The English works of Wyclif hitherto unprinted.Edited by F. D. Matthew.
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384., Matthew, Frederic David, 1838-1918.
Page  108


I HAVE little doubt that this tract is by Wyclif; it seems to me to bear the stamp of genuineness in style as in matter. The assertion of free|will on p. 110 may surprise some who know how prominent a place was held by predestination in Wyclif's theological system, but it will be seen that in dealing with the next point of Antichrist and his clerks, predesti|nation is treated as a recognized truth. This double-sided assertion of doctrine is usual with Wyclif, who declares in plain terms Cum prædesti|natione et præscientia stat libertas arbitrii (see Lechler, I. 509).

The tract seems to be early in date, belonging to a time when the poor priests were already causing scandal, but when no violent measures had been taken to repress them. It must have been written before Wyclif de|veloped his doctrine of the Eucharist, or he could hardly have mentioned the mass as he does on p. 112, without any reference to the falsity of transubstantiation.

I have retained the title, though not found in either MS., for the sake of distinction from No. XVII.

Copied from the Corpus MS. X. and collated with the Dublin MS. AA.

Antichrist and his clerks object to preaching—
I. That it causes dissension, and that Christian men should seek peace and charity. To which true men say that Christ has bidden them to preach, and that preaching does more good than harm.
II. That preaching is against charity, because it hardens enemies. It is better to pray for them.
True men cite Christ's example. Some men are saved through preaching; others made better for a time. Besides in all assemblies there are some good men who profit.
III. That preaching can do nothing for men who are ordained by God either to perish or be saved.
True men say that God ordains men to be saved through preaching; that men have free will, and God will give them grace if they desire it.
IV. That prayer is more profitable than preaching.
True men say that preaching is better than praying by mouth. Christ commanded preaching, but not matins or evensong. It is uncharitable for a man to wrap himself in contemplation when he might be teaching others. Yet priests are to pray devoutly.

Page  109

Speculum de Antichristo. Hou anticrist & his clerkis feren trewe prestis fro prechynge of cristis gospel bi foure disceitis.

