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VI. The sixth asking follows in these words, And lead us not into temptation. We pray not that we be not tempted, for no man can be proved without temptation; but we pray that God lead us not into temptation, that is, that he suffer us not to fall into such temptations as we may not suffer. For God, by himself, leadeth no man into temptation, but he suffereth him to be led whom he forsaketh from his help, as St. Augustine saith.
Temptation profits much to man that withstandeth ; for a man that is not tempted is not known, either to himself, or to others, whether he is good or evil. But when he is assayed and tempted, then it shall be known what he is. And therefore, St. Gregory saith, that in time of ease, when man is not tempted, it is not known which is a good man, which is evil,
Also temptation that is withstood, increases man's merit in bliss, and therefore saith the Holy Ghost by St. James, That man is blessed that suffers temptation, for when he is proved true in withstanding sin, he shall receive a crown of life, which God hath promised to all those that love him. He is led into temptation, who, through his own unkindness and evil living, is left from the grace and help of God; for such a one shall fall with each blast of his enemy. And therefore, in this prayer we beseech our heavenly Father, since he is true and suffers no man to be tempted more than he may withstand, as the apostle saith, that he, through help and grace of the Spirit of pity, keep our hearts in temptation, that we consent not to any sin. And as we prayed him, in that other asking, that he forgive our before-done sins, so we pray him here, that he keep us from consenting to sins that are to come hereafter, that we fall not again.
Temptation makes a good man more meek and fearful, and makes him to know himself and his frailness; and it makes him to know the strength of his enemies, and their sleights; and how true God is at need, to help his servants. Here we are taught to subdue sloth, and to be busy to purchase help of God, by devout prayer; to withstand sin in time of temptation; and to keep from fleshly lusts that bring men to many great sins. For our fighting is as nought without his help. Each temptation that man hath, cometh to him by some thought and enticing of one of his spiritual enemies, either of the flesh, of the world, or of the fiend. Therefore let each man examine the thoughts and enticings that come into his heart, and espy whether they will draw him into any sin, or unlawful lust or liking. And if they are thereabout, turn he his thought from them, and meditate upon the bitter pains, sufferings, and wounds, in hands, head, and body, feet and side, which Christ suffered to wash us from our sins. And cease he not to pray devoutly, having his heart and thought upon Christ, and upon his peculiar pains, till his temptation pass away. For temptation overcomes not the man that hath stedfast mind upon Christ and his pains. No man shall be crowned in bliss but he that overcometh, as St. Paul saith, and no man can overcome unless he have something against which he shall fight. Therefore whoso is tempted, be he true in fighting, so shall he overcome, and win a seat in bliss with Christ, and have a crown of life that never shall fade, which is promised of God to all them that truly fight, withstanding sin and unlawful likings, as it is written in the book of Revelation.
When we feel no temptation, let us humble ourselves the more to God, for he knoweth our frailness, and de
And if we are proud, or have vain glory thereof, he withdraweth his help, and therefore we perish. Also we should be afraid when we feel no temptation, lest the reason of our souls be dead through some secret deceit. For St. Gregory saith, that a man is most tempted when he least feels temptation. Therefore pray we heartily to God, that he suffer us not to be overcome in temptation.
VII. But that he through his great mercy deliver its from all evil. For this is the last prayer of the paternoster. Here we pray God to deliver us from the evil of pain which we have deserved through sin before done, and from the evil of sin at the present time of our life, and from the evil of pain that shall come for sin after this life. Here also we seek deliverance of all evils of body, which either hinder, or will hinder, the soul from serving God. St. John Chrysostom saith, that Christ here calleth “evil” the fiend, for the abundance of his malice. This malice is not naturally, but of free choice, and because he hath enmity towards us which may not be appeased. Therefore Christ said, Deliver us from evil, that we be delivered from sin and from the fiend. No man is truly delivered from sin unless God deliver him.
But the worst sin of all, is sin against the Holy Ghost, for as Christ saith, that shall not be forgiven. Therefore especially let us pray to God, to deliver us from this evil. That man sinneth against the Holy Ghost, who to his life's end, is a rebel against God, and so dieth in despair, and goeth to pain for ever. And he is a rebel against God, who rebels against his commandments. And therefore Christ saith, He that is not with him is against him. And in another place he saith, He that loveth not me, keepeth not my words. And thus every man who is contrary to Christ's teaching is a rebel against God, and loveth him not. For he saith himself, that whoso loveth him shall keep his ,word. And the wise man saith, He that "turneth away his ear, that he hear not God's word, his prayer shall be accursed, and St. Paul saith, He is cursed that loveth not Jesus Christ. Therefore pray we to God, that he deliver us from this evil will, and rebellion against his word, and from all other evils.
