III. (10) Now the most evident sign of a soul devoted to God is that song in which that expression occurs, “She that was barren has borne seven children, and she that had many children has become weak.”7 (11) And yet she who is speaking is in reality only the mother of one son, namely, of Samuel. How then does she say that she has borne seven children, unless indeed any one thinks that the unit is in its strictest nature identical with the number seven, not only in number, but also in the harmony of the universe, and in the reasonings of the soul which is devoted to virtue? For he who was devoted to the one God, that is Samuel, and who had no connection whatever with any other being, is adorned according to that essence which is single and the real unit; (12) and this is the constitution of the number seven, that is to say, of the soul that rests in God, and which no longer concerns itself about any mortal employment, when it has quitted the number six which it allotted to those who were not able to attain to the first rank, but who of necessity contented themselves with arriving at the second. (13) It is therefore not incredible that the barren woman, not being one who is incapable of becoming fruitful, but one who is still vigorous and fresh, striving for the chief reward in the arena of fortitude, patience, and perseverance, may bring forth a seven, equal in honour to the unit, of which numbers, nature is very productive and prolific. (14) And she says, that “she that had many children has become weak,” speaking accurately and very plainly. For when the soul, although only one, brings forth many children when separated from the one, it then naturally becomes infinite in number; and then being weighed down and overwhelmed by the multitude of children who depend upon it, (and the greatest part of them are premature and abortive), it becomes weak. (15) For it brings forth the desire of forms and colours, as gratified by the eyes, and the pleasures arising from sound, as gratified by the ears. It is pregnant also of the pleasures of the belly and of the parts beneath the belly, so that, as many children are attached to it, it becomes exhausted by bearing this heavy burden, and drops its hands from weakness, and faints away. And in this way it comes to pass that all those things are subdued which bring forth perishable children to themselves, who are likewise perishable.