« VorigeDoorgaan »
INTERVIEW WITH PALETZ.
Huss, as if in gentle reproach for the imputation of such a motive—" How, then, can you suppose that it is a false shame which prevents me?" It was on this occasion, probably, that Huss asked the question before referred to, of Paletz, what he would do if the case were his own, and he were required to retract errors that he never held. With tears Paletz confessed that the case would be hard indeed. "Is it possible," rejoined Huss, "that you, who are now in this state before me, could have said in full council, when pointing to me, 'that man does not believe in God?'" Paletz denied having said it. "You said so, however," repeated Huss; "and, in addition, you declared that since the birth of Jesus Christ there never was seen a more dangerous heretic. Ah! Paletz, Paletz, why have you wrought me so much evil?" Paletz replied by again exhorting him to submit, and then withdrew, weeping bitterly.1
It is no wonder that, in the excited state of the prisoner's mind, and in the solitude of his cell, his dreams should have partaken of the character of his waking thoughts, or that they should have assumed a prophetic aspect. He believed that in this manner he had received intimations of future events. "Know," he writes to his friends, "that I have had great conflicts in my dreams. I dreamed beforehand of the flight of the pope, and after relating it, Chlum said to me in my dream, 'The pope will also return.' Then I dreamt of the imprisonment of Jerome, though not literally according to the fact. All the different prisons to which I have been conveyed have been 1 Epis. xxx. and xxxi.
represented to me beforehand in my dreams. There have also appeared to me serpents, with heads also on their tails, but they have never been able to bite me. I do not write this because I believe myself a prophet, or wish to exalt myself, but to let you know that I have had great temptations, both of body and soul, and the greatest fear lest I might transgress the commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1
What must have been the strength of the consolation by which Huss was sustained amid all the gloomy scenes and trials of his tedious and cruel imprisonment, and especially with no prospect of relief except by death! In the noble letter which he wrote on the eve before the festival of St. John the Baptist, he displays the grounds of his comfort, peace, and confidence. "Much consoles me," he says, "that word of our Saviour, 'Blessed be ye when men shall hate you. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy, for, behold, great is your reward in heaven.' A good consolation; nay, the best consolation; difficult, however, if not to understand, yet perfectly to fulfil, to rejoice amid those sufferings. This rule James observes, who says, 'My beloved brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith, if it is good, worketh patience.' Assuredly it is a hard thing to rejoice without perturbation, and in all these manifold temptations to find nothing but pure joy. Easy it is to say this, and to expound it, but hard to fulfil it in very deed. For even the most steadfast and patient Epis. xxx.
1 Epis. xxiii.
CHEERING EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.
warrior, who knew that he should rise on the third day; who, by his death, conquered his enemies, and redeemed his chosen from perdition, was, after the last supper, troubled in spirit, and said, 'My soul is troubled even unto death;' as also the gospel relates, 'that he began to tremble, and was troubled;' nay, in his conflict he had to be supported by an angel, and he sweat, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground; but he who was in such trouble said to his disciples, 'Let not your heart be troubled, and fear not the cruelty of those that rage against you, because ye shall ever have me with you to enable you to overcome the cruelty of your tormentors. Hence his soldiers, looking to him as their king and leader, endured great conflicts, went through fire and water, and were delivered. And they received from the Lord the crown of which James speaks, i. 12. That crown will God bestow on me and you, as I confidently hope, ye zealous combatants for the truth, with all who truly and perseveringly love our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered for us, leaving behind an example that we should follow in his steps. It was necessary that he should suffer, as he tells us himself; and we must suffer, that so the members may suffer with the head; for so he says, 'whoever would follow me, let him take up his cross and follow me.' O most faithful Christ, draw us weak ones after thee, for we cannot follow thee if thou dost not draw us. Give us a strong mind, that it may be prepared and ready. And if the flesh is weak, succor us beforehand by thy grace, and accompany us, for without thee we can do nothing; and least of all,
can we face a cruel death. Give us a ready and willing spirit, an undaunted heart, the right faith, a firm hope, and perfect love, that patiently and with joy we may for thy sake give up our life." Such was the letter of Huss-worthy of the noblest of the martyrs. Only in its subscription does it show any trace of the errors or peculiarities of the Romish church. It closes thus: "written in chains, on the vigils of St. John, who because he rebuked wickedness was beheaded in prison: may he pray for us to the Lord Jesus Christ."
Huss had written what he supposed was his farewell letter to his countrymen. During the season of his reprieve-if such it may be called-he writes to various friends. Some of these have already been referred to. But one of the last was addressed to Chlum, who seemed to him dearer than a brother. Many a time had his cheering words, or the warm grasp of his hand, or his genial sympathy, brought comfort to the lonely and neglected prisoner. Huss now expresses to this noble knight his joy at hearing that he meant to renounce the vanities and toilsome services of the world, and, retiring to his estates, devote himself wholly to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose service was perfect freedom. In like manner, he expresses his joy at learning that the knight Duba had resolved to retire from the world and marry. "It is even time for him," he writes, "to take a new course, for he has already made journeys enough through this kingdom and that, jousting in tournaments, wearing out his body, squandering his money, and doing injury to
SECOND FAREWELL LETTER.
his soul. It only remains for him therefore to renounce all these things, and, remaining quietly at home with his wife, serve God, with his own domestics around him. Far better will it be, thus to serve God, without cares, without participation in the sins. of the world, in good peace, and with a tranquil heart, than to be distracted with cares in the service of others, and that, too, at the imminent risk of his own salvation." To his friend Christiann, the rector of the university, he writes: "My friend and special benefactor, stand fast in the truth of Christ, and embrace the cause of the faithful. Fear not, because the Lord will shortly bestow his protection and increase the number of his faithful. Be gentle to the poor, as thou ever hast been. Chastity I hope thou hast preserved; covetousness thou hast avoided, and continue to avoid it; and for thy own sake, do not hold several benefices at once; ever retain thy own church, that the faithful may resort for help to thee as an affectionate father." Jacobel, moreover, with "all the friends of the truth," are saluted. The letter is subscribed-"written in prison, awaiting my execution at the stake." Last of all, Huss wrote his second farewell letter to his friends at Prague. He besought them that for his sake who would be already dead as to the body, they would do all that lay in their power to prevent the knight of Chlum from coming into any danger. "I entreat you,” he writes, "that you will live by the word of God; that you obey God and his commandments, as I have taught you. Express to the king my thanks for all