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

Capitulum 3m.

See now where þei breken falsly alle þe comaundementis of god. Ȝif þei chesyn to be reulid more after þe ordynaunce of synful men and ydiotis þan after þe clene ordynaunce of crist, and seyn þat synful mennus ordynaunce is betere and sikerere for men and more perfit þan is þe clene ordynaunce of crist; þei worschipen false goddis and ben heretikys and blasphemes; and so þei breken þe first maundement of god. Ȝif þei dreden more and ponyschen more for brekynge of synful mennes contradicions þan for comaundementis of god cursedly broken, and studien and louen more here priuat reulis þan þe hestis of god, þei worschepen, louen and dreden more synful men, and in caas dampnyd deuelis, þan god almyȝti. for as austyn seiþ a man makiþ þat þing his god þe whiche he drediþ most or loueþ most.

¶ Ȝif þei chargen men more to seke blynde stockys or ymagis and to offre to hem more þan to pore bedrede men and more þan to charge goddis hestis; þei worschipen false goddis. for þouȝ a man breke goddis hestis þei wole soone and liȝtly assoile him, but ȝif he make a vow to a blynd pylgrymage or to sende his offrynge to siche a stok; þat schal not be dis|pensid wiþ but reserued to a grettere satrap. And in þis þei chargen more þe brekynge of a folie a-vow of synful men þan þe brekynge of goddis [page 6] hestis; but wheþere is more ydolatrie? Page  8

¶ Ȝif þei sweren in veyn and many false oþis to bigile ȝonge children to here veyn religion, sweryng þat it is þe beste; who takiþ þe name of god in more ydelnesse and more dispitt? Ȝif þei taken þe charge to ben trewe vikeris or seruauntis of crist and þer-wiþ taken vpon hem falsly þat þinge þat is reserued to god only, as to make men partyners of here medeful dedis, and to graunte hem þe blisse of heuene and pardon to slee cristen men for to meyntene worldely lordschip and coueitise of þat prist þat schulde be most meke, most pore, most redy to dye for cristen mennus soulis; who takiþ more cursidly þe name of god in veyn?

¶ Ȝif þei vndirtaken to brynge soules out of purgatorie bi here preiers and here to receyuen myche gold or rentis, and þer-wiþ lyuen in pride, enuye and oþere grete synnes; who takiþ more goddis name in veyn, and more cursidly dis|ceyueþ cristen men? ¶ For crist seiþ to siche men in þe*. [Luke vi. 46.] gospel of seynt luk: What seie ȝee to me lord! lord! and don not my comaundementis; and in þe gospel of matheu*. [Matth. xv. 8.] seiþ crist þat siche ypocritis worschipen him wiþ outen cause; and by salomons bok seiþ god þat his preiere is cursid*. [Prov. xxviii. [9.]] and abhomynable þat turneþ a wey his eris þat he here not goddis lawe; and also bi þe prophete ysaie and malachie and*. [Isaiah i. [15.]] austyn and gregory and many moo.*. [Mal. i. [10.]]

¶ Ȝif þei maken hem besi on þe holy day to preche fablis and lesyngis to þe peple and not þe gospel, and gon fro place to place and fro man to man to begge of pore men for here false lesyngis, and letten men fro here deuocioun; þei kepen not wel here holiday. ¶ Ȝif þei drawen þe peple in þe holiday by coryouste of gaye wyndownes and colours and peyntyngis and babwynrie fro conpunccion of here synnes and fro mynde of heuenely þinges, and fede riche men wiþ pore mennus goodis, wiþ costly metis and wynes and wast spicerie to glotonye, dronkenesse, lecherie, and weiward talis, and suffren pore men hungry and þristi and in gret mischef; þei kepen euyl here holyday and letten oþere men to kepen it. ¶ Ȝif þei studien on þe holy day aboute experymentis or Page  9 wiche craft [page 7] or 1veyn songis and 1*. [1_1 omitted X.]knackynge and harpynge, gyternynge & daunsynge & oþere veyn triflis to geten þe stynkyng loue of damyselis, and stere hem to worldely vanyte and synnes; þei breken foule þer holyday and ben procuratours of þe fend.

