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Dionysius The Areopagite by Clarence Edwin Rolt

CHAPTER X Concerning |Omnipotent,| |Ancient of Days|; and also concerning |Eternity| and |Time.|

1. Now tis time that our Discourse should celebrate God (Whose Names are many) as |Omnipotent| and |Ancient of Days.| The former title is given Him because He is that All-Powerful Foundation of all things which maintains and embraces the Universe, founding and establishing and compacting it; knitting the whole together in Himself without a rift, producing the Universe out of Himself as out of an all-powerful Root, and attracting all things back into Himself as unto an all-powerful Receptacle, holding them all together as their Omnipotent Foundation, and securing them all in this condition with an all-transcendent bond suffering them not to fail away from Himself, nor (by being removed from out of that perfect Resting Place) to come utterly to destruction. Moreover, the Supreme Godhead is called |Omnipotent| because It is potent over all things, and rules with unalloyed sovranty over the world It governs; and because It is the Object of desire and yearning for all, and casts on all Its voluntary yoke and sweet travail of Divine all-powerful and indestructible Desire for Its Goodness.

2. And |Ancient of Days| is a title given to God because He is the Eternity of all things and their Time, and is anterior to Days and anterior to Eternity and Time. And the titles |Time,| |Day,| |Season,| and |Eternity| must be applied to Him in a Divine sense, to mean One Who is utterly incapable of all change and movement and, in His eternal motion, remains at rest; and Who is the Cause whence Eternity, Time, and Days are derived. Wherefore in the Sacred Theophanies revealed in mystic Visions He is described as Ancient and yet as Young: the former title signifying that He is the Primal Being, existent from the beginning, and the latter that He grows not old. Or both titles together teach that He goes forth from the Beginning through the entire process of the world unto the End. Or, as the Divine Initiator tells us, either term implies the Primal Being of God: the term |Ancient| signifying that He is First in point of Time, and the term |Young| that He possesses the Primacy in point of Number, since Unity and the properties of Unity have a primacy over the more advanced numbers.

3. Need is there, methinks, that we understand the sense in which Scripture speaketh of Time and Eternity. For where Scripture speaks of things as |eternal| it doth not always mean things that are absolutely Uncreated or verily Everlasting, Incorruptible, Immortal, Invariable, and Immutable (e.g. |Be ye lift up, ye eternal doors,| and suchlike passages). Often it gives the name of |Eternal| to anything very ancient; and sometimes, again, it applies the term |Eternity| to the whole course of earthly Time, inasmuch as it is the property of Eternity to be ancient and invariable and to measure the whole of Being. The name |Time| it Gives to that changing process which is shown in birth, death, and variation. And hence we who are here circumscribed by Time are, saith the Scripture, destined to share in Eternity when we reach that incorruptible Eternity which changes not. And sometimes the Scripture declares the glories of a Temporal Eternity and an Eternal Time, although we understand that in stricter exactness it describes and reveals Eternity as the home of things that are in Being; and Time as the home of things that are in Birth. We must not, therefore, think of the things which are called Eternal as being simply co-ordinate with the Everlasting God Who exists before Eternity; but, strictly following the venerable Scriptures, we had better interpret the words |Eternal| and |Temporal| in their proper senses, and regard those things which to some extent participate in Eternity and to some extent in Time as standing midway between things in Being and things in Birth. And God we must celebrate as both Eternity and Time, as the Cause of all Time and Eternity and as the Ancient of Days; as before Time and above Time and producing all the variety of times and seasons; and again, as existing before Eternal Ages, in that He is before Eternity and above Eternity and His Kingdom is the Kingdom of all the Eternal Ages. Amen.

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