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cessive addition of limited parts must always remain limited, because were it to become infinite continued addition could not produce increase, nor could subtraction then cause diminution. Therefore, the addition or multiplication of limited Being, repeated without limit, does not equal the infinite. An unlimited number of feet is not infinity; an unlimited number of hours is not eternity.
We are utterly unable to imagine any limit to extended space.
We naturally adopt the idea, incorrect though it be, that our earth is a central spot, and suppose that space extends equally in every direction. We are ever eager to penetrate deeper and still deeper into its illimitable bosom, and ever find the immeasurable still deepening before the utmost flight of imagination. Thus, even with our limited powers of mind, we have not the slightest difficulty in comprehending either the reality of infinitely extended space, or in admitting the possibility, and even high probability, that the suns and planets which throughout infinity follow out their appointed courses are endless in repetition. Now, as these orbs, infinite in number, do not, and cannot, fill the infinite space in which they are revolving, we have here an evident illustration of our foregoing conclusion, — that the infinite repetition of limited Being does not equal infinity. “Time, however exaggeratedly it may be increased, never becomes eternity; for time is made up of a series of events, each having a beginning and an end. Eternity is not made up of events, and has therefore no beginning,
When stated portions of time are compared together, a certain fixed and unchanging proportion is the result; but we are accustomed to hear that the whole of time, and, consequently, that any portion of it, “becomes nothing when compared with eternity.” This reasoning, or rather assumption, appears to me the fruitful cause of difficulty; for we cannot, by any effort of the mind, really and truly understand how that which, when viewed in one light, is seen actually to exist, and to possess a fixed proportion, could, when viewed in another light, lose all its former properties, cease to be, and become as nothing. I hope that the reader who shall accompany me in the following pages will find in them, and in his own reflections,
Smee, p. 281.
sufficient reason for believing in the absolute difference of time from eternity: he will then remember that no comparison can be instituted between those things which are totally dissimilar; and he will readily see that, since time and eternity are in every respect different, they cannot be compared, and, consequently, that it is incorrect to state that “time becomes nothing when compared with eternity.” It probably may, however, be considered that we have not proved the assertion that time and eternity are distinct. But as the reflections which are about to pass before us will throw additional light upon the question, it will be more satisfactory if we postpone its consideration for the present. We must therefore now proceed rather upon assumption than conviction, and recur hereafter to the contemplation of time, as distinguished from eternity With those ideas, therefore, which we have obtained from the preceding views of time, let us once more return to the contemplation of the Infinite Past.
THE INFINITE PAST, OR BEING WITH
AND we now find that the Infinite Past is wholly distinct from Past Time, – that they bear no proportion, nor even mutual relation, whatever. Instead, therefore, of endeavouring to imagine some one point infinitely remote as the correct representative of the Infinite Past, let us rather regard it as Being continuous to the present, so that, when speaking of the Infinite Past, we may not form an incomplete and uncertain idea of some one point infinitely remote, but rather, if it be possible to conceive this idea, of a Being the duration of which is present and yet without beginning
The Infinite Past! Being without Beginning; Being which has been from the Infinite Past ; Being which has therefore never ceased ; Being which must have existed in the instant immediately preceding the present ; Being which was present as this thought floated in the imagination, but which was of the Infinite Past before
that thought was present; Being which is therefore not an infinitely distant point, but rather an infinite diffusion existing in the present. Such is the Infinite Past. Such is Being without beginning. The possibility may occur to some that, in the hidden depths of the future, changes may take place sufficient to alter the very nature of “ Being without beginning.” Although the Infinite Past exist as such up to the present, yet may Imagination possibly depict some point in the future at which Memory might recal the knowledge of Being without beginning, while from the same point she might also recal a certain period between that point and the existing present, at which Being without beginning had ceased to be without beginning. This view may not present itself to the mind of every one who contemplates the subject ; and to many before whose vision it may have passed, the feature thus disclosed may not appear of sufficient importance to justify a pause in our onward course for its special examination.
But as it is expedient in long and abstruse arguments that the first principles should be apprehended with clearness and certainty, I proceed at once to examine this doubt. I