Vice one may take in troops with ease,
But in fair virtue’s front
Immortal God has stationed toil,
And care, and sweat, to bar the road.
Long is the road and steep,
And rough at first, which leads the steps
Or mortal men thereto;
But when you reach the height, the path
Is easy which before was hard,
And swift the onward course.
XXXVII. (151) After this the soul goes on to deny that it drinks wine or strong drink, boasting in its being continually sober throughout the whole of its life. For to have the reasoning powers really free, and unfettered, and pure, and intoxicated by no passion, was really a very important and admirable thing. (152) And from this it results that the mind which is filled with unmixed sobriety is of itself a complete and entire libation, and is offered as such to and consecrated to God. For what is the meaning of the expression, “I will pour out my soul before the Lord,” but “I will consecrate it entirely to him?” Having broken all the chains by which it was formerly bound, which all the empty anxieties of mortal life fastened around it, and having led it forth and emancipated it from them, he has stretched, and extended, and diffused it to such a degree that it reaches even the extreme boundaries of the universe, and is borne onwards to the beautiful and glorious sight of the uncreate God. (153) Therefore this company is one of sober persons who have made instruction their guide; but the former one is a company of drunkards, whose leader is ignorance.
XXXVIII. (154) But since intoxication does not only display folly, which is the child of ignorance, but also utter insensibility; and since, again, wine is the cause of that insensibility which affects the body, while the cause of the insensibility of the soul is the ignorance of those things with which it is proper and natural to be acquainted; we must now say a few words about ignorance, reminding the reader of only the most important particulars relating to it. (155) To which, then, of the passions which affect the body shall we compare that passion in the soul which is called ignorance? To the deprivation of the organs of the external senses? Therefore all those, who have been injured in their eyes or ears, are no longer able to see or hear at all, but have no acquaintance with day or light, which are the only objects for the sake of which, if we are to tell the plain truth, life is really desirable, but dwell in lasting darkness and everlasting night, being made insensible to everything whether of small or great importance; men whom ordinary conversation naturally is accustomed to call infirm. (156) For even if all the other faculties of the rest of the body, should attain to the very extreme limit of strength and vigour, still, if they are tripped up, as it were, and deprived of their foundation by the deprivation of the eyes and ears, they will meet with a great fall, so as never again to be able to rise; for the things which support man and keep him erect are in name, indeed, the feet, but in reality the powers of hearing and seeing; and the man who possesses them in their complete integrity is awake and stands upright, but he who is deprived of them falls and will be utterly destroyed. (157) And ignorance does produce completely similar effects on the soul, depriving it of its faculties of seeing and of hearing, and allowing neither light nor reason to enter into it, lest the one should instruct it and the other should exhibit the truth to it. But shedding upon it dense darkness and abundant folly, it renders the most beautiful soul a deaf, and dumb, and lifeless stone.