Twenty Fourth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Matt. 24. v. 15. Saturday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Matt. 24:15-35At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: "When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand. Then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains: And he that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take any thing out of his house: And he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child and that give suck in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter or on the sabbath. For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened. "Then if any man shall say to you, 'Lo here is Christ,' or 'there': do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand. If therefore they shall say to you, 'Behold he is in the desert': go ye not out. 'Behold he is in the closets': believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east and appeareth even into the west: so shall also the cowling of the Son of man be. Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. "And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of heaven shall be moved. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. And then shall all tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty. And he shall send his angels with a trumpet and a great voice: and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them. "And from the fig tree learn a parable: When the branch thereof is now tender and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the doors. Amen I say to you that this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass: but my words shall not pass."
Antichrist must be born at Babylon, which signifies Confusion, because he bringeth confusion into the world and shall be confounded himself at last.
He is to be of the Tribe of Dan, and therefore Dan was in the spirit of prophecy accursed of Jacob his Father: & the Tribe of Dan excluded by St. John in his Apocalypse, or Revelations,no doubt for the same cause, out of the Twelve tribes of Jacob, that is to say, out of the Elect unto salvation,which he there numbered, and the tribe of Manasses the son of Joseph numbered in his place.
His Reign shall be three years and a half.
As he is to be born of the Jews; so the Jews, when he commeth, shall receive him.
Enoch and Elias shall come & preach against him, he shall put them to death in the holy City, they shall rise again,and confound him, he shall oppose himself directly against Christ,and thereof is called Antichrist, a Greek word, which signifies in English, Against Christ.
He shall take upon him, to be Christ, he shall extol himself above God, and sit in the Temple as God.
His coming shall be by the operation of Satan,in great power, seeming miracles, and prodigious effects.
By this we may learn the Pope cannot be Antichrist, unto whom none of these properties agree, and who is so far from being against Christ, which the word Antichrist doth import, that his highest title is, to be the Vicar,and Substitute of Christ here in earth, and so far from extolling himself above God, that another of his Titles is, to be, the servant of the servants of God, and this is in all his decrees letters patents letters missive, & the like.
He bapitizeth with the baptism which Christ instituted, to wit, In the name of the holy Ghost: he concludeth the prayers of the Church-service,with these words, Through Christ our Lord.
Neither can he be any fore-runner of Antichrist, to prepare his ways against he some,as St.John the Baptist was of Christ; those are they that Christ here describeth, those that say, the Religion of Christ is in the wilderness, unseen,or unpracticed in the world or it is here, or there only, and not rather every where through out the world,or in the bowels and breasts of private men, as they understand the Scriptures.
These are forerunners of Antichrist, these are false Prophets, or teachers, these are false Christs, that teach Christ false, or otherwise then he is,or otherwise then the Catholic Church teacheth him to be, who, being his spouse and the pillar of truth, hath reason to know him best; and who these are that teach, thus, it is apparent in these days.
Wherefore as St. Paul writing to the Thessalonians, concerning the day of doom, sayth thus: I beseech you brethren not to be easily moved from your religion, nor terrified as if the day of doom were at hand, for unless the Antichrist be first revealed,which he there expresseth, the day of doom shall not come: So let us,not be moved, nor terrified never the more in our Religion, though our adversaries inculcate never so much, that the Pope is Antichrist: for as the day of doom shall not come, till that great Antichrist come, according to St. Paul as aforesaid, that shall oppose himself directly against Christ; so also that great Antichrist shall not come,till the day of doom approach.
As for the forerunners of Antichrist, and such as prepare his way,those are Heretics, and Sectaries, whom Christ here calleth false Christs, and false Prophets,especially those that take away the Blessed Sacrifice of the Mass, the taking away whereof, is, that abomination of desolation, for spoken of by the Prophet Daniel, as fore said,& how to discern heresies,hath been shown in the precedent Meditation.
This four and twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, is appointed always to be the next before Advent Sunday,according to a Rubric, or (which is all one) a Rule written in red letters,and inserted in the Breviary, & Office of our Blessed Lady, at the three and twentieth Sunday after Pentecost.
The reason is this, that whereas there be two Advents,or Comings of Christ, the first as a Savior and Redeemer into this world, the second as a Judge at the end of the world; the Church would have this Gospel,and that of the first Sunday in Advent to be of Antichrist,& the second coming of Christ,and so to begin his first coming with the memory of his second, that the memory and meditation of his second coming, might prepare us the better to keep his first, secure us the better against his second, either at the general day of doom,or our particular death, according to the prayer for Christmas Eve, alluding hereunto in these words: O God who doest glad us, with the yearly expectation of our Redemption;grant that they only begotten son our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we do now joyfully receive, as our Redeemer, we may securely see coming as our Judge.
Thus we being armed and prepared by these two Gospels of Antichrist, and the day of doom; by that of Antichrist in constancy of faith, by that of the day of doom in purity of life, we are to prepare our souls this holy time of Advent a fit habitation, to receive and entertain our sweet Savior Jesus at the feast of Christmas,and not only for Christmas, but for the whole year ensuing,in the service of God, according to all the festival days and holy times of the year, wherein all the passages and mysteries of our religion are recounted and kept, to the honor of God and salvation of our souls.
And if in case we have not kept the year past so well as we should, it is now time for us, as the Epistle of the first Sunday in Advent of St.Paul cryeth unto us, to awake out of that sleep, and to amend it the next year: and he giveth this reason, that our salvation is nearer then when we first believed, that is to say, we are nearer to our salvation or damnation,according to our works good or bad, by a year then we were, and know not whether we shall live another year or no; and therefore the Gospel of the first Sunday in Advent is of the day of Doom, that what the Epistle doth not effect in us by way of persuasion and exhortation, the Gospel may, by way of terrification; and that not without cause, for to say nothing of hell,if the fire of Purgatory be such as ours is,but a painted fire unto it,as St Augustine sayth, and is very credible, Purgatory being a place of Gods justice, as this world is of his mercy; what should we not do to avoid it, and to be with God?
And if Titus a heathen Emperor of Rome, would say with sorrow at night,he had lost a day,if he remembered no Princely good deed he had done that day; what may we say, if we have lost a year, without profit to our soul? and if we are not moved neither with the Epistle no Gospel aforesaid,our soul is so hardened,as cauterized or dead flesh, that feeleth not the hot burning iron:and such shall come also in the latter days,as St Paul foretelleth us.