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limited in number, and are all manifested in the presence of indivisible eternity.
We have now finished our separate examinations of Time and Eternity, and it only remains for us to bring both into the same point of view; and this I propose to do by introducing the words of Schlegel, which point out the way in which he seeks to establish a certain relation for proportion there can be none— between Time and Eternity
TIME AND ETERNITY.
“So long as we believe in a great and irreconcilable contrariety between time and eternity, .. we cannot hope to extricate ourselves from the labyrinth in which external things and our own internal reflections involve the mind. This can only be effected by the idea of a two-fold time, such as it is our purpose accurately to define and bring before you. And this notion of a two-fold time arises from the difference between the one perfect and blissful time which is nought else than the inner pulse of life in an everflowing eternity, without beginning and without end, and that other time which is prisoned and fettered in this lower world of sense, where the stern present alone is prominent. But now, if eternity is nothing else than time vitally full, illimitably perfect, and blissfully complete, who, we may ask, first of all caused or produced this earthly, fettered, and fragmentary time, which seems but the great bond-chain of the whole world of sense ? and what then is this time itself? I might answer this latter question by the words of the poet, that it is out of joint.'a ..
“Now if eternity is in itself and originally nothing more than the living, full, and essential time which is still invisible, and if our earthly, shackled, and fettered time of sense is but an eternity 'out of joint' or fallen a prey to disorder, it is easily conceivable that the two do not stand apart and have no mutual contact. On this hypothesis they may possess many a common point of transition from one sphere into the other. At least, such a point of transition is in general experience afforded us by death, which is mostly looked upon and regarded in this light.” |
In denying absolute contrariety between time and eternity, the supporters of this line of argument are compelled to admit a two-fold time; that is, the simultaneous existence of two perfectly distinct kinds of time, between which there is no opposition nor contrariety. The one form represents that time which is perceptible to our senses, which we have defined as the result of successive change in material forms; the other form of time is called eternity, our idea of which appears exactly to correspond with that entertained by Schlegel.
a Hamlet, Act 1. Sc. 5. a Schlegel, p. 416.
“ The question, therefore, is properly to determine whether there exists such an absolute opposition between time and eternity, that it is impossible for them to subsist in any mutual contract or relation but the one necessarily leads to the negation of the other, or whether at least there is not some conceivable transition from one to the other."
Here the view which we have taken is, I think, to a certain extent the same as that of Schlegel, for the course of our reflections has led us to believe with him “that time and eternity are not incompatible with, or in hostile and irreconcilable opposition to, each other;" that “their ideas do not mutually destroy each other;" and that they dwell each in the presence of the other. We both believe that time is a characteristic feature of this world of sense,” and that " eternity is infinite, not only “a parte externâ,' i. e. everpassing yet everlasting, without beginning and without end; but also infinite “a parte internâ,' so that in the endlessly living, thoroughly
Schlegel, p. 416.
luminous present, and in the blissful consciousness thereof, the whole past and also the whole future are equally actual, equally clear, and equally present as the very present itself.” a
Eternity is Being which can receive neither increase nor diminution. No amount added to or taken from eternity can produce change in duration. Eternity endures for ever, and can therefore neither be lengthened nor shortened; but whatever may have been the duration of time, addition would cause increase, subtraction, diminution.
Eternity has neither past nor future; for we have seen that the Infinite Past and the Infinite Future meet andareunited in the Eternal Present. Neither does eternity know aught of proportion or relation; for it is without change, ever-present and indivisible. But time ever varies, can be divided into relative proportions, and is chronicled in the past, the present, and the future. Eternity is one; in duration infinite, in creation without repetition. Time is manifold; in duration limited, in creation infinitely repeated. Part of time is present; it cannot be measured, for it is inconceivably small. The whole of eternity is
a Schlegel, p. 414.