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of excessive desire, barren of all good things, and destitute of anything deserving of regard or contemplation, which ht here compares to a vine. Not meaning that one which is the parent of eatable fruit, but that one which produces bitterness, and wickedness, and ungodly cunning; and which is most fertile in anger, and fury, and the most savage dispositions; biting the soul like an asp or a viper, inflicting envenomed wounds, utterly incurable. For which wounds, however, we pray that a relief may
be found by propitiating the all-merciful God, in order that he may destroy this wild vine, and may condemn the eunuchs and all persons who are barren of virtue to everlasting punishment; and that, instead of them he may implant in our souls the valuable trees of right instruction, and may bestow upon us noble and masculine reason as its fruit, such as is able to bear within it good actions by way of seed, and is able to increase the virtues, and is calculated to maintain and preserve for ever the entire connection and system of happiness.
ON THE WORDS
THAT NOAH AWOKE FROM HIS WINE, OR ON SOBRIETY,
I. HAVING examined in the preceding treatise what has been said by the lawgiver about wine and the nakedness which attends upon it, we will now begin to connect the the following essay with the statements advanced in that work.
Now in the sacred scriptures we come to the following Words immediately after the account we have just been examining, “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew all that his younger sou had done to him."* Sobriety is confessed to be a most advantageous thing, not only for souls but also for bodies, for it drives away the diseases which arise from immoderate repletion, and it sharpens the outward senses to an exceeding degree of acuteness, and it altogether prevents
+ Genesis ix, 23
bodies from being weighed down so as to fall, but keeps them light, and raises them up, and incites them to the exercise of their appropriate energies, implanting in every part a promptLeos and vigour ; and in short, sobriety is the cause of exactly as many good things, as drunkenness, on the contrary, is of evils.
Since then sobriety is most advantageous to those bodies to which the drinking of wine is naturally suitable, is it not much more so to souls, with which all perishable food is inconsistent;
for what thing in human nature can be more noble than a sober mind? what glory can be more glorious ? what wealth can be more rich? what authority, more powerful? what strength more vigorous ? of all admirable things what can be more admirable? Let there only be the eye of the soul fit to act, which is able to penetrate every where and to open every thing, being in no part hindered or dimmed by the suffusion of its own moisture ; for being then most exceedingly sharpsighted as to its comprehension, and looking into wisdom itself, it will meet with images such as are intelligible only by the intellect, the contemplation of which attracts the soul and will not suffer it any longer to turn Aside to the objects which belong to the outward senses.
And why should we wonder if there is no created thing equal in honour to a man who is sober in his soul, and gifted with acute vision ? for the eyes of the body and the light which is appreciable by the outward senses are honoured in an excessive degree by all of us. Accordingly, many who have lost their sight, have voluntarily also thrown away life, thinking as far as they were concerned, that death itself was a lighter evil than such deprivation. In proportion then as the
soul is superior to the body, in the same proportion also is the mind better than the eyes; and the mind while it is free from injury and imperfection, not being oppressed by any of the iniquities or passions which are produced by insane drunkenness, renounces sleep as a thing which causes forgetfulness and hesitation in what is to be done; but it embraces wakefulness, and usés acuteness of vision, with respect to every object worthy of being beheld, being kept awake by exceedingly perfect memory, and committing actions which are in accordance with the knowledge that it acquires.
II. Such then is the condition of the sober man; but when Moses speaks of Noah's “ younger son,” he is not so inuch meaning to make a statement respecting his age, as to show the disposition with which those persons are endued who are inclined to innovation; since how could he have forced himself to see, what ought not to be seen, in defiance of all law and justice, or to divulge what ought to have been concealed in silence, or to bring to light what might have been kept in the shade at home, and to transgress all the boundaries which should confine the soul, if he had not been eager for change and innovation, laughing at what happens to others when he ought rather to lament over such accidents, and not to ridicule things which it was more natural and decent and proper to grieve for. In many places indeed of the exposition of the law, Moses speaks of those who are somewhat advanced in age as young men, and on the other hand those who are not yet arrived at old age he entitles elders; not having regard to the number of their years, whether it be a short or a very long time that they have lived, but to the faculties of their soul, according to the way in which it is influenced, whether it be for good or for evil. Accordingly he calls Ishmael when he has now lived a space of nearly twenty years a child, speaking by a comparison with Isaac who is perfect in virtue; for, says he, “he took bread, and a skin of water, and gave it to Agar, and put it upon her shoulder, and the child also, when Abraham sent them forth from his house."* And again he says, “She put the child down under a pine tree;" and further on he says, " that I may not see the death of the child."
