LXXXVIII. (246) And the expression, “And thou eatest of the tree of which alone I commanded thee that thou shouldst not Eat,”{123}{#ge 3:17.} is equivalent to saying, You made a covenant with wickedness, which you ought to have repelled with all your strength. On this account, “Cursed art thou;” not, cursed is the earth for thy works. What, now, is the reason of this? That serpent, pleasure, which is an irrational elevation of the soul, this is intrinsically accursed in its own nature; and being such, attaches itself only to the wicked man, and to no good man. But Adam is the intermediate sort of mind which at one time if investigated is found to be good, and at another time bad; for inasmuch as it is mind, it is not by nature either good or bad, but from contact with virtue or with vice, it frequently changes for the better or for the worse; (247) therefore it very naturally is not accursed of its own nature, as neither being itself wickedness nor acting according to wickedness, but the earth is accursed in its works: for the actions which proceed from the entire soul, which he calls the earth, are open to blame and devoid of innocence, inasmuch as he does everything in accordance withvice. In reference to which fact God adds, that “In sorrow thou shalt eat of it.” Which is equivalent to saying, you shall enjoy your soul in sorrow; for the wicked man does enjoy his own soul with great pain the whole of his life, having no legitimate cause for joy; for such cause is only produced by justice and prudence, and by the virtues which are enthroned as companions with them.

LXXXIX. (248) “Thorns, therefore, and thistles shall it bring forth to you.” But what is it which is produced and which shoots up in the soul of the foolish man except the passions which goad and sting and wound it? Which Moses here, speaking symbolically, calls thorns, and which irrational appetite rushes upon at first like fire, and so hastens to meet, and afterwards uniting itself to them, it consumes and destroys all its own nature and actions. For Moses speaks thus:–“But if fire when it has gone forth finds thorns, and shall also burn a threshing-floor, or a crop of wheat, or a field of corn, then he who kindled the fire shall pay the Damage.”{124}{#ex 22:6.} (249) You see therefore when it has gone forth, that is to say, irrational impetuosity, it does not only burn the thorns, but finds them: for being inclined to seek out the passions, it attains to what it has been desiring to find; but when it has found it, it consumes these three things, –perfect virtue, improvement, and goodness of disposition. Moses therefore here compares virtue to a threshing-floor; for as the crops when collected are brought to the threshing-floor, so also are the good things which exist in the soul of the wise man brought to virtue; and improvement he likens to the crop of wheat, inasmuch as both the one and the other are imperfect, aiming at the end; and goodness of disposition he compares to a field of corn, because it is well adapted to receive the seeds of virtue; (250) and each of the passions he calls thistles (tribolia), because they are divisible into three parts: the passion itself, the efficient cause, and the effect which arises from the combined operation of the two. As for instance pleasure, what is pleasant, and the being pleased; appetite, the object of appetite, and the indulgence of appetite; pain, what is painful, and the suffering pain; fear, what is fearful, and the being in a state of fear.