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

IN DAI OF O MARTIR.

[SERMON LXI.]

Qui vos audit, me audit.
—LUC. x. [16.]

ÞIS gospel telliþ a lore of Crist, how he tauȝte his disciplis, to holde hem in mekenesse, and to flee veyn glorie, þat is a fendis synne. Þe gospel telliþ how lasse disciplis, þat weren two and seventy, comen aȝen to Crist wiþ joie, and seiden, as þe gospel telliþ after, and we shulen reherce. Crist ȝyveþ autorite first to hise disciplis, and spekiþ to hise membris as þes þat shulen be saved, and seiþ; He þat heeriþ ȝou, in þat he heeriþ me and he þat dispisiþ ȝou, in þat he dispisiþ me; for whanne a messanger spekiþ in name of a man, he þat heeriþ him or dispisiþ him þus, heeriþ or dispisiþ him in whos name he spekiþ. And bi þis cause shulden men worshipe prechours, Page  186 and dispisen hem*. [So E; om. A.] þat prechen fablis or lesingis, for þei comen in þe fendis name, as her work shewiþ. And þus if prechours holden hem prechinge in Cristis name, þei han ful autorite more þan prelatis moun ȝyve hem; and if a man preche aȝens Cristis biddinge, as in falshede, or for begginge, or for worldeli wyn|nynge, þe autorite þat he haþ comeþ of þe fend, for þe fend is his maistir, in whos name he prechiþ, and þis is þe autour þat lettiþ prechinge to profite. But Crist telliþ over, how hard it is to dispise him, for, who ever dispisiþ Crist, dispisiþ him þat sente Crist, and so he dispisiþ þe Fadir and al þe Trinite. And þus telliþ Luke þat after þis autorite ȝyven to Cristis disciplis, two and seventi turneden aȝen, and hadden unskilful joie, and seiden to Crist; Lord, ȝhe, þe fendis ben suget to us in þe name of þee. But Crist shewide þat he was God, and answeride to þes dis|ciplis, not to þe wordis þat þei spaken, but to þe caas þat þei weren inne, and it is propre to God to wite þus synne of þe soule.

Crist seiþ to þes disciplis þat he saiȝ Saþanas fallinge fro hevene, as þe þunder floon falliþ fro þe cloude. It is knowun to clerkes of þree þingis in þe þundir, þe liȝtning and þe noise and þe þundir stoon. Þe liȝtninge is first in brekinge of cloudis, as if two stoones on a nyȝt weren knockid togider, and þis noise is maad of þis hard hurtling; but liȝt is more swift þan heeryng in perseyvyng, as sowne comeþ softe, but liȝt comeþ soone; and þis is cause whi þat liȝt is perseyved bifore soun, and þus comeþ mannis liȝt bifore mannis heering. But þe þridde propirte þat falliþ sum tyme in þundir is as it were a whirlewynd led aboute among cloudis, and comynge to þe erþe and doinge þere woundris; and þes men þat knowen þe worchinge of þe elementis, how manere of saltis and poudir fleeþ fier, and worchiþ woundir bi craft in mevynge of cur|rauntis, woundren lesse of þis þundir floon. Sum tyme, it cleveþ grete okes in sundir, and sum tyme it meveþ grete stones fro her place; sum tyme it moltiþ þe swerd in þe sheþe, and ȝit þe sheþe is al hool, and many oþere woundirs; and al þis is maad bi a sutil mater þat is moved fro þe cloudis bi Page  187 kynde of þe elementis. And þus seiþ Crist, þat Saþanas bi pryde, and kynde of Goddis justice, fel sudenili fro hevene, and in þis fallinge he dide woundris, more þan þis þundir floon, and he was stinkynge wiþ synne, as þis blast stinkiþ sum tyme. And þis fal of þe fend sai Crist bi his Godhede; and al þis was of pride, þat God myȝte not suffre more, þat ne þe*. [om. E.] angel in hevene was dryvun þus in to helle. How myche shulden men drede pryde, þat God wole þus punishe, and have no vein glorie þat þei ben Cristis aungels, and don woundris in his name in casting out of fendis! And to be war wiþ þis pride spekiþ Crist þus þese wordis, for Crist knewe wel her pryde þat þei hadden in her hertis, and to remove þis pride spak Crist to her hertis.

