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propose to inquire whether, notwithstanding the termination, such Being must still be regarded as without beginning.
It is to be admitted that we know neither the nature nor number of the attributes or properties which constitute Being without beginning. We are unable to distinguish those which are essential from those which are accidental, for such Being may be material or immaterial, everchanging or throughout eternity the same, limited in extent or the occupant of infinity; but, however these may vary, it cannot possibly ever lose its peculiar property of being without beginning. That only can be called into existence which does not now exist. Therefore, that which does now exist cannot be called into existence. But to be called into existence is to receive a beginning.
That which now is cannot receive a beginning either in the present or in the future:
Being without beginning now is :
Therefore, Being without beginning cannot receive a beginning either in the present or in the future:
It therefore cannot be created in the past, in the present, or in the future:
Therefore Being, which is without beginning now, must ever be without beginning; and could it possibly cease at an imagined point in the future, notwithstanding the termination, such Being must still be regarded as without beginning. So that, however other attributes of Being without beginning may throughout eternity vary in their nature or in their number, that peculiar attribute of duration in the Infinite Past which Being without beginning must have once possessed it now possesses in the present, and will possess in the future; therefore the reasoning which we employ in the consideration of this peculiar attribute must ever be applicable, and the results we obtain correct, at whatever point that consideration may take place, for, whether contemplated from a point in the past, present, or in the future, Being without beginning is for ever without beginning.
There is, therefore, no point so far distant in the future but that Being without beginning must exist in the whole of the Infinite Past as contemplated from this point ; that is, since Being without beginning is now the Infinite Past, so must it also be the Infinite Past when that Infinite Past which continually receives addition
without increase includes not only the immediate Present, but also all that duration which is included between the Present and the Infinite Future. In other words, that which exists in the Infinite Past is now, and can never cease.
We have necessarily been led away from the immediate subject of discussion, and have indirectly and unintentionally arrived at the same conclusion to which we should have been conducted by the direct thread of argument. But the train of thought which this short digression has enabled us to pursue has effected the object of its introduction, and has convinced us that the truth of all ideas relating to the peculiar property of duration in the Infinite Past must be always the same, at whatever point of duration those ideas may be conceived. Let us now, therefore, return to the point of interruption, and ascertain whether there be any point at which Being without beginning can terminate.
We must now regard Being without beginning not only as that which has existed in the Infinite Past, but as that which is actually so existing, because we have seen that it is now, and must always continue, without beginning. Now we know that this property of existence without beginning can never vary; consequently, from whatever point this Being may be contemplated, its aspect must ever be similar to that it now presents, that is, it must ever possess the property of existence; for if Being without beginning could by possibility have terminated at a certain point in the Past, then we should now be inquiring into the nature of Being having in the Present no actual existence, but yet continuing to possess that property of existence in the Infinite Past which, having once been possessed, can never be absent. Therefore, that which we should have been thus examining would be Being which is existing in the Infinite Past, but supposed to have ceased to exist at a certain point in the past, and therefore not now in existence.
The mind is naturally inclined, when discussing metaphysical questions, to seek assistance from the analogy of sensible objects. Nothing can be more erroneous. bably, at this moment, forming to ourselves some vague image of a chain, endlessly extending away from us, and we find no difficulty in believing that it may have a commencement at any certain distance. But that which we are
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now attempting to comprehend must not be compared with a material object, or even conceived of as an imaginary mathematical line in space. We are speaking of duration, of Being without beginning, Being which, throughout eternity, is now enduring, is still forming a portion of existence, which is therefore now in existence. Now present existence, as a property of duration, proves presence, although it is probable that it is only in reference to duration, whether of time or eternity, that this reasoning is true, and that it cannot be correctly applied to any other object of thought, whether visible or invisible. But Being without beginning is now in existence; it is therefore now present.
Again, if Being without beginning could terminate at a point in the future less distant from us than the Infinite Future, there would necessarily be a point in Time or in the Infinite Future yet more distant, from which Being without beginning could be contemplated, as continuing to exist in the Infinite Past, but as having ceased to exist at a certain point in the past, and, therefore, not in existence at that then present, but now future, imagined point of contemplation.
But we know that Being without beginning