LIX. (293) In the next verses it is said, “And in the fourth generation they shall return hither,” not merely in order that the time may be exactly marked out to him, in which his descendants shall become inhabitants of the holy land, but also in order to represent to him the perfect and complete re-establishment of virtue; and this takes place as it were in the fourth generation, but how it does so it is worth while to consider. (294) The child, after it is brought forth, during its age of infancy, till it has completed its first period of seven years, has a pure unmixed nature, very like a smooth waxen tablet, which has not yet been stamped with the indelible impressions of good or evil; for all the things which appear to be engraved upon it are soon confused and effaced by reason of its moisture: (295) this is as it were the first age of the soul. The second is that which, after the age of infancy is passed, begins to live among evils, some of which it is also accustomed to generate from itself, and others it cheerfully receives from other sources, for the teachers of evil deeds are infinite in number: nurses, and tutors, and parents, and the laws in different states, whether written or unwritten, which make objects of admiration out of things which ought to be laughed at; and even without teachers nature itself is easily inclined to learn what is improper, so as to be continually weighed down by the abundance of its evils; (296) “For,” says the scripture, “the mind of man is carefully devoted to evil from his Youth.”{95}{#ge 8:21.} This is that most accursed period which is figuratively called an age, but also especially the age of youth, in which the body is full of youthful vigour, and the soul is puffed up; the passions, which have hitherto lain hid, being now fanned into a flame, and burning up the threshing-floors, and crops, and fields, and whatever they meet with. (297) This diseased generation or age must be remedied by some third age, acting towards it the part of medical philosophy, so that it shall be charmed with salutary and saving words, by means of which it will receive an evacuation of the immoderate satiety of evil actions, and a fulness of a sort of hungry emptiness, and terrible desolation of good deeds. (298) Therefore, after the application of this cure, there comes first the age, in which power and vigour grow up in the soul, in accordance with the most certain comprehension of wisdom, and the undeviating and solid character which exists in all virtues. This is the meaning of the expression, “And in the fourth generation they shall return hither.” For according to the fourth number thus pointed out the soul, which has turned away from doing evil, is proclaimed as the inheritor of wisdom; (299) for the first number is that into which it is not possible to receive any idea of either good or evil, since the soul is as yet destitute of all impressions; and the second is that in which we indulge in a rapid course of the passions; and the third is that in which we are healed, repelling the infections of disease, and at last ceasing to feel the evil vigour of the passions; the fourth is that in which we acquire complete and perfect health and vigour, when rejecting what is bad we appear to endeavor to apply to what is good, which previously was not in our power. LX. (300) But up to what time this is to be he tells us himself, when he says, “For the wickednesses of the Amorites are not yet Fulfilled.”{96}{genesis 15:11.} And such words as these give an occasion to weaker brethren to fancy, that Moses represents fate and necessity as the causes of all things that exist or take place; (301) but we must not be ignorant that he was well acquainted with the consequences, and connection, and reciprocal dependence of the causes of things, inasmuch as he was a philosophical man, accustomed to converse with God: and he does not attribute the causes of things which exist, or which take place, to these powers; for he imagined to himself some other more ancient power, mounted upon the universe, like a charioteer, or like the pilot of a ship; for this power steers the whole common vessel of the world in which all things sail, and he bridles the course of the winged chariot, the entire heaven, exerting an independent and absolute sovereign authority. (302) What then are we to say about these subjects? The name Amorites, being interpreted, means “talkers;” and numbers of those who have received that greatest of all blessings bestowed upon man by nature, namely speech, have abused and corrupted it, employing it ungratefully and treacherously, to the injury of her who has bestowed it. Such are flatterers, impostors, devisers of plausible sophistries, men who rather cultivate the skill to delude and to cheat, and who have no care to speak truly, and these men study indistinctness. Now indistinctness is equivalent to deep darkness in discourse; and darkness is the great assistant of robbers, (303) on which account Moses has adorned the chief priest with distinct demonstration and truth; thinking it proper that the discourse of the virtuous man should be clear, and perspicuous, and true; but men in general pursue that which is indistinct and false, under the banner of which the whole misguided multitude of ordinary careless men enrols itself. (304) Therefore, as long as “the offences of the Amorites are not fulfilled,” that is to say, the evils of sophistical arguments by reason of their not having been refuted, but while they still influence us, having an attractive power by reason of their plausibility, we being unable to turn away and forsake them, remain in their power from being allured by them. (305) But if once all unreal plausibilities are convicted and refuted by true proofs, and if their offences are shown to be full and running over, then we shall flee away without ever turning back, and as it were slipping our cables we shall set sail from the region of falsehoods and sophistries, hastening to cast anchor in the safe harbours and havens of truth. (306) And in this way, I look upon it as sufficiently proved in the spirit of my original proposition that it is impossible for a man to reject, and to hate, and to forsake plausible falsehood, unless the evils arising from it are seen to be full and complete; and they will be shown to be so, by its being refuted in no superficial way, by the establishment on the other hand, and by the complete confirmation of truth.