The English works of Wyclif hitherto unprinted.Edited by F. D. Matthew.
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384., Matthew, Frederic David, 1838-1918.

Capitulum 3m.

Now see whi meyntenynge of lesyngis is brouȝt in. god seiþ þat no þing plesiþ to a fool but folie; so no þing plesiþ comynly to a false man but falsnesse; & for þes worldly prelatis & newe pharisees ben groundid in lesyngis, þerfore þei comenden lesyngis & meyntenen hem. for prelatis comen in þe staat of cristis apostlis to lyue in pouert, mekenesse & traueyle of þe gospel as þei deden, but þei ben turned to coueitise, worldly lordischipis, pride, ydelnesse & vanyte, & turnen cristis lif and*. ["in" in both MS.] techynge vpsodom. Also newe religious ben brouȝt in-to þe chirche to reise up cristis mekenesse, pouert & penaunce, & to ben a bok of þis pouert & dispisynge of þe world to alle men to loken on, & þei ben turned to ypocrisie, pride, coueitise, glotonye & slouþe & bisynes*. [lesyngis AA.] of þe world more þan oþere worldly men, & ben fals bokis ful of synne & heresie; þat, as ierome & anseml*. [sic in both MS.] witnessen, here croune, here tonsure, here abitis ben ful of lesyngis & þei ben but feyned & peyntid men of religion, & not only lesyngmongeris but pure lesyngis. & siþ god seyþ in þe sauter þat alle þat speken lesyngis schullen ben lost, hou*. [Psalm v. 6.] moche more schullen þei ben lost þat ben pure lesyngis. Þe secunde tyme, crist seiþ to þe iewis, ȝif ȝe weren*. [John viii. 39.] abrahamus children ȝe schulden do werkis of abraham; & þer-fore seiþ austyn wiþ oþere seyntis þat þou art his soone whoos werkis þou dost. Þan siþ þe fend is fadir of lesyngis, as crist seiþ, þes worldly clerkis, & namely feyned religious, comenden lesyngis, for to witnesse in word & dede þat þei ben Page  269 þe fendis children. for ȝif þei weren cristis children þei schulden holde treuþe in word & wille & dede & meyntenen þat, and dispisen alle manere of lesyngis & falsnesse & synne vp here kunnynge & power; & as ion þe euaungelist seiþ, þei schulden wilfully putte hem to deþ for to distroie lesyngis, siþ lesyngis stondiþ more in false dedis þan in wordis, as*. [of X.] holy writt, ambrose & oþere seyntis witnessen pleynly. ¶ Þe þridde tyme, þes newe ordris & flaterynge myȝtte not be susteyned wiþ-oute lesyngis, boþe in word & dede, in þis manere as þei now ben; & for to schewe [page 217] þat þis veyn religious louen more here owene inuencions & here owene lustis*. [both MSS. repeat "more" here.] þan þe*. [omitted X.] clene religion of cristis ordynaunce & gret pouert & peynful lif after crist & his apostlis, þei preisen lesyngis for to beren vp þes veyn nouelries & haunte here lustis. for ȝif cristis owene ordre & ensaumple of his lif & his apostlis ben betere & profitere þan ony newe maad of synful men, it is a foul lesynge to chese wityngly & meyntene þe lesse perfit,*. [profit X.] & forsake þe liȝttere, sikerere & perfitere. ¶ Also it is a cursed lesyng to drawe children, þat han but litil discrecion, to þes newe feyned religious bi ȝeftis & bi behestis*. [hestis AA.] of worldly lordischipe, honour & sikernesse of bodily welfare, more þan to holde wilful pouert & penaunce & dispit & forsakynge of alle worldly þing, for al þis is symonye & heresie ȝif it be wel souȝt; but it is a cursedere lesyng to stele ȝonge children fro here frendis & bi false disceitis make hem to be professed, sumtyme aȝenst here wille, & suffre hem not to gon out of þis veyn ordre, þouȝ þei knowen hem self vnable þer-to. ¶ For sumtyme þes children frendis fallen in mornynge to deþ; & sumtyme bi myschef ben dede where here children þus stolen schulden ellis helpe hem; & sumtyme þes children schulden be goode techeris & reuleris of þe peple, & now ben cursed ypocritis, ful of coueitise, lecherie, enuye & grucchynge aȝenst god; & now þei ben nedid to rob þe pore peple bi fals beggynge, & sclaundren crist wiþ þis clamose beggynge Page  270 dampned of goddis lawe, & ȝit þes open þefte is stifly meyn|tened aȝenst goddis lawe, reson & charite bi sotil ypocrisie, & no chastiȝynge don þer-onne. for men wenen þat þes stronge þeues ben vnder no kyngis lawe ne prelatis lawe in oure lond. for men vnderstonden þat fewe men of discrecion comen to þes nouelries but siche ȝonge bi stelynge or disceyuynge, or ellis bi coueitise of worldly honour & sikernesse of wombe ioie. & herefore þes veyn religious preisen lesyngis, dampnyd bi holy writt old & newe, for cristis treuþe. & þe deuel is lesyngis fadir & disceyued mankynde bi lesynge & brouȝt it in-to sorowe & peyne, as þe gospel &*. [of X.] þe first part of holy writt schewiþ; & þerfore seiþ ambrose þat alle men þat louen lesynges ben þe deuelis children. ion þe euaungelist seiþ þat*. [omitted X.]*. [1 John ii. 21 (?).] no lesyng is of god; þanne it is of þe deuyl siþ he is fadir of lesyngis. Þerfore þe wise man seiþ þat þe mouþ þat leiþ sleeþ*. [Wisdom i. 11.] þe soule; & a þef is more worþi to be suffrid þan þe lastynge of a lesyngmongere; & dauid seiþ þat god*. [omitted X.] schal dampne alle*. [Ecclus. xx. 27.] men þat speken lesyngis, & þe prophete zacharie seiþ þat*. [Zech. v. 4.] goddis curs comeþ [page 218] to þe hous of lieris, & seynt austyn declareþ in many bokis þat of*. [omitted X.] eiȝte manere lesyngis þe leste is synne, & who euere techiþ þe contrarie disceyueþ þe peple. but for þes veyn religious forsaken*. [forsakynge X.] þe techynge & lif of crist, mene persone in trinyte, þerfore þei kunnen no mene bitwixe seiynge soþe in eche tyme & bitwixe lesynge. sumtyme it harmeþ men to seie þe*. [omitted AA.] soþe out of couenable tyme & euere it harmeþ to lie, but sumtyme it profitiþ to be stille & abide a couenable tyme to speke, as dide crist & his apostlis, & ȝif þes veyn religious knowen þis þei schulde haue no colour to make lesyngis. but þer is o gret cause whi þei comenden so lesyngis. þei maken profession to lyue bi labour of here hondis, bi benetis reulis & fraunseis & austynes, & to be deed to þe world, & to be ensaumple & bok of wilful pouert, mekenesse & grete penaunce &*. [omitted X.] abstynence; & now þei ben turned to alle manere of schrewdnesse, harlotrie & synne; & Page  271 þerfore þei forsaken cristis scole of*. [& AA.] treuþe & magnyfien þe deuelis scole of lesyngis; as þei first token lesyng of lif, so þei meyntenen now lesyng in word to coloure þer-bi here olde cursed lif, þat no man may bryngen hem out þer-of.