Preface to the First Series of Catholic Homilies

PRAEFATIO
Ic, Ælfric, munuc and mæssepreost, swaðeah waccre þonne swilcum hadum gebyrige, wearð asend on Æþelredes dæge cyninges from Ælfeage biscope, Aðelwoldes æftergengan, to sumum mynstre, ðe is Cernel gehaten, þurh Æðelmæres bene ðæs þegenes, his gebyrd and goodnys sind gehwær cuðe. Þa bearn me on mode, ic truwige ðurh Godes gife, þæt ic ðas boc of Ledenum gereorde to Engliscre spræce awende, na þurh gebylde micelre lare, ac for ðan ðe ic geseah and gehyrde mycel gedwyld on manegum Engliscum bocum, ðe ungelærede menn ðurh heora bilewitnysse to micclum wisdome tealdon; and me of hreow þæt hi ne cuðon ne næfdon ða godspellicran lare on heora gewritum, buton ðam mannum anum ðe þæt Leden cuðon, and buton þam bocum ðe Ælfred cyning snoterlice awende of Ledene on Englisc, ða synd to hæbbene. For ðisum antimbre ic gedyrstlæhte, on Gode truwiende, þæt ic ðas gesetnysse undergann, and eac for ðam ðe menn behofiað godre lare swiðost on þisum timan, þe is geendung þyssere worulde. And beoð fela frecednyssa on mancynne ær ðan þe se ende becume, swa swa ure Drihten on his godspelle cwæð to his leorningcnihtum: "Þonne beoð swilce gedreccednyssa swilce næron næfre ær fram frumðe middangeardes. Manega lease Cristas cumað on minum naman, cweðende, 'Ic eom Crist,' and wyrcað fela tacna and wundra to bepæcenne mancynn and eac swylce ða gecorenan men, gif hit gewurðan mæg; and butan se Ælmihtiga God ða dagas gescyrte, ealle mennisc forwurde; ac for his gecorenum he gescyrte ða dagas." Gehwa mæg þe eaðlicor þa toweardan costnunge acuman, ðurh Godes fultum, gif he bið þurh boclice lare getrymmed, for ðan ðe ða beoð gehealdene, þe oð ende on geleafan þurhwuniað.

Fela gedreccednyssa and earfoðnyssa becumað on ðissere worulde ær hire geendunge, and þa synd ða bydelas þæs ecan forwyrde on yfelum mannum, þe for heora mandædum siððan ecelice ðrowiað on ðære sweartan helle. Þonne cymð se Antecrist -- se bið mennisc mann and soð deofol, swa swa ure Hælend is soðlic mann and God on anum hade -- and se gesewenlice deofol þonne wyrcð ungerima wundra, and cwyð þæt he sylf God beo, and wile neadian mancynn to his gedwylde; ac his tima ne bið na langsum, for ðan ðe Godes grama hine fordeð, and ðeos weoruld bið siððan geendod.

Crist ure Drihten gehælde untrume and adlige, and þes deofol þe is gehaten Antecrist (þæt is gereht "ðwyrlic Crist") aleuað and geuntrumað þa halan, and nænne ne gehælð fram untrumnyssum, buton þam anum þe he sylf ær awyrde. He and his gingran awyrdað manna lichaman digelice ðurh deofles cræft, and gehælað hi openlice on manna gesihðe, ac he ne mæg nænne gehælan þe God sylf ær geuntrumode. He neadað þurh yfelnysse þæt men sceolon bugan fram heora Scyppendes geleafan to his leasungum, se ðe is ord ælcere leasunge and yfelnysse . Se Ælmihtiga God geðafað þam arleasan Antecriste to wyrcenne tacna and wundra and ehtnysse to feorðan healfan geare, for ðan ðe on ðan timan bið swa micel yfelnyss and þwyrnys betwux mancynne þæt hi wel wyrðe beoð þære deoflican ehtnysse, to ecum forwyrde þam ðe him onbugað, and to ecere myrhðe þam þe him þurh geleafan wiðcweðað. God geðafað eac þæt his gecorenan ðegenas beon aclænsode fram eallum synnum ðurh ða ormatan ehtnyssa, swa swa gold bið on fyre afandod. Þa ofslihð se deofol ðe him wiðstandað, and hi ðonne farað mid halgum martyrdome to heofenan rice. Þa ðe his leasungum gelyfað, þam he arað, and hi habbað syððan þa ecan susle to edleane heora gedwyldes.

