Select English works of John Wyclif; edited from original mss. by Thomas Arnold.
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384., Arnold, Thomas, ed. 1823-1900.
Page  179



Nisi granum frumenti.
—JOHN xii. [24.]

ÞIS gospel moveþ men bi wordis of Crist to martirdom. And first Crist spekiþ þus bi symylitude in kynde. But if þe corn of whete fallinge in erþe be deed, ellis it dwelliþ aloone wiþoute fruyt, þat springiþ þerof, and if it be deed in erþe, moche fruyt springiþ þerof; and thus it is of Cristis lyf, that licneþ him to whete corn. It is knowun þing in kynde, and in sentence þat clerkis tellen, þat þe whete corn whan it is sowun and wel hilid wiþ erþe, it takiþ not a newe foorme, but if þe elde passe awei; and siþ it lyvede sum tyme, it must nedis þanne be deed. And if þis corn be þus deed, it bringiþ forþ myche fruyte, for it growiþ bi vertue of hevene first to gras and after to corn, and of oo corn comeþ an eere, and in oo eere ben many cornes. So it is in holi Chirche of Crist, and corn þat comeþ of him. Crist is bi sum proprete oo wheet corn among alle, and Crist mote nedis die, and after growe in hise apostlis, and bi hem growiþ Crist in myche multitude of corn. And how ever clerkes speken þat þe same vertue is in þe seed þat is after in þe fruyt, and passiþ from o fruyt to anoþer, we bileven þat in gendrure of holi Chirche it is þus;—þe vertue of þe firste corn, þat is Crist, of whom comeþ þe Chirche, dwelliþ in ech corn þat comeþ in part of þis Chirche. But þis vertue is not an accident wiþouten a suget, siþ þis suget is þe secounde persone of God, þat is in ech lyme of þe Chirche, and bringiþ wiþ him a grace þat clerkes clepen predestynynge. And so, al ȝif Crist was bifore his man|hed hed of þis Chirche, neþeles bi his manhede þis corn hadde newe purginge and colour.

After þis mysty speche, knyttiþ Crist anoþer word which semeþ woundirful in heerynge of many men. He þat loveþ hys lyf, seiþ Crist, he shal lese it, and aȝen, he þat hatiþ his lyf in þis world, he kepiþ it to lyf wiþouten eende. A man is Page  180 seid to love his lyf, þat loveþ it more þan oþer þing; and he is said to hate his lyf, þat puttiþ oþer love bifore it; for þe first is a passinge love, and þe toþer a maner of hate; and bi þis manere of speche many gospellis moun be knowun, for it is a suynge þing to love a þing and to hate it þus. But in þe þridde word of þis gospel spekiþ Crist more speciali, how þes wordis longen to him, as to ground of good religioun. First Crist seiþ, If ony man serve to Crist, sue he him; and here he techiþ þat no man mai mynystre to Crist, but if he sue him; and þus moun we se how feyntli we serve to Crist, for now we leven þe weie of Crist and bowun*. [bowen, E.] bi a wrong weie, and now we gone ever abak to synne þat we han first done. And so fewe men or noon suen Crist wiþouten defaute, for we speken of suynge in vertues, and not of suynge of bodili weie. And þis suynge stondiþ most in ordynal love of man, and herfore spekiþ þe gospel of love, and of hate next bifore.

But over þis, Crist seiþ þat, Where he is, his mynystre shal be, and þis is seid suyngli to þe word þat is seid bifore; for it semeþ of þat word þat it is hard to serve Crist, and her|fore telliþ Crist þe meede þat men shulden have þat serven him; for he þat may not lye bihetiþ þat his servaunt shal be þere, boþe in blis and in place, where Christ is wiþouten eende. And siþ Crist is in hevene and in blis bi boþe hise kyndis, þis biheest shulde move men to sue Crist, al ȝif it be hard, for þe mede of þis suynge passiþ gretli þe traveile herfore; for Crist mai not rewarde men but if he ȝeve hem over her traveil; as he mai not ȝyve a þing, but ȝif he ȝyve it graciousely; for as he is al grace, so he mediþ and ponishiþ bi grace. But þe laste word here shulde move a trewe man to serve Crist, for he seiþ, If ony man serve me, my Fadir shal worshipe him. And þis worship mai not be, but if it make þis man Goddis sone, and so eir*. [heyr, E.] of God, and ȝyve him goodis of all his rewme; and þanne he is maad worshipful, as we maken worship unto kyngis. And so alle eiris of Crist ben moche more þan erþeli kyngis.

