Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

regular motions, neither of which motions do ever all at once exist, but only in the ideas I have of them in my memory derived from my senses or reflection ; I can with the same ease, and for the same reason, apply it in my thoughts to duration antecedent to all manner of motion, as well as to any thing that is but a minute, or a day, antecedent to the motion, that at this very moment the sun is in. All things past are equally and perfectly at rest; and to this way of consideration of them are all one, whether they were before the beginning of the world, or but yesterday : the measuring of any duration by some motion depending not at all on the real co-existence of that thing to that motion, or any other periods of revolution, but the having a clear idea of the length of some periodical known motion, or other intervals of duration in my mind, and applying that to the duration of the thing I would measure.

$. 29. Hence we see, that some men imagine the duration of the world, from its first existence to this present year 1689, to have been five thousand six hundred and thirty-nine years, or equal to five thousand six hundred and thirty-nine annual revolutions of the sun, and others a great deal more; as the Egyptians of old, who in the time of Alexander counted twenty-three thousand years from the reign of the sun; and the Chinese now, who account the world three millions, two hundred and sixty-nine thousand years old, or more: which longer duration of the world, according to their computation, though I should not believe to be true, yet I can equally imagine it with them, and as truly understand, and say one is longer than the other, as I understand, that Methusalem's life was longer than Enoch's. And if the common reckoning of five thousand six hundred and thirty-nine should be true (as it may be as well as any other assigned) it hinders not at all my imagining what others mean when they make the world one thousand years older, since every one may with the same facility imagine (I do not say believe) the world to be fifty thousand years old, as five thousand six hundred and thirty-nine : and may as well conceive the duration of fifty thousand years, as five thousand six hundred and thirty-nine. Whereby it appears, that VOL. I.

N

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

to the measuring the duration of any thing by time, it is not requisite that that thing should be co-existent to the motion we measure by, or any other periodical revolution; but it suffices to this purpose, that we have the idea of the length of any regular periodical appearances, which we can in our minds apply to duration, with which the motion or appearance never co-existed.

9. 30. For as in the history of the creation, delivered by Moses, I can imagine that light existed three days before the sun was, or had any motion, barely by thinking, that the duration of light, before the sun was created, was so long as if the sun had moved then, as it doth now) would have been equal to three of his diurnal revolutions; so by the same way I can have an idea of the chaos, or angels being created, before there was either light, or any continued motion, a minute, an hour, a day, a year, or one thousand years. For if I can but consider duration equal to one minute, before either the being or motion of any body, I can add one minute more till I come to sixty; and by the same way of adding minutes, hours, or years (i. e, such or such parts of the sun's revolutions, or any other period, whereof I have the idea) proceed in intinitum, and suppose a duration exceeding as many such periods as I can reckon, let me add whilst I will : which I think is the notion we have of eternity, of whose infinity we have no other notion, than we have of the infinity of number, to which we can add for ever without end.

$. 31. And thus I think it is plain, that from those two fountains of all knowledge before-mentioned, viz, reflection and sensation, we get ideas of duration, and the measures of it.

For, first, by obscrving what passes in our minds, how our ideas there in train constantly some vanish, and others begin to appear, we come by the idea of succession.

Secondly, by observing a distance in the parts of this succession, we get the idea of duration.

Thirdly, by sensation observing certain appearances, at certain regular and seeming equidistant periods, we get the ideas of certain lengtlis or measures of duration, as minutes, hours, days, years, &c.

Fourthly,

Fourthly, by being able to repeat those measures of time, or ideas of stated length of duration in our minds, as often as we will, we can come to imagine duration, where nothing does really endure or exist; and thus we imagine to-morrow, next year, or seven years hence.

Fifthly, by being able to repeat ideas of any length of time as of a minute, a year, or an age, as often as we will in our own thoughts, and adding them one to another, without ever coming to the end of such addition any nearer than we can to the end of number, to which we can always add; we come by the idea of eternity, as the future eternal duration of our souls, as well as the eternity of that infinite Being, which must neces. barily have always existed.

