The English works of Wyclif hitherto unprinted.Edited by F. D. Matthew.
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384., Matthew, Frederic David, 1838-1918.
Page  141


I HAVE already said (in the Preface to No. IV.) that I think this tract to be by another hand than Wyclif's, but the tone of thought is very like his. The date of it is evidently after 1383, as Bishop Spenser's crusade in Flanders is mentioned as a thing of the past (Chapter XVI.).

When we read the complaint (Chap. XXII.) of the clergy who leave their parishes and go to school (that is, of course, to the University), in order to lead a loose life there, we are not suppose that the writer had any dislike to the Universities. Oxford was a chief centre of Wyclifite influence, and Wyclif himself, in 1368, received from his bishop two years' leave of absence from his living (Fillingham) to study at Oxford, where, our tract tells us, "good priests traveilen faste to lerne goddis lawe." Its author had rubbed shoulders with the men who went to study "Civil and Canon," and did little good thereat, or at most learned to "crack a little Latin in Consistories." The scholar is as indignant against fast men who degrade the seat of learning, as the reformer against priests who neglect their parishes. We may suppose the writer to be one of Wyclif's Oxford friends—perhaps Herford or Purvey.

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

SUMMARY.Page  142
CHAP. I. Curates care too much for worldly goods.
II. Men run about after benefices and buy them. The money thus spent would be better employed in reducing taxation.
III. Wayward curates are Satans transformed into angels of light—angels not of God but of the devil.
IV. Curates study law books instead of the Bible.
V. They go to law for trifles of tithe, bringing heavy charges on their subjects, or cursing and imprisoning them.
VI. They set their parishioners an example of worldliness.
CHAP. VII. They teach men to war; they despise the poor and flatter the rich.
VIII. They will not teach Holy Writ nor let others teach it.
IX. They waste the money of the poor in pomp and luxury.
X. They serve lords in worldly business and neglect God's work.
XI. They welcome cheating pardoners, but hinder true preachers.
XII. They neglect God's command to preach.
XIII. They excommunicate for not paying tithes, but not for sin.
XIV. They waste the money of the poor in hawking and hunting.
XV. They haunt taverns, play games of chance, and get drunk.
XVI. Refuse the sacrament to those who do not pay tithes, or will not con|tribute to wars such as Spenser's crusade.
XVII. They take benefices without knowing the gospel, and teach the people evil.
XVIII. They relate chronicles and stories of false miracles to mislead the people.
XIX. They go shares with pardoners, who deceive the people.
XX. They hate good priests and love bad ones.
XXI. Wicked curates take refuge in lords' courts, and use the protection of lords to avoid discipline.
XXII. They go under pretence of study to the Universities, and lead a riotous life there.
XXIII. The more learned of them use the Civil and Canon Law to annoy the poor, and neither have nor care for knowledge of the Bible.
XXIV. They let worldly clerks condemn God's law, and stop true preachers; while they preach the traditions of Antichrist.
XXV. They study Civil and Canon Law and neglect God's law.
XXVI. They forbid the people to judge their words or deeds.
XXVII. They forbid laymen to read the Gospel in their mother-tongue.
XXVIII. They deceive men as to absolution, leading them to trust in shrift and gifts rather than in contrition and amendment.
XXIX. They rob people by their pitiless excommunications.
XXX. They take tithes according to neither Testament, but according to sinful laws.
XXXI. They get benefices by simony, and neglect them afterwards.
XXXII. Under pretence of liberties of the Church they make the people main|tain bad priests in their evil ways.
XXXIII. They say that if these bad ways are maintained, priests' prayers will bring reward, but any attempt to reform priests is cursed. Final apostrophe to curates.

Page  143
Hou þe office of curatis is ordeyned of god. In dei nomine. Amen.

[Capitulum 1.]

For þe office of curatis is ordeyned of god & fewe don it wele & many ful euyle, þerfore telle we summe defautis*. [defaute AA.] to amende hem wiþ goddis helpe. First þei ben more bisi aboute worldly goodis þan vertues & goode kepynge of mennus soulis; for he þat can best geten richesses of þis world to-gidre & holde grete houshold & worldly aray, he is holden a worþi man of holy chirche, þouȝ he conne not þe leste*. [beste X.] poynt of þe gospel; & such on is preised & born vp of þe bischop & here officeris at þe fulle; but þat curat þat ȝeueþ him to studie holy writt & teche his*. [is X.] paryschenys to saue here soulis, & lyueþ in mekenesse, penaunce & bisi traueile a boute gostly þingis, & reckiþ not of worldly worschipe & richesse, is holden a fool & distroiere of holy chirche, & is*. [omitted X.] dispised & pursued of hiȝe prestis & prelatis & here officeris, & hatid of oþere curatis in contre; & þis makiþ many curatis to be necgligent in here gostly cure & ȝeue hem to occupacion & bisynesse of worldly goodis. þes necgligent curatis þenken ful*. [omitted AA.] litel hou dere crist bouȝte mannys soule wiþ his precious blood & deþ, & hou harde rekenynge schal he make at domes day for þes soulis. certis it semeþ þat þei ben out of cristene mennys feiþ; for þei maken hem not redy to come þedir & answere wel hou þei camen in-to here benefices & hou þei lyueden & tauȝten & spendiden pore mennus goodis; for ȝif þei hadden þis feiþ redy in here mynde þei wolden bigynne a betre lif & con|tynue þer-inne.

Page  144

Capitulum 2m.

