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De Ecclesia

The Church


John Hus

Jan Huss or John Hus, 1372-1415, Bohemian/Czech Reformer and Protestant Martyr for the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Originally written in 1413

1915 Edition, translated, with notes and introduction by David S. Schaff, D.D., Professor of Church History at the Western Theological Seminary


Title Page of De Ecclesia or The Church by John Huss.

"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. Nemo tenetur quidquam credere nisi ad quod movet eum deus credere sed deus non movet hominem ad credendum falsum." - John Huss

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De Ecclesia or The Church by John Huss (Originally written in 1413; 1915 Edition, translated, with notes and introduction by David S. Schaff, D.D., Professor of Church History at the Western Theological Seminary)

“I hope, by God's grace, that I am truly a Christian, not deviating from the faith, and that I would rather suffer the penalty of a terrible death than wish to affirm anything outside of the faith or transgress the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ. Spero, ex Dei gratia, quod sum christianus ex integro, a fide non devians, et quod potius vellem pati dirae mortis supplicium, quam aliquid vellem prataer fidem asserere, vel transgredi mandata Domini Jesu Christi." - John Huss


I. The Unity of the Church ... 1-10
The church an article of faith - Meaning of church in Greek - In the New Testament - The church a mother - The dove of the Canticles - The strong woman of Proverbs - Not to be believed in as God.

II. The One Universal Church divided into Three Parts ... 1-15
The church triumphant, militant, and dormant - The Apostles' Creed - Wherein the unity consists.

III. All Christians are not Members of the Church ... 16-26
Parables of the net, etc. - The human body and the spiritual body - Essential parts of the body - Four kinds of persons related to the church - Predestinated according to present righteousness - Christ's other sheep.

IV. Christ the Only Head of the Church ... 27-38
Head by reason of his divinity and humanity - Head from the be­ginning - No reprobate a member of the church - Present goodness no proof of predestination - Tychonius - The word Christian.

V. Good and Bad in the Church ... 39-51
Belief and faith - Parables of the marriage-supper, etc. - The least in the kingdom of heaven - Prelates may be reprobate - Clergy and church used interchangeably - Paying tithes to the clergy for their works' sake- The nominal and the real church.

VI. Christ the Head of the Elect ... 52-55
Devil the head of the reprobate - Sin continues in the reprobate but disjoins them - Christ head of the world as well as of the predestinate.

VII. The Roman Pontiff and the Cardinals not the Universal Church ... 56-66
Matthew 16:18 - The church a mixed body - Particular churches - Reasons for calling the Roman church the church.

VIII. The Faith Which is the Foundation of the Church ... 67-72
Three meanings of faith - Faith formed in love - Faith and vision - Heb. 2:1 - Faith and hope - Fallibility of the pope - Infallibility of the pope - Infallibility of the Scriptures.

IX. The Church Founded on Christ, the Rock ... 73-90
Christ and not Peter the rock - Paul on the church's foundation - Texts showing Christ to be the rock - Augustine on the rock - Patriarchs looked forward not to Peter - The apostles the foundations of the church - Peter captain and primate - Peter's virtues - The priest makes the chair, not the chair the priest - Christ the way, the truth, the life.

X. The Power of Binding and Loosing ... 91-110
Spiritual and civil power - Power of the keys - Penance - Forgiveness granted only by him sinned against - How far the priest binds and looses - Things Peter could not loose - Lazarus loosed - Binding and loosing belong to all the apostles.

XI. The Abuse of Scripture in the Interest of Clerical Power ... 111-118
Claiming the power of Christ and not following him - The devil the worst of sophists - Christ came to minister - Fictitious clerical authority - Christ's true followers - Simoniac priests - The contention of the eight doctors.

XII. Christ the True Roman Pontiff upon whom Sal­vation Depends ... 119-124
Belief in Christ alone of necessity to salvation - Christ the eternal high priest - Gregory I's letter on the papal prerogative - Assumptions and ostentation of modern pontiffs.

XIII. The Pope not the Head of the Church but Christ's Vicar ... 125-136
The alleged successors of Peter and the apostles - Unlettered popes - The papissa Joan - Heretic popes - Constantine's donation - Pope and cardinals not necessarily successors of the apostles - The pope may be head of the Roman church if his life is worthy - If he is predestinate.

