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Summary Against Modern Thought: Eternity And The Mind of God

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Eternity is a very long time, so settle back.

THAT THROUGH THE VISION OF GOD ONE BECOMES A PARTAKER OF ETERNAL LIFE

1 From this consideration it is apparent that the created intellect becomes a partaker in the eternal life through this vision.

2 For, eternity differs from time in this way: time has its being in a sort of succession, whereas the being of eternity is entirely simultaneous. But we have shown that there is no succession in the aforesaid vision; instead, all things that are seen through it are seen at once, and in one view. So, this vision is perfected in a sort of participation in eternity. Moreover, this vision is a kind of life, for the action of the intellect is a kind of life. Therefore, the created intellect becomes a partaker in eternal life through this vision.

Notes Being beings stuck in time, and noticing nothing but successions, such as lessons, this is extremely difficult to see.

3 Again, acts are specified by their objects. But the object of the aforementioned vision is the divine substance in itself, and not in a created likeness of it, as we showed above. Now, the being of the divine substance is in eternity, or, rather, is eternity itself. Therefore, this vision also consists in a participation in eternity.

4 Besides, if a given action is done in time, this will be either because the principle of the action is in time—in this sense the actions of temporal things are temporal; or because of the terminus of the operation, as in the case of spiritual substances which are above time but perform their actions on things subject to time. Now, the aforementioned vision is not in time by virtue of what is seen, for this is the eternal substance; nor by virtue of that whereby the seeing is accomplished, for this also is the eternal substance; nor even by virtue of the agent who sees, that is the intellect, whose being does not come under time, since it is incorruptible, as we proved above. Therefore, this vision consists in a participation in eternity, as completely transcending time.

5 Furthermore, the intellective soul is created “on the border line between eternity and time,” as is stated in the Book on Causes, and as can be shown from our earlier statements. In fact, it is the lowest in the order of intellects, yet its substance is raised above corporeal matter, not depending on it. But its action, as joined to lower things which exist in time, is temporal. Therefore, its action, as joined to higher things which exist above time, participates in eternity. Especially so is the vision by which it sees the divine substance. And so, by this kind of vision it comes into the participation of eternity; and for the same reason, so does any other created intellect that sees God.

6 Hence, the Lord says: “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God” (John 17:3).

Notes Even after forever, you won’t know all of God.

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