IX. (36) We must therefore have recourse to allegory, which is a favourite with men capable of seeing through it; for the sacred oracles most evidently conduct us towards and instigate us to the pursuit of it. For they say that in the Paradise there were plants in no respect similar to those which exist among us; but they speak of trees of life, trees of immortality, trees of knowledge, of comprehension, of understanding; trees of the knowledge of good and evil. (37) Now these cannot have been trees of the land, but must indisputably have been plants of a rational soil, which was a road to travel along, leading to virtue, and having for its end life and immortality; and another road leading to vice, having for its end the loss of life and immortality, that is to say, death. Therefore, we must suppose that the bounteous God plants in the soul, as it were, a paradise of virtues and of the actions in accordance with them, which lead it to perfect happiness. (38) On this account, also, he has assigned a most appropriate place to the Paradise, called Eden (and the name Eden, being interpreted, means “delight”), an emblem of the soul, which sees right things, and revels amid the virtues, and exults by reason of the abundance and magnitude of its joy; proposing to itself one source of enjoyment in the place of the innumerable things which are accounted pleasant among men, namely the service of the one wise God. (39) He, then, who had drunk of this unmixed source of joy, and was a follower of and fellow rejoicer with Moses, and not one of the least valued of that body, in his Psalms addressed his own mind, saying, “Delight thou in the Lord.”{10}{psalm 37:4.} Exciting himself and his mind towards heavenly and divine love by these words, and indignantly turning away from the luxury and effeminacy existing among what are called and believed to be human goods; and being hurried away in his whole heart by divine inspiration and fervour, and finding his joy in God alone.

X. (40) And the statement that “the Paradise was in the east,” is a proof of what has been here said. For folly is a thing of darkness and setting, and which brings on the night; but wisdom is a most brilliant thing, radiant all around, and in the truest sense of the word, rising. And, as the sun, when it arises, fills the whole circle of the heaven with its light, so in the same manner, when the beams of virtue shine forth, they made the whole place occupied by the mind full of pure light. (41) Therefore the possessions of man have guards and keepers, very fierce beasts, for the repulse of invading and attacking enemies. But the possessions of God have rational natures for their guards. For “there,” says Moses, “God placed the man whom he had made;” that is to say, he placed him among the rational virtues alone; (42) therefore the practices and uses of the virtues have received from God this especial honour beyond the souls of other animals. And therefore, also, it is most expressly and plainly declared that God placed that man which is really man in us, namely, the mind, among the most sacred shoots and plants of excellence and virtue. But among those animals which have no share in mind, no one has ever cultivated any plant worth speaking of, since there is not one of them capable by nature of receiving comprehension.