Monday, September 22, 2014

John Wycliffe on How to Life Live

Reading John Wycliffe (1330-1384) biography is a very inspiring and up lifting for me. He was a philosopher, theologian, lay preacher, reformer, university teacher at Oxford in England and most known by all as – an English-Bible translator. Below is a lengthy quote from his sermon How to Life Live:

First, when you rise, or fully awake, think upon the goodness of your God: how because of His own goodness, and not for any need, He made all things out of nothing, both angels and men, and all other creature.
Your second thought should be on the great suffering and willing death that Christ endured for mankind. When no man might make payment for the guilt of Adam and Eve, and many others, neither could any angel make payment, the Christ from His endless love, suffered such great passion and painful death, that no creature could suffer so much.

Think thirdly how God has saved you from death and other mischief, and suffered many thousands to be lost the previous night, some in water, and some in fire, and some by sudden death – and some to be damned without end. And for this goodness and mercy thank God with all your heart. And pray that He will give you grace to spend in that day, and evermore, all the powers of thy soul, thy mind, understanding, reason, and will, as well as all the powers of your body, strength, beauty, and five senses, in His service and worship. Pray too that He will empower you to do nothing against His commandments; but in willing performance of His works of mercy, and in giving a good example of holy life, both in word and deed to all men about you.

Next, be sure that you are well occupied, with no idle time, because of the danger of temptation. Take meat and drink in moderation, not too costly, and be not too particular about them. But such as God sends you with health, take it in such amounts that you will be fresh in mind and understanding to serve God. And always thank Him for such gifts. Besides this, be sure that you do right and fairly to all men, thy superiors, equals, and subjects or servants, and stir them all to love truth, and mercy, and true peace, and love.

Also, most of all fear God and His wrath, love God and His Law, and His worship; and ask not principally for worldly reward. In your heart desire the bliss of heaven, in the mercy of God, and a holy life; and think much of the dreadful doom of pains of hell, or order to keep you from sin.
            At the end of the day think where you have offended God, and how much and how often, and therefore be sorrowful, and amend your actions while you may. And think how many God has allowed to perish that day, in many ways, and to be damned everlastingly, and how graciously He has saved you, not for thy deserving, but for His own mercy and goodness, and therefore thank Him with all your heart. And pray for Him for grace that you may dwell and end in His true and holy service and real love, and teach other men to do the same.

            If you are a priest and especially one having the charge of souls, live a holy life, surpassing other men in holy prayer, desire, and thinking, in holy speaking, counselling, and true teaching. And may God’s commands, His gospel, and virtues, be ever in your mouth, despite sin, and seek to draw me from it, and may your deeds be so rightful that no man shall blame them with reason, but may your open deeds be a true book to all people and unlearned men, to serve God and do His commands thereby. For an example of a good life, one that is open and lasting, stirs men more than true preaching by word only. And waste not your goods in great feasts of rich men, but live a humble life, of poor men’s alms and goods, both in meat and drink and clothes. The remainder give truly to poor men that have not their own, and may not labour for feebleness or sickness, and thus, you shall be a true priest both to God and man.

If you are a lord, ensure that you live a rightful life in your own person, both in respect to God and man, keeping the commands of God, doing the works of mercy, ruling well your five senses, and doing reason, and equity, and good conscience to all men.
            In the second place, govern well your wife, children, and household attendants, in God’s Law, and allow no sin among them, neither in word nor in deed, that they may be examples of holiness and righteousness to all others. For you shall be condemned for their evil life and their evil example unless you amend those as much as you are able.
            In the third place, govern well your tenants, and maintain them in right and reason, and be merciful to them in their tents. And chastise in good manner they that are rebels against God’s commands and virtuous life, more than for rebellion against your own cause. Otherwise you love your own cause more than God’s, and yourself more than God Almighty, and you will then be a traitor to God. Love, reward, praise, and cherish the true and virtuous of life more than if you sought only your own profit.
And reverence and maintain truly, according to your skill and might, God’s Law and true preachers of it, and God’s servants, in rest and peace. You do wrong against God if you maintain the Antichrist’s disciples in their errors against Christ’s life and teaching, and help to slander and pursue true men that teach Christ’s gospel and His life.

            If you are a labourer, live in meekness, and truly and willingly do your labour, that your lord or master, if he be a heathen man, by your meekness, willing and true service, may not have a grudge against you, nor slander your God, nor your Christian profession, but rather be stirred to come to Christianity.
And serve not Christian lords with grudging, not only in their presence, but truly and willingly, and in absence. Not only for worldly dread, or worldly reward, but for dread of God and conscience, and for reward in heaven. For God, who has put you in such service, knows what state is best for you, and will reward you more than all earthly lords may, if you truly and willingly obey Him.
            And in all things beware of grudging against God and the trials sent by Him, in great labour, long or great sickness, and other adversities. And beware of wrath, of cursing, of speaking evil of man or beast, keeping patience, meekness, and love, both to God and man. Thus, each man in the three states ought to live, to save himself, and to help others. And thus should good life, rest, peace, and love be among Christian men, and they be saved, and heathen men soon converted, and God magnified greatly.”

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