XXXVI. (200) But the things which we have here been saying do not appear solely in the plain and explicit language of the text of the holy scriptures; but they appear, moreover, to exhibit a nature which is not so evident to the multitude, but which they who place the objects of the intellect above those perceptible by the outward senses, and who are able to appreciate them, recognise. And this nature is of the following description. (201) The victim who was about to be sacrificed is called in the Chaldaean language, Isaac; but if this name be translated into the Grecian language, it signifies, “laughter;” and this laughter is not understood to be that laughter of the body which is frequent in child sport, but is the result of settled happiness and rejoicing of the mind. (202) This kind of laughter the wise man is appropriately said to offer as a sacrifice to God; showing thus, by a figure, that to rejoice does properly belong to God alone. For the human race is subject to sorrow and to exceeding fear, from evils which are either present or expected, so that men are either grieved at unexpected evils actually pressing upon them, or are kept in suspense, and disquietude, and fear with respect to those which are impending. But the nature of God is free from grief, and exempt from fear, and enjoys the immunity from every kind of suffering, and is the only nature which possesses complete happiness and blessedness. (203) Now to the disposition which makes this confession in sincerity, God is merciful, and compassionate, and kind, driving envy to a distance from him; and to it he gives a gift in return, to the full extent of the power of the person benefited to receive it, and he all but gives such a person this oracular warning, saying, “I well know that the whole species of joy and rejoicing is the possession of no other being but me, who am the Father of the universe; (204) nevertheless, though it belongs to me, I have no objection to those who deserve it enjoying a share of it. But who can be deserving to do so, save he who obeys me and my will? for to this man it shall be given to feel as little grief as possible and as little fear as possible, proceeding along that road which is inaccessible to passions and vices, but which is frequented by excellence of soul and virtue.” (205) And let no one fancy that that unmixed joy, which is without any alloy of sorrow, descends from heaven to the earth, but rather, that it is a combination of the two, that which is the better being predominant in the mixture; in the same manner as the light in heaven is unalloyed and free from any admixture of darkness, but in the sublunary atmosphere it is mingled with dark air. (206) For this reason, it seems to me to have been, that Sarah, {17}{#ge 18:15.} the namesake of virtue, who had previously laughed, denied her laughter to the person who questioned her as to the cause of it, fearing lest she might be deprived of her rejoicing, as belonging to no created being, but to God alone; on which account the holy Word encouraged her, and said, “Be not afraid,” thou hast laughed a genuine laugh, and thou hast a share in real joy; (207) for the Father has not permitted the race of mankind to be wholly devoured by griefs, and sorrows, and incurable anguish, but has mingled in their existence something of a better nature, thinking it fitting that the soul should sometimes enjoy rest and tranquillity; and he has also designed that the souls of wise men should be pleased and delighted for the greater portion of their existence with the contemplation of the soul.