500 Years of the Reformation - John HussThe Magisterial Reformation - Post Tenebras Lux - Out of Darkness Light
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John Huss was a Czech Church Martyr (burned at the stake July 6, 1415 AD)
“…the bishops appointed by the Council [of Constance] stripped him of his priestly garments, degraded him, put a paper mitre on his head, on which was painted devils, with this inscription, “A ringleader of heretics.” Which when he saw, he said: “My Lord Jesus Christ, for my sake, did wear a crown of thorns; why should not I then, for His sake, again wear this light crown, be it ever so ignominious? Truly I will do it, and that willingly.” When it was set upon his head, the bishop said: “Now we commit thy soul unto the devil.” “But I,” said John Huss, lifting his eyes towards the heaven, “do commend into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus Christ, my spirit which Thou has redeemed.”
When the chain was put about him at the stake, he said, with a smiling countenance, “My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake, and why then should I be ashamed of this rusty one?”
When the faggots were piled up to his very neck, the duke of Bavaria was so officious as to desire him to abjure. “No,” said Huss, “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 the executioner, “You are now going to burn a goose, (“Huss” signifying “goose” in the Bohemian language) but in a century you will have a “swan” which you can neither roast nor boil.” If he were prophetic, he must have meant Martin Luther, who shone about a hundred years after, and who had a swan for his arms.
The flames were now applied to the faggots, when our martyr sung a hymn with so loud and cheerful a voice that he was heard through all the cracklings of the combustibles, and the noise of the multitude. At length his voice was interrupted by the severity of the flames, which soon closed his existence.
Then, with great diligence, gathering the ashes together, they cast them into the river Rhine, that the least remnant of that man should not be left upon the earth, whose memory, notwithstanding, cannot be abolished out of the minds of the godly, neither by fire, neither by water, neither by any kind of torment.”
[Extract from Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs.”]
“Luther, in his Address to the German Nobility, called upon the Roman Church to confess it had done wrong in burning Huss. That innocent man’s blood still cries from the ground.
Huss died for his advocacy of Wycliffism. The sentence passed by the council [of Constance] coupled the two names together. The 25th of the 30 Articles condemned him for taking offence at the reprobation of the 45 articles, ascribed to Wyclif. How much this article was intended to cover cannot be said. It is certain that Huss did not formally deny the doctrine of transubstantiation, although he was charged with that heresy. Nor was he distinctly condemned for urging the distribution of the cup to the laity, which he advocated after the council had positively forbidden it. His only offence was his definition of the Church and his denial of the infallibility of the papacy and its necessity for the being of the Church. These charges constitute the content of all the 30 articles except the 25th. Luther said brusquely but truly, that Huss committed no more atrocious sin than to declare that a Roman pontiff of impious life is not the head of the Church catholic.
John Huss struck at the foundations of the hierarchical system. He interpreted our Lord’s words to Peter in a way that was fatal to the papal theory of Leo, Hildebrand and Innocent III. His conception of the Church, which he drew from Wyclif, contains the kernel of an entirely new system of religious authority. He made the Scriptures the final source of appeal, and exalted the authority of the conscience above pope, council and canon law as an interpreter of truth.”
[Extract from Phillip Schaff’s “History of the Christian Church.”]