History of the Moravian Church
J. E. Hutton

Part 1 out of 9

Prepared by John Bechard, an American living in London, England
(email address: JaBBechard@aol.com).

History of the Moravian Church

by J. E. Hutton

Note from the E-text preparer: I have inserted a few notes of my own
regarding spelling (one Greek word) and the rearranging of dates
that were originally shown in the margins of the book; any of my own
adjustments or notes have been enclosed in these brackets: {} to
separate them from the original text. As well, I have renumbered
all the footnotes from their corresponding pages and set them at the
end of this document.




(Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged.)




The Bohemian Brethren. 1457-1673

CHAPTER I.--The Rising Storm
" II.--The Burning of Hus. July 6th, 1415
" III.--The Welter. 1415-1434
" IV.--Peter of Chelcic. 1419-1450
" V.--Gregory the Patriarch and the Society at Kunwald.
" VI.--Luke of Prague and the High Church Reaction. 1473-1530
" VII.--The Brethren at Home.
" VIII.--John Augusta and His Policy. 1531-1548
" IX.--The Brethren in Poland. 1548-1570
" X.--The Martyr Bishop. 1548-1560
" XI.--The Last Days of Augusta. 1560-1572
" XII.--The Golden Age. 1572-1603
" XIII.--The Letter of Majesty. 1603-1609
" XIV.--The Downfall. 1609-1621
" XV.--The Day of Blood at Prague. June 21st, 1621
" XVI.--Comenius and the Hidden Seed. 1621-1673


The Revival under Zinzendorf. 1700-1760.

CHAPTER I.--The Youth of Count Zinzendorf. 1700-1722
" II.--Christian David. 1690-1722
" III.--The Founding of Herrnhut. 1722-1727
" IV.--Life at Herrnhut
" V.--The Edict of Banishment. 1727-1736
" VI.--The Foreign Missions and their Influence. 1732-1760
" VII.--The Pilgrim Band. 1736-1743
" VIII.--The Sifting Time. 1743-1750
" IX.--Moravians and Methodists. 1735-1742
" X.--Yorkshire and the Settlement System. 1742-1755
" XI.--The Labours of John Cennick. 1739-1755
" XII.--The Appeal to Parliament. 1742-1749
" XIII.--The Battle of the Books. 1749-1755
" XIV.--The American Experiments. 1734-1762
" XV.--The Last Days of Zinzendorf. 1755-1760


The Rule of the Germans. 1760-1857.

CHAPTER I.--The Church and Her Mission; or The Three Constitutional
Synods. 1760-1775
" II.--The Fight for the Gospel; or, Moravians and
Rationalists. 1775-1800
" III.--A Fall and a Recovery. 1800-1857
" IV.--The British Collapse. 1760-1800
" V.--The British Advance. 1800-1857
" VI.--The Struggle in America. 1762-1857
" VII.--The Separation of the Provinces 1857-1899


The Modern Moravians. 1857-1908.

CHAPTER I.--Moravian Principles
" II.--The Moravians in Germany
" III.--The Moravians in Great Britain
" IV.--The Moravians in North America
" V.--Bonds of Union


For assistance in the preparation of this second edition, I desire
herewith to express my obligations to several friends:--To the late
Rev. L. G. Hassé, B.D., whose knowledge of Moravian history was
profound, and who guided me safely in many matters of detail; to the
Rev. N. Libbey, M.A., Principal of the Moravian Theological College,
Fairfield, for the loan of valuable books; to the Rev. J. T. Müller,
D.D., Archivist at Herrnhut, for revising part of the MS., and for
many helpful suggestions; to Mr. W. T. Waugh, M.A., for assistance
in correcting the proof-sheets, and for much valuable criticism; to
the members of the Moravian Governing Board, not only for the loan
of books and documents from the Fetter Lane archives, but also for
carefully reading through the MS.; to the ministers who kindly
supplied my pulpit for three months; and last, but not least, to the
members of my own congregation, who relieved me from some pastoral
duties to enable me to make good speed with my task.




The Bohemian Brethren.



When an ordinary Englishman, in the course of his reading, sees
mention made of Moravians, he thinks forthwith of a foreign land, a
foreign people and a foreign Church. He wonders who these Moravians
may be, and wonders, as a rule, in vain. We have all heard of the
Protestant Reformation; we know its principles and admire its
heroes; and the famous names of Luther, Calvin, Melancthon, Latimer,
Cranmer, Knox and other great men are familiar in our ears as
household words. But few people in this country are aware of the
fact that long before Luther had burned the Pope's bull, and long
before Cranmer died at the stake, there had begun an earlier
Reformation, and flourished a Reforming Church. It is to tell the
story of that Church--the Church of the Brethren--that this little
book is written.

For her cradle and her earliest home we turn to the distressful land
of Bohemia, and the people called Bohemians, or Czechs. To us
English readers Bohemia has many charms. As we call to mind our
days at school, we remember, in a dim and hazy way, how famous
Bohemians in days of yore have played some part in our national
story. We have sung the praises at Christmas time of the Bohemian
Monarch, "Good King Wenceslaus." We have read how John, the blind
King of Bohemia, fell mortally wounded at the Battle of Crecy, how
he died in the tent of King Edward III., and how his generous
conqueror exclaimed: "The crown of chivalry has fallen today; never
was the like of this King of Bohemia." We have all read, too, how
Richard II. married Princess Anne of Bohemia; how the Princess, so
the story goes, brought a Bohemian Bible to England; how Bohemian
scholars, a few years later, came to study at Oxford; how there they
read the writings of Wycliffe, the "Morning Star of the
Reformation"; and how, finally, copies of Wycliffe's books were
carried to Bohemia, and there gave rise to a religious revival of
world-wide importance. We have struck the trail of our journey.
For one person that Wycliffe stirred in England, he stirred
hundreds in Bohemia. In England his influence was fleeting; in
Bohemia it was deep and abiding. In England his followers were
speedily suppressed by law; in Bohemia they became a great national
force, and prepared the way for the foundation of the Church of the

For this startling fact there was a very powerful reason. In many
ways the history of Bohemia is very like the history of Ireland, and
the best way to understand the character of the people is to think
of our Irish friends as we know them to-day. They sprang from the
old Slavonic stock, and the Slavonic is very like the Keltic in
nature. They had fiery Slavonic blood in their veins, and Slavonic
hearts beat high with hope in their bosoms. They had all the
delightful Slavonic zeal, the Slavonic dash, the Slavonic
imagination. They were easy to stir, they were swift in action,
they were witty in speech, they were mystic and poetic in soul, and,
like the Irish of the present day, they revelled in the joy of party
politics, and discussed religious questions with the keenest zest.
With them religion came first and foremost. All their poetry was
religious; all their legends were religious; and thus the message of
Wycliffe fell on hearts prepared to give it a kindly welcome.

Again, Bohemia, like Ireland, was the home of two rival populations.
The one was the native Czech, the other was the intruding German;
and the two had not yet learned to love each other. From all sides
except one these German invaders had come. If the reader will
consult a map of Europe he will see that, except on the south-east
frontier, where the sister country, Moravia, lies, Bohemia is
surrounded by German-speaking States. On the north-east is Silesia,
on the north-west Saxony, on the west Bavaria and the Upper
Palatinate, and thus Bohemia was flooded with Germans from three
sides at once. For years these Germans had been increasing in
power, and the whole early history of Bohemia is one dreary
succession of bloody wars against German Emperors and Kings.
Sometimes the land had been ravaged by German soldiers, sometimes a
German King had sat on the Bohemian throne. But now the German
settlers in Bohemia had become more powerful than ever. They had
settled in large numbers in the city of Prague, and had there
obtained special privileges for themselves. They had introduced
hundreds of German clergymen, who preached in the German language.
They had married their daughters into noble Bohemian families.
They had tried to make German the language of the court, had spoken
with contempt of the Bohemian language, and had said that it was
only fit for slaves. They had introduced German laws into many a
town, and German customs into family life; and, worse than all, they
had overwhelming power in that pride of the country, the University
of Prague. For these Germans the hatred of the people was intense.
"It is better," said one of their popular writers, "for the land to
be a desert than to be held by Germans; it is better to marry a
Bohemian peasant girl than to marry a German queen." And Judas
Iscariot himself, said a popular poet, was in all probability a

Again, as in Ireland, these national feuds were mixed up with
religious differences. The seeds of future strife were early sown.
Christianity came from two opposite sources. On the one hand, two
preachers, Cyril and Methodius, had come from the Greek Church in
Constantinople, had received the blessing of the Pope, and had
preached to the people in the Bohemian language; on the other, the
German Archbishop of Salzburg had brought in hosts of German
priests, and had tried in vain to persuade the Pope to condemn the
two preachers as heretics. And the people loved the Bohemian
preachers, and hated the German priests. The old feud was raging
still. If the preacher spoke in German, he was hated; if he spoke
in Bohemian, he was beloved; and Gregory VII. had made matters worse
by forbidding preaching in the language of the people.

The result can be imagined. It is admitted now by all
historians--Catholic and Protestant alike--that about the time when
our story opens the Church in Bohemia had lost her hold upon the
affections of the people. It is admitted that sermons the people
could understand were rare. It is admitted that the Bible was known
to few, that the services held in the parish churches had become
mere senseless shows, and that most of the clergy never preached at
all. No longer were the clergy examples to their flocks. They
hunted, they gambled, they caroused, they committed adultery, and
the suggestion was actually solemnly made that they should be
provided with concubines.

For some years a number of pious teachers had made gallant but vain
attempts to cleanse the stables. The first was Conrad of
Waldhausen, an Augustinian Friar (1364-9). As this man was a German
and spoke in German, it is not likely that he had much effect on the
common people, but he created quite a sensation in Prague, denounced
alike the vices of the clergy and the idle habits of the rich,
persuaded the ladies of high degree to give up their fine dresses
and jewels, and even caused certain well-known sinners to come and
do penance in public.

The next was Milic of Kremsir (1363-74). He was a Bohemian, and
preached in the Bohemian language. His whole life was one of noble
self-sacrifice. For the sake of the poor he renounced his position
as Canon, and devoted himself entirely to good works. He rescued
thousands of fallen women, and built them a number of homes. He was
so disgusted with the evils of his days that he thought the end of
the world was close at hand, declared that the Emperor, Charles IV.,
was Anti-Christ, went to Rome to expound his views to the Pope, and
posted up a notice on the door of St. Peter's, declaring that
Anti-Christ had come.

The next was that beautiful writer, Thomas of Stitny (1370-1401).
He exalted the Holy Scriptures as the standard of faith, wrote
several beautiful devotional books, and denounced the immorality of
the monks. "They have fallen away from love," he said; "they have
not the peace of God in their hearts; they quarrel, condemn and
fight each other; they have forsaken God for money."

In some ways these three Reformers were all alike. They were all
men of lofty character; they all attacked the vices of the clergy
and the luxury of the rich; and they were all loyal to the Church of
Rome, and looked to the Pope to carry out the needed reform.

But the next Reformer, Matthew of Janow, carried the movement
further (1381-93). The cause was the famous schism in the Papacy.
For the long period of nearly forty years (1378-1415) the whole
Catholic world was shocked by the scandal of two, and sometimes
three, rival Popes, who spent their time abusing and fighting each
other. As long as this schism lasted it was hard for men to look up
to the Pope as a true spiritual guide. How could men call the Pope
the Head of the Church when no one knew which was the true Pope?
How could men respect the Popes when some of the Popes were men of
bad moral character? Pope Urban VI. was a ferocious brute, who had
five of his enemies secretly murdered; Pope Clement VII., his clever
rival, was a scheming politician; and Pope John XXIII. was a man
whose character will scarcely bear describing in print. Of all the
scandals in the Catholic Church, this disgraceful quarrel between
rival Popes did most to upset the minds of good men and to prepare
the way for the Reformation. It aroused the scorn of John Wycliffe
in England, and of Matthew of Janow in Bohemia. "This schism," he
wrote, "has not arisen because the priests loved Jesus Christ and
His Church, but rather because they loved themselves and the world."

