(22) What is the meaning of, “When she saw that she had conceived her mistress was despised before her?” (#Ge 16:4). The sacred writer now carefully calls Sarah the mistress when it might else have been thought that her dignity was diminished, and that she was surpassed by her handmaid, that she, that is, who had no children, was surpassed by her who was gifted with offspring. But this kind of language is extended to nearly all the necessary affairs of human life: for a poor man who is wise is more approved of and is superior in authority to a rich man who is destitute of wisdom and reputation, or than a boasting man; and even a sick man who is wise is better than a foolish man who is well; for whatever is united with wisdom is genuine, and is endued with an authority of its own, but whatever is combined with folly is found to be slavish and inconstant. But it has been excellently said not that she despised her mistress, but that her mistress was despised; for the one statement would imply an accusation of the person, but the other contains only a declaration of an event. The scripture forsooth does not intend here to impute blame to any one while praising another, but only to hand down in an intelligible manner the pure truth of the facts. This is what is indicated by the literal statement. But if we seek the inner meaning of the words, whoever honours and embraces rank before genius and wisdom, and whoever esteems and considers the external senses of more importance than prudence and counsel, is departing from the real character of things, thinking that they have brought forth much offspring, and that having produced a great generation of visible things they are great and perfect goods, and in a singular degree noble, but that barrenness in this respect is evil, and deserving of disapprobation, because they do not see that invisible seed and that offspring which is appreciable only by the intellect, which the mind is accustomed to generate in itself and by itself.