Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc. 14. v. 1. Saturday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL - Saint Luke 14:1-11
At that time, when Jesus went into the house of one of the chiefs of the Pharisees on the Sabbath day to eat bread, they watched Him. And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had the dropsy: and Jesus answering, spoke to the lawyers and the Pharisees, saying: "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?" But they held their peace: but He taking him, healed him, and sent him away. And answering them, He said: "Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit, and will not immediately draw him out on the sabbath day?" And they could not answer Him these things. And He spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them: "When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honorable than thou be invited by him and he that invited thee and him, come and say to thee: Give this man place: and then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place: that when he who invited thee cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee: because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled and he that humbled himself shall be exalted."
The dropsy is a disease hard to be cured, and the property of it, is an extreme thirst and desire of drink, yea the more they drink the more thirsty they are.
This disease is so aptly compared to covetousness of riches, as if it were ordained to be a Type or figure thereof.
For a covetous man hath an insatiable thirst, and desire of riches, and as a certain Poet elegantly sayth , As a covetous mans money increaseth, so doth his love and desire for money increase; and Aristotle the king of Philoſophers, sayth, The appetite of money is infinite, admitting no bounds, no measure, it decayeth not with the feebleness of old age, as other vices do, but increaseth and groweth stronger, and stronger, in so much. that if a covetous man should live infinitely long, it would increase vpon him, not only infinitely in length of time, but in quantity and intensiveness, as usury, and usury upon usury would do, usury being the eldest son of a Covetous man, and as like him as may be.
If a man should trauaile hard afoot in the extreme heat of Summer, and should sweat that one drop should follow another, and another trauayler overtaking him, out of his extreme drought with trauailing, should be glad to drink of his sweat to quench his thirst, you would say his thirst was extreme that would drink such a noisome moisture to quench his thirst: Such a drought hath a covetous man, who, so he may quench his insatiable thirst of money (which yet he can neuer do) careth not, so he may have money by neuer so hard means, if it be by a poor man, that hath gotten it neuer so hard labour and sweat of his brows.
As the corporal disease of the dropsy is very hardly cured, so is covetousness in like manner, & therefore Christ, though he could have cured the dropsy-man with his only word, as he did other diseases; yet to shew the difficulty of ... the dropsy of couctouſncs (for the difficulty of the other they knew well enough) he handled the dropſy man with his right hand, as is moſt like, to ſignify that the dropſy of couetouſies, if it be once entered into vs, is not cured but by the mighty hand of God.
And to omit drunkenness which is so like the dropſy,that it deſireth drink indeed as wnſatiably as the dropſy, & the more it drincketh the more it may, and therefore will ſteale v- pon a man before he be aware if he take not great heed, and ſteale away his witts, leaving him worse then a beaſt in the handes of the divel: to omit drunkenness,l ſay, eutry ſinne is a kind of dropſy, deſiring ſtill to drink, not of the ſinne, as it is offenſiue to God, but of the ſenſuall pleaſure and delight thereof, though a man know it to be offenſiuc to God: and be- cauſe pryde and ambition is a dropsy of the mind, and the Phariſees much inteółcd
with (as men of quality, learning, & worth commonly are ) therefore Christ having cured the dropsy man, goeth about to cure the Pharisees by proposing an elegant parable to that ptºr- poſe, of ſuch as preſſe to the hi- gheſt pſaces at the Table,& with ſhame are bid ſit downe lower; when others humbly ſetting themſelues below, are bid with honour to ſit higher: to ſignify wnto them , and vs, that men ſhould not affect dignities, offices, or honours ſo much as to ſeekethem themſelues,which is to ſet themſelues in a highe place, but to expt& till they be preferred by others, for their deſertes, and then to accept of them againſt their will, or out of obedièce, as a burthen which ali dignities, offices, and honor bring with them.
Of this S.Auguſline say thus, That a high place, or Office in the Church, or commonwealth, though a man may execute it well when, hath it: yet not well deſire it before he hath it; but rather to shunne, the danger then seek the honor. And S. Thomas of Aquine saith, It is a dangerous thing to desire the Office of a Bishop, and why? Because, sayth he, there is dignity and honor annexed, or joined unto it, assigning dignity and honour of a Biſhop for a burthen or inconvenience. The Office of a Bishop, as S. Paul sayth, is a good work, & must be desired (if it be deſired) for the good work, not for the dignity and honour, and therefore S. Thomas being the most worthy of it, of any of his time, refused the offer of two, or three. Yea though a man be worthy of dignity, and honours yet if he be ambitions thereof, his very ambition maketh him unworthy, for honour is the reward of virtue, therefore ambition being a vice, if there were nothing elſe, that maketh him unworthy of it. If we be ambitious of honour, we forfait our right to it; honour must seek us, and not we it. It is like a man's own shadow, if we follow it, it will fly from vs, if we fly from it, it will follow vs, & therefore Chriſt concluded this Goſpell with theſe words, with which also we will conclude this meditation: He that exalteth himself, shalbe humbled, & he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.