The next time he appeared before them, the accusation was read, and Huss and some of the “doctors of the Church” engaged in debate. “After comparing these statements it appears to us,” wrote Wylie, “that Huss differed from the Church of Rome not so much on dogmas as on great points of jurisdiction and policy. These, while they directly attacked certain of the principles of the Papacy, tended indirectly to the subversion of the whole system – in short, to a far greater revolution than Huss perceived, or perhaps intended.” In this, however, Wylie was incorrect, for as seen above, Huss had attacked various Roman Catholic teachings with vigour. Wylie added, “He appears to have believed in transubstantiation; he declared so before the Council, although in stating his views he betrays ever and anon a revulsion from the grosser form of the dogma. He admitted the Divine institution and office of the Pope and members of the hierarchy, but he made the efficacy of their official acts dependent on their spiritual character. Even to the last he did not abandon the communion of the Roman Church.” Wylie’s statement about transubstantiation is confusing, for he himself had said previously that Huss condemned transubstantiation. And in addition, as has been shown, Huss’ beliefs most definitely meant he was outside the communion of the Roman Catholic “Church”: he upheld the Bible as the supreme rule of faith; he said that Christ was the Rock on which the Church was built; that the true Church is the assembly of the predestinate; and that the Church did not need one visible head on earth (the pope). These were not Papist doctrines, they were biblical ones. And Huss’ faith was in Christ, not the pope. He wrote to the people of Prague, “I commend you to the merciful Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, and the Son of the immaculate Virgin Mary, who hath redeemed us by his most bitter death, without all our merits, from eternal pains, from the thraldom of the devil, and from sin.” This statement, despite its false Romish statement of Mary being “immaculate” and its Arminianism (“who hath redeemed us”, as if all the people of Prague were redeemed), shows that he saw man’s own merits will not save him, and only Christ can.
Yes, he erred in hoping that the Papacy could be reformed – on this he had not as yet been given light, and did not yet clearly see the awful, antichristian, unholy nature of Romanism, root and branch. But in both doctrine and practice he was no longer a Roman Catholic.
Condemned as a Heretic; He Trusts in Christ Alone
After many days of languishing in prison he was brought before the Council again, on the 6th July 1415. The hall was packed. The emperor was there, high dignitaries of the Roman Harlot “Church” were there, and a great crowd of common people was there as well.
From his prison he had written in a letter: “I, Master John Hus, in chains and in prison, now standing on the shore of this present life and expecting on the morrow a dreadful death… find no heresy in myself, and accept with all my heart any truth whatsoever that is worthy of belief.”
He was upbraided for having appealed for help to Jesus Christ; at which point he lifted up his hands to heaven and said, “See, most gracious Saviour, how the Council condemns as an error what Thou didst prescribe and practice, when, overborne by enemies, Thou committedst Thy cause to God the Father, leaving us this example, that when we are oppressed we may have recourse to the judgment of God.” Then he turned to the assembly and said, “Yes, I have maintained, and still maintain, that an appeal to Jesus Christ is most just and right; for He can neither be corrupted by bribes, nor deceived by false witnesses, nor overreached by artifice.” His faith was in Christ alone.
He was called “that obstinate heretic”, the accusations against him were read again, and he again refused to abjure. The sentence of condemnation as a heretic was then passed upon him, followed by the ceremony of degradation – when the vestments of a Romish priest were put upon him, the chalice was placed in his hand as if he were a priest about to celebrate the mass, he was again asked to abjure, he again refused, and they then took the chalice out of his hand saying, “O accursed Judas, who, having abandoned the counsels of peace, have taken part in that of the Jews, we take from you this cup filled with the blood of Jesus Christ.” To which Huss replied, “I hope, by the mercy of God, that this very day I shall drink of His cup in His own kingdom”. They then removed all the priestly garments off him, cursing him as they did so. And they placed on his head a mitre made of paper, on which were painted devils, and in the front the word, “Arch-Heretic”. And as they did so Huss said, “Most joyfully will I wear this crown of shame for thy sake, O Jesus, who for me didst wear a crown of thorns.”
Note that he said nothing regarding his being a priest, or having the powers Rome supposedly gives to a priest. He had seen through this religious system, seen it for what it was, and had forsaken it.
The bishops who had stripped the garments off him then said to him, “Now, we devote thy soul to the devil.” John Huss lifted his eyes toward heaven and said, “And I do commit my spirit into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus, for thou hast redeemed me.” Was he looking towards the Romish “Church” at all? No. Was he trusting in the Romish sacraments to get to heaven? No. He was trusting solely in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. He knew Christ was the only Redeemer, and he said so. He was standing against the entire hierarchy of this evil religion, which had condemned him as a heretic, and by contradicting their words he was in effect saying that they were the heretics, and he was the Christian. It appears that, whatever false views he still had of the Roman Catholic “Church” right up until a few weeks before his death, things were different now. Now, he knew that this “Church” called a man “Judas” when he was a disciple of Jesus; it sought to commit a soul to Satan who belonged to Christ; and instead of pleading with the leadership of this “Church” for mercy, he cast himself upon Christ, and Christ alone, by simple faith.