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I. (1) In the former part of this treatise we have spoken of the art of husbandry as to its genus, dwelling on it at as great a length as the time admitted of; but in this book we will discuss the question of his cultivation of his vineyard with regard to the species as far as it is in our power. For Moses represents the just Noah not only as a husbandman, but also especially as occupied with the cultivation of vines, saying, “Noah began to be a husbandman of the earth; and he planted a Vineyard.”{1}{#ge 9:20.} (2) And it is fitting that a man who was about to discuss the whole question of separate plants and manners of cultivation, should first of all acquire an accurate comprehension of the most perfect plants in the universe, and of the great planter and superintendent of them. He then who is the greatest of all planters and the most perfect in art, is the Ruler of the universe; and his plant is not one which comprises within itself only individual plants, but rather infinite numbers of them springing up like suckers from one root, namely, this world. (3) For after the Creator of the world, reducing that substance, which was in its own nature destitute of order and regularity, into a state of order, and bringing it from a condition of confusion into a distinct system, began to fashion and shape it, he placed the earth and the water in the middle, and the plants of air and fire he drew up from their previously central position to a lofty eminence; and the aether he arranged all round, placing it as a boundary to and preservation of the things within, from which also it seems that the Heaven{2}{ouranos, “heaven;” as if derived from horos or houros, “a boundary.”} derives its name, causing the earth to be borne upon the water in such a way that it continues dry, which, however, there was reason to fear might be dissolved by water; and this great worker of marvels, moreover, united the air, which was exceedingly cold by its own nature, to fire which is very hot; a most surprising miracle. (4) For how can it be looked upon as anything but a prodigy, for that which would dissolve another thing, to be held together by that which it would dissolve: that is to say, for water to be held together by earth; and again, for that which is the hottest of all things to be placed upon that which is the coldest without its nature being destroyed, that is to say, for fire to be placed upon air? And these are the elements of this most perfect plant; but the very great and all productive plant is this world, of which the aforesaid branches are the main shoots.

II. (5) We must now therefore consider where God placed its foundations, and in fact, what foundation it has on which it is supported, as a statue is on a pedestal; certainly we cannot imagine that any body is left outside and wandering about, since God has worked up and arranged every imaginable material throughout the whole universe. (6) For it was fitting that the most perfect and greatest of all works should be made by the greatest of all makers; and it would not have been the most perfect of works if it had not been filled up by perfect parts, so that this world consists of all earth, and all water, and all air, and all fire, not a single particle, no not the smallest imaginable atom, being omitted. (7) It follows therefore of necessity, that what is outside must either be a vacuum or nothing at all. If now it is a vacuum, than how can that which is full and solid, and the heaviest of all things, avoid being pressed down by its own weight, since there is no solid thing to hold it up? from which consideration it would appear to be something like a vision, since the mind is always seeking for some corporeal foundation, such as everything which is moved, must of necessity have: and especially the world, inasmuch as it is the greatest of all bodies, and embraces a multitude of other bodies as it sown appropriate parts. (8) If therefore any one wishes to escape from the difficulties of this question which present themselves in the different doubts thus raised, let him speak freely and say that there is nothing in any material of such power as to be able to support this weight of the world. But it is the eternal law of the everlasting God which is the most supporting and firm foundation of the universe. (9) This it is which, being extended from the centre of the borders, and again from the extremities to the centre, runs through the whole unsubdued course of nature, collecting all the parts and binding them firmly together; for the father who created them has made it the indissoluble bond of the universe. (10) Very naturally and appropriately therefore, all earth will not be dissolved by all water, which the bosom of the earth contains, nor will fire be extinguished by air, nor again will air be burnt up by fire, since the divine law establishes itself as a boundary to all these elements, like a vowel among consonants, so that the universe may, as it were, be harmonious in concert with the music expressed by letters; persuasion, by its own authority, putting an end to the threatening conflicts of contrary natures.