XXXIV. (120) For all mortals, being compared with one another, are looked upon as natives of the soil, and nobly born persons, all enjoying equal honours, and equal rank; but by God they are looked upon as strangers and sojourners; for each of us has come into this world as to a new city, in which he had no share before his birth, and having come into it he dwells here, until he has completed the period of life allotted to him. (121) At the same time, also, this doctrine of exceeding wisdom is introduced, that the Lord God is the only real citizen, and that every created being is but a stranger and a sojourner. But those who are called citizens are called so rather in consequence of a slight misapplication of the name than in strict truth. And it is a sufficient gift to wise men–if considered comparatively with the only true citizen, God–for them to have the rank of strangers and sojourners. With respect to foolish men, of them there is absolutely no one who is a stranger or sojourner in the city of God, but such an one is found to be utterly an exile. And this is implied in what he said besides as a most authoritative doctrine, “The land shall not be utterly sold away.” Nor did God add “by whom,” in order that from that point being passed over in silence, he who was not wholly uninitiated in natural philosophy, might be benefited in respect of knowledge. (122) Therefore, if you consider the matter, you will find that all men, and especially those who have been alluded to as giving gratuitously, sell rather than give; and that they, who we fancy are receiving favours, are, in reality, purchasing the benefits which they derive; for they who give, hoping to receive a requital, such as praise or honour, and seeking for a return of the favour which they are conferring, under the specious name of a gift, are, in reality, making a bargain. Since it is usual, for those who sell, to receive a price in return for what they part with; but they who, receiving presents, feel anxiety to make a return for them, and make such a return in due season, they in reality perform the part of purchasers; for as they know how to receive, so also do they know how to requite. (123) But God distributes his good things, not like a seller vending his wares at a high price, but he is inclined to make presents of everything, pouring forth the inexhaustible fountains of his graces, and never desiring any return; for he has no need of anything, nor is there any created being competent to give him a suitable gift in return.

XXXV. (124) As all things then are confessed to be the possessions of God, and proved to be so by sound reasonings and testimonies, which cannot possibly be convicted of bearing false witness, for they are the sacred oracles which Moses has recorded in the Holy Scriptures that bear witness; we must deprecate that mind which fancied that that which originated in a meeting with the outward sense was his own property, and which called it Cain, and said, “I have gotten a man by means of God,” in this also greatly erring. But in what did he err? (125) Because God was the cause, not the instrument; and what was born was created indeed through the agency of some instrument, but was by all means called into existence by the great first cause; for many things must co-operate in the origination of anything; by whom, from what, by means of what, and why? Now he by whom a thing originates is the cause; that from which a thing is made is the material; that by means of which it was made is the instrument; and why, is the object. (126) For come now, suppose any one should say, what things must meet together, that any house or city may be made? Must there not be a builder, and stones, and timber, and tools? What then is the builder, but the cause by whom the house or city is built? And what are the stones and timber, but the materials of which the buildings is made? And what are the tools, but the things by means of which it is made? (127) And for what reason is it built, except to serve as a shelter and protection? This is the object. Now passing on from these particular buildings, consider the greatest house or city, namely, this world, for you will find that God is the cause of it, by whom it was made. That the materials are the four elements, of which it is composed; that the instrument is the word of God, by means of which it was made; and the object of the building you will find to be the display of the goodness of the Creator. This is the discriminating opinion of men fond of truth, who desire to attain to true and sound knowledge; but they who say that they have gotten anything by means of God, conceive that the cause is the instrument, the Creator namely, and the instrument the cause, namely, the human mind. (128) And all sound reason would reproach Joseph for saying, “That the true interpretation of the dreams would be found out by means of God;”{27}{#ge 40:8.} for he should have said, that owing to him, as the cause indeed, would be the unfolding and accurate understanding of those things which were obscure; for we are the instruments by whom the particular energies are developed, both in our states of tension and of relaxation; but the Creator is “he who gives the blow which sets in motion” the faculties of body and soul, by whom all things are moved. (129) Those then who are unable to distinguish between the differences of things must be instructed as ignorant; but those who, from a contentious spirit, invert the orders of the things signified, must be avoided as disputations; but those who, after an accurate investigation into the phaenomena which present themselves to them, assign its proper place to each of the objects discovered, must be praised as men who have attained to a true philosophy, and are void of error. (130) For Moses says to those who fear lest they should be destroyed by the wicked man, who is pursuing them with all his host, “Stand still, and see the salvation which is from the Lord, and which he will work for You;”{28}{#ex 14:13.} teaching them that salvation is effected, not by means of God, but by him as the direct cause.