VIII. (40) But who Meshech is, and who her son is, must be examined in no superficial manner. Now the interpretation of the name Meshech is, “out of a kiss;” but a kiss differs from loving; for the one exhibits usually a discovery of souls united together by good-will, but the other intimates only a bare and superficial salutation when some necessity has brought the two parties to the same place. (41) For as the meaning “to stoop” (kyptein) is not contained in (anakyptein) “to lift up the head,” nor “to drink” (pinoµ) in, “to absorb” (katapinoµ), nor “a horse” (hippos) in the word (marsippos) “a bag,” so also “to love” (philein) is not necessarily contained in “to kiss” (kataphilein); since men yielding to the bitter necessities of life offer this salutation to numbers of their enemies. (42) But what that salutation is which consists of a kiss, but not of sincere friendship for us, I willexplain without any reservation or concealment. It is, forsooth, that life which exists in union with the external senses, which is called Meshech, being completely secured and defended, which there is no one who does not love, which men in general look upon as their mistress, but which virtuous men consider their handmaid, not a foreign slave or one bought with a price, but born in the house, and in some sense, a fellow citizen with themselves. Well, one class of these men have learnt to kiss this, not to love it; but the other class have learnt to love it to excess, and to think it an object of desire above all things. (43) But Laban, the hater of virtue, will neither be able to kiss the virtues which are assigned to the man who is inclined to the practice of virtue, but, making his own life to depend on hypocrisy and false pretenses, he, as if indignant, for he is not in reality affected, says, “I was not accounted worthy to kiss my children and my Daughters;”{16}{genesis 31:28.} speaking very naturally and decorously, for we have all been taught to hate irony irreconcileably. (44) Do thou, therefore, love the virtues, and embrace them with thy soul, and then you will be not at all desirous to kiss, which is but the false money of friendship; –“For have they not yet any part or inheritance in thy house? have they not been reckoned as aliens before thee? and has not thou sold them and devoured the Money?”{17}{#ge 31:14.} so that you could neither at any subsequent time recover it, after having devoured the price of their safety and their ransom. Do you pretend, therefore, to wish to kiss, or else to wage endless war against all the judges? But Aaron will not kiss Moses, though he will love him with the genuine affection of his heart. “For,” says the scripture, “he loved him, and they embraced one Another.”{18}{#ex 18:7.}

IX. (45) But there are three kinds of life. The first life, to God; the second, with respect to the creature; the third, is on the borders of both, being compounded of the two others. Now, the life to God has not descended to us, and has not come to the necessities of the body. Again, life with respect to the creature has not wholly ascended up to heaven, nor has it sought to ascend, but it lurks in unapproachable recesses, and rejoices in a life which is no life. (46) And the mingled kind is that one which often ascends upwards, being conducted upwards by the better part, and it gazes on divine things, and contemplates them; but still it often turns back, being dragged in the contrary direction by the worse part: and when the portion of the better life, as if placed in the balance of a scale, outweighs the whole, then the weight of the opposite kinds of life is dragged in the contrary direction, so that the lightest weight appears to be in the opposite scale. (47) But Moses having, without any contest or doubt, given the crown of victory to that kind of life which is life to God, brings that forward as the best, likening the other two kinds to two women, one of whom he calls beloved, and the other hated, giving them both most appropriate names. (48) For who is there who is not at times influenced by the pleasures and delights which he receives by means of his eyes, or by those which reach him through the medium of his ears, or of his sense of taste, or of his sense of smell and touch? And who is there who does not hate the contrary things, want and self-denial, and a life of austerity, and seeking after knowledge, which has never any share in amusement or laughter, but is full of gravity, and cares and labours, loving contemplation, an enemy to ignorance, superior to money, and glory, and pleasure, but under the dominion of temperance and true glory, and of that wealth which sees and is not blind? These, then, are at all times the eldest offspring of wisdom.