XXVIII. (85) But there are some persons whom, even before their creation, God creates and disposes excellently; respecting whom he determines beforehand that they shall have a most excellent inheritance. Do you not see what he says about Isaac to Abraham, when he had no hope of any such thing, namely, that he should become the father of such an offspring, but did rather laugh at the promise, and asked, “Shall a son be born to me, who am a hundred years old; and shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bring forth a Child?”{42}{#ge 17:17.} But God asserts it positively, and ratifies his promise saying, “Yea, behold Sarah, thy wife, shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name Isaac, and I will establish my covenant towards him for an everlasting covenant.” (86) What then is the reason which caused this man, also, to be praised before his birth? There are some good things which are an advantage to a man both when they are past, and when they are present, such as good health, a sound condition of the outwards senses, riches, if he be endowed with them, a good reputation; for all these things may, by a slight perversion of words, be called good things. But some are so not merely when they have been given to us, but even when it is predicted that they shall be so given, as joy as a good affection of the soul; for this does not cheer a man only when it is present and energises actively in him, but it delights him also by anticipations when it is hoped for–for it has this especial quality; all other good qualities have their own separate operation and effect, but joy is both a separate good and a common good, for it comes as a crowning one after all the rest–for we feel joy at good health, and we feel joy at liberty and at honour, and at all other such things, so that one may say with propriety that there is not one single good thing which has not the additional good of joy. (87) But not only do we rejoice at other good things which are already previously past and also at those which are present, but we rejoice also at good things when about to happen to us and expected; as for instance, when we hope that we shall become rich, or that we shall obtain power, or that we shall receive praise, or that we shall find a means to get rid of an illness, or that we shall acquire vigour and strength, or that we shall become learned instead of ignorant, in all these cases we are rejoiced in no slight degree. Since, then, joy diffuses itself over and cheers the soul, not only while it is present but also even when it is expected, it was very consistent and natural for God to think Isaac worthy of a good name and of a great gift before he was born, for the name of Isaac, being interpreted, means laughter of soul, and delight, and joy.