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of saints, that is, that each of the three parts of holy church takes part of the other's goodness, and helps the other. The part that is in heaven helps the other two parts, praying for them, as Bernard saith ; and the other two parts are said to help them that are in heaven, when their bliss and joy is increased by the fellowship of the others. For the more there are, the more is their bliss, and thus each of these three parties communes with the other.
St. Simon said, I believe forgiveness of sins. Here we should believe that they who amend their life, doing true penance, * with leaving off sin and keeping God's commandments, and ending in love, shall have forgiveness of all their sins. And Christ, through his passion ard death, got for us of his Father forgiveness of our sins.
St. Jude said, I believe the rising of the body. Here we should believe that all mankind shall rise at the day of doom, from death to life, in body and soul together, each in his own kind, and in his own body, incorruptible and inmortal. And though the body were burned with fire, and the powder thereof thrown into the four seas that go
about the world, yet the soul and it shall come together again, and rise from death to life, at the dreadful doom, and from that day forward never after depart. And they that have evil lived, and ended in deadly sin, shall go in body and soul to pain for evermore, and they that have lived well and kept the commands of God, and fulfilled the deeds of mercy after their power, and ended in charity to God and man, shall go, body and soul together, to bliss for evermore.
Of which bliss and life St. Matthias spake in the last article, where he saith, And I believe in everlasting life. In that everlasting life of joy and bliss, good men and women that ended well, shall dwell in body and soul, world without end. THAT LIFE MAY HE TO US GRANT WHO BOUGHT US WITH
HIS LIFE BLOOD.
one of the most difficult to cast off It is however sufficient to notice, that Wickliff admits this erroneous doctrine without the particulars by which the church of Rome made it the great support of its power. His own views also gradually advanced to more perfect knowledge of the truth, thus we find in this treatise the sacrament of the altar is mentioned in terms more accordant with the doctrines of the Romish church, than in Wickliff's Wicket, and other tracts upon that subject. See also the remarks on Wickliff's opinions in a preceding page. * Repentance.
ON THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.
THE PROLOGUE TO THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.
A MAN asked Christ what he should do for to have the life that shall last for ever, and Christ said to him, If thou wilt enter into everlasting life, keep the commandments. By this answer of Christ, each man may understand that there is no other way to heaven, without keeping these commands, and therefore each man and woman who desires speedily to come to that life, which shall last for ever, let him do his business with all strength of body and soul to keep these commandments, and despise all sophistries and arguments of false flatterers and heretics, who both in work and word despise these commandments, and with false feigned arguments reply against simple men, saying that it is not lawful to be busy about the keeping of them; yea, and saying that it is needful sometimes to break them. * But as Jannes and Jambres, the philosophers of Pharaoh, withstood Moses, through their witchcraft, when he was about to deliver God's people out of the thraldom of Pharaoh, so these men, confused in understanding, withstand true teaching, through which God's people should be delivered out of the thraldom of the devil. But all their sophistries shall not serve them at the last ; if they be not found keeping, and in full will keep, these commandments of God; for all other ceremonies, without keeping these commandments, nothing worth, as St. Paul witnesses.t
Almighty God wrote ten commands in two tables of stone, in token that the hearts of his people were full hard to love
* The doctrines sanctioned by the church of Rome went to this extent. Aquinas taught that venial sins do not cause any stain in the soul. Cajetan asserted that to commit venial sin, even out of contempt, is not mortal sin. It is hardly necessary to add, that the holy scripture draws no such lines of distinction between sins as the church of Rome has done,
refining until the breach of each commandment is treated as venial. For a variety of authorities from Romish writers on this subject, see a work entitled, The Picture of Popery. Lond. 1716. It may be added that Aquinas and others assert that the smallness of a thing in all cases excuses from mortal sin,
+ This description of the Romish casuists whose authority was much regarded in that day is very just. The straight forward statements of Wickliff presented a striking contrast to their sophistries.
him, and gave them to Moses, his servant, to teach them to his people. And he promised that those who would be obedient and keep them, should have his blessing, and prosperity, and wealth, and they that would not, should have his curse, and great sorrow, and mischief, as it is expressed in the fifth book of holy writ.
Three, [four] commandments were written in the first table, and seven (six] in the other.* The three [four] first teach how men should love God, and the other seven (six] teach what man should do to his fellow christian, and what he shall not do. And these commandments are so hard knitted together, that he who loves God fully, loves his fellowchristians, and whosoever loves not them, he loves not God. For whoso loves not his neighbour whom he may see with his eyes, how may
he love God whom he seeth not? as St. John saith.