First þei seyn þat prechynge of þe gospel makiþ discencion & enemyte, & siþ cristene men schulde make pees & charite, as þe gospel seiþ, þei schulden cesse of prechynge, siþ þer comeþ more harm þan good þer-of. Here trewe men seyn þat crist cam in-to þis world not to make pees of synful men to lyuen in here fleschly lustis & worldly ioie at here lykyng, but to departe*. [do parte X.] hem fro synful lif bi þe gospel, þat is clepid swerd of þe holy gost. & þouȝ luciferis children ben wode & sleen hem self bi sterynge of here fadir for enemyte & here owen cruel hertis, ȝit cristene men schullen not cesse to do þe*. [omitted AA.] comaundement & honour of god & poyntis of charite to here breþren; for crist & his apostlis leften not prechynge of þe gospel, & ȝit þe deuelis lyms maden dis|cencion & grucchynge & fiȝttynge aȝenst hem And goode men resceyuynge cristis gospel, to ȝeue vs ensaumple to laste trewe in prechynge þouȝ anticristis clerkis grucchen. & þus cristene men schulde make verrey [page 104] pees bitwene god & cristene soulis bi trewe kepynge of his hestis, & distroie fals pees of cursed men and don here traueile to amende hem for ellis þei failleden in charite. For bi þis sotil ypocrisie anticrist wolde quenche & owtlaue holy writt & make alle men dampnyd; for he wolde heuere stire summe of his seruauntis & stryue & debate for prechynge of goddis word, & þus schulde no man knowe goddis word bi prechynge. And certis ȝif ony man preche in grace þer comeþ more good þer-of þan alle fendis lymes may don harm, þouȝ many þousand sathanas children ben deppere dampnyd for here rebelte aȝenst god & his gracious techynge. Page  110 ¶ Þe secunde tyme*. [omitted AA.] þei seyn þat men schulden cesse of prechynge for charite of here enemyes. For bi prechynge here enemyes be stired to hate & mansleynge of holy prechouris & not amendid. for þere ben many þousand þat schullen ben dampnyd & not leue here synne for ony prechynge, but more dampnid for þei heren goddis word & don not þer-aftir. And for þis charite seiþ god to þe prophete þat he schal make*. [Ezekiel iii. 26.] his tounge*. [omitted AA.] cleue faste to þe roof of his mouþ, for þe peple is þus hard aȝenst god & his techynge. And þus comaundeþ crist þat men schullen not ȝeue holy þingis to hondis &*. [Matthew vii. 6.] putten precious perlis to hoggis, & god biddeþ to his prechour þat he speke not þere goddis word where is noon herynge. ¶ Here trewe men seyn þat þei schulden loue more god & cristene soulis þan here owene temporal lif, And þerfore techiþ goddis lawe to here enemyes & preie for hem hertly til þei weren dede, as crist dide on þe cros & his apostlis to here deþ & namely seynt steuene. And ȝit þei weren certeyn þat here enemyes schulden slen hem, þerfore, to teche vs þat, þei suffreden wilfully to ȝeue vs ensaumple to sue hem in þis. & þouȝ men schullen algatis be dampnyd ȝit it helpiþ hem þat goddis word is prechid, for þer-by moo men ben sauyd & fewere dampnyd & so lesse peyne to hem algatis. And ȝit sumtyme þei han compuncion & leuen here synnes long tyme & ben in grace & charite for a tyme, þat is betre þan alle þis world, ȝe to hem; & god ȝeueþ to eche man a free wille to chese good or euyl & god is redi to ȝeue hem grace ȝif þei wolen resceyuen it; & ȝit þei done here-by many goode dedis of kynde & for hem schullen haue moche reward in þis world at þe laste & lesse peyne in helle, and it*. [ȝit AA.] is gret vengaunce of god whanne he wiþ-drawiþ prechynge fro a comynalte. For þei ben not worþi to here goddis word & þerfore þei schullen be deppere dampnyed; and where a gedrynge of peple is summe comynly ben goode, & for hem principaly men prechen goddis word & not for houndis þat berken aȝenst god & his lawis, ne for swyn þat baþen hem in Page  111 synne & wolle neuere leuen hem for drede of peyne ne hope*. [op X. corrected into 'hope' by a later hand.] of blisse. And ȝif prechours [page 105] weren certeyn þat alle a comynalte wolden not here goddis word þei wolden not preche þere but goo to oþer peple, as crist biddiþ, for þei schullen not fayle in o place or oþere of summe good men til þe day of dome come.

¶ Þe þridde tyme þei seyn þat goode men schulden be sauyd þouȝ no prechynge be, for þei may not perische, as god seiþ. And summe wickid men schullen neuere come to blisse for no prechynge in erþe. ¶ Here seyn trewe men þat as god haþ ordeyned goode men to blisse, so god haþ ordeyned hem to come to blisse bi prechynge & kepyng of goddis word; and*. [omitted X.] so as þei schullen nedis come to blisse, so þei moten nedis here & kepe goddis hestis, & herof serueþ prechynge to hem; and summe wickid men now schullen be conuertid bi goddis grace & herynge of his word. And who knoweþ þe mesure of goddis mercy, to whom herynge of goddis word schal þus profite? eche man schal hope to come to heuene & enforce hym to here & fulfille goddis word, for siþ eche man haþ a free wille & chesyng of good & euyl, no man schal be sauyd but he þat willefully hereþ and endeles kepiþ goddis hestis, and no man schal be dampnyd but he þat wilfully & endeles brekiþ goddis comaundementis, & forsakiþ þus & blasphemeþ god. & herynge of goddis word & grace to kepen it, frely ȝouyn of god to man but ȝif he wilfully dispise it, is riȝt weie to askape þis peril & come to endeles blisse; & here-fore synful*. [omitted AA.] men owen wiþ alle manere mekenesse & reuerence & deuocion heren goddis word & grucchen not ne stryue aȝenst prechynge of cristis gospel.

