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point, would find no difficulty in conceiving the possibility of an infinite expansion reduced within the indivisible limits of a geometrical point.
Space is measurable, and so is duration; that is to say, all finite quantities are measurable both of the one and of the other; but no measurable quantity is reducible to an indivisible point, either of space or duration ; and much less would it be possible to compress an inaugmentible quantity into an indivisible quantity, either of extension or continuance of being. And yet the notion of unsuccessive existence in the Deity involves these and a thousand other contradictions, equally obvious and equally absurd. Neither infinite space nor infinite duration can have any other but a relative existence, being modes or properties of the Deity : but although their existence is only relative, it is real, and they are capable of geometrical and chronological admeasurement. A cubical foot is a real part of the Divine infinitude, and a single hour is a real part of the Divine eternity; and the person who would be able to annihilate the space occupied by a single cubical 'foot, or the duration which is traversed by one diurnal revolution, would be able to annihilate the Deity himself. Parts of infinite duration and infinite expansion are obviously real, and that for this plain reason, that if they were but deducted from the whole sum, the remainder would then be less than infinite ; and yet no numerical collection of finite quantities would amount to an infinite sum; and therefore, although all measurable portions of infinite space and infinite duration are real portions of their infinite and inauginentible totals, yet they do not form any numerical proportions of that infinity or that eternity, without which they could not possibly exist.
The occupation of space by the substance of our persons, and the occupation of time, or rather of duration, by the continuity of our existence, present an intelligible comment on that well-known scripture,
“ In Him we live, and move, and have our being.” It is from the expansion of material existence, and from the visible discovery of distant objects, that we derive, by deduction, the notion of an infinite expansion; and it is from the consciousness of our own existence and the continuance of our own being, as well as from a perception of the existence and continuance of other
created beings, that we derive, by deduction, our notion of an unoriginated and interminable duration.
The question is one of personal duration. Only let this circumstance be kept in mind, and the subject will be sufficiently intelligible. Let my reader appeal to his own understanding, by putting the following questions to his impartial and unbiassed judgment. Is the Deity the subject of a personal duration of being ? Does his existence endure or continue from one period to another, and from one date to another ? Does his eternal existence involve an unoriginated and everlasting continuance of being ? If the Deity must endure and continue in being from one period to another, and if his continuance of being is without origin and without end, can it be possible for his actual and personal existence to be confined to one indivisible point of present duration, called now? It is impossible to reconcile the notion of unsuccessive existence with a continuance of being, and most of all impossible to reconcile it with an unoriginated and everlasting continuance of being. Unsuccessive existence is a phrase which no man who uses it can either explain or comprehend. If it has, indeed, any meaning whatever, it must destroy the doctrine of the Divine existence. If the notion of unsuccessive existence were but as potent in act as it is destructive in theory, it would absolutely annihilate all existence both created and Divine.
It must be confessed that it is always now with ourselves, and that of consequence it must be always now with the Deity, because his actual existence applies to the present only. In this sense, time is an originated and terminable nów, created immortality is an originated, an interminable now, and the Divine immortality must imply an unoriginated and interminable now. But in this acceptation of the term
which is that of present existence, there is no exclusion of the notion of continuation : but it merely signifies a continuity of existence, which, in relation to the present life, has a beginning and an end ; in relation to the future state, has a beginning, but has no end; and in relation to the Deity, a continuity of existence without beginning and without end.
But the notion of the nunc stans, makes the actual existence of God to embrace alike the past, the present, and
the future ; and therefore, if this notion be correct, he must be now living in ages before the flood, and in stages of existence before created beings were made. At this very moment the Deity must be equally living in to-morrow and in yesterday. But the most monstrous consequences which would follow from these premises, are, that if the Deity does of necessity occupy every part of an infinite duration at the same time, then he must at this very moment occupy both the first and the last moments of his being; and thus the
very consequences which the advocates of this theory are most anxious to avoid, are of necessity involved in their own hypotheses. And let me add, that if the Deity do actually occupy the whole of an infinite duration in every moment of his existence, then he must actually live eternally, and that more than once, for he must live through an everlasting existence over and over again, an infinite num. ber of times. Such are the absurdities which the theory of unsuccessive duration must of necessity involve, and I call upon its advocates to shew that the theory does not actually involve such consequences as I have now deduced.
