74.THE PRAYER AND COMPLAINT OF THE PLOUGHMAN.
"Jesus Christ that was ybore of the maide Marie, have on thy poore servants mercy and pitie, and helpe them in their great need to fight against sinne, and against the divell that is author of sinne, and more neednesse there never was to crie to Christ for helpe, than it is right now. For it is fulfilled that God said by Isay the prophet; Yee riseth up earlich to follow drunkennesse, and to drinke till it be even, the harpe and other minstrelsies beeth in your feasts and wine. But the worke of God ye ne beholdeth not, ne taketh no keepe to the workes of his hands: and therefore my people is take prisoner, for they ne had no cunning. And the noblemen of my people deyeden for hunger, and the multitude of my people weren drie for thirst, and therefore hell hath drawne abrode their soule, and hath yopened his mouth without any end. And eftsoones saith Isay the prophet; The word is floten away, and the highnesse of the people is ymade sicke, and the earth is infect of his wonnyers, for they have broken my lawes, and ychanged my right, and han destroyed mine everlasting bond and forward betweene them and me. And therefore cursing shall devoure the earth, and they that wonneth on the earthly shallen done sinne. And therefore the earth tilyars shullen ware wood, and few men shullen ben yleft upon the earth. And yet saith Isay the prophet, This saith God, Forasmuch as this people nigheth me with their mouth, and glorifieth me with their lips, and their heart is farre from me; and they han ydrad more mens commandement, than mine, and more draw to their doctrines, than mine; therefore will I make a great wondring unto this people, wisedome shall perish away from wise men, and understanding of ready men shall bee yhid. And so it seemeth that another saying of Isay is fulfilled, here as God bad him goe teach the people, and said, Goe forth and say to this people: Eares have ye, and understand ye not, and eyes ye have and sight, ne know ye not. Make blind the heart of this people, and make their eares heavie, and close their eyen, lest he see with his eyne, and yheare with his ears, and understand with his heart, and be yturned, and ych heale him of his sicknesse. And Isay said to God; How long Lord shall this bee? And God said, For to that the cities ben desolate withouten a wonnier, and an house withouten a man.
"Heere is mychel nede for to make sorrow, and to crie to our Lord Iesus Christ heartilich for helpe and for succour, that hee wole forgive us our sinnes, and give us grace and conning to serven him better hereafter. And God of his endlesse mercie give us grace and conning trulich to tellen which is Christs law in helping of mens soules; for we beth lewd men and sinfull men, and unconning, and if hee woll bee our help and our succour, we shullen well performe our purpose. And blessed be our Lord God that hideth his wisedome from wise men, and fro readie men, and teacheth it to small children, as Christ teacheth in the gospell.
"Christen men have a law to keepe, the which law hath two partes. Beleeve in Christ that is God, and is the foundment of their law, and upon this foundment, as he said to Peter, and the gospell beareth witnesse, he woll byelden his church, and this is the 1. partie of Christs law. The 2. partie of this law beth Christs commandements that beth written in the gospell, and more verilich in Christen mens hearts.
"And as touching the beleve, we beleven that Christ is God, and that there ne is no God but he. We beleven neverthelesse that in the Godhead there bene three persons, the Father, the Sonne, and the Holy Ghost, and all these three persons ben one God, and not many gods, and all they beth ylich mightie, ylich good, and ylich wise, and ever have ben, and ever shullen ben. We beleven this God made the world of nought, and man hee made after his owne likenesse in Paradise, that was a land of blisse, and gave him that land for his heritage, and bad him that hee should not eate of the tree of knowledge of good and evill, that was amid Paradise. Then the divell, that was fallen out of heaven for his pride, had envie to man, and by a false suggestion hee made man eate of this tree, and breake the commandement of God, and tho was man overcome of the divell, and so hee lost his heritage, and was put out thereof into the world that was a land of travell, and of sorrow under the fiends thraldome, to bee punished for his trespasse. There man followed wickednesse and sinne, and God for the sinne of man sent a floud into this world, and drownd all mankinde, save eight soules. And after this floud hee let men multiply in the world, and so he assayed whether man dread him or loved him, and among other hee found a man, that hight Abraham: this man hee proved whether hee loved him and dread him, and bad him that he should offeren Isaac his sonne upon an hill; and Abraham as a true servant fulfilled the Lords commandement: and for his buxumnesse and truth, God sware unto Abraham that hee would multiply his seed as the gravell in the sea, and as the starres of heaven, and hee behight to him and to his heires the land of behest for heritage for ever, gif they wolden ben his true servants and keepe his hests. And God held him forward, for Isaac Abrahams sonne begat Jacob and Esau: and of Iacob, that is ycleped Israel, comen God's people that hee chose to bee his servants, and to whom he behight the land of behest. This people was in great thraldome in Egypt under Pharaoh that was king of Egypt: and they crieden to God that hee should deliveren them out of that thraldome, and so hee did: for hee sent to Pharaoh, Moses and his brother Aaron, and bad him deliver his people to done him sacrifice: and tofore Pharaoh hee made Moses done many wonders, or that Pharaoh would deliver his people, and at the last by night he delivered his people out of thraldome, and led them through a desert toward the land of behest, and there hee gave them a law, that they shoulden liven after, when, they comen into their country, and in their way thitherward, the ten commandements God wrote himselfe in two tables of stone; the remnant of the law hee taught them by Moses his servant, how they should doe everichone to other, and gif they trespassed against the law, hee ordained how they shoulden be punished. Also hee taught them what manner sacrifices they should doe to him, and hee chose him a people to ben his priests, that was Aaron and his children, to done sacrifices in the tabernacle, and afterward in the temple also. He chose him the remnant of the children of Levi to ben servants in the tabernacle to the priest, and hee said; When ye come into the land of behest, the children of Levi they shullen have none heritage amongst their brethren, for I would bee their part, and their heritage, and they shullen serve mee in the tabernacles by dayes and by nights, and hee ordained that priests should have a part of the sacrifices that were offred in the tabernacle, and the first begotten beasts, both of men and beasts and other things, as the law telleth. And the other children of Levi, that served in the tabernacle, should have tithings of the people to their livelode, of the which tithings they should given the priests the tenth party in forme of offring. The children of Levi, both priests and other, should have houses and crofts, and lessewes for their beasts in the land of behest, and none other heritage: and so God gave them their land of behest, and bad them that they ne should worship no other than him: so hee bad them that they should keepe his commandements; and gif they did so, all their enemies about them should drede them, and bee their servants. And gif they worshipped false gods, and so forsaken his lawes, hee behight them that hee would bring them out of that land, and make them serve their enemies: but yet he said he would not benemen his mercie away from them, if they would crie mercy and amend their defaults; and all this was done on Gods side.
"And here is much love showed of God to man. And who so looketh the Bible, hee shall finde that man showed him little love againeward: for when they were come into their heritage, they forgatten their God, and worshipped false gods. And God sent to them the prophets and his servants feile times to bid them withdrawen them from their sinnes, and other they have slowen them, or they beaten them, or they led them in prison: and oft-times God tooke upon them great vengeance for their sinnes; and when they cried after helpen to God, hee sent them helpe and succour. This is the generall processe of the Old Testament, that God gave to his people by Moses his servant. And all this Testament and this doing ne was but a shadow and a figure of a new Testament that was given by Christ. And it was byhoten by Ieremie the prophet, as Saint Paul beareth witnesse in the Epistle that hee writeth to the Iewes. And Ieremie saith in this wise; Loe daies shall come, God saith, and I will make a new band to the house of Israel, and to the house of Iuda, not like the forward that I made with their fathers, in that day that I tooke their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, the which forward they maden veine, and I had lordship over them. But this shall bee the forward that I wold make with them after those dayes: I will give my lawes with them in their inwardnesse, and I will writen them in their hearts, and I will bee their God, and they should bee my people: and after that a man shall not teach his neighbour, ne his brother. For all (God saith) from the least to the most, should know me, for I will forgiven them their sinnes, and will no more thinke on their sins.
"This is the New Testament, that Christ both God and man, borne of the maide Mary, hee taught here in this world to bring man out of sinne, and out of the divels thraldome and service to heaven, that is a land of blisse and heritage, to all tho that beleeven on him, and keepen his commandements, and for his teaching hee was done to the death. But the third day hee arose againe from death to life, and fet Adam and Eve, and many other folke out of hell, and afterward he came to his disciples, and comforted them. After, hee stied up to heaven to his Father, and tho he sent the Holy Ghost amongst his disciples, and in time comming, hee will come and demen all mankinde after their workes, and after the words hee spake upon earth; some to blisse, within body and in soule ever withouten end; and some to paine withouten end, both in body and in soule.
"This is our beleeve and all Christen mens, and this beleeve is the first point of the New Testament, that ych Christen man is hold stedfastly to beleeve, and rather to suffer the death, then forsaken this beleeve; and so this beleeve is the bread of spirituall life, in forsaking sinne, that Christ brought us to life.
"But forasmuch as mans living ne stondeth not all onlych by bread, he hath ygiven us a draught of water of life to drinke. And who that drinketh of that water he ne shall never afterward ben athurst. For this water is the cleare teaching of the gospell, that encloseth seven commandements.
"The first is this: Thou shalt love thy God over all other things, and thy brother as thy selfe, both enemy and friend.
"The second commandement is of meeknesse, in the which Christ chargeth us to forsake lordship upon our brethren, and other worldly worships, and so hee did himselfe.
