Fifth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Matt.5.v.20 Wednesday Meditation
GOSPEL Matt. 5:20-24
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: "Unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to them of old: 'Thou shalt not kill.' And whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift."
As the Scribes & Pharisees did all their good works to make an outward show to the people, for Covetousness, and Vainglory, dissembling their vices,and therefore were called hypocrites: So there are some that stick not to make an outward show even of their enormous sins, boasting and glorying much therein.
It were to be wished that these were hypocrites, and the like pharisees in concealing their sins,and making a better outward show, for avoiding of scandal unto others, & increasing their own sin. These are they that cast up the froth of their own shame, and confusion as a boiling pot of flesh meat, casteth up the froth and filthiness thereof to the top,or as the waves of the fierce and furious Sea casteth up his froth and foam upon the Sands: nay not only so, but they do,as it were cast up stones of contempt and defiance, against Almighty God, into heaven.
Their sin is great enough of itself,but their impudence and insolent against God,is far greater. To glory in sin,is sin against nature, for nature teacheth us,though we sin,yet to be ashamed of it, as children naturally will blush at sin before they know what sin is,but only by the instinct of nature: nay it is the perverting of the whole course of nature. For to call light darkness,and darkness light; good bad& bad good,and the like is to pervert the whole course of nature: but they that boast & glory in their sins, which are the works of darkness, sinners as long as they are sinners being the children of darkness, do seem thereby to approve their works of darkness to be works of light, worthy of praise and applause of people, unto which only praise and applause of people is due, and therefore do pervert the whole course of nature.
Sin is a stinking puddle of dirt,such as hogs love to wallow in, St Peter saying, those that return to their sins again after they are cleansed, do return like a hog when he is washed clean, to his former wallowing in the dirt, causing a filthy stink thereby.
The filthy puddle of sin, the more it is stirred by rehearsal thereof, especially by way of ostentation or boasting (unless it be in humble Confession,and then with a great deal of sorrow and shame) the more it stinks, St.Paul for the avoiding of the filthy stink of sin which cometh to an honest mind by the very mention thereof, exhorteth the Ephesians that certain sins should not be so much as named amongst them, though they committed them not, much less committed and boasted of when they have done them, and those sins he mentioned, are no enormous sins neither,but such as some of them are usual in these days, to wit, fornication, & all manner of uncleanness in that kind, covetousness, turpitude,foolish talk, scurrility.
There will be some that will abstain from such sins as are punished or infamous,as to steal,or the like; but such sins as are not punished, nor any discredit unto them, but are rather in fashion or request,as they call it,as namely to play, not for recreation but ex spoliation of one another more then their ability will bear, excess of apparel, of diet, of drinking, Tobacco, and the like.
In these and the like they are so free, and frequent,that they account it a discredit or disparagement unto them to be behind any. These also though not in words, yet in their deeds, do boast of their sins, and glory therein. Of these I will say no more, (least the stirring of this puddle though only by way of reprehension & objurgation,do raise a fresh stink) but that which the Prophet Isiah said long ago: To boast of sin, and to be impudent and shameless thereof, was the sin of Sodom, for which, more then for the sin it self, they were destroyed with fire and brimstone from heaven, being, as St.Jude sayth, made a form, and example of hell-fire, to all posterity, the Cities and Country being turned into a filthy black stinking Sea, called ( the dead Sea) wherein no fish no fowl will live.
And that impudence and shamelessness of sinning was the cause of this most grievous punishment,it appears by this, that when God sent two Angels unto Lot dwelling in Sodom, in the shape of fair young men, the men of the City having notice thereof, all of them young and old, came thither & beset the house, and required Lot to deliver them into their hands, that they might abuse their bodies (this they were not ashamed to say;) and when Lot offered them his own daughter, rather tenth should violate his guest, they would not rest, but threatened to expel him & his out of the City; & when they were ready to enter the house they were all struck blind, that they could not fulfill their impious lust; & immediately after, as soon as Lot and his household could get out of the City, followed the miserable destruction of that City as aforesaid, & four Cities more.