(52) For as the sun and moon exist in consequence of Providence, so also do all things in heaven, even though we are unable to trace out accurately the respective natures and powers of each, and are, therefore, reduced to silence about them; (53) and earthquakes, and pestilences, and the fall of thunderbolts, and things of that kind, are said indeed to be sent by God, but, in reality, they are not so, for God is absolutely not the cause of any evil whatever of any kind, but the natural changes of the elements produce these effects, not as circumstances which guide nature, but as those which are followed by necessary results, and which do themselves follow naturally upon their antecedent causes. (54) And if some people, who think themselves entitled to immunity meet with some injury from these things, they are still not to find fault with their management and dispensation; for, in the first place, it does not follow, that if some persons are reckoned virtuous among men, they are so in real truth; since the criteria by which God judges are far more accurate than any of the tests by which the human mind is guided. And, in the second place, prophetic wisdom loves to contemplate those things in the world which are of the most comprehensive nature, as in the case of monarchies, and in the governments of armies, we see that it is not any obscure, ignoble, or chance person who is appointed to govern the cities or the armies.

(55) And some persons say that as on occasion of the slaying of tyrants, it is lawful that their relations also should be put to death, in order that transgressions may be checked by the terrible magnitude of the punishment inflicted: in like manner in pestilential diseases, it is necessary that some of those who are not guilty should be involved in the destruction, in order that others who are at a distance may learn moderation. Besides that, it is inevitable that those who are exposed to a pestilential atmosphere must become diseased just as all persons who are exposed to a storm on board a ship must be all exposed to equal danger. (56) But those wild beasts which are courageous have been created; for we must not suppress the truth (as if one were to anticipate the defence likely to be made by a man of powerful eloquence and tare it to pieces beforehand), in order that men may, by practising against them, acquire hardihood for the contests of war; for gymnastic exercises and continued hunting train men and inure their souls in a greater degree even than their bodies to rely upon their own courage, and energy, and strength, so as to disregard the sudden attacks of their enemies.