"The third commandement, is in stonding stedfastlich in truth, and forsaking all falsenesse.
"The fourth commandement, is to suffer in this world diseases and wrongs, withouten againstondings.
"The fifth commandement is mercy, to forgiven our brethren their trespasse, as often time as they gilteth, without asking of vengeance.
"The sixth commandement is poorenesse in spirit, but not to ben a beggar.
"The seventh commandement, is chastitie; that is, a forsaking of fleshlich likings displeasing to God. These commandements enclosen the ten commandements of the old law, and somewhat more.
"This water is a blessed drinke for Christen mens soules. But more harme is, much folke would drinke of this water, but they mowe not come thereto: for God saith by Ezechiel the prophet; When ich geve to you the most cleane water to drinke, ye troubled that water with your feet, and that water is so defouled, ye geve my sheepe to drinke. But the cleane water is yhid fro the sheepe, and but gif God cleare this, it is dread lest the sheepe dyen for thurst. And Christ that is the wisedome of the Father of heaven, and well of this wisedome, that come from heaven to earth to teach man this wisedome, through the which man should overcome the sleights of the divell, that is the principall enemie of mankind; have mercy and pitie of his people, and shew, if it bee his will, how this water is troubled, and by whom; and sith cleare this water that his sheepe mowe drinken hereof, and kele the thirst of their soules. Blessed mote our Lord ben, for he hath ytaught us in the gospel, that ere then he would come to the universall dome, then should come many in his name, and sayen, that they weren Christ; and they shoulden done many wonders, and begilen many men; and many false prophets shoulden arisen and beguilen much folke.
"A Lord, yblessed mote thou ben of everich creature; which ben they that have ysaid that they weren in Christ, and have thus begiled thy people? Trulich Lord I trow, thilke that sayen that they ben in thy stead, and benemen thy worship, and maken the people worshippen them as God, and have hid thy lawes from thy people: Lord, who durst sit in thy steed, and benemen thee thy worship and thy sacrifice, and durst maken the people worshippen them as gods? The Sauter tels, that God ne wole not in the day of dome demen men for bodilich sacrifices and holocaustes; but God saith; Yeld to me sacrifice of herying, and yeld to God thine avowes, and clepe me in the day of tribulation, and ich wil defend thee, and thou shalt worship me.
"The herying of God standeth in three things. In loving God over all other things; in dreading God over all other things; in trusting in God over all other things.
"These three points Christ teacheth in the gospell. But I trow men loven him but a little. For who so loveth Christ, he wole kepen his words. But men holden his words for heresie and folly, and keepeth mens words. Also men dreden more men and mens lawes and their cursings, than Christ and his lawes and his cursings. Also men hopen more in men and mens helpes, than they doe in Christ and in his helpe. And thus hath hee, that setteth in Gods stede, bynomen God these three heryings, and makes men loven him and his lawes, more than Christ and Christs law, and dreaden him also. And there as the people shulden yeeld to God their vowes, he saith, hee hath power to assoylen them of their avowes, and so this sacrifice hee nemeth away from God. And there as the people should cry to God in the day of tribulation, hee letteth them of their crying to God, and bynemeth God that worship. This day of tribulation is when man is fallen through sinne into the divels service, and then we shulden cry to God after helpe, and axen forgivenesse of our sinne, and make great sorrow for our sinne, and ben in full will to doe so no more, ne none other sinne, and that our Lord God wole forgiven vs our sinne, and maken our soule cleane. For his mercy is endlesse.
"But Lord, heere men haue benomen thee much worship: for men seyn that thou ne might not cleane assoylen vs of our sinne: but if we knowledgen our sinnes to priests, and taken of them a penance for our sinne, gif we mowen speake with them.
"A Lord, thou forgaue sometime Peter his shines, and also Mary Magdalen, and many other sinfull men without shriuing to priests, and taking penance of priests for their sinnes. And Lord thou art as mighty now as thou were that time, but gif any man haue bynomen thee thy might. And wee lewd men beleuen, that there is no man of so great power, and gif any man maketh himselfe of so great power, he heighteth himself aboue God. And S. Paul speaketh of one that sitteth in the temple of God, and heighten him aboue God; and gif any such be, he is a false Christ.
"But hereto seyn priests, that when Christ made clean leprous men, he bade them go and shew them to priests. And therefore they seyn that it is a commandement of Christ, that a man should shewen his sinne to priests. For as they seyn, lepre in the old law betokeneth sinne in this new law. A Lord God, whether thine apostles knew not thy meaning as well as men done now? And gif they hadden yknow that thou haddest commanded men to shriuen them to priests, and they ne taught not that commandement to the people; me thinketh they hadden ben to blame. But I trow they knewen well that it was none of thy commandements, ne needfull to heale of mans soule. And as me thinketh, the law of lepre is nothing to the purpose of shriuing: for priests in the old law hadden certaine points and tokens to know whether a man were leprous or not: and gif they were leprous, they hadden power to putten them away from other cleane men, for to that they weren cleane; and then they hadden power to receiven him among his brethren, and offeren for him a sacrifice to God.
"This is nothing to the purpose of shriuing. For there is but one Priest, that is Christ, that may know in certaine the lepre of the soule. Ne no priest may make the soule cleane of her sinne, but Christ that is Priest after Melchisedeks order: ne no priest here beneath may ywit for certaine whether a man be clean of his sinne, or cleane assoiled, but gif God tell it him by reuelation. Ne God ordained not that his priests should set men a penance for their sinne, after the quantitie of the sinne, but this is mans ordinance, and it may well be that there commeth good thereof. But I wot well that God is much unworshipped thereby. For men trust more in his absolutions, and in his yeeres of grace, than in Christs absolutions, and thereby is the people much appaired. For now the sorrow a man should make for his sinne, is put away by this shrift: and a man is more bold to doe sinne for trust of this shrift, and of this bodilich penance.
"Another mischiefe is, that the people is ybrought into this beliefe, that one priest hath a great power to assoylen a man of his sinne and clennere, than another priest hath.
"Another mischiefe is this, that some priest may assoylen them both of sin and paine: and in this they taken them a power that Christ granted no man in earth, ne he ne used it dought on earth himselfe.
"Another mischiefe is, that these priests sellen forgiuenesse of mens sinnes and absolutions for money; and this is an heresie accursed that is ycleped simony: and all thilke priests that axeth price for granting of spiritual] grace, beth by holy lawes depriued of their priesthood, and thilke that assenteth to this heresie. And be they ware; for Helyse the prophet toke no mony of Naaman, when he was made cleane of his lepre; but Giesi his seruant; and therefore the lepre of Naaman abode with him and with his heires euermore after.
"Here is much matter of sorrow, to see the people thus farre ylad away from God and worshupen a false god in earth, that by might and by strength hath ydone away the great sacrifice of God out of his temple: of which mischiefe and discomfort, Daniel maketh mention, and Christ beareth therof witnesse in the gospell. Who that readeth it, understand it. Thus we haue ytold apertly, how he that saith he sitteth in Christs stede bynemeth Christ his worship, and his sacrifice of his people, and maketh the people worshupen him as a god on earth.
"Cry we to God, and knowledge we our sinnes everichone to other, as S. James teacheth, and pray wee heartilich to God everichone one for other, and then we shulen hopen forgiuenesse of our sinnes. For God that is endlesse in mercy saith, that he ne will not a sinfull mans death, but that he be turned from his sin and liven. And therefore, when he came downe to save mankind, he gaue us a law of love and of mercy; and bade, gif a man doe a trespasse, amend him priuilich, and gif he leue not his sinne, amend him before witnesse, and gif he ne amendeth not, men should tell to the church; and gif he ne amendeth not then, men should shone his company as a publican, or a man that is misbeleeued and this law was yfigured in the law of lepre, who that reades it, he may see the sooth.
"But Lord God, he that sitteth in thy stede hath undoe thy law of mercy and love; Lord, thou biddest loven enemies as our selfe; and shewest in the gospell there as the Samaritan had mercy on the Iew. And thou biddest us also prayen for them that cursen us, and that defamen us, and pursuen us to death. And so Lord thou diddest, and thine apostles also. But hee that clepeth himselfe thy vicar on earth, and head of thy church, he hath undone thy law of love and mercy. For gif we speaken of loving our enemies, he teacheth us to fight with our enemies, that Christ hath forboden. He curseth and desireth vengeance to them that so doth to him. Gif any man pursueth him, he curseth him, that it is a sorrow a Christen man to hearen the cursings that they maken, and blasphemies in such cursing. Of what thing that I know, I may beare true witnesse.
"But gif we speake of louing of our brethren, this is undone by him that saith he is Gods vicar in earth. For Christ in the gospell biddeth us, that we shoulden clepen us no father upon earth: but clepen God our Father, to maken us loue perfitlich together. And he clepeth himselfe Father of fathers, and maketh many religions, and to euerich a father. But whether is love and charity encreased by these fathers and by their religions, or else ymade lesse? For a frier ne loueth not a monke, ne a secular man neither, nor yet one frier another that is not of the order, and it is againward.
