Monday, August 29, 2016

All these words were shown in deed

Continuing in my research for this series, I stumbled upon something unexpected. I stumbled upon an opinion by John Wycliffe (1320-1384 A.D.), an infamous doctor of theology and educator of both priests and laity in the 14th century. Below are two excerpts which reflect his belief that Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D as vindication for the injustice inflicted upon Jesus. 

The first excerpt is a homily in "old english," followed by my own attempt to update portions of that english translation (the portions highlighted in bold) for english readers today. The second excerpt comes from his work of an imaginative three-fold dialogue, called Trialogus, on a topic he frequently showed concern about: the culpability of the laity in respect to endowments.

Wycliffe writes:

Þe tenþe Sondai aftir Trinite
[A Sermon on Luke 19:41, the Tenth Sunday after Trinity]

Cum appropinquaret Jesus Hierusalem videns civitatem.—Luc. 19:[41]
Þisa gospel telliþ generaly, what sorewe men shulden have for syne, siþ Crist, þat myȝte not do synne, wepte so ofte for synne. For we rede þat Crist wepte þries, and eche tyme he wepte for synne. And so telliþ our bileve in storye of þe gospel, þat Jesus seynge Jerusalem wepte þeron, for þe synne of it, and seide þat if þou knewe þus synne, þou shuldist wepe as Y do nowe, and certis, in þis dai of þee þat shulde be comen in pees to þee, if þou woldist receyve þis day and pees of it, as þou shuldist, for alle þes þingis þat þou shuldist cunne ben now hidde fro þi iȝen. For daies shal come in þee, for synne þat þou shalt do in me, and þin enemyes schulen envyron þee as a palis al aboute, and parre þee in Jerusalem, as sheep ben parrid in a foold, and þei shal felle þee to þe erþe, and þi children þat ben in þee, and þei shal not leve in þee stoon liynge upon a stoon, þat þei ne shal be removed, and þi wallis al distried, and þe cause of al þis shal be þe unkynde unknowynge þat þou wolt not knowe þe tyme þat God bi grace haþ visitid þee. 
Alle þes wordis weren shewide in dede, as Josephus makiþ mynde of hem, how Titus and Waspasian þe secounde and fourty ȝeer aftir þat Crist was steied to hevene, comen at solempnite of Paske, and ensegiden Jerusalem, and distrieden men and wallis uttirly þat þei founden þere. And þis is a pryvy synne wiþ which þe fend blindiþ men, þat þei sorewen not more for synne þan þei done for oþir harm; for þus wille is mysturned, and men failen to serve God. And herefore techiþ Crist hise apostlis þat þei shulden not be aferd for perelis þat shal come for to venge synne þat is done, but þe moste drede of alle shulde be to falle in synne, for þat is worse þan þe peyne þat God ordeyned to sue herof. And þus in foure affecciouns þat ben groundid in mannis wille stondiþ alle mannis synne þat he doiþ aȝens God, for if sorwe and joie of man and hope and drede were reulid wel, his wille were ordeyned unto God, to serve him as it shulde do. After þis telliþ þe storye how Jesus wente into þe temple and caste out boþe bieris and selleris, and seide to hem þat it is writun, Myn hous shulde be an hous of preier, but ye have maad it a denne of þeves. And for a long tyme after he was eche day techinge in þe temple.* And in þis dede þat Crist dide, he techiþ his Chirche to bygynne for to purge his seintuarie, þat ben preests and clerks þerof, þat ben þe moost cause of synne, and siþ purge oþir partis, whan þe rote is distried. 

And þis telde Crists wending into þe temple after þes wordis, as ȝif he wolde seie in his worching, Þe cause of synne þat Y have told is wickednesse of preestis and clerkes, and herfore Y bigyne at þe temple, not to distrie hem in her persones, but to take from hem cause of her synne, and ordeyne þe Churche in temporal goodis as Y have ordeyned hem to lyve. And it is al oon to seie þat þese goodis ben þus sacrid and ȝyven to preestis þat no man may take hem fro þes preestis,* and to seie þat Anticrist haþ so weddid þes goodis wiþ preestis þat noon may make þis dyvors; for preestis ben uncorrigible; but þes defamaciouns shulde preestis flee wiþ al þere myȝt, and preien þat þei weren amendid bi þe ordenance of Crist. For resoun shulde teche hem þat þei ben worse þan frentikes, and so þei hadden nede to be chastisid til þis passion were fro hem. For what man wolde bi resoun, kepyng a man in frenesie, ȝyve him a swerd or a knyf bi which he wolde slee himsilf? or who þat kepte a man in feveris, and wiste wele hou he shulde be reulid, and þat þis mete or þis wyne were contrarye to his helþe, wolde ȝyve him at his wille þis foode þat shulde anoye him? so, siþ preestis have goodis of men boþe of lordis and comouns, and þei disusen hem þus, þei myȝten and shulden by charite wiþdrawe þes brondis þat þus done harme to preestis, and in mesure and manere ȝyve þes goodis to preestis þat he himsilf haþ ordeyned him and hise to have siche goodis. And þis may bi charite be wiþdrawen by þe ȝyvers þerof, siþ no man may do yvel to men and not do good to þe same men, but if he be a quyke fend, þat we shulden not putte to seculers. And to þis ende shulden clerkes traveile and procure þat þis þing were done boþe for love of Goddis lawe and for love of clerkes and comouns, and ȝif þe fend by envie, þat is enemye to charite, seiþ þis þing may not be done by þe lawe þat now is sett, he seiþ þat Anticristis lawe, founden aȝens Goddis lawe, is strenger þan charite, and Anticrist strenger þan Crist. For þis ende shulden clerkes wepe and preie God þat his ordrenance1 were kepte in his strengþe and Anticristis lawe putt abac.2