When a man can once persuade himself that actual existence may possibly extend itself beyond the limits of the present moment, either prospectively or retrospectively, what may he not bring himself eventually to receive? Why not believe that a being may possibly exist where he is not, and act where he is not, and be happy in a point of space where he has no personal existence ? In short, there is no Berleyism or jesuistry, which, upon such principles, a person might not readily admit.
Let a man appeal to his own understanding, whether an unoriginated, an interminable continuity of being, does not necessarily imply all that is really implied in eternal existence? Whether such a notion is not clear and intelligible to every understanding ? and whether he is able to add any thing to the notion, without involving the most glaring absurdities?
An eternal now, is a phrase that has been rendered familiar to our ears by long and frequent repetition, and has been hallowed to our feelings by its association with the great truths of Christianity, and with the solemn verities of experimental and practical piety; or, otherwise, our ears would have detected at once its apocryphal character, and
our understandings would have demonstrated, by one single deduction, that it is totally destitute of both rational and scriptural authority. We are well aware that it will be now always, because actual existence cannot possibly outself the limits of the present moment; and therefore all actual existence must be present existence. But we are at the same time equally certain, that existence cannot possibly be stationary, that it must of necessity be successive, and for these reasons the flow of existence must be equable and unceasing, and that it cannot remain for two successive moments the same. It is evident, therefore, that the advocates of an eternal now, are betrayed into that egregious blunder, by not distinguishing between permanent and stationary existence.
The most imposing form in which the notion of unsuccessive existence has ever been proposed, is the following. Eternal existence, they say, must exclude both beginning and end, and consequently in eternal existence there can be no first, and no second, and no third. But why do they not add, " and so on ad infinitum ?” This argument has been received with such implicit submission, and has been rendered so popular, that its advocates are quite astonished to hear its validity called in question. It is true, that where there is no beginning of existence there can be no first existence; and it is equally true, that the actions of an eternal being cannot be numbered; and yet we are perfectly certain, that the actions of an infinite being must admit of a numerical augmentation, or otherwise there would be an end at once to his actions, and consequently to his being.
Unoriginated existence precludes the bounds of number, but it cannot preclude the order of succession ; and although it cannot be said of any act performed by an eternal being, that it will stand in an ordinal relation to the first and to the last of his actions, yet it must stand in an ordinal relation to the act that went before it, and to the one which
may follow after it in the conduct of God. Let us apply the same argument to the subject of expansion, and we may then say, that since the Divine immetisity has neither centre nor circumference, it therefore will not admit of any geometrical admeasurement. Infinite expansion has no beginning, and has no end, and therefore,
on the same principle we might just as well say, it is a mere geometrical and indivisible point, as to say, that because infinite duration has neither beginning nor end, it must be one indivisible point of present existence, that precludes all succession. If the analogy between space and duration be not natural and legitimate, let the objector detect the fallacy.
Only let us pursue the foregoing argument to its final consequences, and the contradictions which it will be found to involve, will fully expose the unsoundness of the premises. It is said, that eternal existence must preclude a first act, and consequently a second ; and on the same principle, it might be added, that it would preclude all succeeding acts, and that ad infinitum. But the advocates of this theory do not, I presume, desire to push their premises to these revolting consequences. The facts of the case are obvious, and they flatly contradict the theory; and even the argument itself, although it denies a beginning of of existence, acknowledges an actual and present existence, which must involve an unoriginated continuity of being. Unoriginated existence, therefore, does not preclude present existence, nor past existence, nor even future existence : it did not preclude the existence of yesterday, it does not now preclude the existence of to-day, and it will not hereafter preclude the existence of to-morrow.
It has been argued, that the Deity is not older to-day than he was yesterday, and that the eternal Being will not be older to-morrow than he is to-day. Now if the meaning of this grave assertion be this, that the existence of the Deity to-day does not augment the real quantity of the duration of his being, it is manifestly and glaringly false; but if it be only intended to assert, that the Divine existence during to-day does not augment the chronological amount of his age, then the assertion must be true, because it would merely imply that the Deity is not farther from the commencement of his existence to-day than he was yesterday, neither is he nearer to the termination of his being. The
very same thing might be asserted of immortal creatures in relation to the end of their existence, as is said of the Deity in relation to both the beginning and end of his being. Ño portions of past existence can possibly bring immortal creatures nearer to the termination of their