XLV. (153) And we must inquire the cause why the handmaid gave the servant drink from the fountain, but gave the camels water from the well. May it not perhaps be that the stream here signifies the sacred scripture itself, which irrigates the sciences, and that the well is rather akin to memory? For the depths which he has already mentioned, he produces by means of memory as it were out of a well; (154) and such persons as these one ought to admit because of the goodness of their natural disposition. But there are some men among those who practise virtue to whom the all-beneficent God has shown the way that leads to virtue, such that at first it is accounted rough, and steep, and difficult, but subsequently level and easy, having changed the bitterness of the wayfarer’s labour to sweetness. And how he has wrought this change we will now tell. (155) When he led us forth out of Egypt, that is to say, out of the passions which excite the body, we, travelling in the desert, that is to say, in the path of pleasure, encamped in the place called Marah, a place which had no drinkable water, but where all the water was Bitter.{66}{#ex 15:23.} For still the pleasures which are brought into action by means of the eyes, and ears, and belly, and the parts adjacent to the belly, were tempting to us, and charmed us exceedingly, sounding close to us. (156) When, therefore, we desired to be entirely separated from them, they dragged us back, exerting themselves in opposition to us, and entwining themselves round us, and soothing us with all kinds of juggling tricks and assiduous blandishments; so that we, yielding to their unremitting caresses, became alienated from and disinclined to labour, as something very bitter and intolerable, and designed to run back again to Egypt, that is to say, to the condition of an intemperate and lascivious life, if the Saviour had not speedily taken pity on us, and thrown a sweetening branch like a medicine upon our soul, causing it to love labour instead of hating it. (157) For he knew, inasmuch as he was our Creator, that we could not possibly survive any existing thing unless there were in us an intense love of doing so. Therefore, men never succeed in attaining any object that they desire if they pursue it without any connection with or consideration of fitness. But when friendship is added, and also a familiarity with the loved object, their endeavours then succeed rightly.

XLVI. (158) This is the food of a soul which is inclined to the practice of virtue, to consider labour a very sweet thing instead of a bitter one, which, however, it is not allowed to all persons to participate in; but to those only by whom the golden calf, the animal made by the Egyptians, the body, is sprinkled over with water after having been burnt with fire, and broken to pieces. For it is said in the sacred scriptures, that “Moses having taken the calf burnt it with fire, and broke it up into small pieces, and threw the pieces into the water and caused the children of Israel to drink Thereof.”{67}{#ex 32:20.} (159) For the love of virtue being inflamed and excited by the brilliant appearance of virtue, burns to ashes the pleasures of the body, and then cuts them to pieces and pounds them to nothing, using the divine word which can at all times divide everything. And in this manner he teaches us that among the bodily advantages are health, and beauty, and the accuracy of the outward senses, and the perfection of bodily vigour with strength and mighty energy; but still that all these things are common to accursed and wicked persons, while if they were really good no wicked person would be allowed to partake of them. (160) But these men, even if they are utterly wicked, still, inasmuch as they are men, and so far partake of the same human nature as virtuous men, do also partake of these advantages of the body. And, in fact, at present those wild beasts which are the most untameable, enjoy these good things, if indeed they are in reality good things, in a greater degree than rational beings; (161) for what wrestler could be compared in might with the strength of a bull or of an elephant? And what runner could put himself on a level with the speed of a hound or of a hare? And the most sharp-sighted of men is absolutely blind if his sight is compared with that of antelopes of eagles. Again, in hearing and in smell, often other animals are very far beyond man; as, for instance, the ass, which appears to be the stupidest of all animals, would show that our sense of hearing is very obtuse if he were brought into comparison with us. The dog, too, would make the nostrils in man appear a perfectly useless part from the exceeding superiority of the quickness of his own sense of smell; for, in him, that sense is pushed to such a degree that it almost equals the rapidity of the eye-sight.