THAT IT IS NOT LAWFUL TO ADD ANYTHING TO OR TO TAKE ANYTHING
FROM THE LAW
XXVII. (143) The lawgiver also gives this most admirable injunction, that one must not add anything to, or take anything away from the law, but that it is a duty to keep all the ordinances as originally established in an equal and similar state to that in which they were at first delivered without alteration; for, as it seems, there might otherwise be an addition of what is injust; for there is nothing which has been omitted by the wise lawgiver which can enable a man to partake of entire and perfect justice. (144) Moreover, by this command Moses intimates the perfection of all other virtue; for each separate virtue is free from all deficiency, and is complete, deriving its perfection from itself; so that if there were any addition thereto, or anything taken away therefrom, it would be utterly and entirely changed and altered, so as to assume a contrary character. (145) What I meant to say is this, all who are profoundly ignorant and uninstructed, all who have the very slightest smattering of education, know that courage is a virtue which is conversant about terrible objects; is a science teaching one what he ought to endure and dare. (146) But if any one, under the influence of that ignorance which proceeds from insolence, should be so superfluous as to fancy himself capable of correcting that which requires no correction, and should consequently venture to add anything or take away anything, he, by so doing, is altering the whole appearance of the thing, changing that which had a good character into unseemliness; for by any addition to courage he will produce audacity, but if he takes anything away from it he will produce cowardice, not leaving even the name of courage, that most useful of all virtues to life. (147) In the same manner, if any one makes an addition, be it ever so small, or ever so great, to that queen of the virtues, piety, or if he takes anything away from it, he will change and metamorphose its whole appearance, and make it something quite different; for any addition will engender superstition, and any diminution will produce impiety, real piety itself wholly disappearing under the operation, which every one should pray for, that it may be continually conspicuous and brilliant, since it is the cause of the greatest of all blessings, inasmuch as it produces a knowledge of the service of God, which one ought to look upon as more important and more precious than any dominion or authority. (148) And we may give instances of every other virtue resembling what we have said about these just mentioned; but since I am in the habit of avoiding prolixity, I will be satisfied with what has been stated, which may be a sufficient guide to what might be said respecting these virtues which we omit to mention.