XXVIII. (142) We say that this is the reason why it is said that God went down to see the city and the tower; and the addition, “Which the sons of men had built,” is not a mere superfluity. For perhaps some profanely disposed person may mock and say, “The lawgiver is here teaching us a very novel kind of lesson, when he says that no one else but the sons of men build cities and towers; for who, even of the most crazy people is ignorant of what is so evident and notorious as that?” (143) But we must not suppose that such a plain and unquestionable fact as that, is what is intended to be conveyed by the mention of it in the holy scriptures, but rather there is some hidden meaning concealed under these apparently plain words which we must trace out. (144) What then is this hidden meaning? Those who, as it were, attribute many fathers to existing things, and who represent the company of the gods as numerous, displaying great ignorance of the nature of things and causing great confusion, and making pleasure the proper object of the soul, are those who are, if we must tell the plain truth, spoken of as the builders of the aforesaid city, and of the citadel in it; having increased the efficient causes of the desired end, building them up like houses, being, as I imagine, in no respect different from the children of the harlot whom the law expels from the assembly of God, where it says, “The offspring of a harlot shall not come into the assembly of the Lord.”{40}{#de 23:2.} Because, like archers shooting at random at many objects, and not aiming skilfully or successfully at any one mark, so these men, putting forward ten thousand principles and causes for the creation of the universe, every one of which is false, display a perfect ignorance of the one Creator and Father of all things; (145) but they who have real knowledge, are properly addressed as the sons of the one God, as Moses also entitles them, where he says, “Ye are the sons of the Lord God.”{41}{#de 14:1.} And again, “God who begot Thee;”{42}{#de 32:18.} and in another place, “Is not he thy father?” Accordingly, it is natural for those who have this disposition of soul to look upon nothing as beautiful except what is good, which is the citadel erected by those who are experienced in this kind of warfare as a defence against the end of pleasure, and as a means of defeating and destroying it. (146) And even if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel. (147) For which reason I was induced a little while ago to praise the principles of those who said, “We are all one man’s Sons.”{43}{#ge 42:11.} For even if we are not yet suitable to be called the sons of God, still we may deserve to be called the children of his eternal image, of his most sacred word; for the image of God is his most ancient word. (148) And, indeed, in many passages of the law, the children of Israel are called hearers of him that seeth, since hearing is honoured with the second rank next after the sense of sight, and since that which is in need of instruction is at all times second to that which can receive clear impressions of the subjects submitted to it without any such information. (149) And I also admire the things which are spoken under divine inspiration in the books of Kings, according to which those who flourished many generations afterwards and lived in a blameless manner, are spoken of as the sons of David who wrote hymns to God; {44}{2 Ezr. 8:2.} though, during his lifetime, even their great grandfathers had not yet been born. The truth is, that the birth here spoken of is that of souls made immortal by their virtues, not of perishable bodies, and this birth is naturally referred to the leaders of virtue, as its parents and progenitors.