And yet Ishmael had been born and circumcised, thirteen years before the birth of Isaac, and having been now weaned for more than seven years, he was banished with his mother, because he being illegitimate was mocking the legitimate son, as though he were on terms of equality with him. But nevertheless, though in reality a young man, he is still called a child, being as it were a sophist put in comparison with a wise man ;
for Isauc received wisdom for his inheritance, and Ishmael sophistry, as when we define the characters of each we purpose to show in certain dialogues. For the same relation which a completely infant child bears to a full-grown
Genesis xxi. 14.
man, the same does a sophist bear to a wise man, and the encyclical branches of education to real knowledge in virtue.
III. And again in his great song he calls the whole people, when it is smitten with a desire of innovation by the name suited to foolish and infant age, entitling them “childron." "For," says he, “the Lord is just and holy; have thoy not sinned against him, blamoworthy children that thoy are? O crooked and perverse gonoration, is this the requital that ye offer to the Lord ? is the people so foolish and not wise ?" Therefore, ho here distinctly calls those men children who deserve blame and have guilt in their souls, and who through folly and senselessness commit many errors in their actions which are not according to uprightnoss of life; not having rogard to the bodily ngo of the childron, but to the irrational and really childish condition of their minds.
Thus indeed, Rachel also, that is beauty of body, is represented as younger than Leah, who is beauty of soul. For the beauty of the body is mortal, but that of the soul is im-' mortal ; and all the things which are accounted honourable when judged of with reference to the outward senses, are all taken together inferior to the one single thing, the beauty of the soul. And it is in accordance with this principle that Joseph is always spoken of as young and as "the youngest." + For when he manages the lock with his illegitimate brethren,” | he is called young; and when his father prays for him, he snys, " My youngest son whom I have prayed for, return to me. This is the champion of all the power of the body and the unflattering companion of the abundant supply of exterval things, who has not yet found out any perfect good more valuable and honourable than that of the elder soul ; for if he had found it, he would have departed aud abandoned the whole of Egypt without ever turning back.
But now he chiefly prides himself on his nourishing it and supporting it as a nurse; and when he who sees beholds the warlike and authoritative part of it overwhelmed in the sea and destroyed, he sings a hymn to God.
It is therefore a juvenile disposition, which is not yet able * Deut. xxxii. 5. + Genesis xlix. 22. Genesis xxxix. 1.
to tend the sheep with the legitimate genuine virtues, that is to say, to govern and superintend the irrational nature existing in accordance with the soul, but which still with its illegitimate brethren, honours the things which appear good, in preference to joining his legitimate brothers and to those things which really are good. But he is spoken of as "youngest,” even although he keeps on increasing and improving for the better, in comparison with the perfect man, who thinks nothing honourable but what is good. On which account he says in an encouraging manner, by way of exhortation, “ Return to me," a phrase equivalent to, "Desire the elder opinion." Do not be in everything aiming at innovation, do now love virtue for herself alone; do not, like a foolish child dazzled by the splendour of the events of fortune, allow yourself to be filled entirely by deceit and erroneous opinions.
IV. It has therefore been proved, that in many passages Moses is in the habit of calling a person young, baving regurd not to the age of the body, but to the desire of the soul for innovation; and also we will now proceed to show that he calls some persons elders, not because they are oppressed by old age, but as being worthy of honour and respect. 'Who then of those persons, who are acquainted with the sacred scriptures, is ignorant that the wise Abraham is represented as less long lived than almost any one of his ancestors ? And yet of all those who lived to the most ex. treme old age there is not one, as I think, who is called an elder, but he alone has this title given to him. Therefore, the sacred scriptures say, that “ Abraham was now old and advanced in years," and, “The Lord blessed Abraham in all things." This appears to me to be added as a sort of ex. planatory cause for what has been said before, namely, why the wise man is called the elder. For when the rational part of the soul is made of a good disposition by the kind provi. dence of God, and when it reasons not only about one species, but about everything which is presented to it, using older opinion, it then becomes blessed, and is itself the older part of the people.
Thus also he is accustomed to call the members of the Assembly of the God-loving people which consists of the
* Genesis xxiv. 1.