Þe secunde defaute. Þei rennen faste bi lond & watir in grete perilis of bodi & soule for to geten fatte benefices, but þei wolen not goo comunly a myle for to preche þe gospel, þouȝ cristene men rennen to helle for defaute of knowynge & kepynge of goddis lawe. & certis here þei schewen in dede þat þei ben foule blend*. [blent AA.] with coueitise, & worschipen false*. [falser X.] goddis, as seynt poul seiþ, siþ þe[i] louen so moche worldly*. [Col. iii. 5.] richesses & so moche traueilen þerfore nyȝt & day in þouȝt & dede, & so litel traueilen for goddis worschipe & sauynge of cristene soulis. but who may excuse þes coueitouse clerkis fro symonye & heresie in þis poynt? neiþer goddis lawe ne mannys, ne reson, ne good conscience. & hou myche gold goþ out of oure lond for purchasynge of benefices in-to [page 124] aliens hondis, & hou moche is ȝouen priuely to men in þe lond, late þe kyng & his witti conseil enquere, & þei schal fynde many þousand poundis: & late alle þat helpe þe comunes in þis grete talliage, & late alle clerkis be warnyd & charged 3by þe kyng3*. [3_3 omitted X.]4& lordes of þe rewme4*. [4_4 omitted AA.] þat þei don no more symonye for benefices, vp peyne of lesynge of here benefices & prison|ynge & exilynge; siþ þis symonye makiþ hem chef heretikis as here owene lawe seiþ plenerly, & þat þei may not be sauyd but ȝif þei forsake þe benefice geten bi symonye, and alle here fautours & consentours to þis symonye rennen in þe same dampnacion as goddis lawe & mannus witnessen.

Capitulum 3m.

Þe þridde defaute of weiward curatis þat þei ben aungelis of helle & ben sathanas transfigurid in-to an aungel of liȝt to*. [and AA.] lede men queyntely to helle; for in-stede of trewe techynge of cristis gospel þei ben doumbe, or elles tellen lesyngis of mennys tradicions for pride & coueitise of worldly goodis; & for ensaumple of good lif þei sclaundren here parischenys Page  145 many weies bi ensaumple of pride, enuye, coueitise & vnre|sonable vengaunce, so cruely cursynge for tiþes & euyl customes; & for ensaumple of holy deuocion & deuout preiere & werkis of mercy þei techen in-dede ydelnesse, glotonye, dronkenesse & lecherie, & meyntenynge of þes synnes & many moo. For siþ prestis ben clepid aungelis in holy writt, & þes*. [Malachi ii. 7.] curatis bryngen not message of god but of þe fend, as here wickid lif scewiþ,*. [schewiþ AA.] þei ben not aungelis of god but aungelis of þe fend; & þe trewe clerk robert grosted writiþ to þe pope þat curatis ben sathanas transfigurid in-to aungel of liȝt for þei prechen*. [techen AA.] not cristis gospel bi word & good lif, þouȝ þei diden no more synne*. [omitted X.]; and*. [in X.] siþ seynt petir was clepid sathanas of crist, as þe gospel telliþ, for he was contrarie to goddis*. [Matt. xvi. 23.] wille & sauourid not heuenly þingis, wel ben þes euele curatis clepid sathanas, siþ þei ben more contrarie to goddis wille & sauouren less gostly þingis & sauynge of cristene soulis.

Capitulum 4m.

Þe fourþe errour; þat þei chargen more statutis of synful men þan þe moste resonable lawe of god almyȝtty; for þei dreden more þe popis lawe & statutis maad of bischopis & 5of oþere5*. [5_5 her AA.] officeris þan þe noble lawe of the gospel, & herefore þei han many grete bokis & costy of mannus lawe & studien hem faste. But fewe curatis han þe bible & exposiciouns*. [expositours X.] of þe gospelis, 7& litel studien on hem*. [7_7 omitted AA.] & lesse donne after hem. But wolde god þat euery parische chirche in þis*. [AA. inserts werld.] lond hadde a good bible & good expositouris on þe gospellis, & þat þe prestis studiende*. [studien AA.] hem wel & tauȝten trewely þe [page 125] gospel & goddis hestis to þe peple; for þanne schulde good lif regne, & reste & pees & charite; & synne & falsnesse putt a bak. god brynge þis ende to his peple. amen.*. [omitted X.]

Page  146

Capitulum 5m.

Þe fyueþe defaute; þat þei haunten*. [AA inserts is.] strif & plee & gendren enuye & hate among lewed men for tyþes, whanne þei don not here office aȝenward; for now þei leuen prechynge of þe gospel & crien faste aftir tyþes, & somonen men to chapitre & bi fors taken here goodis, & ellis cursen hem seuene fote aboue þe erþe & seuene foot wiþ-inne þe herþe & seuene fote on eche side; & afterward drawen men to prison, as þei weren kyngis & emperours of mennus bodies & catel, & forȝeten clenly þe mekenesse & þe pacience of crist & his apostlis, hou þei curseden not for tyþes whanne men wolden neiþer ȝeue hem mete ne drynk ne herbwre. But crist blamyd his apostlis whanne þei wolden axe suche vengaunce, as þe gospel of seynt luk techeþ, & seynt petir bidiþ blisse*. [Luke ix. 55.]*. [1 Peter iii. 9.] oþere men, ȝe here enemis, & not haue wille to curse, & poul*. [Rom. xii. 21.] techeþ þat we schulden not do euele for euyl, But ouer come an euyl dede bi good doynge aȝen. Lord, hou louen þes curatis here sugetis soulis þat wolen for foure pens bitake hem bodi & soule to þe fend, ȝe, whanne þei may not paie for verray*. [omitted X.] pouert, & whanne þei don not here gostly office; & þanne þe curatis ben more cursed of god for wiþdrawynge of techynge in word, in*. [& X.] dede, in good en|saumple þanne þe sugetis wiþdrawynge tiþes & offryngis whanne þei don wel here gostly office. & wold god þat*. [omitted AA.] þe peple wolde axe as faste of þe curatis gostly office, þat þei ben more holden to paie, as þe curatis axen dymes & offryngis, & þe curat loueþ more his owene worldly good þan his sugetis soule*. [X inserts &.] þat wole brynge his parischen out of cherite & pacience & coste ten mark or twenti for a cause of þre pens or foure.

