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does not and cannot terminate in the Infinite Past : however, therefore, we may assume its imaginary termination at some point of past, present, or future time, and consequently at some point describable by number, its existence must ever remain in the Infinite Past. Consequently such Being must be in existence at every imagined point of contemplation, whether that be past, present, or future. Thus at any point, however remote in the past or the future, Being which we now contemplate as without beginning must retain so much of its peculiar attribute as to enable it to be then similarly contemplated as without beginning, and consequently as existing in the Infinite Past. Being without beginning must therefore be in actual existence at that most remote past or future point of contemplation. It is Being which cannot be effaced; it is Being which has always existed, is now existing, and must always exist. As we thus see that the termination or destruction of any portion of Being without beginning is impossible, so also is it clear that all further beginning or creation of Being without beginning is likewise impossible, because the very act of creation would be the bestowal of a
beginning. Therefore the whole of Being without beginning is now present and can never
It can therefore neither be increased nor diminished ; its duration is therefore infinite, and therefore equal to that of eternity. It is therefore equal to eternity, and therefore eternal.
Thus has there passed before us one of those two portions of duration which, at the commencement of our inquiry, we selected as together constituting Eternity. We have attempted to penetrate the mystery which overshadows the Infinite Past, and the truth of our conclusion is, I think, as evident as the abstruse nature of the subject will permit.
A similar chain of reasoning may be applied to the second part into which we have divided Eternity, and will prove that Being without end is now and has always been. But as the admission of this general proposition leads to important reflections, it is advisable to enter more fully into its examination.
THE INFINITE FUTURE, OR BEING
We are now about to consider the Infinite Future ; the Infinite Future, or Being without End.
There are three points of view from which Being without end may be regarded. It may be contemplated from a point in the past, in the present, or in the future; for it must ever retain its
peculiar attribute of Being without end, because, of whatever changes in its nature or its attributes eternity may be the witness, the Infinite Future must ever be without end. So that were Being without end possibly to receive a beginning in the past, present, or future, we are assured that, even admitting the possibility of that imagined point of creation, it must retain its peculiar attribute of Being without end: thus, as the property of Being without beginning cannot be bestowed, in the past, present, or future“, so neither in the past, present, or future can be bestowed the property of Being without end. Thus, however other properties of Being without end may vary, it must ever possess that of continuous existence. At the first glance, no difficulty appears to interfere with the supposition that Being without end can be created at any future point of time; but, remembering that such Being is essentially different from all ordinary subjects of contemplation, let us endeavour to ascertain whether the facility with which assent to this supposition is yielded arises from a conviction of truth, or from carelessness in inquiry.
a See p. 55.
Now; if Being without end could be created at a point in the future, then we could readily imagine a point still further in the future at which Being without end would be in existence, but from which could be contemplated a point in the past beyond which such Being would have no existence. We should then be contemplating a point in the past beyond which Being without end had not existed, and we should perceive in the past the termination of such Being. But Being without end can never terminate, there can never be an end to its existence. Being without end is that which exists in the Infinite Future, and must for ever remain so existing. If there exist a moment in the present, or a moment after the present, in which Being without end could not exist, then would there clearly be a portion of the future in which such Being is without existence ; and it could not then be said to be the occupant of the Infinite Future, because before its birth a portion of that future would have passed away.
If such creation were possible, we should now be inquiring into the nature of Being which, according to the supposition, is not now in existence, but which must ever possess the property of Being without end. We are not speaking of a sensible object, or of imaginary extension, but of Being an end to the existence of which, were we to search throughout eternity, we should never find. It is Being which is now enduring without end, which is continually forming a part of existence, which, in its never-ending duration, is now actually in existence. But, in reference to duration, whether of time or of eternity, present existence proves presence. Being without end is therefore now present, and that which exists in the Infinite Future must exist in the whole of the future.
The present existence of Being without end