But Matthew went even further than this. As he did not attack any
Catholic dogma--except the worship of pictures and images--it has
been contended by some writers that he was not so very radical in
his views after all; but the whole tone of his writings shows that
he had lost his confidence in the Catholic Church, and desired to
revive the simple Christianity of Christ and the Apostles. "I
consider it essential," he wrote, "to root out all weeds, to restore
the word of God on earth, to bring back the Church of Christ to its
original, healthy, condensed condition, and to keep only such
regulations as date from the time of the Apostles." "All the works
of men," he added, "their ceremonies and traditions, shall soon be
totally destroyed; the Lord Jesus shall alone be exalted, and His
Word shall stand for ever." Back to Christ! Back to the Apostles!
Such was the message of Matthew of Janow.

At this point, when the minds of men were stirred, the writings of
Wycliffe were brought to Bohemia, and added fuel to the fire. He
had asserted that the Pope was capable of committing a sin. He had
declared that the Pope was not to be obeyed unless his commands were
in accordance with Scripture, and thus had placed the authority of
the Bible above the authority of the Pope. He had attacked the
Doctrine of Transubstantiation, and had thus denied the power of the
priests "to make the Body of Christ." Above all, in his volume, "De
Ecclesia," he had denounced the whole Catholic sacerdotal system,
and had laid down the Protestant doctrine that men could come into
contact with God without the aid of priests. Thus step by step the
way was prepared for the coming revolution in Bohemia. There was
strong patriotic national feeling; there was hatred of the German
priests; there was a growing love for the Bible; there was lack of
respect for the immoral clergy, and lack of belief in the Popes;
there was a vague desire to return to Primitive Christianity; and
all that was needed now was a man to gather these straggling beams
together, and focus them all in one white burning light.



On Saturday, July 6th, 1415, there was great excitement in the city
of Constance. For the last half-year the city had presented a
brilliant and gorgeous scene. The great Catholic Council of
Constance had met at last. From all parts of the Western World
distinguished men had come. The streets were a blaze of colour.
The Cardinals rode by in their scarlet hats; the monks in their
cowls were telling their beads; the revellers sipped their wine and
sang; and the rumbling carts from the country-side bore bottles of
wine, cheeses, butter, honey, venison, cakes and fine confections.
King Sigismund was there in all his pride, his flaxen hair falling
in curls about his shoulders; there were a thousand Bishops, over
two thousand Doctors and Masters, about two thousand Counts, Barons
and Knights, vast hosts of Dukes, Princes and Ambassadors--in all
over 50,000 strangers.

And now, after months of hot debate, the Council met in the great
Cathedral to settle once for all the question, What to do with John
Hus? King Sigismund sat on the throne, Princes flanking him on
either side. In the middle of the Cathedral floor was a scaffold;
on the scaffold a table and a block of wood; on the block of wood
some priestly robes. The Mass was said. John Hus was led in. He
mounted the scaffold. He breathed a prayer. The awful proceedings

But why was John Hus there? What had he done to offend both Pope
and Emperor? For the last twelve years John Hus had been the
boldest reformer, the finest preacher, the most fiery patriot, the
most powerful writer, and the most popular hero in Bohemia. At
first he was nothing more than a child of his times. He was born on
July 6th, 1369, in a humble cottage at Husinec, in South Bohemia;
earned coppers in his youth, like Luther, by chanting hymns; studied
at Prague University; and entered the ministry, not because he
wanted to do good, but because he wanted to enjoy a comfortable
living. He began, of course, as an orthodox Catholic. He was
Rector first of Prague University, and then of the Bethlehem Chapel,
which had been built by John of Milheim for services in the Bohemian
language. For some years he confined himself almost entirely, like
Milic and Stitny before him, to preaching of an almost purely moral
character. He attacked the sins and vices of all classes; he spoke
in the Bohemian language, and the Bethlehem Chapel was packed. He
began by attacking the vices of the idle rich. A noble lady
complained to the King. The King told the Archbishop of Prague that
he must warn Hus to be more cautious in his language.

"No, your Majesty," replied the Archbishop, "Hus is bound by his
ordination oath to speak the truth without respect of persons."

John Hus went on to attack the vices of the clergy. The Archbishop
now complained to the King. He admitted that the clergy were in need
of improvement, but he thought that Hus's language was rash, and
would do more harm than good. "Nay," said the King, "that will not
do. Hus is bound by his ordination oath to speak the truth without
respect of persons."

And Hus continued his attacks. His preaching had two results. It
fanned the people's desire for reform, and it taught them to despise
the clergy more than ever.

At the same time, when opportunity offered, John Hus made a practice
of preaching on the burning topics of the day; and the most popular
topic then was the detested power of Germans in Bohemia. German
soldiers ravaged the land; German nobles held offices of state; and
German scholars, in Prague University, had three-fourths of the
voting power. The Bohemian people were furious. John Hus fanned
the flame. "We Bohemians," he declared in a fiery sermon, "are more
wretched than dogs or snakes. A dog defends the couch on which he
lies. If another dog tries to drive him off, he fights him. A
snake does the same. But us the Germans oppress. They seize the
offices of state, and we are dumb. In France the French are
foremost. In Germany the Germans are foremost. What use would a
Bohemian bishop or priest, who did not know the German language, be
in Germany? He would be as useful as a dumb dog, who cannot bark,
to a flock of sheep. Of exactly the same use are German priests to
us. It is against the law of God! I pronounce it illegal." At
last a regulation was made by King Wenceslaus that the Bohemians
should be more fairly represented at Prague University. They had
now three votes out of four. John Hus was credited by the people
with bringing about the change. He became more popular than ever.

If Hus had only halted here, it is probable that he would have been
allowed to die in peace in his bed in a good old age, and his name
would be found enrolled to-day in the long list of Catholic saints.
However wicked the clergy may have been, they could hardly call a
man a heretic for telling them plainly about the blots in their
lives. But Hus soon stepped outside these narrow bounds. The more
closely he studied the works of Wycliffe, the more convinced he
became that, on the whole, the great English Reformer was right; and
before long, in the boldest possible way, he began to preach
Wycliffe's doctrines in his sermons, and to publish them in his
books. He knew precisely what he was doing. He knew that
Wycliffe's doctrines had been condemned by the English Church
Council at Black-Friars. He knew that these very same doctrines had
been condemned at a meeting of the Prague University Masters. He
knew that no fewer than two hundred volumes of Wycliffe's works had
been publicly burned at Prague, in the courtyard of the Archbishop's
Palace. He knew, in a word, that Wycliffe was regarded as a
heretic; and yet he deliberately defended Wycliffe's teaching. It
is this that justifies us in calling him a Protestant, and this that
caused the Catholics to call him a heretic.

John Hus, moreover, knew what the end would be. If he stood to his
guns they would burn him, and burned he longed to be. The
Archbishop forbade him to preach in the Bethlehem Chapel. John Hus,
defiant, went on preaching. At one service he actually read to the
people a letter he had received from Richard Wyche, one of
Wycliffe's followers. As the years rolled on he became more
"heterodox" than ever. At this period there were still two rival
Popes, and the great question arose in Bohemia which Pope the clergy
there were to recognise. John Hus refused to recognise either. At
last one of the rival Popes, the immoral John XXIII., sent a number
of preachers to Prague on a very remarkable errand. He wanted money
to raise an army to go to war with the King of Naples; the King of
Naples had supported the other Pope, Gregory XII., and now Pope John
sent his preachers to Prague to sell indulgences at popular prices.
They entered the city preceded by drummers, and posted themselves
in the market place. They had a curious message to deliver. If the
good people, said they, would buy these indulgences, they would be
doing two good things: they would obtain the full forgiveness of
their sins, and support the one lawful Pope in his holy campaign.
John Hus was hot with anger. What vulgar traffic in holy things
was this? He believed neither in Pope John nor in his indulgences.

"Let who will," he thundered, "proclaim the contrary; let the Pope,
or a Bishop, or a Priest say, 'I forgive thee thy sins; I free thee
from the pains of Hell.' It is all vain, and helps thee nothing.
God alone, I repeat, can forgive sins through Christ."

The excitement in Prague was furious. From this moment onwards Hus
became the leader of a national religious movement. The preachers
went on selling indulgences {1409.}. At one and the same time, in
three different churches, three young artisans sang out: "Priest,
thou liest! The indulgences are a fraud." For this crime the three
young men were beheaded in a corner near Green Street. Fond
women--sentimental, as usual--dipped their handkerchiefs in the
blood of the martyrs, and a noble lady spread fine linen over their
corpses. The University students picked up the gauntlet. They
seized the bodies of the three young men, and carried them to be
buried in the Bethlehem Chapel. At the head of the procession was
Hus himself, and Hus conducted the funeral. The whole city was in
an uproar.

As the life of Hus was now in danger, and his presence in the city
might lead to riots, he retired for a while from Prague to the
castle of Kradonec, in the country; and there, besides preaching to
vast crowds in the fields, he wrote the two books which did the most
to bring him to the stake. The first was his treatise "On Traffic
in Holy Things"; the second his great, elaborate work, "The
Church."1 In the first he denounced the sale of indulgences, and
declared that even the Pope himself could be guilty of the sin of
simony. In the second, following Wycliffe's lead, he criticised the
whole orthodox conception of the day of the "Holy Catholic Church."
What was, asked Hus, the true Church of Christ? According to the
popular ideas of the day, the true Church of Christ was a visible
body of men on this earth. Its head was the Pope; its officers were
the cardinals, the bishops, the priests, and other ecclesiastics;
and its members were those who had been baptized and who kept true
to the orthodox faith. The idea of Hus was different. His
conception of the nature of the true Church was very similar to that
held by many Non-conformists of to-day. He was a great believer in
predestination. All men, he said, from Adam onwards, were divided
into two classes: first, those predestined by God to eternal bliss;
second, those fore-doomed to eternal damnation. The true Church of
Christ consisted of those predestined to eternal bliss, and no one
but God Himself knew to which class any man belonged. From this
position a remarkable consequence followed. For anything the Pope
knew to the contrary, he might belong himself to the number of the
damned. He could not, therefore, be the true Head of the Church; he
could not be the Vicar of Christ; and the only Head of the Church
was Christ Himself. The same argument applied to Cardinals, Bishops
and Priests. For anything he knew to the contrary, any Cardinal,
Bishop or Priest in the Church might belong to the number of the
damned; he might be a servant, not of Christ, but of Anti-Christ;
and, therefore, said Hus, it was utterly absurd to look to men of
such doubtful character as infallible spiritual guides. What right,
asked Hus, had the Pope to claim the "power of the keys?" What
right had the Pope to say who might be admitted to the Church? He
had no right, as Pope, at all. Some of the Popes were heretics;
some of the clergy were villains, foredoomed to torment in Hell;
and, therefore, all in search of the truth must turn, not to the
Pope and the clergy, but to the Bible and the law of Christ. God
alone had the power of the keys; God alone must be obeyed; and the
Holy Catholic Church consisted, not of the Pope, the Cardinals, the
Priests, and so many baptized members, but "of all those that had
been chosen by God." It is hard to imagine a doctrine more
Protestant than this. It struck at the root of the whole Papal
conception. It undermined the authority of the Catholic Church, and
no one could say to what, ere long, it might lead. It was time,
said many, to take decisive action.

