I. (1) “And after this,” says Moses, “it came to pass that the angels of God went in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children unto them.”1 It is worth while, therefore, to consider what is meant by the expression, “And after this.” It is therefore a reference to something that has been said before, for the purpose of explaining it more clearly; (2) and a mention of the divine spirit has already been made, as he has already stated, that it is very difficult for it to remain throughout all ages in the soul, which is divisible into many parts, and which assumes many forms, and is clothed with a most heavy burden, namely its bulk of flesh; after this spirit, therefore, the angels of God go in unto the daughters of men. (3) For as long as the pure rays of wisdom shine forth in the soul, by means of which the wise man sees God and his powers, no one of those who bring false news ever enters into the reason, but all such are kept at a distance outside of the sacred threshhold. But when the light of the intellect is dimmed and overshadowed, then the companions of darkness having become victorious, associate themselves with the dissolute and effeminate passions which the prophet calls the daughters of men, and they bear children to them and not to God. (4) For the appropriate progeny of God are the perfect virtues, but that offspring which is akin to the wicked, is unregulated wickedness. But learn thou, if thou wilt, O my mind, not to bear children to thyself, after the example of that perfect man Abraham, who offered up to God “The beloved and only legitimate offspring of his soul,”2 the most conspicuous image of self-taught wisdom, by name Isaac; and who gave him up with all cheerfulness to be a necessary and fitting offering to God. “Having bound,”3 as the scripture says, this new kind of victim, either because he, having once tasted of the divine inspiration, did not condescend any longer to tread on any mortal truth, or because he saw that the creature was unstable and moveable, while he recognised the unhesitating firmness existing in the living God, on whom he is said to have believed.4
II. (5) His disciple and successor was Hannah. The gift of the wisdom of God, for the interpretation of the name is her grace. For when she had become pregnant, having received the divine seed, and after she had completed the time of her labour, she brought forth, in the manner appointed by the arrangement of God, a son, whom she called Samuel; and the name Samuel being interpreted, means “appointed by God.” She therefore having received him restores him to the giver; not looking upon anything as a good belonging to herself which is not divine grace. (6) For in the first book of Kings, 5 she speaks in this manner: “I give him unto thee freely,” the expression here used being equivalent to, “I give him unto thee whom thou hast given to me.” According to that most sacred scripture of Moses, “My gifts and my offerings, and my first fruits, ye shall observe to offer unto me.”6 (7) For to what other being should one bring gifts of gratitude except to God? and what offerings can one bring unto him except of those things which have been given to us by him? For it is not possible for us to have an abundance of anything else. And he has no need of any of those things which he enjoins men to offer unto him, but he bids us bring unto him the things which are his own, through the excess of his beneficence to our race. For we, studying to conduct ourselves with gratitude to him, and to show him all honours, should purify ourselves from sin, washing off all things that can stain our life in words, or appearance, or actions. (8) For it is foolishness to imagine, that it is unlawful to enter into temples, unless a man has first washed his body and made that look bright, but that one may attempt to sacrifice and to pray with a mind still polluted and disordered. And yet temples are made of stones and timber, mere lifeless materials, and it is not possible for the body, if it is devoid of life by its own nature, to touch things devoid of life, without using ablutions and purifying ceremonies of holiness; and shall any one endure to approach God without being purified as to his soul, shall any one while impure come near to the purest of all beings, and this too without having any intention of repenting? (9) Let him, indeed who, in addition to having committed no new crimes, has also endeavoured to wash off his old misdeeds, come cheerfully before him; but let the man who is without any such preparation, and who is impure, keep aloof. For he will never escape the notice of him who can look into the recesses of the heart, and who walketh in its most secret places.