John Wycliffe.

Tracts and treatises of John de Wycliffe : with selections and translations from his manuscripts, and Latin works online

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tihxaxy of t:he theological ^tminavy

PRINCETON • NEW JERSEY

John M, Krebs Donation

BR 75 .W84 18A5
Wycliffe, John, d. 1384.
Tracts and treatises of John
de Wycliffe



^}>tUff^ ^^



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ESTABLISHED MDCCCXLIV.

FOR REPRINTING A SERIES OF THE MORE SCARCE AND VALUABLE TRACTS

AND TREATISES OF THE EARLIER REFORMERS, PURITANS, AND

NONCONFORMISTS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



TRACTS AND TREATISES



JOHN DE WYCLIFFE, D.D.



SELECTIONS AND TRANSLATIONS
FROM HIS MANUSCRIPTS, AND LATIN WORKS.



EDITED FOR



WITH AN INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR,

BY

THE REV. ROBERT VAUGHAN, D.D.,

rilESIDENT OF THE LANCASHIRE INDEPENDENT COLLEGE, MANCHESTER.



LONDON :

PRINTED FOR THE SOCIETY BY

BLACKBURN AND PARDON, HATTON GARDEN.

MDCCCXLV.



ADVERTISEMENT.



When it devolved on the Committee of the Wyclifle Society
to decide on the subject of its first volume, they concluded that
in eflFect that question was determined for them already by the
illustrious name which the Society had adopted, and that they
must commence the series with " The Tracts and Treatises of
John de Wycliffe."

They well knew that one of the corresponding members of the
Society was, by his previous researches, more fuUy qualified to
engage in the work of preparing such a volume, than probably
any other writer in the kingdom : the Committee accordingly
requested the Kev. Robert Vaughan, D.D., to undertake the
taskj and the present volume is the result. Its contents are
divided into three parts : the first is biographical, containing facts
and observations concerning the life of Wyclifle. The second
part is analytical, supplying a critical account of the writings of
Wyclifle that are still in manuscript, with numerous extracts, and
also a notice of the Trialogus, with a translation from the original
Latin of the more important chapters of that treatise ; wliilst



Vlll ADVERTISEMENT.

the third part may be called bibliothecal, as it contains those
tractates of the Keformer which have been already printed at
different periods, and in various forms.

The first part therefore includes all that is known concerning
the personal history of the Reformer, the result of a most
laborious, extensive, and repeated examination of the extant
writings of Wycliffe, and of all other materials which could be
made available for the purpose.

Eespecting the second part. Dr. Vaughan has thus written :
*' In the extracts presented in the first section of the first book,
I have not retained every obsolete word, and in a few instances,
an illegible or obscure sentence has been omitted; but those pas-
sages exhibit throughout, the substantial and idiomatic language
of the Reformer, and cannot fail to make precisely that impression
on the reader, which would be made by them if read from the
original manuscript. It has not appeared to me necessary, or
desirable, that I should affect greater accuracy in that portion of
the work.

" The catalogue of the Reformer's writings, in the next section,
has been revised with much care, and wiU be found less imperfect
than any one previously published. I speak of this catalogue as
being only less imperfect than those which have preceded it,
because no man acquainted with the subject can expect to see a
perfect account of the writings of Wycliffe, distinguishing satis-
factorily between the extant and the non-extant, and between the
works certainly written by the Reformer, and those attributed to
him on probable evidence only. In this connexion, the obscure
and uncertain may be diminished, but can never be wholly
removed. In the hope of giving more completeness to this sec-
tion, I have re-examined many of the WycUfie manuscripts within
the last vear.