Capitulum 6m.

Þe sixte defaute; þat þei techen here parischens bi here dedis and lif; þat is a bok to here sugetis, to loue & seke Page  147 worldly glorye & to recken nouȝt*. [omitted X.] of heuenely þingis; for þei maken hem self bisy niȝt & day to geten worldely avaunsementis & here owene worschipe & dignyte in þis world and*. [in X.] pleden & st[r]yuen þerfore, & helden*. [horden X.] it grete riȝtwissnesse to holden forþ & meyntene a poynt of worldly priuylegie & dignyte; but aboute gostly dignite & hiȝe degre of heuenly blisse þei wolen not st[r]yue aȝenst gostly ennemys; for þei stryuen not who schal be most meke & most wilful pore & most bisi in opyn prechynge & priuey counseilynge hou men schal conquere heuene, as dide crist & his apostlis, but resten as mold-warpis in wrotynge of worldly worschipe & erþely goodis, as þouȝ þere were no lif but only in þis wrecchid world; & þus where þei schulden lede here parischenys to heuene bi trewe techynge & holy ensaumple & gret desir of heuenely þynges, þei leden hem to helle ward bi cursede ensaumple of pride, coueitise & euyl techynge [page 126] to sette here lykynge endeles in ioie & worschipe of þis wrecchid world.

Capitulum 7m.

Þe seuenþe errour; þat þei techen synful men to bie helle ful dere & not to come to heuene þat is profred hem for litel cost; for þei techen cristen men to sufre moche cold, hungur & þrist & moche wakynge & dispisynge & betynge for to gete worldly honour & a litel drit bi fals werrynge out of charite; & ȝif þei bryngen hem moche gold þei assoilen hem liȝtly & maken hem siker bi here preieris & graunten hem goddis blissynge, but þei techen not hou here parischenys schulden dispose hem to resceyue ȝiftis of þe holy gost & kepe condicions of charite, doynge trewþe & good conscience to eche man boþe pore & riche; & ȝif þei ben pore bi aduen|ture of þe world or wilfully bi drede of synne, þei dispisen hem & setten hem at nouȝt and seyn þei ben cursed for þei han not moche muk; & ȝif þei han mochel worldly catel Page  148 geten wiþ false oþis, false weiȝtis, & oþere disceitis, þei preisen hem & b[l]issen hem & seyn god is wiþ hem 1& blisseþ hem.1*. [1_1 omitted AA.]

Capitulum 8m.

Þe eiȝte defaute; þei shitten þe kyngdom of heuene bi|fore men, & neiþer gon in hem self ne suffren oþere men to entren; for þei shitten holy writt, as þe gospel & com|aundementis*. [Matt. xxiii. 13.] & condic[i]ounes of charite þat ben clepid þe kyngdom of heuene, bi here false newe lawis & euyl glosynge & euyl techynge; for neiþer þei wolen lerne hem self ne techen holy writt, ne suffre oþere men to don it leste here owene synne & ypocrisie be knowen & here lustful lif wiþ|drawen. & þus þei closen cristis lif & his apostlis fro þe comune peple bi keies of anticristis iuridiccion & censures, & maken hem not so hardy to seye a treuþe of holi writt aȝenst here cursed lif, for þat schal be holden detraccion & enuye & aȝenst charite; & þerfore þei make þe peple to sue here techynge & here statutis & customes & to leue goddis techynge, & herbi leden hem blyndly in-to helle; & þus closen þe kyngdom of heuene fro hem & leden hem to helle bi here blynde ypocrisie & coueityse, as crist seiþ hym self.*. [omitted X.]

Capitulum 9m.

Þe ney[n]þe errour; þat þei wasten pore mennus goode in ryche pellure & costy cloþis & worldly aray, as festis of ryche men & glotonye & dronkenesse & lecherie sumtymes, for þei passen grete men in here gaye pellure & precious cloþis & wast festis & tatrid squeyeres & oþere meyne, þat semen raþere turmentours þan cristene men; & he þat wast*. [wasteþ AA.] most of pore mennus liflode is holden most worþi & most noble man of holy chirche. litel þenke þei hou sore pore men traueilen & spenden here flesch [page 127] & blood aboute þe goddis þat þei wasten so nedeles; & hou seynt Page  149 bernard crieþ: what euere þing curatis holden of þe auterage ouer a sympule liflode & cloþinge it nys not here but oþere mennus, & it is þefte & raueyne & sacrilegie; & hou euyl it is to suffre pore men perische for hungire & þriste & cold, & here curatis han fatte hors with gaye sadlis & bridelis. hou resonable is þis poynt þat þe procuratour of pore men schal haue so riche pelure & esy fare of body, boþ of mete & drynk & reste, & pore men whos þes goddis ben schullen haue so moche peyne & payn defaute.

Capitulum 10m.

