XXVI. (91) Perhaps, therefore, it is the right reason of our souls that he calls their father, and its companions and friends that he calls elders. These are they who first established the boundaries of virtue, to whom it is worth while to become pupils for the sake of learning and instruction in necessary things. And what is necessary is as follows. When God was dividing and drawing a wall between the nations of the soul, separating those who spoke different languages; and when establishing the sons of the earth in their abodes, he dispersed them and removed to a distance from himself those whom he called the sons of Adam; then he fixed the boundaries of the offspring of virtue, making them equal in number to the angels; for as many angels of God as there are, so many nations and species of virtue are there. (92) What, then, are the portions of his angels, and what is that share which is the inheritance of the ruler and governor of all? The portion of those ministers are the specific virtues; but the portion of the ruler of all its his chosen people Israel. For he who sees God, being led on by his most surpassing beauty, has his inheritance and portion assigned to him in that which he sees. (93) How, then, can we do any thing but blame Jubal, whose name being interpreted into the Greek language, means one who (metalloioµn eµ metapoioµn) changes or alters the natures of things? For those most divine beauties of prudence, and fortitude, and justice, and other virtues, he did change for the opposite impressions of folly, and intemperance, and injustice, and all wickedness, effacing all the impressions which had previously been stamped upon the natures of things.

XXVII. (94) For it is always the case that if a second impression is stamped upon any thing, the mark of any previous one is effaced. But the impression which is thus made is so far from permitting evil things to be taken in exchange for what is good, that it does not allow even what is beautiful to be taken in exchange for what is laborious; but looking upon what is laborious (poneµron) as evil, since it would be downright folly not to discard what is bad for the sake of the acquisition of what is better, but only taking (poneµros) to be equivalent to epiponos or kamateµros, in which sense, indeed, the Attic writers use the word when they mark the first syllable with an acute, thus, poneµros. (95) Now the precept is of this kind, “Of every thing which passeth under the rod, the tenth is sacred to the Lord; thou shalt not exchange good for bad, and if thou dost exchange, both the thing itself and that for which it is exchanged shall be sacred,”{40} {#Le 27:32.} and yet how can that which is evil possibly be sacred? The truth is that, as I said, he means here what is laborious, not what is bad; so that what is really intended is something of this kind:–The honourable is a perfect good, but labour is an imperfect advantage. If therefore you acquire what is perfect, you need no longer seek what is deficient; but if with an excessive superfluity you choose still to continue labouring, then know that you will appear to be exchanging one thing for another, but in reality you will be acquiring both, for even if both are of equal value they nevertheless are not completely whole.