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Section 1

1. We hold that the ordered universe, in its material mass, has existed for ever and will for ever endure: but simply to refer this perdurance to the Will of God, however true an explanation, is utterly inadequate.

The elements of this sphere change; the living beings of earth pass away; only the Ideal-form [the species] persists: possibly a similar process obtains in the All.

The Will of God is able to cope with the ceaseless flux and escape of body stuff by ceaselessly reintroducing the known forms in new substances, thus ensuring perpetuity not to the particular item but to the unity of idea: now, seeing that objects of this realm possess no more than duration of form, why should celestial objects, and the celestial system itself, be distinguished by duration of the particular entity?

Let us suppose this persistence to be the result of the all-inclusiveness of the celestial and universal- with its consequence, the absence of any outlying matter into which change could take place or which could break in and destroy.

This explanation would, no doubt, safeguard the integrity of the Whole, of the All; but our sun and the individual being of the other heavenly bodies would not on these terms be secured in perpetuity: they are parts; no one of them is in itself the whole, the all; it would still be probable that theirs is no more than that duration in form which belongs to fire and such entities.

This would apply even to the entire ordered universe itself. For it is very possible that this too, though not in process of destruction from outside, might have only formal duration; its parts may be so wearing each other down as to keep it in a continuous decay while, amid the ceaseless flux of the Kind constituting its base, an outside power ceaselessly restores the form: in this way the living All may lie under the same conditions as man and horse and the rest man and horse persisting but not the individual of the type.

With this, we would have no longer the distinction of one order, the heavenly system, stable for ever, and another, the earthly, in process of decay: all would be alike except in the point of time; the celestial would merely be longer lasting. If, then, we accepted this duration of type alone as a true account of the All equally with its partial members, our difficulties would be eased- or indeed we should have no further problem- once the Will of God were shown to be capable, under these conditions and by such communication, of sustaining the Universe.

But if we are obliged to allow individual persistence to any definite entity within the Kosmos then, firstly, we must show that the Divine Will is adequate to make it so; secondly, we have to face the question, What accounts for some things having individual persistence and others only the persistence of type? and, thirdly, we ask how the partial entities of the celestial system hold a real duration which would thus appear possible to all partial things.

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