Imagens das páginas
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over the people, and upon one of its fingers was placed a golden ring bearing the following device:My finger is generous.The second image had a golden beard, and on its brow was written, “ I have a beard : if any one be beardless, let him come to me, and I will give him one." The third image had a golden cloak, and purple tunic, and on its breast appeared these words, in large golden characters. I fear no one. These three images were fabricated of stone. Now when they had been erected according to the command of the Emperor, he ordained that whosoever conveyed away either the ring, or golden beard, or cloak, should be doomed to the most disgraceful death. It so chanced that a certain fellow entering the temple, perceived the ring upon the finger of the first image, which he immediately drew off. He then went to the second, and took away the golden beard. Last of all, he came to the third image, and when he had removed the cloak, he departed from the temple. The people, seeing their images despoiled, presently communicated the robbery to the Emperor. The transgressor was summoned before him, and charged with pilfering from the images, contrary to the edict. But he replied, “ My Lord, suffer me to speak. When I entered the temple, the first image extended towards me its finger with the golden ring—as if it had said, 'Here, take the ring. Yet, not merely because the finger was held forth to me, would I have received it; but, by and by, I read the superscription, which said, “ My finger is generous;--take the ring.' Whereby understanding that it was the statue's pleasure to bestow it upon me, good manners obliged me to refuse it. Afterwards, I approached the second image with the golden beard ; and I communed with my own heart, and said, “The author of this statue never had such a beard, for I have seen him repeatedly; and the creature ought, beyond question, to be inferior to the Creator. Therefore it is fitting and necessary to take away the beard.' But although she offered not the smallest opposition, yet I was unwilling to carry it off, until I distinctly perceived, “I have a beard ; if any one be beardless, let him come to me, and I will give him one. I am beardless, as your Ma

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jesty may see, and therefore, for two especial reasons, took away the beard. The first was, that she should look more like her author, and not grow too proud of her golden beard. Secondly, that by these means, I might protect my own bald pate. Again, I came to the third image, which bore a golden cloak I took away the cloak, because, being of metal, in the winter time, it is extremely cold ; and the image itself is made of stone, Now stone is naturally cold; and if it had retained the golden cloak it would have been adding cold to cold, which were a bad thing for the image. Also, if it had possessed this cloak in summer, it would have proved too heavy and warm for the season. However, I should not have borne it away even for these causes if there had not been written upon the breast, 'I fear nobody.' For I discovered in that vaunt, such intolerable arrogance, that I took away the cloak, merely to humble it." “ Fair Sir,” replied the Emperor, “ does not the law say expressly that the images shall not be robbed, nor the ornaments upon them molested on any pretence ? You have impudently taken away that which did not belong to you, and therefore, I determine that you be instantly suspended on a gallows.” And so it was done. (6)

APPLICATION.

My beloved, that Emperor is our Lord Jesus Christ. The three images are three sorts of men, in whom God takes pleasure-as it is written, “thy delight is in the sons of men.” If we live piously and uprightly, God will remain with us. By the first image with extended hand, we may conceive the poor and the simple of this world; who, if they have business in the halls of princes and noblemen, will prevail but little unless the hand is put forth to present a gift. Gifts blind the eyes of a judge. But if it should be asked of such a one, or of his servants, “ Why fleecest thou the poor?” it is instantly replied, “ Can I not receive with a good conscience, what is voluntarily presented? If I took not the offering, people would say I was besotted ; and therefore, to curb their tongues I take it." By the second image we are to understand the rich of the world, who, by the grace of God, are exalted to great wealth. So the Psalmist : “ Thou raisest the poor out of the mire, and they are accused before their rivals.” Some wretched man hath a golden beard—that is, great riches, which he inherited from his father; and straightway we oppress him, either with a legal pretext or without. A just man is overborne and robbed; for they say, “ We are bald,” that is, we are poor; and it is fitting that he divide his riches with us : nay, he is often murdered for his property. Covetousness,” says St. Paul to Timothy,“ is the root of all evil.” By the third image with the golden cloak, we are to understand men raised to great dignities. Such are the prelates and princes of the earth, who are appointed to preserve the law, to cultivate virtue, and to root out vice. Wherefore, evil-doers, who refuse to submit to necessary discipline, lift themselves up, and conspire against their ecclesiastical governors and superiors, saying, We will not have him to reign over us.

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