Janow, Matthias Von

Janow, Matthias Von one of the most celebrated reformers before the Reformation, and one of the three distinguished forerunners of Huss, SEE WALDHAUSER and Milicz, on whose teachings in their day, more than on all the territorial aggrandizements of the German empire, the most important results 'of the latter half of the 14th century were staked (Gillett, Huss, 1, 37), was the son of a Bohemian knight. Of the early history of Matthias we know but very little. He was educated at the University of Prague, where he was a zealous disciple of Milicz (q.v.), and he is often called Magister Parisiesis. because he spent six years at the University of Paris and obtained his master's degree there. He traveled extensively, and no doubt had attained great popularity as a scholar and divine when quite young.' He was ambitious to secure some prominent position, and succeeded, on a visit to- Rome in 1380, in obtaining the appointment of prebendary at Prague; and confessor of Charles IV. He entered upon the duties of this office Oct. 12, 1381, and continued therein until his death, Nov. 30, 1394. Matthias of Janow does 'not seem to have been a very eloquent preacher, but he was certainly a man of very earnest and deep piety, zealous for his Master's cause, anxious to purify the Church' from the evils and corruptions which then threatened the extirpation of all religious feeling; and however small may have been his influence in the pulpit, "it was more than compensated by the influence which he exerted through his writings, and by his scientific exposition of principles. In his works we may find not only the reformatory ideas which passed over from him to Huss, but also the incipient germ of those Christian principles Which at a later period were unfolded in Germany- by Luther, although the latter never came under the influence of Matthias 'of Janow" (Neander, CA. Hist. 5, 192). In his earlier period of life, disgusted with that spiritual pride and contempt of the laity which characterized the priests 2 the 14th and 15th centuries, he was impressed by Milicz's ideas of the universal priesthood of all Christians, more especially after he had been placed in the confessional, where he had great opportunity to inform himself more minutely of the good or bad in all classes of society, and of the religious ants of the people. This may be clearly seen not only from his own narration of the change which he experienced (see Neander, Ch. Hist. 5, 194 sq.; Gillett, Huss, 1, 28 sq.), but also from his writings, collected under the title of De regulis Veteris et Novii Testamenti, of which, unfortunately, the greater part still remains in MS. form (for extracts, see Jordan, Virldauferi d. Husitenthumas in Bohmen [Lpz. 1846]). Pressel, in Herzog (s.v.), says that the work might more appropriately have been entitled Inquiries concerning true and false Christianity. "It is chiefly taken up with reflections on the history of the times, and hints concerning the future, based on the rules of the Old and New Testaments, on the prophetical elements which they contain. Although there is a great deal in the details which is arbitrary, particularly in the apocalyptic calculations, yet grand prophetic glances into the future are also to be found. He portrays the utter corruption of the Church in all its parts, and explains the causes of it (Neander). The main object of the work, however, was the rejection of the authority of human traditions and popish decretals, and the substitution in their stead of the supreme authority of the divine Word. He tries everything by this test. The conduct of the bishops and the priests is severely arraigned. The antichrist he asserts, has already come. 'He is neither Jew, Pagan, Saracen, nor worldly tyrant persecuting Christendom, but the man who opposes Christian truth and the Christian life in the way of deception; he is and will be the most wicked Christian, falsely styling himself by that name, assuming the highest station in the Church, and possessing the highest consideration, arrogating dominion over all ecclesiastics and laymen; one who, by the working of Satan, knows how to make subservient to his own ends and to his own will the corporations of the rich and wise in the entire Church; one who has the preponderance in honors and in riches, but who especially misappropriates the goods of Christ, the Holy Scriptures, the sacraments, and all that belongs to the hopes of religion, to his own aggrandizement and to the gratification of his own passions; deceitfully perverting spiritual things to carnal ends, and in a crafty and subtle' manner employing what was designed for the salvation of a Christian people, as means to lead them astray from the truth and power of Christ (Neander, 5,.196 sq.; Gillett, p. 30 sq.). It is apparent, from the tenor of Janow's writings, that he took higher ground than the other Hussite forerunners, Waldhausen and Milicz the earliest Bohemian reformers and that he was, in truth, the Wickliffe of the Bohemian Church. The efforts of his predecessors were simply toward a reform in morals and in doctrine, but the efforts of Janow were directed to a reformation of the corrupt Latin system, with a view to remove wholly the yoke of that system. He strove not simply to elevate the moral and religious condition of the priest and the layman, but demanded alike privileges for both. Not to the priesthood only, but to the laity also belonged the communion of both kinds; not to the popes only, who had haughtily exalted themselves, belonged the right to govern, but all bishops should share the same privileges; in short, his idea was that the organism of the Church is one in which all the members should be connected according to their several ranks, and co-operate together like the lead and members in the human body (comp. Reichel, See of Rome in the Middle Ages, p. 600). We need not wonder that Janow, although he did not suffer the punishment of a heretic, was not long permitted to cast abroad seeds which must result in the overthrow of the papal hierarchy, and the removal of many strong barriers which protected the priesthood in these days of darkness and of sin. Having urged upon the emperor the need of a council, the pope declared Janow guilty of disseminating heretical opinions, and he was obliged to leave Prague. It is said that he recanted in 1389 before the Synod of Prague, which had arraigned him, but it is evident from his writings that he never changed his opinions, for one of his last declarations was "All that remains for us is to desire a reformation by the overthrow of the antichrist himself to lift up our heads and see our redemption near." Sixteen years after his death (1410), his writings, it is generally admitted, were committed to the flames, together with those of Wickliffe. See Palacky, Geschichte ron Bohmen, III. 1, 173 sq.; Neander, Church History, v. 192 sq.; Gillett, Huss and his Times, 1, 26 sq. (J. H. W.)

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