Ninth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc.19. v. 41. Wednesday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Luke 19. 41-47.
At that time, when Jesus drew near to Jerusalem, seeing the city, He wept over it, saying: If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side; and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee; and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation. And entering into the temple, He began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought, saying to them: It is written, “My house is the house of prayer.” but you have made it a den of thieves. And He was teaching daily in the temple.
When God gave the law unto Moses upon mount Sinai, the people standing at the foot of the hill but forbidden to approach any higher, he gave it with that terror of fire, and smoke, where with all the hill was covered as it were a furnace of fire, with a most shrill and hideous noise of trumpets, storms, and tempests ,and with the fearful thundering voice of God unto Moses, and the pitiful voice of Moses unto him again, and other terrifications, that the people were afraid it would kill them, and therefore said to Moses: Speak thou unto us & we will hear thee, let not God speak unto us least we die: and this God did, as Moses told the people upon these speeches of theirs unto him, that the fear of God might be upon them, that they might not sin.
To this end likewise God hath fearfully expressed the pains of hell unto us, and the grievousness thereof: he calleth it a fire, for some resemblance it hath with our fire, and by visible things to bring us into some kind of understanding of invisible; but such a fire it is, as ours is but a painted fire in comparison thereof.
He sayth, men shall be bound hand and foot, and cast into it, that they cannot stir to help themselves more then a block that is cast into the fire; and in this, far worse then a block, for that when a block is burned out, there is an end of it, but such as are in hell, shall burn for ever and never be consumed, or ever one to have an end.
This fire shall have the quality or operation of extreme cold as well as heat,and the one shall torment as much as the other: there, that is to say in hell sayth Christ, shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, weeping for the burning heat, gnashing or chattering of teeth for extreme cold.
And say a man were tormented here with our fire, yet it were some comfort that the fire had light, but in hell it shall not have darkness with it according to that which Christ sayth, He shall be cast into external or outward darkness. And besides this affliction which is called outward, or extrinsically darkness, there is another torment, a worse then that, which is called Worm of Conscience, that is to say, an inward grief of Soul, and bottomless repentance for our faults and follies, whereby they incur these outwards torment, and pains, which Divines call in Latin, Paenam sensus, the pain of the sense, and that which is far worse, the loss of the beatific vision & fruition of God, which they call Paenam damni, the loss of the beatific vision of God, which vision & fruition of God is so great a happiness, that in comparison thereof, the other is nothing.
The consideration of our extreme folly for incurring these two, when we might so easily have avoided them, the greatness of them, the eternity & irrevocably, from which consideration they never shall be able to divert their mind so much as one moment, will continually vex, and gnaw our souls,and aggravate them against us, as a worm breeding in wood, or other things doth continual feed & gnaw thereupon, and therefore is called the worm of conscience, and doth in some sort vex us more then both the punishments aforsaid, our own folly being the cause of them both.
The manner how the Worm of Conscience doth gnaw the damned in hell, that there have these two punishments aforesaid, and to their greater punishments do see the felicity of the Saints in heaven, as Dives the rich Glutton did Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, Solomon speaking in their persons, doth express in these words: O fools, say they, that we were,and now most miserable wretches, we thought their life, to wit of them in heave,to have been madness, and their end without honor; behold how they are now accompted amongst the sons of God and their lot amongst the Saints: therefore we have erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shinned unto us &c.
And after a long lamentation of their folly and misery, worthily to be read, but to long to set down here, he concludeth thus: Such words did they speak in hell, that had sinned.
God, I say, did not only express the pains of hell, in these and the other speeches aforesaid, that his terror might be in us to keep us from sin, but also left us the example of the miserable destruction of Jerusalem, to imprint them the more in our minds, it being a lively figure thereof, and this was one of the good effects that God foresaw in the destruction of Jerusalem; for although God doth not evil that good may ensue thereof, yet he suffereth evil that good may ensue, and turneth evil into good effects, to them that love him: for God is so infinite good, that he would suffer no evil,but that he knoweth how to turn it to the good of others.
Wherefore we will conclude this meditation with thanksgiving to God for such a fearful example to deter us from sin, & in the next set down as brief a narration thereof as we can, though twice as long as an ordinary Meditation, the matter requiring a far longer discourse.