Short Papers on Church History — Chapter 31

The Reformation Movement in Bohemia

It is truly satisfactory to know, that the blessed soul-saving truths of the gospel, which had been taught by Wycliffe and his followers, were already producing results of a wide and lasting importance: that in spite of all the burnings and slayings of Rome, they were sinking deep into the hearts of thousands and hundreds of thousands, and spreading in nearly all parts of Europe. The Bishop of Lodi in the council of Constance, A.D. 1416 — a year before the martyrdom of Cobham, and thirty-six years after the translation of the Bible — declared that the heresies of Wycliffe and Huss were spread over England, France, Italy, Hungary, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, and through all Bohemia. Thus a bitter enemy is unconsciously, or unintentionally, the witness of the influence and the inextinguishable vitality of the good seed of the word of God.

But here it will be necessary to clear our way by saying a few words on the great papal schism, before tracing the broad silver line of God's grace in the testimony and martyrdom of Huss and Jerome.

The Council of Pisa

At the commencement of the fifteenth century, the Roman Catholic church had two heads — two rival popes, Benedict XIII. at Avignon, and Gregory XII. at Rome. Each claimed to be the representative of Christ on earth, and each accused the other before the world of falsehood, perjury, and the most nefarious secret designs. So scandalous was the conduct of these two old gray-headed prelates each above seventy years of age, that all Europe beheld with shame and indignation the obstinacy and wickedness of the contending pontiffs. What was to be done, that the wounds of the divided church might be healed? Kings and cardinals began to use both force and entreaty to induce both popes to resign their claims that one might be unanimously chosen in their stead. They promised, under oath, that they would voluntarily resign if the interests of the church should require it; but they had no sooner promised than they dissembled, deceived their cardinals, and violated their pledges. Finding that no dependence could be placed on their word, that they were men without truth, honour, or religion, the cardinals of Benedict revolted and joined the cardinals of Gregory, and the two colleges assembled at Leghorn to consider what could be done to put an end to this long and disgraceful schism. They came to the conclusion that, under the circumstances, they had an undoubted right to convoke a council which might judge between the two competitors for the popedom, and restore the church to its unity.

Pisa, a walled city in central Italy, was selected as the most suitable place for the proposed council. This was an entirely new thing in Christendom. About a dozen cardinals, without the sanction of pope or emperor, called together the famous Council of Pisa. His infallibility was now made amenable to a new tribunal, and the highest prerogative of his throne usurped; but he had so lost the respect of mankind that the whole church justified the cardinals in assuming power over him.

The council was opened on the 25th of March, 1409. The assembly was one of the most august and numerous ever seen in the history of Christendom. We will give a few details to show the youthful reader what an Ecumenical Council was in those days when Roman Catholicism was the religion of Europe. There were present twenty-two cardinals; the Latin patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Grade; twelve archbishops were present in person, and fourteen by their proctors; eighty bishops, and the proctors of one hundred and two; eighty-seven abbots, and the proctors of two hundred others; besides priors; generals of orders; the grand master of Rhodes, with sixteen commanders; the prior-general of the knights of the holy sepulchre; the deputy of the grand master and knight of the Teutonic Order; the deputies to the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Florence, Cracow, Vienna, Prague, and many others; more than three hundred doctors of theology; and ambassadors from the Kings of England, France, Portugal, Bohemia, Sicily, Poland, and Cyprus; from the Dukes of Burgundy Brabant, etc. Roads and rivers in all directions were covered for weeks with the pomp and splendour of these dignitaries. Some of them entered Pisa with two hundred horses in their train. *

{*Landon's Manual of Councils.}

The assembly continued its sittings from March till August. After much deliberation in due form, the contesting popes were unanimously condemned. On the 5th of June sentence was passed. Both were declared to be heretical, perjured, contumacious, prohibited from assuming any longer the sovereign pontificate, and unworthy of any honour: the papacy was declared vacant. The next step was to elect a new pope. This was a more difficult matter. Where is the man, possessing such qualities, as will win back the reverence of mankind for the supreme pontiff? was now the grave question. Twenty-four cardinals, after being shut up for ten days, decided upon Peter of Candia, Cardinal of Milan, seventy years of age, who took the name of Alexander V. But the two old pontiffs despised the decrees of the council, and continued to perform their functions as legitimate popes. Benedict fulminated his anathemas against the council and against his rivals; Gregory did the same, having entered into an alliance with the ambitious Ladislaus, King of Naples, Alexander, who was still without the chair and the patrimony of St. Peter, issued his anathemas and excommunications against Benedict, Gregory, and Ladislaus, who had taken possession of the dominions of the Roman See.

Murmurs were now heard in all quarters that the council, instead of extinguishing the schism, had but added a third pope. Where is now the boasted unity of the Roman Catholic church? we may inquire; and through which pope does apostolic succession flow? The three popes, of whom Christendom was ashamed and weary, fiercely assailed each other with reciprocal excommunications, reproaches, and anathemas. Alexander V. lived only about a year, and his place was filled by John XXIII., a man, says Mosheim, destitute of principle and piety. The difficulties were greater than ever; the papal kingdom thus divided against itself could not stand, it was on the eve of total ruin. Some advised that the European powers should unite and sweep away the name and power of the pontiff, or at least limit his autocracy. It was now manifest that the popes themselves would make no personal sacrifice for the peace of the church; so what next could be done to arrest the disgraceful war of the pontiffs and heal the wounds of the divided church, was now the perplexing question. Had the church been left it itself, Ladislaus might then have taken complete possession of Rome and all the papal provinces, and left the chair of St. Peter a throne in name only. But the princes of the earth were not yet prepared for such a sacrilegious overthrow. It awaited the days of Victor Emmanuel.

Sigismund, Emperor of Germany, the King of France, and other kings and princes of Europe, who showed more concern for the credit and welfare of the church than the selfish popes, prevailed on John XXIII. to assemble a general council of the whole church, for the purpose of bringing to a close this great controversy.

The Council of Constance

Constance, an imperial city on the German side of the Alps, was agreed upon as a suitable place for the gathering of such an assembly. It was accessible from all parts of the world, and provisions could be more easily obtained by means of its spacious lake. So great was the influx of persons, that it was reckoned that not less than thirty thousand horses were brought to Constance, which may give us some idea of the enormous concourse of people; and the ship-loads of provisions that would be required. Besides ecclesiastical dignitaries of every name innumerable, there were more than a hundred princes; one hundred and eight counts; two hundred barons; and twenty-seven knights. Tournaments, feasts, and various amusements were arranged by way of relief from their spiritual occupations; five hundred minstrels were in attendance to beguile the vacant hours of these holy priests and noblemen, and to soothe their anxious minds; they had come together for the avowed purpose of healing the almost deadly wound of antichrist; but what are the facts of history? For the space of three years and a half — commencing November 5th, 1414 — these dissolute men filled the quiet ancient city of Constance with their unblushing wickedness. To write that which was then open as day would defile the pages of our history. The heart shudders as we think of the pollution, the daring impiety and hypocrisy, of these so-called holy fathers, to say nothing of their remorseless cruelty in the burning of Huss and Jerome.

