4. But matters are involved here which demand specific investigation and cannot be treated as incidental merely to our present problem. We are faced with several questions: Is the heavenly system exposed to any such flux as would occasion the need of some restoration corresponding to nourishment; or do its members, once set in their due places, suffer no loss of substance, permanent by Kind? Does it consist of fire only, or is it mainly of fire with the other elements, as well, taken up and carried in the circuit by the dominant Principle?
Our doctrine of the immortality of the heavenly system rests on the firmest foundation once we have cited the sovereign agent, the soul, and considered, besides, the peculiar excellence of the bodily substance constituting the stars, a material so pure, so entirely the noblest, and chosen by the soul as, in all living beings, the determining principle appropriates to itself the choicest among their characteristic parts. No doubt Aristotle is right in speaking of flame as a turmoil, fire insolently rioting; but the celestial fire is equable, placid, docile to the purposes of the stars.
Still, the great argument remains, the Soul, moving in its marvellous might second only to the very loftiest Existents: how could anything once placed within this Soul break away from it into non-being? No one that understands this principle, the support of all things, can fail to see that, sprung from God, it is a stronger stay than any bonds.
And is it conceivable that the Soul, valid to sustain for a certain space of time, could not so sustain for ever? This would be to assume that it holds things together by violence; that there is a "natural course" at variance with what actually exists in the nature of the universe and in these exquisitely ordered beings; and that there is some power able to storm the established system and destroy its ordered coherence, some kingdom or dominion that may shatter the order founded by the Soul.
Further: The Kosmos has had no beginning- the impossibility has been shown elsewhere- and this is warrant for its continued existence. Why should there be in the future a change that has not yet occurred? The elements there are not worn away like beams and rafters: they hold sound for ever, and so the All holds sound. And even supposing these elements to be in ceaseless transmutation, yet the All persists: the ground of all the change must itself be changeless.
As to any alteration of purpose in the Soul we have already shown the emptiness of that fancy: the administration of the universe entails neither labour nor loss; and, even supposing the possibility of annihilating all that is material, the Soul would be no whit the better or the worse.