In þis shorte gospel ben doutis, boþe of conscience and Page  181 of oþer. First philosophris douten, where seed leesiþ his forme, whanne it is maad a newe þing, as þe gospel spekiþ here; and sum men þenken nay, for siþe þe same quantite or qualite, or vertue, þat was first in seed, leveþ aftir in þe fruyte, as a child is ofte lyk to his fadir or to his modir, or ellis to his eelde fadir, aftir þat þe vertue lastiþ,—and siþ alle þese ben accidentis, þat mai not dwelle wiþouten suget,—it semeþ þat þe same bodi is first seed and after fruyte, and þus it mai ofte change fro seed to fruyte and aȝen. Here many, clepid filosophris, glaveren dyversely; but in þis mater Goddis lawe spekiþ þus, as diden eelde clerkis, þat þe sub|staunce of a bodi is bifore þat it be seed, and now fruyte and now seed, and now quyk and now deed. And þus many formes moun be togidere in oo þing, and speciali whanne þe partis of þat þing ben medlid togidere; and þus þe substaunce of a bodi is now of oo kynde and now of anoþer. And so boþe þese accidentis, qualite and quantite, moun dwelle in þe same substaunce, al if it be chaungid in kindis, and þus þis same þing þat is now a whete corn shal be deed and turne to gras, and after to many cornes. But variance in wordis in þis mater falliþ to clerkes, and shewinge of equivocacioun*. [So E; A has equyvacioun.], þe which is more redi in Latyn; but it is ynow to us to putte, þat þe same substance is now quyk and now deed, and now seed and now fruyte; and so þat substaunce þat is now a whete corn mut nedis die bifore þat it be maad gras, and siþ be maad an hool eer. And þus spekiþ holi writt and no man can disproven it. Errour of freris in þis mater is not here to reherce, for it is ynowȝ to telle how þei erren in bileve.

The secounde doute in þis mater is of suynge of Crist. It semeþ þat no man sueþ him but if he be martrid as was Crist, and siþ no man mai be saved but if he sue Crist in lyf, it semeþ þat no man shal be saved but if he be martrid. Here men seien truli, þat þere ben two martirdoms, martirdome in bodi and martirdome in wille. Martirdome in bodi nediþ not ech man to have, for many men ben seintis þat dien confessours. Generali to speke, þat man is Page  182 a martir þat is killid in charite and þus goiþ to hevene, be he killid of just men or ellis of þe fendis lymes. Þis secounde manere of martirdom shulde ech man have, siþ ech man shulde more love his soule þan his bodi, and algatis he shulde more love God and his lawe; and who evere loveþ þus, is redi to suffre deþ of his bodi for love of his God. And fewe seintis, or noon, ben here on lyve þat ne þei maken hem martirs for þe love of God; for to chastise her fleishe þey shorten her lyf. But Y speke not here of martirdom of glotouns, for þei shorten her lyf for love of her fleish, and taken to myche fode, wherfore þei dien sunner; but þe firste men fasten for love of her God, and to have pees of her fleish þat ellis wolde be wantoun. But siþ men knowun not evenly þe mesure þat wolde lengþe her lyf, þes men ben not mensleeris, for bi sich chesinge of þe betere, þei lesen wysely þe worse; and so done bi Goddis heeste þes bodily martris. And þus men shulden not folili slee hem silf, neþer in fastinge ne in etinge ne in cause defending, but stonde for truþe if her deeþ sue, willinge to maynteyne truþe, and mekeli to suffre deeþ, but not folily desire it.