LXI. (307) In the next verse the historian proceeds to say, “and when the sun approached its setting, there was a Flame;”{97}{#ge 15:17.} showing that virtue is a thing which is not born till late, and indeed which, as some persons have said, is only confirmed and established at the very setting of life. And he compares virtue to a flame; for as the flame consumes whatever materials are exposed to it, and gives light to all the air in its neighbourhood, in the same manner does virtue burn up all the offences, and fills the whole mind with light. (308) But while discourses, which are neither divided nor properly distributed, prevail over us by reason of their plausibilities, which he here calls the Amorites, we are not able to see the most brilliant and unshaded light. But we are like a furnace which has not a pure flame, but, as he himself says, emits only smoke, being gradually kindled by the sparks of knowledge, but not as yet being able to stand the hardening and test of pure fire. (309) But we owe great gratitude to him who has scattered those sparks, in order that our mind may not become cold like a lifeless corpse, being warmed and vivified by the gentle increasing heat of virtue, may feel a glow until it receives the change to holy fire, like Nadab and Abihu. (310) But smoke exists before fire, and compels those who come near it to weep; but both fire and smoke often come together. For, being delighted at the messengers of virtue, we hope to attain perfection therein, and if we are not yet able to arrive at it, then we can scarcely through our grief forbear from tears. For when an excessive desire is implanted in our breasts, they hasten to pursue the desired object, and our faces are full of chagrin until we attain it. (311) And how he has compared the soul of man, who loves instruction and who cherishes a hope of arriving at perfection, to a furnace, because each is a vessel in which food is cooked, the one being the vessel in which those meats which are perishable are prepared, and the other that suited to the reception of the imperishable virtues. And the burning torches of fire which are lighted up are the judgments of God who bears the torch, being bright and radiant, which are accustomed to be always placed in the middle between the divided portions; I mean by this the portions set in opposition to one another, of which the whole world is composed. (312) For we read in the scripture, “The lamps of fire which were in the midst between the divided Portions,”{98}{#ge 15:17.} that you may know that the divine powers which go through the middle of both bodies and things, destroy none of them; for both the divisions remain unhurt, but only divide and discriminate in a most excellent manner between the natures of each.