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

OF MANY MARTRIS.

[SERMON LXXIV.]

Dicebat Jesus turbis*. [So in E; A has turbas.]Judeorum.
—LUC. xi. [29.]

Þis gospel telliþ what prelatis shulden do, and whereof þei shal be reproved. And þis wole bringe in martirdom, boþe in o man and in anoþer. And þus is told of martirdom þe begynnynge and þe ende. Crist spake here to princis of prestis and to þe comuns of Jewis, for in boþe þes was þe kynrede which slowȝ þes martirs. Þer ben two kynredis þat Crist spekiþ ofte of, þe kynrede of Goddis children, and kynrede of fendis children; and at þe bigynnynge of þis world bigan þes two kynredis. Þe firste kynrede of martirs bigan in a man at Abel; þe secounde kynrede toke bigynnynge at Cayn; and þes two kynredis shal not faile bifore þe dai of dome come. Þe laste seint þat shal lyve here shal be of þe firste kynrede, and þe laste þat shal be dampned shal be of þe toþer kynrede; and þes kynredis ben scatirid among many folke, ne þei gone not bi lyne of blood, but bi medling*. [For bi medling E reads ben medlid.] bi lynes of kynde. But þe firste kynrede hadde bigynnynge bifore þe toþer, for it bigan at Adam, siþ Adam is saved. Þe toþer began at Adames sone, þat slowȝ þe firste martir. But, for Adam was not martir, þus slayn for Goddis love, and martirs ben þe moste and beste þat ben in þis kynrede, þerfore it is marked to begynne at Abel; for þe toþer kynrede was sum maner cause of þis forþer. And, as many men supposen, aboute þe daie of dome shal þis firste longe lyve here, whanne þe toþer shal be aweie; for bi vertue of Crist, þat is begynnynge and endinge, shal men þikke turne to him, and leeve þe fend wiþ hise workes. Page  240

But leve we now þis mater, and sue we þe storie of þe gospel. Crist grette þis kynrede and seide; Woo be to ȝou þat maken þe graves of prophetis, and ȝoure fadris killiden hem. Certis ȝe beren witnesse þat ȝe consenten to her workes; for al ȝif þei killiden hem and ȝe maken faire her sepulcris, neþeles ȝe wolen kille Crist, þat is heed of martiris. And bi þis polishing, ȝe tellen ȝour ipo|crisie, bi which ȝe florishen ȝoure synne in killinge of martiris; for, as Crist seiþ to þis kyn, þei demen in þis to obeishe to God. And Caiphas þat ȝaf ȝou conceil seide, it helpiþ o man to die*. [þat o man dye, E.] for þe folk; but al if þese wordis weren soþ, ȝit þis ypocrite seide hem falseli; and so þis kynrede bi her ypocrisie telde how þei wolden kille Crist. And þus seiþ Crist here; Ȝoure fadris killiden þes prophetis, and ȝe bilden her sepulcris, as who seide, we wolen amende; but as Crist seiþ bi Matheu, þei þenken þei wolen fille þe mesure of þat þat her fadirs bigan, in killinge of þe heed of prophetis. And herfore telliþ Crist to hem, how þe wisdom of God seide of þis kyn; I shal sende to hem pro|phetis and apostlis, and of þese shal þei boþe pursue and kille. Þe Jewis killiden not alle þe apostlis, for Joon was not þus killid, but þei killiden James, and pursueden oþer in oþer contreis: so þat þe blood of alle prophetis, fro þe begynnynge of þe world, be souȝt of þis kynrede, siþ þis haþ done hem alle to deþ, fro þe blood of juste Abel unto þe blood of Zacharie, which þis kynrede killiden, bitwixe þe auter and þe temple. It is no nede to trete which was þis Zacharie*. ['There has been much dispute who this Zacharias was. From the time of Origen, who relates that the father of John the Baptist was killed in the temple, many of the Greek Fathers have maintained that this is the person to whom our Lord alludes; but there can be little or no doubt that the allusion is to Za|charias, the son of Jehoiada (2 Chron. xxiv. 20, 21).' Smith's Bib. Dict. Article 'Zacharias.'], and which Barachie was his fadir, and whanne þis martirdom was done; for siþ o per|sone haþ mony names, and Crist takiþ sum tyme þe witt of þe name, it is noo drede þat ne Crist seiþ soþ here, as nediþ us to knowe it. And, for þese prestis shulden printe betir þes wordis in her soulis, þerfore Crist rehersiþ to hem, and seiþ on þis maner; Ȝhe, I seie to ȝou, þis blood shal be souȝte of þis kynrede. For alȝif þis kynrede hadde two divers Page  241 partis:—þe firste slew martiris from Abel unto þis Zacharie, þe secunde slouȝ martiris fro Zacharie to þe laste;—neþeles boþe alle þes killeris and martiris þat ben killid maken two kyn|redis, and ech helpeþ oþer. For as seintis taken part and helpe of oþer seintis, so shrewis taken part and harm of her felowis.

