LXXIV. (209) But the expression, “Because thou hast done this Thing,”{107}{#ge 22:16.} is a symbol of piety. For to do everything for the sake of God alone is pious. In consequence of which we do not spare even that beloved child of virtue, prosperity, surrendering it to the Creator, and thinking it right that our offspring should become the possession of God, but not of any created being. And that expression, also, is a good one, “In blessing I will bless thee.” (210) For some persons do many acts worthy of a blessing, but yet not in such a way as to obtain a blessing. Since even a wicked man does some actions that are proper, but he does not do them from being of a proper disposition. And sometimes a drunken man or a mad man speaks and acts in a sober manner, but still he is not speaking or acting from a sober mind. And children, who are actually infants, both do and say many things which reasonable men do also do and say; but they, of course, do it not in consequence of any rational disposition, for nature has not yet endowed them with a capacity of reasoning. But the law giver wishes the wise man to appear deserving of blessing not occasionally, accidentally, and, as it were, by chance, but in consequence of habits and a disposition deserving of blessing.

LXXV. (211) Therefore it is not sufficient for the unfortunate external sense to be abundantly occupied with pains, but it must also be full of groaning. Now groaning is a violent and intense pain. For we are very often in pain without groaning. But, when we groan, we are under the influence of most grievous and thickly pressing pain. Now, groaning is of a twofold nature. One kind is that which arises in those who desire and are very eager for august objects and who do not succeed in them, which is wicked; the other kind is that which proceeds from persons who repent and are distressed for previous sins, and who say, “Miserable are we, how long a time have we passed infected with the disease of foolishness, and in the practice of all kinds of folly and iniquity.” (212) But this kind of groaning does not exist unless the king of Egypt, that is to say, the impious disposition wholly devoted to pleasure, has perished and departed from our soul, “For, after many days, the king of Egypt Died.”{108}{#ex 2:23.} Then immediately, as soon as vice is dead, the man who has become alive to the perception of God and of his own sin, groans, “For the children of Israel groaned at the corporeal and Egyptian works;” since the reigning disposition devoted to pleasure, while it is alive within us, persuades the soul to rejoice at the sins which it commits; but, when that disposition is dead, it groans over them; (213) on which account it cries out to its master, beseeching him that it may not again be perverted, and that it may not arrive at only an imperfect sort of perfection. For many souls who have wished to turn to repentance have not been allowed to do so by God, but, been dragged back, as it were by the ebbing tide, having returned to their original courses; in the manner in which Lot’s wife did, who was turned into stone because she loved Sodom, and who reverted to the disposition and habits which had been condemned by God.