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The Presbyterian of the South : [combining the] Southwestern Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Southern Presbyterian. [volume] (Atlanta, Ga.) 1909-1931, May 12, 1915, Image 4

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/10021978/1915-05-12/ed-1/seq-4/

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4 (302) THE
ber 4, the Pope had entrusted a commission of
three bishops with a preliminary investigation
against Huss. They heard witnesses against
I hiss, but refused him un advocate for his defence.
The thought of death was continually
before him; but he believed Clod would, if expedient,
deliver him as he had delivered Jonah
and Daniel.
John XXIII. who had thrown himself into
Sigismuud's hands after the Neapolitan war,
to evade abdication, ignominiously fled from
the Council of Constance, March 20th or 21st,
and incurred the hatred of the whole assembly.
On May 29th the council deposed John XXIII
and delivered him to Louis of Bavaria, county
Palatine, by whom he was imprisoned at
Radolfszell, Gottliebeu, Heidelberg, and Manheim.
It was the irony of fate that at Gottlieben
the runaway Pope John was a fellowprisoner
with John IIuss; one the head of
Christendom condemned for almost every
crime, yet to be released and again exalted;
the other a true preacher of Christ's destined
to the stake and consigned to the devil for
Christ's sake, by the highest Church authority
011 earth.
After John XXIII's catastrophe, the situation
of Huss became worse, for until then Huss
had been the Pone's cant.ive and in ennstant
intercourse with friends; but now he was delivered
to the archbishop of Constance, who
took him by night in chains to his castle Gottleben
on the Rhine and kept him there seventythree
days, separated from friends, without
books or Bible, chained, poorly fed, sick, tortnred
with headaches, hemorrhange and disease,
in a mere hole near the latrines so low
that he could not stand upright in it, his feet
fastened with heavy irons to a block, and at
night his right arm chained to the wall. (Harper's,
17 :637, speaks of a model of his prisonhole
shown at Constance in the Kauf-house.)
Here, against the solemn protest of the Bohe
imun liauon signea Dy zou noDies; nere, in spite
of the efforts of his friends demanding a public
hearing; here, the university professor and
faithful pastor of the poor, unconvicted of
- crime, and blameless in life; here John lluss
remained from late in March through April,
through May, remained into June, exposed to
indignities and suffering and misery. At such
treatment of Huss the Emperor Sigisinund had
at tirst blustered. But he was a time-serving
prince and was easily persuaded by astute prelates
who insisted that such small matters as
Huss and heresy should not impede the reformation
of the Church the first business of the
council. No, Sigismund must not give way to
the lies of the Wiclilites. Rather, wrote the
King of Aragon, should Huss be killed off at
once without the formality of a trial. A public
hearing, Huss saw, was his only hope and upon
it he staked everything. His enemies saw this
too, and made their resolution; and he is now
told that no hearing could be granted him for
less than 2,000 ducats. An army is needed, said
Huss, of 2,000 "yellow knights." On May 4th
the council again condemned Wiclif's writings
Mild ordered his hones to he dncr no and he.
headed. While the council is wearing its slow
length along from November to June, we may
take occasion to review the reformer's
Husk wrote fifteen works in Bohemian and
a large number in Latin. Many of them are
yet in manuscript. His De Ecclesla, mainly
from Wiclif, is of chief importance, as containing
the essence of his doctrines. Ilis writings
are polemic, exegetieal and devotional. Some
of his hymns are preserved in the Moravian
Church. He had revised the Bohemian Bible
made the century before him, and was perhaps
the author of the Catechism which formed the
basis of that of 1522. He was a master of the
Czech tongue; helped to purify it; fixed rules
of etymology and syntax, reformed the Bohemian
alphabet, and invented a new system of
diacritical signs in spelling distinguished for
its simplicity and precision, and which has renamed
the acknowledged standard, lie regarded
the use of the pure Czech as a mark of
patrotism. For the Czech he did much the
same that Wielif did for English, Luther for
But his letters, published Workman, must
come lirst for interest. The historian declares
that the letters of Huss from Constance deserve
a place in the choice biographical literature
of the Christian centuries. For pathos,
simplicity of expression, and devotion to Christ,
the writings of the Middle Ages show nothing
superior to them. They will ever rank among
the world's treasures. Some are from prison,
written at midnight, some on tattered scraps
of paper. "In all eighty-six of his letters remain,
all containing the charm of the personal
note, and form a priceless memorial of one of
the truest hearted of the sons of God. one of
the chosen few who exalt humanity."
His Teachings.
Two men moulded Huss. Matthias of Jauow,
died 1394, a Bohemian preacher; and John
Wiclif, died 1381. who traced Christianity up
to its source in the Bible and desired to renew
the Christian religion in its apostolic sense.
Huss made Wiclif his guide in those principles
which he had learned first of all from Jauow,
but which Wiclif developed fully and consistently.
lluss was a pastor and knew the people;
