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and complete those contemplations and phenomena of the existing system of nature which have been so advantageous to the progress of his own mind, and so largely contributory to his personal happiness. It is a great gratification to think and read on these subjects. What has given more pleasure, to those who cultivate them on right principles, than Dr. Paley's intelligent work on Natural Theology? The author cannot forget the enjoyment which he received from it on its first perusal.
To exhibit the Divine Mind in connexion with the production and preservation, and with the laws and agencies of visible nature--and to lead the youthful inquirer to perceive the clear and universal distinction which prevails between the material and the immaterial substances in our world, both in their phenomena and in their principles, are important objects in the following Letters. The views which Nature thus unfolds harmonize with those which Revelation suggests, and seem to represent the true foundation of the sacred history of our globe.
If sufficient strength and opportunity should still accompany his remaining life, the author desires to pursue this important subject in that series of events and operations which, after the renewal of mankind, became more immediately connected with their economy, condition, politics, and destinies, under the present laws and state of their existence. It is among these we must act, and by their influences are principally formed; but all these are obeying a constant though invisible sovereignty, which is continually producing, amid every counteraction, a steady but gradual progression and melioration. Few question, now, this result, though some may differ as to the
The operating cause will, however, become more manifest to our judgment if we take the sacred history of the world into our philosophical consid. eration. As Nature will never be properly understood, if its creation by the Deity be excluded from
the thought, neither will human history appear a rational or connected system, nor be found in harmony with the science which characterizes the laws of the material universe, if the sacred history which has accompanied our earthly subsistence be omitted in our contemplation. It is this which gives purpose, order, causation, process, intelligence, and benevolence to the other. At least, the present author never understood or duly appreciated the ancient history of mankind until he viewed it with this association, and had traced such of their mutual relations as he was enabled to discern. New light and intelligibility then spread over the whole, and made that a pleasing and useful study which had been before a dissatisfying and barren one.
It is the great mistake of many eminent philosophers on the Continent, that they systematically exclude the Deity from all their reasonings on the formations and principles of things; and strive in vain to account for them rationally without Him. No faiiure seems to lead them to suppose that they are wandering in a bewildering darkness, from which thev will never extricate themselves or their subject. By this purposed omission they impede the progress of human science, by depriving it of the benefit which would accrue from their active minds, if these were wisely directed into the actual path of truth and light. Turning out of this, they give us, in their most elaborate efforts to supersede it, nothing but a succession of butterfly fancies, which amuse for a moment, and then expire and are forgotten. We have plenty of vague assertions and individual chimeras, but no deductions or suppositions that advance our knowledge or satisfy our judgment, or that last beyond the meteors of the day. This defect is continually spoiling many of the most valuable minds in other countries, and deprives them of that durable reputation which is yet their dearest hope ; and which their researches and talents would otherwise far more certainly obtain. Nothing tends more to consign a writer to oblivion, or to that future depreciation which is worse than to be forgotten, than to depart from the grand truth of Nature, and to set up idols and fallacies instead. No one patronises another's fantasies, however fondly he may cherish his own; and thus, if that fame which is attended by the esteem and blessings of posterity be our coveted delight, it will never be attained in philosophy if we desert its eternal and fundamental verities. A steady adherence to these will most surely procure both personal immortality and national superiority.
If the British empire keep its reasoning mind firmly attached to the great Newtonian principle of the Divine causation of all things, its men of science will always be in the foremost ranks of intellect, honour, and celebrity.
To have any solicitude about criticism on the present publication would be absurd and unbecoming on such a subject. Not a line has been written with any reference to human reputation; and if that had presented itself as the actuating motive to its composition, not a line ought to have been written on The themes of this work for the purpose of obtaining it. But it is the duty of every author, in all his pube lications, to execute every part with his best care and ability. He expects this attention from others, and should never be deficient in it in his own publications. This duty has not been neglected in the ensuing pages. In these it has been a constant endeavour to collect authenticated facts—to state them fairly-to reason correctly about them—to express the natural feelings which have arisen as they were contemplated-and to make the general composition perspicuous, readable, and, if possible, not uninteresting. The first wish was to be serviceable to those in whose welfare the author is more immediately concerned. The larger hope has been added to this, that what should eventually be useful to them might not be unacceptable to others. We have all arisen to sentient being in the mighty system of which we are a part. Progression and happiness are desired and pursued, and are attainable by all. The varying ocean of human life is the present scene, in which these are to be acquired, so long as we remain in it. Here also we are to fit and prepare ourselves for securing the continuation of these blessings in the unknown regions of ethereal space into which we are all passing. The Lord of this world is the Sovereign of every other; and this consideration makes it important to us to gain the fullest knowledge of his mind, ideas, and feelings, that we can obtain from his creations around us, and from all the sources through which he has communicated them to us. If the following work shall, in its present essay or future progress, assist any to form right conceptions and exhilarating hopes of this stupendous Being-so awful, yet so good-so invisible, and yet so manifest -and of his moral arrangements and conduct of human affairs, and of his ulterior destination of his improveable creatures—the main object of its author will be fully and pleasingly accomplished. 16th February, 1832.