"A Lord, me thinketh that there is little perfection in these religions. For Lord, what charitie hauen such men of religion, that knowne how they mown againstand sinne, and fleen away from their brethren that ben more uncunning than they ben, and sufferen them to trauelen in the world withouten their counsell as beasts? Trulich Lord, me thinketh that there is but little charitie, and then is there little perfection. Lord God, when thou were on earth, thou were among sinfull men to drawen them from sinne, and thy disciples also. And Lord, I trow thou ne grantest not one man more cunning than another all for himselfe: and I wote well that lewd men that ben laborers, ne trauell not alonlich for himselfe. Lord our beliefe is, that thou ne were not of the world, ne thy teaching, neither thy seruants that linden after thy teaching. But all they forsaken the world, and so euery Christen man must. But Lord; whether thou taughtest men to forsake their brethrens company and trauell of the world, to liven in ease and in rest, and out of trouble and anger of the world, by their brethrens trauell, and so forsaken the world?
"A Lord, thou ne taughtest not a man to forsaken a poore estate and trauell, to ben afterward a lord of his brethren, or beene a lords fellow, and dwelling with lords, as doth men of these new religions. Lord thou ne taughtest not men of thy religion thus to forsake the world, to liven in perfection by themselfe in ease, and by other mens trauell. But Lord they sayen they ben ybound to thy seruice, and seruen thee both night and day in singing their praiers, both for themselfe and for the other men, that done them good both quicke and dead, and some of them gone about to teach thy people when they hauen leisure.
"A Lord, gif they be thy servants; whose seruants ben we that cannot preien as they done? And when thou were here on earth, for our neede thou taughtest thy seruants to preien thy Father priuilich and shortlich: and gif there had beene a better manner of preying, I trow thou wouldest haue taught it in help of thy people. And Lord thou reprouest hypocrites that preyen in long prayer, and in open places, to ben yholden holy men. And thou seyst in the gospel, Wo to you Pharisies hypocrites. And Lord thou ne chargedst not thy seruants with such manner seruice: but thou seyst in the gospell, that the Pharisies worshopen thee with their lips, and their heart is farre from thee. For they chargen more mens traditions than thy commandement.
"And Lord, we lewd men han a beliefe, that thy goodnesse is endlesse: and gif we keepen thine hestes, then ben we thy true seruants. And though we preyen thee but a little and shortlich, thou wilt thinken on us, and granten us that us nedeth, for so thou behighted us sometime. And Lord I trow, that pray a man neuer so many quaint prayers, gif hee ne keepe not thine hests, hee is not thy good seruant. But gif hee keepe thine bests, then hee is thy good seruant. And so me thinketh, Lord, that praying of long praiers ne is not the seruice that thou desirest, but keeping of thine hests: and then a lewd man may serue God as well as a man of religion; though that the ploughman ne may not haue so much siluer for his prayer, as men of religion. For they kunnen not so well preisen their praiers as these other chap-men: but Lord, our hope is, that our praiers be neuer the worse, though it be not so well sold as other mens prayers.
"Lord, Ezechiel the prophet saith, that when he spake to the people thy words, they turned thy words into songs and into tales. And so Lord men done now: they sing merilich thy words, and that singing they clepen thy seruice. But Lord I trow that the best singers herieth thee not most: but he that fulfilleth thy words, he herieth thee full well, though hee weepe more than sing: and I trow that weeping for breaking of thy commandements bee more pleasing seruice to thee than the singing of thy words. And would God that men would serue him in sorrow for their sins, and that they shoulden afterward seruen thee in mirth. For Christ saith, yblessed ben they that maken sorrow, for they shoulden ben ycomforted. And woe to them that ben merry, and haue their comfort in this world. And Christ said, that the world should joyen, and his seruants shulden be sorry, but their sorrow should be turned into joy.
"A Lord, hee that clepeth himselfe thy vicar upon earth hath yordained an order of priests to doe thy seruice in church tofore thy lewd people in singing mattens, euensong, and masse. And therefore hee chargeth lewd men in paine of cursing, to bring to his priests tithings and offrings to finden his priests, and he clepeth that Gods part, and due to priests that seruen him in church.
"But Lord, in the old law the tithings of the lewd people ne were not due to priests, but to that other childer of Leui that serueden thee in the temple, and the priest hadden their part of sacrifices, and the first bygeten beasts and other things as the law telleth. And Lord S. Paul thy seruant saith, that the order of the priesthood of Aaron ceased in Christs comming and the law of that priesthood. For Christ was end of sacrifices yoffered upon the crosse to the Father of heauen, to bring man out of sinne, and become himselfe a priest of Melchisedeks order. For he was both King and Priest, without beginning and end; and both the priesthood of Aaron, and also the law of that priesthood ben ychanged in the comming of Christ. And S. Paul saith it is reproued, for it brought no man to perfection. For bloud of goats, ne of other beasts ne might done away sinne, for to that Christ shad his bloud.
"A Lord Iesus; whether thou ordenest an order of priests to offren in the auter thy flesh and thy bloud to bringen men out of sin, and also out of peine? And whether thou geue them alonelich a power to eate thy flesh and thy bloud, and whether none other man may eate thy flesh and thy bloud withouten leue of priests? Lord, we beleuen, that thy flesh is uery meat, and thy bloud uery drinke; and who eateth thy flesh, and drinketh thy bloud, dwelleth in thee, and thou in him, and who that eateth this bread shall liue without end. But Lord thine disciples said; this is a word; but thou answerest them and saidest; when ye seeth man soone stiuen up there he was rather, the spirit is that maketh you liue, the words that ych haue spoken to you ben spirit and life. Lord, yblessed mote thou be, for in this word thou teachest us that he that keepeth thy words, and doth after them, eateth thy flesh, and drinketh thy bloud, and hath an euerlasting life in thee. And for we shoulden haue minde of this living, thou gauest us the sacrament of thy flesh and blood, in forme of bread and wine at thy supper, before that thou shouldest suffer thy death, and tooke bread in thine hand, and saidest; Take ye this, and eate it, for it is my body: and thou tookest wine, and blessedst it, and said; This is the bloud of a new and an euerlasting testament, that shall be shed for many men in forgiuenesse of sins: as oft as ye done this, do ye this in mind of me.
"A Lord, thou ne bede not thine disciples maken this a sacrifice, to bring men out of peines, gif a priest offred thy body in the altar; but thou bed them goe and fullen all the folke in the name of the Father, and the Sonne, and the Holy Ghost, in forgiuenesse of their sins; and teach ye them to keepe those things that ych haue commanded you. And Lord, thine disciples ne ordained not priests principallich to make thy body in sacrament, but for to teach the people, and good husbandmen that well gouerne their housholds, both wives and children, and their meiny, they ordeined to be priests to teachen other men the law of Christ, both in word, in dede, and they lived ein as true Christian men, euery day they eaten Christs body, and drinken his bloud, to the sustenance of living of their soules, and other whiles they tooken of the sacrament of his body in forme of bread and wine, in minde of our Lord Iesus Christ.
"But all this is turned upsedowne: for now whoso will liven as thou taughtest, hee shall ben holden a foole. And gif he speake thy teaching, he shall ben holden an hereticke, and accursed. Lord, haue no longer wonder hereof, for so they seiden to thee when thou were here sometime. And therefore we moten take in patience their words of blasphemy as thou diddest thy selfe, or else we were to blame. And trulich Lord I trow, that if thou were now in the world, and taughtest as thou diddest sometime, thou shouldest ben done to death. For thy teaching is damned for heresie of wise men of the world, and then moten they needes ben heretikes that teachen thy lore, and all they also that trauailen to liue thereafter.
"And therefore Lord, gif it be thy will, helpe thine uncunning and lewd seruants, that wolen by their power and their cunning helpe to destroy sinne. Leue Lord, sith thou madest woman in helpe of man, and in a more fraile degree than man is, to be gouerned by mans reason: what perfection of charity is in these priests and in men of religion, that haue forsaken spoushod that thou ordeinedst in Paradise betwixt man and woman, for perfection to forsaken traueile, and liven in ease by other mens traueile? For they mow not doe bodilich workes for defouling of their hands, with whom they touchen thy precious body in the altar.
"Leue Lord, gif good men forsaken the company of woman, and needs they moten haue the gouernaile of man, then moten they ben ycoupled with shrewes, and therefore thy spousehood that thou madest in cleannesse from sinne, it is now ychanged into liking of the flesh. And Lord, this is a great mischiefe unto thy people. And young priests and men of religion, for default of wives, maken many women horen, and drawne through their ensample many other men to sinne, and the ease that they liven in, and their welfare, is a great cause of this mischiefe. And Lord me thinketh, that these ben quaint orders of religion, and none of thy sect that wolen taken horen, whilke God forfends, and forsaken wives that God ne forfendeth not: and forsaken trauaile that God commands, and geuen their selfe to idlenes, that is the mother of all naughtinesse.
"And Lord, Mary thy blessed mother and Ioseph touched oftentimes thy body, and wroughten with their hands, and liueden in as much cleannes of soule, as our priests done now, and touched thy body, and thou touchedest them in their souls. And Lord our hope is, that thou goen not out of a poore mans soule that traueileth for his livelode with his hands. For Lord, our beliefe is, that thine house is mans soule, that thou madest after thine owne likenesse.
"But Lord God, men maketh now great stonen houses full of glasen windowes, and clepeth thilke thine houses and churches. And they setten in these houses mawmets of stocks and stones, tofore them they knelen priuilich and apert, and maken their praiers; and all this they sayen is thy worship, and a great herying to thee. A Lord, thou forbiddest sometime to make such mawmets, and who that had yworshipped such, had ben worthy to be dead.
