Page images

touched, belongs to itself, and it looks upon itself as the inventor and creator of them all.

XVIII. And there is vothing unnatural in its receiving this impression, for there was a time once when the mind had no conversation with the outward sense, and had no outward sense, being very far removed from all things which were gregarious and in the habit of associating together, and itself resembling those solitary animals which feed by themselves. Accordingly as at that time it was classed by itself it did not touch any body, inasmuch as it had no organ in itself by which to take hold of external objects, but it was blind, and devoid of power, not being such a being as most people call a person when they sce any one deprived of his eyes, for such a person is destitute of only one external sense, and has great and abundant vigour in the others. But this mind, being curtailed of all the faculties which are derived from the outward senses, and being really powerless, being but the half of a perfect soul, destitute of the faculty by which it might naturally be able to conceive bodies, being but a fragment of itself, deprived of its kindred orgaus, and as such unfortunately is wholly deprived of these organs of the external senses on which it might rely as on a staff, and by which it might have been able to support itself when tottering. From which cause a great darkness is spread over all bodies, so that nothing can be visible through it; for there was no outward sense by which things could be distinguished.

God therefore, wishing to give it the faculty of comprehending not only incorporeal but also solid bodies, filled up the entire soul, attaching a second portion to that which he had already created, which he called appellatively woman, and by an especial name Eve, intimating the outward sense by a metaphorical expression.

xix. And she, the first moment that she was born, pours forth abundant light in a flood into the mind through each of her subordinate parts, as through so many holes, and having dissipated the previously existing mist, enabled it like a master to discern the natures of bodies at a distance and with perfect clearness ; and the mind being now irradiated with light, as if the beams of the sun had suddenly shone upon it after night, or as if it had just arisen from a deep sleep, or as if it had been to see a blind man suddenly restored to sight, came at once upon all the things with which creation was concerned,

beaven, and earth, and water, and air, and plants, and animals, and their habits, and distinctive qualities, and faculties, and dispositions, and movements, and energies, and actions, and changes, and ends; and some things he saw, and some things he heard, and some he tasted, and some he smelled, and some he touched ; and towards some be felt an inclination as they were productive of pleasure, and to some he felt aversion inasmuch as they caused pain.

Having therefore looked around it on all sides, and having contemplated itself and its own faculties, it ventured to utter the same boast that Alexander the king of the Macedonians did, for they say that he, when he determined to lay claim to the supreme dominion over Europe and Asia, stood in a suitable place, and looking around him upon every thing, said, "All things on this side and all things on that side are mine," displaying thus the emptiness of soul truly childish and infantine and foolish, and not at all royal. But the mind, havmg first laid a claim to the faculties of the outward senses, and by means of them having conceived every idea of bodily substance, became filled with unreasonable pride and was puffed up, so as to think everything in the world its own property, and that nothing at all belonged to any one else.

XX. This is that disposition in us which Moses characterised when he gave Cain his name, a name which being interpreted means possession, Cain himself being full of all folly or rather of all impiety; for instead of thinking that all possession belonged to God, he conceived that they all belonged to himself, though he was not only not able to possess even himself steadily, but he did not even know of what essence be consisted ; but nevertheless he placed confidence in the outward senses, as being competent to attain the objects perceivable only by them.

Let him tell us therefore how he will be able to avoid seeing wrongly, or being mistaken as to his hearing, or to escape even in any other of these outward senses. And in truth it is inevitable that these errors should continually befall every one of us, even if we should happen to be endowed with the most accurately constructed organs possible ; for it is difficult, or I might rather say impossible, for any one completely to avoid the natural blemishes and involuntary errors which arise, since the efficient causes of erroneous opinions are innumerable, both within us and around us, and outsido of us, and since

they are to be found in every mortal creature, man, therefore, very improperly conceives every thing to belong to himself, however proud he may be, and however high he may carry his head. /

XXI And Laban, who relied greatly on his distinctive qualities, appears to me to have afforded great amusement to Jacob, who was beyond all other men, a clear-sighted contemplator of the nature, which was free from any such qualities, when he ventured to say to him that, “My daughter, and my sons, and my cattle, and all that you see, belong to me and to my daughters."* For adding the word “my” to each of these articles, he never ceases from speaking and bousting about himself. Your daughters now, tell me—and they are the arts and sciences of the soul-do you say that your daughters are your own property? How so? In the first place did you not receive them from the mind which taught them ? in the second place it is naturally possible for you to lose these also, as you might lose anything else, either forgetting them through the greatness of your other cares, or througlı severe and lusting sicknesses of body, or because of the incurable disease which is at all events destined for those who grow old, namely old age, or through ten thousand other accidents, the number of which it is impossible to calculate.

