Tenth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc.18. v. 9. Wednesday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
CIMA da Conegliano
The Presentation of the Virgin
At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves as being just and despised others. Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and began to pray thus within himself: ‘O God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, dishonest, adulterers, or even like this publican. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I possess.’ But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went back to his home justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted. Wednesday Meditation
Of those that went up to the Temple to pray, the one, sayth the Gospel,was a Pharisee, the other a Publican.
The Pharisee, stood and prayed thus to himself: O God I give thanks to thee that I am not as other men, thieves,unjust, adulterers and the like, nor like this Publican: I fast twice a week, I pay Tithes of all I have; O abominable Pride, that the Pharisee coming to the Temple to pray, being in the presence of God, and in his house, should not be content to praise & extol himself (which yet is far from the nature of prayer, for which he went to the Temple) but to accuse the poor publican, and upbraid him with his sins!
But this is the nature of that cruel monster of nature, Pride, to think they never praise, or extol; themselves enough, unless they dispraise others, amplifying & aggravating their virtues, or at least laying open and detecting their vices and imperfections, without any cause, and concealing their virtues.
It is one of the special Titles of the Devil to be called the accuser of men, but God being the Father of mercies to all men, doth seek occasion to excuse & extenuate mens faults.
So did he excuse all mankind in general, when he had drowned the world with the general deluge commonly called Noes flood: I will not saith he, lay my malediction upon the earth anymore for men. Why? because, sayth he, the senses and cogitation of the heart of man is prone to evil even from his youth, that is to say, by nature.
Behold how God to excuse mankind, casteth the blame upon Nature.
The like Christ did towards his disciples Peter, John and James, that fell asleep while he prayed in the garden a little before his passion, he blamed them a little saying: Could yee not watch with me one hour? but with all he excused them and said, the spirit is willing,but the flesh weak, praising their willingness, and casting the blame upon the nature of fail flesh.
And this the Prophet David saw well enough when he said, our Lord is merciful to them that fear him, for he knoweth our failure. or nature.
The like doth the Prophet Osee in the person of God, who when he had rehearsed a great many of the abominations of the Jews, he added in their excuse; but the spirit of fornication hath deceived them, casting the blame upon the devil, as if they were impelled by an evil spirit, or at least upon the custom or habit of sin, which maketh men so naturally inclined unto sin, that they could not chose but sin.
The like do the children and servants of God. The Prophet Daniel, or rather the spirit of the Prophet Daniel, raised up in a young boy, when the judges were accused for attempting to violate the chastity of the holy woman Susanna, and convicted thereof, their fact being very foul and shameful, excused it what he could, to mitigate their confusion, and said unto one of them: Beauty deceived thee, and concupiscence subverted they heart, laying the blame as much as he could upon her exceeding great beauty (for so she was) and his frailty of nature.
And St. Peter went very far in this point, in so much that his words likewise need a favorable excuse or exposition, who after he had told the Jews roundly, how they put Christ to death, and preferred a murderer to be set free before him, when they might have set free either of them, he extenuated their sin, and seemed to excuse it, saying unto them in fair words: But now brethren, I know you did it out of ignorance, as also your Princes, that is to say the Scribes & Pharisees, and high Priests, and Herod & Pilate did, which were Princes, that is to say principal actors therein.
if if therefore we will be children of the Devil, whose especial title it is, to be called the accuser of men, we may aggravate & amplify mens vices, and extenuate their virtues.
If we will imitate this proud Pharisee, we may praise and extol ourselves, with the dispraise and detraction of others; but if we will be the children of God, and imitate those that be, we must so reprehend and speak of their faults (if need be, and not unless there be need) that we excuse and extenuate then what we can, especially if they have a natural inclination thereunto, or a long custom, which is a second nature, for it is hard for such to reform themselves, as our Savior Christ declared unto us by an example of a young man that was possessed with a devil, who being presented unto him by his parents to be disposed, Christ asked of his parents, how long he had been possessed, and they answered from his infancy: Christ dispossessed him, but with a great deal of difficulty, as it seemed to Christ, and torment to the party. Christ doubtless could have expelled the devil with facility (for all things are alike easy to him) and with more ease to the party, as he did diverse others, but only he would show by that example, that it is hard to expel sin out of one that is naturally inclined thereunto, or hath a long custom thereof, which is a second Nature, and therefore a f=great deal of patience, and expectation is to be used towards such a one.