The Sixth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Marc.8.v.1 Sunday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
Sunday MeditationGOSPEL Mark 8:1-9In those days again, when there was great multitude and they had nothing to eat; calling his disciples together, he saith to them: "I have compassion on the multitude, for behold they have now been with me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I shall send them away fasting to their home, they will faint in the way: for some of them came from afar off." And his disciples answered him: "From whence can any one fill them here with bread in the wilderness?" And he asked them: "How many loaves have ye?" Who said: "Seven." And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground. And taking the seven loaves, giving thanks, he broke and gave to his disciples for to set before them. And they set them before the people. And they had a few little fishes: and he blessed them and commanded them to be set before them. And they did eat and were filled: and they took up that which was left of the fragments, seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand. And he sent them away.
He called his disciples together, and said unto them &c.
We are and ought to be disciples and scholars of Christ, in the school of the Catholic Church: so were the Apostles & first followers of Christ called, though afterwards they came to be called Christians, and afterwards for distinction between true and false Christians in belief, made it one of the twelve articles of the Christian faith, to be believe the holy Catholic Church: which word (Catholic) being rightly understood, that is to say, Universal, throughout the world, or most parts thereof; Universal for all succession of times since Christ, and so to the worlds end; Universal unity and agreement in all matters of faith: the word (Catholic, I say, being thus understood, as it imports according to the ecclesiastical signification thereof, if in case any be so simple or undocible, as not to understand it, as God knows, there be many, they need no more, but observe who are generally called by the name of Catholic, & they are so in deed; God having so provided for the simpler sort of his people, by the apostles putting this article into their creed (I believe the holy Catholic Church) that they shall have as sufficient means to come to the knowledge of the true faith, as well as the greatest Doctor in the world.
For as St Augustine saith, God hath never permitted nor never will, that any false Church should have so much as the very name or Character of Catholic, and there is evident reason, for it. For if Christ hath ordained Baptism in the most common Element of water, which none can want, & in a few words, so easy, that every one may cause Baptism is so necessary to salvation: the like easy and common means, the Scriptures of themselves being hard and intricate, is to be taken, to come unto the knowledge of our faith without which none can be saved, that non may fail of it be they never so simple; which easy means to them can be no other, then the very Name of (Catholic) as aforesaid, and herein is this comfortable prophecy of the Prophet Esay fulfilled; And there shall be, to wit in the new Law, a path, and a way, and none that is polluted, shall pass thereby; and it shall be unto us a direct way, that even fools shall not err therein: meaning the believing and following that Church in matter of faith, which is Catholic or universal as aforesaid: or if that be to hard for them to understand the Church which is commonly called Catholic, and to make the matter more plain, he calleth it a Holy way, alluding to this article of the Creed (I believe the holy Catholic Church;) thought I say, we are now commonly called Catholics, yet we ought not to forget our first name, to wit, disciples or scholars of Christ; this is our original name, this is our profession.
The doctrine or erudition we should learn is to know the means and way to salvation, and knowing it to practice the same, for we so not know only to know, as speculative sciences do, but to know and to do, and therefore our Lord and Master Christ Jesus, when he began to preach, St. Like sayth of Him, he began to do and preach, that is to say, to do what he preached, or to exemplify in his doings, what he preached, not for himself for he had no need, but for our instruction.
And although this learning, or knowledge doth not depend only of our industry, and diligence, but of the grace of God: yet as no worldly art or Science can be learned without great, and long industry, in so much that in the meanest trade that us, the Master requires seven years apprenticeship; so unless we use great and continual diligence, and industry in hearing Sermons, reading good books &c. and with all join devout prayer, and meditation, and practice what we learn, we cannot be good disciples or scholars of Christ, we cannot attain to that perfection which becommeth the disciples or scholars of Christ. Let the example therefore of such as are disciples or learners of worldly trades; let the example of these good people, who here in the Gospel followed Christ into the wilderness three days, without minding their food, to hear his doctrine; let the very name of Scholar or disciple which we beare, stir us up to diligence in learning the doctrine of Christ by Sermons, reading, prayer, meditation and the lie: and because the learning of any thing depends much of the earnest desire and love we beare thereunto, & our earnest desire to learn depends of the necessity, utility, and excellency of the thing we are to learn, and of the Nobility of the teacher, which in Catholic Religion is Christ himself, by the mouth of our Pastors and teachers, let us hereby stir up our selves to the diligent and frequent hearing of Sermons, reading good books, learning our Christian doctrine and duty, which St. Paul calleth the eminent science of Jesus Christ. in comparison of which he esteemed all other things as detriment, dirt, or dung.