Þe tenþe defaute; þat þei haunten lordis courtis & ben occupied in worldly office & don not here cure to here parischenys, & ȝit þei taken mo worldly goodis þerfore þan crist & his apostlis. And certis þis is gret traitere, for what man druste vndertake to kepe men biseged in a feble castel wiþ many stronge enemys, & þanne fle in-to an hogherdis office & lete enemys take þis castel & distroie it?*. [omitted X.] were not þis opyn treson, and þis kepere gilty of þe castel lesynge & alle men þer-inne? So it is of þes curatis & cristene soulis of whiche þei taken cure, þat ben bisegid wiþ*. [bi AA.] fendis, whanne þei leuen hem vnkept & bisien hem in worldly office & lordis courtis. whi ben not þes lordis þat þus holden curatis in here courtis & worldly offices traitours to god almyȝtty, siþ þei drawen awey his chef knyttis fro here gostly bataile whanne & where þei weren most nedful. for þis seruyce þat lordis han of curatis abouten worldly office cristene soulis ben vntauȝt, & woluys of helle stranglen hem & encombren hem in endles dispeir.

Capitulum 11m.

Þe eleuenþe errour; þat þei chargen more wrongful maundementis of synful men þan þe most riȝtful comaunde|mentis of god; for ȝif þe pope or bischop sende a letter Page  150 for to resceyue a pardoner to disceyue þe peple bi graunt of*. [omitted X.] many þousand ȝeer to pardon, he schal be sped algatis; but ȝif*. [omitted X.] þer come ony trewe man to preche frely & trewely þe gospel, he schal be lettid for wrongful comaunde|ment of a synful man. & þus þei dreden more synful men þan god almyȝtty, siþ þei putten goddis comaundement & his riȝtful wille bihynde & putten a synful mannus wille & wrong comaundement bifore. & þus for here owene worldly profit & bodely ayse þei stoppen here parischenys fro herynge of goddis lawe, þat is fode of soule, & leden hem blyndly to helle; & þes ben euele fadris þat þus cruelly enfamynen here sugetis soulis & dryuen hem to dampnacion for loue of worldly muk or bodily ayse, or for drede of wrecchid anticristis þat ben goddis traitours & his peplis.

Capitulum 12m.

Þe twelþe errour; þat þei dispisen þe principal office comaundid of [page 128] god to curatis, & bisen hem aboute nouelries maad of synful men; for comunly þei kunnen not preche þe gospel, & þei wolen lerne bisily mennus tradicions for worldly wynnynge, but not þe gospel þat crist god & man tauȝte & comaundid curatis to techen þat to lif & deþ; & certis as þei louen to studie, kepe & teche þe word*. [world X.] of synful men bifore the word of god, so þei louen synful men or pride or worldly drit þat comeþ of mennus lawe more þan almyȝtty god & þe blisse of heuene; & certis herfore þei ben traitours of god & cheuenteynes in þe fendis hoost to lede men in|to helle.

Capitulum 13m.

Þe þrittene errour; þei cursen here gostly children more for loue of worldly catel þan for brekynge of goddis hestis. For þouȝ a man breke opynly þe hestis of god, lyuynge in Page  151 pride, in false swerynge,*. [werynge X.] in opyn brekynge of þe holy day, he schal not be sompned ne ponysched ne cursed bi hem. But ȝif a man be bihynde of tiþes & oþere offryngis & cust[u]mes maad of synful men, he schal be sompned, ponyschid & cursed, ȝe þouȝ he may not lyue out of oþere mennus dette & fynde his wif & his children bi goddis comaundement; & þus þei seken more þere*. [here AA.] owene worschipe & wynnynge þan þe worschipe of god & sauynge of cristene soulis; & þus þei worschipen false goddis for here false coueitise. wonder it is þat þes curatis cursen so sore for here owene cause where þei schulden be pacient as crist was 3and hise apostlis3*. [3_3 omitted X.]; & so litel recken of dispit don to god where þei schulden taken al resonable vengaunce.*. [In AA this last clause runs "and where þat þei shulden take suche unresonable vengeaunce."]

Capitulum 14m.

Þe fourtenþe; þei taken here worldly myrþe, haukynge & huntynge & oþere vanytes doynge, & suffren woluys of helle stranglen mennus soulis bi many cursed synnes. þei schulden drawe men fro worldly vanytes & techen hem þe perilis of þis lif & to þenke on here deþ day, & be myrrour to hem to morne for here synnes & oþere mennus & for longe tariynge of heueneley blisse, & laste in holy preieris & trewe techynge of þe gospel and aspiynge þe fendis cautelis, & warne cristene men of hem. But now þe more þat a curat haþ of pore mennys goodis, þe more comunly he wastiþ in costy fedynge of houndis & haukis, & suffre pore men haue grete defaute of mete & drynk & cloiþ; but hou schullen þei answere to crist at þe dredful day of dom, þat þus holden pore mennus liflode fro hem & wasten it in such worldly vanyte? certis þei schullen be dampnyd for mansleeris boþe of body & soule, & for sleeris of crist wiþ þe wickid iewis þat nayleden him on þe cros.

Page  152

Capitulum 15m.

Þe feftenþe; þat þei haunten tauernes out of mesure & stiren lewid men to dronkenesse, ydelnesse & cursed swerynge and [page 129] chydynge & fiȝttynge; for þei wolen not traueilen faste in here gostly office after crist & his apostlis, 1þat ful bisili haþ tauȝt hem1*. [1_1 omitted X.]; þerfore þei fallen to nyse pleies, at tables, chees & hasard, & beten þe stretis, & sitten at þe tauerne til þei han lost here witt, & þan chiden & stryuen & fiȝten sum|tyme, & sumtyme neiþer han eiȝe ne tonge ne hond ne foot to helpe hem self for dronkenesse, & be þis ensaumple þe lewed peple weneþ þat dronkenesse*. [added by a later hand in X.] is no synne; but he þat wastiþ most pore mennys goodis at tauernes, makynge hym self & oþere men dronken, is most preised of nobleie & curtesie & goodnesse & largenesse & worþinesse 3of þe world.3*. [3_3 These words, omitted in X, are added as a correction in AA.] lord, hou wel ben þes dronken curatis disposid to serue god & mynystre sacramentis, & namely of confession in tyme of deþ, to here sugetis.

