TWENTY FIFTH AND LAST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST THE GOSPEL MATT. 24. V. 15 FRIDAY MEDITATION: A PLAINE PATH-WAY TO HEAVEN THOMAS HILL 1634
GOSPEL Matt. 24:15-35
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: "When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand. Then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains: And he that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take any thing out of his house: And he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child and that give suck in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter or on the sabbath. For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened. "Then if any man shall say to you, 'Lo here is Christ,' or 'there': do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand. If therefore they shall say to you, 'Behold he is in the desert': go ye not out. 'Behold he is in the closets': believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east and appeareth even into the west: so shall also the cowling of the Son of man be. Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. "And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of heaven shall be moved. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. And then shall all tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty. And he shall send his angels with a trumpet and a great voice: and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them. "And from the fig tree learn a parable: When the branch thereof is now tender and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the doors. Amen I say to you that this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass: but my words shall not pass."
The Counsel of Christ giveth us here, is partly concerning our life, and conversation, partly concerning our belief.
Concerning our life is this, that those that are in Judea must fly unto the mountains for refuge; that he that is above in the house come not down so much as to take away his coat; he that is in the field return not home; to pray that our flight be not in winter or on the Sabbath day, that we cannot travel at all, as upon the Sabbath day,or make no speed as in winter; & how hard it will go with them that be nurses, or be with child.
The moral or spiritual sense of all which is, that we suffer not ourselves to be carried away with the inordinate love and affection of any thing of this world, do much as to prejudice or hurt our souls, in the course of virtue and service of God, every one in their several state and vocation: and that we admit no occasions,temptations,and impediments that may hinder us therein, but relinquish, and cast them off, which is briefly expressed unto us by our Savior Christ,under this example,or Metaphor: If thy eye, sayth he, scandalize thee, that is to say, be a provocation or occasion of sin unto thee, pull it out; if thy hand or foot,cut it off, that is to say, if any thing in the world whatsoever be an occasion to thee of sin, though as dear to thee as thy eye, hand or foot, reject it, & cast it from thee, It is better for thee to go into the kingdom of heaven with one eye,one hand, or one foot, then into hell with two.
If thou be so weak,that thou canst not do this remaining in the world,or if thou desire to serve God in a more high or holy strain then worldly people can, by reason of their manifold impediment: then as Lot with his company was bid by an Angel,to get him out of the combustion of Sodom and Gomorrah,unto a mountain over against it,where he might see the combustion and danger of others hard by,but was free from it himself: so let such a one fly from Judea, that is to say from the world, unto some Religious house, which is a mountain of security, where he may contemplate & behold in safety, the combustion and danger of others that be in the world,and that which himself had been obnoxious and subject unto, if he had been in the world as others are.
The Counsel Christ giveth us here concerning our belief, is this: When Christ had foretold us that towards the later days, (and the nearer to Antichrists time so much the more) there should arise false Christs & false Prophets, or teachers, who to their doctrine,should say unto them, behold here is Christ,and there is Christ,behold he is in the desert,he is in the bowels;when he had thus described them, he added these words and said unto us: Believe them not, for as lightning commeth out of the East, and appeareth into the west,that is to say, passeth so apparently that all may see it;so is the coming of the son of man, as if he should say this, pointing unto these times.
There are now of late years gone forth into some parts of the world,men that teach the people,that Christ,that is to say (true faith,and religion of Christ) hath been in the desert,invisible,unknown,and unpracticed in the world,till Luther and Calvin brought it upon the stage.
They say it is here, & there, amongst them, and their disciples only; they say it is in the bowels either of the earth, or of themselves, that is to say, that the true interpretation of the Scriptures is in their breast and understanding,and that the rule of understanding the Scriptures,is not the common consent of the Catholic or universal Church, but every mans private spirit: but Christ biddeth us, believe them not, for the true faith is not here, or there, but everywhere,universally preached,universally planted throughout all the world, or the most part thereof; neither is it in the desert, or wilderness out of sight, but practiced and shining throughout the world, in every age since it was first planted; it is apparent, as lightning that cometh from the east to the west, which no man can but see: it is not hidden in the bowels of the earth, nor in the bowels or breasts of private men,but of the whole Catholic or universal Church, unto whom Christ promised the spirit of truth, and is therefore called of St.Paul, the pillar and ground of truth. St. Peter sayth plainly, the interpretation of the Scripture is not done by any private spirit , neither is there any such promise of God.
This doth Christ arm us here in the knowledge and firmness of our faith, against all the forerunners of Antichrist whatsoever: it remaineth that, we being thus armed and animated in faith,& good life, against all Adversaries as aforesaid,we yield continual thanks and service to God,for so great a benefit, and pray that all others may attain unto the same, that we and they may serve and glorify our common God, maker, preserver, and redeemer together.