¶ Þe firþe tyme þei seyn þat men schulden cesse of prechynge & ȝeuen hem*. [omitted X.] to holy preiers & contemplacion for þat helpeþ more cristene men & is betre. ¶ Trewe men seyn boldly þat trewe prechynge is betre þan preiynge bi mouþe, ȝe þouȝ it come of herte & clene deuocioun, & it edifieþ more þe peple; & þerfore crist comaundid specialy Page  112 his apostlis & disciplis to preche þe gospel, & not to close hem in cloistris ne chirchis ne stones to preie þus. And þerfore ysaie seied woo is to me for I was stille. And poul seiþ:*. [Isaiah vi. 8.] woo is to me ȝif I preche not þe gospel. & god seiþ*. [omitted X.] to þe*. [1 Cor ix. 16.] prophete, ȝif he schew not to þe synful man*. [omitted X.] his synnys he*. [Ezekiel iii. 17.] schal be dampnyd þer-fore. Jerom seiþ as myche as innocent lif profitiþ bi merit & holynesse, so moche it harmeþ ȝif it aȝenstonde nouȝt*. [omitted X.] wicked enemys of goddis lawe. And gregori seiþ, þat men of gret kunnyng & vertuous lif þat chesen stilnesse & desert for loue of contemplacion ben giltif of as many soulis as þei myȝtten saue bi techynge & dwellynge in þe world; & þus prechynge is algatis best. neþeles deuout preiere of men of good lif is good in certeyn tyme, but it is aȝenst charite for prestis to preie euere more and no tyme to preche; siþ crist chargiþ prestis more for to preche þe gospel þan to seie masse or matynes, for he ne spekiþ not of matynes ne euensong opynly, [page 106] ne manere of masse now vsed, but only of þe sacrament; but he comaundiþ to prestis for to preche þe gospel bi-fore his deþ and aftir. And þer-fore þe grete clerk lyncolne proueþ þat trewe prechynge of þe gospel passiþ alle oþere goode werkis þat man doþ in erþe; & newe doctours, ȝe of mannys lawe, seyn þat prechynge passeþ þe masse in nyne profites. & þus seiþ poul þat god sent hym for to preche þe gospel & not to*. [1 Cor. i. 17.] cristene men; and ion þe ewangelist seiþ, ȝif a man see his*. [1 John iii. 17.] broþer haue nede & close his mercy fro him haþ not charite. moche more ȝif men ben in nede of soule þer is no charite in prestis but ȝif þei techen hem goddis comaundementis ȝif þei han kunnynge &*. [omitted X.] leiser þer-to; & ihū seiþ þat men schullen be dampnyd ȝif þei failen in bodily werkis of mercy, þat is prechynge, ordeyned to hem. & þus prestis may not cesse of prechynge for suche preiynge, for þan þei leften þe betre þing, & to hem grettere comaundement, & deden þe lesse & lesse worþi, & þus þei weren out of charite; & þanne here preieris schulden not ben acceptable to god, for þei sueden Page  113 not crist þat cam from heuene to saue soulis bi prechynge of þe gospel. lord, what charite is it to a kunnynge man to chese his owene contemplacion in reste, & suffre oþere men goo to helle for bregynge of goddis hestis, whanne he may lyȝtly teche hem & gete more þank of god in litil techynge þan bi longe tyme in suche preieris. Þerfore prestis schulden studie holy writt & kepe it in here owen lif, & teche it oþere men trewely & frely, & þat is best & most charite. And in certeyn tymes preie most*. [omitted AA.] deuoutly & haue sorowe for here synnes & oþere mennys. And þan þei schullen be as þe firmament ouer litel sterris in comparison of oþere seyntis in heuene. God brynge vs alle to þat glorious blisse for his endeles mercy. Amen.