ADVERTISEMENT. ix

" There are two editions of the Trialogus : one printed without
the name of the place or of the printer, in 1525; the other
printed at Frankfort, in 1753. The latter is a reprint from the
former. In hoth, the errors of punctuation and typography are
frequent, and the man who shall attempt any extended translation
of the contents of that work, will be the least disposed to pass a
hasty censure on this portion of my labour. That I have suc-
ceeded in giving the precise meaning of the author, in every
instance, especially in the scholastic and metaphysical portions
of his argument, is more than I dare promise myself; but I am
satisfied that the reader may confide in the general accuracy of
the translation, and that, judging of the doctrine taught in the
Trialogus, from the chapters given in the volume, he will be safe
from all material error. Some chapters and parts of chapters
even in this fourth book have been omitted, but the translations
are complete on the subjects to which they relate."

In reference to the contents of the third part, it is only neces-
sary to add, that the treatise " Against the order of Begging
Friars," and the next, intitled " A Complaint to the King and
Parliament," were printed in Oxford in 1608, and edited by Dr.
James, fi"om which impression they are now reprinted. The piece
intitled, " The Wyckett," is printed from the Norembergh edition
of 1 545 ; and the tract, " Why Poor Priests have no Benefices,"
and the other fragments, are transcribed from the first edition of
Lewis's Life of Wyclifife, and Fox's Acts and Monuments.

It may be expedient to state in conclusion, that while the
present volume is, in its typographical and general character, a
fair specimen of those that will succeed it, yet in a literary point
of view, it must to a great extent be regarded as introductoiy and
unique.

Nearly five centuries have passed away since Wycliife flou-



X ai»ver'iisi;mi;ni.

rislied : and the spitefulness of rivals and the malignity of
persecutors, the dim shadows of succeeding ages, the progress
of the English language, and successive revolutions in the man-
ners and maxims of society, have all combined to render the
writings of the Reformer obscure, and to require the labours of
an editor who would scrupulously examine and faithfully expound
them. In succeeding volumes, the reader will find, according
to the original plan of the Wycliffe Society, more of the author,
and less of the editor; but in the present, the prominence of
the editor was unavoidable ; and the reader will doubtless feel
happy in the company of so competent and experienced a guide.

Robert Ashton.

y Seeretariet.

John Blackburn.

Cunyreyutwnal Library, London,
February, 1845.



CONTENTS.



Page

^art fi.

FACTS AND OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE LIFE

OF WYCLIFFE i— xciv

WRITINGS OF WYCLIFFE.
Book I. — 0\ the Writings of Wycliffe still in Manuscript.

SECTION I.

I. Expositio Decalogi ......... i

II. De Hypocritarum Imposituris . . . . . . . . 2

III. De Obedientia Prelatorum . . . . . . . .10

IV. De Conversatione Ecclesiasticoriiin . . . . . . 13

V. Speculum de Antichristo ... ..... 22

VI. Of Clerks Possessioners •.....,. 24

VII. De XXXIIl erroribus Cuiatorum ...... 26

VIII. Of the Order of Priesthood 28

IX. Of good Preaching Priests ....... 29

X. The Great Sentence of the Curse Expounded. . . . . .31

XI. De stipendiis Ministrorum ........ 43

XII. De Preeationibus Sacris . . . . . . . . 43

" XIII. De Episcoporum Erroribus ...... .45

XIV. A short Rule of Life for each man . . . . . . 46

— XV. Three things destroy the world ....... 48

XVI. Impedimenta Evangelizantium . . . . . . . 49

XVII. On the Lord's Prayer and Ave Maria ..... 52

XVIII. How Religious Men should keep Certain Articles . . . . 52

XIX. De Dominis et Servis ........ 52

XX. De Diabolo et Membris . . . . . . . . 54

XXI. For Three Skills lords should constrain clerks, &c. . ■ . 56

XXII. Of Wedded Men and Wives, and their Children . . . . 58

XXIII. How Antichrist and his clerks travail to destroy Holy Writ . . 59

XXIV. De dominis divino ......... 63

XXV. De Papa Roman.a — Sehisma Papae ...... 64

XXVI. Of Perfect Life 65

XXVII. Of the Seven Deadly Sins 66

XXVIII. Vita Saeerdotum .......... 71

_ XXIX. De Blasphemia contra Fratres . . . . . . .71

XXX. De Ecclesiae dominio ......... 74

XXXI. Sermons •■•........ 79



xii CONTENTS.



