—not accustomed to the introspective analysis of its own operations—will, it is true, often deceive itself by supposing that it has entertained the conception of which we speak. In the effort to entertain it, we proceed step beyond step—we fancy point still beyond point; and so long as we continue the effort, it may be said, in fact, that we are tending to the formation of the idea designed; while the strength of the impression that we actually form or have formed it, is in the ratio of the period during which we keep up the mental endeavor. But it is in the act of discontinuing the endeavor—of fulfilling (as we think) the idea—of putting the finishing stroke (as we suppose) to the conception—that we overthrow at once the whole fabric of our fancy by resting upon some one ultimate and therefore definite point. This fact, however, we fail to perceive, on account of the absolute coincidence, in time, between the settling down upon the ultimate point and the act of cessation in thinking.—In attempting, on the other hand, to frame the idea of a limited space, we merely converse the processes which involve the impossibility.
We believe in a God. We may or may not believe in finite or in infinite space; but our belief, in such cases, is more properly designated as faith, and is a matter quite distinct from that belief proper—from that intellectual belief—which presupposes the mental conception.The fact is, that, upon the enunciation of any one of that class of terms to which "Infinity" belongs—the class representing thoughts of thought—he who has a right to say that he thinks at all, feels himself called upon, not to entertain a conception, but simply to direct his mental vision