Capitulum 16m.

Þe sixtenþe; þei wolen not ȝeue þe sacramentis of þe auter, þat is cristis body, to here paryschenys, but ȝif þei paied here tiþes & offryngis, & but ȝif þei han paied money to a worldly prest to slee cristene men. & ȝif men douten of þis, late hem enquere þe soþe hou it was whanne þe bischop of norwich went in-to flaundris, & killed hem bi many þousandis & made hem oure enemys. litel recken þes curatis in what deuocion & charite here parischenys resceyuen cristis body, whanne þei openly taken hem vp fro goddis*. [omitted AA.] bord, & stiren hem to vnpacience & enuye & hate for a litel muk þat þei chalengen to hem self.

Page  153

Capitulum 17m.

Þe seuentenþe; þe ben blynde lederis ledynge þe blynde*. [omitted X.] peple to synne bi here euyl ensaumple & fals disceit in techynge, & at þe laste in-to helle; for þouȝ þei kunnen not o poynt of þe gospel ne whiten what þei reden, ȝit þei wolen take a fat benefice wiþ cure of mannus soule; & neiþer kunnen reule here owene soule ne oþere mennys, ne wolen spedly lerne ne suffre oþere men to teche here parischenys trewly & frely þe gospel & goddis hestis. And ȝit þei crien fast þat þe peple schal doo after hem, whenne þei knowe not þe riȝtte weie to heuene; & so þei leden þe symple peple in errour & synne whanne þe peple weneþ for*. [omitted X.] to do wel, & maken þe peple to demen good euyl & euyl good, & to wende þe weie to helle whanne þei wenen to goo to heuene.

Capitulum 18m.

Þe eiȝtenþ; þei ben fals prophetis, techinge fals cronyclis & fablis to colour here worldly lif þerby, & leuen þe trewe gospel of ihū crist; for þei louen welle to telle hou þis seynt 3or þis3*. [3_3 omitted AA.] lyuede in gay & costy cloþis & worldly aray, 4 & ȝit is a grete seynt.4*. [4_4 X reads & ȝit it is a grete synne.] But þei leuen to teche þe grete penaunce & sorow þat þei diden after ward, for which þei*. [cut away from margin in X.] pleseden god & not for here worldly lif, & þus þei make þe peple to*. [omitted X.] wene þat worldly lif of prestis & veyn cost of hem & waste of pore mennus goodis plesiþ god & is*. [his X.] vertuous lif, aȝenst cristis lif & his techynge & his apostlis also; & þei techen also hou for curs of a synful man þe creature of god, as a loof, þat trespasid not, was mowlid & fordon, & make þe peple bileue [page 130] þat þat a goode cristene man kepynge welle goddis hestis schal be dampnyd for a wrongful curs of a worldly prest, þat in caas is a dampnyd fend, & þus þei bryngen þe Page  154 peple out of*. [omitted X.] cristene feiþ bi here false cronyclis & 2here sotele2*. [2_2 omitted X.] fablis. For crist seiþ þat men schullen be blissed of god whanne men schullen curse hem & pursue hem & seie alle euyl aȝenst hem falsly for þe loue of crist & his trewþe. And þe peple bileueþ þe contrarie of þis techynge of crist bi þis fablis & seyntis dedis, or lesyngis putt on seyntis.

Capitulum 19m.

Þe neyntenþe; þei assenten to pardoners disceyuynge þe peple in feiþ & charite & worldly goodis for to haue part of here gederynge, & letten prestis to preche þe gospel for drede laste here synne & ypocrisie be knowen & stoppid; for whanne þere comeþ a pardoner wiþ stollen bullis & false relekis, grauntynge mo ȝeris of pardon þan comen bifore domes day for ȝeuynge of worldly catel to riche placis where is no nede, he schal be sped & resceyued of curatis for to haue part of þat he getiþ; but a preste þat wole telle þe trewþe to alle men wiþ-outen glosynge & frely wiþ-outen beggynge of þe pore peple, he schal be lettid bi sotil cauyllacions of mannus lawe, for drede last he touche þe sore of here conscience & cursed lif. & þis pardoner schalle telle of more power þan euere crist grauntid to petir or poul or ony apostle, to drawe þe almes fro pore bedrede neiȝeboris þat ben knowen feble & pore, & to gete it to hem self & wasten it 3ful synfulli3*. [3_3 omitted X.] in ydelnesse & glotonye & lecherie, & senden gold out of oure lond to riche lordis & housis where is no nede & make oure lond pore by many sotile*. [omitted X.] weies; & here bi þe peple is more bold to 5lien stille5*. [5_5 lyue X.] in her*. [omitted X.] synne, & weneþ not to haue as myche þank & reward of crist for to do*. [omitted AA.] here almes to pore feble men, as crist biddiþ in þe gospel, as whanne þei don here almes to riche housis aftir graunt of synful foolis; & this is opyn errour aȝenst cristene feiþ.

Page  155

Capitulum 20m.

Þe twentiþe; þat a prest of good lif & deuout & trewe prechour of goddis lawe is dispised, hatid & pursued of worldly curatis, & a fals prest of worldly lif & aray þat suffren men wexe roten in here cursed synne is louyd, preised & cherischid among 1such synful folis;1*. [1_1 hem X.] for þei seyn þat such a good prest is 2an ydiot and2*. [2_2 omitted X.] an ypocrite & sclaundriþ men of holy chirche & lettiþ men to do here deuocion to holy chirche; & bi here dom a prest þat liueþ comyn worldly lif & stiriþ no men to wraþ bi*. [þe X.] reprouynge hem of here opyn synnes doþ moche worschipe to holy chirche & encresceþ mennus deuocion; & þus for here coueitise & pride trewe prestis ben put abak & dispised, & ydel prestis & worldly be preised & cherischid, & þis makiþ many men slowe in good lif & prechynge and manye [page 131] to loue worldly lif & ydelnesse 4& vanyte.4*. [4_4 omitted X.]