And Crist gretiþ hem after, for þo þat holden hem wise men, and seiþ; Woo be to ȝou, wise men of þe lawe, þat token aweie þe keie of cunnynge, and ȝe entriden not inne; and oþer men þat entriden ȝe have forfendid. And here streyneþ þe pope, what þing is þis keie; and he wole algatis have þat it is not cunnyng, for often tymes mony oþer þan popis han moch more cunnyng, and ȝit han not þes keies. And herfore he feyneþ þat þes keies ben poweris, boþ upon clerkis and eke upon seculers;—power of jurisdiccion, and power to assoile and bynde. But many men þenken here þat þei shulden more trowe to Crist þan to many Pope Joonis*. [Popis Jons, E.], for he is suspect here. Crist clepiþ þis cunnyng here, þe keie of cunnyng, and alle þe fendis in helle shulden not move*. [So E; mowe, A.] to denye Crist. Þes feyned poweris mai not be proved ne perceyved in dede; and þerfore ben þei feynid, and by cautelis of ypocritis is þe folk bigilid. And þus trewe men seien here, þat þer ben two keies: þe firste is keie of cunnynge, and þe toþer keie of power. Þese keies hadden Peter and many oþer apostlis; but Peter hadde pre|rogatif bifore hise oþer breþeren. Þis cunnyng was not speculatif, of gemetrie, ne oþer sciencis, but practik, put in dede, how men shulde lyve by Goddis lawe. And after þis science cam power to bynde and unbinde; and to whom God grauntiþ þe first he grauntiþ þe secounde. And oonhede of þes keies was not oonli ȝovun to Peter, siþ hevene was open to oþer folk in cuntreis þat Peter cam not inne, bi keies þat Crist ȝaf to oþer apostlis. And so þese feynede keies ben keies of helle, ȝif þei open helle gatis to children of pride; and ȝif þis pope hav cunnynge to þis work, he is maister of þes keies. For God wole ȝeve cunnyng to teche his weie to hevene to whom ever him likiþ; and he is Petris viker, alȝif neiþer fendis ne cardinalis putten him in his trone. Page  242

Whanne Crist seide þese treuþis unto þes hie prestis, Phariseis and men of lawe stoden gretli aȝens him, and stoppiden his mouþ wiþ many false wordis, and lettiden Crist to speke more, as a man þat spak blasfemye. And herfore þes lawyeris, for þes wordis of Crist, layen in awayte more to do Crist to þe deþ. And God wote where þe court wolde þus shape for men, þat seiden sharpli to hem þis sentence of þe gospel; and if þei done, þei ben þanne of þe secounde kynrede. For þis kynrede lepiþ from oo folk to anoþer; for it is now among Jewis and now among heþen men, and now comeþ aȝen, as þe fend hopiþ victorie, and failing of Goddis lawe, and growinge of mannis lawe. For noþing is beter post to likyng of þe fend. And siþ þis kynrede is now moost among prestis, as it was in Cristis tyme, trewe men shulden speke to hem sharpli as Crist dide. For þe fend haþ hem moost helperis in þis cause, and makeris of martiris bi pursuynge and sleynge. And ȝif þei senden men to hevene, þat is on wrong maner; but þei senden men evene to helle, as to her owne hous, for þei have exilid Goddis lawe, bi which þei shulden worche, and brouȝt in þe fendis lawe bi which þei rengnen.

And after seiþ Crist, how þes lawyeris aspieden how þei myȝten take ouȝt of Cristis mouþ for to accuse him, and so do him to deeþ; and þus þese ypocritis feyneden to fulfille her law. And þus it is to daie of þes hiȝe prestis; for þei hav newe lawis maad biside Goddis lawe to dampne men to deþ as open heretikes. And to do þis dede þei counseiliden not wiþ Goddis lawe, but wiþ foundun*. [founden, E.] heresies þat hemsilf holden, þat þei mai not synne ne erre in siche jugementis. But þei jugen for heretikes al maner of sich men þat seien þat þei shulden sue Crist, and leeve her worldli liif. Ȝif þei leven Cristis liif, and ȝeven hem þus to lordship, þei ben þe fendis children and open Anticristis; for þei mai not be Cristis children, but ȝif þei suen him, and holden hem in his boundis, and go not out by newe lawes, and speciali holde hem in mekeness and poverte. And here we mai assaie where þei doren be martiris.