SECTION II.

ON THE REMAINING WRITINGS OF WYCLIFFE STILL IN MANUSCRIPT, AND
INCLUDING SUCH WORKS AS ARE KNOWN ONLY BY THEIR TITLES.

Book II. — Wycliffe's Latin Treatise, Trialogus.

SECTION I.

BEING SOME ACCOUNT OF THE FIRST, SECOND, AND THIRD BOOKS OF THE
TRIALOGUS.

SECTION II.

CHAPTERS TRANSLATED FROM THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE TRIALOGUS RELATING
TO THE DOCTRINES OF THE SACRAMENTS, THE HIERARCHY', AND THE RELIGIOUS

ORDERS.

Page
I. On the Eucharist 131

II. What is denoted by the pronoun "this" in the words of con-
secration . . . . . . . . . .134

III. Showing that the bread remains bread after consecration . . 138

IV. The preceding statements confirmed by argument . . .141

V. How and from what cause the heresy concerning the sacrament of

the Eucharist hath grown up . . . . . . . 144

VI. In what way the bread is the body of our Lord, and not the

identical body itself ........ 147

VII. On the Identification of the bread with the body of Christ . . 150

VIII. Showing that the body of Christ doth not corrupt . . . 152

IX. Whether two bodies may be at once in the same place . .154

— X. On Baptism 156

XL On the Threefold Baptism 159

161

. 163

. . 169

. 172

. . 178

. 180

. . 182

. 184



XII. On Confirmation .......

XIII. On the sacrament of Order ....

XIV. On the avarice of the clergy .....
XV. On their culpability in respect to Endowments .

XVI. On Penance

XVII. On the signs of Contrition .....
XVIII. On the Extreme Unction .....
XIX. Of the various kinds of ^Ministers

XX. On the Begging Friars 186

XXI. Farther showing that the Mendicancy of the Friars is not consistent

with Scripture . . . . . . . . .188

XXII. On the letter of the Fraternities ....... 191

XXIII. How the Friars falsely sell their prayers and merits . . .193
XXIV. On Indulgences . . . . . . . . . . 195

XXV. How the orders of Friars were introduced . . . . .199

XXVI. In what respect the Friars are contrary to Christ . . . . 202

XXVII. Of the other Six Abuses of the Friars 204



CONTENTS. XUl

Page

XXVIII. Showing how the Friars seduce the kingdoms they inhabit . . 207

XXIX. Of the fraud and malice of the Friars 210

XXX. Whether Temporal Lords may and should assist and defend their

people against Friars . . . . • . . .213

TRACTATES REPRINTED FROM FORMER EDITIONS.

I. — A Treatise of John Wycliffe against Orders of Friars. 217

I. Friars' orders perfecter than Christ's . . . . . . 219

II. Friars hinder the free preaching of the gospel .... 220

III. A man once professed to their religion may never leave it . . 222

IV. No preaching without licence of their sovereign how bad soever . 222
V. The lawfulness of begging maintained by Friars . . . . 223

VI. Friars draw alms from poor and needy men to the maintenance

of their sinful and superfluous order 224

VII. Traditions of Friars preferred before Christ's commandments . . 225
VIII. Friars great hypocrites, as poor as Christ in show, as sumptuous

as lords and prelates in deed ....... 225

IX. Their stealing of children and enticing of them to their order . . 226

X. Curates defrauded of their dues by means of Friars . . . 227

XI. Friars come in under the name of saints, and forsake the rule . 227

XII. Persecution of True Priests by False Friars .... 228

XIII. Capped friars served as lords or kings at table . . . . 229

XIV. Great flatterers of the people, neither reproving nor removing

their sins from among them . . . . . . . 229

XV. How much and how oft they deceive and cozen the lay people by

their letters of fraternity ....... 230

XVI. Friars pervert the right faith of the sacrament of the altar, by

making it to be an Accident without a Subject . . . . 231

XVII. Their excess in building of great churches and costly houses and

cloisters .......... 232

XVIII. Friars teaching the Vow of Obedience contrary to God's Law . . 233

XIX. How they forsake the perfection of their order for worldly respects 234

XX. Their rotten habit esteemed above Christ's body . . . 235

XXI. Friars beg without need, when the poor want, without remorse . 235

XXII. Friars reprove not their brethren as the Gospel willeth, but as

themselves will .......... 236

XXIII. Friars lawless in begging the king and mighty ones of the land to
maintain their sect, begging their alms and beggaring the whole