For as it is ofte seid, þer ben foure passiouns in a mannis soule, in which stondiþ synne or mede after þei ben reulid. And þes foure ben þes, joie and sorewe, hope and drede of þingis þat shulen come. Summe han joie of sich manere hiȝenesse, and summe han joie of synne or richesse of þe world, and sum men han sorewe of oþer mennis welfare or lesinge of worldeli goodis, for þei loven hem to myche, and sum men han hope of welfare of þis world, and dreden of fallinge þerfro; but men shulden have sorewe for her synne and oþer mennis. And þus Crist wepte þries, and ever more for synne, for synne is worse þan ony peyne mai be; and siþ þe worsnesse of þing is matere of sorewe, man shulde have more sorewe for synne þan for ony oþer þing, and more joie of hevenli blis þan ony worldeli welfare or hiȝynge of mannis staat, were it nevere so myche. And herfore seiþ Crist, Lo, I have ȝovun ȝou power to defoule upon neddris*. [adderis, E.], for many seintis, as Margarete*. [St. Margaret, whose legend makes her a native of Antioch in the fourth or fifth century, was so popular a saint in England from the eleventh century, that no less than 238 parish churches are said to be dedicated in her honour. According to the more popular version of her story here alluded to, the foul fiend, in the form of a dragon, visited her in the prison into which the per|secuting governor of Antioch had thrown her, and swallowed her up; but immediately burst asunder, so that the holy virgin came forth un|hurt. A good general account of her may be found in Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art. See also Seinte Marherete The Meiden ant Martyr (a version of the legend in old English prose of the thirteenth century), among the publications of the Early English Text Society.], hadde power of God to defoule þe fendis þat weren Page  188 in forme of dragouns, and sette her feet upon hem, and heeld hem aȝens her wille. And þis was grete peyne to þes proude fendis; and sich manere of power hadde Cristis disciplis upon fendis, for þei castiden hem out of placis þat þei wolden dwelle inne, and made hem to dwelle in placis þat þei wolden not dwelle inne, and sich subjeccioun is noious to proude spiritis. But Crist badde his disciplis, joie not þus for suche power. And þus, to speke goostli, þis power to defoule eddris, and to defoule scorpiouns, is power to overcome þe fendis whanne þei tempten men to synne bi stingginge of her venym; and her|fore seiþ Crist, þat he haþ ȝovun hem power upon al power of her enemye and he shal not noie hem. But neþeles, joie ȝe not in þis þing to vein glorie, þat spiritis ben suget to ȝou*. [This passage is rightly marked as a quotation in E, but not in A.], for þis mai falle to dampned men, as many men moun reise þe fend, and make him worche woundris, and ȝit in alle þes dedis þei moun be fendis as he is; for bi vertue of Crist þes fendis ben þus suget, and þes names han vertue to make þe fend drede kindeli. But Crist techiþ hise disciplis to joie more of þis, þat her names ben writun in hevene, for to come to blisse. Of þis shulde þei have more joie, and holde hem in mekenes. And Crist telliþ not þis to men as he dide to þes disciplis, but if he kepe hem in vertues and bringe hem to hevene, for ellis Crist tauȝte hem to joie of þingis þat weren fals. And þus it semeþ þat þese disciplis weren confermyd in manere, and ȝit God leet hem falle, to teche his Chirche to flee pride; and þus Crist leet Petir falle ofte, after þat he was apostle, and þat, to teche prelatis after, to joie not to myche of her staat, for sich boost is fendis synne, þat stynkiþ foule bifore God, and it is maad in feyned power to loose men and bynde. Men shulden loke þat þei weren certeyn þat God wolde worche þus wiþ hem, bifore þei spaken of þis power, and of þe dedis of þat to men, and þanne wiþ grete mekenes, to moven men to þanke God; for liynge in sich a caas smatchide a myche more synne, þan was in þes disciplis þat Crist reprevyde so sharpli. For þei seiden Page  189 soþ and herieden God, and in þes boþe failen prelatis, for þei for pride feynen falseli and coveitise of wordeli goodis, to do þing þat þei moun not do; and þis is a greet synne, for it were synne to a pore man to defoule a kingis cloþis, moche more synne were it to men to putte falsehede upon treuþe. For þis is a foul blasfemye, þat is a foul synne of alle oþere; as, if a man putte on God falshede þat he myȝte not have, he dis|piside in þis his God more þan þe fende durste ever do. It is no drede alle þes popis þat seien þat þey graunten sich pardons, seien opinly ynowȝ þat God grauntiþ hem bifore, and if God knowe hem unworþi to have siche pardon of him, þes popis blasfemen in God more þan evere þe Apostlis dursten. And þus shulden prelatis be war to graunt no þing in þe name of God but if þei weren sikir bifore þat Goddis justice grauntide it, and þis myȝte þei not knowe but if þei hadden revelacioun; and if oure prelatis abiden ever sich revelacioun, þey shulden disseyve fewe men or noon in grauntinge of suche pardons; but as Petir held his pees in grauntinge of siche þingis, so shulden þei holden þer pees, siþ þei ben lasse worþ þan Petir, and þe comun peple shulde not trowe hem in siche casis.