XVI. (65) They tell an old story, that some man in ancient times, who had fallen madly in love with the beauty of wisdom, as if it had been the beauty of a most lovely woman, once, when he saw a most sumptuous preparation of unbounded and costly magnificence, looked towards some of his friends, and said, “Behold, O companions, how many things there are of which I have no need!” And yet he had nothing whatever of even necessary things beyond his mere clothes, so that he was not puffed up with the magnitude of his riches, which has been the case with numbers of people; so that, on this account, he spoke arrogantly against pomp and show. (66) The lawgiver
teaches us that we should account those people wise who are not eager to be rich in created things, but who despise all created things in comparison of the friendship of the uncreated God, whom they look upon as the only true wealth, and the boundary of most perfect happiness. (67) Never, then, let those men boast, who have acquired power and sovereignty, as some do, because they have subdued one city, or country, or nation; and others, because they have acquired the dominion over all the countries of the earth, to its furthest borders, and over all Grecian and barbarous nations, and over all the rivers and seas, infinite both in number and magnitude. (68) For if, besides these things, they had made themselves masters (which it is impious even to mention) of that sublime nature which was the only thing that the Creator made free from the bond of slavery and servitude, they would still be looked upon but as private individuals in comparison with the great kings who have received God for their inheritance; for in proportion as that nature which has acquired a possession is better than the possession itself, and the Creator than the thing created, by so much also are they more royal.