And what will you say about the sons ?-and the sons are the reasonings which take place in portions of the soul, --if you pronounce thut the sons belong to you, are you speaking reasonably; or are you downright mad for thinking so ? For melancholic thoughts, and follies, and frenzies of the mind, and untrustworthy conjectures, and false ideas about things, and empty attractions of the mind, resembling dreams, and bringing with them convulsive agitation, and the disease which is innate in the soul, namely forgetfulness, and many other things beyond those that I have mentioned, take away the stability of your master-like authority, and show that these are the possession of some one else and not of you. Aguin, what will you say about the cattle ? Now the cattle are the outward senses, for the outward sense is something unreasonable and brutish, like cattle, will you dare to call the cattle your property? Tell me when you see erroneously, when you constautly bear erroneously, when you at one time think

Genesis xxxi. 43.


sweet flavours brackish, and at others look upon bitter flavours as sweet, when you in fact, in respect of every single one of these outward senses, are in the habit of being mistaken more frequently than you come to a correct decision, do you not blush? and if so, will you give yourself airs, and boast yourself as if you employed all the faculties and energies of the soul in such & way as never to err or to be mistaken.

XXII. But if you were to become changed, and to become possessed of the senses which you ought to have, you would then affirm that everything was the property of God, not of yourself, all conceptions, all knowledge, all art, all speculation, all particular reasonings, all the outward senses, and all the energies of the soul, whether exerted by them or without them; and if

you leave yourself throughout the whole of your life without any instructor, and without any teaching, you will be a slave for ever to harsh mistresses, such as vain opinions, appetites, pleasures, acts of injustice, follies, and erroneous conceptions; “For if," says Moses, the servant shall answer and say, I am content with my master, and with my wife, and with my children, I will not depart and be free, then, being brought before the judgment-seat of God," and, having him for his judge, he shall securely have what he asked," “having first had his ear bored through,"* that he may not hear the words of God about freedom of soul For it is a sign of a mind which is as it were rejected from the sacred contest and wholly discarded, and of reasoning faculties wholly childish and deficienty to make a boast of the mind being contented, and of thinking one's mind one's own lord and benefactor, and to boast of being very sufficiently pleased with the outward senses, and of thinking them one's own property, and the greatest of all good things, and their offspring with them; the offspring of the mind being to comprehend, to reason, to discriminate, to will, to conjecture; and the offspring of tbe outward sense being to see, to hear, to taste, to smell, to touch, in short to feel.

XXIII. It follows inevitably that he who is held in bondage by these two masters can never enjoy even a dream of freedom ; for it is only by a flight and complete escape from them that we arrive at a state of freedom from fear. But there is another man besides him, who is so taken up with himself,

* Exodus xxi., 6.

who makes an exhibition of insanity, and says that even if any one were to take his possessions away from him he would gain & victory over him, like a man contending for his own property. For," says he, “I will pursue and will take captive; I will divide the spoil; I will satisfy my soul, and I will slay with iny sword; my right hand shall obtain the mastery.".

To whom I would say, Thou hast forgotten, fool, that every one who thinks himself at his birth born to be a persecutor, is persecuted; for diseases, and old ago, and death, with all the rest of the multitude of calamities incurred, voluntarily and involuntarily, agitate and harass and persecute every one of us ; and he who thinks to take captive or to subdue is himself taken captive and subdued ; and he who expects to carry off the spoil, and who arranges a distribution of the booty, is defeated, and becomes subject to the enemies who have defeated him, receiving emptiness instead of abundance, and slavery for his soul instead of mastership, and being slain instead of slaying, and forcibly suffering himself all that he had designed to do to others. For such a man was truly the enemy of reason which establishes the truth, and of nature herself, setting up a claim to everything which was done as his own, and remembering not one of the things which happened to him while he was suffering, as if he had escaped all the evils which could arise from any source whatever.

XXIV. For, says he, the enemy has said, “I will pursue and take captive." Who, then, could be a more determined enemy to the soul than he who out of arrogance appropriated the especial attributes of the Deity to himself ? Now it is an especial attribute of God to create, and this faculty it is impious to ascribe to any created being. But thu special property of the created being is to suffer; and he who has previously considered how akin to and inevitable for man this is, will easily endure everything that befalls him, however grievous it may be. But if he thinks that it is inconsistent with his destiny, then, if he be oppressed with any very terrible calamity, he will suffer the punishment of Sisyphus, not being able to raise his head, not even ever so little, but being exposed to all sorts of evils coming upon him and over. whelming him, and meeting them all with submission and pon-resistance, the passions of a degenerate and unmanly

• Exodus xv. 9.

« PreviousContinue »