The object of this great council was twofold. 1, To put an end to the schism which had afflicted the church for so many years. 2, For the suppression of the heresies of Wycliffe and Huss. The first of these objects was so far satisfactorily accomplished. Having established that a pontiff is subject to a council of the whole church, John XXIII. was deposed on account of the irregularities of his life, and the violation of his oath to the Emperor. Gregory and Benedict were again deposed, and Otho de Colonna was elected pontiff, and assumed the name of Martin V.

The doctrines of Wycliffe, which John Huss and his followers were accused of propagating in the cities and villages of Bohemia, even in the University of Prague, were most offensive to the members of the council, and now engaged their attention.

The Spread of the Truth

The marriage of Anne of Bohemia to Richard II. of England had brought the two countries into close connection, just at the moment when the doctrines of Wycliffe were making their most rapid progress. "Bohemian scholars," says Milman, "sat at the feet of the bold professor of theology at Oxford; English students were found at Prague. The writings of Wycliffe were thus brought into Germany in great numbers, some in Latin, some translated into Bohemian, and disseminated by admiring partizans." The princess, whose pious exercises and study of the scriptures have been commemorated by preachers and historians, had been first affected by the reforming movement in her own land. She brought with her to England versions of the Gospels in the German and Bohemian tongues as well as in Latin. These were then precious treasures to one of her piety and love for the pure word of God; but they also show us, though indirectly, the progress which the new doctrines were making in Germany at that early period.

One of her first acts in this country shows the power of the grace of Christ in her heart, and presents a striking contrast to the persecuting spirit of Jezebel. "Some days after the marriage of the royal pair," says Miss Strickland, "they returned to London, and the coronation of the Queen was performed most magnificently. At the young Queen's earnest request a general pardon was granted by the King at her consecration. The afflicted people stood in need of this respite, as the executions, since Wat Tyler's insurrection, had been bloody and barbarous beyond all precedent. The land was reeking with the blood of the unhappy peasantry, when the humane intercession of the gentle Anne of Bohemia put a stop to the executions. This mediation obtained for Richard's bride the title of 'The good Queen Anne;' and years, instead of impairing the popularity, usually so evanescent in England, only increased the esteem felt by her subjects for this beneficent princess."

How truly refreshing to meet with such an instance of consistent piety at such a period, and in such a station of life! But there were many such at that time in Bohemia and other lands. After the death of Anne, her Bohemian attendants returned to their own country, and carried with them the valuable writings of John Wycliffe. These had been studied by many foreigners at Oxford, and they were now diligently read by the members of the university of Prague.

The most famous of these doctors was John Huss, or John of Hassinetz, a village near the Bavarian frontier. He was born about the year 1369, so that he must have been about fifteen years of age when his admired and acknowledged teacher, the venerable Wycliffe, died. It is interesting to look back and contemplate the ways of our God in His care for the maintenance and spread of the truth. Who then could have thought, that in an obscure village in Bohemia, He was raising up and qualifying a noble witness, who was to bear, in his turn, "the torch of truth, and to transmit it with a martyr's hand to a long succession of witnesses — and he was worthy of the heavenly office?"* He was early distinguished, we are informed, by the force and acuteness of his understanding, the modesty and gravity of his demeanour, and the irreproachable austerity of his life. He was tall, slender, with a thoughtful countenance; gentle, friendly, and accessible to all. His talents being of a high order, he was sent to the university of Prague, with the view of studying for the church. Here he distinguished himself by his extensive attainments as a scholar. He advanced rapidly in church and university preferments, and was made confessor to the Queen Sophia. He was also appointed preacher in the university chapel, called Bethlehem — the house of bread — on account of the spiritual food which was there to be distributed in the vernacular tongue.

{*Waddington, vol. 3, p. 175.}

This gave the bold and eloquent preacher an excellent opportunity for unfolding the word of God to the people in their mother-tongue; and we doubt not that he did so, for he was a sincere Christian and a true witness for Christ. But like most, if not all reformers, he may have been more anxious at first to preach against prevailing abuses than to instruct the people in the pure truth of God. We are convinced that this has generally been the case, and in all kinds of reform, and must account for many scenes of violence in the best of causes. If the people were led, first of all, through the blessing of God, to receive the truth, especially the truth as it is in Jesus, the end would be gained without the mind being inflamed by hearing denounced in strong language the vices of their priestly oppressors. The pride, luxury, and licentiousness of the whole clerical system had become intolerable to mankind; so that to condemn the abuses without touching the doctrines of the church was the high road to popularity.

God is wiser than men; and if we are guided by His word, we shall seek to lead the ignorant to love the truth and follow it, rather than create in their minds a hatred for error which, without the knowledge of Christ, is sure to end in revolutionary excitement and disaster. This divine principle is applicable to the smallest disputes as well as the greatest among men. It is always better to enlighten than to agitate. "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

Civil Commotions

Good man as John Huss was, he had overlooked the wholesome advice of the apostle. He first became involved in a university quarrel as to the privileges of the students; and again his opposition to Gregory XII. gave great offence to the archbishop of Bohemia, who sided with the anti-pope. Prohibitory decrees were issued against Huss, but, being a great favourite at court and with the people, nothing was done. He was allowed to continue his preaching in the vernacular language. But in a few short months circumstances arose which kindled anew the flames of religious contention in Bohemia.

Among the first acts of John XXIII. was to send forth his emissaries to preach a crusade against Ladislaus, King of Naples, and to offer the usual indulgences. The vendors of these indulgences, while haranguing the people about the value of their wares, were interrupted and exposed to insult and outrage. The magistrates interfered; some of the rioters were seized and privately executed; but the blood which flowed from the prison into the street betrayed the fate of the prisoners. Women dipped their handkerchiefs in the blood to treasure it as a precious relic; the passions of the multitude were stirred to the uttermost; the town-house was stormed, the headless bodies of these young men were carried off by the people, and borne in solemn procession to the various churches, chanting holy anthems. They were at length buried in the chapel of Bethlehem, with the aromatic offerings usually deposited on the tombs of martyrs. The three young men were now spoken of in sermons and writings as saints and martyrs, and the fermentation increased.

