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"You speak of the love of God," said Oldenburg, "of that which we have for him, and of that which he bestows upon us. If, as you say, God does everything of necessity, he does nothing for love, and because he must do everything, if he would not resign his own existence, he cannot demand our love, and we could not offer it to him."

"That is a fine objection!" replied Spinoza. "Must love be something in opposition to nature, or arbitrary, to be accepted as such, or to earn a return of love? Was it not love that your father bestowed upon you? And did you love him less, because he must love you according to his innate nature? What is commonly called the miracle of love arises from that innate, and therefore free, determination by that highest necessity which is placed in our nature; and that is true love, with the indelible stamp of divinity. Each outward act, each labor, each work of art is the freer and more perfect the less arbitrary will has to do with it, the more thorough the innate law has become and lets it appear to be a free product of nature. The self-knowledge of what each one will, or ought to do, that is salvation; therefore love of God is the highest salvation, or, as I might call it, the highest felicity."

Olympia followed the two friends but unwillingly and with difficulty into the icy region of metaphysical contemplation, where no flowers bloomed,