The Lollards

The Lollards were the preachers who were inspired and imbued with the truth that Wycliffe, under God, brought to the light. These poor men, as they were called, were trained and sent out originally by Wycliffe but the movement continued and became strengthened.

After Wycliffe’s death, nearly thirty years passed before the authorities persecuted the Lollards with any severity. It was not until Henry IV came to the throne in 1412 that persecution of the worst kind began.

Like Wycliffe they held that nothing is to be regarded as the law of God unless founded on Scripture, and that every Christian can expect to arrive at a proper understanding of Scripture. When this has been discovered all human arguments are to be rejected.

They opposed anti-biblical doctrine of every sort. When we read the examinations of the Lollards we see just how much they were like the later Puritans both in doctrine and practice.

Walter Brute, one of the early Lollards, when tried, sent a manuscript to court in answer to the bishop’s summons: “Rome is the daughter of Babylon, the great whore sitting upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, with her enchantments, witchcraft and Simon Magus’ merchandise, the whole word is infected and seduced.” The identified the pope as the Antichrist.

As we might expect, the Lollard preachers also attacked transubstantiation, image worship, prayers for the dead, and confessions, because they gave great power to the clergy.

The Lollard movement naturally blended with the Reformation of the early sixteenth century. Thomson, in his “Later Lollards,” says that “by the time the Roman establishment was succeeded by the Anglican, Lollardy was developing into Puritanism.” Eventually these spread into the Covenanters, and Non-conformists of Great Britain and America, and indeed to every part of the globe.

Wycliffe’s ashes, emblem of his doctrine, have truly reached the four corners of the world.