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"An Apology for Lollard Doctrines"

From 14th Century MSS preserved at Trinity College, Dublin

attributed to

John Wycliffe

1842 Edition

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An Apology for Lollard Doctrines by John Wycliffe, from a 14th century manuscript preserved at Trinity College, Dublin (1842 Edition)

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An Apology for Lollard Doctrines by John Wycliffe, from a 14th century manuscript preserved at Trinity College, Dublin (1842 Edition)


"It will naturally be expected that the following treatise should be introduced to the reader by some account of the manuscript from which it has been transcribed, and some statement of the grounds upon which it has been attributed to the pen of Wickliffe.

The manuscript is preserved in the library of Trinity college, Dublin, among the valuable remains of ancient literature collected by the celebrated Archbishop Ussher, and presented by King Charles II to the University. [It is marked in the Library, Class C. Tab. 5, No. 6.]

It is on vellum, containing 219 leaves, each 6 2/5 inches by 4 2/5; a full page having 31 or 32 lines, very neatly and accurately written, in the usual secretary hand of the fourteenth or beginning of the fifteenth century. The last leaf is much wormed, and the volume ends imperfectly.

Its contents are as follow:

I. A tract entitled Credo (being an exposition of the Creed); beginning, "It is sooth that bileue is grounde of alle vertues." Fol. 1, a. This piece is attributed to Wickliffe by Bishop Bale. See Lewis's List, No. 152. [Life of Wyclif, Oxf. 1820. Bale, Cent. vi.]

II. A short Commentary on the Pater noster; beginning, "We schall bileue that this pater noster that Crist hymsilf techith to alle cristen men, passith alle othere praiers." Fol. 2, a.

III. A Commentary on the Ave Maria; beginning, "Men greten commonly our lady goddis moder, and we supposen that this gretyng saueth many men." Fol. 3, b. See Lewis's List. No. 154.

IV. Of the "vij eresies." This treatise is divided into seven chapters, each treating of a distinct heresy. At the end we read, "Expliciunt vij hereses contra pater noster." It begins thus: "For false men multiplien bokis of the chirche, now rendyng bileue, and now cloutynge eresies." Fol. 4, b.

The Lord's Prayer in the former tract was divided into seven petitions, or "axyngs," as is usual with divines, and each of the seven heresies described in the present tract has reference to one of the seven "axyngs " of the Pater noster. The tract appears to have been especially directed against the Friars: as may appear from the "heresies" it describes, which are as follows:

1. "That special preier applied bi her prelats, is better than general; as oon famulorum *seid of a frere, is better than a pater master."
2. "That thes prelats ben hedis of goddis reume ... and so alle thes freris ben men of hooli chirche, that God wol here gladlier than ony othere comoun men."
3. "That thei can bowe the wille of our Lord God to brynge a soule to heuen, bi maner of her preiyng."
4. "That the sacrid oost is no maner breed, but either now--t, or accident withouten ony subiect."
5. "That prestis haue power to assoile men of synne."
6. "That men of priuate religioun be more thick saued**."
7. "That if we worchen bi conseillis of thes newe ordris, that leuen the ordenaunce of Crist, we shal nedely be saued."

[* Alluding to the Commemoratio pro vivis in the Canon of the Mass, "Memento Domine famulorum, famularumque tuarum N et N," in which special mention is made by the priest of the persons for whom he intends to pray.]

[** More thick, i.e. more numerously.]

The tract ends fol. 6, b. The next two leaves are blank.

V. A treatise on the ten Commandments; beginning, "Alle maner of men schulden holde goddis biddyngis." Fol. 9, a.

This is the tract entitled by Bale, "Compendium X. Praeceptorum," which he describes as beginning Cujus-cunque conditionis fuerint homines*. It is divided into two parts, corresponding to the two Tables of the law, the first consisting of twelve, the second of twenty-eight chapters.

[* Bale, Cent. vi. Lewis's Catal. No. 153. No. 273. Comp. also, No. 278.]

