(28) Why did the angel say to her, “Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, whence comest thou, and whither goest thou?” (#Ge 16:8). The plain letter of the question requires no explanation, for it is exceedingly clear; but with reference to the inner meaning contained in it, there is come asperity expressed; since the divine word is full of instruction, and is a physician of the infirmity of the soul. Therefore the angel says to her, “Whence comest thou?” knowest thou not what good thou has abandoned? Art thou not altogether lame and blind? For thou dost not see at all; and though endowed with the outward senses, dost not feel, and dost not appear to me to have any portion whatever of intellect, as if thou wert quite senseless. But “whither goest thou?” From what excellence to what misery? Why have you so erred as to cast away the blessings which you had in your power, and to pursue good things which are more remote? Do not, do not, I say, act thus; but, quitting your insane impetuosity, go back again, and return into the same way as before, looking upon wisdom as thy mistress, her whom you had before as your governess and directress in all the things which you did.
(29) What is the meaning of the answer, “I am fleeing from the face of Sarah, my mistress?” (#Ge 16:8). It is reasonable to praise a sincere disposition, and to think it friendly to truth. And moreover it is reasonable now to admit the veracity of a mind which confesses what it has suffered; for she says, “I am fleeing from the face,” that is to say, I have recoiled at the outward appearance of wisdom and virtue; since, beholding its royal and imperial presence, she trembled, not being able to endure to look upon its majesty and sublimity, but rather thinking it an object of avoidance; for there are some people who do not turn from virtue from any hatred of it, but from a reverential modesty, looking upon themselves as unworthy to live with such a mistress.