Select English works of John Wyclif; edited from original mss. by Thomas Arnold.
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384., Arnold, Thomas, ed. 1823-1900.
Page  62



Cum sublevasset oculos Jesus.
—JOH. vi. [5.]

ÞIS gospel telliþ a myracle how Crist fedde þe folk; and þis miracle techiþ men boþe good feiþ and vertues. It is seid bifore*. [See Sermon VII.] how Crist fedde þe folk þus twyes, and of þe secounde fedynge it is seid bifore, and of þe first fedynge shulde we speke now. Þe gospel seiþ þus, þat þis miracle was don whanne Jesus hadde cast up his eyen and seiȝ þat myche folk was comen to him, to here Goddis word, he saide to Philip, Whereof þei shulden bigge breed for to fede þis folk, for he wiste þat þei hungriden. Þis seide Crist to Philip for to tempte him, for he wiste ful wel what he hadde to do. And Philip seide to Crist, þat loves of two hundrid pens ne sufficiden not to hem, so þat ech on myȝte take a litil what of breed. But anoþir disciple, Andrew, Petris broþir, seide, þer was a child þat þere hadde fyve barly loves, and þerto two fishis, but what wolden þes be amonge so myche folke. And Jesus bade his apostlis to make þe men sitte doun to mete, for þere was much hay, þat þei myȝte sitte on, and þe men weren sette as it were fyve þousand. And Jesus tooke þan þes loves, and whan he hadde þanked God, he délide hem to þe sittinge men, and also of þe fishis as myche as þei wolden. And whan þei weren fillid, Crist seide to his disciplis, gedre ȝe þe relif þat lefte, þat it perishe not. And þei gedriden and filden twelve coffynes*. [In this word, by which Wyclif (as well as both Wycliffite versions in loco) simply Englishes the [gap: 1] of the original, we seem to have the source of the word 'coffin.']of relif of fyve barly loves, þat weren lefte of þis folke þat eten. And þes men, whan þei hadden seen þe signe of þis myracle, saiden among hem|silfe, þat þis is a verrey prophete, þat is come in to þis world, as prophetis bifore hadden told. We shal suppose of þis myracle þat it is dyverse fro þe toþir; for ellis Mark wolde not have told þes myraclis so dyversly and in diverse places, for þat oon hadde Page  63 þen be fals, and it hadde be superflue to þus have told þis tale; and herfor we shal suppose þat þes weren two myraclis þat weren do in þis maners as þe gospel telliþ. And we shal suppose over þat as Crist quykid þre men for a notable cause, who so koud*. [kowde, B.] undirstonde it, so he made þes two festis, for a certeyn resoun. And it is seid comounly þat as þe noumbre of two is þe first þat comeþ from oonhede of noumbris, so þe two feestis bitokenen þat men for þer synne ben fallen in þis nede to be fedde þus. For, if man hadde stonde in þe staat of innocence, he shulde have had no nede to be fedde þus, for man shulde have feelid no peyne bifore þat he hadde synned, and so he shulde not have hungrid for defaute of mete. But, for he wente first bi synne from oonhede of God, þerfore he felde þus twyes in peyne for his synne. And God telliþ suche treuþes on diverse maneres, now for o cause, and now for an|oþir; and þus bi þis resoun curatis of puplis, ȝif þei ben hooli in bodi, ben pore feble men. Þei ben pore men, ȝif þei kepen her ordre, for þei shulden sue Crist in poverte, nerrer þan oþir comounes, and þei ben feble, for þei have nede of sustenaunce þat þei shulde not have hadde in state of innocence; and þei mai not, as Crist, have mete where þei wolden; and þus for poverte and febilnes þei taken almes of comounes. Þes fyve loves ben fyve bokes of Moises, þat ben boþe streite and sharpe, as seint Petir seiþ. Þes two fishis ben two bokes, of Wisdom and of prophetis, þat ben sonel*. [souvil, B; sowle, C.] to þes loves. And þis o child, þat haþ al þe mete, is þe child born to us, þat Ysay spekiþ of. Þis child makiþ his puple sitte don in mekenesse, þenkinge þat þei ben hey whos floure falliþ, but þe goostly food is proposid of Crist for to be tokned bi bodily foode. And fyve þousend of men fedde wiþ þis mete weren al þo in which Goddis grace was greene; for al þes moten meken hem, and be fed wiþ Goddis word; for ellis may no man come to hevene blis. And þus men þat ben fallen doun bi pryde of synne, shal bi mekenesse of þe centre be brouȝt unto hevene. For as lownesse of þe centre of þe world and þe erþe, is þe most lownesse þat God may make, so mekenes of Crist is þe mooste þat mai be, and Page  64 in þis mekenesse mut a man grounde his toure, ȝif it shal teyne to hevene, for þe toure of þe gospel þat man shulde wille to rere is undirstonde comounly heynesse of vertues, of which vertues mekenes is ground, and charite þe heyeste parte, þat teyneþ unto hevene. After þis mete weren gedrid twelve cof|fynes, ffor holy doctours after þes maters weren more sutil in witt of holy writt þan aftirward ben doctours in witt of Goddis lawe. For siþ, men stonden in sophymes and crafte of worldely wynnynge, and lore of foure doctours is myche leid asleepe, naþeles þis relif shulde fede folk now, for neiþer þis hool mete ne relif þerof may rote or perishe, siþ it is treuþe of God. And so al þes twelve coffynes ben alle þe mo*. [moo in B.] sentencis þat first weren gedrid of witt of holy writt, but þe sevene lepis þat weren gedrid after weren fewere goode sentences þat weren take of Goddis lawe. And þis myracle of multipliynge of Goddis lawe bi so fewe prechours among so fele folk was more myracle þan bodili woundris, and þerfore holy men turneden to God, glorifien him, and holden hym þer kyng.