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which philosophy opens to our contempla- evidence, that a falling stone proceeds from tion, throws our understanding at a greater the eruption of one of those volcanoes, and distance than before, from the mind and the chemistry of the moon will receive conception of the sublime Architect. In- more illustration from the analysis of that stead of the God of a single world, we now stone, than from all the speculations of all see him presiding in all the majesty of his the theorists. It brings the question in part high attributes, over a mighty range of in- within the limits observation. It now benumerable systems. To our little eye he comes a fair subject for the exercise of the is wrapt in more awful mysteriousness, and true philosophy. The eye can now see, every new glimpse which astronomy gives and the hand can now handle it; and the us of the universe, magnifies to the appre- information furnished by the laborious hension of our mind, that impassable bar- drudgery of experimental men, will be rerier which stands between the counsels of ceived as a truer document, than the theory its Sovereign, and those fugitive beings of any philosopher, however ingenious, or who strut their evanescent hour in the however splendid. humblest of its mansions. If this invisible At the hazard of being counted fanciful, Being would only break that mysterious si- we bring forward the above as a competent lence in which he has wrapt himself, we illustration of the principle which we are feel that a single word from his mouth, attempting to establish. We do all homage would be worth a world of darkling specu- to modern science, nor do we dispute the lations. Every new triumph which the loftiness of its pretensions. But we mainmind of man achieves in the field of dis- tain, that however brilliant its career in covery, binds us more firmly to our Bible; those tracks of philosophy, where it has the and by the very proportion in which philo- light of observation to conduct it, the philo sophy multiplies the wonders of God, do we sophy of all that lies without the field of prize that book, on which the evidence of observation is as obscure and inaccesible as history has stamped the character of his au- ever. We maintain, that to pass from the thentic communication.
motions of the moon to an unauthorised The course of the moon in the heavens speculation upon the chemistry of its mahas exercised astronomers for a long se- terials, is a presumption disowned by phiries of ages, and now that they are able losophy. We ought to feel, that it would to assign all the irregularities of its period, be a still more glaring transgression of all it may be counted one of the most signal her maxims, to pass from the brightest triumphs of the modern philosophy. discovery in her catalogue, to the ways of
The question lay within the limits of the that mysterious Being, whom no eye hath field of observation. It was accessible to seen, and whose mind is capacious as inmeasurement, and, upon the sure principles finity. The splendour and the magnitude of calculation, men of science have brought of what we do know, can never authorise forward the confident solution of a problem, us to pronounce upon what we do not the most difficult and trying that ever was know; nor can we conceive a transition submitted to the human intellect. But let more violent or more unwarrantable, than it never be forgotten, that those very max- to pass from the truths of natural sience to ims of philosophy which guided them so a speculation on the details of God's adminsurely and so triumphantly within the field istration, or on the economy of his moral of observation, also restrained them from government. We hear much of revelations stepping beyond it; and though none were from heaven. Let any one of these bear the more confident than they, whenever they evidence of an actual communication from had evidence and experiment to enlighten God himself, and all the reasonings of all them, yet none were more scrupulous in theologians must vanish, and give place to abstaining to pronounce upon any subject, the substance of this communication. Inwhere evidence and experiment were want- stead of theorising upon the nature and ing. Let us suppose that one of their num- properties of that divine light which irradiber, flushed with the triumph of success, ates the throne of God, and exists at so impassed on from the work of calculating the measurable a distance from our faculties, let periods of the moon, to theorise upon its us point our eyes to that emanation, which chemical constitution. The former ques- has actually come down to us. Instead of tion lies within the field of observation, the theorising upon the counsels of the divine other is most thoroughly beyond it; and mind, let us go to that volume which lightthere is not a man, whose mind is disciplin- ed upon our world nearly two thousand ed to the rigour and sobriety of modern years ago, and which bears the most auscience, that would not look upon the theo-thentic evidence, that it is the depository ry with the same contempt, as if it were the of part of these counsels. Let us apply the dream of a poet, or the amusement of a proper instrument to this examination. Let schoolboy. We have heard much of the us never conceive it to be a work of specumoon, and of the volcanoes which blaze lation or fancy. It is a pure work of gramupon its surface. Let us have incontestible matical analysis. It is an unmixed question of language. The commentator who opens the act of renouncing its old habits of conthis book with the one hand, and carries his ception. We call upon our readers to have system in the other, has nothing to do with it. manhood and philosophy enough to make We admit of no other instrument than the a similar sacrifice. It is not enough that vocabulary and the lexicon. The man whom the Bible be acknowledged as the only auwe look to is the scripture critic, who can ap- thentic source of information respecting the peal to his authorities for the import and sig- details of that moral economy, which the nificancy of phrases, and whatever be the Supreme Being has instituted for the gostrict result of his patience and profound phi- vernment of the intelligent beings who oclology, we submit to it. We call upon every cupy this globe. Its authenticity must be enlightened disciple of Lord Bacon to ap- something more than acknowledged. It prove the steps of this process, and to ac- must be felt, and, in act and obedience, subknowledge, that the same habits of philoso- mitted to. Let us put them to the test. phising to which science is indebted for all “Verily I say unto you,” says our Saviour, her elevation in these latter days, will lead “unless a man shall be born again, he shall us to cast down all our lofty imaginations, not enter into the kingdom of God.” “By and bring into captivity every thought to grace ye are saved through faith, and that the obedience of Christ.
