Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

greatly embittered his mind. He was, however, finally successful in his mission, and on May 1, 1381, Pope Urban VI. conferred on him the expectancy on a canonry of the cathedral of Prague. After again visiting Paris, Janov returned to Bohemia, and presented the papal letters which he had received. The rank of canon was conferred on him, but there being then no vacant benefice he remained in Prague, a pauper philosophans as he himself expresses it. He was, however, befriended by Adalbert Ranco, who gave him hospitality in a house belonging to the canons of Prague.? It was probably also through the influence of Ranco that Matthew obtained at the end of the year 1381, the office of penitentiary to the archbishop. His duties consisted mainly in taking the place of the archbishop at the confessional. About the same time he was also appointed preacher at the Cathedral Church of St. Vitus. To these new dignities, however, no remuneration appears to have been attached; but finally Janov obtained the office of parish-priest at Velika Ves (Michelsdorf). Though deriving his income from this office, he continued to reside at Prague. An indefatigable worker, he found time, in spite of his numerous occupations, to continue at the University of Prague the studies which he had begun in Paris, and in addition to his Latin sermons at St. Vitus, he also preached in Latin in the Church of St. Nicholas in the old town. In these Bohemian sermons, Ranco expressed similar views to those with which we meet in his writings. He spoke very strongly against the then prevalent practice of venerating the pictures and statues of saints. He declared that the pictures of Christ and the saints give opportunities for idolatry; therefore should they be burnt or destroyed, not invoked and honoured by the bending of knees and the lighting of tapers before them. He further stated that it should not be believed that God, through

1 He himself writes feelingly on this subject : ' Pro quibus (provisions) oportet adire sedes praelatorum et tremebunde coram ipsis pro talibus supplicare et impetrare difficulter non sine impensis magnis et expensis, saltem scriptoribus ipsorum pro literis super impetrato confectis et formatis. (Regulae Veteris et Novi Testamanti, lib. iii., tract 4, quoted by Kybal.)

* Tadra, Misty Vojtech Rankuv.

these images, works miracles for the benefit of those who venerate them. Janov further stated that it was not true that the saints in heaven and their remains (such as their bodies, bones, clothing, jewels, etc.) should be honoured here on earth, nor that these saints could by their merits and intercession be more helpful to men than those saints who still live upon earth. Another tenet which Matthew expressed and maintained in his Bohemian sermons was that of a daily communion, which he warmly commended to those who assisted at his sermons at St. Nicholas' Church.1

These opinions were undoubtedly contrary to the teaching of Rome, and perhaps approached more closely to what afterwards became known as a Protestant standpoint than did any assertions of Hus. The archiepiscopal consistory found in these sermons a welcome reason for taking proceedings against Matthew, who had previously already incurred their distrust and dislike. His life of study, untouched by even the slightest taint of immorality, contrasted in a very vivid manner with that of most of the priests of Prague, whose time was spent in hunting, dicing, feasting, and other even less edifying occupations. In October 1388, a decree of the synod of Prague declared that no layman should be admitted to communion oftener than once a month, and shortly afterwards it was decreed that the laymen should be enjoined to address their prayers to pictures, and believe in their miraculous powers. A year later, Janov was summoned to appear before the archiepiscopal court, and he was obliged to retract his views at a solemn meeting of the synod on October 19, 1398.2 As a punishment Matthew was forbidden to celebrate mass, preach, or administer the sacrament anywhere except in his parish church at Velika-Ves.

“ Matthew's recantation," as Dr. Kybal writes, “was made unwillingly and insincerely.” He refers to the incident frequently

Kybal, Matej 2. Janova. * The retractation is published by Palacky, Documenta mag. Joannis Hus. pp. 699 and 700. The statements retracted are exactly those mentioned above. As regards the important question of the veneration of images, Janov declared: “ Dico . quod secundum institutionem et consuetudinem sanctæ matris ecclesiae debent imagines ad honorem illorum quos designant, adorari et venerari. ..

1

» 1

in the Regulae, where he speaks of those "who honour to the highest degree the saints in heaven while they persecute the saintly Christians who are near to them and are their contemporaries; those who rob the saints who live at their time, while they clothe the bones of the dead saints in gold and silver; who sanctify the apostles and other preachers who are dead, while they condemn and insult the faithful preachers and priests who live at their own time."

As Matthew considered that the judgment against him was entirely unjust, the result of the wickedness of worldly-minded men, he continued to preach and write in the same spirit as before; he continued to enjoin the faithful to receive communion frequently, and his language with regard to the worship of images became even stronger than before. He writes that "the simple-minded are seduced in a damnable manner, for they confer, as it were, a divine power on a wooden or stony image, and regard it with amazement, reverence, and affection, forgetting that it is but a senseless and lifeless block of wood, neither blessed nor consecrated by the word of God. Verily, any gallows is more acceptable and more useful in a city than some much-honoured picture or statue in a church, for by means of the gallows God's justice is accomplished and indicated, and the wickedness of the people is diminished. ..."

