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

ÞE SECONDE SONDAI GOSPEL IN ADVENT.

[SERMON XXVII.]

Erunt signa in sole.
—LUC. xxi. [25.]

ÞIS gospel telliþ derkely a prophecie of Crist; how it shal be in þis Chirche bifore þe dai of dome. Crist seiþ, Þer shal be signes in þe sunne and moone and in þe sterres of hevene, and in þe erþe pressure of folk, by movynge of heven. For þes þre partis of hevene, sunne and moone and sterris, shal move to|gidere boþe see and watris; for þei ben more redy to be moved by hevene þan oþir erþe or eir, for þei ben bitwene þes two, neiþir to hevy ne to þinne; but large in quantite and disposid to take liȝt of þes þre bodies of hevene and to be confusid and to make noise. And siþ of þis see and watir rysen wyndis and blowen on londis, it is no wounder ȝif oure eire be chaungid in qualitees; and siþ chaunginge of oure eire makiþ chaung|inge in mennis bodies, it is no wounder ȝif mennis bodies be changid bi þis eire; and so maneres, þat suen þe chaunging of mannis complexioun, shal be changid in oure erþe þat men dwelle inne; and so, men shal wexe drye, boþe be siche erþely eir, and bi drede of oþer signes þat shal come among men. And þanne men shal fiȝte in erþ, o cuntree wiþ anoþir, for such changing in eir shal make changinge in mennis lyfe, and þus dede bodies Page  69 cast in þe water or erþe chaungen þe eir, and alle oure places þat we dwellen inne, oþerwise þan it shulde have be in þe state of innocens; for þanne our places undir þe mone shulde have be wiþouten siche medlinge; ffor hevene worchiþ kyndely, dy|versely in dyvers maters. And after al þis shal men see Crist oure Lord come from hevene, and his angelis with him, to deme men þat dwellen here; for þe vertues of hevene, þat ben liȝts, shal be chaungid here, and al þe governaile of hevene shal be varied þus to men. And þanne men shal see Crist comyng doun in a cloude wiþ greet power and maieste, to men þat can rede þes signes; and Crist confortiþ his children, and biddiþ hem putte drede awey, ffor comynge of siche signes bito|keneþ þat þer blisse is neiȝe; and þerfore shulden þei rere þer heedis, and be gladde of þes signes, and nouȝt honge þere heedis doun as men hevyed wiþ þe erþe. For what man wolde not be gladde whan he shulde go out of prison, and be brouȝt to þe blisse of hevene and passe awey fro siche peyne. And Crist seide to his disciplis þis similitude in kynde. See ȝe þe gardyn of fige trees and al oþer trees of fruyte; whan þei bryngen forþ fruyte of hem, ye witen wel þat somer is nyȝe. (And somer is in sum contrees time to gedre fruyte of þe erþe.) And so whan ȝe seen þes signes be made, wite ye þat youre bigginge is nyȝe. For biginge is clepid here fruyte þat comeþ of þis bigginge, and Crist seiþ soþely þat þe kynrede of his children shal not passe out of þis world bifore þat alle þes þingis be done. Hevene and erþe shal passe in chaunginge, but Cristis wordis shal not passe þus. Wel we witen þe sunne stood and sum tyme it wente aȝen, but þus mai not sentence be chaungid of þe wordis of oure Lord; but þere is more stabilhede in wordis þat ben seid of Crist þan is in hevene or erþe, siþ Crist is above þes two, and comynge in þes tweyne is not nedeful but for þat Crist haþ ordeyned it.

Þes wordis of Crist may be undirstonden goostli, so þat þe sonne be Crist, God and man, and þe mone be holy Chirche, and þe sterres in hevene be seintis in þe worlde. Signes ben made in hem, for þei moven erþely men, and chaungen as þe see temporal goodis, and for siche chaunginge chaungen men in wille, and membris of þe fend ben drye fro grace and ben adredde for Crist, and sentence of his chirche. Ffor vertues of Page  70 hevene shal move Cristene men to vencushe þe fendes lymes, and to feren hem, al if þei for a tyme maken greet soune, and stynkyn wiþ synne, and froþyn wiþ lecherie. And þe more fishes swelewen þe lasse; and cours of þis moone moveþ worldely men, and wyndis of pryde wawen þes floodis, so þat it is perilous to shippis for to wandre, al ȝif þei ben born up wiþ þe crosse of Crist. But wele Y wote þat men þat ben chosen of God may flottre in þe see, but þei may not perishe; for al þing mut nede come þat God himsilf haþ ordeyned. And þus sad bileve of þis þridde Advent shulde stire men fro synne and drawe hem to vertues. Ffor ȝif þei shulden to morewe answere to a juge, and wynne greet rentis or ellis lese hem, þei wolde ful bisili shape for þer answere, and myche more ȝif þei shulden wynne or lese þer lyfe—Lord! siþ we ben certeyn of þe day of dome þat it shal come to us, and we wite not how soone, and þere we shal have jugement of hevenly lyfe, or ellis of deeþ of helle þat evermore shal laste, how bisie shulde we be to make us redy for þis! Certis defaute of bileve is cause of oure sleuþe; and þus shulden we fasten in us articlis of þe trouþe, for þei wolen be louse in us as nailes in a tree, and þerfore it is nedeful to knocke and make hem faste. For it is noo drede þat no man doiþ synne but ȝif he faile in bileve upon sum manere. Sum men wanten bileve, and nevere hadden bileve, as Paynemes and oþer men þat nevere weren turned to Crist. Sum failen in bileve, for þer bileve slepiþ, and oþer þingis wakeþ þat þei trowen more; and þus failiþ ech man þat is overcomen wiþ synne; for lust wakiþ in hem to whiche þe synne moveþ hem, and peyne and drede of his synne is leide asleepe; and þus failen in trouþe þe more part of men. We shulde þenke freishely on þe day of dome, and how no þing may þan lette Cristis jugement; ffor treuþe and resoun shal fulli go forþ þanne, and herfore seiþ þe gospel þat men þan nakid fro charite shal be þanne dombe, and not shal answere to Crist. And for þis cause prophetis of Goddis lawe clepen þe daie of dome þe daie of þe Lord, for in þat daie not*. [nowt, B and C.] shal go aȝens him, but þei clepen daies bifore daies of men, for þe fend and his membris have now þer purpos, al ȝif þei shal þan bie it ful dere.