James (Wycliffe – 1382)

The Epistle of James
Wycliffe: The Early Version (1382)
1:01 James, the servant of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve kindreds, that be in scattering abroad, health.
1:02 My brethren, guess ye all joy, when ye fall into diverse temptations,
1:03 witting, that the proving of your faith worketh patience;
1:04 soothly patience hath a perfect work, that ye be perfect and whole, in nothing failing.
1:05 And if any of you needeth wisdom, ask he of God, that giveth to all men largely, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him.
1:06 But ask he in faith, nothing doubting; for he that doubteth, is like to a wave of the sea, the which of wind is moved and borne about.
1:07 Therefore guess not that man, that he shall take any thing of the Lord.
1:08 A man double in soul is unstable in all his ways.
1:09 Forsooth a meek brother glory in his enhancing.
1:10 and a rich man in his lowness; for as the flower of grass he shall pass.
1:11 For the sun rose with burning, and dried the hay, and the flower of it fell down, and the fairness of his cheer perished; so and a rich man withereth in his ways.
1:12 Blessed is the man, that suffereth temptation; for when he shall be proved, he shall receive the crown of life, which God promised to men that love him.
1:13 No man when he is tempted, say, that he is tempted of God; for why God is not a tempter of evil things, for he tempteth no man.
1:14 Soothly each man is tempted of his own coveting, drawn from reason, and snared.
1:15 Then coveting, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin; soothly sin, when it is fulfilled, gendereth death.
1:16 And so, my most dear-worthy brethren, do not ye err.
1:17 Each best thing given, and all perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom is not any changing, neither shadowing of whileness.
1:18 Forsooth willfully he gendered us with the word of truth, that we be a beginning of his creature.
1:19 Know ye, my brethren most loved, be each man swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to wrath;
1:20 for the wrath of man worketh not the rightwiseness of God.
1:21 For which thing cast ye away all uncleanness, and plenty of malice, and in mildness receive ye the word inset, that may save your souls.
1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
1:23 For if any man is an hearer of the word, and not a doer, this shall be comparisoned to a man beholding the cheer of his birth in a mirror;
1:24 for he beheld himself, and went away, and anon he forgot what manner man he was.
1:25 But he that beholdeth into the law of perfect freedom, and dwelleth in it, and is not made a forgetful hearer, but a doer of work, this shall be blessed in his deed.
1:26 And if any man guesseth himself to be religious, and refraineth not his tongue, but deceiveth his heart, the religion of him is vain.
1:27 A clean religion, and unwemmed with God and the Father, is this, to visit fatherless and motherless children, and widows in their tribulation, and to keep himself undefouled from the world.
2:01 My brethren, do not ye have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory, in acception of persons.
2:02 Forsooth if there shall enter into your covent a man having a gold ring, in white cloth, forsooth and a poor man shall enter in foul habit,
2:03 and ye behold into him that is clothed with clear clothing, and if ye say to him, Sit thou here well; but to the poor man ye say, Stand thou there, or sit under the stool of my feet;
2:04 whether ye deem not with yourselves, and be made doomsmen of wicked thoughts?
2:05 Hear ye, my most dear-worthy brethren, whether God chose not poor men in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, that God promised to men that love him?
2:06 But ye have despised the poor man. Whether rich men oppress not you by power, and draw you to dooms?
2:07 Whether they blaspheme not the good name, that is in-called of you?
2:08 Nevertheless if ye perform the king’s law, after scriptures, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.
2:09 But if ye take persons, ye work sin, and be reproved of the law, as transgressors.
2:10 Forsooth whoever shall keep all the law, soothly offend in one, he is made guilty of all.
2:11 For he that said, Thou shalt not do lechery, said also, Thou shalt not slay; that if thou doest no lechery, but thou slayest, thou art made a trespasser of the law.
2:12 Thus speak ye, and thus do ye, as beginning to be deemed by the law of freedom.
2:13 For why doom without mercy is to him, that doeth no mercy; but mercy above raiseth doom.
2:14 My brethren, what shall it profit, if any man say that he hath faith, but he hath not works? whether faith shall be able to save him?
2:15 And if a brother or sister be naked, and have need of each day’s lifelode,
2:16 and if any of you say to them, Go in peace, be ye made hot, and be ye filled; but if ye give not to them those things that be necessary to the body, what shall it profit?
2:17 So also faith, if it hath not works, is dead in itself.
2:18 But some man shall say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; shew thou me thy faith without works, and I shall shew to thee my faith of works.
2:19 Thou believest, that one God is; thou doest well; and devils believe, and together tremble.
2:20 But wilt thou know, thou vain man, that faith without works is idle?
2:21 Abraham, our father, whether he was not justified of works, offering Isaac, his son, on the altar?
2:22 Therefore thou seest, that faith wrought with his works, and his faith was fulfilled of works.
2:23 And the scripture is fulfilled, saying, Abraham believed to God, and it was reckoned to him to rightwiseness, and he was called the friend of God.
2:24 Ye see that a man is justified of works, and not of faith only.
2:25 In like manner, whether also Rahab, the whore, was not justified of works, and received the messengers, and sent them out by another way?
2:26 For as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
3:01 My brethren, do not ye be made many masters, witting that ye take the more doom.
3:02 For all we offend in many things. If any man offendeth not in word, this is a perfect man; forsooth he may with a bridle lead about all the body.
3:03 For if we put bridles into horses’ mouths, for to consent to us, and we lead about all the body of them.
3:04 And lo! ships, when they be great, and be driven of strong winds, yet they be borne about of a little rudder, where the moving of the governor will.
