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spirit of such we owe perhaps the map of the world and the intercourse of nations. His Travels will always remain a deeply interesting monument of the thought of the period.


Honored of God to be the first Preacher of a general Reformation to all Europe. Milton.

Biography.--Son of a country squire, born 1324, in the little village of Wycliffe - the cliff by the water. Entered Oxford at sixteen, where he distinguished himself in logic and theology. In 1361, he was elected Master of Balliol, and in that year was presented by his college to the rectory of Fylingham, Four years later, he was appointed Warden of Canterbury Hall, and, as the champion of the State, threw himself into the stormy disputes between Romanism and the government. Armed with the degree of Doctor of Divinity, he began in a wooden hall, roughly plastered and roofed with thatch, to lecture on divinity, boldly assailing the practices of the Church. His fame in 1374 led to his selection as one of an embassy to Bruges, to remonstrate against the tributeclaims of the papacy, whose demands, amid the social troubles from pestilence, from the cost of war, and from the strife between. capital and labor, rose ever higher. Obtaining some concessions from the pope, he was rewarded with the rectorship of Lutterworth, which was afterwards his chief residence. Identity of political views had allied him with the powerful John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who was eager to drive the prelates from office and to seize their wealth. He had said that church property, like other, might be employed for national purposes, and had exhorted the clergy to return to their original poverty. These offences were not to be forgiven. On the 19th of February, 1377, his grey beard sweeping to his breast, his belted robe flowing to his feet, his white staff firmly in his thin hand, he appeared before the Bishop of London, to answer for heresy. By his side were Lancaster and the Marshal of England. There was no trial. A howl. ing mob, to whom the Duke as the leader of the baronage was

unpopular, dissolved the meeting. The hearts of the monks burned to smite him down; and again, at the close of the ensuing year, he was summoned to the Capitol. Supported by the Crown and the people, he bore himself defiantly and returned to Oxford in peace. It is not possible,' he asserted, 'that a man should be excommunicated to his damage, unless he were first and principally excommunicated by himself.' In his chamber, where he lay at the point of death, eight men urged him to recant. When they had done, he rose by help of his servant, and, 'holding them with his glittering eye,' cried: 'I shall not die, but live; and again declare the evil deeds of the friars !' In 1381, deserted and alone, he openly inveighed against the doctrine of transubstantiation. The university, panic-stricken, first condemned him, then tacitly adopted his cause, In the presence of his class, he had challenged a refutation of his conclusions, and was commanded by Lancaster to be silent, to which he replied: 'I believe that in the end the truth will conquer. His courage had restored confidence: but turning from the rich and learned, he appealed to England at large, and, from being a schoolman, became a pamphleteer. His enemies were persistent. Of twenty-four propositions, carefully collated from his works, a council solemnly decreed ten to be heretical and the rest erroneous, Alarmed by the Peasant Revolt and the attitude of the barons, Richard II, to strengthen his position by an alliance with the Church, issued a royal order of expulsion from the university; and Wycliffe, silenced at Oxford, retired to the hovels of Lutterworth, where he forged the great weapon of future warfare against the triumphant hierarchy,—the English Bible. Summoned to appear at Rome, his failing strength inspired the sarcastic reply:

'I am always glad to explain my faith to any one, and above all to the Bishop of Rome; for I take it for granted that if it be orthodox he will confirm it; if it be erroneous, he will correct it. . . . Now Christ during his life upon earth was of all men the poorest, casting from Him all worldly authority. I deduce from these premises, as a simple counsel of my own, that the Pope should surrender all temporal authority to the civil power, and advise his clergy to do the same.'

The terrible strain on his energies enfeebled by age and study had induced paralysis, and a final stroke while he was hearing mass in his parish church was followed a day or two later by his quiet death, December 31, 1384. The lips of malice pursued him with redoubled fury; and, besides assuring the people of

his eternal damnation, took care to represent his malady as the visible judgment of Heaven for his heresies.'

Writings.-An incredible number of sermons, letters, tracts, and treatises, in Latin and English, asserting collectively and essentially:

1. All power is of God. Hence the royal is as sacred as the ecclesiastical. The king is as truly His vicar as is the Pope.

2. Each individual holds the dominion of his conscience, not of a mediating priesthood, but immediately of his Creator, who is the tribunal of personal appeal.

