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TALE XL.

OF THE MEASURE OF TEMPTATION, AND

OF SKILL.

MACROBIUS relates, (38) that a certain sol. dier, in consequence of something he had witnessed, suspected his wife of transferring her affections from himself to another. He interrogated her on the subject, but she vehemently and loudly denied it. Not satisfied with her asseverations, the soldier enquired for a cunning clerk; and having found such as he wanted, he proposed to him the question which disturbed his rest. The clerk answered, “ Unless I am permitted to see and converse with the lady, I cannot take upon me to decide." “ I pray you, then," said the soldier, “ dine with me to-day, and I will give you the opportunity you require.” Accordingly the clerk went to the soldier's house to dinner. The meal being concluded, our clerk entered into conversation with the suspected lady, and spoke to her on various topics. This done, he took hold of her hand; and, as if accidentally, pressed bis finger upon her pulse. Then, in a careless tone, adverting to the person whom she was presumed to love, her pulse immediately quickened to a surprizing degree, and acquired a feverish heat. By and by the clerk mentioned her husband, and spoke of him in much the same way as he had done of the other; when the motion of her pulse abated, and its heat was entirely lost. Whereby he plainly perceived that her affections were alienated; and, moreover, that they were placed upon the very person respecting whom she had been accused. Thus, by the management of a learned clerk, the soldier ascertained the truth of his suspicion.

APPLICATION.

My beloved, the soldier is Christ, who, having warred in our behalf against the devil, was joined to the soul in baptism, which is emblemed by the wife. That wife too often regards another--that is, the world. As the motion of the pulse revealed the lady's attachment, so does the beating of the heart, our love of worldly vanities.

TALE XLI.

OF THE CONQUESTS AND CHARITY OF OUR

LORD.

COSDRAS, king of the Athenians, (39) having declared war against the Dorians, assembled

an army, and despatched messengers to the oracle of Apollo, to ascertain the fortune of the engagement. The god answered, “ that the party whose chief fell by the sword of the enémy, should win the field.” The Dorians, also, understanding the response of the oracle, strictly enjoined their soldiers to spare the life of Cosdras; but the king, disguising himself in the habit of a slave, cut his way into the heart of the hostile army. The enemy, perceiving the extreme audacity of a single man, armed only with a sabre, yet fighting valiantly and effectively in the very midst of them, turned all their attack upon the warrior, and with some difficulty slew him. Thus, by a remarkable effort of patriotism, he enabled his country to triumph over its enemies; and his death, on one side so fatal in its consequences, was bewailed not less by the adverse host, than by his own subjects.

APPLICATION.

My beloved, thus did our blessed Lord, by the pre-determined counsel of God, die to libe.

rate mankind from their worst enemies. As Cosdras changed his regal state for the humiliating garb of a servant, so did Christ put on mortality, and by his death triumphed over our demoniacal foes.

TALE XLII.

OF WANT OF CHARITY.

VALERIUS records, (40) that there once stood in the city of Rome a very lofty column, on which a certain person inscribed four letters, three times repeated. Three P's, three S's, three R's, and three F's. When the letters had attracted attention, he exclaimed, “Woe, woe, to the eternal city.” The nobles, hearing what had been done, said to him, “ Master, let us understand thy conceit,” He an

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