"Lord in the gospel thou sayst, that true heriers of God ne herieth him not in that hill beside Samaria, ne in Hierusalem neither, but true heriers of God herieth him in spirit and in truth. And Lord God, what herying is it to bilden thee a church of dead stones, and robben thy quicke churches of their bodilich liuelood? Lord God, what herying is it, to cloth mawmets of stocks and of stones in siluer and in gold, and in other good colours? And Lord I see thine image gone in cold and in hete, in clothes all to-broken, without shone and hosen, an hungred and athurst. Lord what herying is it to teende tapers and torches before blinde mawmets that mowen not I seyen? And hide thee that art our light and our lantern towards heauen, and put thee under a bushell, that for darknesse we ne may not seene our way toward blisse? Lord what herying is it to kneele tofore mawmets that mow not yheren, and worshepen them with preyers, and maken thine quicke images kneele before them, and asken of them absolutions and blessings, and worshepen them as gods, and putten thy quicke images in thraldome and in traueile euermore as beasts, in cold and in heate, and in feeble fare to finden them in liken of the world? Lord what herying is it to fetch deed mens bones out of the ground, there as they shoulden kindelich rotten, and shrinen them in gold and siluer; and suffren the quick bones of thine images to rot in prison for default of clothings? And suffren also thy quicke images to perish for default of sustenance, and rooten in the hoorehouse in abominable lechery? Some become theeues and robbers, and manquellers, that mighten ben yholpen with the gold and siluer that hongeth about deed mens bones, and other blind mawmets of stocks and stones.
"Lord, here ben great abominations that thou shewdest to Ezechiel thy prophet, that priests done in thy temple, and yet they clepen that thine herying. But leue Lord, me thinketh that they louen thee little that thus defoulen thy quicke images, and worshippen blinde mawmets.
"And Lord, another great mischiefe there is now in the world, an hunger that Amos thy prophet speaketh of; that there shall comen an hunger in the earth, not of bread, ne thurst of drinke, but of hearing of Gods word. And thy sheepe woulden be refreshed, but their shepheards taken of thy sheepe their livelode, as tythings, &c. and liuen themselfe thereby where them liketh.
"Of such shepheards thou speaketh by Ezechiel thy prophet, and seyest; Woe to the shepheards of Israel that feden themselfe, for the flocks of sheepe shoulden be yfed of their shepheards: but ye eaten the milke, and clothen you with their wolle, and the fat sheepe ye slew, and my flocke ye ne fede not, the sicke sheepe ye ne healed not, thilke that weren to-broken ye ne knit not together, thilke that perished ye ne brought not againe; but ye ratled them with sternship and with power. And so the sheepe be sprad abroad in deuouring of all the beasts of the field. And Ieremie the prophet saith; Woe to the shepheards that despearseth abroad and teareth the flock of my lesew.
"A Lord, thou were a good shepheard, for thou puttest thy soule for thy sheepe. But Lord, thou teldest that thilke that comen not in by the dore ben night theeues and day theeues, and a theefe, as thou seyst, commeth not but for to steal, to slein, and to destroy. And Zechary the prophet saith; that thou wouldest reren up a shepheard uncunning, that ne wol not hele thy sheepe that beth sicke, ne seeke thilke that beth lost. Vpon his arme is a swerd, and upon his right eye; his arme shall waxe dry, and his right eye shall lose his light. O Lord, help, for thy sheep beth at great mischiefe in the shepherds defaut.
"But Lord, there commeth hired men, and they ne feden not thy sheep in thy plenteous lesew, but feden thy sheepe with sweuens, and false miracles and tales. But at thy truth they ne comen not: for Lord, I trow thou sendest them neuer. For haue they hire of thy sheepe, they ne careth but little of the feding and the keping of thy sheepe. Lord, of these hired men speaketh Ieremie the prophet, and thou seyst that word by him; I ne send them not, and they nonne bliue; I ne speake unto them, and they propheciden. For if they hadden stonden in my counsell, and they had made my words knowne to the peouple, ich would haue turned them away from their yuill way, and from their wicked thoughts. For Lord, thou seyst that thy words ben as fire, and as an hammer breaking stones. And Lord, thou seyst; Lo. I to these prophets meeting sweuens of lesing, that haue ytold her sweuens, and haue begiled my people in their lesing, and in their false miracles, when I neither sent, ne bed them. And these haue profitet nothing to my people. And as Ieremie saith; From the least to the most all they studien couetice, and from the prophet to the priest all they done gile.
"A Lord, here is much mischiefe and matere of sorrow: and yet there is more. For gif a lewd man would teach thy people truth of thy words, as hee is yhold by thy commandement of charity, he shall be forboden and put in prison gif he do it. And so Lord, thilk that haue the key of conning, haue ylockt the truth of thy teaching under many wardes, and yhid it from thy children. But Lord, sith thy teaching is ycome from heauen aboue, our hope is, that with thy grace it shall breake these wards, and shew him to thy people, to kele both the hunger and thurst of the soule. And then shall no shepheard, ner no false hirid-man begile thy people no more. For by thy law I write, as thou ihightest sometime, that from the least to the most, all they shullen knowen thy will, and weten how they shullen please thee euermore in certaine.
"And leue Lord, gif it be thy will helpe at this need, for there is none help but in thee. Thus Lord, by him that maketh himselfe thy uiker in earth, is thy commandement of lone to thee and our brethren ybroken, both to him and to thy people. But Lord God mercy and patience, that beth tweine of thy commandements, beth destroied, and thy poeple hath forsake mercy. For Lord, Dauid in the Sauter saith; Blessed beth they that done dome and rightfulnesse in euerich time.
"O Lord, thou hast ytaught vs as rightfulnesse of heauen, and hast ybeden vs forgeuen our breathren as oft as they trespassen against vs. And Lord, thine old law of iustice was, that such harme as a man did his brother, such he should suffer by the law, as eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth. But Christ made an end of this law, that one brother should not desire wracke of another: but not that he would that sin should ben unpunished, for thereto hath he ordained kings and dukes, and other lewd officers vnder them; whilke as S. Paul saith, ne carien not the swerd in uain, for they ben the ministers of God, and wrakers to wrath, to them that euill done. And thus hath Christ ymade an end of this old law, that one brother may not suen another himselfe, for that to wreken without sinne, for breaking of charity. But this charity Lord hath thy uicar ybroke, and says that we sinnen, but gif we suen for our right. And we see, I wot, that thou taughtest us sometime to giue our mantell also, euer that we shoulden suen for our coat. And so Lord beleuen we, that we ben ybonden to done by thy law,that is all charity, and officers duty is to defenden us from thilke theeuery, though we complainen not. But Lord, thy law is turned upsedowne.
"A Lord, what dome is to slean a theefe that take a mans cattell away from him, and sufferen a spouse-breaker to liue, and a lecherour that killeth a womans soule? And yet thy law stoned the spouse-breakers and leacherous, and let the theeues liven and haue other punishment.
"A Lord, what dome is it to slean a theefe for stealing of an horse, and to let him liue unpunished, and to mainetaine him that robbeth thy poore people of their livelode, and the soule of his food?
"Lord, it was never thy dome to sayen, that a man is an heretike, and cursed for breaking of mans law, and demen him for a good man for breaking thy hests.
"Lord, what dome is it to curse a lewd man if he smite a priest, and not curse a priest that smiteth a lewd man, and leeseth his charity?
"Lord, what dome is it to curse the lewd people for tithings, and not curse the parson that robbeth the people of tithings, and teacheth them not Gods law, but feedeth them with painting of stone walles, and songs of Latine, that the people known not?
"Lord, what dome is it to punish the poore man for his trespasse, and suffer the rich to continue in his sinne for a quantity of mony?
"Lord, what dome is it to slean an uncunning lewd man for his sinne, and suffer a priest, other a clerke that doth the same sinne, scape alive? Lord the sinne of the priest or of the clerke is greater trespasse than it is of a lewd uncunning man; and greater ensample of wickednesse to the common people?
"Lord, what maner people be we, that neither keep thy domes and thy rightfulnes of the Old Testament, that was a law of dread, nor thy domes and thy rightfulnes of thy New Testament, that is a law of loue and of mercy: but haue another law, and taken out of both thy lawes, that is liking to us, and remnant of heathen mens lawes? and Lord this is a great mischiefe.
"O Lord, thou saiest in thy law, deme ye not and ye should not be demed; for the same mesure that ye meten to other men, men shall meten to yo againward: and Lord thou saiest that by their work we should know them; and by what we know thou commanded vs not to demen mens thought not their works, that were not against thy lawe expresly. And yet Lord he, that saith he is thy car, will demen our thoughts, and aske us what thinke: not of the Lord, of thy hests, for they care little for them, but of him and of his, whilke they sate aboue thine, and maken us accusen our selfe, or else they willen accursen us, for our accusers mowen we not knowne. And Lord, thou saiest in thine old law, that under two witnes at the least, or three, should stand euery matter: and that the witnes shoulden euer be the first the shoulden helpe to kill them.
"And when the scribes and the Pharises sometimes brought before thee a woman that was ytake in spouse-breaking, and exeden of thee a dome, thou didst write on the earth, and then thou gaue this dome; He that is without sinne, throw first at her a stone, and Lord they went forth away from thee and the woman: and thou forgaue the woman her trespasse, and bade her goe forth, and sinne no more.