THE FIRST (AND SECOND) COMMANDMENT
The FIRST command, God commandeth in these words ; saying, “ I am thy Lord God, that led thee out of Egypt, out of the house of thraldom, and bondage. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thee a graven image, neither any likeness which is in heaven above, and which is in earth beneath, nor of those things that are in waters under the earth. Thou shalt not pray to them, nor worship them in soul. I am thy Lord God, a strong jealous lover ; visiting the wickedness of fathers on the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hated me; and doing mercy unto a thousand of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
Our Lord God said all these words, and they are charged with more wisdom than we can tell. As for the first clause, we shall understand that almighty God chose the children of Israel, who came of Isaac, Abraham's son, and of Jacob his son, before other nations, and said that they suould be his people, and he would be their God. For to their forefather. Abraham, and to his lineage, God promised to give the land of promise, by which is understood the land of bliss, that is, heaven.
* Wickliff follows the division of the commandments used by the church of Rome, and still retained in the Lutheran church ; but he does not suppress the second commandment, as is often done in Romisl catechisms and books of devotion.
And God suffered his people, for their sins, to be in great thraldom in the land of Egypt under king Pharaoh, and they cried to God oft, to bring them out of that mischief; and so he did at the last, for he had compassion upon them, and sent his servant Moses, and Aaron his brother, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he should deliver God's people, and he would not. But Moses, by teaching of God, wrought such wonders before Pharaoh, that at the last, by the might of God, he delivered God's people. And Moses led them over the Red Sea, as a dry way, the water standing upright on either side of them, in manner of two walls, and they went over dry. And soon after, Pharaoh, fervent in envy, gathered together his host, and pursued God's people into the Red Sea. And when they were entered, he and all his host, by the same way that the people went, God made the water to pass forth in its usual course, and drenched* Pharaoh and all his host; and God brought his people over, safe, into the desert. And for this wonderful work, and many more, they were commanded to worship him for their God, and no other.
And as God brought this people out of bodily thraldom, and the bondage of Pharaoh, so he brought us out of the spiritual thraldom, and bondage of the fiend. For before the time that Christ became man, all mankind were spiritually in Egypt, that is in the darkness of sin, and under the thraldom of Pharaoh, that is, under the power of the fiend. But Christ came down from heaven and became man, and did many wonders and marvels in the Egypt of this world, before the Pharaoh, that is, the fiend, king of this Egypt. And through his bloody passiont delivered his people out of thraldom, and drenched the fiend with all his host. For Christ, through his painful passion, overcame the
power of the fiend, and left him bound in hell for a thousand years after, as St. John saith in the book of Revelation. And thus God, through his great might and mercy, delivered his people out of the Egypt of hell, and out of the thraldom of the fiend.
Though a man had no more causes than this, methinks it should singularly move him to set all his trust, his worship, and his love, in God, who is thus full of might and
+ Sufferings. # It is hardly necessary to observe, that the views of Wickliff respecting the fulfilment of the prophecies, in many respects differ from those which are now generally entertained.
inercy. For there was no creature that could deliver man out of the thraldom of the fiend, but only He that had perfectly double nature in himself, and was both God and man, and would make himself as much after the will of God, as Adam by pride did against the will of God.
Furthermore, in this commandment God commandeth his people to have no strange gods. Here God commandeth that all men's belief, trust, and love, be set only in God, and in no other thing against his will. And here he forbiddeth all belief and trust in all manner of witchcraft, dreams, charms, and conjurations. For those that put their belief or trust in any such, withdraw some of their belief and trust from God, and so break his command, and make themselves false gods. And also men break this commandment in other manners; for look, whatever thou lovest most, and fastest goest about to get it, and art most loth to lose, thou showest by thy will and by thy deeds, that this thing is thy god. Therefore each man look in his own conscience, upon what he most sets his liking and thought, and what he is most busy about to please, and that thing he loveth most, whatsoever it be ; and what thing a man loveth most, that thing he maketh his god.
Thus each man wilfully using deadly sin, makes himself a false god, by turning away his love from God, to the lust of the sin that he useth. And thus when man or woman forsakes meekness, the meekness that Jesus Christ commandeth, and gives himself to highness and pride, he makes the fiend his god; for he is king over all proud folk, as it is written in the book of Job. And so the envious man or woman have revenge and vengeance for their god. And the indolent man hath idleness, sloth, and sleep, for his god. The covetous man and woman make worldly goods their god; for covetousness is the root of all evils, and service to idols as to false gods, as St. Paul saith. Gluttonous and drunken folk make their belly their god, for the love and care that they have for it, as St. Paul witnesses. And so lecherous folk make them a false god for the foul delight and lust that reigns in them. Thus every man and woman, using deadly sin, breaks this first commandment, worshipping false gods. Therefore saith the great clerk, Grosthead, that each man who doeth deadly sin, runneth from, or forsaketh the true God, and worshippeth a false god—all such are false gods to rest upon, that cannot deliver themselves, nor their worshippers, from the vengeance