XXVI. (86) After those that are cut up, it was very natural to make an offering of such as are ground; that is to say, it is natural after the division to dwell among and pass one’s leisure among what had been thus discovered, for continued practice produces firm and stable knowledge, just as continued indifference produces ignorance. Therefore numbers of men from fear of the labour of practice, have lost the strength with which they were endowed by nature, whom those men have not imitated who nourished their souls on prophecy, which is signified under the name of manna, “for they ground it in mills or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of It.”{41}{numbers 11:8.} every one of them knowing well how to knead and soften the heavenly language of virtue for the sake of making the intellect firmer. (87) When therefore you confess that the young and fresh corn, that is to say vigour, and the toasted corn, that is to say speech tried in the fire and invincible, and the corn cut up, which signifies the cutting up and division of things, and the corn ground, that is to say anxious care about the examination into what has been found out, do all proceed from God, you will then be offering a sacrifice of the first fruits of the first produce, of the first and best things which the soul has brought forth; and even if we are slow, nevertheless he does not delay to take to himself those who are fit to worship him. For “I will take,” says he, “you to be a people for myself, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people: I am the Lord.”

XXVII. (88) These now, and such as these, are the accusations brought against Cain, who after some days offered sacrifice; but Abel did not bring the same offerings, nor did he bring his offerings in the same manner; but instead of inanimate things he brought living sacrifices, and instead of younger things, worthy only of the second place, he offered what was older and of the first consideration, and instead of what was weak he offered what was strong and fat, for he says that “he made his sacrifice of the first-born of his flocks, and of their Fat,”{42}{#ge 4:3.} according to the most holy commandment. (89) Now the commandment is as follows: “And it shall be,” say the scriptures, “when God shall bring thee forth into the land of the Canaanites, in the manner which he swore to thy fathers, and shall give it to thee, that thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the womb of all thy flocks, and of all the beasts which thou hast, and shalt set apart all the males for the Lord. Every offspring of an ass that openeth the womb shalt thou exchange for a sheep; and if thou dost not exchange it thou shall redeem it with Money.”{43}{#ex 13:11.} For that which openeth the wound is Abel, that is to say, a gift, the first-born, and you must examine how and when it is to be offered up; (90) now the most suitable time is when God shall lead thee into fluctuating reason, that is to say, into the land of the Canaanites, not in any chance manner, but in the manner in which he himself swore that he would; not in order that being tossed about hither and thither in the surf and tempest and heavy waves, you may be deprived of all rest or stability, but that having escaped from such agitation you may enjoy fine weather and a calm, and reaching virtue as a place of refuge, or port, or harbour of safety for ships, may lie in safety and steadiness.