For this purpose Sigismund, King of the Romans and of Hungary,
persuaded Pope John XXIII. to summon a general Church Council at
Constance; and at the same time he invited Hus to attend the Council
in person, and there expound his views. John Hus set out for
Constance. As soon as he arrived in the city, he received from
Sigismund that famous letter of "safe conduct" on which whole
volumes have been written. The King's promise was as clear as day.
He promised Hus, in the plainest terms, three things: first, that
he should come unharmed to the city; second, that he should have a
free hearing; and third, that if he did not submit to the decision
of the Council he should be allowed to go home. Of those promises
only the first was ever fulfilled. John Hus soon found himself
caught in a trap. He was imprisoned by order of the Pope. He was
placed in a dungeon on an island in the Rhine, and lay next to a
sewer; and Sigismund either would not or could not lift a finger to
help him. For three and a-half mouths he lay in his dungeon; and
then he was removed to the draughty tower of a castle on Lake
Geneva. His opinions were examined and condemned by the Council;
and at last, when he was called to appear in person, he found that
he had been condemned as a heretic already. As soon as he opened
his month to speak he was interrupted; and when he closed it they
roared, "He has admitted his guilt." He had one chance of life, and
one chance only. He must recant his heretical Wycliffite opinions,
especially those set forth in his treatise on the "Church." What
need, said the Council, could there be of any further trial? The
man was a heretic. His own books convicted him, and justice must be

And now, on the last day of the trial, John Hus stood before the
great Council. The scene was appalling. For some weeks this
gallant son of the morning had been tormented by neuralgia. The
marks of suffering were on his brow. His face was pale; his cheeks
were sunken; his limbs were weak and trembling. But his eye flashed
with a holy fire, and his words rang clear and true. Around him
gleamed the purple and gold and the scarlet robes. Before him sat
King Sigismund on the throne. The two men looked each other in the
face. As the articles were rapidly read out against him, John Hus
endeavoured to speak in his own defence. He was told to hold his
tongue. Let him answer the charges all at once at the close.

"How can I do that," said Hus, "when I cannot even bear them all in

He made another attempt.

"Hold your tongue," said Cardinal Zabarella; "we have already given
you a sufficient hearing."

With clasped hands, and in ringing tones, Hus begged in vain for a
hearing. Again he was told to hold his peace, and silently he
raised his eyes to heaven in prayer. He was accused of denying the
Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. He sprang to his feet in
anger. Zabarella tried to shout him down. The voice of Hus rang
out above the babel.

"I have never held, taught or preached," he cried, "that in the
sacrament of the altar material bread remains after consecration."

The trial was short and sharp. The verdict had been given
beforehand. He was now accused of another horrible crime. He had
actually described himself as the fourth person in the Godhead! The
charge was monstrous.

"Let that doctor be named," said Hus, "who has given this evidence
against me."

But the name of his false accuser was never given. He was now
accused of a still more dangerous error. He had appealed to God
instead of appealing to the Church.

"O Lord God," he exclaimed, "this Council now condemns Thy action
and law as an error! I affirm that there is no safer appeal than
that to the Lord Jesus Christ."

With those brave words he signed his own death warrant. For all his
orthodoxy on certain points, he made it clearer now than ever that
he set the authority of his own conscience above the authority of
the Council; and, therefore, according to the standard of the day,
he had to be treated as a heretic.

"Moreover," he said, with his eye on the King, "I came here freely
to this Council, with a safe-conduct from my Lord the King here
present, with the desire to prove my innocence and to explain my

At those words, said the story in later years, King Sigismund
blushed. If he did, the blush is the most famous in the annals of
history; if he did not, some think he ought to have done. For Hus
the last ordeal had now arrived; and the Bishop of Concordia, in
solemn tones, read out the dreadful articles of condemnation. For
heretics the Church had then but little mercy. His books were all
to be burned; his priestly office must be taken from him; and he
himself, expelled from the Church, must be handed over to the civil
power. In vain, with a last appeal for justice, he protested that
he had never been obstinate in error. In vain he contended that his
proud accusers had not even taken the trouble to read some of his
books. As the sentence against himself was read, and the vision of
death rose up before him, he fell once more on his knees and prayed,
not for himself, but for his enemies.

"Lord Jesus Christ," he said, "pardon all my enemies, I pray thee,
for the sake of Thy great mercy! Thou knowest that they have
falsely accused me, brought forward false witnesses and false
articles against me. O! pardon them for Thine infinite mercies'

At this beautiful prayer the priests and bishops jeered. He was
ordered now to mount the scaffold, to put on the priestly garments,
and to recant his heretical opinions. The first two commands he
obeyed; the third he treated with scorn. As he drew the alb over
his shoulders, he appealed once more to Christ.

"My Lord Jesus Christ," he said, "was mocked in a white robe, when
led from Herod to Pilate."

There on the scaffold he stood, with his long white robe upon him
and the Communion Cup in his hand; and there, in immortal burning
words, he refused to recant a single word that he had written.

"Behold," he cried, "these Bishops demand that I recant and abjure.
I dare not do it. If I did, I should be false to God, and sin
against my conscience and Divine truth."

The Bishops were furious. They swarmed around him. They snatched
the Cup from his hand.

"Thou cursed Judas!" they roared. "Thou hast forsaken the council of
peace. Thou hast become one of the Jews. We take from thee this Cup
of Salvation."

"But I trust," replied Hus, "in God Almighty, and shall drink this
Cup this day in His Kingdom."

The ceremony of degradation now took place. As soon as his robes
had been taken from him, the Bishops began a hot discussion about
the proper way of cutting his hair. Some clamoured for a razor,
others were all for scissors.

"See," said Hus to the King, "these Bishops cannot agree in their

At last the scissors won the victory. His tonsure was cut in four
directions, and a fool's cap, a yard high, with a picture of devils
tearing his soul, was placed upon that hero's head.

"So," said the Bishops, "we deliver your soul to the devil."

"Most joyfully," said Hus, "will I wear this crown of shame for thy
sake, O Jesus! who for me didst wear a crown of thorns."

"Go, take him," said the King. And Hus was led to his death. As he
passed along he saw the bonfire in which his books were being
burned. He smiled. Along the streets of the city he strode, with
fetters clanking on his feet, a thousand soldiers for his escort,
and crowds of admirers surging on every hand. Full soon the fatal
spot was reached. It was a quiet meadow among the gardens, outside
the city gates. At the stake he knelt once more in prayer, and the
fool's cap fell from his head. Again he smiled. It ought to be
burned along with him, said a watcher, that he and the devils might
be together. He was bound to the stake with seven moist thongs and
an old rusty chain, and faggots of wood and straw were piled round
him to the chin. For the last time the Marshal approached to give
him a fair chance of abjuring.

"What errors," he retorted, "shall I renounce? I know myself guilty
of none. I call God to witness that all that I have written and
preached has been with the view of rescuing souls from sin and
perdition, and therefore most joyfully will I confirm with my blood
the truth I have written and preached."

As the flame arose and the wood crackled, he chanted the Catholic
burial prayer, "Jesu, Son of David, have mercy upon me." From the
west a gentle breeze was blowing, and a gust dashed the smoke and
sparks in his face. At the words "Who was born of the Virgin Mary"
he ceased; his lips moved faintly in silent prayer; and a few
moments later the martyr breathed no more. At last the cruel fire
died down, and the soldiers wrenched his remains from the post,
hacked his skull in pieces, and ground his bones to powder. As they
prodded about among the glowing embers to see how much of Hus was
left, they found, to their surprise, that his heart was still
unburned. One fixed it on the point of his spear, thrust it back
into the fire, and watched it frizzle away; and finally, by the
Marshal's orders, they gathered all the ashes together, and tossed
them into the Rhine.

He had died, says a Catholic writer, for the noblest of all causes.
He had died for the faith which he believed to be true.


THE WELTER, 1415-1434.

The excitement in Bohemia was intense. As the ashes of Hus floated
down the Rhine, the news of his death spread over the civilized
world, and in every Bohemian town and hamlet the people felt that
their greatest man had been unjustly murdered. He had become the
national hero and the national saint, and now the people swore to
avenge his death. A Hussite League was formed by his followers, a
Catholic League was formed by his enemies. The Hussite Wars began.
It is important to note with exactness what took place. As we
study the history of men and nations, we are apt to fancy that the
rank and file of a country can easily be united in one by common
adherence to a common cause. It is not so. For one man who will
steadily follow a principle, there are hundreds who would rather
follow a leader. As long as Hus was alive in the flesh, he was able
to command the loyalty of the people; but now that his tongue was
silent for ever, his followers split into many contending factions.
For all his eloquence he had never been able to strike one clear
commanding note. In some of his views he was a Catholic, in others
a Protestant. To some he was merely the fiery patriot, to others
the champion of Church Reform, to others the high-souled moral
teacher, to others the enemy of the Pope. If the people had only
been united they might now have gained their long-lost freedom. But
unity was the very quality they lacked the most. They had no clear
notion of what they wanted; they had no definite scheme of church
reform; they had no great leader to show them the way through the
jungle, and thus, instead of closing their ranks against the common
foe, they split up into jangling sects and parties, and made the
confusion worse confounded.

First in rank and first in power came the Utraquists or Calixtines.2
For some reason these men laid all the stress on a doctrine taught
by Hus in his later years. As he lay in his gloomy dungeon near
Constance, he had written letters contending that laymen should be
permitted to take the wine at the Communion. For this doctrine the
Utraquists now fought tooth and nail. They emblazoned the Cup on
their banners. They were the aristocrats of the movement; they were
led by the University dons; they were political rather than
religious in their aims; they regarded Hus as a patriot; and, on the
whole, they did not care much for moral and spiritual reforms.

Next came the Taborites, the red-hot Radicals, with Socialist ideas
of property and loose ideals of morals. They built themselves a
fort on Mount Tabor, and held great open-air meetings. They
rejected purgatory, masses and the worship of saints. They
condemned incense, images, bells, relics and fasting. They declared
that priests were an unnecessary nuisance. They celebrated the Holy
Communion in barns, and baptized their babies in ponds and brooks.
They held that every man had the right to his own interpretation of
the Bible; they despised learning and art; and they revelled in
pulling churches down and burning monks to death.

Next came the Chiliasts, who fondly believed that the end of all
things was at hand, that the millennial reign of Christ would soon
begin, and that all the righteous--that is, they themselves--would
have to hold the world at bay in Five Cities of Refuge. For some
years these mad fanatics regarded themselves as the chosen
instruments of the Divine displeasure, and only awaited a signal
from heaven to commence a general massacre of their fellow men. As
that signal never came, however, they were grievously disappointed.

Next in folly came the Adamites, so called because, in shameless
wise, they dressed like Adam and Eve before the fall. They made
their head-quarters on an island on the River Nesarka, and survived
even after Ziska had destroyed their camp.

