Serm. in Mont., ii, 23: When the Lord had said that there were few that find the strait gate and narrow way, that heretics, who often commend themselves because of the smallness of their numbers, might not here intrude themselves, He straightway subjoins, “Take heed of false prophets.”.
Serm. in Mont., ii, 24: Wherefore it is justly asked, what fruits then He would have us look to? For many esteem among fruits some things which pertain to the sheep's clothing, and in this manner are deceived concerning wolves. For they practise fasting, almsgiving, or praying, which they display before men, seeking to please those to whom these things seem difficult. These then are not the fruits by which He teaches us to discern them. Those deeds which are done with good intention, are the proper fleece of the sheep itself, such as are done with bad intention, orin error, are nothing else than a clothing of wolves; but the sheep ought notto hate their own clothing because it is often used to hide wolv...
Mor., xxxi, 14: Also the hypocrite is restrained by peaceful times of Holy Church, and therefore appears clothed with godliness; but let any trial of faith ensue, straight the wolf ravenous at heart strips himself of his sheep’sskin, and shows by persecuting how great his rage against the good.
What is here spoken of false prophets we may apply to all whose dress and speech promise one thing, and their actions exhibit another. But it is specially to be understood of heretics, who by observing temperance, chastity, and fasting, surround themselves as it were with a garment of sanctity, but inasmuch as their hearts within them are poisoned, they deceive the souls of the more simple brethren.
We would ask those heretics who affirm that there are two natures directly opposed to each other, if they admit that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, how it was possible for Moses, a good tree, to sin as he did at the water of contradiction? Or for Peter to deny his Lord in the Passion, saying, “I know not the man?” Or how, on the other hand, could Moses’ father-in-law, an evil tree, inasmuch as he believed not in the God of Israel, give good counsel?
That He might not seem to introduce the threatening as His leading topic, but to be stirring up their mind in the way of admonition and counsel.
Here He seems to me to be hinting at the Jews also, who were exhibiting such fruits. Wherefore also He reminded them of the sayings of John, in the very same terms delineating their punishment. For he too said the very same, making mention to them of an axe, and of a tree cut down, and of unquenchable fire.
And though it appear indeed to be some single judgment, the being burnt up, yet if one examine carefully, these are two punishments. For he that is burnt is also cast of course out of God's kingdom; and this latter punishment is more grievous than the other. Now I know indeed that many tremble only at hell, but I affirm the loss of that glory to be a far greater punishment than hell. And if it be not possible to exhibit it such in words, this is nothing marvellous. For neither do we know the blessedness of those good things, that we s...
Having taught that the gate is strait, because there are many that pervert the way that leads to it, He proceeds, “Take heed of false prophets.” In the which that they might be the more careful, He reminds them of the things that were done among their fathers, calling them “false prophets;” for even in that day the like things fell out.
What is written below that “the Law and the Prophets were until John,” .
Yet He may seem here to have aimed under the title of “false prophets,” not so much at the heretic, as at those who, while their life is corrupt, yet wear an outward face of virtuousness; whence it is said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” For among heretics it is possible many times to find a good life, but among those I have named never.
And the hypocrite is easily discerned; for the way they are commanded to walkis a hard way, and the hypocrite is loth to toil. And that you may not say that you are unable to find out them that are such, He again enforces what He had said by...
. He addresses the Jews, speaking the same words as did John. (Mt. 3:10) Jesus likens man to a tree. For by the introduction of a graft, a fruitless tree can bear fruit; so, too, a sinful and fruitless man when engrafted with Christ can bear fruits of virtue.