17. When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them.
17. Et cum starent animilia stabant etiam: et cum elevaren-tur elevebant se: quia spiritus animalis in ipsis.
As he just said that the wheels were obedient to the movement of the living creatures, so he now says that they ceased with them. But in this place it seems as if some incongruity might arise: for it is not correct to say that angels ever rest. We know that their quickness and promptness in executing God's commands is celebrated. (Psalm 103:20, 21.) Then since angels are the powers of God, it follows that they never cease from their office of working. For God never can rest; he sustains the world by his energy, he governs everything however minute, so that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his decree. (Matthew 10:29.) And there is that known and celebrated sentence of Christ, My Father and I work hitherto. (John 5:17.) Since, therefore, God never rests from his works, how then can that resting be explained of which the Prophet says, when the angels stood, the wheels also stood? I reply: it must be taken in a human sense; for although God works continually by means of angels, yet he seems sometimes to rest between. For he does not govern his works in any equable manner, as for instance, the heavens are sometimes calm, and at others agitated, so that a great variety appears in God's works, from which we may imagine that he is sometimes in vehement motion, and at others at perfect repose. This, therefore, is the cessation of which the Prophet now speaks when he says, the living creatures stood, and at the same time the wheels with them. Experience also confirms this; for God sometimes seems to mingle heaven and earth, and rouses us by unaccustomed work, while at others the course of his works seems to flow like a placid river. So that it is not absurd to say that the wheels stood with the living creatures, and proceeded and were elevated with them. He adds, the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels, I explained this point, in the first chapter, but here it may be shortly explained, that the spirit is here taken for secret vigor or instinct. The wheels are not properly animated, because we said that the events of things are represented to us by this word, and whatever seems to happen in the world; but their incomprehensible vigor and agitation proceeds from God's command, so that all creatures are animated by angelic motion: not that there is a conversion of the angel into an ox or a man, but because God exerts and diffuses his energy in a secret manner, so that no creature is content with his own peculiar vigor, but is animated by angels themselves. Now it follows --