« PreviousContinue »
second, nor the third ;—it may be that number is insufficient to determine its order. To Omnipotence all things are possible. Who can affix a limit to the repetition of creation ? Who can tell the times that form inay have arisen out of chaos? or who can count those days that may have witnessed again and again the end of all things, that may have seen the elements of former creations melt again and again with fervid heat, and yield to the formless void ? Who, then, are those angels and ministering spirits of whom we read as of beings of another creation ? May they not be erring spirits who have passed through their season of trial, in an order and in time essentially distinct from our own ? It may be, that they have been embodied spirits who have lived in unconnected durations of time, each distinct and finite in itself. And the repetition of such durations of time may in themselves be unnumbered; for we have already seen that even the infinitely repeated multiplication of limited Being cannot produce infinity. The unlimited repetition, therefore, of portions of time cannot be eternity.
The supposition, therefore, of such infinitely repeated creations of time is not a hypothesis the
possibility of which is doubtful. On the contrary, we cannot but understand the ideas which this train of thought has suggested; and the possibility of such acts of Omnipotence is, to all believers in revelation, clear and undoubted. Before the mind of all such they will assume a form of greater or less probability. Many, assuredly, are indisposed to limit the works of Omnipotence to a single creation of material form, and consequently of time. With the greater joy, then, will they hail the idea of infinite repetition, believing that it shadows forth faintly, yet worthily, one mighty attribute of their Creator. And
And yet further may it be permitted for such with reverence to direct the eye of thought, and to look upon the angels of heaven as beings who have in other time passed through that same valley of the shadow of death which is our lot, and who are now enjoying the same light of truth which will be our reward.
The repeated manifestation of time is a dispensation in accordance with the conclusion which we have formed in relation to the nature of time and eternity. Were this otherwise, those conclusions would be at once proved
erroneous, because every Christian admits the possibility of such repeated creation.
We now proceed to consider the question of probability.
We have absolute knowledge of the existence of two forms of duration. We believe in Eternity, and we know that Time has had a beginning and will have an end, and is therefore not eternal. Now, if the whole of all time be one fixed and determinate duration, eternity could not have existed before its beginning, since, if the whole of time that has ever been began six thousand or any fixed number of years ago, it is manifestly and utterly impossible that there should have been any existence whatever before those six thousand years began, because the very expression “ before” implies necessarily the previous existence of succession, and therefore of time. Eternity manifestly cannot be before or after time, because it is time alone that can give priority or consequence. Neither can time be before or after eternity, because eternity is an everlasting present. Time, therefore, is essential to the presence of eternity. Time and eternity dwell each in the presence of the other. Where time is, there must eternity be also. But if the
whole existence of time, which must thus be manifested throughout the infinite eternity, were not broken into distinct and independent parts, parts, it may be, unlimited in number, then would such Being be one continuous duration, without beginning and without end; that is, time would be eternity, which is absurd. There must therefore be more than one distinct duration of time. But since eternity is Being ever. lastingly present, embracing the Infinite Future and the Infinite Past, it must be present when our now present duration is without existence; it must be present in the duration of yet another time, the end of which was the beginning of the present æra of creation. This other duration of time must likewise have had a beginning, pointed out by the end of a duration still more remote. Thus, too, will the end of our present temporary creation be the beginning of another similar creation of form, and of yet another duration of time. The present dispensation will pass away, and then “ blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection." He will behold how “ the heavens shall wax old as doth a garment, and shall be changed;"b and his speech will be of a Rev. xx. 6.
b Heb. i. 11, 12
praise and thanksgiving, as the words of the Apostle are fulfilled, " I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.'
The creation of two distinct manifestations of time is, then, a reality; but it is clear that one cannot be before or after the other, because, between the separate duration of each, time would not be in existence, and, consequently, succession could neither be measured nor defined. But we are compelled to apply the same chain of thought to every distinct creation of time; and however great a number we may assign to these durations of time, there must, if that number be limited, be a beginning and a termination to the series. If the repeated creations of time could be described by number, then would they be limited in amount, and the difficulty which opposes the idea of existence before the beginning of time, or after its destruction, though thus removed to a greater distance, would still remain insuperable. The distinct and separate durations of our earthly sensible time, each limited in itself, are therefore un
a Rev. xxi. 1.