Select English works of John Wyclif; edited from original mss. by Thomas Arnold.
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384., Arnold, Thomas, ed. 1823-1900.
Page  235

ÞE GOSPEL OF MANY MARTRIS.

[SERMON LXXIII.]

Egressus Jesus de Templo.
—MATT. xxiv. [I.]

ÞIS gospel telliþ, as oþer bifore, how men shulden lyve in þis world, and suffre persecucioun þat mut nedis falle here. Þe story telliþ, þat Jesu wente out of þe temple, and his disciplis camen after him, to shewe him þe makyng of þe temple; for it was fallinge to his wordis þat he hadde seid bifore to þe peple, to wite, what Crist felide of þis makyng of þe temple. But Crist answeride and seid to hem; Se ȝe alle þes. Soþeli, Y seie to ȝou þat here shal not be a stoon lefte upon anoþer undistryed. And þis þing was fulfillid, wiþinne fifty ȝeer after, for þe secunde and forty yeer after þat Crist was steied to hevene cam two princis of Rome, Titus and Vaspasian, and ensegiden þe citee, whan it was ful of men at þe feste of Paske, as Crist tolde bifore bi Luke. And þis oost envyrounede þis citee on ech side, and lettide þe peple to go out, and slewe þe folk, and at þe laste toke þe cite; and þanne was þe temple distroied, and al þe citee was turnid, so þat þe mount of Calvarie was sette fer wiþinne þe citee, whan it was bifore wiþouten. And so was not a stoon left upon anoþer undistroied, for all þe citee and þe temple weren turned to make newe citee. And bi þes wordis men taken þat Crist tolde litil by þe temple, or ony siche workes of crafte þat passen þe state of innocence; for clene liif wiþouten siche is beter to Crist þan siche churchis. Alle siche profiten not, but in as moche as þei helpen þe peple to heere Goddis word, and betere þere to preie God; and þis is comunli betere don in þe eire under hevene, but ofte tyme, in reyny wedir, chirchis don good on halidai. And þus curiouste of foolis is ungroundid by Goddis lawe. And whanne Crist sat on þe hill of Olyvete, þe disciplis comen and axiden Crist, to telle hem whanne þis shulde be, and whanne shulden be þe daie of dome. But Crist tolde hem of sounere perils, þat was betere hem to knowe, and lefte þis þing hid to hem, as it is told bifore. Page  236

And so men seien þat þree þingis wole God have hid to men. God wole þat tyme of deþ be comunli unknowun to men, and whanne þe daie of dome shal be. For men shulden ever more wake, and kepe hem from peril of synne, siþ þei witen never whanne God hall come; so þat whanne he come he fynde hem redi to take þe jugement of God. For ser|vauntis shulden biden þe Lord, and not þe Lord abide hise servauntis; but whanne ful tyme is comen to God, þanne falliþ him to make amende. And siþ God wole þat his tyme be hid, þei synnen gretli þat traveilen here to knowe þis tyme, and leven oþer þing þat God wole þat men knowen and done; and þus, as it is seid bifore, popis ben gretli to blame þat menen þat þei shulden knowe þis dai, bi fool*. [foole, E.] graunting þat þei graunten*. [No indulgence could conceivably be of any avail, except in the inter|val between death and the day of judgment; the writer means there|fore, that by granting indulgences for specified terms of years, the popes did in effect assert the pos|session of a knowledge respecting the time of the day of judgment which Scripture expressly denies to all men.]. Þe þridde þing þat God wole have hid to men is privyte of his ordenance, wheþer God have ordeyned to save þes men, or ellis to dampne hem for her synne. And cause of þis is as bifore, for men shulden ever be redi to God, and ever serve þis Lord in drede, lest he dampne men at þe laste. And þus many men synnen in God aȝens his firste comandement, þat wolen not rise out of her synne, but dwelle þerinne, and chese*. [chesen hem, E.] a tyme; for Crist seiþ to false men þat he is Lord, ȝhe of tyme.

