XXXVII. (177) No one, therefore, of all the objects of human anxiety or of human labour, is of any importance or value; but every such thing is a mere shadow or breath, disappearing before it can get any firm footing; for it comes and then again it departs, like the ebbing tide. For the sea, in its ebb and flow, is at one time borne forwards with great violence, and roaring, and noise, and overflowing its bounds makes a lake of what has previously been dry land; and, at another time, it recedes and makes a large portion of what has been sea, dry land. (178) In the same manner, at times, prosperity overflows a mighty and populous nation, but afterwards turns the impetuosity of its stream in the opposite direction, and does not leave even the slightest drop, so as to suffer no trace whatever to remain of its former richness. (179) But it is not everybody who receives the complete and full meaning of these events, but only those receive it who are accustomed always to proceed in accordance with true and solid reason and limitation; for we find the same men saying both these things, “All the affairs of the created world are absolutely nothing;” and, “We will go by thy mountain.” (180) For it is impossible for one who is not in the habit of using high and mountainous roads to repudiate all mortal affairs, and to turn aside and change his paths for what is immortal. Therefore the earthly Edom thinks it right to blockade the heavenly and royal road of virtue, and the divine reason blockades his road, and that of all who follow his opinions; (181) among whom we must enroll Balaam, for he also is a child of the earth, and not a shoot of heaven, and a proof of this is, that he, being influenced by omens and false prophecies, not even when the eye of his soul, which had been closed, recovered its sight, and “saw the angel of God standing against him in the way;”45 not even then did he turn back and desist from doing wrong, but giving way to a mighty torrent of folly, he was washed away and swallowed up by it. (182) For then the diseases of the soul are truly not only difficult of cure, but even utterly incurable, when, though conviction is present to us (and this is the word of God, coming as his angel and as our guide, and removing the obstacles before our feet, so that we may travel without stumbling along the level road), we nevertheless prefer our own indiscreet opinions, to the explanations and injunctions which he is accustomed to address to us for our admonition, and for the chastening and regulating of our whole life. (183) On this account he who is not persuaded by, and who shows no respect to, conviction, when it thus opposes him, will, in his turn, incur destruction with the wounded, 46 whom the passions have wounded and overthrown; and his calamity will be a most sufficient lesson for all those who are not utterly impure, to endeavour to keep the judge, that is within them, favourable to them, and he will be so if they do not reverse what has been rightly decided by him.