XIV. When the Cardinals are the True Successors of the Apostles ... 137-146
Cardinals not the body of Christ - Not all the predestinate - Prelates often do not seek the things of Christ - The name does not make the bishop - The pope's display - Kissing the pope's feet - Prelates to be tested by their works.

XV. The Church may be Ruled Without Pope and Cardinals ... 147-160
Unworthy prelates - Duties of Christ's apostles - Ambrose, Augustine, etc., true vicars of Christ - Constantine's donation - Lewis's grant to Pascal - No such grant from Christ - Original identity of bishops and presbyters - Gregory XII condemned by the cardinals - The church at first without a pope - The two orders of bishop and deacon - The clergy discerned by their works.

XVI. The Law of the Standard of Ecclesiastical Judgments ... 161-182
Pope and cardinals as judges - Jerome on the Roman see - Christ falsely condemned by statute law - Popes to be disobeyed if their judg­ments are contrary to the truth - Christ did not pronounce civil judg­ments - Nor put to death - Old Testament examples not to be followed - The sanguinary corollary - The abomination of desolation - Cases of strife over the papacy - Wicked popes - The Avignon schism - Constantine's donation announced by an angel, bad or good.

XVII. Huss' Resistance to Papal Authority ... 183-194
Religious superiors not always to be obeyed - Christ's obedience to a superior - To an inferior - Obedience of the greater to the less - Of an equal to an equal - Of the less to the greater - Obedience only virtuous as it is of God - Commands and counsels - Ecclesiastical laws not commanded in Scripture.

XVIII. The Apostolic See, or Cathedra Petri ... 195-216
The true priest does good works - Preaching - Pope is apostolic when he follows the apostles - Moses' seat was Moses' authority - Augustine on the apostolic see - Papal commands to be tested - Huss' appeal to Christ - Pope may err - Solemn responsibility of priests who kill the sheep - Augustine on cathedras - Marcellus made mistakes - The primacy of Antioch and Rome.

XIX. When Ecclesiastical Superiors are to be Obeyed ... 217-228
The absolutely good always to be obeyed - Commands that are inter­mediate - Neutrality impossible where moral action is concerned - Superiors to be obeyed always when they teach Christ's commandments - St. Paul's example - Bernard on the duty of obedience - Clerics and laics to scrutinize the commands of superiors - No blind obedience.

XX. Obedience not always to be Rendered to the Church or its Prelates ... 229-240
"Prelates to be obeyed in all things" - Excommunication only for mortal sin - In matters intermediate the church sometimes to be dis­obeyed - Commands to be weighed by the reason - Ecclesiastical burdens hard to be borne - Christ's yoke easy - The Christian to follow Christ's commands - Capable priests ought to preach as much as the rich to give alms.

XXI. Circumstances under which Obedience is to be rendered to Prelates ... 241-262
Popes and prelates compared to the scribes and Pharisees - Divine counsels - Circumstances modifying commands - Huss's reasons for not going to Rome - Commands repugnant to reason - Christ the first exemplar to be followed - Deaths of John, Martin, and Stafcon - An inferoir may rebuke a superior - Objections from the canon law against rebuking a pope - Inferiors should examine commands before they obey them.

XXII. Excommunications, Just and Unjust ... 263-274
"A censure from the pope not to be questioned" - Pilate's treatment of the censure of Christ - Excommunication, suspension, interdict - Excommunication does not hurt the righteous - God must first excommunicate - The wicked already excommunicated from the body of the righteous.

XXIII. Suspension and the Interdict ... 275-299
Suspension must be from God to be valid - Eli and his sons - Old Testament priests less guilty than New Testament priests - Prelates more guilty than the people if they do not warn the people - Not to reprove is to consent to sin - The interdict - Christ imposed none - Unjust to the innocent community - Reasons for the interdict on Prague - The curia's method - Boniface VIII's bull - "The customs of the fathers" - The apostles did not fulminate interdicts - Condemnation of the XLV Wyclifite Articles - The effect.

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HAIL & FIRE - a resource for Reformed and Gospel Theology in the works, exhortations, prayers, and apologetics of those who have maintained the Gospel and expounded upon the Scripture as the Eternal Word of God and the sole authority in Christian doctrine.

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