'Tell me: when a man is born, how is he born? Surely, he is born naked. And when he is laid dead beneath the ground, what advantage hath he? A mean linen cloth, wherein he is wound: and this is the reward which the world giveth him.
'Now if the means in every work must needs be proportionate to the beginning and the end, in order that the work be brought to a good end, what end shall be man have who desireth earthly riches? He shall die, as saith David, prophet of God: "The sinner shall die a most evil death."
'If a man sewing cloth should thread beams instead of thread in the needle, how would the work attain its end? Of a surety he would work in vain, and be despised of his neighbours. Now man seeth not that he is doing this continually when he gathereth earthly goods. For death is the needle, wherein the beams of earthly goods cannot be threaded. Nevertheless in his madness he striveth continually to make the work succeed, but in vain.
'And whoso believeth not this at my word, let him gaze upon the tombs, for there shall he find the truth. He who would fain become wise beyond all others in the fear of God, let him study the book of the tomb, for there shall he find the true doctrine for his salvation. For he will know to beware of the world, the flesh, and the sense, when he seeth that man's flesh is reserved to be food of worms.
'Tell me, if there were a road which was of such condition that walking in the midst thereof a man should go safely, but walking on the edges he would break his head; what would ye say if ye saw men opposing one another, and striving in emulation to get nearest to the edge and kill themselves? What amazement would be yours! Assuredly ye would say: "They are mad and frenzied, and if they are not frenzied they are desperate."'
'Even so is it true,' answered the disciples.
Then Jesus wept and said: 'Even so, verily, are the lovers of the world. For if they lived according to reason, which holdeth a middle place in man, they would follow the law of God, and would be saved from eternal death. But because they follow the flesh and the world they are frenzied, and cruel enemies of their own selves, striving to live more arrogantly and more lasciviously than one another.'
141: Contemplate on Death
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