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." But something more remains to be done. "Justified freely by his grace through the The mind may have discernment enough redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom to acquiesce in the speculative justness of a God has set forth to be a propitiation principle; but it may not have vigour or through faith in his blood." We need not consistency enough to put it into execution. multiply quotations; but if there be any reLord Bacon pointed out the method of true pugnance to the obvious truths which we philosophising; yet, in practice, he abandon- have announced to the reader in the laned it, and his own physical investigations guage of the Bible, his mind is not yet tumay be ranked among the most effectual tored to the philosophy of the subject. It specimens of that rash and unfounded theo- may be in the way, but the final result is rising, which his own principles have ban- not yet arrived at. It is still a slave to the ished from the schools of philosophy. Sir elegance or the plausibility of its old specuIsaac Newton completed in his own per- lations; and though it admits the principle, son the character of the true philosopher. that every previous opinion must give way He not only saw the general principle, but to the supreme authority of an actual comhe obeyed it. He both betook himself to munication from God, it wants consistency the drudgery of observation, and he endured and hardihood to carry the principle into the pain which every mind must suffer in accomplishment.
The astronomical objection against the truth of the Gospel does not occupy : very prominent place in any of our Treatises of Infidelity. It is often, however, met with in conversation—and we have known it to be the cause of serious perplexity and alarm in minds anxious for the solid establishment of their religious faith.
There is an imposing splendour in the science of astronomy; and it is not to be wondered at, if the light it throws, or appears to throw, over other tracks of speculation than those which are properly its own, should at times dazzle and mislead an inquirer. On this account we think it were a service to what we deem a true and a righteous cause, could we succeed in dissipating this illusion ; and in stripping Infidelity of those pretensions to enlargement, and to a certain air of philosophical greatness, by which it has often become so destructively alluring to the young, and the ardent, and the ambitious.
In my first Discourse, I have attempted a sketch of the Modern Astronomynor have I wished to throw any disguise over that comparative littleness which belongs to our planet, and which gives to the argument of Freethinkers all its plausibility.
This argument involves in it an assertion and an inference. The assertion is, that Christianity is a religion which professes to be designed for the single benefit of our world; and the inference is, that God cannot be the author of this religion, for he would not lavish on so insignificant a field, such peculiar and such distinguishing attentions as are ascribed to him in the Old and New Testament.
Christianity makes no such profession. That it is designed for the single benefit of our world, is altogether a presumption of the Infidel himself—and feeling that this is not the only example of temerity which can be charged on the enemies of our faith, I have allotted my second Discourse to the attempt of demonstrating the utter repugnance of such a spirit with the cautious and enlightened philosophy of modern times.
In the course of this Sermon I have offered a tribute of acknowledgment to the theology of Sir Isaac Newton; and in such terms, as if not farther explained, may be liable to misconstruction. The grand circumstance of applause in the character of this great man, is, that unseduced by all the magnificence of his own discoveries, he had a solidity of mind which could resist their fascination, and keep him in steady attachment to that book whose general evidences stamped upon it the impress of a real communication from heaven. This was the sole aftribute of his theology which I had in my eye when I presumed to eulogize it.
I do not think, that, amid the distraction and the engrossment of his other pursuits, he has at all times succeeded in his interpretation of the book ; else he would never, in my apprehension, have abetted the leading doctrine of a sect, or a system, which has now nearly dwindled away from public observation.
În my third Discourse I am silent as to the assertion and attempt to combat the inference that is founded on it. I insist, that upon all the analogies of nature and of providence, we can lay no limit on the condescension of God, or on the multiplicity of his regards even to the very humblest departments of creation; and that it is not for us, who see the evidences of divine wisdom and care spread in such exhaustless profusion around, to say, that the Deity would not lavish all the wealth of his wondrous attributes on the salvation even of our solitary species.
At this point of the argument I trust that the intelligent reader may be enabled to perceive in the adversaries of the gospel, a twofold dereliction from the maxims of the Baconian philosophy; that, in the first instance, the assertion which forms the groundwork of their argument, is gratuitously fetched out of an unknown region where they are utterly abandoned by the light of experience; and that, in the second instance, the inference they urge from it, is in the face of manifold and undeniable truths, all lying within the safe and accessible field of human observation.
In my subsequent Discourses, I proceed to the informations of the record. The infidel objection, drawn from astronomy, may be considered as by this time disposed of; and if we have succeeded in clearing it away, so as to deliver the Christian testimony from all discredit upon this ground, then may we submit, on the strength of other evidences, to be guided by its information. We shall thus learn, that Christianity has a far more extensive bearing on the other orders of creation than the infidel is disposed to allow; and whether he will own the authority of this information or not, he will at least be forced to admit, that the subject matter of the Bible itself is not chargeable with that objection which he has attempted to fasten upon it.