Here is my translation: 
For days shall come in thee, for sin that thou shalt do in me, and thine enemies surround thee as a palace all around, and bar thee in Jerusalem, as sheep are barred in a fold, and they shall cast thee down to the earth, and thy children that are in thee, and they shall not leave in thee one stone living upon another stone; that then shall be removed, and the walls all destroyed, and the cause of all this shall be those unkind, and unknowing, that thou would not know the time that God by grace has visited thee.
All these words were shown in deed, as Josephus makes mention of them, how Titus and Vespasian, the forty-second year after Christ ascended to heaven, to come at the solemnity of Pascha, and seiege Jerusalem, and utterly destroy the men and walls that they found. 
...After this tells the story of how Jesus went into the temple and cast out those buyers and sellers, and said to them that it is written, My house should be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves. And for a long time after he was each day teaching in the temple. And in this deed that Christ did, he taught his Church to begin to purge his sanctuary, that had priests and clerks thereof, that had the most cause of sin, and afterward purge other parts, when the root is destroyed.  

Apparently, this prophecy of Jesus in Luke 19, which leads directly into Jesus' confrontation in the temple of Jerusalem in Luke 20, followed by more prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 21, is not the only time John Wycliffe stressed the importance of Jesus' prophecy being fulfilled in the first century. In his Trialogus, he reiterates his concern:


Althea: I am pleased, brother, with your doctrine, because it appears to me, that you inveigh with clearness and force against the avarice of the priests; and as, according to the apostle, 1 Tim. 1, covetousness is the root of all evil, and priests should be the root of all goodness, conveying the laity to heaven, you appear to direct your censures against the source of all sin in the church. But tell me, I pray you, whether secular men are justly liable to rebuke on account of such endowments. 

Phronesis: I am pleased to find that you thus introduce this subject. I have often been hindered from rebuking the sins of temporal lords; and to make amends for such omission, I will state to you the belief I entertain in this matter. And, if God will, it shall come to the ears of such men. 

Believe firmly, and in no way doubt, that herein temporal lords have grievously sinned. And for this cause, I doubt not, many have been suitably punished, in the righteous judgment of God, by the loss of their worldly wealth; for this endowment has given rise to wars, strife, and has brought many secular lords to poverty. And it is only just that they should be made to pay a penalty having respect to that very thing which was the means by which they committed their crime. My reason for so thinking is this, that those who are accessory to a crime, are guilty, as well as those who commit it. But the temporal powers have not only united to confer this endowment, but have consented to it in very many ways; and since such endowment is contrary to the ordinance of Christ, they are herein guilty. 

For if there are six methods of consenting, as enumerated by the poet— “Consentit, cooperans, defendens, concilium dans, Ac auctorisans, non juvans, nec reprehendens,” — it is clear as light, that temporal lords are manifestly guilty, in respect to these six modes, and especially in regard to the last two, inasmuch as they indolently withhold the assistance and rebuke by means of which this injury done to Christ and his church might be rectified. Nevertheless, it devolves on them, for many reasons, to amend this injury done to Christ. In the first place, because they are those who have sinned by the commission of this injury; therefore it is for them to make satisfaction for the sin. In the second place, because God gave the power they possess that they might regulate the affairs of his church, as appears in Romans 13. 

Therefore, that they be not negligent in respect to the use of this power, nor guilty of an abuse of it, they should exercise it in the instance of so great an injury done to Christ, after his own example; for Christ, in rebuking the priests of the temple, made use often of this kingly power, ejecting, in person, the buyers and sellers. And on many occasions, by his sufferings and his reproofs, Christ condemned the conduct of the priests, as may be seen at the time of his seizure and passion. And he afterwards awfully chastised that priesthood, by the hand of Titus and Vespasian his servants, as Luke had prophesied. Isodorus, also, admirably declares this doctrine, as may be seen in the twenty-third decree, q. v. c. Principes Seculi. For if they hold their temporal possessions on condition of service rendered, what service, I ask, could better befit them, than that of vindicating the wrongs done to Christ, and defending so reasonable an ordinance? Forasmuch as it is the same thing to love Christ, and to keep his law and commandments, as is shown in John 14, it is manifest that if the temporal lords love Christ above all things, it is their duty to exert their power in defending his chief ordinance. 

What temporal lord, I ask, would not be offended beyond measure on seeing his own decree reversed? Still more would this be the case, if that reversing were to dishonour his betrothed, and to break up his kingdom. But much more is all this true in respect to the primitive justice of Jesus Christ. Let temporal lords remember, then, how distinguished was the favour which our Lord showed them in his lifetime, without doubt intending that they should make him a return of their service.3

*  Priests are incorrigible.
1  ordenaunce, B.
2  Wycliffe, J. (1869). Select English Works of John Wyclif. (T. Arnold, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 24–26). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
3   De Wycliffe, J. (1845). Tracts and Treatises of John de Wycliffe. (R. Vaughan, Ed.) (pp. 172–173). London: Blackburn and Pardon.

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