VII. (33) Having therefore now sufficiently discussed the question of the living God never knowing repentance, it comes next in order for us to explain what is the meaning of the expression, “God considered that he had made man upon the earth, and he thought within himself.” (34) Then the creator of the world, having attached to himself the two most lasting powers of cogitation and deliberationùthe one being a conception conceived within his own breast, and the other the discussion of such conceptionùand since he continually employs them for the contemplation of his own works, those things which do not leave their appointed station he praises for their obedience, but those which change their place he pursues with the punishment appointed for deserters; (35) for some bodies he has endowed with habit, others with nature, others with soul, and some with rational soul; for instance, he has bound stones and beams, which are torn from their kindred materials, with the most powerful bond of habit; and this habit is the inclination of the spirit to return to itself; for it begins at the middle and proceeds onwards towards the extremities, and then when it has touched the extreme boundary, it turns back again, until it has again arrived at the same place from which it originally started. (36) This is the continued unalterable course, up and down, of habit, which runners, imitating in their triennial festivals, in those great common spectacles of all men, display as a brilliant achievement, and a worthy subject of rivalry and contention.
VIII. (37) And he has given to plants a nature which he has combined of as many powers as possible, that is of the nutritive, and the changeable, and the forming power; for they are nourished when they have need of nourishment; and a proof of this is that those plants which are not irrigated waste away and are dried up, as on the other hand those which have water supplied to them do visibly grow, for those which for a time were mere creepers on the ground, by reason of their shortness, suddenly spring up and become very long branches. And why need I speak of the changes which they undergo? (38) for at the time of the winter solstice their leaves wither and fall to the ground; and the eyes, as they are called by the agricultural labourers, which appear on the young shoots, close up like the eyes of animals, and all the mouths which are calculated to send forth young buds, are bound up; their internal nature being at that time confined and quiet, in order that, when it has taken breath, like a wrestler who has gone through a little preliminary exercise, and having again collected its appropriate strength, it may return again to its customary operations. And this happens at the seasons of both spring and summer, (39) for then their nature, waking as it were out of a deep sleep, opens its eyes, and expands and widens its previously closed mouth; and then it brings forth all those things of which it was pregnant, leaves, and young shoots, and tendrils, and feelers, and fruit on all its branches; and then when these things have come to perfection it affords nourishment and food to them, as a mother does to her child by some invisible passages which are similar in principle to the breasts in women, and it never ceases to nourish them until the fruit be come to complete ripeness; (40) and that which is thoroughly ripe is then perfected, when, even if no one gathers it, it of its own accord hastens to separate itself from its kindred branch, inasmuch as it no longer stands in need of nourishment from its parent, being able, if it should meet with a fitting soil, itself to sow and beget offspring resembling its own parents.