by A. A. Hodge
What is eternity?
Eternity is infinite duration; duration discharged from all limits, without beginning, without succession, and without end. The schoolmen phrase it a punctum stans, an ever-abiding present.
We, however, can positively conceive of eternity only as duration indefinitely extended from the present moment in two directions, as to the past and as to the future, improperly expressed as eternity a parteante, or past, and eternity a parte post, or future. The eternity of God, however, is one and indivisible. Externitas est una individua et tote simul.
What is time?
Time is limited duration, measured by succession, either of thought or motion. It is distinguished in reference to our perceptions into past, present, and future.
What relation does time bear to eternity?
Eternity, the unchanging present, without beginning or end, comprehends all time, and co–exists as an undivided moment, with all the successions of time as they appear and pass in their order.
Thought is possible to us, however, only under the limitations of time and space. We can conceive of God only under the finite fashion of first purposing and then acting, of first promising or threatening and then fulfilling his word, etc. He that inhabiteth eternity infinitely transcends our understanding. Isaiah 57:15.
When we say that God is eternal, what do we affirm and what do we deny?
We affirm, first, that as to his existence, he never had any beginning, and never will have any end; second, that as to the mode of his existence, his thoughts, emotions, purposes, and acts are, without succession, one and inseparable, the same forever; third, that he is immutable.
We deny, first, that he ever had a beginning or ever will have an end; second, that his states or of occur in succession; third, that his essence, attributes, or purposes will ever change.
In what sense are the acts of God spoken of as past, present, and future?
The acts of God are never past, present, or future as respects God himself, but only in respect to the objects and effects of his acts in the creature. The efficient purpose comprehending the precise object, time, and circumstance was present to him always and changelessly; the event, however, taking place in the creature occurs in time, and is thus past, present, or future to our observation.
In what sense are events past or future as it regards God?
As God’s knowledge is infinite, every event must, first, be ever equally present to his knowledge from eternity to eternity; second, these events must be know to him as they actually occur in themselves, e. a., in their true nature, relations, and such– This distinction, therefore, holds true––God’s knowledge of all events is without beginning, end, or succession; but he knows them as in themselves occurring in the successions of time, past, present, or future, relatively to one another.
From Outline of Theology by A. A. Hodge