"Sweet Lord, if the priests tooke keepe to thy dome, they would be agast to demen men as they done, O Lord, if one of them breake a commandement of thy law, he will aske mercy of thee, and not a peine that is due for the sinne, for peine of death were too little. O Lord, how daren they demen any man to the death for breaking of their lawes, other assent to such law? for breaking of thy law they will set penance, or pardon them, and maintaine them as often as they trespassen. But Lord, if a man once breake their lawes, or speake against them, he may done penance but once, and after be burnt. Trulich Lord thou saiest, but if euery one of us forgiue not other his trespasse, thy Father will not forgeuen us our sinnes. And Lord when thou hong on the crosse, thou praiedst to thy Father to haue mercy on thy enemies.
"And yet they sein Lord, that they demen no man to the death, for they sein, they ne mown by their law demen any man to the death. A leeue Lord, euen so saiden their forefathers the Pharises, that it ne was not lawfull for them to kill any man: and yet they bidden Pilate to done thee to the death against his owne conscience, for he would gladly haue yquit thee, but for that they threatened him with the emperor, and broughten against thee false witnes also: and he was an heathen man.
"O Lord, how much truer dome was there in Pilat, that was an heathen justice, than in our kings and justices that woulden demen to the death, and burne in the fire him that the priests deliueren unto them withouten witnes, or prefe? For Pilat ne would not demen thee; for that the Pharises sayden that gif thou ne haddest not ben a misdoer, we ne would not deliuer him unto thee; for to, they broughten in their false witnesse against thee. But Lord, as thou saidst sometime that it should ben lighter at domesday to Tyre, and to Sydon, and Gomorra, than to the cities where thou wrought wonders and miracles: so I dred, it shall be more light to Pilat in the dome than to our kings and domesmen, that so demen without witnes and prefe. For Lord, to demen thy folke for heretiks, is to holden thee an heretike; and to brennen them, is to brennen thee: for thou saidst to Paul when he persecuted thy people; Saul, Saul, wherefore persecutest thou me? and in the dome thou shalt say; that ye haue done to the least of mine, ye haue don to me.
"Thus Lord is thy mercy and justice foredone by him that saith he is thy uicar in earth: for he neither keepeth it himselfe, nor nil not suffer other to doe it.
"The third commandement, that is, patience and sufferance, is also ybroken by this uicar. Lord thou biddest sufferen both wrongs and strokes withouten againstanding; and so thou diddest thy selfe to geuen us ensample to sufferen of our brethren. For suffering nourisheth loue, and againstandeth debate. All thy lawes is loue, or else the thing that draweth to loue.
"But Lord, men teachen, that men shoulden pleten for their right, and fighten also therefore; and else they seyn, men ben in perill: and thou bid in the old law men fight for their countrey. And thy selfe haddest two swords in thy company, when thou shouldest goe to thy passion; that as these clerkes sein, betokeneth a spirituall sword, and a temporall sword, that thou gaue to thy uicar to rule thy church with.
"Lord, this is a sleight speech; but Lord we beleeuen that thou art King of blisse, and that is thine heritage and mankinds countrey; and in this world we ne ben but strangers and pilgrimes. For thou Lord ne art of this world, ne thy law neither, ne thy true seruants that keepen thy law. And Lord, thou were King of Iuda by heritage, if thou wouldest haue yhad it; but thou forsooke it, and pletedest not therefore, ne fought not therfore.
"But Lord, for thy kinde heritage, and mandkindes country, that is a land of blisse, thou foughtest mightilich. In battell thou ouercame thy enemy, and so thou won thine heritage. For thou that were a Lord mightiest in battle, and also Lord of uertues, are rightfullich King of blisse; as Dauid saith in the Psalter. But Lord thine enemy smote thee dispitefullich, and had power of thee, and hang thee upon the crosse as thou hadst ben a theefe and benomin thee all thy clothes, and sticked thee to the heart with a speare.
"O Lord, this was an hard assault of a battell, and here thou ouercome by patience mightilich thine enemies; for thou ne wouldest not done against the will of thy Father. And thus Lord thou taughtest thy seruants to fight for their countrey. And Lord this fighting was in figure ytaught in the old law. But Lord, men holden now the shadow of the old fighting and leauen the light of thy fighting, that thou taughtest openlich both in word and in deed.
"Lord, thou gaue us a sword to fighten against our enemies for our countrey, that was thine holy teaching, and Christen mens law. But Lord thy sword is put in a sheath, and in priests ward, that haue forsake the fighting that thou taughtest. For as they seyn, it is against their order to ben men of armes in thy batten, for it is unseemelich, as they seyn, that thy uicar in earth, other, his priests shulden suffer of other men. And therfore gif any man smite him, other any of his clerks, he ne taketh it not in patience, but anon he smiteth with his sword of cursing, and afterward with his bodelich sword, he doth them to death. O Lord, me thinketh that this is a fighting against kind, and much against thy teaching.
"O Lord, whether axsedest thou after swerds in the time of thy passion to againstond thine enemies? nay forsooth thou Lord. For Peter, that smote for great love of thee, had no great thanke of thee for his smiting. And Lord, thou were mighty enough to haue againstond thine enemies, for through thy looking they fellen downe to the ground, Lord yblessed mote thou be. Here thou teachest us that we shoulden suffren: for thou were mighty ynow to haue againstand thine enemies, and thou haddest wepen, and thy men weren hearty to haue smitten.
"O sweet Lord, how may he for shame clepen himselfe thy uicar and head of the church, that may not for shame suffer? Sith thou art a Lord, and sufferedst of thy subjects, to giuen us ensample, and so did thy true seruants.
"O Lord, whether geue thou to Peter a spirituall swerd to curse, and a temporall swerd to sle mens bodies? Lord, I trow not, for then Peter that loued thee so much, would haue smit with thy swerds. But Lord, he taughten us to blessen them that cursen us, and suffren and not smiten. And Lord, he fed thy people as thou bed him, and therefore he suffred the death as thou didst.
"O Lord, why clepeth any man him Peters successor, that hath forsaken patience, and feedeth thy people with cursing, and with smiting? Lord thou saidest in thy gospell, when thy disciples knewen well that thou were Christ, and that thou mustest go to Ierusalem, and sufferen of the scribes and Pharises spittings, reproofes, and also the death. And Peter tooke thee aside, and said; God forbid that. And Lord, thou saydest to Peter, Goe behinde me Sathanas, thou sclaunderest me in Israel. For thou ne sauorest not thilke things that ben of God, but thilke that ben of men. Lord to mens wit it is unreasonable, that thou or thy uicar, gif thou madest any on earth, shoulden suffren of your suggets.
"A Lord, whether thou ordeinest an order of fighters to turne men to the beliefe? Other ordeinest that knights shoulden sweare to fight for thy words?
"A Lord, whether bed thou, that gif any man turne to the faith, that he should geue his goods and cattell to the uicar that hath great lordshops, and more than him needeth? Lord I wot well, that in the beginning the churchmen that were conuerted threwen adown their goods afore the apostles feete. For all they weren in charity, and none of them said this is mine, ne Peter made himselfe no lord of these goods.
"But Lord, now he that clepeth himselfe thy uicar upon earth, and successor to Peter, hath ybroke commandement of charity, for he is become a lord. And hee hath also broken thy commandement of mercy, and also of patience. Thus Lord wee be fallen into mischiefe and thraldome, for our chiefetaine hath forsaken war and armes, and hath treated to haue peace with our enemies.
"A Lord, gif it be thy will, draw thy swerd out of his sheath, that thy seruants may fight therewith against their enemies, and put cowardise out of our hearts: and comfort us in battaile, or than thou come with thy swerd in thy mouth, or take uengeance on thine enemies. For gif wee ben accorded with our enemies till that time come, it is dread lest thou take uengeance both of them and of us together. A Lord, there is no helpe now in this great mischeife but only in thee.
"Lord, thou geuest us a commandement of truth, in bidding us say yea, yea, nay, nay, and sweare for nothing. Thou geue us also a maundement of meekenesse, and another of poorenesse: but Lord, he that clepeth himselfe thy uicar on earth, hath both ybroken these commandements; for he maketh a law to compell men to sweare, and by his lawes he teacheth that a man, to saue his life, may forswear and lie. And so Lord, through comfort of him and his lawes, the people ne dreadeth not to sweare and to lie, ne oft times to forswearen them. Lord here is little truth.
"O Lord, thou hast ybrought us to a lining of souls that stands in beleeuing in thee, and keeping thy hests, and when wee breaken thy hests, then wee slen our souls: and lesse harme it were to suffer bodilich death.
"Lord, King Saul brake thine hests, and thou tooke his kingdome from his heires euermore after him, and giue it to Dauid thy seruant, that kept thine hests. And thou saidst by Samuel thy prophet to Saul the king, that it is a manner of worshipping of false gods to breake thy hests. For who that loueth thee ouer all things, and dreadeth thee also, he nole for nothing breake thine hests.
"O Lord, gif breaking of thine hests be herying of false gods, I trow that hee that maketh the people breake thine hests, and commandeth that his hests ben kept of the people, maketh himselfe a false god on earth; as Nebugodonosor did sometime that was king of Babylon.
"But Lord, we forsaken such false gods, and beleuen that there ne ben no mo gods than thou: and though thou suffer us a while to ben in disease for knowledging of thee; we thanken thee with our heart, for it is a token that thou louest us, to giuen us in this world some penance for our trespas.
