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IOHANNIS WYCLIF

SERMONES

NOW FIRST EDITED FROM THE MANUSCRIPTS

WITH CRITICAL AND HISTORICAL NOTES

BY

DR. IOHANN LOSERTH

PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CZERWOWITZ.

(ENGLISH SIDE-NOTES BY F. D. MATTHEW.)

VOL. I.

SUPER EVANGELIA DOMINICALIA.

LONDON.
PUBLISHED FOR THE WYCLIF SOCIETY BY TRÜBNER & Co.

57 AXD 59 LUDGATE HILL

1887.
H

LIBRARY OF THE

LELAND STANFORD JR. UNIVERSITY.

A.44422

SEP 13 1000

INTRODUCTION.

1, Wyclif's Sermons.

a) On the importance of the priestly office. Wyclif has given utterance very frequently to the high value which he sets upon the Christian ministry. It will suffice to mention a few of these passages.

“The first and greatest work of the priest is the promulgation of religious truth.”! “The proclamation of the gospel is the most important pastoral duty.” 2 “Of all a pastor's duties, there is none, except the rectitude of his own life, which should be more highly esteemed than preaching, for Christ has said: Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it." But there is no doubt, that the preaching of the word of God is to be valued equally highly with the hearing of it.” 3 “Far more precious than the administration of the ecclesiastical sacraments is the preaching of the gospel; it is a far more dignified office, than any worldly one." 4 As the soul excels the body, and a spiritual blessing exceeds a material one, so deliverance from the depths of spiritual distress, if brought about by

1 Sermon, p. II, 16: Primum atque precipuum opus pastoris est veritatis fidei evangelizacio. 2 ibid. Primum pastorale officium debet esse agnorum Christi evangelizacio. 3 De officio pastorali (ed. Lechler), p. 32: Hoc autem videtur fideliter colligendum, quod inter omnia pastoris officia post vite iusticiam est sancta predicacio plus laudanda ..... Nec dubium quin verbi Dei predicacio sit tanta sicut audicio. Opus Evang. II, 35: Evangelizacio talis verbi est preciosior quam ministracio alicuius ecclesiastici sacramenti curati .... ib. I, 31; Christus enim cognovit quod evangelizacio est dignius ministerium pro acquirenda beatitudine quam quecunque temporalium dominacio ....

4

preaching, is a far better and more desirable thing than deliverance from any bodily suffering."1 "Amongst all the works of Christian charity, says Wyclif quoting Robert Grosteste, Bishop of Lincoln, none is nobler, better, and more to be desired than preaching."2 A whole chapter of his work De Officio Pastorali II, 2) is devoted to this subject.3 The value of preaching, he there says, is evident from Christ having ordered his apostles before His ascension to preach the gospel to all mankind. Surely the wisest of all teachers would not have done so, were not the sermon the most laudable of all the works of an apostle or a curate. That preaching is the most important work of such men, may be seen also by its success, for Christ effected more by the proclamation of the Gospel by means of the Apostles, than by all the miracles that He performed Himself in Judaea." Therefore St. Augustine rightly reminds us, that the conversion in so short a time of the immense world of heathenism, by such simple persons as the Apostles, is a greater miracle of Christ's than any other which He performed since his Incarnation. 6

And since, according to the Apostle Paul, it is Christ Himself who speaks in the preacher, it follows that the praise belongs not to the preacher, who is the medium, but to Jesus Christ Himself in the preacher.

If it be Christ Himself who creates spiritual children by means of such sermons, a matter which is infinitely higher than any natural generation, it is evident, that God's omnipotence manifests itself in the sermon more than in any other of His works.

By means of preaching, Christ creates for Himself heirs of the heavenly kingdom even now on earth. 7

1 Op. Ev. I, 13. 2 ib.: Omnium igitur operum misericordie nobilius, melius et expetibilius est predicacio .... 3 1. c. pag. 32, 33. 4 Quod non faceret magister summe sapiens, nisi talis predicacio fuerit magis laudanda in apostolo vel curato. 5 Similiter ex effectu evidet: evangelizacio est opus precipuum curatoris, nam plus proficit Christus in suis apostolis evangelizando gentibus quam faciendo quecunque miracula que in persona propria fecerat in Judea. 6 Fuit maius Christi miraculum predicacio tanto mundo gentilium et convertendo ad fidem Christi in tempore tam modico tantum populum personarum tam simplicium quam alia miracula que Christus post incarnacionem fecerat. 7. ... In illo opere relucet Dei potestas plus quam in aliis nominandis; per hoc enim Christus facit sibi heredes patrie scilicet quod est maius miraculum hic in terris.

As the sermon infinitely excels every other earthly work (which the simplest theologian can hardly doubt) so it also excels

prayer and the administration of the sacraments. 1

He compares the preacher to the king's judge. As the judge is honoured, because of the honour due to the king, so too true priests must be reverenced, according to the words of the Lord.

Therefore the preaching of the word of God is the work of a priest which contributes most to the building up of the Church, for God's word is the seed which overcomes the strongly armed, which softens hardened hearts, renews men brutalized by sins and departed far from God, and transforms them into men of godliness.

The word of the priest could not effect such a great miracle if the spirit of life and the eternal word did not cooperate.

In the sermon “He that heareth you, heareth me” 3 Wyclif proves the high authority of the preacher: “It is not you who preach” he cries to the preachers, “but the spirit of the Father, which speaks in you; and since the works of the Holy Trinity are inseparable, it is the Trinity which speaks in the priest.

Thus it will be seen how devoutly the people should attend sermons, for to despise the preacher would mean despising Jesus Christ in the first place, and then the Holy Trinity.

In a pamphlet against the four new sects Wyclif says: “Thus we see that all this blessing and consecration of wax and bread, of v ✓ palms, of candles, of salt, of staves and pouches, of arms and of such things is not a necessary matter of belief.

1 Nec dubium vel theologo simplici quin evangelizacio excellit quodammodo infinite omne opus alchimicum, cum plus sit se ipsum eruginare spiritum hominis ad imaginem Dei factum quam purgare quodcunque opus metallicum vel facere opus artificiale humanum, quantumcunque subtile fuerit Et per idem evangelizacio excedit oracionem, sacramentorum ministracionem infinite .... evangelizacio prodest longe extensius et evidencius, ideo est operacio plus ecclesie preciosa

IV, 30: O stupenda virtus divini seminis quod fortem armatum eicit, corda quasi lapides indurata emollit et homines per peccata conversos in bestias et sic infinitum a Deo distantes revocat et transmutans in homines efficit deiformes, Non dubium quin tam summe mirabile non possit verbum sacerdotis perficere nisi principaliter coefficiat calor spiritus vite et eternum verbum.

3 Sermonum II, 34.

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