XXV. (107) The due attention to sacred rites, and good faith in the matter of sacrifices, are the most excellent of trees; but along-side of them an evil grows up, namely, superstition, which it is desirable to eradicate before it has time to blossom. For some persons have fancied the sacrificing of oxen to be piety, and they assign a portion of all that they steal or obtain by denials, or by cheating their creditors, or by plundering, to the altars. Impious wretches that they are, thinking that thus they are paying a price to buy themselves off from suffering punishment for their offences. (108) But to such persons I would say, O ye men, the tribunal of God is not to be corrupted by bribes; so that those who have guilty minds will be rejected, even if they sacrifice a hundred oxen every day; and those who are innocent will be received, even if they never sacrifice at all. For God delights in altars on which no fire is burned, but which are frequented by virtues, and which do not blaze with great flame, such as those sacrifices do kindle which are offered by impious men, and which are no sacrifices at all, and which serve to remind one of the ignorances and wickedness of each of the sacrificers; for Moses has somewhere spoken of a sacrifice “reminding one of Sin.”{21}{#nu 5:15.} (109) All such things therefore, being the causes of great injury, it is necessary to cut off and eradicate, in obedience to the oracle in which it is enjoined “to remove the uncleanness of the tree which has been planted, bearing eatable Fruit.”{22}{#le 19:23.}

XXVI. (110) But we, even after we have been instructed, make no progress in learning; but some persons, having a self-taught natural instinct, purify what is good from the evils which surround it, as Jacob did, he who was surnamed the practicer of virtue; for he “peeled the rods, leaving on the white bark, having stripped off all the Green;”{23}{#ge 30:37.} in order that the dark and dusky vanity in the middle being taken away in every case, a white appearance might be displayed, which should be produced so as to be akin to it, not by diversified art but by nature; (111) in reference to which it is also commanded in the law which was established in cases of leprosy, that “the man who was not infected with any variation of colour, but who was white all over from the head to the extremity of his feet, should be Pure.”{24}{#le 13:12.} In order that, according to the similitude of the body, those who have discarded the crafty, and unscrupulous, and ambiguous, and uncertain disposition of mind, may embrace the simple, uncoloured, unambiguous, plain complexion of truth; (112) therefore, to say that the tree is purified, contains a principle, the assertion of which is founded surely in truth, but to make the same statement with respect to the fruit is saying what is not equally clear or credible; for no cultivator of figs or grapes, or, in sort, of any fruit whatever, purifies them.