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

ON EIȜTEÞ DAY OF SEYNT ANDREU*. [There is an office for the octave of St. Andrew's Day in the Sarum missal, and from it the writer took the gospel here preached upon. The Roman missal has no office for the day.].


Postquam autem traditus est Johannes.
—MARK i. [14.]

ÞIS gospel telliþ, as oþer bifore, of chesing of Cristis Apostlis. And it semeþ þat Crist prechide first whanne Baptist was taken to prisoun. And ȝif Crist prechide privyli bifore Baptist was enprisound, þat was in anoþer manere; for Crist wolde ȝeve Baptiste his time. After þe tyme þat Joon was traied in to þe þrisoun of Eroude cam Jesus in to Galile, prechinge þe gospel of Goddis rewme; and seide, þat tyme is fulfillid, and þe rewme of God shal come. Matheu telliþ how Crist bigan to preche fro þe tyme þat Joon was taken, and toke þe same word for his teme þat Baptist toke whanne he prechide:—Do ȝe pen|aunce, for þe rewme of God shal come. It is knowen of Goddis lawe, how mannis kynde was exilid for synne of our firste fadir þat stood muche in gloterie*. [See note on p. 302.]; and so resoun of God axide þat comyng aȝen of þis rewme shulde be gete bi penaunce contrarie to gloterie. And herfore Crist, oure first fadir in Page  307 spiritual gendrure, tauȝte us for to do penaunce contrarie to Adam's lore; and Baptist, þat was Cristis spouse*. [St. Gregory (Homil. xx.), in commenting on the text, 'He that hath the bride is the bridegroom,' says, 'ac si [Johannes] diceret: ego sponsus non sum, sed amicus sponsi sum.' But our author, possibly from imperfectly remembering the pas|sage, calls John the Baptist the spouse of our Lord, a title of dignity which I cannot find was ever con|ferred upon him by any of the Fa|thers or Doctors of the Church.], tauȝte bifore þe same lessoun. And, for Goddis kingdom is to come, and not wiþouten sich penaunce, ech man þat wole have hevene shulde be aboute to do sich penance. And þus þe cause of Crist is pleyn to men þat wole undirstonde it. And þis forþinking is not ynowȝ, but ȝif trouþe be joyned þerwiþ. And herfore seiþ Markus*. [Markis, E.] Gospel:—Forþenke ȝe and trowe ȝe to þe gospel. Penaunce disposiþ a man to take byleeve over a beest, and þanne bileve ordeyneþ him to be groundid in oþer vertues.

And Jesus wendinge forþer biside þe see of Galile, saw Symount, and Andreu his broþer, castinge her nettis in to þe water; for þes two weren fisheris. And Jesus seide to hem, Come ȝe after me and Y shal make ȝou to be maad fisheris of men; for my Fadir shal make þis. And anoon þei leften þer nettis and sueden him, as his disciplis.

It is noo drede Crist movede þes men, bi his Godhede, in þer soule, and disposide hem to religioun fro þe tyme þat he ȝaf hem witt; for siche men wolde Crist have to grounden men in Goddis lawe. But here men douten comunli whi Crist lovede þus fisheris, and hunteris he lovede but litil, as Lameth and Esau. But here shulden we bileve þat Crist acceptiþ noo persones; but after þat he makiþ hem good, he loviþ hem more or lesse. And so fisheris weren betere men, and þerfore Crist lovede hem more. But ȝit stondiþ þe doute moved, whi Crist made not hunteris betere men þan fisheris, siþ it is more gentil craft. Here is no greet questioun; for God mai worche as he wole. But ȝit men seien here, þat fishing is þe porer craft, and more acording to men, and neer þe state of innocence; and þerfore Crist lovede it þe more. Soþeli men hunten in Lenten, and gentil men,—to have þer game, whanne þei have noon oþer Page  308 avauntage, alȝif þer travaile be bisie and muche. But not so comunli falliþ þis in fishing. And fishis ben ner þe elementis, and not so like to mannis fleish; and þerfore men holden an ordre to ete fishe and leve fleish; and þus fishe is neer to mete þat man shulde have in Paradise, and sleying of fishe is ferþer from sleying of men þan is sleying of erþeli beestis, which fleish heweris usen. And God wolde þat man hadde orrour of sleying of his broþer; but now men usen a newe craft*. [a newe craft. This seems to refer to the recent introduction of gunpowder, the invention or the re-discovery of a friar, Roger Bacon, into the art of war.] to slee men comunli, more þan þis craft was usid fro þe tyme þat God was born; and seien, þat preestis shulden usen þis craft betere and more meedefulli þan shulde seculer men, as preestis shulden be lordis over hem. And þis lore is tauȝt bi freris bi myche merit feyned þerto. But what men þei shulden kille, oþer þer breþeren or aliens, þei holden ȝit in þeir purs; alȝif þei prac|tisen on þer breþeren. But þis peple is wyde scaterid,—sum in Engelond, and sum wiþoute. And þes moo freris wiþouten seien þat men shulden moost kille English; and so lesse errour at bigynnynge growiþ to mykil and perilous.

