Fifth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Matt.5.v.20 Tuesday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
MASTER of Flémalle
Blessing Christ and Praying Virgin (detail)
Tuesday MeditationGOSPEL Matt. 5:20-24At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: "Unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to them of old: 'Thou shalt not kill.' And whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift."
Christ to show he came to perfect the law and not to dissolve it, & to show likewise,how we may perfect it, sayth thus: Unless your justice or righteousness, exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard it was said to them of old time: Thou shalt not kill, he that killeth, shall be guilty of judgement; but I say unto you, Every one that is angry with his brother, shall be guilty of judgement, and he that sath (Racha) unto his brother guilty of a Counsel, & he that sayth (Thou fool) shall be guilty of hell fire: where whatsoever the literal meaning of these degrees is (for it is hard to be given) the scope of the discourse is this; that lesser things are forbidden us in the new law then those that the Scribes and pharisees taught the people,and that under as great punishment as those, of which though they made no account,yet were indeed of that importance, as to deprive us of the Kingdom of heaven: that is to say, that our anger towards any man, which here Christ calleth our brother, (that the consideration of that brotherhood that is between us, having all one heavenly Father, may help to repress our anger or murmuring him (for so(Racha) doth signify or calling him fool) might be such as to be a mortal sin, as well as the act of killing: and so it is of all other sin, our inward delight and consent where unto, may be such, and we may show it in such manner, that it may be a mortal sin, as well as the outward act it self, according to that which Christ sayth a little after this Gospel,but belonging to the same matter: It was said unto them of old time. Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, he that seeth a woman with carnal concupiscence towards her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.
This inward purity,and cleanness of heart, the Scribes and Pharisees did not teach, they did not care (as Christ said of them) to make clean the inside, but only the outside of dish, & therefore those that teach us to avoid the outward acts of sin,but not the inward, are Scribes and Pharisees; and unless our justice or righteousness exceed theirs, we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And although venial sins are small matters, & do not deprive us, directly, of the kingdom of heaven,yet they make way, and dispose us to mortal sins that do.
For though venial sins are not against the love of God, as mortal sin are,yet are they against the fervour thereof,which being once lost or diminished, we quickly call into mortal sins, and therefore the care to avoid venial sins, is compared to a rampier to defend the wall of a city.
Wherefore Christ coming to perfect the Law, admonished and consul us, to beware of venial sins, telling us, that we shall give some kind of account,for very idle word in the day of judgment.
Wherefore if we will be secure from mortal sin, we must endeavor to avoid venial: for as the Scripture sayth, He that contemned little sins shall fall by little and little, into great ones.
Nay Christ goeth further in his long Sermon to his disciples upon the mountain, whereof this Gospel is but a little part: It was said to them of old, an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; but I say, if any man contend in judgement with thee for thy coat, give him thy cloak also, rather then to contend with him.
Behold how perfect our Lord would have us to keep the law, how far he would have us to be from the danger of breaking thereof, how fearful to loose our souls by looseness of life. St Peter considering the everlasting horror of hell, and separation from everlasting beatific vision of God, wherein doth consist all our felicity,calleth upon us to do all that we can to make sure our salvation, not only by avoiding of sin, but by doing good works, meaning more then we are precisely bound, by commandment, to do.