Twenty First Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Matt. 18. v. 23. Monday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
The Ruins of the Old Kreuzkirche in Dresden
GOSPEL Matt. 18:23-35
At that time, Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: "The kingdom of heaven likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. And when he had begun to take the account, one as brought to him, that owed him ten thousand talents. And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: 'Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.' And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go and forgave him the debt. "But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow-servants that owed him an hundred pence: and laying hold of him, he throttled him, saying: 'Pay what thou owest.' And his fellow-servant falling down, besought him, saying: 'Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.' And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt. "Now his fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came, and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him: and said to him: 'Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee?' And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts."
In these words of the servant to his King and Master (have patience with me and I will pay thee all) and in these words of the Master to the servant (Thou naughty servant,did not I forgive thee all thy debt?) the debt here meant, is mortal sin; not, that sin is properly a debt in itself, which we owe, and should pay unto almighty God (although many do sin as frequently & freely without fear, as if it were so) but it is called a debt, out of the effect which sin worketh, and leaveth in our souls,to wit,an obligation to pay unto almighty God eternal punishment in hell for the same, if it be not paid and satisfied here: as when it is said that the Holy Ghost doth beg of God for us, with unspeakable sighs or groans, it is not meant, that the Holy Ghost doth sigh or groan properly, for he doth neither sigh nor groan, he is free from those & all other passions; but that he maketh us by his grace, to beg of God with unspeakable sighs and groans; and that mortal sin contracteth such an obligation, if we do not satisfaction for it here; besides many other proofs,it being the common opinion, and belief of the Church,it appeareth out of these words of the Prophet David; Those that decline away, to wit from the commandments of God, by omitting that which they were bound to do, (for that the Prophet calleth declining) shall be brought into obligations,with them that he workers (or doers) of iniquity: where the Prophet sayeth, that mortal sin bringeth us, into obligations to wit of debt, to suffer eternal punishment; and not only sins of Commission, signified by these words ( workers of iniquity) but of Omission, signified by this word (Declining).
And that this Parable meaneth mortal sin, it appeareth in this, that the debt is said to be ten thousand Talents, with is a huge great sum, every Talent being six hundred crownes, and yet it is but a definite number, for an indefinite, or rather a finite number, for an infinite: as when S. Peter demanded of Christ how often he should forgive his brother, whether unto seven times?
Christ answered, yea unto seventy seven,infinite times,to wit, as often as he offended, and asked pardon, and that the offender should be first weary of asking pardon, then the offended to pardon, having the better part a great deal.
This debt is called infinite,because it is an offence against and infinite person,which is God; it is called inifinite also, because none could satisfy the justice of God for it, no not all the world but Christ Jesus, who by reason of his Godhead was of infinite worth and value, & by reason of his manhood united thereunto passable, & able to suffer for the same, which his Godhead was not.
It is called infinite also because it destroyeth the grace of God in us, and expelleth it out of our souls, which containeth in it the merit and price of the death,and passion of Christ: and when we spend that,we spend and lose the treasure of our redemption,which our master committed unto us to negotiate withal, & so bring ourselves into an infinite debt, as this bad servant did, and was called to an accompt for the same, as all men shall be: for all men have the grace of God committed unto them at least in Baptism,if they do no spend and lose the same.
And if you ask me how can sins expel God out of our souls,who is omnipotent, for in expelling the grace of God it expelleth God,who is said to dwell with us by his grace, according to this place of holy Scripture, behold they shall be my people,and I will be their God,and I will dwell in them, and walk in them?
I answer, it expelleth God by no power,it being a very weak thing, and next unto nothing, to wit, a privation; but by way of demerit & dedesert, reason of the badness & deformity of our human acts; and it doth not only expel God out of our souls,but also all his holy Angels, that attend upon him, in so much that our souls being inhabited by God and his Angels,as they are when we are in the state of grace, are like to a most rich,opulent, strong,and beautiful City, yea like unto Jerusalem when it was in all her Majesty, which was a figure of heaven;but having lost the grace of God, are like to a City, whose inhabitants are fled from it, leaving it poor,naked, desolate, ruinous and lamentable to behold,as in the time of war goodly fair Cities sometimes are, in so much that it would make a mans heart bleed to see them.
And the like spectacles we have here in our country, not a few of goodly Monasteries, and religious houses, ruined, dissolved &left desolate,which were wont to be fair, rich, beautiful and inhabited by human Angels,that continually song praises to God in full Quires, and did him Service here on earth, as celestial Angels do in heaven;which spectacles yet, no not the ruins of Jerusalem,when Titus and Vespasian spoiled it,are nothing so lamentable as a soul without the graces of God.