Twenty Sixth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Matt. 24. v. 15. Monday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
Gospel Matt. 24. v. 15.At 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."
This great tribulation of the day of doom, is also for the greater merit and crown of the elect.
Tribulation in this life is not only the highway to heaven, but the increase of the crown of glory.
The cross of Christ, that is to say, Tribulation joyfully, or patiently sustained for Christ, is that mystical ladder of Jacob, wherein Angels did descend and ascend, to signify, that we must be like Angels, descending by tribulation, here in this world, that we may ascend unto glory in heaven.
The Jews sing the fifteen gradual Psalms, as they ascended the fifteen steps, or stairs that went up to the Temple, in all of which Psalms there is plain mention made of tribulation, and the first beignneth thus: When I was in tribulation I cried unto our Lord and he heard me, and so in all the rest that follow. This was to signify we must ascend to the temple of the heavenlyJerusalem by tribulation.
The spouse in the Canticles saith I descended into my garden of nuts, not of apples, or the like, because nuts being hard and rugged without, and a sweet kernel within, do signify in the children of God, who are the spouses of Christ, tribulation without, tranquility within: of the same spouse Salomon singeth thus, in praise of her, I am black but beautiful, black without with tribulations and afflictions, but fair within and cheerful by patiently or joyfully sustaining them, & sometimes by taking up crosses of mortification of my own choice or accord.
The Prophet David speaking of those that patiently suffer affliction, saith thus in one of the gradual psalms: They going forth went weeping & sowing their seed, but returning, came again with joy.
Tribulation, affliction and tears, is the very seed of glory, and as there is no fruit without seed, so no glory without affliction. Therefore if we have no cross laid upon us, Christ biddeth us to take up some cross daily of our own accord, and follow him, if we be his disciples. God left the Jews always in the land of promise some of those barbarous people that inhabited there before, that were ready upon every occasion to rise, & make war against them, of purpose, as the text saith, to teach them to fight after the fashion of that land.
If we have no crosses laid upon us, it is good for us to take up some of our own accord, to teach us to beare crosses when they are laid upon us, and to be skillful in that kind of fight, a fight by which we must gain the kingdom of heaven, for by many tribulations, as St. Paul telleth us, we must enter into the kingdom of heaven.