Select English works of John Wyclif; edited from original mss. by Thomas Arnold.
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384., Arnold, Thomas, ed. 1823-1900.
Page  325

ON SEINT JHONES DAY.

[SERMON XCII.]

Dixit Jesus Petro.
—JOHN xxi. [15.]

ÞIS gospel telliþ how Crist ordeynede Joon to lyve and die, and how Crist wolde þat Joon cam to blisse wiþouten killing. Joon telliþ how Jesus seide to Petir þat he shulde sue him,—not oonli bi paas of feet,—but in suffringe deþ as dide Crist. And Peter knew þis witt of God, and wolde fayn wite how Joon shulde die. But Joon clepiþ himsilf bi þree names and leveþ his owne propre name. For þes wordis þat Joon telliþ here sounen to excellence of him; and þanne God wole þat men be pryvy, and ȝeve þe soþe to grace of God. And þus seiþ þis gospel of Joon, how Petir turnede him and saw Joon. And þe firste name of þes þree sowneþ in to Goddis grace, and is seid in þis maner: Peter, as he turnede him, saw þat disciple þat Jesus lovede, how he suede Christ, as Peter; but ȝit he wiste not of his deeþ. And þis souneþ to grace of Crist, þat he lovede þus Joon bifore; for more grace mai not God ȝyve þan sich love bifore disertis. Þe secounde name þat Joon clepiþ him, stondiþ in familiarite of Crist: how Joon restide on Shir Þursdaie*. [Scher Thursday, E.]*. [Shir Thursday is Maundy Thurs|day; 'so called,' says Nares in his Glossary, ed. 1859, 'from the custom of shearing or shaving the beard on that day.' He quotes from an old Homily,—'For that in old faders' days the people would on that day shere theyr hedes, and clyp theyr berdes, and pool theyr heedes, and so make them honest ayenst Easter day.']in þe soper on Cristis brest. Þis homlynesse was a greet grace, and meveþ men for to trowe þat þis Joon hadde witt of Crist. And al þis cam of grace of Crist. Þe þridde name þat Joon clepiþ himself, þat Peter shulde knowe bi resoun, is þis þat Joon seide to Crist, Lord, who is he þat shal traye þee? Þis word was seid on Shir Þursdai, whanne Crist was at his soper, for þanne tolde Crist, but comunli, þat oon of Page  326 hem shulde traye him; and Petir wolde wite which þat he were. For, as men seien, Petre wolde have fouȝte wiþ him. And Petre saw þat Joon was nyȝ Crist, and homly*. [homely, E.] wiþ him, and spake to Joon þat he shulde axe Crist which was he þat shul traye Crist, as Crist hadde seid. And al þis souneþ to Cristis worship, and to wisdoom of Crist. And þus Joon nempnede þis þridde name, and leeveþ to boste of himsilf.

Whanne Peter sawȝ þis disciple, þat was Joon Evangelist, he axide of Jesus what shal worþe of þis Joon. But Jesus an|sweride to Petir in wisdom and pacience, and seide: Y wole þat he dwelle þus til Y come*. [So in the Vulgate, 'Sic eum volo manere donec veniam. Quid ad te?']; what is þat to þee? sue þou me. And it is ynowȝ þee to cunne, and to do*. [do þat, E.] at þis tyme, and axe no more. Here mai we se, how Crist wolde þat neiþer Petre ne Joon wiste þanne Judas name, whom Crist wiste þanne to traye him. And so Crist shewide togidere boþ pacience and charite. But Crist shewide after lore more to note; how men shulden not bisien hem to knowe þingis unpertinent to þe helþe of þer soule. And þus seide Crist: What is þat to þee. And so þis word wente among þe apostlis, þat þis Joon shulde nevere die. And so wordis þat ben wel seid mai liȝtli be taken amys; siþ apostlis token amys þis word of Crist so pleinli seid. And þus Joon telliþ þis defaute, and seide, þat Jesus seide not þat Joon shulde nevere die; but Jesus seide in þis maner: But I wole þat Joon dwelle þus till þat Y come, what is þat to thee. And Cristis wordis myȝten be verified on þis maner, ȝif Joon were deed; þat Crist wolde þat Joon lyvede longe, wiþouten martirdom in bodi, til Crist cam in his owne persone, and warnede Joon to come to him and ete in hevene wiþ his breþeren in Cristis feste þat he hadde ordeyned. And þus telliþ þe storie of Joon, þat was longe after; as it bifel, Crist cam to Joon, and tolde him how he shulde come to his breþeren upon Sundai next after, and so Joon diede in his grave*. [This 'storie' is given at large in the Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine. 'Cum igitur esset Jo|hannes XCIX annorum, a passione Domini secundum Ysidorum anno LXVIII, apparuit ei Dominus cum discipulis suis dicens, Veni, dilecte mi, ad me, quod tempus est ut in mensa mea cum tuis fratribus epuleris. Surgens autem Johannes coepit ire. Cui Dominus, Dominica die ad me venies.' The legend goes on to describe how St. John caused his grave to be dug near the altar in his church at Ephesus, and laid him|self down in it; from which point the story evaporates, as it were, in a cloud of miracles, and makes no mention of his actual death. This, however, our author might have found in St. Augustine, who, in Tract CXXIV In Johann. Evang., says that it was related in an apo|cryphal writing that the apostle, after his grave had been dug, 'ibi se tanquam in lectulo collocasse statimque eum esse defunctum.']. Lord! siþ þes wordis Page  327 of Crist mai be wel þus undirstonden, what shulde meve ony man to take fals wite bi hem? After þese meke wordis of Joon, and comendinge of Goddis grace, telliþ Joon of himsilf: how he is þat disciple þat beriþ witnesse of þes þingis and wroot þes þingis in þis gospel; and we witen þat his witnesse is soþ. And sich a witnesse, unsuspect, shulde be trowid of trewe men and not be holden for fals, siþ it is oure bileve. Prove þou þat þis gospel is fals, and after dampne it if þou canst.