XXXVIII. (165) We must therefore advise those who are beginning to learn not to go forth into such contests, for they have not sufficient knowledge; and we must counsel those who are making some progress to abstain from them, because they are not perfect; and those who have now for the first time just attained to perfection, we must urge to forbear, because in some degree their perfection has escaped their own notice. (166) But of those who disregard our warnings, Moses says, “One man will inhabit his house, and another will obtain his vineyard, and another will marry a wife.” And the meaning of this is something of this kind: the powers which have been enumerated, of careful beginning, and improvement, and perfection, will never fail altogether, but will at different times approach and unite themselves with different persons, and will not be always forming the same souls, but will change about, resembling seals; (167) for seals, when they have stamped an impression on one piece of wax, without suffering any alteration themselves, though they impress on it a form which is derived from themselves, remain in the same condition as before; and if the piece of wax which has been stamped, be melted, and the impression effaced, then another piece may be substituted in its place. So that, my good friends, do not think, that when you yourselves perish, your powers perish with you; for they, being immortal, have, on account of their own glory, embraced ten thousand other persons before they came to you, who, they perceived, did not behave like you, out of an aversion to danger, shunning their society, but who rather came forward to meet them, and showed an eagerness to consult their safety. (168) And if any one is a friend of virtue, let him pray that all good things may be implanted in him, and may appear in his soul, like some symmetrical proportion conducing to beauty in a statue or a picture, considering that there are innumerable persons watching at hand, to whom nature will give all these things instead of giving them to him, namely, facility of learning, improvement, and perfection; but it is better that he should shine out rather than they, guarding safely the graces which have been bestowed on him by God; and that he himself should not, by carrying forward destruction, afford an easy prey to his unsparing enemies.