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I. (1) How long shall we, who are aged men, still be like children, being indeed as to our bodies gray-headed through the length of time that we have lived, but as to our souls utterly infantine through our want of sense and sensibility, looking upon that which is the most unstable of all things, namely, fortune, as most invariable, and that which is of all things in the world the most steadfast, namely, nature, as utterly untrustworthy? For, like people playing at draughts, we make changes, altering the position of actions, and considering the things which are the result of fortune as more durable than those which result from nature, and the things which proceed in accordance with nature as less stable than those which are the result of chance. (2) And the reason of all this is, that we form our judgment of present events without paying any prudential attention to the future, being influenced by the erroneous guidance of our outward senses instead of the secret operations of the intellect; for the things which are openly conspicuous and before our hands so as to be taken up by them, are comprehended by our eyes, but our reasoning power outstrips them, hastening onwards to what is invisible and future; but nevertheless, we obscure the vision of our reason, though it is far more acute than those bodily powers of sight which are exercised by the eyes, some of us confusing it by indulgence in wine and satiety, and others by that greatest of all evils, namely, ignorance. (3) Nevertheless, the existing opportunity and the many and important proportions which arise to be decided on at the present time, even if some people should be incredulous that the Deity exercises a providential foresight with regard to human affairs, and especially on behalf of a nation which addresses its supplications to him, which belongs especially to the father and sovereign of the universe, and the great cause of all things; and these propositions are sufficient to persuade them of this Truth.{1}{there seems some corruption in the text here.} (4) And this nation of suppliants is in the Chaldaic language called Israel, but when the name is translated into the Greek language it is called, “the seeing nation;” which appellation appears to me to be the most honourable of all things in the world, whether private or public; (5) for if the sight of elders, or instructors, or rulers, or parents, excites those who behold them to reverence and orderly conduct, and to an admiration of and desire for a life of moderation and temperance, how great a bulwark of virtue and excellence must we not expect to find in those souls which, after having investigated the nature of every created thing, have learnt to contemplate the uncreated and Divine Being, the first good of all, the one beautiful, and happy, and glorious, and blessed being; better, if one is to tell the plain truth, than the good itself; more beautiful than the beautiful itself; more happy than happiness itself; more blessed than blessedness itself; and, in short, if anything else in the world is so, more perfect than any one of the abovementioned things. (6) For reason cannot make such advances as to attain to a thorough comprehension of God, who can neither be touched nor handled; but it withdraws from and falls short of such a height, being unable to employ appropriate language as a step towards the manifestation (I will not say of the living God, for even if the whole heaven were to become endowed with articulate voice, it would not be furnished with felicitous and appropriate expressions to do justice to such a subject); but even of his subordinate powers, those, for instance, by which he created the world and by which he reigns over it as its king, and by which he foresees the future, and all his other beneficent, and chastising, and corrective powers. (7) Unless, indeed, we ought to class his correction among his beneficent powers, not only because such a display is a portion of his laws and ordinances (for law is made up of two things, the honour of the good, and the chastisement of the wicked), but also because punishment reproves, and very often even corrects, and ameliorates those who have done wrong; and if it fails to do so with respect to them, at all events it does so to those who are near the offenders thus punished; for the punishment of others makes most men better, for fear lest they themselves should suffer the same things.