Seventh Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Mat. 7.v.15 Monday Meditation
GOSPEL Matthew 7:15-21
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that saith to Me: Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Issac had two sons. Esau & Jacob, Esau was the eldest, the younger Jacob; Esau was hairy all over his face, hands and body, as it was thought, like the sink of a young kid; Jacob was smooth and without hair, as other men are: Issac being very old and drawing,as he thought, to his end, & being withal blind, called his eldest son Esau unto him, and bid him go abroad, & kill him some wild venison to eat,and then he would give him his benediction before he died.
Jacob by the Counsel of his mother, who over heard Issac what he said,and desirous that Jacob, whom she loved better then Esau, should have this benediction, got some tame flesh that was near home,and dressed it Venison like, as she knew her husband loved,and made him carry it to his Father before Esau returned home,and say he was his eldest son Esau, that after his Father had eaten,and was well pleased,he might steal away his elder brothers benediction before he came, which he did: but his mother least his Father feeling him, and finding him to be smooth, and not hairy as Esau was, should think, as it was,he came to delude him, and instead of a benediction, he should lay malediction or curse upon him, fastened upon his face, neck & hand, kid-skins.
When Jacob came to his Father thus furnished, and took upon him the person of Esau, his Father, though he could not discern him by his sight, for he was blind, nor by his feeling, for feel him he did; yet he suspected him by his voice, and said unto him: Thy hands and face are of Esau,but thy voice is the voice of Jacob, and gave him the benediction of Esau.
No question but Jacob did his best to counterfeit the voice of Esau, but of all things else, one can hardly counterfeit another mans voice so, but he may be discerned.
Christ telleth us here, that false Prophets should come unto us, which should seek like ravening wolves to devour us, and that they should not come unto us in their own shape, but cover and hide themselves, to deceive us the more, in the skins, of harmless sheep, as Jacob did in the skins of kids to deceive Esau; but he sayth not they shall have the voice of sheep, otherwise if they were covered with sheepskins, and did not howl like wolves but bleat like sheep also, it were in vain for Christ to bid us beware of them, for then we should never so much as suspect them, no more then Issac did his son Jacob being covered with kid-skins like Esau, had it not been for his voice.
The voice of sheep, that is of that sheepfold of which Christ said in the Gospel, I have other sheep, besides those of the Jews, meaning the Gentiles, them must I bring, unto those of the Jews, meaning the Gentiles, them must I bring, unto those of the Jews, that of both there be one sheepfold and one shepherd, to wit one universal Church, under one head Christ Jesus in heaven, & his Vicar or substitute the Popes holiness here on earth, which is now verified throughout the world, long ago; The voice of a sheep, I say, that is of this universal sheepfold the holy Catholic universal Church, is this: I believe the Text of the holy Bible, so far forth, and in the manner as the holy Catholic Church doth propound, and expound it unto me, and no otherwise, because this is an Article of my Creed contained in these words; I believe the holy Catholic Church which I professed and vowed in my baptism to believe, & because St Paul sayth, this Church is the pillar of truth, it being proper to a pillar not only to stand firm itself, but to support and bear up the whole edifice, or building that is joined unto it; in so much that if we had but one place of Scripture for some Catholic Proposition, or Tenet, and that an obscure one too, with the interpretation of the universal Church, and one that rejected the interpretation of Universal Church and adhere to his own interpretation, had ten to the contrary, as commonly the Catholic hath ten to his one; that one ought to preponderate before all those ten: yea hence it is, that an Heretic is so called, of the Latin word Hereo, to stick unto, because he rejected the interpretation of the universal Church, & adhere or sticketh to his own private opinion, or the opinion of some other that do so.
But the voice or howling of a wolf is that which the Master-wolf the Devil used to our Saviour Christ when he fasted in the desert, Scrptum est, It is written, or the Scripture sayth; alleging Scriptures, but applying then as they list, to false and absurd senses, as he did, without the Churches interpretation, or any mention thereof: this is the difference between the voice of a sheep,and of a wolf.
If thou be a sheep of the universal or Catholic Church of Christ, give thanks to God for so great a benefit, and that he hath provided thee such a pillar of truth, as the Church is to keep thee safe from the dangers of false Prophets and ravening wolves, if thou wilt adhere unto it.