John Huss, knowing that he was suspected and accused of being the prime mover in the whole affair, wisely withdrew for a time from the city. He was summoned, but without effect, to appear before the tribunal of the Vatican. Huss was now declared to be under the ban of excommunication, and the place of his residence to be under the papal interdict. Regardless of these church censures, he continued preaching all over the country. The minds of the people being already greatly excited were easily aroused to the greatest indignation against the clergy. Nearly the whole of the kingdom was on his side, at least as against the abuses of the hierarchy.

The Imprisonment of John Huss

The agitation which these events had produced was not allayed when the Council of Constance assembled. The emperor Sigismund, who had convened the council, requested his brother the king, Wenceslaus, to send Huss to Constance, and promised him a safe-conduct. The terms of this passport were very explicit; it required all the emperor's subjects to allow the doctor to pass and repass in full security. Huss readily obeyed the emperor's summons, as he had always desired the opportunity of appealing to a general council. He arrived in Constance earlier than the emperor, and was immediately brought before the pope, John XXIII., for examination. His doctrines were well known, a long list of charges was brought against him; and as he refused to retract them, he was thrown into prison on a charge of heresy, notwithstanding the safe-conduct of the emperor. And in order to justify their flagrant breach of honour and pacify Sigismund, they passed a decree that no faith ought to be kept with a heretic.

Loud complaints were sent to the emperor from Bohemia. He received the first intimation of the imprisonment of Huss with indignation, and threatened to break open the prison. But on reaching Constance he was plied with arguments from the canon law, urging that the civil power did not extend to the protection of a heretic, and the treacherous priests absolved him from all responsibility. He now allowed the enemies of Huss to take their course. In the gloom of a loathsome dungeon, without a breath of fresh air, and harassed by priests and monks, the reformer became very ill. But the deluded emperor cared for none of these things. Historians, however, have not been wanting who utterly condemn the faithless conduct of the emperor, and charge him with having violated truth, honour, and humanity, in surrendering Huss to the will of the priests. "Breach of faith," says Milman, "admits of no excuse; and perfidy is twice perfidious in an emperor." Others affirm that in thus sacrificing Huss, he heaped up for himself many troubles which came upon him during the remainder of his reign. But what shall we say of the future — of the dark future under the fearful shadow of that heartless abandonment of a true servant of Christ to the merciless priests of Rome? The Master will not forget to own in that day His identification with His servant, and that in the most touching way "Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." But if such be the guilt of the emperor, what must be the guilt of the pope and the prelates? We must leave the answer to the great white throne.

Already the most gloomy forebodings were gathering around the pope. In the first session of the council, it was proposed that the three popes should resign, prior to the election of a new pontiff. John, the only one of the three present, promised to resign for the peace of the church, and to read his own abdication the following day. But promises, or oaths, or honour, were nothing to John. By the assistance of some friends he escaped from Constance in the disguise of a postillion. The emperor was betrayed and indignant. There was a hot pursuit after John; he was caught in Switzerland and brought back a prisoner; but unlike his victim, Huss, he was conscience-stricken, without honour, without dignity, without courage. He was now compelled to give up the insignia of universal spiritual power, the papal seal, and the fisherman's ring. Robert Hallam, bishop of Salisbury, at the head of the English, in a burst of righteous indignation, declared that a pope so covered with crime deserved to be burned at the stake. He was taken to the castle of Gotleben, where the good John Huss had been pining in irons for some months. There pope John languished till the close of the session, which was nearly four years; but, after humbling himself at the feet of the reigning pontiff, he was raised to the rank of a cardinal, and permitted to close his days in peace. But no such leniency was exercised towards the righteous and blameless Reformer, whose examination and execution we will now briefly trace.

The Examination of John Huss

In the first movement against Huss, the archbishop of Prague instituted a vigilant search for the translations of Wycliffe's writings; and having collected about two hundred volumes, many of them richly bound and decorated with precious ornaments, he caused them to be publicly burnt in the market-place at Prague. Much was said as to the identity of the doctrines of Huss with those of Wycliffe, which the council condemned as heretical under forty-five propositions; and decreed that his bones should be taken out of their grave and burned. Huss was also charged with being "infected with the leprosy of the Waldenses." Under these two general heads, Wycliffism and Waldensianism, a vast number of special charges, grossly offensive to the hierarchy, were contained.

The council, although bent on the destruction of Huss, would willingly have avoided the scandal of a public examination. Certain passages which his enemies had extracted from his writings were thought sufficient for his condemnation without a public hearing. Accordingly, he was continually harassed and persecuted in his cell by private visits, urging him to retract or confess; and not infrequently taunted and insulted. He remonstrated against this inquisitorial secrecy, and demanded for his defence an audience of the whole council. His faithful friend, John of Chlum, with other Bohemian noblemen, requested the emperor to interfere, and with his assistance the object of the fathers was defeated, and a public trial was obtained.

On the 5th of June, 1415, John Huss was brought in chains into the great senate of Christendom. The charges against him were read. But when he proposed to maintain his doctrines by the authority of the scriptures and the testimony of the Fathers, his voice was drowned in a tumult of contempt and derision. The assembly was compelled to adjourn its proceedings. Two days after he was brought up again, and Sigismund himself attended to preserve order.

The accusers of Huss were numerous, though less clamorous than the previous day. With the exception of two or three Bohemian noblemen, the reformer stood alone. He was greatly exhausted by illness, and enfeebled by long confinement, but his noble spirit refused to bend before the violence of his persecutors. He answered with great calmness and dignity, "I will not retract unless you can prove what I have said to be contrary to the word of God," was his usual reply. When charged with having preached Wycliffite doctrines, he admitted that he had said, "Wycliffe was a true believer, that his soul was now in heaven, that he could not wish his own soul more safe than Wycliffe's." This confession drew forth a burst of contemptuous laughter from the reverend fathers; and, after some hours of turbulent discussion, Huss was removed, and the assembly broke up; he went to his prison, and they, at least many of them, to their scenes of grossest dissipation.

The Council Embarrassed

The following day Huss stood a third time before the council. Thirty-nine propositions were produced and read, alleging errors which he had advanced in his writings, his preachings, and his private conversations. Huss, like most reformers, held the doctrine of salvation by grace without works of law. He affirmed that none were members of the true church of Christ whatever their dignity, whether popes or cardinals, if they were ungodly. "True faith in the word of God," he said, "is the foundation of all virtues." He appealed to the honoured name of Augustine on these points; and maintained that the only title of churchman, prelate, or pope to apostolic succession was to possess the virtues of the apostles. "The pontiff who lives not the life of St. Peter is no vicar of Christ, but the forerunner of antichrist." He quoted a sentence from St. Bernard which gave great weight to this solemn saying: "The slave of avarice is the successor not of St. Peter, but of Judas Iscariot." The council was embarrassed, as no churchman would venture to turn into ridicule the sayings of such honoured Fathers.

