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Dying for the Faith #2

The Past will be the Future

SOLDIERS OF THE FAITH JOHN HUSS

COURTESY FOXE'S BOOK OF MARTYRS

Editor's Note: In these days when churches will shun great hymns
like "Onward Christian Soldiers" or stifle the blessed name of
Jesus Christ or bend so easily for a false premise like 
"Judeo-Christianity;" all so that we do not offend, one has to
believe that if they were here, the great martyrs of the past,
like Wycliffe, Cranmer or Latimer, would be totally saddened by
the lack of courage on the part of our theologians. In this
article we depict a man who so embraced the faith that he gave
his life in defence of God's true Word.

     "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute
you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my
sake." Matthew 5:11 - JOHN HUSS was a Bohemian, and was born
about the year 1380. His parents had him educated at a private
school; he was then sent to the University of Prague, where he
soon became conspicuous. The English Reformer, Wycliffe, had so
kindled the light of Reformation, that it began to shine even in
Bohemia. His doctrines were received with avidity by great
numbers of people, especially by John Huss, and his friend and
fellow-martyr, Jerome of Prague. The Reformists, daily
increasing, the Archbishop of Prague issued a decree to suppress
John Wickliffe's writings. This, however, had the effect of
stimulating the converts to greater zeal, and at length, almost
the whole university united in promoting them. In that
institution the influence of Huss was very great; not only from
his learning, eloquence, and exemplary life, but also on account
of valuable privileges he had obtained from the king on behalf of
the Bohemians.
     Huss, with many other members of the University, having
protested against the suppression of Wickliffe's writings, the
Pope granted a commission to Cardinal Colonna to cite him to
appear to be judged at Rome. From this Dr.Huss desired to be
excused; and so greatly was he favoured in Bohemia that King
Wenceslaus, the queen, the nobility, and the university, desired
the Pope to dispense with his appearance; as also that he would
not suffer the kingdom of Bohemia to lie under the accusation of
heresy, but permit all to preach the gospel with freedom,
according to their honest convictions.
     Huss was excommunicated, with all his followers, and soon
after summoned to appear at the Council at Constance. To dispel
any apprehension of danger, the Emperor sent him a passport,
promising him safety, the wording of it being, "You shall let
John Huss pass, stop, stay, and return freely, without any
hindrance whatever."

     Arriving at Constance, he took up his quarters in a remote
part of the town, but notwith-standing the safe conduct of the
Emperor, according to the maxim that guides the conduct of the
Papacy: "FAITH IS NOT TO BE KEPT WITH HERETICS," when it was
known he was in the city, he was immediately arrested and
imprisoned.
     The nobility of Bohemia and Poland used all their interest
for Huss; and so far prevailed as to prevent his being condemned
unheard, which appeared to have been resolved by the
commissioners. Before his trial, a Fransiscan friar was employed
to entangle him in his words, and then appear against him. This
man came to him in the character of an idiot, and, with seeming
sincerity and zeal, requested to be taught his doctrines. But
Huss soon detected him, and told him that while his manners wore
a semblance of simplicity. his questions discovered a depth and
de sign beyond the reach of an idiot. He afterwards found this
pretended fool to be Didace, one of the deepest logicians in
Lombardy.
     Soon after this, Huss was brought before the council. On
this examination being finished, he was taken from the court, and
a resolution was formed to burn him as a heretic.
     He was then committed to a filthy prison, where in the day
time he was so laden with fetters that he could hardly move and
every night he was fastened by his hands to a ring against the
wall of the prison. He continued some days in this situation
while many noblemen of Bohemia interceded in his behalf. They
drew up a petition for his release, which was presented to the
Council by several of the most illustrious men of the country;
but no attention was paid to it. Shortly after, four bishops and
two lords were sent by the Emperor to the prison, to prevail on
Huss to make a recantation. But he called God to witness, with
tears in his eyes, that he was not conscious of having preached
or written anything against the truth of God, or the faith of the
true Church. The Deputies then represented the great wisdom and
authority of the Council; to which Huss replied: "Let them send
the meanest person of that Council, who can convince me by
argument from the Word of God, and I will submit my judgment to
him."
     This faithful answer had no effect, and the Deputies,
finding they could make no impression on him, departed,
astonished at his resolution.

     On the 4th of July, Huss was for the last time brought
before the Council, when he was commanded to abjure his faith.
which without hesitation he refused to do.
     His fate was now determined. The Council censured him for
being obstinate and incorrigible, and ordered that he should be
degraded from the priesthood, his book publicly burnt, and
himself delivered to the secular power.

He received the sentence without the least emotion; and at the
close of it kneeled down, and, with all the magnanimity of a
primitive martyr, exclaimed: "MAY THINE INFINITE MERCY, 0 MY GOD!
PARDON THIS INJUSTICE OF MINE ENEMIES. Thou knowest the     
iniquity of my accusations: how deformed with crimes I have
been represented; how I have been oppressed by worthless wit-
nesses. and a false condemnation; yet, 0 my God! let the mercy of
Thine, which no tongue can express, prevail with Thee not to
avenge my wongs."

     These excellent sentences were received as so many
expressions of treason and only tended to inflame his
adversaries. Accordingly, the bishops appointed by the Council
stripped him of his priestly garments, degraded him, and put a
paper mitre on his head, on which were painted devils, with this
inscription - "A ringleader of heretics." This mockery was
received by the heroic martyr with an air of unconcern, and it
seemed to give him dignity rather than disgrace. A serenity
appeared in his looks, which indicated that his soul had cut off
many stages of a tedious journey in her way to the realms of
everlasting happiness.

     On the 6th of July, 1415, he was led to the suburbs of
Constance to be burnt alive. When he reached the place he fell on
his knees, sung several portions of the Psalms, looked
steadfastly towards heaven, and said: "INTO THY HANDS, 0 LORD! DO
I COMMIT MY SPIRIT; THOU HAST REDEEMED ME, 0 MOST GOOD AND
FAITHFUL GOD!" As soon as the chain was put about him at the
stake, be said, with a smiling countenance. "My Lord Jesus Christ
was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake: why, then,
should I be ashamed of this old rusty one?" When the fagots were
piled round him, the Duke of Bavaria was so officious as to
desire him to abjure. His noble reply was, "No, I never preached
any doctrine of an evil tendency; and what I taught with my lips
I now seal with my blood." 
     He then said to his executioner, "You are now going to burn
a goose (the name of Huss signifying goose, in the Bohemian
language), but in a century you will have a swan which you can
neither roast nor boil." 

     If this were spoken in prophecy, he must have meant Martin
Luther, who shone about a hundred years after, and who had a swan
for his arms, whether suggested by this circumstance, or on
account of family descent and heraldry, is not known. 

     As soon as the fagots were lighted, the heroic martyr sang a
hymn, with so loud and cheerful a voice that he was heard through
all the crackling of the combustibles and noise of the multitude.
At length his voice was interrupted by the flames, which soon put
an end to his mortal life, and wafted his undying spirit, which
no fire on earth could subdue or touch, to the regions of
everlasting glory.

                             ................

Entered on this Website January 2007


 
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