XXXIV. But why, say they, ought one to praise Abraham as the attempter of a wholly novel kind of conduct, when it is only what private men and kings, and even whole nations do at appropriate seasons? (184) But I will make the following reply to the envy and ill-temper of these men. Of those who sacrifice their children, some do so out of habit, as they say some of the barbarians do; others do it because they are unable by any other means to place on a good footing some desperate and important dangers threatening their cities and countries. And of these men, some have given up their children because they have been constrained by those more powerful than themselves: and others, out of a thirst for glory, and honour, and for renown at the present moment, and celebrity in all future ages. (185) Now those who sacrifice their children out of deference to custom, perform, in my opinion, no great exploit; for an inveterate custom is often as powerful as nature itself; so that it diminishes the terrible impression made by the action to be done, and makes even the most miserable and intolerable evils light to bear. (186) Again: surely, they who offer up their children out of fear deserve no praise; for praise is only given to voluntary good actions, but what is involuntary, is ascribed to other causes than the immediate actors–to the occasion, or to chance, or to compulsion from men. (187) Again, if any one, out of a desire for glory, abandons his son or his daughter; he would justly be blamed rather than praised; seeking acquire honour by the death of his dearest relations, while, even if he had glory, he ought rather to have risked the loss of it to secure the safety of his children. (188) We must investigate, therefore, whether Abraham was under the influence of any one of the aforesaid motives, custom, or love of glory, or fear, when he was about to sacrifice his son. Now Babylon and Mesopotamia, and the nation of the Chaldaeans, do not receive the custom of sacrificing their children; and these are the countries in which Abraham had been brought up and had lived most of his time; so that we cannot imagine that his sense of the misfortune that he was commanded to inflict upon himself was blunted by the frequency of such events. (189) Again, there was no fear from men which pressed upon him, for no one knew of this oracular command which had been given to him alone, nor was there any common calamity pressing upon the land in which he was living, such as could only be remedied by the destruction of his most excellent son. (190) May it not have been, however, from a desire to obtain praise from the multitude that he proceeded to this action? But what praise could be obtained in the desert, when there was no one likely to be present who could possibly say anything in his favour, and when even his two servants were left at a distance on purpose that he might not seem to be hunting after praise, or to be making a display by bringing witnesses with him to see the greatness of his devotion?