21. The true life of the animal, as well of the man, is no more in the body than it is in the clothing; it is in the intelligent principle that pre-exists and survives the body. This principle has need of a body in order to develop itself by the work of controlling brute matter. The body is employed in this work, but the spirit is not thereby injured; on the contrary, it comes out of the strife every time stronger, more lucid and more capable. What matters if the spirit changes more or less frequently its envelope? It is no less a spirit. It is as absolutely as though a man should renew his clothings a hundred times a year: he would still be the same man.
By the constant spectacle of destruction, God teaches man of how little worth is the material envelope, and excites in them the idea of the spiritual life by making them desire it as compensation.
But some will say: Could not God arrive at the same result by other means, without obliging living beings to destroy each other? If all is wisdom in his works, we ought to suppose that his wisdom is no more defective in this particular than in any other. If we cannot comprehend it, it is necessary to ascribe the seeming folly to our lack of advancement. Each time we can try to seek the reason by taking this for our watchword: God must be infinitely just and wise. Let us, then, seek for his justice and wisdom in all things, and let us bow before that which surpasses our understanding.