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I. (1) In the treatise preceding the present one, we discussed the question of rewards to the best of our ability. Our present purpose is to examine who is the heir of the things of God; for after the wise man heard the oracle, which being divinely given, said, (2) “Thy reward is exceedingly Great;”{1}{#ge 15:1.} he inquired, saying, “What wilt thou give me, O master?” And I shall depart childless: but my son who is the child of my handmaid will inherit after me, this Eliezer of Damascus.” And in another place he says, “Since thou has not given me any seed, but one born in my house shall be my heir.” (3) And yet who would not have been amazed at the dignity and greatness of him who delivered this oracle, so as to become silent and mute before him, if not out of fear, still at all events from excess of joy? For excessive griefs stop the mouth, and so also do excessive joys; (4) on which account Moses confesses that he is “a man of a slight voice and slow of speech from the time when God first began to converse with Him.”{2}{#ex 4:10.} And this testimony of the prophet is unerring; for it is natural for the organs of speech to be checked, and for the reason which is collected in the mind to be borne onwards with unrestrained impetuosity, philosophically examining the unceasing beauty of ideas not of words, with fluent and sublime power; (5) and the most admirable virtues are boldness and freedom of speech at suitable times towards one’s betters, so that the sentence in the comic poet appears to me to be uttered with truth rather than with comic humour:–

If a slave is always dumb,

He is scarcely worth a crumb:

Let him, freely told, boldly speak.

II. (6) When then has a slave freedom of speech towards his master? Is it not when he is conscious that he has not wronged him, but that he has done and said everything with a view to the advantage of his owner? (7) When therefore is it proper for the servant of God to use freedom of speech to the ruler and master of himself, and of the whole word? Is it not when he is free from all sins, and is aware in his conscience that he loves his master, feeling more joy at the fact of being a servant of God, than he would if he were sovereign over the whole race of mankind, and were invested without any effort on his part with the supreme authority over land and sea. (8) And he mentions the ministrations and services by which Abraham displayed his love to his master in the last sentence of the divine oracle given to his son, “I will give to thee and to thy seed all this land, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because Abraham thy father obeyed my voice, and kept all my precepts, and all my commandments, and my laws, and my Judgments.”{3}{#ge 26:3.} (9) And it is the greatest possible praise of a servant that he does not neglect a single thing of the commandments which his master lays upon him, but that he labours earnestly without any hesitation and with all his vigour, and even beyond his power to perform them all with a well affected mind.

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