Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
A Short Rule of Life
By John Wycliffe (c. 13241384)
IF thou be a lord, look thou live a rightful life in thine own person, both anent God and man, keeping the hests of God, doing the works of mercy, ruling well thy five wits, and doing reason and equity and good conscience to all men. The second time, govern well thy wife, thy children, and thy homely men in Gods law, and suffer no sin among them, neither in word nor in deed, up thy might, that they may be ensample of holiness and righteousness to all other. For thou shalt be damned for their evil life and thine evil sufferance, but if thou amend it up thy might. The third time, govern well thy tenants, and maintain them in right and reason and be merciful to them in their rents and worldly merciments, and suffer not thy officers to do them wrong nor extortions, and chastise in good manner them that be rebel against Gods hests and virtuous living, more than for rebellion against thine own cause or person. And hold with Gods cause, and love, reward, praise, and cherish the true and virtuous of life, more than if they do only thine own profit and worship; and maintain truly, up thy cunning and might, Gods law and true preachers thereof, and Gods servants in rest and peace, for by this reason thou holdest thy lordship of God. And if thou failest of this, thou forfeitest against God in all thy lordship, in body and soul; principally if thou maintainest Antichrists disciples in their errors against Christs life and His teaching, for blindness and worldly friendship, and helpest to slander and pursue true men that teach Christs Gospel and His life. And warn the people of their great sins, and of false priests and hypocrites that deceive Christian men, in faith and virtuous life, and worldly goods also.
If thou be a labourer, live in meekness, and truly and wilfully do thy labour; that if thy lord or thy master be an heathen man, that by thy meekness and wilful and true service, he have not to murmur against thee, nor slander thy God nor Christendom. And serve not to Christian lords with murmuring, nor only in their presence, but truly and wilfully in their absence, not only for worldly dread nor worldly reward, but for dread of God and good conscience, and for reward in heaven. For that God that putteth thee in such service wots what state is best for thee, and will reward thee more than all earthly lords may, if thou dost it truly and wilfully for His ordinance. And in all things beware of murmuring against God and His visitation, in great labour and long, and great sickness and other adversities, and beware of wrath, of cursing and warying, or banning, of man or of beast. And ever keep patience and meekness and charity both to God and man. And thus each man in these three states oweth to live, to save himself and help other; and thus should good life, rest, peace, and charity be among Christian men, and they be saved, and heathen men soon converted, and God magnified greatly in all nations and sects that now despise Him and His law, for the wicked living of false Christian men.