land 237

XXIV. Friars no peace-makers, but make-bates, strive themselves, and

stirrers up of others to wars and dissension . . . . 238



XXV. Judas's children selling Christ, and all for money
XXVI. They slander true priests, and flatter wicked men .
XXVII. Friars most impatient of all men living in bearing reproof .
XXVIII. The holy Scriptures accused by these unholy men of falsehood



239
239
240
241



XIV CONTEXTS.

Pag8

XXIX. How strongly wedded to their rotten habit ..... 242

XXX. The pope's dispensation, or commandment of the superior, more

regarded than Christ's commandment ..... 242

XXXI. Their usury, simony, covetousness, extortion, rapine, and theft . 243

XXXII. Friars cannot endure to hear of Christ's poverty preached . . 244
XXXIII. Friars like thieves coming into the church by the window, not by

the door ........... 244

XXXIV. Bind their novices to impossible things ..... 245

XXXV. The necessity and multitude of their vain and changeable

ceremonies .......... 246

•XXXVI. Friars return evil for good ....... 246

XXXVII. Friars, under the habit of holiness, lead men into sin . . . 247
XXXVIII. They persuade men to reckon more of their anathemas, than

of God's curse .... ..... 248

XXXIX. Friars' heresy in affirming the wicked to be members of Christ's

church ........... 248

XL. Arrogating unto themselves glory due unto other men, and some-
times unto God himself ........ 249

XLI. Exalting themselves above Christ himself ..... 2,50

XLII. Christ's rule no sufficient warrant for them to be ruled by . . 250

XLIII. Friars' policy in binding their novices to unknown things . . 251

XLIV. Misspenders of the treasure of their land . .... 251

XLV. Friars holier than other men ....... 252

XLVI. Friars altogether set upon covetousness . . ... 252

XLVII. Friars dead unto the world, but raised by Antichrist to pride,

covetousness, and maintenance of sin ..... 253

XLVIII. Spiritual impurity of Friars ........ 254

XLIX. Friars notable factors for the pope in England .... 254

L. Friars most perilous enemies to holy church and to our land . . 255

II. A Complaint of .Tohn Wycliffe, Exhibited to the King

AND Parliament ........ 257

III. Wycliffe's Wyckett, which he made in King Richard'.s

DAYS, the Second 270

IV. Why' Poor Priests have no Benefices . .... 285
V. Answer of Wycliffe to Richard the Second, as touch-
ing the Right and Title of the King and the Pope . 295
VI. Letter of Wycliffe in Excuse to Pope Urban VI. . . 298
VII. Confession of Wycliffe concerning the Eucharist . . ,300
VIII. Confession on the Eucharist, delivered to the Dele-
gates at Oxford in 1382 201

Index to the Writings of Wycliffe . . . . ,303

Index to the Life of Wycliffe ....... ,322



^?art h



FACTS AND OBSERVATIONS



CONCERNING



THE LIFE OF WYCLIFFE.



FACTS AND OBSERVATIONS



CONCERNIXG



THE LIFE OF WYCLIFFE.