3. The bread in the Eucharist is not the real body of Christ, but only its sign.

4. The Roman Church has no true claim to headship over other churches.

5. Temporal privileges cannot be exacted or defended by spiritual censures.

6. Ecclesiastical courts should be subject to the civil.

7. The clergy ought not to possess temporal wealth; they should be maintained by the free alms of their flocks.

8. Pilgrimages and image-worship are akin to idolatry. 9. Priests have no power to absolve from sin.

10. The Bible is the one ground of faith, and it is the right of every man to examine it for himself.

What a result for the fourteenth century! What a promise for the renovated head and heart of the sixteenth ! Religion must be secularized — no longer forestalled — and purged from indulgences and rosaries. Let each hear and read for himself. To this end, let God's word quit the learned schools and the dusty shelves of the monastery. To the mass it is a sealed book, locked up in a dead and foreign tongue, covered with a confusion of commentaries and Fathers. How far it is corrupted by the traditions and devices of men, we know not till we see it in the simple speech of the market and the fireside:

* Ech place of holy writ, both opyn and derk, techith mekenes and charite; and therfore he that kepith mekenes and charite hath the trewe undirstondyng and perfectioun of al holi writ. ... Therfore no simple man of wit be aferd unmesurabli to studie in the text of holy writ.'

. The impartial historian of opinions must be early impressed with the mournful truth that all religions agree in forever rewarding the believer and forever dam ig the one who doubts or denies, - the heretic. Under the great laws of eternal development, are we not all heretics?

In this spirit, Protestant Wycliffe translates the Testament, Old and New, which men will consult, not for amusement, but to find in it their doom of life and death, and to learn a new worship, without the rites that smother a living piety beneath external forms.

Style.-Rugged, homely, sometimes slovenly; but always clear, terse, vehement, stinging, as if feeling ever the galling shackles of spiritual despotism. The mind intent upon the eternal tragedy of the conscience is disdainful of elegance.

Rank.-In the immense range of his intellectual power, he stood in Oxford without a rival. Like Bacon, Scotus, and Occam, an audacious partisan; unlike them, a dexterous politician. The organizer of a religious order, the founder of our later English prose; first of the great Reformers and last of the great Scholastics. The grandeur of his position is marked, as well by the reluctance to adopt extreme measures against him, as by the admission of a contemporary and opponent, who acknowledged him to be the greatest theologian of the day, second to none as a philosopher, and incomparable as a schoolman.' To be the first, amidst a host of prejudices and errors, to strike out into a new and untried way, indicates a genius above the common order.

Character.-Devout, benevolent, austere; a man of sterling sense, of amazing industry, of ardent zeal, with the stout-heartedness that dared be singular for God and the right. Altogether a brave and admirable spirit, open to the divine significance of life; seeing through the show of things, believing in the truth of things, and striking with the poets, in a troublous period, the first blow of demolition against an ancient thing grown false, preparatory afar off to a new thing.

Influence.-To Wycliffe is due the establishment of a sacred dialect, which, with slight variation, as will appear below in his version of the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Mark, has continued to be the language of devotion to the present day:

'1. The bigynnynge of the gospel of Jhesu Crist, the sone of God.

2. As it is writun in Ysaie, the prophete, Lo! I send myn angel bifore thi face, that schal make thi weye redy before thee.

3. The voyce of oon cryinge in desert, Make ye redy the weye of the Lord, make ye his pathis rihtful.

4. John was in desert baptisynge, and prechinge the baptyem of penance, into Temiscioun of synnes.

5. And alle men of Jerusalem wenten out to him and al the cuntree of Judee; and weren baptisid of him in the flood of Jordan, knowlechinge her synnes.

6. And John was cloihid with heeris of camelis, and a girdil of skyn abowte his leendis; and he oet locusts, and hony of the wode, and prechide, seyinge:

7. A strengere than I schal come aftir me, of whom I knelinge am not worthi for to ndo, or rnbynde, the thwong of his schoon.

8. I have baptisid you in water; forsothe he shall baptise you in the Holy Goost.' ... He and his school introduced or popularized many Latin and Romance terms; and thus enriched literary diction by enriching that of familiar currency, from which the Shakespeares draw their stock of living and breathing words.

He accomplished a work which no ecclesiastical censure could set aside. The period was eminentiy favorable to a successful revolt through a general spirit of disaffection to the pope. Men of rank became his adherents. The learned of Oxford were his apostles. Wandering scholars carried his writing into Bohemia, and disseminated his principles. Lollardism spread through every class of society, a floating mass of religious and social discontent. The grave nor persecution could extinguish the new forces of thought and feeling which were breaking through the crust of feudalism. His Bible was proscribed; his votaries, as will presently appear, were imprisoned and burned; but the seed had been dropped, and was rooted in the soil. Thirty years hence the vultures of the law will ungrave him, and consuming to ashes what little they can find, will cast it into the brook that runs hard by, thinking thus to make away both with his bones and his doctrines; but —

*As thon these ashes, little brook, wilt bear
Into the Avon-Avon to the tide
Of Severn - Severn to the narrow seas-
Into main ocean they - this deed accurst
An emble. yields to friends and enemies,
How the bold teacher's doctrine, sanctitied

By truth, shall spread throughout the world dispersed.' When the simple preachers' have slumbered a century and a half, their day of triumph will be at hand. The age, though strongly disposed, is not yet ripe for revolution. Reforms ordained to be permanent are of slow growth.

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