If we recall the superstitious terror and abhorrence which the "gallows-tree" inspired in mediæval days, we will see the force and the temerity of Janov's comparison.

As was inevitable, the authorities of the church again began to take proceedings against him. In 1392 Matthew was ordered to deliver up to the vicar of the archbishop for inspection two works which he was known to have written. We have, however, no account of the result of this examination. It was a more serious matter when, in the autumn of the same year, Janov was again summoned to appear at the archiepiscopal law court. It appears

Quoted by Kybal from a MS. of Janov. * This eloquent passage (in Regulae, Book V.) is too long for quotation in its entirety.

[ocr errors]

probable that Archbishop Jenzenstein had, in consequence of the contents of the book mentioned above, again forbidden him to officiate as a priest at Prague, and particularly to administer the sacrament daily to laymen. On the formal promise of Matthew that he would henceforth obey all orders of his ecclesiastical superiors, he was now reinstated in all his dignities as a priest and preacher at Prague.

Probably, previous to his second appearance at the archiepiscopal court, Matthew's mind had undergone a profound change, of which he has given us an account that has great psychological interest. It has already been mentioned that he had, like most priests of his time, unhesitatingly availed himself of the chance of gaining a livelihood by means of a papal benefice, the only course often open to an impecunious young priest. It did not even apparently appear to him wrong to conform to a then established custom. On Matthew's return to Prague, where he had, as already mentioned, at first obtained ecclesiastical dignities, but no regular income, a great change came over him. He had hitherto been very ambitious, and there is no doubt that as a subtle theologian and profound philosopher he might, under other circumstances, have ranked high among the writers of the fourteenth century.' But he now cast from him all worldly thoughts and ambitions. In his own words: As long as the 'thick wall' of desire for riches and worldly fame surrounded me and obscured the atmosphere, up to that time as a prisoner or a drunkard, I reposed softly. My only endeavour was to dwell splendidly 'in painted tents,' and as one who dwelleth in an inn, I reflected and thought of nothing but that which attracts the eyes and rejoices the ears. This lasted till it pleased the Lord Jesus to snatch me away from these walls, as a burning brand plucked out of the fire. ..

. . . And the Lord led me to the dwelling of sorrow, adversity, shame and contempt. Now, only when I had become poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembled at the word of the Lord, I began to wonder

1 It is beyond the purpose of this work to enter into this subject. I must refer the reader to Dr. Kybal's brilliant study. * Kybal, Matej %. Janova, pp. 27-28.

8 Isaiah, Ixvi. 2.

2

[ocr errors]

at the truths of holy Scripture, and how they have been necessarily, irrevocably and continually fulfilled in the whole and in all parts. Then also I began at last to wonder at the great artfulness of Satan, who with his thick darkness has surrounded the bodies and covered up the eyes even of great philosophers. Then particularly the dearest crucified Jesus opened my mind that I might understand the passages of Scripture that were befitting to the times, and He raised up my spirit that I might perceive how the people were absorbed by vanity. And reading, I clearly and rightly understood the abomination of desolation which penetrated the holy spot, strongly, broadly, and widely. And I was much frightened, and I was seized with sobbing, which continueth now and for ever. And I began to repeat the complaint of Jeremiah, calling on all to lament over the crimes of Jerusalem, the daughter of his nation. Then there entered into my breast a certain fire, even bodily perceivable, new, strong, strange, but very sweet. This fire endures within me up to now, and the stronger it burns the more am I in my prayers raised up to God and to the Lord Jesus the Crucified; it (the fire) never disappears except when I forget Jesus Christ, or speak vainly, or become lax in the discipline of eating and drinking (i.e., in fasting). Then am I immediately obscured perceivably, and become useless for all good works till I again turn to Jesus Christ with much groaning and many lamentations. ... When I tremble before the judgment-seat of Christ, who so soon casts men into the hell of condemnation and again leads them back into the state of grace, then this fire returns to me and surrounds anew my inner man, so that I am prepared for everything that is good. And then I receive this suggestion which is written down and runs thus: “Son of man, pierce the wall.' And I obeyed the voice of my God and I pierced the wall in a threefold fashion, that is by preaching daily to the people, by constantly hearing confessions and by writing this ? (book) with much solicitude both by day and by night."

It is obvious through this self-confession that it was by means 11.e. of the University of Paris (note of Dr. Kybal). ? j.e. the Regulae.

« PredošláPokračovať »