But of all the heretical bodies in Bohemia the most influential were
the Waldenses. As the history of the Waldenses is still obscure, we
cannot say for certain what views they held when they first came
from Italy some fifty or sixty years before. At first they seem to
have been almost Catholics, but as the Hussite Wars went on they
fell, it is said, under the influence of the Taborites, and adopted
many radical Taborite opinions. They held that prayer should be
addressed, not to the Virgin Mary and the Saints, but to God alone,
and spoke with scorn of the popular doctrine that the Virgin in
heaven showed her breast when interceding for sinners. As they did
not wish to create a disturbance, they attended the public services
of the Church of Rome; but they did not believe in those services
themselves, and are said to have employed their time at Church in
picking holes in the logic of the speaker. They believed neither in
building churches, nor in saying masses, nor in the adoration of
pictures, nor in the singing of hymns at public worship. For all
practical intents and purposes they rejected entirely the orthodox
Catholic distinction between things secular and things sacred, and
held that a man could worship God just as well in a field as in a
church, and that it did not matter in the least whether a man's body
was buried in consecrated or unconsecrated ground. What use, they
asked, were holy water, holy oil, holy palms, roots, crosses, holy
splinters from the Cross of Christ? They rejected the doctrine of
purgatory, and said that all men must go either to heaven or to
hell. They rejected the doctrine of Transubstantiation, and said
that the wine and bread remained wine and bread. For us, however,
the chief point of interest lies in the attitude they adopted
towards the priests of the Church of Rome. At that time there was
spread all over Europe a legend that the Emperor, Constantine the
Great, had made a so-called "Donation" to Pope Sylvester; and the
Waldenses held that the Church of Rome, by thus consenting to be
endowed by the State, had become morally corrupt, and no longer
possessed the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. For this reason they
utterly despised the Roman priests; and contended that, being
worldly men of bad character, they were qualified neither to
administer the sacraments nor to hear confessions. At this point we
lay our finger on the principle which led to the foundation of the
Moravian Church. What ideal, we ask, did the Waldenses now set
before them? We can answer the question in a sentence. The whole
object the Waldenses had now in view was to return to the simple
teaching of Christ and the Apostles. They wished to revive what
they regarded as true primitive Christianity. For this reason they
brushed aside with scorn the bulls of Popes and the decrees of
Councils, and appealed to the command of the New Testament
Scriptures. For them the law of Christ was supreme and final; and,
appealing to His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, they declared
that oaths were wicked, and that war was no better than murder. If
the law of Christ were obeyed, said they, what need would there be
of government? How long they had held these views we do not know.
Some think they had held them for centuries; some think they had
learned them recently from the Taborites. If scholars insist on
this latter view, we are forced back on the further question: Where
did the Taborites get their advanced opinions? If the Taborites
taught the Waldenses, who taught the Taborites? We do not know.
For the present all we call say is that the Waldenses in a quiet
way were fast becoming a mighty force in the country. They
addressed each other as brother and sister; they are said to have
had their own translations of the Bible; they claimed a descent from
the Apostles; and they are even held by some (though here we tread
on very thin ice) to have possessed their own episcopal succession.

But the method of the Taborites was different. If the Kingdom of
God was to come at all, it must come, they held, by force, by fire,
by the sword, by pillage and by famine. What need to tell here the
blood-curdling story of the Hussite Wars? What need to tell here
how Pope Martin V. summoned the whole Catholic world to a grand
crusade against the Bohemian people? What need to tell how the
people of Prague attacked the Town Hall, and pitched the burgomaster
and several aldermen out of the windows? For twenty years the whole
land was one boiling welter of confusion; and John Ziska, the famous
blind general, took the lead of the Taborite army, and, standing on
a wagon, with the banner above him emblazoned with the Hussite Cup,
he swept the country from end to end like a devouring prairie fire.
It is held now by military experts that Ziska was the greatest
military genius of the age. If military genius could have saved
Bohemia, Bohemia would now have been saved. For some years he
managed to hold at bay the finest chivalry of Europe; and he
certainly saved the Hussite cause from being crushed in its birth.
For faith and freedom he fought--the faith of Hus and the freedom
of Bohemia. He formed the rough Bohemian peasantry into a
disciplined army. He armed his men with lances, slings,
iron-pointed flails and clubs. He formed his barricades of
iron-clad wagons, and whirled them in murderous mazes round the
field. He made a special study of gunpowder, and taught his men the
art of shooting straight. He has often been compared to Oliver
Cromwell, and like our Oliver he was in many ways. He was stern in
dealing with his enemies, and once had fifty Adamites burned to
death. He was sure that God was on his side in the war. "Be it
known," he wrote to his supporters, "that we are collecting men from
all parts of the country against these enemies of God and
devastators of our Bohemian land." He composed a stirring battle
song, and taught his men to sing it in chorus when they marched to
meet the foe.

Therefore, manfully cry out:
"At them! rush at them."
Wield bravely your arms!
Pray to your Lord God.
Strike and kill! spare none!

What a combination of piety and fury! It was all in vain. The
great general died of a fever. The thunderbolt fell. At a meeting
in Prague the Utraquists and Catholics at last came to terms, and
drew up a compromise known as the "Compactata of Basle" (1433). For
nearly two hundred years after this these "Compactata" were regarded
as the law of the land; and the Utraquist Church was recognised by
the Pope as the national self-governing Church of Bohemia. The
terms of the Compactata were four in number. The Communion was to
be given to laymen in both kinds; all mortal sins were to be
punished by the proper authorities; the Word of God was to be freely
preached by faithful priests and deacons; and no priests were to
have any worldly possessions. For practical purposes this agreement
meant the defeat of the advanced reforming movement. One point the
Utraquists had gained, and one alone; they were allowed to take the
wine at the Communion. For the rest these Utraquist followers of
Hus were as Catholic as the Pope himself. They adored the Host,
read the masses, kept the fasts, and said the prayers as their
fathers had done before them. From that moment the fate of the
Taborite party was sealed. At the battle of Lipan they were
defeated, routed, crushed out of existence. {1434}. The battle
became a massacre. The slaughter continued all the night and part
of the following day, and hundreds were burned to death in their

Was this to be the end of Hus's strivings? What was it in Hus that
was destined to survive? What was it that worked like a silent
leaven amid the clamours of war? We shall see. Amid these charred
and smoking ruins the Moravian Church arose.


PETER OF CHELCIC, 1419-1450.

Meanwhile a mighty prophet had arisen, with a clear and startling
message. His name was Peter, and he lived down south, in the little
village of Chelcic.3 As the historian rummages among the ancient
records, he discovers to his sorrow that scarcely anything is known
of the life of this great man; but, on the other hand, it is a joy
to know that while his story is wrapped in mystery, his teaching has
been preserved, and that some of the wonderful books he wrote are
treasured still in his native land as gems of Bohemian literature.
In later years it was commonly said that he began life as a
cobbler; but that story, at least, may be dismissed as a legend. He
enlisted, we are told, in the army. He then discovered that a
soldier's life was wicked; he then thought of entering a monastery,
but was shocked by what he heard of the immoralities committed
within the holy walls; and finally, having some means of his own,
retired to his little estate at Chelcic, and spent his time in
writing pamphlets about the troubles of his country. He had picked
up a smattering of education in Prague. He had studied the writings
of Wycliffe and of Hus, and often appealed to Wycliffe in his works.
He could quote, when he liked, from the great Church Fathers. He
had a fair working knowledge of the Bible; and, above all, he had
the teaching of Christ and the Apostles engraved upon his conscience
and his heart. As he was not a priest, he could afford to be
independent; as he knew but little Latin, he wrote in Bohemian; and
thus, like Stitny and Hus before him, he appealed to the people in
language they could all understand. Of all the leaders of men in
Bohemia, this Peter was the most original and daring. As he
pondered on the woes of his native land, he came to the firm but sad
conclusion that the whole system of religion and politics was rotten
to the core. Not one of the jangling sects was in the right. Not
one was true to the spirit of Christ. Not one was free from the
dark red stain of murder. His chief works were his Net of Faith,
his Reply to Nicholas of Pilgram, his Reply to Rockycana, his Image
of the Beast, his theological treatise On the Body of Christ, his
tract The Foundation of Worldly Laws, his devotional commentary,
Exposition of the Passion according to St. John, and, last, though
not least, his volume of discourses on the Gospel lessons for the
year, entitled Postillia. Of these works the most famous was his
masterly Net of Faith. He explained the title himself. "Through His
disciples," said Peter, "Christ caught the world in the net of His
faith, but the bigger fishes, breaking the net, escaped. Then
others followed through these same holes made by the big fishes, and
the net was left almost empty." His meaning was clear to all. The
net was the true Church of Christ; the two whales who broke it were
the Emperor and the Pope; the big fishes were the mighty "learned
persons, heretics and offenders"; and the little fishes were the
true followers of Christ.

He opened his bold campaign in dramatic style. When John Ziska and
Nicholas of Husinec declared at Prague that the time had come for
the faithful to take up arms in their own defence, Peter was present
at the debate, and contended that for Christians war was a crime.

"What is war?" he asked. "It is a breach of the laws of God! All
soldiers are violent men, murderers, a godless mob!"

He hated war like a Quaker, and soldiers like Tolstoy himself. He
regarded the terrible Hussite Wars as a disgrace to both sides. As
the fiery Ziska swept the land with his waggons, this Apostle of
peace was sick with horror. "Where," he asked, in his Reply to
Rockycana, "has God recalled His commands, 'Thou shalt not kill,'
'Thou shalt not steal,' 'Thou shalt not take thy neighbour's goods'?
If God has not repealed these commands, they ought still to be
obeyed to-day in Prague and Tabor. I have learned from Christ, and
by Christ I stand; and if the Apostle Peter himself were to come
down from Heaven and say that it was right for us to take up arms to
defend the truth, I should not believe him."

For Peter the teaching of Christ and the Apostles was enough. It
was supreme, final, perfect. If a king made a new law, he was
spoiling the teaching of Christ. If the Pope issued a bull, he was
spoiling the teaching of Christ. If a Council of Bishops drew up a
decree, they were spoiling the teaching of Christ. As God, said
Peter, had revealed His will to full perfection in Jesus Christ,
there was no need for laws made by men. "Is the law of God
sufficient, without worldly laws, to guide and direct us in the path
of the true Christian religion? With trembling, I answer, it is.
It was sufficient for Christ Himself, and it was sufficient for His
disciples." And, therefore, the duty of all true Christians was as
clear as the noon-day sun. He never said that Christian people
should break the law of the land. He admitted that God might use
the law for good purposes; and therefore, as Christ had submitted to
Pilate, so Christians must submit to Government. But there their
connection with Government must end. For heathens the State was a
necessary evil; for Christians it was an unclean thing, and the less
they had to do with it the better. They must never allow the State
to interfere in matters within the Church. They must never drag
each other before the law courts. They must never act as judges or
magistrates. They must never take any part whatever in municipal or
national government. They must never, if possible, live in a town
at all. If Christians, said Peter, lived in a town, and paid the
usual rates and taxes, they were simply helping to support a system
which existed for the protection of robbers. He regarded towns as
the abodes of vice, and citizens as rogues and knaves. The first
town, he said, was built by the murderer, Cain. He first murdered
his brother Abel; he then gathered his followers together; he then
built a city, surrounded by walls; and thus, by robbery and
violence, he became a well-to-do man. And modern towns, said Peter,
were no whit better. At that time the citizens of some towns in
Bohemia enjoyed certain special rights and privileges; and this, to
Peter, seemed grossly unfair. He condemned those citizens as
thieves. "They are," he said, "the strength of Anti-Christ; they are
adversaries to Christ; they are an evil rabble; they are bold in
wickedness; and though they pretend to follow the truth, they will
sit at tables with wicked people and knavish followers of Judas."
For true Christians, therefore, there was only one course open.
Instead of living in godless towns, they should try to settle in
country places, earn their living as farmers or gardeners, and thus
keep as clear of the State as possible. They were not to try to
support the law at all. If they did, they were supporting a wicked
thing, which never tried to make men better, but only crushed them
with cruel and useless punishments. They must never try to make big
profits in business. If they did, they were simply robbing and
cheating their neighbours. They must never take an oath, for oaths
were invented by the devil. They must never, in a word, have any
connection with that unchristian institution called the State.