he emphasized not so much doctrine as
practice; and Christ as author of the Perfect
Law rather than as Redeemer. He therefore
insisted upon the reformation of the Church
iu life and morals more than in doctrine. Here
was the weak point of his reformation; bringing
it to a premature close and himself to the
stake. There was need of an absolute reformation
of doctrine. Huss did not seem to see
this because he had formed no plan of operations
antagonistic to Home. He advanced, not
in obedience to inward process but, under the
intluenee of outward circumstances. He fully
held to Christ and his word, yet did not reject
Komish dogmas until he became conscious of
a contradiction between them and the Scriptures.
To the end he held to the seven sacraments
ami transubstantiation, the confessional, and
prayers for the dead. The circumstances of
the times called none of these things to his
attention. Not until the Council of Constance
did he realize the necessity of breaking with
Koine in order to effect a reformation. Then
he saw the truth, and had he not been sent to
the stake he would have been the Luther of
Bohemia if not of the world. His principles
live; developed and purified they have come
down to modern times in the Church of the
Moravians and are a power in Christendom.
"But of all Huss' errors," said one, "the proposition
that a man who is living in mortal sin
may not have dominion and authority over
Christian men is the most dangerous; and this
proposition it is well known passed down to
FT lifts frotn Wiplif "
His Influence.
His work as pastor at Bethlehem chapel was
the source of the influence of Huss in Bohemia.
In this field he followed the example of Wiclif
and the Lollards. In these pastoral labors he
excelled the famous old preachers of Prague.
As preacher, Huss put the highest value on the
sermon. He knew how to awaken the enthusiasm
of the masses. His sermons were often
)UTH. [May 12, 1915
inflammatory. They often concern his quarrels,
criticise current events, or appeal to his
hearers as witnesses and judges, lie was unexcelled
in the art of governing and leading the
masses. Jerome, the rich young noble of
Prague, was his warm friend ami devoted disciple.
In a real sense lluss was a precursor of the
f/\ n A *? ? ? *
>?>v?natiuii. -i ii uc jjrwpiiccv incorrectly
ascribed to lluss at Constance was, "To-day
you roast a goose?Huss?but a hundred years
from now a swan shall arise out of my ashes
which you will not roast." Luther was moved
by the case of Huss and cited it as proof that
councils do err. The accepted view then was
that Huss was worse than Turk, Jew, Tartar
or Sodomite. In the Prague library are three
medallions which set forth the relation of
Wiclif, Huss and Luther to the Reformation.
Wiclif is shown striking sparks from a stone;
below is Huss kindling a tire from the sparks;
Luther holds aloft the flaming torch. Princess
Helen Ghika has said: 4' The spirit of self-abnegation
characterized Huss even mnr#
geuius. Calvin was more learned than he;
Luther surpassed him in eloquence; Zwingli
knew philosophy of which he was ignorant.
The glory of Huss was his martyrdom. Like
the early Christians he was triumphant in his
death. The flames of his stake have shone
above generations, and his scattered ashes have
fertilized Europe. Huss was a martyr, not so
much to his convictions of the untruth of current
belief, as because of his fidelity to conscience."
"I would not for a chapel full of
gold recede from the truth." "I know that
the truth stands and is mighty forever," are
declarations of his.
As a Man.
lluss is described as tall with thin, pale
face; modest and kind, and liberal to a fault;
rather melancholy, and of subdued tone in his
bearing. Of pure and austere life, his countenance
bore the traces of constant self-denial,
and loftiness of purpose lent force to his speech.
As a student he was a plodder rather than
brilliant; diligent, persevering, earnest, sincere,
with great capacity for work. His enemies
speak almost in terms of eulogy of his morals
and manners. lie was pure in life and heart,
lie had a sense of humor, and even his letters
from prison are full of jests, though never
coarse. He bore no malice and freely forgave
his enemies, even Palecz his former roommate
at the university afterwards his chief enemy.
IIuss not only forgave him, but in prison asked
for him as confessor. Yet Loserth attirbutes
to him hot temper, arrogance, and sophistry.
The next paper will deal with the trial and
execution of Huss.
The fact that the little we can do to make
the world better is small indeed is often our
I-AUUOC 1UI UUlllg UUlIIHlg, U 111 11 IS U VCF) puwi
excuse. In reality it should be the very reason
why we should do our little and do it up to
the limit of our best possible. The world is
not made better at once and by the big achievements
of one or two: it is a slow process, and
the little goodness of a multitude of people
combine to make it possible. If it came easily
and suddenly and through individual effort.
urn *v? 4- ni 1 ?* mU am ? ?? 1* m 1 a 4 ?r All
^ uii^iu casii^ Biiuuiucr uur reNpuiiHiuiutj VM
some one else, but when it is such a slow business
at which a multitude must work, then to
neglect our part is a sin and a crime. Because
it is so little that the best of us can do, it is
all the more important that the little be done
after the best fashion, lest the whole process,
so slow and laborious at best, still stay and
linger for want of us. No, we ought not to
stop the procession.?Selected.

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