« PreviousContinue »
[I have omitted the greater part of this moral
ization as somewhat too delicate in its nature, and too complex in its construction. A second follows upon the same subject, which I have also omitted, and for the same reason.]
OF HONOURING PARENTS.
In the reign of the Emperor Dorotheus a decree was passed, that children should support their parents. There was, at that time, in the kingdom, a certain soldier, who had espoused a very fair and virtuous woman, by whom he had a son.
It happened that the soldier went upon a journey, was made prisoner, and very rigidly confined. Immediately he wrote to his wife and son for ransom. The intelligence communicated great uneasiness to the former, who wept so bitterly that she became blind. Whereupon the son said to his mother, “ I will hasten to my father, and release him from prison.” The mother answered, “ Thou shalt not
go; for thou art my only son-even the half of my soul *, and it may happen to thee as it has done to him. Hadst thou rather ransom thy absent parent than protect her who is with thee, and presses thee to her af. fectionate arms? Is not the possession of one thing better than the expectation of two ? (11) Thou art my son as well as thy father's; and I am present, while he is absent. I conclude, therefore, that you ought by no means to forsake me though to redeem your father.” The son very properly answered, “
Although I am thy son yet he is my father. He is abroad and surrounded by the merciless; but thou art at home, protected and cherished by loving friends. He is a captive, but thou art free-blind, indeed; but he perhaps sees not the light of heaven, and pours forth unheeded groans in the gloom of a loathsome dungeon
« Animæ dimidium meæ." This phrase is met with frequently in these volumes, and would almost lead one to suspect that the Author was acquainted with Horace, where the line occurs. See his third Ode.
oppressed with chains, with wounds, and misery. Therefore, it is my determination to go to him and redeem him.” The son did so; and every one applauded and honoured him for the indefatigable industry with which he achieved his father's liberation.
My beloved, the Emperor is our heavenly Father, who imposes upon sons the duty of maintaining and obeying their parents. But who is our father and mother ? Christ is our father, as we read in Deut. 32. His affection for us partakes more of this, than of the maternal character. You know that when the son transgresses, the father corrects him somewhat harshly, even with stripes and blows ; while the doating mother soothes and coaxes her favourite into humour. Christ permits us to be scourged, because of our many failings ; on the contrary, our mother, the world, promises us infinite pleasures and lascivious enjoyments. Christ forsakes us, and goes into a far country, as it is written in the Psalms, “I am made a stranger by my brethren." Christ is still bound and in pri
son; not indeed by himself, but by those who are the members of his Church, for so says the Apostle to the Hebrews.
" Whosoever lives in any mortal sin is cast into the prison of the devil;" but our Father wills that we labour for his redemption.- Luke 12. “Let the dead bury their dead," said our blessed Lord; “ but go thou, and declare the kingdom of God,"--and this is to redeem Christ. For whosoever powerfully preaches the word of God, advantages his brother, and in him redeems Christ. Matt. 20. " That which you have done to the least of these my followers, ye have also done unto me.” But the mother, that is, the world, will not permit a man to follow Christ into exile and poverty, but detains him with diverse arguments. “I cannot," she says, “ endure a life of abstinence and privation which I must necessarily submit to, if you repent and turn after Christ." Thus it is with whatsoever she proposes to man's acceptance : but do not comply with her wishes. She is blind indeed, for she exclaims, “ Let us enjoy the good things of life, and speedily use the creature like as in youth;" but, my beloved, if you
are good and grateful sons, thus answer your worldly minded mother. “My father is the source of my being—that is, of my soul; and all things which I possess, are his free gift.” Therefore, I advise you not to desire length of years, which may approach in suffering, poverty, and blindness; for then the world will flee you, how much soever you cling to it. No longer than you can be serviceable will you be valued *. Remember this, and study to amend your lives with all diligence; that so you may come eventually to everlasting life, To which may God lead us, who lives, &c.
* The sentiment here expressed, implies a greater knowledge of the world than we should have looked for in an ascetic ; but we frequently meet with a shrewd reflection, when least prepared for it--as the forest-ranger finds the “ cowslip, violet, and the primrose pale," ornamenting the wildest and most sequestered nooks. Old Burton has a passage so similar, both in thought and expression, that I cannot forbear affixing it at foot, “ Our estate and bene esse ebbs and flows with our commodity; and as we are endowed or enriched, so we are beloved or esteemed : it lasts no longer than our wealth ; when that is gone, and the object removed, farewell friendship: as long as bounty, good cheer, and rewards were to be hoped, friends enough; they were tied to thee by the teeth, and would follow thee as crows do a carcase: but when thy goods are gone and spent, the lamp of their love is out; and thou shalt be contemned, scorned, hated, injured.”--Anatomy of Melancholy. Vol. II. p. 169.