Fourth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc.5.v.1 Tuesday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Luke 5. 1-11
At that time, when the multitude pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Genesareth. And He saw two ships standing by the lake; but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets; and going up into one of the ships that was Simon’s, He desired him to draw back a little from the land: and sitting He taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when He had ceased to speak, He said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon, answering, said to Him: Master, we have laboured all the night, and have taken nothing, but at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes; and their net broke: and they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them; and they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of fishes which they had taken and so were also James and John the Sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things they followed him.
For the Comfort of them that love to hear the word of God,and a Caveat for them that hear it not with that disposition as they ought; I will set down an example of each, which may serve for the meditation of this day.
And first of the first. When St Bernard on a time preached in a certain City, and a very great confluence of people resorted thither, as was usual, he being so holy a man and so good a preacher: A notorious desperate sinner, for curiosity sake, more then any love, would go to hear him.
The holy man making a terrible invective against sin, and sinners, this great sinner began to weep, and to be penitent for his sins. The preacher casting his eye upon him, saw him have a long chain about his neck of many links, and at every tear, a link fell off.
The preacher seeing this strange and stupendous sight, inveighed more and more, and the sinner wept more and more,til all the links were dissolved.
The Sermon being ended, St Bernard called him unto him, & gave him great comfort, and by his persuasion brought him to a sorrowful confession of his heinous sins; who ever afterwards live a good, and virtuous life. How he died I do not read,but if St Augustine's rule be true, he did well: his rule is this; Live well, sayth he, and fear to die ill; nay I say more, live well and fear not to die ill.
If this man received so much good, be hearing a Sermon with no love to it, nor good intention, how much more shall they,that hear it with both?
The other example is this.Upon time a great audience of people being assembled together at a certain Monastery, as the custom was, to hear a sermon of a famous Preacher, that used to preach there; the Preacher fell sick on the sudden. and there was no other fit or ready to supply the place; whereat the Abbot of the house was much troubled , and presently there knocked one at the gate, in the habit of a Monk, and offered to preach. The Abbot was glad.
This preacher being in the pulpit,preached so excellent well, and so effectually,of the glory of heaven,of the torments of hell,of the grievous sins committed in the world, that all the company burst forth into tears. A certain holy Monk of the Monastery knew by revelation the Preacher was a devil,and after the Sermon was ended,went unto him,and adjured him to tell the cause why he came to preach, he answered; yee have heard what great mysteries I have preached,yet see their tears and compunction, I know their disposition is such, that they will take no profit nor benefit thereby, they will presently lay aside all their good purposes , and desires, and return to their former sins,&so my Sermon will turn to their further hurt,and this was the motive which made me preach thus unto them, & with this he vanished out of sight.
Behold a good Sermon, to teach us by the contrary, how to hear Sermons aright. This historical meditation I will conclude with one observation upon the Gospel, which is this: whereas there is mention made in the Gospel of two several ships, and that one of them was St. Peters, and that Christ went into St.Peters ship and preached, it may be signified thereby, and so the Fathers of the Church take it (for some mystical signification it hath, or else the Evangelist that wrote it, would never have made such express mention thereof) that whereas there are divers Congregations of divers Religion in the world, and have been from time to time, which may be called so many Churches, for so in the Greek it doth signify, & may aptly be compared to a ship.
That Church or congregation which is Catholic, that is to say,universally spread throughout all the world,or most parts of the world, and hath so continued in a visible show and practice of Christian religion,from age to age, ever since it was preached and promulgated to the world by the Apostles,of Christ, is Peters ship, which Christ promised should never fail,and that the holy Ghost should direct it into all truth, unto the end of the world, and which St Paul calleth the pillar of truth. All other Religions.contrary or dissonant to that, (there being but one true Church, as St. Paul testify,and one true faith) are ships or Churches of other men who are the authors thereof, but Christ preacheth only n the ship of St. Peter, that is to say, the true doctrine and faith of Christ is only in the Catholic Church which,therefore is called (holy) all other doctrine contrary or dissonant from this,is false ,and as pernicious to hear, ass the other is profitable and good.