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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,
when the repentant sinner stands awe-struck before him, falls upon his neck, kisses him, and comforts him with many words. ' As it is written" He shall kiss me with the kiss of his lip.” The splendid vesture is put upon him, when, as a true penitent, he entertains the love of Christ. The ring on his finger denotes the seal of Christ's similitude, manifested in good works. He, therefore, bears the ring, whose actions resemble our Lord's “ labors of love." The shoes on the feet, are the living examples of departed saints. For as shoes defend the feet, so do the examples of holy men secure the soul. The fatted calf is Christ, sacrificed for our sakes upon the altar of the cross ; and fatted, because filled with the Holy Ghost. Let then the city of thy heart, waving over its battlements the standard of our blessed Lord, prove that it is defended by his best and bravest soldiers. It is said, that " if we love God, all things may be forgiven"—that is, if we are penitent, our errors will be done
away. carry along with us the favor and fear of God, we shall obtain everlasting life; to which, of His infinite mercy, may he lead us.
TAL E X.
OF THE MANAGEMENT OF THE SOUL.
The Emperor Vespasian lived a long time without children; but at last, by the counsel of certain wise men, he espoused a beautiful girl, brought to him from a distant country. He afterwards travelled with her into foreign lands, and there became father of a son. In the course of time, he wished to revisit his own kingdom; but his wife obstinately refused to comply, and said, “ If you leave me, I will kill myself.” The Emperor, therefore, in this dilemma, constructed two rings; and upon the jewels with which they were richly ornamented, he sculptured images possessing very singular virtues. One bore an effigy of
memory; and the other an effigy of oblivion. They were placed upon the apex of each ring; and that which represented oblivion he bestowed upon his wife. The other he retained himself; and as their love had been, such was the power of the rings. The wife presently forgot her husband, and the husband cared but little for the memory of his wife. Seeing, therefore, that his object was achieved, he departed joyfully to his own dominions, and never afterwards returned to the lady. So he ended his days in peace.
My beloved, by the Emperor understand the human soul, which ought to return to its own country—that is, to Heaven, by which path alone it can arrive at security. Therefore, the Psalmist says-“ Şave me, O God," &c. The wife is our body, which holds the soul in sensual delights, that encumber and bar its passage to that eternal life, where the empire and hope of the soul is. And why does it so impede it? Because the flesh rebels against the spirit, and the spirit wars against the flesh. Do ye, therefore, as the Emperor did; make two rings—the rings of memory and forgetfulness, which are prayer and fasting; for both are effective. In most countries, a ring upon the woman's finger is a token of her marriage ; and when a man resigns himself to prayer and fasting, it is evidence of his being the bride of Christ. Prayer is the ring of memory, for the Apostle enjoins us to "pray without ceasing." Man, therefore, makes use of
periodical prayer, that God may remember his desires; while angels themselves present and aid the petition, as we read in the book of Tobit. Fasting may be called the ring of oblivion, because it withdraws from and forgets the enticements of the flesh, that there may be no obstruction in its progress to God. Let us then study to preserve these rings and merit everlasting life.