(15) What is the meaning of the expression, “Behold there was a smoking furnace and torches of fires, which passed through the middle of those divisions?” (#Ge 15:18). The literal meaning of the statement is plain, for the fountain or root of the divine word will have the victims consumed, not by that fire which is given for our use, but by that which descends from above, out of heaven, in order that the purity of the essence of heaven may bear witness to the sanctity of the victims. But if we regard the inward meaning of the words, all things which are done beneath the moon are here compared to a smoking furnace, on account of the vapour which rises up out of the earth and water. As also the divisions of nature are, as has been already shown, every portion of the world being divided into two parts; and by these there are kindled, as it were, torches of fire, being powers which are more rapid in motion and more efficacious, being burning, in truth, like divine fiery discourses, at one time keeping the whole universe in a state of integrity reciprocally with themselves, and at another cleansing away the superfluous darkness. But the following interpretation may also be given with propriety in a more familiar manner. Human life is like unto a smoking furnace, because it has not a pure fire and an unalloyed brilliancy, but a great deal of smoke, smoking darkly through the flame, which causes mist and darkness, and an obscuration, not of the body but of the soul, so that this last cannot discern things clearly, until God the redeemer commands the heavenly lamps to arise, I mean those more pure and more holy radiations which unite those parts previously divided in two, on the right hand and on the left, and, at the same time, illuminate them, being the causes of harmony and of lucid clearness.