Eighth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc. 16. v. I. Wednesday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
ANGELICO, Fra Transfiguration
GOSPEL Luke 16: 1-9At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable: "There was a certain rich man, who had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he was wasting his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, 'What is this that I hear of thee? render the account of thy stewardship; for thou canst be no longer steward.' "And the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do, seeing that my lord taketh away the stewardship from me? I have not strength to dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.' And calling to him each one of his lord's debtors, he said to the first, 'How much owest thou unto my lord?' And he said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' And he said unto him, 'Take thy bond, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' Then said he to another, 'And how much owest thou?' And he said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He saith unto him, 'Take thy bond, and write fourscore.' "And his lord commended the unrighteous steward because he had done wisely: for the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of the light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles."
How good and profitable a consideration it is, to observe how much more prudent and provident worldly mean are in their worldly affairs, not only then themselves, but even then spiritual men are in their spiritual affairs, each of them in their several kinds of generations, as Christ termeth, it may appear by this example.
A certain holy Monk, seeing a propane woman, trimming and dressing herself very curiously, and spending much time therein, to please the eyes and aspect of men, and to allure them to her love, burst forth into tears, & said to himself: Woe be tome, that do not so compose and dress my mind, to please God, & to allure him to love me, as this woman doth her body to please men!
If we would exercise ourselves in the like considerations, though it did not make our hearts so tender as to be mollified into tears at first, as it did the heart of this holy monk, yet with often use and iteration, with the grace of God,it might in time; and if not that, yet it could not but be a great confusion unto us, and a check or curb to our soul, and make us better bailiffs a great deal then we are.
And though God be not the author of mens overmuch prudence and providence in worldly affairs, as he is not of any sin, the least that can be, he being purity and goodness itself; yet if he would have ordained an obvious familiar means,to put us in mind of our diligence, industry & duty in our bailiffship, he could not have ordained a fitter: and as it is almost fit one, so is it most frequent, there wanting not such examples continually before our eyes; in so much that as the pharisees did were a scroll, or label of parchment continually their eyes, wherein was written the ten Commandments of the Law,to put them in continual remembrance to do them,so the world is so full of these examples of great prudence,and providence of worldly men in their worldly affairs, that they hang, and move always before our eyes as that parchment of the pharisees did before theirs; and though God, be not the author of these examples, yet doth he suffer and permit them to happen so frequently, through the perversity, and pravity of worldly mens inclinations, for our good: and he is so infinitely good, that he permitted no evil but for some good effect that he foreseeth doth,and may follow thereof; and the good effect of these examples can be nothing else, but to put us in mind of our diligence,and duty of our Bailiffship to God.
Therefore let us give God due thanks for the same,and endeavour to make our best use thereof: and if we fail of our duty, notwithstanding these examples continually before our eyes,as the miserable pharisees did of keeping the commandments, notwithstanding they wore them continually before their eyes; yet let us be so prudent, and provident at least, as this Bailiff was; let us make friends before our day of accompt commeth (which yet oftentimes commeth suddenly and stealeth upon us like a thief)and if we do it by alms to the poor,as none better,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,and therefore if we will have that, we may buy it of them,by giving alms; let us learn the manner of doing it of this bailiff aforsaid, let us do it quickly as he did, least we be prevented by death,or other means: Sit down quickly,said the bailiff to his Masters debtors,and set down less in your bills; and likewise we must do it secretly as he did, not letting one debtor know what he forgave another.
Those that travel upon the way in countries where vineyards are,if they be desirous to eat grapes, the Masters or keepers of the vineyard will permit them to eat their bellies full,but if they would carry any away, they must secretly cast them over the hedges,and fetch them secretly when they be out, otherwise if they offer to bring any out with them, they shall be taken away, with many ill words,and peradventure blows.
The like must men do often times in giving their superfluous goods in alms, or other good uses,they must cast them over the hedge of death before hand, that is to say, they must give them when they are well, and in perfect health, and so they shall find it on the other side of the hedge of death; that is to say, after their death; otherwise the keepers of the vineyard, that is to say our kindred, wife, & children & the like, look to have them, and will not let us easily pass away with them.
And though this of him that so casteth the grapes over the hedge, be iniquity, as it is of the bailiffship to set down less then the true debt, yet in spiritual matters, for the good of our souls,it is no iniquity, but prudence and piety both.