Capitulum 21m.

Þe on and twenteþe; þei hiden & meyntenen her synnes & oþere mennus bi proteccion & helpe of lordis, þat here souereyns may not correcte hem ne compelle hem to resi|dence. for whanne þer is*. [his X.] a vicious curat of lecherie or of*. [omitted X.] vnkunnynge he wole haue lettris of kyng & lordis to dwelle in here courtis in worldly offices & be absent fro his cure; þat his souereyn schal not dore correcte him for drede of his temperaltees & wraþþe of lordis; & þus lordis ben made schildis of synne for a litel money or worldly seruyce of wickid curatis, þat riȝtwisnesse may not forþ 7in her vertuouse lyuynge.7*. [7_7 omitted X.]

Capitulum 22m.

Þe two & twen[ti]þe; þat many of hem vnder colour of lernynge of þe gospel lerne statutis maade of synful men & Page  156 worldly prestis, & lyuen in ydelnesse, glotonye, dronkenesse & lecherie, & ben euere þe lengere þe more vnable. For whanne þei han grete benefices, perauenture by symonye, & connen not teche here sugetis to saue here soulis, & doren not holden here lemmannys at home for clamour of men, þei gon to scole & faren wel of mete & drenk & reste & studyen wiþ þe cuppe &*. [AA inserts here viciouse.] strumpatis; where goode prestis traueilen faste to lerne goddis lawe, þei gon for þe manere to cyuyle or canon, & don litel good þer at 2as trewe men þinken2*. [2_2 omitted X.]; & þus þei wasten pore mennus liflode in hordom & glotonye, & lernen lorelschipe, & to curse cristene men for here goodis, & ȝeuen to here sugettis ensaumple of pride & coueitise & glotonye & lecherie & ydelnesse.

Capitulum 23.*. [In X the heading of this chapter is omitted.]

Þe þre & twentiþe; þe more kunnynge men of hem myspenden here witt & kunnynge in meyntenaunce of synne, as of pride & coueitise of clerkis & oppressynge of pore parischenys bi wrong customes for drede of plee & censuris, & meyntenynge false causis in constories for gold; & taken pensions of lecherous men & wommen for*. [omitted X.] to helpe hem to baþe hem in here synne as swyn in þe fen. & herby he þat can cracke a litil latyn in constories of heþene mennus lawe & worldly prestis lawe & can helpe to anoie a pore man bi knackis or chapitris, is holden a noble clerk & redy & wys, þouȝ he kunne not rede wel a vers in his sauter ne vnder|stonden a comune auctorite of holy writt; & siche knackeris ben as proude of here veyn kunnynge as lucifer, & setten not bi pore mennus kunnynge in goddis lawe, but dispisen hem & goddis lawe as þouȝ it were no lawe, & comenden here owene lawe & hem self more þan holy writt & ihū crist & his apostlis 5þat so blessidly lyueden5*. [5_5 omitted X.]; & þis makiþ synne & falsnesse to*. [omitted X.] regne, & feiþ & treuþe & charite be defoulid & quenchid.

Page  157

Capitulum 24.*. [23 X.]

Þe foure & twentiþe; þat þei maken þe clene lawe of god vnder þe feet of anticrist & his clerkis, & treuþe of þe gospel be dampnyd for errour & ignoraunce of worldly clerkis; for þes worldly clerkis þat lyuen in glotonye & studien to drynke heiȝe wynes*. [with wyues AA.] [page 132] & base fisik wiþ strumpetis presumen bi here pride to be domes men of sotil & heiȝe mysterijs*. [mynysters X.] & priue articlis of holy writt, & blyndly dampnen treuþes of cristis gospel, for þei ben aȝenst here worldly lif & fleschly lustis; & þes blynde bosardis wolen dampnen trewe men þat techen trewely & frely holy writt aȝenst here synnes to be heretikis, For no man schulde here goddis lawe tauwȝt bi suche trewe men, & þei hem self wole preche here owne tradicions & not þe gospel; & so holy writt schal be owtlawid or oppressid bi wronge statutis of synful mennys makynge; but certis alle cristene men schal crie out on þes deuelis blasphemyes & cursed heresies of anticrist & his worldly fonned clerkis.

Capitulum 25m.*. [24 X.]

Þe fyue & twentiþe errour; þei chesen newe lawis maad of synful men & worldly & coueytise prestis & clerkis to reule þe peple bi hem as most nedful & best lawis, & forsaken þe perfiteste lawe of þe gospel & pistlis of crist & his apostlis, as not perfit ne fully ynouȝ ne trewe; for now heþene mennus lawis and worldly clerkis statutis ben red in vnyuersitees, & curatis lernen hem faste wiþ grete desir, studie & cost, but þe*. [omitted X.] lawe of god is litel studied, litel costid þer aboute, & lesse kept & tauȝt; but þe olde testament for wynnyng of tyþes & offryngis is sumwhat practised; & þe gospel þat techeþ*. [techid X.] cristis mekenesse & wilful pouert & bisi traueileȝ in prechynge to saue cristene soulis, for it constreyneþ prestis to þis holy lif, is litel loued & studied & tauȝt but raþere dispised & hyndrid & maade fals bi*. [AA inserts þe uiciouse.] speche of anticristis clerkis. & in þis þei Page  158 seyn þat crist is vnwytty, out of charite & treuþe, siþ he ȝaf not a sufficient lawe & þe beste for reuelynge of his peple, & þat worldly fonned clerkis of sathanas & anticrist ben wittiere, trewere & in more charite þan ihū crist, siþ here lawes ben betre & more nedful for cristene men þan þo*. [þe X.] lawis þat crist himsilf*. [omitted X.] made. But on this blasphemye heresie schullen alle cristene men crien out & take fully þe gospel to here reule 3& helþe,3*. [3_3 omitted X.] & not sette bi þes newe lawis 4maad of synful wrecchis4*. [4_4 omitted X.] but in also moche as þei ben groundid in holy writt expresly or good reson & trewe conscience & charite; for as god bi seynt poul techiþ, who euere techeþ oþere lawes he is cursed*. [Gal. i. 8.] of god; ȝe, þouȝ he were an angil of heuene; for god may not make oþere lawis aȝenst his gospel & charite, whi schulde anticrist & his clerkis?