VI. A treatise on "Feith, Hope, and Charite;" beginning, "For it is seid in holdyng of our haliday, that we shulden occupie the tyme in prechyng, and deuout hering of the lawe of God." Fol. 27, a. This tract is divided into six chapters; and is probably the same as that mentioned by Lewis, No. 274. There is a copy of it in a volume preserved in the library of New College, Oxford.*

[* See British Magazine, Feb. 1836.]

VII. A tract entitled at the end "Opera misericordie corporalis;" beginning, "If a man wer sur that he shulde to morowe come bifor a iuge, and other lese or wynne alle the goodis that he hat, and eke his lijf therto." Fol. 30, b. It is divided into six chapters.

This is also in the volume belonging to New College, Oxford, and is entitled, "The seuen werkys of mercy bodily." - It is mentioned by Bale and Lewis.*

[* Bale, ut supra. Lewis, No. 155. No. 257.]

VIII. "Opera caritatis;" beginning, "Sith we shulden serue our parishens in spritual almes, as thei seruen vs in bodili sustenaunce." Fol. 35, a. This tract is divided into four chapters. It is attributed to Wicliffe by Bale and Lewis, and is to be found in the volume, already mentioned, belonging to New College.*

[* Bale, ibid. Lewis, No. 156 and No. 258.]

IX. "Septem peccata capitalia;" a treatise on the seven deadly sins, beginning, "Sith bileue techith vs that every yuel is other synne, or cometh of synne, synne shulde be fled as almaner of yuel." Fol. 38, a.

The seven sins are thus enumerated: ''Pride, Enuye, Wraththe or Ire, Sleuthe, Couetise, Gloterie, Lecherie."

This tract is divided into thirty-two chapters and ends on Fol. 63, a. There are copies of it, according to Lewis, in the Bodleian Library, and in the King's Library.*

[* Lewis, No. 259.]

X. "De Ecclesia et membris ejus;" beginning, "Cristis chirche is his spouse, that hath thre partis, the first part is in bliss, with Crist hed of the chirche, and conteyneth aungelis and blessid men that now ben in heuene." Fol. 63, b.

This tract is ascribed to Wicliffe under the titles De ecclesiae dominio, and De ecclesia Catholica.* It is divided into ten chapters, and ends fol. 75, b. where we read "Explicit tractatus de ecclesia et membris ejus."

[* Lewis, No. 58. Baber, p.42.]

XI. "De apostasia et dotatione ecclesiae;" beginning, "Sith ilche cristen man is holden to sewe [i. e. to follow] Crist, and whoever faylith in this is apostata." Fol. 76, a.

This tract is divided into four chapters, and ends fol. 80, b. with the note, "Explicit tractatus de apostasia et dotacione ecclesiae."

The second chapter is headed in rubric De dotacione ecclesiae, and is perhaps the same which Bale mentions under the same title as a distinct tract, and which he tells us begins Utrum clerus debuerit dotationem.* In the MS. before us the second chapter begins, "As to the possessiouns and dowyng of clerkis, bileeue shulde teche vs that it doith hem harm to kepe Cristis religioun, and harm to lewid men."

[* Lewis, No. 51.]

XII. "Tractatus de pseudo freris;" beginning, "For many beren heuy that freris ben clepid pseudo or ypocritis, anticristis or fendis, or ony siche name." Fol. 81, a.

This tract is divided into eight chapters; it is full of curious matter on the controversy with the religious orders, but does not seem to have been known to Bale, Lewis, or Baber. It ends fol. 95, b.

XIII. "Of the eight woes that God wished to freris;" beginning, "Crist biddeth vs be waar with thes false prophetis that comen in clothing of sheepe, and ben wolues of raueyn, and thes ben specially men of thes newe ordris." Fol. 96, a.

This is another tract of great interest, unknown to Bale; it consists of an elaborate parallel between the Scribes and Pharisees of the Gospel, and the mendicant orders of the fourteenth century. It ends fol. 101, a, with the note, "Her enden the eighte woois that God wishid to freris. Amen." This is probably the same tract which Lewis describes as a commentary on the text Vae vobis Scribae et Pharisaei hypocrite:* of which he says there is a copy in the King's Library.

[* Lewis, No. 277.]

