From Here to Forever


Prague Placed Under Interdict

Tidings were carried to Rome, and Huss was summoned to appear before the pope. To obey would be certain death. The king and queen of Bohemia, the university, members of the nobility, and officers of the government, united in an appeal to the pontiff that Huss be permitted to remain at Prague and answer by deputy. Instead, the pope proceeded to the trial and condemnation of Huss, and declared the city of Prague under interdict. HF 63.2

In that age this sentence created alarm. The people looked upon the pope as the representative of God, holding the keys of heaven and hell and possessing power to invoke judgments. It was believed that until it should please the pope to remove the ban, the dead were shut out from the abodes of bliss. All the services of religion were suspended. The churches were closed. Marriages were solemnized in the churchyard. The dead were interred without rites in ditches or fields. HF 63.3

Prague was filled with tumult. A large class denounced Huss and demanded that he be given up to Rome. To quiet the storm, the Reformer withdrew for a time to his native village. He did not cease his labors, but traveled through the country preaching to eager crowds. When the excitement in Prague subsided, Huss returned to continue preaching the Word of God. His enemies were powerful, but the queen and many nobles were his friends, and the people in great numbers sided with him. HF 63.4

Huss had stood alone in his labors. Now Jerome joined in the reform. The two were hereafter united in their lives, and in death they were not to be divided. In those qualities which constitute real strength of character, Huss was the greater. Jerome, with true humility, perceived his worth and yielded to his counsels. Under their united labors the reform rapidly extended. HF 63.5

God permitted great light to shine upon the minds of these chosen men, revealing to them many of the errors of Rome, but they did not receive all the light to be given to the world. God was leading the people out of the darkness of Romanism, and He led them on, step by step, as they could bear it. Like the full glory of the noontide sun to those who have long dwelt in darkness, all the light would have caused them to turn away. Therefore He revealed it little by little, as it could be received by the people. HF 64.1

The schism in the church continued. Three popes were now contending for supremacy. Their strife filled Christendom with tumult. Not content with hurling anathemas, each cast about to purchase arms and obtain soldiers. Of course money must be had; to procure this, the gifts, offices, and blessing of the church were offered for sale. (See Appendix) HF 64.2

With increasing boldness Huss thundered against the abominations tolerated in the name of religion. The people openly accused Rome as the cause of the miseries that overwhelmed Christendom. HF 64.3

Again Prague seemed on the verge of a bloody conflict. As in former ages, God's servant was accused as “he that troubleth Israel.” 1 Kings 18:17. The city was again placed under interdict, and Huss withdrew to his native village. He was to speak from a wider stage, to all Christendom, before laying down his life as a witness for truth. HF 64.4

A general council was summoned to meet at Constance [southwestern Germany], called at the desire of the emperor Sigismund by one of the three rival popes, John XXIII. Pope John, whose character and policy could ill bear investigation, dared not oppose the will of Sigismund. (See Appendix) The chief objects to be accomplished were to heal the schism in the church and to root out “heresy.” The two antipopes were summoned to appear as well as John Huss. The former were represented by their delegates. Pope John came with many misgivings, fearing to be brought to account for the vices which had disgraced the tiara as well as for the crimes which had secured it. Yet he made his entry into the city of Constance with great pomp, attended by ecclesiastics and a train of courtiers. Above his head was a golden canopy, borne by four of the chief magistrates. The host was carried before him, and the rich dress of the cardinals and nobles made an imposing display. HF 64.5

Meanwhile another traveler was approaching Constance. Huss parted from his friends as if he were never to meet them again, feeling that his journey was leading him to the stake. He had obtained a safe-conduct from the king of Bohemia and one also from Emperor Sigismund. But he made all his arrangements in view of the probability of his death. HF 65.1