Select English works of John Wyclif; edited from original mss. by Thomas Arnold.
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384., Arnold, Thomas, ed. 1823-1900.
Page  124

ÞE FIFÞE SONDAY GOSPEL IN LENT.

[SERMON XLIV.]

Quis ex vobis arguet.
—JOHN viii. [46.]

ÞIS gospel techiþ bileve by hie wordis þat Crist spake, and hou men shulden lyve þere after, and trowen in Crist and suen him. First axiþ Crist þat who of hem shal reprove him of synne; and he wolde mene þat noon myȝte. And so Crist myȝte not do synne, for ȝif he myȝte have synned, þe Jewis myȝten have reproved him of synne, as þei enforsiden many gatis, but þei traveiliden in veyn. And here we undirstonden reprofe for matere þat is trewe for cause þerof. As false peny is noo peny, so fals reprofe is no repreefe, for ech þing mut have treuþe in þat þat it haþ beyng. And in þis word Crist wolde mene þat he was boþe God and man, for ȝif he hadde not be God, he myȝte have synned as aungelis diden. And it were liȝt for to synne in veyn glory or in gabbyng, for ech gabbing is synne, and Crist gabbid, or he was God. And after þis bileve of Crist, proveþ he þat þei shulden trowe him. For siþ he seiþ but treuthe to hem, as he may noo gatis synne, þei shulden trowe unto þat treuþe, siþ þat God knowiþ al treuþe. And herfore seiþ þe word of Crist, þat ȝif he seiþ treuþe, whi trowen þei not to him. But as Crist soþely takiþ, he þat is on Goddis syde, he heeriþ Goddis wordis, or bodily or spiritualy; siþ no man may be but ȝif he heere treuþe or o tyme or oþer. And so þes hey preestis of Jewis heeren not þus Goddis wordis, for þei ben not on Goddis halfe; and þanne þei ben wiþ þe fend.

But þes Jewis conceyveden þes wordis how þei weren sharply seid to hem, and þei hadden no wey to answere ne to replie aȝens him. And herfore þei bigan to chide and accusiden Crist wiþouten cause. And two þingis þei putten on him, first þat he was a Samaritane, and*. [om. B, C.]siþ þat he hadde a fend, þat was felowe and helpe to him. But Crist lefte answere to þe first, and þe secounde he denyede; and so he grauntide in a manere þat he Page  125 was a Samaritan, siþ he was keper of mankynde, as he telliþ in a parable. Þat man is seid to have a fend whom þe fend dis|seyveþ, as he is seid to have an heed þat is hedid bi þis hede; and so of oþer relatives as clerkes knowen in manere of speche. And after þis answere Crist telliþ how he doiþ treuþe and þei done falshede aȝen, ffor he doiþ worship to his Fadir and þei unworshipiden him; he sekiþ not his owne glorye, but his Fadir sekiþ and jugiþ. And þis is þe maner of speche þat Crist usiþ ofte, þat he bi his manhede doiþ not suche þing, whan he bi þis kynde doiþ not principalli þis þing. For Crist seiþ to þis entent þat his lore is not his, ne þe word þat ȝe herde is not his, but his Fadris. And on þis manere semeþ Ambrose*. [S. Ambros. De Fide, lib. iv., cap.5. 'Nos autem quotienscunque sacramenta sumimus, quae per sa|crae orationis mysterium in carnem transfigurantur et sanguinem, mor|tem domini annunciamus.'] to graunten þat þe sacred breed is not after breed but Goddis body, for it is not after principaly breed but Goddis bodi, in maner as Austin seiþ*. [I have examined scores of pas|sages in the works of St. Austin, but have not found one which ex|actly corresponds to the reference in the text, so as to imply that the sacramental bread, after consecra|tion, while it became principally the body of Christ, yet continued in a certain sense to be bread. For this is clearly the meaning of Wyclif's words, and this was in fact the main point of his controversy with the friars on the Eucharistic mystery; in which he quarrelled with their definition of the consecrated species as an 'accident without a subject' for this very reason, that it utterly denied the co-presence of bread in any sense, after consecration. It is therefore a point of much interest to ascertain whether St. Austin's works really contain any passage which would justify the reference in the text; in other words, which would support Wyclif's favourite theory of consubstantiation; and I shall be glad if this note should be the means of directing the attention of theological students to the search. (See note on p. 379, Serm. 112.)]. But siþ al werkes of þe Trinite may not be departid, al þe þree persones seken glorie of Crist. But þe manhede of Crist is herto an instrument; and as þe ax hewiþ not, but þe wriȝt bi his crafte, riȝt so Crist sekiþ not his owne glorie. But Crist to shewe boþe his kyndis doubliþ þis amen, and telliþ þat he seiþ soþeli to hem; þat who ever kepiþ his word shal not taste deeþ wiþouten eend. For he bi comoun speche kepiþ a þing, þat wiþouten lesyng kepiþ þe same þing, and þus whoever kepiþ ony word of Crist, he shal never have þe deþ þat ever shal laste.

