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or if being constantly equally swift, it yet was not circular, and produced not the same appearances, it would not at all help us to measure time, any more than the seeming unequal motion of a comet does. Minutes,
ģ. 23. Minutes, hours, days, and years, hours, days,
are then no more necessary to time or duand years,
ration, than inches, feet, yards, and miles, not necessary marked out in any matter, are to extenmeasures of duration.
sion: For though we in this part of the uni
verse, by the constant use of them, as of periods set out by the revolutions of the sun, or as known parts of such periods, have fixed the ideas of such lengths of duration in our minds, which we apply to all parts of time, whose lengths we would consider; yet there may be other parts of the universe, where they no more use these measures of ours, than in Japan they do our inches, feet, or miles; but yet something analogous to them there must be. For without some regular periodical returus, we could not measure ourselves, or signify to others, the length of any duration, though at the same time the world were as full of motion as it is now, but no part of it disposed into regular and apparently equidistant revolutions. But the different measures that may be made use of for the account of time, do not at all alter the notion of duration, which is the thing to be measured; no more than the different standards of a foot and a cubit alter the notion of extension to those who make use of those different measures. Our measure
§. 24. The mind having once got such
a measure of time as the aunual revolution plicable to of the sun, can apply that measure to duduration be- ration, wherein that measure itself did not fore time.
exist, and with which, in the reality of its being, it had nothing to do: for should one say, that Abraham was born in the two thousand seven hundred and twelfth year of the Julian period, it is altogether as intelligible, as reckoning from the beginning of the world, though there were so far back no motion of the sun, nor any motion at all. For though the Julian period be supposed to begin several hundred years be
of time ap
fore there were really either days, nights, or years, inarked out by any revolutions of the sun : yet we reckon as right, and thereby measure durations as well, as if really at that time the sun had existed, and kept the same ordinary motion it doth now. The idea of duration equal to an annual revolution of the sun, is as easily applicable in our thoughts to duration, where no sun nor inotion was, as the idea of a foot or yard, taken from bodies here, can be applied in our thoughts to distances beyond the confines of the world, where are no bodies at all.
§. 25. For supposing it were five thousand six hundred and thirty-nine miles, or millions of miles, from this place to the remotest body of the universe (for, being tinite, it must be at a certain distance) as we suppose it to be five thousand six hundred and thirty-nine years from this time to the first existence of any body in the beginning of the world; we can, in our thoughts, apply this measure of a year to duration before the creation, or beyond the duration of bodies or motion, as we can this measure of a mile to space beyond the utmost bodies; and by the one measure duration where there was no inotion, as well as by the other measure space in our thoughts, where there is no body.
9. 26. If it be objected to me here, that, in this way of explaining of tiine, I have begged what I should not, viz. that the world is neither eternal nor infinite; I answer, that to my present purpose it is not needful, in this place, to make use of arguments, to evince the world to be finite, both in duration and extension ; but it being at least as conceivable as the contrary, I have certainly the liberty to suppose it, as well as any one hath to suppose the contrary: and I doubt not but that every one that will go about it, may easily conceive in his mind the beginning of motion, though not of all duration, and so may come to a stop and non ultra in his consideration of motion. So also in his thoughts he may set limits to body, and the extension belonging to it, but not to space where no body is; the utinost bounds of space and duration being beyond the reach of thought, as well as the utınost bounds of num
ber are beyond the largest comprehension of the mind;
$. 27. By the same means therefore, and
from the same original that we come to have the idea of time, we have also that idea which we call eternity: viz. having got the idea of succession and duration, by reflecting on the train of our own ideas, caused in us either by the natural appearances of those ideas coming constantly of themselves into our waking thoughts, or else caused by external objects successively affecting our senses; and liaving from the revolutions of the sun got the ideas of certain lengths of duration, we can in our thoughts, and such lengths of duration to one another, as often as we please, and apply them, so added, to durations past or to come: and this we can continue to do on, without bounds er limits, and proceed #infinitum, and apply thus the length of the annual motion of the sun to duration, supposed before the sun's, or any other motion had its being ; which is no more difficult or absurd, than to apply the notion I have of the moving of a shadow one hour to-day-upon the sun-dial to the duration of something last night, v. g. the burning of a candle, which is now absolutely separate from all actual inotion: and it is as impossible for the duration of that flame for an hour last night to co-exist with any motion that now is, or for ever shall be, as for any part of duration, that was before the beginning of the world, to co-exist with the motion of the sun now.
this hinders not, but that having the idea of the length of the motion of the shadow on a dial between the marks of two hours, I can as distinctly measure in my thoughts the duration of that candlelight last night, as I can the duration of any thing that does now exist: And it is no more than to think, that had the sun shone then on the dial, and moved after the same rate it doth now, the shadow on the dial would have passed from one hour-line to another, whilst that flame of the candle lasted.
5. 98. The notion of an hour, day, or year, being only the idea I have of the length of certain periodical
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.
to the measuring the duration of any thing by time, it is
9. 30. For as in the history of the creation, delivered
whereof I have the idea) proceed in intinitum, and supade pose a duration exceeding as many such periods as I can
reckon, let me add whilst I will : which I think is the
. 31. And thus I think it is plain, that from those
For, first, by observing 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 seening equidistant periods, we get the ideas of certain lengthis or measures of duration, as minutes, hours, days, years, &c.