XXIII. (78) Now it is not without a purpose that the differences between these persons are recorded by the lawgiver. For in the case of those who practise virtue and improve, and become

better, their deliberate choice of the good bears testimony that their labour shall not be dismissed without its reward; but in the case of those who are endued with self-taught and naturally implanted wisdom, it follows that reason is betrothed to them not by their own act, but by God, and that they take unto themselves knowledge, the fitting companion through life of the wise. (79) But he who is wholly devoted to the things of ordinary men, the lowly and grovelling-minded Lamech, first of all takes for his wife Adah, which name being interpreted, means “witness,” having been his own manager of this marriage. For he thinks that Leah, which means the motion and passage out of the mind according to easy perceptions, without anything interfering to hinder its easy comprehension of all things, is the first good for man. (80) “For what,” says he, “could be better than that one’s thoughts, one’s contemplations, one’s conjectures, one’s suspicions, in a word, all one’s ideas, should, as I may say, proceed on well-set feet, so as to arrive at their desired goal without stumbling, the mind being borne witness to in everything that is uttered.” But I, if any man employs a felicitous and well directed mind to good objects only, account that man happy taking the law for my teacher in this view. For the law called Joseph “a prosperous Man,”{33}{#ge 39:3.} not in all things, but “in those matters in which God gave him prosperity.” And all the gifts of God are good. (81) But if any one uses the acuteness and readiness of his nature, not solely for virtuous objects, but also for opposite purposes, being himself indifferent in a matter which is not indifferent, he should be accounted unhappy. At all events, it is said, in the manner of a curse, in the place where mention is made of the confusion of tongues, “And now nothing will be restrained from them of all the things which they have imagined to Do.”{34}{#ge 11:6.} For in truth it is an irremediable calamity for the soul to be prosperous in whatever it undertakes, when its undertakings are disgraceful. (82) But I should pray, if ever I had a design to commit injustice, that I might fail in my iniquity; and if I had a wish to live in a manner unbecoming a man, that I might fail in my intemperance; and if I wished to conduct myself with boldness and unscrupulous wickedness, that my failure in such boldness and unscrupulous wickedness might be complete: unless in the case of those who have determined to steal, or to commit adultery, or to murder, it is not an advantage to find their purposes in all these matters fail and become abortive.