« PreviousContinue »
pray thee, without reserve, hast thou ever forsaken me for another ?"-"My Lord," answered his wife, “ what is the purport of your question ?"_“Your son,” said he,“ seeks my life. It amazes me; and if he were mine he could not do it.”. “ Heaven can witness," returned the Lady,“ that I am innocent. He is truly your son, but to what end he pursues your destruction, I cannot surmise.” The Emperor, satisfied on this point, spoke to his son, with the utmost mildness.
My dear son," said he, “I am your father ; by my means you came into the world, and will succeed me on the throne. Why then do you desire my death? I have ever loved and cared for you,
and my possessions are not less your's than mine. Cease, I conjure you, from such an iniquitous pursuit ; and, in return for haying given you life, curtail not the few brief hours that are assigned me.” Nevertheless the son disregarded his father's entreaties, and every succeeding day discovered fresh proofs of a hard and depraved heart; sometimes endeavouring to slay him in public, and sometimes resorting to secret assassination.
When the father became aware of this, he rea tired into a very secluded apartment, and took with him his son. Presenting a naked sword, he said, “ Take this weapon, and now hesitate not to put a speedy end to the existence of thy parent; for it will be esteemed less shameful to be slain by my own son, quietly and in' secret, than to be exposed to the uproar and observation of the people.” The son, struck with the enormity of what he purposed, cast aside the extended sword, and falling upon his knees, wept aloud “ Oh! my father,” said he, “ I have done thee wrongopen
and notorious wrong, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Yet forgive me, dearest father, and once again restore me to thy forfeited love. From henceforth, I will be indeed thy son, and in all things execute thy pleasure.” When the overjoyed parent heard this, he fell upon his neck, and kissed him. “Oh my beloved son, be faithful and affectionate, and thou shalt find a fond and indulgent father.” He then clothed him in gorgeous apparel, and brought him to the banqueting-chamber, where he was sumptuously feasted with all the nobles of his empire. The Emperor lived a short time after this, and finished his career in peace.
My beloved, the Emperor is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He who seeks the life of his father is any bad Christian who is made a legitimate child of God, by the virtues of baptism. The mother of the boy is the holy church, through which our baptismal vows are received ; and through which also the perverse sinner, removed from God by manifold offences, seeks the death of Christ, who is himself the father, as appears from Deut. xxxii. “ Is he not thy father,” &c. Therefore, the Christian attempts to destroy Christ, as often as he departs from the law of God. Again, Christ withdraws into the innermost sanctuary, and there, not only offers his breast to the drawn sword—but has actually died for our sins. Wherefore, remembering his love, and the sources of our own security, we ought to resist sin, and serve him faithfully. The father delivered to his son the instrument of death : so God gives to you a sword-that is, free will, either to receive his grace and love, or to reject them. Do thou therefore act as the son did: cast from thee the sword of iniquity and malice. We read in the Gospel, “ The son went away into a far country.” So when the sinner loves his carnal delights he wanders from the Lord. And in proportion that sin renders him unlike to God, in the same proportion be removes from him. His substance is consumed, while life and thought are clogged and degraded by base actions. Thus, as it is said of the son in the Gospel, “ He began to want; and joining himself to a citizen of that country, he was placed on a farm to feed swine,” &c. The son begins to want, when his virtuous feelings are overwhelmed in sin; for, as the Psalmist says, “ The rich want, and are hungry." He joined himself to a citizen namely, to the devil ; because devils are citizens and rulers of the darkness of this world. According to the remark of the Apostle, “We do not struggle against flesh and blood,” &c. Swine are unclean animals, because they delight in filth, and therefore the devils may be compared to them, who are saturated with the filth of sin, proceeding from themselves. Refuse is the proper food of sin ; thus, fornication, drunkenness, and gluttony, are the food of devils. The sinner seeks to fill his belly with such refuse, because no one supplies him with food enough, and because voluptuousness is always hungry. The devil often denies man the power of gratifying his appetite, knowing that the cup of his iniquity is full, and that he is dead in sin. Nevertheless, the Lord, by his grace, enables him to throw away the sword of vice; and the sinner then exclaims—" Pity me, O God, while thou correctest: I acknowledge my transgressions.” The Almighty Being compassionates his distress, and, as it were, falls upon his neck, and kisses him. " Bring forth,” he says, " the most sumptuous apparel, and clothe him ; put a ring upon his finger, and shoes upon his feet. Slay likewise the fatted calf, that we may eat--for my son, which was dead, is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Thus our heavenly Father,