III. (10) There are persons, then, to whom it is becoming to listen but not to speak, with respect to whom it is said, “Be silent and Hear,”{4}{#de 27:9.} a very admirable injunction; for ignorance is a very bad and a very audacious thing, the first remedy for which is silence, and the second, attention to those who present you with anything worthy of your listening to. (11) Let no one, however, think that this is all that is signified by those few words, “Be silent and hear;” but that there is also something greater in them which may give a lesson to any one. For these words do not recommend you only to be silent with your tongues, and to hear with your ears, but also to conduct yourself thus in both these respects in your soul; (12) for many persons when they have come to listen to some one, have nevertheless not come with their minds, but wander outside, and keep on thinking of thousands upon thousands of things within themselves, whether concerning their relations, or strangers, or themselves, which at that moment they ought not to remember at all, but which in short they, re-collecting to themselves in regular order, and thus by reason of the excessive tumult which they keep alive in themselves, they are unable to hear the speaker. For he speaks as if he were not among men, but among inanimate statues who have indeed ears, but no sense of hearing. (13) If, therefore, the mind chooses to associate neither with things wandering about inside, nor with those which are stored up within it, but, remaining quiet and silent, directs its whole attention to the speaker, keeping silent in accordance with the injunction of Moses, it will be able to listen with all attention, but otherwise it would not be able to do so.

IV. (14) Silence, then, is a desirable thing for those who are ignorant, but for those who desire knowledge, and who have at the same time a love for their master’s freedom of speech, is a most necessary possession. Accordingly it is said, in the book of Exodus, “The Lord will fight for us, and you will be Silent.”{5}{#ex 14:4.} And, immediately afterwards, there is added a scripture in the following words: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Why dost thou cry unto me?” As it is proper for those persons to be silent who can say nothing worthy of being listened to, and for those to speak who, through love of wisdom, believe in God; and not only to speak quietly but to cry out with exceeding noise, not indeed with the noise of the mouth and tongue, by means of which they say that the air is affected with a rotatory motion, and so is rendered capable of being perceived by the hearing, but by the all-instructed and very loudly speaking organ of that voice of which no mortal man is the hearer, but only the uncreated and immortal God. (15) For the well-arranged and carefully attuned melody of that harmony which is perceptible by the intellect, the invisible musician, perceptible by the intellect, is alone able to comprehend; but no one of those involved in the entanglements of the outward senses can appreciate it. Accordingly, when the entire organ of the mind sounds according to the symphony of the diapason and of the double diapason, the hearer, as it were, asks (for he does not ask in reality, since everything is known to God), “Why dost thou cry unto me?” Is it in supplications that evils may be averted, or in thankfulness for a participation in good things which have been already enjoyed, or for a combination of both reasons?