The propositions treated chiefly of two things: — 1, The false theology of Rome — Huss had denounced the popish doctrine of salvation by works, in the many ways which the church prescribes; 2, The false ecclesiastical system of popery with its glaring abuses — these he exposed and condemned in the most unsparing terms. But his condemnation seems to have hinged on his boldly maintaining that no office, king or priest, availed in God's sight, if the king or the priest lived in mortal sin. When interrogated on this point by the cardinal of Cambray, who saw his perilous position in the presence of the emperor, Huss repeated his words aloud — "A king in mortal sin is no king before God." These words sealed his fate. "There never lived," said Sigismund, "a more pernicious heretic." "What!" exclaimed the cardinal, "art thou not content with degrading the ecclesiastical power? wouldst thou thrust kings from their thrones?" "A man," argued another cardinal, "may be a true pope, prelate, or king, though not a true Christian." "Why, then," said Huss, "have you deposed John XXIII.?" The emperor answered, "For his notorious misdeeds." Huss was now guilty of another sin — discomfiting and perplexing his adversaries.

It would be tedious and uninteresting to notice all the false charges and calumnies which were heaped upon him, and the firm answers which he gave; but the following may be considered as the substance of his long trial. He was vehemently pressed to retract his errors, to own the justice of the accusations, to make unqualified submission to the decrees of the council, to abjure all his opinions. But neither promises nor menaces moved him. "To abjure," he said, "is to renounce an error that has been held. As to the opinions imputed to me which I have never held, those I cannot retract, as to those which I do indeed profess, I am ready to retract them — to renounce them with all my heart — when I shall be better instructed by the council." The fathers replied to the conscientious integrity of their victim, "The province of the council is not to instruct but to decide, to command obedience to its decisions or to enforce the penalty." The tender shepherds of Constance now loudly demanded a universal retraction, or to burn alive the atrocious heretic. The emperor condescended to argue with him, the most able and subtle of the doctors, both in philosophy and theology, reasoned with him; but Huss replied with firm humility that he sought instruction; that he could not abjure errors of which he was not convinced. He was carried back to prison; the faithful Bohemian knight — John of Chlum — a true Onesiphorus — followed to console his worn and weary friend. "Oh, what a comfort to me," said Huss, "to see that this nobleman did not disdain to stretch out his arm to a poor heretic in irons, whom all the world, as it were, had forsaken."

The Judgment of Sigismund

The court being cleared of the prisoner, the emperor rose and said, "You have heard the charges against Huss, some confessed by himself, some proved by trustworthy witnesses. In my judgment each of these crimes is deserving of death. If he does not forswear all his errors, he must be burned .... the evil must be extirpated root and branch, if any of his partizans are in Constance, they must be proceeded against with the utmost severity, especially his disciple Jerome of Prague." When Huss was informed of the emperor's judgment, he merely replied, "I was warned not to trust to his safe-conduct. I have been under a sad delusion; he has condemned me even before mine enemies."

After this mockery of a trial and final audience he was left in prison for nearly a month. During this time persons of the highest rank visited him and entreated him to abjure the errors which were imputed to him. It was hoped that, through increasing bodily infirmity and private importunity he might be overcome. But not so. He who enabled him to stand firm before public threatenings and insults was with him still. "If I abjure errors," he said, "that were falsely laid to my charge, that would be nothing less than perjury." He regarded his fate as sealed, although all through his trial and imprisonment he professed himself willing to renounce any opinion that could be proved untrue from scripture. The real object of these private solicitations on the part of the prelates was to shake his constancy, and induce him to retract. With the view so beautifully expressed by Waddington we entirely agree: "Many individuals of various characters, but alike anxious to save him from the last infliction, visited his prison, and pressed him with a variety of motives and arguments; but they were all blunted by the rectitude of his conscience and the singleness of his purpose. One of his bitterest enemies, named Paletz, was among the number; but though his counsels had been successful in degrading the person of the reformer, they failed when they would have seduced him to infamy."

On the eve of the day destined for his execution, he was visited by his true and faithful friend, John of Chlum — a name which is worthy to be everywhere recorded with all honour — a name that stands almost alone for christian feeling and virtue in that vast assembly of professedly christian teachers, and that redeems our common humanity from treachery and cruelty. "My dear master," said the noble disciple, "I am unlettered, and consequently unfit to counsel one so enlightened as you. Nevertheless, if you are secretly conscious of any one of those errors which have been publicly imputed to you, I do entreat you not to feel any shame in retracting it; but if, on the contrary, you are convinced of your innocence, I am so far from advising you to say anything against your conscience, that I exhort you rather to endure every form of torture than to renounce anything which you hold to be true." Huss was greatly overcome by the wise and affectionate counsel of his faithful friend, and replied with tears, "That God was his witness how ready he had ever been, and still was, to retract an oath, and with his whole heart, from the moment he should be convinced of any error by evidence from holy scripture."

It is perfectly evident from all history, that in the sufferings and the fortitude of Huss there is no trace of pride or stubbornness. He was firm, but he was humble; he expected death, he prepared to meet it, but never planned or schemed to escape it. "I have appealed," he said, "to Jesus Christ, the One all-powerful and all-just Judge; to Him I commit my cause, who will judge every man, not according to false witnesses and erring councils, but according to truth and man's desert." This was the crowning act of his wickedness; the fatal hour was now come.

