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Section XV

XV. Is it not however worth while to examine this question, in what manner there can be a regeneration of all those things which have been destroyed by fire, and resolved into fire? for when their substance has been wholly destroyed by the fire, it follows of necessity that the fire itself must also be extinguished as no longer having any nourishment. Therefore, as long as it remained the seminal principle of arrangement was likewise preserved, but when it is destroyed that principle is destroyed with it. But it would be impious, and an impiety of double dye, not only to attribute destruction to the world, but also to take away the possibility of its regeneration; as if God delighted in disorder, and irregularity, and all kinds of evil things. But we must examine this question more accurately, in the following manner. There are three species in fire; the coal, and the flame, and the light. Now coal is the fire in its earthy substance, which, like a sort of spiritual habit, couches and lies hid in a sort of cavern, pervading it all to its very extremities. And the flame is that part which, being raised on high, is lifted up from its fuel. And the light is that which is emitted from the flame, so as to co-operate with the eyes, in order to enable them to comprehend what is seen. And the flame occupies the middle position between the coal and the light; for when it is extinguished it ends in coal, and when it is kindled it excites the light, which, being deprived of its burning power, blazes. If therefore, we affirm that the world is dissolved by conflagration, it would not be coal, because, in that case there will be a great deal of the earthy substance left behind, in which also fire must necessarily be contained. But we must agree, that none of the other bodies subsist any longer, but that earth, and water, and air, are all dissolved into unmixed fire. Nor, again, would it become flame; for that can only exist in connexion with nourishment; and, if nothing is left behind, being deprived of all nourishment it will immediately be extinguished. It follows from all this, that it cannot become light either; for light by itself has no substance at all, but flows from the things before mentioned, coal and flame, not in a great degree from the coal, but very much from the flame; for it is diffused over a very great space indeed. But if, as has been already proved, those things had no existence from the conflagration of all things, then there could not be any light either. So that it is impossible for the world to be susceptible of any regeneration, inasmuch as there is no spermatic principle smouldering beneath; from which consideration it is plain that it is uncreated, and that it will be for ever imperishable.

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