And here Peter waxed vigorous and eloquent. He objected, like
Wycliffe, to the union of Church and State. Of all the bargains
ever struck, the most wicked, ruinous and pernicious was the bargain
struck between Church and State, when Constantine the Great first
took the Christians under the shadow of his wing. For three hundred
years, said Peter, the Church of Christ had remained true to her
Master; and then this disgusting heathen Emperor, who had not
repented of a single sin, came in with his vile "Donation," and
poisoned all the springs of her life. If the Emperor, said Peter,
wanted to be a Christian, he ought first to have laid down his
crown. He was a ravenous beast; he was a wolf in the fold; he was a
lion squatting at the table; and at that fatal moment in history,
when he gave his "Donation" to the Pope, an angel in heaven had
spoken the words: "This day has poison entered the blood of the

"Since that time," said Peter, "these two powers, Imperial and
Papal, have clung together. They have turned everything to account
in Church and in Christendom for their own impious purposes.
Theologians, professors, and priests are the satraps of the
Emperor. They ask the Emperor to protect them, so that they may
sleep as long as possible, and they create war so that they may have
everything under their thumb."

If Peter lashed the Church with whips, he lashed her priests with
scorpions. He accused them of various vices. They were immoral;
they were superstitious; they were vain, ignorant and empty-headed;
and, instead of feeding the Church of God, they had almost starved
her to death. He loathed these "honourable men, who sit in great
houses, these purple men, with their beautiful mantles, their high
caps, their fat stomachs." He accused them of fawning on the rich
and despising the poor. "As for love of pleasure," he said,
"immorality, laziness, greediness, uncharitableness and cruelty--as
for these things, the priests do not hold them as sins when
committed by princes, nobles and rich commoners. They do not tell
them plainly, "You will go to hell if you live on the fat of the
poor, and live a bestial life," although they know that the rich are
condemned to eternal death by such behaviour. Oh, no! They prefer
to give them a grand funeral. A crowd of priests, clergy, and other
folk make a long procession. The bells are rung. There are masses,
singings, candles and offerings. The virtues of the dead man are
proclaimed from the pulpit. They enter his soul in the books of
their cloisters and churches to be continually prayed for, and if
what they say be true, that soul cannot possibly perish, for he has
been so kind to the Church, and must, indeed, be well cared for."

He accused them, further, of laziness and gluttony. "They pretend to
follow Christ," he said, "and have plenty to eat every day. They
have fish, spices, brawn, herrings, figs, almonds, Greek wine and
other luxuries. They generally drink good wine and rich beer in
large quantities, and so they go to sleep. When they cannot get
luxuries they fill themselves with vulgar puddings till they nearly
burst. And this is the way the priests fast." He wrote in a
similar strain of the mendicant friars. He had no belief in their
profession of poverty, and accused them of gathering as much money
as they could. They pocketed more money by begging, he declared,
than honest folk could earn by working; they despised plain beef,
fat bacon and peas, and they wagged their tails with joy when they
sat down to game and other luxuries. "Many citizens," said Peter,
"would readily welcome this kind of poverty."

He accused the priests of loose teaching and shameless winking at
sin. "They prepare Jesus," he said, "as a sweet sauce for the world,
so that the world may not have to shape its course after Jesus and
His heavy Cross, but that Jesus may conform to the world; and they
make Him softer than oil, so that every wound may be soothed, and
the violent, thieves, murderers and adulterers may have an easy
entrance into heaven."

He accused them of degrading the Seven Sacraments. They baptized
sinners, young and old, without demanding repentance. They sold the
Communion to rascals and rogues, like a huckstress offering her
wares. They abused Confession by pardoning men who never intended
to amend their evil ways. They allowed men of the vilest character
to be ordained as priests. They degraded marriage by preaching the
doctrine that it was less holy than celibacy. They distorted the
original design of Extreme Unction, for instead of using it to heal
the sick they used it to line their own pockets. And all these
blasphemies, sins and follies were the offspring of that adulterous
union between the Church and the State, which began in the days of
Constantine the Great. For of all the evils under Heaven, the
greatest, said Peter, was that contradiction in terms--a State

He attacked the great theologians and scholars. Instead of using
their mental powers in the search for truth, these college men, said
Peter, had done their best to suppress the truth; and at the two
great Councils of Constance and Basle, they had actually obtained
the help of the temporal power to crush all who dared to hold
different views from theirs. What use, asked Peter, were these
learned pundits? They were no use at all. They never instructed
anybody. "I do not know," he said, "a single person whom they have
helped with their learning." Had they instructed Hus? No. Hus had
the faith in himself; Hus was instructed by God; and all that these
ravens did for Hus was to flock together against him.

Again, Peter denounced the Bohemian nobles. As we read his biting,
satirical phrases we can see that he was no respecter of persons and
no believer in artificial distinctions of rank. For him the only
distinction worth anything was the moral distinction between those
who followed the crucified Jesus and those who rioted in selfish

He had no belief in blue blood and noble birth. He was almost,
though not quite, a Socialist. He had no definite, constructive
social policy. He was rather a champion of the rights of the poor,
and an apostle of the simple life. "The whole value of noble birth,"
he said, "is founded on a wicked invention of the heathen, who
obtained coats of arms from emperors or kings as a reward for some
deed of valour." If a man could only buy a coat of arms--a stag, a
gate, a wolf's head, or a sausage--he became thereby a nobleman,
boasted of his high descent, and was regarded by the public as a
saint. For such "nobility" Peter had a withering contempt. He
declared that nobles of this stamp had no right to belong to the
Christian Church. They lived, he said, in flat opposition to the
spirit of Jesus Christ. They devoured the poor. They were a burden
to the country. They did harm to all men. They set their minds on
worldly glory, and spent their money on extravagant dress. "The
men," said he, "wear capes reaching down to the ground, and their
long hair falls down to their shoulders; and the women wear so many
petticoats that they can hardly drag themselves along, and strut
about like the Pope's courtezans, to the surprise and disgust of the
whole world." What right had these selfish fops to call themselves
Christians? They did more harm to the cause of Christ than all the
Turks and heathens in the world.

Thus Peter, belonging to none of the sects, found grievous faults in
them all. As he always mentions the Waldenses with respect, it has
been suggested that he was a Waldensian himself. But of that there
is no real proof. He had, apparently, no organizing skill; he never
attempted to form a new sect or party, and his mission in the world
was to throw out hints and leave it to others to carry these hints
into practice. He condemned the Utraquists because they used the
sword. "If a man," he said, "eats a black pudding on Friday, you
blame him; but if he sheds his brother's blood on the scaffold or on
the field of battle you praise him." He condemned the Taborites
because they made light of the Sacraments. "You have called the Holy
Bread," he said, "a butterfly, a bat, an idol. You have even told
the people that it is better to kneel to the devil than to kneel at
the altar; and thus you have taught them to despise religion and
wallow in unholy lusts." He condemned the King for being a King at
all; for no intelligent man, said Peter, could possibly be a King
and a Christian at the same time. And finally he condemned the Pope
as Antichrist and the enemy of God.

Yet Peter was something more than a caustic critic. For the
terrible ills of his age and country he had one plain and homely
remedy, and that for all true Christians to leave the Church of Rome
and return to the simple teaching of Christ and His Apostles. If
the reader goes to Peter for systematic theology, he will be
grievously disappointed; but if he goes for moral vigour, he will
find a well-spread table.

He did not reason his positions out like Wycliffe; he was a
suggestive essayist rather than a constructive philosopher; and,
radical though he was in some of his views, he held firm to what he
regarded as the fundamental articles of the Christian faith. He
believed in the redemptive value of the death of Christ. He
believed that man must build his hopes, not so much on his own good
works, but rather on the grace of God. He believed, all the same,
that good works were needed and would receive their due reward. He
believed, further, in the real bodily presence of Christ in the
Sacrament; and on this topic he held a doctrine very similar to
Luther's doctrine of Consubstantiation. But, over and above all
these beliefs, he insisted, in season and out of season, that men
could partake of spiritual blessings without the aid of Roman
priests. Some fruit of his labours he saw. As the fire of the
Hussite Wars died down, a few men in different parts of the
country--especially at Chelcic, Wilenow and Divischau--began to take
Peter as their spiritual guide. They read his pamphlets with
delight, became known as the "Brethren of Chelcic," and wore a
distinctive dress, a grey cloak with a cord tied round the waist.
The movement spread, the societies multiplied, and thus, in a way
no records tell, were laid the foundations of the Church of the
Brethren. Did Peter see that Church? We do not know. No one knows
when Peter was born, and no one knows when he died. He delivered
his message; he showed the way; he flashed his lantern in the
darkness; and thus, whether he knew it or not, he was the literary
founder of the Brethren's Church. He fired the hope. He drew the
plans. It was left to another man to erect the building.



A brilliant idea is an excellent thing. A man to work it out is
still better. At the very time when Peter's followers were
marshalling their forces, John Rockycana,5 Archbishop-elect of
Prague (since 1448), was making a mighty stir in that drunken city.
What Peter had done with his pen, Rockycana was doing with his
tongue. He preached Peter's doctrines in the great Thein Church; he
corresponded with him on the burning topics of the day; he went to
see him at his estate; he recommended his works to his hearers; and
week by week, in fiery language, he denounced the Church of Rome as
Babylon, and the Pope as Antichrist himself. His style was vivid
and picturesque, his language cutting and clear. One day he
compared the Church of Rome to a burned and ruined city, wherein the
beasts of the forests made their lairs; and, again, he compared her
to a storm-tossed ship, which sank beneath the howling waves because
the sailors were fighting each other. "It is better," he said, "to
tie a dog to a pulpit than allow a priest to defile it. It is
better, oh, women! for your sons to be hangmen than to be priests;
for the hangman only kills the body, while the priest kills the
soul. Look there," he suddenly exclaimed one Sunday, pointing to a
picture of St. Peter on the wall, "there is as much difference
between the priests of to-day and the twelve apostles as there is
between that old painting and the living St. Peter in heaven.6 For
the priests have put the devil into the sacraments themselves, and
are leading you straight to the fires of Hell."

If an eloquent speaker attacks the clergy, he is sure to draw a
crowd. No wonder the Thein Church was crammed. No wonder the
people listened with delight as he backed up his hot attack with
texts from the prophet Jeremiah. No wonder they cried in their
simple zeal: "Behold, a second John Hus has arisen."