Sixthly, by considering any part of infinite duration, as set out by periodical measures, we come by the idea of what we call time in general.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

from

CH A P. xv. in any Of Duration and Expansion, considered together. inkin $. 1. THOUGH we have in the prece. Both capable

1 dent chapters dwelt pretty long of greater on the considerations of space and duration; and less. yet they being ideas of general concernment, that have something very abstruse and peculiar in their nature, the

comparing them one with another may perhaps be of rem al use for their illustration; and we may have the more

clear and distinct conception of them, by taking a view of them together. Distance or space, in its simple abstract conception, to avoid confusion, I call expansion, to distinguish it from extension, which by some is used to express this distance only as it is in the solid parts of matter, and so includes, or at least intimates the idea of body; whereas the idea of pure distance includes no such thing. I prefer also the word expansion to space, because space is often applied to distance of fleeting fuccessive parts, which never exist together, as well as

Na

[ocr errors]

to those which are permanent. In both these (viz, expausion and duration the mind has this common idea of continued lengths, capable of greater or less quantities: for a man has as clear an idea of the difference of the length of an hour and a day, as of an inch and a foot.

$. 2. The mind, having got the idea of Expansion

the length of any part of expansion, let it not bounded by matter.

be a span, or a pace, or what length you

will, cain, as has been said, repeat that idea; and so, adding it to the former, enlarge its idea of length, and make it equal to two spans, or two paces, and so as often as it will, till it equals the distance of any parts of the earth one from another, and increase thus, till it amounts to the distance of the sun, or remotest star. By such a progression as this, sctting out from the place where it is, or any other place, it can proceed and pass beyond all those lengthis, and find nothing to stop its going on, cither in, or without body. It is true, we can easily in our thoughts come to the end of solid extension ; the extremity and bounds of all body we have no difficulty to arrive at: but when the mind is there, it finds nothing to hinder its progress into this endless expansion ; of that it can neither find nor conceive any end. Nor let any one say, that beyond the bounds of body, there is nothing at all, unless he will confine God within the limits of matter. Solomon, whose understanding was filled and enlarged with wisdom, seems to have other thoughts, when he says, “ licaven, and " the heaven of heavens, cannot contain thee:" and he I think, very much magnifies to himself the capacity of his own understanding, who persuades himself, that he can exterd his thoughts farther than God exists, or imagine any expansion where he is not

9. 3. Just so is it in duration. The mind, Norduration by notion.

having got the idea of any length of dura

* tion, can double, multiply, and enlarge it, not only beyond its own), but beyond the existence of all corporeal beings, and all the measures of time, taken from the great bodies of the world, and their motions. Lut yet every one easily admits, that though we make

duration

and,

en

duration boundless, as certainly it is, we cannot yet exe. tend it beyond all being. God, every one easily allows, fills, eternity; and it is hard to find a reason, why any one should doubt, that he likewise fills immensity. His infinite being is certainly as boundless one way as ano. ther; and methinks it ascribes a little too much to matter, to say, where there is no body, there is nothing.

g. 4. Hence, I think, we may learn the whom reason why every one familiarly, and with- more easily out the least hesitation, speaks of, and sup- admit infinite poses eternity, and sticks not to ascribe in- duration than

infinite ex. finity to duration; but it is with more

pansion. doubting and reserve, that many admit, or suppose the infinity of space. The reason whereof seems to me to be this, that duration and extension being used as names of affections belonging to other beings, we easily conceive in God infinite duration, and we cannot avoid doing so: but not attributing to him extension, but only to matter, which is finite, we are apter to doubt of the existence of expansion without matter; of which alone we commonly suppose it an attribute, And therefore when men pursue their thoughts of space, they are apt to stop at the confines of body; as if space were there at an end too, and reached no farther. Or if their ideas upon consideration carry them farther, yet they term what is beyond the limits of the universe imaginary space; as if it were nothing, because there is no body existing in it. Whereas duration, antecedent to all body, and to the motions which it is measured by, they never term imaginary; because it is never supposed void of some other real existence. And if the names of things may at all direct our thoughts towards the originals of men's ideas (as I ain apt to think they may very much) one may have occasion to think by the name duration, that the continuation of existence, with a kind of resistance to any destructive force, and the continuation of solidity (which is apt to be confounded with, and, if we will look into the minute anatomical parts of matter, is little different from, hardness) were thought to have some analogy, and gave occasion to words, so near of kin as durare and durum esse. And N 3

that

« AnteriorContinuar »