XXXIX. (141) However, we have now said enough on this subject, and let us proceed to investigate what comes afterwards. He continues thus: “And Cain said unto the Lord, My crime is too great to be Forgiven.”{45}{#ge 4:14.} Now what is meant by this will be shown by a consideration of simple passages. If a pilot were to desert his ship when tossed about by the sea, would it not follow of necessity that the ship would wander out of her course in the voyage? Shall I say more? If a charioteer in the contest of the horse-race were to quit his chariot, is it not inevitable that the course of the free horses would be disorderly and irregular? Again, when a city is left destitute of rulers or of laws, and laws, undoubtedly, are entitled to be classed on an equality with magistrates, must not that city be destroyed by those greatest of evils, anarchy and lawlessness? (142) And in the same manner, by the ordinances of nature, the body must perish if the soul be absent; and the soul, if reason be absent. Reason, too, must be destroyed by the absence of virtue. But if each of these things is such an injury to the things that are abandoned by them, then how great must we consider is the misfortune of those persons who are abandoned by God? Whom he has rejected as deserters from his band: and put out of the pale of his sacred laws, considering them unworthy of his superintendence and government. For we must absolutely be certain that a person who is

deserted by his superior and benefactor is guilty of great crimes and liable to severe accusations. For when would you say that a man destitute of skill is most greatly injured? Would it not be when he is utterly abandoned by knowledge? (143) And when would you say that the ignorant and wholly uninstructed man is most injured? Must it not be when instruction and education complete their desertion of him? When again do we most deplore the condition of the foolish? Is it not when prudence has utterly rejected them? And when do we pronounce intemperate or unjust men, miserable? Is it not when temperance and justice have condemned them to an eternal banishment from their dominion? When do we pronounce the impious, wretched? Is it not when piety has cut them off from her peculiar rites? (144) So that it seems to me that those who are not utterly impure should pray to be chastised and rejected rather than deserted; for desertion will most easily ruin them, as vessels without ballast and without a pilot; but correction will set them right again. (145) Are not those boys who are beaten by their preceptors, for whatever errors they commit, better than those who have no schoolmaster? And are not those who are reproved by their teachers, for all the errors they commit in the arts which they are studying, better than those who receive no such reproof? And are not those young men who have been accounted especially worthy of that natural superintendence and government, which those who are parents exercise over their children, more fortunate and better than those who have had no such protectors? And if they have not such natural protectors, do they not receive guardians as governors in a secondary rank, who are accustomed to be appointed over them out of pity for their orphan state; to fill the place of parents to them in all things that are expedient?