¶ Ȝif þei worschipen gretly here singuler patroun and dis|pisen god þe trynite and ihū crist oure goode fader, when þei putten his lawe and his ordynaunce bihynde; þei worschipen not here fadir after goodis lawe. Ȝif þei louen more here singulere congregacion þan þe comynte of cristen men, þei worschipen not but dispisen owre modire holy chirche. ȝif þei drawen parischenes fro obedience and loue & *. [omitted X.]sacramentis of here gostely fadris for here owne wynnyng, as in confessioun and beriynge & herynge*. [omitted X.] of massis for offryng; how worschipen þei and techen oþere to worchipe here gostli fadris? Ȝif þei drawen children fro fadir and modir and maken hem of here singulere religioun, þat þei may not susteyne here heldris lif be þei neuer so feble and pore; how worschipen þei god and techen childre to leue þe maundement of god and to suffere fadire and modir to perische for feyned obydience to synful mannus tradiciouns? certis þis ilke fals religious is gilty of þefte and manquellyng also, siþ he is cause of þe old pore mannus deþ.

¶ Ȝif þei haten and sclaundren with false lesynges trewe men to techen frely holy writt and repreuen synne, and namely ypocrisie, and falsly pursuen hem to þe deþ, þei slen hem, and ioon þe euaungelist seiþ as to here dampnacion. Ȝif þei*. [l John iii. 15.] conforten men to slee here breþren in false werris, by open prechynge or preuei conseilynge, or vndirtakynge for false domesmen þat slen innocent men for coueityse or enmyte whanne men ȝeuen hem myche tresoure; þei ben false menquelleris and most gyltif of alle.

¶ Ȝif þei letten curatis and pore prestis to techen men goddis lawe bi sotil ypocrisie and sleiȝtis of anticristis lawe, for Page  10 drede lest here ypocrisie be parceyued and here wynnynge and worldly fame leid a-doun; þei ben cursed manquelleris, and gylti of dampnacion of alle þe soulis þat perischen for þe defaute of kunnynge and kepynge of goddis comaunde|mentis.

¶ Ȝif þei prechen principaly for worldeli muk or veyn glorie, and so prechen here owne sotiltes to be preised of men, and not [page 8] symply and pleynly þe gospel of crist for his glorie and sauyng of mennus soulis; þei don gostely lecherie bi goddis word as poul seiþ.

¶ Ȝif þei seyn and meyntenen in scole and oþere placis þat þe wordis of holy writt ben false and manere of spekyng of newe idiotis is trewe, þei don gostly auoutrie and putten falsnesse and blasphemye vpon god; for in þat þei seyn þat an heþene philosofre or a newe synful caitif is wittiere and trewere þan almyȝti god, ȝe þat god is fals and a fole and þes heþene blasphemes and newe dremeris ben trewe and witti.

¶ Ȝif þei feynen hem sotil of fisik and knowynge of wym|menys complexcion and preuyte, seiynge þat siche siknesse or deþ schal com to hem in absence of here housbondis but ȝif þei haue mannus helpe, and þus defoulen on and oþer; þei breken foule þis comaundement þat biddiþ men do no lecherie; and in þis poynt men dreden þat þes pharisees geten hem moo holderis vp for here putrie þan for here trewe prechyng or holy lyf.

¶ Whanne lordis ben fro hom in werris, in iustis and par|lementis and in dyuerse lordschipis, and whanne marchauntis ben out of lond or in fer cuntrees for here marchaundise, and whanne plowmen ben al day in þe feld at here plowȝ ore medes; þan þes pharisees presen faste to here wyues vnder colour of holynesse.

¶ Ȝif þei stelen mennus children, boþe gentyl mennus and pore, to make hem of here synguler ordre þat is maad of synful men and confermyd, & in cas of*. [omitted X.] deuelis and not of god; þei don cursed þefte aȝenst þe seue[n]þe maundement of Page  11 god. for many men ben drawen, bi lesynges and ȝiftis and so by symonye, fro þe betere ordre to þe werse and maad more cursed and deppere dampnyd in helle. For þouȝ children ben brouȝt be lesyngis, symonye and fals bihestis in-to þis feyned ordre bifore tyme of discrecion and ben not able þer-to, ȝit þei schulle be nedid bi peyne of dampnynge in helle, as þei seyn, and bi drede of bodely deþ to holde forþ þis feyned religion aȝenst here conscience and fredom of þe gospel. and he þat most steliþ children to þes priuatis ordris is most preised of þes cursed congregacion, and þat is a cursed reward. For he þat steliþ an oxe or a cowe is a þef and gretly [page 9] peyned bi mannus lawe; myche more owiþ he to be ponyschid boþe of god and man þat steliþ his owne child, þat is betere þan alle worldely goodis; and here-bi ben gentil mennus heiris distroied, and so lordis and also laboreris and sumtyme trewe prestis and curatis ben made beggeris and lesyngmongeris to destruction of londis. Ȝif þei techen wyues, prentis, seruauntis and children to stele fro here housbondis, maistris and fadir and modir and ȝeuen it to þes pharisees, as hildegar seiþ, þei ben perilous þeuys to make discencioun among manye. Ȝif þei feynen hem nedy and pore whanne þei ben ryche and proude, and beggen of þe pore peple, and maken men to wene þat þei schulden haue more þank of god to ȝeue here almes to riche possessioners or oþer ryche pharisees þan to ȝeuen it to here pore neiȝbores as crist biddiþ; þei ben foule þeues, for þei robben þe almes ȝeuere boþe of feiþ, of worldely catel, and pore bedrede men of here liflode.

