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theory of Time, will by some perhaps be thought uninteresting and visionary, while others may consider that they have little connexion with the subject. They have been designedly varied, and, upon careful examination, all will be found of greater or less force. But in this diversity it is hoped that every mind will meet with a point of view from which the real nature of Time may be seen in the wished-for light, and that we all, though selecting different roads, may together reach the same conclusion. Satisfactorily, however, to bring home to the mind all the illustrations that have been advanced will, it is true, demand from some a certain slight exertion of mental power; but their consideration will therefore form a fitting preparation for any effort of the intellect which may be required for the contemplation of Being purely immaterial in its character.
This, then, is the result when the word Time means one or more of those divisions which we have adopted for our own convenience; it is then, in the words of Locke, “the measure of duration.” But when, irrespectively of any certain known amount of duration, it is used to give an idea either of a part or of the whole of that passing Being itself which is of the past, the present, and the future, then time is not " the measure of duration;" on the contrary, continually broken succession is the measure of the whole duration of time, and of each arbitrary portion into which it has been divided. Each defined and limited portion, —a century, or ten thousand years, or that unknown length to which the whole duration of time shall have extended, - is pointed out not by unchanging duration, but by the broken and ever-changing succession of events which thus becomes a measure and an indicator.
It is change in succeeding events that determines the length of a day and of a year, that affixes their beginning and their end. It is the rotation of the earth that measures out the day; it is by the sun's apparent path among the constellations of the zodiac that the year is measured out and defined.
Time, then, is the result of successive changes in material form. As it is the chronicle in which these are recorded, so it is also measured by their duration; and as the aspect is varied under which these changes are presented to the observation of our senses, so must also vary the
apparent duration of that time of which they are
“ The relation of these changes to each other is termed the time of their occurrence; that which changes the least frequently is said to be of the longest duration." a
We must be careful to bear in mind that change in immaterial Being can give no idea of time. The consciousness that ideas now exist in the mind is independent of matter; and neither the contemplation of those ideas, nor the succession of others which arise from reflecting upon their mutual relation, can give any knowledge of time. If the mind take no note of material objects, the lapse of time cannot be perceived. In deep thought, in dreaming, and when the succession of ideas is rapid and their impression vivid, then is the mind far from all sensible objects, and all knowledge of time, nay, time itself, is lost. It is true that frequently we are conscious that a portion of time has passed by while we have been earnestly thinking; but this knowledge arises solely from the imperfection of mental operation. During the season of even most intense thought, momentary glimpses are caught of the outward world around us, and thus
Principles of the Human Mind, by Alfred Smec.
we obtain a faint and imperfect notion of the passage of time. And in those seasons which occur at least once to all, and it may be oftener, when the mind is entirely abstracted from all connexion with this material world, then it is that the events of a life pass before us in time the duration of which is inappreciable. " For the brief continuance at least of such moments of intense existence, the limits of time seem to be broken through or removed. To this class belong those brief intervals of rapture which are enjoyed in the midst of deep and earnest devotion, - or of proper ecstasy, which, so far as it is genuine and real, we cannot but consider as [the enjoyment of] an interval of eternity in the midst of time, or as a fleeting glance into the higher world of full and unchecked spiritual life. Even the inward wordless prayer, in so far as it is preceded by a real emotion of the heart profoundly agitating its inmost feelings, is, as it were, a drop of eternity falling through time into the soul.” a
It is thus evident that if we were totally unconscious of material change we should be unable to perceive succession, and could have no know
* Schlegel, p. 425.
ledge of time; and that to a spiritual Being so placed, whether in his own nature good or evil, temporary or eternal, existence would occupy a continual present.
We find no difficulty in conceiving the idea of a greater or of a less duration of time. We perceive that an addition to time necessarily causes an increase in its duration; we readily admit that the abstraction of any amount of time would necessarily cause a decrease in its duration. And successive additions and subtractions, by which we thus vary the whole duration of time, must necessarily be attended with increase or diminution proportional both to every single change and to the whole of time itself. When unlimited addition does not cause increase, such duration is not time, but eternity. When, after unlimited subtraction, duration still remains unchanged, such duration is not time, but eternity
That Being which would be decreased by the continuous successive division of a limited
portion must always remain in existence; for, could it become nothing, there would be an end of the divisions, and they would not be continuous. That Being which may be increased by the suc