Select English works of John Wyclif; edited from original mss. by Thomas Arnold.
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384., Arnold, Thomas, ed. 1823-1900.
Page  243

IN FEESTIS OF MANY MARTRIS.

[SERMON LXXV.]

Egrediente Jesu de Templo.
—MARK xiii. [I.]

ÞIS gospel telliþ, as oþer bifore*. [See Sermon LXXIII.], how Crist mesuride his disciplis, boþe in wit and wille, to suffre for his love. Þis gospel telliþ, as oþer bifore, how Jesus wente out of þe temple, and oon of his disciplis seide to him; Maister, loke what stoones and makingis ben of þis grete temple. And Jesus answeride and seide to him:—Seest þou þese grete bildingis. Þer shal not be a stoon lefte upon a stoon, þat ne it shal be distried. And whanne Crist satt upon þe Mounte of Olyves, aȝen þe temple, his disciplis axiden him, þes foure bi hem silf, Peter and Joon and James and Andrew:—Telle þou us whanne þes þingis shal be don, and what tokene shal be, whanne alle þes shal bigynne to have an ende. And Jesus answeringe, bigan to seie to hem; See ȝe first þat no man disseyve ȝou; for many shal come in my name, and seie þat Y am he þat governeþ holi Chirche, and þei shal disseyve many. But whanne ȝe shal here bateilis, and opynyons of batels, drede ȝe not, but be ȝe sadde in bileve.

Moo opynyons of batels, herden we never; for men wiþ þe oo pope seien þat it is needful to fiȝte wiþ men þat holden wiþ þat oþer, and þei wiþ þe toþer pope have contrarious opynyons. And ȝit men wiþ oure pope hav þis opynyoun; þat prelatis and prestis shulden fiȝte aȝens þe toþer pope, and men þat holdiþ wiþ him, but if þei converte hem. Sum of us have þis opyn|youn; þat preestis shulden not fiȝte, but move men bi resoun and Goddis lawe to treuþe, and preie mekeli for men þat þei do after Goddis wille; and þat it is not bileve þat oþer þis, or þis, be Pope; for ȝif he shal not be saif, he is noo part of holi Chirche. And so þis is no cause to Cristen men to fiȝte inne; but raþer shulde boþe þes popis go mekeli to þe emperour, and renounse al her lordship þat þei have of seculers; and siþ Page  244 lyve a pore liif as Peter and Poul diden, and algatis move no men, ne counseille hem, for to fiȝte þus. And in þis opynyoun resten many meke prestis. In*. [So E; om. A.] oþer pointis of þis mater ben an hundred opynyouns among clerkes, and lewide men, and alle ben of bateiles.

And after, seiþ Crist, þat alle þes moten ben, but ȝit is noo eende, to make þe dai of dome. Folk shal rise aȝens folk, as Sarasins aȝens Latyns; rewme aȝens rewme, as Inglond*. [Englonde, E.] aȝens Franche*. [Fraunce, E.]; and erþe-dene*. [erþedone, E.]shal be, bi placis, and hungris, as men hav feelid*. [This passage might be expected to supply the means of fixing the date of the composition of these sermons, but I have not found it so. In Professor Rogers' valuable History of Agriculture and Prices in England (i. 217), I find it stated that in the fourteenth century, 'the following are years of famine, the average price of wheat having risen above 10s. the quarter:—1315, 1318, 1321, 1351, 1369.' Again,—'It rose above 9s. in 1294 and 1370:' 'above 8s. in 1293, 1314, 1350, 1363, 1367, 1374, 1390.' In the years 1381-1386, with|in which these sermons must have been composed if Wyclif was their author, the price of wheat was re|markably low. These statistics refer to the southern and midland coun|ties, and are thoroughly reliable. Either then, if Wyclif wrote the ser|mon, the reference must have been to a time of scarcity as far back as 1374; or, if we suppose the scarcity of 1390 to be pointed at, Wyclif was not the author of the sermon.]. Þes ben bigynnynge of sorewis; and þerfore loke wel ȝou silf, for þei shall bitraie ȝou in her coun|ceilis, and in her sinagogis shal ȝe be betyn; and bifore kyngis and justices shal ȝe stonde, for me, in witnes to hem. And in alle folk moot first be prechid þe gospel. And þis ordeynede Crist of his grete wisdom; for bifore þei hadden killid þes hooli apostlis, þer was no maner of folk, Grekis ne Latyns, ne bar|bares, þat ne þei hadden þe gospel of Crist prechid unto hem. And whan þei shal lede ȝou, and bitraie ȝou to jugis, þenke ȝe not bifore bisili, what ȝe shal speke; but what shal be ȝovun ȝou in þat hour, speke ȝe þat, for þat seiþ God. For ȝe ben not spekinge, but þe Holi Goost, siþ ȝe ben hise instrumentis, and he spekiþ first;—O*. [one, E.]broþer shal bitraie his broþer in to his deþ, and þe fadir shal bitraie his sone, and þe sones shal rise aȝens her fadris, and do hem to deeþ. And ȝe shal be in hate to alle men for my name; but he þat lastiþ to þe eende he shal be saf.