The Condemnation of Huss

On the morning of July 6th, 1415, the council met in the cathedral. Huss, as a heretic, was detained in the porch while Mass was celebrated. The bishop of Lodi preached from the text, "That the body of sin might be destroyed." (Rom. 6:6) It would be difficult to say, whether from gross ignorance or malice he perverted the word of God to the purpose of the council. It was a fierce declamation against heresies and errors, but chiefly against Huss, who was pronounced to be as bad as Arius, and worse than Sabellius. He closed with adulatory praise to the Emperor. "It is thy glorious office to destroy heresies and schisms, especially this obstinate heretic," pointing to the prisoner, who was kneeling in an elevated place and in fervent prayer. About thirty articles of accusation were read. Huss frequently attempted to speak but was not allowed. The sentence was then passed: — "That for several years John Huss has seduced and scandalized the people by the dissemination of many doctrines manifestly heretical, and condemned by the church, especially those of John Wycliffe. That he has obstinately trampled upon the keys of the church and the ecclesiastical censures, that he has appealed to Jesus Christ as sovereign judge, to the contempt of the ordinary judges of the church; and that such an appeal was injurious, scandalous, and made in derision of ecclesiastical authority. That he has persisted to the last in his errors, and even maintained them in full council. It is therefore ordained that he be publicly deposed and degraded from holy orders as an obstinate and incorrigible heretic." Huss prayed for the forgiveness of his enemies, which called forth derision from some members of the council; but in the midst of it all he lifted up his hands, and exclaimed, "Behold, most gracious Saviour, how the council condemns as an error what thou hast prescribed and practised, when, overborne by enemies, thou committedst thy cause to God thy Father, leaving us this example, that when we are oppressed we may have recourse to the judgment of God. " In his closing remarks he turned and looked steadily at Sigismund, and said, "I came to this council under the public faith of the Emperor." A deep blush passed over his face at this sudden and unexpected rebuke.

The Degradation and Execution of John Huss

The archbishop of Milan and six assisting bishops performed the inglorious ceremony of degradation. Huss was clothed in priestly garments, the sacramental cup was put into his hand, and he was led to the high altar as if about to celebrate Mass. The devoted martyr calmly observed, "that his Redeemer had been arrayed with royal robes in mockery." The bishops appointed then proceeded to the office of degradation. He was stripped, one by one, of his sacred vestments, the cup was taken from his hand, the tonsure was obliterated by the scissors, a paper crown, daubed over with demons, was placed on his head, and with the superscription, Heresiarch. The prelates then piously devoted his soul to the regions of eternal woe. "Accursed Judas, who, having forsaken the counsel of peace, art entered into that of the Jews, we take this holy cup from thee, in which is the blood of Jesus Christ." But God stood by His faithful servant in a remarkable way, and enabled him to cry aloud, "I trust, in the mercy of God, I shall drink of it this day in His kingdom." "We devote thy soul to the infernal demons," said the prelates. "But I," said Huss, "commit my spirit into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus Christ; unto Thee I commend my soul which Thou hast redeemed."

In the most awfully solemn mockery and daring hypocrisy, the false church thought to rid itself of the stain of blood by declaring Huss to be cut off from the ecclesiastical body, released from the grasp of the church, and consigned as a layman to the vengeance of the secular arm. The Emperor now took charge of the outcast, and commanded his immediate execution. The Elector Palatine, with eight hundred horse, and a great multitude from the city, conducted the martyr to the stake. They stopped before the bishop's palace, where a heap of his books which had been condemned by the council were burning. He only smiled at this feeble act of vengeance. He endeavoured to speak to the people and the imperial guards in German, but the Elector prevented him and ordered him to be burned. But nothing could disturb the peace of his mind: God was with him. He chanted the psalms as he went along, and prayed with such fervour, that the people of the town said, "What this man has done, we know not, but we hear him offer up most excellent prayers to God." On reaching the place of execution, he kneeled down, prayed for the forgiveness of his enemies, and commended his soul into the hands of Christ.

Even after Huss was tied to the stake, and the wood piled around him, the Elector asked him if he would not now recant and save his life. He nobly replied, "What I have written and taught was in order to rescue souls from the power of the devil, and to deliver them from the tyranny of sin, and I do gladly seal what I have written and taught with my blood." The faggots were then lighted; he remained firm and suffered with unshaken constancy, but his sufferings were brief. The Lord permitted a rising volume of smoke to suffocate his faithful martyr before the fire had scorched him. With the last feeble accents of his voice he was heard singing the praise of Jesus who died to save him. His ashes were carefully collected, and thrown into the lake, but his happy soul was now with Jesus in the paradise of God. The faithful piety of his affectionate followers tore up the earth from the spot of his martyrdom, carried it to Bohemia, moistened it with their tears, and preserved it as a relic of one whose name is never to be forgotten, but ever to be loved.

Thus died, thus slept in Jesus, one of the true harbingers of the Reformation. It is admitted by historians generally that he was one of the most blameless and virtuous of men, that the records of his constancy are not infected by a single stain of mere philosophical stoicism, or tainted by vanity, in anticipating a martyr's crown. But his death has affixed the brand of eternal infamy on the council that condemned him and on the Emperor that betrayed him. His beloved friend and brother in Christ, Jerome of Prague, soon followed him to his home and rest on high.

The Arrest and Imprisonment of Jerome

The news of the imprisonment of Huss greatly affected his friend and fellow-labourer, Jerome of Prague. He followed him to the council; but being warned by Huss of his danger, and finding that a safe-conduct could not be obtained, he left for Bohemia; but he was arrested, and brought back to Constance in chains. Immediately after his arrest, and laden with many chains, he was examined before a general congregation of the council. There were many to accuse and taunt him; among them was the far-famed Gerson of Paris. But the prisoner firmly declared that he was willing to lay down his life in defence of the gospel he had preached. At the close of the day he was remanded till the case of Huss was settled and committed to the care of the archbishop of Rigo. This cruel monster of a priest treated him with great barbarity. Jerome was a master in theology, though a layman, and a man of acknowledged piety, learning, and eloquence. The body of this catholic christian gentleman, who held a high place in the highest circles in Bohemia, was fastened to a tall upright beam, his head left to hang down his arms and his feet bound. Several months of weary confinement, in chains in darkness on low diet, and none to comfort or strengthen him! — his mind and spirit failed under his sufferings. He was persuaded to make a full retraction of all errors against the Catholic faith, especially those of Wycliffe and John Huss.

Poor Jerome! having abjured the opinions which had been imputed to him, he was entitled to liberty, but there was neither feeling, faith, honour, nor justice in the assembly. He was thrown back into prison under alleged suspicions as to the sincerity of his recantations. This opened the eyes of Jerome. God used it to the restoring of his soul. He bitterly repented his recantation; communion with God was again enjoyed: he rejoiced once more in the light of His countenance. Fresh charges were brought against him, that he might be seduced to a deeper humiliation. But the locks of the Nazarite had grown in his loathsome prison. At his final examination, being allowed to speak for himself, he surprised his enemies by asserting that his condemnation of Wycliffe and Huss was a sin which he deeply repented. He began by calling upon God to govern his heart by His grace, that his lips might advance nothing but what should conduce to the blessing of his soul. "I am not ignorant," he exclaimed, "that many excellent men have been borne down by false witnesses, and unjustly condemned." He then ran down the long list of scripture, noticing such cases as Joseph, Isaiah, Daniel, the prophets, John the Baptist, the blessed Lord Himself, His apostles, and Stephen. He then dwelt on all the great men of antiquity who had been the victims of false accusation, and who had laid down their lives for the truth.

