Chapter 15.—The Preceding Argument is in No Wise Inconsistent with the Saying of Our Lord: “A Good Tree Cannot Bring Forth Evil Fruit.”
But when we say that evil springs out of good, let it not be thought that this contradicts our Lords saying: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.” 1106 For, as He who is the Truth says, you cannot gather grapes of thorns, 1107 because grapes do not grow on thorns. But we see that on good soil both vines and thorns may be grown. And in the same way, just as an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit, so an evil will cannot produce good works. But from the nature of man, which is good, may spring either a good or an evil will. And certainly there was at first no source from which an evil will could spring, except p. 242 the nature of angel or of man, which was good. And our Lord Himself clearly shows this in the very same place where He speaks about the tree and its fruit. For He says: “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt,” 1108 —clearly enough warning us that evil fruits do not grow on a good tree, nor good fruits on an evil tree; but that nevertheless the ground itself, by which He meant those whom He was then addressing, might grow either kind of trees.