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K. Hen. 4. A Sermon preached at Paules crosse by R. Wimbeldon.

in parchment borowed once of I. B. which booke conteining diuers auncient records of the vniuersitie: seemeth to belong sometimes to the library of the Vniuersitie, bearing the yeare of the compiling thereof. 1396. Which computation if it be true, then was it written of him or that he recanted before Thomas Arundell Archbishop at Saltwood, where he was imprisoned.  

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Wimbledon's sermon

Thomas Wimbledon's Paul's Cross sermon, preached in 1387 or 1388, was circulated widely in manuscript in the late Middle Ages. Its apocalyptic tenor and impassioned call for clerical reform caught the imagination of English evangel-icals, anxious to find evidence of the True Church before Luther. These evangelicals believed that Wimbledon's sermon - and it is important to remember that they did not know that Wimbledon was the author - was a Lollard work. The sermon was first printed by an evangelical, John Maylor, sometime around 1541. (For evangelical interest in this sermon and its early printing history, see Alexandra Walsham, 'Inventing the Lollard Past: The Afterlife of a Medieval Sermon in Early Modern England', Journal of Ecclesiastical History 58 [2007], pp. 628-655). There were five editions of the sermon printed before Foxe's 1563 edition. In his first edition, however, Foxe reprinted the first edition of the sermon. This can be seen in the fact that - most unusually - reprinted most of the marginal notes, as well as the text, of this edition. However, Foxe made a careless error: he reprinted the title page of the work, but where the title page stated that the sermon was preached in MCCCLXXXVII, Foxe stated that it was preached in 1388. In the 1563 edition, Foxe tentatively speculated that the sermon was authored by John Wiclif. While working in the records of Archbishop William Courtenay between the 1563 and 1570 edition, Foxe discovered 'an old worne copy' of the work and learned that it had been written by Richard Wimbledon. Foxe printed his discovery in the 1570 edition, replacing the sixteenth century version he had reprinted in 1563. He also identified Wimbledon as the author. Interestingly, as Alexandra Walsham has observed, although Foxe knew that the sermon was preached around 1388, he printed it just after the account of William Thorpe, thereby subtly associating Wimbledon's sermon with persecution and martyrdom. The 1570 version of the sermon, and its placement, were repeated in all subsequent editions of Foxe.

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Thomas S. Freeman,
University of Sheffield

Whereunto I thought also to annexe, a certayne godly and most frutefull Sermon, of like antiquitie, preached at Paules crosse much about the same time, which was in the yeare of our Lord. 1388. by a certaine learned clerke, as I find in one old monument, named R. Wimbeldon. Albeit, among the auncient registers and records belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury: I haue an old worne copy of the said Sermon, written in very old English, and almost halfe consumed with age: purporting the said autor heereof bearing also the foresayd name. The true copy of which Sermon, in his owne speech wherein it was first spoken and preached at the crosse, on the Sonday of Quinquagesima, and after exhibited to the Archbishop of Canterburie (being then as it seemeth William Courtney) here foloweth.

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A Sermon no lesse godly then learned, preached at Paules Crosse on the Sonday of Quinquagesima. ann. 1389. by R. Wimbeldon.

Redde rationem villicationis tuæ. Luce. xvi.

Marginalia Math 20. The sermon of R. Wimbeldon. MY dere frends, ye shullen vnderstond: that Christ autor and doctour of trueth, in his booke of the Gospell (likening the kingdome of heauen to anhousholder) saith on this maner. Like is the kingdome of heuen to an housholding man, that went out first on the morow to hire workemen into his vine. Also, about the third, sixt, nienth and enleuente houres he went out, and found men stonding idel. And sayd to them. Go ye into min vineyerde, and that right is, I wille geue you. Whan the day was agoo, he clepid his stuward and high to geue eche man a peny.