The glowing eloquence of Jerome excited the wonder and admiration of his enemies, especially when they considered that for three hundred and forty days he had been immured in a dungeon. All his calm intrepidity had returned, or rather, he now spoke in the power of the Holy Spirit. He declared that no act of his life had caused him such remorse as his cowardly abjuration. "This sinful retraction," he exclaimed, "I now fully retract, and am resolved to maintain the tenets of Wycliffe and Huss to death, believing them to be the true and pure doctrines of the gospel, even as their lives were blameless and holy." No further proof of his heresy was required — he was condemned as a relapsed heretic. The bishop of Lodi was again called upon to preach the funeral sermon. His text was, "He upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart," applying it especially to the incorrigible heretic before him. (Mark 16:14) In reply Jerome addressed the council, and said, "You have condemned me without having convicted me of any crime; a sting will be left on your consciences, a worm that shall never die. I appeal to the Supreme Judge, before whom you must appear with me to answer for this day." Poggius, a Roman Catholic writer then present, declares, "Every ear was captivated, and every heart touched; but the assembly was very unruly and indecent." Like Paul before Agrippa, Jerome was no doubt the happiest man in that vast assembly. He was enjoying the promised presence of His blessed Lord and Master.

The Execution of Jerome

On the 30th of May 1416, Jerome was delivered to the secular arm. The council vainly thought that, by making the civil magistrate the executioner of its unrighteous decrees, it would avoid the enduring stain of blood; but God is not mocked. He hath said of the mother of harlots, "And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth." (Rev. 18:24) There the God of judgment will find the blood of Huss and of Jerome. Aeneas Sylvius, afterwards pope, in writing to a friend says, "Jerome went to the stake as to a joyful festival, and when the executioner would have kindled the faggots behind his back, 'Place the fire before me,' he exclaimed; 'if I had dreaded it, I would have escaped it.' Such was the end of a man incredibly excellent. I was an eye-witness to that catastrophe, and beheld every act." Such is the testimony of two Roman Catholic writers — Poggius and Sylvius — and members of the council. They bear witness to the indecent conduct of the council, and to the moral heroism of the two martyrs

Jerome continued to sing hymns, with a "deep untrembling voice," after he was bound to the stake. He raised his voice and sang a paschal hymn, then very popular in the church.

Hail! happy day, and ever be adored
When hell was conquered by heaven's great Lord.

He continued to live in the flames a quarter of an hour. "Thou knowest, Lord, how I have loved Thy truth," were amongst the last words of Jerome of Prague. Not a word fell from his lips that discovered the least timidity. Both he and Huss sang in the flames to their last breath. And bright angels in waiting carried their happy souls to heaven, where they would be present with the Lord.

Reflections on the Character of the Council

The reader can be at no loss to judge of the principles which govern Roman Catholics in their treatment of Protestants, or heretics, so-called, with the Council of Constance before him. The character of Jezebel never changes, as it then was, so is it today, and so it shall ever be. The only question is the opportunity for its display. And we must bear in mind that the burning of those two venerable heralds of the Reformation was not under a papal edict, or a decree of the court of Rome, but by an ecclesiastical council, representing the whole church of Rome — indeed all the powers of the Roman world, civil and ecclesiastical.

The utter contempt for the retraction of the enfeebled Jerome, and the unblushing violation of the safe-conduct of the Emperor to Huss, are alike iniquitous and perfidious. What dependence can be placed on the word, the promise, or the most sacred oath, even of a mitred head, holding such principles? We must leave the reader to judge for himself; but what language could adequately express the base cowardly, traitor-like character of such principles and actions? Truth, righteousness, honour, justice, humanity, are all publicly sacrificed on the altar of ecclesiastical dominion.

The heresy of Huss and Jerome has never been clearly defined. They seem to have retained to the last their early impressions of transubstantiation, the worship of the saints and the Virgin Mary. They testified against the power of the clergy, which had so long ruled and enslaved the minds of men, and exposed their avarice and corruptions. By these public appeals they struck at the very foundations of the whole papal system, for which also they were honoured with the crown of martyrdom. But God, who is above all, was overruling these events for the spreading forth of the long-hidden gospel, and for the ripening of Europe for the approaching changes in almost all the relations of both Church and State which were accomplished in the sixteenth century. We must now glance for a moment at the fearful effects of the decrees of this general council.

The Bohemian War

The martyrdom of the Bohemian doctors had aroused a general feeling of national as well as religious indignation. The Emperor, the pope, and the prelates had very soon to pay bitterly for their flagrant injustice and the fires of Constance. Retribution swiftly followed. Four hundred and fifty-two nobles and knights of Bohemia and Moravia attached their seals to a letter addressed to the council, protesting against the proceedings of the assembly, and the imputations which had been cast on the orthodoxy of Bohemia, by burning the most illustrious of their teachers. But the council refused to listen to these reasonable remonstrances, and resolved to make no concessions. The holy fathers, as they are profanely called, cared much more for their own sinful pleasures than for the welfare of the people. Although professedly assembled for the reformation of the church, the real effect of their four years' sojourn in Constance was the demoralization of the whole city and its suburbs. The licentiousness and profligacy of this council has never been equalled.

In the year 1418, just before the council was dissolved, Martin V., now sole and undisputed pope, sent forth a bull of crusade against the contumacious heretics, requiring all authorities, ecclesiastical and civil, to labour for the suppression of the heresies of Wycliffe, Huss, and Jerome. The question was now fairly committed to the decision of the sword. Cardinal John, of Ragusa, was sent as legate to Bohemia. He was a violent man, and talked of reducing the country by fire and sword. In his character as legate he burned several persons who opposed his authority. The Bohemians, by such atrocities, were roused to fury. The followers of Huss united and became a strong party. They bound themselves in the most solemn manner to carry out the reformation principles of their martyred chief. Huss had strongly condemned the practice of the church in withholding the cup from the laity: this they adopted as the symbol of their community, and displayed the eucharistic cup on their banners. Headed by Ziska, the one-eyed, a knight of great military genius, they moved about the country, everywhere enforcing the administration of the sacrament in both kinds — the wine as well as the bread.

