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Chapter XII.—The Destruction of Evil by the Immission of Virtue Rejected; Because from It Arises No Diminution of Evil; Zeno’s Opinion Discarded, that the World Will Be Burnt Up by Fire from the Sun.

But that God sent virtue into matter is asserted without any proof, and it altogether wants probability. Yet it is right that this should have its own explanation. The reason of this they assert, indeed, to be that there might be no more evil, but that all things should become good. It was necessary for virtue to be intermingled with evil, after the manner of the athletes, who, clasped in a firm embrace, overcome their adversaries, in order that, by conquering evil, it might make it to cease to exist. But I think it far more dignified and worthy of the excellence of God, at the first conception of things existent, to have abolished matter. But I think they could not allow this, because that something evil is found existing, which they call matter. But it is not any the more possible that things should cease to be such as they are, in order that one should admit that some things are changed into that which is worse. And it is necessary that there should be some perception of this, because these present things have in some manner or other suffered diminution, in order that we might have better hopes for the future. For well has it been answered to the opinion of Zeno of Citium, who thus argued that the world would be destroyed by fire: “Everything which has anything to burn will not cease from burning until it has consumed the whole; and the sun is a fire, and will it not burn what it has?” Whence he made out, as he imagined, that the universe would be destroyed by fire. But to him a facetious fellow is reported to have said, “But I indeed yesterday, and the year before, and a long time ago, have seen, and now in like manner do I see, that no injury has been experienced by the sun; and it is reasonable that this should happen in time and by degrees, so that we may believe that at some time or other the whole will be burnt up.” And to the doctrine of Manichæus, although it rests upon no proof, I think that the same answer is apposite, namely, that there has been no diminution in the present condition of things, but what was before in the time of the first man, when brother killed brother, even now continues to be; the same wars, and more diverse desires. Now it would be reasonable that these things, if they did not altogether cease, should at least be diminished, if we are to imagine that they are at some time to cease. But while the same things come from them, what is our expectation of them for the future?

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