A parte ante, A parte post
A parte ante, A parte post. These terms are used to denote respectively
the two notions of eternity in the past and eternity in the future.
These notions involve contradiction, inasmuch as the thought of eternity
involves the illimitable, and the present constitutes a limit both to
the past and the future. For the former, if we mean by the past
eternity, infinite time, we make it impossible that the present or any
given moment should ever be arrived at. For the latter, as we must start
from the present, we must substitute for the idea of eternity that of an
This contradiction results from giving eternity the definition of
infinite time, whereas it means independence of time, a state in which
all is alike present, a state which can never be that of the creature,
who can be endued with immortality, but cannot, like the high and the
lofty One, inhabit eternity. The constant present of the latter has been
entitled the nunc stans of eternity.