Too Long; Didn't Read
1. Duration is fleeting Extension.
There is another sort of distance, or length, the idea whereof we get not from the permanent parts of space, but from the fleeting and perpetually perishing parts of succession. This we call DURATION; the simple modes whereof are any different lengths of it whereof we have distinct ideas, as HOURS, DAYS, YEARS, &c., TIME and ETERNITY.
2. Its Idea from Reflection on the Train of our Ideas.
The answer of a great man, to one who asked what time was: Si non rogas intelligo, (which amounts to this; The more I set myself to think of it, the less I understand it,) might perhaps persuade one that time, which reveals all other things, is itself not to be discovered. Duration, time, and eternity, are, not without reason, thought to have something very abstruse in their nature. But however remote these may seem from our comprehension, yet if we trace them right to their originals, I doubt not but one of those sources of all our knowledge, viz. sensation and reflection, will be able to furnish us with these ideas, as clear and distinct as many others which are thought much less obscure; and we shall find that the idea of eternity itself is derived from the same common original with the rest of our ideas.
3. Nature and origin of the idea of Duration.
To understand TIME and ETERNITY aright, we ought with attention to consider what idea it is we have of DURATION, and how we came by it. It is evident to any one who will but observe what passes in his own mind, that there is a train of ideas which constantly succeed one another in his understanding, as long as he is awake. Reflection on these appearances of several ideas one after another in our minds, is that which furnishes us with the idea of SUCCESSION: and the distance between any parts of that succession, or between the appearance of any two ideas in our minds, is that we call DURATION. For whilst we are thinking, or whilst we receive successively several ideas in our minds, we know that we do exist; and so we call the existence, or the continuation of the existence of ourselves, or anything else, commensurate to the succession of any ideas in our minds, the duration of ourselves, or any such other thing co-existent with our thinking.