Capitulum 26m.*. [25 X.]

Þe sixe and twentiþe; þei magnyfyen hem self abouen crist god & man; for þei comaunden here sugetis þat þei owen not to iuge clerkis, ne here opyn werkis ne here techynge, But do aftir here techynge, be it trewe be it fals. But oure lord ihū crist comaundid his enemys to deme of hym a riȝtful dom & not aftir þe face. Also oure lord ihū bad his enemys bileue*. [John vii. 24.] to his werkis þouȝ þei wolden not bileue to him, & bad þat*. [John x. 38.] [page 133] men schulden not bileue to hym ȝif he dide not þe werkis of his fadir. ¶ Also crist bad to his enemys þat þei*. [he X.] schulde bere*. [John xviii. 23.] witnesse of euyl ȝif he had spoken euyle, & seynt poul biddiþ his hereris deme þat þat*. [omitted X.] he seide, where þes worldly foolis*. [1 Cor. x. 15.] wolen be anticristis more maistris þan crist god & man, Siþ þei wolen not be demyd & amendid bi cristis*. [cristene AA.] peple vnder hem of here opyn werkis aȝenst goddis hestis ne of here fals lesyngis þat þei techen in stede of cristis gospel. certis a more blasphemye ground castid neuere sathanas to norische synne of clerkis & fals disceit in techynge, & to lede blyndly cristene soulis to helle.

Page  159

Capitulum 27.*. [26 X.]

Þe seuene and twentiþe; þei ben anticristis lettynge cristene men to kunne here bileue & speken of holy writt; for þei crien opynly þat seculer men schullen not entirmeten hem of þe gospel to rede it in heir*. [omitted X.] modir tonge, but heere*. [omitted X.] her gostly fadris preche & do after hem in alle þingis; but þis is ex|presly aȝenst goddis techynge. For god comaundiþ generaly to eche lewid man þat he schal haue goddis hestis bi-fore hym & teche hem to his children 4& also to hise meyne,4*. [4_4 omitted X.] & þe wise*. [Deut. vi. 6.] man biddiþ euery cristene man þat alle his tellynge be in þe*. [Ecclus. vi. 37.] hestis of god altherhiȝest,*. [alyerhiȝest X.] & þat he haue euere more in mynde þe comaundementis of god. And seynt petir biddiþ cristene*. [1 Peter iii. 15.] men be redi to ȝeue reson of oure feiþ & ope to teche eche man þat axit it, & god comaundid his prestis to preche þe gospel to eche man, & þe skille is for alle men schulden kunne it and reule here lif þer aftir. lord, whi schulde worldly prestis forbede seculer men to speke of þe gospel & goddis hestis, siþ god ȝeueþ hem gret witt of kynde & gret desir to knowen god & louen him. for þe more goodnesse þat þei knowen of god þe more þei schullen loue god. where worldly prestis schullen for here owene vnkunnyngnesse & sleuþe & ydelnesse & pride*. [X inserts &.] stoppe cristene men to knowe god & serue hym vp þe ȝiftis þat god ȝeueþ hym. heȝere scole of anticrist to distroie cristene mennys bileue & charite herde neuere creature fro makyng of þe world þan is þis blasphemye heresie, þat lewid men schulden not entirmeten hem of þe gospel.

Capitulum 28m.*. [27 X.]

Þe eiȝte & twentiþe; þei disceyuen cristene men in doynge of verray penaunce; for þei doren not telle þe soþe hou nedis þei mosten forsake alle falsnesse in craftis, in oþis, & alle synne vp here kunnynge & power, & for no good in erþe wityngly & wilfully do aȝenst goddis hestis, neiþer for lucre ne drede ne bodily deþ, & ellis it is not verrey [page 134] contricion, & Page  160 ellis god wole not asoile hem for no confession of moueþ, ne for assoilynge of prestis, ne bullis of pardon, ne lettris of fraternyte, ne massis, ne preieris of ony creatur*. [curature X.] in erþe or in 2þe blis of2*. [2_2 omitted X.] heuene; but þei speken mochil of tiþes & offryngis in þis confession, & litel of restitucion & doynge of almes to pore bedrede*. [bedere X.] men, But of masse pens & chirche gaynesse. & herby þe peple is brouȝt out of bileue, tristynge þat here synne is forȝoue for here prestis assoylynge, þouȝ þei don not verrey penaunce as god techeþ hym self. And herby þei magnyfien more here owene assoilynge þan assoilynge of god for verrey contricion, whanne god him self seiþ*. [omitted X.] in what kynne hour a synnere haþ inwardly*. [in worldly X.] sorowe for his synnys he schal be saue, þei wolen make þis word*. [lord AA.] fals, seynge þat he schal not be saf be he neuere so contrit wiþouten schrifte of mouþ maad to hem,*. [synful men AA.] þat ben in cas þe fendis procuratours to disceyuen men in here soulis helþe for here vnkunnynge & pride & coueitise.

