« PreviousContinue »
then, the High Priest with the emperors will draw near-that is, Christ with a multitude of angels—and convey your soul to the church of St. Boniface—that is, to eternal life, where all sanctity (or joy) abounds.
OF AN EXEMPLARY LIFE.
We read of a certain Roman Emperor, who built a magnificent palace. In digging the foundation, the workmen discovered a golden sarcophagus, ornamented with three circlets on which were inscribed, “ I have expended
- I have given-I have kept I have possessed—I do possess—I have lost-I am punished.” In the front also, was written, " What I expended, I have; what I gave away, I have.”(13) The Emperor, on seeing this, called to him the nobles of his empire, and
said, “ Go, and consider amongst ye, what this superscription signifies.” The noblemen replied, “ Sire, the meaning is, that an Emperor, who reigned before your Majesty, wished to leave an example for the imitation of his successors. He therefore wrote, “I have expended—that is, my life ; judging some, admonishing others, and governing to the best of my ability. I have given,'—that is, military equipments, and supplies to the needy; to every one according to his desert. • I have kept,'—that is, exact justice; shewing mercy to the indigent, and yielding to the labourer his hire. • I have possessed,'that is, a generous and true heart; recompensing faithfully those who have done me service, and exhibiting at all times a kind and affable exterior. 'I do possess,'—that is, a hand to bestow, to protect, and to punish.
I have lost,'—that is, my folly; I have lost the friendship of my foes, and the lascivious indulgences of the flesh. I am punished,'that is, in hell; because I believed not in one eternal God, and put no faith in the redemption.”
The Emperor hearing this, ever after regu. lated himself and his subjects with greater wisdom, and finished his life in peace.
My beloved, the Emperor is any Christian, whose duty it is to raise a fair structure, that is, a heart prepared for the reception of God. If he dig deep, led onward by sincere contrition for past offences, he will find a golden sarcophagus,--that is, a mind gilded with virtue and full of the divine grace. Three golden cirelets will ornament it, and these are faith, hope, and charity. But what is written there? In the first place, “I have expended." Tell me, my beloved, what have you expended? The good Christian may reply, “ Body and soul in the service of God." Whosoever of you, thus expends his life, will secure the rewards of eternity. The second legend saith, " I have kept." Tell me, my beloved, what have you kept? The good Christian may answer, "A broken and contrite spirit.” The
third inscription says, "I have given.” Tell . me, my beloved, what have you given ?. The good Christian may reply, ". My whole heart to God.”. Et sic de cæteris.
(From hence, the morals have been abridged, and merely the chief heads of them given.]
TALE XVII .
OF A PERFECT LIFE.
An Emperor decreed, that whoever wished to serve him, should obtain his wish, conditionally, that he struck three times upon the palace-gate, by which those within might understand what he wanted. Now, there was a certain poor man in the Roman empire, called Guido; who, on hearing the mode by which admission to the Emperor's service was to be
attained, thus thought—“ I am a poor fellow, of low descent; it is better for me to serve and acquire wealth, than to live in independence and starve.” So he proceeded to the palace, and according to the edict, gave three blows
upon the gate. The porter immediately opened it, and brought him in. He was introduced to the Emperor's presence, who said, “ What seek you, my friend ?" Guido replied, “ I wish to serve your Majesty.”- “ And for what office may you be fit?” returned the Emperor. “ I can serve, with tolerable expertness in six capacities ;" said Guido, “ First, I can act as body-guard to the prince; I can make his bed, dress his food, and wash his feet. Secondly, I can watch when others sleep, and sleep when others watch. Thirdly, I can drink good drink, and tell whether it be good or not. Fourthly, I can invite company to a festival for my master's honor. Fifthly, I can make a fire without the least smoke, which will warm all that approach it. Sixthly, I can teach people the way to the holy land, from whence, they will return in excellent health.”—“ By my faith;” said the Emperor,