Þe lettre of þis gospel is told bifore, and so it is ynowȝ here Page  245 to telle pleyne storie. Here men moven liȝtli, siþ Crist tolde alle þes perils, it semeþ þat þei mut nedis be; but who myȝte þanne lette hem? Here men seien comunli, þat al þing mut nedis be, and ȝit men moten nedis aȝensstonde many of þes; and so þei moten nedis have mede of siche aȝenstondinge. For as we moten nedis preie for þingis þat nedis moten be, as shewen þree þe firste axingis of þe Pater noster; so we moten nedis enforse aȝens þingis þat nedis moten be. And of sich enforsinge mote nedis come mede; for ellis shulden no men lette yvel to come; and mede in aȝenstonding, and conseillinge to goode, weren al aweye bi þis lewide resoun. And, for alle þes ben false, and many oþer þat suen, enforse we aȝens yvel, and preie we for goode, alȝif God have ordeyned þat þei moten nedis come. And, for men shulden do þus, þerfore haþ God ordeyned, þat comynge of many sich þingis ben unknowen to men.

But here men douten over þis, of ordre of þis help to þe Chirche; but here seien Cristene men, þat no man shulde doute to helpe þe Chirche, but alle men shulden help it here, ech man on his maner; siþ God telliþ us bi his lawe þat þis is his wille. Seculer lordis shulden helpe here principali, for many causis. Oon, for God haþ ȝovun hem swerd for to helpe his Chirche bi strengþe, and strengþe wiþ mennis drede is nede|ful to do þis dede. Also lordis of þis worlde ben þo, to whiche þis harm is don, who shulde stonde more for þis cause, þan lordis þat hav lost þis lordship. Also, þat man þat haþ synned shulde algatis make aseeþ; but þe generacion of lordis bi folie brouȝt in þis wrong, and herfore it falliþ to hem to make aseeþ for þis synne. And þus shulde knyȝtis knowe, how þei shulden stonde for Goddis cause, and not al oonli kille men in mennis cause, as boucheris. Þei shulden have shame how þei ben hardi in cause of þe world and of þe fend, but in þe cause of God þei ben boþ cowardis and foolis. And neþeles þis lord doiþ worship and profite to knyȝttis þat serven him, and þei mai not denye þis, þat ne for blyndenesse and cowardise holdiþ þe fend aȝens God þis lordship þat þei shulden have.

But over þis, men have doute what ordre men shulden have, and where men shulden begynne to worche, in iust restoringe of Page  246 þes goodis. But here men seien, siþ þis wrong is brood sprad in Cristendom, and Goddis oost shulde be myȝti to do þis dede aȝens þe fend, in many placis shulden men worche on þis weie to helpen her modir. But siþ þe nest and heed hereof is at Rome, where it bigan, it semeþ to many men þat at Rome shulde þis riȝtting bigynne; and so shulde þis heed be stoppid to feyne censuris aȝens God, and fere foolis bi cursingis for þei fulfillen Goddis lawe; and wiþ þis boþe lordis and comuns mai lette freris to harmen þe Chirche. And þus were Goddis word soþ whanne he spekiþ to þe fend, and seiþ, a woman shal disquatte*. [disquate, E.] his heed. And Marie helpe*. [helpe Marie, E.] þe Chirche þat it be so. For ȝif richesse and worldli lordship weren taken aweie from prelatis and preestis, moche of þe fendis pride were abatid in þes clerkes; and Goddis name were not dispisid ech dai as it is now, but his lawe shulde be betere holde, and Anticristis jugementis shulde ceesse.

