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

IN FEESTIS OF MANY MARTIRIS.

[SERMON LXV.]

Elevatis Jesus oculis.
—LUKE vi. [20.]

ÞIS gospel telleþ foure confortis of martiris, in whiche þei shulden have joie for pursuynge of Crist. Þe gospel telliþ how, Jesus lifte up hise iȝen on hise disciplis, and seide þus; Page  202Blessid be pore men in spirit, for ȝe, þat þus be pore men, han þus certeinli þe kyngdome of hevene. Þis poverte is a virtue þat men shulden first sue Crist inne, and it is hard for to use, and þerfore telleþ Crist þus þe meede. And þese men þat hav þis virtue, as weren Cristis apostlis, hadden here þe rewme of hevene, for þei hadden here Crist; and Crist, heed of þis rewme, is ofte tymes clepid þis rewme; for he is þe moste jewel of al þis rewme, in which ech part of þis rewme is many weies con|teyned. And þus he mai by many causis be clepid al þis rewme. In þat he is God, he is ende of al þing, and in him we lyven, we moven, and we ben; and for him, as ende, we done alle our dedis. For in virtue of him al his Chirche worcheþ, and by þis moun men se wher men ben lymes of Holy Churche; for þanne þei ben groundid in his lyf, and his worchinge. And if þei ben in stait or werkes ungroundid*. [þat ben not groundid, E.] in Cristis lyf, it is licly to men þat þei ben Antichristis disciplis; for Crist seiþ and mai not lye, þat, Who is not wiþ me, he is aȝens me; and so he is wiþ Anticrist. And so if stait of þese freris be not groundid in Crist, and þei gabben many maneres upon þe lyf of Crist, as in begginge, and asoilinge, and oþer feyned lesyngis; þanne it is a tokene þat þei ben not of holy Chirche, but Saþanas children whos dedis þei done. For if þei ben more bisie aboute worldeli goodis, þan þei ben of dedis þat vertu techiþ to do, þanne þei ben wiþ Mammon, and he lediþ hem. For worldeli goodis, þe which Crist clepid Mammona of wickidnesse, ben moost souȝt of sich men. And so þis fend lediþ hem, and siþ uneven departinge of suche worldeli goodis makiþ dissencioun, ȝhe, þe mooste þat here is, it semeþ þat sich freris ben cause of þis dissencioun. But þei have goodis in comun unevenly departid; ȝhe, more þan hem nedide ech man to have ynowȝ; and þus þis nest of Mammon genderiþ many strives, and ȝit þe fend techiþ hem to seie þat þei have nouȝt, but ben more pore in spirit þan weren Crist and hise apostlis. But certis þis is not poverte of which Crist spekiþ here, siþ Crist spekeþ here of poverte in spirit, to mekeli holde men in havynge of wordli goodis, as moche as nediþ to sus|teyne Page  203 her office. And he þat forsakeþ þus for þe love of Crist worldeli richesse, and fame þat comeþ to þe world for havynge of siche goodis, is a pore man in spirit, as Crist spekiþ here. For þanne he synneþ not in havynge of goodis for to make feestis, ne to make riche housis, ne noo costli ornamentis þat fallen to men, but it is inowȝ to him to hav foode and hilinge. And al his bisynesse is to helpe Cristis Chirche, and he dis|seyveþ not men in multitude of coventis, but lokiþ how fewe prestis moun profite to Cristis Chirche, and how he mai holde þe office þat Crist haþ bedun in his lawe; for his desire stondeþ in þe kyngdome of hevene. And þus ben vertues knyttid oon wiþ anoþer, and algatis in preestis, þat hiȝer suen Crist. And, for suche poverte bringiþ ofte tymes in hunger, þerfor in þe secounde blyss seiþ Crist*. [So E; A includes 'seiþ Crist' in the italics.], þat þei ben blessid now. And it is no drede Crist spekiþ of sich hunger þat is vertuousli take*. [taken, E.], after þe Trinite; for a þeef mai hunger aȝens his wille in prisoun, and a werriour mai hunger for an yvel ende; but loke who haþ power to robbe mennis goodis, and ȝit he spareþ upon resouns, for þe love of God, and þat man hungriþ as Crist spekiþ here. And þus alle þese comunes of þes newe religiouse, þat*. [So in E; om. A.] wasten Goddis goodis, for fame of þe world, or love of her belye, synnen aȝens þis virtue; and þei shulden hungre now to deþ, as done þese martirs, or þei wastiden þus þese pore mennis goodis. And if þei han greet wille to do þis for Goddis sake, þei han now a maner of blis, delitinge in Goddis lawe; and it is no drede þes men shulen be fillid, whanne þei shulen have full joie in pleyn filling of Goddis wille. For after þe day of dome noþing shall displese hem, for þei shulen wel wite þat God ordeyneþ al þings þanne, riȝt as it shulde be, by resoun of Goddis wille. And þis ordenaunce is so faire and so plesinge to seintis, þat þei shulden be fulfillid in wille of her soule, and þat shal be inowȝ to hem to boþe her kyndis. For þanne þei shulen have no hunger of þing þat þei desiren, for þei shulen be fulfillid in bodi and in soule, and þus trowen seintis þat hungre endiþ here.