But John Rockycana was no second John Hus. For all his fire in the
pulpit, he was only a craven at heart. "If a true Christian," said
he to a friend, "were to turn up now in Prague, he would be gaped at
like a stag with golden horns." But he was not a stag with golden
horns himself. As he thundered against the Church of Rome, he was
seeking, not the Kingdom of God, but his own fame and glory. His
followers soon discovered his weakness. Among those who thronged to
hear his sermons were certain quiet men of action, who were not
content to paw the ground for ever. They were followers of Peter of
Chelcic; they passed his pamphlets in secret from hand to hand; they
took down notes of Rockycana's sermons; and now they resolved to
practise what they heard. If Peter had taught them nothing else, he
had at least convinced them all that the first duty of Christian men
was to quit the Church of Rome. Again and again they appealed to
Rockycana to be their head, to act up to his words, and to lead them
out to the promised land. The great orator hemmed and hawed, put
them off with excuses, and told them, after the manner of cowards,
that they were too hasty and reckless. "I know you are right," said
he, "but if I joined your ranks I should be reviled on every hand."7
But these listeners were not to be cowed. The more they studied
Peter's writings, the more they lost faith in Rockycana. As
Rockycana refused to lead them, they left his church in a body, and
found a braver leader among themselves. His name was Gregory; he
was known as Gregory the Patriarch; and in due time, as we shall
see, he became the founder of the Church of the Brethren. He was
already a middle-aged man. He was the son of a Bohemian knight, and
was nephew to Rockycana himself. He had spent his youth in the
Slaven cloister at Prague as a bare-footed monk, had found the
cloister not so moral as he had expected, had left it in disgust,
and was now well known in Bohemia as a man of sterling character,
pious and sensible, humble and strict, active and spirited, a good
writer and a good speaker. He was a personal friend of Peter, had
studied his works with care, and is said to have been particularly
fond of a little essay entitled "The Image of the Beast," which he
had borrowed from a blacksmith in Wachovia. As time went on he lost
patience with Rockycana, came into touch with the little societies
at Wilenow and Divischau, visited Peter on his estate, and gradually
formed the plan of founding an independent society, and thus doing
himself what Rockycana was afraid to do. As soldiers desert a
cowardly general and rally round the standard of a brave one, so
these listeners in the old Thein Church fell away from halting
Rockycana, and rallied round Gregory the Patriarch. From all parts
of Bohemia, from all ranks of society, from all whom Peter's
writings had touched, from all who were disgusted with the Church of
Rome, and who wished to see the True Church of the Apostles bloom in
purity and beauty again, from all especially who desired the
ministration of priests of moral character--from all these was his
little band recruited. How it all happened we know not; but slowly
the numbers swelled. At last the terrible question arose: How and
where must they live? The question was one of life and death. Not
always could they worship in secret; not always be scattered in
little groups. It was time, they said, to close their ranks and
form an army that should last. "After us," Rockycana had said in a
sermon, "shall a people come well-pleasing unto God and right
healthy for men; they shall follow the Scriptures, and the example
of Christ and the footsteps of the Apostles." And these stern men
felt called to the holy task.

In the year 1457, Uladislaus Postumus, King of Bohemia, died, and
George Podiebrad reigned in his stead; and about the same time it
came to the ears of Gregory the Patriarch that in the barony of
Senftenberg, on the north-east border of Bohemia, there lay a
village that would serve as a home for him and his trusty followers.
And the village was called Kunwald, and the old castle hard by was
called Lititz. The village was almost deserted, and only a few
simple folk, of the same mind as Gregory, lived there now. What
better refuge could be found? Gregory the Patriarch laid the scheme
before his uncle Rockycana; Rockycana, who sympathized with their
views and wished to help them, brought the matter before King
George; the King, who owned the estate, gave his gracious
permission; and Gregory and his faithful friends wended their way to
Kunwald, and there began to form the first settlement of the Church
of the Brethren. And now many others from far and wide came to make
Kunwald their home. Some came from the Thein Church in Prague, some
across the Glatz Hills from Moravia, some from Wilenow, Divischau
and Chelcic, some from the Utraquist Church at Königgratz,8 some,
clothed and in their right minds, from those queer folk, the
Adamites, and some from little Waldensian groups that lay dotted
here and there about the land. There were citizens from Prague and
other cities. There were bachelors and masters from the great
University. There were peasants and nobles, learned and simple,
rich and poor, with their wives and children; and thus did many, who
longed to be pure and follow the Master and Him alone, find a
Bethany of Peace in the smiling little valley of Kunwald.

Here, then, in the valley of Kunwald, did these pioneers lay the
foundation stones of the Moravian Church {1457 or 1458.}.9 They
were all of one heart and one mind. They honoured Christ alone as
King; they confessed His laws alone as binding. They were not
driven from the Church of Rome; they left of their own free will.
They were men of deep religious experience. As they mustered their
forces in that quiet dale, they knew that they were parting company
from Church and State alike. They had sought the guidance of God in
prayer, and declared that their prayers were answered. They had met
to seek the truth of God, not from priests, but from God Himself.
"As we knew not where to turn," they wrote to Rockycana, "we turned
in prayer to God Himself, and besought Him to reveal to us His
gracious will in all things. We wanted to walk in His ways; we
wanted instruction in His wisdom; and in His mercy He answered our
prayers." They would rather, they said, spend weeks in gaol than
take the oath as councillors. They built cottages, tilled the land,
opened workshops, and passed their time in peace and quietness. For
a law and a testimony they had the Bible and the writings of Peter
of Chelcic. In Michael Bradacius, a Utraquist priest, they found a
faithful pastor. They made their own laws and appointed a body of
twenty-eight elders to enforce them. They divided themselves into
three classes, the Beginners, the Learners and the Perfect;10 and
the Perfect gave up their private property for the good of the
common cause. They had overseers to care for the poor. They had
priests to administer the sacraments, They had godly laymen to teach
the Scriptures. They had visitors to see to the purity of family
life. They were shut off from the madding crowd by a narrow gorge,
with the Glatz Mountains towering on the one side and the hoary old
castle of Lititz, a few miles off, on the other; and there in that
fruitful valley, where orchards smiled and gardens bloomed, and neat
little cottages peeped out from the woodland, they plied their
trades and read their Bibles, and kept themselves pure and unspotted
from the world under the eye of God Almighty.11

But it was not long before these Brethren had to show of what metal
they were made. With each other they were at peace, but in Bohemia
the sea still rolled from the storm. It is curious how people
reasoned in those days. As the Brethren used bread instead of wafer
at the Holy Communion, a rumour reached the ears of the King that
they were dangerous conspirators, and held secret meetings of a
mysterious and unholy nature. And King George held himself an
orthodox King, and had sworn to allow no heretics in his kingdom.
As soon therefore, as he heard that Gregory the Patriarch had come
on a visit to Prague, and was actually holding a meeting of
University students in the New Town, he came down upon them like a
wolf on the fold, and gave orders to arrest them on the spot. He
was sure they were hatching a villainous plot of some kind. In vain
some friends sent warning to the students. They resolved, with a
few exceptions, to await their fate and stand to their guns. "Come
what may," said they, in their fiery zeal, "let the rack be our
breakfast and the funeral pile our dinner!" The door of the room
flew open. The magistrate and his bailiffs appeared. "All," said
the magistrate, as he stood at the threshold, "who wish to live
godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. Follow me to
prison." They followed him, and were at once stretched upon the
rack. As soon as the students felt the pain of torture their
courage melted like April snow. After they had tasted the breakfast
they had no appetite for the dinner. They went in a body to the
Thein Church, mounted the pulpit one by one, pleaded guilty to the
charges brought against them, and confessed, before an admiring
crowd, their full belief in all the dogmas of the Holy Church of
Rome. But for Gregory the Patriarch, who was now growing old, the
pain was too severe. His wrists cracked; he swooned, and was
thought to be dead, and in his swoon he dreamed a dream which seemed
to him like the dreams of the prophets of old. He saw, in a lovely
meadow, a tree laden with fruit; the fruit was being plucked by
birds; the flights of the birds were guided by a youth of heavenly
beauty, and the tree was guarded by three men whose faces he seemed
to know. What meant that dream to Gregory and his Brethren? It was
a vision of the good time coming. The tree was the Church of the
Brethren. The fruit was her Bible teaching. The birds were her
ministers and helpers. The youth of radiant beauty was the Divine
Master Himself. And the three men who stood on guard were the three
men who were afterwards chosen as the first three Elders of the
Brethren's Church.

While Gregory lay in his swoon, his old teacher, his uncle, his
sometime friend, John Rockycana, hearing that he was dying, came to
see him. His conscience was stricken, his heart bled, and, wringing
his hands in agony, he moaned: "Oh, my Gregory, my Gregory, would I
were where thou art." When Gregory recovered, Rockycana pleaded for
him, and the King allowed the good old Patriarch to return in peace
to Kunwald.

Meanwhile, the first persecution of the Brethren had begun in deadly
earnest {1461.}. King George Podiebrad was furious. He issued an
order that all his subjects were to join either the Utraquist or the
Roman Catholic Church. He issued another order that all priests who
conducted the Communion in the blasphemous manner of the Brethren
should forthwith be put to death. The priest, old Michael, was cast
into a dungeon; four leading Brethren were burned alive; the
peaceful home in Kunwald was broken; and the Brethren fled to the
woods and mountains. For two full years they lived the life of
hunted deer in the forest. As they durst not light a fire by day,
they cooked their meals by night; and then, while the enemy dreamed
and slept, they read their Bibles by the watch-fires' glare, and
prayed till the blood was dripping from their knees. If provisions
ran short, they formed a procession, and marched in single file to
the nearest village; and when the snow lay on the ground they
trailed behind them a pine-tree branch, so that folk would think a
wild beast had been prowling around. We can see them gathering in
those Bohemian glades. As the sentinel stars set their watch in the
sky, and the night wind kissed the pine trees, they read to each
other the golden promise that where two or three were gathered
together in His name He would be in the midst of them;12 and
rejoiced that they, the chosen of God, had been called to suffer for
the truth and the Church that was yet to be.

In vain they appealed to Rockycana; he had done with them for ever.
"Thou art of the world," they wrote, "and wilt perish with the
world." They were said to have made a covenant with the devil, and
were commonly dubbed "Pitmen" because they lived in pits and caves.
Yet not for a moment did they lose hope. At the very time when the
king in his folly thought they were crushed beneath his foot, they
were in reality increasing in numbers every day. As their
watch-fires shone in the darkness of the forests, so their pure
lives shone among a darkened people. No weapon did they use except
the pen. They never retaliated, never rebelled, never took up arms
in their own defence, never even appealed to the arm of justice.
When smitten on one cheek, they turned the other; and from
ill-report they went to good report, till the King for very shame
had to let them be. Well aware was he that brutal force could never
stamp out spiritual life. "I advise you," said a certain Bishop, "to
shed no more blood. Martyrdom is somewhat like a half-roasted joint
of meat, apt to breed maggots."

And now the time drew near for Gregory's dream to come true. When
the Brethren settled in the valley of Kunwald they had only done
half their work. They had quitted the "benighted" Church of Rome;
they had not yet put a better Church in her place. They had settled
on a Utraquist estate; they were under the protection of a Utraquist
King; they attended services conducted by Utraquist priests. But
this black-and-white policy could not last for ever. If they wished
to be godly men themselves, they must have godly men in the pulpits.
What right had they, the chosen of God (as they called themselves)
to listen to sermons from men in league with the State? What right
had they to take the Holy Bread and Wine from the tainted hands of
Utraquist priests? What right had they to confess their sins to men
with the brand of Rome upon their foreheads? If they were to have
any priests at all, those priests, like Caesar's wife, must be above
suspicion. They must be pastors after God's own heart, who should
feed the people with knowledge and understanding (Jer. iii. 15).
They must be clear of any connection with the State. They must be
descended from the twelve Apostles. They must be innocent of the
crime of simony. They must work with their hands for their living,
and be willing to spend their money on the poor. But where could
such clean vessels of the Lord be found? For a while the Brethren
were almost in despair; for a while they were even half inclined to
do without priests at all. In vain they searched the country round;
in vain they inquired about priests in foreign lands. When they
asked about the pure Nestorian Church supposed to exist in India,
they received the answer that that Church was now as corrupt as the
Romish. When they asked about the Greek Church in Russia, they
received the answer that the Russian Bishops were willing to
consecrate any man, good or bad, so long as he paid the fees. The
question was pressing. If they did without good priests much
longer, they would lose their standing in the country. "You must,"
said Brother Martin Lupac, a Utraquist priest, who had joined their
ranks, "you must establish a proper order of priests from among
yourselves. If you don't, the whole cause will be ruined. To do
without priests is no sin against God; but it is a sin against your
fellow-men." As they pondered on the fateful question, the very
light of Heaven itself seemed to flash upon their souls. It was
they who possessed the unity of the spirit; and therefore it was
they who were called to renew the Church of the Apostles. They had
now become a powerful body; they were founding settlements all over
the land; they stood, they said, for the truth as it was in Jesus;
they had all one faith, one hope, one aim, one sense of the Spirit
leading them onward; and they perceived that if they were to weather
the gale in those stormy times they must cut the chains that bound
them to Rome, and fly their own colours in the breeze.