But here þe Jewis knewen not þe manere of Cristis speche, and replieden aȝen him and seiden, Now we witen wele þat þouPage  126hast a fend þat lediþ þe in þi dedis. Abraham was deed, and oþer holy prophetes, and þou seist, whoever kepiþ my word shal nevere die. Lord! wher þou be more þan oure fadir Abraham þat is deed, and prophetis also; whom makist þou þee? wher þou be more þan ony of þese seintis? Here may we see þe folye of þes Jewis, for þei koud not knowe dyversite of þes wordis; who þat lyveþ þus, he shal not taaste þe longe deþ; and who so lyveþ þus shal never taste deþ. But Jesus lefte þis foly and spake to þe purpos; ȝif Y glorifie þus my silfe, my glorie is not, but Y have a Fadir þat þus glorifieþ me; and ȝe seyen þat he is ȝour God; but ȝe have not knowe him; but Y have knowe him, and ȝif Y sey nay, Y shal be like to you, a lyer. Abraham ȝoure fadir hadde grete joie to se my daie, and he sey it and hadde joie. But here þe Jewis knewen not þe maner of riȝt speche of Crist, for þei knewen not how Crist clepide God syngulerly his Fadir. For þan bi riȝt speche God was his Fadir bi kynde. God is oure alþer fadir*. [aller-fadur, C. See Glossary.] but who ever of us seiþ, God is my fadir, he blas|femeþ in God. Þis man is my fadir, ȝif þat Y have properte in gendrure of him bifore oþer men. And þus þes foolis replieden aȝen þe wordis of Crist, and seiden; Þou hast not ȝit fifty ȝeer in age and ȝit þou menest in þi speche þat þou hast seen Abraham. And, for þe first blyndenesse þat þei weren to blame fore, Crist spake more derkely to hem þan he dide bifore, and seide, Soþely, soþely, to showe his two kyndis, Bifore þat Abraham shulde be, Y am. And herfore þei weren depid in worse synne of dede, whan þei token up stonys to stone Crist to deeþ. But Jesus hidde him and wente out of þe temple, as it was liȝt to hym to hiden him among many; for boþe he myȝt stoppe her siȝt, and shewen him in dyverse formes. And here he tauȝt his disciplis in dede for to flee, but he tauȝt hem nevere for to fyȝte bodily. And siche blessid cowardise makiþ Goddis children, for Crist seiþ þat in þer pacience þei shal have þer lyf in pees. But þe fend techiþ his children to be hardy heere, and fiȝte wiþouten hevenly cause, and þus þei lesen þer lyf; for techingis þus contrarye leden to contrarye eendis.

But we þat ben in bileve over þes blynde Jewis shulden Page  127 knowe þes wordis of Crist þat he seid to hem, Biforn þat Abraham shulde be, Y am. But as we witen bi oure bileve þat þes wordis ben ful of witt, so we witen þat in hem Crist shewide his godhede. For we witen wel þat þis word, Y am, bitokeneþ þe godhede, for godhede may not be chaungid, neiþer from ȝonge to elde, ne from worse to beter; for it is ever oon, and a þousand ȝeer ben to him as ȝisterday; and, shortly, al þing þat was or ever shal be hereafter is present unto him, ffor streeching of his longe beying. And herfore telliþ God to Moyses þat he þat is, is his name, and þis is a memorial to God wiþouten ende. But over þis we shulden wite whan Abraham shulde be. And certis, siþ þat God wiste, ȝhe*. [So B and E; ȝe, A.], bifore he made þis world, þat Abraham shulde be, þanne it was soþ, and herfore seyen clerkes þat ech creature haþ beyng in his sample*. [The belief that the ideas, or original patterns (exemplaria—'sam|ples'), of all things and persons exist from eternity in the divine mind, borrowed by the schoolmen from the Platonic philosophy, is defined and adopted in the Summa of St. Thomas. The following ex|tract is from the first Article of Quaestio xv., Prima Pars. 'Dicen|dum quod necesse est ponere in mente divina ideas. Idea autem Graece, Latine forma dicitur. Unde per ideas intelliguntur formae alia|rum rerum praeter ipsas res exis|tentes. Forma autem alicujus rei praeter ipsam existens ad duo esse potest; vel ut sit exemplar ejus cujus dicitur forma; vel ut sit prin|cipium cognitionis ipsius.' Again (Art. ii.) quoting St. Austin, he says, 'Ideae sunt principales quae|dam formae, vel rationes rerum sta|biles atque incommutabiles; quia ipsae formatae non sunt, ac per hoc aeternae.'] þat is wiþouten eende. And so, þat Abraham shulde be, is treuþe wiþouten eende, but ȝit bifore þis treuþe, is God þat knowiþ it. And so þis word, bifore, bitokeneþ forþerhede of beyng, and not forþerhede of tyme, siþ al þis was wiþouten ende. And so to blaberynge in þis speche mennis voicis ben not sufficient, but sum glymerynge we have in oure soule of þis treuþe, and betere knowen it in oure herte þan we can speke it in vois. And blessid be þe Holy Goost þat sette siche wordis in his lawe, þat alle men here in erþe can unneþe undirstonde hem. For Y am certeyn ȝif þou be never so wyse ne olde, unneþe þou wolt afferme þis shorte word of Crist, whan he seiþ þat, Bifore þat Abraham shulde be, Y am. And here tellen seintis cause of þis derknesse. First we shulden wel witen þat autour of þis gospel is more witty in himsilf þan we alle can conseyve. Page  128 Also he wole þat his preestis traveilen fast in his lawe, and kepen hem medefully from oþer occupaciouns; for noon of us haþ matere to say þat he can alle Goddis lawe, and so he haþ no more to lerne þerynne. Also we shulden trowe þat alle mennys wordis may not come to þe witt þat is in Goddis wordis; for we witen þai nouȝt in hem is seid wiþouten chesoun, but in ech Goddis word is more witt þan we knowe.