The First Sunday In Lent The Gospel Matt.4.v.1. Saturday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634


GOSPEL Matt. 4:1-11 
At that time, Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Who answered and said: "It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from themouth of God." Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, And said to him: "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone." Jesus said to him: "It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to him: "All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me." Then Jesus saith to him: "Begone, Satan: for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve."
Naaman, a great Prince of the King of Syria his court, being strike with a leprosy all over his body, hearing of the fame of Heliseus the Prophet, for such cures, went to him: he appointed him to was himself in a certain river seven times, and told him he should be cured; he did it, and was cured. Sin is a leprosy, and we are all infected and, in the compass of a year, no doubt much defiled therewith: wherefore our holy mother the Church appointed this time of lent, to wash ourselves, & make us clean in the wholesome waters of fasting, prayer and alms, and other holy exercises, for the worthy celebration of Easter; and in this time of lent we may aptly be said to wash ourselves seven times, because we fast seven weeks, resting every Sunday between, which taketh it, as it were, seven several washings: as that of Naamans was, which washing of his, no doubt was a figure or type of ours, as very many other things in the old law were of the new.

Saturday

Sermons and sacramental confession are hard stones also, and sometime do break the hearts of sinners from sinning, though they be as hard as stones. These oftentimes the Devil tempteth men to turn into bread, and to make them pleasing to their humors by going to such preachers as the holy Prophet, describeth, who preach unto them pleasing things, and tell them all is well. all is well, when it is not well’ as God said of some in th old testament, that preached unto the people; peace, peace, when there was no peace; & to such Confessors as will deal most mildly with them.

Whereas preaching should be a two edge sword to cut sin in pieces, and Confession bitter pills to purge them away: & whosoever seth them otherwise, doth as the Devil tempted Christ to do, turn hard stones into pleasant bread, which Christ for our instruction refused to do.

By a stone little David overcame great Golias, by a stone the State of King Nabuchodonosor being stricken, was Brocken in pieces and fell down; & by the hard stones of fasting, prayer, & good works this lent, we shall overcome the devil.

Another point to be observed is, that Christ, though he were able to have fasted as long as pleased him, would yet fast but forty days, as his servants Moses and Elias had done; which he did, not only because the devil should not think him to be more then a man, doing no more then those two men had done before: but to leave us a lesson, that in common society this lent, (whatsoever we do in private) we use no singularity or doing more then is commanded.

For so, besides the danger of vainglory, and troubling the minds of the weak; they may upon indiscreet zeal and presumption of their own ability, by doing more then they are bound, make themselves unable to do what they are bound; so for a little indiscreet voluntary devotion, they omit the exercise of obedience, which is better then sacrifice, that is to say, voluntary devotion; and therefore St. Paul, crying to the Romans. which were, (as it should seem ) forward in those things, saith thus; I beseech you brethren, for the mercy of God, that you exhibit your bodies a living Sacrifice holy, and pleasing to God, a reasonable service; that is to say, with discretion and moderation.

If you know not what is discretion, hear what Salomon saieth in the person of God to a devote soul; If thou know not thyself thou fairest among woman, feed thy goats by the tabernacles of thy Shepherds, that is to say: follow the direction and example of thy spiritual pastors, and such virtuous people as thou livest with all, for virtuous people are as it were shepherds to lead the rest.

Another point is this; the gospel saith, Christ having fasted forty days and forty nights, was hungry, & no doubt exceeding hungry: for he would taste of the cup of all manner of afflictions, that occurred to him by his fathers appointment, as deep as he could, both out of his obedience to his fathers will, and love towards our salvation, of which he was more hungry then of bread after his long fast.

Let us pray that this hunger of our salvation in Christ may kill in us all inordinate hunger of earthly things, and kindle a holy hunger of heavenly food, that the devil may have no heart to tempt us, and if he do, he may not have power to overcome us, no more then he had to overcome Christs; and that by the virtue of his holy fast he will give us grace devoutly to keep the fasts of holy Church.

Finally as Christ when he had performed his fast, the Angels came and brought him food: So if we give ourselves to keep the fasts of the Church not only in quantity, and quality but also tarry out our just times, God will send us food, and that which he sendeth, is angelical food, feeding not only the body, but the soul, the body with the food present, the soul with the fast that went before it, and a heavenly reward that will follow.


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