XIV. "Exposicio evangelii Mt. 24. Egressm Jesus de templo, &c." beginning, "This gospel tellith myche wisdom that is hid to many men; and speciali for this cause, that it is not al red in the chirche." Fol. 101, a.

This is the tract entitled by Bale De Christo et Antichristo, of which there are copies, according to Lewis, in the libraries of Trinity College, and of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.*

[* Lewis, No. 5.]

In commenting on the verse, "And thanne schal be greet tribulation what maner was neuer bifor fro the biginnyng of the world," our author applies the prophecy to his own times, in the following words: - "But so general strijf as now is among many rewmes, was neuere herd bifore fro the bigynnyng of the world, for al our west lond is with oo pope, or with the tother, and he that is with the ton, hatith the tother with alle hise."

This fixes the date of the tract to the period of the great Western Schism which began A. D. 1378.

It ends fol. 116, b. with the note "Explicit Euangelium."

XV. "Of anticrist, and his meynee," [i. e. his train, family, or followers;*] beginning, "Dauid seith, Lord sett thou a lawe maker vpon hem. Hit semyth to me, seith Austyn, that this signifieth anticrist." Fol. 117, a.

[* Meynee, or Meiny from the French Mesnie. See Nares's Glossary in voc. Meiny. ]

Bale mentions a tract under the title De Antichristo et membris, in two books; it begins, as he tells us, with the words, "Quemadmodum Dominus Jesus ordinavit*," and therefore is most probably not the work now before us, but the tract usually known by the title, "How Antichrist and his clerks travailen to destroy Holy Writ**,"}: which has been published by the "Religious Tract Society," in their volume of the Writings of Wickliffe (Lond. 1831), from the MS. in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The piece published by the Tract Society, however, does not appear, from what they have given of it, to have been in two books.

[* See Lewis, No. 6.]

[** Lewis, p. 155.]

XVI. "Of antecristis song in chirche," beginning "Also prelatis, prestis, and freres putten on symple men that thei seyen, that Goddis office or seruyce ben not to be songen with note." Fol. 124, a.

This work seems to be a continuation of the former, and has escaped the notice of Wickliffe's biographers.

XVII. "Of praier a tretys," beginning "Also bischops and freres putten to pore men that thei seyn, that men owen not rather to praye in chirche thenne in other place." Fol. 126, a.

It ends fol. 127, a with the note, "Explicit tractatus de oratione."

XVIII. A tract entitled "Nota de confessione," and beginning " Two vertues ben in mannes soule by whyche a man shuld be rewled in hoolynesse in mannes wille." Fol. 127, b.

It is divided into thirteen chapters, and ends, fol. 138, a, with the note, "Explicit &c."

XIX. A tract without title, beginning "Crist forsothe did al that he couthe to obeye to lordis, and mekely and softly speke to hem. But to scribes and to pharisees he spake sharply." Fol. 138, b.

XX. A tract entitled "Nota de sacramento altaris." This title has been blotted with ink by a modern hand, so however that the words are still legible. It begins "Cristen mennes bileeue tau--t of ihu Crist, God and man, and hise apostles, and seynt Austyn, seynt Jerome, and seynt Ambrose, and of the court of Rome, and alle treue men, is this, that the sacrament of the auter, the which men seen be twene the prestis handis, is verre Cristis body and his blode." Fol. 145, a.

XXI. A tract without title, beginning "Crisostom seith, that fischers and buystouse men, makynge iche daye nettis with here hondes, founden Crist, whom prestis studiynge al day in goddis law founden not." Fol. 146, b.

XXII. Another tract without title, beginning, "Seynt Barnard spekith thus to Eugenye the pope, Supposest thou whether thise tymes wolden suffre, if two men stryuing for ertheli eritage, and axing dome of thee, thou woldest answer the voyce of thi Lord God, Man, who ordeyned me domesman upon --ou." Fol. 152, a.

XXIII. A tract without title, beginning, "God moueth hooly chirche bi many maner of spechis to knowe the treuthe of his lawe, and therbi to come to blisse. And thus God spekith hi summe men, as if two persones dispitiden to gidre, the which we clepyn reson and gabbyng, whech hen Crist and the fende." Fol. 154, b.

