Select English works of John Wyclif; edited from original mss. by Thomas Arnold.
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384., Arnold, Thomas, ed. 1823-1900.
Page  65

HERE BIGYNNEÞ
ADVENT BIFORE CRISTEMASSE.

ÞE FIRSTE SONDAI GOSPEL IN ADVENT.

[SERMON XXVI.]

Cum appropinquasset Jesus Jerosolumis.
—MATT. xxi. [1.]

ÞIS Gospel telliþ of the secounde advent of Crist and it is noo drede it techiþ us vertues, siþ alle þe dedes of Crist tellen men how þei shulden do. Þe story telliþ how Jesus cam to his passioun unto Jerusalem, to teche þat he ordeynede himsilf for to suffre, for he myȝte have fledde þis passioun of him, ȝif he wolde himsilf not have suffrid þus. And so men seyen co|mounly þat þere ben þre adventis biside þe comoun advent þat Crist comeþ to mannis soule. In þe firste advent Crist cam to be man, and þis advent aboden seintis of þe olde lawe, and þis was no morynge but lassyng of God, ȝhe more lassyng þan to aungelis, as þe psalme seiþ, for God was made erþe whan he was maad man. Þe secounde advent is cominge to Cristis passioun; and of þis makiþ þe gospel mynde to daye. Þe þridde advent shal be whan Crist shal come to jugement at þe daie of dome, to juge boþe good and yvel. And in al þes þre adventis Crist visitide ever his sugetis to amende hem and not to spuyle hem; and wolde God þat preelatis*. [prelatis, B.] wolde þenke on þis now; þanne shulde þei not come in Anticristis name more to spuyle þer sugetis þan to amende hem. Þe first advent of Crist we bileven as passid, and þe þridde advent we abiden, þat is to come; but to þe secounde advent we shulden maken us redy to suffre in oure body for þe name of Crist.

Crist cam to Beþfage*. [Bethphage is said to mean house of unripe figs (Smith's Bib. Dict.). Wyclif was apparently thinking of the Greek [gap: 1] .], þat is a litil toun in þe foot, of Olyvete, Page  66 a myle fro Jerusalem, and þis toun was ȝovun to preestis for mete of her mouþis, for Beþfage is hous of mouþ, or ellis hous of etynge—and bi þis tauȝte Crist how he lyvede pore lyf and nedy for love of man, siþ he dwelte in siche þropis*. [þorpes, C.]*. [Þropis. Þrop is given in Bos|worth's Dictionary as an alternative form of þorp, village.], and he tolde hou preestis eten hym by envie. Þanne he sente two disciplis to Jerusalem, þat was wallid, and þerfore Crist clepiþ it a castel þat was aȝen holy Chirche*. [This clause is rightly not written as a quotation in C.]. Crist bad his disciplis to bringe him an asse and þe fole of þis asse þat þei shulden fynden al redy, and bad þat þei shulden lose hem and brynge hem to Crist; and ȝif ony seide ouȝt to hem, þei shulden seie, Þe Lord haþ nede of hem, and he shulde leve hem anoon. And þis was fild, as Crist seide bi prophete longe bifore, Telle ȝe to Syon þe douȝter of Jerusalem, Lo, þi kyng comeþ to þee, homely, sittynge upon asse and upon þe asse fole; which asse was a drawyng beest. And his disciplis wenten and diden as Jesus comandide hem. For alle þes þingis moten nedis be riȝt as Crist hadde ordeyned hem, and bi þis myȝten þe disciplis knowe þat þis Lord was al witty. And his disciplis puttiden her cloþis upon þes two beestis, first upon þe fole, siþ upon þe asse, to teche us þat heþene men, þat weren wanton as foolis*. [folis. B.], shulden resseyve Crist and his lawes, and after Jewis as assis, for þei shal bere to þe ende of þe world þe wiȝte of þe olde lawe, as folt*. [So in B and C; A has foli.]*. [Folt=foaled.] assis beren chargis what so ever be leid on hem. And his disciplis maden Crist to sitte upon þes boþe beestis. But þre manere of folk cam out of Jerusalem and dide worship to Crist, for comounes lovede him riȝt wele. Myche peple þat was riche spradden her cloþis in þe weye, and porer schreden branchis of trees and spradden hem in þe weye, and oþir, boþe ȝong and olde, comynge bifore and bihynde songen þis song in worship of Crist; David Sone, we preien, make us safe*. ['Save, we pray,' is the correct translation of Hosanna.]: þis we seien to David Sone, Blessid be he þat is come þus to us in Goddis name!

