§ 8. Memory, in an intellectual creature, is necessary in the next degree to perception. It is of so great moment, that where it is wanting, all the rest of our faculties are in a great measure useless: and we in our thoughts, reasonings, and knowledge, could not proceed beyond present objects, were it not for the assistance of our memories, wherein there may be two defects.
§ 12. Duration, and time which is a part of it, is the idea we have of perishing distance, of which no two parts exist together, but follow each other in succession; as expansion is the idea of lasting distance, all whose parts exist together, and are not capable of succession. And therefore though we cannot conceive any duration without succession, nor can put it together in our thoughts, that any being does now exist to-morrow, or possess at once more than the present moment of duration; yet we can conceive the eternal duration of the Almighty far different from that of man, or any other finite being. Because man comprehends not in his knowledge, or power, all past and future things; his thoughts are but of yesterday, and he knows not what to-morrow will bring forth. What is once past he can never recall; and what is yet to come he cannot make present. What I say of man I say of all finite beings; who, though they may far exceed man in knowledge and power, yet are no more than the meanest creature, in comparison with God himself. Finite of any magnitude holds not any proportion to infinite. God’s infinite duration being accompanied with infinite knowledge and infinite power, he sees all things past and to come; and they are no more distant from his knowledge, no farther removed from his sight, than the present: they all lie under the same view; and there is nothing which he cannot make exist each moment he pleases. For the existence of all things depending upon his good pleasure, all things exist every moment that he thinks fit to have them exist. To conclude, expansion and duration do mutually embrace and comprehend each other; every part of space being in every part of duration, and every part of duration in every part of expansion. Such a combination of two distinct ideas is, I suppose, scarce to be found in all that great variety we do or can conceive, and may afford matter to farther speculation.
C. Baldwin, Printer, New Bridge-street, London.
§ 63. I. Therefore, as to present pleasure and pain, the mind, as has been said, never mistakes that which is really good or evil; that which is the greater pleasure, or the greater pain, is really just as it appears. But though present pleasure and pain show their difference and degrees so plainly, as not to leave room for mistake; yet when we compare present pleasure or pain with future, (which is usually the case in the most important determinations of the will) we often make wrong judgments of them, taking our measures of them in different positions of distance. Objects, near our view, are apt to be thought greater than those of a larger size, that are more remote; and so it is with pleasures and pains; the present is apt to carry it, and those at a distance have the disadvantage in the comparison. Thus most men, like spendthrift heirs, are apt to judge a little in hand better than a great deal to come; and so, for small matters in possession, part with greater ones in reversion. But that this is a wrong judgment, every one must allow, let his pleasure consist in whatever it will; since that which is future will certainly come to be present; and then having the same advantage of nearness, will show itself in its full dimensions, and discover his wilful mistake, who judged of it by unequal measures. Were the pleasure of drinking accompanied, the very moment a man takes off his glass, with that sick stomach and aching head, which, in some men, are sure to follow not many hours after; I think nobody, whatever pleasure he had in his cups, would, on these conditions, ever let wine touch his lips; which yet he daily swallows; and the evil side comes to be chosen only by the fallacy of a little difference in time. But if pleasure or pain can be so lessened only by a few hours’ removal, how much more will it be so by a farther distance, to a man that will not by a right judgment do what time will, i. e. bring it home upon himself, and consider it as present, and there take its true dimensions? This is the way we usually impose on ourselves, in respect of bare pleasure and pain, or the true degrees of happiness or misery; the future loses its just proportion, and what is present obtains the preference as the greater. I mention not here the wrong judgment, whereby the absent are not only lessened, but reduced to perfect nothing; when men enjoy what they can in present, and make sure of that, concluding amiss that no evil will thence follow. For that lies not in comparing the greatness of future good and evil, which is that we are here speaking of; but in another sort of wrong judgment, which is concerning good or evil, as it is considered to be the cause and procurement of pleasure or pain, that will follow from it.