499. But this needs further illustration. If all created things, animate as well as inanimate, did not have a kind of free will, no creation would have been possible. For if animals did not have free will in natural matters, they could not select food suitable for their nourishment, they could not reproduce or look after their offspring, so there would be no animals. If the fish of the sea and the shellfish of its floor did not have such freedom, there would be no fish or shellfish. Likewise, if every insect did not have it, there would be no silkworm to produce silk, no bee to produce honey and wax, no butterfly to sport with its mate in the air, feed on the nectar of flowers, and represent man's blessed state in the aura of heaven, when like caterpillar he has shed his outer skin.
 If there were not something analogous to free will in the soil of the ground, the seed put into it, and all parts of the tree growing from it, as well as in its fruits, and repeated in the new seeds, there could be no plants. If every metal and every stone, precious as well as common, did not have something analogous to free will, neither metal nor stone could exist, not even a grain of sand. For even this freely absorbs the ether, breathing out its own effluvium, ridding itself of what is exhausted and renewing itself with new material. This is the source of the magnetic field around a magnet, the iron sphere of influence around a piece of iron, copper around copper, silver around silver, gold around gold, stone around stone, nitrous around nitre, sulphurous around sulphur, and of various kinds around every particle of dust in the ground. This influence impregnates the inmost part of every seed and makes it fertile and grow. For failing such an effluvium from every grain of dust in the earth, there would be no commencement of germination and so no means of perpetuating itself. How else could the earth penetrate with dust and water the inmost centre of a seed sown, except by means of its exhalations; as for instance a mustard seed,
Which is smaller than all other seeds, but when it has grown is larger than plants and becomes a great tree. Matt. 13:31, 32; Mark 4:30-32.
 When then everything created has been endowed with its own kind of freedom, each according to its nature, why should man be denied the free will appropriate to his nature, which is that he should be spiritual? That is why man has been given free will in spiritual matters from the womb to extreme old age in the world, and thereafter for ever.