« PreviousContinue »
the utmost astonishment, and all the rheto. ricians, and other wise men of every province, were summoned to one place. The question was then proposed to them, and they thus answered : “ The Emperor died intoxicated, and through the influence of a latent poison, his heart cannot be consumed.” When this was understood, they drew the heart from the fire, and covered it with theriaque (22) and immediately the poison was expelled. The heart, being returned to the flames, was soon reduced to ashes.
My beloved, men are thus in a spiritual sense. The heart is impoisoned, and then the fire of the Holy Ghost will not touch it. The the riaque is repentance, which removes all transgressions.
TA L E XXIV.
OF THE SUGGESTIONS OF THE DEVIL.
There was a celebrated magician, who had a very beautiful garden, in which grew flowers of the most fragrant smell, and fruits of the most delicious flavour. In short, nothing on earth could exceed it. But he invariably refused admittance to all except to fools, or such as were his enemies. When suffered to pass in, however, their wonder was extreme; and few having entered it wished to return. On the contrary, the delights which they experienced, so infatuated their minds, that they easily yielded to the demands of the magician, and resigned their inheritances to him without the slightest reserve. The fools, of course, believing it to be Paradise, and that the flowers and fruits were of immortal growth, while they themselves -were the chosen and happy possessors of the land, gave not another thought to the future. They luxuriated in voluptuousness, and surrendered the whole heart to impure gratification. The consequence was, that in a moment of sensual intoxication, the magician cut them off; and thus, through the instrumentality of a factitious Eden, perpetrated the foulest enormities. (23)
My beloved, the magician is the world. It supplies what is called wealth; and this, when men have obtained, they close their hand upon it, and believe themselves rich. Presently they open their hands, and the treasure has disappeared. (24)
A certain noble lady suffered many injuries from a tyrannical king, who laid waste her domains. When the particulars of it were communicated to her, her tears flowed fast, and her heart was oppressed with bitterness. It happened that a pilgrim visited her, and remained there for some time. Observing the poverty to which she had been reduced, and feeling compassion for her distresses, he of fered to make war in her defence; on condition that, if he fell in battle, his staff and scrip should be retained in her private chamber, as a memorial of his-valour, and of her gratitude. She faithfully promised compliance with his wishes ; and the pilgrim, hastening to attack the tyrant, obtained a splendid victory. But in the heat of the contest, he was transfixed by an arrow, which occasioned his death. The lady aware of this, did as she promised: the staff and scrip were suspended in her chamber. Now, when it was known that she had recovered all her lost possessions, three kings made large preparations to address, and, as they hoped, incline her to become the wife of one of them. The lady, forewarned of the intended honour, adorned herself with great care, and walked forth to meet them. They were received according to their dignity; and whilst they remained with her, she fell into some perplexity, and said to herself, “ If these three kings enter my chamber, it will disgrace'me to suffer the pilgrim's staff and scrip to remain there." She commanded them to be taken away ; and thus forgot her vows, and plainly evinced her ingratitude.