XXV. (99) “Biting the heel of the horse,”–Very consistently the disposition which shakes the stability of the created and perishable being is called the supplanter, and the passions are compared to a horse; for passion has four legs as a horse has, and is an impetuous beast, and full of insolence, and by nature a most restive animal. But the reasoning of temperance is wont to bite, and to wound, and to destroy passion. Therefore passion having been tripped up, and having fallen, “the horseman will fall backwards.” We must comprehend that the horseman who has mounted upon the passions is the mind, who falls from the passions when they are reasoned upon closely, and so are supplanted; (100) and it is well figured, that the soul does not fall forward, for it must not go before the passions, but rather advance behind them, and behave with moderation.

And there is sound learning in what he says here. If the mind, though desirous to act unjustly, comes too late and falls backward, it will not act unjustly; but if, when it is moved onwards to some irrational passion it does not run forward but remains behind, it will then receive freedom from the dominion of the passions, which is a most excellent thing. (101) On which account Moses, approving of this backward fall from off the vices, adds further, “waiting for the salvation of the Lord,” for, in good truth, he who falls from the passions is saved by God, and remains safe after their operation. May my soul meet with such a fall as this, and may it never afterwards remount upon that horselike and restive passion, in order that it may await the salvation of God, and attain to happiness! (102) On this account also it was that Moses praised God in his hymn, because “the horse and his rider has he thrown into the sea,” {30}{#ex 15:1.} meaning that he has thrown the four passions, and the miserable mind which is mounted on them, down into ruin as to its affairs, and into the bottomless pit, and this is almost the burden of the whole hymn, to which every other part of it is referred, and indeed that is the truth; for if once a freedom from the passions occupies the soul, it will become perfectly happy.