Þe þridde blisse is seid to þe same entent. Blessid be ȝe þatPage  204wepen now, for ȝe shulen leiȝe. It is knowen þat whoso lastiþ fulli in Goddis lawe he mut nedis wepe here, for enemyes to Crist; for suche Goddis proctours shulen be pursued, for re|prevyng of synners þat ben Goddis enemyes, and he is a coward aȝens God þat spekiþ not boldly aȝens synne. And herfore Joon Baptist and Cristis apostlis token ensaumple of Crist to þus repreve synne; and þus þei wepten for pursuyte, and algatis for synne, siþ Crist in all hise þre wepingis wepte for oþer mennis synne. For he loveþ nowȝt wel Crist and his Modir þat sorowiþ not for her injurie, and despite þat is done to him. And sich men of charite shall leiȝe at ȝe dai of dome, for Salomon seiþ, þe Churche shall leiȝe in þe last dai; and sich gostli gladness is clepid here leiȝyng*. [leyȝinge, E.], for bodili leiȝyng is fer fro þis purpos. And of þese þree pursuyngis þat comen to þe Chirche, þe firste is leste of alle, þe secound is myddil, and þe þridde is moost; and þus it is of þe*. [om. E.] þree rewardis.

Þe fourþ word þat Crist seiþ conteyneþ þre pursuingis; ȝe shulen be blessid, seiþ Crist, whanne men shulen hate ȝou, and whanne þei shulen departe ȝou, and after repreve ȝou. Cristis servantis on many maneris ben departid here. Worldeli men fleen hem, and leven hem by hemsilf; þei ben cursid of Anti|crist, and put out of chirchis, and þei ben partid in prisouns fro oþer men of þe world. And in alle þes statis þei suffren re|proves, and if þei ben certeyn, bi lore of her bileve, þat þei suffren in all þis fro cause of her God, þei moun be blessid and joiful for hope of þe ende, as a syk man gladli wole suffre peyne whanne he hopiþ þerbi to come aftir to hele. And joie þat seintis shulen have whanne þei suffren þus is a manere of blisse þat þei han here, for it is more joie þan all þese worldli lustis. And, as Crist telliþ, þese þat stonden in Cristis cause, han her names cast out as cursid men and heretikes, for her enemyes ben so blynde, and so depe in her synne, þat þei clepen good, yvel, and yvel, good. But woo be to suche. And Crist biddiþ his servantis to joie þat dai in her herte, and shewe a glad countynaunce, to men þat ben about hem, for certis her mede is moche in þe blisse of hevene. And þis word coun|fortiþ Page  205 symple men, þat been clepid eretikes, and enemyes to þe Chirch, for þei tellen Goddis lawe; for þei ben somynned and reprovyd many weies, and after put in prison, and brend*. [brent, E.] or kild as worse þan þeves*. [See note on p. 201.]. And maistris of þis pursuyng ben preestis more and less, and moost pryvy freris wiþ lesingis þat þei feynen, as Crist was pursued wiþ Caiphas and oþer preestis, but privyli wiþ Pharisees þat weren hise falsseste*. [falseest, E.] enemyes. And þis gospel is confort to alle þat ben þus pursued.

But certis as tradiciouns maid biside Goddis lawe, of preestis and of scribis and of Phariseis, blyndiden hem in Goddis lawe and made it dispisid, so it is now of Goddis lawe by newe mennis lawis, as decretals and decres. And þe Sixte, wiþ Clementyns

* The compilation of the Sixth Book of the Decretals was made by order of Boniface VIII, and promulgated by him in 1297. It is entitled Sextus, or the Sixth, as following and being supplementary to the five books of Decretals published by Gregory IX, in 1234, (on which see Milman's Latin Christianity, vi. 163):—

Gregorii noni post libros quinque, vocatur Sextus; nomen habens ordinis a numero.

The Clementines were first pub|lished by Clement V at the Council of Vienne in 1312; they were after|wards given out in a fully digested form by John XXII in 1316. They treat of various points of canon law and church discipline, and are sup|plementary to the Sextus.

, done myche harm to Goddis lawe, and enfeblen bileve. And þus done þese newe reulis of þese þree ordris, as þei harmen rewmes and cuntreis þat þei dwellen inne. But remedie agens þis is used of many men, to dispise all þese lawis whanne þei ben aleggid, and seien unto men þat aleggen hem, þat falsehede is more suspect for witnesse of siche lawis, siþ Goddis lawe telliþ al truþe þat is nedeful to men. In þis laste pursuyng of our modyr, þat is greet and perilous, haþ Anticrist moche part aȝens Jesus Crist, and feyneþ bi ipocrisie þat he haþ þe riȝt part. And defaute of bileve is ground of all þis errour.