The churches of Prague having been refused to the clergy who followed the doctrines of Huss, they began to look for places where they could enjoy freedom of worship. A great meeting of Hussites was convened in the month of July, 1419, on a high hill, south of Prague, where they were formally united by the celebration of the communion in the open air. It must have been an imposing sight, but alas! the sequel of their history draws a dark shadow over it. On the spacious summit of that hill three hundred tables were spread, and forty-two thousand, consisting of men, women, and children partook of the sacrament in both kinds. A love-feast followed the communion, at which the rich shared with the poor, but no drinking, dancing, gaming, or music, was allowed. There the people encamped in tents, and, being fond of the use of scripture names, called it Mount Tabor, whence they obtained the name of Taborites. They spoke of themselves as the chosen people of God, and stigmatized their enemies, the Roman Catholics, as Amalekites, Moabites, and Philistines.

The luxury, pride, avarice, simony, and other vices of the clergy, were denounced on the hill of Tabor, and Ziska and his followers exhorted the communicants to engage in the work of church reformation. This great assembly, under Ziska, first marched to Prague, where they arrived at night. The following day, a Hussite clergyman, walking at the head of a procession, with a cup in his hand, was struck with a stone as he passed the town hall, where the magistrates were sitting. Thus insulted, many of them rushed furiously into the hall; a fierce struggle ensued: the magistrates were overpowered, some were killed, some fled, and some were thrown from the windows. The alarm spread, the people of the old religion rose to arms, the reformers fought against them as the enemies of the true faith. Ziska and his followers proclaimed themselves to be the servants of God, and their mission the reformation of His church. But alas! they commenced with the work of destruction rather than of reformation. Convents were attacked and plundered, monks were slaughtered, churches and monasteries were reduced to ruins; images, organs, pictures, and all the instruments of idolatry, as they were called, were broken to pieces. The movement spread to other places, and the most desolating war followed, which continued for many, many years.

The Victories of the Taborites

Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia, died just at this time from a fit of apoplexy; and as he left no heir, Bohemia fell by inheritance to his brother Sigismund. This change was the signal for open war on the part of the reformers. Sigismund was execrated as a traitor, he had lured Huss to Constance; he had abandoned him to his merciless foes, the enemies of the true faith. With the fury of religious fanaticism they demolished and defaced everything that bore the stamp of the Romish religion. The Emperor, as soon as possible, turned his special attention to his newly-inherited kingdom, but in place of a loyal welcome, his sovereignty was repudiated everywhere. The first crusading army was defeated by the victorious Ziska, and Sigismund was obliged to flee from the walls of Prague.

The followers of Ziska, being chiefly peasantry, had at first no other weapons of warfare but their agricultural implements, such as flails, clubs, pitchforks, and scythes; so that Sigismund tauntingly designated them threshers; but he was soon made to feel their irresistible power, and the deadly wounds which they inflicted. Ziska taught them to load their implements with iron, and to range their rough carts in the battle-field in such a manner as to serve the purpose of a fortress, and of the ancient war-chariots. Martin V., now safe in Rome, heard from a distance of Ziska carrying fire and sword in all directions — massacring clergy and monks, burning and demolishing churches and convents, wreaking vengeance on the enemies of the true faith, and rooting out idolatry, as his divine mission. A bull was issued at the Emperor's request, summoning the faithful to rise for the extirpation of Wycliffism, Hussism, and other heresies, and promising full indulgences to those who should take part in the enterprise either personally or by substitute. An army was collected from nearly all European countries; which is variously estimated from one hundred thousand to one hundred and fifty thousand.

The spirit of the Hussites was strengthened on all such occasions by following the example of the hill of Tabor. They celebrated the communion, swearing to spend their property and their blood to the utmost in defence of the Reformation so-called. The eucharistic chalice was not only represented on the banners of the Taborites, but it was carried by their clergy at the head of their armies. Sigismund entered Bohemia at the head of the crusading hosts; and determined to over-awe the rebellious into obedience, he burned without scruple the heretical teachers, and dragged others at the tails of his horses. But the hour of vengeance was near. Burning with indignation and religious enthusiasm, Ziska and his exasperated followers surprised the crusaders, and defeated them with great slaughter on a hill near Prague, which still bears his name. A second campaign saw the imperial army break up and, panic-stricken, flee before the renowned Ziska. A third and a fourth time the Emperor invaded the country at the head of vast forces — in one case, it is said, two hundred thousand men, but each time the armies of the church fled in confusion and disgrace before the invincible Taborites. In some instances they pursued and massacred, rather than routed, the enemies of God and of the true faith. The cruelty on both sides became excessive. The Taborites who chanced to fall into their enemies' hands were burned alive or sold as slaves. It was a war of revenge, of extermination, and considered to be the holiest of duties to seize the property and spill the blood of God's enemies.

The Total Defeat of the Papal Army

The broken-hearted Emperor was now accused of personal cowardice. A fifth crusade was resolved upon; it was to be conducted by a cardinal. Preparations were made on a very great scale. Four large armies, amounting to about two hundred thousand men, crossed the Bohemian frontier. The force which the Taborites were able to muster amounted to thirty-one thousand. But the great papal enterprise ended in the most disgraceful failure. The Germans, on coming in sight of Ziska with his wild war-chariots, were seized with a panic; the Cardinal Julian alone conducted himself with courage. As he was advancing, he met his troops fleeing in abject terror. With crucifix in hand, he entreated them by the most solemn considerations of religion to rally, but in vain. He himself was constrained to fly; he hardly escaped in the disguise of a common soldier, and left behind him the papal bull, his cardinal's hat, and his pontifical robes. These trophies were preserved for two centuries in the church of Taas, and the captured banners were hung in the Tron church in Prague. The Germans lost ten thousand men in this scandalous flight, besides many more who, in their retreat, were pursued and slain by the peasantry.

After carrying on the war for thirteen years, Ziska died. So greatly was he lamented by the Taborites, that they changed their name to Orphans. He was succeeded by Procopius, a name almost equally famous in the history of the Bohemian war. But the Emperor was not disposed to continue so ruinous a contest. The retributive sword of Ziska had shorn him of his glory in the field, and frustrated his intentions of strengthening the church. At the battle, or rather the slaughter, of Aussig in 1426, the estimated loss of the Germans varies from nine to fifteen thousand men, while the Bohemians lost only fifty. And almost every outward vestige of the Romish religion had been swept away by the overwhelming flood. Churches were burnt with those who had taken refuge in them. Sylvius, the Roman historian, describes the churches and convents of Bohemia as more numerous, more magnificent, more highly adorned, than those of any other European country; but, with few exceptions, all were demolished by the irresistible Taborites. More than five hundred churches and monasteries, with all their symbols of idolatry, were utterly destroyed. Such was the terrible retributive providence of God in His righteous dealings with the murderers of Huss and Jerome. The fearful visitation fell and with the most withering severity, on both the empire and the church of Rome.

