“Swift as a winged bird or fleeter Thought.”{62}{homer, Odyssey 8.171.}

Showing by these words the exceeding speed of its promptitude, placing the thought after the winged bird as a sort of climax; for the mind advances at the same moment to very many things and bodies, hurrying on with indescribable impetuosity, and without a moment’s lapse of time it speeds at once to the borders of both earth and sea, bringing together and dividing infinite magnitudes by a single word; and at the same time it soars to such a height above the earth, that it penetrates through the air and reaches even the aether, and scarcely stops at the very furthest circle of the fixed stars. (180) For the fervid and glowing heat of that region does not suffer to to rest tranquil; on which account, overleaping many things, it is borne far beyond every boundary perceptible by the outward senses, to that which is compounded of ideas and appearances by the law of kindred. On which account in the good man there is a slight change, indivisible, unapportionable, not perceptible by the outward senses, but only by the intellect, and being in a manner independent of them.

XXXIV. (181) But, perhaps, some one may say, What then? is he who has once believed bound never to admit the slightest trace, or shadow, or moment of incredulity at all? But this man appears to me to have nothing else in his mind except an idea of proving the creature uncreated, and the mortal immortal, and the corruptible incorruptible, and man, if it be lawful to say so, God. (182) For he says that the belief which man has once conceived ought to be so firm as in no respect to differ from that which is entertained of the truly living God and which is complete in every part; for Moses, in his greater hymn, says, “God is faithful, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”{63}{deuteronomy 32:4.} (183) And it is great folly to fancy that the soul of man is able to contain the virtues of God, which never vary and which are established on the most solid footing; for it is sufficient, and one must be content to have been able to acquire the images of them, though they are inferior to the archetypal patterns by many and large numbers. (184) And is not this reasonable? for it follows of necessity that the virtues of God must be pure and unmixed, since God is not a compound being, inasmuch as he is a single nature; on the other hand, the virtues of men must be mixed with some alloy, since we ourselves are compounds, the divine and human nature being combined in us, and adapted together according to the principles of perfect music; and that which is composed of many separate things has a natural attraction to each of its parts. (185) But he is happy to whom it has happened that for the greater portion of his life he has inclined towards the more excellent and more divine part; for that he should have done so all his life is impossible, since at times the mortal weight which is opposed to him has preponderated in the opposite scale, and impending over his mind, has kept watch for the opportunities of coming upon his reason at an unfavourable time, so as to drag it back again.