(30) Why did the angel say to her, “Return to thy mistress and be humbled beneath her hands?” (#Ge 16:8). As the letter is plain, we must rather investigate its inner meaning. The word of God corrects that soul which is able to be lured, and instructs it, and converts it, leading it to wisdom as its mistress, that it may not, through being abandoned by its mistress, rush at once into absurd folly. But it warns it, not only to return to virtue, but also to be humbled beneath its hands, that is to say, beneath its several excellencies. But there are two kinds of humiliation; one, in accordance with defect, which arises from spiritual infirmity, which it is easy to overcome, seize upon, and reprove. But there is another kind which the word of the Lord enjoins, proceeding from reverence and modesty; such as that humility which children exhibit to their fathers, pupils to their masters, and young men to the aged; since it is very advantageous to be obedient, and to be subject to those who are better than one’s self; for he who has learnt to be under authority is in a moment imbued with a power which he alone may exercise; for, although any one were to be clothed with the authority of all the earth and sea, yet he would not be able to possess the royal supremacy of virtue, unless he had first been instructed and taught to obey.
(31) Why did the angel say to her, “I will multiply thy seed, and it shall not be numbered for multitude?” (#Ge 16:9). It is the honour of the docile mind not to be presumptuous or rebellious on account of its progress in knowledge, or because of the very useful seed which it has received from various kinds of erudition; for it does not any more, as wordcatchers and cavillers do, employ all the arguments of encyclical learning to establish any whimsical object, but to prove the truth which is contained in them. And when it has begun to prosecute that by diligent investigation, it is then rendered worthy to behold the sight of its mistress, free from all acceptance of persons, and from all reproof.