3:05 So also the tongue is but a little member, and raiseth great things. Lo! how much fire kindleth how great a wood.
3:06 And our tongue is fire, the university of wickedness. The tongue is ordained in our members, which defouleth all the body; and it is inflamed of hell, and inflameth the wheel of our birth.
3:07 Soothly all kind of beasts, and fowls, and serpents, and of others, be overcome, and be made tame, of mankind;
3:08 but no man may chastise the tongue, soothly it is an unquiet evil thing, and full of deadly venom.
3:09 In it we bless God, the Father, and in it we curse men, that be made to the likeness of God.
3:10 Of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, it behooveth not that these things be done so.
3:11 Whether a well of the same hole bring forth sweet and salt water?
3:12 My brethren, whether a fig tree may make grapes, or a vine figs? So neither salt water may make sweet water.
3:13 Who is wise, and taught among you? shew he of good living his work, in mildness of wisdom.
3:14 That if ye have bitter zeal and strives be in your hearts, do not ye glory, and be liars against the truth.
3:15 For this wisdom is not from above coming down, but earthly, beastly, fiendly.
3:16 For where is envy and strife, there is unsteadfastness and all shrewd work.
3:17 But wisdom that is from above, first it is chaste, afterward peaceable, persuadable, consenting to good things, full of mercy and of good fruits, deeming without feigning.
3:18 And the fruit of rightwiseness is sown in peace, to men that make peace.
4:01 Whereof be battles and chidings among you? Whether not of your covetings, that fight in your members?
4:02 Ye covet, and ye have not; ye slay, and have envy, and ye be not able to get. Ye chide, and make battle; and ye have not, for that ye ask not.
4:03 Ye ask, and ye receive not; for that ye ask evil, as ye shew openly in your covetings.
4:04 Adulterers, know not ye, that the friendship of this world is enemy to God? Therefore whoever will be the friend of this world, is made the enemy of God.
4:05 Whether ween ye, that the scripture saith vainly, The spirit that dwelleth in you, coveteth to envy?
4:06 Forsooth he giveth more grace; for which thing he saith, God withstandeth proud men, but to meek men he giveth grace.
4:07 Therefore be ye subject to God; but withstand ye the devil, and he shall flee from you.
4:08 Nigh ye to God, and he shall nigh to you. Ye sinners, cleanse the hands, and ye double of will, purge the hearts.
4:09 Be ye wretches, and weep ye; your laughing be it turned into weeping, and your joy into sorrow of heart.
4:10 Be ye meeked in the sight of the Lord, and he shall enhance you.
4:11 My brethren, do not ye backbite each other. He that backbiteth his brother, or that deemeth his brother, backbiteth the law, and deemeth the law. And if thou deemest the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a doomsman.
4:12 But one is maker of the law, and judge, that may lose, and deliver. And who art thou, that deemest thy neighbour?
4:13 Lo! now ye, that say, Today or tomorrow we shall go into that city, and there we shall dwell a year, and we shall make merchandise, and we shall make winning;
4:14 that know not, what is to you in the morrow. For what is your life? A vapour appearing at a little time, and afterward it shall be wasted.
4:15 Therefore that ye say, If the Lord will, and if we shall live, we shall do this thing, or that thing.
4:16 And now ye make full out joy in your prides; every such joying is wicked.
4:17 Therefore to a man knowing to do good, and not doing, sin is to him.
5:01 Do now, ye rich men, weep ye, yelling in your wretchednesses that shall come to you.
5:02 Your riches be rotten, and your clothes be eaten of moths.
5:03 Your gold and silver hath rusted, and the rust of them shall be to you into witnessing, and shall eat your fleshes, as fire. Ye have treasured to you wrath in the last days.
5:04 Lo! the hire of your workmen, that reaped your fields, which is frauded of you, crieth; and the cry of them hath entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts.
5:05 Ye have eaten on the earth, and in your lecheries ye have nourished your hearts. In the day of slaying,
5:06 ye brought, and slew the just man, and he withstood you not.
5:07 Therefore, brethren, be ye patient, till to the coming of the Lord. Lo! an earth-tiller abideth the precious fruit of the earth, patiently suffering, till he receive timeful and lateful fruit.
5:08 And be ye patient, and confirm your hearts, for the coming of the Lord shall nigh.
5:09 Brethren, do not ye be scornful each to other, that ye be not deemed. Lo! the judge standeth nigh before the gate.
5:10 Brethren, take ye example of evil going out, and of long abiding of travail, and of patience, the prophets, that spake to you in the name of the Lord.
5:11 Lo! we bless them that suffered. Ye have heard the patience of Job, and ye saw the end of the Lord, for the Lord is merciful, and doing mercy.
5:12 Before all things, my brethren, do not ye swear, neither by heaven, neither by earth, neither by whatever other oath. But be your word Yea, yea, Nay, nay, that ye fall not under doom.
5:13 Soothly if any of you is sorrowful, pray he with patient soul, and say he a psalm.
5:14 If any of you is sick, lead he in priests of the church, and pray they for him, anointing with oil in the name of the Lord;
5:15 and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall discharge him; and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven to him.
5:16 Therefore acknowledge ye one to another your sins, and pray ye for each other, that ye be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man is much worth.
5:17 Elias was a man like to us passable, and in prayer he prayed, that it should not rain on the earth, and it rained not three years and six months.
5:18 And again he prayed, and heaven gave rain, and the earth gave his fruit.
5:19 Brethren, forsooth if any of you shall err from the truth, and any shall convert him,
5:20 he oweth to know, that he that maketh a sinner to be turned from the error of his way, shall save the soul of him from death, and covereth the multitude of sins. Amen.
1. Terence P. Noble