. M.CCCC.xv.

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¶ An other letter of Iohn Hus to his benefactours

MarginaliaA letter of Iohn Hus.MY gratious benefactours & defendors of the truth, I exhorte you by the bowels of Iesus Christ, that now ye settyng aside the vanities of this present world, wyll gyue your seuice to the eternall kynge, Christ the Lorde. Trust not in princes nor in the sonnes of men, in whom there is no health. For the sonnes of mē are dissēblers and disceitfull. To day they erre, to morrowe they perishe, but God remayneth for euer. Who hath his seruauntes not for any neede he hath of them, but for theyr owne profite: vnto whom he performeth that, whiche he promiseth, & fulfilleth that whiche he purposeth to geue. He casteth of no faithfull seruaunt from him, for hee sayth: where I am there also shall my seruaunt be. And that Lorde maketh euerye seruaunt of his to bee the Lord of all his possession, geuing him selfe vnto him, and with him selfe, all thynges: that without all tediousnes, feare, and without all defect, hee may possesse all thynges, reioycyng with all saintes in ioye infinite. O happy is that seruaūt, whō, whē the Lord shall come, he shall finde watchyng. Happy is the seruaunt which shal receaue that kyng of glory with ioye. Wherfore, welbeloued Lordes, and benefactours, serue you that kyng in feare: whiche shall bryng you, as I trust, nowe to Boheme at this present, by his grace in health, and hereafter, to eternall life of glory. Fare ye well: For I thinke that this is the last letter that I shall wryte to you: who to morrow, as I suppose, shalbe purged in hope of Iesu Christ, through bitter death, frō my sinnes. The things that happened to me this night, I am not able to write. Sigismund hath done all thynges with me disceitfully, God forgeue hym and onely for your sakes. You also heard the sentēce whiche he awarded agaynst me. I pray you haue no suspicion of faithfull Vitus.

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¶ An other letter to the Lorde Iohn de Chlum

MarginaliaA letter of Iohn Hus. MOst gracious benefactour in Christ Iesu, dearly beloued, yet I reioyce not a little, that by the grace of God I may wryte vnto youre honour. By your letter which I receaued yesterdaye, I vnderstande, first howe the iniquitie of the great strompet, that is, of the malignant congregatiō (wherof mencion is made in the Apocalips) is detected and shalbe more detected. Wyth the which strumpet the Kinges of the earth do commit fornication, fornicating spiritually from Christe, and as is their sayd, slyding backe from the truth, and consenting to the lyes of Antechrist, throughe his seduction and through feare, or throughe hope of confederacie, for gettinge of worldly honour. Secondly I perceaued by your letter, howe the enemies of the truth, beginne nowe to be troubled. Thirdly I perceaued the feruent constancie of your charitie, wherwith you professe the truth boldly. Fourthly with ioye I perceaued that you mynde nowe to geue ouer the vanitie and the paynefull seruice of this present worlde, and to serue the Lord Iesus Christ quietly at home. Whom to serue, is to reigne, as Gregorye sayth. Whom he that serued faythfully, hath Christ Iesus hymselfe in the kingdome of heauen to minister vnto hym, as he him selfe sayth: Blessed is that seruaunte, whom whē the Lord shall come, he shall fynde waking, and so doing. Verely I say vnto you, that he rising, shal girde him selfe and shall minister to hym. This doe not the Kinges of thys worlde to theyr seruauntes: whom onely they doe loue so long as they are profitable and necessary for their commodities. &c.

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