The biographers of Wycliffe all mention the year 1324 as that
of his birth." The place of his nativity still TieaB liis name-^a
village^a^bout six miles fromtlie towa-ef-RiGlimond in Yorksliire.
The name' of Wycliffe, like that of William of Wykeham, is
evidently a local one, being written John of Wycliffe ; and in
England there is no locahty bearing the name of Wychffe beside
the place above mentioned. From the time of the Norman
Conquest the parish of Wycliffe had been the residence of a
family bearing that name, who were lords of the manor of
WycHife, and patrons of its rectory. During the lifetime of our
Reformer there were two rectorsof the parish who bore this name :
Robert Wyclifi'e, presented to the living by Catherine, relict of
Roger WycliflFe ; and William Wycliffe, presented by John de
Wycliffe. In 1606 the possessor of this ancient property lost
his only son, and by the marriage of his daughter, his patrimony
passed to a family of another name.*

Dr. Zouch, rector of Wycliffe in the last century, in the inscrip-
tion attached to the portrait of Wycliffe, by Sir Antonio More,
now an heirloom to the holders of that living, speaks of the

" Tanner, Bibliotheca Brit. 767. Lewis, chap. i. Baber ii.

* Life and Opinions of Wycliffe, i. 229 — 324. Appendix i.

b



11 FACTS AND OBSERVATIONS

Reformer without hesitancy — as " a native of this parish." Birk-
beck, a ck^rgymau, who officiated in an adjoining parish during
the reign of Charles I. speaks no less decidedlv on tliis point
in a work intitled the " Protestant Evidence."" But our best
authority is that of Leland, who wrote his " Collectanea" about
a hundred and fifty years after the decease of Wycliffe, and
mentioning the parish of Wycliffe, describes it as the place
where " WycHffe the heretic was born."

It is true Leland himself has elsewhere given a somewhat
difierent account. In his " Itinerary," he makes mention of
Spresswell, " a poor village, a good mile from Richmond," as
the place where the Reformer was born.*^ But no trace of such a
name can be found anywhere in the neighbourhood of Richmond.
Leland travelled for much of his information, but it is manifest,
from his errors in respect to Richmondshire, that he could not
have visited that county more than very partially. Indeed, an
author who could describe the rise of the Tees as being in a
meadow near Caldwell, at least fifty miles from its real source,
must be supposed liable to mistake on a point of this nature.

Spresswell may have been the name of the family .mansion of
the WyclifFes, or of some property belonging to them in the neigh-
bourhood ; but we are more disposed to trust in the account
given by Leland in liis " Collectanea," than in that found in the
" Itinerary," and to connect the birth of Wycliffe with the spot
which was certainly the home of his family, and fi'om which,
beyond all reasonable doubt, he derived his name.

It must be admitted that the name of the Reformer does not
occur in the existing records of the Wycliffe family. But this
omission will not occasion surprise, when it is known that all the
members of that family continued their adherence to the existing
religious system, and that, according to the notions and feelings
of the middle age, the man who made hilnself so conspicuous as the
opponent of that system, would be regarded, in the language of
the Reformer himself, applied to such cases, as " slandering all
his noble kindred, who were ever held true men and worsliipful." '^

" Ed. Quarto, cent. xiv. p. 71. * Tom. i. part ii. 329.

' Itinerary, v 99. '' MS. On Wedded Men and Wives, C.C.C. Cambridge.



CONCERNING THE LIFE OF WVCLIFFE. iii

It will appear the more probable that the Eeformer spoke thus,
from remembrances connected with his own history, if we bear
in mind, that no examination of his writings has served to bring
to light anything concerning his intercourse with his kindred.
What Leland has said concerning Spresswell, accordingly, is not
of sufficient weight to be allowed to disturb the uniform testimony
both of tradition, and of the most trustworthy authorities on this
subject.

Concerning the early years ofJWyclifFe, we possess not a vestige
of information. At the age of sixteen, we find him entered as a
commoner in Queen's College, Oxford. This was in 1340, the
year in which that college was founded. Queen's College owed
its origin in j)art to the munificence of Philipj^a, the queen of
Edward III., but still more to the praiseworthy zeal of Sir John
Eglesfield, her chaplain. Eglesfield was a native of Cum-
berland, and the new college was designed chiefly for the benefit
of students from the northern counties ; a fact which may account
for its being chosen in favour of a .youth from the borders of
Westmoreland and Durham.