"Lord, in the old law, thy true seruants tooke the death, for they would not eaten swines flesh that thou haddest forbidde them to eat. O Lord, what truth is in us to eaten unclean mete of the soule, that thou hast forbid? Lord thou saidst, he that doth sinne is seruant of sin, and then he that lieth in forswearing himselfe, is seruant of lesing: and then he is seruant to the diuell, that is a lier and father of lesings. And Lord, thou sayest, no man may serue two lords at once. O Lord then, euery lier for the time that he lieth, other forsweareth himselfe, and forsaketh thy seruice for dread of his bodily death, becommeth the diuels seruant.
"O Lord, what truth is in him that clepeth himselfe seruant of thy seruants, and in his doing hee maketh him a lord of thy seruants. Lord thou were both Lord and Master, and so thou said thy selfe; but yet in thy works thou were as a seruant. Lord this was a great truth, and a great meeknesse: but Lord, bid thou thy seruants that they should not haue lordship ouer their brethren. Lord thou saydst kings of the heathen men han lordship ouer their subjects, and they that use their power be cleped well doers.
"But Lord, thou saidst it should not be so amongst thy seruants. But he that were most, should be as a seruant. Thou Lord, thou taughtest thy disciples to be meeke. Lord in the old law thy seruants durst haue no lordship of their brethren, but if that thou bid them: and yet they should not doe to their brethren as they did to thralles that serued them. But they should do to their brethren that were their seruants, as to their owne brethren: for all they were Abrahams children: and at a certaine time, they should let their brethren passe from them in all freedom, but if they would wilfullich abide still in seruice.
"O Lord, thou gaue us in thy comming a law of perfect loue, and in token of loue thou clepedst thy selfe our brother. And to make us perfect in loue, thou bid that we should clepe to us no father upon earth, but thy Father of heauen wee should clepe our Father. Alas, Lord, how uiolently our brethren, and thy children ben now put in bodily thraldome, and in despite as beasts euermore in grieuous trauell to finde proud men in ease. But Lord, if we take this defoule and this disease in patience, and in meeknesse, and keepe thine hests, we hope to be free. And Lord giue our brethren grace to come out of thraldome of sinne, that they fall in through the desiring and usage of lordship upon their brethren. And Lord, thy priests in the old law had no lordships among their brethren, but houses and pastures for their beasts: but Lord our priests now haue great lordships, and put their brethren in greater thraldome than lewde men that be lords. Thus is meeknesse forsaken.
"Lord, thou biddest in the gospell, that when a man is bid to the feast, he should sit in the lowest place, and then he may be set higher with worship, when the lord of the feast beholdeth how his gucsts sitteth. Lord it is dread that they, that sit now in the highest place, should be bid in time comming sit beneath: and that will be shame and villany for them. And it is thy saying, those that hyeth himselfe should be lowed, and those that loweth himselfe should be an heyghed. O Lord, thou biddest in thy gospell to beware of the Pharises, for it is a point of pride contrary to meeknesse. And Lord, thou sayest that they love the first sittings at suppers, and also the principal chaires in churches, and greetings in cheeping, and to bee cleped masters of men. And Lord, thou sayest be yee not cleped masters, for one is your Master, and that is Christ, and all ye be brethren: and clepe ye to you no father upon earth, for one is your Father that is in heauen. O Lord, this is a blessed lesson to teach men to be meeke.
"But Lord, he that clepeth himselfe thy uicar on earth, he clepeth himselfe father of fathers against thy forbidding. And all those worships thou hast forbad. He approueth them, and maketh them masters to many, that teach thy people their owne teaching, and leaue thy teaching that is needfull, and hidden it by quaint glosses from thy lewd people and feede thy people with sweuens that they meete, and tales that doth little profite but much harme to the people. But Lord, these glosers object, that they desire not the state of masterie to be worshipped thereby, but to profit the more to thy people, when they preach thy word. Far as they suggen the people will beleeue more the preaching of a master that hath taken a state of schoole, than the preaching of another man that hath not taken the state of mastry.
"Lord; whether it be any need that masters bearen witnesse to thy teaching, that it is true and good? O Lord, whether may any master now by his estate of mastry, that thou hast forboden, draw any man from his sinne, rather then another man that is not a master, ne wole be none; for it is forbodden him in thy gospell? Lord thou sendest to masters to preach thy people; and thou knowledgist in the gospell to thy Father, that he hath hid his wisedome from wise men and readie men; and shewed it to little children. And Lord, masters of the law hylden thy teaching folly, and saiden that thou wouldest destroy the people with thy teaching. Trulich Lord, so these masters seggeth now; for they haue written many bookes against thy teaching, that is truth; and so the prophecie of Ieremy is fulfilled when he saith; Trulich the false points of the masters of the law hath wrought lesing. And now is the time come that S. Paul speaketh of, where he saith; Time shall come when men shall not sustaine wholsome teaching; but they shullen gather to hear masters with hutching eares, and from truth they shullen turnen away their hearing, and turnen them to tales, that masters haue maked to showne their maistry and their wisedome.
"And Lord, a man shall beleeue more a mans workes than his words, and the deede sheweth well of these masters, that they desiren more maistery for their owne worship, than for profit of the people. For when they be masters, they ne preachen not so oft as they did before. And gif they preachen, commonlich it is before rich men, there as they mowne beare worship and also profit of their preaching. But before poore men they preachen but seldem, when they ben masters: and so by their workes we may seene that they ben false glosers.
"And Lord, me thinketh that who so wole keepen thine hests, him needeth no gloses: but thilke that clepen themselfe Christen men, and liven against thy teaching and thine hests, needelich they more glose thine hests, after their lining, other elsemen shulden openlich yknow their hypocrisie and their falshod.
"But Lord, thou sayst that there is nothing yhid that shall not be shewed sometime. And Lord yblessed mote thou be: for somewhat thou shewest us now of our mischiefes that we beene fallen in through the wisedomes of masters, that haue by sleights ylad us away from thee and thy teaching, that thou, that were the Master of heauen, taught us for love, when thou were here sometime to heale of our soules, withouten error or heresie. But masters of worlds wisedome and their founder haue ydamned it for heresie and for error.
"O Lord, me thinketh it is a great pride thus to reproue thy wisedome and thy teaching. And Lord, me thinketh that this Nabugodonosor king of Babylon, that thus hath reprooued thy teaching and thine hests, and commandeth on all wise to keepen his hests, maken thy people hearen him as a god on earth, and maketh them his thralls and his seruants.
"But Lord, we lewd men knowen no God but thee, and we with thine helpe and thy grace forsaken Nabugodonosor and his lawes. For he in his proud estate wole haue all men under him, and he nele be under no man. He ondoth thy lawes that thou ordainest to ben kept, and maketh his owne lawes as him liketh: and so he maketh him king aboue all other kings of the earth, and maketh men to worshippen him as a god, and thy great sacrifice he hath ydone away.
"O Lord, here is thy commandement of meeknes, mischiflich to-broke: and thy blessed commandement of poornes is also to-broken, and yhid from thy people. Lord, Zechary thy prophet saith, that thou that shouldest be our King, shouldest ben a poore man, and so thou were: for thou saidest thy selfe; Foxes haue dens, and birds of heauen nests, and mans Sonne hath not where to ligge his head on. And thou saidest, yblessed ben poore men in spirit, for thy kingdome of heauen is therein: and woe to rich men, for they han their comfort in this world. And thou bad thy disciples to ben ware of all couetise, for thou saydest, in the abundance of mans hauing, ne is not his lifelode. And so thou teachest, that thilke that han more then them needeth to their liuing liuen in couetise. Also thou sayst, but gif a man forsake all things that he oweth, he ne may not ben thy disciple. Lord, thou sayst also, that thy word, that is sowne in rich mens hearts, bringeth forth no fruit; for riches and the businesse of this world maken it withouten fruit.
"O Lord, here bene many blessed teachings to teach men to ben poore, and loue poorenesse. But Lord harme is, poore men and poorenesse ben ybated, and rich men ben yloued and honored: and gif a man bee a poore man, men holden him a man withouten grace; and gif a man desireth poorenesse, men holden him but a foole: and gif a man be a rich man, men clepen him a gracious man, and thilke that ben busie in getting of riches, ben yhold wise men and ready: but Lord, these rich men sayen, that it beth lawfull to them to gather riches togither. For they ne gathereth it for themselfe, but for other men that ben needy, and Lord their workes shewen the truth. For if a poore needy man would borrowen of their riches, he nele lean him none of his good; but gif he mow be seker to haue it againe by a certaine day.
"But Lord, thou bed that a man should lend, and not hoping yelding againe of him that he lendeth to: and thy Father of heauen wole quite him his mede. And gif a poore man aske a rich man any good, the rich man will giue him but a little, and yet it shall be little worth. And Lord me thinketh that here is little loue and charity, both to God and to our brethren.
"For Lord, thou teachest in thy gospell, that what men doe to thy servants, they done to thee. A Lord, gif a poore man axe good for thy loue, men giueth him a little of the wurst. For these rich men ordeinen both bread and ale for Gods men of the wurst that they haue. O Lord, sith all good that men hath, commeth of thee; how dare any man geue thee of the wurst, and kepe to himselfe of the best? How may such men say that they gatheren riches for others need, as well as himselfe, sith their workes ben contrary to their words? and that is no great truth. And be ye seker these goods that rich man han, they ben Gods goods, ytake to your keeping, to looke how he wolen be setten them to the worshipping of God. And Lord, thou saiest in the gospell, that who so is true in little, he is true in that thing that is more: and who that is false in a little thing, who wole taken him toward things of a greater ualue? And therefore be yee ware that han Gods goods to keepe. Spend ye thilke trulich to the worship of God, lest ye leesen the blisse of heauen, for the untrue dispending of Gods goods in this world.
