LII. (177) On which account Moses has separated his impious and obscure progeny from the whole of the divine company; for he says, “The Ammonites and the Moabites shall not come into the assembly of the Lord:”{74}{#de 23:3.} and these are the descendants of the daughters of Lot, supposing that everything is generated of the outward sense and of mind, being male and female like a father and mother, and looking upon this as in real truth the cause of all generation: (178) but as, even if we were to commit such an error as this, still emerging as it were out of that troubled sea, we may lay hold on repentance, which is a firm and saving thing, and must never let it go till we have completely escaped from the billowy sea, the headlong violence of sin: (179) as Rachel, when formerly praying for mind, as if that were able to raise up children, and when she received the answer, “Am I equal to God?”{75}{#ge 30:2.} attended to what was said to her, and when she understood it, made a most pious recantation; for the recantation of Rachel is recorded in scripture, a most God-loving prayer, “May God grant to me another Son,”{76}{#ge 30:24.} such a prayer as no foolish person is permitted to make, who pursues no object but his own pleasure, and who thinks everything else mere folly and ridiculousness.

LIII. (180) And the leader of this opinion is Onan the brother of the skin-wearing Er. “For he,” says the scripture, “knowing that the seed would not be his, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, spilled his seed upon the Ground:”{77}{#ge 38:9.} he transgressed all the boundaries of self-love and of fondness for pleasure. (181) Should I not say to this man, If you have a regard to your own advantage you will destroy everything that is excellent, and that too without deriving any advantage therefrom? You will put an end to the honour due to parents, the attention of a wife, the education of children, the blameless services of servants, the management of a house, the government of a city, the firm establishment of laws, the guardianship of morals, reverence to one’s elders, the habit of speaking well of the dead, good fellowship with the living, piety towards God as shown both in words and in deeds: for you are overturning and throwing into confusion all these things, sowing seed for yourself alone, and nursing up pleasure, that gluttonous intemperate origin of all evil.

LIV. (182) From which that priest and servant of the only good God, Phineas, rising up{78}{–that wise regulator of all the corporeal words and expressions, so as never to behave erroneously or insolently through the medium of them; for the interpretation of the name Phineas is “the bridle of the mouth”–}having taken a coadjutor, that is to say, having inquired into and examined the nature of things, and having found that nothing is more honourable than virtue, stabbed and slew with a sword the creature devoted to pleasure, and hostile to virtue, and all the places from which all false and illegitimate delights and enjoyments spring: (183) for the law says that, “He thrust the woman through her belly.” Thus, therefore, having caused the difference that existed in him to cease, and having discarded his own pleasure, and burning with zeal for God, the First Cause and holy God, he was honoured and crowned with the two most valuable of all prizes, peace and the priesthood; with the one because both his name and his conduct are akin to peace: (184) for it follows of necessity that a consecrated mind, being its minister and servant, must do everything in which its master delights; and he delights in the firm establishment of good law, and tranquillity, and stability, and in the discarding of wars and […]{79}{there is another hiatus here, which Mangey proposes to fill up with the words kai staseoµn, “and seditions.”} meaning not only such as cities make upon one another, but also those which take place in the soul; and these are more important and more injurious, inasmuch as they injure the more divine portion of us, namely, our reason, while arms and weapons can only reach to the injury of our bodies or possessions, but have never any power to injure a healthy soul. (185) Rightly therefore have cities established a custom, that before they turn arms and engines of destruction against one another to lead to slavery and utter destruction, they should seek to persuade all the citizens to put An{80}{the text is corrupt here. The text has katageµs, a word manifestly mutilated. Mangey proposes katargeµsasthai, and translates it “ut tollerent.”} end to the great and formidable and unceasing factions which exist in themselves, for faction and sedition, if we must speak the truth, is the archetypal model of wars, and if that be destroyed, there will no longer be any wars which are made in imitation of it; but the race of mankind will attain to the blessing and enjoyment of profound peace, being taught by the law of nature, that is, by virtue, to honour God, and to cleave to the employment of serving him, for this is the source of happiness and length of life.