XVII. (86) And after he has conducted him out, he says to him, “Look up to heaven, and count the stars, if thou art able to number them; thus shall be thy Seed.”{36}{#ge 15:5.} He says very beautifully, “Thus shall be thy seed,” not so great shall it be, equal in number to the stars; for he does not intend here to allude to their multitude only, but also to an infinite number of other circumstances which contribute to entire and perfect happiness. (87) “Thus shall thy seed be,” says God, as the ethereal firmament which thou beholdest, so heavenly, so full of unshadowed and pure brilliancy (for night is driven away from heaven, and darkness from virtue,) most thoroughly like the stars, beautifully adorned, having an arrangement which knows no deviation, but which is always the same and proceeding in the same way. (88) For he means him to speak of the soul of the wise man as a copy of heaven, or, if one may use such a hyperbolical expression, as an actual heaven upon earth, having pure appearances in the air, and well arranged motions, and harmonious progress, and periodical revolutions of divine character, star-like and brilliant rays of virtue. But if it is impossible to find out the number of the stars which are perceptible by the outward senses, how much more so must it be to count those which are discernible only by the intellect? (89) for in proportion, I suppose, as that which judges is better or worse than that which is judged of (for the mind is better than the outward sense, and the outward sense is duller than the intellect; in the same ratio do the subjects of the judgment differ; so that the objects of the intellect are infinitely superior to those of the outward senses; for the eyes in the body are the smallest imaginable portion of the eye of the soul; for the one is like the sun, but the others only resemble lamps, which are at one time lighted and at another extinguished.

XVIII. (90) Therefore it is a necessary addition which is subjoined, “Abraham believed in God,”{37}{#ge 15:6.} to the praise of him who did thus believe. And yet, perhaps, some one may say, “Do you judge this worthy of praise? who would not give his attention to God when saying or promising anything, even if he were the most wicked and impious of all men?” (91) To whom we will reply, “Do not, do not, my good man, without further inquiry, either rob the wise man of his due praise, or attribute to unworthy persons that most perfect of the virtues, faith; and do not blame our opinion on this point; (92) for if you are willing to enter upon a deeper investigation into this subject, and are not content with examining it superficially, you will then see clearly, that without the assistance or addition of something else, it is not easy to believe in God on account of that connection with mortality in which we are involved, which compels us to put some trust in money, and glory, and authority, and friends, and health, and vigour of body, and in numerous other things; (93) but to wash off all these extraneous things, to disbelieve in creation, which is, in all respects, untrustworthy as far as regards itself, and to believe in the only true and faithful God, is the work of a great and heavenly mind, which is no longer allured or influenced by any of the circumstances usually affecting human life.