Seventh Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Mat. 7.v.15 Thursday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Matthew 7:15-21
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that saith to Me: Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.Thursday Meditation
In that Christ admonishes us to beware of false Prophets that we be not seduced by them, he doth not only forewarn us to beware of them, but tacitly, and implicitly to beware of ourselves, that is to say, of bringing ourselves into a disposition, that maketh us apt & easy to be seduced,with out which it is hard for them to deceive us, if we mind those observations and marks of false Prophets aforesaid,and with which we can hardly be but deceived.
The disposition that may bring us to be deceive is, if we give ourselves unto sin and licentiousness of life, especially to an inveterate custom thereof, which will so blind our understanding, that though we see their fraud never so well, yet we shall not see it to avoid it, but be transported and carried away therewith.
It is a wonder to see, how sin will blind one. Our forefather Adam (from whence we have this blindness of heart) in the state of Innocence, though he was most wise,and God to show his wisdom, caused all his creatures when he had made them, to give names to every creature, according to their nature,and he did it aright, which presupposed an infinite knowledge & wisdom; after he was fallen into sin, he was taken with such blindness and ignorance, that he could believe there might be some place hidden from the sight of God, & therefore when he heard the voice of God, speaking unto him in paradise, he went and hid himself, from him, amongst the thickets of trees.
O miserable blindness, that being endued with so great wisdom,he should believe, that he could there hide himself from the all seeing eyes of God!
The like blindness fell upon the Prophet Jonas for the like cause who when God had communicated unto him the spirit of Prophecy, or knowledge of things to come, which must needs make a man wonderful wise, refusing to go and preach to the Nivities,as God commanded him, and so falling into sin out of conceit that God should not find him out, & punish him for it, fled away from him to a City called Tarsus, & there took ship to sail away, as he thought, from the sight of God.
Almighty God speaking of himself by the mouth of the Prophet David sayth thus: If his sons, that is to say the sons of Solomon,shall forsake my law, I will visit their iniquities in a rod of correction, but I will not take my mercy from him, neither will I hurt him in my severity; where indeed of this word (hurt him) some translate (deceive him) whereby is signified that some sinners God doth deceive, that is to say suffer them to be deceived with Idolatry in punishment of their grievous and often sins ; and though he promised not to deal so with the sons of Solomon, but only correct them in his mercy,yet Solomon himself for all his wisdom, for his grievous sin of marrying with so many idolatrous wives,contrary to the commandment of God, putting himself into a continual state of sin,God suffered to be so deceived, that of a most religious King, that built the glorious Temple of Jerusalem, which was a figure of heaven, & adorned it with such a number of rich and gorgeous utensils and furniture as was the wonder of the world, he fell into the several Idolatries of all his wives, and built them temples according to their several Idolatrous rites,in so much that it is commonly thought he died in damnation; Even so, doth God suffer them to be deceived with Heresy, that so addict themselves to sin (especially the sin of the flesh) as if they were married thereunto.
This did St.Paul affirm to be the cause that some of the very disciples of Christ, in the primitive church fell from their faith, of whom he said thus: They having lost a good conscience, (by sin) made shipwreck of their faith.
Wherefore when Christ here forewarneth us of false Prophets that shall come unto us, forewarneth us to be beware not only of them for seducing us, but much more of our selves, that we bring not ourselves by licentiousness and custom of sin into case to be easily seduced by them, which is most dangerous of all.
Another mischief of the sins of Catholic living amongst Heretics, by reason of that circumstance of being Catholics, may be gathered out of these words of Christ: A good tree cannot bring forth bad fruits,taking the sense of them according to the opinion of the common people, that is to say, understanding by the tree not the general tree of the religion, but the particular person that professeth it,&so judging the religion to be good or bad,according to the fruits of the particular person that professeth it.
In which case the ill lives of Catholics, do not only hurt themselves, and dispose them to be easily seduced, and deceived,as aforesaid, but to us St.Pauls words, do cause the good name of Christ,& his Religion to be blasphemed, mispraised,ill spoken of, and rejected of her enemies, through their ill life.