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Jan Hus: His Martyrdom and Ecclesiology

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Published on Oct 31, 2015

Reformation Day Lecture: Jan Hus: His Martyrdom and Ecclesiology by Rev. Angus Stewart
David S. Schaff on the significance of Hus' De Ecclesia: "Huss's treatise has a place of first importance among works on the church. Its treatment is clear, elaborate and professedly based on Scripture. It is the best known work on the subject issued from Augustine to the Reformation period. It was the basis of charges in the most famous formal trial of a single individual in the history of the Christian church. It was cherished and used by a large section of the Bohemian people. It has had a permanent influence upon the development of the idea of the church" (The Church, trans. David S. Schaff [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1915], p. xxxi).
Definition of the church: "But the holy catholic—that is, universal—church is the totality of the predestinate or all the predestinate, present, past, and future. This definition follows St. Augustine ... who shows how it is that one and the same church of the predestinate, starting at the beginning of the world, runs on to the apostles, and thence to the day of judgment" (p. 3).
Predestination of the church: "... it is to be noted that no place, or human election, makes a person a member of the holy universal church, but divine predestination does in the case of every one who persists in following Christ in love. And, according to Augustine—de predestinatione sanctorum [Nicene Fathers, vol. 5:498 sqq.]—predestination is the election of the divine will through grace; or, as it is commonly said, predestination is the preparation of grace—making ready—in the present time, and of glory in the future" (pp. 22-23).
"These quotations from the saints [i.e., church fathers] show that the holy catholic church is the number of all the predestinate and Christ's mystical body—Christ being himself the head—and the bride of Christ, whom he of his great love redeemed with his blood that he might at last possess her as glorious, not having wrinkle of mortal sin or spot of venial sin, or anything else defiling her, but that she might be holy and without spot, perpetually embracing Christ, the bridegroom" (p. 10).
Unity of the church: "The unity of the catholic [or universal] church consists in the unity of predestination, inasmuch as her separate members are one by predestination" (p. 14)
"The grace of predestination is the chain by which the body of the church and every member of it are joined to Christ" (p. 14, n. 2; quoting Reply to Palecz, Mon., vol. 1, p. 321).
Apostolicity of the church: "It is called apostolic for the reason that the apostles are full participants of this same mother church, which is fully purified in the Spirit, and which they themselves planted with the teaching and blood of Christ; and by whose teaching (i.e., of the apostles) and authority their vicars now rule the young bride, who seeks only the bridegroom of the church" (p. 14).
"She is also called apostolic, apostolike, because she was established by the words and deeds of the apostles and founded upon the Rock, Christ" (p. 60).
Church authority: "No one is held to believe anything except what he is moved by God to believe but God moves no man to believe what is false" (p. 49).
"no superior is above correction" (p. 222).
"Therefore, let the disciples of anti-christ blush who live contrary to Christ and yet say they are the greatest in God's holy church and are most proud, and who, flourishing in public places by the covetousness and haughtiness of this world, are called the heads and the body of holy church, but who, according to the Gospel of Christ, deserve to be called the least" (p. 43).
A prayer of Hus for the church: "Almighty Lord, who art the way, the truth, and the life, Thou knowest how few in this present time walk in Thee, how few imitate Thee as their head, in humility, poverty, chastity, diligence, and patience. Open is the way of Satan; many walk therein. Help thy weak flock, that it may not forsake Thee, but follow Thee unto the end in the narrow way" (p. 55).

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