XXI. (107) But a person may very likely wonder at those who talk about conflagrations and regenerations, not only on account of the arguments which I have just been adducing, by which they are convicted of maintaining erroneous opinions, but also above all other reasons for this one; for since there are four elements of which the world consists, namely, earth, water, air, and fire, why is it that they are to separate fire from all the others, and to affirm that all the others are dissolved into that one? For some one may say, if it is necessary that they should all be resolved into one, why should they not be resolved into air, or water, or earth? For these elements also contain powers of great magnitude; but yet no one has ever said that the world was to pass away into air, or into water, or into earth; so that it would be equally natural to deny that it is resolved into fire. (108) Moreover, it would have become them, perceiving the beautiful equality which exists in the world, to fear and to feel too great awe to venture to condemn so divine a thing to death; for there is a most admirable system of compensation existing in the four elements which arrange and dispense their vicissitudes by the rulers of equality, and the definitions of justice; (109) for as the seasons of the year, in their proper alternations of revolutions, go through their regular cycle, completing their periodical changes without any cessation; in the same manner suppose that the elements of the world in the course of their continual interchanges with one another (though it is a most paradoxical assertion), when they appear to be perishing are in reality being made immortal, passing over the same course again and again, so as to have their existence infinitely protracted. (110) Therefore the steep road begins with the earth; for when it is wasted away it endures a change to water, and the water when it has evaporated is changed into air, and the air when rarefied is changed into fire; but the downward road descends from the head, when the fire in consequence of the conflagration which ensues settles down into air, and again when the air being closely pressed settles down into water, and when the water by its copious effusion is condensed so as to be changed into earth. (111) Heraclitus therefore spoke very correctly when he said that, “Water was the death of the soul, and earth the death of water.” For thinking that the breath was the soul, he indicates, by this figurative and enigmatical expression, that the end of air is the production of water, and again that the end of water is the production of earth; and when he speaks of death he does not mean utter destruction, but a change into some other element; (112) that equalised proportion of the elements which is attempered by itself being thus preserved eternal and uninjured, as is not only probable but absolutely inevitable; since what is unequal is essentially unjust, and injustice is the offspring of wickedness, and wickedness is banished from the abode of immortality. But the world is of a divine magnitude, and has been shown to be the abode of those gods which are visible to the outward senses; and to affirm that this world is destroyed is the part of those who do not see the connection of nature and the united consequence and coherence of things.