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.

XXVII. (113) And again Moses says, “Its fruit shall be impure for three days, it shall not be Eaten;”{25}{#le 19:23.} as if in fact it were customary for it to be purified for ever. We must, therefore, say that this is one of those expressions which have a concealed meaning, since the words themselves are not quite consistent with it; for the expression is an ambiguous one; for it bears one sense of this kind, the fruit shall remain for three years; and then there is a distinct injunction, “it shall not be eaten before it is purified.” But there is also another meaning, “the fruit of the tree shall for three years be unpurified, and while in that state it shall not be eaten.” (114) According, then, to the former statement one may understand it in this manner: the three years being taken from time which is divided into three portions; for it is the nature of time to be divided into the past, the present, and the future; therefore the fruit of education will exist, and will endure, and will last unimpaired through all the divisions of time, a statement equivalent toùit will never receive any corruption, for the nature of good is imperishable. But the fruit which is not purified shall not be eaten; inasmuch as virtuous reasons, duly purified and rendered sound, nourish the soul, and give vigour to the mind; but the opposite kinds are not nutritious, but bring disease and destruction on the soul. (115) According to the other meaning, as in the disputes of dialecticians, the word “undemonstrated” is used in a double sense, either of a proposition which it is hard to demonstrate by reason of its difficulty, or of one which is intrinsically so plain as to require no demonstration, and the truth of which is established not by the testimony of any one else, but by its own internal evidence. So also fruit may be understood as not being purified, either when it is so impure as to be difficulty to purify, or when it requires no purification, but is bright, and clear, and pure of itself. (116) Such now is the fruit of education; being for three years, that is to say for all time, divided as it is into three portions, most completely pure and brilliant, being overshadowed by no injurious thing, and having no need whatever of any washings or purifications, or any thing else whatever which tends to cleansing.