Chapter LIII.—Self-Love the Foundation of Goodness.
“First of all, then, he is evil, in the judgment of God, who will not inquire what is advantageous to himself. For how can any one love another, if he does not love himself? Or to whom will that man not be an enemy, who cannot be a friend to himself? In order, therefore, that there might be a distinction between those who choose good and those who choose evil, God has concealed that which is profitable to men, i.e., the possession of the kingdom of heaven, and has laid it up and hidden it as a secret treasure, so that no one can easily attain it by his own power or knowledge. Yet He has brought the report of it, under various names and opinions, through successive generations, to the hearing of all: so that whosoever should be lovers of good, hearing it, might inquire and discover what is profitable and salutary to them; but that they should ask it, not from themselves, but from Him who has hidden it, and should pray that access and the way of knowledge might be given to them: which way is opened to those only who love it above all the good things of this world; and on no other condition can any one even understand it, however wise he may seem; but that those who neglect to inquire what is profitable and salutary to themselves, as self-haters and self-enemies, should be deprived of its good things, as lovers of evil things.