XLII. (201) And I marvel also at that sacred word which runs on with zeal, in one continued course, without taking breath, “In order to stand in the midst between the dead and the living; and immediately,” says Moses, “the plague was Stayed.”{67}{#nu 16:48.} But the evils which grind down and break to pieces and crush our souls were not likely either to be stayed or lightened, unless the reasoning, dear to God, had separated off the holy men who live in sincerity, from the unholy who in real truth are dead; (202) for, owing to the mere fact of being near those who are sick, it has often happened that those who were in perfect health have caught their disease, and have been on the point of death: and it was impossible for them any longer to be exposed to this affliction if they once separated by a strong boundary fixed in the middle between them, which will preserve the better part by keeping off the inroads and attacks of the worse. (203) And I marvel still more, when listening to the sacred oracles I learn from them in what manner “a cloud came in the Midst”{68}{#ex 14:19.} between the army of the Egyptians and the company of the children of Israel; for the cloud no longer permitted the race, which is temperate and beloved by God, to be persecuted by that which was devoted to the passions and a foe to God; being a covering and a protection to its friends, but a weapon of vengeance and chastisement against its enemies; (204) for it gently showers down wisdom on the minds which study virtue–wisdom which cannot be visited by any evil. But on those minds which are ill-disposed and unproductive of knowledge, it pours forth a whole body of punishments, bringing upon them the most pitiable destruction of the deluge. (205) And the Father who created the universe has given to his archangelic and most ancient Word a pre-eminent gift, to stand on the confines of both, and separated that which had been created from the Creator. And this same Word is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race, which is exposed to affliction and misery; and is also the ambassador, sent by the Ruler of all, to the subject race. (206) And the Word rejoices in the gift, and, exulting in it, announces it and boasts of it, saying, “And I stood in the midst, between the Lord and You;”{69}{#nu 16:48.} neither being uncreate as God, nor yet created as you, but being in the midst between these two extremities, like a hostage, as it were, to both parties: a hostage to the Creator, as a pledge and security that the whole race would never fly off and revolt entirely, choosing disorder rather than order; and to the creature, to lead it to entertain a confident hope that the merciful God would not overlook his own work. For I will proclaim peaceful intelligence to the creation from him who has determined to destroy wars, namely God, who is ever the guardian of peace.