And so, in 1467, about ten years after the foundation of Kunwald,
there met at Lhota a Synod of the Brethren to settle the momentous
question {1467.}, "Is it God's will that we separate entirely from
the power of the Papacy, and hence from its priesthood? Is it God's
will that we institute, according to the model of the Primitive
Church, a ministerial order of our own?" For weeks they had prayed
and fasted day and night. About sixty Brethren arrived. The Synod
was held in a tanner's cottage, under a cedar tree; and the guiding
spirit Gregory the Patriarch, for his dream was haunting him still.
The cottage has long since gone; but the tree is living yet.

The fateful day arrived. As the morning broke, those sixty men were
all on their knees in prayer. If that prayer had been omitted the
whole proceedings would have been invalid. As the Master, said
they, had prayed on the Mount before he chose His twelve disciples,
so they must spend the night in prayer before they chose the elders
of the Church. And strange, indeed, their manner of choosing was.
First the Synod nominated by ballot nine men of blameless life,
from whom were to be chosen, should God so will, the first Pastors
of the New Church. Next twelve slips of paper were folded and put
into a vase. Of these slips nine were blank, and three were marked
"Jest," the Bohemian for "is." Then a boy named Procop entered the
room, drew out nine slips, and handed them round to the nine
nominated Brethren.

There was a hush, a deep hush, in that humble room. All waited for
God to speak. The fate of the infant Church seemed to hang in the
balance. For the moment the whole great issue at stake depended on
the three papers left in the vase. It had been agreed that the
three Brethren who received the three inscribed papers should be
ordained to the ministry. The situation was curious. As the
Brethren rose from their knees that morning they were all as sure as
men could be that God desired them to have Pastors of their own; and
yet they deliberately ran the risk that the lot might decide against
them.13 What slips were those now lying in the vase? Perhaps the
three inscribed ones. But it turned out otherwise. All three were
drawn, and Matthias of Kunwald, Thomas of Prelouic, and Elias of
Chrenouic, are known to history as the first three ministers of the
Brethren's Church. And then Gregory the Patriarch stepped forward,
and announced with trembling voice that these three men were the
very three that he had seen in his trance in the torture-chamber at
Prague. Not a man in the room was surprised; not a man doubted that
here again their prayers had been plainly answered. Together the
members of the Synod arose and saluted the chosen three. Together,
next day, they sang in a hymn written for the occasion:--

We needed faithful men, and He
Granted us such. Most earnestly,
We Pray, Lord, let Thy gifts descend,
That blessing may Thy work attend.14

But the battle was not won even yet. If these three good men, now
chosen by Christ, were to be acknowledged as priests in Bohemia,
they must be ordained in the orthodox way by a Bishop of pure
descent from the Apostles. For this purpose they applied to
Stephen, a Bishop of the Waldenses. He was just the man they
needed. He was a man of noble character. He was a man whose word
could be trusted. He had often given them information about the
Waldensian line of Bishops. He had told them how that line ran back
to the days of the early Church. He had told them how the
Waldensian Bishops had kept the ancient faith unsullied, and had
never broken the law of Christ by uniting with the wicked State. To
that line of Bishops he himself belonged. He had no connection with
the Church of Rome, and no connection with the State. What purer
orders, thought the Brethren, could they desire? They believed his
statements; they trusted his honour; they admired his personal
character; and now they sent old Michael Bradacius to see him in
South Moravia and to lay their case before him. The old Bishop shed
tears of joy. "He laid his hand on my head," says Michael, "and
consecrated me a Bishop." Forthwith the new Bishop returned to
Lhota, ordained the chosen three as Priests, and consecrated
Matthias of Kunwald a Bishop. And thus arose those Episcopal Orders
which have been maintained in the Church of the Brethren down to the
present day.

The goal was reached; the Church was founded; the work of Gregory
was done. For twenty years he had taught his Brethren to study the
mind of Christ in the Scriptures and to seek the guidance of God in
united prayer, and now he saw them joined as one to face the rising

"Henceforth," he wrote gladly to King George Podiebrad, "we have
done with the Church of Rome." As he saw the evening of life draw
near, he urged his Brethren more and more to hold fast the teaching
of Peter of Chelcic, and to regulate their daily conduct by the law
of Christ; and by that law of Christ he probably meant the "Six
Commandments" of the Sermon on the Mount.15 He took these
Commandments literally, and enforced them with a rod of iron. No
Brother could be a judge or magistrate or councillor. No Brother
could take an oath or keep an inn, or trade beyond the barest needs
of life. No noble, unless he laid down his rank, could become a
Brother at all. No peasant could render military service or act as
a bailiff on a farm. No Brother could ever divorce his wife or take
an action at law. As long as Gregory remained in their midst, the
Brethren held true to him as their leader. He had not, says
Gindely, a single trace of personal ambition in his nature; and,
though he might have become a Bishop, he remained a layman to the
end. Full of years he died, and his bones repose in a cleft where
tufts of forget-me-not grow, at Brandeis-on-the-Adler, hard by the
Moravian frontier {Sept.13th, 1473.}.



Of the Brethren who settled in the valley of Kunwald the greater
number were country peasants and tradesmen of humble rank. But
already the noble and mighty were pressing in. As the eyes of
Gregory closed in death, a new party was rising to power. Already
the Brethren were strong in numbers, and already they were longing
to snap the fetters that Gregory had placed upon their feet. From
Neustadt in the North to Skutch in the South, and from Chlumec in
the West to Kunwald in the East, they now lay thickly sprinkled; and
in all the principal towns of that district, an area of nine hundred
square miles, they were winning rich and influential members. In
came the University dons; in came the aldermen and knights. In
came, above all, a large colony of Waldenses, who had immigrated
from the Margravate of Brandenburg {1480.}. Some settled at
Fulneck, in Moravia, others at Landskron, in Bohemia; and now, by
their own request, they were admitted to the Brethren's Church.16
For a while the Brethren held to the rule that if a nobleman joined
their Church he must first lay down his rank. But now that rule was
beginning to gall and chafe. They were winning golden opinions on
every hand; they were becoming known as the best men for positions
of trust in the State; they were just the men to make the best
magistrates and aldermen; and thus they felt forced by their very
virtues to renounce the narrow ideas of Peter and to play their part
in national and city life.

At this moment, when new ideas were budding, there entered the
service of the Church a young man who is known as Luke of Prague.
He was born about 1460, was a Bachelor of Prague University, was a
well-read theological scholar, and for fifty years was the trusted
leader of the Brethren. Forthwith he read the signs of the times,
and took the tide at the flood. In Procop of Neuhaus, another
graduate, he found a warm supporter. The two scholars led the van
of the new movement. The struggle was fierce. On the one side was
the "great party" of culture, led by Luke of Prague and Procop of
Neuhaus; on the other the so-called "little party," the
old-fashioned rigid Radicals, led by two farmers, Amos and Jacob.
"Ah, Matthias," said Gregory the Patriarch, on his death-bed,
"beware of the educated Brethren!" But, despite this warning, the
educated Brethren won the day. For once and for ever the Brethren
resolved that the writings of Peter and Gregory should no longer be
regarded as binding. At a Synod held at Reichenau they rejected the
authority of Peter entirely {1494.}. They agreed that nobles might
join the Church without laying down their rank; they agreed that if
a man's business were honest he might make profits therein; they
agreed that Brethren might enter the service of the State; and they
even agreed that oaths might be taken in cases of special need.17
And then, next year, they made their position still clearer {1495.}.
Instead of taking Peter as their guide, they now took the Bible and
the Bible alone. "We content ourselves," they solemnly declared, at
another Synod held at Reichenau, "with those sacred books which have
been accepted from of old by all Christians, and are found in the
Bible"; and thus, forty years before John Calvin, and eighty years
before the Lutherans, they declared that the words of Holy
Scripture, apart from any disputed interpretation, should be their
only standard of faith and practice. No longer did they honour the
memory of Peter; no longer did they appeal to him in their writings;
no longer, in a word, can we call the Brethren the true followers of
Peter of Chelcic. Instead, henceforward, of regarding Peter as the
founder of their Church, they began now to regard themselves as the
disciples of Hus. In days gone by they had spoken of Hus as a
"causer of war." Now they held his name and memory sacred; and from
this time onward the real followers of Peter were, not the Brethren,
but the "little party" led by Amos and Jacob.18

But the scholars led the Brethren further still. If the reader will
kindly refer to the chapter on Peter, he will see that that racy
pamphleteer had far more to say about good works than about the
merits of saving faith; but now, after years of keen discussion,
Procop of Neuhaus put to the Council of Elders the momentous
question: "By what is a man justified?" The answer given was clear:
"By the merits of Jesus Christ." The great doctrine of
justification by grace was taught; the old doctrine of justification
by works was modified; and thus the Brethren's Church became the
first organized Evangelical Church in Europe.19

And Luke designed to make her the strongest, too. His energy never
seemed to flag. As he wished to establish the ministry more firmly,
he had the number of Bishops enlarged, and became a Bishop himself.
He enlarged the governing Council, with his friend Procop of
Neuhaus as Ecclesiastical Judge. He beautified the Church Services,
and made the ritual more ornate. He introduced golden communion
cups and delicately embroidered corporals, and some of the Brethren
actually thought that he was leading them back to Rome. He gave an
impulse to Church music, encouraged reading both in Priests and in
people, and made a use of the printing press which in those days was
astounding. Of the five printing presses in all Bohemia, three
belonged to the Brethren; of sixty printed works that appeared
between 1500 and 1510, no fewer than fifty were published by the
Brethren; and of all the scribes of the sixteenth century, Luke was
the most prolific. He wrote a "Catechism for Children." He edited
the first Brethren's hymn book (1501), the first Church hymnal in
history. He published a commentary on the Psalms, another on the
Gospel of St. John, and another on the eleventh chapter of 1
Corinthians; he drew up "Confessions of Faith," and sent them to the
King; and thus, for the first time in the history of Bohemia, he
made the newly invented press a mighty power in the land.

And even with this the good Bishop was not content {1491.}. If the
Brethren, thought he, were true to their name, they must surely long
for fellowship with others of like mind with themselves. For this
purpose Luke and his friends set off to search for Brethren in other
lands. Away went one to find the pure Nestorian Church that was
said to exist in India, got as far as Antioch, Jerusalem and Egypt,
and, being misled somehow by a Jew, returned home with the wonderful
notion that the River Nile flowed from the Garden of Eden, but with
no more knowledge of the Church in India than when he first set out.
Another explored the South of Russia, and the third sought
Christians in Turkey. And Luke himself had little more success. He
explored a number of Monasteries in Greece, came on to Rome {1498.},
saw the streets of the city littered with corpses of men murdered by
Cæsar Borgia, picked up some useful information about the private
character of the Pope, saw Savonarola put to death in Florence, fell
in with a few Waldenses in the Savoy, and then, having sought for
pearls in vain, returned home in a state of disgust, and convinced
that, besides the Brethren, there was not to be found a true
Christian Church on the face of God's fair earth. He even found
fault with the Waldenses.

