Nonfiction > William Jennings Bryan, ed. > The World’s Famous Orations > Vol. III. Great Britain: I
See also: John Wyclif Biography
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  The World’s Famous Orations.
Great Britain: I. (710–1777).  1906.
 
Rules for Decent Living
 
John Wyclif (c.1328–1384)
 
Born in 1324, died in 1384; Master of Baliol College, Oxford, in 1360; then Rector of three parishes successively; a Royal Ambassador to confer with papal nuncios at Bruges in 1374; summoned before Convocation in 1373 because of his attacks on the clergy; threw off his allegiance to the Papacy and wrote ceaselessly against the Papal claim; made the first complete translation of the Bible into English about 1382; his bones exhumed and burned, and the ashes thrown into a river by order of the Synod of Constance in 1428.
 
 
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 God’s law, and suffer no sin among them, neither in word nor in deed, upon 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 amendest it upon 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 merriments, and suffer not thy officers to do them wrong nor extortions, and chastise them in good manner that he rebel against God’s hests and virtuous living, more than for rebellion against thine own cause or person.  1
  And hold with God’s 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, upon thy cunning and might, God’s law and true preachers thereof, and God’s 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 antichrist’s disciples in their errors against Christ’s life and His teaching, for blindness and worldly friendship, and helpest to slander and pursue true men that teach Christ’s 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.  2
  If thou be a laborer, live in meekness, and truly and wilfully do thy labor; so if thy lord or thy master be a 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 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 labor 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 to man. And thus each man in these three states oweth to live, to save himself and help others; 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.  3
 

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