VI. (17) On this account too, Abraham, when he had come unto the place which God had told him of, “On the third day, looking up, saw the place afar Off.”{6}{#ge 22:4.} What kind of place? Was it the place to which he came? And how was it still afar off, if he had already come to it? (18) But perhaps the meaning which is intended under this expression may be something like this:–The wise man, being always desirous to comprehend the nature of the Ruler of the universe, when he is proceeding along the road which leads by knowledge and wisdom, previously meets with words of God, among which he rests for a while; and though he had previously determined to proceed by some other road, he now stops and hesitates; for the eyes of his mind being opened, he sees more clearly that he had entered upon a chase after a thing which was difficult to overtake, which constantly retreated before him, and was always at a distance, and which outstripped its pursuers by placing an immeasurable distance between them. (19) You think, therefore, rightly that all the speediest things which are under heaven would appear to be standing still if compared with the rapidity of the sun, and moon, and other stars. And yet the whole heaven was made by God; and the maker always goes before that which is made. So that, of necessity, not only the other things which exist among us, but also that which has the most rapid motion of all, namely, the mind, may fall short of a proper comprehension of the great cause of all things by an undescribable distance. But the stars, as they are themselves in motion, pass by all things that move; but, though it seems incredible, God, while standing still, outstrips everything. (20) And it is said that he, at the same moment, is close to us and at a great distance, touching us with his creative or his punishing powers, which are close to each individual, and yet at the same time driving away the creature to an excessive distance from his nature as existing according to its essence, so that it cannot touch him without even the unalloyed and incorporeal efforts of the intellect. (21) Therefore we sympathise in joy with those who love God and seek to understand the nature of the living do, even if they fail to discover it; for the vague investigation of what is good is sufficient by itself to cheer the heart, even if it fail to attain the end that it desires. But we participate in indignation against that lover of himself, Cain; because he has left his soul without any conception whatever of the living God, having of deliberate purpose mutilated himself of that faculty by which alone he might have been able to see him.