Capitulum 29m.*. [28 X.]

Þe neyne & twentiþe; þei robben cristene peple of goodis of fortune, of goodis of kynde & goodis of grace bi feyned censuris of here owen lawis; for þei cursen so dispitusly ȝif men paie not monye at here lykynge, þat þei chalengen bi synful mannus lawis & newe customes & deuocions & not of goddis lawe, þat no man dar wiþ-seie hem in here wrong for drede of curs, prisonynge, & lesyngis of pacience & charite; & herbi þei maken cristene men as bestis holde forþ here wrong customes & mannus lawe, & not knowe goddis lawe & þe riȝtte weie to heuene. certis it were lasse cruelte to sus|pende men fro bodily mete & drynk & make hem dede bodily þan to suspende hem fro herynge of þe gospel & goddis hestis, þat is lif of þe soule. lord, hou cursed anticristis ben þes worldly prelatis & curatis þat cursen trewe men for prechynge & herynge of holy writt.

Page  161

Capitulum 30m.

Þe þrittiþe; þei taken not dymes & offryngis bi forme of þe olde testament & partyn hem in comyn to alle prestis & mynystris nedful in þe chirche, ne bi forme of þe gospel takynge a symple liflode ȝouen of free deuocion of þe peple wiþ-outen constreynynge & cursynge, as crist & his apostlis diden. but bi þe newe lawe of synful men o prest chalengiþ him self alle tiþes of a gret contre bi worldly plee & newe censures; & neiþer lyueþ as a good prest, ne techiþ as a curat, ne deliþ þe residue to pore men as a good cristene man. [page 135] But wastiþ hem in pompe & glotonye & oþere*. [AA. inserts synful.] synnes, & lettiþ trewe prestis to do þe office enyoyned to hem bi god almyȝtty. certis it semeþ þat þes ben not prestis after goddis lawe but after synful mennus ordynaunce, to be maistris of god & lordis of cristene peple, siþ þei holden neuer neiþer lawe of god in*. [& X.] dymes takynge, & taken hem bi vyolence & stronge curses aȝenst mennus goode wille, & maken þe peple out of pacience & charite bi here pledynge, & don not wel here gostly office.

Capitulum 31m.

Þe on & þrittiþe; þat at ensaumple of serpentis þei seruen bisily to lordis in seculer offices for nouȝt as who seiþ, and in þe ende poisonen þe lordis wiþ venym of symonye þat is worse þan ony bodily poison. & whanne þei han a benefice wiþ cure of mennus soule þei dwellen stille in worldly office of lordis, & spenden pore mennus liflode in riot & wombe ioie, & suffren cristene men perische in body & soule for defaute of techynge & werkis of mercy. how cursed serpentis ben þis weiward curatis þat þus enuenymyn hem self, þe lordis & comunes wiþ venym of symonye, of pride & glotonye & alle manere of synne.

Page  162

Capitulum 32m.

Þe two & þrittiþe; þei maken lordis & comunes bi blynd deuocion & ypocrisie to meyntenen worldly clerkis in pride, coueitise & ydelnesse & false techynge of anticristis errours vndir colour of fredom & worschipynge of holy chirche & goddis lawe. For þei crien faste þat lordis & comunes moten meyntenen goddis seruauntis in his seruyce & þe lawis & þe*. [omitted AA.] libertes of holy chirche, & maken newe seruyce likynge to worldly mennus eris & newe lawis & customes for here owene wynnynge & pride, & leuen þat seruyce & clene lawe þat god made to prestis for most profit on eche side. & þus whanne lordis & comyns wenen to meyntenen goddis prestis & his lawe, þei meyntenen anticristis prestis and*. [in X.] here lawis & wrong customes & pride & oþere synnes in-stede of mekenesse & oþere vertues, & magnifyenge of mennus lawis & dispisynge of goddis lawis.

Capitulum 33m.

Þe þre & þrittiþe; þei techen cristene men to blaspheme god & holden werre aȝenst hym; for þei techen cristene men to meyntenen mennys lawis & ordynaunces for betre & more nedful þan þe clene lawe of crist & his witty ordynaunce; & crien faste, ȝif cristene men meyntenen þe multitude of worldly clerkis in here newe lawis & customes & libertes þei schullen haue goddis blissynge & prosperite & pees & reste, bi so many deuout prestis seculer & religious preiynge, redynge & syngynge nyȝt & day; & ȝif þei wolden brynge prestis out of þis glorious lif & new song to mekenesse & gostly pouert & bisi traueile in lernynge & prechynge of þe gospel, as crist & his apostlis diden, þei schullen be cursed & haue werre & myschif, boþe in þis [page 136] world & þe toþer;*. [þat oþer AA.] & þis makeþ þe blynde peple to werre aȝenst god & his ordynaunce & pursuen his techeris as*. [AA inserts heþen.] heretikis. ¶ O ȝe curatis, seeþ þes heresies & Page  163 blasphemyes & many moo suynge of ȝoure wickid lif & weiward techynge, & forsake hem for drede of helle, & turne to good lif & trewe techynge of þe gospel & ordynaunce of god, as crist & his apostlis diden, for reward of heuenely blisse, & in confessions & oþere spechis charge ȝe more brekenge of goddis hestis þan brekynge of foly bihestis of newe pylgrymagis & offryngis; & teche cristene men to turne suche fonnyd a-vowis in-to betre almes, as crist techiþ in þe gospel. Almyȝtty god brynge curatis in-to holy lif & trewe techynge after crist & his apostlis. Amen.