Thus, had my only object been the refutation of the Infidel argument, I might have spared the last Discourses of the Volume altogether. But the tracts of Scriptural information to which they directed me; I considered as worthy of prosecution on their own account and I do think, that much may be gathered from these less observed portions of the field of revelation, to cheer, and to elevate, and to guide the believer.
But, in the management of such a discussion as this, though for a great degree of this effect it would require to be conducted in a far higher style than I am able to sustain, the taste of the human mind may be regaled, and its understanding put into a state of the most agreeable exercise. Now, this is quite distinct from the conscience being made to feel the force of a personal application; nor could I either bring this argument to its close in the pulpit, or offer it to the general notice of the world, without adverting, in the last Discourse, to a delusion which, I fear, is carrying forward thousands, and tens of thousands to an undone eternity.
I have closed the volume with an Appendix of Scriptural authorities. I found that I could not easily interweave them in the texture of the Work, and have, therefore, thought fit to present them in a separate form. I look for a twofold benefit from this exhibition—first, on those more general readers, who are ignorant of the Scriptures, and of the riches and variety which abound in themand, secondly, on those narrow and intolerant professors, who take an alarm at the very sound and semblance of philosophy, and feel as if there was an utter irreconcileable antipathy between its lessons on the one hand, and the soundness and piety of the Bible on the other. It were well, I conceive, for our causė, that the satter could become a little more indulgent on this subject ; that they gave up a portion of those ancient and hereditary prepossessions, which go so far to cramp and to enthral them; that they would suffer theology to take that wide range of argument and of illustration which belongs to her; and that less, sensitively jealous of any desecration being brought upon the Sabbath, or the pulpit, they would suffer her freely to announce all those truths, which either serve to protect Christianity from the contempt of science, or to protect the teachers of Christianity from those invasions which are practised both on the sacredness of the office, and on the solitudes of its devotional and intellectual labours.
I shall only add, for the information of readers at a distance, that these Discourses were chiefly delivered on the occasion of the week-day sermon that is preached in rotation by the Ministers of Glasgow.
A Sketch of the Modern Astronomy. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained ; What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him."
Psalm viii. 3, 4. In the reasonings of the Apostle Paul, | prejudices which kept back so many huwe cannot fail to observe how studiously man beings from the participation of the he accommodates his arguments to the pur- Gospel. And should Paul have had reason suits, or principles, or prejudices of the to rejoice, that, by the success of his argupeople whom he was addressing. He often ments, he had reconciled one or any nummade a favourite opinion of their own the ber of Jews to Christianity, then it was the starting point of his explanation; and edu- part of these Gentiles, though receiving no cing a dexterous but irresistiblé train of direct or personal benefit from the arguargument from some principle upon which ments, to have blessed God, and rejoiced each of the parties had a common under- along with him. standing, did he force them out of all their . Conceive that Paul were at this moment opposition, by a weapon of their own choos- alive, and zealously engaged in the work ing-nor did he scruple to avail himself of of pressing the Christian religion on the a Jewish peculiarity, or a heathen super- acceptance of the various classes of society. stition, or a quotation from Greek poetry, Should he not still have acted on the prinby which he might gain the attention of ciple of being all things to all men? Should those whom he labored to convince, and he not have accommodated his discussion by the skilful application of which he might to the prevailing taste, and literature, and "shut them up unto the faith."
philosophy of the times? Should he not Now, when Paul was thus addressing have closed with the people, whom he was one class of an assembly or congregation, addressing, on some favourite principle of another class might, for the time, have their own; and, in the prosecution of this been shut out of all direct benefit and ap- principle, might he not have got completely plication from his arguments. When he beyond the comprehension of a numerous wrote an Epistle to a mixed assembly of class of zealous, humble, and devoted ChrisChristianised Jews and Gentiles, he had tians? Now, the question is not, how these osten to direct such a process of argument would conduct themselves in such circumto the former, as the latter would neither stances ? but how should they do it? Would require nor comprehend. Now, what should it be right in them to sit with impatience, have been the conduct of the Gentiles at because the argumentof the apostles containthe reading of that part of the Epistle which ed in it nothing in the way of comfort or edibore almost an exclusive reference to the fication to themselves? Should not the beJews? Should it be impatience at the hearing nevolence of the Gospel give a different of something for which they had no relish or direction to their feelings? And, instead understanding ? Should it be a fretful dis- of that narrow, exclusive, and monopolizappointment, because every thing that was ing spirit, which I fear is too characteristic said, was not said for their edification ? of the more declared professors of the truth Should it be angry discontent with the as it is in Jesus, ought they not to be paApostle, because, leaving them in the dark, tient, and to rejoice ; when to philosophers, he had brought forward nothing for them, and to men of literary accomplishment, through the whole extent of so many suc- and to those who have the direction of the cessive chapters? Some of them may have public taste among the upper walks of sofelt in this way; but surely it would have ciety, such arguments are addressed as may been vastly more Christian to have sat with bring home to their acceptance also, "the meek and unfeigned patience, and to have words of this life ?" It is under the imrejoiced that the great Apostle had under- pulse of these considerations, that I have, taken the management of those obstinate with some hesitation, prevailed upon my