Se arleasa deð þæt fyr cymð ufan swilce of heofonum on manna gesihðe, swilce he God Ælmihtig sy, ðe ah geweald heofenas and eorðan; ac þa cristenan sceolon beon þonne gemyndige hu se deofol dyde, ða ða he bæd æt Gode þæt he moste fandian Iobes. He gemacode ða þæt fyr com ufan swilce of heofonum, and forbærnde ealle his scep ut on felda and þa hyrdas samod, buton anum þe hit him cyðan sceolde. Ne sende se deofol þa fyr of heofonum, þeah ðe hit ufan come, for ðan ðe he sylf næs on heofonum syððan he for his modignysse ofaworpen wæs. Ne eac se wælhreowa Antecrist næfð þa mihte þæt he heofenlic fyr asendan mæge, ðeah ðe he þurh deofles cræft hit swa gehiwige. Bið nu wislicor þæt gehwa ðis wite and cunne his geleafan, weald hwa ða micclan yrmðe gebidan sceole.

Ure Drihten bebead his discipulum þæt hi sceoldon læran and tæcan eallum þeodum ða ðing, þe he sylf him tæhte; ac ðæra is nu to lyt ðe wile wel tæcan and wel bysnian. Se ylca Drihten clypode þurh his witegan Ezechiel: "Gif ðu ne gestentst þone unrihtwisan and hine ne manast þæt he fram his arleasnysse gecyrre and lybbe, þonne swelt se arleasa on his unrihtwisnysse and ic wille ofgan æt ðe his blod," þæt is his lyre. "Gif ðu ðonne þone arleasan gewarnast and he nele fram his arleasnysse gecyrran, þu alysdest þine sawle mid þære mynegunge, and se arleasa swylt on his unrihtwisnysse." Eft cwæð se Ælmihtiga to þam witegan Isaiam: "Clypa and ne geswic ðu, ahefe ðine stemne swa swa byme, and cyð minum folce heora leahtras, and Iacobes hirede heora synna." For swylcum bebodum wearð me geðuht þæt ic nære unscyldig wið God gif ic nolde oðrum mannum cyðan, oþþe þurh tungan oððe þurh gewritu, ða godspellican soðfæstnysse, þe he sylf gecwæð and eft halgum lareowum onwreah. Forwel fela ic wat on ðisum earde gelæredran þonne ic sy, ac God geswutelað his wundra ðurh ðone ðe he wile: swa swa Ælmihtig Wyrhta, he wyrcð his weorc þurh his gecorenan, na swylce he behofige ures fultumes, ac þæt we geearnion þæt ece lif þurh his weorces fremminge. Paulus se apostol cwæð, "We sind Godes gefylstan;" and swaðeah ne do we nan ðing to Gode buton Godes fultume.

Nu bydde ic and halsige on Godes naman, gif hwa þas boc awritan wylle, þæt he hi geornlice gerihte be ðære bysene, þy læs ðe we ðurh gymelease writeras geleahtrode beon. Mycel yfel deð se ðe leas writ, buton he hit gerihte, swylce he gebringe þa soðan lare to leasum gedwylde; forði sceal gehwa gerihtlæcan þæt þæt he ær to woge gebigde, gif he on Godes dome unscyldig beon wile.

Quid necesse est in hoc codice capitula ordinare, cum prediximus quod xl sententias in se contineat (excepto quod Æþelwerdus dux vellet habere xl quottuor in suo libro)?