Jan Hus – Pre-Reformer and Martyr

With this week ending with Reformation Day 2015 (October 31 – anniversary #498!), we will make the great Reformation of the 16th century the focus of our posts this week.

286-1_Page_43And we begin with a pre-Reformer, Jan Hus (Jan of Husinec or John Huss, 1369-1416), from southwest Bohemia in the Czech Republic. C.P Hallihan has a thorough study of Hus in the summer issue of the Trinitarian Bible Society’s Quarterly Record (July-Sept. 2015), [to be continued in a later issue] and it is from this article that I quote.

We quote Hallihan from the end of his article, where he is treating Hus’ trial on Protestant heresy charges before the Roman Catholic Council of Constance in 1415.

Hus should now confess his errors, promise never to hold or preach them and retract them publicly. Hus declined, not insolently but firmly. As no errors had been proved from Scripture, how could he confess or retract them? He declared to John of Chlum,

…If I was conscious that I had written or preached aught against the law, or gospel, or Mother Church, I would gladly and humble recant my errors. God is my witness. But I am anxious now as ever that they will show me Scriptures of greater weight and value than those which I have quoted in writing and teaching. If these shall be shown to me, I am prepared and willing to recant.

The Council laboured to obtain recantation. To bring pressure they publicly burned his books and declared a Bohemian associate as heretical for teaching Communion in two kinds. To Prague University Hus wrote,

I, Master John Hus, in chains and in prison, now standing on the shore of this present life and expecting on the morrow a dreadful death…find no heresy in myself, and accept with all my heart any truth whatsoever that is worthy of belief.

With a paper cone on his head inscribed ‘heresiarch’ he went to the stake, 6 July 1415. Being dead, his bodily remains, stake and chains were burnt again; the heart being found separately was held on a stick over these last embers.

…To his ‘Faithful Bohemians’ Jan Hus wrote,

I am trusting that God will raise up others after me, braver men than there are to-day, who shall better reveal the wickedness of Antichrist and lay down their lives for the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will grant eternal joy both to you and to me. Amen. (pp.48-49).

What an amazing testimony! Shall we thank the Lord for raising up this godly pre-Reformer?!

By the way, you may also look for a fine article on Hus in the upcoming Standard Bearer, Nov.1, 2015 – the annual special Reformation issue. This one focuses on the Middle Ages and the pre-Reformers. Look for it soon in your mailboxes!

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