Internal Divisions

The Hussites were not all of one mind as to a proposed treaty; so they divided and formed two parties. The Calixtines — from Calix, a cup — the more moderate party, were disposed to waive all other subjects of complaint, provided the cup was restored to the laity, with permission to read the word of God. The Taborites went much farther, they adhered to the doctrines of Huss. Besides the celebration of the Lord's supper in both kinds, they contended for a complete reformation of the church — the abolition of all popish errors and ceremonies, and the establishment of a scriptural system of doctrine and discipline.

Treachery, the unfailing resource of Rome, now saw her way clear to encompass the ruin of the Taborites. At the council of Basle, Rokyzan, a bishop of the moderates and an eloquent man, was raised to the archbishopric of Prague, that through his influence their ends might be gained. Four articles were agreed upon, called the Compact; the obedient Calixtines were received back to the bosom of the church but the privileges thus granted were soon afterwards annulled by the pope. The Taborites, refusing to sign the Compact, were persecuted both by their old friends the Calixtines and the Catholics. But, in place of resisting by means of the carnal sword as in the days of Ziska and Procopius; they were led to see that faith in God, patience, perseverance in well-doing, believing prayer, were the proper arms of a christian soldier. Rokyzan, who had still some kindly feeling for his old friends, obtained permission from the sovereign for the persecuted Taborites to withdraw to the lordship of Lititz, on the confines of Moravia and Silesia, and there to establish a colony and regulate their own worship and discipline.

The United Brethren

The first migration to Moravia was in 1451. Many of the citizens of Prague, with some of the nobility and learned men, and even some of the most pious of the Calixtines, joined them. They now assumed the name of Unitas Fratrum, or the United Brethren. This was the origin of a community which has continued to our own day. For the space of three years they enjoyed peace and liberty of conscience. The missionary spirit, by which the Moravians have always been so distinguished, displayed itself at that early period of their history. Now the silver line of the Saviour's love and their christian zeal shines brightly. We could not see a trace of it when they were using carnal weapons for the defence of the truth of God. But no sooner did grace shine and their numbers increase, than the Romish priests eyed them with suspicion. Many souls were converted through their preaching, and congregations were formed in different parts of the country.

False accusations were circulated by the monks and friars evil work which always suited their lying tongues. Sedition! was the cry. The Moravians are gathering numbers, said the monks, that they may renew the Taborite wars and seize the government. The King was alarmed; the unprincipled Rokyzan, afraid of losing his dignity in the church, sided with the Catholics and influenced the Calixtines to turn against their brethren. They were denounced as incorrigible heretics. A bitter persecution broke out in all its fury on the missionary brethren. But the tares seem to have been separated from the wheat, for, unlike the days of Ziska, the new generation of the old Hussites determined to use no carnal weapon in defence of themselves or their religion. But the undaunted courage, which characterized their forefathers in the battle-field, was now displayed in their patient endurance of suffering for Christ's sake. Under their heaviest afflictions their energy never failed them. They were declared to have forfeited the common rights of subjects; their property was confiscated; they were even driven from their homes in the depth of winter, and compelled to wander in the open fields, where many perished with cold and hunger. All the prisons in Bohemia, especially in Prague, were crowded with the brethren. Various sorts of tortures were inflicted on the prisoners: some had their hands and feet cut off; others were torn on the rack, burned alive, or barbarously murdered. These outrages continued for nearly twenty years with little abatement, but the death of the King in 1471, and the remorse of Rokyzan, the archbishop, brought a measure of relief. They were no longer exposed to torture, but were driven out of the country.

The United Brethren, thus compelled to leave their homes in Lititz and other towns and villages, were obliged to live in forests and under the shelter of rocks, kindling their fires at night. And, singular as it may seem, they not only employed themselves in comforting each other, but in perfecting, what they called, the constitution of the church; forgetting, as many others have done, that God had perfected the constitution of the church at Pentecost, and revealed it to us in His holy word. About seventy persons held a synod in the woods. Two resolutions were adopted which marked the future character of the Moravians: — 1, That it was necessary to provide fit men for the ministerial office; 2, That they were to be chosen by lot like Matthias in Acts 1:24-26. As a fundamental principle, the Brethren held, "that the holy scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice." At the same time a distinction was made between essentials and non-essentials which leaves ample room for both the human will and the imagination. Essentials belong to the question of man's salvation; non-essentials, to the externals of Christianity such as rites, ceremonies, customs, and ecclesiastical regulations. And, further, these may be altered according to the best of human judgment, so that the great work of the gospel may be promoted. This is human, not exclusively Moravian. It is, practically, the common saying, "The end justifies the means." But surely what God has revealed can never be nonessential, and what He has not revealed should never be introduced into His assembly.

The Brethren who had been banished from Moravia were kindly received in Hungary and Moldavia; and were greatly distinguished by their missionary and other religious labours. About the year 1470, they published in the Bohemian language a translation of the whole Bible. This is the second translation upon record of the Bible into one of the European tongues. It passed through several editions rapidly, and in this way these interesting and devoted people prepared the way for Luther, Melancthon, and Calvin.

The Connection of the Witnesses

Before leaving the Moravians, we may recall to the reader's mind the interesting fact of an early connection between them and the Waldenses, if not the Paulicians. Bohemia and Moravia continued in heathenism as late as the ninth century when they received the gospel from Eastern missionaries; probably also from the Paulicians. Peter Waldo, in the twelfth century, driven from Lyons by persecution, found a refuge in Bohemia, where he laboured for twenty years with great success. In the fourteenth century his followers in Bohemia and Passau are said to have amounted to eighty thousand, and throughout Europe to about eight hundred thousand. The court of Rome, irritated by the zeal and offended by the practices of the united Paulician, Waldensian, Bohemian, and Moravian Christians, resolved on their subjugation to the Roman yoke. Celibacy was enjoined, the cup forbidden to the laity, and the church service performed in Latin. A struggle commenced, the Bohemians protested, Rome persecuted, and though many continued firm, others gradually declined, and lost much of their original purity of doctrine and simplicity of worship. So things continued for about three hundred years, when John Huss and Jerome of Prague again raised the standard of truth, witnessed against the corruptions of Rome, and kindled by the flames of their martyrdom a light which soon spread throughout Europe, and which continues to shine in our day, through the good providence of God. The mysterious way by which the light travelled, we must now trace.*

{*See Marsden's Dictionary of Sects, "Moravians;" Waddington, vol. 3, p. 196; Latin Christianity, vol. 6, p. 200; Milner, vol. 3, p. 336; J.C. Robertson, vol. 3, p. 284; Mosheim, vol. 3, p. 17; Edgar's Variations of Popery, pp. 202, 533.}