"O Lord, these rich men seggen that they don much for thy loue. For many poore labourers ben yfound by them, that shoulden fare febelich, ne we not they and their readinesse. Forsooth me thinketh that poore laborers giueth to these rich men, moren then they given them againeward. For the poore men more gone to his labour in cold and in heat, in wete and dry, and spend his flesh and his bloud in rich mens workes, upon Gods ground, to finde the rich man in ease, and in liking, and in good fare of meate, of drinke, and of clothing. Here is a great gift of the poore man, for he giueth his owne body. But what giueth the rich man again-ward? Certes feeble meat, and feeble drinke, and feeble clothing. What euer they seggen, such bee their workes, and here is little loue. And whosoeuer looketh well about, all the world fareth as we seggen: and all men studieth on euery side, how they may wex rich men; and euerich man almost is ashamed to ben holden a poore man.
"And Lord, I trow for thou were a poore man, men token little regard to thee, and to thy teaching. But Lord thou came to giue us a New Testament of loue; and therefore it was semelich that thou came in poorenesse, to proue who would love thee, and keepen thy hests. For gif thou haddest ycome in forme of a rich man and of a lord, men wold rather for thy dread then for thy loue, have yclept thine hests. And so Lord, now thou might well ysee which louen thee as they should in keeping thine hests. For who that loveth thee in thy poorenesse and in thy lownesse, needs he mote loue thee in thy lordship and highnesse.
"But Lord, the world is turned upse downe, and men loue poore men but a little, ne poorenesse neither. But men be ashamed of poorenesse; and therefore Lord, I trow that thou art a poore King. And therefore I trow that he that clepeth himself thy uicar on earth, hath forsaken poorenesse, as he hath do the remnant of thy law, and is become a rich man and a lord, and maketh his treasure upon the earth, that thou forbiddest in the gospell; and for his right and riches, he will plete, and fight and curse. And yet Lord he will segge, that he forsaketh all things that he oweth, as thy true disciple mete done after thy teaching in the gospell.
"But Lord, thou ne taughtest not a man to forsaken his goods, and plete for them, and fight, and curse. And Lord, he taketh on him power to assoile a man of all manner things, but if it be of debt. Truly Lord, me thinketh he knoweth little of charity. For who that beth in charity, possesseth thy goods in common, and not in proper at his neighbors neede. And then shall there none of them segge this is mine, but it is Gods that God granteth to us to spenden it to his worship. And so if any of them borroweth a portion of those goods, and dispendeth them to Gods worship, God is apayed of this spending, and alloweth him this true doing. And if God is payed of that dispending, this is the principall lord of those goods, how dare any of his seruants axen thereof accounts, other challenge it for det? Serten, of one thing I am incerteine, that these that charge so much det of worldly cattell, they know little of Christs law of charity: for if Ich am a baily of Gods goods in the world; if I see my brother in need, I am hold by charitie to part with him of these goods to his nede; and if he spendeth them well to the worship of God, I mote be well apaid, as though I my selfe had spended them to the worship of God. And if the principall Lord is well payed of my brothers doing, and the dispending of his goods, how may I segge for shame that my brother is dettour to mee of the goods that I tooke him to spend in Gods worship at his nede? And if my brother spendeth amisse the goods that I take him, I am discharged of my deliuerance of the goods, if I take him in charity thilke goods at his nede. And I am hold to bee sory of his euill dispending, ne I may not axen the goods, that I tooke him to his nede in forme of debt, for at his need they were his as well as mine. And thus is my brother yhold to done to me gif he see me in nede, and gif we bed in charity, little should we chargen of det. And ne we should not axen so dets, as men that knowen not God: and then we be poore in forsaking all things that we own. For gif we ben in charitie, we wollen nother fight nor curse, ne plete for our goods with our brethren.
"O Lord, thus thou taughtest thy seruants to liuen; and so they liueden while they hadden good shepheards, that fedden thy sheep, and robbed them not of their livelode, as Peter thy good shepheard and thy other apostles. But Lord, he that clepeth himselfe thy vicar upon earth, and successor to Pcter, he robbeth thy people of their bodilich livelode, for hee ordeineth proud shepheards to liven in ease by the tenth party of poore mens trauell: and he giueth them leaue to liven where them liketh. And gif men ne wolen wilfullich giuen them the tithings, they wolen han them against their will by maisterie and by cursing, to maken them rich.
"Lord, how may any man segge that such shepheards that loven more the wolle than the sheepe, and fedden not thy sheepe in body, ne in soule, ne ben such ravenors and theeves? And who may segge, that the mainteinour of such shepheards ne is not a mainteinour of theeves and robbers? How wole hee assoile shepheards of their robbing, without restitutlon of their goods, that they robben thy shepe of against their will? Lord of all shepheards, blessed mote thou bee. For thou lovedst more the sheepe than their wolle. For thou feedest thy sheepe both in body and, soule. And for love of thy sheepe, thou tooke thy death to bring thy sheepe out of wolves mouthes. And the most charge that thou Bove to Peter was to feede thy sheepe. And so hee did truelich, and tooke the death for thee and for thy sheepe. For hee came into the fold of sheepe by thee that were the doore. And so I trow few other did as hee did, though they clepen themselfe successors to Peter; for their workes showen what they ben. For they robben and sleene and destroyen; they robben thy sheepe of the tenth part of their trauell, and feeden themselfs in ease. They sleene thy sheepe, for they pyenen them for hunger of their soule to the death. They destroyen the sheepe, for with might and with sternship they rulen thy sheepe; that for dred they ben dispersed abroad in mountaines, and there the wilde beasts of the field destroyeth them for default of a good shepheard.
"O Lord, gif it be thy will deliver thy sheepe out of such shepheards ward that watcheth not of thy sheepe, so they han their wolle to make themselfe rich. For thy sheepe ben in great mischiefe, and foule accombred with their shepheards.
"But for thy shepheards wolden ben excused, they have ygetten them hired men to feed thy people, and these comen in sheepes clothing. But dredlesse their workes shewen that within forth they ben but wolfes. For han they their hire, they ne retcheth but a little how sorrilich thy sheepe ben kept. For as they seggen themselfe, they ben but hired men that han no charge of thy sheepe. And when they shulden feden thy sheepe in the plenteous lesew of thy teaching, they stonden between them and their lesew, so that the sheepe ne han but a sight of thy lesew, but eaten they shall not thereof. But they feden them in a sorrie sowre lesew of lesings and of tales. And so thy sheepe fallen into grievous sicknesse through this evill lesew. And gif any sheepe breake ouer into thy lesew to tasten the sweetnesse thereof, anon these hired men drive him out with hounds. And thus thy sheepe by these hired men ben ykept out of their kindlich lesew, and ben yfed with sowre grasse and sorrie barren lesew. And yet they feden but seldome, and when they han sorrilich fed them, they taken great hire, and gone away from thy sheepe and letten them a worth.
"And for dread lest thy sheepe wolden in their absence goe to thy sweet lesew, they han enclosed it all about so stronglich and so high, that there may no sheepe comen there within, but gif it be a Walisch leper of the mountaines, that may with his long legs lepen over the vallys. For the hired men ben full certaine, that gif thy sheepe had once ytasted the sweetnesse of thy lesew: they ne would no more bene yfed of these hired men in their sowre lesewes, and therefore these hired men kepen them out of that lesew. For haden the sheepe once ytasted well of that lesew, they wolden without a leader goe thider to their mete, and then mote these hired men sechen them another labor to live by than keeping of sheepe. And they ben fell and ware ynow thereof, and therefore they feeden thy sheepe with sowre meat that naught is, and hiden from thy sheepe the sweetnesse of thy lesew. And so though these hired men gon in sheepes clothing, in their workes they ben wolves, that much harme done to thy sheepe as we have ytold.
"O Lord, they comen as sheepe, for they seggen that they ben poore and have forsaken the world to liven perfitlich as thou taughtest in the gospell. Lord this is sheepes clothing. But Lord thou ne taughtest not a man to forsaken the travellous living in poorenesse in the world, to liven in ease with riches by other mens travell, and have lordship on their brethren. For Lord, this is more to forsaken thee and goe to the world.
"O Lord, thou ne taughtest not a man to forsake the world to liven in poorenesse of begging by other mens travell that ben as feeble as they ben. Ne Lord thou ne taughtest not a man to live in poorenesse of begging, that were strong enough to travell for his lifelode. Ne Lord, thou ne taughtest not a man to ben a begger to begge of men more than him needeth, to build great castles and make great feasts to thilke that han no neede.
"O Lord, thou ne taughtest not men this poorenesse, for it is out of charitie. But thy poorenesse, that thou taughtest, nourisheth charitie. Lord, sith Paul saith, that hee that forsaketh the charge of thilke that ben homelich with him, hath forsaken his faith and is worse then an misbeleeven man: how then now these men seggen that they beleeven in Christ, that han forsaken their poore feeble friends, and let them live in travell and in disease, that travelled full sore for them, when they weren yong and unmightie to helpen themselfe? And they wolen live in ease by other mens travell, evermore begging withouten shame.
