“High over all she lifts her beauteous face,

And towers above her nymphs with heavenly grace,

Fair as they all Appear.”{10}{homer, Odyssey 6.107, where the lines quoted are applied to Latona among her nymphs.}

But if this be true, then the world cannot be capable of destruction. Why so? Because the nature which holds it together is itself invincible by reason of its exceeding strength and power, by which it gets the mastery over every thing else which might be likely to injure it; (38) wherefore Plato has well Said:{11}{timaeus, p. 33.}–“For nothing ever departed from it, nor did anything ever come to it from any quarter; for that was not possible; for there was nothing in existence which could come; for since it supplies itself with nutriment out of its own consumption, it also does everything and suffers everything in itself and by itself, and is compounded with the most consummate art. For he who created it thought that it would be better if wholly self-sufficient, than if in continual need of accessories from other quarters.”

VIII. (39) However, this argument also is a most demonstrative one, on which I know that vast numbers of philosophers pride themselves as one most accurately worked out, and altogether irresistible; for they inquire what reason there is for God’s destroying the world. For if he destroys it at all he must do so either with the intention of never making a world again, or with the object of creating a second fresh one; (40) now the former idea is inconsistent with the character of God; for it is proper to change disorder into order, and not order into disorder; in the second place, it is so because it would give rise to repentance, which is an affliction and a disease of the soul. For he ought either never to have created a world at all, or else, if he judged that it was a fitting employment for him, he ought to have been pleased with it after it was made. (41) But the second reason deserves no superficial examination; for if he were intending to make another world instead of that which exists at present, then of necessity this second world that would be made, in that case, would be either worse than, or similar to, or better than the first; everyone of which ideas is inadmissible; for if the new world is to be worse than the former, then the maker must be also worse: but all the works of God are without blemish, beyond all reproach and wholly faultless, inasmuch as they are wrought with the most consummate skill and knowledge; for as the proverb says; —

“For e’en a woman’s wisdom’s not so coarse

As to despise the good and choose the worse.”

But it is consistent with the character of, and becoming to God to give form to what is shapeless, and to invest what is most ugly with admirable beauty. (42) Again, if the new world is to be exactly like the old one, then the maker is only wasting his labour, and differs in no respect from infant children who, very often while playing on the sea shore raise up little mounds of sand, and then pull them down again with their hands and destroy them; for it would have been much better than making another world exactly like the former, neither to take anything from, nor to add anything to, nor to change either for the better or for the worse, what existed originally, but to let it remain just as it was. (43) If, on the other hand, he is about to make a world better than the former one, then the maker too must be better than the maker of the former world, so that when he made the former world he was inferior both in his skill and in his intellect, which it is impious even to imagine, for God is at all times equal and similar to himself, being neither capable of any relaxation which can make him worse, nor of any extension which can make him better. Men, indeed, do admit of such inequalities in either direction, being naturally liable to alter either for the better or for the worse, and continually admitting of increase, and advance, and improvement, and everything contrary to these states; (44) and besides this, the works of us who are but mortal men may very appropriately be perishable, but the works of the immortal must in all consistency and reason be likewise imperishable, for it is natural that what is made should resemble the nature of the maker.