In the age of WyclifFe, the means of education were extended
far beyond the precincts of the cathedral or the monastery. Not
only in the larger cities, but in every borough or castle, schools
are said to have been established. Besides a school in the Abbey
of St. Albans, in which every branch of knowledge then culti-
vated was taught, there was one in the same town under Mathew,
a physician, and Garinus, his kinsman. Garinus was much cele-
brated for his knowledge of the canon and civil law ; and the
praise bestowed by Matthew Paris on this school, implies that
there were many such in the kingdom. Not less than five
hundred religious houses had made their appearance in England
during the interval from the Conquest to the reign of John ; aud
to those houses, schools were generally annexed. It is certain,
also, that so early as the year 1138, the instituting of schools in
a manner distinct from the monastic establishments, had extended
itself in some cases from towns even to villages. No person,
however, could act in the capacity of schoolmaster until licensed
by a clergyman ; and the clergy, whether fr'omjefilousy or avarice,
were often so exorbitant in their demands on such occasions, as at

b 2



IV FACTS AND OBSERVATIONS

length to jirovoke the intervention of authority. In a general
council held in the Lateran church at Kome in 1179, and in
another convened at Paris in 1212, all exactions for licences to
te.ich as schoolmasters were forbidden.

Even the studies at Oxford and Cambridge in those times were
for the most part of an elementary kind, and the pupils were
children. Such scholars were received into the schools which
Wood describes as the " Nurseries of Grammarians," until they
became capable of ascending to " higher arts." Children, how-
ever, would not often be sent from distant parts of the kingdom
to the universities, merely for the sake of such elementary ac-
quisitions as might be made with greater facility and equal elFect
nearer home. In the northern counties especially, the necessity for
so doing was precluded. Edward I. speaks of an establishment
as existing in one of the border districts in his time, where two
hundred young clerks were receiving education. In some such
establishment the northern students generally made such progress
as qualified them when they came to the universities to enter
upon those higher studies which were peculiar to those celebrated
seats of learning. In the provincial schools the Latin language
was sedulously taught, as being in those times the only key of
knowledge. When thus far instructed, the pupil passed to the
study of certain approved works on grammar, rhetoric, and logic ;
and obtained some knowledge of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy,
and music. These sciences, which, it will be observed, are seven
in number, were suj)posed to be so explained as to present within
their mystic circle whatever was deemed important, or even pos-
sible to be known. But it is not probable that the preliminary
studies of the "young clerks" in such seminaries often embraced
much beyond the study of grammar ; their progress in the higher
arts being reserved to the course awaiting them at the university. "

These facts may suggest to our imagination the manner in
which Wycliffe had been occupied up to the time of his becoming

" ■Wood's Annals, i. 105—107; ii. 712— 717. Collier's Eccles. Hist. i. 497.
Tanner, Notitia Monastica, Preface. Matthew Paris, Vit. Abbot. St. Alban. 62.
Baconi Opus Majus, Praefat. Brompton Chron. 1348. Hoveden, 589. Dupin
Cent. XIII. 92. Henry's Hist. Eng. vi. 195 — 198. Robertson's View of Society,
sect. i. H.illani's Middle Ages, ii. 24 — 29.



CONCERNING THE LIFE OF WYCLIFFE. V

a commoner in Oxford. But the connexion of WyclifFe with

Queen's College was not of long continuance. Merton, to which

he shortly afterwards removed, was a foundation of great celebrity.

It could boast of some of the most scientific scholars of the age:

it had supplied the EngUsh church with three primates : its

divinity chair had been recently filled by the celebrated Brad-

wardine : and within its walls the great schoolmen Ockham and

Duns Scotus had put forth those powers, the fame of which filled

all Christendom, and was supposed to be immortal. So great was

the capacity of Scotus, that, according to his eulogists, had the

genius of Aristotle been unknown, here was a disciple who could



Online LibraryJohn WycliffeTracts and treatises of John de Wycliffe : with selections and translations from his manuscripts, and Latin works → online text (page 1 of 45)