This tract is in the form of a Dialogue, in which the speakers are Christ and the Devil. All the foregoing treatises from No. XVI to this inclusive, appear to have been omitted in the lists of Wickliffe's writings.

XXIV. Another tract without title, written as if it were a continuation of the former, but which from its subject appears to be distinct. It is on the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, and begins, "And for neither man ne womman may perfitly do the seuen werkis of mercy, withouten the seuen --eftis of the holy gost." Fol. 161, a.

This may perhaps be the tract mentioned by Lewis under the title "De vii donis Spiritus Sancti*."

[* Lewis, No. 245.]

XXV. Another tract without title, and written also as if it were a continuation of the preceding, beginning "Clerkys knowen that a man hath five wittes outward, and other fiue wittes inward." Fol. 162, b.

Lewis mentions a tract entitled "Seven bodily wittis*," but the initial sentence which he quotes does not agree with this.

[* Lewis, No. 256.]

XXVI. A treatise without title, beginning "Here are questiouns and ansueris putte, &c." Fol. 164, a.

This is the work now for the first time published. It occupies 88 pages of the manuscript, and ends fol. 218, a.

XXVII. A short tract without title, on the mystical interpretation of Jacob's ladder, beginning "Hit is writen in the first book of holy writ, that ther weren thre patriarkes in the peple of God." Fol. 218, a.

XXVIII. Another short tract, beginning, "Thes ben the nyne poynts that our Lord Ihu answerid an holy man that coueit to wite what mi--t most plese vn to God." Fol. 218, b.*

[* This little tract has been printed in the "Irish Ecclesiastical Journal," No. 11, (May 1841,) page 183.]

XXIX. A tract without title, beginning "Of the dedis of mercy God will speke at the dredful day, and dome to all his chosun stondyng on his ri--t side, Come ye blessed childre of my fadre," &c. Fol. 219, a.

This tract is unfortunately imperfect, and ends on the next page; the volume wants some leaves, and the last two leaves are much wormed, although perfectly legible.*

[* Some account of this volume was given about three years ago in the British Mazagine, vol. xiv. p. 275, as one of a series of papers on the MSS. of Wickliffe in the Library of the University of Dublin.]

It seemed desirable to give this lengthened account of the volume from which the following treatise is taken, not only from the great interest of the collection, comprising as it does many works, which, if Wickliffe's, have not been noticed by his biographers; but also, and chiefly, because the principal evidence, if not the only evidence, upon which Bale and others appear to have depended in attributing to our Reformer the works of which they have given catalogues, was undoubtedly the company in which those works were found, in such collections as that now before us.

The writer of these pages has already publicly declared his conviction, that we are to this day unable to decide with any certainty what are Wickliffe's genuine works, and what are not.* Bishop Bale, from whose Catalogue of the Reformer's works all subsequent writers have copied, appears to have transcribed without much discrimination the titles of all that he found in the MSS. to which he had access, or which were attributed to Wickliffe by his enemies, or by his friends, and the existence of a tract in any collection, containing one or more of the pieces usually attributed to Wickliffe, was with Bale evidence sufficient to induce him to enter it among the Reformer's writings.**

[* See the Preface to "The Last Age of the Church." Dublin, small 4. 1840. London (Leslie).]

[** Bale himself says, "Edidit ... partim Latine, partim in lingua vulgari, opuscula quae sequuntur, quorum majorem partem ex adversiorum scriptis collegi." But the Catalogue itself bears internal evidence of having been in great part derived from the MSS. many of the works being enumerated in the order in which they occur in MSS. still extant. In neither case, however, can much authority be given to Bale's enumeration of the Reformer's writings, and in particular no inference can fairly be drawn from his omissions.]

HAIL & FIRE - a resource for Reformed and Gospel Theology in the works, exhortations, prayers, and apologetics of those who have maintained the Gospel and expounded upon the Scripture as the Eternal Word of God and the sole authority in Christian doctrine.

"Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city" Mat 23:34 KJV
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