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The spirituall vnderstonding of this housholder, is our Lord Iesu Christ that is head of the houshold of holy Church. Marginalia The calling of God is diuers. And thus clepith men in diuerce houres of the day, that is in diuerce agees of the werld. As in time of law of kinde, he cleped by enspiryng, Abel, Ennok, Noe, and Abraham. In time of the old law, Moses, Dauid, Isay, and Ieremy. And in time of grace, Apostles Martyrs, and Confessours and Virgines. Also he cleped men in diuers agees, some on childhode, as Iohn Baptist: some on state of wexing, as Iohn the Euangelist: some in state of manhoode, as Peter and Andrew: and some in old agee as Gamaliel, and Ioseph of Arimathie. And all these he clepeth to trauaile in his vine, that is the Church, and that in diuers maner. For right as yee seeth, that in tilling of the materiall vine there ben diuers labours, for some kutten awey the voyde braunches, some maken forkis and railes to beren vp the vine, and some diggen away the olde earth fro the rote, and leyn there fatter. And all this offices ben so necessary to the vine, that if any of them faile, it shall harme greatly, other destroy the vine: For but if the vine be kutte, she shall waxe wilde, but if she be rayled she shall be ouergo with netles and wedis. And but if the rote be fatted with donge, shee for feblenes shuld waxe baraine.

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Right so in the Church beth nedefull thes three offices, priesthood, knythode, and laborers. To priests it falleth, to kut away the void braunches of sinnes with the swerd of her tong. To knighthode it falleth to letten wronges, and thefftes to ben done, and to maintaine Goddis law, and them that ben teachers therof, and also to kepe the londe from enemies of other londes. And to labourers it falleth, to trauail bodelich, and with ther sore swete, geten out of the earth bodillech lifelode for hem, and other parties. And these states beth also nedefull to the Church, that none may well ben without other, for if priesthod lacked, the people for default of knowing of Gods lawe, should waxe wilde in vices, and deyen gostely. And if the knithod laked, and men to rulin the puple by law and hardinesse, theeues and enemies shulden so encres that no man shuld liue in peace. And if the laborers were nought, both knightes and priestes must bicome acre men and herdis: and els, they shuld for defaute of bodily sustenaunce deye. And therfore saith clerk Auicenne, that euery vnreasonable best if he haue that that kind hath ordeined for him: as kinde hath ordeined it: he is suffisaunce to liue by himselfe without any helpe of other of the same kind. As if there were but one horse other one shepe in the world, yet if he had grasse and corne as kind hath ordeined for such beastes, he shuld liue well I now. But if there ne were but O man in the world, though he had all that good that is therein, yet for defaut he shuld deie, or his life shuld be wors thā if he were naught, & the cause is this for that thing that kind ordeineth for a mans sustenaunce, without other arraieng thanit hath of kind, accordeth nought to him. As though a man haue corne as it commeth from the earth, yet it is no meare according to him, vnto it be by mans craft, chaunged into bread: and though he haue flesh other fish, yet while it is rawe as kinde ordeined it, till it be by mans trauaile sodden, rosted, or baken, it cordit not to mans lifelode. And right so, wolle that the sheepe beareth mot by mannis diuers craftis and trauailes be chaunged or it be able to cloth any man: and certis O man by himselfe, shuld neuer doo all thse laboures. And therefore saith this clerke, it is neede that some be acre men, some bakers, some makers of cloth, and some marchaunts to fetch that, that on londe fetteth from an other there it is plentie.

