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Section 2

2. What definition are we to give to Eternity?

Can it be identified with the [divine or] Intellectual Substance itself?

This would be like identifying Time with the Universe of Heavens and Earth- an opinion, it is true, which appears to have had its adherents. No doubt we conceive, we know, Eternity as something most august; most august, too, is the Intellectual Kind; and there is no possibility of saying that the one is more majestic than the other, since no such degrees can be asserted in the Above-World; there is therefore a certain excuse for the identification- all the more since the Intellectual Substance and Eternity have the one scope and content.

Still; by the fact of representing the one as contained within the other, by making Eternity a predicate to the Intellectual Existents- "the Nature of the Exemplar," we read, "is eternal"- we cancel the identification; Eternity becomes a separate thing, something surrounding that Nature or lying within it or present to it. And the majestic quality of both does not prove them identical: it might be transmitted from the one to the other. So, too, Eternity and the Divine Nature envelop the same entities, yes; but not in the same way: the Divine may be thought of as enveloping parts, Eternity as embracing its content in an unbroken whole, with no implication of part, but merely from the fact that all eternal things are so by conforming to it.

May we, perhaps, identify Eternity with Repose-There as Time has been identified with Movement-Here?

This would bring on the counter-question whether Eternity is presented to us as Repose in the general sense or as the Repose that envelops the Intellectual Essence.

On the first supposition we can no more talk of Repose being eternal than of Eternity being eternal: to be eternal is to participate in an outside thing, Eternity.

Further, if Eternity is Repose, what becomes of Eternal Movement, which, by this identification, would become a thing of Repose?

Again, the conception of Repose scarcely seems to include that of perpetuity- I am speaking of course not of perpetuity in the time-order (which might follow on absence of movement) but of that which we have in mind when we speak of Eternity.

If, on the other hand, Eternity is identified with the Repose of the divine Essence, all species outside of the divine are put outside of Eternity.

Besides, the conception of Eternity requires not merely Repose but also unity- and, in order to keep it distinct from Time, a unity including interval- but neither that unity nor that absence of interval enters into the conception of Repose as such.

Lastly, this unchangeable Repose in unity is a predicate asserted of Eternity, which, therefore, is not itself Repose, the absolute, but a participant in Repose.

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