Amen. Amen, that is, So be it. This word knitteth together all the prayers that went before, as if it were said, Sweet Father, that art in heaven, be all these things that we have asked, fulfilled in us and in all others. Here we ask for the Spirit of the holy fear of God, through which we may withstand all the evil of sin. And therefore saith the Holy Ghost, The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. And in another place it is written, that through the fear of God each man turneth from evil; that is, each man who truly feareth God, fleeth from sin.
There is much more understood in this holy prayer than is declared here. For St. Augustine saith, that whatever is found in all the words of holy prayers, is contained in this prayer of the Lord. And therefore, let each man that thinketh to be saved do his utmost to love God above all things, and his fellow christian as himself, and so he shall be made worthy to be heard of God in his prayer, and to be delivered from all evil, and to come to everlasting rest of bliss. Thither may He bring us, who bought man with his heart's blood. Amen.
OF PERFECT LIFE;
THE COUNSEL OF CHRIST.
CHRIST, not compelling, but freely counselling each man to perfect life, saith thus, If any man will come after me. let him deny himself, and take his cross and follow me, Luke ix. Then let us forsake ourselves, such as we have made us in doing sin, and dwell we such as we are made by grace. If a proud man be converted to Christ, and is made meek, he hath forsaken himself. If a covetous man ceaseth to covet, and giveth his own things, he hath denied himself. If an evil liver changeth his life, he hath denied himself. The cross of Christ is taken when despisings for the love of truth are not forsaken, but taken ;-when the flesh is punished by abstinence, and when compassion and pity towards our neighbour is truly kept; when man is crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him, setting the joy thereof at nought. (Wickliff enforces these doctrines by further arguments very similar to those which he has used in other pieces, and proceeds,)
But let us not make so sure of the Lord's mercy, that we heap sins upon sins; neither say we while youth endureth, Let us follow our desires, and at the last, in age do
penance for our sins, for the Lord is merciful, he shall not have mind of our sins.-Lord Jesus, turn us to thee, and then we shall be turned. Heal thou us, and we shall be truly whole. For without thy grace and help no man may be truly turned or healed. For they are but scorners who to-day turn to God, and to-morrow turn away. What is turning to God ? None but turning from the world, from sin, and from the fiend. What is turning from God ? None but turning to the changeable goods of this world, to pleasing likeness of creatures, to works of the fiend, and to lusts of the flesh. To be turned from the world, is to set at nought, and to put out of mind, all likings, joys, and mirths thereof, and to suffer meekly all bitterness, slanders, and troubles thereof, for the love of
Christ; and to leave all occupations unlawful and unprofitable to the soul, so that man's will and thought be dead to seek any thing that the world seeketh and loveth.
Therefore the prophet speaketh in the person of souls perfectly turning to God, saying, Mine eyes, that is, my thought and intent, shall ever be to God. For he shall draw my feet, that is my soul and my affections, out of the snare, and the net of the lo
of this world. He that is truly turned to God, fleeth from vices, beholdeth not the solaces or comforts of this world ; but setteth his mind so stedfastly on God, that he well nigh forgetteth all outward things; he gathereth himself all within; he is reared up wholly into Christ.
Those that will turn truly to Christ must flee occasions, words, sights, and deeds, exciting to sin. For when the fiend seeth one among a hundred who withstandeth his enticings, and turneth to God, and followeth the steps of Christ, by virtues, despising the joys of this present life, and seeking to love everlasting heavenly things, he findeth a thousand frauds to beguile and trouble, and a thousand manner of temptations to cast him down from God's love to the love of the world. And he beginneth at the least, that by foul thoughts he make him to be foul towards God.
He bringeth to man's mind the lusts which he hath used before, and telleth to his thought that he may not leave all his worldly and fleshly likings; and saith, It is too hard for a man to put himself from all present mirth. He stirreth up fantasies, and vain thoughts innumerable, and unprofitable affections which before were asleep.
The fiend reareth against such a soul, slanders, back bitings, persecutions, tribulations, false challenges, false accusings of divers sins, and divers manner of hates. One time he tempteth by sharp outward diseases ; another time by false glosings and likings, and so forth. He calleth again to mind delight in things loved before. He enflameth the heart and the flesh with foul burnings. He beginneth by small enticings, and pursues to the greatest flame of wickedness. And he studieth thus busily to blow against us all manner of temptations and tribulations, by how much he seeth that by the mercy of God we are escaped out of his power. For he seeketh nothing so much as to separate a man from the holy and everlasting love of Jesus Christ, and to make him love failing things and uncleanness of this world.