XIX. (106) There is, also, a fifth gift, which consists only in the bare fact of existence; and it is mentioned after all the previous ones, not because it is inferior to them, but rather because it overtops and excels them all; for what can be a greater blessing than to be formed by nature, and to be, without any falsehood or fictitious pretence, really good and worthy of the most perfect praise? (107) “For,” says God, “thou shalt be Blessed”{56}{#ge 12:2.} (eulogeµtos); not merely a person who is blessed (eulogeµmenos), for this latter fact is estimated by the opinions and reports of the multitude, but the other depends on a person being, in real truth, deserving of blessings; (108) for as the being praiseworthy (to epaineton einai) differs from being praised, being superior to it; and as the being blameworthy differs from being blamed, in being worse; for the one depends upon a person’s natural character, while the other is affirmed only with reference to his being considered such and such. And real genuine nature is a more reliable thing than opinion; so, also, to be blessed by men, that is to say, to be celebrated by their praises and benedictions, is of less value than to be formed by nature so as to be worthy of blessing, even though all men should be silent respecting one, and this last is what is meant in the scriptures by the term blessed (eulogeµtos).

XX. (109) These are the good things which are given to him who is about to be wise. But let us now examine what God, for the sake of the wise man, bestows on the rest of mankind also. He says, “I will bless those who bless thee, and curse those who curse Thee.”{57}{#ge 12:3.} (110) Now that this is said by way of doing honour to the good man, is plain to every one. And this, too, is not the only reason why it is said, but it is said also on account of the harmonious consequence which exists in things; for he who praises a good man is himself worthy of encomium, and he who blames him is, on the other hand, deserving of blame. But it is not so much the power of those who utter or who write praise or blame that is trusted to, as the real character of what is due; so that those persons would not really appear to praise or to blame at all who, in either case, adopt or introduce any falsehood of their own. (111) Do you not see flatterers who, day and night, weary and annoy the ears of those to whom they address their flatteries, and who not only nod assent to every word that they say, but who also string together long sentences, and connect rhapsodies, and often pray to them with their mouths, but who are continually cursing them in their hearts? (112) What, then, would any one in his senses say? Would he not pronounce that those who speak thus are, in reality, enemies rather than friends, and do in reality blame them rather than praise them, even if they put together whole dramas full of panegyric and sing them in their honour? (113) Therefore, the vain Balaam, although he sang hymns of exceeding sublimity to God, among which, also, is that one beginning, “God is not as a Man,”{58}{#nu 23:19.} the most beautiful of all songs, and who uttered panegyrics on the seeing multitude, Israel, going through a countless body of particulars, is rightly judged by the wise lawgiver to have been an impious man and accursed, and to have been cursing rather than blessing; (114) for he says that he was hired for money by the enemy, and so became an evil prophet of evil things, bearing in his soul most bitter curses against the God loving nature, but being compelled to utter prophetically with his mouth and tongue the most exquisite and sublime prayers in their favour; for the things that he said, being very excellent, were, in fact, suggested by the God who loves virtue; but the curses which he conceived in his mind (for they were wicked) were the offspring of his mind, which hated virtue. (115) And the sacred scripture bears testimony to this fact; for it says, “God did not grant to Balaam leave to curse thee, but turned his curses into Blessing;”{59}{#de 23:5.} though, in fact, all the words that he uttered were full of good omen. But he who looks into all that is laid up in the recesses of the heart, and who alone has the power to see those things which are invisible to created beings, from these secret things has passed a condemnatory decree, being in his own person at once the most indubitable of witnesses and the most incorruptible of judges, since even the contrary thing is praised, namely, for a man who appears to calumniate and to accuse with his mouth, in his heart to be blessing, and praising, and speaking words of good omen. (116) This, as it would seem, is the custom of those who correct youth, and of preceptors, and of parents, and of elders and of rulers, and of laws; for they, at times, do each of them reprove and punish, and by these means render the souls of those who are under their instruction better. And of these men no one is an enemy to his pupil, but they are all of them friendly to all of them; but it is the office of friends who have a genuine and unalloyed good will to others to speak freely, without any unfriendly purpose. (117) Therefore, as far as blessings, and praises, and prayers, or, on the other hand, reproaches and curses are concerned, one must not so much be guided by what proceeds out of the mouth by utterance, as by what is in the heart, by which, as by the original source of them all, both kinds of speeches are estimated.