756. The consummation of the age can be illustrated by various things in the natural world, for here each and all things on the earth grow old and decay, but by alternate changes which are called the circles of things. Times in general and in particular pass through these circles. In general, the year passes from spring to summer, through this to autumn, then ends in winter, and from this returns to spring; this is the circle of heat. In particular, the day passes from morning to noon, through this to evening, and ends in night, and from this returns again to morning; this is the circle of light. Again, every man runs through the circle of nature, beginning life in infancy, advancing therefrom to youth and manhood, from this to old age, and dies. So likewise every bird of the air and every beast of the earth. Also, every tree begins with a germ, goes on to its full stature, and gradually declines until it falls. The same is true of every bush and every shrub, and even of every leaf and flower, also of the soil itself, which in time becomes barren; and of all still water which gradually becomes foul. All these are alternative consummations, which are natural and temporal, and yet periodical; because when one has passed from its origin to its end, another like it arises; thus everything is born and dies and is born again, in order that creation may be continued. This is like what takes place in the church because man is a church and in general constitutes the church, and one generation follows another with a constant variation of disposition; and iniquity once enrooted, that is, an inclination to it, is transmitted to posterity, and is extirpated by regeneration only, which is wrought by the Lord alone.