Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Eternity
 
  The following question is started by one of the schoolmen:—Supposing the whole body of the earth were a great ball or mass of the finest sand, and that a single grain or particle of this sand should be annihilated every thousand years: Supposing then that you had it in your choice to be happy all the while this prodigious mass of sand was consuming by this slow method until there was not a grain of it left, on condition you were to be miserable forever after? Or, supposing that you might be happy forever after, on condition that you would be miserable until the whole mass of sand were thus annihilated at the rate of one sand in a thousand years: which of these two cases would you make your choice?… Reason therefore tells us, without any manner of hesitation, which would be the better part in this choice…. But when the choice we actually have before us is this, whether we will choose to be happy for the space of only threescore and ten, nay, perhaps of only twenty or ten years, I might say of only a day or an hour, and miserable to all eternity, or, on the contrary, miserable for this short term of years, and happy for a whole eternity: what words are sufficient to express that folly and want of consideration which in such a case makes a wrong choice?  1
  I here put the case even at the worst, by supposing, what seldom happens, that a course of virtue makes us miserable in this life; but if we suppose, as it generally happens, that virtue would make us more happy even in this life than a contrary course of vice, how can we sufficiently admire the stupidity or madness of those persons who are capable of making so absurd a choice?
Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 575.    
  2
 
  Upon laying a weight in one of the scales, inscribed eternity, though I threw in that of time, prosperity, affliction, wealth, and poverty, which seemed very ponderous, they were not able to stir the opposite balance.
Joseph Addison.    
  3
 
  Darkness that here surrounded our purblind understanding will vanish at the dawning of eternal day.
Robert Boyle.    
  4
 
  The nature of eternity is such that though our joys after some centuries of years may seem to have grown older by having been enjoyed so many ages, yet will they really continue new.
Robert Boyle.    
  5
 
  Upon a curricle in this world depends a long course of the next, and upon a narrow scene here an endless expansion hereafter. In vain some think to have an end of their beings with their lives. Things cannot get out of their natures, or be, or not be, in despite of their constitutions. Rational existences in heaven perish not at all, and but partially on earth: that which is thus once will in some way be always: the first human soul is still alive, and all Adam hath found no period.
Sir Thomas Browne: Christian Morals, Pt. III., xxiii.    
  6
 
  In my solitary and retired imagination, I remember I am not alone, and therefore forget not to contemplate him and his attributes, especially those two mighty ones, his wisdom and eternity: with the one I recreate, with the other I confound, my understanding: for who can speak of eternity without a solecism, or think thereof without an ecstasy?
Sir Thomas Browne: Religio Medici, Part I., xl.    
  7
 
  He that will often put eternity and the world before him, and who will dare to look steadfastly at both of them, will find that the more often he contemplates them, the former will grow greater, and the latter less.
Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon.    
  8
 
  The influx of the knowledge of God, in relation to everlasting life, is infinitely of moment.
Sir Matthew Hale.    
  9
 
  Eternity, it is surely not necessary to remind you, invests every state, whether of bliss or of suffering, with a mysterious and awful importance entirely its own, and is the only property in the creation which gives that weight and moment to whatever it attaches compared to which all sublunary joys and sorrows, all interests which know a period, fade into the most contemptible insignificance.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  10
 
  Were any other event of far superior moment ascertained by evidence which made but a distant approach to that which attests the certainty of a life to come,—had we equal assurance that after a very limited though uncertain period we should be called to migrate into a distant land whence we were never to return,—the intelligence would fill every breast with solicitude; it would become the theme of every tongue; and we should avail ourselves with the utmost eagerness of all the means of information respecting the prospects which awaited us in that unknown country. Much of our attention would be occupied in preparing for our departure; we should cease to regard the place we now inhabit as our home, and nothing would be considered of moment but as it bore upon our future destination. How strange is it then that, with the certainty we all possess of shortly entering into another world, we avert our eyes as much as possible from the prospect; that we seldom permit it to penetrate us; and that the moment the recollection recurs we hasten to dismiss it as an unwelcome intrusion! Is it not surprising that the volume we profess to recognize as the record of immortality, and the sole depository of whatever information it is possible to obtain respecting the portion which awaits us, should be consigned to neglect, and rarely if ever consulted with the serious intention of ascertaining our future condition?
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte of Wales.    
  11
 
  Were our rewards for the abstinencies or riots of this present life under the prejudices of short or finite, the promises and threats of Christ would lose of their virtue and energy.
Henry Hammond.    
  12
 
  Such are Christ’s promises, divine inconceivable promises; a bliss to be enjoyed to all eternity, and that by way of return for a weak obedience of some few years.
Henry Hammond.    
  13
 
  By repeating any idea of any length of time, as of a minute, a year, or an age, as often as we will in our own thoughts, and adding them to one another, without ever coming to the end of such addition, we come by the idea of eternity.
John Locke.    
  14
 
  If to avoid succession in eternal existence they refer to the punctum stans of the schools, they will thereby very little mend the matter, or help us to a more positive idea of infinite duration.
John Locke.    
  15
 
 
 
  If there remains an eternity to us after the short revolution of time we so swiftly run over here, ’tis clear that all the happiness that can be imagined in this fleeting state is not valuable in respect of the future.
John Locke.    
  16
 
  When infinite happiness is put in one scale against infinite misery in the other; if the worst that comes to the pious man if he mistakes be the best that the wicked can attain to if he be in the right, who can, without madness, run the venture?
John Locke.    
  17
 
  To him who hath a prospect of the state that attends all men after this, the measures of good and evil are changed.
John Locke.    
  18
 
  Eternity is a negative idea clothed with a positive name. It supposes in that to which it is applied, a present existence; and is the negation of a beginning or of an end of that existence.
William Paley.    
  19
 
  It may be part of our employment in eternity to contemplate the works of God, and give him the glory of his wisdom manifested in the creation.
John Ray: On Creation.    
  20
 
  Where things are least to be put to the venture, as the eternal interests of the other world ought to be, there every, even the least, probability, or likelihood, of danger should be provided against.
Robert South.    
  21
 
  Certainly the highest and dearest concerns of a temporal life are infinitely less valuable than those of an eternal; and consequently ought, without any demur at all, to be sacrificed to them, whensoever they come in competition with them.
Robert South.    
  22
 
  Eternal happiness and eternal misery, meeting with a persuasion that the soul is immortal, are, of all others, the first the most desirable, and the latter the most horrible, to human apprehension.
Robert South.    
  23
 
  Does that man take a rational course to preserve himself, who refuses the endurance of those lesser troubles to secure himself from a condition inconceivably more miserable?
Robert South.    
  24
 
  A man cannot doubt but that there is a God; and that according as be demeans himself towards him he will make him happy or miserable forever.
John Tillotson.    
  25
 
  If they would but provide for eternity with the same solicitude and real care as they do for this life, they could not fail of heaven.
John Tillotson.    
  26
 
  To those who are thoroughly convinced of the inconsiderableness of this short dying life in comparison of that eternal state which remains for us in another life, the consideration of a future happiness is the most powerful motive.
John Tillotson.    
  27
 
  Were it possible that the near approaches of eternity, whether by a mature age, a crazy constitution, or a violent sickness, should amaze so many, had they duly considered?
William Wake.    
  28
 
  Propositions which extend only to the present life are small compared with those that have influence upon our everlasting concernments.
Dr. Isaac Watts.    
  29
 
 
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