It was time, indeed, for Luke to return, for trouble was brewing at
home. For some years there dwelt in the town of Jungbunzlau, the
headquarters of the Brethren's Church, a smart young man, by name
John Lezek. He began life as a brewer's apprentice; he then entered
the service of a Brother, and learned a good deal of the Brethren's
manners and customs; and now he saw the chance of turning his
knowledge to good account. If only he told a good tale against the
Brethren, he would be sure to be a popular hero. For this purpose
he visited the parish priest, and confessed to a number of
abominations committed by him while among the wicked Brethren. The
parish priest was delighted; the penitent was taken to the Church;
and there he told the assembled crowd the story of his guilty past.
Of all the bad men in the country, he said, these Brethren were the
worst. He had even robbed his own father with their consent and
approval. They blasphemed. They took the Communion bread to their
houses, and there hacked it in pieces. They were thieves, and he
himself had committed many a burglary for them. They murdered men
and kidnapped their wives. They had tried to blow up Rockycana in
the Thein Church with gunpowder. They swarmed naked up pillars like
Adam and Eve, and handed each other apples. They prepared poisonous
drinks, and put poisonous smelling powders in their letters. They
were skilled in witchcraft, worshipped Beelzebub, and were wont
irreverently to say that the way to Hell was paved with the bald
heads of priests. As this story was both alarming and lively, the
parish priest had it taken down, sealed and signed by witnesses,
copied out, and scattered broadcast through the land. In vain John
Lezek confessed soon after, when brought by the Brethren before a
Magistrate, that his whole story was a vile invention. If a man
tells a falsehood and then denies it, he does not thereby prevent
the falsehood from spreading.

For now a more powerful foe than Lezek made himself felt in the
land. Of all the Popes that ever donned the tiara, Alexander VI. is
said to have presented the most successful image of the devil.20 He
was the father of the prince of poisoners, Caesar Borgia; he was
greedy, immoral, fond of ease and pleasure; he was even said to be a
poisoner himself. If a well-known man died suddenly in Rome, the
common people took it for granted that the Pope had poisoned his
supper. For all that he was pious enough in a way of his own; and
now, in his zeal for the Catholic cause, he took stern measures
against the Church of the Brethren. He had heard some terrible
tales about them. He heard that Peter's pamphlet, "The
Antichrist,"21 was read all over the country. He heard that the
number of the Brethren now was over 100,000. He resolved to crush
them to powder {Papal Bull, Feb. 4th, 1500.}. He sent an agent, the
Dominican, Dr. Henry Institoris, as censor of the press. As soon as
Institoris arrived on the scene, he heard, to his horror, that most
of the Brethren could read; and thereupon he informed the Pope that
they had learned this art from the devil. He revived the stories of
Lezek, the popular feeling was fanned to fury, and wire-pullers
worked on the tender heart of the King.

"Hunt out and destroy these shameless vagabonds," wrote Dr. Augustin
Käsebrot to King Uladislaus, "they are not even good enough to be
burnt at the stake. They ought to have their bodies torn by wild
beasts and their blood licked up by dogs." For the last five years
there had grown in the land a small sect known as Amosites. They
were followers of old Farmer Amos; they had once belonged to the
Brethren; they had broken off when the scholars had won the day, and
now they sent word to the King to say that the Brethren were
planning to defend their cause with the sword. "What!" said the
King, "do they mean to play Ziska? Well, well! We know how to stop
that!" They were worse than Turks, he declared; they believed
neither in God nor in the Communion; they were a set of lazy
vagabonds. He would soon pay them out for their devilish craft, and
sweep them off the face of the earth. And to this end he summoned
the Diet, and, by the consent of all three Estates, issued the
famous Edict of St. James {July 25th, 1508.}.22 The decree was
sweeping and thorough. The meetings of the Brethren, public and
private, were forbidden. The books and writings of the Brethren
must be burnt. All in Bohemia who refused to join the Utraquist or
Roman Catholic Church were to be expelled from the country; all
nobles harbouring Brethren were to be fined, and all their priests
and teachers were to be imprisoned.

The persecution began. In the village of Kuttenburg lived a
brother, by name Andrew Poliwka. As Kuttenburg was a Romanist
village, he fled for refuge to the Brethren's settlement at
Leitomischl. But his wife betrayed him. He returned to the
village, and, desiring to please her, he attended the parish Church.

The occasion was an installation service. As the sermon ended and
the host was raised, he could hold his tongue no longer. "Silence,
Parson Jacob," he cried to the priest, "you have babbled enough!
Mine hour is come; I will speak. Dear friends," he continued,
turning to the people, "what are you doing? What are you adoring?
An idol made of bread! Oh! Adore the living God in heaven! He is
blessed for evermore!" The priest ordered him to hold his peace.
He only shrieked the louder. He was seized, his head was dashed
against the pillar, and he was dragged bleeding to prison. Next day
he was tried, and asked to explain why he had interrupted the

"Who caused Abram," he answered, "to forsake his idolatry and adore
the living God? Who induced Daniel to flee from idols?" In vain
was he stretched upon the rack. No further answer would he give.
He was burnt to death at the stake. As the flames began to lick
his face, he prayed aloud: "Jesus, Thou Son of the living God, have
mercy upon me, miserable sinner."

At Strakonic dwelt the Brother George Wolinsky, a dependent of Baron
John of Rosenberg {1509.}. The Baron was a mighty man. He was
Grand Prior of the Knights of Malta; he was an orthodox subject of
the King, and he determined that on his estate no villainous
Picards23 should live. "See," he said one day to George, "I have
made you a servant in the Church. You must go to Church. You are a
Picard, and I have received instructions from Prague that all men on
my estate must be either Utraquists or Catholics."

The Brother refused; the Baron insisted; and the Prior of Strakonic
was brought to convert the heretic. "No one," said the Prior,
"should ever be tortured into faith. The right method is reasonable
instruction, and innocent blood always cries to Heaven, 'Lord, Lord,
when wilt Thou avenge me.'"

But this common sense was lost on the furious Baron. As Brother
George refused to yield, the Baron cast him into the deepest dungeon
of his castle. The bread and meat he had secreted in his pockets
were removed. The door of the dungeon was barred, and all that was
left for the comfort of his soul was a heap of straw whereon to die
and a comb to do his hair. For five days he lay in the dark, and
then the Baron came to see him. The prisoner was almost dead. His
teeth were closed; his mouth was rigid; the last spark of life was
feebly glimmering. The Baron was aghast. The mouth was forced
open, hot soup was poured in, the prisoner revived, and the Baron
burst into tears.

"Ah," he exclaimed, "I am glad he is living"; and allowed George to
return to his Brethren.

Amid scenes like this, Bishop Luke was a tower of strength to his
Brethren. For six years the manses were closed, the Churches empty,
the Pastors homeless, the people scattered; and the Bishop hurried
from glen to glen, held services in the woods and gorges, sent
letters to the parishes he could not visit, and pleaded the cause of
his Brethren in woe in letter after letter to the King. As the storm
of persecution raged, he found time to write a stirring treatise,
entitled, "The Renewal of the Church," and thus by pen and by cheery
word he revived the flagging hope of all.

For a while the Brethren were robbed of this morsel of comfort. As
the Bishop was hastening on a pastoral visit, he was captured by
Peter von Suda, the brigand, "the prince and master of all thieves,"
was loaded with chains, cast into a dungeon, and threatened with
torture and the stake. At that moment destruction complete and
final seemed to threaten the Brethren. Never had the billows rolled
so high; never had the breakers roared so loud; and bitterly the
hiding Brethren complained that their leaders had steered them on
the rocks.

Yet sunshine gleamed amid the gathering clouds. For some time there
had been spreading among the common people a conviction that the
Brethren were under the special protection of God, and that any man
who tried to harm them would come to a tragic end. It was just
while the Brethren were sunk in despair that several of their
enemies suddenly died, and people said that God Himself had struck a
blow for the persecuted "Pitmen." The great Dr. Augustin, their
fiercest foe, fell dead from his chair at dinner. Baron Colditz,
the Chancellor, fell ill of a carbuncle in his foot, and died.
Baron Henry von Neuhaus, who had boasted to the King how many
Brethren he had starved to death, went driving in his sleigh, was
upset, and was skewered on his own hunting knife. Baron Puta von
Swihow was found dead in his cellar. Bishop John of Grosswardein
fell from his carriage, was caught on a sharp nail, had his bowels
torn out, and miserably perished. And the people, struck with awe,
exclaimed: "Let him that is tired of life persecute the Brethren,
for he is sure not to live another year."

Thus the Brethren possessed their souls in patience till the
persecution ended. The King of Bohemia, Uladislaus II., died {March
13th, 1516.}. His successor was only a boy. The Utraquists and
Catholics began to quarrel with each other. The robber, von Suda,
set Luke at liberty. The great Bishop became chief Elder of the
Church. The whole land was soon in a state of disorder. The barons
and knights were fighting each other, and, in the general stress and
storm, the quiet Brethren were almost forgotten and allowed to live
in peace.

And just at this juncture came news from afar that seemed to the
Brethren like glad tidings from Heaven {1517.}. No longer were the
Brethren to be alone, no longer to be a solitary voice crying in the
wilderness. As the Brethren returned from the woods and mountains,
and worshipped once again by the light of day, they heard, with
amazement and joy, how Martin Luther, on Hallows Eve, had pinned his
famous ninety-five Theses to the Church door at Wittenberg. The
excitement in Bohemia was intense. For a while it seemed as though
Martin Luther would wield as great an influence there as ever he had
in Germany. For a while the Utraquist priests themselves, like
Rockycana of yore, thundered in a hundred pulpits against the Church
of Rome; and Luther, taking the keenest interest in the growing
movement, wrote a letter to the Bohemian Diet, and urged the
ecclesiastical leaders in Prague to break the last fetters that
bound them to Rome.

For a while his agent, Gallus Cahera, a butcher's son, who had
studied at Wittenberg, was actually pastor of the Thein Church
{1523-9.}, referred in his sermons to the "celebrated Dr. Martin
Luther," and openly urged the people to pray for that "great man of
God." For a while even a preacher of the Brethren, named Martin, was
allowed to stand where Hus had stood, and preach in the Bethlehem
Church. For a while, in a word, it seemed to the Brethren that the
Reformation now spreading in Germany would conquer Bohemia at a
rush. The great Luther was loved by many classes. He was loved by
the Utraquists because he had burned the Pope's Bull. He was loved
by the young because he favoured learning. He was loved by the
Brethren because he upheld the Bible as the standard of faith
{1522.}. As soon as Luther had left the Wartburg, the Brethren
boldly held out to him the right hand of fellowship; sent two German
Brethren, John Horn and Michael Weiss, to see him; presented him
with a copy of their Confession and Catechism; began a friendly
correspondence on various points of doctrine and discipline, and
thus opened their hearts to hear with respect what the great
Reformer had to say.

Amid these bright prospects Luke of Prague breathed his last {Dec.
11th, 1528.}. As Gregory the Patriarch had gone to his rest when a
new party was rising among the Brethren, so Luke of Prague crossed
the cold river of death when new ideas from Germany were stirring
the hearts of his friends. He was never quite easy in his mind
about Martin Luther. He still believed in the Seven Sacraments. He
still believed in the Brethren's system of stern moral discipline.
He still believed, for practical reasons, in the celibacy of the
clergy. "This eating," he wrote, "this drinking, this
self-indulgence, this marrying, this living to the world--what a
poor preparation it is for men who are leaving Babylon. If a man
does this he is yoking himself with strangers. Marriage never made
anyone holy yet. It is a hindrance to the higher life, and causes
endless trouble." Above all, he objected to Luther's way of
teaching the great doctrine of justification by faith.

"Never, never," he said, in a letter to Luther, "can you ascribe a
man's salvation to faith alone. The Scriptures are against you.
You think that in this you are doing a good work, but you are
really fighting against Christ Himself and clinging to an error."
He regarded Luther's teaching as extreme and one-sided. He was
shocked by what he heard of the jovial life led by Luther's students
at Wittenberg, and could never understand how a rollicking youth
could be a preparation for a holy ministry. As Gregory the
Patriarch had warned Matthias against "the learned Brethren," so


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