But leve we þis doute here, and trete we of þe Chirche dowyng; for bi þis mo men travailen bi symonie. For many, bi þe fendis cast, loven to be hye prelatis, for lordship and richesse, more þan to quykene þe Chirche after þe poverte of Crist. And we supposen, as declarid bi twelve lawis of þe two testamentis, þat preestis and clerkis shulden be pore, as Crist was wiþ hise Apostlis. And in tokene of þis poverte, þes freris ben pore, as þei seien; and ȝit þei passen Scarioth in averice and worldli goodis. And herfore þes blasfemes seien þat beg|ging is medeful, and þat Crist tauȝte hem to begge. And þus þes traitours ben maad riche. Men have proved ofte tymes þat preestis shulden not þus be riche, ne þus be dowid in temporal lordship. Bi men of resoun, or of Goddis half, it is knowun þing ynowȝ þat sum tyme weren preestis pore, and þanne þei shulden, bi Cristis lawe, profite to þe Chirche after þer power; but dowing makiþ hem lesse of power, and þei profiten not more þan þei mai. And so bi þis dowyng þei ben more holden, and Page  309 lesse done. Þat þei ben more holden bi þis dowynge is liȝt to prove bi mannis lawe; for siche a rente or benefice mot axe sum reward aȝen, but no reward is more fittinge þan spiritual office of preestis. And þat dowyng makiþ hem lesse of power mai men shewe bi þis maner. Þei have no more of kyndeli witt þan preestis hadden bifore þe dowynge; and siþ þes wittis ben moche occupied about dowing and worldli þingis, þei have lesse witt to be occupied aboute God and hevenli þingis. And no man of witt haþ drede þat ne þe world and worldli þingis distracten a man fro God and his service in spiritual þingis. And so it semeþ þat prestis moten nede oþer seie þat þei weren ydil bifore þe dowing, or, bi dowing, þei ben more unablid for to serve God, and to profite to his Chirche, and helpe goostli to ony man. And here it semeþ þat þes prestis ben moche*. [om. E.] unholden to seculer lordis bi þe dowyng þat þei have take; for þei ben harmed so myche þerbi. And so folie on boþe partis bringiþ in harm in ech side; for no man doiþ aȝens God, but ȝif he have harm anoon. And it is knowun bi Goddis lawe þat traveile bi Cristis ordenance disposiþ a man to have grace, and to be more loved of Crist. And ȝif preestis lyveden as Crist ordeynede, þei shulden more encrese in vertues, and pro|fite more to hem and to þe Chirche þan þei done reversynge Crist. And no man þat witt haþ wole seie, þat Crist ȝeveþ preestis more grace, for þei ben unkynde to Crist and leven þe ordenance þat he ȝaf hem. And over þis, it is knowen, þat he þat loveþ his God more shulde more profite to Cristis Chirche, and betere love his neiȝbour. But bileve techiþ us þat God biddiþ men to love him of al þer herte, of al þer liif, of al þer mynde, and of al þer strengþe; so þat, after þe ȝiftes of God, a man is holden more to serve him. And so, siþ prestis shulden not be idil, but do good after þeir power, þei shulden profite to þe Chirche bifore dowyng, as þei myȝten. But bi double folie, brouȝt in boþe in clerkes and worldli lordis, prestis ben of lesse power, boþe to serve God and his Chirche. And noo drede God axiþ acountis of þis foltish chaffering.