"Lord thou ne taughtest not this manner poorenesse, for it is out of charitie. And all thy law is charitie and thing that nourisheth charitie, and these sheepheards send about to keepe thy sheepe, and to feden them other whiles in bareine lesewes. Lord thou ne madest none such sheepheards, ne keepers of the sheepe that feede sorrilich thy sheepe, and for so little travell taken a great hire, and sithen all the yeere afterward, doe what them liketh, and let thy sheepe perish for default of keeping.
"But thy sheepheards abiden still with their sheepe, and feeden them in thy plenteous lesew of thy teaching, and gone before thy sheepe, and teachen them the way into the plenteous and sweete lesew, and keepen thy flocke from ravening of the wilde beasts of the field.
"O Lord deliver the sheep out of the ward of these shepheards, and these hired men, that stonden more to keepe their riches that they robben of thy sheepe, than they stonden in keeping of thy sheepe.
"O Lord when thou come to Jerusalem, sometime thou drove out of the temple sellers of beasts and of other chaffare, and saidst: Mine house shoulden ben cleped an house of prayers, but they maden a den of theeves of it. O Lord thou art the temple in whom we shoulden praien thy Father of heaven. And Salomons temple, that was ybelded at Jerusalem, was figure of this temple. But Lord, he that clepeth himselfe thy vicar upon earth, and saith that he occupieth thy place here on earth, is become a chapman in thy temple, and hath his chap-men walking in diuers countries to sellen his chaffare, and to maken him rich. And hee saith, thou gave him so great a power aboven all other men, that whatever he bindeth other unbindeth in earth, thou bindest other unbindest the same in heaven. And so of great power hee selleth other men forgivenesseof their sinne. And for much money he will assoilen a man so cleane of his sinne, that he behoteth men of the blisse of heaven withouten any paine after that they be dead, that given him much money.
"Bishoprickes and chirches, and such other chaffares he selleth also for money, and maketh himselfe rich. And thus he beguiled the people.
"O Lord Iesus here is much untruth, and mischiefe, and matter of sorrow. Lord thou saidest sometime, that thou wouldest bee with thy servants unto the end of the world. And thou saidest also, there as tweine or three ben ygadred togedder in thy name, that thou art in the middle of them. A Lord, then it was no need to thee to maken liefetenant, sith thou wolte be evermore amongst thy servants.
"Lord, thou axedst of thy disciples, who they trowed that thou were. And Peter answered and said, that thou art Christ Gods Sonne. And thou saidest to Peter; Thou art yblessed Simon Bariona, for flesh and bloud ne showed not this to thee, but my Father that is in heaven. And I say to thee that thou art Peter, and upon this stone ych would bilde my church, and the gates of hell hee shullen not availen agens it.
"And to thee ych wole geve the keyes of heaven, and what ever thou bindest upon earth shall bee bound in heaven, and what ever thou unbindest on earth, shall be unbounden in heaven. This power also was granten unto the other disciples, as well as to Peter, as the gospell openlich telleth. In this place men seggen that thou granted to Peters successours the selue power that thou gave to Peter. And therefore the bishop of Rome, that saith he is Peters successour, taketh this power to him to binden and unbinden in earth what him liketh. But Lord, ych have much wonder how hee may for shame clepen himselfe Peters successour: for Peter knowledged that thou wert Christ and God, and kept the hests of thy law: but these han forsaken the hests of thy law, and hath ymaken a law contrary to thine hests of thy law. And so he maked himselfe a false Christ, and a false god in earth. And I trow thou gave him no power to undoe thy law. And so in taking this power upon him, maketh him a false Christ and antichrist.
"For who may be more agens Christ, than hee that in his words maketh himselfe Christs vicar in earth; and in his werkes undoth the ordinance of Christ, and maketh men beleeven that it is needfull to the heale of mans soules, to beleeven that he is Christs vicar in earth? And what ever he bindeth in earth, is ybounden in heaven, and under this colour hee undoth Christs law, and maketh men alwayes to keepen his law and hests.
"And thus man may yseene that bee is against Christ, and therefore hee is antichrist that maketh men worshippen him as a god on earth, as the proud kin Nabugodonosor did sometime, that was king of Babylon. And therefore wee lewde men that knowen not God but thee Iesus Christ, beleeven in thee that art our God, and our King, and our Christ, and thy lawes; and forsaken antichrist, and Nabugodonosor that is a false god, and a false Christ, and his lawes ben contrary to thy preaching.
"And Lord strength thou us against our enemies. For they ben about to maken us forsaken thee and thy law, other else to putten us to death.
"O Lord, onlich in thee is our trust to helpe us in this mischiefe, for thy great goodnesse that is withouten end.
"Lord thou ne taughtest not thy disciples to assoilen men of their sinne, and setten them a penance for their sinne, in fasting, ne in praying, ne other almous deed; ne thy selfe, ne thy disciples, useden no such power here on earth. For Lord, thou forgeve men her sinnes and bede him sinne no more. And thy disciples fulleden men in thy name, in forgivenesse of her sinnes. Nor they tooke no such power upon them as our priests dare now. And Lord, thou ne assoildest no man both of his sinne and of his paine, that was due for his sinne, ne thou grantedst no man such power here on earth.
"And Lord, me thinketh that gif there were a purgatorie, and any earthlich man had power to deliveren sinfull men from the peines of purgatorie, hee should, and hee were in charitie, saven everich man that were in way of salvation from thilke peines, sith they make them greater than any bodilich peines of this world. Also gif the bishop of Rome had such a power, hee himself shuld never come in purgatorie, ne in hell. And sith we see well that hee ne hath no power to kepen himselfe, ne other men nother out of these bodilich peines of the world, and he may goe to hell for his sinne as another man may: I ne beleeve not, that he hath so great power to assoylen men of their sinne as bee taketh upon him aboven all other men. And I trow that in this hee higheth himselfe above God.
"As touching the selling of bishoprickes and parsonages, I trow it be a point of falsehed. For agenst Gods ordinance hee robbeth poore men of a portion of their sustenance, and selleth it, other giveth it, to find proud men in idlenesse that don the lewd people little profit, but much harme, as we told before. Thus ben thy commandements of truth, of meeknesse, and of poorenesse undone by him, that clepeth himselfe thy vicar here upon earth.
"A Lord, thou gave us a commandement of chastice, that is, a forsaking of fleshlich lusts. For thou broughtest us to a living of soule, that is, ygoverned by the word. For Lord, thou ordeinedist women more frele than man to ben ygoverned by mans rule, and his helpe, to please thee and keepe thine hests. Ne thou ne ordeinedist that a man should desire the company of a woman, and maken her his wife, to liven with her in his lustis, as a swine doth or a horse. And his wife ne like him not to his lustes, Lord thou ne gave not a man leave to departen him from his wife, and taken him another.
"But Lord, thy marriage is a common accord betweene man and woman, to liven together to their lives end, and in thy service either the better for others helpe, and thilke that thus ben ycome together, ben joyned by thee, and thilke that God joyneth, may no man depart. But Lord, thou saiest, that gif a man see a woman to coveten her, then he doth with the woman lecherie in his heart. And so Lord, gif a man desire his wife in covetise of such lusts, and not to flie from whoredome, his weddins is lecherie, ne thou ne joynest them not together. Thus was Raguels daughter ywedded to seven husbands that the divell instrangled. But Toby tooke her to live with her in cleannesse, and bringing up of her children in thy worship, and on him the divell ne had no power. For the wedding was I-maked in God, for God, and through God.
"A Lord, the people is farre ygo from this manner of wedding. For now men wedden their wives for fairenesse, other for riches, or some such other fleshlich lusts. And Lord, so it preveth by them for the most part. For a man shall not find two wedded in a land, where the husband loues the wife, and the wife is buxum to the man, as they shoulden after the law of marriage. But other the man loves not his wife, or the wife is not buxum to her man. And thus Lord is the rule of prefe, that never faileth no preue whether it bee done by thee or no. And Lord, all this mischiefe is common among thy people, for that they know not thy word, but their shepheards and hired men fedden them with their sweuens and leasings. And Lord, where they shoulden gon before us in the field, they seggen their order is too holy for thy marriage. And Lord, he that calleth himselfe thy vicar upon earth will not suffren priests to taken them wives, for that is against his law: but Lord, hee will dispensen with them to kepen horen for a certaine summe of money. And Lord, all whoredome is forfended in thy law. And Lord, thou never forfendest priests their wiues, ner thy apostles neither. And well I wote in our land, priests hadden wives untill Anselmus dayes in the yeare of our Lord God 1129, as Huntingdone writes. And Lord, this makes people for the most part beleven, that lecherie is no sinne. Therefore wee lewd men prayen thee that thou wolt send vs shepheards of thine own, that wolen feeden thy flocke in thy lesew, and gon before themselfe, and so written thy law in our hearts, that from the least to the most all they mayen knowen thee. And Lord, geue our king and his lords heart to defenden thy true shepheards and thy sheepe from out of the wolues mouthes, and grace to know thee that art the true Christ, the Sonne of thy heauenly Father, from the antichrist, that is, the sonne of pride. And Lord, geue vs thy poore sheepe patience and strength to suffer for thy law, the cruelnesse of the mischieuous wolues. And Lord, as thou hast promised, shorten these daies. Lord we axen this now, for more neede was there neuer."