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ready existing before it can be said to be either finite or infinite. Finite and infinite are both qualities which we attribute to the nature of certain beings or things.
Before we can say that a thing is either finite or infinite, we must know what the thing itself is. Finiteness and infiniteness do not refer to the nature of an object, but to the intensity with which that nature is possessed. When I say that a house is finite, I do not mean that finitude is that which constitutes the house ; that which constitutes the house is clearly its form. What I mean is, that the image of the house, which I have already in my mind, does not give me the impression of an object infinitely large, but of a figure which on every side is bounded and limited by other objects; therefore it is that I call it finite. The finitude, however, is not the first, but the latest, fact of knowledge I acquire ; it is a quality which I only perceive when I have already learned the nature of the object. When I say again that space is too infinite to be fully comprehended by the mind of man, I have seemingly asserted a fact in favour of Agnosticism ; I have declared that space is infinite, and that I cannot know it in its infinitude. Yet what has brought me to this conclusion ? Not my ignorance of space, but just my knowledge of space. It is only because I have learned what it is, that I have learned my inability
to know it fully; my Agnosticism has grown out of my knowledge. I have come to the conclusion that space must possess a quality of infinitude, which to my finite mind is incomprehensible; but I have come to that conclusion because, through the powers of my finite mind, I have learned that the idea of space is a necessary idea, an idea without which no object in heaven, or earth, or sea can have any existence to my consciousness.
Let us now proceed to apply this to the idea of God. When I say that God is infinite, what do I mean? Clearly this: that He is a Being possessed of attributes which in their intensity are boundless. If I wish to know. the nature of this God, am I to begin with the boundlessness or with the attributes ? The latter is clearly the only possible method. When I say that God is infinite, I mean that a certain kind of existence is infinite,
-a certain life, a certain character, a certain phase of spirituality. The first thing I have to learn is the nature of that existence, that life, that character, that phase of spirit ; when I have arrived at this conception, it will then be time for me to consider whether I have the power to realise it to its full extent-in other words, in the boundlessness or infiniteness of its intensity. To begin with that boundlessness would be to rear a superstructure without a foundation. Were we to ask a seeker after God what he is seeking, and were he to answer that he was in search of the infinite, we should ask again, the infinite what? Is it the infinite universe, or the infinite void, or the infinite mind? A man may seek the infinite without seeking God; infinitude is a quality that belongs to time and space, and perhaps to matter itself. That which makes God different from time and space and matter is not His infinitude but His nature, and therefore to know God is not to know His infinitude but to know His nature. Paradoxical as it may sound, it is as a finite and not as an infinite being that God must be known. We must form a definite conception of what He is, and then we shall be at liberty to extend that conception indefinitely. If the result of our efforts to extend it should only be to teach us the impossibility of exhausting its contents, we shall at least have the satisfaction of knowing that our inability to comprehend God's infinitude has been taught us by our knowledge of the nature of God Himself.
We demur, then, to the statement that God is the infinite. A man may say that God is infinite, or that God has infinitude; but to say that God is the infinite, is equivalent to saying that the name God may be applied to any object which suggests the idea of boundlessness. To affirm that God is the infinite seems to us just as absurd as to say that the rose is the red. The rose is not the red, because redness is a quality which may belong to
many objects besides roses, and which is therefore not that distinctive feature which marks off the rose from any other thing. God, in like manner, is not the infinite or boundless, because God is not the only existence which presents to the mind the notion of boundlessness. Boundlessness may be predicated of any quality, whether virtuous or vicious. The belief in infinite power does not of necessity involve the belief in a Divine being at all; the divinity depends on the nature of that being who lies behind the infinitude and who wields the power. The first thing which every man must know is the character of that object whom he professes to worship. Before all things he must in his own mind assign to him certain spiritual attributes, and he will not reach these attributes by starting with the notion of infinitude. Let him forget, in the meantime, all thought of infinitude ; let him banish alike the word and the idea until he has found an object to whom he can attribute the idea and apply the word. When he has found that object, when he has fixed in his mind what those attributes are to which he shall be willing to give the name of God, he will then be entitled to consider how far he is able to conceive these attributes in an intensified degree; he may begin to study God's perfection when he has arrived at the knowledge of that which in God is perfected.
We have been led, then, to this conclusion: If there be any barrier to man's acquisition of Divine knowledge, it does not lie either in man's finitude or in God's infinitude. There is nothing in the nature of our faculties nor in the limits of our human experience which makes it impossible for us to reach a knowledge of the supernatural, for, in point of fact, it is from these very limits of our experience that our idea of the supernatural has come. There is nothing in the fact of God's infinite nature which makes it impossible for us to find in Him an object of knowledge, for the infinitude of His nature is but the degree of its intensity, and we may know the nature without measuring its degree. Since, then, there is no barrier to our Divine knowledge, either in the limits of our own mind or in the absence of limit in the Divine mind, it remains to ask whether there is any barrier in the actual facts of human knowledge. It remains to ask whether the progress of modern investigation has presented the constitution of nature in a light so new as to render the old belief in the possibility of Divine communion a superannuated and faded dream. Metaphysics and theology have still left unbarred the gates of possibility ; has the development of modern science compelled us to close these gates? Has the increasing knowledge of nature, which our nineteenth century has confessedly revealed, contributed in any degree to