¶ Ȝif þei putten on here pore breþren þat lyuen wel and reprouen hem of here synnes þat þei wolden distroie holy religion, and here-fore disceisen hem and putten hem in prison, and sumtyme morþere hem aȝenst goddis lawe and þe kyngys; þei beren false wyttenesse aȝenst here neiȝebore, and ben cursed manquelleris. ¶ Ȝif þei beren on pore prestis þat techen þe trewþe of þe gospel and þe goodenesse of cristis ordynaunce þat þei wolde distroie holi chirche, and here-fore Page  12 pursuen hem to þe deþ and maken prelatys lordis and comunes to do also; þei beren false wittenesse, and ben manquelleris and irregulere bifore god and traitouris to god and alle holi chirche. ȝif þei pursuen to þe deþ pore freris serabitis, þat kepen fraunseis reule and testament to þe riȝte vndyrstond|ynge and wille of fraunceis wiþ outen glose of antecristis clerkis; þei beren false wyttenesse aȝeyns here patron and ben caynis breþren þat killyd his broþer fore his goode lyuynge. ȝif þei seyn þat cristis lawe is not ynowȝ and þe beste to reule holy chirche, but lawis of proude coueitouse and worldly clerkis ben nedful and betere, and stryuen aȝenst goode men þat techen þe goodnesse and excellence of cristis lawe and his ordynaunce and declaren þe falsenesse and ypocrisie of worldly prestis newe lawis; þei beren false witnesse and ben traitours to god and stynkynge blasphemes.

[page 10] ¶ Ȝif þei coueiten vnresonabiliche þe housis, þat ben goodis vnmeble of here neiȝeboris as londis or rentis, or perpetual almes of coffris, siþ þei bynden hem to pouert of crist and his apostelis, þei breken þe neynþe maundement of god.

¶ Ȝif þei leden a-wey mennus wyues or wenches in here newe habitis, to do lecherie bi hem as hem liste, þei breken þe laste comaundement. Ȝif þei maken wyues and oþer wymmen hure sustris bi lettris of fraternite or oþere iapes, and geten children vpon hem to make hem freris or nunnes to holde vp here veyn sectis bi lordischipe, þei coueiten euyle here neiȝbores wyues and wenchis; namely, ȝif þei waiten hem in feldis alone or gardyns and sleen hem þer by keruynge to moche vsynge of lecherie. Ȝif þei becomen pedderis berynge knyues, pursis, pynnys and girdlis and spices and sylk and precious pellure and forrouris for wymmen, and þerto smale gentil hondis, to gete loue of hem and to haue many grete ȝiftis for litil good ore nouȝt; þei coueiten euyle here neiȝeboris goodis.

¶ Ȝif þei ben made wafreris, ȝeuynge lordes, ladies and riche men a fewe peris, appelis or nottis to haue huge ȝiftis to Page  13 þe couent, euyl þei coueiten here neȝeboris goodis. Ȝif þei meyntenen men in extorscions, in robberie, in false sweryng to sille ouer dere þer marchaundise and bie to grete cheep of pore men, and in lecherie and grete synnes, vndirtakynge for þes cursed men at domes day for part of wynnyng; þei coueiten euyle here neiȝeboris goodis; for þei dysceyuen here soulis herfore to euere dampnynge in helle. and ȝif þei breken þis, and worse alle þe comaundementis of god; þei ben perilous ypocritis and disceyuen foule cristen men to meyntene goddis traitors principaly. Ȝif þei geten hem worldly offis in lordis courtis, summe to ben stiwardis of halle,1 summe to ben kechene clerkis, 1*. [1_1 omitted X.]summe to ben lordis anyneris, and summe to ben conseilours and reuleris of werris, and also to bein chamberleyns to lordes and ladies, and putten out pore gentil men of here office, and forsaken here cloistre and oþer deuocions for to haue lykynge of mete and drynk and cloþ and worldly worschipe, and to sende a grett quantite to here couent þat pore bedrede men schulden haue; [page 11] þanne þei ben ypocritis, enemyes of pore gentil men*. [omitted X.] and traitours of pore men and of lordes and ladies.