But here þe fend techiþ his clerkis to seke after feyned an|sweris. Page  310 And þei seien, first, þat bi þis dowyng þei ben in quiet and in pees, and so þei serven God betere, as þei bi resoun ben more holden. And þus þei ben holden in scole to lerne philosophris lore, oþer weie þan þei shulden be, ȝif þis dowing wantide hem. Here Cristen men shulden wite þat þe fend medliþ soþfastnes wiþ falshede to bigile þe folk, and turne hem fro Cristis lore. Soþeli men lernen of gentil craft*. [gentil craft appears to mean what we call secular knowledge.] bi occasioun of dowing, but not so muche as done þese beggers; for fadir of lesingis mai more in hem. Cristene men shulde lerne Goddis lawe, and holden hem paied þerof; and in þis mesure, and in þis nombre, and in þis weiȝte, shulden þei lyven here, and abiden lore in hevene þat men shulden have over þis. For þis lore þat Crist tauȝte ys ynowȝ for þis liif. And ȝif men lyven after him, þei shal have lore as þei have nede; and þus þis dowing makiþ lore þat doiþ harm to Cristis Chirche, boþe lore of vanite, and þerto lore of mennis lawis. Crist ȝaf lore, þe which he lovede, þat he wolde teche Cristen men; and oþer lore, and more, over þis, wolde Crist þat were suspendid. But ȝit men replien, and seien, þat bi þis dowyng prestis ben many; and so, in multitude of clerkis, doiþ þis dowing muche profit; for clerkes wolden not be so many but ȝif þis dowyng were here. God techiþ trewe men to graunte þat dowyng and feyned begging makiþ to multiplie prestis more þan God himsilf haþ ordeyned; for God coude ordeyne noo kyn þing, but in mesure, noumbre and weiȝte. God wolde not þat alle weren preestis, ne alle knyȝtis, ne alle laboreris; but of alle þes þree partis, God wolde make his Chirche in mesure. And ȝif þou seist þat men faylen witt to ateyne*. [atteyne, E.] to Goddis noumbre, lyve men wel, and God wole teche how muchel shulde be noumbre of preestis. For defaute of Goddis lawe makiþ defaute in þis noumbre. Lerne men wel Goddis lawe, and it shal teche mesure in þis, if men prechen wel þis lawe, and hiden it not fro þe peple. Wel I rede in Goddis lawe, whanne God wolde have myche travaile in beryng of þe taber|nacle and sacrificis of many beestis, he wolde have, of twelve kynredis, but o kynrede of Levy, to serve his folk for preestis Page  311 and dekenes. And ȝit he wiþdrowȝ many of hem and unablide hem to serve God þus for sykenesse þat he sente hem. And to alle þes preestis and dekenes God lymitide but dymes and offringis. Lord! ȝif Cristene men wolden be paied of þe mesure of Goddis ordenance, and have þe twelfþe part of*. [om. E.] clerkis*. [That is, 'if but a twelfth part of the population, as was the case among the Jews, devoted themselves to the service of the altar.'], and ȝyve her dymes and offringis to hem and hyris*. [heris, E.] to lyve bi, ȝit it were now ynowȝ, siþ Apostlis wiþ lesse goodis profitiden more to Cristis Chirche. And þus wiþdrawe we kyngis clerkis and clerkis þat ben in lordis housis, and algatis þese religious þat ben to charge of Cristis Chirche; and passe we not þanne þe tenþe part, to dowe clerkis over oure God, and he wole teche us, bi riȝt liif, in what noumbre we shulden have clerkis.