Sum men seien þat þes disciplis þat weren sent to Jerusalem ben herty preestis and worldely lordis þat shulde be boþe Cristis Page  67 disciplis, and brynge to Crist þis asse and hir fole to ryde to hevenly Jerusalem. And as Jerusalem was wallid aȝens Crist and his apostlis, so þes religious to daie ben wallid aȝens Cristen men. But þis wal is mennis fyndinge, hepid wiþouten charite, for it is no charite to leve þe ordre þat Crist ȝaf, and to take þes stynkinge ordres, and telle more prys bi þis resoun;—þis synful patroun bade do þus, þerefore we shulden do þus; þan bi þis,—Crist bad alle men do þus, þer|fore þei shulden do þus. He þat synneþ in þis feiþ synneþ aȝen bileve; aȝen þe mandementis of þe first table, and so aȝen alle Goddis mandementis. And þus shulden Cristen men bringe to Crist boþ þis asse and hir fole þat ben bonden in Jerusalem bi sich fals religiouse; and so þis asse and hir fole ben comen to þes pryvat ordris, but not to alle Cristene men, al if þei ben betere and have more nede. Ȝit þes ȝoldes*. [Besides the old Anglo-Saxon Guilds (on which see Pearson's Early English History, i. 271) there were the merchant guilds, and the art guilds. The last class is probably referred to in the text. A curious account of the organization of the guild of painters at Florence in 1349, by Jacopo di Casentino, will be found in Crowe's Hist. of Painting in Italy, ii. 2.] founden of men helpen al þer breþeren in nede boþe of temporal goodis and laten hem dwelle in Cristis ordre, but þes sectis of newe ordris helpen not þus þer breþeren, for, be þei olde, be þei ȝonge, be þei nevere at siche meshese*. [myschef, B; mischefe, C.], þei wolen not helpe hem wiþ goodis for to lyven in Cristis ordre, but raþer emprisoun hem or punishe hem aȝens Goddis lawe. But bi þe reule of charite þei shulden selle þer hiȝe housis and alle þe meblis þat þei have, and helpe þer breþeren in nede, and lyven al aftir Cristis lawe. Þus Crist ȝaf boþe bodi and soule for relevynge of his enemyes, but how lasten siche religious, or in mercy or in charite, þat wolen not ȝyve þer ydel goodis for þe helping of þer breþeren? And þus hem wantiþ hiest love and ech degre of charite, for þei loven more þer ydel muk, þan þei done þer breþeren in God. Feyned lettris of fraternite

* Chaucer, whom nothing escaped, has noted this practice of giving 'letters of fraternity,' which however had been practised by the monks for centuries before the friars were heard of. In the Sompnour's Tale, Thomas, the farmer, asks the questing friar whether he is not his 'brother.'

'Ye, certcs, quod the frere, trust|eth wel;

I took our dame the letter, under our seal.'

Among the Dominicans, and pro|bably among the Franciscans also, these letters admitted to the brother|hood of the third order, and imparted to the persons admitted the bene|fit of all the masses, fasts, prayers, and other good works done or to be done throughout the order. For the 'formula admissionis,' see Ducange (Paris, 1843), article 'Fraternitas.'

wolen þei ȝyve to symple men, but Page  68 to lordis and to men þat þei seyn þat þei loven more, wolen þei not profre siche lettris, lest her falsheed be perseyved. For siche lettris of chartris profiten not to men, but oþer to make men have riȝt, or ellis to defende her riȝt. Siche lettris maken no riȝt; ȝhe bi mannis lawe; and þis riȝt is not enpechid bifore þe dai of dome; and ȝif men shewen*. [The reader will be reminded here of a passage in the Paradise Lost, Book iii. 485.] þan þes lettris oþir to God or his lawe þei profite noþing to hem ne defenden hem aȝens God, and so þes lettris ben superflue, as ben þes ordris þat maken hem.