XXXVIII. (210) And he indeed prays that the hearing of sacred words and the learning of sacred doctrine may live, as has been already said; but Jacob, the practiser of virtue, prays that the good natural disposition may live; for he says, “May Reuben live and not Die,”{78}{#de 33:6.} does he then here pray for immortality for him, a thing impossible for man to attain to? (211) Surely not, we must then explain what it is which he intends to signify. All the lessons and all the admonitions of instruction are built up and established on the nature which is calculated to receive instruction, as on a foundation previously laid; but if there is no natural foundation previously in existence, everything is useless; for men, by nature destitute of sense, would not appear at all to differ from a stock or a lifeless stone; for nothing could possibly be adapted to them so as to cleave to them, but everything would rebound and spring back as from some hard body. (212) But on the other hand, we may see the souls of those who are well endowed by nature, like a well-smooth waxen tablet, neither too solid nor too tender, moderately tempered, and easily receiving all admonitions and all lessons, and themselves giving an accurate representation of any impression which has been stamped upon them, being a sort of distinct image of memory. (213) It was therefore indispensable to pray that a good natural disposition, free from all disease and from all mortality, should be joined to the rational race; for they are but few who partake of the life according to virtue, which is the most real and genuine life. I do not mean of the common herd of men only, for of them there is not one who partakes of real life: but even of those to whom it has been granted to shun the objects of human desire, and to live to God alone. (214) On which account the practiser of virtue, that courageous man, marvelled greatly, if any one being borne along the middle of the stream of life, was not dragged down by any violence, but was able to withstand the flow of abundant wealth coming over him, and to stem the impetuosity of immoderate pleasure, and to avoid being carried away by the whirlwind of vain opinion. (215) At all events Jacob does not speak to Joseph more than the sacred scripture speaks to every one who is vigorous in his body, and who is seen to be immersed amid abundant treasures, and riches, and superfluities, and to be overcome by none of them, when he says, “For still thou livest,” uttering a most marvellous sentiment, and one which is quite beyond the daily life of us who, if we have fallen in with ever so slight a breeze which bears us towards the good fortune, immediately set all sail and became greatly elated, and being full of great and high spirits, hurry forward with all our speed to the indulgence of our passions, and never will check our unbridled and immoderately excited desires until we run ashore and are wrecked as to the whole vessel of our souls.