But ȝit men douten wheþer þei shulden fiȝten in þis cause aȝens her enemyes;—speciali, siþ Crist movede two princis of Rome for to fiȝte, Titus and Vaspasian, þat distroieden Jerusalem. Here men þenken, þat Cristene men shulden not fiȝte but if Crist bad hem; for Crist seide þat his yoke is softe and his charge liȝt to bere. And so neiþer bodili swerd neþer oþer armes, ne fiȝtinge shulde be here usid of Cristene men; ne oþer lawe but Goddis lawe, and lordis drede, and manassing to clerkis þat wolden aȝenstonde. And to bindinge and prisoninge of hem shulde alle maner of men helpe; but bi Goddis grace þis shulde not falle, siþ clerkis shulde helpe here in Goddis cause, and feyn*. [fayn, E.] to be dischargid of erþeli goodis, þat þei beren now. And þanne þei shulden go liȝt to hevene, and drawe þe world after hem; þer þei doppen now to helle, and drawen many men wiþ hem. Freris shulden help in þis cause, siþ þei ben groundid in poverte, and þei have but temporal goodis*. [As opposed to lands or lordships.], þe which ben knytt to her hertis. And shortly alle maner of men, ȝhe, prestis boþe more and lesse, shulden helpe here in Goddis cause, for love þat þei shulden love her modir. Page  247 But now þei clepen good, yvel, and harm, profit, and bond|age, fredom; but þanne shulden þei wel witen how al þat helpiþ to hevene is good, and al þat shulde be by Goddis lawe were free and helpli*. [helpiþ, E.] to þis eende.

And þus þe lord preisiþ his baili, for he forȝaf to his tenaunte fifty barels of oile. And so þis ȝifte was riȝtful, siþ þis lord is God himsilf; and þis tenaunte is kynde of clerkis, for þei shulden ȝeve devocioun, and be paied of litil corn*. [Does this mean,—the clergy should be content to retain for themselves 'litil corn,' or temporal riches, just as the debtor in the parable retained only twenty for his own profit out of the hundred mea|sures of wheat that he had to render to his lord, but they should rejoice in being permitted to keep an abun|dant measure (fifty out of a hundred barrels) of 'oile,' or devotion? See Serm. LXXXV.]. For, as Poul techiþ, þei shulden holde hem paied wiþ bodili fode and hileyng. And þus shulden preestis preche to lordis, to holde hem paied of worldli goodis, and sette her wille in hevenli goodis, which wille shulde make hem liȝt to hevene. But þe fend haþ stranglid þese houndis wiþ talwe*. [talow, E.], þat þei mai not berke. And þus siþ seculer men shulden be moo þan prestis shulden be, and prestis shulden have, by titil of almesse, her sustenance of þe peple, wiþ|drawing of her service aȝen shulde move to wiþdraw þes goodis. And whoever aȝenstondiþ þis sentence is unlawful aȝens God.

And so men shulden graunte in dede to obeishe to þe pope, as þe peple obeishide to Petre, and as Goddis lawe wole axe; but it were to myche to pass þis, for þanne men obeishiden to þe fend, siþ Goddis lawe shulde be reule, and teche how God wole þat men obeishe. And siþ þe freris accusen þe court, in matter of þe sacrid oost, and saien þat it techiþ þat þis oost is not Goddis bodi, but accident wiþouten suget þat alle men knowen not, men shulden axe þis treuþe of þis court wiþ good grounding*. [The general drift of this re|markable passage seems to be as follows. The friars,—after the synod of 1382, which had been promoted, and indeed ordered, by 'the Court,' or, as we should say now, by the Government,—and after the sending down of letters patent into all the counties (see Lewis, p. 106), ap|pointing inquisitors, who would be in many or most instances friars, to search out heretical writings and their fautors,—might well say that the Court taught their doctrine con|cerning the Eucharist, and condemned that of Wyclif. This is called by the writer, accusing the Court of teaching the said doctrine; because, as he goes on to say, Christ and many of the saints unmistakably taught his doctrine. He proceeds to suggest, apparently in the hope of setting himself right with the Court by appealing to its self-interest, that the existing hierarchy was terribly burdensome both to Court and na|tion, and that to 'stoppe first fruytis,' and other ecclesiastical exactions, would be greatly to the advantage of the state. The advice was not acted upon till the year 1534.]. And ȝif þis court faile in þis, þei failen in Page  248 moost þat þei shulden do; for þei shulden teche men bileve þe which is ground of Cristis ordre. But Crist seiþ wiþ many seintis, þat þis oost is Goddis bodi, al if it be breed in his kynde, as Poul techiþ ofte tymes. Þus shulden rewmes stoppe first fruytes, and avaunsing of Cardinalis, wiþ oþer spoilingis of þis court, bi þe which rewmes and peplis ben chargid. And ȝif men seie þat rewmes mai not defenden hem fro sich spoil|ing, certis þanne þei ben to feble to defende hem from oþer enemyes; and ȝif cowardise lette hem, bi feynynge of Anticrist, þanne þei ben to unstable for defaute of bileve. For neþer God ne man mai noie, and moche more alle fendis of helle, but ȝif þe law of Holi Writt accuse men*. [hem, E.] aȝens God.