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And certis this shuld be a cause why, euery state shuld loue other. And men of o craft shuld not despise ne hate men of none other craft, sith they be so nedefull euerich to other. And oft thelke craftes that ben most vnhonest, might worst ben forbore: and o thing I dare well say that he that is neither trauailing in this world, on studieng, on praiers, on preaching, for helpe of the people as it falleth to prists, neither ruling the people, mainteining ne defending fro enemies as it falleth to knights, neither traueling on the earth, in diuerse craftes, as it falleth to labourers: Whan the day of rekening commeth that is, the end of this life, right as he liued here withouten trauaile, so he shall there lack the reward of the penie, that is, the endles ioie of heauen. And as he was here liuing after none state ne order, so he shall be put than in that place that no order is in, Marginalia Iob. 10. 2. Cor. 7. 1. Peter. 2. but euerlasting horror and sorow, that is in hell. Herfore, eueriche man se to what state God hath cleped him, and dwell he therin by trauaile according to his degree. Thou that art a laborer or a crafty man, do this truelly. If thou art a seruaunt or a bond man, be suget and lowe in drede of displeasing of thy Lord: If thou art a marchaunt, disceiue nought thy brother in chaffering. If thou art a knight or a Lord, defend the poore man and needy fro handes that will harme them. If thou art a Iustice or a Iudge, go not on the right hand by fauour, neyther on the left hand, to punish any man for hate. Marginalia 1. Thes. 4. Prou. 8. 2. Tim. 4. If thou art a priest, vndernime, praye, and repreue, in all maner patience and doctrine. Vnderuime thilke that ben negligent, pray for thilke that bene obedient, reproue tho that ben vnobedient to God. So euery man trauaile in his degree. For whan the euen is come, that is, the end of this worlde: than euerye man shall take reward, good or euill, after that he hath trauailed here.

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The wordes that I haue taken to make of my sermon, be thus muche to say: Yelde reconing of thy bayly Christ autour of pitye and louer of the saluation of his people, in the proces of this gospell enfourmeth euery man what is his baylye, by maner of a parable of a bayly that he speaketh of, or aray him to answer of the goodes that God hath taken him, when the day of straight reconing shall be come, that is the day of dome. And so I at this tyme thorowe the helpe of God, folowing him that is so great a maister of autoritie, because that I know nothing that should more drawe away mans vnreasonable loue fro the passing ioy of thys world, then the minde of the dreadfull reconing. As much as suffice, I shall shewe you how ye shall dispose you to auoide the vengeaunce of God,. when ther shalbe time of so straight doome, that we shall geue reconing of euery idle word that we haue ispoken. For than it shal be said to vs, and we shall not flee it: Marginalia Nota. Yelde reconing of thy bayly.

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But for forther proces of this first party of this sermon, yee shall wete: that there shall be three baylifes that shall be cleped to this straight reconing. Twaine to answer for them selfe and for other, that bene priests that haue cure of mens soules, & temporal mē that haue gouernayle of people: and the thirde baylyf shall acount onely for himselfe, and that is euerye Christen man, of that he hath receiued of God. And euery of these shnll aunswer to three questions: MarginaliaThree questions The first. Second. Third. To the first question, how hast thou entred? The second, how hast thou ruled: And to the third, how hast thou liued? And if thou canst well assoile these three questions, was there neuer none earthly Lord that euer so well rewarded his seruant without comparison, as thy Lord God shal reward thee, that is with blisse, and ioye, and life that euer shall last. But on that other side, and thou wilt now be recheles of thine owne welfare, and take none heede of this reconing: If that day take thee sodainly, so that thou passe hence in deadly sinne (as thou wotst neuer what shall fall thee) all the toungs that euer were, or euer shall be, mow not tell the sorrowe and wo that thou shalt euer be in, and suffer. Therefore, the desire of so great ioy, and the dread of so great paine, thoughe loue ne dread of God were not in thine hart: yet should that make thee afeard to sinne, for to thinke that thou shalt giue reconing of thy bayly. Therefore as I say to thee, the first question that shall be proposed to the first bayly, that is a prelat other a Curat of mens soules, is this: How hast thou entred? Math. xxij. Friend, how entredst thou hether? Who brought thee in to this office? Truth or MarginaliaAgainst Simony. Symony? God or the Deuill? Grace or mony? The flesh or the spirit? Giue thou thy reconing if thou canst. If thou canst not, I rede that thou tary for to learne. For vp hap ere night thou shalt be cleped. And if thou stande dombe for vn-

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