The ninth Chapter, Of the fruits of infidelitie, and offence of weakelings.
AND contrariwise, the yonglings and vn∣perfect are offended at small trifles, taking e∣uerie thing in euill part, grudging and mur∣muring against their neighbor: and so much the more, as they shew themselues feruent in their so doing, they are iudged of the blind world, and of them∣selues great zeale-bearers to God. If this were the Page 67 greatest euill of these yonglings, it were not the most euill. But I feare they be so blind and ignorant, that they are offended also at good things, & iudge nothing good, but such as they embrace and esteeme to bee good, with murmuring against all such as folowe not their waies. If there be anie of this sort, the Lord giue them the light of his truth, that they may increase and growe in godlie strength. I suppose, if such yonglings and vnperfect, had seene Christ and his Disciples eate meate with vnwashen hands, or not to haue fasted with the Pharisies, they would haue beene offended, seeing him a breaker of mens traditions. Their affe∣ctions dispose their eies to see through other men, and they see nothing in themselues: where charitie, al∣though it be most ful of eies to see the faults of others, whome it coueteth to amend, thinketh none euill, but discreetlie and rightlie interpreteth all things, by the which more iustlie and trulie euerie thing is taken.
Now, these superstitious weaklings, if they had been conuersant with Christ, and seene him leade his life sometime with women, sometime with Samari∣tanes, with Publicanes, sinners, and with the Phari∣sies, they would haue murmured at him. Also, if they had seene Marie powre vpon Christ the pretious oint∣ment, they would haue said with Iudas: This oint∣ment might haue beene sold, and giuen to the poore. If they also had seene Christ with whips driue out of the Temple those that bought and sold, they would foorth∣with haue iudged Christ to haue beene troubled and moued with anger, and not by zeale of charitie. How would they haue beene offended, if they had seene him go to the Iewes feast, heale a sicke man vpon the sab∣both daie, practise with the woman of Samaria, yea & shew vnto hir of his most diuine doctrine & life? They would haue taken occasion to haue hated & persecuted him, as the Scribes and Pharisies did: and euen so Page 68 should Christ the Sauiour of the world, haue beene to them an offence and ruine.
There be an other kind of little ones vnperfecte, which are offended after this sort and maner. As when they see one that is reputed and esteemed holie to commit sinne, forthwith they learne to do that, and woorse, and waxe cold in dooing of good, and confirme themselues in euill: and then they excuse their wicked life, publishing the same with the slander of their neighbor. If anie man reprooue them, they saie: Such a man did this, and woorse. So it is euident, that such persons would denie Christ, if they sawe other men doe the same. If they went to Rome, and sawe the enor∣mities of the Prelates, which is said to reigne there among them, I doubt not, if they sawe one of them sinne, which were reputed and taken for holie, their faith should be lost; but not the faith of Christ, which they neuer possessed: but they should loose that humane opinion, which they had of the goodnesse of the Pre∣lates. For, if they had the faith of Christ, the holie Ghost should be a witnes vnto them, the which should be mightie in them, that in case all the world would denie Christ, yet they would remaine firme and stable in the true faith.
The Pharisies also tooke occasion of the euill of o∣thers, to waxe hautie and proud, taking themselues to be men of greater perfection than anie other; bi∣cause of their vertue, euen as the Pharisie did, when he sawe the Publicans submission. And so they be of∣fended with euerie little thing, iudging euill, murmu∣ring against their neighbour, and for the same, they are of manie reputed and taken for the more holie and good: whereas in deed they be the more wicked. The most wicked persons are offended, euen at themselues. For at their little stabilitie in goodnesse, and of their delectable and euill life, they take occasion to despaire: Page 69 where they ought the more to commit themselues to God, asking mercie for their offences: and foorthwith to giue thanks, that it hath pleased him of his good∣nesse to suffer them so long a time.
But what needeth it anie more to saie? The euill men are offended euen at the works of God, they see God suffer sinners, therefore thinke they, sinne displeaseth him not. And bicause they see not the good rewarded with riches, oftentimes they imagine, that God lo∣ueth them not. It seemeth to them God is parciall, bi∣cause he hath elected some, and some reprooued. And therefore they saie, that the elected be sure of saluati∣on, taking by that, occasion to doo euill inough, saieng: Whatsoeuer God hath determined, shall be perfor∣med. If also they see the good men oppressed, and the euill men exalted, they iudge God vniust, taking occa∣sion to liue euillie, saieng: Inasmuch as God fauou∣reth the naughtie men, let vs doo euill inough, to the intent he doo vs good. If then the wicked be offended euen at God, it is no woonder if they be offended at those that followe and walke in his paths and waies.