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The deductions and conclusions whereof it is composed, are almost all extracted from the book of nature, which may perhaps (at least, at some future period) be allowed to be the best and clearest expositor of the Book of God.
The writer entertains some fear that the chain of argument contained in this manuscript may be thought too frequently interrupted by miscellaneous digressions. This arises from the materials whereof it is composed having been written at various times, and on various occasions, as the considerations specified occurred to the Author's mind; or were continually suggested by the opinions broached by unbelievers in the truth of the Scriptures. But all the considerations stated in these digressions centre in one point, the eliciting of truth, and will be ultimately found contributing to the illustration of that consistent harmony which pervades scriptural declaration---an object essentially involved in the main design. Whoever has been in the continual way of hearing the cavils of philosophic unbelievers, would be convinced that they can alone be answered by a far more extensive and philosophic survey of the sacred volume than pious and orthodox Christians have, generally speaking, ever engaged in.
REASON AND SCRIPTURE,
The faculty of reason being liable to error, it necessarily follows, that the comparative coincidence into which it is the proposed object of the ensuing pages impartially to inquire, must consist in tracing the analogy between conclusions resulting from what appear to the author reasonable and rational argument, and the principal doctrines contained in the Scriptures. But as the justness of these conclusions can only be acknowledged so far as the writer and reader possess a similarity of sentiments and ideas respecting the subjects that will be therein discussed--for two cannot walk together except they be agreedthere will, throughout this work, (except on points where it would be not only assuming, but even impossible, to add arguments to the many excellent ones already adduced,) be submitted, in as few words as possible, the reasons on which they are grounded.
In conformity with this rule, it is deemed superfluous to insert the inferences deducible from all we see, or feel, or know; and from whence we are most fully and satisfactorily assured, that the vast and boundless universe is governed by one supreme, intelligent, benevolent, self-existing Being—the first great cause and origin of all things himself without beginning, without end; and that this grand director must essentially be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent; though many of those considerations which confirm our belief in this primary and most important truth will be interspersed in these pages. But as just conceptions respecting the productions of this great and wonderful Ruler may not have been so generally formed, and universally acknowledged, as those which relate to his being, attributes, and perfections, we shall premise some very brief remarks on those heavens which so evidently declare the glory of God, and that firmament which so manifestly showeth forth his handyworks, (Psalms xix. 1.) selected from the publications, and formed on the opinions of our most eminent philosophers and astronomers. These writers inform us, that around the great celestial luminary that cheers and invigorates our small globe, there revolve together with it, many others called planets, which they, through the assistance of glasses, clearly discover to be opaque bodies, as well adapted for the accommodation of animal life and intelligent beings, as that which we inhabit. Pursue their inquiries further, and we find those numberless constella
tions of fixed stars which night unfolds to view, to be luminous bodies, shining by their own light; from whence it is conjectured that they are suns, the centre of other solar systems, having worlds revolving round them, as we have round
Take a microscopic investigation of minuter objects, and we perceive every drop, every leaf, teeming with existence, and replete with living animalcula; the very air we breathe swarming with inhabitants, and even putrefaction and corruption the abode of life. As the wise Author of nature, therefore, displays such wonderful economy in rendering every globule, every particle, conducive to the support of animal life, is it reasonable, is it rational, to suppose that such immense, such stupendous globes, as the planets Jupiter and Saturn, the diameter of the first of which is twenty times larger than our earth,* should be left destitute and unpeopled? “ Or can we force ourselves to think," as Huygens observes, " that so many other worlds that are clearly discovered, and such an infinite number more that there is the most reasonable ground to believe the existence of, should be left by their wise Creator unfurnished, unadorned, and void of inhabitants; or that all those prodigious bodies
* Should it be said that our world cannot be deemed insignificant, as the Son of God took on him human nature, and died on our earth to redeem mankind, we must request that such opinion may be suspended till our second volume be perused, and which contains an inquiry which will, we conceive, fully and satisfactorily answer this question.