XV. (48) And some one may ask here, why, since it is a pious action to imitate the works of God, it is forbidden to me to plant a grove near the altar, and yet God plants a paradise? For Moses says, “You shall not plant a grove for yourself; you shall not make for yourself any tree which is near the altar of the Lord your God.”{9}{#de 16:21.} What then are we to say? That it is right for God to plant and to build up the virtues in the soul. (49) But the selfish and atheistical mind, thinking itself equal with God while it appears to be doing something, is found in reality to be rather suffering. And though God sows and plants good things in the soul, the mind which says, “I plant,” is acting impiously. You shall not plant therefore where God is planting: but if, O mind, you fix plants in the soul, take care to plant only such trees as bear fruit, and not a grove; for in a grove there are trees of a character to bear cultivation, and also wild trees. But to plant vice, which is unproductive in the soul, along with cultivated and fertile virtue, is the act of a doublenatured and confused leprosy. (50) If, however, you bring into the same place things which ought not to be mingled together, you must separate and disjoin them from the pure and incorrupt nature which is accustomed to make blameless offerings to God; and this is his altar; for it is inconsistent with this to say that there is any such thing as a work of the soul, when all things are referred to God, and to mingle barren things with those which are productive; for this would be faulty: but they are blameless things which are offered to God. (51) If therefore you transgress any one of these laws, O soul! you will be injuring yourself, not God. On this account God says, “You shall not plant for yourself:” for no one works for God, and especially what is evil does not. And again, Moses adds: “You shall not make for yourself.” And in another place he says, “You shall not make gods of silver with me, and you shall not make gods of gold for yourselves.” For he who conceives either that God has any distinctive quality, or that he is not one, or that he is not uncreated and imperishable, or that he is not unchangeable, injures himself and not God. “For you shall not make them for yourselves,” is what he says. For we must conceive that God is free from distinctive qualities, and imperishable, and unchangeable; and he who does not conceive thus of him is filling his own soul with false and atheistical opinions. (52) Do you not see that–even though God were to conduct us to virtue, and though when we had been thus conducted we were to plant no tree which was barren, but only such as produce fruit, he would still command us to purify its impurity, that is to say, the appearing to plant. For he here orders us to cut away vain opinions; and vain opinions are a thing impure by nature.