Twenty Third Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Matt. 9. v. 18 Sunday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Matt. 9:18-26
At that time, as Jesus was speaking these things unto them, behold a certain ruler came up, and adored him, saying: "Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live." And Jesus rising up followed him, with his disciples. And behold a woman who was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment. For she said within herself: "If I shall touch only his garment, I shall be healed." But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: "Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole." And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a rout, He said: "Give place, for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth." And they laughed him to scorn. And when the multitude was put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand. And the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that country.
This Gospel contain two egregious miracles, & because miracles are apt testimonies and confirmations of faith if they be done for that end, as no doubt these were to induce the people to believe that Christ was God: For as much as the Scripture tell us, It is impossible to please God without faith, that is to say without a right, faith, and that all our good works are dead unto salvation without faith, according to St. Paul, who affirm, that the just man doth live by his faith, that is to say, his justice or good works have their life from faith; therefore this Meditation shall be of faith, and how how we may find out which is the true faith.
As for miracles, by virtue whereof Countries were first converted to the true faith of Christ, as our Country was,and is the most convincing argument that can be, both for their conversion, and our perseverance in the same, till another faith be plated by miracles also: yet because it is not ordinary, because it is not frequent after Countries once converted by them, but are reserved fear full testimonies against them that forsake that faith which was once planted thereby, because also they are subject to exception, and altercation, and, that people have itching ears after novelties; I will omit them, and come to those means that be ordinary and obvious unto us, where of there are two.
The one, to find out first every particular point of faith, by the scripture, and having found it out, to infer that that company of men, that hold those points, are the true Church of Christ, into which they muſt incorporate themselves,becauſe out of it there is no salvation.
The other is to find out first out of the Scriptures ourselves, or by certain marks drawn out of the Scriptures by others Which is the Church of Christ, and having found it out, to infer that, that Church hold all points of faith neceſſary to salvation, and that they are infallibly true whether we know them or not.
One of these two for certain,is the true way, and which of them it is, we may discern thus: It is certain, God would have all men come to the knowledge of his faith, and be saved, and consequently it is as certain, the way must be so easy to be found, that all men be they never so illiterate & simple may attain unto it, otherwise there would follow this contradiction, that God would not have all to be saved, because he hath not provided means easy enough for all.
It is certain also that for as much as to believe the Catholic Church, is not only to believe there is a Catholic Church, but to believe all those points of faith which she hold, and propound unto us, to be true and necessary to salvation; in believing which Church, we believe all other points of faith, in general, so far forth as is necessary to salvation, till we may learn them in particular, so far forth as belong to our state and condition, all other points being contained implicitly or in effect,in that one, as they are in no other point besides.
This being granted as it cannot be denied, it is as certain, that this latter way, is without all comparison, the eaſier and ſhorter way, and consequently the only true and right way; even that way,of which the Prophet Esay prophesied thus: And there Zai 35 shall be (to wit in the new Law) away, anda path, and it shall be called a Holy way (alluding to the Catholic Church which in the Apostles Creed, is called (boly) namely the holy Catholic Church) a way so direff, that fooles shall not erre therein: where we may observe that the Prophet call it also, a Path, to signify unto vs, that as a path is a neerer, shorter,and fairer way for poor footemen to go, then the horſe way is, so for the common people to seek our first u hich is the Church, being but one point and yet containing all the rest, and easy to be found, is a far neerer, shorter & fayrer way, then to seek out every particular point out of the Scripture,they being many, hard, and no one containing the ref; the Pastors and Governors of the Church having drawn out of the Scriptures for the vie of the people, certain taine eafy markes to know the true Church by, fet downe in a Treatife at the end of this booke, to wit, Vniuerfality of people, places, and times with- out interruption, from the pri- mitiue Church, whereof it is called Catholique, which figni- fieth Uninerfall,to wit,with that threefold vniuerfality aforefaid which no Church can haue but the true Church of Chrift.
And as this is an eafy and fhort way, fo is it the only fafe way; for if we could find out euery parti- cular point of fayth aright, out of the fcripture by our owne reaſon & vnderſtanding ( which is vnpoffible) yet were it not di uine fayth, and confequently not fufficient to faluation, be- caufe that which maketh diuine fayth is the diuine promiſe not to erre in matters offaith,which promife was made to the Ca- tholique or Vninerfall Church, not to particular perfons,nei- ther are they propounders of Ecc fayth faith but the Catholike church.
And if any befo indocible and fimple, that they cannot find out the Catholique Church this way, there is yet another way more eafy (as S. Auguftine ob ferueth) to wit, the very name (Catholique) which no falfe Church could euer obtaine, though they haue much laboured for it, to couer themfelues with this fheepes clothing; God fo pro- uiding, that the moft fimple of all, should baue an caly way, to come to the knowledge of the true fayth and be faued,with no more difficulty then to follow the fayth of that Church, that is called Catholique, or thoſe perfons that are fo called:fo ca- away, that according to the Prophecy aforesaid, fooles can mot erre therein. S. Paul defcri- beth fayth thus: Fayth is the fubstance, or ground, of thinges hoped for,to wit in heauen, and an argument of thinges not appea- ring,to wit in this life; and this word Hebr.11. V.L. I word Argument is in the ori ginali Greeke Text (Elenchos) an Argument that is called a Sillogifme, like vnto this. Euery reasonable creature is a man.
Peter is a reaſonable creature. Therefore Peter is a man.
Or this, which may be gathe red of what is here faid before: The way to find out the true fayth must be fo plaine and eafy that all men,be they nener fo fimple, may find it out.
The Catholique Church is fuch away, not the Scriptures.
Therfore the Catholique Church is the way to find out the true fayth, not the Scriptures.
This Argument is a moft cer- taine proofe, called a Demonstration, which cannot be denied: such a strong argument is the fayth of thinges hoped for in heauen, if it be deduced out of this fillogifme aforefaid, and not out of the ſcriptures, inter- preted by our owne reason and Eec 2 YA Previous Page vnderftanding, in regard wher of S. Paul calleth it an Argu- ment, because it is deduced out of this strong argument afore- faid: and being io deduced, is a ftronge argument it felfe, that we fhall obtaine thoſe thinges in heauen, we belieue and hope for here in earth.
And after St. Paul had thus deſcribed faith, he filleth the whole Chapter with the noble victories of the Saints of the old Testament, which he imputeth to their faith: where unto St. John aliudeth, saying, our faith is that which is our victory, as if he should fay; If the Saints of the old Testament got and atchieued such noble victories by their faith, much more may we of the new testament, our faith being more noble then theirs, more confirmed then theirs,and our hopes greater then theirs.
Wherefore this faith being a special gift of God, as appear in that it being propounded, and declared alike unto many of equal disposition in Sermons, books or discourses, some will assent unto it, some not: If we have it not, let vs pray inceffantly for it, & use our best endeavor to obtain it: If we have it, let us give God inceffant thanks for so great a benefit.
Let us be prudent like serpents in this behalf as Christ exhort us: The serpent knowing by the instinct of nature, that his life resides in his head, expose all his body to danger to save that; so all our spiritual life consisting in our faith according to this of the scripture, the just man live by his faith, let us if need require, expose all things we have to danger, rather then loose our faith, or not profess it when time is, which is almost all one.