And þus seiþ Crist, þat of þat daie no man knoweþ in þis liif, but aloonli þe Fadir of Hevene*. [So E; no italics in A.], and two oþer persones of þe Fadir; for þing proprid to þe Godhede is þus aproprid to þe Fadir. And herbi it is not denyed to þe two Persones aftir. But ȝif it acorde to þe Fadir, in as moche as He is God, it mut nedis acorde to þe Sone, and also to þe Hooli Goost, siþ þei ben þe same God. But it falliþ not þus to aungels, ne to ony oþer creature, for in þat þat þei ben, þei ben divers from her God. And þus, whan þe Fadir haþ ony þing in þat þat he is God, þe Sone and þe Holi Goost hav comunli þis same þing, siþ it is comune and propre to hem for to be þe same God. And Page  237 þus þe general undirstonding of þe laste dai of dome shulde be knowe unto men, and special knowinge shulde be hid, and whanne and how it shal be. And þerfore Cristen men ben apaied in knowing of Goddis lawe, for þat is ynowȝ to hem, and þerafter þei shulden lyve. And ȝif þei ben idil from þis knowinge, God wole axe ful streite acountis. So ȝif a lord al witty as God ȝaf a man al þat he hadde, in noumbre and mesure and in weiȝte, to serve þis lord after þes goodis, þis lord wolde seie to þis servant, þat axide more þan were ȝnowȝ: Servant, holdist þou me a fool? how usist þou þat þat þou hast? ne have Y not ȝove þee ȝnowȝ of cunynge nedeful to þee? And moche cuninge hast þou hid, and puttist it not in werk; and þou shuldist wite þat þee were better to worche after þis cuninge þan for to have newe cunninge, and þus to be idil wiþ þis. God is þis lord þat mesuriþ man bi cuninge þat he ȝyveþ to him, and wole þat man worche after þis cuninge; and þus shal man occupie him, and not aboute newe cunnynge, and leve þe work þat he shulde do. And þus synnede*. [synneden, E.] oure firste fadris, bi byheste þat þe fend hiȝte hem, þat þei shulden not die to ete þus, but be as Goddis, knowing good and yvel; and þus synneþ ech man þat is slow in Goddis service, for he leeveþ to putte in work þe witt þat God haþ ȝovun him, and languishiþ after a newe cunninge þat comeþ of his idilnesse; and þis is a sin|ful ende, þat mote nede bring in peyne. And so we synnen com|unli here bi þe firste synne of þe fend, and aȝens þe witt of God, as ȝif we wolden be al cunnynge. Þenke what witt þou hast of God, in which þou art now ydil, and putt wiseli þat witt in work, and holde þee paied of Goddis grace; for ellis þou takist þis grace in veyn, and runnest in dett aȝens þi God.

And þis is a comune synne in prelatis, boþe more and lasse; for God haþ ȝovun hem witt in mesure, how þei shulden profite to his Chirche, and þei disusen ofte þis tresour, and languishen after witt as fendis; for þe presumen and tempten God, and graunten pardoun for longe tyme, and þei witen never where God haþ ordeyned þat þis pardon mai stonde bi him. And þus if men wolden wel examyne dedis ungroundid in holi writt, þei Page  238 shulden shame of þes dedis, how þei ben aȝens God. Trowe we not, þat Petre wiste how he shulde spende Goddis tresour, and how he shulde after, wiþ Goddis goodis, do profite unto his Chirche? Who dar putt on Petre þis synne, þat he was necligent in þis, þat he sparide Goddis tresour, þe which popis profiten wiseli now? And þis shulden alle men, but algatis prelatis, overse her astait and her liif, wheþer it be acordinge to Goddis lawe or after customes of þe fend, and contynue þing wel don, and mende þat is amys. And siche a rekenyng shulde a man make ech dai wiþ him silf, for þis is a comun word þat many seintis have in mouþ;—ech tyme þat God haþ ȝovun þee, God' wole axe ful sharpli how þou hast dispendid it; wel in his service, or amys. And þis rekenyng shulde ech man drede, but speciali þes hiȝe preestis; for her office is more perilous, and more medeful ȝif it be wel. Þerfore is nede hem to wite what dedis þat þei shulden do, and algatis faile not in her work, for peril þat wole come þerof; siþ synne of hem turneþ to harm of many sheep þat þei shulden kepe.

And however þat men feynen her office, it is toold in Cristis lawe, how þei shulden be occupied in þre officis of sheepherdis. Þei shulden wiseli lede her sheep in sound pasture of Goddis lawe, and þe sheep þat weren scabbid heelen, and stablen in good liif, and algatis putte her liif to save her sheep aȝens wolves. And þes herdis shulden flee sich tyme, in which þeeves sleen þe sheep, and coveiten more þe wole of hem, and þe donge, wiþ oþer goodis, þan þei coveiten her soule helþe; for þis is a wolvis entent, and ȝif þei taken þus þe office of herde, þei ben wolves at þe bigynynge. And so þis tyme is wasted to hem, in which þei traveilen, for her hie stait, or for coveitise of richesse or ony oþer þing oþer þan Goddis worship, or oþer þan profite of her sheep bi þe reulis of Goddis lawe. And þus if þei hiden Goddis lawe, and hiȝen her owne lawe for þis eende, þei lesen her tyme to þer dampnynge, and to harmyng of her sheep. Sich þing shulden þes herdis þenken; for þei moten nedis reken wiþ God, siþ tyme is a preciouse tresour, þat God ȝeveþ to dispende wel. And tyme shal comen whanne we dien, þat we hadden lever to have a dai þan al þe worship or richesse þat hav fallen us in þis world. And þanne our jugement shall Page  239 be hool, and wille a þing after þat it is good. Siche oversiȝt of oure lyf, and speciali of hiȝe prelatis, helpiþ þis Chirche, and makiþ hem to drede God and serve him*. [serven him wel, E.].