(40) What is the meaning of the statement, “Putting forth his hand, he received her, and brought her in to himself?” (#Ge 8:9). The literal meaning is plain, but with respect to the hidden sense we must elicit the truth carefully. The wise man employs truth as an overseer of and ambassador in important affairs, which, when it perceives that those natures are worthy of it, abides among and dwells with them, correcting them, and making them better, since wisdom is a very common, and equal, and useful thing. But when, with reference to the opposite natures, it sees that in some points they are preposterously redundant and in others altogether deficient, it returns to its proper place; and the man endowed with virtue admits it in word, putting forth his hand to take it, and in fact opening all his intellect for its reception, and unfolding it by the perfect number, full and equal, with all imaginable promptitude. Nor even then, when he had sent her forth from himself to examine the natures of other things, had he separated it from himself, but had only acted like the sun, which sends forth his beams to give light to all things, because it is not at all consistent with the character of his boundless light to be separated at all.
(41) Why did he, after waiting yet seven other days, send forth the dove a second time? (Genesis 8:10). This is an excellent example for life, since although it will behold natures obstinate at first, still the hope of changing them into better natures is scarcely allowed to drop; and as a prudent physician does not in a moment apply a perfect cure to a disease, or effect a complete restoration to health, but employs salutary medicines after he has given nature an opportunity of first opening the way to recovery, so too the man endowed with virtue behaves with respect to the employment of the word which is in accordance with the law of wisdom. But the number seven is the sacred and dominical number, according to which the Father of the universe, when he made the world, is said to have looked upon his work. And the contemplation of the world, and of all the things contained in it, is nothing else but philosophy, and that excellent and select portion of it which wisdom contains, comprehending within itself also a work still more necessary to be seen.