« 上一頁繼續 »
Nor would we be understood to entertain a prospect that discoveries and demonstrations of truth will be made, which will lead to universal
how they were put in motion- he could not by theory, explain Noah's flood, the future dissolution of the world, or how it muft exist after the conflagration. He went, however, as far, perhaps, as it was possible to go, without discovering the divine theory; for, as the natural world depends absolutely on the divine will; the divine will, in reality, is nature's law; and it is evident, that nature's law must be discovered and explained, in order to explain fully the system of nature.
In some theological writings, Mr. Newton discovers that he apprehended this defect in his system ; and, in treating of the doétrine of the Trinity, particularly of the Father and the Son, it is appareot, that he was led to suppose something existed in that relation, which was necessary to be unfolded, in order to complete the great object of his researches ; but instead of taking up the divine will as being constituted essentially, of distinct parts in union, and therefore offering the ground of a theory in itself, he understood it to be simple, or without parts ; and, so understood, it was incapable of being a ground from which he could racionate the existence and ftate of the worlds, and open to the bottom, nature and her làw. And therefore, in this aitempt, instead of gaining, he loit ground.
Ms. Newton discovered nature-attraction and repulsion is nature herself:-It is certainly an effect, or fecondary opè ration"; and, when we come to the secondary operation, we #nd it manifold.
represencia The late learned James Tytler, read in manuscript the first
part of this theory; and, in the margin, made in this connection the following remark. Perhaps, on ttrict examina“ tion, it may be found, that some other secondary operation “may claim high prerogatives in nature's family. The ex
tensive modes of operation, ascribed to the electrical fluid, may be seen described in the Encyclopedia Britannica, under the articles electricity, attraction, atmosphere, astronomy, chemistry, deluge, cohesion, fire, flame, heat, cold, aurora
borealis, earthquake, lightning, meteorology, &c. Electriis cians have considered this fluid as the chiet secondary agent “in producing all the phenoinena of nature. And at present " this appears to be the prevailing doctrine of natural philofo.
See a Mort abstract of ihese opinions in Walker's "fyftem of geography, lately pubiifaed.”
conviction; the most palpable facts in nature, and the most easy to be understood, have been doubted and denied; there exists in the world a criminal infidelity--the prejudices of men are harder to be removed than mountains, and their disinclination to thinking is a difficulty still more insurmounta. ble.--And, believing that a principle of such alle powerful effect does exist, and that we have fixed upon the truth, flill we shall not impute all remaining doubt and dispute respecting this work to unbelief, prejudice and sloth; for, after all, in the present state, we shall know but in part, and see darkly; the principle of knowledge will be but partly described, and its application sometimes will be obscure, if not mistaken. In making use of a thousand cafes in the works and providence of God to illustrate the truth of our theory; and in ape plying numberless texts of scripture, no prospect is entertained that a case will not sometimes be mistaken, and a text be misapplied.
But this imperfe&lion of all human minds and works, in many cases produce groundless doubts, disputes and disbelief; for, if the imperfections of our senses and performances afford just ground to discredit facts, we are incapable of knowledge; and, in the present case, we appeal to facts; facts which, we presume, all men are in some de. gree conscious of, however imperfeâly they may be discovered or described; and it cannot be denied, that the body of the evidence adduced in support of the theory, is of the same nature, and is drawn from the same sources; and, indeed, is the very same evidence which has principally supported the cause of Christianity in the world,
As to the form of this work, I am sensible that one more fyllogistical would have been better adapted to the habits of some improved minds; but my study has been to make it eafy to the most common understanding, and therefore I have di. vided it into numerous short fections, each illuftrating, agreeably to the theory, some one eltablished fact or doctrine of the creation, providence, or revelation of God. This respect has been paid to this state of the human mind, not only as it is the most common, but also as it will ever have the moft weight and decision in forming a judgment. And I have endeavored to make the argument to consist of the simple facts; for it must be acknowledged, that an argument by way of inference from facts, however clear, cannot be so clear and convincing as the internal evidence, or the discovery of the truth in the facts themselves.
The most material points of the theory I had observed and arranged before entering into the ministry, and they were advanced in my first fermons; but such difficulties appeared in the way of their coming to the public through my hands, that, till lately, it has not been remotely contemplated, and therefore no provision had been made for its being done; and, at present, the slenderest natural conftitution, and daily growing weaknesses, and the paftoral charge of a large people, leave no prof. pect of my finishing the work. All I am encouraged I shall be able to offer, is a compend of the divine theory,* a statement of the principle, and a
* Some remarkable changes in the circumstances of the guthor, which took place soon after sectiag about this work;
brief statement of some leading known facts in the creation, in order to illustrate it, and shew how it theorizes in the works of God.---What remains of the work more than this must be left to other hands, and them God will provide.--The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those that published it.
his being dismissed from his charge, and, in some measure gaining his health by travelling, enabled him very considerably to enlarge his plan; but the fame being accompanied with oppolitions from various quarters, threw discouragements in the way, and retarded the publication ; and, at last, he confiders the object very imperfe&ly accomplished.
STATING AND DEFINING
DIVINE PRINCIPL E.
i. THE divine principle, which may be sta.
ted and defined, must be the discover. able divine Being.-To offer, a discussion of what is undiscoverable would be absurd. No statement or definition can be rationally given of the invisibility of God. It must, therefore, be understood (for no more can be rationally meant) that our principle is merely the visibility of God, or the principle of diyine knowledge.
2. As to the invisibility of God we make no enquiry. For as this bears no letters or characters, to angels and to men, both in time and eternity, it must be equally unknown. But there is a legible divine character-an alphabet which
be read and understood. This belongs to us. Here is an Alpha with which we may begin, and an Omega with which we must end. And what is offered to us in this lettered name, we are