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From Here to Forever

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    Jerome Finds Repentance and New Courage

    Soon he was again brought before the council. His submission had not satisfied the judges. Only by unreserved surrender of truth could Jerome preserve his life. But he had determined to avow his faith and follow his brother martyr to the flames.HF 70.1

    He renounced his former recantation and, as a dying man, solemnly required opportunity to make his defense. The prelates insisted that he merely affirm or deny the charges brought against him. Jerome protested against such cruel injustice. “You have held me shut up three hundred and forty days in a frightful prison,” he said; “you then bring me out before you, and lending an ear to my mortal enemies, you refuse to hear me. ... Take care not to sin against justice. As to me, I am only a feeble mortal; my life is but of little importance; and when I exhort you not to deliver an unjust sentence, I speak less for myself than for you.”15Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 146, 147.HF 70.2

    His request was finally granted. In the presence of his judges, Jerome kneeled down and prayed that the divine Spirit might control his thoughts, that he might speak nothing contrary to truth or unworthy of his Master. To him that day was fulfilled the promise, “When they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Matthew 10:19, 20.HF 70.3

    For a whole year Jerome had been in a dungeon, unable to read or even see. Yet his arguments were presented with as much clearness and power as if he had had undisturbed opportunity for study. He pointed his hearers to the long line of holy men condemned by unjust judges. In almost every generation those seeking to elevate the people of their time had been cast out. Christ Himself was condemned as a malefactor at an unrighteous tribunal.HF 70.4

    Jerome now declared his repentance and bore witness to the innocence and holiness of the martyr Huss. “I knew him from his childhood,” he said. “He was a most excellent man, just and holy; he was condemned, notwithstanding his innocence. ... I am ready to die. I will not recoil before the torments that are prepared for me by my enemies and false witnesses, who will one day have to render an account of their impostures before the great God, whom nothing can deceive.”HF 71.1

    Jerome continued: “Of all the sins that I have committed since my youth, none weigh so heavily on my mind, and cause me such poignant remorse, as that which I committed in this fatal place, when I approved of the iniquitous sentence rendered against Wycliffe, and against the holy martyr, John Huss, my master and my friend. Yes! I confess it from my heart, and declare with horror that I disgracefully quailed when, through a dread of death, I condemned their doctrines. I therefore supplicate ... Almighty God to deign to pardon me my sins, and this one in particular, the most heinous of all.”HF 71.2

    Pointing to his judges, he said firmly, “You condemned Wycliffe and John Huss. ... The things which they have affirmed, and which are irrefutable, I also think and declare, like them.”HF 71.3

    His words were interrupted. The prelates, trembling with rage, cried out: “What need is there of further proof? We behold with our own eyes the most obstinate of heretics!”HF 71.4

    Unmoved by the tempest, Jerome exclaimed: “What! do you suppose that I fear to die? You have held me for a whole year in a frightful dungeon, more horrible than death itself. ... I cannot but express my astonishment at such great barbarity toward a Christian.”16Bonnechose, vol. 2, pp. 151, 153.HF 71.5

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