The First Sunday In Lent The Gospel Matt.4.v.1. Friday Meditation

GOSPEL Matt. 4:1-11 
At that time, Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Who answered and said: "It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from themouth of God." Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, And said to him: "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone." Jesus said to him: "It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to him: "All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me." Then Jesus saith to him: "Begone, Satan: for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve."

Naaman, a great Prince of the King of Syria his court, being strike with a leprosy all over his body, hearing of the fame of Heliseus the Prophet, for such cures, went to him: he appointed him to was himself in a certain river seven times, and told him he should be cured; he did it, and was cured. Sin is a leprosy, and we are all infected and, in the compass of a year, no doubt much defiled therewith: wherefore our holy mother the Church appointed this time of lent, to wash ourselves, & make us clean in the wholesome waters of fasting, prayer and alms, and other holy exercises, for the worthy celebration of Easter; and in this time of lent we may aptly be said to wash ourselves seven times, because we fast seven weeks, resting every Sunday between, which taketh it, as it were, seven several washings: as that of Naamans was, which washing of his, no doubt was a figure or type of ours, as very many other things in the old law were of the new.


Say the word that these stones be made bread & c.

This doth Satan say unto us in these days, by the mouth of many, and they allege scripture for it, as the devil did unto Christ, to wit: that we may and must turn the hard stones of austerity of life, penitential works, and especially f fasting in lent, into the liberty of the Gospel, laying all such burdens upon the back of Christ, saying out of certain places of scripture misunderstood, Christ hath satisfied abundantly for all; as though there were nothing left for us to do any necessity to salvation: where as the scripture saith plainly, and cannot be fouled, or answered, that notwithstanding all that Christ hath suffered, unless we be baptized of water and the holy ghost, we cannot be saved; unless we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood we cannot be saved.

Unless our sins be forgiven here on earth by a lawful priest, they shall not be forgiven in heaven ad the like. This I say, not, that Christ hath not suffered for the sins of all sufficiently of his part, and a thousand times more then sufficient: but he suffered so, that he would have us suffer for them also together with him, that his sufferings, and ours in the virtue of his, might be complete.

And hereunto, what soever libertines with their scripture falsely understood allege to the contrary, we that are Catholics come with this scripture, Saint Peter saith thus unto the faithful: In this you are called, Christ suffered for us leaving you an example to follow his steps; where we may note, he saith, in this you are called. that is to say. this is the condition of our vocation, or calling to the faith of Christ, to suffer with Christ; according where unto Christ himself saith: he that taketh not up his cross, daily, and followeth me, is not worthy to be my disciple.

He that taketh not up his cross, that is to say, if he have no cross imposed upon him, he must take upon one of his own voluntarily in imitation of Christ; and that this is the sense of those words appeareth by the word (daily) for no man almost, unless he up a voluntary cross of his own, hath a daily cross, inflicted upon him.

St. Paul affirmed of himself, that he did chastise his body, and bring it unto subjection, least preaching to others, he became reprobate himself; in another place he is not content to suffer for himself only, but for others, yea for the whole Church, affirming that thereby he accomplished that which was wanting, to wit of our parts, of the suffering of Christ.

Wherefore let them that teach or do the contrary, remember, that as the cross of Christ, which they put upon his back, was so heavy that he could not bear it, and therefore they were feign to force one Simon to help him: To his pleasure is that we should suffer with him, and as it were help to beare his cross with him: which if any man deny him, he is as a bad as the Jews in laying a heavier burden upon him, not then he is able, but then he is willing to beare; and more unkind is he that refuseth to beare it with him, then was Simon, who though unwilling at first, (as it appeareth in that they enforced him there unto, as the text saith) yet he did it peradventure willingly and devoutly at last: so should we, I doubt not, if we would inure ourselves thereunto.

So sweet is the society of the cross of Christ.

And as for the liberty or freedom of the gospel, whatsoever it be, it is not to be free from any works of justice, such as fasting is, by the testimony of Christ himself, more now, then in the old law, but a great deal less, for Christ himself saith, unless our justice doth exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, (who yet were the exemplar men among the Jews) we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.

And the contrary doctrine is, as Saint Peter saith, to make the liberty of the gospel a veil of evil.

A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634 


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